The following is a heavily edited story written in August of 2015. Thank you to those who care to read.
The Dragon's Head Tavern and Inn, Vorland, The continent of Posiil, 1434 ATC. One year before Venser Tybalt Karkaldwin came into the service of God Queen Y'vonne. And five years before the Waking of The Luektorem.
The elven woman made her way into the tavern, heavy pack on her back and her lute in one hand.
She had long hazel hair beneath a red Tudor hat that went back into a braid which she dyed regularly, an eyepatch, and pale skin that was littered with various black markings. Though her facial features were appealing she had a rather boyish and waifish body shape, though she used this to her advantage. The elven woman's name was Juliette Parrotlet. Born and raised in an entertaining gypsy clan. One of the lesser gypsy clans from the South Eastern Ayalia, home of the wild elves; Shared by humans and historically had been largely untouched by Pryldahnian expansion even before the Cataclsym.
She had gotten to see many beautiful parts of the world while entertaining people of all ages. The elf used her unique figure to her ability by doing acrobatic and contortion stunts for small crowds. The gypsies act had given them a great amount of money, but with money came greed. The other gypsies grew hungry for power and money and like every mighty empire, their band of gypsies had broken apart. So now the woman traveled alone with only a bag of wonders and her lute, telling madly wonderful stories through song, dance and theater to those who would listen.
While Venser watched his kids outsidrplay he sighed, crossing his arms and relaxing on a bench. He reached into his pocket and pulled out a silver watch. The sun began to set in the distance, and above him the leaves began to turn orange. Fall was upon them.
Syn Mendes heard the woman enter the tavern.
"Welcome to the Dragon's head Tavern and Inn!" She was behind the bar polishing a few tankards and watching over the upstairs bar as customers interacted and made conversation. She was wearing a dark green dress shirt and black pants, along with a slight frown. It usually got busier in the evening, and this time of year was very unpredictable. A couple of more months and the woman figured she would leave for Bayhorse to make a lot more coin and have faster days.
Downstairs, the twins eventually got tired and ran over to their father, who smiled and bent down to meet their level.
''Soarin, Lucinda, shouldn't we be getting you two to bed?'' The man in the red rubber suit with rubber nipples and an oversized codpiece said, extending both of his hands to them, expecting them to take each one.
"I don't like this but I'm tiredddddd..." Soarin whined, and Lucinda yawned and mumbled. "Mhmhmmm!" They squeezed his hand and Venser. "Alright, ready to poof?" They squeezed tighter and young Soarin exclaime, "Poop!" As they teleported away in a puff of thick red smoke.
Ivy would pull open the door to the tavern and look to the women whom had welcomed her. She would smile and nod to her. One could tell her body was exausted as she climbed up the bar stool. She flipped one of her long blond pigtails over her shoulder and gave a sigh of relief.
A warm smile curved at the elven woman's lips as she sat down at the bar, setting her pack and her lute on the floor. Juliette nodded courteously to the woman who welcomed her. "Thank you for the warm welcome dearie. Would it be a bother if I asked for a pint of mead? I'm in the mood for something on the sweet side." Her fingers drummed against the table absentmindedly, and upon closer inspection Juliette covered her right eye with a patch, the other visible eye an emerald green.
"I don't mind at all, I welcome it more than anything." Syn poured some mead into a mug and slid it over to her.
Roselie would begin to sing to herself, unaware of how loud she was since she had earplugs, and filled up the last of the vials with the powder mixture on the bottom floor, hidden behind a curtain to her alchemy room. The Dragon's Head Tavern and Inn always welcomed families, especially those of the workers, and thankfully it had been a slow day and Syn seemed to be holding down the bar by herself as she helped the other elvish woman, the familiar Ivy.
"Three silver coins please." Syn looked at the other patrons, "What would you all like?" She chuckled at Rose's singing from downstairs, moving out from behind the bar to help the other non-discript patrons that sat around.
Juliette thanked the barmaid as she pulled out three silver from her coin purse that rested on her thigh. "Here you go." She said with an inaudible sigh as she placed each coin on top each other. Her eye glanced around the room, examining each person or being who was in the tavern, watching as the barmaid would walk out from behind the bar and assist the other patrons.
"Thank ya kindly." She took a giant swig of the drink, and coughed. Ivy would giggle to herself, a little embarrased, picking up her tankard and choosing to go sit by the window at a table to herself.
After tucking his kids in, reading them a story, and doing the 'Happy Hamster Hop' for them, it was time to get to work for the evening. The serpent eyed bartender appeared out of a puff of thick red smoke behind the bar, wearing not his usual outfit, but rather a pair of pink buny pajamas with feet and a hood.
