The shorter two were Elves, their faces told that clearly, and only Elves
carried two swords across their backs, as did this pair. They were _nien-liellin_,
mercenaries, Faran realised, noting the earrings - more common than ordinary Elves,
but rare enough in Sentarin these days. What was more unusual was that these Elves were
as alike as two rats in a tree - they were twins.
Despite these oddities, the third member of the group drew most of Faran's attention.
She, not he, was one of the most striking women he had ever seen, and Faran had seen
more than his share of fair women. Her features were Elven, but with an odd cast to them,
that Faran couldn't place. He decided she must be a half-breed, for no Elf was so tall,
nor could an Elf have hair like that, hair like flame. It danced in cameraderie with the fire
in the hearth as she seemed to argue with the 'keeper.
They reached some sort of agreement, and the woman, followed by the two Elves made her way
across the room towards Faran. For a moment he thought with distress that they were going to sit
at his table, but they picked the empty one beside his that lay in a shadowy corner. Faran had
deliberately not chosen that table. Men who sat alone in dark corners too often drew suspicion and
Since the three seemed to be taking no notice of him, Faran watched them surreptitiously. The
two Elves were, even close up, identical in every way, save for their expressions. One wore a scowl
fierce enough to frighten a troll, the other looked somewhat nervous. Otherwise they seemed no different
from any other _nien-liellin_ Elf - the few that FAran had seen.
He turned his gaze upon the woman. Her cloak was grey where the Elves' were mud-brown, and Faran noted
with surprise the fine line of coloured bands along the edge of her hood. Few if any here would know that
signified a graduate of the Academy of Magic, and the various colours represented her degree of talent,
for those who understood their meaning. He squinted at them. Six colours for mastery of the various fields
of magic, and a purple band that stood for the highest rank of sorcerer. She was very good. There was also
a thin red line that Faran thought meant a teacher, and a silver band that he knew not the meaning of at all.
One of the Masters of the Academy then, though Faran was given to understand that they never left Nameless
He buried his eyes in his winecup, turning these things over in his head. Two Elves and a sorcerer-magician.
An unusual combination. The group might well have stepped out of a story. Faran wondered what they were doing
in a dockside tavern. They hardly seemed to belong here...
Faran's thoughts were interrupted by a movement in the corner of his eye, and the sudden harsh skirling of the
music as everyone fell silent.
Must go...more next week (hee hee)...