The tavern smelled damp and musty from all the spilled beer and patrons over the years. It was very warm and humid inside making it hard for Anneli to breath. The seating was communal with stools lining long tables.
“I’m going to order something at the bar, just sit down for now,” said Castor. Anneli obediently sat down on one of the stools next to a burly man with a thick black beard and body hair. The man had a loud roaring laugh and a friendly smile. The stool Anneli sat on was unsteady and would wobble back and forth at every little movement.
“Hello there!” roared the large bearded man.
“Hello,” whimpered Anneli.
“No need to be nervous son I won’t bite!” laughed the man and slapped Anneli on the back in encouragement.
“So what are you doing here? Traveling through.”
“Yes. We are going to Cumulus.”
“I used to work in Cumulus. I used to be a fisher man, for fifteen years since I was seventeen. I even owned two boats and had a crew of ten men. But,” the man paused to sip his amber drink. “But, my father and mother got too old and sick so my wife, my sons and I came back to take care of my family farm- but mostly for my parents.”
“You don’t seem happy-” said Anneli no knowing it would sound rude.
“No, no, I am perfectly happy,” replied the man, who sounded as if he was trying to convince himself more than anyone else. He took a large gulp of his drink. “But… I mean I do sometimes miss going to sea. It was always exciting, it was always a gamble. You never know how much you will catch or what you would catch. Sometimes we would even catch ten-foot sharks and get one crown for them at the market.” The man’s eyes were glistening with joy and nostalgia.
“Why don’t you go back?”
“Well… not that I don’t want to but it is been a few years and I am not the young man I once was. Besides I have to stay here to take care of the family farm. When I was young, even though my father was not happy about it he let me go to Cumulus to be a fisherman because that what I wanted to do. But now I have obligations and I need to take care of my parents.”
Castor walked to the tabled and accidentally slammed two large beer mugs overflowing with foam onto the table. He carefully sat down and picked up a mug and drank the entire pint.
“Whoa son!” exclaimed the bearded man with a smile, “you might want to pace yourself.”
Castor gave him a nasty glare and turned back to the second mug and sipped it more reasonably.
“Is you friend alright?” asked the man.
“Not at all,” replied Anneli, ” he broke his rib earlier today and had an argument with his friend just now.”
“We’re not friends anymore,” proclaimed Castor loudly and took another large gulp of beer.