It wasn't late enough for the tavern to be filled with patrons. The group was seated in the corner after having pulled some small tables together. The chairs and tables in the tavern were all solid wood. They were not intricately carved and were built for the more practical need of use by large numbers of people. Sarid slumped in her chair looking around the room. From her corner she perused the great room of the tavern. The center of the room had six round tables each with five chairs. There were two rectangular tables with about ten chairs each, one off to her right and the other directly in front of her. The round tables and rectangular tables were all set around a huge central fire pit. The pit provided most of the light in the room and had a large hood above it that the smoke curled up into. There were stairs to the far right against the back wall that lead up, to what Sarid assumed were the bedrooms. Across the room, in front of her was a curved bar. A large opening in the wall behind the bar allowed food to be passed through from the kitchen. A dwarf sat on a stool at the bar with a mug speaking to the human bartender. Two waitresses walked between the round tables one serving a table of humans; the other cleaning up the remnants of a large group's mess from one of the long tables. Sarid's stomach rolled from a combination of hunger and revulsion at the smell of herself.
"I don't get it. Why does anyone want an obviously unimportant cleric? You barely left the crib a day ago and you don't know anyone." Akara mumbled with his head pressed against the tabletop.
Farit opened his eyes and looked at Akara, who had not moved since speaking. No one else spoke and Farit looked at Sarid with an apologetic face, shaking his head slowly and shrugged his shoulders.
"Look guys, as much as I appreciate the help to a seat and the water. I need a break. I told you the best I can remember right now. I smell... bad. I am exhausted and need to wash before I vomit… again." Sarid looked down and shook her head.
Rishk had been leaning his chair back on two legs and dropped it forward with a thud. The group started at the sudden noise and everyone looked at Rishk. He had been the quietest during Sarid's story. Where Farit and Rishk bombarded her questions Rishk had said nothing while staring across the room into the fire. Rishk moved quickly and quietly from the chair. He crossed the room to the waitress who had just finished cleaning the tables and was heading into the kitchen. He said a few words to her and she went into the kitchen then came out and walked over to the wall next to the stairs. Rishk walked back over to the corner and extended his hand to Sarid. The group looked back and forth at each other. No one moved and in unison they all turned and stopped their gaze back on Rishk still standing with his hand out.
Sarid folded her arms and her left eyebrow lifted.
"I am not in the mood. I told you..."
Rishk interrupted her "Please."
Sarid looked across the table at Farit. He caught her gaze and nodded his head approvingly. She took Rishk's hand and he helped her up from her chair. He released her hand once she was standing on her own and led her to where the waitress stood. The waitress was standing in front of a door that she must have just unlocked, as she had a brass key in her left hand. She held the door open and Rishk walked through the door and motioned for Sarid to follow. Sarid entered into a small room with a lit sconce on the wall opposite the door and set of stairs leading down. The door behind them closed and the sound of the lock latching had Sarid looking back to Rishk nervously.
"That door doesn't lock on this side. Pushing down on the handle will open the door."
"Where are we going Rishk? I feel physically ill and I want to rest." Sarid said pleading.
"Please give me a couple more steps." Rishk smiled and started down the steps.
Sarid dropped her head and shuffled along behind him. At the bottom of the stairs were a beautiful man and woman each about twenty years old. They were both dressed in a white linen tunic wrapped around their bodies. They had raven black smooth hair and the darkest eyes. They were greeting Rishk as he cleared the bottom step but she could see he was waving them away, talking and pointing up at her. She must have looked worse than she thought because the woman gasped slightly. Sarid almost turned around, but the man's face looked so warm and inviting. She managed the last few steps and looked out to the left. She almost cried at the vision of four large white stone tubs. Shelves in the room held towels and robes. She saw vials and bottles of herbs and spices on racks throughout. A stone fireplace was built into the wall. It had elaborate carvings of dwarves in various poses. She realized the man had been talking to her when the woman's hand gently touched her shoulder.
"I, I am sorry" Sarid stammered, "It has been a long day."
"I am Tiran and this is my twin sister Trina. Your friend told us you had a bad day. We are both here to help you if you will let us."
"I don't understand"
Trina came to stand next to Sarid with her hand still on Sarid's shoulder.
"Tiran and I have will help your body and mind to relax and recuperate but we will only do what you are comfortable with." Trina said in a soothing voice.
Sarid looked to Rishk and shook her head.
"I do not think I am comfortable." Sarid said staring straight at Rishk.
"Sarid, you trusted me this far. I will not do you wrong. Let me handle it."
"I don't even know you"
"I am sorry for what you have been through today. The twins are the very best. How Linko got them to work for him here at the Falling Star is beyond me."
"Linko is distant family and took care of us when we got into town. We are paying him back." Trina said.
"Yeah, I heard that upstairs." Rishk said rolling his eyes as he turned and walked over to the shelves and started to collect a couple of jars. Rishk walked past Sarid and handed the jars to Tiran. Tiran took them and walked to the tub on the other side of the room from the stairs and set the jars on the back of the tub. Tiran then reached up and pulled a chain attached to a pipe above the tub and water started falling into the tub.
Trina had opened a thin foldable screen wall with three sections and set it up between the last tub and the rest of the room. It was semi transparent, allowing shapes to be seen but not allowing the tub's recipient to give up their discretion.
