A Handful of Copper Coins
In fact, angry might have been an understatement.
He was a stern man, certainly, but rarely was he as angry as he was, then. His face was flushed red, his jaw clenched, and his knuckles white because of how tightly they were holding to the mug in front of him.
They had been sent to the small village they were currently in to gather information, and that was exactly what they were doing.
Well, Lady Lyndis was gathering information, Sain was flirting with the barmaid, and Kent was sitting next to Sain, glaring at the drink in front of him.
Sain ceased flirting as the barmaid went to serve two gentlemen beckoning her over from the other side of the room, and he turned to Kent. "Whoa, partner," he said, his eyes going wide as he drank a little. "Are you drunk?"
"Certainly not!" his redheaded friend snapped, not really meaning to. "I am not you, Sain."
"Well, sorry, Mother," the brown-haired man replied, rolling his eyes. "You need to learn to loosen up a bit or you'll grow old before your time!"
Kent found himself grinding his teeth as he made a serious attempt at not saying a damn thing. To anyone.
Particularly not the men chatting at the table behind him, who were sitting only a table away from where Lady Lyndis was eagerly listening to information that an old man was giving her, most likely about the layout of the land or the village's history.
How could she not hear them? They had been making crude comments about every woman in the tavern for nigh upon an hour. He knew she hated talk like that…she found it as disgusting and loathsome as he did.
And they were speaking so loud.
The chivalrous man that he was, Kent wanted to say something. In fact, he would have liked to rid Elibe of two such men himself, though he would never admit it to anyone. He knew they didn't deserve to die for being disrespectful…but he could not imagine why a man would act that way. He would never dream of thinking such a thing…and if he did, he would certainly be ashamed of himself.
He had hardly touched his drink. He was a little afraid that he would end up doing something he later regretted—he did have absolutely no tolerance for alcohol, after all.
"Well, what about that one?" one of the men behind him said, his voice slurred thanks to his intoxication. "She looks like a catch…"
"No, no way!" His companion shouted, and Kent winced at the volume of his voice. "Women are supposed to be well-endowed, not as flat as the bed of a wagon."
Kent sighed, running a hand through his hair. They had nearly gone through every woman in the tavern, listing all the bad or good things about them. It really was grating on his nerves.
He flushed when he realized that they definitely could not be talking about his lady, and he shook his head at himself. Maybe I do need a drink, he thought, but stopped when the mug was halfway to his mouth. But…perhaps not.
He could only imagine what he was capable of doing if he was not entirely aware of what he said or did. Especially where Lady Lyndis was concerned.
"…Well, there, then." The first man was speaking again, louder than before, and Kent half-turned in his seat and glared at him, hoping it would shut him up. Unfortunately, it didn't. He was too busy staring at someone else. "She's well-endowed…and young."
Now Kent was livid; they were looking at Lyndis, who was nodding and smiling to the old man as if she could not hear the two louts behind her.
"Are you blind, man?! Look closer before you open your mouth!"
The first man tilted his head back and forth and squinted for a few minutes before he looked back to his companion with wide eyes. "What a fool I am!" he exclaimed, sloshing his drink on the table with a sweep of his arm. "I nearly tried to bed a dog! Thank you for stopping me!"
Kent turned away and tapped his boot against the floor in irritation as he glared at his drink.
"You know, I heard that the women will lay down with any man… I've also heard that at least a dozen of 'em will throw themselves at you for money!"
"It's true. It's amazing what a handful of copper coins will get you when someone needs it desperately enough."
Maybe they did deserve to die after all. Or at least live their lives without an arm. Or a mouth. Or—
He felt a hand on his arm, and he turned to see Sain grinning at him. "Don't even think about it, Kent. Don't let them get to you."
"They're not worth your time, old friend." Sain's smile fell away from his face and he repeated his words slowly, enunciating them carefully. "They are not worth your time."
"I know that!" Kent's face flushed red with embarrassment and anger.
"Is everything all right?"
Kent opened his mouth to speak, but Sain beat him to it.
"No." The brown-haired knight was a little tipsy, and he grinned at Lady Lyndis lopsidedly and poked his red-haired friend. "Kent's acting all indignant and honorable," he said.
Lyn threw him a questioning look.
"I wish they would all go back to the plains and leave us decent folk alone." The men were continuing their conversation.
Kent's jaw was clenched so tightly that his teeth were beginning to ache.
"You're letting them get to you?" she asked him, a smile on her face that he knew was forced. Comments like that could hurt even a sensible person like Lyn, he knew.
"If they knew who you were, Milady, they would—"
"Still say the same thing," she finished for him, taking the seat next to him. "But it would not be to my face. They would smile to my face, and say such things behind my back."
He did not know what to say.
Sain grinned widely, but it was only because the barmaid had returned, and she gladly filled his cup for him.
"I try not to let what they say get to me," she continued, lowering her eyes. "It does not matter to me what they say. They are ignorant, stuck in their strange ways… They do not know me, nor do they want to. They talk badly about my homeland, but they have never been there… And it is not their fault, because it is the only way they have ever known."
She smiled at him weakly, and he knew it was genuine.
"Kent." Her hand was on his arm, her fingertips brushing against his wrist. "One thing matters to me where things like that are concerned, and that is the people I care about. Nothing more."
He was speechless.
"They can say anything about me that they wish, but do they know if it rings true? They will never know because they refuse to see, to find out for themselves. They say that a dozen women like me are worth only a handful of copper coins, as if we are that common… but what they fail to realize is that it is really the other way around."
He could feel his anger melt away at her sincere words, and he realized that he could not hear the men behind him any longer. She was drowning them out with her soft voice.
"Lyndis… there is no other woman like you." He meant it.
"What?" She looked up at him, her hand still on his arm, her other hand going to his forehead, ignoring that his cheeks flushed in embarrassment at her touch. "Are you ill? No…perhaps you are drunk! You did not use my title!"
"I…I am not drunk, Milady."
"I know." She smiled at him reassuringly. "I was just teasing you."
"Forgive me for my lack of proper conduct," he said, lowering his eyes to the table.
"It's fine. In fact, you may call me by my name whenever you wish, as I've said before." She paused, squeezing his hand. "If there is no other woman like me out there," she told him, "then there is no other man like you...and I mean that." She was smiling at him again, and he locked gazes with her, not even noticing when Sain took his drink and downed it because he was too busy watching her. Her deep green eyes...her lips that were slightly parted...
In fact, embarrassed may have been an understatement…
Just something silly. I don't even know what to think about it. I just…wanted to write it. Originally it was going to be a little more serious.
Indignation (or being indignant) is anger due to an act/thing that you feel is not right/dishonorable. (It's also the name of my Paladin in World of Warcraft, haha.)
Anyway, the repeated ending/beginning thing was fun. Not much to say. This was written mostly for kicks… Thanks for reading! Opinions are welcome as always.