"Belitha Swiftfingers, now that's a name I haven't heard in a long time," says the old woman sitting across the table. She's at least seventy, and is wearing a wool shirt that is starting to fray and leather pants. "Now why do you want to hear about that lass? "
"She owes me a drink, and a coin or two," I reply. It's not the truth, but it's as close as I am willing to tell her. "So what do you know about her?" I keep my gaze as hard as possible, making it clear that I wasn't leaving without answers.
The woman gives me a sorrowful look and scans my face, then sighs and takes a pull from her mead. "Oh well, I guess you probably want it from the top, huh? Alright, but you better buy me a couple rounds, I don't intend on any of the gossips saying I was able to tell this sober." I nod, motion to the barman, and tell him that the woman's next few drink are one me, handing him a small bag of coins. "Alright, you best get comfortable, this may take a while," she said, and took a final pull from her mug and motioning for another.
"So, her childhood. She was born in some mansion outside Tara, her parents weren't nobels, but her father was the brother of some famous blacksmith that lived in the west of the continent, and they would sell some of the things he made. Her parent's marriage was a bit of a scandal realy, her father being human and her mother being an elf. She got one of the best educations gold could buy, learned a fair bit of the intellectual world as well as getting great training in combat, and became quite fond of unarmed combat. She won quite a few tournaments too, from what she said. Her mother use to insist that she dress up and go to court with the nobel girls. She hated that, going to court. The gossiping, the social manipulation, it angered her to no end. So she retaliated by constantly playing tricks on sabotaging the nobel girls every chance she got. A couple years later, her parent's went broke, they had just been able to take care of Belitha and keep up appearances for a little over a decade, they hadn't been able to keep up business since her father's brother and his family where killed. Belitha went off to make her own living at that point, ended up guarding merchants and couriers. She was eighteen at the time, she said." The old woman took a long drink here, rebolstering herself. I took the pause in the story to order some baked pike and a mug of ale.
After a couple minutes and a few more swings of mead, the old woman cleared her throat and began again: "Where was I now? Aye, that's where I was, her being a guard for hire. That's how I met her. I was part of a small group of bandits. We weren't killers or anything, we just intimidated merchants and travelers into giving us some of their things, never all of it. We where just trying to get by and feed ourselves. Anyways, she was guarding some well off merchant, the kind that would call enough gold to feed us for a month pocket change. They where walking through a small valley, and we where hiding just behind a hill. Roy, our leader, gave the call and we went in to intimidate them, or at least so I thought. What I didn't know was that Roy had told the rest to go in for blood. As soon as I realized what was going on, I ran ahead the rest, turned aroud, and tried to stop them. Belitha and I fought side by side, the other guard that was protecting the merchant got his head smashed in. Most of the gang ran off as soon as the first couple guys fell. Roy was stubborn though. He went to stab me, and Belitha charged in front of me. She got stabbed through her side, but not before landing a hard blow on the side of Roy's head. He fell over dead, her dying. We, the merchant and I, hurried the last couple miles to the city and brought her to the healer. He couldn't do anything but ease the pain. The next thing I know, she disappears in a flash of light and then reappears a few seconds later, with no sign of her ever being hurt. That's when she found out she was a Milletian. The healer poured us all a drink to calm our nerves and Belitha and I talked for a short while about what happened. I ended up volunteering to help finish guarding the merchant on his way to Bangor. After that, Belitha and I worked together as guards. Those where some good times. The pay wasn't too bad, and the nights on the fields, laying together in the light of Ewecca..." I cough, nearly choking on the pike. The old womans face begins to develop a deep blush as she realizes what she said. She takes a nervous pull from her mug.
"Aye," she says, looking into her mug. "We where lovers. Anyways, years went on like that. As time passed, I got older, and she didn't. We started to grow distant. Once I got to the point I couldn't work as a guard anymore, we didn't see each other much. Eventually, it came to be that she would only come visit a couple times a year. I think she felt sorry for me, and herself. She probably couldn't stand the fact that there would be a time that I would die and she would live on. Last I talked with her, three months ago, she said that she was going to be taking some spoiled merchant's son to that "love island," sounded like he had a crush on some popular singer over there or somethi-"
I jumped to my feet and slammed my hands on the table, nearly toppling the mugs and making my now empty plate shake. "Found you, cousin," I blurted out, and started heading to the door.
From behind me I heard the old woman exclaim: "Wait, what?!"