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[Second-Story Inn] Making friends in a packed tavern is easy. (Gangui)

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Limbo
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66th of Zi'da, 716
23rd Break

The cloaked male moved through the night like a ghost. His frame moved like a breeze through shadow and torchlight alike, eyes flying left and right, carefully and attentively. The hooded features of the pale individual remained neutral, as cold as the freezing nights that tormented the Outer Perimeter in the Cold Cycle. Besides the sound of cloth fluttering in the air, or the sounds of footsteps on soil hardened by low temperatures, the clatter of teeth accompanied the individual’s fast gait. To counter the assumption of cold penetrating the male’s clothing and flesh, a halo of vapor was visible whenever a light was passed, the individual quite literally steaming in the cold – something he seemed well aware of, and thus attempted to avoid announcing to the world with deliberately mentally traced paths.

The night stroll came to an end soon enough, for the inn was reached at last, and its door was pushed open. There, it wasn’t only the sound of civilization what greeted him, or the immediate yell from the owner to shut the door, but also the appealing sounds of food and beverages served to the many patrons. With a mere sniff, the Mortalborn was able to identify venison stew, pork chops, steamed vegetables, and many spices – cardamom, cumin, and black pepper being the strongest scents. Shutting the door behind him, the Mortalborn’s personality, empty in its essence, was now filled with the act, and Paplo Ynush surfaced with a smile.

The Second-Story Inn was as busy as ever, perhaps the only detail lacking this evening being the sound of lutes of traveling bards. They were present, for Paplo’s eyes met with the abandoned instruments, their owners probably delighting themselves in unappreciated food or losing themselves amongst the curves of females. Paplo removed his cloak, revealing his dark suit, immaculate in its state despite the Mortalborn not having washed it ever since acquiring it – almost forty trials back. Regardless, it was enough of a contract compared to the functional and somewhat rudimentary clothing most patrons donned. Some chain-link and the occasional plate armor were sometimes present too, for everyone passing through Etzos often landed in this inn for the night.
“Big glass of apple juice?” asked Toom once Paplo approached.
“That is correct. Thank you, Toom,” replied Paplo, offering his brightest smile to the bartender and owner. “How come you’re serving tonight?”
“What, can’t a man serve his patrons without being questioned?”
“Maiy didn’t show up again, did she?”
“Bah,” replied Toom, dismissing Paplo with a hand. His features were clear enough about his presence on the counter. The glass was slammed before Paplo. “Cough it up, smart-ass.”
Paplo deposited two silver nels on the counter, still smiling devilishly.
“Uh-huh, double,” replied the owner, shaking his head. “You didn’t pay for you glass last night.”
“Are you sure?” asked Paplo, a hand stroking his blond beard as he faked falling into a ponder. “I am quite certain I paid you.”
“You did pay me – for the day before yesterday’s glass. Don’t play with me, Ynush.”
“Ah, is that so?” Asked Paplo. “Then I apologize for the inconvenience, but I lack the funds to double this amount. How about these coin end my debt, and double this amount tomorrow evening?”
“You…” Toom squinted, staring towards Paplo. He scooped off the coins. “I know what you’re doing, Ynush. You’ll pay me for that extra glass, I promise.”
“Of course I will, Toom. You know I am an exemplary citizen.” Paplo chuckled.

With the glass in his hold, Paplo gently sipped at the apple juice. There was clear pleasure seen in his features as the liquid struck his tongue, and yet the pleasure was withheld, controlled, and halted. With all the appetizing smells invading his nostrils, Paplo found it hard to maintain his hunger at bay. This only became worst once his eyes landed on someone else’s meal, seeing how meat still clung to bones, uneaten, unappreciated and discarded. Distaste appeared in his features for a moment before looking the other way.
“Hello,” he greeted the patron next to him, voice soft and modulated. A friendly and kind expression was drawn on his features. “My name is Paplo. What’s yours?”
word count: 733
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Gangui
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The brooding wild-man sat alone at a table in the Second-Story Inn while he wait for his supper to arrive. Greasy, auburn hair sat unkempt on his shoulders. A freshly shaved face revealed his youth. He wore simple black clothing with a fur belt, fur boots, and fur covered leather wrist guards. A long-sword hung at his hip, it's sheath also covered in animal fur.

The soft plucking, hum of conversation, and general bustle brought much more warmth than the massive hearth alone could provide.The main area of the tavern seemed to be constructed precisely for the playing of melodies the way the sounds reverberated off the walls. Gangui felt none of this conscientiously, for his heart had been turned to stone after a decade in the brutal wild. Though he tried to relax, he couldn't. Without being engaged in action, he felt bored and restless. Regardless, the wild man knew that he needed to rest up and repair his wounds during the cold season to prepare for the inevitable summer campaign.

One of the barmaid's caught his eye. She was a dainty creature compared to the brute. Her long black hair made a stark contrast to her pale white skin. For some odd reason she wore black paint around her eyes and on her lips, which reminded the wild man of a raccoon. The quality that drew in his lust the most though, was her blouse which revealed extraordinary amounts of cleavage and a large voluptuous bosom. A strange symbol hung from her neck, mesmerizing the barbarous man even more. Lust began to fill his pants and saliva began to leak from his mouth as he began to think of methods of bringing her back to his room.

...I shall smash her head when none are looking and drag her off to my room... The inn-keeper Toom, suddenly broke the spell the barmaid put on him by slamming down a plate of food on the table. A large, grubby finger wagged at Gangui in woe, "You need to pay to play, brute. You understand? You don't touch her before paying me first," The lustful wild-man smiled broadly and nodded gravely, not daring anger the man who provided him was a generous amount of food daily.

