|Summary:||Charlie arrives in Highfield and meets with Aleister to discuss business.|
|Ash and Oak Inn|
|It's an inn.|
|October 4th, 289|
It hasn't taken long for Highfield to shift from a budding village to that of a township, though this might have something to do with the influx of people that Lord Keegan had sent down. At the heart of any good town is an Inn and Highfield is no different. With the exception that the Ash and Oak Inn is somewhat larger then your average one, containing rooms for both those of Noble Blood and those who are considered nothing more then smallfolk. Dimly light, the atmosphere within is one of intimate privacy, with tables arrayed in such a fashion that they each seem to linger within their own shadow, while the bar itself stands out under the illumination of several brightly burning candles.
It would seem that Aleister has found his way to the establishment this evening, but it doesn't seem that he's come as a patron. Rather, he seems to actually be doing work. Manual work. Without the help of his guards, who sit idly at one of the tables. A tunic has been tossed upon the end of the bar and it would seem that the Lord is lifting kegs of ale, only to then lug them into the back room, where they are stacked for future use.
"Get along, Dicky," Charlie barked; watching as the large thug of a halfwit labored beneath the heavy weight of a truck across his broad shoulders. He'd a mean looking face, with a nose set forever crooked it'd been broken in so many fights. It was one of his more endearing qualities. The fact that the bloke was still in his early twenties meant that she also had his added vigor, when she took him to her bed. And she did. All men have cause to know pleasure, that he'd trouble with his words and understanding more than basic commands wasn't his fault, she suspected his mother'd dropped him one too many times on the head.
Proceeding the tall figure of a woman, was Humphfry, a sinister shadow with an angular face and a thick beard to help hide the sickly yellow brown make of his teeth; he was a good hand with a bow and one that she enjoyed for his black humor. Faithful servants, loyal. Men who were willing to die for precisely what Charlie could provide. And there in the middle? Looking as if she'd not spent the past few hours on horseback, was Charlie Cherry herself; surveying the new domain with keen eyes that assessed what needed changing and admired what didn't. It'd need more women, for a start.
"Ester!" Came the bark, while a young girl no more than sixteen slipped up from the shadows, a vision of youthful flesh made manifest in honey spun locks and pale milky skin; were it not for the bruise she sported around her right eye, "See that he gets our things se—-, Lord Aleister!" Charlie's voice boomed the distance, "A long time, my friend," a twisted smile; one full of clean well tended teeth, "Where can I settle my things?"
It's a retreat, no doubt, coming to tend to menial tasks at the Inn and it seems to be one that Aleister .. enjoys. Perhaps that's why the establishment remains in his name. A way for him to escape from things that can't be simply beaten into submission. It's just as he hoists another keg of ale up onto his shoulder and begins to move towards the entrance to the back room that he hears that boom of a voice; one that causes him to stop in his track. There's a flash of a dark smirk to his lips and as his body begins to shift towards that voice, he's offering out a quick, "Well. Well. I was wondering if you would show."
It's only when he's turned completely towards the pair that glacial brown eyes taken in Charlie and her companions, his gaze flitting over each, only to linger on the young girl; perhaps at the sight of a bruise. But, it does return to Charlie and there's a cant of his head in the direction of the back room, even as he begins to turn back in that direction, "You'll find your chambers back here, Charlie, opposite the stores room." That said, he's disappearing beyond the frame of the door and a moment later, there's the sound of a solid thunk; no doubt from the cask being deposited on the top of another.
"Bless you, sweetheart," Charlie drawled, those multihued eyes raking down the length of the lordling's frame. "Run along Ester, see to Dicky, an you make sure that room's set up just the way I like or it's your neck, hmm?" The last was drawled so sweetly it ought to have been sickening and from the way the little waif of a girl darted on, it probably was. She'd a gentle hand with the brute of a halfwit though, well practiced in just how to herd him. Humphfry drifted off towards the bar itself, with a mind towards a drink to take the ache off his bones which left…
"It's a right fine establishment thatch've set up for yerself here, Lord Ale, though I'll be honest an say I didn't expect to see you huffin' it with the smallfolk," her voice followed him, arriving mere seconds before the lady herself did. "I'd have been here sooner too, but I'd a client to tend and then well, some half-cocked lordling decided it was best to go to war. Can't imagine who might that have been," she teased; leaning in against the frame of the door and folding her arms in beneath the heavy swell of her breasts. "Think you might have some idea?"
With the cask settled, Aleister takes only a moment to adjust it and when he turns away from it, it's to watch as Charlie follows him into the room. There's a curve of his lips to a smirk and as he shifts enough to settle his hip against the tower of his casks, he's lifting an arm to brush sweat from his brow, "Considering I own this place and didn't have a manager, I make sure to stop by from time to time. Make sure shits getting done, so that the coin flows freely to my pockets." Now, his arms lift to cross over his chest, even as his eyes settle on her, watching as she folds her own beneath the swell of her breasts.
