Day 135

Prompt: on the road/vacation.

 

I slip through the trees, letting the shadows hug close. The town seems quiet and simple, a normal country town. You can never be too careful, I tell myself. Leaving my items hidden in the woods, I concentrate, blocking out my form and becoming invisible. Time to investigate.

The town is quaint, children running through the streets with barking dogs and happily annoyed mothers hanging laundry. I relax a little, enough to walk casually, careful not to bump anything or anyone. I find my way to the center of town where a few mercenaries are sparring. There’s a tavern here, hopefully with some diversity indicating I’m safe to stay the night here.

I wait next to the tavern door for almost five minutes before it swings open to let out a large, half-orc man. He’s shirtless, boasting a mass of jagged scars on his torso, a barbarian and promising sign. I slip through the door before it closes, eyes adjusting to the dim interior.

A portly, middle-aged man is behind the bar, talking to a woman with the air of annoyance that can only mean he’s her husband. There are a few groups of what look to be adventurers sitting at tables. They talk in hushed tones, leaning over tankards of ale with drawn faces. I consider eavesdropping on a few, but this invisibility trick doesn’t last forever.

I explore the rest of the tavern, finding two seemingly-unoccupied rooms. There’s a band in the corner, local lads by the look of it. With enough charm, I might be able to pay for a room in song instead of coin. Satisfied, I sneak back through the town, retrieving my pack and resting for a short while before heading in.

Even with my hood up, a few of the children stop their playing and stare, mothers rushing to their side. I smile at them as I pass, keeping as jovial of an air as I can with the hard nugget of fear lodged in my stomach. The barbarian is sparring with two of the mercenaries when I make it back to the town square, the two swordsmen pushed to their limits against his savage attacks. I smile and head into the tavern.

Inside, I remove my hood, looking around and feigning ignorance to the layout. A few groups keep their eyes averted, whispering as I pass, while a couple of the locals stare. The horns always make them stare.

“Good afternoon,” I say to the barkeep.

He looks at me, face stony. “Afternoon.”

I wait for him to say more, smiling softly as I sit down. “Perhaps you can answer a question for me. This is my first time traveling through the northern region; are all towns as beautiful as this one?”

His wife smiles at me. “No, lass. We pride ourselves on keeping Felore tidy and green. Where are you traveling to?”

“Oh, wherever the road takes me. I’m a bard by trade, collecting stories across lands for my ballads.”

“A bard? Will ye fancy us some tunes this evening?”

“I’d be delighted to share.”

“I’ve heard bards have songs that can touch even the hardest heart. There’s a room and a hot meal in it if you can keep these ruffians in line.”

I smile, pulling out my lute. “When shall I begin?”

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