Chapter 3, page 3

When it was obvious that I wasn’t going to withdraw the bill, he leaned down to me and in a hushed voice said, “Sir, you do know that prior to the tournament the bars are open, don’t you?”
Actually, I hadn’t known that, so I filed it away for future reference. As it was I did my very best to look downright offended by his reaction. Instead of trying to argue with him I simply reached out and stuffed the bill into his shirt pocket. “I don’t recall asking how much I owed, do you?”

The bartender nodded as I picked up my glass. The drink was truly fantastic but I refused to consume any more alcohol, so I released a little of my body heat into the drink through a focused mental command and just like that, all of the intoxicants were purged from the glass. I have always found that it is very useful to let people think you are intoxicated when you should be. So I gladly took another sip, and was pleasantly surprised when I discovered that the taste had been unaffected, not that I had thought that it would be. I mean I had used that trick many times ever since I had first discovered it and, more often than not, it had no effect on the taste. But with this drink, any change would have been a tragedy.

“I didn’t ask the cost of the drink because that was a tip, nothing more, nothing less. By the way, what’s your name?”

“Simon.” He answered again with that single word, I needed to master that skill. Just like that he let me know that he understood, he knew I was going to ask for his handiwork specifically for the rest of the evening.

I nodded as I kept the conversation alive. “Thank you for the drink, Simon. You’re a magician with those bottles.” With a nod of his head Simon retreated back to his original side of the bar, leaving me to enjoy the fruits of his labor.

Just as I sat down on one of the stools a clipped voice, thick with a Russian accent, began to bark at me from just behind my right shoulder. “You know you just make us look bad.”

Before I could turn around to ask the man what he was talking about another voice spoke up, only this time it came from over my other shoulder. This voice, while smooth, had an accent but not one I could get a handle on. “Wrong, it only makes you stiff-necked and greedy people look bad, and personally I don’t see anything wrong with that. There are those of us who are willing to tip the staff for their hard work.”

Leaning in closer, the man who had leapt to my defense asked me a question, speaking quietly enough so only I could hear the question. “But between you and me that was a hefty one. You didn’t start your drinking before arriving, did you?”

I didn’t need this right now. I just wanted to be left alone for a minute so I could enjoy my alcohol-free drink. Besides I still needed to do what I had been unable to do previously, recon. But I supposed I did have to be at least a little sociable. So with that thought in mind I decided to answer the private question first. Turning towards him I replied just as quietly, “No, I haven’t been drinking. I’m just well-off and the drink put me in a very generous mood.”

I could tell that the answer confused him, but he accepted it. This man was truly one of this societies’, well any societies’ elite. A pompous and spoiled child who never had to work for anything, ever. He would never understand anything other than his own desires. So I dumbed it down for him. “I happen to like swift and confident service, which Simon just delivered, and that tip should secure the same level of service for the rest of the day.”

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