Editor's Note: If you have not yet read the previous chapters to this story, please go to the Fantasy Archive and read those, first. Thank you, TDS.
When the soldiers entered, the one in the lead—a sergeant—looked quickly around the
room and then directed his men to each of the occupied tables, while he moved over to speak
with Barker. The fifth soldier was either watching their horses or was more likely around back,
looking into the stable. If he went inside and recognized Bastion as a war horse, there might be
some uncomfortable questions for the knight to answer. As one of the soldiers approached him,
Humphrey slowly slid the dagger free from its sheath at his back and with his hand covered by
the cape, held the blade against his left thigh. His right hand he kept around the mug of ale he
had already half finished, in case he needed to throw the contents in this man’s face.
The young soldier was soaked from the rain and looked tired. This scouting party obviously did not know who Humphrey was, else they all would have approached him together. Mayhap they had no sense of how lucky their search was progressing. The dark knight kept his head lowered, his face hidden beneath the wide hat brim, but he raised it slightly as the soldier stopped next to his table.
“What business have ye here, sir?” the young man asked, one hand resting on his sword hilt.
“I am a merchant, merely stopping to get out from this weather,” Humphrey answered, his voice sounding nearly as tired as that of the young soldier. From under the hat’s brim, he could see the sergeant and Barker looking in his direction. The sergeant pushed himself away from the bar and moved toward him.
Humphrey glanced over and saw that the soldier who went to question the drunken farmer had hold of the man’s hair, but seeing he was unresponsive let his head fall back to the table and moved over to join his partner talking to the merchants by the window. That meant Humphrey would only have to deal immediately with these two, if necessary. The boy would be no problem, but the sergeant might keep him busy just long enough for his two companions to enter the fight—if it came to that.
The sergeant stopped on the other side of the table facing the seated knight, leaving the young soldier on Humphrey’s right. In a military sense, it was a good position for the sergeant. Humphrey could not see both of the soldiers at the same time and if he were to attack one of them, the other would be on his blind side. He smiled to himself at the sergeant’s skill and gripped the handle of his dagger more tightly.
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