The heavy oaken door of the roadside tavern opened with a creak. The enormous figure squeezed in with great difficulty, attracting the attention of the visitors. Conversations died down. Everyone looked at the newcomer in unison. His enormous height did not allow him to stretch out his back, although the ceiling was quite high, and in the width of his shoulders he surpassed even the largest wolfen who ever walked in, while the pommel of his mace was bigger than the head of an ogre.
Not a single race of Western Signum could boast neither such sizes nor such a strange face. A long, snake-like nose dangled all the way down to the belt of the giant. Two huge tusks stuck out from his mouth and his ears were akin to two great sails.
– I came from the Far East. – He spoke in a low, soft voice, from which the clay tableware started to tremble. The giant pronounced each word slowly, as if afraid to make a mistake. He was clearly not very familiar with the local tongue. – I seek those who are called «Dogs of War».
None of the visitors made a sound – everyone was baffled both by the size of the giant, and his straightforwardness. An orc behind one of the tables further in started to nervously look around. The giant headed towards him. He moved the stool away and sat down on the floor, crossing his legs. Even like this, he was taller than the orc and had to look down at him.
– I… – The orc began, but the giant interrupted him.
– You wish to tell me that you are not a mercenary. But only you have an arbalest and a knife under your cloak, and you are the only one who reacted so strongly when I spoke the words «Dogs of War».
– Fine. – The orc gulped. – But speak quieter. I can see that you don’t know local customs.
– I do not. – Agreed the giant. He did make an effort to speak quieter, although he did not manage it well. At the very least, his voice no longer shook the walls.
– The war of the barons has left these lands pillaged. The locals blame the mercenaries, although none of the nobles waging war could afford the services of even a small warband. I’ll be honest, with your size not even a crowd will risk attacking you, but I better get packing as soon as possible. How did you even find me?
– Mercenaries appear in taverns. – The giant shrugged. – So I visited each one.
– By the gods! – The orc stared at him, with disbelief. – I’m afraid to even ask why you’re looking for us.
– I meditated under the tamarind. – the giant began in a calm and composed manner. – It is a tree. It does not grow here. I was recollecting my previous lives. And I understood that in none of them was I a mercenary. To reach enlightenment I must walk upon and understand all paths. And so I asked travelling merchants and headed West. I have had enough war in my homeland.
– Huh? – The orc pressed his hand against his head, which was now in pain. – All your lightenments, tamarinds, I can hear the words, but I don’t understand a thing! Sounds like complete nonsense! What do you want from me?
– To become a mercenary, – The giant spoke very calmly.
– Bog-ridden witch! – The orc glanced around in panic. The other visitors no longer paid the giant any attention, but looked at the orc with indignation. – Alright. You’ll be a mercenary. Consider yourself hired as of now!
The orc practically bellowed the last words to make sure that everyone in the tavern would hear him.
– So be it. – The giant nodded triumphantly. The tavern visitors glanced at each other. Now fear could be seen in their eyes. – What should I do?
– Cover my back. – The orc tossed a few copper coins on the table. – We’re leaving fast! While these drunkards still haven’t got the stomach to start a chase!
– There is not a single warrior here! – The giant magnanimously spread out his arms. – I can snap a hundred of them without my mace with a single blow. But let us go, if you so wish. By the way, my name is Agit. I do hope that you shall pay enough and would not think of fleeing from me at night.
– Excellent, friend, you are already starting to think like a mercenary!