Chapter Five – One Last Look

The air was crisp with the mornings coolness. It was the second last day before the gypsies were to leave. Aly hadn't been on the town much since she had discussed the plan with Merriela and Seb. Later on they had told George, they had been perfecting the plan since. Well really they had been practising.

They were going to leave town with a reputation, or at least leave behind a very good story.

Aly smiled to herself at the thought, all the confusion. Conflicting stories, she had no idea why she hadn't thought it a good idea to start with.

Aly's steps slowed, she glanced to the side, there it was. She had no idea why she had come here in her break from practise, but she had.

She looked down the road, no one about, then stepped toward her childhood home. She walked to the door, her gaze flitting over the worn out carving on the door, remembering how it had once looked, what it had one said. She ran her finger over the engravings slowly, making the letters with her mouth. Just for memories sake.

F, M & A Pachonté

Remembering the curls as if they were still completely visible brought a smile of memory to her lips.

Her fingers went back to the 'M' and stilled. He father had had it left there in memory of her mother, but she knew it was also his way of showing he still had hope she was alive. His way of wishing for her back, and she was. Aly blinked away a tear, 'but he's gone'. She thought.

She let her hand slip from the door and too her belt. She pulled out her pocket knife, one of the many she still had from her time as a thief. Most people carried around one weapon, at least, for protection. Even most women, all the gypsies did.

Men in some towns tried to take advantage of the gypsy girls. Thinking that because they danced the way they did, or that because they wore different clothes, they were merely whores.

They were poorly mistaken, Aly had proved so many times.

She began to re-carve the letters in the door. So that they were once again visible from a few more feet away.

She bit her lip as she concentrated on the job at hand. Remembering how to carve the way her father had taught her. He had done a little bit of carving for a hobby, mostly he had carved his own quills. She had even made a few. She blew lightly on the door, removing the wood she had carved away.

Placing her knife back in her hidden purse seethe she surveyed her work. She half smiled, it wasn't her best work, but she hadn't carved in a long time. Content with her work she walked to the window just right of the door.

She swiped a hand over the glass, relieving it of a thick layer of dust. Ignoring the grime, she placed her eye to the window to gaze in.

One leg of the dining table had long since rotted away, leaving it on a lean. A couple of the chairs still stood. A few jars had fallen over, and cobwebs added a confusing pattern to every corner of the room.

Aly leaned back, searching for a point of entry. It would be to conspicuous should she break in through the front door or window. Once again she looked up and down the street, convinced no one would see her she walked to the ally next to the house.

Once in the ally she jumped up to grab the guttering of the house. She held on to the guttering a moment, to make certain that it wasn't going to give way under her weight from lack of care and old age. Sure that it wouldn't she lifted herself up a bit before flipping backwards onto the roof. She waited a moment, in a crouch, to orientate herself to the slight slant. Turning, and walking along the roof, in a slight crouch, she made her way to the back of the house.

Once at the back of the house she lowered herself off the gutter to land in a crouch in her old, small backyard. It wasn't really a backyard, it was more a small fenced area with enough room for a string, used as a clothes line. The string had worn out in the middle at some point, and now it hung limply from either side of the fence, that it had been tied too.

Aly went to the back door, boarded. She placed her hands on the boards, quickly pulling her hands away when she got a splinter. "Dammit" she cussed under her breath quickly, as a reaction to the pain in her hand.

Picking the splinter out absent mindedly, she glared at the door. She wandered over to the back window. She looked it over thinking, before she knelt to pick up a rock.

She threw it in the air slightly, testing its weight, then lifted her free arm to cover her eyes as she hurled it at the window. Just as she'd hoped, she heard the glass break. Lowering her arm, she looked at the damage she had caused. To her amazement most of the window had broken away. 'Lucky shot' she thought to herself. Aly once again jumped to grab the guttering, before using it to lever herself up and swing through the window legs first.

She landed on her old bed, creating a cloud of dust. Aly started coughing violently, and her eyes began to water. She wiped her eyes and tried to recover from her coughing fit as the dust settled, revealing her old room.

Placing her hands on the bed, she was currently sitting on, she gazed around the room in awe of memory. There was her duchess, mirror still standing atop it, and in one piece. Her old wardrobe sat beside it, on its right, slightly ajar and covered in dust and cobwebs.

