In the evening, a woman with a false jade eye and golden eye socket entered the Deer’s Hide tavern. She walked through the evening crowd straight to the bar to talk to the barkeep.
“I’m looking for a man I’m supposed to be meeting here,” she said.
“Lot’s of men in here,” he said while pouring a beer for another customer, “What’s his name?”
Seven Days Ago
“Hello, you must be Olga.” The man standing at the bar said with a wide grin.
“What makes you think that?” Olga said.
“I’ve heard stories about your beautiful eyes.” He winked his right eye.
She snorted and said “Really? And stories would those be?”
“We can talk about that later after you come work for me.”
She cackled at the boy trying to act like a someone. He leaned closer and motioned her to do the same.
“I’m going to be blunt because I think you will respect that. I know you’re not just an old bar matron. You were once a mercenary who was, actually still is, really good at killing.” He lowered his voice further, “I know you slaughtered a bandit group a few months ago.”
Olga’s smile slowly turned into a grimace and the twinkle of mirth faded from her good eye. “Was it John whose been telling stories out of turn? I know it wasn’t Lisa because the dear girl didn’t see anything.”
The man stood back up straight, “I can’t reveal my source.”
“So, it was John. Gonna have a talk with him next time I see him. Why do you think I care if anyone knows that I was a mercenary?”
“Maybe you don’t care but I know some people who still have grudges against you. You’ve made a nice life for yourself here and it would be a shame if they came and ruined it.”
“What do you want?”
“I’m putting together a team for a special venture and I’d like you to be apart of that team. We’re meeting at the Deer’s Hide tavern in Berdla in seven days,” he said.
“What if I just killed you right now?”
“My threat isn’t contingent on me leaving here alive. It goes off whether or not I’m alive. The only way to stop it is to come to the meeting. After that, you can walk away but I need you to hear me out.”
“Can I kill you after the meeting?” she asked a new smile creeping onto her face.
“If you still feel that way, yes.”
“Seven days isn’t a lot of time. I’ll have to arrange for extra workers, I’m going to miss my regular shopping day so I’m going to have to make arrangements for that, plus the beer needs to be checked before the end of the week.”
The man set a bag on the bar. “I may be blackmailing you into this meeting but I am still paying for your time.”
Olga opened the bag and smiled She reached in and pulled out a small handful of gold and silver coins. “Well, you should have said that in the first place. I guess I’ll be seeing you in seven days.” She dropped the coins back in the bag. “What’s your name?”
“His name is Jasper Dalton.”
“Oh, him. He’s in the back with the rest of your group. Straight back, past the stairs.”
Olga walked in the direction the barkeep had pointed and found a group of people seated around two tables pushed together. At one end was a tall large woman missing one arm. On her left was a man who looked like he was in desperate need of clean clothes and a barber. His beard was flecked with bits of meat from the turkey leg he was eating. Next to him was a young woman with short hair wearing a leather vest. Scars and burns dotted her arms. Across from her was a big muscular man, though still smaller than the woman at the end of the table, in a leather jacket. And at the head of the table Jasper Dalton. A little cleaner looking but wearing the same clothes from a week ago. He stood up when he saw Olga.
“The last member of our team has arrived. Please take a seat.” He gestured to the empty chair next to the muscular man. She sat down. “Would you like anything to eat or drink before we get down to business?”
“Wine, a turkey leg,” the dirty man saluted her with his own, “Bread and soup as well.” Jasper motioned to the barmaid and relayed her order.
“Well aren’t you the odd one out. Annie and I are almost a matched set.” He lifted his right arm and shook away his cloak to reveal a scarred stump instead of a hand.
“She is missing an eye,” the large woman, Annie, said.
“True but it’s not quite the same as an arm or hand. I’m Brent by the way and you are?”
“Olga,” Olga asked.
A hand slid into Olga’s view from her right, her blindside. She grabbed it with her left and began to drive her right elbow back but stopped as she turned and saw the barmaid. Olga dropped her elbow took the soup the barmaid had been trying to serve to her, set it on the table, slid out of her chair and began comforting the barmaid.
“Oh dear, I am so sorry. You came up on my blindside and startled me. Are you alright? I didn’t squeeze your wrist too hard did I?” she asked in a high pitched voice.
“No ma’am.” She rubbed her wrist where red finger marks were slowly fading. “I’m sorry I startled you.”
“You have nothing to be sorry for. I scary to easy for an old woman. Just come from my left so I can see you. That’s a good girl.”
Olga retook her seat aware everyone was staring at her. “What? Did I spill the soup?”
“You almost knocked that girl’s face in,” Annie said
“But I didn’t. I have a bad startle reflex on my blind side, so be mindful of it.”