The Sovereigncy Codices: The Scarlet Wanderer
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It was a warm day under the clear blue sky, not an oppressive heat but enough to keep the thirst levels up and encourage the villagers to not linger too long out in the sun. A sporadic collection of houses dotted the east and west shores of the inland lake, while a larger handful of buildings were gathered at the northern shore under the looming presence of the lonely mountain. A shipwrights, smithy, traders and the tavern were the main buildings of this fledgling village. The four, built as necessities to facilitate the growing fishing population.

Santi was cleaning a mug when a stranger came in through the open door of his tavern. The Kryt tavern keep watched her out of the corner of his eye as she purposelessly made her way to the bar and sat down. It had been a while since he had seen someone with a distant stare like that, someone so lost in their own head that the rest of the world did not even register to their senses. Whatever her problems, she was likely here to escape, to disappear in a nowhere place that would attract no unwanted attention. Which would be why she was here, no one really came to this town for any reason other than the fish trade. A job for which she seemed particularly ill-fitted for, not with a body like that, nor the weight that seemed to weigh it down.

The weariness that permeated her entire being touched a soft spot and not for the first time, Santi poured a drink not expecting payment for. He walked it over to the scarlet skinned female and placed it in front of her..

She looked at the drink then up at him with those once bright but now smouldering eyes. “I have no coin.” She told him.

“Drink.” He told her. “This one is on me. Anything else and we can talk.”

A touch of a spark came back to those red irises. “I do not like owing for anything.” She stated. Her accent came through a bit more with that sentence, not that it helped at all in placing where she was from.

He grew up in the forests on the other side of the mountain, a traveller he was not. Much like the rest of his race, once they found a place they were comfortable with, they settled their ‘roots’ as it were. Santi ran a hand over his thicker tendrils, the equivalent of this worn down beauty running her fingers through her hair. “Two bronze for the contents of the cup.” He told her.

The lost lady furrowed her brow at the ale, unsure how to handle the kindness he offered. “How many days of work is that?” She asked, clearly trying to grasp its worth.

He put a hand on the counter, gauging her for a moment. “Know how to serve a drink?” Santi asked her. “Fishers will be home soon and this place will get busy. I could use an extra set of hands.”

She looked down the bar then to the mug in her hands. “I can figure it out.”

“Santi.” He introduced himself.

She blinked at the offered hand, before taking it with a stronger grip than he was expecting. “Saroria.”

“A pleasure to meet you, Saroria.” He used an old trick of repeating the name back to remember it better. “Now drink. I’ll get you something to eat.” She went to protest but he stopped her with a raised hand. “I can’t have you falling over from exhaustion while trying to pay off your drink.”

“But then I owe you for the food.” She pointed out.

“Looks like I get the pleasure of your company for a while longer than.” Santi’s tendril stalks rippled in amusement.

Saroria frowned at the mug but finally took the first refreshing sip.