"I don't know a thing." A blonde soldier said as he turned away from his questioners. The blonde lifted the tankard of Ale to his lips about to take a swig when a strong firm hand gripped his leather-covered shoulder hard. He sighed, clearly these people weren't going to leave him alone to finish his drink. "We know you know him. Just tell us where he's hiding." The blonde spun turning his chair and looked at them. With a quick shake of his head he sent his long blonde hair out of his face. Annoyance and anger glimmering in his dark green eyes. He shrugged and spoke slowly and calmly as though speaking to a group of idiots, "I already told you … I don't know." One of the guards stiffened, pale blue eyes flashing, ready to do violence. The other held out a hand to prevent his partner from moving. One more chance to cooperate. His partner jerked his head in an aggressive nod. "Sam Caedmon, we know that you … worked for Briac. He is a suspected Gifted. If you have any information you must reveal it to us or face the penalty for your heresy and treason." Sam sighed, "You're right. I do have information for you." He continued, "I don't work for anyone." He turned his back to the two guards and hunched over the bar to drink.

The calm guard sat down next to him, "Yes… I have received the information that you are a sell-sword. A Blade for hire. But you were a soldier once. Maybe not of the same King but you were a soldier. You understand that obedience is owed to superiors and now you are in a country under our King, the head of the country. The ultimate superior." The blonde stiffened, and turned his eyes blazing with rage, his expression a mask of cold anger and contempt. The bartender stood shocked, he saw Sam in his battle armor everyday and yet Sam had never seemed more dangerous than today in plain leathers. Sam always carried himself with calm confidence, his good humor undermining how well armed he was… how dangerous he could be and yet in one moment he had gone from a mercenary relaxing between jobs to threatening warrior. The bartender, a long time friend found himself staring at a very different man than the chipper, sarcastic and ultimately extremely gentle troubled man that he normally served. This side of Sam was angry and in pain… and dangerous. A cold clipped voice filled with an edge of bitterness spoke calmly, "Let me get this straight. Because I was once a soldier you expect me to turn in a man who is guilty of nothing but being born different… to a King who is supposedly stupid enough to believe they're damned because of the way they were born." The soldiers blinked in surprise at his tone. Both Captains stiffened, suddenly understanding there was more to the sell-sword than some peasant who was decent with a sword and didn't want to lose business for turning in an ex-client. The room was silent. Everyone in the bar was trying to observe the confrontation from a distance without seeming to look. Sam continued taking a half step forward and pushing off of the bar, his hair falling across his face to hide his eyes for a brief moment, "Because we both know that this talk of evil magick-users is crap. He wants them dead because he sees them as a threat… not to us but to him with his huge ideas of power. Healers, herb-witches… Gifted who never hurt us before are being slaughtered because of his stupid fear." Sam's tone grew more angry, more aggressive and filled with cold loathing as he rose, "So he steals them off of the street and murders them in cold blood because he is afraid." He sat and turned his back to the guard captains. He spoke quietly and calmly as he looked at the tankard in his hands, "that is your king. Your murdering… coward of a King. The king you serve so faithfully. The king you want me to help. King Camlin the Coward." He finished taking a sip of his drink. The bartender stood stunned, his friend had spoken heresy and treason. The new Order said that the Gods had appointed the King. King Camlin the Conqueror. He was hated by some but no one spoke out against him in the open. It was considered heretical and treason to speak out against the King and the Trials. If you were caught you would be killed. He was seen by some as a savior after the Mage War and the treason of their last King.

