Under New Management: The Serpent's Head

by Imari

The air was warm and dry on Imari’s skin, as she stepped of the old wooden planks connecting the Old Tarantia boat to the docks. Having only ventured into Stygia’s lands a couple times before in her life, Khemi still held many secrets to be found.

The townspeople looked on with sharp eyes as Imari took small gentle steps up the path past the many statues of snakes on the docks. At the top of the steps stood an old hooded man, whose wrinkles told many stories of his life, his light green eyes looking down at Imari.

“What business does an” , pausing for a moment eyeing the townspeople around him before speaking again in a more soft tone “Aquillonian as your self have in such a place as this?” the old man inquired with a sense of dignity.

“I am here merely for pleasure”, Imari smiled looking up at the man, pausing before continuing “in fact I am looking for a friend of mine here, maybe you have heard of her.” “I might be able to help you, but I must give you fair warning to watch your back here, followers of Set will not take kindly to your presence here”, the old man said softly but strongly raising his hand to his mouth coughing slightly. “Now tell me of your friend and I might be able to help you find her” he continued.

“The friend I seek goes by the alias Double, do you know of her?” Imari asked smiling looking up at the old man.

“Ah yes, I have heard of this woman you seek, in fact I just spoke with her in the Serpent’s Head Tavern.” the old man looking down beginning to scratch his head obviously trying to remember something. Speaking back up with a grin as he recalls what almost lost him, “She spoke of her travels in Kheshetta against the old grey god, a very brave and heroic lady she is, she is well known among the tavern patrons!”

“Thank you”, Imari says before bowing at the old man in thanks before continuing, “how does one get to this Serpent’s Head Inn may I ask?”

“Very simply” the old man said strongly clearly glad to be of more held to the lady, “you take the path up these stairs through the town merchants, at the last merchant look to your left and you find more stairs leading to the tavern’s blue door.”

“Thank you again” Imari says smiling up at the man as he steps to the side allowing Imari to take the path up the stairs. She takes the takes the steps up carefully watching her own steps. Upon reaching the top she notices the merchants to her left and right as the old man said there would be. She could hear them yelling about the sound of the city, desperately trying to make a couple tin, a silver if lucky.

Imari bows her head making no eye contact with the merchants and the crowd seeking safe passage to the inn. A few merchants yell for her attention but she shrugs it off minding her own business. At the end of the sandy road stood a rug merchant and beyond him the steps the old man mentioned. She quickly stepped off the path and onto the sandstone steps leading up to the inn. At the top of the steps stood the blue door to the Serpent’s Head Inn, along with a couple patrons and one drunk passed out off to the side. The name of the inn gave her chills down her spine as she walked up to the door to enter into the inn.

Sand riddles the floor of the inn blowing in each time the door was opened and quickly dragged along the floor by the feet of the patrons, and finely resting in the cracks of the old floor. She quickly closes the door returning the inn to its original glum and dark state, little light entering the interior. She faces toward the innkeeper and walks slowly towards him, not sure what to expect. “May I help you young traveler” the innkeeper asked cheerful at another customer walking through the doors.

Imari looked up, smiling at the innkeeper, but was quickly overcome by the abrupt face of disgust written on the innkeepers face.

“We don’t serve your kind here, this is an inn of Khemi…. Stygia……. Set” the innkeeper said sternly eyeing Imari down.

“I do not mean to be of any trouble sir, I am just looking for a friend of mine, she goes by the name Double” Imari said carefully choosing the best words for the situation. “I am sorry I cannot help you please leave my inn before I call upon the guards” the innkeeper said upholding the rules of the inn.

“It’s okay, she is a friend of mine, everything is alright” Double said speaking softly from the shadows before stepping out of her comfortable lean against the wall towards the innkeeper. Double looked of shear nobility straight from the nobles of Stygia herself, but yet had an aura of adventure about her. Her colorful Stygian outfit ran around her body in weaves covering only what was necessary, both for her social and adventurous lifestyle.

“I’m sorry I did not know if you wanted anymore visitors today” the innkeeper said apologetic looking on at Double as she walks toward him.

Imari looks on surprised and relieved to see her friend again, smiling at Double. “You are hard to find these days Double!” she exclaims.

Double smiles on at Imari and then nods, “Yes it seems my adventures speak for them….” Double is cut off as the innkeeper interrupts, “I’m sorry Double but before she gets too comfortable I still can’t serve her here, I am sorry”

“Surely you can make an exception for me,” Double says sternly looking onward to the innkeeper making strict contact with his eyes.

“Even if I did, the patrons of this bar are too accustomed to the ways I have set forth, she will not go unnoticed” the innkeeper replys.

“This an outrage, I have traveled all the way from my homeland to here only to be looked on with disgust as I walk through your streets and I cannot even enter the one place I can rest here, let alone get a drink!” Imari says speaking stronger and louder with each breath. She walks forward stepping hard onto the sandstone floor as she walks past the innkeeper’s desk and Double as they each turn and watch her moves carefully.

Imari is suddenly stopped by two guards whom draw their weapons with ease and point them towards Imari. The guards attempt to frighten her back to the entrance stepping slowly towards her, but Imari stands vigil smiling on at them before utterering some words under her breath. Almost instantly the two guards are chained down by magic as Imari begins to utter some more words, only stronger this time. Her body is covered by a bright light concentrated from her hands as she unleashes it onto the guards, throwing them back into the bar.

The inn goes silent as the guards get up severely weakened by Imari’s magic, standing in pain being the frightened ones now. The patrons of the bar look on not sure what to think, as Double walks up grasping her forearm.

"Stop this now Imari, the innkeeper is right we should leave!” Double says into Imaris ear, but still loud enough for everyone to hear over the silent inn.

“No” Imari says looking onto Double, “You all need to learn to come together, times have changed, we need to set aside our differences as our King has shown us. We are all fighting a war, a war which will only be won together, I have seen the evils that rest and wait across your lands deep in Kheshetta. Some of you may only think of these as myths, but I assure you they are true!” Imari takes a deep breath looking around the inn, “I am out there risking my life cleansing your lands and this is the thanks you show me?”

Double looks on to Imari, clearly realizing her greater point, and agreeing he takes her hand off her and places her eyes back onto the crowd. “She is right it is time we set aside our customs and differences and allowed others freely into our lands, at least into our inn and provide them with entertainment and a place to rest.”

The crowd begins to speak amongst themselves softly, having heard Double, a great adventurer of their lands side with a foreigner leaves them quite confused on how to approach the situation.

“From this point on, all will be welcomed here, and if you wish to show your distaste you can come through me!” Imari looks sternly onto the guards using them as an example. The crowd find agreement in Double and Imari’s words resting back down on their pillows as they begin to mingle; drinking, smoking , and talking.

“Apparently my tales of our fight in the distant lands along with your stern words has brought some light to their eyes”, Double pauses “at least for now.” Imari looks onto Double smiling in agreement, “Let us find a table now.”

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