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Old 10-19-2013, 02:16 PM   #1
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The Tavern Down at Old Caernarvon (closed for heartofcourage)

The last winter had been harsh and the Welsh city of Caernarvon was struggling to recover in the spring. Especially in the older areas where houses were falling apart, the snow had ruined or frozen many important things such as food stores and wells. A handful of people hadn't survived the winter, but one place that managed to pull through hale and whole was Old Lysander's tavern, the Caerlynn Arms at the edge of the city, known as a place for travelers to pass through on their way into or out of Caernarvon.

It was a very quiet day, raining hard and discouraging travelers. Only a few local regulars sat at the bar, content with mugs of light ale. They were mostly farmers or crafters and didn't need much looking after.

Old Lysander the tavern master was cleaning the surface behind the bar, and he called into the back for his granddaughter, "Marri, go check on the ale, see how much we have left! We may need to order more soon!"

The regulars at the tavern and indeed some of the passersby adored the young barmaid's spirit and her looks, though Old Lysander kept them in line around her. Lysander was a very protective grandfather, as Marri was his only grandchild. Her parents and she were all Lysander had in the way of family.
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Old 10-19-2013, 08:23 PM   #2
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Marri looked up from her task of cleaning a table at the sound of her grandfather’s voice. She stood with a sigh and placed her hands on her hips, brushing her dark hair out of her eyes. She had sent him to bed nearly an hour ago, but he always seemed to sneak back in when her back was turned to tend to the bar that he loved so much.

“Grandpa, I sent you to bed nearly an hour ago.” She said with a scolding voice as she made her way towards the bar. “You need your rest.”

Her dark eyes were a mirror image of his own and she couldn’t help but smile slightly at the look that he gave her. She knew he wouldn’t listen and that was alright. As long as he didn’t over do it, she was more than content to let him continue at his own pace.

“I’ll check for you though. Would you like something to eat as well? I’ve got some fresh baked bread and stew on the fire.” She said, trying to entice him into eating something that evening.

Times were hard for the family and she knew that he often went without to give her what she wanted, but she still worried about her grandfather nearly every day. She had saved for a week to buy the ingredients to put into the stew. Her clothes were drab and out of fashion, but she was happy and cheerful to everyone around her. It was the least she could do in light of the hard times that had recently passed for the city.
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Old 10-19-2013, 08:33 PM   #3
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"I had a little something before you tried to send me to bed last time," the old man chuckled before coming to kiss her forehead. "I will go soon, I just forgot to put some things away. Just leave me a note if we need more, and be sure to lock up at three o'clock." The reason their tavern was able to continue on was because it was open late into the night while others weren't. Lysander and Marri slept the mornings away to awake before noon and open around three in the afternoon. Such a schedule was tough on busy days, but it was worth it for survival.

As the clocktower of Caernarvon echoed one o'clock, Lysander sighed and closed up the cupboards. "Even the clock is nagging on me. You and your mother are just like your grandmother, God rest her soul. She'd flay my hide for keeping this place open so late if she were still here. Ah, well, I've got you for that now." He kissed her cheek now. "Goodnight, dearest." He hugged her before heading through the door to the attached house to go to bed.
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Old 10-19-2013, 08:41 PM   #4
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“Good night, Grandpa. Sleep well.” Marri called fondly after the old man as he finally went on his way. She worried about him since Gran died nearly two years ago. He seemed so much older and so frail since her passing, but he seemed to be getting better as time went on.

Looking around the tavern she took in the people that were still there. About five men that were wiling away the time before she shooed them away for the night. The fire danced merrily in the hearth and it was nice and warm against the chill that was creeping in.

“Can I get anyone else another round?” She asked the room, glancing at all the men that looked at her fondly. “Perhaps something to eat as well?”
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Old 10-19-2013, 08:55 PM   #5
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"That'd be mighty sweet o' ya, Marri," one older Irishman who was a local farmer spoke up. He was very sweet on Marri but instead of trying to win her, he kept other men from harassing her. That was his way of showing he cared but he knew he was too old for her.