"Oh, I have a vague idea of which Lordling you refer to. At least he managed to keep it to a short thing and didn't get his town burned in the process, hmm?" There's a cluck of his tongue to follow the words and just the hint of a grin breaks that smirk from it's resting place, "But, with it done and … peace on the horizon, it's going to mean more clients and patrons. You'll technically be working beneath me, but you'll have free run of the place. Make sure the coin keeps coming in and I won't care how the fuck you run things." That tidbit of information done, his arms uncross and he's shrugging off from that cask, "How was the ride down, anyways?"
"It's good for a man to work," comes the reply, humor in the tone; much as there's mirth there yet, in her eyes. It's when it leaves that things threaten to become a problem for the world around her. "More t'life than just swingin' a sword and bendin' pretty ladies over desks. Keeps yer back strong," Charlie drawled with a bark of laughter there at the end of it.
"Mmm, yes," it came in the wake of his tease, "Damn good thing, I can't say I'd have appreciated turning up to find there was nothing left but ashes. At least now you're free to focus on the more important things." Like money. But working beneath him? Oh that earned a full on laugh, her cheeks gone rosy for the force behind it. "Sweetheart, when do I not work beneath a man? But dontcho worry. I aint of a mind to break it. Gonna keep it nice and smooth for you, no wrinkles on the horizon. But the ride? The ride was shit. I prefer men to horses, they just can't get you to where you want to go as quick," she snorted, "Now then, be a gent an join me for a drink. I can still taste fuckin' road dust on my tongue dry as a crone's cunt." And away she turned, in a swirl of heavy skirts to head back towards the taproom.
The first thing to escape Aleister's lips is a snort and it's followed a moment later by the barest hint of a chuckle as he gives a shake of his head, "Right. As if I don't do enough work as it is." A flit of his eyes downwards, to himself draws, "I can just see the extra weight I've put on as a result." Which .. would be muscle and not fat. But he's right, he has gained a little bulk over the past months. When his gaze lifts back up, he's moving from those casks and over towards her, "Seems I'll need to toss a few more pretty little things over my desk."
As his steps draw him closer, there's another flash of that smirk and a shake of his head, one that comes with a laugh that's /just/ tinged with the sound of mirth amongst the words, "Doll, you work /above/ them, sometimes. Or beside them. All depending on the position." A wink and then he's simply watching her turn, his movements now seeing him following her back to that of the taproom itself, "That dry, hmm? Can't have that now, can we? Good thing I've got enough stock in stores to get it nice and wet again."
"They say the only truly rich men, are fat men, with naught to do but sit and lounge in indulgence," Charlie supplies in the wake of Aleister's little tease about weight. "Looks like you've still got a way's to go." But a wink was supplied with it, those full lips quick enough to keep their smile. "Suppose I've my work cut out for me, looking for you something pretty and both little to toss. Lucky for me, I've the time."
"It's true enough though, what you say. And they love me all the more for it," is offered in counter to talk of position, "Or at least you did," follows it, with laughing amusement over the curve of her shoulder. "Past is past though, sugah. If Pearl taught me anything, it's not to shit where I eat. So if you decide you want something to play with, let me know and I'll find it. Until then, pick your poison while I get us a seat and we'll talk numbers and expectations."
"Fuck. Guess it's gonna be a while before I can say I'm truly rich." That comes to be offered with feigned disappointment, because he clearly does have a way to go. That disappointment ebbs, though, to be replaced by a slight mirth as another chuckle escapes past his lips, only to be accompanied by a nod, "Oh, you'll certainly have your work cut out for you in that regard. I'll be expecting something in the near future, too."
Slipping out of that back room, he's beginning to angle towards the bar and there's a sharp bark of a laugh that's followed by, "Oh. I did. Won't deny that. And I will again." Eyes flit over towards her as she angles to get seats, "I ain't gonna involve myself in this operation once you're settled. I'll make sure you have the coin to keep it running, but I've got another things that need my attention." Moving behind the bar, he's claiming two glasses from beneath it and when they are settled on the oaken surface, a bottle is following a moment later, so that each glass can be half filled with a clear liquid.
"Well you're young yet, boy, there's still time," is supplied, while those hazel eyes gleam near golden in the dim lighting. After all, the Mistress had a good decade on him. "But I'll keep my eyes out, in the meantime. Was thinking of familiarizing myself a good turn with things here and then riding about the local circut to look for girls who aint sworn and those who…perhaps found themselves without a protector in the wake of your little war. Fresh faces, as it were. You can have the pick of the lot," she promises.
But again? That earned a hard bark of laughter from the woman, "My dearest lord, you've moved your mistress in beneath your wife's nose, while she lays abed sick and you think that -I- will warm your bed? That's not good business. But I will ensure that it doesn't get cold," Charlie promised, as she moved to settle into a table off to the side; settled in a corner near the back so that she had a view of the door and the stairs and everyone else within. She even went so far as to nudge out a chair for him with the toe of her boot, when he he finally turned up to join her. "Still, it eases me to know I can do as I please, but I'd rather know what I'm working -with- before I start. A man always likes to know where his coin's spent, I've learned. How many girls are we capable of hiring? D'you want them housed here, much as Pearl did, or do you intend to force them elsewhere? How many needed to run the counter itself and the tables, with the current turn-over. I'll need to see the books."
