In A Bleak Land

This is the second part of “The Stars Say Goodnight”.  Mikas has arrived in a new land.  Now, he’s getting ready to start his new life.  It was inspired by a photo prompt from WriYe’s DreamWidth.

used-red-3

Mikas grimaced at the landscape that stretched out in front of him.  He’d never seen anything so barren in all his life.  There were trees, but those were near the town.  Beyond those few trees, there was a low wall and then… the horizon and the sky filled with clouds.  “Now, what?” he breathed.

“Get something to eat,” Lukas suggested.  “It’s late.  Maybe, after a couple good meals and a good night’s sleep, things won’t look so bleak.”

Mikas nodded and glanced around.  He spotted a small inn at the edge of the trees.  He trudged across the browned grass and then stepped inside.  Where outside had been bleak and cheerless, inside was warm and inviting.  There was light, laughter and music.  He felt better already.

Feeling more confident, he stepped up to the bar.  “Good evening,” he said, giving the barman a smile.  “Could I have a drink, perhaps?”

“What do you like?” he said.

Mikas hesitated for a moment, before he said, “Have you got vodka?”  The man nodded once and poured some of the drink into a small glass.  Mikas dropped a coin on the table, part of his pay for working on the Whirlwind.  Then, he took a sip of the vodka.  It was warm and smooth and he sighed in pleasure.  “Thanks.”

“Need a room for the night?” the man offered.  “Breakfast is provided.”

“Sure,” Mikas said, nodding.  He chuckled softly as the man tucked the coin away and slid a key over the counter to him.  He pocketed the key and tilted his head.  “Where could a man get work around here?”

“Depends on what you’re good at,” the barman said, shrugging.

Mikas stifled a laugh.  “Killing people,” he said, shrugging.  When the barman looked surprised, he added, “I’ve worked security, sometimes that’s part of the job.”

“I’ll ask around,” the barman said, nodding.

After giving him a salute, Mikas tossed back the rest of his drink.  Then, he went up the stairs to where the guest rooms were.  He unlocked the door to his room and stopped in the doorway.  “Hello,” he said, frowning at the man sitting on the windowsill.

He was about Mikas’s height, with dark hair and an athletic build.  Mikas would have thought he was an acrobat, but he had the mean of a noble.  It was jarring.  “I heard you’re looking for work,” the man said, tilting his head.  “Are you any good at security?”

“No one I’ve ever protected was harmed on my watch,” Mikas said, shrugging.  That was true, so far as it went.  Petrov had definitely been harmed, but not while Mikas was watching him.

The man nodded.  “I’ll be in touch,” he promised.  Then, he headed out of the room past Mikas without a backwards glance.

Mikas scowled at him for a moment.  Then, he shook his head.  He didn’t know who the man was or how he already knew what Mikas had asked the barman, but he wasn’t going to forget the man.  That much was certain.

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