Just then, the tavern door opened, and at first it seemed a bear was walking in. But as the figure entered the light of the hearth, he was revealed to be a man dressed in mostly deer hide and bear fur with a great cloak of black fur and a bear head hood. He brushed his hood back, which unveiled a handsome and rock-hard face that was quite intimidating to the other men. He found a seat at a lone table after pulling a huge Scottish Highland claymore off his back and hanging it by the belt over the chair. He looked rugged and exhausted, even disheartened.
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Old 10-19-2013, 09:04 PM   #6
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“A bowl of stew and another ale coming right up, Gabriel.” Marri called to the Irishman, patting his hand as she passed by and got the orders of the rest. It seemed that an ale and a stew was in order for everyone. She was happy that her meal was a hit and a few more coins were sure to be in her pocket.

She paused as the door to the tavern opened, the giant hulking figure of someone covered in hides walking in. Marri had never seen him before, but as he pulled back his hood, the breath caught in her throat at the sight of a handsome face. He looked so blue though, like he had been through hell and back again. She had always had a soft spot for those around her that struggled to make ends meet.

She moved to the back room, gathering the bowls and glasses that had been asked for. It took two trips, but soon everyone was served and quiet conversation ruled the tavern. It was on the third trip that she came back with a bowl and a glass for the man that was sitting by himself. She walked to his table, placing the meal in front of him.

“On the house, mister.” She said with a smile, hoping to get one in return from the man that looked absolutely exhausted.
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Old 10-19-2013, 09:16 PM   #7
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The huge man looked up as a meal was set before him, and he spoke in a heavy Scottish accent. She'd not heard such an accent often as Wales was owned by England and the English hated Scots, but she'd never heard an accent so thick as his. "Aw, no, sweet'eart. Times're 'ard, an' no one takes a meal free." He reached for a pouch on his belt that seemed near empty. He emptied ten odd coins into his hand, and Marri could see they were all from different countries, most she'd never seen before. He sought out two English coins, both pennies, and pressed them into her hand. Even one was too much, the stew and ale together only cost three farthings, not even a whole penny. He seemed to know it, but he didn't mind. "Keep the extra, love." He gave her a gentle smile that seemed like it didn't appear often on his face. And those dark eyes... there was something about them...
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Old 10-19-2013, 09:19 PM   #8
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“Oh, no. Certainly not.” Marri said softly as he pressed the pennies into her hand and told her to keep the rest. “I might be down on my luck but I won’t be taking charity.”

She pressed the coins back into his warm hand, the smile on his face taking her by surprise. He was so incredibly handsome when he smiled and she felt the corners of her lips tilting upwards in return. His dark eyes were beautiful, like two dark pools that she could stare into forever.

“Besides, a bowl of stew and a glass of ale ain’t going to ruin me.” She said, winking as she moved away from him, her fingers trailing out of his as she walked back towards the bar.
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Old 10-19-2013, 09:34 PM   #9
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The dark stranger watched her go with a sort of amused and bewitched smile. He tucked in to the meal quietly, while the other men looked at him suspiciously for a bit, then eventually just let it go and talked among themselves.

When three o'clock was approaching, the men left after saying goodbye to Marri, but the stranger remained, having moved to the hearth. He never heard the bell tolling three in the distance, he was lost in thought, staring into the flames. His broad barrel chest and back rose and fell with his breath, most of his body concealed by his cloak.
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Old 10-20-2013, 12:18 AM   #10
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Marri was cleaning up the tavern after closing it for the night and wishing all her regulars well. She hummed to herself as she cleaned the glasses and bowls in sudsy water, counting out the money made that day and then making sure that she had a tally of all the ale for her Grandpa. It was only then that she thought about retiring into the house and slipping into her bed.

She paused though when she saw the stranger sitting in front of the fire, staring into the flames as if he were lost in though. He looked lost, a bit out of sorts, and she felt a little sorry for him. She wiped her hands on her apron as she approached, standing just a short distance away as she regarded him for a moment.

“You got any place to stay this evening?” She asked him in a soft voice, knowing that he probably didn’t.
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Old 10-20-2013, 12:39 AM   #11
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The stranger looked up, "Nah, but I wasn' plannin' on stayin' any'ow..." But it seemed he didn't have a place in mind to go by his demeanor. He rose from his seat, "I'll be on m'way, y'closin' up an' all." With that, he headed for the door, pulling his hood up and picking up his claymore on his way. Even so, he found reluctance in his step. He never could walk away from such a kind stranger very easily, especially not one as pretty as her.
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Old 10-20-2013, 12:45 AM   #12
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“It’ll be getting cold this evening.” Marri called after his retreating figure, finding something incredibly interesting about the man that was trying to retreat but was stopping himself. “I could offer you a warm place to sleep in exchange for some work tomorrow.”