Setting the bottle aside, Aleister claims the two glasses and begins to make his way out from behind the bar, that smirk dancing to his lips once more as he offers, "Awfully kind of ya, that is. Letting me have first pick." There's just a hint of a tease to those words and as he begins to draw closer towards the table that she's chosen, he's flitting his eyes to her and then to the chair that is nudged out, "You need some way, my dear, to make me considering turning ownership of this place over to you in the future." Again, there's a jest in those words and when that seat is finally claimed, he's settling her glass on the table and then pressing it along the surface towards her.
"You could hire a dozen or so at the moment, if I was inclined to toss out the coin. But let's drop that number to five right now. See how things progress." His hand curls around his glass, fingertips idly tapping against it for a moment, "You'll need two to man the bar in the evenings, one during the day. Probably two to three to handle tables and fill orders in the evenings." The mention of the books draws his free hand up, giving a slight wave and when it lowers, he's offering, "You'll find it in your chambers. Along with lockbox with coin in it, to start you off."
"I do try," Charlie teases, offering a wink in response to his mention of her 'kindness'. "But as for turning it over? You darling darling man, I am going to make you so much money that the very thought of me leaving and you losing my particular brand of…we'll say…rugged charm, is going to make you sick to your stomach. There'll be nothing for it then but pleasing me." Yet it's given in jest and with laughter, while her hand reaches out to claim the offered glass.
"A dozen's too many too choose from anyway. A decent cook in the kitchens? I'll have to look over your own, the Stranger would fuck me before I ever cooked for anyone; a decent hand to break up the fights. I'll work at the bar meself, but then..I suspect you knew that. I'm very….hands on in my approach," invitation in the smile, perhaps? "When do your deliveries come in? Who do you order your ale through, what's the duration for the contracts or the wine? And how would you feel about my looking into renegioating other deals with houses outside your own, if the prices are better?"
Lifting the glass to his lips, Aleister takes a sip of the harsh liquid, one that burns going down but leaves a warm feeling in it's wake and when it's settled back upon the table, there's a slight shake of his head and that smirk has once more claimed his lips, "Oh, I have no doubt that you'll make a ton of money, doll, and in the process, you'll do the same for yourself."
There's naught else but a cluck of his tongue as he falls silent to simply listen to that and at the mention of being 'hands on', there's a slight laugh and another shake of his head, "Mm .. I'm aware of such things and expected no less." Shifting in his seat a bit, his idle hand lifts upwards to smooth back through his hair before falling back to rest on the table, "Last shipment of ale came up through merchents in Seagard. Haven't lock myself into any contracts, which has caused me to pay an inflated price for case-by-case purchases." His shoulders lift into a shrug at that, though, "Was easier that way, for the intrim. As for renegotating? Sure. Do what you need to, in that regard. I'll leave those matters in your .. skilled hands."
"That's what I'm here for," Charlie replies with an easy laugh, "And that's also…," the glass was lifted, swirled once so she could catch its scent. "..what I'll drink to!" At which point she does; with the glass turned up so that she could take a very long drink. There was a shiver for the way it burned, a wet smack of her lips to follow it and a pleased smile that stretched across her face.
Charlie rests easy in her chair; draped to lounge like a fat cat, her legs crossed at her thighs so that those heavy skirts part to reveal a slit that bares her leg from the middle of her thigh down. "Case-by-case? Good gods, man. Are you trying to go begger yourself?" Still, her smile was an indulgent one. "If there's no Houses you're keen to avoid then I'll set some feelers out and she who's looking to offer the best product for the best price and leave the final papers to be approved with your seal," Charlie chuckled, "So long as you trust me to speak in your name for such matters."
A tip of his glass is offered in her direction at the impromptu 'toast' and it's followed by a quick, "When did you ever need something to drink to, Doll?" That is a clear tease, laced with light humor and followed by his glass lifting back to his lips for another quick sip of the clear liquid. This time, the glass doesn't make it back to the table, for he's holding it closer, fingertips still idly tapping against it. The cross of her legs draws his eyes downwards, gazes playing over the exposed spanse of thigh before lifting back up to settle on her, "Wasn't much point in contracts when the war was coming closer. Shit tends to get disrupted and merchants get pissed off." Another shrug comes to pass and the glass is once more lifted to his lips, this time so that he can drain the contents with a slight hiss to follow. With the empty settling back on the table, he's giving a quick nod, "No one to avoid as of yet. Do what you need to and let me know. I'll see that the documents get my approval as a result."
"Everyone needs a good excuse," the madam chuckles, a low throaty sound that tumbles free with all the burn of whiskey and all the sweetness of honey. "I'd be called a lush if I didn't, you know." It's an easy banter that's given, light and casual and without concern. Much in the way she stretches when his eyes sweep down her body, offering him a better view without ever a flicker of shame. "Merchants will get pissed simply because it's a Tuesday and no one's yet made them a sandwich," Charlie smirked, before taking another long drink. "But I'll ask around and do what I may. And don't worry, if ever I travel to test the product, I'll make sure that you get settled with my bill as a measure of business expense." Wink.