Sigma Epsilon Chi

"You are the only person I know who can find something to complain about when the kingdom is at peace," said Clyde, absent-mindedly polishing one of the bar mugs. Business wouldn't pick up for another three hours, but appearances were everything; people expected bartenders to stand around and polish mugs.

"You're the only person I know who is surprised by this," countered Nerek, taking a swig from his tankard. "I'm a mercenary. People hire me to settle conflicts. Peace is bad for business."

"So branch out," he said, emphasizing his point with the grimy rag. "If people won't hire you, then you've got to provide products that people will pay for. You know, the elven rangers..."

"I am not hunting furs," replied Nerek, slamming down his drink. "And I would rather die of starvation before I pick up a lumberjack's axe or a miner's pick."

"So instead of going out and finding work, you're just going to sit here and complain that no one is giving you a job?"

"The hell do you care?" growled Nerek. "I'm still good for my tab, so fuck off. I lined up a contract with some fraternity up at the Mage Academy, which I plan to milk for what it's worth."

"The heck do a bunch of pencil pushers want with a mercenary?"

"Good question. They won't tell me the specifics until I meet with them in person. All I know is that they're not human. They're all taking the extended study program, which means they've got a lifespan of at least two hundred years."

"I've never understood why someone would want to stay in school that long," said Clyde, switching out mugs. "It's not like the higher level magic is good for anything. Most of the upper level stuff takes too long to cast, or has no real-world applications. The only difference between a human wizard and a fey wizard is the size of his ego."

"Well, if you've got the lifespan for it, why the hell not? What else are they gonna do? If it keeps you entertained, I say go for it. At least this way they're blowing all of their gold in this town."

"Don't tell me you've bought into that 'economic stimulus' crap," said Clyde, slamming the dirty mug against the counter. "That academy doesn't do shit for local business. Those mages stay holed up on campus, and they never leave. The only place that gets their money is the school itself, and that's just because they jack up the enrollment price every year."

"Well, whatever," said Nerek, trying to steer the conversation away from an obvious sore spot. "They're paying me for some dumb private task, and that'll be that."

"You seriously don't know what you're being paid to do?" asked Clyde.

"I told you, they won't tell me until I meet with them in person. Does it really matter? First, they're mages. What could they possibly ask of me? If they want to keep the matter under wraps, fine. Besides... there are no other jobs. I don't have much of a choice."

"I suppose that's true," said Clyde. "Lemme know how that works out for you, yeah?"

"Like you won't bug me about it when I come back," laughed Nerek, flipping him a few coins. "I'll pay the rest when the job's done. I'm heading out."

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