The man finished his song and silence filled the pub. He had hoped for applause, but he was not surprised when he received none. The usual customers of the filthy place could not appreciate good art. Even they did, they usually preferred to keep to themselves and never talk to anyone else about their problems. For that reason, he was surprised when a woman planted herself in the seat next to him and offered him a drink.
“Nice song” she said and waited for his response. She got none as he was still too surprised to come up with a proper one. “Where did you learn this song? You do not hear songs for the Great Dragon City often in this part of the world” she continued trying to make conversation.
Her topic was posed as light and general; a good excuse for small talk. However he gave again no response, but this time not because of surprise but because of worry.
He looked at her closely. She was short and plain, the short of a person you would not notice unless you pumped directly into them, and after that you would forget her face as soon as she had moved a few paces away from you. He had learned to recognize this type of people as the most dangerous ones. His opinion of her was reinforced when he spotted the hilt of a knife under her garments.
All this time she observed him closely. When she caught him staring at her weapon, she smiled.
“Not very talkative, but this is good. I do not need you to talk a lot, I need you to sing. Do you want to go on an adventure?”
“No thank you. I actually like this place and I do not wish to leave it” he finally gave her answer. He was rewarded with a raise of her eyebrows that could only mean she mocked him.
“You like this place?” she waved around the filthy and dark bar with her tiny hand. “This place is dark and dirty. I would have expected a mage of the Dragons would leap out of joy when offered with a chance to abandon this place once and for all.”
He stiffened and his stomach tied to knots. Without a moment’s hesitation he started imaging of all the possible escape scenarios. He could dive under the table and disarm her. Or he could run towards the back door and take his chances in the sewage system. He was used to adventurous before he had ended up cooped up in this place and they were never good for him. Last time he was on an adventure he lost all he hold dear and he did not afford to go on one again. He was left with his life and he cherished it. He had managed to stay away from adventurous for ten years, but adventurous caught up with him.
“Won’t you listen to me first?” she asked him. The small woman had understood his intention and tried to spark his interest in her quest.
The mage would have liked to say that no, he was not going to listen to her, but for some reason he stayed put in his place. She offered him a half smile. Gods, she is so arrogant, the little bitch, he thought but did not move from his place. He could listen to her and then he would take his chances with the sewage system. It would not do any harm to me to just listen.
“Alright, I am listening” he said reluctantly. Or at least he tried to sound unwilling and bored with her.
“Great! I need you to sing for the Queen of the Sirens! I need you to use your magic songs so that we can infiltrate her castle the castle” she said in a hushed voice. She had leaned over the table and some of her red hair fell into her beer glass without her noticing. “Do you think you can do it? Or is it too much for an old mage like you?”
Challenge was in her voice and he noticed it. He did not like to be called old. The truth was that by human standards he was a middle aged man, but usually the servants of the magic song did not leave to have a midlife crisis.
He pretended to think of her offer for a moment. The challenge she threw at him was not needed; he had decided that he would join her the moment she mentioned the Queen of Sirens. There was bad blood between the two of them. She was the only person on earth that he hated with all his heart. The Queen was the reason his young and beautiful fiancé remained young and beautiful for the rest of her life. She was the reason his little bird rested in her grave so soon.
Nothing good would come out of this adventure, but he decided to go on an adventure. The final adventure of his life. He would help her infiltrate that castle, even if it was the last thing he did in his life.