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THE WORLD SEEMED to be half-asleep when Ravenna emerged from the house

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THE WORLD SEEMED to be half-asleep when Ravenna emerged from the house. A guard strolled along the streets, his mouth stretched around a yawn. The houses that surrounded her seemed barren, with their darkened windows and lack of movement. As she entered the main part of town, the market was quiet. A few vendors were outside, preparing their stations. Some waved hello to her as she passed.

The tavern itself seemed quiet. As she approached, her stomach started to twist into knots. She opened the door and stepped inside. The bar was mostly empty, with only a few customers scattered about the tables. Vyses stood behind the counter, preparing several mugs of mead.

He looked up as she approached the bar and his eyes widened. A mixture of surprise and suspicion swam within his irises. "Ravenna?"

She stopped in front of the counter and sort of smiled awkwardly. "Hello. Good morning," she said.

He blinked. "Good morning," he repeated. His expression became more guarded. "How can I help you?"

She slid onto the bar stool. "Oh, so now that I'm not staying here I can't come visit with a friend?"

His expression seemed to melt. It twisted into a childish pout, and Vyses continued to prepare the drinks in his hands. "I didn't say that," he muttered, somewhat under his breath. Then he turned to her and said, louder, "I'm glad you're here. I'm just surprised that you actually came."

She shrugged. "Of course I did. I didn't plan on staying away forever," she reassured him. Despite the ghost girl, and her weird feelings, she did miss talking to Vyses. She also decided to forgive and forget about the night she'd been drunk. "And today held the perfect opportunity. Caelan is busy with an advanced spell. I can't help him. My only other option is to study spells again, and if I have stare at another spell book I will lose my mind."

Vyses clicked his tongue. His wine eyes flashed and narrowed. He plucked a mug from the counter and held it in front of a barrel of ale. His fingers curled around the barrel's tab, but nothing spilled from the nozzle. "What kind of spell is it?" he asked.

Ravenna took a moment to respond. She wasn't sure whether Caelan wanted his spell advertised around yet. The wrong person could overhear, and attempt to take the spell or try it themselves. She gestured toward the drink that he was preparing and said, "I'll take one."

He arched an eyebrow. He slid the drink in his hands to another patron and grabbed another glass. She watched as the patron caught the drink, and then slunk off toward a table near the back of the tavern. "I'm not sure exactly what kind of spell it is," she lied. "He didn't go into details about what it did."

"Did you happen to see any of the ingredients?"

She tapped her fingers against the counter top. "There was a white powder, but I'm not sure what it was. It looked almost like flour. Why do you ask?"

He poured her drink. It frothed over the brim of the glass, dripping toward the floor. He set it down on the counter in front of her. "I'm just curious. It's been a while since I've heard about his spells. The last time Caelan was in town, he was working on something big."

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