Every night, the battle-scarred half-elf arrived at the tavern with eyes so tired they drooped over his bloodstained cheeks. He sat alone at the corner in an alcove where the barmaid brought him his usual mug of ale, a bowl of water, and a clean rag cloth. Sylorin, the half-elf, took a sip from the mug, lapping up the froth that clung to his lips. He stared at the split moon in the night sky as memories danced through his mind.
The blood on his face came from a small band of goblins that raided a nearby temple. He was paid a modest amount to rid of them, but he hated the job. As a child, his parents taught him the ways of the spear and dagger. He was the best in his class and eventually bested his mentor. But his passion lied in music. A pang of jealousy would bolt through him each time he passed by a bard in one of his adventures. It’s too late to turn back now. You’re too good at this, and people pay you for it.
Sylorin’s first wife, a pure woodland elf named Alora whom he met 200 years ago, showed him the light he thought was lost. The sense of her touch from the gaze she gave crushed the wall he built around him. She was a breath of fresh morning air at spring. Everything about her was perfect, but the marriage came to an end. It was his fault.
He met a human girl 50 years later in the capital city’s library. Her appearance to many was mundane, like most humans, but her abrasive nature reeled him in. They had a brief relationship before parting ways from the city. They met once years later in a carnival. That was the last time he saw her.
He stared unthinkingly out the alcove, leaning on one hand, the other clutching the ale. Every so often he would hear a burst of laughter from the patrons that would pierce through the music. It did not interest him. Nothing in this material plane interested him. At least I’m alive, right?
“You know, you could try to be a little bit happier.” The barmaid came up to refill his mug. She was a fat woman with two children and a temper to match. “You’ve been at this alcove every night ever since my father first built this tavern.”
Her father was a good and honorable man. He was Sylorin’s first friend in a long time. Sadly, age took him. Humans had unbelievably short lifespans even though 70 was considered ‘old’ in their culture.
“Being in a place that feels like home does make me happy, Fastel.” Sylorin gave a flat and very tired smile. Fastel sighed but knew what he said was genuine. He continued, “People, not just humans, find me irritable, so finding happiness would be difficult with the entire world breathing down my back.”
“You’re not that important to grant the entire world a mild irritation.” Fastel’s eyebrow cocked along with an ever so slight smile. Sylorin chuckled, but what he found funny were moments like this with Alora. Fastel sensed that he had gone back into his memories and tried to snap him out of it. “Your room’s ready by the way. I don’t know how you manage to keep paying your rent. You would’ve owned this tavern by now.”
“I’m not very good at barmaiding given that I’m a…”
“A man or a sarcastic, egotistic, anti-social, foul-mouthed–“
“I get your point.” Sylorin waved away her smart comments, stood up, and paid for the ale with two silver pieces. He took his weapons and satchel from the table when he glanced at the noisy group of travelers across the tavern. They laughed at each other, though one talked less than the others. She was a human in a blue cloak.
“They’re new,” said Fastel, “from the east.” The woman in blue had lines patterned on her face that emphasised her eyes, no weapons, and a stack of books by her. Scholar perhaps? Interesting.
Sylorin climbed the stairs to his room, armour clinking against the wooden frames, and looked over his shoulders to the woman in blue from the east. She laughed and smiled at the others. Interesting.