''Goooood evening patrons! Does anyone need anything?!'' He asked loudly clasping his paws together. ''How bout you?'' Venser asked randomly pulling a cane out from behind the bar, the handle was in the shape of a whale. He pointed the cane only about an inch from Juliette's face.
Juliette raised an eyebrow at the clatter that hand rang through the tavern but dismissed it. She would take another sip of mead before the flamboyant male appeared. Juliette's eye twitched as the cane was pointed an inch away from her face. "I have my pint of mead for now my fellow thespian." She with a blank face as she moved the cane with a single finger away from her face. The stoic stare only lasted a single second before she let out a snort.
"What the fuck?" Juliette thought grinning. "Where did he get that costume?"
''Lovely.'' He dropped the cane behind the bar, where it was swallowed up by the shadow tendrils and returned to it's rightful place. Venser was a man in his early thirties, with fair skin, unnatural serpent like eyes, and an eerie, glasglow smile carved into his face that looked like it was done several years ago. His messy raven hair that really needed to be cut was hidden underneath his bunny hood, and upon closer inspection the tips appeared to be dyed green. He grabbed himself a silver cocktail shaker and a bottle of vodka, setting them down on the bar. ''Lime juice. Quickly,'' He told the shadow tendrils.
A small hum escaped Juliette's lips as she sipped down her last bit of mead. Surely she would order more but she decided to let the old taste linger before she tried something new. The elven woman watched as the bar keeper and the ink black shadow tendrils do their work, though the woman had been through many places from here and across the Slender Sea, she had never really seen tendrils of that manor occupy a bar. It hardly to be the work of demons, surely. Maybe even a demon named Shirley controlled the shadows.
"How have I never stopped here and seen such things?" She thought to herself.
The shadow tendrils set down a small bottle of lime juice down on the bar. ''Ice.'' Venser said, looking through all the various bottles of Blue Carrico. ''Fuck me... Where is it.'' The shadow tendrils would help him mix the drink while he searched for the last ingredient. ''So what brings you lot here?'' He asked all three individuals sitting at the bar as the shadow tendrils dropped some ice into the cocktail mixer.
Ivy would take another swig before answering. "I have been running all day. I just needed to kick back. You know how hunting is." Splaying her legs out as she occupied the entire table.
Juliette brushed a stray strand of ivory hair out of her face before glancing back to the bar keeper. "Just a traveler looking for mead and a place to stay for a while." She answered before setting down the empty cup.
''Gotta love travelers from fantastic, faraway places. So many of em come through here a day.'' He replied, grabbing a blue bottle, the contents not visible from the outside. He removed the lid and the one from the vodka, filling the cocktail mixer half full with the two. He added a few drops of lime juice and grenadine, then put the top back on and began to shake. ''Running from something?'' He asked Ivy looking over to Julliette as he shook, looking over her outfit, especially the lute and the eyepatch. Everything about Juliette had a story. ''Lemme guess, bard? Gypsy? Gypsy bard?''
She nodded as a sly grin curved at her lips. "One of the best gypsie bards around." The elven woman said with a chuckle, it was true that Juliette's entertainment skills as a gypsy were extremely high, but for the most part she remained mostly in obscurity as she changed her Stage Name constantly, and did less lute playing and more telling amazing stories of her past and the occasional showing off of her flexibility among other things. Fame was overrated, anyhow.
''Ah... Perfection.'' Venser said picking up the glass, smelling it before he took a sip. ''Oh? Are ya know?'' He asked with a smile, looking to Juliette. ''Ya know... You remind me of one of my ex lovers. Gypsy too. What's your name?''
Juliette raised an eyebrow at the bar keepers remark. "My name is Juliette Parrotlet." she said proudly, her family name was something that she cherished and took great pride in. "Maybe you've heard of my clan? Gypsie ex lovers eh? Can't say that I recall any ex lover of mine that reminds me of you." she said jokingly as a chuckle left her lips.
''What a lovely day...'' He muttered while sipping his purple drink, the Purple Drink he called it as redundant and unimaginative as the name was.
''Juliette Parrotsmeg.'' He mispronounced her last name. ''Yeah. Her name was Aytu... Uh... Clan... Arnise I think Last? Last time I saw her she had her belly out to here.'' He said putting one hand a few inches out in front of his lower stomach. ''That reminds you of me? You don't even know me.'' Juliette opened her mouth to speak but Venser took another sip and flailed his free arm a bit. ''I want you to guess my name, birthday, and favorite color. Because why the void not?''
