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68.18% Potion Bar System / Chapter 15: Returning to the Inn (1)

Returning to the Inn (1) - Potion Bar System - Chapter 15 by RachelRuth full book limited free

Chapter 15: Returning to the Inn (1)

The inn was bright and filled with people. While the Wolfcrest Village may have had fewer travelers coming their way, a good number of its people still liked to visit the inn for excellent drinks, a hearty meal and conversation with their fellow villagers. Its lively ambiance struck a huge contrast to the atmosphere around a young man trudging to the said inn.

Owen Liddell grasped the satchel in his hand with a pained expression. His hands were slightly sweaty as he eyed the wooden building in front of him. "Why do I have to bring the bad news about this to them?"

He wanted to complain.

And he was already doing it. His legs had carried him out of the Oaken Ashwood, but he could not even take another step forward into the inn. This wasn't fair—he had barely met the guy for eight hours, and now he was dead.

He gritted his teeth and carried on forward. The dead were dead and he couldn't do anything about it now, except share his condolences to the family that lost their son. A mother who had lost both her husband and then child…

Owen stepped inside and squinted his eyes at the brightness of the lights—

A drunk man squinted at him and then grinned. "Oh, it's the new lad!"

"Well, where else do you reckon he was going to stay?" the other man rolled his eyes. But then looked back at Owen's state and blinked.

While he may have used up his healing alcohol tonic to close wounds, his clothing was mostly torn by the grey wolves he encountered earlier.

"Are you okay, lad?"

"You don't look so fine. Where did you go?"

Owen stared at the patrons who immediately noticed his condition, but then moved past them. The state of his clothes didn't matter right now, what mattered was getting the information to—

"Owen!" came the voice of a small child that ran up to him and hugged him. "Welcome back! Wait… you smell very weird. What happened with your clothes? Did you snag them on thorns and thistles like big brother?"

His vision cleared enough to see numerous people, somewhat now familiar and strange ones, all gathered around in this singular inn.

He looked down at the young girl happily greeting him despite only meeting today and then back towards some men happily drinking with one another.

Some women gossiped around the corner.

Others were talking with the Innkeeper, it seemed like they were trying to appease the woman's fretful nerves.

"You know how young men are these days, Theresa." One of the women comforted the Innkeeper. "He's probably trying to court Gregory's daughter or bringing her flowers at night. You can't expect him to always get home by sundown."

Owen's hand tightened around Toby's satchel.

They were wrong.

Very wrong in fact, but somehow, the Innkeeper smiled weakly and nodded. She managed to convince herself with her friend's words. Owen wanted to find the right moment to approach, and yet it wasn't fair to tell the truth in front of her friends—finally the Innkeeper stepped into the kitchen.

Owen looked down at the child and tried for a smile, even while his blood ran cold. "I need to speak with your mother right now, please excuse me."

In saying so, he maneuvered around Nire and walked after the Innkeeper.

"Mistress Theresa?"

The woman was busy over a large pot over a stone oven, pouring in some kind of stew into bowls placed close to a wooden table. She looked back at him and smiled, "Ah, Owen, you're back. Where did you go…?"

Her smile faltered once she saw Tobias' satchel in his hand.

She knew that her young man worked hard for them, took several odd jobs around the village to help her out—and this was the satchel that she had bought for him.

The older woman's knees wobbled and her elbows knocked out the bowls into the floor. "No, he never goes without that. Why do you have it with you?"

This was what Owen had been afraid of, the sound of hysterics in her voice. In the back of his mind, his vision replaced the woman in front of him with his grandmother, sobbing and falling onto her knees at the loss of her daughter.

A young boy not even knowing what to do back then.

His throat felt dry.

"Mistress Theresa, please calm down and listen to what I am about to tell you."

"Did he ask you to carry it for him?" she asked. Tears already stung her vision, and she took a step back and rested her hand against the counter to keep herself standing. "Where is my boy? I told him not to stay out too late in the forest but he never listens to me."

"I…" he didn't know them well enough to understand what was going on in their family. But the pain and grief… he eventually said it. This was pouring the healing potion on the wound. "I found his satchel in a goblin camp at Oaken Ashwoods."

"Goblins?" the woman's already pale face became ashen white. "That's…"

"I will contact people from my city to hire a team of Adventurers to deal with this, but this is all I can do." Owen Liddell already knew it was best to spare her the details now.

At least while she was currently in a state like this. And doing so, Owen instead looked around the kitchen for anything that might help him.

"Would you like me to help you clear this mess? I can do it. I just need a mop, or anything—"

The woman almost crashed to the ground, save for Owen capturing her. She began to babble to herself. "No-no, this is not true. It can't be—he's fine, he has to be. He promised to come home."

Sounds of her distress had already led enough people to pass by the kitchen's entrance. Both hungry people and those looking for a drink would notice the sudden change in the inn's atmosphere.

The air stifled around them and became bleak and gray.

It was as if an overcast sky spread across the entire place.

The Innkeeper's own emotion turmoiled the inn around them and spread the unpleasant energy, seeping into the ceiling and emanating from the floorboards.

An unadulterated sensation of pain and longing. This was something Owen didn't think a person could do, someone low-leveled couldn't have auras—and yet it was happening right now, all because of him.

But this was the only thing he could do for her, it was to tell her the truth.

No matter how painful.

He did not need any lies, or wistful words spoken to comfort. None of that was necessary for him—he hated it. Soothing words meant to console and hide the fact that people were already dead? He could not find it in him to have faith in what he couldn't even see.

Maybe it was the wrong decision now.

"What happened, boy?" an old man asked outside of the kitchen.

"Oh dear, has she thought about her husband again?" another woman fussed in a hushed voice and debated with one of her neighbors.

Another couple simply tried to coax Nire into paying attention to them. "Nire, do you remember me? How's your day going so far?"

It almost sounded like this was a routine. And maybe it was true—these people's visits were not only because this was an inn, but it was to fill this place with life and light and to distract a woman from a husband that did not return home.

And now a son who didn't make it either.

He tried to calm her down and wished he had something soothing for her to drink. That had worked so well for him, but he did not know about her. "Miss Theresa, would you like a glass of water first?"

"Water?" she asked weakly.

He looked at this woman still in a catatonic state and slowly nodded. "Yes, I'll help you get one, Mistress Theresa. How about you sit down in the common room again for a while? I'll clean up here."

Owen wasn't used to any of this, but there was no time for any of that. He threw a look at some people and slowly helped the woman take a seat and rest. Nire scampered up to her mother and hugged the woman. "Are you okay, Mama?"

The Innkeeper looked down at her child and brushed her hair back. A weak smile crossing on her lips, the sight of her youngest enough to make her recollect her thoughts. "I'm fine… it's time for you to go to bed."

"Toby always tucks Nire into bed," the small child looked up to her mother with a frown. "Where is he now?"

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