The Tavern in Pulethal: A Necromantic Scene

“Well then, I leave the boy in your capable hands, dear Aeth,” said Innu bowing.

Cyril’s jaw dropped. “But Innu, I—“

“Toodeloo,” Innu said, waving. He hurried outside before the prince had a chance to object further.

No wonder he’s worried. You left him with a rot Ponticusan!

“Watch what you say, good spirit,” Innu muttered. “There may be some who share your hatred for Ponticus, but I am not one of them.”

I don’t hate them, it’s just… the spirit trailed off.

We could say the same about warlocks, Malienne, said another.

Innu didn’t interfere. They would figure it out amongst themselves. He focused instead on looking for the tavern, hoping to find something to warm him up and calm him down, and maybe even a fire where he could begin to dry his robes.

Pulethal wasn’t the last place Innu wished to be, but it was pretty close. Being under the cliff, hearing the echoing sounds of the ocean, smelling the dampness mixed with the smoke from peat fires, made Innu feel he was still nine years old, with Garnet on one of their many visits to Calvean or the palace. As close to Garnet as she deemed appropriate for an apprentice, taking in all the sights and sounds and smells looking up at the vast cliff ceiling and the nonhuman spirits hovering there, looking for lead or copper or whatever else interested them at the time.

Innu looked up at the ceiling now and saw the spirits. Some were the same but most he didn’t recognize. Nonhuman spirits didn’t usually linger by the sea more than a decade unless they had a reason to or were in some sort of bondage.

The old spirits Innu saw…he guessed they had found something interesting enough to keep them there. He didn’t think any of them were probably enslaved, for the simple fact that most spirit owners didn’t’ allow their captives to wander so far from the house, if they were allowed to wander at all.

Innu pushed aside the curtain to the tavern. Some of the sleepy customers looked up at him, some didn’t. This wasn’t a little homogenous town like the Montomogen Moors. Necromancers and weirder came through this town on a daily basis. Even twenty years ago, it had been the most advanced city this side of the sea. And the other side, well, no one knew much about that. It was such a long way that few people would willing make the trip twice in their life.

Set into the east wall was a blazing fire with armchairs of all sizes and models sitting around it. The chairs were mostly all filled with citizens as diverse as the chairs they sat in, all looking for a bit of warmth and dry. There was even a warlock, it looked like, judging from the style of her dress. Very unusual even for Pulethal.

Innu walked up to the bar, squeezing alongside two merchants with ale and mutton.

“Excuse me, sir?” he called.

The curtain to the kitchen area was pushed aside and out came a Ponticusan woman wiping her hands on her apron.

“Er, ma’am. Sorry.”

“’Tis fine,” she said casually. “What can I get for you?”

“A warm drink with a bit of bite. I don’t really care what. And fried potatoes, please, if you have them.”

“Yeah, we have them,” she said, getting a mug out from under the bar. “A finger of silver, please.”

Innu dug in his pocket and pulled out a few coins and a silver earring he had been saving. “This should be about a finger’s-worth,” he said.

She took his silver and examined it, weighing it in her hand. Then she nodded and pocketed them. “Seems to be, yes. We have mulled wine if you’d like.”

“That’s fine,” said Innu.

She filled the mug with a liquid and then poured it in a pot over a small fire in the back wall. “Wait here, sir, while I fry your potatoes.”

“Thank you,” said Innu, finding a seat to wait.

The merchants had stopped talking. One looked at Innu.

“Mulled wine and fried potatoes, eh?” he asked. Then he laughed. “Odd combination.”

“I’ve never tried them together,” Innu admitted.

“Mmh, I have. It’s odd.”

Innu smiled at the table. “It’s right up my alley, then.”

“Is it, now?” asked the merchant. His friend was looking over at Innu now as well. “What do you do then? Are you a necromancer?”

Innu shrugged. “Not much of one,” he admitted. “My friend is sick so we stopped here until he’s better.”

“Aw, that’s just a gored shame,” said the merchant. “It isn’t a great time to be traveling, if you’ll allow me to say so.”

“It never is, though is it?”

The merchant laughed. “No, I guess not.”

The tavern owner came back through the kitchen curtain with a bowl of fried potatoes.

“Well, I’ll let you get on,” he said. “Best of luck for your friend.”

“Thank you,” said Innu.

The woman gave him the potatoes and poured the hot mulled wine into a mug. Innu thanked her and then took his meal to the fireplace, where he sat on the carpet next to the hearth. He inhaled the steam off his potatoes with a smile. He wasn’t thrilled to be in a city, but he did miss fried food.

A/N: The merchant who talked to Innu is secretly a huge fan of necromancers. Ever since he was little, he hoped that he would turn into one, but sadly, he never did (as necromancers generally have the gift at birth). So he decided to do the next best thing: he went into the business of perfecting and selling necromantic instruments to necromancers and visiting his customers personally to fix any problems they may have. As such, he gets to spend all his time working in the trade of his dreams, even without the gift.


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