A huge man sauntered past her table. She noticed he was clad in mismatched leather pelts, and on his hip was a curved saber. As he disappeared behind her, she could feel his eyes staring at her. He heard him stop abruptly, but she did not turn look. Her attention was on the cup between her hands.
After a spell, he prodded his foot under the table, dragging the chair out from underneath. As he sat, he leaned towards her and she could feel his body heat radiating around him. The shine of his beady eyes glinted in her periphery, but still she maintained her glare dead forward as she drank from her cup.
“What are you doing here, kid?” His deep voice pushed through his bushy goatee. His breath was potent and unpleasant.
“None of your business,” she mumbled, putting the cup down.
“Well when someone comes in here dressed like some sort of fancy warrior princess, bringing all sorts of attention to herself, I tend to make it my business, do you understand? Do you know where you are? Do you even know who I am?”
The man stood up, the chair screeching away. He signaled to a man behind him.
In that instant, while his head was turned, her hand darted up and jerked his head down violently, slamming his face into the table. As Lucy stabilized her grip in his hair, she brought her dagger into view and pressed it tentatively into his twitching neck. Several tavern patrons around her began to stand and fumble at their belts for their weapons.
“Stay back!” she commanded. The room became still.
She counted three men behind her with a club and swords, and two in front, also with swords. The rest of the tavern only seemed interested in the spectacle, and the barkeep had gone out back, wanting nothing to do with it, probably. All sets of eyes but one were fixed on her—all except the younger man she had noticed when she had walked in, sitting in the alcove. He was squaring up the men around her, his hand on his hilt. If worse came to worst, the two of them could take them, she thought, or at least escape.
He caught her eye, and he smirked.
The man she held captive snapped out of his momentary daze and fumbled for the hand that held his hair. Lucy twisted his head sideways and pressed the dagger harder against his neck. The man winced and relented. A bead of blood dribbled down his throat.
“You want to know what I’m doing here so badly? Well now you know. It’s cleaning up the mess I’m going to make of you if you take this any further. Tell your friends you made a mistake and to sit down, and I’ll let you go back to not knowing my business.”
The man caught his breath and for a moment pondered his circumstances. At last he said “Y-you heard her, all. Everything is fine. My mistake.”
“Now when I let go of you, I want you to go about your way, leaving me the hell alone. I don’t want to kill you, but if you make things difficult for me, I will. Do you understand?” The man whimpered, slightly. “Answer,” she snapped.
“Yes, ma’am. Apologies, ma’am. I’ll be going about my way now.”
“Good.” She relinquished her grip of hair and the man fell backwards onto the ground beside her. He quickly oriented himself and hobbled away, as the quiet bustle of the tavern resumed. Wary of retaliation, she stood and approached the younger man in the corner.
“That was all rather… unexpected,” he said, as she settled in the seat near him.
“Unfortunately, not for me. Being a woman in this line of work often places me into dangerous situations. “
“Dangerous for whom?” the man mused.