Venar was desparate. The Bronin Brothers had raided his farm stealing the livestock and taken his daughter hostage. Venar had been given one week to bring them 500 silver pieces or she would be ravaged and mutilated.
“How can I raise such a sum,” Venar pleaded, “You have taken my animals. I can’t even bring in the crops without my mule.”
“Why is that my problem Raynin Bronin?” asked dismissively.
“You have seven days,” added his brother, Gerwin.
“How do I know you won’t harm Liza?” Venar questioned.
Five days had passed and he had only been able to secure thirty-four pieces of silver, and that at the cost of his best plough and much of the firewood he had gathered for the winter. The Bronin’s had his daughter, and even if he tried to rescue her, there was only one of him and three of them.
Finally he had, against his better judgement, decided to go to the Lusty Troll Tavern to seek a mercenary to aid him. The timber framed building had seen better days and he noticed that plaster was missing in several places on the tavern’s facade. Inside he found a dingy, single room with sawdust and straw on the floor, all of which was dimly lit by tallow candles.
He hesitantly approached the barman, and explained his plight.
“And how much can you afford to spend for such help?” the tavern-keeper asked.
“Twenty-eight pieces of silver,” Venar said. “But I don’t have it with me,” he added quickly after giving a quick glance at the surrounding drinkers.
“I think you will need the services of ‘R’,” the barman said giving a nodding gesture towards a muscular man at the end of the bar. The warrior had small cold eyes, and a scar disfigured his left cheek. The man looked disinterested with the farmer’s presence in the tavern, but gave his attention to slender, blonde woman sitting to his right. She was attractive, and her hair was pulled back into a braided ponytail. Venar couldn’t help seeing why she seemed to draw the warrior’s attention.
Pulling his own gaze away from the fine featured young woman, Venar studied the warrior more closely. Yes, there they are, the farmer thought, as he counted the six small skull tattoos on the huge warrior’s bicep. He has killed six men. Just the kind of fellow I need to defeat, or at least frighten the Bronins.
“How should I approach ‘R’?” Venar asked the inn-keeper.
“Rayna,” shouted the barman.
At this the blonde woman slid off of her stool and approached Venar and the tavern-keeper.
“What is it?” she said as she sized Venar up.
“This Gentleman needs your special kind of assistance,” the barman said with a wink. “Twenty-five silver for you, and a commission for me.”
Venar at first thought that the tavern-keeper had gotten it all wrong. He hadn’t come in for that sort of thing, he had a wife at home, and . . . . Then his eyes fell on the nineteen small skulls tattooed upon the woman warrior‘s forearm.