"Do you always frown when you drink wine, soldier?"
ℤ𝕒𝕝𝕖 ℂ𝕙𝕒𝕣𝕟𝕖𝕒𝕦 :~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~
Location: Taverna near the Agora.
Current role: A soldier from the royal guards.
Current mood: Salami nipples.
"Anyone with a good taste would frown at the shitty wine you serve."
Agathe raised her brow at him as she refilled his cup from a clay pitcher, then smirked, a sure sign she was gearing up for no good. Truly, if Sparta is the birthplace of the most fearsome warriors then Argos is the home of the big-mouthed loud women. "Your comment is a little snarkier. Now tell me, I am curious, who pissed on your porridge?"
Zale, lacking the interest to roll his eyes, drew his gaze to the thick red liquid as it swirled in circles. Then slowly, deliberately, he took a long gulp. "Goddess Hera."
Of course, it wasn't the taste that made him smile. Instead, it was the look of genuine shock and horror on her tanned face, as though he buried her parents alive right in front of her. Yet still, a predictable reaction, considering that Hera is the patron Goddess of the city and the dominant deity chosen by its citizens. Such information, after all, was the first thing that slapped his face ever he was teleported in this place; not only her name was whispered in every bustling street and marble temple but also honored with massive bronze and stone sculptures in every corner throughout Argos. So far, so typical; ignorant worshippers and a nonexistent Goddess.
His eyes locked hers in private combat. His faint smile, a little malice, was a challenge. "Oh Agathe, is my answer that vile of a crime that you treat your favorite client with silence?"
To which she stiffened and hardened, hand on her hip as her fingers tugged and clutched at the fabric of her brown peplos in a way that demonstrated disapproval. "Dishonoring the Gods is always a crime, for we are mere mortals, specks of dust beneath their fingernails. The corn in the fields, the fish in the sea, the sun in the sky, the very breath you take-- are all gifts given to us, to you. Gifts that can be taken away if you reward their love with insults." "Their gifts or hers?"
He asked mockingly then shook his head in amusement. "No need to bring the entire Olympic Gods on the table if we are talking about Hera, Goddess of brothels and--"
"Goddess of women, marriage, and childbirth, you idiot."
"Yes, that, Goddess of whatever you say."
He then cast a glance over his shoulder to what was known as the agora; the beating heart of Argos, a market where people from citizens to foreigners gathered. The large, central area had merchants display and sell their products here and there; linen from Egypt, spices from Syria, pottery from Athens, and all the various goods from around the Mediterranean. If there was one thing he missed about the church, it would be the quietness, something that never graced his ears in here as the criers announced when fresh fish arrived from the boats and bargained for a good price, politicians and philosophers conducting public meetings while theatrical and musician performances unfolded near the fountain. The rich carried their money in a purse and shopped with slaves, the poor alone. Agora, where goods and gossip exchanged-- and for the latter, he came to this precise kapeleion. "So, did you find what I was looking for?"
"Of course, but."
she extended her hand, eyeing the fat purse on his hip eagerly. Zale instantly sighed, wondering whether if she would be as bold to demand extra coins for a job she was already paid for if she knew that he strangled countless women and men with a cross necklace. In fact, he would do it right here and right now with his bare hands if she weren't a valuable source of information and people were watching. Her head tilted, green eyes gleaming in the sunlight, shining with raw impatience. "Well?"
Taking three silver coins out, he dropped them on her palm, which she instantly began to bit each down in her mouth like any peasant with trust issues would. Another sigh fled his lips. "For Hera's sake, you can be a squirrel later. Speak."
"Oh, now you seek Hera, huh?"
His eyes narrowed, warning her not to let him test his shield against her skull. "Agathe."
she slowly settled down on a diphros opposite him, with an elbow on the table and a hand to her cheek, casting him a look of someone who had seen so many clients seated where he was, listening to what the birds of Argos whispered in her ear, to whatever kind of information they paid to get. "After one week of the search, we only found a similar looking suspect when it came to the woman and none for the man."
He intertwined his fingers together and set them on the table, his grey metallic gaze honed in focus. "And where do I find this woman?""Hmm,"
a thoughtful silence, then, "the brothel on the eastern side of the Agora. It will be crowded at night so you should head there now while you can. Good thing is that you wouldn't need to ask around to find her; she's the only redhead among the prostitutes."
Zale nodded in agreement. He has a night watch at the royal palace anyways. "Redheads, aren't they rare?"
"They are indeed, but the man you're looking for? He's nonexistent, all parties throughout the city searched, not a pair of almond shaped eyes spotted among the citizens nor the foreign settlers coming from the docks."
She shrugged her shoulders in a careless motion. "Maybe you should give up on the Mongol."
Oh dear Agathe, he thought, if you said that in 2020 you'd be canceled in one Twitter post. Without a word, he put his Corinthian helmet on and proceeded to walk away, with a quiver and a bowstring behind his back, a round-shaped shield in his hold. If anything, he felt like an idiot in the armor plates and bronze greaves, the linen shirt beneath the cuirass was the sole comfort that was as close as it could be to his previous outfit, the cassock. But this isn't the time for complaining; roles had to be played, just like they will surely play theirs in a game where deception is the key, for he is watching-- the puppet master of the sinners."Oh Zale, one question."
He heard Agathe call from the distance but didn't turn around. The only answer he could give was halting, his back to her. For a moment, there was silence, then her voice ringed forth, asking the question he knew she was eager to ask the moment she met him. "Your scar...it has a relation with the God you believe in, right?"
And he easily dismissed it with: "No, a stray cat scratched me. Probably sent by Hera."
The wine pitcher flung and whistled past his ear, missing his head by an inch.
Her pair of sandals didn't.