Juliette's eye twitched as he mispronounced her last name, but she decided to let it slide since he really didn't mean to. She tilted her head slightly as he rambled nonsense of his ex lover. "Ah so she was pregnant?" She said as she tried to recall meeting any other pregnant gypsies, but alas none came to mind. "Wait yes I know Clan Arnise! Fortune tellers, but I never met an Aytu." Her little daze was vanquished by his statement. "It was a joke dear, I can be rather humorous if I do say so myself." The elf woman said flatly before almost choking at his request. "I haven't been asked questions like that in a long time." She mumbled as she examined the man. "So you want me to read your fortune? Read your mind?" She questioned as she leaned back, folding her arms.
He shrugged. ''I think so. I was suffering from mind rot after venturing down to a place I can't remember. Caves, glowing mushrooms. It's all quite fuzzy honestly.'' He replied taking another sip, wincing a bit as he even struggled to recall Aytu herself, the blind gypsy was a lover from before his twins were born. ''Open parts of my mind?'' He raised a brow in suspicion, his fuzzy memory of Aytu fading. ''Sure... You a psionic?"
A small smirk tugged at her lips as he agreed in suspicion. Of course most of the gypsy lore was known as witchcraft but some of it was simply rubbish to scare and bewilder the crowds. "I don't need to have psionic, telepathic whatever powers to read minds, unless you want me to take off my patch and scramble your brain with just making eye contact."
"Well fuck my ass with a loaf of bread I definitely don't want that. I actually was curious but ehhh..." Venser lifted his arms and made awkward hand gestured towards her face.
"Give me your hands." She said firmly as she reached for his hands. The conversation with this weird, snake eyed barkeep was all over the place, but more intriguing than anything in the room currently.
Venser extended a pink paw to her silently. ''Does your skin need to be touching mine?'' ''Eh, not a sexual reference. Unless you wish it.'' He quickly added.
Juliette tsked before taking her rather cold pale hands and placing her palms on the pads of his paws. "Tch. I can't reveal my secrets, then everyone would know the gypsies magic." She said before closing her eyes for a few seconds. Now she had heard the man's name called before so she decided to tell him the easiest piece of information first. "Venser. This is your name." She said barely above a whisper, simply for dramatic effects.
DUN DUN DUNNNNN...!
''How bout my last and middle name?'' He asked with a chuckle. ''I think I already told you my name... I think. Can't even remember what happened five minutes ago."
"I'm a gypsy of all trades, my good man." Dhe says calmly before grabbing his paw as she traced her icy index finger over a few lines. Juliette had the urge to laugh everytime she looked at his ridiculous pajamas but did her best to suppress it while reading his palm. "I'm not one for picking up middle and last names, you have to pay extra for that." She said with a light hearted laugh.
"From your paw I can see your in your early thirties?" She said as she looked back up at the man.
''Pay extra? I know my first and last name.'' Venser said, watching her. ''Yeah. Thirty three. What else are you getting from me? Do you see? Can I sweet talk you into giving me a reading for free?" A chuckle.
Thelf couldn't help but snort, and then she pursed her lips as she peered into the eyes of Venser. "Your full name is Venser Tybalt Karkaldwin. You are thirty three and born on... A day and year and different calander I am not familiar with." She said barely above a whisper as her covered eye began to hurt, her mind filling up with the information of the man. "And last but not least your favorite color is red."
He chucked, matching her gaze with his eyes that appeared to be plucked from the skull of a snake. ''I was born on the fourteen of Hearthmonth. Adoration Day... The day of love. People giving cards to the ones they adore, gifts of affection.'' Venser's tone sounded spiteful before it returned to his normal, seemingly happy one. ''Yup. When I was young... Different place, different calander... Feels like a different life. Um, ahem. Why don't you tell me about yourself, Julliete?''
Juliette retracted her hand and placed it in her lap. "Hm, there is a lot to know about me." she said in a bitter sweet tone. "Well I was born in the country-side of Ayalia, near New Anhalo, lots of humans in that part, very different culture from ours. My mother and father loved each other very much, many said they were rarely seen apart from each other. They were great gypsies, known for their readings and extravagant performances. But they died when I was twelve years old, though the rest of the band never told me how. I was in a state of depression when they had left this realm. But I kept the tradition going because I knew it was what they would have wanted. So I traveled with the same band of gypsies, learning music to help ease my spirits until greed and power took over our humble sideshow." she said quietly, a hint of sadness in her voice.
"But now I travel alone." She said as she leaned back with a sigh. "Rather depressing story wasn't it?"
''I'm sorry to hear that... Heh. You remind me of Aytu a lot.' He shrugged and leaned against the bar. ''But you're doin' your parents proud aren't ya? And don't you ever wish to seek the truth? How your parents died.''
