Chapter 1

Chapter 1

June 3rd
Rain pattered on the rooftop of the Red Robin inn, and it seemed that the storm seemed to be no where near stopping. The inn itself is quiet, with many of the regulars having called it a night hours ago. Two young women, twins with dark black hair which suggested a strong ancestry in the old east, were cleaning the wooden tables and counters as they gossiped. A few chairs and a table which were conveniently placed near the fireplace seemed the coziest place in the small tavern. Behind the bar, another woman in her 30s was cleaning off mugs and supervising the younger women. While the Red Robin might not have been the highest class of inns, it had a pleasant feel to it.

Behind the bar were a number of bottles which seemed to contain a collections of drinks, though many of them were not even labeled... And among those that were labeled, they contained more pictures then words. It seemed that the years had not been kind to the region when it came to academics, but with the trade the community seemed to be surviving.

"Emily and Sara, if you two don't stop gossip I am going to dock both of your pay." Miranda called from behind the bar as she took one of the mugs she had cleaned over to one of the barrels behind the bar and turned the tap. A clear liquid poured out of the barrel and into the glass, and she took a long drag of it.

"We're sorry Miranda!" Both of the girls cried out in unison, then they broke down in giggles as they went back to gossiping and barely cleaning.

The inn doors are flung open by Shana. She darts in and slams them shut behind her, not caring about the bang it makes. Her cloak gets promptly dropped on the ground. Water droplets cascade from her sleeves as she wrings them out. They hang limply from her arms while she squeezes her soaking hair. Even after this, she still feels like she just went for a swim in a chilled lake. Grabbing her cloak from the ground and grumbling under her breath, Shana goes right to the fireplace and flings herself onto one of the chairs. She closes her eyes and sighs as her body starts to absorb the heat.

Jordan looked up from his table near the dwindling fire, where he was intently working on a sketch when the elf made her noisy entrance. He gazed into the fire for a moment before speaking. "Cold elfie, rude elfie; elfie slammed the door. Mad elfie, wet elfie; dripping on the floor." Looking pleased with himself, he picked up a small knife to correct a mistake he had made on the parchment due to the sudden noise. Scratching away at his mistake, he waited for the elf to speak.

A few moments after the elf's illustrious and damp entrance, a second newcomer lumbers in out of the rain, blond hair and gold-brown fur dripping wet. She's a big one, that's for sure; wide shouldered and stout; she's one of those shifters, descendants of lycanthropes judging by her appearance (and the smell of wet bear.) Most of her heritage shows on her furred arms, which she wrings water from while apparently not caring that the twins now have to clean up more...

Taking a seat, and using a scarf (it looks like a scarf) to wipe off the cracked leather in her raiment, she doesn't pay much mind to the others but motions to Miranda for expected service...

The remarks from the apparent artist would normally cause Shana to react in a much more aggressive manner. At the moment, she is too tired to care. Her weariness restricts her response to her flatly saying, "Screw off." She does not even open her eyes during her words, keeping her focus on the heat that her body is quickly absorbing.

A smirk played across Jordan's lips. "Quite the fitting retort. As witty and eloquent as you are beautiful, my dear." He rolled up the parchment and put it away in a scroll case. "What brings you out on a night like this, dressed like that?" He leaned back in his chair, clasping his hands behind his head, and drank in the fire as well.

Kaliska, had been laying awake in one of the sparsely furnished rooms listening absentmindedly to the scrape of chairs and murmur of conversation from the main room as the girls bustled about the common room. She was too energized from the past day's events to surrender to sleep the way her traveling companion appeared to have. She had sat for... a few hours she guessed, mulling over her own thoughts with the noise of commerce and cleaning a soothing backdrop to her wandering thoughts. Her mind was pulled to the present with the sound of the large wooden door swinging open. The rhythm of a short conversation penetrated the aged wood, though the words were lost somewhere in the planks. By the time the door sounded a second time Kaliska had already quietly slid from her bed and to the door of the small room. With a quick glance at the second bed squished into the small space, and a confirmation Lord Light appeared still to be sleeping, she quietly cracked the door and slipped into the hallway. She paused on the edge of flickering shadow ringing the merrily cracking fire she looked around the room at the motley collection, eyes resting longest on the hulking beast of a woman shoved hilariously into a chair, her girth overflowing both sides of the seat Kaliska could almost hear the chair's stressed groan as the beast went about mopping herself up. The male hassled the languid elf and Kaliska's attention was turned to them with the hope of at least a mild squabble to keep the night from growing dull. None in the room were donned in the pretentious white robes of the fundamental fuddy duddies she had been warned to avoid and she wasn't too worried any of them were here having followed her trail. She sidled up to the bar; placing a few coins in front of her in hopes of getting some warm anything to drink on. The drink was an excuse to be in the room, something to make it look like her attention was on something else than the fussing pair by the fire, and so she didn't harry the staff for a quick reply.

Landin woke with a start, sitting bolt upright. What was that noise? Were the others coming to pay him another of their nighttime visits? He thought he had cured them of that when he broke Anir's arm, but...

The train of thought was interrupted when the unfamiliar surroundings registered in Landin's disoriented mind. All at once realization came crashing back down on him, and he checked for Kaliska. The empty bedroll gave him a sinking feeling in the pit of his stomach. Yes, the strange girl was almost insufferably annoying, but now that Landin was gone from the monastery she was all he had left. Even her uncomfortable company was better than being alone against the road... if only just barely.

With a sigh Landin lugged himself to his feet, quickly dressed himself in his traveling clothes and strapped his ornate mace to his belt. Knowing her Kaliska was either in trouble, or she was about to cause trouble. Either way he thought he should try and find her and defuse the situation.

When he entered the common room, Landin immediately tensed. He had told Kaliska to keep a low profile, and here she was bouncing up and down in her chair in front of all sorts of sinister looking people. Landin's arm twitched unconsciously toward his mace when he caught sight of the huge woman that dwarfed a table just a few yards away. The woman seemed to be minding her own business, but Landin fixed her with a menacing glare just to be sure. Landin didn't want to fight, but experience taught him that showing weakness or deference in front of such a strong opponent was asking for trouble.

His eyes swept over the singer writing near the fire. Great, the man's tongue probably never stopped wagging. It was unlikely that he would find Landin and his traveling partner interesting enough to talk about, but they still weren't far enough away from the monastery for him to feel comfortable.

Lastly Landin took in the elf. She was sitting close to the singer, but the silver hair plastered to her forehead and slumped posture made it clear that she was seeking the fire's warmth rather than company.

Feeling satisfied that there were no immediate threats, Landin moved to sit next to Kaliska. The mischievous girl was sipping on a mug of spiced cider while looking over the common room. Her eyes were turned toward the fire, but her attention didn't seem to be focused on anything. Landin was relieved to see her keeping a low profile, but at the same time he could feel a sort of exhausted tension to the room, and this kept him on edge. No trouble yet, and hopefully it would stay that way. The cleric knew full well however that trouble seemed to be attracted to Kaliska like moths to a flame, and Pelor help him if the girl got bored.

Oh my. Not a minute in the place and people already think she's trouble. Well, Ursa thinks, as long as the management isn't trying to throw her out, the damage is below minimal. With a throaty chuckle, she 'daintily' waves the wet cleaning rag at the boy with the mace clearly making light of his caution before she goes back to cleaning her leathers and hoping that the service is timely in this place.


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