Chapter 72: The Tavern-Keeperâ€™s Gifts
In WhichÂ Being An Honest Beast Has Its Rewards.
Chris: The owner hare knocks loudly on the cellar door, pausing merely to light a new cig and take a drag.
Catamount: The ferret jerks awake at the hare’s knocking and then quickly rolls over and shakes Soquan.
Arrin: Soquan jerks his head up from the crook of his arm for a moment before flopping it back down again, groaning out a quiet, â€œFive more minutes please Da…â€ and then snoring again.
Chris: The hare crooks his mouth a bit annoyed and, with a jangle of keys, opens the door.
Catamount: The ferret staggers out of bed, trying not to get tangled in the blankets. â€œWe’ll be out of your hair in just a bit, sir.â€
Arrin: His level of consciousness rising slightly, the otter realizes that infact, that it wasn’t his father trying to wake him, and he needed to be up and ready to hit the road. With another groan he rises to his feet and gropes around for his coin. â€œYou want to pack up while I pay the hare, Joz?â€
Chris: He shakes his head and motions with his paw to settle back down. He stoops to pick up a bag of flour and throw it over his shoulder. â€œBreakfast in ten minutes. Talk to me after.â€ He walks back upstairs.
Catamount: Jozra nods. â€œThanks.â€ She turns back to their little cellar-campsite and begins folding and packing. â€œI guess that answers your question.â€
Arrin: The otter snickers and helps his friend pack. â€œIndeed.â€ He pauses for a moment while muscling a blanket into his pack. â€œThink the weather’s let up?â€
Catamount: Jozra nods again as she ties the drawstrings at the top of a pack. â€œIt was clear last night, I think the storm is long gone.â€
Arrin: He pulls a face. â€œUgh, that still means lots of mud for us…â€
Catamount: The ferret shrugs. â€œNot if it’s warm enough. I think it dried out quite a bit last night.â€ She grins. â€œI predict patchy mud with a chance of puddles.â€
Arrin: The otter can’t help but laugh at the comment, giving the ferret a hearty thump on the shoulder before turning his attention to his pack strings. â€œGood one Joz.â€
Catamount: Jozra grins and a few minutes later, the pair are ready with bags all packed and the cellar looking very much like it did before they turned it into a makeshift room.
Arrin: Soquan hefts his bag onto a shoulder and looks towards his companion. â€œSo we snag some food, pay the guy, and we’re outa here?â€
Catamount: The ferret nods as she leads the way to the stairs. â€œPretty much. He said we should talk to him first before we set off down the road, though.â€
Arrin: He nods while following her. â€œYeah.â€
Catamount: The two appear at the top of the stairs, apparently just in time for breakfast. They begin to make their way towards an empty table.
Chris: A few mice bring steaming plates of hearty food and quickly run back to continue working in what must be a hell of a kitchen.
Arrin: Still slightly dopey from sleep, Soquan is content to stay silent for the moment as he follows the ferret. He yawns softly while trailing behind her, and once plunked into a seat he begins to pick at his breakfast.
Catamount: The ferret, on the other hand, digs into her breakfast and is nearly finished before she looks up. â€œYou sure you’re up to this Soq?â€
As loathe as she is to delay their journey even more, she doesn’t want the otter to come down with anything serious.
Arrin: He looks up towards her. â€œDon’t worry Joz, I’m just still a little tired is all. See?â€ He takes a large forkful of eggs and eats.
Chris: The tavern is abuzz with creatures, some tripping over others, some scarfing their breakfast, others already pounding down the ale.
Catamount: Jozra soon clears her plate and sits back, idly examining the beasts in the tavern as she waits for Soquan to finish his breakfast.
Arrin: Having picked up his pace, the otter finishes not long afterwards. â€œAny interesting news floating around Joz?â€
Chris: The hare can be seen giving the occasional reprimand and chain smoking as usual near the kitchen and bar.
Catamount: The ferret shrugs. â€œNot much that I can tell. Mostly about the weather.â€
Arrin: He flashes her a smile. â€œWhat are they all saying, â€˜Thank gods that storm’s gone?â€™â€
Catamount: She chuckles as she stoops to scoop up her backpack. â€œPretty much. Let’s go talk to the hare. He might have some juicier gossip that better suits your tastes.â€
Arrin: He laughs and mimics her actions. â€œLead on then m’dear.â€
Chris: The hare is currently helping the barkeep serve drinks, a cig hanging from his lower lip for dear life. He notices them and motions for them to come to the entrance of the kitchen.
Catamount: Jozra leads the way, weaving around a few beasts who have already managed to drink themselves rather tipsy.
Arrin: Soquan trails behind Jozra quietly and after escaping the advances of an obviously drunk female, he decides to stick close to Jozra, placing a paw softly onto her forearm.
Chris: The hare is waiting, leaning against the sink with a small pouch in his paw. â€œWeather’s cleared.â€ He takes a drag.
