Mercenary Merrikh: Tailoring Merrikh
Let’s talk about my muse…
Part 1. Introductions
****This is a parallel realm than from The Book that I’ve mentioned (see hyper links if you’re interested in reading more into why I’m doing this and if you’re curious of The Book.) These are all my original characters. This is my original story. Please do not duplicate repost without due credit! This is NOT fan fiction. (it’s fan fiction… of my own stuff. After all, I’m my third greatest fan…)****
The light filtered through the slanted boards on the window, startling Merrikh from his slumber. The man was sprawled out in a haystack, his long legs spread out and his broad arms folded over his chest to keep the cold away.
He shuddered and coughed, swiping a forearm across his nose, and rolled out of the straw. He shook his limbs out and brushed off his clothes; today was going to be a good day. He could feel it in his bones.
A cow in the stall nearby stared at him with its large, innocent eyes. Merrikh made a face at the beast with a spark of childishness that would have had his elder sister smacking him, and attended to his own business. The farmer must be an elderly gentleman, he considered, or else his cover would have been blown by now.
He took no time waking himself up, eager to be hurrying from the barn and onto the day. He pulled his broadsword and belt pouch from their places hidden under the haystack where he had spent the night, and pulling the hood of his cloak over his bright red hair, fled the kind gaze of the cow behind.
It was quite a thing, to have fire red hair and red eyes. Running about as an occasional criminal with striking features as his own left the man at quite the disadvantage… they had even landed him behind bars on multiple occasions in various villages along his journey. The general consensus of local law enforcement was that he wasn’t necessarily a bad nor even a difficult criminal. He was humble, they said, wouldn’t even give a protest when they’d lead him to the constable’s jail. They reasoned he was just like many men of his stature in this fifth year of a new reigning king: a man out of work with a terrible ability to disappear when he was tired of paying his dues, leaving singed wooden bars in his wake. The farewell letters, such as they were, often kept the local law enforcement at bay; but it did not assist with the stares or the whispers.
They called him a fire demon. A will-o-wisp come as an omen of wrongdoing.
His reputation often far preceded him on the road, and he’d often thought of dying this goddamned bright hair and begging a traveling wizard to please–oh please–change his eye color. Perhaps a nice brown. Yes, brown would suit him fine. He’d often contemplated his reflection in the stream upon washing and figured he would make a fine brunette with his striking features… Heaven forbid he ever become a blond. But no, the old wives’ dye concoctions never stuck, and he had never had the fortune to run across a wizard crazy enough to comply with such an outlandish request for a penniless man, such as he was.
Well, that’s what landed the man on this road in the first place, stretching his arms over his head as he plodded along the dusty wagon tracks in the bright morning. Usually, he’d find work with mercenaries in taverns and inns, keeping himself pinned to dark corners and negotiating payment in low tones.
But mercenary work is a grand deal difficult when it comes to choosing sides–and often the sides turn against you. This became especially true as his reputation grew. So Merrikh was on a journey to figure out what kind of money was in the world for him. He called it soul-searching, of a sort.
Voices up ahead pulled the man from his reverie, and he pulled the hood further past his ears so it covered his eyes from potential curious gazes. It was a caravan. The guards of the procession were joking back and forth gruffly, and a few civilians plodded around their carriages, exchanging morning pleasantries and loading things up from their camp on the side of the road.
“Hoy!” One of the guards from the caravan called as the distance between the lone man and the group lessened. “How far west til Fordshed?”
Merrikh ignored the man and continued walking down the road.
The carriages began to move slowly as he neared, forcing Merrikh to clop along with them, much to his frustration. The guard who called out to him trotted up to keep pace next to the redhead. Merrikh could smell the guard’s breath as he bent to examine the lone traveler. “Nice sword ya got there,” he commented.
Merrikh turned away, walking a little faster, “Godspeed,” he said over his shoulder.
A skinny man stepped out from the caravan line and placed a hand on Merrikh’s arm. “Why don’t you come along with us?” the man asked. “The road is long, we could use another sword-arm.” He leaned closer to Merrikh. “Besides, Gog’s been winning all our money at their nightly bouts, I imagine I could save a nickel on you.”
Merrikh turned to look at the man, surprised. To say the man was built to be a scribe was not an understatement. He must have only been in his early forties; he was a full head shorter than Merrikh with a balding man’s rendition of a monk’s scalp. He was scruff about the cheeks and neck, but in a way that left no man to wonder that it had taken the small gentleman a full three days to acquire such scruff. At the closer look at Merrikh’s face, a brown eyebrow rose, “Ah,” murmured the man as he nodded curtly to himself, “I see I’d not lose my money betting on you, lad.”
Merrikh sighed and pulled at his cloak and began to trod ahead when, what he assumed to be Gog, called out behind him. “Why don’t ya show me how you use that thing?”
Merrikh sauntered away, feeling slightly perturbed. He just needed to get to Fordshed before they did. He wouldn’t stop though, he decided. No, indeed. He would pass right through and on to the next place. No point in making re-acquaintances of these folks.
Laughter erupted behind him, making his pace slow. “Must be some sort of heirloom,” Gog was telling his friends in such a boisterous voice that made Merrikh’s neck itch.
He paused in his pace, and Gog called out. “It must be too early in the day for him.”
To say that Merrikh was humble, as most local law enforcement whispered, left the man at quite the disadvantage. After all, he was as proud as any man; particularly regarding his martial skills.
He turned, and let the caravan catch up to his place in the road. He took up treading alongside the scribe.
“Change your mind?” the man offered.
Merrikh grinned, “Perhaps I can save you a nickel.”