A small hand, held high above the heads of the children sitting on cold wooden floor of a reputable inn, caught the eye of the man telling the story. “What did they find in the ruins!?” The boy, probably around eight years of age, asked excitedly and the other children, around the same age, all nodded in agreement. The man held his hand as if that was to ease their excitement.
“You’re going to have to let me get to that part first!” said Kayden, with a small laugh. He sat against the wall of the inn, next to the fireplace as to dry his wet clothes.
“What about your bunny?” A little girl near the front asked, she held a small hand knit doll in her hand. Kayden recognized it as a potato doll. Very common among the poorer folk of most villages, as they would take pieces of potato sacks and stuff them with hay or feathers and sew them up with buttons from old jackets and such. They were given to kids as toys, and some of them were very intricate in their designs. Kayden had seen those that mimicked birds, fish, even people. In fact he still had his old childhood potato doll, a lion. Kayden snapped back to the little girl realizing he was caught in thought again.
“What was your question, my little dove?” Kayden patted his knees as he talked to her, his voice going sweet. He loved talking to children, they always had questions that he could answer, and enjoyed when he told them so.
“What happened to your bunny rabbit?” She hugged her doll, which he now realized was made to resemble a rabbit with big floppy ears.
Kayden looked up and tapped his chin dramatically to make it appear as if he was thinking. “Well, I knew at that moment I had sent Servo out to distract those rats, and I figured he was just sitting there in the woods.” Kayden explained, waving his hand around as he did. The children once again listened trying to absorb any word he would say. “Turns out, that the men who chased him had picked him up.” Kayden turned in his chair and started digging in a bag behind him. “I met back up with those men and they returned him to me!” At that he turned holding Servo, his bunny companion in both hands. He set him down in front of the little girl and her eyes lit up. She smiled and looked at him as if to ask ‘Can I touch him?’ or ‘Is he real?’ All of which Kayden just waved his hand and told her to “Go ahead.”
Servo just hopped into her lap and began to let her pet him. He was very well trained, considering he was just an animal spirit. The rest of the children were all trying to give a pet to the magical rabbit at that point and Kayden decided he would take a break from storytelling for now. The next part wasn’t that kid friendly anyway. He looked around trying to find Clark, which he spotted near the bar. He excused himself from the children and went over to his brother.
Clark sat talking to the bartender, a thick older half-orc man, a beard was planted on his face like an animal sitting on it, yet no hair sat upon his head. The hair grayed in spots, and for a second Kayden was reminded of two people. His older brother, and a friend who both shared a similar beard. The bartender and Clark were laughing as Kayden walked up and the bartender looked at him as he approached.
“This one is funny for how young he is!” The bartender spouted as he sat a mug on the counter next to Clark, obviously meant for Kayden. Clark was drinking, and though Lyragon had a legal age for drinking his brothers were not one to follow it. His brother sat down the mug of ale he just finished off and continued his laugh. Kayden looked at his brother as he did, and the age on him really showed. Clark, despite his height and girth, was very young looking. A lack of facial hair on him made him look even younger, though, Kayden knew he was always trying to grow a beard.
“Yeah, that’s why I keep him around, honestly.” Kayden remarked, and he and Clark chuckled together. The half-orc grabbed the mug Clark had finished and placed it on the counter behind him as he walked to help another patron.
“The kids seem to enjoy your story.” Clark said and grabbed the mug placed in front of Kayden, knowing he wasn’t much of an alcohol person.
“They always do.” Kayden smirked, and he jumped into the seat next to his brother. He realized then that he couldn’t reach the floor with his feet. Clark must have as well, as he had both of his firmly planted and they both shared a look. Kayden frowned and Clark tried to suppress a guffaw that only they as brothers knew.
“Why not tell them about the ruins?” Clark asked, letting out a breath to even himself out and keep himself from laughing at Kayden’s misfortune.
“What we found in those ruins are not for children’s ears.” Kayden said and turned the chair around to look back at the children and Servo. They were all playing with him happily, especially the little girl. Clark seemed to agree with him as he shrugged after.
“So another day and we reach midway, right?”
“Yeah, I figure we will crash at Tobiah’s and see the family, go by the tower for you and then move on.” Kayden remarked and pulled the map out once more, wiping the water rings left by the mugs off the counter with his sleeve before laying down his map. “We’ll take this road west and be in Rider’s Crook by the end of the week.”
“Any more ruins you planning on taking me to before we reach there?” Clark noted with a hint of sarcasm and a snicker, taking another gulp of his ale. Kayden looked over just as the bartender took the top off of a water barrel, still having a conversation with the other guest, and dunked in a tankard. The liquid that came out definitely wasn’t water, but it apparently had enough alcohol in it to kill whatever else was in that barrel. As it spilled over the sides at the disruption of it’s surface Kayden smelled the stench of alcohol coming off of it and shriveled his nose at it.
“Yeah.” Holding his hand to his nose to shield from the smell, as Kayden hated the taste and smell of the stuff, he spoke sounding nasally. “After what we found, I’m positive we will find more of what I’m looking for in these ruins here.” Kayden pointed to another elven symbol, which Clark had thought meant ‘Old’ but actually meant ‘Ruin’. Close enough.
“What exactly are you looking for?” Clark asked, actually turning to look at his brother now.
Kayden stared at the children with a smile, as most of the children were now re-enacting what Kayden guessed to be the story he just told. Servo just sat in the little girls lap, enjoying comfort for once instead of being used as bait. That made Kayden smile more.
“Just like them, you’re going to have to wait for that answer, brother.”
With that, the little girl shrieked, and the tavern went quiet as everyone stared at the small wooden rabbit figurine lying overturned at her feet.