Birl

“Yawana gew roun’da Emtwennyfi?” The barkeep growled, his lips and jaw twisted from deformities. There was an overgrown stockiness to his form, gnarled muscles bunched up under dirty clothing. As he looked at the pair of travellers, he took a whistling breath. “Das a birl.”

“Birl?” The young woman asked, clad in a forest-green hooded poncho that rustled as the waterproof fabric shifted. “I don’t-”

“Gambul. Birl’s ah gambul.” He explained with a huff. “Dere’s foopahds an robbahs dat whay.”

“We can take care of ourselves.” Her companion replied, opening his poncho to reveal the stash of sharp knives and firearms strapped to his waist. He towered above her, his lowered hood revealing a balding, scarred head with pointed ears missing notches here and there.

“Whells don say ah dinnah wharn yah.” The man behind the counter sniffed, before looking about his modest little property. Tattered advertising posters and stands had been gathered to give the place a bit of colour, and a variety of vicious polearms stood within arms reach of the bartender for taking care of trouble. “Whell, whanya wan?” He grunted, gesturing to his shelves of bottles.

“Just water.” The girl smiled, taking a small pack of batteries out from under her poncho for payment. “Nine volt. Pack’s sealed, you ken check thissen.”

“Goh eyes, donneh?” His face split in a grin, taking the pack quickly before handing out a shrink-wrapped eight-pack of water to them. “Dat Feah?”

“Plenty fair.” The burly elf nodded, taking the pack of water.

Nodding, the man looked between them. “Yawan els?”

The girl smiled at him. “Just not to be sold out t’any footpads or robbers what come by.” She said sweetly, gesturing to her companion.

The elf fondly patted one of his blades. “Aye. None of that.”

He had the decency to looked shocked. “Ahm nah snich.”

“Do nowt t’change that.” She said, nodding briefly before stepping out of the bar, her partner leaving after a few more pats of his hand against his knife. It wasn’t until they were a fair distance away that she spoke in a hushed whisper.

“He’ll sell us out for sure, Terrance.”

“Aye, lass.” Terrance sniffed, his sharp eyes and pointed ears already focused on their surroundings. “Better t’go round London than through it. We’ll slip off the M25, come back on at junction.”

She nodded, the pair carrying on walking in silence for a bit before she glanced up at the cloudy-grey sky. “Least it ain’t ‘sillin.”

A splodge of water hit the ground in front of them, followed by several more as the rains started to come. Terrance shot her a withering look as he pulled his hood up. “Press on, need distance a’fore we slip off the road.” He said while grabbing his young charges hand, leading her through the lumps of rust and glass littering the wide path.

The barman wasn’t half wrong, Lynn thought to herself as rain pounded on her Gore-Tex poncho. This whole trip was a gamble, but the auguries didn’t lie. She had to be at the Henge in time for the Winter Solstice.

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