He made his way back in to the loft. It was an odd feeling. All of his things where there, nicely tucked away. Just covered in that layer of dust. There was nothing of hers.
In the chest on the side of the sleeping area he found a coin pouch, the coin still in it. That was all he took for the moment. Making his way back out of the loft he headed towards the Market, a meal was needed. In one of the smaller pubs he settled at a table with a bowl of whatever soup they had that day.
The tangle of hair and beard seemed determined to keep from such a task, as with every spoonful as much of the soup seemed to send up there as in his mouth. A fair amount of time was spent attempting to wash up after that. After a bit of walking around, letting the chill air clear his mind a bit, he returned to the Dragon.
As he moved inside, he looked to the area near the hearth but she was no longer there. He wasn't sure if that should make his sad, or relieved.
There was nobody tending to the bar so he made his way behind it to fetch himself a mug of water. It felt odd, but comforting to be moving about behind the large wooden bar. So many of the things he was feeling today made little sense to him. Despite what the calendar would say, by his own memories it was as if he had never left. How could things be missed as much as they seem to be?
It was something to be puzzled on later as he spotted the woman who had served him earlier move to join him behind the bar.
"Evening... Anya was it?"
His voice still rough, though not quite as raspy as it had been earlier.
"Yes, Anya.. but I did not hear your name sir. Did you give it earlier? If you did, I missed it." she replied as he moved to the other side of the bar, mug of water in hand, taking a seat there.
"I have been called many things, though none for quite some time. I suppose..." He gave this a quick thought, while this form was as much a stranger about here now as he was, he was not quite ready to give his full name up so freely. "'dar. 'dar will work for now."
She inquired if he was feeling better, he assured her he was, though he was not ill.
"No.. I'm fit and fine. My voice was just... well, anything that goes unused for too long will suffer a bit, no? I am sure the honey helped."
She proceeded to mix up another warmed drink telling him it would further soothe his throat. He took the opportunity to make ask a question of her.
"I.." He paused, not really sure how to proceed, ""There was a women here earlier. She seemed... familiar. Maybe you know her? She was sitting at the hearth doing some sewing."
"I do not know her by name, but I have seen her face several times." She pointed to the dark haired woman he had seen sleeping on the couch earlier. "She was talking to her, she may be able to tell you her name."
He glanced in the direction indicated and then back again.
"I can ask though next time I see her or you should introduce yourself." Anya continued.
"I may do so. It is not of any urgency." He lowered the mug as he spoke. "Just a ... familiarity."
"You are without your memory?" She asked.
"After a fashion." And noting her confused look he continue... "Let me put it this way, the last thing I remember before waking this morning occurred four summers ago."
They both noted the entrance of the dwarven woman, Amber, moving behind the bar to start serving the patrons before she spoke to him again.
"Well, this is not very good. Have you found a room to stay in? You shouldn't be wandering around in the night, it's cold outside."
After that she offered him the key to a vacant room upstairs, the name of a cobbler who would fix his boot as a favor owed to her, and even aid in finding a job should it be needed. All this done in the few moments it took her to take her drink across the room and settle in to a chair.
He watched her for a moment and simply said...
"Thank you. I have done nothing to warrant such aid, and it is appreciated. Your kindness will be repaid."
While he truely had no need for any of the things offered, the offer itself had been genuine and he would see to it such kindness was repaid.
After a moment or two of watching the dwarven woman tend to patrons, he posed a similar question to her. Her answer was another one of non-recognition, but he felt the presence of another, one looking to him.
Chryrie, he knew her, knew of her talents, but there was something different about her as she stared intently at him. And then she spoke, softly, gently. "Was she drinking cider and not saying much to anyone?"
And hearing that, Amber spoke again.
"Perhaps you mean Sjira? She sits at the hearth many times and I have seen her sewing at times. I usually get her hot cider in cold weather, with spices in it."
Ah... progress, finally.
"I believe she was drinking cider, but was talking with a local farmer about a cloak."
"Amber is correct. It's likely S'jira." Chryrie paused, shifted her weight on the stoop and then pointed to him with a finger, "Be careful with that one. She's protected by many. Would hate to see a nice boy get mob-maimed for a misunderstanding."
A moment of thought was given before speaking.
"I wish her no harm. As I was telling the server," he motions towards Amber, "there is something... familiar... there." He shifted his attention back to the mug before him, his voice trailing off slightly. "As if from another life. It is good to hear she has ... friends."
And it was, good to hear. But an unspoken meaning to those words nagged at him as well. Protected by many, but maybe by one in particular? To think she would not be after so long...
He pushed the still half-full mug across the bar and started to move towards the front door. He was part-way across the room when Chryrie spoke again.
"Oh, before you go. She wears two pendants. Perhaps one of them will jingle something loose in your head?"
That gave him pause, an odd thing to mention it was, but it set his mind to thinking. Pendant... no... pendants. Wait!?
Looking back to the woman he asked "Two...? One a star, the other of green stone perhaps?"
There were no more words, the woman merely tapped her nose, pointed to him and winked before her attention was elsewhere.
Two pendants, a star, the gift from Eless and the green stone, given to her as a sign, well, of her freedom but also a symbol of her being his. Not as something to be owned, but as a symbol of love.
If she still wore that? Could it be? It had to be.
He moved out the front door, only to wend his way around the back of the building, working his way to the upper floors and to the room he had kept there for longer than he cared to think about at the moment.
He would return. Fully. Go to her, and. And. Well, the and part he was unsure of, but there was enough to tell him she likely would not just turn him away. But he couldn't do so looking like this. The bath in his room would be most welcome.
As he entered the room he was greeted with with something surprising. Her scent. It smelled of many of the same oils he had smelled when she seen earlier. She has been in here. He looked about and realized the room had been well kept. This only served to solidify his resolve, and the borrowed clothing he'd been wearing all day were soon on the floor in a pile as he moved to the tub in the adjoining room.
As he was soaking in the warm water, a knife and razor were used to rid him of the beard. He was starting on the hair when he felt it, the Inn was letting him know. She was here, well in the Inn. Down in the common room likely. He quickly rose from the tub, the knife was set aside before he towelled off, and by the time he was in the other room the familiar form of the two-legged feline was present again. A few moments of deep breathing were needed to rid him of the pain such an abrupt change brought with it, then a clean pair of leggings and shirt were pulled from the dresser along the wall.
He was actually feeling, nervous. He was assuming much in this, based on very little really. But damned if he was going to wait any longer. He exited his room and moved down the hall, pausing at the upper landing, looking about for her and spotting her there... near the end of the bar.
((for the rest... see The Return