One of the guards trembled with rage and drew his sword and charged at Sam's back. Cullen stood behind his bar stunned and opened his mouth to scream a warning to his friend but before he could Sam spun, sword drawn, knocking aside his opponent's blade with his own and brought the metal tankard down on the attacking guard's head. In the sudden silence a sickening thunk could be heard and the guard fell to the floor. The other guard stared in horror at his fallen comrade and then looked at Sam his face blank the only sign of his anger was the rage burning in his eyes. The sound of blade hitting blade rang in the silence of the room. Sam spun away from the bar not wanting to get pinned against it. Suddenly Sam wobbled, one hand pressed to his head, his blade listing to the side and dipping to the floor leaving his chest open. The guard s eyes flashed as he saw the opening, drunkenness breeds mistakes. The guard lunged in for the kill. But in the last moment Sam jerked up his blade with incredible speed and slashed the man's wrist and with a quick jerk sent the blade careening out of the stunned guard's hand. Before the guard could react he slammed the hilt of his sword against the man's temple. The guard stared in shock before falling to his knees and then to his face, blood welling from his temple. Sam nudged the newly fallen guard with his boot and when the guard didn't respond he knelt down and felt for a pulse. Cullen stood nearby, one golden eyebrow raised, "well?" Sam felt the other and nodded, "Both are still alive… the blows weren't that hard. They should live." He rose and put his sword back in the scabbard still looking at the bodies. He stepped over them and to the bar before Cullen full processed what he had said, "should live?" Sam tossed his long blonde hair out of his eyes and took a sip from the tankard. Then shrugged, "Guards have hard heads." He turned to the bodies his gentle gaze filling with contempt. He sighed and shook his in disappointment. Before turning his attention to more important matters, "Cullen. I'll pay you for any damages." Cullen snorted and went back to cleaning the bar, "Like I haven't heard that before." Sam smirked into his tankard; "I'll actually do it this time." Another snort. Cullen looked up and examined his friend. Sam's usually playful countenance was gone replaced with a sad thoughtful expression he normally only saw shortly before Sam got drunk. Sam came to drink often enough but he rarely got drunk. And yet today seemed special. There was something different about Sam. He seemed to have almost resigned himself to some sad fate or something. There was a kind of sadness in the expression on his pale face and eyes.

He seemed more a soldier than ever and he wasn't even in his full black battle gear. Today he wore brown leathers, a brown leather jerkin and long brown leather wrist guards. Two daggers on his belt and his long sword that he never parted from. Sam fingered a long silver chin thoughtfully. Cullen had always wondered what hung on that chain and yet had never gotten the guts to ask. Cullen realized how little he actually knew about Sam Caedmon. Sam had shown up years ago, said nothing of his past. He was usually cheery but had moody bouts. He seemed to slip into another world sometimes. A world of regret. It wasn't the first time Cullen had seen something like that happen to soldiers. Sam didn't gamble and rarely drank heavily… he had never had girlfriend and yet was handsome. He had the tall muscular build of a soldier and fair features. Cullen smiled he had remembered one of the barmaids saying he had features that would prince charmin' to shame… and yet not that he thought about it… Cullen had never seen him with a girl. He had many friends and yet none that had known him for more than a few years. What was the story with Caedmon?

Sam spoke interrupting Cullen's musings, "I think I need to leave and let things cool down." Cullen blinked and looked up at Sam and thought it over and nodded, before saying dryly, "That's obvious." Sam shot him a look, "Smart-ass." His mischievous grin taking the sting out of the words. "I guess I'll take a job and leave town since I don't want to got to the King's prison or be burned for a heretic." Cullen blinked at this then his eyes widened; he spoke slowly, "Yeah that would be a plan…." Sam turned to him smirking, "be sure not to tell anyone. Maybe I'll take the next ship out of here." Cullen nodded, and said with melodramatic conviction, "I would never tell on you Sam." Sam nodded, "good." Then turned to the door and dropped a piece of paper out of his palm onto the table before leaving.

Cullen went about his work and slipped into the back at the lunchtime rush. Something he never did and came back smiling and mumbling smart-ass and seemed to be in a good mood until the guards came and interrogated him. After a dramatic refusal of aid he finally broke down and told them all that Sam had told him and the few barmaids and patrons that had witnessed it agreed to his testimony. The guards left and Cullen threw a thin slip of parchment into the fireplace and as it lay burning to ash it unfolded and the words don't over do it smart-ass lay revealed before Cullen pocked it with a poker shoving it further into the fire.