Tiana swept into the tavern, flinging her arms wide, and flourishing the massive ogre's head she held. “Honey, I'm home!” Some blood splattered on the ground, causing a nearby patron to screech their seat away from her.
The tavern had a good crowd today: two or three off-season farmers deep in argument over radishes, a bored-looking guard nursing an ale at the bar, and a child happily slurping at some stew while their parent pored over a ledger book.
“Oh for the love of hex, Tiana! Leave that thing outside!” Grimm, the crochety old barman, waved a hand at her as if she didn't know where outside was.
She walked over and sat on a barstool, dropping the head on the ground next to her. Thick, purple blood pooled around the chair legs. “No way am I leaving a bounty like this out there for the vultures, or even worse, the birds.”
Grimm didn't smile at her joke. He crossed his arms over his barrel chest and glared down at her.
She held his flinty gaze until her thirst won out. “Alright, fine! But if I lose this bounty, you owe me ten silver pieces!”
She sauntered over to the door and casually chucked the head through it. It landed and rolled, coming to a stop beside the watering trough for the horses. One horse took a brave sniff before wickering and inching away completely.
Satisfied that the horses would alarm her to any poaching, Tiana clapped her hands together and sat back down at the bar.
“Alright, Grimm. Your house, your rules. I left my baggage at the door so let me have a drink, eh?”
"How about you clean that blood off my floor then we'll talk?"
"Oh come on, Grimm!" she groaned, dramatically throwing herself across the bar. "I've been out all day saving the village, rescuing children. I'll clean it up after. I promise!"
Again, he crossed his arms and stared at her.
"FINE!" she threw her hands up. "Fine! I'll burn a cleaning scroll. For you. I'm doing this for you Grimm!"
With loud, exasperated grunts and sighs, she rummaged in her bag for her scroll folio. The cleaning one had a picture of the creator on it - a large bald man, winking and crossing his arms.
"The marketing on these things is getting ridiculous," she muttered before half heartedly wording the spell. The words whooshed off the scroll and down her arm to where her finger pointed at the blood pile. They transformed into glowing runes which encircled the blood. Then as she read the last word, it all disappeared, leaving nothing behind but a faint citrus smell.
Tiana rolled her eyes up towards Grimm. Happy now?
He leaned over the counter to check if it was really cleaned. Then with a satisfied nod he retrieved a rusty tankard and poured the ale. “No way that thing’s worth ten silver,” he said, going back to the ogre head. "Bit runty-looking to me. Maybe you'll get eight.”
Tiana rolled her eyes. “Maybe you would get eight. But people pay extra for my high-quality service.”
“High-quality?" his bulbous nose shook as he snorted. "You know they don’t need all your reports about the way you kill them. They just want you to kill 'em and take care of the next one. Cut the paperwork, charge 10% less, and we’ll all be happy!”
“We’ve been through this before!" Tiana sighed dramatically."Maybe if people actually read the reports, the overall number of attacks would go down. This guy here?” she pointed to the head at her feet. “He was lurking around a village where those dinks had the kids playing out in the fields. The fields!” she banged the bar for emphasis. “You can hardly blame the guy. He’s this huge hulking thing, got a big stomach to fill, and the villagers are practically serving these kids on a platter! What’s an ogre to do?” she finished with a practiced shrug and pointed swig of ale.
“Get decapitated by the resident hero?” Grimm replied.
“Yes,” she said. “Exactly.”
“And how long did it take you to get his head off?”
Tiana thought about it. “About fifteen minutes?”
“Right. So what's the point of writing the report? They're never gonna use your ideas. Clean out the invading vermin, get paid more often, have less work. That's what I'd do anyways.” He took the empty mug from her to refill it.
“Well that's the difference between you and me,” Tiana said, sticking her chin out. “I don't do things with only half an ass. If I'm sitting in a chair, both cheeks will be planted firmly on it.” She wiggled on the stool for emphasis.
He didn't respond. His attention was drawn to something behind her. She followed his eyes, and everyone else's, to the strangely-dressed stranger in the doorway.