High upon a hill on a monstrously rough and jagged terrain rests a large wooden building, made of the blackest forest wood and large enough to contain fifty men. This building is the ill reputed tavern ‘The armless bandit’, well known for fostering gangs and being a building you do not visit unless you know the one who are waiting for you inside. On this particular night it is quite lit-up due to the huge crescent moon which is radiating its light like a gigantic magical, white lamppost in the sky. This moon light makes the taverns outside look uncharacteristically beautiful, paired with the powerful gusts of wind from this high up hill blowing and moving everything in its surroundings, it makes a serene and enticing sight. Enticing more so because of the obvious brutality and danger of the terrain, twined with the beauty of the single, standing building bathed in the lunar light.

Inside this tavern it is unusually quiet and empty, not even the bartender is at the bar. There are a few randomly placed candles which lights up small spheres of the interior. The wind can be heard inside but not felt. The wood is well build and completely detaches all inside from the outside weather and world. On one of those tables furthest from the door, a steel pitcher can be seen on a table, just behind this steel pitcher is a silhouette of a man. In this dark corner he is barely visible, except for the head of his black and unmarked robe. His face is silhouetted due to the hood of the robe. He is sat patiently waiting while looking at the pitcher in front of him, although you wouldn’t be able to tell that by looking at him as his eyes cannot be seen in the darkness of his hood. The noise of the outside world suddenly gets much louder to him as someone opens the front door of the tavern and because of the powerful wind accidentally slams it as this intruder of the peace tries to close it to seek solace inside from the weather. The slamming of the door causes every candle to almost blow out for a split second as their light is tilted by the sudden wind, giving him a moment of pure darkness, and then the flames rebuild and the room is once again partially visible rather than completely shrouded in blackness. The man who has just entered takes a quick investigation around the tavern with his eyes only, not moving his body, while the robed man watches him from his dark corner. The man at the door makes a small sigh of acknowledgement and begins to walk towards the dark corner with the confidence of a man who not only knows where he is going but also of a man who’s eyes have adjusted to the dark. He approaches the opposite side of the table which the robed man is sat at, he looks into the dark corner clearly able to see the man sat within, the robed man makes a hand gesture to signal that the man may sit.

The man speaks with a hoarse and out of breath voice, “I apologise for being late, my friend.” The man pulls a chair out and tugs his hood down to reveal a bearded face of a mature, gentle looking man. He sits himself on the chair he has pulled out and places his hands together waiting for the robed man’s reply. The robed man continues to look at the steel pitcher and doesn’t show a single sign of hearing him or even being aware that he is being addressed, until a strong and well articulated voice comes from the darkened space, “You’re here now, that is all that matters.” The bearded man instinctively and without thought wrings his wrist with one of his hands as if he is uncomfortable and shows a small hint of fear. “Yes, I guess so…”, he politely waits for a reply to avoid angering the man who has been sat waiting for him. The robed man sighs and replies with complete calm, “Well? What are your thoughts?” The bearded man regains his confidence because of this calm attitude that has been put forward, he leans his hands on the table and replies, “What will become of her?”, the robed man leans himself forward to join the other man in his forward posture, but is still perfectly silhouetted, “I will take her.”, “You will take her but what will become of her?”, the robed man clears his throat and replies as quick as a snap “I said, I will take her/”, before he can utter another word, the bearded man smacks his fist off the table and interrupts him with a raised voice while bearing his teeth with bit back anger, “Answer the question!” Becoming aware of his outbreak of anger, he sits himself back into a relaxed position without taking his eyes off the robed man but making himself physically less hostile. 

He sighs and speaks from his silhouette, “In six years I will take her as my own, she will be educated and looked after as a wife.” The bearded man leans back, “Okay”, he shows signs of being uncomfortable, intimidated almost. He rubs his beard and slants his jaw to the side in distaste. “I don’t really have much choice do I?” “All men have choice, Free-will is man’s gift and power.” “You know what I meant…I’m reluctant but this sounds like the best plan for her future.” The bearded man feels a quick change in the atmosphere, as if his talking partner is smiling and he is overwhelming aware of this. “I agree, good sir.” The robed man reaches his hand out of the silhouette towards the bearded man, revealing a tanned, aged hand adorned with an onyx gold ring on his little finger. He holds his hand out in an open position so it can be shaken in order to agree and make the deal, he keeps his hand out, waiting. The bearded man seems reluctant but then takes the hand into his own and shakes it with confidence and a firm grip, more to show his own physical power than out of respect, which the robed man returns with surprising ease, making him uncomfortable. Neither of them speak, they both release each others firm grip, the bearded man stands himself up and pushes his chair under the table while the robed man returns his hand back to his dark corner where it can live in the shadows. The bearded man watches him and places his hood back upon his head, leaving just the end of his beard visible out of the shadows and darkness. He nods his head at the sat man, gracefully turns and heads towards the front door, opens it with ease due to the wind calming, gently steps out and closes it behind him, leaving the robed man in complete silence, other than the occasional creaking of the wood. 

He reaches his tanned, ringed fingered hand towards the steel pitcher to grab it, he takes it, brings it close so both of his hands can hold it, he then gently and slowly raises it to his lips and takes a sip of the liquid inside it for the first time this night. He had poured it himself, finding the barkeeper missing when he entered the tavern. He places the pitcher down on the table, stands, rummages his hands in one of his pockets, he pulls out a gold, shiny coin, he places it on his thumb in a flicking position and smiles to himself and then flicks it into the liquid. He makes a self satisfied grunt, blows out the candle on the table, and proceeds to approach each table candle and bringing the taverns interior into complete darkness. After he has done, nothing can be seen, and the only thing that can be heard is footsteps on wood, and then the opening and closing of a door. A slam followed by the odd creak of wood and harrowing wind.

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