The Marshal's Road: The Last of the Strongmen - 5.

"Excellent. Then we shall join you for some a little while. Would like to get myself freshened and rested before enjoying your establishment," Serg said with a rye smile. 

"Of course, my Lord. Please. Drink, women, food... It is my honor to serve you," the man repeated, bowing respectfully as he backed out to show Aaron to his room as Serg closed the door. 

Serg took his time in his room before deciding to make his appearance downstairs, preparing himself for his part in the presentation. He liked the combat and he liked the risk (something inside him bubbling over each time he began building his clever rouse). He freshened himself as much as he could, two week old clothes hanging stiffly off his massive frame as he lurched out his room and down the creaking steps. He caught his reflection as he made his way down the stairs, a pane of polished mirrored glass hanging on the wall near the stairs (he assumed for the ladies as they made their way back to the floor). He looked old, staring back at himself; tufts of grey cutting through his once thick mane of course black hair. His thick beard was also salted with patches of white littering the waves of untamed black ropes hanging off his squared chin. 

The barkeep shouted eagerly as he saw Serg slowly make his way down the stairs, stiff knees and an aging back causing him to grimace a bit as he moved. He masked it well with his face, the thick beard and stone stare moving little as he reacted to his body's whimpers and creaks. 

"My Lord Sergen! Finally you grace us!" He announced to the room, the various men and women filling it pausing their own conversations to take notice. A few raised glasses, a few others spit indifferently before returning to their various distractions. But all took notice. 

Good, good... Serg said to himself, moving to a prepared table off to the corner that Aaron had already sat himself at. 

"Sire," his loyal man said, raising a little as the knight arrived. 

"Yes, yes... No need for all that," Serg protested, knowing it wall all part of the build up. 

The barkeep rounded his bar, a heavy clay bowl gripped in his hands as though he had been waiting all night to deliver it. 

"My wife, she couldn't bear to have you hungry another moment. Was half tempted to bring you this herself to your room," the man said, placing the steaming bowl of brown stew before him. Serg graciously accepted the meal, digging into it as any near starved man would have; his hunger pushing past any sense of decorum as he shoveled the steaming broth into his mouth. 

Serg had done this dance enough to know how it would play; the barkeep falling into his unsuspected role as perfect as every proprietor had done prior. Once finished with his meal and guzzling beers and liquors, the barkeep proceeded to parade the town notables to Serg; eager to show off to his friends in town his grand guest. 

"His Lordship, Sir Sergen of Blackwall," he could say with as much of a regal tone as his country accent could muster, eager hands of dignitaries racing across the table to shake the hand that made the world tremble once.

They would thank him for all he had done, a few wanting stories, a few others to share one of their own. Serg accepted them each graciously, a small price to pay for free lodging and meals (and knowing each handshake would end up putting a crown or two in his pocket by morning). 

It didn't take long for time to pass, the moon riding full and high by the time the well wishers died down and the evening settled into revelry; the barkeep and a few of his close friends joining Serg at his table. Of all the parts to the game he was playing, this was his favorite; sitting in the quiet before the storm, spinning tales of his own as the beer and wine lightened the moods. 

"So there we were... Me and the boys... Three of us left by this point," he railed, his gruff voice booming; the whole room privy to his conversation simply by being near. 

"... Surrounded by some ten, twelve of those barbarian bastards... Their chief, a real bugger of a man, came strolling up; wooly and blood drenched. He screamed something in that savage tongue of his, what exactly I haven't the clue. But his intentions were made all the clear, a net filled with severed heads of women and children thrown at us as we stood waiting." 

He could hear every man and woman in that bar breath as he left a pregnant pause, the eves droppers and his table mates all struck silent and attentive. 


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