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Pragmatism – a Juliette d’Aubigniy tale

ABSALOM, Ascendent Court, Cayden’s Hall

Boots up on the table, Juliette d’Aubigniy regarded her cup with a mix of amusement and irritation. The amusement was due to having seen one member of the group she shared the table with try to take a drink from the cup, only to have the metheglin within push him over the edge from drunk to unconscious; the irritation was because he’d dropped it and spilled it over the table. It had been a bit expensive to get it, in both money and personal services, and she wasn’t looking forwards to the cost that Tauglithgin would ask for more.

She sighed, then signaled for one of the priest-servers circling the room. When he arrived, she addressed him, her voice laden with the accent of her native Galt:

“This fellow tried to steal my cup, drank some of its contents, then spilled the rest. I think I deserve some restitution, good sir, so please watch as I rifle his pouch?” She smiled, turning on her charm, blue eyes glittering as she shook her head a little, pouting and with a bit of shimmer to her auburn hair (with the help of a tiny bit of magic). He paused, then shrugged. “What did he spill?”

“Calistrian metheglin.” He blanched, then nodded, knowing the price. She went through the pouch and took some measuresgold coins used in Absalom, enough to make it worth the time. She showed him, and he nodded, then had one of the other priest-servers come over and haul the drunkard out. Fortified, she ordered some of the local beer to sip.

“D’AUBIGNIY!!” came the shout from the door. The voice… oh, what was he doing here?

She stood, to regard Stefan Etanchek, once a prosperous half-elven merchant that had insulted her in public, and been the subject of her (rather epic, she felt) revenge. He had said she was too curvy to be a sacred attendant of Calistria, who was originally revered by the elves. And she was, she had to admit, a bit bustier and curvier than the average (very slender) elf, but he took it to the level of fetishism and was outright rude when he came to her chambers. So as a result, she wrote a song about his physical shortcomings (all four inches of it) and then paid a half-dozen local tavern bards to perform it – taverns he was known to frequent.

The resulting humiliation made him a laughing-stock within the community of merchants in the River Kingdoms, ruined his business, and brought him to utter financial ruin. He’d turned to work as a mercenary – a cheap and not terribly good one – and kept chasing her, for his own revenge.

There had not been any success on his part.

“Ah, ma foi, Etanchek. Are you so ready for another humiliation?” She walked forwards, swaggering, and threw a broad smile. “Has our previous duel healed yet? I see you retain your ears.” Their last battle had ended with her cutting off one of his earrings by the method of removing an earlobe. “I do not wish to kill you, but frankly so far we are seven wins to none, and eventually I will have to just to keep you from following so soon.”

His face grew red, his eyes grew wide, and he drew the heavy sword at his side. “YOU’RE DEAD, YOU CONNIVING SLUT!!”

An aisle split between the two of them.  Juliette drew her lighter blade, and smiled. “Not yet, and not at your blade, Master Three-Inch.”

Snickering came from the crowd, and her smile broadened. His rage became even more apparent, and it was even worse as the first chorus of “Master Three-Inch” became audible from the crowd.

“Shall we dance?” she said, then herself took up the chorus.

He charged at her, and she nimbly leapt up on a chair, out of the way, and let him pass by. She brought her blade across and down, severing his belt and dropping his trousers to the floor.  He tripped, falling to the floor, and there was an ugly sound and he cried in pain.

“Ah, mon ami, what have you done now?” she cried, hopping down off the chair and turning him over. He had fallen onto his sword, and an ugly gash crossed his chest, his throat and his face. She shook her head, then pulled a slender stick marked in black and yellow stripes from her belt. A softly-sung song and a few moments later, the worst of the gash was closed.

“He’s not in danger, at least. Ah, well.” She rose, retrieved her hat (along with the the white feather in it that reminded her of a musical performance, followed by a fascinating evening), and then took her haversack. “Good evening, all, and I’m sure someone will care about what happens to him.”

“Wait a moment,” the hostess at the door said, “why are you leaving?”

Juliette shrugged, in the Galtic style. “Ah, some people in the guard will be ridiculous, and I expect blame me for his ridiculousness. I do not wish to be here, especially now that we are at eight wins for me. I do not wish to kill him here – not anywhere, but not here. It’s rude.”

After settling her bill, she headed out into the street, heading for a different tavern, to get something to eat, something else to drink, and, with luck, no one else looking for revenge. As she walked down the crowded street, it began to rain gently. She looked up into the sky, then shook her head.

C’est la vie,” she said, then laughed, and kept walking.

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