Chapter 52: Scaly Babies

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Their arrival took away brotherhood. It took away other things. Our reservations. Our new found libertine natures knew no end. We rejoiced at this. We thought it a sign of our great progress, that our society had evolved and enlightened, not rotted from within.

***

They arrived at nightfall.

The Silver Oaks was a much nicer inn. When Laidu walked in, he was immediately confronted by a rather worn Reeflander, dressed in a worn apron, her bluish-grey hair tied back in a utilitarian ponytail. "Hello," she said cheerfully. "A room for six?" she asked Laidu.

"Two rooms for three," he said, "if that isn't much of an issue." For once, it was refreshing to see someone who didn't immediately panic when they saw him. "And a meal as well."

"Of course." The Reeflander woman barked an order to the back of the inn. A mousy-haired boy peeked out, and stared at them. Oddly enough, he seemed to be more shocked by Kyra than he was by Laidu. "Hadin! Get the keys for two three-bed rooms!" she snapped. Then, she turned to Laidu and Kyra and the rest of them and smiled. "You all have a seat over there. We'll get you something to drink first."

She led them over to a small table in the corner. "Before I get you anything, I'll need you to pay." Laidu nodded and yanked out his coinpurse. And stopped. It sounded depressingly empty.

"Allow me," Indra said. She pulled out a little bag. "How much?" she asked the innkeeper.

"Forty gold for two rooms, plus eighteen for the meal." Indra yanked out some gold coins, and began to stack them up. The innkeeper scooped them up and walked back.

Unlike the Goblin's Skull, this place seemed reputable, and it had a kinder atmosphere. It may have been the lack of suspicious characters pacing about, looking as if they were deciding to cut your purse or cut your throat. It may have been a lack of brothels. That might have played a part in it.

That boy, Hadin, came back and asked for what they wanted to drink. Kyra and Indra asked for tea. Laidu decided on water, along with Thaen and Skaria. Karik'ar asked for a mulled wine. Hadin scribbled this down on a small slate, before rushing through a door in the back to deliver the order.

Within moments, the drinks were set before them, and Laidu took a sip. "Huh," Kyra said. "Mine has an odd... spice to it. I kind of like it." Laidu shrugged. Kyra sipped her steamy mug.

The innkeeper walked by, intent on another guest. Thaen paused, as if the sight of her was reminding her of something. When she walked by again, casting long shadows from the fire, Thaen raised a hand. "Yes?" she asked.

"I can smell something back there," Thaen said. "What is it?"

"Stew. Five meat stew." She looked over to another table, concerned. "Is that all?"

Thaen nodded, and she rushed over to the table. Kyra took another sip of the tea, and set it down. She was almost halfway done with it.

Hadin, the inkeeper's assistant, walked up to them. "Your rooms are ready," he said. He handed Skaria and Laidu two sets of keys each. "They're at the far end of the hall, same side, next to each other." He backed away.

It took five minutes until the problems started to appear.

Kyra had finished her tea, and was silent as the rest of them discussed their plans for the stay in Sapharama. A few days to rest, then they'd hit the road for a town up north and catch a boat to Saefel Caeld.

"I'm going to take a bath," Thaen said. He went to rise.

"Oh. Take the lady's key," Hadin said. "It goes to the second to farthest door on the left side." Thaen nodded, took the key from Skaria, and went up.

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