Jul. 25th, 2008

Early 447

Jul. 25th, 2008 05:32 pm
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I

The weather outside is frightful, but the fire inside the Designated Tortoise Inn and Tavern is oh so delightful, which explains why it's packed to the gills on a night such as this. The storm came out of nowhere, and from the look of things it appears that the entire town was taken by surprise. No matter though, so long as the Barkeep doesn't run out of food, drink, or firewood all will be right with the world.

That is, of course, provided some idiot doesn't open the door.

...

Cue the idiot.

The door swings open violently, caught up in a gust of wind that even catches the man behind it by surprise. He stands in the doorway dumbfounded and momentarily blinded by the light from within, which is actually kind of funny, because as luck would have it the patrons of the Designated Tortoise are also momentarily blinded by the well timed flash of lightning that engulfs the man in back lighting.

The din dies down as the room pauses a moment to observe the stranger now darkening their doorstep. He's nothing particular to write home about, just your average ranger of average size and average build. In fact, the only thing noteworthy about him is how unnoteworthy he is, which is exactly why everyone is looking at him. He's the only average person in the room that no one knows.

It isn't until his eyes adjust to the flickering firelight that Raph realizes that everyone in the room is focused in his direction. He blinks a few times and then very slowly turns to see if there is, by chance, something horrifying looming behind him. What he finds is nothing more than an empty doorway leading to the torrential downpour outside. One doesn't have to be a rocket scientist to realize that they're staring at him, just an ex-turtle. Some things, it seems, never change. He shakes his head, sighs, and closes the door behind him. In this scene the part of the pin dropping will be played by the latch clicking shut.

"Yo, Barkeep. Got a horse in your stable needs lookin' to. Add that, and a night's lodging, to the ale you're gonna pour me," says the man as he begins to remove layer after layer of sopping wet gear and outer ware. One by one patrons begin to lose interest in the stranger and return to their previous conversations. He sighs again, this time in relief as the weigh of oh so many stares lifts from his shoulders.

The cool reception suits Raph fine, as he's about as happy to be in this tavern as these townies are to have him there. The plan was to be back at Olau before the Anniversary, but clearly Fate hadn't gotten his itinerary in time. He turns his attention to the nearest window which is still be pelted by strong wind and rain. The ongoing storm had washed out many of the roads, and rather than attempt a cross of open country in the dark, Raph thought it better to stop somewhere warm and dry for the night. It's the least he could do for poor old Cloud who had more than paid his dues on this journey already. Still, in spite of the debt he owes the pony Raph can't help but feel disappointed at the fact that prime travel time was being squandered sitting around in damp socks, especially after having planned his return so carefully.

When his year with the Griffin had come to an end Raph wasted no time picking his North East route back to Olau and packing accordingly. The good thing about martial arts masters is that they rarely necessitate lengthy goodbyes. Whether they respect you, or rue the day you walked into their life, a low bow is usually all they require. Raph also left Anthony a cake. One can't have too much good karma kicking around.

Raph is jarred out of his reverie by the sounds of his ale arriving.

"'Bout time," he grumbles without looking up.

"Yes well, most people say hello before they start making idle demands. Most civilized people, that is."

He looks up and sees not the burly man behind the bar, but a small blonde woman with blue eyes. Or at least he thinks she has blue eyes, really he is far more distracted by her tone and her smile, both of which drier than the Bazhier in Summer. He opens his mouth to speak, but nothing comes out.

Something clatters on the tabletop but Raph finds he can't pull his eyes away from the woman.
"Your key," she says, voice clipped and impersonal. "Up the stairs to the left. First door on the right. Horse is being tended to. All tabs to be collected at the sound of the bell." And with that she turns on her heel and marches away, disappearing into the crowd with the ease of a ninja.

Raph stares after her, mouth gaping.
He spends the next hour absentmindedly nursing his ale as he keeps a watchful eye on the crowd. Raph's hoping to catch another glimpse of the woman, but she never does reappear. The deeper into his beer he gets the more he starts to tell himself that she didn't really exist at all and is nothing more than a figment of his road weary imagination. To be on the safe side when the bell is rung and all tabs are to be paid Raph makes sure to leave a rather sizable tip for who is by far the most beautiful woman he's seen in a very long time.

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Raphael

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