Glancing to her left, at her old bed head, she remembered all the painted designs that use to be there. They had long ago lost their colour from the sun or worn away and chipped from age. Memory flashed before her eyes, making it look as it had many years ago. The white unicorn, pitch black horse, a man and woman, both with sword in hand.

Lilla had painted it when they were little. The inspiration was from their favourite story that her father use to tell. "The Prince and the Warrior Princess..." Aly whispered to herself as the image disappeared.

Blinking at the surreal feeling the image from her past had instilled in her, she stayed sitting on the bed for a few more moments. The feeling lifted slightly, but not completely. She pushed herself to her feet and walked to her old duchess.

It came up to her hips, it was perfect height. If the mirror was not covered in dust and cobwebs she would be able to view herself from the top of her head to hips. She placed her hands on the surface of the duchess. Immediately creating hand prints in the dust.

She brushed her hand over the mirror, attempting to remove some of the grime. Dust, now loosened, fell to gather on the duchess. She could now see her, smeared, reflection in the mirror.

It flashed as she looked into the mirror, she found herself staring into her own eyes, but it wasn't her. She looked at a much younger version of herself.

Faded blue dress, smiling eyes, untainted by painful memories. No, it was her, but it was her from years ago.

Another image flashed on the mirror, but disappeared as quickly as it had come. She stared at the reflection in the mirror a little longer. It was her, the age she was now. The young girl she had spied moments before, lost to the past. Safe from pain, with nothing but an imagination full of adventures.

Aly shook her head, attempting to remove the vision from her mind

She moved to the door of her old room. She opened it a touch more, just enough for her to pass through into the hallway. The door made a loud squeak on hinges long unoiled. She winced at the sound, quickly relaxing with the realisation that no one but her would hear. She walked slowly down the hallway, she slowed down as she reached what use to be her father's room. She reached her hand out and placed it on the doorframe as she turned into her room.

The door had been left wide open, his bed, though moth eaten, was made perfectly. Aly leant on the door frame, as she hugged herself, remembering her father. His desk, the place where he had sat so many times, was partially rotted.

She gave a sigh, pushing herself off the doorframe and down the hallway again. She arrived in the dining room. The table with six chairs, mostly rotted.

She absent minded-ley, from habit, righted a jar, that had fallen over years before.

Aly looked across the room, at the bench that separated the main room from the kitchen. There was the old wood fire oven, long since it had been used. The stove told much the same story, covered, every inch, with dust.

She glanced over the kitchen, cupboards bare, only a few chipped plates left. Spider webs covering the walls. The removable tub, long dry, had rusted over from the damp winters.

She remembered helping her father wash dishes in that tub, as he taught her silly rhymes or told her stories.

Her head buzzed slightly, then before her eyes her father appeared. She bit her lip, hoping this vision would last longer than her other ones, trying anything to hold onto it longer.

She studied her father, his sleeves were bunched at his elbow and his hands were submerged in water as he washed the dishes. His dark brown, shoulder length hair was pushed behind his ears, away from his face.

Water had splashed onto his faded and worn black pants. All the webs and dust had disappeared, and the tub had lost its rust.

Aly's eyes travelled over her father's face, seeing creases in his forehead, caused by smiling, as he always had. His brown eyes were filled with amusement. She noticed he was looking at something, something behind her. She spun around, only to find herself once again faced with her younger self.

The young Letti sat on one of the wooden chairs, grinning ear to ear as she giggled. She looked so innocent, but Aly knew, even at that young age of six, she was a trouble maker. The little girl, missing a couple of baby teeth, swung her little legs back and forth; it would be a few years before she could reach the floor.

Aly smiled, but she would much rather look at her father. She turned back watching him as she slowly walked towards the bench. She leant against the bench as she watched her father.

Fabrizio pulled his hands from the soapy water and flicked water at little Letti, skipping towards him through the door. She squealed and ran the extra metre towards him. He laughed as he grabbed the girl hugging his knees, he held her close and kissed her head. She dipped her hand in the water and quickly splashed him.

He gave an over exaggerated splutter and held her hand with his free one. The little girl was giggling loud, she took a deep breath and began to hug him.

Aly still watched, her eyes stinging with tears.

"I love you papa" Said the girl in the vision.

"I love you to my little angel" Said Fabrizio, admiration in his eyes.

Suddenly Aly felt something on her shoulder, she spun around and came face to face with her mother. She turned back to the kitchen, but her vision was gone. She looked down at where her hands had been on the bench. There were two hand prints, and she found her hands covered with dust and grime. She surveyed the kitchen quickly, nothing but dust, cobwebs and dust. Aly wanted to cry, she wished her father was still alive.