Sarid had been watching the twins. They were lithe and moved with such grace. They must be almost seven feet tall Sarid thought. They have to somehow be of Elven blood. Sarid watched as Tiran lifted a huge pot from a grate on the fireplace and move behind the screen. She could hear the cascade of water. Tiran set the empty pot off to the side and pulled a lever that allowed water to run down a trough in the wall filling the pot. He then lifted the heavy pot and sat it back on the grate. Tiran then went to a second pot and repeated the steps.
"I heard the two of you talking and your name is… Sarid?" Trina asked stepping from behind the screen rubbing her hands together with what looked to be light colored oil.
Sarid turned and looked back at the steps leading up and out. Rishk pulled a chair in front of the stairs and folded his arms across his chest. He motioned with his head to the tub.
"I give up." Sarid mumbled to Rishk causing him to laugh. "Yes, Trina, my name is Sarid. I am a servant of the Lady Tymora." Sarid held her head up and strode to Trina and behind the screen.
"A lucky day then to you, Cleric." Trina said as she looked back to Rishk. Rishk held up a couple of gold coins. Trina gave slight bow and turned back to Sarid.
Tiran had started to help Sarid with her filthy robes. They were wet in places and caked with blood and vomit in others. Tiran wrinkled his nose as he held the camel hair robe. He dropped it off to the side and walked over to the tub. Tiran had run his hand into the tub water and smiled approvingly. Sarid bowed her head at him and Tiran walked around the screen. Sarid pulled the undershirt and shorts she had been wearing off. She then folded them and set them at the end of the stone tub. Looking over at Trina she stepped into the tub and slipped under the hot water.
It was breathtaking. The heat and scents assaulted her. The herbs and spices floated on and throughout the water. She pulled her head above the water and moved to rest against the back of the tub. The tubs were large enough to accommodate three normal sized humans. I wonder if they host dwarves or half-orcs?
Trina stood next to the tub and looked at Sarid. She kept wringing her hands with the oil on them. Sarid gave her a quizzical look.
"If you will permit me, I would like to wash your hair."
Sarid did not know what to say. This seemed lavish by her priestly standards. Not that she was opposed but it was all so overwhelming. She nodded and Trina came over and began to massage her hair and braids. Trina rubbed down to her scalp being careful not to pull her hair or loosen the braids. Sarid closed her eyes and gave a slight moan of pleasure. It had been a horrible day and sometimes the simple things meant so much. Tymora had definitely smiled down on her. Trina gently moved her hands from Sarid's hair and then poured more oil into her hands. She leaned back over and began to massage Sarid's braids again from scalp to ends. Trina gathered up water in a pitcher and poured it through Sarid's hair rinsing the scented oil through.
"Sarid, I am not who you think I am" came Rishk's voice from the far side of the room. Sarid had lost herself in it all; in the warmth and Trina's careful hands.
"I have some bad history with the thieves guild in another town and I believe it caught up to me. I think it is why you were accosted in the alley. I think they are looking for me."
Sarid pushed Trina away. She sat thinking about what Rishk had just said. She held her breath and slid her head under the water. She laid on the bottom of the tub listening to her own heartbeat. He almost got me killed. How would he know this would happen? I didn't share everything with them. He should have told me. Why should he? He doesn't know me. He wants to make amends.
Her head breached the surface and she took a deep breath.
"Luck smiles on you, Rishk. My Mistress loves good fortune and I am feeling fortunate. I am battered but not beaten. I have a couple of conditions though."
"Go ahead" Rishk said tenuously.
"First, I want my part of the money from the apothecary. Second, I want you to tell me about yourself and third, I want Tiran to throw some more hot water in here." She had turned and looked at Trina for the last part.
Trina had sat quietly beside the tub through it all. She had a soft towel in her hands. They smiled at each other and laughed as Tiran came around the screen with one of the huge pots. The tub itself was an oval but it was built within a larger rectangular stone cabinet. Each end had a tall conical wide mouth opening. It allowed Tiran to pour the hot water into the cabinet and it would then leak into the lower body of the tub so as not to burn anyone in the tub. The water slowly warmed in pockets and Sarid let out a giggle at it. Trina opened one of the containers and sniffed. She held it in front Sarid and she inhaled deeply. Sarid pointed at the water and Trina shook a copious amount into the tub. Sarid swirled the fragrant salts and spices with her hands. Tiran had poured a second pot in and the water's temperature had got hot enough to make Sarid sweat. It feels wonderful Sarid thought.
"So where do I start my story?" Rishk asked from behind her.
Sarid had closed her eyes letting her muscles and mind relax with the heat of the water pressing into her. She sat up and turned to look and saw Rishk had moved his chair to the side of the screen. She laid back into the water closing her eyes.
"I think I said my money is first", she giggled again to herself.
A splash of water shot all over her face and had her sitting back up again. She wiped her eyes and looked back at Rishk with a frown. He pointed his finger down into the water. She saw a bag at the other end of the tub. She grabbed it with her foot and slid it back to her. Grabbing the bag she opened it and saw the shining gold coins. Sarid grabbed one and flipped it high in the air. Tymora's blessings this was a lucky day.
"I want my story now, from the beginning." Sarid said.
"Your skin would shrivel into a grotesque dried fruit for the story to start at the beginning. How about I start with how I stole a book from a thieves guild in Luskan"