A few weeks after the plague ended.
The bar had closed 3 hours before and the early morning workers would be arriving in the next hour or so for their morning breakfast and ales. Devin and Guntha where finishing putting the bar to rights while Caranga was starting the breakfast preparations. Things were still lean but she could still get the things she needed for blood fritters, and of course their famous spiced portage. Carang could only sigh as she stirred the portage pot. They tended to sell more portage pot when Perdi made it. She had changed the recipe slightly when they were at that keep place, and Carang had yet to figure out what the secret ingredient was that made Peri’s far better than hers. She had hoped that Perdi would settle down and help more with the bar, but that was proving to be difficult.
Perdi spent much of her time brokering deals, and selling the goods that their little band of misfits had acquired recently. Caranga couldn’t really complain that much given the money that Perdi had reinvested in the kitchen it’s self. The better tools and knives had paid for themselves the first week.
She had just about put her hand into the batter to fry up the fritters when there was a knock at the back door. This caused her to raise an eyebrow because the morning deliveries usually wouldn’t arrive for another couple hours. Anyone coming at this hour was either, very drunk, very hungry, or very stupid. “Devin, get the back door for me. And be on alert. Who ever it is doesn’t know the routine around here.”
Devin came in from the main area, leaving Guntha to refresh the kegs and casks behind the bar. If trouble were to happen Guntha could easily come running if she was needed. Devin made sure his ax was next to the kitchen wood pile. If he needed a weapon it was easy with in reach, and didn’t lookout of place. He opened the door mid knock. “May I help you?”
He had half expected to see a pschodragon with another imp ear. After the one pshodo dragon had been staked their back door a few months ago, there had been fewer of them coming to claim the bounty, but those that came earned their bounty well. It was true that the first thing he was an imps ear being held before his face, but he didn’t expect it to be held by a teen age girl. “Can I help you?”
“A friend of mine said if I came to this door with an imp’s ear, I could get some food.” She presented the ear closer to Devin’s face.
“That is true, but who was your friend?” Devin swiftly took the ear from her. “Go sit over there.” He pointed to a stool in the corner. He kept a close eye on her.
“Gricknarg. He is a pschodo dragon. He speaks highly of this place. He said if I ever get desperate to try this.”
At the word desperate Caranga sat a plate of eggs, fish, and bread on the table next to the girl. “Eat up. Spring may be coming but that is not to say the wind isn’t cold off the water.”
The girl took her first bites of the food, making noises that made Devin blush a bit. He began stacking up wood, but keeping an eye on the girl. “What made you so desperate to come here? To earn a hand out from us takes some doing.”
The girl licked the juices off her fingers. “I lost my sleeping spot, and my benefactor is currently stuck over in Old Korvosa, so that makes things a little difficult. Besides, word has it that you might haven an opening here.”
“What makes you say that?” Caranga wiped her hands on her apron.
“Rumor has it that your serving girl won’t be returning anytime soon.” She closed her eyes and savored the last bite of fish; then tore off some of the fresh bread to wipe up the egg yoke off her plate.
Devin’s hand wrapped around the handle of his ax, as he hefted some wood closer to the fire; they had heard from the spice vendor a few days before that he had seen Adelaide running toward the bar a couple of nights before like the hounds of hell were after her.
He did not see any one chasing her but he said she looked in a bad way. When Caranga question him how he knew it was Adilade he responded that her distinctive hair color, and the red stole Adelaide always wore when she was out. He had lost sight of her about a block from the bar. “Who told you that?”
“My boss, who else,” The girl shrugged, and she wiped the last of the egg off the plate. She looked up to see Caranga and Devin eyeing her. “What? I haven’t touched anything expect what you handed me, besides why would I steal from someone who just fed me?”
“Why indeed? “ Caranga hefted one of her cast iron skilled. “So why did you REALLY come here?” By now Guntha was standing in the kitchen door way, a polished club in hand.
“Whoa whoa, I’m not here for trouble.” The girl stood up and tried to maneuver herself so that she could get near the window or door, but the others were not making that easy.
“I came here for food, a warm fire, and a job. That’s all.”
“What did you do with Adelaide?” Devin started forward with his ax.
