“I’m going to try to take you to a secluded area to meet our leader. Wait here for me,” Neither of us wanted a repeat of last time. I didn’t need to ask know.
“Alright,” Evelyn said.
I nodded my head and entered the tavern. The stench of stale ale and beef hung in the air. The band in the corner covered up the roar of the crowds. I frowned as I tried not to just shove my way past everyone. They always picked the worst places.
Numerous steel chandlers hung above, causing flickers of light to sail across some bald heads. Finally reaching the left wall, I followed it down to the oak table our leader was seated at with the other chief fighters.
“Fletcher your back!” Timen jumped up when he saw me. He hugged me while the other Chief Fighters nodded or simply said hello. If only he could be the same.
I turned to our leader Greyson and smiled. He returned it as he rose from his seat. He hardily shook my hand. “You weren’t supposed to come back without the lassie, where is she?” His tight grip increasing with each word.
“I brought her back, it’s just,” I trailed off, running a hand through my hair.
He sighed and released my hand. “Aye, I expected that given how you shunned the poor lassie the last time you spoke,”
I scowled at the memory. I think any other way I could have chosen to handle that would have gone better than what I did. I had mucked everything up and would I even have the time to make it right now? “That is part of it, but something else happened. Is there a more private area we can discuss it?”
He swept the crumbs out of his unruly beard. He surveyed the tavern. “Is the lassie just outside?”
“Well, we’ll just go out to her. This place was so crowded we just ended up camping outside of town,” His chair scraped harshly across the floor as he got to his feet.
“Should we all come too?” Timen asked, swaying from foot to foot next to me.
“It’ll probably be best if you all do,” I started to make my way back out. My ears faintly caught the scraping of more chairs and thudding of feet as the band became louder. Soft murmurs began to pick up while all the eyes of the company watched us.
The wind pushed steadily against the door while I held it open for Greyson and the other four Chief Fighters present to set out into the crisp night. Evelyn was a few feet away from the entrance, leaning her shoulders and left foot against the crumpling brick exterior. Her grey eyes flickered across each person before settling on me.
“This is Evelyn,” I pointed over my shoulder at her as I stopped a few paces in front of her.
Greyson walked over to her, his strong scent of tobacco making my nostrils scrunch up. Holding out this hand, Evelyn shook it after she kicked off the wall.
“Nice to finally meet you lassie, I wish it could have been under more favorable circumstances. I’m Greyson Gunfer, Chief Leader of the Brothers in Honors. Everything that is ours is yours, consider yourself a part of our mercenary group,” He clasped his under hand over hers and give her a toothy smile.
“Thank you, I appreciate that Greyson,” Evelyn gave him a small smile.
He released her hand and gestured for her to join the small circle me and the other chief fighters had created. She stepped into the spot between Greyson and me. Greyson gave some brief introductions and then asked, “So, what is the matter you wanted to discuss out here,”
I cast my gaze on to Evelyn, which she noticed out of the corner of her eyes. Slightly shaking her head, she grabbed my right wrist. She yanked me into the middle of the circle with her while pushing up my shelve. I lowly hissed through my clenched jaw and she slyly smirked at me. Her finger hovered near the grey scale at the end of my mate scar closest to my elbow. Everyone drew in closer to see it in the dim cast of the lantern overhead.
“This is the beginning of Puruowick Scale. It’s a disease caused by the poison of a Puruowick, a creature that despises soulmates. We got tangled up with one on the Mraga Isle,”
“Puruowick Scale? I’ve never heard of that one before. How bad is it?” Timen asked as he backed up. He resumed his swaying.
I jerked my wrist out of her grip and backed up. I ran a hand through my hair. “There is no cure. It will eventually kill us and we have no idea how long that will take,”
“So, we don’t know much,” Greyson began to light his pipe. Taking a drag, he blew out a ring and tapped it against his lip.
” We are trying to find Evelyn’s teacher. He could have more information,”
“Who would that be?”
“Caleb Rathais” Evelyn said.
“Aye, Rathias,” Greyson let out another puff of his pipe, the smoke further filling the surrounding air, “Isn’t he the one they consider the Voyia Master?”
“Yes, he is, but he hates that title,” Evelyn smiled fondly.
“You must be pretty talented yourself then,”
“I know more than most, but nowhere near as much as him. Really, he taught me his techniques for gathering information, but he can’t teach his sly charisma. That’s really why he’s the master,”
He nodded his head at her with a gentle smile and turned his direction to the other four. “Raia and Simone, I want you two lassies to get a hold of all our groups currently working on a job. Advise them to seek out any information they can find on the Puruowick Scale while accomplishing their tasks. Timen and Russo, I want you two lads to reach out to any local groups not present tonight and advise them on the same thing,” Greyson said. Everybody around the circle nodded. “Was there anything else you two wished to discuss?” He gestured between us with his pipe.
“I have nothing else, so I will be taking my leave. Thank you for your assistance,” She bowed towards Greyson and offered a fleeting smile to the others.
“Your welcome to join us back at the tavern. I’d like to learn how you can get away with messing with Fletcher without him ripping your head off,” Raia said with a crooked smirk.
Evelyn gave a closed mouth chuckle when she took notice of my grimace. “Guilt is my guess,” She called back as she advanced down a shadowed alley, giving a small wave without looking back.
