A tiny peat fire in a brazier threw fingers of red across Law Kintour’s wobbly table. The room was small, smaller even than his tent in the days when he’d followed the duke to war. His narrow pallet bed was against the opposite wall to that he shared with his landlord Wulle Cullen and his wife. A single window overlooked the High street. Rain pattered against the closed shutters now, but when it was opened it looked out across the rooftops of Perth to the spire of St. John’s Kirk beyond the River Tay. The meager bits of furniture were rented with the room. A wooden kist near the door held the few belongings he had salvaged from the disaster in France.
Loud voices that nearly drowned out the sound of a minstrel playing a vielle filtered up to Law through the cracks in the wooden floor above Cullen’s tavern. The tavern was jammed between a brewster and a bakster with grayed timbers, the daub thin and flaking. The ground floor boasted a barrel of ale on a trestle, stools, a couple of benches and a long trestle table for eating. Bette Cullen could usually be found stirring a pot of broth that hung from a crane over a peat fire on the hearth whilst gray-haired Wulle bustled about tending to the customers.
Law hunched over the mutton broth he’d ordered from downstairs, though it had more of barley, onions and turnip and only a hint of meat to it. But he sopped up the rest out of the bowl with a hunk of oat bannock. When there was a tap on the door, he looked up with a belch.
Frowning, he pushed back the stool to step to the door and open it. “Yes?” he said to Cormac MacEda.
Cormac was a lanky man whose red and cream doublet with crumpled red ribbons at the seams Law always thought regrettable even for a minstrel. But his eyes were blue and playful in a boyish face. He closed the door behind him, leaned against it, and said, “There is a man in the tavern looking for you. His surname is Erskyn.”
“Looking to hire?”
“I think so. You’ll want to talk to him. He has enough siller judging by his dress.”
“Send him up, lad,” Law said. “Send him up.”