The streets were completely dark by this point, lit only by the braziers on the top of the walls. The dark shadows cast on the streets danced and twisted as Alex walked, completely alone, down the street.
She soon found the Inn, a large sign in front betraying its presence. She tied up her horse to the post, and headed inside. Once inside, the heavy, smoky air in the room hung above her head like a cloud, as she searched for the owners. A large crowd filled the room, and on stage a woman dressed in only an apron and boots danced provocatively. The men sitting nearby added their coins to the bulging purse sitting by the edge, as if pulled in by her hypnotic swaying. Alex shook herself, and focused on looking for the owners. She was told they were Biqaji, and she noticed a man with brightly coloured eyes on the far side of the room.
She picked her way across the room, avoiding the small spills of drink and chunks of food left behind by the previous customers. Eventually, she reached him, and tapped him on the shoulder as she introduced herself, trying her best to hide her accent. "Good evening, my name is Alexandra. Do you have a room for the night?"
The man turned sharply towards her, and his eyes sized her up before he spoke. "Yes, we do. It'll cost you a gold nel per night. Do you have any experience cooking? We're a bit short staffed tonight. Oh, and if you've got a horse, you get two trials free, then you've gotta send it to the stables." As soon as he finished speaking, he returned to staring out at the room, his eyes sweeping the crowd.
Alex pulled out a single gold nel, and pressed it into his waiting hand. "I've got a horse- is the horse house around back?" She managed to get out. The man closed his fist around the coin, as if afraid it would spring away.
"Aye, it is. You're not used to speaking common, are you? I can hear the accent. Ah well, no matter. Food costs you extra. Come down to the kitchen and let me know if you are wanting some." He handed her a key back, emblazoned with the number 14. So Tagley managed to get me a meeting... the man really does have connections.
She headed back through the noisy crowd, and out the door. Her horse and wagon were untouched, and the horse raised its head to stare at her, before dropping it heavily. Huh, guess I'm not the only tired one. She led the horse around back, and gave it to the stable hand.
She left the empty wagon in the courtyard, and pulled the rest of her belongings inside. She tottered past the crowd, the massive pack unbalancing her, and up the worn stairs.
The small room was barren, only the minimum furnishings present. The table was slanted, and heavily scarred, obviously well used. The chairs surrounding it looked sturdy enough, but their utilitarian nature was evident on first glance.
Alex looked around at the rest of the room. It was spotless, and had obviously been meticulously cleaned recently. The fireplace was stained with soot, but there was no hint of ashes in the pit.
She shivered, still cold from the freezing temperatures outside. She pulled off her sodden boots, and set them by the door. Hopefully they’ll be dry by tomorrow. I need to make it out to get rid of that horse tomorrow, and then meet this 'Miss Givings'. She pulled off the remainder of her clothes, and draped them over the chairs. She walked over to the bed, and looked down at it. The mattress was plain, but clean and smelled fresh. She set her pack beside the bed, and pulled out her sleeping bag. I have no wood, so it’ll be a cold night.
She burrowed her way inside the sleeping bag, and curled up in the bed, slowly warming up as she drifted off.