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The young waitress is looking at you with a mischievous look.


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I return her smile with an awkward wink, and raise my lager. “My, that’s a mischievous grin.” I mutter discreetly to the steaming bowl of mutton stew sitting before me.

The smell of alcohol, sweat-smeared travelers, and rancid tobacco laced the room like an atmospheric curse circling Satan’s outhouse. From across the room a man yells, “Two stagers of gold for a room? You would think your sheets are from m’lord’s cupboard instead of upholstering this gilded latrine! The inn owner reached under the counter in an apparent attempt to leverage axe-handle diplomacy.

“You should invite her over, and buy the young lass a drink.” Replied my mutton stew without a hint of decorum. 

“Yeah right. Might you be eager for two spoons swamping your trough?” I said.

“Don’t be vulgar.” it said.

The bowl actually made some sense. So I motioned the girl over. The sheets might be sailcloth, I thought, but in an itinerant auberge such as this, a stranger’s tangled embrace is always better than the enmity of a fairy-cursed bed warmer.

Edited by Alma Palmira
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