34: Necessities of Life

There was an inn where people congregated like moths around the lamplight. On the ice walls hung thick drapes embroidered with abstract patterns. In the middle of the room stood a hearthstone like the one in Mistwood Glade only many times larger. The high arched ceiling was held up by multiple massive pillars carved out of ice. Behind a counter also it fashioned from ice stood a woman. A man came up to her and asked something to with she nodded. She motioned for him to follow and held open the curtain concealing a hallway.

The Devourer walked along the wall, studying the people, watching them. He found a table in the corner where he sat down. A couple of moment later, a woman came up to him. She wore the same white furs as most people in the City of Ice only fashioned in a different way. Her belly was bare despite the temperature being just above freezing. Her skirt went down to her knees. Over the shoulders, she wore a circular piece of fur with a hole in the middle for her head. It was so small had she stretch out her arms to the sides her breasts would have been revealed.

Can I bring you anything? She asked in their queer dialect.

He looked up at her and said, What do you have?

A little of everything, She said, Fish, meat, even some vegetables, and fruit. And to drink, we’ve got the finest wine and beer from the Kingdom. Yesterday there came a cask of cider from Mistwater Glade.

They don’t have apples there, do they?

Oh, I wouldn’t know. I’ve never seen anything but snow and ice. But what I’ve seen is food and drink. I believe they use some other kind of fruit only growing in Mistwood but we don’t know for sure, they’re very secretive about it. If you want to taste it, you should hurry. It’s known as a delicacy here.

Well, I’ll have a tankard of the Mistwood cider and some fish, I believe. What kinds do you have?

Oh, She said again and glanced at a man waving at her from another table. As you may have noticed, there aren’t a lot of water in these parts of the world, and I’ve heard fish likes to live near water.

The Devourer laughed, and she smiled a shy smile. What kind of fish do you have then?

We’ve eels from Mistwater. That’s all I’m afraid.

I’ll have a proper Mistwood meal. I want cider and eel.

She nodded and said, Shall be.

She went over to the man waving from the other table. The Devourer looked around, most of the people were locals, but there were a few not from there. Some men stood by the hearthstone playing dice gesticulating, laughing talking with loud voices. He noticed another man going up to the woman behind the counter before disappearing behind the curtain. And then another. The girl came back with his food, steaming, and put it onto the table before him.

Thank you, He said, and the girl nodded and smiled. As she were about to leave, he said, Where are those men going behind that curtain? Where does that hallway lead?

She turned toward him and said, Those men are going there to meet with women. Is that something you’re interested in? Just ask Uma there by the counter. She’ll show you the way.

I don’t know, He said. Maybe. I’ve never, He stumbled on his words.

There’s a first time for everything.

He sucked his teeth without saying anything.

If it makes you feel any better, they are all here by their own free will. We don’t consider it shameful at all. A woman body is something beautiful that should be experienced and appreciated. The best of them make more gemstones than anyone else here. Ask for Kjia. She’s my friend. Tell her I sent you, She said and smiled.

Maybe I will, He said. I’ll decide on a full belly.

Very well, She said before leaving.