“I don’t even know her.”
Caranga’s eyes narrowed. “Yes you do, you are lying. Tell us why you are here.”
The girl looked back and forth between them. She started to make a move for something when someone shouted “Because I asked her to!”
A little bit later a pot of coffee was being poured into large mugs. “Now that you have your coffee, care to explain who the hell she is?” Devin pointed at the girl standing by the door.
“Teresa Raine Ulani Damonica Yevon Peregrine other wise known to her friends as Trudy Peregrine, former ‘cleric’ of Calistria, and old friend of mine from my old life. ”
“But what is she doing here?” Caranga asked.
“Carista Swordhand sent me to her.” Trudy thumbed at Perdi. “Said she had a job for me that would be worth my while. What I didn’t count on was this whole plague thing.”
“Perdi, we really can’t afford another person here right now. With all the stupid red tape the officials have been throwing at us, we are lucky to break even.” Caranga sighed.
“We need a new waitress, and an extra pair of hands around here.” Perdi glared at her mother. “Whether you like it or not, Adelaide is not coming back. To get Carista off my back about not letting Adelaide back, I agreed to take on ‘one of her people’, that person is Trudy.”
Devin eyed Trudy, “That is a good reason not to trust her. I still think she had something to do with Adeliane disappearing.”
Perdi laughed, “Oh please. If there is one person I know is not in Carista’s pocket it is Trudy.”
“Why?” Devin crossed his arms, giving Trudy a look that showed he didn’t believe her.
“Because I think Carista is a lying whore who would stab you in the back at her earliest convenience.”
Caranga raised an eye brow, “That is a start.”
“Long story short, Carista had been trying to manipulate Trudy into something she is not willing to do. I offered her a way out. Trudy knows I have reasons I want her here but at least I’m honest about the reasons.”
“Now that you got me here, what are you going to do with me? “ Trudy eyed Perdi.
“As I said before, we need a waitress. I need a training partner. You want honest work that doesn’t involve lying on your back. We can help you.”
Caranga huffed, “But like I said, we can’t afford her Perdi. We can barely pay ourselves.”
Perdi smirked, “Give her my wage.”
“Pardon” Caranga’s jaw dropped.
“Soon as the estate is finished I’m moving over there. I rarely get to work a full day here at the bar, yet I’m still being paid. It’s not fair to all of you. Pay Trudy for the work I can’t do.”
“That is all well and good,” Devin made an effort not to look at Trudy. “But she is no cook, and if I heard you correctly the only meat she has served is not for public viewing.”
Before Devin could continue his rant, he felt the hilt of a blade smack him across the face.
“It would be wise NOT to say that again.” Perdi laid a hand on Trudy’s shoulder.
“I get that impression.” Devin wiped his bloody nose.
“And you need to watch your temper. I know why you did it but that is the last time. If you got a beef with anyone take it outside. Do you understand?” Perdi spun Trudy to face her. Trudy nodded, not meeting Perdi’s eye.
Caranga cleared her throat to change the subject, “Devin had a point. He may not have said it in a polite way but he has a point. Trudy, is there anything you can do to earn your wage here?”
“I understand Lady Kess performs here often.”
“She does, but not enough as we would like. She is in VERY high demand. Why?”
“I can dance. It wouldn’t be as good as Kess’s performance but would bring in some extra funds. I can waitress and help out as much as I can. Look I just want a chance.”
Devin shrugged, “Worth a shot for while. Come on, I’ll show you around.” Devin motioned for Trudy to follow him into the main room.When they were gone Caranga looked over at Perdi. “She is just here to be a waitress , huh?”
“That was the plan.” Perdi smiled.
“That is the plan for Carista, but not for you.” Caranga wiped her hands and went back to her cooking. “I was the one who taught you how to look for what most don’t see. You are up to something.”
Perdi gave her a seemingly innocent smile. “What ever would I need a human female who appears to be my same age, height, build, skills set and has an affinity for disguise as much as I do languages?”
“Uh huh…” Caranga grinned and dished up some fritters. “And now she owes you one. Nope I have no idea what you might be up to. I just ask that you keep me out of it. “
Perdi smiled behind her cup of coffee. “No promises.”