Crucible Vows

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Chapter 2

I spent the next few days learning how things worked in the Tavern. I cleaned dishes, wiped off tables, swept the floors, made sure the bar was clean, and delivered food to patrons. I kept running each way constantly, trying to stay up with the crowd of people. But as days passed, I noticed that it started to become easier. Mainly for the fact that not a lot of people were coming to the tavern much since I appeared.

Each night I went to bed exhausted and would fall asleep almost instantly. But despite the difference in work that I was used to, I was glad that I had a full belly and a warm bed. This was a good start for me after such a tragic start. But I knew I couldn’t stay too long. Somehow, I would have to find out when I could leave and start my journey to Alovia. The Natale’s were very kind to me no matter what was happening. But I could see that many other people in the town didn’t share their sentiment.

Thanks to the Natale’s, I was provided with new clothes to work in, and I no longer had to worry about my next meal or where to sleep. But I frequently had a feeling of glares pointed at my back by customers. I tried my hardest to be pleasant to anyone who came into the tavern, but I felt that didn’t matter because I was an Elf. I can honestly say that I didn’t know about this hate of Elves before I went there.

One day, I sat at the bar and rested my head against my hands. No one had come in and there wasn’t anything for me to do. I had all my usual tasks caught up, and simply sat, waiting for someone to come for me to serve. But by the looks of it, word had spread that the Winter Tavern and Inn had brought on a new server who was an Elf. And the people of this town didn’t like it. I let out a sigh right when Mr. Natale came into the room.

“How are things, Elora?” He asked.

I quickly had gotten use to the name. “I think you’re losing customers because of me.”

He let out a chuckle. “It’s usually a little slow during this time of day. And if customers leave just because of you, then it’s their loss. Because you are a hard worker, and a fantastic young woman. It’s a shame they don’t get to know you better.”

I smiled at his words. If anything, Mr. Natale, and his wife were the humans I had ever met. But my mind wandered back to my people. How many were still alive? Was my home even standing anymore? What happened to Arlen and the rest of the knights? Those types of questions ran through my mind and distracted me.

Mr. Natale reached over resting his hand on my shoulder. “You’re thinking of home, aren’t you?”

I looked over to him, my eyes becoming red with tears. Silently, I nodded to his question.

“I’m sorry for what happened to you, Elora.” He comforted. “Most people in this kingdom consider themselves higher than any other living being. It’s terrible and wrong. You and your people don’t deserve this kind of treatment.”

“I didn’t know of the prejudice against Elves until I came here.” I admitted.

“You’ve never been outside of Nythstaesi before, have you?” He asked.

I shook my head.

He let out a sigh. “I have to admit, when my wife and I were younger, we thought the same of Elves as most people here. It wasn’t until once we were in Nythstaesi trying to get home that we were in a terrible accident. Your people showed us kindness that we never expected, and our views changed. I hope more of my fellow Obrenorian people learn what we did. But our king, who cares for all of his people, instills fear in their hearts about Elves, and doesn’t see the good they do. I feel that will only change when his heir or a future generation takes the throne.”

I simply stared at him as he spoke, not letting my voice leave my throat.

He let out a sigh and patted my shoulder. “You have nothing to worry about while you’re here. I’ll make sure you are safe.”

He walked away from the bar and went back to work. I was alone for the next few hours until the regular crowd came in for supper. I worked fast and hard to make sure food was delivered to the right customers and made sure to avoid anything that would cause me to mess up. I wasn’t expecting an especially aggressive customer to suddenly snap when I didn’t have his food ready in the time he wanted.

I had just barely set down the plate of food when he exploded at me. The meal flew off the table and to the ground as the burly man reached over and grabbed me by my short hair and pulled me towards him. My hands instinctively went hold me up as much as possible so that the pain from all my weight on my head wouldn’t be as bad. I couldn’t feel the ground under my feet as he held me up in the air.

He glared at me. “Why am I being served by an Elf? Creatures that think so highly of themselves and look down on us. Insignificant creatures that hide who they truly are to take what’s rightfully ours. You aren’t welcome here!”

Tears began to stream down my face as I tried to escape, but I wasn’t strong enough. The small crowd of people around us remained silent, but I noticed that there were several that agreed with his statements. Nods passed around the bar and glares turned towards me. I don’t know how long it was, but I felt like I was utterly alone and stuck for hours with people who hated me.

“Throw her out!” Someone spoke up.

“Give her to the knights!” Another suggested.

My eyes never left the man holding me in the air. I tried to ignore the pain. I tried to plead with the people around me. But my voice failed me, and all I could do was express my fear and sorrow through my expressions. I was so focused on the crowd and the man attacking me that I didn’t notice Mr. Natale walk up and grab the man by the arm that held me up. He gave his arm a tight squeeze that caused him to drop me.

I stumbled to the ground and was quickly attended to by Mrs. Natale. The man who attacked me was a large and bulky man, but Mr. Natale was bigger and stronger. I’d never seen this side of the man who took such good care of me over the time I was in Obrenor. It was scary and intimidating. But I was glad he wasn’t aiming that anger at me. His white hair emphasized his glare at the man as he twisted his arm and forced him out of the tavern. With a slam of the door, he turned to the rest of the patrons in the building.

With a loud, bellowing voice, he announced to everyone else. “This woman is a guest of mine and my wife’s. She has done nothing to you and does not deserve such treatment from you. If you do not like it, then you are not welcome in this tavern. I ask that you leave immediately.”

Silence filled the dining area, and a few people stood up and left the building. Anyone else that remained turned back to their meals and ignored me the rest of the night. Mrs. Natale took me into a back room and helped me calm down from the traumatic experience. Not too long after, Mr. Natale entered the room.

“I’m sorry you had to go through that, Elora.” He said kindly. “But for your safety, I think it would be best if you worked in the background.”

I nodded as I took in a harsh breath. “I understand. And I agree.”

“Go ahead and get some rest, dear.” Mrs. Natale said to me. “You’ve been through a lot.”

I nodded and walked to my room. But I couldn’t sleep. The rest of the night I felt like someone was going to burst in and attack me again. I was scared and prayed to Rilene and Oldall for peace and safety. I didn’t remember closing my eyes that night. And I didn’t remember any dreams that entered my vision that night.

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