Here, we’re introduced to Tabor, the Protector’s son. The chapter is from his perspective, though it harkens back to the plot line established in Chapter Two.
This scene takes place in a brothel, so please don’t read on if you’re likely to be offended, though it’s fairly tame.
As always, your constructive comments are helpful and much appreciated!
With their clothes on, the twins were indistinguishable, but Tabor was aware of the important differences. While Jayne had plumper breasts, Bethe tasted sweeter. Bethe, though less adventurous than her sister, was more enthusiastic, while Jayne let him roam her body freely. Alone, each was well worth a silver argen, but Tabor didn’t mind shelling out a full golden crest to enjoy the company of the two together. Nowhere but the Hammer and Anvil could offer such a treat, and he had plenty of crests and afternoons to spare.
As Tabor made his way down the staircase to the tavern’s gathering room, he noticed his stonefather seated at the bar. A nubile South Island beauty was vying with an ample Hrundl dame for his attention. Racine was awkwardly perched between the two, uncomfortably focusing on his stein of ale rather than the women at his side. Tabor stifled a laugh. Although Racine was more than twenty years his senior, he was clearly as out of place at the Hammer and Anvil as a greenhorn farm boy looking for his first romp. Tabor paused on the stairwell, wondering if he should leave Racine alone a bit longer, as his stonefather had obviously been sent to the tavern to look for him. Perhaps it would do him some good, make him a little less on edge.
A split second before Tabor turned to make his way back to the pair of beauties waiting upstairs, Racine caught sight of him. The old bachelor cumbersomely attempted to disentangle himself from the South Islander’s vines, which had managed to creep their way around him in an obscene manner – by “downstairs standards” at least. Leaving his drink behind, Racine made his way to a table near the fire, and Tabor followed suit.
The boy gestured to the barkeep, who promptly filled two more steins and brought them to the table. Tabor took a swig of the ale, waiting for Racine to begin his lecture.
Racine looked around the room with distaste. “It appears you’ve been keeping yourself quite busy.”
Tabor smirked. “How did you find me?”
“Where you spend your days is no secret, son. Your father is looking for you.”
The boy took another long swig. “Are there more stables to muck or horses to be shod?”
“He didn’t inform me, but I’m sure he’s aware of your lackluster performance with Captain Hammon.”
“I have better things to do than practice dressage.”
As if on cue, Jayne and Bethe descended the staircase. Racine raised his eyebrow and stared pointedly at Tabor. “So it seems.”
Though Tabor had only been out of the academy for nine moons, he’d already held four different posts in his father’s service – each more mundane and tedious as the last. He’d shown much promise as a young lad, practicing with Captain Essex in the yard and Racine in the classroom. At the academy, he progressed quickly in his courses, excelling in weaponry and battle tactics. But, upon graduation, there was little activity that spoke to his skills.
He’d begun as a Guide, leading tithes across the Spine. The assignment proved riveting for only two quick romps to Rana and back, after which he learned that the stories of the Spine were things of the past. The mercenaries seemed to have settled into respectable businesses, where they could rob travelers under the guise of free trade. When he failed to show up for his third trek, his father assigned him to two consecutive posts in the Naval Guard, neither of which lasted a moon. To better keep his eye on his son, Shorack finally placed him with Captain Hammon in the Equestrian Guard – which just happened to be annexed to the palace. Already a seasoned horseman, Tabor learned to parade around after the royal carriage on official outings and ceremonies, but he preferred to ride with his family and hated the pompous formality of the post. Needless to say, he shirked his duties as often as he attended to them.
“He likely has need for an errand boy, rather than something that will actually rely on my talents,” Tabor said acridly.
“Drinking and whoring?” Racine grabbed Tabor’s stein and emptied the remains on the floor.
“And how else should I be spending my time? The realm has no use for me, and, until it does, I prefer to spend my time here than with tithes and old men.”
Racine shook his head and rose. He knew it was no good to lecture the boy, so he took his leave, having delivered the summons.
Tabor downed what was left in Racine’s mug and motioned to the barkeep, who brought him a fresh brew.