The innkeeper laughed. “Can you tell us what happened?”
Joseph squeezed his eyes shut. When he re-opened them, his gaze rested on Jerrett. His brow furrowed as his eyes slowly slid down the Oathtaker’s form, stopping momentarily to concentrate on the man’s tattoos. He turned his attention back to Ezra.
“It’s all right,” the innkeeper said.
Once again, Joseph’s focus rested on Jerrett’s body art. He nearly flinched when he tensed his muscles.
Jerrett followed his gaze. “Oh, don’t mind these,” he said. “They’re left over from my wilder days.”
“He’s all right,” Ezra said to Joseph. “He’s one of us.”
“One of us?”
“Sorry,” Joseph said. “It’s just that . . . Well, where I’ve been, those markings are a bit too common.”
“Oh?” Jerrett asked.
“Most Chiranian soldiers cover their bodies in such tattoos.”
“Ah, yes, I remember seeing some very like these. Of course, that was years ago.”
“Maybe we should do this later,” the innkeeper said. “I suppose, in truth, you should get some rest.”
“No, I’m . . . all right.” Joseph breathed in deeply. “I made it into the guard, but there was a . . . misunderstanding . . . Dear Creovita, but they are heathens . . . thugs. I barely made it out. And when I did, I was followed. I couldn’t shake them.” He broke out into a dry coughing spell.
“You sure you’re all right to talk now?”
Joseph waved his hand as he caught his breath. “Fine. I’m fine.” He looked at the innkeeper. “One night I stopped at a wayfarer’s cabin. I suppose I shouldn’t have used it for shelter. It was too obvious, I guess. But the weather had turned sour and . . .” He coughed again. “Well, they caught up with me—beat me mercilessly. Then they threw me into the hut, barricaded the door, and started it on fire. Fortunately they left me there and rode off, and thankfully, I quickly regained consciousness. I broke the ceiling vent open far enough to pull myself through, but not until after . . . Well, you saw . . .”
“Those were some serious burns.”
“Yes. Anyway, I jumped into the saddle, turned my mount in the general direction, and then I passed out. I only regained consciousness a couple times for a minute or so each. I guess my mount got me here safely.”
Click Follow to receive emails when this author adds content on Bublish