The Darkheart Dagger

∴ A Dalliance with the Dark∴

You don’t know why you keep coming here – though the Lord knows it’s not for the food. You glance down at the greying globules, more fat than meat, suspended in a dishwater broth, and grimace. No, it’s certainly not the food. Nor the warm, flat ale, nor the sticky floorboards, nor the company of bandits and thieves.

It is – if you are honest – a woman. The Woman, as you’ve come to think of her, for you do not know her name. And not even her, but merely the hope of her. Hope that the heavy door will fly open as it did that first night, admitting a figure swathed in black skirts, black curls spilling from a black wool hood, red lips carving a cruel smile across a swarthy face. You recall how she stalked, catlike across the room, undaunted by the sudden silence or the brigands’ eyes boring into her. How amidst the rustle of skirts cold steel flashed: a dagger, dark and lovely, the great curling bars of its basket kissing in the semblance of a heart.

“Danger,” the dagger whispered.

You don’t know what she said to the brute in the back-most booth, or what he hissed in reply, but you saw his great ham of a hand sweep outward to grasp her wrist and, faster, her own hand slip into that black sweetheart basket and bring it up, hard and blunt, against the blaggard’s face. As he slumped to the bench with a groan she turned to take in the room, the dagger’s blade extended, issuing a silent dare.

And just like that she was gone, a flurry of skirts and steel, leaving the dank hall in disarming quiet – and you well and truly stricken.

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The Blaggard Alehouse Dagger

∴ A Brawler’s Friend∴

After two days on the rainy road with only hard bread to cheer you, the russet firelight glimmer of the tavern is a welcome sight. As you slip through the woodworm-pocked door, you grin at the sign above it: “The Fighting Cock”.

A pleasant half hour later, feet thawing and belly full, you’re startled by the sudden clatter of stools. Turning, you see a slight figure surrounded by bristling locals. Whatever the young man had said, it hadn’t won him any friends

A heavyset man with a walrus moustache is the first to throw a drunken punch, but the younger man deftly sidesteps. As he does so, the red-faced fellow behind him raises a pewter tankard and swings it down toward his skull.

Despite yourself, you cry out, raising the young challenger’s attention. With a lightning glint, a dagger is in his hand. Its heavy blackened hilt neatly deflects the vessel before the blade rebounds to press against the attacker’s throat.

A viscous silence fills the room, broken by the clatter of pewter on floorboards as the ruddy man raises both hands and steps back slowly. Without a word, the dagger is secreted amidst folds of roughspun. All eyes are on its owner as he strides – no, saunters – toward the door, pausing only to flash you a lopsided grin.

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