Teacup story – Contemplation and Plans – (Tales of the Dragon Universe)

Contemplation and Plans – Opeal decided the best way to deal with the news that Veli’s plan had failed was to go to the pub and drink alcohol. (Universe – Tales of the Dragon, Genre – General, Genre – Fantasy, Rating – PG).

Opeal swilled her drink around in her cup. Her hat sat upon the bar next to her, the feathers stuck up jauntily over the wide brim. Some considered it ridiculous, but those who did so usually ended up dead with a knife in the back.

“Same again?” Nate, the barman, asked her. Opeal lifted her chin in agreement, letting Nate take away her empty glass. The alcohol numbed the pain for now, but it would come back when she woke up, along with a stinking hangover.

When Nate returned with her drink, she downed it in one.

“That bad huh?” Nate said, leaning on the bar, eyes scanning the crowd for any unruly trouble. He would offer her an understanding ear, Nate was one of the few people in the Northern Mountains that Opeal would trust with her life.

That list was getting shorter by the day.

“Bad,” Opeal replied, fingering the glass. Veli hadn’t told her much, but Opeal knew the other woman enough to know she was having trouble going forward. Even Neira had stayed the night at the castle instead of returning to the mountains, curling up around one of the turrets to sleep. Some of the other guards had been positively mortified that a dragon was staying the night at the castle, but Opeal didn’t really care. Neira had been the advisor to Veli’s grandmother when she had ruled, as the dragon’s lifespan stretched well over four human generations. In the past, the Dragons had often offered the humans in their territories advice in return for the safety against poachers who would rather turn the majestic Dragons into a pair of boots.

“You’re sounding so eloquent today,” Nate said, cleaning one of the glasses and putting it behind the bar, “anyone we need to go deal with?”

Opeal huffed.

“You talk like we’re still twenty,” she replied. Her body was getting older now, she could feel her reactions slowing as her muscles aged. Some would consider forty-five young, but in her business it was the strength of youth which provided the best kills.

Sometimes, being an assassin had its drawbacks.

“We still have our brains,” Nate replied, nodding towards Opeal’s hat, “you still have your hat. If it’s any of the kind of shit that has been rumoured-”

“Don’t,” Opeal shook her head. She had heard the rumours too, that Veli was becoming weak against Bequid’s forces. Veli was her best friend, sometimes a stubborn bitch but she knew what was best for her kingdom. Opeal would defend her to the hilt.

Because you owe her your life, she thought, fiddling with the edge of her hat. Honour and trust were things that Opeal hadn’t known about before her life in Veli’s kingdom, and they were things that she was not going to give up without a fight.

If Bequid took over Veli’s kingdom, they would all die. Veli’s kingdom, which she worked so hard to protect, would die.

Neira would die.

“We have to do something,” Nate said, “you think we should get the old crew back together?”

Opeal paused, before nodding.

“I need to talk to Veli first,” Opeal said, “her councillor’s plan didn’t work, maybe we can give her something that will work.”

“You’re going to tell her you have a sideline job as a scammer and assassin?” Nate asked, raising his eyebrows.

“Better than a Dragon Hunter,” Opeal replied, grabbing her hat and shoving it roughly on her head, “which is what I would be if Veli hadn’t intervened. I trust her, she’ll understand.”

“Give me a week,” Nate said, “meet in the usual haunt?”

Opeal smirked. Veli would hate the dive that the group usually met in.

“Sure,” Opeal replied, “I’ll bring Veli, and then we can pitch our plan.”

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