Jumping on the incredible pile of food in front of him, Gangui lost all notions of his surroundings. The plate in front of him was a giant pile of food comprising of all the left-overs throughout the day, suitable for only the most barbarous of clients. Digging in with his dirty hands and a knife, he ate cold meats, half-rotten vegetables, and stale breads where all smothered in the old porridge from the morning. It was truly a disgusting site, but Gangui argued valiantly for a discount on the food and cared little for the quality as long as it invigorated him for the laborious nature of his job. Despite the horror of the scene of a man hunched over a disgusting plate, the wild man was able to keep the food inside his mouth and not all over his face and clothes.

Suddenly, Gangui was interrupted by a man who had sat at the same table as him. The man greeted him with a pleasant smile and soft words. Raising an eyebrow, the wild man put his knife down and sat up, "I am Red Hair," After am awkward pause, Gangui turned back to his plate and continued eating. Up until now, all of the other patrons who had talked to him did not do much other than introduce themselves, so he figured that was all this man wanted.
word count: 618
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Red Hair?

A lack of language skills, perhaps? No strong accent detected, nor exotic inflections in the pronunciation. Crimson hairs, unwashed, loose. Shaved face, warm clothing and the presence of a sword spoke of his uncertain origins. The wilds perhaps? Possible. De-personification throughout a lack of a concrete name, instead delivered by a physically characteristic detail. The manner of eating seemed unclean enough to brand him a savage, yet the obvious ability to pay for the meal, and the male being located within a social hub within a settlement, discarded said theory. Furthermore, his poise was as correct as the teacher’s, if not more. Something was off.

Paplo’s kind features remained, and in the brief silence in which he had attempted to analyze the subject, he had managed to squish in a small giggle.
“That is quite an appropriate name, warrior,” he said. “Perhaps I should introduce myself with the term Black Suit, then.”

The Mortalborn’s fixed eyes now left the males’, instead subtly creeping down to the mess within the plate. The blue eyes laid there for more than just a moment, features neutral and blank, before said eyes returned upon the male and his amicability was resumed. His stomach growled underneath the sounds of the tavern and the suit that concealed it. A soft hand wrapped around the glass and rose the juice to his lips, a sip being given to the sweet drink before the container was returned to the wooden surface, the liquid inside untouched by the Mortalborn’s lips.
“May I ask what your profession is, mister Red Hair? Your appetite is quite remarkable.” spoke Paplo at last, head tilting gently to the side. “I hope I’m not intruding on your evening with my curiosity, by the way. I must admit you are rather peculiar - in a good way.”

The inn grew its noise, for now the musicians had returned from their whimsical sojourns across female curves, their digits gaining speed and power proportional to the carnal pleasure received. What began as a catchy lute tune now turned into a whole orchestra, the instruments being joined by joyful cheers from various patrons, loud and booming voices joining in to sing a folk song in a different language. Upon gaping towards said patrons, one could find their appearances communicated their Etzori origin.

Paplo turned towards the commotion, offering nothing but a joyful grin towards the spectacle. Only a keen eye could spot the utmost indifference gleaming in his gaze. Returning said gaze towards Red Hair, Paplo lifted his glass and proposed a muffled toast for the warrior, trying to transmit the festive moods of his fellow patrons.
“Welcome to Etzos,” he’d exclaim, trying to make himself heard.
word count: 464
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Not a shred of curiosity towards the stranger who called himself "Black Suit" lingered around his mind long enough for him to pursue. Well, that's not true, the man's friendly attitude was questionable especially since everyone had been uninviting thus far.

"Mm--" Cleaning up his lips and licking his teeth, "I do mercenary work," The barbarian said flatly, with one dull eye half opened. Torquing his torso towards the man, he waved a hand gesture of dismissal, "You don't bother me. You are the first in this tavern who be friendly,"

Finishing up the chow nearly took all his focus and intent. Elbows dug into the table. The dancing visage of a woman passed through his vision. Sweaty palms grasped fork and spoon as if they were weapons. Musical crescendo accompanied the chomping of his teeth. A bead of sweat dripped down his face as pleasure turned to labor. The loud singing of the guest finally got his attention. It was deemed annoying. The pit of his body began to twist and turn just as the last morsel passed into his gizzard.

Accepting the toast of welcome, Gangui guzzled down the last drop of ale after raising it high over his head. Slamming the cup down, he pushed the plates far away from him.

"Well, Black Suit, I think we should drink more. The city healer told me I am supposed to get drunk, eat, and sleep for a long time," Little did anyone in the tavern know, the doctor had literally ordered him to do that. The reason being that he spent ten years in the wild land battling and working without truly resting.

Uncouth, dirty fingers reached out and grabbed the arm of a tavern wench from behind, "Woman, bring more--"

It was the black haired woman with the cleavage Gangui had been ogling previous. She flashed a little, crooked smile and raised her eyebrows several times, "Get your claws off my elbow and put them on my rump, and maybe, just maybe mind you, Ill serve you," Slapping the man's hand she giggled a little and in the most obvious way possible bent over to clear the table of dishes, while letting her boobies (nipples and all) hang loose for Gangui to see.

Letting go, he clenched his teeth and stared at her intensely, annoyed at the mere fact she reacted as such. "Okay. Look. Woman, Black Suit needs one and I need one, don't make me get your master,"

"...Ooooookay, whatever you say hun..." The woman walked away with a dropped jaw and eyes wide open. A crowd on the opposite table burst in laughed for a moment at the scene. She turned towards her friends sitting at the other table and shrugged as she walked away.

Spittle flew out of his mouth and a vein pulsated on his head after turning towards Kovic, "Oh, stupid whore, oh, stupid whore," In a truly barbarous fashion he shook the table with slamming fists as he guffawed,
word count: 504
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