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Official website of Science Fiction and Fantasy Author Carol Hightshoe

Born From Chaos


“Myrith, another round of ales along with one of your smiles,” Jod called as she walked by. He laid two coins on the table, one silver and one gold. The other three men each also laid silver coins on the table.

Myrith nodded as she danced out of the way of another customer’s grasping hand. She had worked in the tavern for most of her twenty-eight springs and had learned the art of dodging quite well. Of course that wasn’t the only art she had been forced to learn either. Fortunately, for the last few years Marcus had given her more of a say in certain aspects of those extra duties he required her and the other servers to perform.

She returned with the drinks Jod had ordered and deliberately left the extra gold piece on the table when she collected the money. Unless Marcus ordered her to, she was not spending time with Jod again: not after the last time. She shuddered as he placed a hand on her arm and squeezed it.

The man had decided she should be exclusively his whenever he visited the Silver Dragon and had tried to hurt her for choosing another patron over him that night. Despite her appearance, she was very strong and had been able to protect herself from the attempted assault, but Marcus had made it clear that if she accepted a customer’s gold they could do whatever they wanted as long as no permanent damage was done. However, since Jod was the local representative of the Overlord, Marcus hadn’t wanted to hear that he hadn’t paid for her company that night.

Nothing had happened as a result of that incident however she was glad there were other witnesses to her refusal of his payment this time.

“You forgot something,” one of the other men at the table said, holding up the gold coin.

“I am not available tonight.” She turned back toward the bar jerking her arm away from Jod.

One of the men at the table reached out and grabbed for her long red hair. Myrith spun around quickly, her left hand reaching for the man’s arm. Jod grabbed her left arm, while one of the others grabbed her right. The man who had reached for her hair moved his hand to her throat and grasped it, slowly tightening his grip.

“You do not have a choice about whether you are available tonight or not. Jod and I say you are, therefore you are.”

Myrith gasped, trying to draw a full breath as she looked into the man’s silver-flecked black eyes. After several minutes, he released his hold on her throat, his hand sliding down and grasping the front of her tunic. With a quick yank, the material ripped away.

“That’s enough,” Marcus said running from behind the bar, a large cleaver in his hand. Several of the other patrons had also stood—their hands on dagger and sword hilts.

The four of them laughed and the last of the group stood up. “Do not think to interfere with us. Your business is allowed to continue only on the whim of the Overlord, as is your life.” He threw back his black cloak to reveal the bright blue half-plate armor he wore. Emblazoned on the armor was the silver-gray unicorn of the Overlord. “As are all your lives.” He tossed a small bag on the ground at the tavern owner’s feet. “This will compensate you for your loss. She leaves with us.” He motioned to the door and Jod and his companion tightened their grips on Myrith’s arms and pulled her with them.

“Let me go!” Myrith yelled as she struggled against their hold. “Marcus!”

“I’m sorry,” Marcus whispered dropping his head.

“Good, you know your place, Marcus. Your establishment is safe—for now.” He turned toward the other patrons who had stood up when the altercation started.

Myrith watched as all but one bowed their heads in submission to the commander’s authority. An older man, standing in the near corner, his threadbare brown cloak bearing the shield and scales of the warrior god of justice who had once been the patron deity for this region of Taladar, stood silently watching the disturbance. For a brief moment, his eyes met hers and then widened a bit before he turned his attention back to the commander.

“A priest of Geladas, now this is interesting,” the commander said. “I thought I had destroyed the last of your temples three summers past. No matter, you will come with us also.” He stepped forward as those standing there moved to clear his path.

Myrith blinked several times as the figure she had seen faded into the shadows.

The garrison commander stopped then turned and pulled his cloak around him, only the blood-red horn of the unicorn and the multi-colored circle above it still visible as he strode past her and the others.

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