This will be fun. Though the woman wielded magic, I couldn’t help but cheer for her—silently—as the underdog. The outfit might have been chosen to make her look like a wealthy mark for the locals who knew their particular variety of cards better than anyone. But I could tell by the looks and gestures of the other diners that it would be many against one if it came to a fight. It was a dangerous game she was playing. If they discovered she was a woman, it would be much worse.
“My hand won the round,” she said in a calm, gravelly voice that would easily pass for a man’s. Her eyes narrowed and her jaw set after she said it.
By the way her face moved, I figured her real face wasn’t as wide, and her chin not nearly as pointy as the one she wore now. Just like her body wasn’t anywhere near as big as it looked in that outfit.
Using chameleon skills, too. At least those were working. Poking and prodding with my sensory magic, I found the source of my prickles. She was using emani magic. My guess was she thought she was good at it, but perhaps had never come across anyone who was resistant to it. Or she realized the danger she was in, but was good at controlling her own emotions. Either way, she’d pushed the man too far.
“You folded,” she said, pointing to a small stack of cards on the table in front of him.
“You tricked me.” He reached down and flipped over his cards.
The patrons standing close enough to see let out a collective “Oooo” sound.
“It’s called bluffing and a perfectly acceptable strategy.” She stood even straighter.
Like a blast of cold air, I sensed her push on him. Undoubtedly, she thought trying to calm him—with enthusiasm—would work.
He lunged at her.
She was quicker and made it most of the way to the door before a couple of others grabbed her and threw her back toward the man.
A solid punch hit her in the stomach. Though she bent over from the impact, her face didn’t screw up in pain. The insulation works at least.
Before he could bring his hands down hard on her again she slipped to the side and he swung into empty air. They danced like this for a few minutes, the only exit blocked by three of his sympathizers.
He caught hold of her ridiculously large shoulder pads and tossed her onto the table, their cards scattering along with their shattered glasses as it broke.
Oh hell. I didn’t like to get involved in these sorts of things. Lessons needed to be learned somehow, but it was clear the barman wasn’t going to bring my ale over—he was hunkering down behind the counter now. Entertainment without a drink is hardly entertainment at all, and I had to admit this woman made me curious. Everything seemed off about her, particularly why she was here, in this tiny town dressed for a big city shindig as a man. Fisherman don’t make much money and couldn’t have been her original target.
I pulled my staff off my belt and stood up. “Oy!” All eyes turned to me again. I extended my staff to full length and added a bit of fire to the ends for effect. “I think we can solve this without destroying any more of the Kenuport Inn’s fine dining room, eh?”
The hulking fisherman shifted his gaze between me, and his very vulnerable opponent splayed out on the floor.
“I’m offering to mediate a satisfactory solution for everyone,” I added before he jumped to conclusions. Tapping my staff on the floor, the flames went out. “What say you?”
- Episode 1: Chamber of Power
- Episode 2: Chamber of Power
- Episode 6: Chamber of Power
- Episode 3: Chamber of Power
- Episode 4: Chamber of Power