She had little to give him but a spot by the hearth in the tavern on a bedroll that had seen better days. She herself had slept on it when her Gran was terribly ill. There was also an abundance of work to be done in the tavern itself. The roof was leaky, the stairs in the house rickety, and her Grandpa had always wanted a nice little stable for his prized mare.

“I always cook lunch as well. If you liked the stew, you should stick around.” She said with a smile on her lips, hoping that this stranger said yes.
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Old 10-20-2013, 12:54 AM   #13
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He paused at the door and turned to face her with an odd expression. "Y'don't e'en know me, lass. Wha's more, I'm a Scot. Aren't ya supposed t'be glad when I leave?" He was used to hateful English and terrified Welsh. He crossed his arms over his chest, looking her over with some level of concern, but more curiosity. But a small smile cracked that hard mask. "Yer an odd lass..."
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Old 10-20-2013, 12:58 AM   #14
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“Why would I hate you? I don’t know you.” She said, using his words to describe their situation. “Besides, hating someone does me no good. If I hate you, I would miss out on all the wonderful things that you might have to offer. Looking at your arms, I can tell that you are use to working with your hands. That serves me because I have work that needs to be done on this building that I cannot do on my own. You also need a roof over your head for the night, which I can gladly offer.”

“Sure, you might kill me in my bed, but the way you’ve been looking me up and down since I gave you that bowl of stew tells me otherwise.” Marri crossed her own arms over her chest, staring at him with a cocked eyebrow and a grin.

“Now, shall I prepare that bed roll for you, stranger?”
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Old 10-20-2013, 01:08 AM   #15
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The dark man smirked at her comment about his studying of her features, and he shrugged slightly, "Only appreciatin' beauty. It's a compliment." He stepped back toward her and took her hand to kiss it like a gentleman. Rugged or not, he had manners. "Yer too kind, but I think I'll take ya up on yer offer... Can't resist a lady an' live with m'self. Tha', an' I don' 'ave anythin' waitin' fer me. If ye'll 'ave me, I'll make m'self useful as I can."
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Old 10-20-2013, 01:14 AM   #16
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“Of course.” Marri said with a smile, a blush coating her cheeks at the electricity that raced up her spine when he took her hand and kissed it. “I’ll just go get you some blankets.”

She reluctantly pulled her hand from his, her fingers straying against his for perhaps far too long. She kept her eyes on him for a long moment as she walked towards the entrance to her home, entering inside to the sound of her family sleeping. She quickly gathered the bed roll and some blankets for the stranger, feeling in her heart that she could trust someone like him.

When she had returned, she cheerfully helped him set about making his bed next to the fire. “My name’s Marri, by the way…”
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Old 10-20-2013, 01:26 AM   #17
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"Marri..." he repeated, the R's rolling off his tongue in a way only a Scot could speak them. He smiled warmly, "A fair pretty name fer a bonny lass like yerself." He took her hand again in a proper greeting. "Durban, o' th' Loch Fae 'ighlands o' West Scotland." He didn't say his last name. It only ever brought fear and suspicion in Britannia outside of Scotland.

"I 'ope I can serve y'well in whate'er ya have in mind, love."
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Old 10-20-2013, 01:29 AM   #18
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“Durban of the Loch Fae Highlands of West Scotland? That’s a bit of a mouthful, isn’t it?” She asked him, a teasing smile on her face as he took her hand in greeting once more. “I think I’ll just call you Ban.”

She was silent as he called her Love. Surely he hadn’t meant that in any other way then a casual nickname. She blushed again, her cheeks flush beneath his gaze. “Well, Ban, I think it’s about time I bid you goodnight.”
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Old 10-20-2013, 01:38 AM   #19
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"G'night, lass," he gave her another smile, letting her go after one more kiss to her hand. "Sleep well." With that, he settled on the bedroll contentedly, facing the flames in thought once more.

The night was peaceful, and the next noon brought halfway-clear skies, regulars, newcomers, and Durban missing. His bedroll was neatly rolled up and the blankets folded, placed near the counter of the bar out of the way, and a rhythmic thudding was coming from the roof. Somehow he'd found a hammer and nails and was repairing the roof with what wood he could find.
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Old 10-21-2013, 10:47 AM   #20
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Marri was sleeping contently in her little bedroom beneath the eaves of the house. It had been hard to fall asleep that evening with thoughts of the stranger in the bar dancing through her head. She thought he was handsome, in a rugged way, and the way that he looked at her told her that the attraction was mutual. She had to be extremely careful though…there were many men out there that would steal her heart and never return it.