She turned back to her mother. Aly looked at the woman blankly for a moment, trying to gather her thoughts, trying to get back to the real world.

"How did you get in?" Aly said, remembering where she was.

Maria stared at her for a moment. "I came in through the back door, given I did have to pry the boards off."

"How did you even get into the backyard?" Aly said, dumbfounded.

"I just went through the gate that opens to the back ally" said Maria raising her eyebrow.

Aly looked down and muttered under her breath, "I forgot about that…" She looked back at her mother. "You must have made a lot of noise…" Aly muttered, realising she hadn't heard.

"Yes I was quite surprised I startled you… you must have been very deep in thought." Maria paused for a moment. "What were you thinking about?"

"Nothing." Aly said quickly. She had learnt to keep things to herself, it was better if people didn't know too much, that included her mother.

Maria sighed, realising it wouldn't be too easy to get anything out of her long lost daughter. She hugged herself looking around, "I missed this place… I often thought of coming in to have a look, but I always put it off. I thought it would hurt too much." She looked at Aly, "it hurts a little less with you here. Knowing you are alive." She looked at the table and smiled. "All three of us use to sit there, you use to sit on my lap. Your father would tell stories, he told amazing stories." Her gaze clouded with pain.

Aly nodded. "I loved his stories… Everyone did"

Maria nodded. "Sometimes you would wonder if they were real… or where he came up with the ideas." She turned back to Aly. "I always wondered what had become of you… what you would look like when you grew up. You're even more beautiful then I imagined."

Aly flushed red. Maria smiled, "you were a pretty child. You've only grown more beautiful. I bet you have a pic of men."

Aly shrugged, trying to brush away the sudden thought that came upon her.

To Aly's surprise Maria grabbed her hand and led her to her father's room. Maria looked in, a half smile touching her lips. "The day I got kidnapped… your father was sitting at his table, writing one of his stories." She chuckled, "and you were under the desk, tapping his feet then hiding under the chair when he looked for you. He kept pretending he had no idea you were there." She bit her lip. "He was such a good man, with such a large heart."

Aly nodded, remembering her vision.

"I came to the door, said I was leaving to wash the clothes, he turned and smiled at me saying…"

Maria's voice faded in her ears, and suddenly she saw her father smiling at the door. "Alright, love you honey, I'll see you when you get home" His eyes were filled with love.

Aly saw a little face under the chair, she looked a little more. It was her again, but only two years old, she was grinning, lying on her back. This time the perfect image of trouble.

The two year old waved "'ove ew mama"

The vision faded and Aly was standing with her mother again.

"… And that was the last time I saw you two…" Maria said.

Aly looked over at her mother and saw tears falling down her cheeks.

To Maria's surprise, and her own, she put her arms around her mother and held her. After her momentary shock Maria buried her head in her daughters shoulder.

Aly felt her mother shudder, she knew Maria was crying. She couldn't hold on any longer. Tears began to well in her eyes and pour down her face. She followed her mother's lead and buried her head in her mother's shoulder.

The two women cried to one another. Maria lifted her face, her eyes had gone red from the tears, she held Aly's head in her hands, stroking her cheeks with her thumbs.

"I missed you so much mama" Aly managed to say through her tears, Maria nodded in response, unable to speak just yet. "I'm so sorry I was so cruel hearted to you," Maria started shaking her head. "I had just gotten so use to the idea I had lost everything… I didn't want to change my life all over again."

Maria pulled her daughter close and kissed her forehead. "I understand. And I don't want you to change your lifestyle just because I'm back. But with you going with the gypsy's well, there's nothing left for me here, but painful memories, so… I decided to come with you."

Aly looked at her. "Are you sure you want to join the gypsies? We travel all the time."

Maria nodded, "I know, and I don't mind, I love travelling."

"Alri'" Aly said with a sigh. "But don' say ye weren't warned" she said regaining her commoners slur. "Why don't we go 'ave a drink, to celebrate being together again?"

Maria nodded and put her arm through Aly's and they walked back to the back of the house. When they got to the back door they unlinked their arms and walked through one at a time. Aly skipped over the discarded planks that had barred the door shut. She dropped her skirts when she reached the back gate. She turned to see her mother lifting her skirts and daintily stepping over the wood.

