The Cat: Rae and Kratos
Working at the bar brought several unanticipated benefits to Kratos over the course of the previous few weeks. This merchant society oozed money from their pores, and he expected that at least a portion of the “tips” would go to the establishment proprietor, but this was not the case. Steve (being the honest sort) was ready to explain this at prompted, and Kratos later learned the unexpected income was largely cash and not taxed by the city or state unless Kratos was overly honest about the fact. Kratos, fortunately, did not believe in honesty for the sake of it. Secondly, working at the bar improved his English substantially. He was not doing much in favor of the endeavor, but you picked things up a lot faster when people were constantly speaking around and at you. Third, the knowledge was valuable and interesting. Working at the bar was not nearly as boring as handy work, and he was almost equally as good at it.
As a result, the big gray-skinned man was a relative fixture at the bar by now. The oddness of his accent and his tattoos wore off rapidly. In general people had stopped trying to pry into his past, and now simply greeted him and expressed their gratitude when he remembered which beer they liked. The pedantic rhythm of life in Repose did not come near the happy times of the homestead with Faye, but Kratos was not dissatisfied with it. The boy’s enthusiasm for this world could not be ignored. He returned to Repose on his fourteeth day always bubbling with new knowledge from his school, talking of culture, languages and city-states that did not translate into his mother tongue. He was happy with their exile, and his father had no particular place he wished to be.
The power dynamics in this tiny hamlet consistently amazed him. The gods of his world had never been so static, so deeply involved in human doings, as they were here. Kratos was the representative of conflict, power, the incarnation of humanity’s desire to conquer. He had murdered the divine to take their place, and his role as Ares replacement was only more suited to his past. Only an idiot would be oblivious to the different kinds of beings and power at work in Repose, and Kratos—while not acting as a god in the traditional sense—was not an idiot. None of them bothered the boy, and none of them confronted him. He did not act on his curiosity.
Rae’s appearance visibly surprised him. It was a twitch on his gray features, a shadow in his small dark eyes. He finished with a pair of farmers gossiping over their beer, and moved across the bar to look down on her from his substantial height. After a moment, he leaned forward, the weight of his large shoulders on his elbows and heavily inked forearms. The gesture was strangely friendly. He folded conflict-thickened knuckles together and gazed readily at her. He waited for her greeting, as a kind of courtesy.