"I would rather have their death remain unknown to me than find out they died horribly or in vain. Life is too short of vengeance." she said in a softer tone as she recalled the fond memories of her parents. She had always respected the rest of her clan refusing to answer, and sparing her the heart breaking details. "But I suppose they're satisfied with how my gypsy skills have turned out." Juliette grinned as she drummed her slender fingers on her thigh, hand now resting on her lute beside her.
''So just another wandering gypsy?'' He asked with a nod letting go of her hand. ''Ignorance is bliss I guess. I wish I knew that in my youth, well, took it seriously. I try not to think about the past much."
Juliette sighed and nodded affirmation. "I try not to worry about my past either, fretting would get me no where. Sure, I travel and I play music, tell stories, and act, but I keep moving from place to place, it keeps things interesting. And the world is just an awesome place." She said as she rested her head on her hands. "Well what about you? What was your youth like if you don't mind me pressing?" she asked as she glanced at the strange barkeeper.
''That's something I don't talk about outloud. Why don't ya read my mind?'' He did not offer out his paw once more as he picked up his neglected Fruit Tingle. ''Very different from what I am now, that's all I can tell you.''
Venser took a sip of his drink and asked, ''Did you say earlier you wanted to rent a room? Or are you going to camp outside or something?"
The eye patch wearing gypsy nodded in understanding. "I respect secrets." She said before adjusting her sack of coins. "It crossed my mind to get a room. It seems to be getting late, and I have been walking for a long while." she said softly as she gazed out the window at the darkening sky.
Venser shrugged. "Everyone's got secrets. Is why you've walked here all the way from down south a secret? Wouldn't a horse and a caravan be easier?"
Juliette chuckled. "Ah my caravan was burnt down a few years back, It was a rather interesting story." She said with a smile as she recalled the other gypsy folk screaming in horror as the youngest had accidentally set Juliette's caravan on fire. "But now I just go where I please and entertain those who wish to be entertained." She said as she pulled out her sack of coins. "It's risky having a pack animal, I just carry all the tools of my trade with me. Many try to steal a gypsies belongings in hopes that they are enchanted."
''I'd love to hear it sometime. Tomorrow perhaps if you're tired.'' Venser said standing up, sorting through the room cards searching for an unoccupied one. ''So, what do you do besides mind reading? Dancing? Acrobatics? Knife swallowing?'' He noticed the lute Juliette had set next to her chair. ''Music!''
"I'm a jack of all trades when it comes to the standards of what a gypsy can do." she said with a grin. "I'd love to show you but I'm extremely tired, I'll tell you the caravan story and even show you some of my many tricks." she said proudly before standing up and stretching. "But I think I'm going to retire for the night." she said with a yawn, waiting for her room card.
Venser nodded and handed her a small silver key. ''Left hall, second door on the right. I'm four doors down.'' He shrugged. ''Great view of the forest that side of the tavern.''
She nodded and took the key. "Thank you for your kind service." she said as she bowed her head before turning on her heel to walk down the left hallway, stopping, pausing for a moment.
"Maybe I can give a hint... Anticipation."
Juliette yawned once more before she got to her door. The elven woman slipped in the key to unlock the door to reveal her room. She smiled at the cozy look, dropping her pack beside the door and retrieving her lute before walking back out to the bar area. The random patrons either stopped talking or whispered amongst themselves when the elf came out with her lute, and began to strum a soft, haunting melody.
"There once was a girl, a musician by trade. Set out on a mission to sing come what may, she walked a thousand miles, her direction the sea. To find a thousand answers for all she had seen..." She sang, strumming softly for a few more notes. All of it was quite beautiful, light and haunting in its and yet every note resounding.
"And that will be all for tonight." Juliette said with a bow as people clapped.
"Tomorrow night we want to hear the entire thing." Venser said pointing at her.
"And you will, just not this very night." Juliette teased as she sauntered down the hall and out of sight, leaving a few patrons to grumble.
Gently she shut the door and took off her weathered boots before flopping down onto the bed and wiggling her toes. Juliette set her key on the nightstand before taking off her top coat, and removing her brightly colored Tudor hat, letting her hair down. She curled up in her bed, not bothering to cover herself up. She let herself fall into a deep and dreamless sleep after such a long day of walking.
He snatched up the coins that she had left behind and waved. ''Good night now!'' Venser then walked over to the tavern's payment jar to deposit them. Interesting, very interesting woman. Perhaps if he got his guitar they could have a duet? Perhaps they could have other things together in time.
"Right sorry about that everyone! Who's thirsty?!"