The intro to Cedra, a new law enforcer in the cross-roads known as Nine Points.
| Cedra slipped quietly in the door of the Flask and Flagon. She strained to pull open the heavy wooden door, but tried to show no sign of effort. Though it was daylight outside once in the door she had to pause, allowing her eyes to adjust to the dim lighting. The acrid smoke of many pipes clouded together and hung low across the room. She quickly scanned the tables to find an empty one. Relieved, she spotted a table being cleared at the far corner. Carefully snaking her way past the crowded tables tightly packed together she arrived at the table in time to ask for a drink.
“Dursank ale, no foreign stuff.” she commanded, feigning a coarse speech and tone she did not have. The confidence was also a ruse.
“We ain’t got any Dursank, we on’y ‘ave Scarthing, the house ale.” the annoyed bar maid replied. “An we ‘on’t serve t’ kits here.”
“Good for you. Lucky I ain’t no kit!” Cedra snapped back and flashed her emblem. It was a small silver badge. Stamped on the front with the official seal of the Nine Points Rangers and reading “Nine ways, Nine paths, Nine Points. Mounted Ranger, Fifth Rank, 3rd Division” on the back. The flash was all that was needed to convince the bar maid not to argue. Cedra smirked arrogantly; she didn’t often get a chance to. She carefully took her cloak off, removing her side dagger and a small sword. She slid them onto the bench seat as she sat down, making sure they were completely out of site, just as she had been taught.
Her training also told her to search the faces in the tavern and identify their role. For example, there was a balding man slouched over the bar. He cradled his glass as if it were gold and sipped it while giving angry looks to anyone who met his glare. He was a sulker, a man drowning his misery in a glass from opening to last call. He was of no consequence unless a witness statement was needed. The young girl bringing drinks and food to one of the tables was not really a barmaid. She worked the tavern as a prostitute, but had to serve when the real barmaid found out Cedra was a ranger. The girl played her part as she had been taught, to avoid a nasty inquiry that would leave all the local prostitutes jobless or in fear of being arrested.
Then Cedra spotted something she had not expected to see. At a crowded table in the middle of the room something was happening. Two men were talking, obviously angry but controlling their volume. They did not want to be overheard. There was another man quite different from the first two. He wore a dark cloak with the hood covering most of his face. Despite the poor lighting his skin color was clearly not that of any other’s in the room. He appeared to be a dark blue or green. His long hair was a few shades lighter. He looked calm and relaxed despite his colleagues’ argument. The other three at the table were a very small man with a thin braid beard, a Dwirm, an older lady conservatively dressed, but with all the mannerisms of a well-born, and lastly a young pale girl. She was the one who caught Cedra’s attention even more than the dark skinned man. The girl was a Kir’syrnani, an Icemaiden of the northland of Syr Kinen. Her clothing looked rich and everything she wore was bejeweled. Her pale complexion would be from spending most of her life indoors, away from the cold.
The girl stood out from the scruffy locals that frequented the bar by her dress alone. But that was not why Cedra noticed her. The upper class came here sometimes to make business deals. Being the crossroads of nine countries, anything you needed could be found here. What Cedra noticed most was the pure fear in the girl’s eyes. She looked imploringly at the conservative woman frequently. On occasion she glanced quickly at the dark skinned man. This could only be one thing, slave trade.
“My Lord was promised a fair price for the girl. Fair is nothing more then 800 farraguts. She obviously isn’t even that strong,” the man next to the blue skinned stranger spat. He looked furious, possibly on the verge of violence. The Dwirm looked a bit nervous, he was probably also with the “Lord” who’s deal was not going as planned.
Suddenly the fine lady leaned forward and all talk ceased at the table. “Perhaps your Lord is not interested in this pathetic little brat. She’s no good for heavy lifting, farming or shepherding. Your Lord must have no use for her.” The woman’s voice was icy and biting. The Lord did not react, but the rest of the table did. The enraged spokesman started to make a threatening motion, but the Lord put his gloved hand on the table.
“I will give you 975 farraguts and you will not inquire as to my use for her. My underlings and I will leave with the girl and you will wait no less then 30 minutes before walking out that door. Vimnak, put the bag on the table. We are leaving now.”
Not a soul tried to speak but the Lord and his “underlings” stood immediately. Vimnak, the Dwirm, put a large money sac on the table and walked over to the pale girl. She was in such a fright she jumped and let out slight noise when Vimnak grabbed her arm. She looked at the lady who quickly spoke a few words to her as she rose. As she allowed herself to be lead to the door she turned her head and scanned for a sympathetic face. Her eyes met Cedra’s. Cedra could do nothing and found herself staring into her ale, ashamed. How could a law bringer be so helpless?