With hollow groan the old wooden door opened. The crimson haired man's footsteps echoed across the empty room. His feet stirring up dust long settled. Memories danced in his mind like fire used to in the now cold hearth, as his keen eyes scanned the large room . He needed no light as he looked to the bottles that lined the shelf, coated in as much dust as everything else. With a sad smile he took down a bottle of whiskey, and popped the cork. "To old times." The years had been much kinder to the drink than they had been to they tavern itself. Yet no where near as kind as they had been to the man. Jace wondered towards the fireplace, and set to work. Within a few moments a fire roared to life , slowly erasing the chill of the night. He sat heavily in a large cushioned chair, sipping from his bottle. Suddenly he felt a stirring, more than just the memories. Almost a calling. " I wonder..." He mused out loud, hoping and pondering. "Who knows Jace ol'boy you may again see some old friends."
The years away from friends took a toll on Feara no longer the black clad woman, she took bright colors for shirts and brown pants. She leaned up against a tree only a few yards off from the Tavern. Someone had started a fire, normally no one came out to the old place. "I wonder." She said softly picking up her staff. "A friend or do I get to have some fun?"
"This wont do." Jace said as he stood and searched for a broom. "Rumbledown would never forgive me if i left it like this." He muttered to himself as he began to sweep.
Memories , always with the damned memories. So much pain and anger rsided within this building. But so much more as well. This was the nearest thing his band of misfits had to call a home. It wouldnt at all be surprising if his armor and weapons were still in his room up stairs. Aside from the dust on the floor, Nothing had seemed to change much in the twenty years since he had been here last. Then again with rumble gone and the tavern closed, It was highly likely that no one had been here since the group (rumble included) left all those years ago. Rumbledown had often spoken of the magic within this place, perhaps there was something to that. A ward keeping outsiders at bay.
Or maybe, no one had much interest in a run down tavern in the middle of nowhere."No one but a nostalgic old man." Jace said out loud as he continued on his mission of cleaning the place up.
Licking her lips she started down the hill going through the multitude of spells in her disposal. "I think fun. If it is old friends no harm if not, I think a good scare will keep out unwanted people." She had protected the tavern for 10 years. Every now and then someone would get too close and she would scare them off, the only touch she had to her beloved dead. Muttering softly she conjured a ghost from the other side one that looked much like a zombie. "Go and clear out the Tavern." She ordered sending it through a window. The one piece of magic Rumbledown allowed in was hers knowing that it would be a practical safe joke on her friends or to protect the building that had been in much of their lives.
Jace smiled at the pile of dust on the floor. "soon it will be nice an-What in the nine hells is that?" He said as a horrid face passed through the window and into the main room, as if the glass wasnt even there. "SHOO" He said, flicking the broom at the creature. Perhaps this was what had kept the tavern safe all these years. "This is my home!" He said angrily , swinging at the ghost with the broom. With a frown he realized it was no good, as the broom passed harmlessly through the creature. Then something hit him. It had been a long time since he had felt that magic. It was almost like a familiar scent. he just couldnt place it yet.
Having let the ghost go through and there being no screams Feara put on her I am going to kill
face and threw open the door. "I swear if you are in here and not friend you will die a horrible-" As the door slammed opened she just gaped at one of her oldest friends.
Jace stood in a high gaurd, ready to bring the broom down and cleave the ghost in two." Feara?"
"Jace!" She turned to the ghost "you may leave now." As the ghost disappeared Feara flicked her wrist and the door shut. Where on this planet have you been?" She asked walking over and hugging him. "This place has come close to being burned many a time." She said walking behind the bar and grabbing her Elvish Wine.
Jace smiled and hugged her back. " Well I've been living in a small fishing village up the coast. Pestering the local bar maids for a while. But eventually Someone caught me feeding. I was run out of yet another village. I .. I guess I came home." He said as she walked behind the bar. He continued his sweeping , intent on making this place as nice as it had once been." How about you? I notice the robes are gone and yet...The ghost." He commented, looking towards the window from whence it had arrived.
Watching him sweep she takes his outlook in. "Well feeding isn't a problem I have missed my family. As to my garb being alone for ten years makes one want to change but my magic is still true. You know there is a spell on this old place to where you don't have to sweep but I like your domesticated side." Feara responded wiping out a glass.
