“That was a bit harsh…” Madelyn sighed as she put her hands on her hips and stared down at Bel’yth sitting with a beer mug in her hands. Bel’yth didn’t say anything as she looked at the empty seat across from her before her eyes went nowhere in particular. “even for you,” Madelyn glanced around the bar to make sure everyone – minus one man with a bruised ego – was presently content before wiping her hands on her apron and joining Bel’yth.
“I didn’t ask him to buy me a beer,” Bel’yth mumbled.
“His name is Harold, by the way,” Madelyn explained as she sat back. “He can’t keep a tune to save his skin, but he’s a decent fella. I’d even venture to say a good man – even if he is tone deaf.”
“You’re not going to make me feel guilty,” Bel’yth replied bluntly as her fingers moved on the top of the mug’s handle to spin the beer slightly back and forth.
“So why are you feeling guilty?” Madelyn asked.
“Me? I’m not feeling guilty.”
“No? You look like you feel guilty.”
“I don’t feel guilty.”
“Then what’s the matter?”
Bel’yth took a swig of her free beer before setting it a little too loudly on the table. After a sufficiently awkward pause she clarified, “I’m pissed.”
“Oh, did you finally get your heart broken in the city?” Madelyn inquired as she leaned forward.
Bel’yth almost chuckled as she went back to spinning her beer mug, “Nah…” Madelyn frowned a little as she slowly leaned back once again. “It’s… some of the people Anzu and I have been running with,” Bel’yth continued. “I let my respect for them to turn into trust.” She shook her head. “I let myself get soft and… well, I let myself get dragged into an ‘adventure’ not knowing that I was risking my life.”
Madelyn cocked her head to the side a little as she decided not to press for too many details. “Don’t you risk your life on a fairly regular basis? It’s kinda your job, right?”
Bel’yth paused before nodding her head. “Yeah, I guess I do. But each time I’ve run with the group I knew I might die, and I decided to go anyway. It was my choice – except for awhile ago. If I hadn’t worn chain mail… if anyone had made one wrong move… well, I could be dead.” Bel’yth’s grip tightened on the mug. “I can’t die. I know I chose to risk my life, but I won’t let anyone make that decision for me. It’s my life, and if I die then- … then… mum… no one will be left to take care of her.”
There was a long moment before Bel’yth realized a few tears had escaped and another moment still before she realized Madelyn was holding out a handkerchief. She took it and quickly wiped her face before finishing off the beer. Madelyn let out a little smile before replying, “Knowing what you’re getting into seems like a reasonable expectation to me.”
“It was foolish of me to trust that they’d always keep me informed instead of selfishly dragging me into matters I don’t want to get involved with,” Bel’yth rationalized. “This city is my only chance to make a better life for myself.”
“So what are you going to do about it?” Madelyn asked.
“… Drink coffee,” Bel’yth misdirected.
Madelyn sighed; there was clearly more Bel’yth wanted to say. But she stretched and stood before going back to her waitressing duties. “One coffee for the heart breaker. Black.”