Kane sighed again, glancing down both ends of the hallway. The inn had an eerie sense of calm to it now that the drunkards had been kicked out or dragged home by more than one furious spouse on this night. Kane chuckled to himself
Never find me tied down like that… many more interesting distractions out there…
From the hallways, Kane could see the remaining regulars milling about, most at the end of their last mug and Kane could see through the dark hallway into the lantern-lit common area that even the dwarf smith Coal’s eyes were at half-mast. Kane could hear snippets of conversation drift in over ale-tainted wafts of warm air and it did nothing for his stomach this night. Kane held the small, intricately carved box in his hands, and he both admired and resented it; this trinket, now like the other was a reminder that his life had forever changed. Wrongly, none could argue but changed nonetheless. A bitter taste rose at the back of his throat but he swallowed hard and put it out of his mind. With his companions resting deservedly in the rooms he watched over, Kane could not help but feel a sense of guilt as he thought back on the day’s events.
These men help others for no other reason other than they think it’s right. I’m a good guy ‘n everything, but it seems like they’re almost looking for trouble; I’ve spent my life avoiding it… part of the job. Heh; good one Kane; look where that’s gotten you. Still; it felt pretty great to help with those kobolds; maybe I could get used to this…
Kane examined again the small, intricately carved box in his hands. Kane‘s had appraised many things in his day; and he was certain this was of exceptional craftsmanship. It was dark like mahogany but with a rich grain through it, almost black. The latches and hinges were steel for certain; and the carving allowed them inset in the edge itself; allowing for a seamless fit. Not much larger than a tinderbox; it fit snugly in one of Kane‘s inside pockets, but Kane opened it now with a sombre gaze. Staring blankly at its new contents, Kane‘s brow furrowed and he snapped it closed and secured it away in the folds of his clothes.
With a heavy sigh, Kane turned his attention again to this bits of conversation trailing in from the common room. Most people were leaving now he could tell, and he saw the elven maiden Delfina helping and older woman her garments. “There you go,” she said in her melodic voice, “.. it’s getting cold out there.” Turning now so that her face could be seen from the waning firelight, Delphina threw a thick shawl around her own shoulders, set to leave herself.
Turning towards Kane and seeing him perched on the stool in the hallway, she called out, “Good night, tenna’ ento lye omenta.”
Kane smiled and called back to her, “Good night to you, we’ll return shortly, I’m sure.”
Delphina smiled broadly at Kane from the common room. With a very slight bow, she responded again, “Amin of many talents to be sure, mellonamin.”
Kane stood now, flattered by her term of endearment and responded quickly, “Saesa omentien lle, rest well.” Forgetting himself for a moment, Kane cocked his head to one side, staring wide-eyed at nothing at all.
What the hell?! He thought to himself.
From the common room, Kane heard Thair the smithy trudge over to grab his cloak from the wall. Addressing Delphina, he grumbled, “Aye lassie let old this ‘ole feller lend you a sturdy shoulder to lead you home; ’tis not a night to be walkin’ by one’s lonesome.”
“How kind of you, Thair.” Delphina responded, placing her hand gently on his outstretched elbow. “I was just having a very pleasant exchange with my new friend here. You know not many people speak elven around here as you might think.” Disappearing around the corner with her escort, Kane was still scrambling to put the pieces together.
Hearing the tavern door open, Kane heard Coalstriker’s last comment in an ale-soaked voice just as the door swung closed behind them, “Vorum dwarkar geddum ech mosgrim.”
Your ancestors probably would mind if I spoke dwarven… Kane understood! He understood Delphina, he understood Thair. He even spoke back to Delphina. Feeling a grief welling up inside of him, Kane slumped down against the wall on the stool again. He was not who he once was. Never again, perhaps. Touching again the small box within his jacket, Kane slipped one step further into acceptance. Minutes passed. Long, silent, awful minutes. No sounds, just the whirlwind of thoughts racing through Kane‘s head.
Curse this vampire mind! What’s next!?
Another moment passed.
On the other hand… this does open up some interesting possibilities…
… Kane smiled in the darkness.