"Tell me if you've heard this one before, a Lamia walks into a bar—"
"Stop. I don't need to hear another one of your lame jokes, Kaden." A young woman covered her ears and ignored her fellow party member trying to make her laugh. "It's not funny just because we're in a bar."
The guy rolled his eyes. "Well, you wouldn't know what would happen if it met up with a Priest, Goblin and an Archer, so it won't be funny for you, Lyra."
"A Lamia doesn't even walk, it slithers you idiot."
A couple of guffaws and sniggers erupted from the other end of the counter from some old and bulky men that looked like Barbarians and somehow it was enough to make the man called Kaden narrow his eyes. Lyra grabbed the man's shoulder and gave him a warning squeeze and a look. It wouldn't do them any good to cause any sort of trouble.
There were rules in this place that hung at the entrance and numerous spots around the place, explicitly stating of consequences:
1. Fights between patrons shall be done outside of the bar, unless authorized
2. Be respectful to the servers, don't forget to leave tips
3. Maintain silence about this bar's existence and all people present
4. Enjoy your time!
Kaden grunted and eyed the stone-like signage hanging above their heads and whispered, "It never said anything about stealing, what do you think about getting us that—"
"I wouldn't do that if I were you." A cloaked man suddenly sat close to their side. His hands were folded together as he rested lightly against the counter. "Last time something like that happened, some Marauder got their hand cut off. Plus you can see what they're drinking, can't you?"
Kaden raised a brow at the sudden appearance of this man, and yet he paid attention to the clear glasses in those beefy men's hands. It was a beautiful and bright blue color, and he rolled his eyes. "Some girly drinks?"
"First time?" the cloaked man asked.
Lyra glanced at the man, and warily nodded. "Yes, it's our first visit here...sir?"
"Ah. Heading somewhere important then? You look like Adventurers."
Kaden shrugged and rested his elbow, trying to play it cool. "We're journeying past the Endless Passes, like all men and women do when they're daring to finally step out of this secluded part of the Veiled Continent. We're off to greater lands."
"That's quite risky."
"And that's why we're here, sir." Lyra adopted a more polite and respectful tone. Even without her Skill, [ Detect Wealth ], one could already tell from the sheer fabric of the cloak the man was wearing, he was rich and possibly loaded with countless artifacts, jewels of some sort? She might have considered doing some peeking if they were outside, but this was a different situation.
"So I assume that you have a clue, Miss Thief?"
Lyra's eyes widened, the man quickly identifying her Class, but she gave a shrug. "Heard a rumor from some that this might be the place to gain access to cheaper potions? We need to stock a lot before we can actually think of leaving, sir. But perhaps you know more than us?"
"Perhaps I do." There was a smile in his voice, even when the man hadn't glanced at them one bit. "However, it's much more fun if you can learn it yourself while the bartender or server hasn't served you anything yet, Miss. Is there anything you can notice that distinguishes this place from others?"
The two of them were newcomers, and even for Kaden, it was beginning to seem like a test. He grunted. "Are you some kind of Lecturer or some Riddler?"
The Thief shushed her companion and cleared her throat. "This isn't any kind of inn, tavern, pub or some random waterhole in a backwater village, this is a bar and it holds its own rules."
"What's the difference? You get drinks here and all of those others places too." Kaden glanced down at the shiny and polished counter. "I mean, I guess this place seems fancy and clean and I'd probably eat off this counter if I can. But rich people and big cities call it a bar when it really could just be some tavern or pub."
A click of the tongue was heard from the cloaked person—and there he finally threw off his cloak and sighed. "I would have normally waited a bit more, but it can't be helped that I have to educate you on the wonders of drinking."
Said man hopped over to the other side of the counter, deftly missing the signage above them, something that could have knocked somebody out if it fell on their head. "Anybody can obtain alcohol just from anywhere, I assure you that. But there is talent, thought and skill placed into every cup drunk within this establishment."
"Oh, so you were the Bartender all along?" Kaden crossed his arms, not exactly liking the theatrics. "And you say it's Skills…? I guess most people in pubs and taverns just order some barrels of beer and call it a day."
"Indeed, but they also serve good food, I suppose." The man nodded and tossed some ice cubes into the air, creating an arc before he caught it into a container. The man talked and proceeded with their conversation, never missing a beat. "Most of them serve filling food that warms your bellies and makes you feel at home."
"When we drop by the City of Gloria, I want to visit the Sleepy Cat's Inn—"
Kaden was already engaging in conversation with the man, blissfully oblivious to the situation, whereas Lyra was stunned. The man's agility made her envious, but more than that was his appearance. She could somehow recognize his face or at least pick out enough details to match it with a list. Like most Thieves, she knew who to avoid and who were big fishes that one shouldn't be even in close proximity too. Had Kaden's [ Dangersense ] Skill not work at all?
The Bartender of the Potion Bar was Owen—the man raised a finger to his lips.
"I'll whip some drinks on the house, for the both of you."
"Eh… we're really not here to drink, we're here to buy potions—"
The Bartender tilted his head and chuckled. "You're off to adventure and you think drinking doesn't match with that? Consider it as an advance toast to your party. Do bring back gold, stories and adventures from distant lands when you two return."
He finally placed down two clear glasses in front of them filled to the brim with two different kinds of liquids. One was the same as the Barbarians of earlier, a bright blue hue liquid and the other was a shimmering green color.