The morning sun’s rays poked through the slits in the window shutters bringing light to the dark musky tavern. Some mugs were still lying on the tables, none with a drop left in them. The party-goers from the night before where still spread out around the room. Most of the large number of people where past out at their tables or found a particular spot on the floor, a couple were still at the bar sipping at cups of coffee. Ashton, a young waitress that helps out at the tavern, left at midnight so she could get some rest before the next day. At the age of fifteen Ashton works at Rafiki’s place to help out her family. Her father left her mother after her brother was born. He is three years younger than Ashton and is currently going to school. Her mother just gave birth to another boy, this time the father didn’t even stick around for a week. Rafiki met Ashton only a few weeks ago trying to pickpocket her. At first she was harsh on the girl using her attempt at pickpocketing as blackmail in order to get her to work for her at the tavern, but on Ashton’s second day of work Rafiki offered her a job as a waitress. She never told Ashton’s mother about her thieving ways, in fact Rafiki pretty much forgot about it. Ever since then Ashton has been working at the tavern from noon to midnight in order to help out her family. Rafiki’s other helping hand, Cade, went to bed upstairs an hour ago. Rafiki doesn’t know much about the guy but that was part of their agreement. He used to be a regular there about a year ago. He would usually walk in around midnight, buy a single shot, and sit in the corner only buying another two throughout the night. When dawn came around he would stir himself and head out the door without a word. After about two weeks of this Rafiki offered him a bed in one of the guest rooms upstairs, he refused. He told her he didn’t have the money to stay anywhere and asked if he could just sit in the corner every night, he even promised to buy a fourth drink for her troubles. Rafiki told him that was nonsense and said he could work as an extra hand around the tavern and she would let him use a bed as his pay. So Rafiki was by herself when it came sunrise. Not that it was a problem, for over a year she worked in the tavern by herself. It was good work, most of it repairing stuff. She refused to hire anyone, said she could take care of herself. Cade and Ashton are the only people she ever hired. Besides she figured it was more like helping than hiring them.
The shutters were flung open and light poured into the tavern. ”Alright everybody! Git yerselves up and leave, I’m closin’ shop fer the mornin’! Yer welcome to stay but you’ve got to pay fer a room, let’s go!”
A chorus of disgruntled voices met Rafiki’s ears.
”Ahh c’mon lady!”
”We don’t have any more money!”
”Yeah! I’m broke!”
”Can I stay? Please?”
”I said OUT you no good weasels! All of yeh!” Rafiki stood at the door holding it wide open motioning them to leave. ”I open up at one. Go to the bank and git more money, then we will talk.”
Once Rafiki shooed everybody out she locked the door and closed all the windows again, fastening each lock. She set herself busy cleaning up the tavern picking up all the mugs and setting them aside. She picked up the fallen chairs and set the tables straight. Rafiki fetched a cleaning rag and wiped each table down, thinking about what she found out the previous night. Every Thursday night one of her regular suppliers stops by with a cart carrying ten barrels of three different types of wines. She pays him an agreed upon amount they settled the week before then she places the next order and they set a price. This time was different. He came by like usual but he only gave her five barrels while requesting the same payment as before. ”I am sorry Rafiki, it’s just that with the Festival of Light upon us we’ve had an unusually large request from the Royalty. The problem is we can only provide about half of the order. On top of that Lord Dunn of Bora is bringing a large percent of his wine with him while only selling a portion of the rest at a higher rate. I need the money Rafiki, once this order for the Royalty pays out I can pay you back, you have my word!” Rafiki had considered it for a short time then finally replied ”Alright, I’ve known you long enough Jerry, besides I know where I can find you if you try and slip out o’ this deal.” His face perked up immediately at her response. ”But, I want fifteen barrels next time for the price of nine. Yer putting me in a bind by making this request so I believe mine is a reasonable one?” She paid the money and Cade lifted the barrels down to the cellar. Jerry rode on to his next delivery, no doubt readying up his sob story.
After she finished the tables and swept the floor, Rafiki moved on to the mugs from the previous night. Today Rafiki needed to talk to a different supplier that would have exactly what she wants. Problem is she has exactly what he wants. She went upstairs to change into street clothes. Rafiki threw on a plain green tunic tucked into a pair of leather leggings, grabbed a deep gray scarf for her neck and slipped into a pair of worn leather boots. Before she left, Rafiki grabbed a pair of gloves and slid her twin daggers in their sheaths at the small of her back, then headed out the back door strolling down the street towards the ports.