Jarrod slid his blade across the whetstone once more. The blade was nearly there. Yes. Just a little longer. A blade must be perfect, or close to perfection, to be of any use. The same was with any man claiming to be a mercenary. The minute the words left his mouth, that man ceased to be a human. He had turned himself into an instrument. Mercenaries deserved no family, honor, or respect. Well, maybe respect, so long as it was a respect for skill.
The blade was finished. Jarrod sheathed the blade and wrapped his whetstone and oils back up, then tied them to his leather armor. The barn around him shrunk as he stood. Being as large as he was, Jarrod was used to this. Nearly half a cow's weight of muscle separated Jarrod from any other man. Often, this was favorable.
Right now, it was not.
Preparing himself, Jarrod rushed out of the barn and into the bright sunlight. The knights outside the small barn, dressed in their rich fabrics and eloquent armor, seemed surprised their prey had turned into a hunter. Surprise was useful to a hunter.
Jarrod rushed to the nearest knight, a spearman on horseback, and barely dodged the frightened man's spear. A fine weapon, the spear. Grabbing the knight's spear, Jarrod ripped the armored figure off the horse and mounted in his stead. Time to escape.
"Get him!" a figure in armor more eloquent than the rest of the knights said, "five hundred gold pieces to the one who brings me the killer of the late king!"
Jarrod ignored them. The only downfall of a mercenary's life was the blame. People felt mercenaries were responsible for the death they dealt out, when it was really the employer. Jarrod made a habit of killing quick and minimizing the pain. It was the least he could do for those he assassinated.
Now, battle in itself was a different story.
Jarrod's new horse galloped past a regiment of knights. Swinging his spear, Jarrod blocked a man's sword and stabbed another man. These nights were fueled by anger, but it was not enough. Anger never was. Rage was needed.
Jarrod turned and took aim, holding the spear steady over his head. With the wind and the horse's gallop, this would not be an easy shot. At least it might scare them. Jarrod flexed his heavily muscled arm and threw. At first, he doubted the spear would hit, but the wind seemed to be in his favor. The spear planted itself in the man he assumed to be the leader.
The other knights stopped and so let Jarrod make his escape. Without a commander to lead, most knights got confused. Some were just scared. And a few, a very little few, were smart enough to realize that without an organized party, taking down a resourceful mercenary with a reputation for surviving was going to be very difficult. From the looks he saw as his latest attackers faded away, these men were the last.
'Better keep an eye out,' Jarrod thought, 'They might send a scout to follow me.'
Jarrod smacked the horse on it's rear, sending it on it's way. No need to leave them a trail. He quickly covered his own foot prints from where he dismounted and took to the woods. It wasn't a long journey, so Jarrod reached the hidden town of Galesbor in just under an hour. The pleasant smell of wine and women was preferable to the dirt and hay of random hiding places in the farming areas. Ever since his last major job, Jared was hunted on accounts of murder. Tools couldn't murder people, though.
He sighed. No use in thinking about it. People were quick to point fingers so long as it suited their desires. Pitiful. Thankfully, it only took a quarter of an hour to reach the tavern he was accustomed to.
The Burly Miner was open even during this time of morning, thankfully. Then again, did it ever close? Jarrod walked in and immediately felt at home. The men were eyeing him with disdain, probably looking to test their mettle against the massive bald man that was Jarrod, and the bar was open except for two people. That was all Jarrod wanted. A drink and a fight, and preferably in that order.
Jarrod strolled over and sat next to a smaller man who had a look of despair. "I'll have two mugs of your best ale, Kinsly," Jarrod told the aging barkeep.
The older man laughed. "My, I haven't seen you around here lately."
Jarrod nodded. "It's been troublesome as of late."
The barkeep nodded. "Killing kings will do that."
Jarrod sighed. "My drink?"
The man nodded and complied, pouring two nice large mugs of his best ale. It would cost a bit more, but Jarrod still had plenty of money left. He could get away with spending. Plus, this much wouldn't even make him slightly drunk.
Jarrod pushed one mug over to the depressed man next to him, who had been listening in. The man gave Jarrod a scorning look. "I don't need your pity!"
Jarrod glared at the man but ignored the urge to punch him in his face or draw his blade and behead the smaller man. "This is for you moving away. I need privacy." Jarrod flexed his exposed arm, showing off his muscles. "Now."
The man, seeming to think about his situation, grabbed the mug and walked to one of the few empty tables. Jarrod waited til he sat, then focused on Kinsly. "Any jobs you can get me? It's been a while since I have tasted true battle..."
The barkeep nodded. He understood Jarrod's bloodlust. "No one wants to hire any mercs with heat on them right now. With a new king on the throne and his knights spreading to settle the small rebellion, not many mercenaries want to take the chance of a knight seeing them with a wanted man."
Jarrod cursed. He should have known.
The barkeep smiled, showing his wrinkles. "There was one lady, though."
Jarrod perked up. "Go on."
Kinsly grabbed the now-empty glass in front of Jarrod and started to wash it in his small sink. "Well, a woman came in just a day or two ago, looking for the one called the 'Survivor.' I was, of course, curious why she was looking for you directly."
Jarrod scratched his face. He would need to shave his head and face again soon. There was stubble already growing in. "Why me specifically?"
Kinsly looked at him and laughed. It was a fake laugh, just like all his laughs. "She wanted your skill, obviously."
Jarrod smiled. Jackpot. "Where can I find this woman?"