I hardly slept that night. Thoughts were racing through my head wondering why Jasper would send me to a drunkard. Several times I left the warmth of my bed to pace around the room, tempted to open the sealed letter. I held it up against the dim moonlight in hope to make out some written words, but in vain. Countless times I would trace the sigil of the seal with my fingertips. Alas, I would put it back onto the dresser and return to bed, only to start the same ritual all over within less than an hour.
Finally, when morning broke, I was sleep deprived and grumpy. To be fair, I would have been grumpy nevertheless, as I was not a morning person. I descended the stairs into an empty tavern. Only the innkeeper was standing behind the bar, rearranging bottles.
“Good morning,” I was greeted when he spotted me. I forced a smile and nodded back. I was not very talkative, and he was awfully cheery at this early hour.
I chose a table farthest from the bar to avoid useless chatter and ordered breakfast, a simple porridge with sausage and bread.
The food was good, but simple. However, I did not mind. The entire time during breakfast I was mulling over the same thoughts I had had all night. I was wondering what type of character this Jorik was.
Maybe he was former SI:7, I thought nibbling on the bread.
Time went by as I was sitting here, still nibbling on the remnants of my breakfast, lost in thought. Although I would never admit it, but I was stalling. I had never been the shy type, nor the nervous type. However, now, at this particular moment I found myself reluctant to rise from the table and seek out this Jorik. Was I anxious? Maybe. I certainly did not want my hope to turn into smoke.
Eventually, I snapped out of my thoughts as the innkeeper approached the table to clean up the dishes.
“Was it to your liking?”, he asked with a smile.
I smiled back and nodded. I could feel my eyes not smiling. I was tired.
“Say,” I started before he turned around to return to the kitchen. “Where would one find this Jorik Kerridan?”
For a moment he looked at me puzzled.
“Um …, somewhere around the stables, I guess,” he finally replied.
“And where would that be?”
“Right behind the abbey.”
I thanked him and he strutted off to the kitchen, my dirty dishes in his hands. With a sigh and made-up mind, I rose from my seat. I did not wait for him to come back around to pay for the breakfast. It would be added to my bill anyway.
The stables were easy to find, located right behind the abbey as the innkeeper had said. It was an old wooden building with an open wall to one side. apart from hay bales and tools it was empty. The horses must be on the field, I figured. If there were any horses to begin with.
I did not know what exactly I was looking for as the building seemed deserted. However, I shrugged my shoulders and stepped inside. It was quiet. I could hear the leaves of the trees softly rustling in the wind outside as well as the birds tweeting along to its melody.
Before me lay a small corridor with boxes to either side. Most of their doors we unlocked or even partially open as I walked along the way. The sound of my footsteps was absorbed by the soft hay which covered the floor. It was quite bright inside, so I had no trouble peaking inside the boxes to determine if they were truly empty.
So far, I only found hay. Seriously, there was hay everywhere. I continued, although I did not exactly know what I was looking for. Until, in one box I saw it. A man of dirty blonde hair and mustache lay in a pile of hay. He was serenely snoring in his makeshift bed.
“Hello?” I carefully approached him, but got not response.
“Hello?”, I tried again, loader this time. Still, his slumber was unbroken.
Unsure of what to do my gaze wandered around. There was nothing but hay and this man in the box. I crept closer to get a better view of the man. Had he not been snoring I would have thought he was dead. I pursed my lips, thinking for a moment. There was only one way. I shrugged my shoulders and kicked the man as hard as I could in the shin.
Suddenly a loud shriek. The man bolted upright, on his face an expression of bewilderment and anger.
“My shin!”, he screamed clutching his leg. He was swearing away like a sailor but immediately stopped once he spotted me standing only a meter away.
I put on a smile and waved.
“Who are you?”, he was definitely not in a good mood, but then again, who would be when awoken by a kick to the shin?
“Hi,” I stepped closer holding out my hand for a handshake, still smiling. “My name is Branwyn. Jasper sent me.”
His brows furred, staring at me. After a moment he rose to his feet, ignoring my hand.
“You are Jorik, right?”
“What do you want?” he growled, not confirming my belief of who he was.
Although there was a slight possibility that this man was not Jorik, I simply decided that he was. With a swift movement of my hand, I pulled out Jasper’s letter rom my pocket and offered it to him with an outstretched arm.
For a second his gaze alternated between the letter and my face. Then with a sigh he snatched it, ripped the seal open and started reading.
I hope this letter finds you well.
As I know you are not fond of pleasantries I will come straight to the point. I must ask a favor of you, but before you deny and send the bearer of this letter back my way, I must remind you that you are in my debt. A debt which I hereby collect with this request.
I have personally witnessed her talents and do not agree with the initial assessment of the SI:7. As you know I do not like potential to be wasted. Therefore, it will be your task to teach the bearer of this note our ways. I can personally vouch for her natural skills and except nothing less than brilliance from her.
Train the bearer of this note and I consider your debt paid.
While he did so I studied his face carefully. His brows furred more and more while he was reading, until his head suddenly bobbed up from behind it. It must have been a short letter. With a single distasted grunt, he threw the letter back at me.
“Go home,” he said sitting back down into the pile of hay.
“No?” his brows unfurred as he looked at me.
“No,” I starred back. His gaze wandered up and down my body, seemingly studying me. With his right hand he started striking his chin as he did so. I, however, remained steadfast and held my stare.
“Branwyn it was, right?” he smirked.