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The Huntress

The only sound in the tavern, other than the crackling fire, is the creaking of leather and the sound of metal against wood as the huntress Faustine disassembles her pistol and cleans every piece. She is as meticulous in her work as she is on the hunt–and her weapons are her pride and joy. They act as an extension of her arm and as agents of her will, reaping fame and glory with every felled beast. Across from her, seated at the same table, Antoine runs a cloth over his blade. His tools are less sophisticated than hers, but he cares for them all the same. She eyes the half-finished pint of ale sitting in front of him, and her fingers sparkle with jewels in the low light as she reaches out. “Are you going to finish that, cousin?” She asks. Antoine shakes his head and she sweeps it up, downing the contents in one hard swallow and wiping the foam from her lips before continuing her work.

She brings the tankard down against the table so that the metal rattles against the wooden surface. “Another round for us!” She gestures between herself and Antoine. He looks like he is holding back a sigh as he signals the bartender, quietly, for another round to be brought to his retinue as well.

“Did you hear about the baron?” She asks. Antoine tilts his chin downward.

“Dead,” he says.. “Is that not so?”

“Murdered in cold blood,” she whispers, “with his head mounted on the gate outside. The only survivors are the two orphan girls he brought in out of charity. Which just goes to show you, cousin, even the rich cannot afford to be kind.” She flashes a smile, more contempt than humor, and picks up her tankard as it is set down in front of her. “And so kindness is never an expenditure I will risk. I am very careful about my investments.”

“So I have come to understand,” he raises his tankard as well. “To health, then.”

“To gold,” she countered, “it will last longer.”

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