Crimson Fate: The Open Hand Tavern
Location: The Open Hand Tavern, a three-story tavern and inn in the Upper City of Nautilus on the Continent of Bath.
Time & Weather: Late afternoon. The sun is setting early in these harsh winter weeks. A few flurries are spitting through the cobbled streets and a great bonfire is visible burning far below in the quarantined Lower City, where the plague-sick and homeless huddle together for warmth and succor in what for many are their dying days.
Characters Present: Finneon a'Grael (male, high elf pubkeep and cook), Seraphina a'Grael) (female, high elf bartender), Jonheim (male, human, regular patron, boat captain), Grish (male, half-orc, mercenary and regular patron), Coraline Fleetfoot (female human, rogue, mercenary and regular), and a few other patrons who do not stand out at a casual glance.
The Open Hand was a popular gathering place for nobles and wealthy tradesmen up until the recent rise in violence from the rebellion and the crackdown by the interim ruler, Lord Protector Mycah Sheridan. Those with the comfort of their own homes or estates in the Upper City stayed there more often during times like this. What that meant for Seraphina a'Grael, who now idly wiped away at the counter of her enormous, teak bar, was an appeal to a less favorable patronage to makes ends meet. When the wealthy vanished, the prices of drinks and rooms dropped. Barrels of ale replaced boxes of bottled whiskey and absinthe as the fast-movers, and the smells of patrons were no longer perfumed and dainty, but musky and bodily. It meant that the Hand became raucous and fights broke out now and again, and her expensive decor was threatened more often with costly repairs.
The Hand had never looked as lovely as it did now, and this was due, perhaps, to the recent period of slow business and lots of time spent cleaning it up. It had a distinctive mushroom-on-its-side shape on the first floor, where the bar, parlor, and kitchen were. The cap of that laid mushroom was where the long bar stretched, an oval-shaped construct with long sides cut from the hull of an ancient, six-masted warship from Toridhalas, stained dark and rich. Its surface was laid with glassed-over ship anchors of polished brass, lengths of anchor chain, and ornamental stretches of hempen rope tied at intervals into complex knots that no layman could achieve. Along the south and seaward facing "top" of the side-laid mushroom, floor to ceiling windows of elfcraft glass offered a stunning view of the entire descent of the city below, from the second-level Market City to the guarded and shut-off Common City at the bottom. Beyond the walls at sea level that separated the Common, or "Mud City", from the outer land, the salt marshes stretched from Nautilus to its separate harbor on the shore for some mile. The horizon beyond was the ocean itself, hidden on a cold, grey day like this.
"Sera, pour me another a'fore me belowdecks creek." said Captain Jonheim. The grizzled. old captain with his salt-and-pepper beard and the Navigator's Star tattooed on the back of his mug-gripping hand was a man more fond of drink and a pretty face than anything else he had left in his retired years. Perhaps that's why he hovered around the Hand so much, able to look at Seraphina's flawless, porcelain high elf features while drinking the best booze between here and the harbor. Still, he was an old man and did not entertain his chances with a wealthy daughter from Alvondiel, who in all likelihood was older than he though she looked three times younger and half a head taller.
Seraphina took the man's stein with a displeased look, as was her usual expression around anyone with a bit of breath in their lungs. "Captain, don't pretend there's anything but splinters and sawdust in and under that mouth of yours." She smiled at him then, something she rarely offered anyone but an old man keen on taking her abuse for a good laugh, and she ran the stein under the crystal-handled tap. The old man did indeed laugh. "I'm glad to see you're feeling better," he said, as the brewings of a good belch worked their way to his chest. He stifled them in his chest and let a good snort of air out instead.
Sera pushed the stein in front of him and stared at the two, heavy oak doors, her fingers curling on the countertop. "Something's in the air today," she said as much to herself as she did to the captain. "Something's coming our way and it's trouble." She was distracted for a moment by the cursing of the half-orc and his laughing, red-headed friend, playing a game of Clash of the Monarchs on the tableboard by the fire. It was a short distraction, and then back to the door her attention went, as if the next person that walked through it would unravel and reweave fate itself.