Aly extended her hand to her mother, Maria took it as she dropped her skirts, reaching a hand down to brush webs off.

They walked through the gate into the back ally before linking arms again. They walked down the dark ally, with only a sliver of sky visible between the houses towering over the metre wide lane. But the light was just enough to see everything clearly. They walked into the street; no one would have ever suspected these two had just broken into an old 'haunted' house.

They strolled casually down the road, Aly leading them in the direction of the New Beginnings.

They walked in silence for a few minutes, nodding at passers-by in a neighbourly fashion. Maria began to chuckle.

Aly turned her head, looking at her mother quizzically.

Feeling Aly's gaze on her Maria stated the reason of her laughter, "I only had a regular family for three years" She said smiling, "now it's all topsy turvy again" She laughed a little, not loud enough to make people look at her strangely, but just enough to know it was hysterical to her.

Aly smiled a little. "At least I got a regular life for about twelve or thirteen years."

Maria smiled back as they turned into another street.

The hanging sign of the New Beginnings came into view.

Aly began to think of the night she discovered her mother was alive. It seemed so long ago, but it had only been a day and a half. She smiled vaguely, how much your life can change in one day, but then, this wasn't the first time she had learnt that lesson.

The day of the fire, the day she became a thief, the day she joined the gypsies. Surely life didn't have too many life changes in store for her. She didn't think she would be able to cope much more, she was barely coping now.

They walked through the door of the tavern; it was a lot emptier then the night Aly got drunk. But then most people didn't drink during the day.

Aly looked around, most the tables were empty. The light was still dim, but not as dim as the other night. The small stained windows on the front of the tavern let in some sparse, yellowed light. Maria headed to a small table, Aly followed, close behind.

She surveyed the tavern, something she hadn't done, nor could have done well, the other night.

There were four small tables, ones that could sit four at most. There were six seats at the bar, plenty of space between them, but they could be moved for people to be closer, so they can talk.

In the middle of the room there were benches, three of them. Aly estimated they could sit ten, maybe even twelve people at a time.

Right in the darkest part of the tavern though, right at the back, there were booths. Three small, four to six people at most. And one large, probably fitting about nine people.

There were about seven other people in the tavern, not including the bartender and the bar maids.

Two people were sitting at one of the benches, both enjoying a nice brunch together, one had sausages, peas and mashed potato, while the other had a beautiful looking roast with potato carrot and gravy.

Suddenly movement caught her eye, the curtain of the big booth had moved. Aly stared for a moment. There, holding the edge of the seat, a hand. It belonged to a man, that much she could tell.

She wondered, how many people were sitting in that booth. It really was none of her concern, but she was always very curious about things.

Unfortunately for her, the hand was all she could see. The red curtain of the booth brushed the floor, an added security, preventing her from counting feet.

Temporally giving up Aly turned to look at the table Maria had chosen. As she sat she noticed the table had no spills on it, and that her chair was a tad wobbly. Quickly adjusting her balance to the wobble, Aly put her elbows on the table.

Catching her out Maria said, "don't you have any manners?"

Aly looked at her mother, "it ain't like we use tables regularly among the gypsies." Her mother merely rolled her eyes in reply.

A dutiful waitress came over with a cheery smile. "what can I get ye's today then?"

Aly looked up at the girl noticing a glint of pain in the girls eyes. "Ah," she said, momentarily distracted, "just an ale thanks." She uttered finally, remembering what the girl had asked.

The waitress nodded, turning her attention to Maria. "An' what can I get ye mam?" Aly noticed the girls eyes strayed to the big booth, filling with worry.

Aly's curiosity grew in magnitude when she saw this. If she wasn't with her mother it may have even forced her to investigate the booth, or linger around to catch a few words said in the secretive meeting.

"A watered down ale, thank you" Aly heard Maria say, drawing her out of her thoughts.

The waitress nodded and headed quickly to the bar, with all the grace that came from the constant practice of working at a tavern. Lightly stepping over ale puddles, dodging chairs pushed out too far. Even lifting her skirts in time to prevent the material catching on loose floor planks.

Aly looked at her mother, only to catch Maria staring intently at her. "Wha?" she said charmingly, causing her mother to roll her eyes.

Maria gave a sigh, and then aired her thoughts. "You seemed to be off in the clouds."

Aly nodded, her mind drifting slightly to the secret meeting. "Just a few things I was a ponderin'. Naught that can't wait till later, I just got a tad carried away with me thoughts."

