Coffee Break Read – A Tavern in Harkera

The pottery shattered as it hit the stone wall and the wine splashed out in a liquid corona, staining the fine fabric of the hangings and seeping over the floor like blood flowing from a wound. The music slid to a discordant halt as the musicians scattered quickly and a single shriek from one of the serving girls ended the tune.
Jariq Zarengor sat still, holding the cup which he had been filling from the wine jug, a motionless figure in a sudden sea of movement as the other patrons of the inn decided it was wiser to be elsewhere. Ralik stood by the wall, arms folded watching, as the Harkeran Vavasor drew his sword and continued shouting.
“You can’t seduce another man’s wife and expect to get away with it.”
The Harkeran noble was sober enough, even if high in emotion, but Zarengor had been drinking steadily since they had arrived at the inn. Ralik straightened up slightly and unfolded his arms. He saw another Harkeran was moving forward, one hand reaching under the dark blue cloak he was wearing. Zarengor seemed not to have noticed and was frowning very slightly, as if confused by what was happening. He gestured with his empty hand towards the bench beside him.
“I have no idea what you are talking about, but if you have a problem, why not sit down with me, have a drink and talk it over. We can get some more wine – ”
He was not able to finish before the Harkeran lunged at him and was instantly sent sprawling backwards as Zarengor exploded into motion almost faster than the eye could follow, tipping the heavy wooden table forward into his assailant and in the same fluid movement, turning as he rose, drawing his sword to bring the point to the throat of the second man before his own blade had even half-emerged from beneath the blue cloak.
The second Harkeran released his sword hilt and leaving both hands spread wide, stepped back carefully, reading certain death in the steady brown eyes. His companion groaned beneath the table and tried weakly to push it off. Zarengor seemed to have forgotten him completely, slamming his sword back into its scabbard and striding from the room. Ralik detached himself quietly from the wall and made a less noticeable exit by another door as people surged forward.
As he left, he noticed it took two men to lift the heavy table. The voices of the Harkerans followed him out, mutters of fear and admiration, of condemnation and simple envy. Ralik had a passing moment of gratitude that he was not of the kind to inspire such feelings in others.

From Transgressor Trilogy 2: Times of Change by E.M. Swift-Hook.

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