Surprisingly, nobody dared approach us for the rest of the evening. Whether or not they had worked out we (or rather, I) had been the ones that had floored the othe men, I don't know. Personally, I think it was just the copious amount of blood all over Jared that put them off. Elorie had taken it upon herself to try and revive him, using a strip of her dress and a tankard of (green!) water to try and clear some of the blood. Through the blood and bruises, I swear I could see Jared smiling ... or was that just his upper lip swelling?
As we sat alone in solitude, Larn nudged my shoulder.
"Where did you learn to fight like that?" he asked. "I've never seen anything like that before."
"I'm a soldier, fighting is what I do." I replied shortly. "This isn't the first tavern brawl I've been involved in and something tells me it won't be the last. Besides, they were too drunk to swing straight anyway."
Larn nodded. "I was in the army once. I joined up as a young lad, more to spite my father than anything. He wanted me to grow up and be a farmer like him, but I was young and foolish and thought soldiering would be glamorous. I was wrong."
"I've seen a lot of people like that. Youngsters thinking they can win fame and glory as easily as snapping their fingers. Reality tends to take them down a peg or two. What happened to you?"
"I didn't even make it through a year before I'd had enough. Thankfully my captain was an understanding man and let me leave without too much of a fuss - I think he'd seen this sort of thing before. I took my pay and went to live in a small village not far from Seer's Heights. They're known for their horse breeding in that country, so I set up a ranch and started breeding horses for the ploughmen."
"How'd you get mixed up with this lot then?" I asked again, genuinely intruiged. What was a horse breeder doing tangled up in some hare-brained quest?
"Elorie, Jared and Sarin came to me one day looking for a horse to pull their cart - the one you saw overturned on the road. I asked them all the usual questions, where are you going, do you want to buy or hire, how long is the trip and all that sort of thing. They told me they were heading for Haesdra. I asked them if they knew the way, and if they needed help getting there. I had a business partner I hadn't seen in a long while in a village a few miles in that direction, so I offered to point them in the right direction. I brought the horse, climbed into the cart, we set off and ... well, here we are."
"Ah." I said. "So you didn't stop to see your old partner then? What made you stay with them?"
"I don't know." said Larn with a sigh. "There were a few hairy incidents on the way, Elorie having visions and nightmares. Eventually they told me what was going on, about the Fatesong and how they were looking for their Guide. I guess the spirit of the thing must have got to me, because something told me I ought to go along. I'm not much of a warrior - I know how to use an axe, but I'm not a professional - but I had an odd feeling that these people needed me." He laughed. "Even to me, that sounds ridiculous!"
Well, I couldn't disagree on that front. Talk about a strange compulsion - look, here's a trio of wandering vagabonds raving about prophecies and mysterious guides, who are hell bent on getting to a city with no idea how to get there, I'll just pack my bags and follow them. Because that sounds oh so logical.
We sat in silence for a while longer, watching the other occupants of the tavern milling about, their gaze occasionally flickering over to us in our dark, damp corner. Finally, Sarin got to her feet and declared she was going to sleep. Reluctantly, the rest of us followed, Larn helping Elorie carry Jared up the stairs. I lingered at the bottom of the stairs for a moment, dreading the prospect of returning to the stinkhole for a night. The sooner we left Trynne, the better.