Jurisco swung around with a suddenness that startled everyone. His warhammer smashed on to the table where the man that had spoken was sitting.
“Did anyone ask for your opinion, $#@&?”
Eduare’s sword had stopped in mid swing and the killing first third of the blade now resting an inch or two above the bartender’s forehead.
The silence hung heavy in the room.
Dide stepped forward to the bar and leaned over the drink. He grabbed the bottle and pushed it to the bartender’s face.
“Customary, eh? Customary to poison Catholics?”
The bartender, a sour faced brute, took the bottle from Dide’s hand. He held Dide’s stare as he upended the bottle and took a long steady pull. When he’d finished he splashed Eduare’s glass full again and handed it to the magic user.
“Barovichka,” he said again.
Dide, the slightly overweight soldier of Spain, known for his love of books and fine food, reached for the glass. He sniffed it. He held it to the candle light. He stuck his tongue in it. Then he held the glass a half a foot above his head and allowed the potent liquor to waterfall into his mouth.
“Jeneveer,” he said as he turned to his friends. “Malted distilled wine flavoured with juniper. This’ll warm your cockles.”
Eduare stepped back, reversed his sword and sheathed it. “I knew that,” he said.
Ernat surveyed the room. Since they had arrived they had given two patrons black eyes and had threatened to kill nearly all of them. They seemed even more cowed than he was used to. Everyone knew that the soldiers of Spain were the best in the world and were to be feared. Everyone knew that the cursed Calvinist heretics of the Flanders must be exterminated. Even in the Holy Roman Empire to the south the soldiers of Spain had a reputation for ruthlessness.
But this? They demanded food and were brought blood red broths of winter vegetables. They demanded drink and wine and beer flowed. They demanded women and the promise was made that women would come. Oh yes, they would come willingly. And never was there any suggestion of a demand for payment. The Spaniards had no cash. They came to rape and steal, but these people just gave. He did not know what to make of it. They feared them: yes. But there was something else. What was it? Admiration, maybe?
Who are the eight there, we ask Une?
Docile Entertainer (Alvito), Pessimistic Shopkeeper (Antonio), Curious Officer (Beltran) , Conformist Statesman (Damian – the speaker), Insensitive Hitman(?)(Elisio), Established Thug (Fadrique), Shewd Villain (Fernado – the bartender).
The night wore on and eventually Ernat, Dide, Albergio, Jurisco, Eduare and Gari fell asleep. They were drunk. They had full bellies. They were under cover. Life was good. Strange scratching at the shutters did not trouble them. All of them dreamed of war, and blood, and death. But that was normal.