Chapter 1 Scene 2

by Richard Perkins
This entry is part 3 of 65 in the series Doormaker's Fall

Devon froze with one foot hovering above the stone threshold. “Not one step further you old rascal! You clean yourself off before you come traipsing through my inn!” Mabel fixed Fronek with an icy glare that could not entirely conceal a glint of merriment. Her lantern gaze swung to Devon. “Child, haven’t I’ve told you a thousand times not to cart that old windbag’s filthy gear through my inn? You bring it around the back and clean it up properly! Honestly!” She bustled up to the pair and shooed them back out onto the porch with her ever present broom.

Or rather, she shooed Devon back out onto the porch. Fronek nimbly sidestepped her brandished weapon and swept her up into a bear hug that reduced her to girlish giggles. Then he neatly set her down and relieved her of her broom, as he raised it in a mock salute. The handful of other patrons in the common room laughed raucously at Mabel’s temporary loss of dignity, then resumed their light banter.

“Charming as ever Madame! Well Devon, you heard the woman.” Fronek stepped out onto the porch and directed Devon to the alley with a nod and a quick glance while he used Mabel’s broom to remove the offending evidence of his journey from his traveling clothes.

Mabel stood comfortably leaning in the doorway of her inn as Fronek quickly raised an obscuring dust cloud with his antics. She shook her head and chuckled with unconcealed amusement. “When I said I didn’t want you bringing that dirt through my door, I didn’t mean for you to send it blowing in through my upstairs windows instead! Ah well, nothing for it this time of year I suppose!”

“Nothing for it indeed,” Fronek said, sensing victory. “We’d best go through to the back and see that he is doing a proper job with my pack.” He finished his task with a last flick, and returned her broom to her with a flourish. “After you, Madame.”

On his way through the common room after Mabel, Fronek was hailed by most of her customers. Fronek came to Guardian Village every Harvest to hire on with the trade caravans as a free-lance guard. His services cost dearly, and he looked older than the hills, but there wasn’t a raider alive who could best him (or a dead one come to think of it). It would be only a small exaggeration to say he was the deadliest man in the Barriers, but that’s a different story.

The locals didn’t care about his battle prowess as much as his silver tongue though. As Fronek himself would tell you, you don’t live to be older than the hills without having a tale to tell about it. And every time, he came through Guardian Village, Fronek could be found telling stories in the common room of Mabel’s Inn. After the harvest caravans stopped running, Fronek often showed up in Guardian Village again for the duration of the harsh Barrier Mountain winter. His tales kept the hardy mountain folks in high spirits, especially the young ones. Like the smell of campfire smoke on the breeze, word was already spreading through the village that Fronek was back at Mabel’s Inn.

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