Moving through the city was odd now that the fortress wasn’t lit solely by torch light. It seemed less ominous; shadows looked less dangerous, hooded gazes felt less hostile. But he knew it was all a facade. In his mind, the eternal twilight that was Cylus revealed people’s true nation, the sun only hid it what lurked just beneath the surface of every man and woman in Idalos.
Concealed in that darkness, people felt at liberty to act out, express their true
nature, knowing only few would discover the rot that encased their hearts. But it was once the sun rose and the light purged the land of shadow, that the masks of morality came out, citizens flashing their winning smiles and warm greetings at one another, all the while plotting the downfall of their brother and sisters around them. Personal gain was the pursuit each was after. But they would never admit that because that would mean revealing the darkness inside them.
The light they walked in now was a lie and the turn of the season wouldn’t change that.
They were no better than he; he just wore the darkness he carried within himself on his sleeve where all could see it. He, an Avriel, was more honest than the rest of these
people combined. And yet, he
was the object of their scorn.
Kydrel moved through the city, amber eyes scouring the signs that lined the shops. The words were a struggle to read; especially the more elaborately designed signs, unless he really stopped to concentrate. To make thing simpler, he took to just looking at the graphics carved or painted onto them, hoping to get a general idea of what was held within. The crowd parted around him, as he moved determinedly through the streets of Eztos.
Half a break had passed before his eyes landed on an old, weathered sign that jutted out on a metal strip beside the door with two tankards clanking together, swinging gently against the cool wind that swept through the city. Kydrel squared his shoulders and made a beeline for the entrance. Reaching for it, he wrapped his long, pale fingers around the door knob and turned, pushing the door inward. It took a few minutes for his eyes to adjust to the dim light of the bar.
It was a rather dingy establishment, a simple square room with a bar off to the right, manned by a lone bartender. Two other men sat at a table off to the left, a dozen other tables spread out in the open space, chairs surrounding each an unlit fire place sitting at the far end of the room. As far as taverns went, there was no noticeable difference from any other he had seen as far as he could tell.
‘A place where depressed people came to forge their problems.’
Kydrel wasn’t feeling very confident that this was where he would find what he was looking for as he stepped inside, shutting the door behind him. Three pairs of eyes turned and stared at him blankly as he walked across the room towards the bar. Setting a hand down on the counter, he met the uncomfortable and unfriendly gaze of the bartender.
“I don’t want any trouble from you.”
The man tried to keep his tone neutral but couldn’t stop the aggression from breaking through. “I’ve heard of your kind. I won’t have you smashing my bar apart because you got ina' drunken brawl.”
His hands began rubbing the glass he was holding with a rag a bit more violently than he had been before, betraying his uneasiness. It probably wasn’t very often, if at all, that he got an Avriel in his establishment. He seemed uncertain as to what to do.
“Do you serve no alcoholic drinks?”
The bartender seemed taken off guard by the comment.
“Uhhh, we have cider but I still don…”
“Half glass cider, half water. I pay same price.”
Kydrel found himself holding his breath as he stared at the man in what he hoped was a passive expression. The man squinting at him suspiciously, no doubt trying to figure out what his angle was. Kydrel’s impatience started to get the best of him, however.
“Look, I finish job killing Death Worms. Near Hiladreth. All I want is break. You will not have trouble from me.”
The owner of the business seemed on the edge, not sure which way to fall. Kydrel played his last chip and hoped it would work. He glanced down towards his belt at the bag of nel attached there, eyebrow arched, exaggerating the motion so the man would follow his gaze. He jiggled the bag slightly, just loud enough for the man to hear the coins clinking together before returning to his position he had previously been standing in.
It seemed to be the last push needed to convince him, if only even halfheartedly.
“Fine, fine, fine. You can stay. You still have to pay for drinks, though.”
Kydrel fought to control his face, resisting the urge to snarl at him. He was already bribing him on top of purchasing drinks. But he managed to keep it together and nodded in response. He wasn’t build for smiling and most likely all it would do would scare the man. Kydrel reached into the bag of coins as discretely as possible, shielding it from the two men behind him and pulled out the nel, sliding it across the table, under his hand. The coins disappeared under the rag as the man made to wipe the counter down.
Taking the mug of cider from the counter, Kydrel planted himself in the center of the tables facing the door, trying to expand his radius of hearing as much as possible. It was still midday; he had a lot of time to kill before the big rush came in for the evening.
Hopefully his decision to come early would pay off.