Kana walked ahead of me swaying her head from left to right, reading the names hanging over the tavern doors.
We walked into the northern streets where the strong aroma of alcohol hung over the street.
Should I walk a bit closer to her? It feels a little awkward to be walking behind someone for so long. I’ll try speaking up.
“Uh…Miss Kana where are we-”
In a quick spin on her heel, she turned to me with a shy grin. “Could we drop the formalities, please? At least when we are outside of the ASH headquarters, tonight’s all about fun after all.”
Fun actually sounds pretty good about now. I was a little tired of having to keep my words so formal and wound up. It’s good to know I can speak a little more freely.
“I will keep that in mind…Kana.” I managed to say it but not without an awkward catch in my throat.
“Good! To answer your question before, I heard of a great tavern from one of my colleagues last night. It should be around here somewhere…over there!”
She got so excited that she ran past me to the door, she glanced over her shoulder repeatedly hoping I was keeping up.
We arrived at the door of a sleek wooden building with bright red lanterns hanging around it. Besides the lanterns, the majority of the building gave off a vibrant atmosphere.
A loud buzz of people chatting exploded from the front door as soon as we came closer, it quickly became impossible to focus on one sentence as they all meshed together in a cacophony of conversation.
My eyes glossed over the wildly painted sign standing upright beside the entrance.
“Lucky suns? This place sounds familiar…” I trailed off in deep thought.
“I hear they have a signature beer that is pretty good.”
My sudden burst of emotion caught her by surprise.
I only turned 16 recently and naturally was never allowed inside any pubs or taverns, not that I tried. I had snuck a snip once when I was a kid but had never tried again after that. Nothing I can’t stand more than the taste of bitter things…
Kana glanced back at me with a confused expression and then came to a realisation.
“Oh that’s right, you just turned 16 two weeks ago! Will this be your first time trying it?” She pressed further with a coy smile.
I can’t let her think that I’m some kid, that’s the last thing I need from my consultant. I doubt she would treat my dungeon explorations any differently because I hate to drink but it’s a possibility, isn't it?
The thought of her not being on the same page as me with climbing the Tower adds a knot to my stomach. She needs to think of me as a man, as someone brave!
“N-no in fact I’m quite good at holding my liquor!” I replied with my eyes averted.
“Well that certainly would make for good company, why don’t we get a table.”
As we stepped through the front door a pair of bear-like men slammed against each other locked by the fingers as they attempted to push one another back.
It was a masculine display of strength that would ordinarily overtake an entire street's attention but in this case, no more than a table or two looked over. It really says something about the atmosphere of this place, maybe it’s a regular thing?
The one on the left was slightly taller with bulging muscles that were perfectly visible through his clothes.
Locked on the opposite end was a hulking figure even larger than him but not as muscular and instead had a noticeable belly popping out from under his shirt. His burly arms seemed to be the only thing keeping things fair.
“Let up already, I can feel yer slippin'!” The muscular man shouted.
“You kiddin? I’m only getting started!”
Suddenly a bright orange figure rose behind the two men, her hair flowed out to the sides with the orange glow of an early horizon.
Two thin arms wrapped around the men’s shoulders and forced them into the ground, crashing into the wooden floorboards hard enough to shake the entire tavern.
“Either order something- or get out!” The woman screamed over the two collapsed men.
Her amber eyes brushed over to us and settled. Her frustrated scowl had been replaced by a blank stare as she observed us curiously.
“Are you two in or out, we’re too busy to have loiterers?” She asked firmly.
I stumbled for words, trying to think of a response but to be honest, I was still captivated by the collapsed giants she brought down with her skinny arms.
“Can we get a table for two please?” Kana smiled.
“Coming right up. Silvy, you have customers!” The woman yelled across the room and a waitress came running in response.
A cute woman who looked to be my age guided us to our table in the centre of the room. Her hair was tied up in a messy bun, with a few strands that hung against her cheek and over her forehead in the shape of bangs. Its vibrant green colour was something I haven't seen before in Istoria, at least never this shiny.
At first glance, it would look untidy but it suits her well, she’s definitely a very attractive woman. I grew a little nervous as she walked ahead of us, trotting in her uniform themed to the gold and red colours of the tavern.
We began sitting down at our table when suddenly her shoes clacked together and the waitress came flying at me with her arms extended out.
I rushed in to catch her but she waved her arms around too much and knocked me over.
My fingers clawed into an open hand as the soft texture of two large balloons filled my palms. My face grew warm and then turned hot not long after when she was laying over me on the ground.
