Wherein C.F.Barrón does his thing...

Day 9: from The Songster's Tale

Despite the early snow, The Reach was bustling with excitement over tomorrow’s festivities. Women were hanging garlands above the doors as the men prepared their homes for the coming winter. It was dark by the time the triplets made it back home, and Damien was in a fey mood after having spent the day “working”. “See, even cut throats and harlots like a good celebration!” Damien gave the girls one last squeeze before walking into The King’s Rose. The moment his boot cleared the doorway a buxom blonde careened into him and jumped into his arms.

“Damien!” she squealed, and a trail of girlish giggles followed the pair as they walked up the tavern’s stairs.

“Nice to see you too Adeline…” Deidra said, and the eye roll she gave her sister nearly gave Merida vertigo.

“Looks like we’re in charge of business tonight.” Merida shrugged.

The two promptly made their way to the back of the tavern, leaving their brother to his indulgences. The King's Rose was the largest inn that The Reach had to offer, and it was the first property the triplets had come to own in their tenure as heads of the guild. The original owner had also been its chief architect, and he had intended for this three story building of stone and rose wood to be his greatest achievement. No expense had been spared, and everything from the color of the clay shingles to the material of the chamber pots had been considered. That the inn's clientele shifted from a demographic who cared about such things to one who couldn't fathom what “temperature”, “contrast” and “saturation” even meant, was an irony that was not at all lost on Deidre whenever she walked its halls. Weaving through polished wood tables and warm bronze sconces, the two settled in at the largest table. A boulder of a man soon greeted them.

“Markus.” Merida clasped forearms with the burly “owner”. “Any news?”

The man looked thoughtful.

“There’s a new musician in town, He’s stayin’ at th’ Boar’s Head. M’ boys say he can play somethin' fierce on tha’ fiddle o’ his.” Markus scratched his beard absentmindedly. “Uh… Geoff ne’er came through and uh Nathaniel and his had a dispute with the boys o’er on the far side of the Reach. Dane is ‘ere I’ll send him o’er to ya.”

“Thank you Markus.” Deidra leaned back and kicked her feet up as the bar keep lumbered away.

Dane never looked like he belonged in the Reach. Always just a tad too clean cut. His clothes were never dirty enough, he spoke too formally, and he carried himself too much like a noble. But he slinked into the seat at the edge of the booth, next to Deidra, and slid his tithe to Merida.

“My ladies” he said, reaching to kiss Deidra’s hand. She scoffed, pulling away, and wiped her hand on her trousers. She glanced at Merida who shook her head and slid the tithe back in its bag.

“You’re short.”

“Short?”

Deidra set her feet down.

“Tithe's gone up now that you've started poaching the northern Reach.”

She raised an eyebrow inviting a denial. None came.

“Two additional silver pieces as reparation and five coppers for wasting my time.”

You can not be serious?!” Dane hissed.

A slow smile crept across Deidra’s face

“Are you calling your contract forfeit then?”

Merida sat forward, setting her laced fingers on the table, and smiling.

His gaze bounced between the two of them as he cleared his throat and adjusted his collar.

“I… uh… no.” He fished in his purse and handed over the coins before standing to leave.

“It’s always a pleasure Dane.” Deidra handed the extra coins to her sister and looked up at the freshly formed line of guild members. She sighed, and nodded at the next thief to take his turn.

After a time, Damien came trotting down the stairs to find Nate taking a seat at the triplet’s table.

“Nathaniel. I hear you and your lot are causing trouble down by the wall.” Damien clapped the stout man on the shoulder and sat between his sisters.

“Merely protecting what is mine,your highness.” Nathaniel sneered.

“King of Thieves is just a silly title Nathaniel…” Damien said. In a flash, he had slammed his dagger down, through the sleeve of Nathaniel’s shirt.

“Really, I don’t stand on formalities around here. But I will not let there be disorder in The Reach. Merida? What’s the penalty for disruptive conduct?”

“Double the tithe for a fortnight and two coppers for every person involved.”

“Considering you, your brother, and your three cousins caused a raucous that involved five other people lets say double your tithe and a gold piece and we’ll call it even.”

“Even.” Nathaniel handed over his money and made to dislodge the blade pinning his shirt to the table. When he found that he couldn't he jerked his arm back, allowing the dagger to slice through the material. He left the tavern without a word, but a palpable frustration.

“I see Adeline filled you in then.” Deidra took a swig of the beer in front of her. “What are we going to do about Geoff?”

Damien looked to Merida. Merida shrugged and went to the bar.

“He’s been gone for three days now. All of our eyes and ears are on the lookout for him, he can’t hide forever.” Damien said.

Merida came back with three tankards of ale.

“Fine. Are we still splitting the take between the temple renovation and the library project or are we diverting some of the collective purse to the farmer’s guild to help them with the blight?” Deidra asked, before adding “My vote is for the temple and library.”

Damien reached over and pulled his dagger out of the table, sliding it back in its sheath.

“The farmers will never make it if we don’t help again.”

“And the vote goes to you Mer.”

Merida sipped her ale.

“Damien we donate to them every year and it hasn’t helped them change their ways. I’m with Deidra this time. Let them learn this lesson the hard way.”

“Done. You’re both cold and heartless but I love you. Well, now that business is taken care of. Why don't we go check out this new musician?” Damien stood and threw a salute to Markus.

Deidra finished off her tankard in one long gulp “You just want to make sure Borris is doing what you asked.”

Damien tweaked Deidra’s nose, grinned and walked out.