Jace smiled and straightened. "Most women do." He said with a chuckle and a wink. "But alas i have talent for magic, nor did I have any idea that this place was under any sort of enchantment. I thought Rumble did it all..though i had wondered how he got the top shelves." Placing the broom back behind the bar he looked to his friend. "Well after you." He said with a flourish of his hand.
Feara laughed. "What is dirty is clean and what is clean stays clean. Every surface, every glass. There is no dust or dirt just originality." She chanted looking at the bar. Within a matter of seconds the bar area was gleaming as if Rumble was still there. "Just repeat in every room and all new. Our dear friend wrote it down till I burned the spell page. Figured we didn't need anyone else figuring it out."
"Oh yes," Jace chuckled." Would be a shame if someone cleaned the tavern against our will." He went about the rest of the building, repeating the phrase as he went. Jace marveled at the way the old inn and bar looked at the end of it all. Like it had only been yesterday. " What have you been up to?" He asked, falling down onto the big black couch, crossing his booted ankles on the arm rest.
Feara pulled our her usual high back chair and sat down. "Did a lot of terrorizing after everyone left, then I met this mage who changed my outlook on life." She said smiling pouring more wine. "When he left I took up defending this old place against curiosity. Many think they can come in here and take what isn't theirs. You? Have you heard from anyone else?"
"I have been moving from town to town along the northern coast. Fisherman, carpenter, mason, town guard. a Multitude of lives, in a multitude of towns." He sighed and shook his head." I havent heard from Zzeey in almost ten years. He and Talla set off south trying to find some enchanted staff she had read about in a Library. Havent seen them since. Liam.. Never came back from his last death and I havent heard for Maktiel either. Good riddance on both accounts." Jace said with a sneer. "And I havent heard from Aureus since we went our separate ways." Jace sat up suddenly, staring at Feara." When i lit the fire, I felt something. A calling or a tugging somewhere in my mind. Did you feel it too? Do you think the others might have?"
Feara laughed Jace didn't care much for Liam or Maktiel, none of them really did. "Figures Talla would lead them on an adventure. I have that is what lead me here. Hang on." She pulled out a whistle with her crest on it and blew into it. It didn't make a noise but two seconds later the door opened and a skinny black hair teenage boy walked in. "Yes ma'am?" "Jace this is my apprentice. Nick go into town and get food for this place but don't say for what. Tell Steven if he is skimpy with my cheese again he isn't going to like my response. Go and hurry up." She said dismissing him with a hand. "Would you like me to send out a message to everyone and see what happens, like old times?" She asked turning back around to Jace.
Jace arched a brow as the young man left. "yes actually, I havent seen our dark skinned friend in such a long time." He sat up the couch, rubbing his hands together. But if we felt the call, I wonder who else heard." His eyes darted around the room. " What ever became of Rumbledown I wonder."
"After everyone left not many came here they were too afraid of the group that "lived here"" Feara replied reaching into a pouch and producing a sealed letter. "This is for you from Rumble. he said to give it to you when you asked." SHe said getting up and tossing the letter to him. "Let me see if I can reach them she said getting up.
"Only when I asked?" He chuckled, and broke the seal on the scroll. The letters where sharp, and angular, characteristic of his race. It took a moment for Jace to make out just what they said.
The letter read:
I am pleased to inform you my bar and inn is now the property of your rowdy group. I have left spells around the place to protect it from fire and unwanted visitors. I have returned home so please do not harm it, I will return someday. Don’t let the necromancer bring the dead in I don’t need it smelling like death when I return. Be safe.
Feara walked over to the bar and lit a clack candle brining it over the table where she sat on the floor in front of it. Muttering a small spell she opened up her mind an sent out a call if you hear this we are gathering back at the bar. Please respond.
She sat there in silence listening, waiting.
Far to the south a shock of white hair whipped around. Feara?
The ebon skinned man projected back. I heard the call of the tavern, but i didnt think...We are coming.
"Talla gather your belongings. We are returning to the tavern." He soon set about breaking down their campsite. With in an hour they had set upon their path. It would take a week to reach the tavern, and he didnt intend on wasting time.
