The gladiator entered the tavern, grim faced as he approached the counter. He scanned around at the other people before tapping a gold coin on the bar top and looked to the bartender. "Ale will do me just fine."
The man nodded, wiping down a tankard before filling it with the amber liquid. As it was served, the warrior took it in his strong hands and heaved a heavy sigh.
A woman giggled from his left, casually bumping into him to cause his head to turn. "Oh, honey. What's the matter? Lady trouble?"
The voice was not familiar in the least. Long locks of blonde hair, bright blue eyes and layers of vibrant makeup covered her features. She smiled up at him.
"Uh. No?" Ron felt uncomfortable, looking away from her before taking a long sip. "Waiting for someone."
The blonde eyed him for a long moment, up and down before lifting her own brilliant green colored drink to her lips, hiding behind it coyly. "A friend of yours? Or maybe more?"
"Just a friend." Ron replied kindly, offering the woman a sweet smile. "He said he would meet me here. I expected that he would be here already."
"Oh, I see." She paused before trailing a hand lightly up the warrior's arm. "Maybe I can entertain you until your 'friend' arrives."
Ron pulled away briskly, speaking lowly to her before taking another long sip. "Not interested."
She frowned. "You must think I'm ugly. Or do you prefer men instead?"
The warrior shook his head before looking back at her. "No, no. You're cute but I already have someone."
"Oh, that breaks my heart. Only cute? Tell me I'm beautiful?"
Ron arched an eyebrow, staring at her for a long moment before smiling to her. "Of course you're beautiful. Cute too though."
A menacing grin crept on her lips before speaking to him now in a familiar less feminine tone. "You really think that, don't you?"
The warrior's smile evaporated, brows furrowed. "What the... Asceriel? What the hell is wrong with you?" He didn't want to know.
The blonde laughed, dropping his feminine guise for the time being. "I can tell that you don't come here very often."
"No..." Ron paused, looking down at his drink feeling slightly disturbed. "No, I don't and I'm kind of glad."
Asceriel chuckled again. "Oh cheer up, my friend! It's all in good fun. Loosen up a little and tell me... Tell me what's on your mind?"
He downed the rest of his ale and exhaled before looking back at the bard, his forehead creased with worry. "I need... I need your gift. I know you swore never to use it again but this... This is important."
Hearing the gravity in the other man's voice made even the bard's cheery demeanor fade. "My Aion, what for? On you? But Asmodae needs you!"
Ron shook his head. "No, no. Not me. It's... It's Keke."
Asceriel's breath was caught in his chest. "Ke... Keke? That adorable black haired little princess of yours?"
Ron nodded before running a hand over his face and leaning against it over the counter. "Now you understand?"
The bard shook his head before swirling the drink around in his cup. The brilliant color of the liquid inside matched his eyeshadow. "I do. What I don't understand is how fate would have it that way. The shedim lords care cruel, indeed."
Ron didn't want to comment on that. He swiped up his mug again, bringing it to his lips after it was refilled.
Asceriel placed a delicate hand on the bigger man's broad shoulder. "I will do what I can. Believe me, I will do everything."
The gladiator nodded, looking back at him. "Thank you."
The bard just smiled.
Ron sighed. "She's back at my place. Roselina is watching her right now. I have to keep her away from her family and they can't find out about any of this. They don't know."
"Aye. How is that woman of yours? Rose.. Rose? Such a pretty name."
Ron scoffed. "She's just a close friend of mine. The pregnancy is coming along well. Very picky and grouchy lately with what she wants to eat but I would expect that."
"Is that so?" The blonde laughed, setting down his glass before tucking a loose strand of his hair behind his ear. "When is she due?"
"Another eight weeks or so. That's what the midwife told me."
"You going to... Help her raise it? Do you know if it's a boy or a girl?"
Ron grinned. "Yeah. I love babies. Rose wants a girl this time but we'll have to wait and find out. We haven't had the luck of finding an augur or someone that would make that definitive."
Asceriel nodded, smiling to him. "So, will I be seeing Keke today? I'm not sure if I still have it in me and I don't know how effective it will be."
"If you can come by, I would really... Really appreciate it. I'm desperate." He scowled before looking away to the counter.
"That couldn't be any more clearer, my friend." The bard massaged his fingers into the warrior's arm lightly. "I will see what I can do."