Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Innocent Introductions

    The Last Shot was buzzing with activity, as was the usual come the evening. Positioned near the edge of Stormwind, its crowd consisted of workers coming in from the fields, as well as those that worked within the city, creating a strange melting pot of personalities and people.

     At some point in the establishment's history, people became regulars. Even as its appearance declined over time, for the most part they didn't stop being regulars. Some preferred the Lamb, others the Pig and Whistle, and there were those that enjoyed the Recluse, just as the Shot's regulars wanted to spend their evenings there.

     It was far from impressive. The outside consisted of worn wood that was lucky that it hadn't caught aflame when Deathwing had passed through the city. Even though it was stationed in an alley, it was still visible come the night, a torch placed outside its door as to illuminate the aging sign that rested above the door, “The Last Shot” carved into the wood accompanied by the image of an empty shot glass.

     The interior matched the exterior to a degree. The newest looking items within appeared to be the bottles lining the back walls. The room had a darkness to it that came natural to a building lacking windows and was amplified by the darkened wood that made up the furniture and walls. What light there was came from candles around the place, which the owner liked to claim added “atmosphere”.

     It was spacious enough to allow a number of tables and chairs in, as well as other amenities. A decent sized bar was stationed at the north end of the room, and the corner to the left of the door space was reserved for a few musicians wanting to earn a bit of extra coin. The place was known well enough for a few performers. Some even argued that when no one was there to play, a bit of music could still be heard.

     Aside from the entrance, there was one other door in the entire room, and it stood behind the bar. This back room received steady use as the night went on, with the bartender having to retrieve something from it here and there, but more commonly for a few patrons who entered the Shot and went straight for the door. Others might exit from it, with those who arrived later in the night having never seen them enter. For those who might have wandered in for the first time it was a primary point of interest, but for those who had been there before their interest was much more subtle. Occasionally someone was brave enough to creep up to towards the door and take a peek into the room beyond, but they were only greeted with a pantry stuffed with food stuffs and a few bottles of harder liquor.

     When the turned into the alley, she found herself alone, save for the flicker of the torch in front of the door. She had a small bag hanging on her belt, leather armor covering the rest of her. A small smirk played on her face as she approached the door, anticipating the conversation she might leave in her wake. Pulling the door open, she entered the tavern, not giving anyone among the crowd a passing glance. Her destination was the door in the back. Once she had opened, gone through, and closed it, the smirk broadened. Just another spark of conversation on it.

     The pantry was dark with the door closed. It took only a moment for her hands to find the small latch on the trapdoor, pulling it upward. Shifting forward, she dangled her legs into empty air until her feet found the rungs of a ladder. As she began to descend, she made sure to close the door above her. Below her a few more torches offered a faint flicker. Her feet found the floor, and she released the ladder, turning around to face yet another door.

     She stepped into the next room, eyes scanning it slowly. It looked much like the room above, save for the door in the rear. There were a few tables scattered here and there, a bar at the end opposite the door, and a man in the corner plucking at a few strings on an aging instrument. The crowd her was smaller, being made up of a small group in the corner who all glanced up at her for a short moment, before going back to their hushed conversation, the bartender, and a lone man at the bar. Of those choices, she went with the bar.

     The bartender stood, silently scrubbing a glass. At her approach, he glanced up, an eyebrow silently raising. She kept her smirk, resting forward against the wood, a knowing sense of amusement in her voice, “Business seems a bit slow tonight.”

     The eyebrow didn't move, and neither did his mouth. The tender offered no response, simply continuing with his scrubbing. “So talkative,” she said, smirk widening.

     To her right, the original occupant of the bar snorted, his voice low and rough, “Still thinkin' you're clever?”

     She turned, resting her left side against the bar as she crossed her arms, the smirk not waivering once. He was a tall human, with dark skin, and his hair was cut short, a trimmed beard on his face. She recognized him in an instant. “Corvo,” she said, “Still drinking?”

     “Not nearly enough,” he grumbled, bringing his mug to his lips. Returning the mug to its previous resting place, he turned his head to the side slightly, shooting her a glance, “I'll take that as a 'yes', then.”

     “A yes to what?” she asked, head tilting a tad.

     Grunting, he shook his head yet again, leaning forward against the bar, “'Yes' it is.” Corvo almost sounded amused, for once in his life, like he wasn't trying too hard to fit in with copper novel detectives, “Swear one of these days someone will walk in here who ain't a damn smart ass.”

     “Considering you're already down here, and you still don't believe a person fitting that description has yet to enter, that doesn't speak highly of your self-esteem.”

     “Don't get paid to have a high self-esteem,” he grunted, taking another pull from his mug.

     She rested more against the bar, “So then tell us, mister Booker, what grand payday has brought you to this establishment of 'smart asses'? Because I can't imagine you coming down here for pleasure. That would imply you could smile.

     “Think that's my business, not your,” he said, shaking his head. “Go around poking everybody with questions like that? 'Cause eventually they'll get to poking back.”

     She put a hand to her chest, eyes widening, “You wound me, Booker. As if I'm so unprofessional as to go digging into another's affairs.”

     He snorted yet again, but said nothing in response, “Then why the hell do you even come down here if not to pry into other people's stuff? 'Cause that's all I ever see you doin'.”

     She blinked, “Are you accusing me of something? Because I assure you that I'm perfectly i-...”

     Booker put a hand up, “Say what I know what you're about to say and I'm gonna have a hard time resisting the urge to come over there and shove a cork in your mouth.”

     “My aren't we rude tonight,” she said, amusement leaving her voice to be replaced by a heavy dose of sarcasm and annoyance.

     He shrugged, “Maybe if you got a new joke, people wouldn't be tired of it.”

     “One, it is not a joke, and two, it is far from overused.”

     He cocked an eyebrow, “You're kiddin' me.” The man held up a single finger, “One, it's a joke. A pun. Maybe it was clever the first time I heard that, but it sure as ain't funny now, and I have no clue what Light-forsaken urge a person'd ever have to use it on a regular basis.” A second finger rose to join the first, “Second, like hell if it isn't overused. You pull the whole 'I'm innocent' schtick every single time you get the chance. I don't even think that's an overstatement in the slightest.” He looked to the bartender, “Ain't I right?”

     The bartender glanced up from his glass, looking at Corvo for a short moment, before his gaze drifted back downward, not a single noise escaping him. She smirked, “Does that mean he's taking my side?”

     “Doubt it,” Booker said, sliding his glass towards the bartender, partially for a refill, and partially to provoke some sort of response. A silence set in for a moment, before he lifted it, “I'm waitin' on somebody. What's your excuse?”

     She produced a small bag from her belt, tossing it over towards the bartender who caught it. Offering him a shrug, she inched away from the bar, “Delivery.”

     “And the whole standing here was just to terrorize me.”

     She shook her head, smirking yet again. Her back to the door, she began to inch closer to it, attention focused on him, “I'm afraid not.”

     “Nope. Not walkin' into that one,” he said, shaking his head, looking away from her. “Innocent”, at least that's what she called herself in such a place, bit her lip, having to resist to say anymore. Instead, she turned, exiting the room. Soon enough she would find her way back out onto the street, before slipping off into the night.

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