Sefri put her fists on her hips and glowered.

“I’m not rushing into things,” she said. “I have a perfectly good business plan.”

Harlen held his hands up defensively. “I’m sure you do,” he protested, “But look at this place!”

He was sure that a rat squeaked in alarm as he gestured around the room. There were cobwebs everywhere, and the floorboards creaked alarmingly underfoot.

She rummaged in her knapsack. “No, you look at it,” she said, crossing to a dirty looking table and spreading out a parchment. “It’s perfectly sound, aside from a couple of boards, it just needs a little work.”

He sighed and followed her over, leaning over her shoulder to look. She had drawn up a floor plan, he realised, carefully measured out and labelled.

“Here’s where we put the bar,” she said, pointing, “and here by the fireplace we’ll have seats for the bards. We’ll put the staircase here-”

“Wait a second,” he said, interrupting her. “If these symbols are the lanterns, wouldn’t that leave this corner here in darkness?”

She nodded. “Shadowed but not pitch black. We do want to attract the adventurers, after all, they’re the ones with the most gold.”

He grimaced. “And the least, depending on which end of their career you catch them at.”

She shrugged. “Well, we can double as an item shop for the poorer ones, for extra revenue. We’ve still got those wooden swords and shields, haven’t we? There’s our starting stock. And I’ve made arrangements with the dwarves’ brewery guild for the beer, and with the elves for their honeywine recipe.”

Harlen sighed. There was obviously no talking her out of the idea.

“I think I’ve guessed where I come in,” he said.

She smiled and gave him a coy look.

“Well, I need a partner,” she said.

He nodded. “And no adventurer would stay here twice if they didn’t get healed overnight, so you need a mage.”

© Kari Fay

(Author’s Note: Struggling for inspiration tonight, so I decided to just riff on some RPG clichés instead…)

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