Maia's raised eyebrow indicated she wanted to know more, but she simply nodded, deciding it could wait. They stayed in silence for a moment, still getting the measure of each other and not knowing where to start.

Maria finally broke the silence, "so… how is your romance life going darling?"

"MA!" Aly cried in surprise.

"What? Isn't a mother aloud to know about her child's life?" Her mother asked rhetorically.

Aly gave a sigh. "Me love life is fairly non-existent. I don't like getting attached to people. Seb, George and a few other gypsies have been me only exceptions since pa died."

The waitress came back, placing the ales on the table in front of Maria and Aly. Maria handed the girl two copper coins, the girl nodded, taking the payment, and went to check on other customers.

Aly took a sip of ale and continued. "If you get attached to someone it hurts more when they are gone, whether through death, betrayal or otherwise."

Maria looked at her child, noting the pain in the girl's eyes.

"When pa died, I cut off all me ties, and started a new life. Free of people who would cause me pain once they were gone. So far it's worked for me." Aly gave a shrug, before sinking her eyes to the surface of her honey coloured ale.

"Aren't you lonely?" Maria asked sympathetically.

Again, Aly shrugged. "I was for a bit, but I got Seb and Meriella to have fun with. George ta help me, and show me what I need. They're my new family, and they know, well knew, almost nothing about me past. Like an unmarked parchment, an all-new start. I rarely had to t'ink about me memories, me old life." She looked her mother in the eye, "at least, of course until I came back here."

Maria smiled sympathetically at her long lost, and now grown up child. "I know that you have had it rough all these years. And I can never right what happened to you, or erase your bad memories. But to cut yourself of emotional ties to people, well it's just idiotic"

Aly sighed, trying to keep her temper in check. "Look, I've had friends. An' I suppose I've felt love… but it's all part of me past. All tha' matters is the road, the next show, an' earning enough to live." Aly's mind flashed with a memory, with someone, she quickly pushed it back out of sight.

Maria sighed, "well, it's all up to you, and I can't change your mind. In time, I'm sure you'll see the error of your ways." Catching sight of her daughters slight scowl she decided it was time to change subject. "So, if the road is all that matters to you, where next?"

Aly shrugged, "Up to Connia. I like the surprise, I only find out a few days before, so George an' I can look over town maps, and decide how an' where we will perform."

Maria smiled vaguely, wisps of memory seeming to cloud her. These memories went un said, "well, it all sounds exciting! I should enjoy the changing country, a bit of an adventure really"

"Ms Freedman!" Someone called from the door, Aly didn't know who the man was, but her mother did. The man came over, his face red, his breathing hard. Obviously it was something very urgent, sending him running after Maria.

"Here, here! Drink this." Maria said lifting her watered down ale to the man. She waited for him to drink and catch his breath. "Not too fast" she muttered, touching his arm when he began to guzzle the ale down.

As soon as he caught his breath Maria began to speak comfortingly. "Now, tell me what the problem is..."

The man wiped his mouth on his shirt sleeve, getting the remnants of the ale off of his mouth. "I ran everywhere looking for ye! Me wife, she, her…" The man began to stutter, not sure what to say. "Her water broke!" He cried when the words came to him.

"Oh my!" Maria cried before turning to Aly. "I'm so sorry darling, but I must tend to this. I shall see you later."

The man rushed off, Maria on his heels, stopping only to hold the door for her.

Aly sat there, watching the door swing closed in their wake. She assumed it was the man's first child, by his age and panic. She imagined her mother following the man, wrought with worry, down many streets, to be faced with a woman who had many hours to go in her labour.

Aly giggled to herself, when suddenly a thought struck her. She groaned, under the realisation that she was stuck with the bill.

She glanced at the two half empty tankards and sighed. She poured what was left of her mother's ale into her own tankard.

Sitting in silence Aly drank the mixed ale, letting the tang coat her tongue as her mind drifted. She mulled over what Maria had said, all thoughts of the curtained booth slipping her mind.

Ambrose watched Aly, thinking of the night before. Wishing he could talk to the interesting girl again. But alas, he had other business to tend to.

He let the curtain fall back in place again, leaving only a sliver for him to watch Aly through, and listened with one ear to the conversation being had around him. He glanced at the five faces in front of him.

"Alrigh' Sal, start again." He said to the woman with short black hair and amber eyes.

