Jason Brewer and Douglas Smith sat alone on one side of a long table at a small tavern near the border of Varn and Ingerland. It was mostly empty, one regular passed out in the corner. Their gear was stacked on the other end of the table, dusty from the end of a long journey.
“What a day,” Jason said, rubbing his temples.
“That man was the biggest jackass I’ve had to deal with yet since I became Regent,” Douglas said, pausing to take a long swig on his ale, “and that’s saying a lot.”
“It’s starting to look like a requirement for leadership positions in Varnhold,” Jason replied, pulling a small vial from his robe and pouring the contents into his own ale.
“How many more of these minor land barons do we need to meet? More to the point, why?” Douglas argue, slamming and splashing his mug down on the counter.
“They don’t find us worthy of any higher up the food chain right now,” Jason explained. “It might be a good thing.”
“Why?” Douglas asked. “It’s a waste of time.”
“It’s just…well, you never know what might come up in negotiations,” Jason replied.
“What the hell does that mean?” Douglas asked.
"I"m just saying…people’s past can show up when you least expect it and….even if it doesn’t have to do with what’s going on, it can still lead to…" Jason stumbled.
“Seriously, what in the hell are you talking about?” Douglas asked again. “Did you sleep with someone’s sister?”
“Me?” Jason chuckled. “No. I’m a priest, remember?”
“A priest of taverns and libation,” Douglas replied. “Chasing skirts is probably in there somewhere.”
“Well, I can’t argue on that point, but I wasn’t talking about me. I’m just saying that nothing every really gets left in the past, right?” Jason clarified.
“No, not right,” Douglas argued. “The past can be left in the past. It’s the very foundation of Inger philosophy. You do remember that you wander about representing us.”
“Yes, and I do so very well, thank you very much.” Jason replied. “Look, you can leave your past behind. We all have that power, but that doesn’t mean the past is done with us. If I escape an execution for murdering a child, and then move on to live a peaceful life, it doesn’t mean the sentence might not catch up to me some day, even if I’ve left that life behind me and everyone who knows the ‘good’ me doesn’t judge me for it.”
“Who are we talking about? You? Me? Are you saying you killed a Varn child?” Douglas asked sarcastically.
“No, I’m just trying to make a philosophical point,” Jason explained further.
“Do you know anyone who hates philosophy more than I do?” Douglas asked.
“I do not,” Jason replied, taking another long drink.
“Is Caspa meeting us here?” Douglas interrupted.
“She said she was going to,” Jason quickly replied. “You know, she’s a good example to use, so we can dispense with the philosophy. You know I adore Caspa, consider her a very good friend.”
“As do I,” Douglas added.
“Uh huh. Anyway,” Jason continued. “Caspa is an outspoken woman who, I’m sure, has ruffled feathers in her day. What if someone whose feathers she has ruffled sees our association with her and decides they don’t want to associate with us….or wants to make our work a little more intolerable?”
“Who wants to do that?” Douglas asked sternly.
“I’m trying to avoid specifics here,” Dave replied. “I’m just giving an example. She’s a handsome woman. Perhaps a spurned lover could get twisted in a knot because of…you know.”
“Our friendship with her?” Douglas added.
“Sure, that,” Jason replied.
“She has a spurned lover that could really be contributing to all these troubles with the land barons?” Douglas asked.
“You don’t know?” Jason asked in return. “I just, well, I thought you of all people would know.”
“Why me of all people?” Douglas asked.
“Because….good gods, for someone who does so well at reading others, you really keep yourself behind a wall of brick don’t you?” Jason asked rhetorically.
“I like to think of it as iron,” Doug cut him off.
“She was once engaged to Maeger Varn,” Jason spat out quickly.
“What!?” Douglas asked, surprised. “I, uh, I didn’t know…not that it would have been any of my business.”
“Of course not,” Jason said with a roll of his eyes. “Nevertheless, I thought you should know.”
“We don’t really talk about our pasts,” Douglas said, somewhat absently.
“Because you’re just friends,” Jason added, stone faced, “and because it’s not the Inger way.”
“Yes,” Douglas replied.
“Good gods,” Jason said, holding up his empty tankard, “I’m going to need many more of these tonight.”