The Tavern Mistress
Act I: Red
Chapter 8: The Tavern Mistress
It was night now; the sun had set after such a long day within the dark lands. It was near impossible to discern an actual date, however, and most had to just figure everything out on their own. The stranger attempted to do just that, as he was unsure of the society here. His next goal was the city in the wastelands, beyond the graveyard.
He walked into the tavern once more, surveying everything with his cold eyes, still finding it to be empty. Sighing, he approached the fire and pulled out a small, black book and pen, writing down the names of the fae and arachnid-like female he had met earlier—Thaia and Zhei. Above this were the names of Sakiya and Avelia as well, and after he had written these names down, he wrote the word 'Tylarus' and circled it.
"You appear to be busy," a low voice said from the shadows behind him. The man quickly turned around, pocketing his tools to reach for his blade. The voice belonged to a woman, seemingly clad in travelling clothes. She raised her hand. "Calm down. I was only going to ask if you needed a drink."
The black clothed man released the hilt.
"…Not interested," he stated before turning back.
The woman raised a brow, keeping an apathetic frown on her face. She sighed before removing her cloak and draping it over one of the chairs, wincing as she did so.
"Well, I am the owner of this tavern," she said, tending to the bar. "If you do need anything, just holler."
Even though she was attempting to offer him service, for some reason, to him, she did not seem to possess any enthusiasm. The fire flickered quickly, and before he realized it, she was standing there next to him, regardless of the fact that he did not answer. She only stared into the flames as he did; the light danced across her feral, bronze colored eyes, and as the stranger glanced at her, he noticed that bruises covered much of her body. She then caught his gaze.
"Do you have a name, stranger?" she asked, though once again there was no emotion or mirth in her tone. He only turned away and frowned.
"None that you need to know of," he answered coldly.
The mistress eyed him carefully, knowing many travelers that would scarcely give away their names. Most, of course, would easily relinquish such a front after a few drinks, but for some reason this one spoke differently to her. There was a coldness she could not pin down.
"I see," she finally said. "Most of you dusty wanderers break that stoic nonsense after a few days, so I will be here in case you wish to share your story."
The man was unamused, but didn't bother to retort. So long as she had her own perspective of him, he thought, he would be invisible, and thus he could bring no harm to their course. He stayed silent as the mistress steadily turned back to the fire as he had, crossing her arms. Her bruises were alighted by the fire, moving slowly as to make sure she did not gain more or cause herself any harm.
"Are you going to be staring at the fire the whole time?" she asked. The stranger's eyes were distant, though there was a hint of sorrow within them.
"…Until I need to move," he replied.
A soft, hollow smile spread across her lips.
"You know, the fire can only give so many answers."
He blinked, finding it ironic she would turn over a metaphor like that.
"…Did you need something?" he asked, avoiding the subject about the flames.
"I tend to those who wander into my tavern, sir," she said in an almost embittered tone. "It's my duty."
"…Perhaps instead you should focus more on yourself than someone who does not want it," he stated, glancing at her and referencing her many bruises. The mistress chuckled somewhat humorlessly before staring back to the fire.
"Believe me," she started. "I know how to take care of myself."
The man raised a brow, but decided not to respond to it with anything meaningful. "…I see," he stated. The fire cracked suddenly, and the man frowned. The flux was enough for him to understand, and thus he turned his head to see what was behind him.
In the entrance stood the figure of a lone girl, wearing the attire one would expect from a denizen of the outside forests: tight and scant. But this was not what caught the stranger's attention. Prominently featured was the fact that while the front of her face appeared to be human, fur began to envelop the sides and back of her head. This seemed to apply to the rest of her body as well, including an elongated tail that whipped around upon the girl's sight meeting the man's cold glare. More than anything else the stranger would classify her as half-human, half-cat.
"So then, will you be staying the night?" the mistress asked before looking to where he was facing. Upon seeing the girl, the mistress's lip twitched, but she did not respond otherwise. The man turned back to her.
"…No," he stated. The stranger then turned away and walked past the feline and out into the darkness of the night. The tavern mistress watched in silence, and when he was out of sight, her eyes glimpsed at her new patron. A small frown found its way across her blank expression.
Glossary - Day 4
- The Stranger / Race: Human / Status: Active
- Sakiya / Race: Human / Status: Dormant
- Thaia / Race: Fae (Sylph) / Status: Active
- Zhei / Race: Unknown / Status: Active
- Akulien / Race: Unknown / Status: Active
- Maelomi / Race: Unknown / Status: Active, Tavern Mistress
- ? / Race: Feline / Status: Active
THE FAE COURT
- Avelia / Race: Fae (Fairy) / Status: Active
- ? / Race: ? / Status: Active
- Dimitri / Race: Fae (Faun) / Status: Active
- Tylarus: Name of land.
- The Tavern: Establishment in between the Fae Forest and Rogue Woods, south of the Graveyard.
- The Corrupted Tree: Black, deadened tree located in the Graveyard.
- The Graveyard: Plot of land between two rivers and in the center of the land.
- The Fae Forest: Eastern forests, surface world of the Fae Court.
- The Raven: ?