"Well, ye see, I heard these two lads talkin' abou' a plot ta kill our king. I am very faithful to our king. So I was worried, I hid an listened a little more. That's when I heard they were out to kill the King an the prince…" She stared intently at Ambrose. "I figured they must be wanting to replace the two of ye… that's when I heard who." She paused taking a deep breath. "Scap and Moore"

The other four companions looked shocked, while Ambrose, who had more at stake, remained calm. He leaned his elbow on the table, and tapped his lips with his fingers, thinking.

"They will ruin the thief world!" The blond girl said in shock, Kale put his arms around her.

"Shhh, May, all will be fine. Ye'll see, Ambrose will come up with a plan." Kale said to his wife comfortingly.

"Well…" said Ambrose.

"That's preposterous! The only thing he can do is to run away!" Said the last girl, her brown hair flying away from her face, revealing a scar by her ear.

"Ambrose wouldn't run, that's what a coward would do!" Said the man beside her.

Ambrose held up his hand in front of his face, not lifting his elbow off the table. This silenced the woman and man from arguing. The five people in front of him looked at him, waiting for him to speak his thoughts.

"Mif's right. I have to leave, not run away." Ambrose said, staring at the man, as if daring him to say Ambrose was a coward. When nothing was said Ambrose continued. "If I stay a thief war will start, that would be bad. Given, if Scap and Moore are in charge for long it will cause a riot. But if I stay in town I will be killed. I may be skilled, but if I stayed fighting for too long I would get worn out… its hopeless taking that path. But if I leave, and ye all root yourselves inside the new thief community, when I come back, we can take advantage and put things the way they're meant to be."

There was a moment's silence.

"Tis genius!" Said Sal.

"Jasper?" Ambrose said looking at the man who said running was the cowards way.

"I have to admit, I hadn't thought all 'at through. But now I think about it, it's perfect. Except for one tiny thin'." Jasper said.

"An' what's that then?" Asked Mif

"What if Ambrose doesn't come back? For whatever reason." Jasper pointed out to the group.

"The only thing that could keep me from coming back would be death itself." Said Ambrose quietly.

The group nodded, knowing he took his role as second in command very seriously.

"Alright, here's the plan, someone has to tell the king. Sal that'll be your job. An' I, I'll leave when the gipsies do. There will be so much noise that no one will notice. The rest of ye, be scarce, the less they think ye have ta do with me, the safer you'll be, and the easier it will be for ye to become trusted."

Everyone nodded sadly, knowing that it would be a long time before they saw their friend and thief prince. In truth they trusted the thief prince more than they did the royal one. But things would change with Scap and Moore in charge.

Aly drank her ale, one eye on the booth. Suddenly the man from the night before came out. Aly nearly spat out her ale in surprise, but quickly collected herself, reminding herself that it was a tavern, even handsome mystery men had to come to taverns.

Aly's brain scrambled as she tried to remember his name, what was it? Ah, that's right, Ambrose.

Aly watched the booth from the corner of her eye, Ambrose helped a short girl, with short, straight black hair, out of the booth by the hand. She was followed by a muscled man, just an inch taller than Ambrose. Out of the other side of the booth a girl emerged, wearing an apron that looked much like the ones the waitresses of the tavern wore. She was followed by a man and a sweet looking woman.

Aly spied rings on the fingers of these last two to emerge. So those two were married, decided Aly.

All the people with Ambrose had a sad expression. Each of the people said goodbye to Ambrose before leaving.

The short woman Ambrose had helped out of the booth hugged him, which even to Aly, seemed slightly out of character. Next the man, who shook Ambrose's hand, before walking out with the short woman.

The waitress took her turn after this, hugging him tightly, before nodding, and leaving. Aly realised she must have finished her shift.

Finally the married couple said goodbye. The woman smiled weakly, stroking his cheek, Ambrose placed his hand on her shoulder, smiling and saying words quietly, that Aly couldn't hear. She moved to the side to allow her husband to say goodbye. The man looked at Ambrose before embracing him.

They must be close friends Aly decided.

The man held Ambrose's shoulders, before smiling slightly, and walking away, arm around his wife.

Aly turned away from Ambrose, inspecting the Tavern.

Suddenly Aly heard a woman cry out, and turned just as a young, and obviously new, waitress landed on the feet of her stool, knocking it backwards. Aly fell backward, bracing herself for the impact of the hard wooden floor.