Five years prior.
She’s the only one up and around this corner of Crossroads this early in the morning. Sure, there are merchants and traders and other brigands and river folk coming to pawn and hock their garbage, but she is one, if not the only, civilians that move about their crowds quietly. From her district though? Yeah. If it was called a district in the least, the small place she’s carved out here is more than enough to keep her lot out of trouble. She’s quick to pick up what she needs, breakfast for the little ones, jobs for the older and able, information that might be pertinent to the days events, but she is humble in her work. Humbler in pay, but she doesn’t mind it. They have a roof. They have straw beds and clothes with minimal holes in the edges. She makes enough.
She is a stout figure, with bronze skin and light hair who only stands at about four and a half feet. Tight cords of muscle hold her up and her dress is simple, easy to move n, and keeps her organs safe from thieves in the night. Whatever stories these crooked hicks crock up about the dwarves becomes her business when they think they’re hiding valuables from them. Last night she had to chase off another kenku with the terrible penchant for shiny metals.
On this morning, the river fog hasn’t quite lifted from the damp ground where it swings low and blankets the streets — out past the edges of the gates, it hugs close to the banks, and beyond that into the grasslands, it fades where the morning light is beginning to make it’s mark on the pale jade sea that stretches out just East of them. Where the rain fell last night, the green would brighten as the day grew taller, but for now there’s only the quiet sigh of a land just barely waking up. Slowly. Achingly. There would be caravans coming through, if it suited them to stop this far out, and there would be the ever shifting tide of the Boss’s crews. Work would be readily available outside of Crossroads’ narrow streets today.
He slogs in just before proper daybreak, and she barely spots him through the mist.
It’s quite a figure, he towers easily above the hobgoblins at their posts, and the others that watch the dirt streets in Crossroads proper, and he’s hard to miss — a streak of crimson across the pale morning, looking closer to the gates. The dwarven woman rights herself proper and with such a tight ship being ran, she hangs back for a moment.
This being, this demon approaches the gate, dressed in rags that are singed and torn, muddy with travel, where he’s stopped.
“What’s yer business, stranger?”
There’s a pause, and in clear dwarvish he replies, but the goblins don’t, and this woman’s brows nearly shoot off her forehead with how fast she reacts. His throat clears, and in common, “Food, uh, shelter—?”
“There’s a lot of folks like you, lotsa space that folks already here need”
“Please, I’m — I’m just here for a night, I’ll be gone by dawn if you need me to—”
The goblins laugh, desperately unaware that he stands twice as tall as them, which in turn amuses the woman taking notice and watch. She leans on her spear, eyes narrowing, appraising him with the same manner one might examine livestock. It doesn’t escape his notice, he’s turning his face away from her and swinging his tail wildly — he’s terribly easy to read, she figures, probably a horrible liar. He could be just a boy, he’s thin enough to be one but… Hmm.
“Tob, Lum, leave him be” She finally speaks, tiring of their prodding and games, and approaches. He seems startled, glancing around her, looking past her and to anyone else that might be around or following him, those eyes look like gold pieces sitting in his sockets.
“What’s your name, kid?”
“My— My name?”
“I assume you have one? Unless you don’t, and then you have bigger problems”
“No, I— have one” he swallows, his fists balling, “It’s Beel”
His tail starts swishing again, and she elects to ignore it. “Beel Rux, huh?” she repeats, holding out her hand. He takes it gently, but pulls back all too fast. “Corin Boonesteele. Dwarvish with that kind of diction doesn’t come easy”
“I—uh. Have friends”
“Not the kind of friends who come with you to Crossroads though?”
The tiefling pauses, his hands wring together stiffly, and she grabs a flash of fresh scarring before he drops his fraying sleeves over the tops of them and keeps them down. “No”
Her mouth skews, and she watches his face. “Where’re you from?”
“Southwall” The tail is distracting now, she once again, elects to ignore it. It’s none of her business, and eventually? It might become her business, but what he lacks in charm, she can make up for in muscle, if he’s willing. She motions him along, he picks up on it eagerly and doesn’t spare the goblins a second glance as they mutter and groan.
“… Fair enough. This one’s with me fellas. If the big guy has an issue, he can take it up with me” she calls, and waves them off as the tiefling bounds close to her, hanging off her heels and slumping low to make himself look smaller.
She will owe him for this, in the end. She just doesn’t know how.