Chapter 1

Kaliska’s ears, primed for whatever entertainment the pair bickering by the fire may provide, caught the creak of her room’s door down the hallway and knew her companion had risen. She had already plunked down additional coin on the bar, motioning for a second mug from the suddenly busy maid manning the counter by the time Lord Light had joined them. She turned to see the surly man all but stomp into the room, cloaked in a carefully crafted aura of menace, his hand hovering pointedly above his weapon. She grinned a welcome when he entered, tapping the stool next to her invitingly. He paused, assessing the room and seemed to reach the same conclusion she had about the collection of, if not harmless…. at least currently non-threatening customers. When he had sat next to her she leaned over and whispered conspiratorially. “The guy by the fire is heckling the elf, I was hoping she’d have a little more life to her but she’s boring” She frowned as she turned her head slightly, others would likely think she was just shifting in her seat for a better view of her friend, but her shift and brought the dickering pair into her peripheral where she watched them for any additional discourse. “Maybe with a little more of a push she would be … more entertaining?” She added impishly, her hands idly tracing the handle of her mug.

Landin thought he was prepared for anything while keeping an eye on the big woman, but she managed to catch him totally by surprise anyway.

A demure wave? What the... That... wasn't supposed to happen. Landin took his eyes off her, and started examining the bottles on the other side of the bar way too intently, but he felt his cheeks burning and knew that his fair complexion betrayed his mask of composure.

The fragment sent of the spices in Kaliska's cider wafted over to Landin and he swallowed dryly. Some of that would be perfect right now. Thinking of Kaliska of course brought him back to his original mission. He had come down to keep Kaliska out of trouble, and here she was about to head over to the squabbling couple and give them a spark that would turn this quiet common room into an arena. At least this was one bit of trouble that he could head off.

"Don't you go over and talk to either of those two." Landin commanded in a low, but authoritative voice "I forbid it."

Kaliska leaned back on her stool, eyebrows lifted in mock surprise when Lord Light laid down his holy edict in a tone expecting nothing but compliance. A smirk played on her face as she struggled to keep her visage clear. “You got it commander. You’ve given me no option but to fall in line” she said humbly… or at least in a tone that strongly attempted the emotion. She reached over and grabbed the mug that she had ordered for him. With a wink she got up and bounced over to the bear woman’s table, plopping down in the seat opposite the hereto silent mammoth.

“I saw you were looking for a drink… uh, what’s your name? Bertha? Can I call you Bertha? You strike me as a Bertha” Kaliska started genially, setting the fresh mug in front of the woman. “Well… actually
my friend over there noticed – spiced cider, compliments of Lord Light” Kaliska took a drink from her own mug, lavender eyes looking over the rim at the large woman. Her playful demeanor kept the conversation at an innocent level, free from hostility or malice. Kaliska presented the exchange like a joke she was excitedly inviting the woman to join.

The twins cried out in unison at the two sopping wet new customers who entered the bar "But we just mopped that!" Without a word, the two looked at each other and one of them sighed, going off to get a mop to clean up the rain water.

Miranda, the woman behind the bar raised an eyebrow at the woman, but trying to maintain a professional appearance, she politely corrected. "My name is Miranda." She quickly with practiced efficiency produced the required drinks. "What is it that brings all of you to Issaquah during the rainy season?" She asked, trying to show just enough interest to increase the odds of getting a good tip without betraying the fact that she didn't really care what they said. "I can also get you all a bit of dinner if you give me a while to warm the bread up."

OODMA small note, just so I can have a little bit of an easier time reading. Can you bold what your character thinks, and italicize what your character is thinking? If you want to give it a color, you can... Thank you!

"Close." the bear lady intones , pointing a finger playfully towards Kaliska before taking the offered cider and kicking most of it back. "Y'all can call me Ursa. And a meal would sound just fine after trudging through the rain, lookin' for work and findin' nothing. She seems to be growing smug, and not from the cider either, wondering how Lord Light over there is going to take this.

"And who might you be?"

Shana opens her right eye and waves her hand at Miranda. "I'll take some food if you're offering." She then closes it again and appears to be lightly dozing while waiting for Miranda to prepare the meal. Anyone who knows anything about elves would know it is an act, as she is not meditating and has no need for sleep.

Kaliska beamed, excited to find a willing participant in her continuous war against Landin’s sanity. “Ursa?” Kaliska pointedly sized up the beast, allowing her eyes to drift up and down her massive form, lingering on furred arms. “No, I just don’t see it. The name just doesn’t fit.” *Kaliska gave a shrug, taking another sip from her own cider in an effort to keep pace with Bertha’s inhalation of her own beverage.

“I’m Kaliska, but enough of me” *she said with a dismissive wave, she continued after arranging her face to look concerned “Lord Light’s the one you ought to meet, he’s shy but those are always the sensitive types you know. Anyway I just don’t want to see him hurt when his selection of cider isn’t acknowledged, he was nervous.” She said in a mock whisper, leaning in over the table towards her new friend to set a conspiratorial tone. She looked over shoulder at Landin, a glitter dancing in her eye not quite explainable by the flicking fire light.

Miranda went into the back and returned shortly after with a pair of sour dough loafs, along with a vegetable soup for those who asked for it. "Here ya go, that'll be 3 silvers each." Miranda said before she picked up one of the rags and started to clean the bar off. One of the twins has started to mop up the rain water as things continue to calm down.

From outside, you hear a blood curdling scream from outside the tavern over the sounds of the storm before a burly, drenched man bursts into the tavern. "Hide! The scarecrows are attacking!" He shouted as he looked for a heavy table to shove up against the door for an impromptu barricade.

"Thanks. How much would it be for a room? May as well pay the entire thing now," Shana remarks while taking her bowl. She begins to dig into the soup with a gusto that she had previously lacked. No matter how good or bad it is, her body needs the nourishment and accepts it gratefully.

About to take a bite from the loaf, she pauses at the man rushes in and starts shouting like someone gone mad. She glances at Miranda. "This a common occurrence?"

Ursa pays willingly, nearly about to delve into an assuredly delightful conversation with Kaliska, or at least a few more jabs at her companion when the bedraggled fellow hurls himself into the place.

With a roll of her eyes nearly too fast to spot, the bear woman wastes no time in picking up her bowl and bread, anticipating not only the lack of a table but also of imminent labor. Suffieced to say, she makes a point of ignoring the man's cries about attacking straw men and dips the bread into the soup, eating both hastily.


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