The Demands of Honour
Note: Image associated is from Ironage.media, specifically their prompt, 'The Duel'
It had been such a pleasant start to the day.
Peace had come at last to the land of Lucheria after three years of war. Indeed, it had been a shorter war than most, with the advent of the Arquebus shifting the world's battlefields. But it had cost much from every house, noble or ignoble, with many bled dry of their sons, all while the merchants had grown rich from the needs of the state and the people.
One such man, Aldfred, had stumbled, already drunk after the sun was barely above the horizon, into Madam Honora's Cafe, held by Sigmund as the best in the city for its coffee, clientele, and entertainment. Aldfred was not only already drunk, but also dressed in a fashion that screamed, "Make my clothing as expensive as possible", with a vest dyed a deep crimson with some dull metal brocade and suede sleeves of scarlet ended by excessively ruffled lace. His belt was leather, a rapidly dulling gold buckle nearly holding pride of place were it not for the gaudy sword hung from it. A strange bejewelled mix of épée and sabre, it was long, thin, almost a whip of edged steel, flashing in the morning sun as the fool had no sheath nor scabbard for her.
Sigmund felt his presence a bad omen, as did the proprietress who asked Aldfred to depart her business until he regained his senses. Predictably, the fool did not relish being told to leave, and worse, he chose to threaten her.
"You don't want my custom? Don't you know I'm the richest man in town?" His breath quickly fouled the air as he spoke, a torrid stench of brandy and cheap sour wine clear even to Sigmund, seated ten feet from the man. Mustering himself to speak without breathing the smell, Sigmund cut in, "The Lady of the house has requested you leave, sir. I suggest you abide by her request lest she ban you from appearing here ever again." Sigmund said, standing as he did, his left hand resting on the parrying dagger at his back.
"Oh, sorry, my lord," Aldfred sneered, "Does my newlymade wealth offend your delicate self?" He turned in place, his weight far more centred now. It seems his stumbling was a performance, looking to bait a fight.
"No, I dare say your coin is not at fault, but you are, sir. Now, leave." Sigmund kept himself loose in case his guess was correct, and Aldfred was looking for someone to attack him.
"I just was." Aldfred stepped towards the door, passing close to Sigmund, before he drew his blade. Thank the Gods, Aldfred was left-handed; otherwise, Sigmund may have missed his hand's motions and suffered the sting of that strange razor edge.
Instead, he caught it with his dagger, his falcata-style short sabre slipping free from its sheath, the blunt spine striking Aldfred's elbow, loosening the merchant's grip on his blade, which Sigmund stole from his opponent with a twist of his dagger.
"I believe you were leaving, sir." He said the talon-esque tip of his sabre held at the hollow of Aldfred's neck, a shallow pierce already trickling blood upon the gaudy cloth he wore.
"My blade?" Aldfred said, his hands raised and stepping backward as Sigmund pushed him out of the cafe at swordpoint.
"Will be held by either the Guard or Madam Honora, whichever she chooses. You, though, will leave, now; or more than a thin trickle will leave your veins." Sigmund emphasized his promise by pushing his blade forward once more, which would have opened Aldfred's neck further had the man not moved swifter than Sigmund's sabre.
Breathing easily now, Sigmund cleaned the tip of his blade with a handkerchief. He sought out Madam Honora to apologize for the violence he had performed in her cafe, only to find she had sought him out to offer him a glass of a new invention from distant lands, something she was told was called whisky.
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