“Yes,” the man agreed. “I am not used to meeting people with this much uncertainty.”
He glanced around the tavern again. “Have you made your payment for this food yet?” he asked them.
“Not just yet,” Cerys told him. She looked around in hopes of finding one of the bar-maids. “I suppose that it is about time to take care of it.”
The man looked over the table, picked up a his glass, poured the last of his golden drink down his throat, and laid it back down among the other dishes. He stood up, reached into his travel pack, and pulled out a small leather pouch. Given his height, it was easy for him to meet the eyes of the nearest bar-maid, showed her the small bag, and dropped it on the table.
“Come with me,” he told them, and immediately began heading towards the door.
The others scurried to follow him, Cerys glancing at the bar-maid to make sure that she got the money before they left, and that nobody else took it. The man led them away from the tavern, down cobbled road, around several corners, turning sometimes left and sometimes right, and into a different building. It looked as though they had entered a shop through its back door, but he did not take him them into the store. Instead, he guided them up a narrow flight of stairs, and opened the door on to a humble tea room.
Nobody else was in there, but there were plenty of chairs for all of them to sit. Once they were all inside he closed the door and took a seat on a velvet-lined armchair. When the others hesitated, he gestured for them to sit as well.
“This is a safe place for us to talk,” he assured them. “I know well my allies in this town. Allow me to begin the introductions. I was named in the tradition of my people after where my family resides along the river that runs through my forest. I am the eldest son of my father and mother, and they taught me well the traditions and skills of our people. When I came of age, I was given the honor of the name of one who walks along along the river. I am called Nashtra of the clan Rindell.”
“Nashtra,” Cerys repeated. “Rindell.”
The man nodded. “Where you come from, have you heard of my kind?”
Before any of the party members could ask him what he meant, his hands moved to his sleek hair. He gathered it back, as though collecting beams of sunlight, and pulled it away from the side of his head. He turned slightly, ensuring that all of them could see what he had revealed.
“You–” Cerys gasped, jumping up from her seat. “You are an elf!”