First Page – Ava’s Story

Galen looked around hesitantly at the darkened town. There was a stale breeze that wasn’t cold but made Galen shiver. It was too much like home, but maybe he could find a few jobs in the morning before moving on again. He headed for the lamp-lit tavern and inn with his pack slung over his shoulder.

The room was dank and smelled like too much drinking. There were a few travelers, foreigners that didn’t have a lot of worries and could drink freely. A few locals were there drinking, mostly young men that hadn’t been drafted into the war yet, drinking away their worries. Galen picked his way through the staggering people to a worn table. A thin girl approached him.

“Can I get ya somthin’?”

Galen looked up at her, “Something to eat, whatever’s good.”

The girl’s face twisted in thought, “I’ll see what I can do.” She slipped away towards the kitchen.

A gruff, old man with a scraggly beard sat down awkwardly at the table across from Galen. “You passin’ through or plannin’ to stick around here?”

“Just passing.”

“Well, what’s yer trade?” The man guzzled from his overflowing mug before thumping it down on the table.

Galen fidgeted with his pack as he pulled it onto his lap. “I—whatever job I can.”

The man nodded and swayed a bit in his seat.

Galen studied the drunkard, he was starving himself and probably drinking himself to death. “Uh, what about you?”

“Me?” The man sat up a bit “Well drinkin’s my trade!” He lifted up his mug and took another swig to prove the point. “I’m just a passin’ through . . . but I’ve been passin’ here a good while now.” The man furrowed his brow, “Don’t know how long it’s been.” Then he seemed to remember the mug in his hand and brightened up. “But I’ a sure happy!”

Galen nodded with the confirmation of his suspicions and looked around.

There were two women sitting at a table across the room with local young men, the younger one held her head high as if she were a noblewoman. Her feminine voice carried through the room of male grunts and grumblings. “I need men at my side for this,”

The older woman’s face showed the weathering of a peasant’s life. Her eyes were cautious, and her posture was rigid.

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