“Welcome to the Pig and Whistle. What can I get you?”
“An ale, thanks.”
On the other side of the bar the tavernkeeper nodded and turned around. The wall behind the bar was covered in crude wooden shelves, filled with mugs and glasses, and various bottles containing alcoholic as well as non-alcoholic beverages. With a swift motion of his hand, the tavernkeeper grabbed a mug and started pouring ale from the tap.
“Rather quiet here, ain’t it?” the man behind him remarked while looking around the tavern. The tavern was spacious. The first floor held three massive wooden tables which reached one side of the room to the other. Alongside them, rows of wooden chairs offered opportunities for seating. The furniture was old and worn but still in good shape. The bar was located at the head of the room, right across from the entrance and to either side of it two heavy wooden stairs lead up to the second floor.
“The early hours usually are,” the tavernkeeper answered. With a thud he placed the mug in front of the man on the counter. “That would be one silver piece.”
The man stuck one hand into the pocket of his leather armor and pulled out a silver piece which the tavernkeeper accepted with a smile. After disposing the silver piece in his purse, the tavernkeeper drew a rag from his belt and started ‘polishing’ glasses, whereas the man in leather armor stood across, leaning on the counter, sipping his ale. Time passed as both men stood there in silence, eyeing each other.
The tavernkeeper was an older man. His hair had the color of a silver piece and fell short over his shoulder. His mustache and sideburns were of the same color and gave his wrinkled face a touch of sternness. Despite his apparent advanced age his physique was fit. One could argue that he was just as muscular as the man in leather armor across from him. However, apart from their physical similarity in fitness they did not share any other qualities. The younger man’s hair had the color of a deep brown and was cropped short. His face was clean shaven and, except for two lonely wrinkles at the corner of his eyes, free from markers of age. He wore a leather armor of a light brown shade, which appeared rather new and hardly worn.
“What brings you to Stormwind?” the tavernkeeper eventually broke the silence. His piercing blues eyes were resting on the young man’s face.
The young man hesitated.
“Planning on joining the king’s army, huh?”
Silence. The piercing blue eyes still resting on the young man’s face, who averted his look. His expression showed discomfort.
“You’re not the first young lad to come in here and drink his body weight in confidence,” the tavernkeeper laughed and placed the ‘polished’ glass on the shelf behind him. Embarred the young man stared down his mug and blushed.
Maybe it wasn’t such a good idea, he thought to himself, his hand clasping onto his half-empty mug. He had never been the bravest, or the smartest. What could he offer the king’s army?
A loud thud snapped him out of his thoughts. Bewildered he looked up, meeting the friendly gaze of the tavernkeeper, who had placed another mug of ale in front of him.
“You’ll be fine lad,” the old man said, smiling reassuringly.
The young one lifted his old mug to his lips and emptied it in quick gulps. He could feel the blue eyes of the tavernkeeper still resting on him. As he put down the mug their eyes met again. The tavernkeeper still giving him a warm smile.
“How do you know?” he muttered as he pulled the new mug into his hands.
“Because a cold ale always helps,” the tavernkeeper laughed and turned back to ‘polishing’ glasses again.
Anger flushed the young man’s cheeks and instantly he stared at the mug in his hands. In the yellow surface of the ale, he could see his reflection. Was the old man mocking him? He quickly shook off the thought and took a big swig of the ale. The cold liquid running down his throat revived his spirits, and he lifted his eyes up again to the tavernkeeper.
“Say …,” the young one began but stopped. How should he address the man before him, he wondered?
“Reese Langston,” the old man said not looking up.
“My name is Thomas Broadbuckle,” the young man introduced himself.
“Nice to meet you, Thomas,” Reese gave him a smile.
“So,” he started again, a bit weary, however. “How would a tavernkeeper know if they would accept me in the king’s army? People say it is not an easy task.”
Thomas took another swig of his ale.
“I’ve never been the bravest, or strongest,” he continued, sounding almost sorry for himself. His pathetic tone did not escape Reese’s notice. Carefully the old man placed the ‘polished’ glass on the shelf behind him and the rag over his shoulder. Then he turned and faced the whiny lad on the other side of the bar, propping his hands up from the counter, towering over the young man’s stature.
“You listen to me lad,” Reese said in a stern voice, but calmly. “If you really want it, everything is possible! Don’t listen to what people say!”
With these words Reese retreated back to his side of the bar, establishing the counter as a barrier between to the men again.
“But …,” Thomas started was interrupted by Reese.
“Let me tell you about my granddaughter!” the old man said enthusiastically and pointed with his thumb behind him. Above the shelves on the wall was a painting mounted displaying the upper body of a young woman. Probably I her early twenties, Thomas guessed. Her fine face was framed by auburn hair. Her eyes were big and bright as Reese’s but were of a purple color and her nose was surrounded by tiny freckles.
“Her name is Branwyn Langston …,” Reese started.