A few months later

There were a few customers to start off with that night, guards who were off duty, and a few people who showed up to have a drink of (Reverend) Jacob Martell's famous drink before it got too busy.

At nine o'clock, the inn began to fill. Low-ranking noblemen, handsome young sailors from the trading ship Flightstone, and merchants from Kiros and Alvilaid all began to fill the inn. People were in and out so often that poor Trey was constantly running from the door to the coatstands. 

People shouted back and forth, chatted, drank, gossiped, and laughed together.

"Jack! Come have a drink with us, young rip!" some men called as the young sailor entered.

"Another ale over here, if you please, Beth!" a merchant called from one of the center tables.

"Hello, Jacob, how 'bout the ould favourite for my good friend here." a young man greeted the Reverend in a strange accent.

"Trey, come hang this jacket over the fire, it's soaked." Elise called to Trey.

"Arowyn, a dark cordial over here!" called the man who had welcomed Jack.

Arowyn quickly placed two orders of beef from Eric on a small table where two men were sitting, discussing "important matters" alone. She glanced at the sailor who had called her, nodded swiftly, and walked up to the counter to get the special mix of dark cordial, which was known only to the Martells, Eric, and Arowyn.

"Eric can you get me a-"

"I'm busy, just get it yourself!" Eric called to her over the noise.

Sighing, Arowyn put her tray down and slipped behind the counter to mix up dark cordial.

Scanning the barrels at the far end, she found what she was looking for, and quickly filled an empty mug. Strawberry juice, pear and apple cordials, elderberry wine and a special pomegranete wine made by Elysia's mother went into the mug.

It might have seemed odd that there were barrels with these drinks, but the Reverend knew people here who preferred different drinks to ale, though no one was to touch the wine. It, along with the strawberry juice, was strictly for dark cordial.  

After serving the sailor his drink, which he and his shipmates loved, Arowyn noticed door opening for the umpteenth time. Trey dashed to the door, just as Marcus Martell materialized out of the rain and into the doorway, soaked to the bone.

"Marcus!" Arowyn dropped the tray and ran to help her friend.

"Trey, take his horse. Mr. Martell!" she called as Marcus stumbled in. Arowyn caught him as he tripped, slipping his arm around her shoulders and helping him to a chair near the hearth.

"I was sent. . . word. Your mother. .. .Norwans. . . plan. . . .attack. . .don't know how long. . .Someone supporting. . .don't know who-"

"Marcus, that's enough! It's going to be alright." Arowyn soothed. "Beth, I need a warm drink and a blanket."

"Right away." Beth Sheel rushed to the kitchen.  Arowyn quickly removed Marcus's soaked cloak and hung it above the fire to dry.

Beth arrived a moment later with a spare blanket from the linen cupboard, and a mug of hot chocolate from the kitchen. Arowyn quickly threw the blanket around Marcus's shoulders, and Beth handed him the drink.

Arowyn hung Marcus's jacket up by the fire alongside a dozen other jackets and cloaks

"Can you clean up the mess by the door? I don't think tripping people up in the entrance is good for business." Beth quickly got a towel and  cleaned the mud from the entranceway.

Once things were in order (and Marcus was dried off and calmed down), Arowyn went back to serving the guests, thinking about Marcus and his rushed words.

She hadn't thought of the Norwans for a long time! Her mother had sent word? How did Marcus know who she really was?

Word sent

". . that's when we heard form Lady Cluere. Mother told me the whole story, about Arowyn, and Josh and Trey, then she sent me here with news of the Norwans and how much we have to prepare. Is this what you have been fearing, Dad? Arowyn?"  They both nodded.

Reverend Martell looked at his young charges. They were going through so much. . .

"My father is Lord Bennett." Arowyn said quietly after a moment. "He hasn't seen me for years, not since before the disaster. My grandfather is head of the Gascon family. My mother married into the Clueres, so Grandfather's estate will go directly to me."

"Are you telling me that everything about you was a lie?" Trey demanded quietly. He had not said a word since Marcus had begun his tale.

"I am not a lie. I had to cover my identity so as to secure my own safety. Both my parents agreed that I should go into hiding, ever since the Norwans became a threat." Arowyn explained.  "My family consists of the most powerful Nobles in the entire land, Trey, especially since your aunt married my mother's younger brother. Had the time been right, I would have been revealed."

"So you used me as a stepping stone to keep your powerful secret safe." Trey countered.

"Are you not in my place now?" Arowyn demanded. "Are you not the one hiding, disguised as an orphaned boy who wishes to make his way into the world before he becomes a man?"

"The difference in this is that the people here are giving me help, rather then being used." Trey stood up to face her. "Have you any idea what I've been through, Arowyn? Or did you have scales on your eyes when my home was razed to the ground?"

"What you have been through, I go through still, Trey! I may have hope of seeing my parents, but at least you know that your father has no blood on his hands-"

"Arowyn, hold your tongue!"

Trey faced the Reverend. Arowyn stared at her hands, which clung to the folds of her dress. She watched as her knuckles slowly turned white from gripping the fabric so hard.

"I care not for quarrels or feuds in my house, nor in my inn. Trey, I would speak to you. But the two of you," he eyed Marcus, then Arowyn. "must sleep this night. Go." he ordered.

Marcus lingered a moment, whilst Arowyn stormed from the room. Trey forced himself not to look at her as she left.

The End

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