Cold Nights and Burning Spirits

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Re: Cold Nights and Burning Spirits

Post by Sawdust »

The driving snow and oppressive darkness made reading a map nearly impossible. Fortunately, Feint Verser had, earlier that day, committed to memory the most relevant features of the only map he had of the area. He followed the lower southern valleys with as much haste as he could manage, knowing his woolen traveler's robe wouldn't keep him warm forever and that he couldn't burrow into the frozen ground about him to shelter himself for the night.

His increasingly desperate evening's journey, luckily, brought him to a set of footprints in the snow…and then another…and then another. They all quickly converged upon the gates of a city which, Feint surmised, must have been Surgeli, and similarly converged on the first welcoming building in the vicinity, an obvious tavern.

He opened the door and stepped inside. It was warm physically, and thawing socially. A few patrons at the main counter were engaging in a bit of conversation to, Feint wryly noted to himself as he brushed off and opened the front of his snow-covered robe, break the ice. Another sat away from the main group.

He walked up to the counter, far enough away from the conversing group so as not to invade their privacy. The old fox with white hair on the other side of the counter nodded at the spider as he poured a pre-emptive drink for the new guest.

Feint returned the nod and accepted the drink with a smile that included both his mouth and his two pairs of mandibles. He glanced again at the relative emptiness of the place. "Slow night?"

The wolf shook his head. "Busy night. I don't usually have to put up this many folks at once. I take it that you'll be needing a room as well?"

The spider sipped the drink and smiled. "And a meal as hot as this tea, if you please." Feint reached into the inner pockets of his robe with one of his lower arms and revealed a small coin purse. He shook the purse a bit next to his ear, then frowned. "My coin is running a bit low. I don't suppose you've got any repairs around here that I can do in exchange for my supper? I'm pretty good with my hands."

The wolf's eyes narrowed and his lips curled into a small, knowing smile. "So am I, friend."

Feint shrugged and handed the entire purse to the innkeeper. "Then I'll ply my trades in town tomorrow."

"You might not find much work."

"I don't need much coin. Just enough to get to Lourdes in one piece."

"Lourdes?" The old wolf raised an eyebrow. "I don't know how to tell you this, friend, but…they might not take kindly to…someone of your…"

Feint politely but firmly held up one of his hands. "I appreciate the concern, sir, but I've already heard the warnings. I'll keep a low profile."

The wolf paused for a beat, reading his new guest's face. "There must be something special waiting for you there." He topped off Feint's tea. "Lourdes is a religious town. Is that why you're going there? A pilgrimage of some kind?"

Feint though a moment. "Not a pilgrimage, but it is an act of faith. Let's leave it at that."

The innkeeper, as requested, left it at that, silently pocketing the money. As the wolf walked away, Feint seated himself on a nearby barstool, silently grateful that the counter came with seats well-suited to allow his lower abdomen to comfortably hang off of the back of them. He pulled the haversack off of his back, laid it next to his stool and stretched his aching muscles, and his stomach growled a bit in anticipation of a warm meal.

Deciding that ignoring the others in the inn was a bit rude, Feint nodded politely to the leather-clad individual in far corner and turned to the three closer to himself. "A pleasant evening, gentlemen?"