I rubbed my hand up my face as I brushed my hair out of my eyes. I was not sure whether I should consider this interaction good or bad. She had been nice and civil, but still ever distant.
“I’ll take time to bridge the gap laddie and that lassie there is going to make you work for it, but remember this will make your brother happy. And it makes us happy to if that helps any,” Greyson roughly patted my back. They all headed back to the tavern.
I watched them disappear before looking up at the sky. My breath wafted in the air from the chill coming on. How fitting, there was a chill in the air when I left them, but it was stronger than. The weather was thawing out now, maybe she would too.
“So, have you figured out who your soulmate is?”
I slowly raise my head and glared at the young, big eyed girl staring at me. She twiddled her thumbs as she forced a smile. I hated new recruits, could never mind their own business. They wanted to know everything about you.
I downed my tankard. I rose from the table. Raia elbowed me in my stomach. I hissed as I staggered forward. “Must you always be so rude to the new recruits? Apologize and give her an answer,”
I snarled at her. “Sorry, Tammila, it’s not a topic I discuss,”
“Oh, I’m sorry! Did you lose her?” She clasped her hands over her heart and frowned.
“Something like that,” I mumbled. I turned to go. I glanced down at my mate scar and growled. Why had I been cursed with one of these?
“You know it’s not such a bad thing to have one,”
My head whipped to the left, Raia was walking in sync with me. I rolled my eyes. “You don’t have one, so I don’t think you can really judge,”
“You know you turn into a rude imbecile when anyone just looks at your mate scar,” She halted in front of me.
I quickly stopped, tittering on my feet a little. “If you had this curse you would get it,”
“Please don’t tell me that you said that too her,”
“What’s it matter to you what I said or didn’t say to her? Do you know her? Is she your friend, your cousin, an old neighbor?”
“But nothing. This is none of your business or anyone’s here, but you all constantly choose to make it your business. Do, I prod into your life like this?”
“No, but Fletcher-“
“I respect your privacy, so show me the same darn respect, all of you,” I looked around the room at the group. Stomping past Raia, I threw open the door of the tavern. The snow blew into my face and I let out a long breath.
Trudging along a few feet, I dropped down onto a bench under a lamp post. The snow started to steep into my pants, chilling my bones. The sky was dark and the flurries of snow made it difficult to see. But it was quiet and it smelled nothing of ale, spoiled meat or barf.
Sometimes I wondered why I thought joining a mercenary group would be the best way to find you Franz. I figured all the people and traveling would be to my advantage, but thus far the first had been more of an obnoxious hindrance then a good resource. I should just leave and go about searching on my own. I wouldn’t get sidetracked and I was strong enough I could clean up bandits or small animal hordes for money.
Resting my arms along the back of the bench, I leaned up head back. The snow landed and melted on face, burning my skin.
“A little cold you think to be sitting out here, aye?”
I lazily lifted my head to find the Chief Leader in front of me. I guess this would be my opportunity to let him know I’d be leaving. “I’ll take this over being in there,”
He frowned, and I closed my eyes and resumed my previous position.
“Fletcher, I know your frustrated, but we are even more so watching you waste your life like this,”
My head and eyes snapped up. My hands squeezed the soft wood of the bench. I glowered at him. “I’m trying to find my little brother, or have you forgotten that?”
“No, I haven’t,” Greyson blew out a ring of smoke and placed his pipe back in his mouth.
“Then what sort of person can say that is a waste?” I sprang up to my feet and advanced towards him.
He grabbed my shoulder, applying pressure. “Because Fletcher your brother’s considered dead. I know that someone has told you otherwise, but it’s been six years and you have nothing to show for it. Heck, you haven’t even been able to find the person giving you this information. Two years ago, you had the opportunity of a new chapter, but you tossed it aside for something that you can’t even be sure is real. That lassie is real, you could make something there,”
I dropped my head, my hair covering my face. My body slightly trembled. “But what about my brother?”
“From what you have told me and everyone else about him, we are all in agreement he wouldn’t want you chasing after his ghost, he’d want you to be happy. Be honest with yourself Fletcher, you’re the furthest thing from that,”
I punched my right fist into the open palm of my left hand. Greyson was right, they all were right. Franz would want me to move forward with my life. Out of anyone, he was always the most excited for me to find my soul mate. He’d probably have smacked me upside my head repeatedly for how I rejected her.
“I think you should take time away from the company and go find the lassie. I would hope you’d come back, but if you don’t, we’d understand,” Greyson said.
“I was thinking that I needed to leave too,”
“Not for that reason though, right?”
“No, but I think your right. Franz wouldn’t want me living in the past. So, for him, I guess I’ll try to track down Evelyn,”
“So that’s the lassie’s name. Do you think you’ll come back?”
“I don’t know. I’d like to come back for a bit, but I never planned on staying with the company forever though”
“I never expected that with you,” He clapped me on the back and chuckled.
“I’ll be going to get my stuff now,”
“You going to tell everyone or do you want me too?”
“You do it,” I started in the direction of my lodgings. I stopped and looked back at Greyson. “Thank you for everything you have done for me,”
“You better be grateful laddie,” He let out a full belly laugh. “You be careful and remember your welcome back when you want to come back,” He pounded his left fist over his chest.
I slightly smiled and nodded my head. Heading back towards my room, I sighed. This wasn’t my original plan for leaving, but hopefully it would be the better reason for doing it.