“Soft...what could feel this nice?” I muttered in a trans-like state.
Suddenly I snapped back to reality when I noticed the red material of her dress covering my face. I helped her up and noticed that she was as red as I was.
Others around the room erupted into laughter as they watched things unfold. I don’t know how they missed the two men fighting but managed to see every bit of that.
Silvy patted herself down and kept her eyes glued down as she sighed deeply. I was glad she wasn’t broken up about it but it kind of looks like she was used to it. It was then that others began chiming in.
“Good ol’ Silvy!”
“Careful not to trip when you’re dealing with our drinks alright?”
They continued to laugh.
“Are you okay Rei?” Kana leaned over.
“I’m fine- I’m fine! Don’t worry about me, I’m pretty sturdy.” I reassured her.
I looked around the room trying to see who all was laughing when my eyes crossed over a large staircase leading upstairs. It was faint but I could hear the subtle sounds of people talking.
“Excuse me but…is there some sort of second bar above us?”
“I’m surprised you noticed, yes but that is the premium lounge. It’s used for booked events or guild meetings mostly.” Silvy replied.
Even though this place was located on a street I frequented quite often I would have never thought it looked this expensive.
The chairs matched the décor perfectly, the subtle brown colour of the wood paired well with the bright red lamps and tablecloths. This place seems to be popular, I don’t think we would even be able to get a seat at the bar from how packed it is.
Silvy looked right as rain, she composed herself well after that little fall and placed a menu on the table.
“Can I start you guys off with something to drink? We have some great couple’s options if you’d like.”
“Pfft!” A spray of spit shot out from between my lips.
“We’re not a couple…” Kana trailed off with a red face.
Her eyes dropped down and a slight shift in her voice made her sound embarrassed.
“Really? My bad~” The waitress laughed as she tapped her knuckle against the top of her head in a coy manner. “Then how about our famous Peanut Beer, it’s really popular?”
This must be the option that Kana spoke about earlier. Peanut’s used to make beer? It sounds a little weird…
“I’ll have one of those thanks.” Kana replied.
Seeing Kana so excited to order one I opted for the same item. The goal here is to have her think of me as an adult, I’ll need to keep up with her tonight to do that!
“I’ll have the same please.”
“Two Peanut Beers, coming up!”
As we finished our order she quickly stepped away to the back room where the kitchen was. She carefully navigated through the crowds of people and rowdy customers without hassle, up until the kitchen entrance where she tripped again.
This atmosphere in the room was even livelier once we got seated, bards and musicians played in the corner as they set a jovial tone for the evening. The solid clanks of tankards pierced through laughter as adventures and groups of people huddled around their tables, cheering for anything worth raising a glass to.
This place is nice, I can see why Kana wanted to try it out now. It’s just like the taverns from the stories~
“Hey Rei, this might just be my work self talking but…are there a lot of adventurers here?” Kana leaned over the table and cupped her hand over her mouth so that only I could hear.
I noticed it when we walked in but she is right, aside from the occasional regular person at the bar it was hard to see a table that wasn’t filled with armoured-up, sword-wielding adventurers.
It must be some sort of adventurers hotspot then.
“The waitress did mention a room upstairs for meetings, maybe adventurers like coming here.”
“You’re probably right, I just wish I could see why. It is my job to know them after all.” Kana rested her chin over her hand as she gazed out into the energetic table beside us.
That’s right, she has only been a consultant for a few weeks just like me. When I registered for my license at ASH headquarters they mentioned that I would be her first client.
“You mentioned before that you worked with ASH for 3 years right? What did you use to do before?”
Kana’s eyebrows raised, which made me realise that I might have gone too far.
She looked utterly stunned, was it maybe too personal??
“S-sorry, I shouldn’t ask things like that should I?!”
“Paperwork…” Kana muttered.
“…I did paperwork.”
After a brief moment of silence, she pouted slightly and spoke.
“What, you said you wanted to know didn’t you? Shouldn’t we be on the same page if I’m going to be your consultant?”
“I guess we should.” I replied nervously. I gave a faint smile as I rubbed the back of my head.
I keep forgetting because we work together but Kana can be really cute sometimes. She’s usually pretty mature but when she gets embarrassed she quickly turns into a little girl again.
“I did other things too but it was mostly just the gritty work that nobody wanted to deal with at the end of the day. I’m glad to be out of that but things are a lot more challenging now, I never knew this job would have such gambles after all.”
I tilted my head slightly,