Scarlet (Ayleth)February 2, 1112
Group: The Hunters
A biography by her own account:
I have lived and worked in taverns or inns all of my life, my father kept the best Tavern in Albion, or so he said. Actually it was certainly one of the best in Buckingham; and as close to the ‘Centre of Albion as it is possible to be’, another piece of wisdom from my father.
I took over the tavern from him when he retired and started to run it on my own, with my father interfering constantly until he passed peacefully about 5 years later. Lots of fine men (well they thought they were fine) felt that I needed a man about the place to run a tavern, which was rubbish; but actually about 7 years ago I kind of wished there was a man around.
Somebody who was basically a bandit, known as Shaun the Red decided that he was going to become a ‘name’ in the area. He started threatening businesses such as mine, trying to make people pay money to ensure that they were left unmolested.
I refused, as did a number of others, but not all fared as badly as I did. My tavern was well known, and popular; a good one to make an example of. So he threw a lot of ruffians at me. For several nights in a row they contented themselves with starting fights and breaking up my fixtures and fittings. My patrons stood by me but after a week or so, things began to turn properly nasty and 2 of my customers died, as did one of the lads I hired to help out. This was too much, I found one of Red Shaun’s men and told him, in no uncertain terms that this stopped now; if they came again I would make sure that they suffered more, I wasn’t sure how I would follow up the threat, but I was determined to!
Unfortunately I reckoned without their guile and determination. They firstly poisoned my beer (I never did find out how), then started a fire in my brew room, which meant I had nothing to serve. After that even my most loyal customers were not so keen to support me. Some of those who were my friends as well as my potmen, bar maids and kitchen staff all stayed to help… but they couldn’t fight everyone off and when the fire started I was just grateful to get everyone out alive.
I had money; not a great amount but enough to get by for a while, probably enough to have restarted, but I just did not have the heart to rebuild on the spot. Not to mention the fact that Red Shaun had not yet been dealt with. So I decided to travel outside of Buckingham, something I had never really attempted before.
Without any clear plan I headed off with some traders I knew. Ending up in the capital, Winchester, where I found some work as a bar maid. This was OK for a bit; it allowed me to get my head back together, but I did not like not being the boss, so giving fair notice moved on. This time North, and ended up in Durham. I had a recommendation from Winchester, and found pleasant employment there. I helped in the last staging inn before the town, while the landlady gave birth to and nursed twin girls. I even did some brewing, and was invited to stay on, not as owner; but in charge (my beer increased their profits significantly). But it was not what I wanted, parting on good terms I was off again.
Heading even further north right up to the Border with Caledonia, Carlisle. Well the small town of Havoc, around the ritual circle there is a rough and ready place, I set up on my own in a small way; I rented the front two and upstairs rooms of what had been a gaol of all things. Starting a bar I had people pay me a copper or two to bunk in the upstairs room. The beer brewed nicely and actually I was quite content with this.
After a year I had become quite accepted. I began bringing in exotic wines from Estragales and Lyonesse and mead from Caledonia; the tavern (for in my head it was not properly an inn) was doing OK.
One night about 5 years ago, a group of what looked like war weary veterans came in. They told me that they had successfully rescued General Corman (of whom I had heard) from the Akari in York, it was too late for them to go far beyond the circle, they were in celebratory mood and paid to stay in my bunk room. The beer flowed, and the singing started, the later it got the bawdier the singing got, until they ran out of voice and retired.
Next morning, I was fairly amazed to see one of the group up with the dawn and prodding the fire with a kettle on it before most people were awake. Asking politely if she needed anything for a thick head, she replied that she appears to drink far more than she does, because it is easier than explaining that she has no head, or stomach for a lot. I ended up sharing breakfast with her and passing the time until her companions stirred. As they headed off I thought no more of it.
A month or so later, she was back with a similar group, this time on the way out of the circle, but there was a disturbance in the magic and they could not go. Again beer, and songs and she was up first and happily brewing tea in the morning. This became a semi-regular occurrence; we became quite friendly although I did not know her name.
Then just as autumn was turning to winter, my life was turned upside down again. Raids over the border from Caledonia were frequent enough, but this was of a different ilk. Scores of unliving seemed to appear at once in the ritual circle, the guard were overwhelmed and it was a choice of flee, hide or fight. Well I’d got a few healing skills up my sleeve and joined up with a bunch of other locals, trying to help defend those fleeing and pick off the odd unliving or two here and there. The fight seemed to go on half the night; but in the end, once the circle had been retaken and reinforcements arrived we won through… but my tavern brew shop and belongings were once more just dust and ashes. I wouldn’t let anyone else see it but my eyes were burning from more than smoke.
Daylight found me sitting on what had been a good barrel, surveying the depressing scene. Few had lost lives but half of the hamlet created to serve the circle was burned beyond repair, and most of the rest needed repairs. A vaguely familiar voice behind you asked
‘Have you anywhere to go?’
‘Not really, anywhere will take a brewer when they known the quality, but it takes time to get established and I guess I get to start again’.
‘Well if you’re interested I have an empty tavern which needs a landlord, it’s a fair way south, in the village of Castleford’.
As I had this conversation I realised that the person I was speaking to was the woman who sings, does not drink too much and with whom I have shared breakfast. Not looking a gift horse in the mouth I did not even think before saying ‘yes, thanks’. But I was curious to know how she ‘had a tavern’, she told me it was next to the Preceptory, of the Ordo Hwyt Draga, when that did not help, she explained, ‘well I am the Preceptor.’
‘What about the Baron of Havoc?’ I wanted to know ‘won’t he be expecting me to rebuild here?’.
‘I’ll square that’, she said ‘I guess you don’t know that I’m the Countess of Carlisle’
Mentally changing my opinion of ‘nobs’ (well some of them), I asked if there was anything else I needed to know, ‘what like me being Lord Provost of Albion too’? she replied with a grin.
So over four years ago, I found myself starting again, near the half repaired Preceptory of the Ordo Hwyt Draga. I had a fine Inn to run, 2 bunk rooms, a couple of private bedrooms, a tap room, a lounge and a kitchen. I built a brew house outside and learned how to make cider, because I was told it is a good local brew, Rowena’s favourite; and I could see why. I was not charged any rent, but expected to be as generous as is needed to travellers seeking the Ordo or other help.
I fairly often saw Rowena as she went about her business. Sometimes she managed an evening of song, but not often. Mostly the inn was frequented by those who are simply travelling or those who ‘dream of Dragons’, something I am asked about on a regular basis.
About 3 years ago, one such fellow turned up and seemed very nervous about the idea of approaching the Ordo. I could tell he wanted to stay around, and that he did ‘Dream of Dragons’; there is a certain look that I recognise now… so I offered him basic board and lodging for some odd jobs to be done, and started slowly persuading him to talk to Rowena.
We travelled together to The Gathering 3 years ago, along with an elf named Orthorion, who was also interested to learn more of the White Dragon. I introduced them both to Rowena but unfortunately after a great battle Rowena was slain. I do not know what became of the young man but Orthorion I see every once in a while in the company of a group of young warriors.
After Rowenas death I didn’t have the heart to return to the preceptory so I sent word that my belongings should be distributed to the needy and I threw my lot in with a band of Crows who were in need of a good brewer.