The sound of thudding rocked her from her peaceful sleep, her eyes popping open as the sound would cease and then begin again. She pulled the pillow from beneath her cheek and pressed it over her ear, groaning at the dreadful sound that had pulled her from what she wanted the most.

With a sigh, she finally flung her blankets from her body, marching to the window and pushing open the shudders with a clang. Sticking her head outside, her hair still wild from sleep and her eyes blazing, she turned her attention to the roof of the tavern. She saw Durban there, working dutifully as he tried to repair the roof she had mentioned the evening before.

“Excuse me, but what in the bloody hell do you think you’re doing?” She called, gaining his attention as a voice sounded from the courtyard down below.

“Leave him alone, dear. He’s a good worker!” Her mother, Elise, shouted back to her. It seemed that the entire family had gathered down below to watch the stranger work.

“He’s interrupting my sleep.” Marri called back with a pout on her lips.
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Old 10-21-2013, 10:55 AM   #21
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"It's noon, love," Lysander laughed as he rolled new barrels of ale up to the door of the tavern. "We made him your wakeup call. He's already fixed two tables and five chairs inside and he helped your father and I load all these barrels into the wagon to bring them back."

"'Help' is an understatement," her father Gabriel chuckled. "We drove the wagon there and the lad loaded them all himself before we could hardly finish paying the brewmaster!"

"Fine lad, but who is he?" Lysander questioned his granddaughter. "I've never seen him before."
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Old 10-21-2013, 11:00 AM   #22
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“He came in last night and looked like he needed a hot meal and a place to stay the night.” She said, knowing that her grandfather had scolded her many times in the past for her too tender heart. “He tried to pay me two pennies, but I told him I wouldn’t take it. Instead, he agreed to do some work around here.”

Her eyes strayed to Durban and she watched the muscles in his arms move as he wielded the hammer. It was awe inspiring to watch him work. He moved with a grace that belied his massive body. He seemed to be kind and gentle despite a gruff exterior. This man was a practice in contradictions.

“Durban! Durban, dear, come on down and have some lunch. Now that Marri is awake we can finally settle down for our meal.” Elise called up to him.

Dear? Her mother had just called him dear? What kind of crazy world had she woken into, Marri asked herself as she ducked back into the window and changed into her work clothing.
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Old 10-21-2013, 11:13 AM   #23
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Durban smiled down at the older woman and he slid down from the roof. Rather than using the ladder he'd needed to get up, he dropped from the roof edge and landed on his feet, his powerful legs able to easily take the shock. He set his tools aside by the ladder to continue later, and he came to kiss Elise's hand. "Thank ya, ma'am." He made sure he had his best foot forward in first impressions.

The family headed inside to eat together before getting ready to open. Durban, outsizing Marri's father twice, was quite the imposing figure as he was invited to sit with them, but his impeccable manners and respect for those older than himself made him quite welcome. But the ones he was sweetest to were Elise and Marri.
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Old 10-21-2013, 11:19 AM   #24
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Marri helped her mother to serve all the men, giving her grandfather more meat than he was use to. It was important to keep him healthy and make sure that he ate well. She kissed his cheek with a smile before she finally took her seat between her mother and Durban. She glanced up at the stranger, a blush coating her cheeks as his dark eyes turned towards her for a moment. She quickly turned away, looking down at her bowl.

“I was thinking of going to market this afternoon. We had a good day yesterday and I think everyone could use a good meal.” She said, looking at her family.

Everyone was a little too thin. It was just a sign of the times but she was the one that cared for them all. Perhaps a little too much in exchange of her own health. Still, they were important to her and she would not let them slip away without a fight.

“And Grandpa, it seemed to make a difference cooking for the tavern. Maybe we should do that regularly.” She commented, knowing that he had the last say in matters like that.
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Old 10-21-2013, 11:25 AM   #25
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"Y'know, sweetheart, I think you're right," Lysander nodded. "Something simple and affordable. The regulars will really appreciate it."

"Yer granddaughter's cookin' is somethin' t'behold, sir," Durban commented, and Lysander smiled proudly.

"Gets it from her grandmother," Lysander nodded.
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