Talla got up and helped break down camp and followed. "Why?" She asked.
Jace chuckled as he re rolled the scroll. "That answered almost nothing old man." But he knew that the dwarf would explain when, and if, he returned. "How goes the contacting?" He turned towards feara questioningly.
"Zzeey and Talla are returning." She answered looking up but that is it so far. Getting up she left the candle burning and returned to her seat and wine. "What would it take to get Rumble back? I miss his damn potatoes." She asked jokingly.
"Not sure, but the place is ours now. Also he doesnt want you bringing in the dead. I think he's forgotten that im not actually alive. I'll take it s a compliment." He said smiling. "Did they say how long they would be?"
The leaves gave barely a whisper as the two figures dashed through the forest. Hi knew the road would be easier, but he also knew that a straight line would be faster. He could feel the call of the tavern pulling in onward. Like an internal compass. "Keeping up ?" he called over his shoulder as he lept over a fallen log. He knew his apprentice could move nearly as fast and as nimbly as he himself could, but it never hurt to check on her. Suddenly a deep ,dry creek bed spread out before him. With little water left in it , it was more like a ditch with a steep slope. With out pausing he lept into the crevice , spanning nearly half of the twenty foot creek bed, and waited for his younger companion to catch up.
Talla followed with ease wondering what would be drawing them back to a place she was sure was nothing but rotten wood.
Feara chuckled. "He never did like my magic little does he know it's what's keeping the idiots out." She turned her eyes to fire watching it flicker. "He likes you better than me." She said laughing at a passing thought. The first time she entered the place and he got a whiff of her she never heard the end of it.
"I was a frequent customer for nearly fourty years before we met. That and I've never been late on rent." Jace said with a chuckle. " Rumble and I used to adventure together in his younger years. Before his brother died . That was the end of his traveling. He had enough to buy the tavern though. " Jace took a sip of his bottle. "It was a horrible night, rain pouring in side ways through the tents. Thunder.. Terrible night. The wind had torn one of our tent stakes from the ground, causing of of the corners to flap wildly. Rumbles brother Boulder trudged out to get it." Jace closed his eyes for a moment. " Then , out of no where, an arrow zipped. Caught Boulder in the back of the neck. He was gone before he fell over." Jace shook his head , when his eyes opened again they were looking at feara, but were focused a million miles away." We rushed out of the tent, Rumble checking on his brother, and myself looking for the culprit. Soon they where on us. Picts." Jace said, referring to the half demon savages who roamed the northern lands. " We were surrounded. Once it was obvious that Boulder was gone, Rumble became a man possessed. Roaring and hacking away. It seemed like much longer, but after ten minutes or so there were none left. Rumble and I brought his brother to the nearest town, and buried him. Soon after Rumble came to me with plans for one last adventure." He said, raising his hands to indicate the tavern. "We moved to Elftown and he had the tavern built. So ..yeah i guess he does like me more. But theres good reason." Jace shrugged as his eyes snapped back to focus. He looked to the fireplace, and took another sip of his bottle.
Zzeey looked to Talla , as she came to a stop in the creek bed next to him. "You are wondering why." He said, rather than asked. It had been nearly twenty years that they had been traveling together, learning from each other.He could read her easily.
Talla nodded it had been along time since she last saw Feara, bearly a young girl then.
Feara watched Jace closely as he thought back and told his tale. "Well no wonder. Ha! Then again im pointy ears and work with magic. Yet that explains the letter." She said. It was easy to read people and their minds without permission. Something she perfected over the last 20 years. "I apologize for reading it as you did. I forget my manners at times." She said nodding her head before looking back at the fire and twisting it with a sing elvish word for spirit "Fëa". The fire twisted into figures showing a young Feara on a battle field and just like that it was gone as soon as the door to the tavern opened. Nick walked in pulling his bag from his hip and setting it on the bar. "I cleaned out a few places and Steven is mad but food is here. I will go into the kitchen and put things up." Feara nodded not even looking at her pupil. "Good I think it is time for some food and he will get over it, I hope you didn't say anyone was here." She said her voice going cold.
" Our friends are there. And I grow weary of the road." Was all Zzeey would say before he dashed up the side of the creek, and continued northward.