Catamount: The ferret nods. â€œHopefully the road won’t be too muddy.â€
Chris: He shakes his head. â€œEarth’s coarse around here, doesn’t hold water too well until a few days south, but by then it should be dry.â€ He takes another drag and finishes the cig.Â He holds the pouch out to Joz. â€œTake this. Treat the herbs in the smaller pouch like a tea if his sickness persists. The rest is standard balms, bandages and the like. There’s some powder that stops bleeding as well.â€
Catamount: Jozra blinks in surprise, having not at all expected anything of this sort. She gratefully accepts the pouch from the hare. â€œThank you very much, for everything.â€
Arrin: He nods slowly. â€œYes, not many would allow a pair of strange beasts to sleep in their cellar.â€
Chris: He nods humbly, pausing graciously. â€œNow, about your pay…â€
Catamount: The ferret chuckles a bit. â€œHow much do we owe you again?â€
Chris: The hare thinks for a moment. â€œHold out your paw.â€
Arrin: Blinking, the otter does as asked, lifting his paw off from his companion’s arm.
Catamount: Somewhat confused, the ferret holds out her free paw as well.
Chris: The hare places a pack of cigs into Soq’s paw and all of their gold and silver into Jorza’s paw, closing her paw around it. â€œAbsolutely nothing.â€
Arrin: He starts. â€œWhat? But why?â€
Chris: The hare chuckles. â€œYou hear all that noise? I’m doing well. I don’t need to take a couple of decent beasts’ gold. It was a test at first, then it was collateral, now it’s a gift.Â Hard to trust goodbeasts these days, wasn’t sure if you were on the up-an’-up. As for the cigs… They might just turn out to be the most helpful things you’ll carry. Keep them dry.â€
Catamount: Jozra practically beams at the hare, still clutching the pouch in one hand and the coins in the other. â€œThank you!â€ Other than that, she’s at a loss for words.
Arrin: Soquan on the other hand, nods, stowing the cigarettes away in his pack. â€œCan you tell us anything about news further South? My friend and I are heading that way.â€
Chris: At Joz’s delight the hare gives, for a brief moment, the rarest thing out of him; a smile. As the glass recedes a bit from his eyes, you could almost see a soul. Almost. He coughs and frowns, nodding to Soq’s question. â€œI know very little, but I’ll show you what I’ve noticed.â€
He walks to the entrance of the kitchen, beckoning them to overlook the tavern floor.
Catamount: The ferret quickly packs the coins back into Soquan’s pack and tucks the pouch into her own before following the hare.
Arrin: Soquan follows the two closely, otherwise choosing to be quiet for the moment.
Chris: The hare motions casually to two stout, raucous hares sitting at the bar. â€œAs you leave, you’ll notice something about those two. Keep that in mind, along with what I said about the road ahead.â€
Catamount: The ferret quickly analyzes the two hares pointed out, memorizing much about them with little more than a glance. She nods at their host. â€œWeâ€™ll do as you suggest.â€
Arrin: Soquan gives his own nod, his ears flicking towards the direction of the hares in hopes of catching a bit of conversation between the two.
Chris: The hare nods, pulling out a fresh cig and lighting it. He pats both on the shoulder as a goodbye and begins to walk toward his frantically working kitchen staff; yelling and dragging off of his cig as usual.
Catamount: Jozra waves at the hare’s receding form and then turns towards the otter. â€œLet’s get on our way, then.â€
Arrin: He beams and slings an arm around her shoulders as he steps forward. â€œLead on then m’dear.â€
Chris: As the pair walk out one of the hares spots them and, dropping out of his joyous manner, gives them a cold glare out of the corner of his eye. He nudges his friend, who does the same.
Arrin: Soquan perks his ears towards the pair, and murmurs quietly to his companion. â€œWhat’re they doin’ Joz?â€
Catamount: Jozra, while not obviously looking at the hares, sees the entire exchange. She keeps her face neutral, however, and guides Soquan out the door, not bothering to answer his question until after the door has closed behind them, putting them well out of earshot. â€œThey didn’t look friendly, Soq. We may not have as much luck in meeting friendly beasts as before.â€
Arrin: He allows a low rumble in his throat, â€œStupid prejudiced beasts…â€
Chris: A couple of cloaked figures carrying small satchels come around the corner of the tavern and head toward the two.
Catamount: The ferret eyes the pair suspiciously: a result of the exchange just moments ago and the fact that it’s a surprisingly nice day after such a deluge. Partly cloudy and a little brisk, but largely pleasant. She mutters a warning to Soquan.
Arrin: Soquan heeds the warning and adjusts his grip on his staff slightly in case in came to having to fight the beasts.
Chris: The two figures approach and stop a bit short, holding out the satchels. One of them speaks. â€œFood for your journey, courtesy of the owner.â€
Catamount: Jozra relaxes a bit and smiles at the two. â€œHe’s too kind.â€
Arrin: He nods and gives a slight, uneasy smile. â€œYeah.â€
Chris: They smile and nod. â€œHe yells at the staff, but he’s got a really good heart.â€
Catamount: The ferret accepts the satchels. â€œThank him again for us, will you?â€
Chris: They nod and scurry off to their kitchen duties.
Arrin: Soquan snags one of the satchels from Jozra and shoulders it. â€œI wonder why he didn’t just give them to us when we talked with him.â€
Catamount: Jozra shrugs. â€œHe probably didn’t want his other customers to see us leaving with bags of food for free. Bad for business and all.â€
Arrin: He mulls the over a bit. â€œTrue, true.â€
Catamount: She settles the satchel with the rest of her pack, choosing to rearrange it more comfortably when they stop for lunch and continues leading the way South.
Arrin: He follows along side her, arranging the satchel similarly while he walks.