Not a Soul Up Ahead #Brandy

Rachel Balla
 

Who: Brandy
With: Open!
Where: The Silver Tankard tavern, King's City
When: Sunset, Tuesday, March 11th, 872 RoK

The Silver Tankard had been packed - above and beyond capacity. With the demand for rooms, plenty of people had started inviting others into their beds, whether for money or pleasure. Over the last two days, though, the energy had surely shifted as those who had been stranded in the city moved on home and those who were excitedly awaiting the announcement of the new monarch made their way in instead. 
 
The new folks had fresh money on them, and the volume made it easier for Brandy to get her hands on the scarce fresh produce finally making its way into the city. But Brandy was a master of repurposing humble ingredients. Most locals would eat cold bread with a slice of cheese and be perfectly happy with it, but Brandy would stuff the cheese into the bread, crisp it up into what amounted to little more that a gourmet grilled cheese, but the people loved it. And potatoes, salted pork or fish, and toasted bread crumbs became - 
 
"Croquettas," Brandy explained as she presented a plate of six fried dumplings to a young woman who, after two glasses of wine, was chattering freely. She had been gossiping about the royal baby loudly enough to catch the barmaid's attention - it sounded like she was the handmaid of a lady and had been able to see the baby up close, but was disappointed to be on leave today as it meant she wouldn't have the same up-close access to see the Royal Scholar and General who, she claimed (tipsily) were rumored to be very handsome, even if they were easily both twice her age. 
 
Brandy leaned in, a delighted smile on her lips and interest lighting her eyes, and insisted. "Tell me everything about the baby!" 
 
"He was so small!" the handmaid cooed, in that voice women had to use when discussing babies, and Brandy answered it was an appropriate "aww!" "He was awake and squirming around, but not one cry! It's that royal blood. " 
 
"Like he was holding court already!" Brandy said with a laugh. "Did you see his face?" 
 
"Yes, yes, yes! He looks just like his father," the handmaid answered, although Brandy doubted how well acquainted the young woman had been with the late king's face. But that didn't matter! "Red hair and all. Those rumors are ridiculous." 
 
"What rumors?" Brandy pressed, hungry for the gossip she'd missed off freeing an infamous witch. She filled the nearly-empty glass to the brim.
 
"The ladies around the court were saying…" the handmaid leaned in closer, clearly knowing she needed to keep this tidbit confidential but totally lacking the ability to control the volume of her voice after drinking. "That the maidens in the Eastern Forest were all raped by those awful outlaws - you have heard of the Marauders?" When Brandy nodded, the young woman went on. "The rest were murdered, too, but the Consort survived because she came from a tribe of Southern warriors. Some even said that the child's real father was Marcus the Vile himself!" 
 
 

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