"Ok." Talla said shaking her head clear and following not so sure the path Zzeey was taking so she stayed a step behind.
Feara got up and followed Nick into the kitchen and helped unload the never ending bag stocking the kitchen back up for an army. She heated up the stove and skillet throwing some rabbit in it and cut some bread. She could never come close to Rumbles potatoes but tried anyway her stomach growling good food for what would serve a party for four not sure how hungry if at all Jace was. Once Nick finished unloading he turned to help heating up the bread with his hand, his best skill was imitating fire. "You have that whole totem to go through and I expect it memorized in five days. From there I will teach you the next step of summoning." Feara said tossing the potatoes. "The house will be quite so read and practice but stay away from things you haven't mastered, I won't be there to fix it." She said in a softer tone pulling out two huge plates and pilling on the food for her and Jace. Nick took the plates and carried them back into the main room placing one in fornt of Jace and the other where his master's chair was. "It was a pleasure to meet you and hope to talk to you about Feara soon. She is such a mystery." He said before taking his leave as Feara walked out and back to her seat.
Jace chuckled lightly. He felt bad for the young man, and thruth be told Feara was just as much of a mystery to him as well. But he liked that."How long have you been training him?" He asked, As he eyed the food. "This smells wonderful." He said as he took a mouthful.
Zzeey spoke as he ran. "There was a time when i had only one friend. Jace." He had told her this many times over the past 20 years. "But eventually my circle of trust extended. There where five. They become like family. But , not long after we found you, we parted ways. Its been quite sometime since i have felt the warmth of home and friendship." He stopped speaking for a moment, considering the words he just said. "Not that you are not friend or family, i just ..I miss the greatly." He said as they came to a clearing. "This is where we camp." The sun would rise soon, and he rarely traveled during the day, as the brightness grew uncomfortable.
Talla smiled as he spoke and nodded. "No I understand. You are much the father I don't remember having and Feara is much the mother I do remember. Besides a warm bed and someone else's cooking does sound good!" She said cheerful as they stopped. She quickly began to set up camp.
Feara nodded taking a bite as well. "About ten years ago. He is far from mastering much but has the talent. He worries me greatly though, he tries to rush into everything without thinking of the consequences. But he is a great kid." SHe kicked her feet up on the table and leaned back tearing off a piece of bread and meat.
"What all are you teaching him?" Jace asked between mouthfuls of food. "I know you once felt like giving up the Necromancer ways, so are you just teaching him magic? Or are you actually teaching him the ..Darker arts?"
Zzeey looked at Talla with a slight frown. " My cooking is spectacular dear young one,so Im going to assume you refer to your own." His face broke into a broad grin as he spoke the words."Speaking of which, Its your turn." He said as he untied the bag of vegetables and dried meats from his pack. He set them on the ground, and turned to the tree line. "Im going to collect fire wood." He said before vanishing in to the shadows of the forest.
Talla wiggled her nose another night of dry meat but she certainly didn't feel like complaining again and have to catch fresh food, she learned her lesson. "Your cooking is fine but someone's else's would be better after al these years." She said teasingly.
"For now it is just neutral magic. I won't teach the darker magic unless asked. There is enough of us in the world we don't need another necromancer. I stumbled upon him in the village stealing and creating fires with the untaught talent he had. I didn't want to see his magic or him go to waste. He is a handful though! Sometimes I wish I could send him home so he could get a proper education and love from family but they disowned him due to his skills. Though his skills with a blade could do some working on." She replied between bites and rubbing a scar on her hand that went from her pointing finger to the other side of her wrist.
"Theres nothing wrong with fine drow cuisine!" Zzeey called from the woods, as he bent to gather more wood. He couldnt honestly disagree with her though, dried meat and vegetables every night wasnt exactly the high life.
Jace nodded in agreement, eyeing the scar. Feara had always had an odd point of view of the darker arts, for a neceromancer."How'd that happen?" He asked with genuine concern. She wanst the kind to make the sort of slipup that would allow such a scar.
"There is everything wrong with it" talla said softly making sure everything was set up starting on the food.
Feara looked up at Jace. "Nick had a nightmare and came after me in his sleep with both magic and blade."