Three Irons

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17. Devil's Due

Kannen paced the inn’s main room. Her inquisition of the Stranger was getting her nowhere. “So, this gem of yours… can it be used as a weapon against them?”

He slumped in his stool at the bar. “No. It has no offensive capabilities.”

“Can we crush it?”

He shook his mohawk. “I’ve tried. It’s indestructible, so far as I can tell.”

The Taverness put her face to the window pane. “Awfully quiet out there.” She glanced back at them wearing a grimace. “I don’t like the smell of it.”

Kannen drew closer to the seasoned woman. “You were a pirate once?”

The Taverness shrugged a shoulder. “Once.” Her eyes drifted far away. “A long time ago in another life.”

Kannen sat across from her bench. “What brought you here?”

She sat and faced the young wanderer. “It’s a long and complicated tale filled with plundering imperial vessels, raiding temples, and slipping away from a cell somewhere in town.” She sized up her interrogator. “What about you? What brought you way up here in the midst of a snowstorm?”

Kannen glanced out her window at the fading fire. “His friends ransacked the towns west of here.”

The Stranger snorted. “They’re no friends of mine.”

Kannen ignored him and continued. “He murdered my mother among other innocent souls.”

He tossed up his hands. “She had been turned.” He walked closer. “I did you both a favor.”

“Favor?” Kannen’s fists clenched. “How do you know she was turned for certain?”

The Stranger drew closer. “I watched the horde feast on her body.” He turned toward the windows. “I tried to spare you the torment.”

The Taverness kept her head. “So, you ran up here to avoid the horde?”

Kannen set another log into the hearth. “You could say that.” She surveyed the main floor. “Where have the Vicar and the Innkeeper gotten to?”

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