Mealtimes varied for the mercenaries, but whenever they set up for the night everyone went to get their dinner rations from Hans within a few minutes; otherwise, they would get nothing. It was the same deal tonight as always.
Chester sat at the fire beside Jonathan. He hadn’t gone to get his food yet. He was tapping out a rhythm on his plate. It was a thin, wooden one he had bought back in Celtie.
Jonathan knew something was up, just based on his friend’s smile. He sighed and continued to carve out a small polearm. “What are you planning?” His plate sat on the grass, only a few spots showing that he had finished his dinner already.
“What do you think would happen if I asked for more food?” Chester asked. The smile on his face only grew wider.
Jonathan raised an eyebrow.
“Without bribing Hans,” Chester clarified.
Jonathan stared at the bard. He thought for a few moments, and only said, half-serious, “What do you want your funeral to be like?”
Bob, on the opposite side of the fire, seemed about to say something. However, he stayed silent and continued to wipe down the massive halberd that he somehow managed to swing around like it was a simple stick.
Chester laughed. “It shouldn’t be that bad.”
Jonathan shook his head. “Once again, your funeral, not mine.”
“I just want something simple.” Chester waved a hand. “Just make sure I’m buried and give my parents the news,” he joked.
Chester stood up and dusted off his pants. His confidence was displayed by his lowered shoulders and easy smile.
Jonathan watched from the fire as the bard slowly walked over to the mercenary cook.
“Five that he gets no food,” Bob commented.
“Ten he ends up injured,” Jonathan upped.
Rando sat by the fire, legs spread out in front of him. His carved plate—a sort of expensive stone—was already full.
“Rando,” Bob greeted with a nod.
“How have your duties been?” Jonathan questioned.
Rando curtly replied, “Fine.” He picked up his spoon, and soon questioned, “What were you two betting on?”
“Chester is going to ask for more food without bribing Hans,” Jonathan informed. His tone showed clearly just how bad of an idea he knew it was.
“What bets did you two make?” Rando crossed his arms, considering.
Bob listed off, “Five on immediate rejection and ten on injury.” He had finished working on his weapons, and was polishing his boots now. Cleanliness had been hammered into him for too long for the habit to die off.
Rando looked over at the capricious bard. “Twenty five says he dies.” His voice was half-serious about that possibility.
The three men settled down to watch. They were close enough they could also faintly hear the conversation.
Chester had his plate in hand. Instead, he coughed a bit and then asked, “Could I have some more?”
Hans waited for a few moments. While Chester’s smile only grew more nervous by the second, his only seemed to stay the same. “Is that it?”
“I’m the main cook. You know how I do things with food around here,” Hans stated. He knew that Chester knew how his system worked; if someone wanted more food, they had to appropriately compensate Hans for it. “Move along.”
Chester shrugged—acting like the constant smile directed towards him didn’t scare him—and suggested, “What if I paid you back later?”
Hans’ expression shifted. His smile was still polite, but something unsettling lurked underneath it. “I know exactly how you can pay me back.”
Chester chuckled. “What’s that?”
Without saying anything more, Hans pulled out a small sack and handed it to Chester.
“What do you want me to do?” Chester had the feeling he should run, but instead he accepted the bag.
“Open it. There’s the food you can have.”
Chester complied after he took another look at Hans’ face. He was pretty sure Jonathan would avenge his death if someone killed him, even if it was Hans. “Tubers?” He identified. Some lightly seasoned vegetables called kilners were the only things in the sack, the local kind that tended to be purple and blue.
Hans leaned back and waited.
There was suddenly a sound similar to pages of a book rustling harshly in a wind, or, more likely, the sound of wings beating from above them. That sound was the only announcement before a large animal seemingly dropped out of the dark sky.
Chester cursed loudly. That was all he was able to do before being crushed under the landing of The Blade.
The Blade glanced at Hans, but didn’t see anything. He started moving a bit, sniffing around for the food.
Chester swore he felt one of his ribs creak. He quickly held up the bag, surrendering it to the flying boar which had a hoof on his chest. “Here.” His voice was both pained and dejected.
The Blade grabbed the bag in his mouth and moved off of Chester. He huffed at Hans, then left to go enjoy his meal in the surrounding forest. The creature hated the smell of smoke.
“It seems you lost your free food,” Hans said in a vaguely satisfied tone. He was smiling as he filled up Chester’s plate and set it next to the man.
Chester continued to stay back down in the grass. “Alright. Alright.” He understood. He was never going to ask like that again.
Jonathan winced in sympathy at the scene, but still held out his hand for the twenty total he was owed. “I can see why you all are careful around the boar as well.”
“Yes, there is a reason,” Bob agreed as he pulled out his pouch bag.
Rando had been a part of the mercenary band the one time things went very badly on the road and The Blade helped them fight off a platoon of soldiers. “When you see an animal like that kill, it sticks with you.” He had never been scared of the flying boar but he respected The Blade.
Hans looked over, and the three men turned their gazes elsewhere. If this had confirmed anything, it was that it was never worth getting on Hans’ bad side.
This entire chapter was added because proofreader G wanted someone to provoke Hans or The Blade. Or, to paraphrase what they said, ‘there’s set up and no pay off.’ And now…Jonathan is too cautious to do many things that would result in side plots or death, but Chester? Well.
Are you a cautious person like Jonathan or more impulsive like Chester? Or perhaps, somewhere in the middle like Aderes and Peter?
Igual que Jonathan, pero con tendencias cobardes jajaja