”We need your help” Lexa explained.
Kiri continued to look about the room examining everything but, her eyes kept coming back to the sword above the mantle that looked so out of place.
“If you need the help of an old man who is so far removed from society, you must be in bad shape.” the hermit said. “I cannot help you.”
The hermit shoved a steaming mug into each of their hands. Kiri sniffed to see what was in the mug and was repulsed by the smell. She blew on the liquid to cool it and attempted to take a sip, not wanting to offend the hermit.
“We have no one else to turn to and nobody we can trust. We are only looking for you to confirm our suspicions about what is happening to the town. I have heard that you are supposed to have knowledge of the surrounding towns and we needed to know if the rumors of those towns are true also.” Lexa said.
Kiri took a tentative sip of the drink and was pleasantly surprised to find that it tasted much better than it smelled. She listened to the conversation and took a few more sips of the tea, slowly realizing that it didn’t taste as good as the first sip. She resigned to just holding the mug and listening.
“What makes you think that I of all people would have any knowledge that could possibly help you?” he asked.
“We have heard that you travel to the different towns and that you listen and know information even before the towns people do. It is just that information which we are looking for.” Lexa said.
“You barge into my home, demanding information, expecting to just tell you all the secrets of the world when I don’t even know who the hell you are or what you really want.” he said.
“I’m Kiri, I own the bar and this is Lexa, she works for me.” Kiri offered.
The old man froze and starred at her. “You … you own the bar? You mean … you mean the town inn?”
“Yes, yes I do.” Kiri said smiling, “Well, it was actually my father’s but now that he’s gone, I guess it’s mine.”
The hermit glanced towards the fireplace, looked about the room and grabbed his spear and screamed. “Out, out! Get out of my house!”
He started to poke the spear at them. When they weren’t moving fast enough or started to question why the sudden change, he started to swing the spear breaking anything in the way.
Lexa and Kiri dropped their mugs and ran out of the hut and into the woods as fast as possible, hearing the door slam shut behind them. They ran for a short while, making their way through the woods.
“What happened there?” Kiri asked.
“I don’t know, it almost seemed like something you said.” Lexa explained.
“But I didn’t say anything.”
Kiri and Lexa made their way back to the bar just in time to here the first patrons banging on the door.
“Hang on. Hang on.” Kiri said as she unbolted the door.
The door swung open and the first few patrons of the evening strolled in. A few grumbled about the door not being open.
“There you go. See I told you it wasn’t any kind of a conspiracy; the young lady was probably busy with something else and hadn’t been able to open the door yet, nothing to worry about.” one of the patrons said to another, “Evenin’ miss.”
Kiri busied herself by getting the first round of beers for everyone. She set a couple of beers in front of the two gentlemen.
“When you came in, you mentioned something about a conspiracy, what did you mean?” Kiri asked.
“Oh, nothin’, Sam here thinks that there are people trying to take of the town and doing it without any of us knowin’”
“Oh, how’s that?” Kiri said, pulling up a chair.
“Ted doesn’t even believe that what I think is even true. You probably won’t either.” Sam said.
“I’ll tell you what, you tell me your story and I’ll give you guys a round on the house. Whether I believe it or not, let’s just say that I like a good story.” Kiri suggested.
At this, their faces lit up.
“Go on Sam; tell her your story, ‘sides my beer’s about empty.” Ted said.
Sam took a drink of his beer and looked around cautiously, “Well, it’s not really a story, you see, it’s just a bunch of pieces but when you put them all together, well they become mighty interesting. I believe that someone of something is trying to take over the town and there won’t be anything we can do about it, because the way they are doing it. Have you noticed that there are a lot more people in town lately?”
Kiri nodded her head.
“Not just people but men” Sam continued,”and they all seem to have a presence about them like they are in the military or something. I even heard a few talking about captains and such. There all going about doing what they are ordered to but quietly, so they’re not noticed.”
Ted piped in, “Tell how they’re going to take over the town.”
“Shut up. I’ll get there. Whose story is it anyway?” Sam asked. “Well all these men have a purpose but, it’s not to fight. Don’t get me wrong, they have weapons and will use them if they need to. But their purpose is to put pressure on the townspeople. You see, they don’t come into town brandishing their weapons and start a fight, instead they get into people’s minds and threaten their lives and their families until the townspeople do what they want and the soldiers have control.”
Sam stopped and took a drink emptying his beer mug.
“Tell her when they are planning on doing this.” Ted said.
Sam shot him an angry look, “Well, I don’t know for sure but it appears like they have everything prepared. I’ve also heard the may have the mayor under their control. That would be the major piece they need to pull this off. So I think it will be soon that they are going to take over the town and the people won’t even know it because they will be too busy worrying about new laws the soldiers put into place. By the time they realize something has happened, it’s too late.” Sam looked around and whispered, “I’m trying to get the townspeople together to stand up to them and fight. I figure if we can stand together, that makes their tactics even weaker. If I can’t get the people to band together, then I will leave quietly, on my own if I have to.” he shot a glace at Ted. “Well, there you have it”
“Isn’t that one of the best stories you’ve heard in a while?” Ted asked.
Kiri put the chair back, got up walked to the bar and filled two mugs which she placed before Sam and Ted. “There you go guys, two beers, on the house. Yes, that was one of the best stories I’ve heard in a while. And Sam, let me know if you have anymore to go with that story, I’d like to hear more about it.” Kiri said.
Kiri turned towards the kitchen, wanting to let Lexa know all that Sam and Ted had told her. Before she got to the door, an argument started on the other side of the room.
“No it didn’t!”
“Yes it did, I tell you.”
Kiri stood and watched for a second to see where this would lead, grabbing the rolling pin beneath the bar.
“My cousin just arrived from there, barely got out with his life. He said that Port town was taken over, quickly and quietly and that we were next.
“Never! That’s a lie.” the first man said as he grabbed the second man,
Before he could throw a punch, Kiri rang the bell she used for last call.
Brandishing her rolling pin, she said, “Alright listen up! Take it outside or settle down. Anymore outbursts like that and I’ll throw you all out and shut the place down for the night.”
There were a few boos from the patrons. As the two men began to sit back down, they kicked each other’s chair. Kiri rang the bell once and pointed her rolling pin at them. They sat down. Kiri watched them for a second and then went to the kitchen.
Kiri was in the kitchen explaining everything to Lexa when the commotion started.
“Not again.” Kiri said as she grabbed her rolling pin and headed for the bar, “Come on, I may need your help.”
Kiri stepped through the doorway into the bar and stopped causing Lexa to have to force her way through. There in front of them, picking himself up off of the ground was a young boy who had tripped over a chair as he was pushed through the door by the two very large men who stood behind him.
The boy stood up, brushed himself off and unrolled a scroll. “Hear ye, hear ye! By order of Mayor Tillman: From hence forth, the town is under martial law. Any executive orders or decisions will be made and confirmed by Captain Voler. There will be guards placed at every entrance to the town and nobody will be given permission to pass without written order. The townspeople must surrender any weapons immediately. A curfew will be enforced and all townspeople must be off the streets by dusk.”
The boy turned, nailed the parchment to the door and left with the guards.