Callon stared at the empty stein and whirled the lingering foamy froth about the glass. The tavern had not changed much from the stories. It still had the same drab walls with faded wood, though some places had started rotting through of late. It still had the unevenly lined stools with five spindly legs instead of four. And, the ale still seemed thinner than normal.
The barkeeper nodded and tapped the keg spigot. He sloughed off the tall foam head as he poured, one eye on Callon the entire time, but said nothing of it. Had he thought with his head and not his thirst, he would have considered the possibility that the barkeeper realized what he was. Had he stopped at just three ales, Callon might have considered that, because of his graying hair and hunched stance, the barkeeper might have known his father. But, he cared for nothing but the warm, fuzzy comforts hiding at the bottom of the stein in his hand – his sixth. It was something he always found funny, considering. Recognizing and connecting him to his father was about as likely as a Dragon being tamed by a woman. The only resemblance Callon had to his father was his temper and humor; he had his mother’s charming looks and the coincidence of his father’s rich brown hair was dismissive, at best.
No one ever knew he was Trent McKafrey’s son, unless they knew his real name.
“Long day?” The barkeeper asked as he slid the stein down the short distance to Callon’s perched hands.
The barkeeper shrugged and set to wiping the bar top in a steady, swirling motion.
“Perhaps you should join those idiotic Rogues, then!” Grunted a husky voice from the nearby tables.
Callon glanced over his shoulder slowly, eyeing the man diagonally behind him. He was big –not in muscular structure, but rather the gut – shorter, and was easily heading towards the double digits in ales.
“Yeah, you… you’d make a great addition, I’d reckon. Not only is life too long for you, but you’re a whiny pip!”
Callon blinked, took a sip with his gaze solidly fixed on the fat man, and then returned his attention to the bar. He leaned onto the wood bar as he drank through the foam head of his ale.
“I heard the Rogues are so desperate to return to the gavasti-ridden storm this Realm was before the Chancellor, that they’re kidnapping children and murdering any who resist. Heard of this whole Brydellan tailor’s family that got wiped out except for the young daughter. Who, surprise, surprise, is now missing. And, we all know what Rogues do with women – can you imagine what they’d do to that little girl?”
The husky man’s drinking buddy laughed into his glass of straight alcohol. “In true McKafrey tradition, eh?”
“Bretzing McKafrey. That sorry excuse for a man was inspiration to all rakes and rogues. Take ‘em – rape ‘em – slave ‘em.”
As their laughter grew, the barkeeper leaned forward. His drew together tightly, as if he were tempted to say something about the establishment’s favorite and most-missed patron, but Callon waved a dismissive hand in his face. He tossed his head back, pounded his ale, slammed down the stein, and pushed back from the stool. The five legs scraped against the stone floor in an irritatingly loud pitch as he turned around to face the pair.
At well over six feet tall, Callon stood as a sizable foe with an even worse temper. He cracked his neck making sure to hit each vertebra. The dim lighting rendered the scar on his lower right cheek even more excruciatingly painful than he remembered it being as a child. It was a look that he often used to his advantage, even though he could not quite remember what foolish childhood errand had earned the long scar. Callon stood, arms folded across his muscular chest, his brown shirt exposing a flash of the tattoo on his left chest. He stared through the pair as he shifted from leg to leg, sizing up the husky man and his dirt-covered companion. When his rapier hilts flashed in the lanternlight, he matched the flare with his own smile.
“Look who wants to dance, Fynn,” the husky man said, finishing off his ale.
“Be gone runt.” Fynn stood and smiled down at Callon.
The loud mouth made sense to Callon now, but it did not excuse it. He might be crass, brash, and a bit hot headed, but Callon preferred manners and politeness, even in the company of idiots. He exhaled and rested his hands on his hilts.
“Did I hit a delicate nerve, Puny One? It looks this little man is sensitive, Gol.”
“Do you need a moment?” Gol asked, smiling with a hole-filled grin.
Callon’s laugh started out soft, but grew to carry across the two-story tavern, amusement tweaking his face into a wide smile with every pair of eyes that fell on the standoff. For the two men before him, with perhaps less than half a brain between the two, he knew better than to engage them. Their stupidity discredited any nonsense or rare logic they presented. But, he could not forgive the rub at his father. It was not that his father was a saint; he was far from it. But Callon held firm to the belief that you only insulted those who were able to fight back. For his father, he would have to stand in his stead. “You should be respectful of the dead, whether you liked them or not, Idiotic Ones.”
“Should we? And I suppose you and those little swords will make me?”
Callon nodded as he stepped away from the bar. As he walked closer to the pair, the table behind them and to the right of them stood, fingers twitching by their weapon belts. That made six. Six was doable. His record while buzzed, drunk, or some combination there of, was five but, he had been sick that fight and there was always room for improvement.
“And my men?”
Callon nodded again.
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Genre - Fantasy
Rating – PG-13