Telfor slowly turns the page of his book in the mild afternoon sun. Keeping a mindful eye on Sara who is busy playing with the other park children. Books are one of Telfor’s last remaining guilty pleasures, the guilt of which is almost entirely the cost of the hobby. Even in capital books are expensive. And having failed to get payed, Telfor resorted to rereading an old favourite instead of picking up a new on.
This book once belonged to his father. It purports to be a history of the Kingdom but reads more like a collection of myths and fairy tales. To Telfor carries fond memories of his childhood in Pike’s Reach during the years before the war. A couple of pages into the story of Vike the Wretched (the hero despite his name), his reading is interrupted by Sara wandering over and throwing herself wearily into his lap.
“Wear yourself out, did we Miss?”
Another dramatic slump the only answer he’s likely to get, Telfor closes his book and pulls himself and Sara to their feet. The scars on his chest where the anathema had wounded him tug, and again Telfor wonders how many years he’s got left in him and if they’d be enough.
Outwardly he conceals any of his inner concerns and taking his daughter by the hand, leads her out of the park and down the paved roads towards their home. As tired as she must be, Sara manages to tap into some hidden reserve of energy to tell him all about everything he needed to know about the kid’s she’d met at the park and the very elaborate story they’d made up about super-punching unicorn riding warrior wizards.
At the end of the short walk home, Sara seems to have recovered from her exertions at the park and Telfor is feeling exhausted from listening to everything.
Wondering at Jasha’s ability to keep up with their daughter alone whenever he was out on campaign, Telfor was perfectly content to swap places with his wife and take over the household chores while she watched Sara.
Hours pass, and their first full day together as a family in months comes to a close as Sara’s endless energy finally finds one and she is put to bed, sleeping like a log. Tossing a wood he supposes will last until he has to leave for the mission, Telfor settles down by the fire.
“Your mission still on for tonight?”
Telfor looks to his wife at the question, trying to anticipate the direction of her inquiry. Finding nothing in her demeanour, he answers, “That’s right.”
“I’m coming too.”
He felt the denial spring to his lips almost before he realises what she’s said. Jasha stands over him, her well muscled arms crossed in front of her torso, her stance defiant and firm. Catching himself, he pauses to actually considers it and realises it made sense. She was Reborn too, though currently inactive. More than that she had been a better fighter than him when they’d both been active, and he would be very surprised if she’d slacked on training just because she wasn’t active.
“Alright. But if it’s for any reason you have to make a choice between getting me out or getting yourself out, you get yourself out. Sara needs you more than me.”
Jasha gives him a look that said she didn’t agree, but was too good a soldier to argue. At least in the Reborn, he did outrank her.
With the matter agreed upon, Jasha’s confrontational demeanour softens and she settles down by Telfor’s side, leaning against him with a hand on his.
“Do you really think there’s a chance one of us might not come back?” There was no fear in the question, she simply wanted to know.
“Nothing I’ve seen or been told gives me any reason to think there is. We’re just going to knock on an old priest’s door at night, arrest him, and take him back to the reeve. It should be easier than caravan duty.”
“But you’ve got a bad feeling.”
“I’ve got a bad feeling.”
“Is it because of what you said the other day about the crown and church feuding?”
Telfor sighs, not fully knowing the answers himself, “No, not really. That all makes sense, we’ve considered that and accounted for it. I suppose it’s because I don’t know why.”
“Honey, we never know why. We’re mercenaries.”
He shook his head, brow furrowed, “Not like this, though. Most of the time what we don’t know is irrelevant. We know we’re escorting a caravan to protect from bandits, doesn’t matter why they’re travelling. We know we’re marching east because there’s a war, doesn’t matter why the nobles are fighting. But this one, I don’t know. We’re arresting a criminal to face trial, or justice. Usually that’s enough. But something tells me this isn’t that.”
Jasha runs her palm up his chest to his neck and pulls him down to kiss him.
“I don’t know anything about any of that, but I do know it’s bad to go to a fight tense and we’ve got a couple of hours to ourselves…”
A couple hours later, Telfor and Jasha are weaving their way through the markets. The night is alive, as they always seem to be here, with music, fire, and dancers. Open dining stalls open to the entertainment mostly replacing the practical goods stalls of the day with numerous enterprising sellers of stranger curios seducing market goers from their journey’s with mystery and guile.
They first spot Vahkragg, his head and shoulders breaking free from the crowd vertically despite the crowd of gawkers he’d attracted simply by being a clansman in the city. Almost as quickly, the keen eyed giant spots the pair through the crowd and pushes through the crowd to meet them.
Seemingly not surprised by Jasha’s presence, Vahkragg doesn’t bother trying to talk through the dull roar of the festivities. Instead he nods his head in beckons to the pair and guides them through the crowd to an alley where they find Laurin waiting seated on top of a wooden barrel.
“Well if it isn’t the Rushing Blade, herself. I heard you’d retired.”
Jasha grinned at the smaller man as if she were simply showing him how many teeth she had. It would be a threatening gesture if not for the two’s colourful history. Telfor felt a little heat rising, but pushed it down. That was ancient history.
“Anyone else I don’t know about joining us on tonight’s run, Cap?” Laurin asked.
“Wonderful.” Laurin smiled, hopping gracefully from the barrel, “It’s this way. I’d call it a shortcut, but technically it’s longer just avoids the crowds.”
Now that’s enough happy family time, now it’s time to go and murder them, right? That’s how fantasy do now? Nah they’ll probably survive. Maybe. I dunno, read and find out.