The Empty Wineskin

A lone rider leaves her town mysteriously one day.

A random short story i started from a random generator promt

Prideful and straight, she trotted between the gates marking the boundary of Jutesdelphia. Black cloak billowing out from behind her revealing an ankle not of solemn black or grey as it should have been, but one of bright sky blue. She patted the chestnut mares neck and allowed herself one moment to slip from her facade of bereavement to grin blissfully to herself for the first time in years. She had done it, literally gotten away with murder and a chest full of gold to boot.

As dusk descended on the lone rider, she rode up to an inn just off to the left of the dusty road. It would be a long way to Crooked Barony and as much as she wished to get there as quickly as possible, it was not safe for a woman to ride the road alone at night. Especially not one with a small fortune of gold. There was an awful lot of disappearances on these roads despite how much the provincial soldiers claimed they kept their highways free of bandits, and safe for travel.
The inns sign creaked in the breeze as she walked from her tethered horse. A faded image of a sagging upturned wineskin was rather poorly drawn above hastily scrawled words The Empty Wineskin. She snickered at the joke the innkeeper had made. The taps here would flow freely, and perhaps there may be some fun to be had this night.
The Innkeeper was a stocky man, as they all tended to be in these parts, probably something to do with them frequently sampling their own stock. He charged reasonable prices for his hospitality and claimed he had the least bed lice for miles around. Who could go wrong with claims like that she thought and she traded a few coins with the man. The beds turned out to be not so bad as she thought they might, but if this was the place with the least lice there would be many sleepless night and a very long journey to the Barony. She returned to the common room to accept her meager dinner and generously sample the finest wine they had to offer.
The common room was much like all of the provincial inns she had had the misfortune to visit. A medium sized room, with a spit roast over coals in the center. Roughly hewn benches surrounded by squat stools, and smoky tallow candles. A bard stood by a far table, playing a simple melody while singing a tale of war, fighting and wenches to his drunken rabble. The beat of the song picked up and the rowdy bunch began to clap and thump the tables in tune to the song.
Sipping slowly on her wine the rider watched from the corner. She sat for hours judging harshly the behavior of the men. They were the same the world over as far as she was concerned and most deserved to come to the same untimely end as her late husband. After a while most tottered off to their beds or just simply slept where they sat, until the bard was left singing a quiet ballad to himself.
He looked up from his lute and for the first time seemed to notice the lone lady seated in the corner. He staggered to the innkeeper, exchanced some coins for two mugs of wine then carried them unsteadily over to the woman.
'Tis troubling times indeed for a young lady such as yourself to be alone on the road at this time' He glanced over his shoulder 'or are one of these sorry lot yours?'
He grinned widely with gleaming white teeth.

He was an attractive young man with curling blonde locks held with a leather band tied at the nape of his neck. He wore an emerald green tunic, blue hose and rather reminded her of a peacock. His charisma was addictive and his laugh infectious, they talked till their mugs ran dry. The bard frowned at his mug then smiled again at the lady.
'It has been a most pleasant night but i really must be off now. I leave for the Crooked Barony at dawn, so i must wish you luck on your journey miss... ahh'
He frowned then suddenly laughed and smacked his forehead 'I seem to have misplaced my manners and forgot completely about introducing myself. Marcos Hopper, bard and adventurer at your service!'
He jumped from his seat and bowed low, staggered a few steps as he returned upright.
'And who might you be my lady?'
Giggling she replied 'Charmaine Bailey widow to Filiberto Buckner'
Shock flicked across Macros face. 'Lady, surely you are too young to be widowed already!'
'Surely not' She frowned
'Forgive me, it must be a terrible times for you and here's me blathering on like an idiot.'
'Nonsense. He was a bad spell anyway' She smiled at the bard 'However it would be wise for us both to retire unless we want to sleep in our saddles tomorrow morn'
She rose from her seat and returned to her room, leaving the bard to pick through his fallen comrades after his lute.

The End

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