Why are we still here Faluel asked after they stood for a while in front of her lair.
Because Haug\'s Travelling Tavern is true to its name and moves around Garlen.
You made the reservation.
I have no idea where it is now. Lith replied.
Point taken. She waved her hand, opening a Warping Array that led them straight to Derios, the capital of the Distar Marquisate.
Lith recognized the middle rim of the city, noticing that Haug\'s establishment blended perfectly with the other buildings, looking like it had always been there instead of just for a couple of days.
Most passersby found it odd and only a few were brave enough to walk through the solid wooden door.
From the outside, the tavern didn\'t look like much.
A rectangular one-story building made of stone with several squared windows and a door that sealed all the noise inside except for the brief moment when it was opened.
The most peculiar thing about it was a huge neon-like insignia that said: Haug\'s Travelling Tavern.
Faluel dispelled the array behind them with a snap of her fingers, her hand still trembling from the cold despite the nearby buildings blocking most of the night wind.
Did you pick a non-enchanted dress on purpose Lith found it impossible to believe that a skilled Forgemaster like Faluel couldn\'t make self-heating clothes.
Guilty as charged. She giggled while they stepped through the door.
It makes even a mighty Hydra look frail and arouses a gentleman\'s instinct.
The tavern was not only bigger on the inside, it was also far from ordinary.
The floor and the walls were comprised of small hard wooden boards, giving the place a warm and cozy ambiance.
Most of the tables were taken and the place was full of people, but everything had been spaced so that it didn\'t feel crowded, leaving to each group of customers their privacy.
Equally comfortable padded chairs and barstools allowed people to choose between sitting in groups at a table or at the bar counter at the top right corner with the bartender as their only company.
In the top left corner, there was a bandstand from which musicians were playing, entertaining lone customers and covering the conversations of clients so that they wouldn\'t be overheard from the other tables.
Lith, it\'s been a long time! Where\'s your girl- Parmegianno Haug froze as both the Tiamat and the Hydra glared at him.
He was a man in his mid-thirties, about 1.8 meters (5\'11) tall with brown hair, eyes, and a well-groomed beard.
The orange and yellow streaks in his hair were hard to notice in the soft lights of the bar.
He had broad shoulders but due to the loose white shirt that along with the black pants, waistcoat, and bowtie that comprised his uniform it was hard to tell if he was thin or muscular.
I mean, thanks for choosing my humble tavern for your evening.
I sure didn\'t expect you to be Faluel\'s date.
Not with that reservation. He said.
Lith had no idea what Haug meant, at least not until he accompanied them to their table.
It was a long, rectangular flat piece of oakwood, large enough to comfortably host eight people.
It was too big for a couple, devoid of any ambiance, and covered in enough plates to feed a small platoon.
You weren\'t joking when you said that you wanted to eat to your heart content. Lith said in amazement.
I never joke about food. She chuckled as Lith moved awkwardly around the many chairs that surrounded the table, wondering where he should sit.
I hope you won\'t mind for a little surprise.
What surpr- The door of the Tavern opened again, letting in a frenzied mass of fur and claws.
Uncle Lith, thanks for the invite! Lilia, Leran, and Fenrir jumped on him in their hybrid form, licking his face and covering it in slob.
Thank you very much. Selia walked right behind them, dragging her feet in exhaustion.
I really needed a night out without having to worry about dinner or the kids.
You are a lifesaver, Lith. Protector\'s eyes were reddened from the crying and the idea of having a hearty meal without worrying about the tab lifted his spirit.
First time clients! Haug gave them a small bow.
The first round is on the house, hoping to see you again.
Thanks, but I\'ll have some fruit juice instead. Selia\'s hand instinctively moved to her belly.
Congratulations, my lady! Then the dessert is on the house for you. A snap of Haug\'s finger put the kids in a boxed area that kept them from running around and throwing their food on the other customers.
The array was shaped like thin strings of light, forming squares filled with animal shapes around the children that produced their corresponding sound when touched.
Fenrir bit and clawed at the cage, but it didn\'t budge.
The young Skoll enjoyed a good challenge and kept at it until she was too tired and jumped on her mother\'s lap to rest.
Lith had no great expectations for the night, but now he had none.
He patiently waited for the food to arrive, making small talk with his unexpected guests until he found a moment to ask Faluel for an explanation.
What does this mean I thought this was a date. He asked while Selia was too busy feeding Fenrir to pay them any attention.
It is. She nodded while looking at the kids with loving eyes.
This is the date we both needed.
I to get out of my lab and you to get your head out of your ass.
I\'m sorry, I don\'t follow you. Lith replied.
Lith, you are a stingy, workaholic asshole, but you are a nice person and you deserve more than what I can offer you.
That\'s why I asked Selia and Protector to join us.
To show you what you are going to miss out if you ask me out a second time. Faluel said.
Then, noticing his growing confusion, the Hydra cast a spell that scrambled their words before continuing.
You should have noticed by now that Sinmara, Ajatar, and I don\'t have what you would call a social life nor a conventional family.
Believe it or not, it happens for all races, even humans.
It\'s part of the burden that comes with Awakening.
I\'m just like Raagu.
I only have time for my research and my apprentices, I don\'t have any desire to get into a serious relationship and spend the next few decades squabbling to make it work.
That\'s what you want because you are young and inexperienced, but I\'ve already played this game enough times during my over 300 years to know how it goes.
At first, it\'s all roses and butterflies, then once the honeymoon ends, we both go back to our labs.
And that\'s the beginning of the end.
We are both mages and we know that doing real work takes time, effort, and focus.
A single project requires months of research, during which we could only meet if and when our breaks overlap.
We\'d be sharing only the crumbs of our individual time together..
Though we both know it\'s unreasonable to ask either of us to drop everything just to cuddle, we\'d still feel bitter every time one of us needs the other but they\'re too busy.
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