I stole the first line for this from More Than 1/2 Mad for the Legal Theft project? prompt? exercise? Whatever. Here it is.
“When charging into dangerous situations you can either be fast and silent or fast and prepared.” He told her, voice low and thick. She leaned towards the words, forearms on the table between them. “Haste is a necessity in my line of work, so one must pick between the other two.”
She didn’t need to ask what he did for a living. The sword slung over his chair shone with care and his coat was oiled and fine. He smelled earthy from horses and road dirt. Moreover the inn was tense; the staff watched the men and their swords from the corners of their eyes. “So what do you choose then?”
He smiled at her. “Bring me another drink and I’ll tell you.”
She obeyed and settled back across from him, expectant.
“Silent. Your enemies must never know where you wait.” He took the ale. “I have been to this inn many times, but this is the first visit I’ve seen you. Does your father really mistrust me so much?” His eyes flicked to the innkeep, scowling from across the bar. His eyes were alive when they turned back to hers.
Her cheeks colored and she looked away, a smile playing on her own lips nonetheless. “You make a living taking what belongs to others, can you fault him?”
“No I cannot, especially with such a bright and beautiful daughter. But perhaps we’ve spoken too much, I don’t wish to bring you trouble.” His tone sobered, turning soft.
“Wouldn’t you?” One of her fine brows arched, matching the quirk of her lips.
“Perhaps I lied. But I’ve told you, my life is full of dangerous situations; whether I intend it or not, I would only bring you trouble.” He leaned back with a sigh, adjusting the cloth around his neck. “There is a price on my head, and your father already dislikes my men, perhaps almost as much as our little conversations.”
She shrugged, throwing a defiant look towards the man behind the bar. The innkeeper stiffened and a shiver went through the room, a few of the highwaymen’s’ hands going to their well-kept swords.
Nothing came of it. The innkeeper deflated and the swordsmen went back to their drinks, dice and cards. This was not the first silent contest he’d lost to the thieves.
“I am more capable than he knows, I can make my own decisions and take matters into my own hands.” She said softly. “That’s what I’m doing.”
“Those are strong words. Do they have action behind them?” The highwayman asked, he weighed her as one would heft a purse, determining the metal of the coins within.
She nodded. “Take me away from here.”
“Tonight?” He smirked, as if it was a joke. It wasn’t, there was nothing frivolous or merry in her voice.
“He won’t suffer you long, or the company we keep.” She shrugged again. “I can be patient, it is your profession that requires haste.”
His smile grew, enjoying her quickness. “Tonight then.”
The moon was high when she crept silent and quick from her window. He waited across the bridge, horse saddled and ready to ride with an extra passenger. They met with a deep kiss, hands curled through his hair and around her waist.
“This is a dangerous life I have, oh innkeeper’s daughter.” He climbed atop the saddle first, pulling her behind him. “My men wait to the south. You are ready to join them?”
“Yes.” She set her chin on his shoulder, pressing herself to his back. “Take the east road, the king’s men patrol the south way.”
“I have never seen them.” He said but turned the horse hard to the east, galloping away from the inn and its dark windows. They rode along the wide path, its way marred with the many passes of wagons and travelers. She leaned against him all the while. He enjoyed the hands about his waist and the warmth at his back.
The trees were thick and the road weaved, hiding the way from them. The jingle of bridle and the stamp of horse sounded before he saw them. “My men.” He explained to her and felt her nod against his shoulder. They slowed to a walk and turned the bend.
Moonlight shone off the knight’s helms. It dimmed the faces of the men who wore them. Next to the shining armor their swords were dark and dull, freshly bloodied. They closed around the highway man’s horse.
The cold threat of a blade pressed itself to the highwayman’s back. “His men?” She asked the knights over his shoulder.
The lead knight jutted his chin towards the tree line where bodies lay piled. “They won’t bother your inn any longer miss.”
The highwayman swore and she pressed her knife harder to his back. “And him?” She asked, ignoring the slurs the highwayman turned on her. “This one has come back with different band of thieves and thugs before.”
“He’s never been caught before. Always slipped away.” The knight moved over and dragged the highwayman down from the saddle. A quick strike from the mailed fist and the highwayman slumped, unconscious. “But we were prepared this time, thank you for that.” He passed her a thick purse. “The bounty.”
She smiled at the knight. “I should get back to the inn, but come in some time. “ The innkeeper’s daughter turned the highwayman’s horse and left the clearing before any of the king’s men said anything more.