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At the Base of the Mountain



Gray clouds are a common sight in Wintery and it's usually followed by snow. It's something Nana has learned probably before she learned to walk, and she can guess it's even earlier than that. She's also learned that what's called summer in their part of the world (generally it means the day's a bit longer and the temperatures are more likely to get above the freezing mark) is when she can expect tourists that are obnoxious, adventurous, or bored - and sometimes all three - to frequent her grandparents' tavern since it's climbing season and the goal to climb to the top of Mt. Golem is set.

"Hey, gorgeous, think you can get me some more coffee?" a tall man with red hair poking out of his wool hat winks at her while holding out his mug, "And maybe some more of that delicious beef stew?"

Nana wants to roll her eyes, but she settles for forcing on a smile and taking the mug, telling the unnamed customer - a name she won't even bother to know - she'll return shortly and heads to the back.

The tavern's busy with the lunch rush. Chatter constantly bounces off the walls and the clinks of silverware tries to join in as though it has something important to say. Nana finds it annoying.

"Coffee and beef stew for the obvious fool with the red hair," Nana tells Venus, her best friend and one of the cooks, "I hate to sound mean, but I think he'll probably coming crying down the mountain in a day."

"I'll give it a few hours," Venus says and laughs at her jokes, putting on a big ladle of stew for the man, "You can just spot one that's only doing this to gain some woman into his bed."

"Wonder how he'll do that with his equipment frozen off," the two girls laugh again and Nana takes the bowl, placing it on a tray before refilling the coffee.

"You girls aren't making fun of the customers again, aren't you?" Nana almost drops her tray when she hears her grandfather's deep voice that can control a room when released.

"Not at all, sir," Venus says, and Nana turns to see a sheepish smile on her friend's pale face and her dark hair falling to the side as her head tilts, "Just a bit of joking."

"Better be joking and working," his gray eyes zero in on Nana, his arms filled out from years in the military and years of just working with his hands crossed over his broad chest. He's dressed in layers as well with his favorite black winter jacket going with the hat Nana's grandmother knitted for his birthday last year.

"Yeah, of course, I was just going to serve this right now," Nana puts on her own sheepish grin and turns on her heels quickly, heading back onto the floor, and barely missing George, an older waiter, on her way.

Nana's not afraid to admit her grandfather scares her. She remembers years of riding piggyback on his shoulders and trying to catch snowflakes on her tongue as he trudges through the thick snow. Listening to his childhood stories while next to the tavern's fireplace and sipping on her grandma's hot chocolate. She even remembers playing nurse every time he's - in the words of her grandma - been a stubborn mule and pushed himself too hard. But Nana can also remember the intimidation stance he takes when angry or disappointment, the laser eyes that seem to almost succeed in making someone burst into flames by a look alone, and the no need for words when he's trying to get someone to back down.

People say it's a surprise a man like him is even in the hospitality business.

"Here you go sir," Nana hands the red-head customer his order and again ignores the urge to roll her eyes when he winks at her again.

She spots her grandma pouring  tall glass of what Nana can already guess is ale to a bearded man with rosy cheeks and clumsy behavior. The lunch rush wouldn't be complete without the usual drunkard. Nana can guess another tourist, one that's having second thoughts about climbing the mountain. No doubt he'll use his condition (aka the hangover) to not actually go. Nana wonders if he has friends that won't let him live him that done. If that's the case, he'll probably be back to down more alcohol and deal with a hangover on the plane back home.

Shaking her head to avoid the more amused smile, Nana went on with her shift, taking on the next order from a young woman who wanted hot chocolate and fresh bread rolls. Unusual, but Nana shrugs it off, and appreciates the "thank you" the woman gives her when she does deliver her order. Nothing else unusual happened until the rush ended - and the redhead gave her his number with a third wink - and Nana doesn't hesitate to sit on a crate in the back to rest her aching feet. She has a few hours to go before she's allowed to go home, and Nana's already planning on taking a hot bath and eating her own homemade stew and downing some strong ale before drifting off to bed.

No doubt the rush will be back albeit a bit smaller in time for dinner. Some of the climbers deciding to leave after eating to hopefully make a good distance before nightfall. Nana knows the idea isn't the smartest, but she can understand that trekking out while you're full and warm by food makes sense to the more ambitious climbers.

The breakfast rush will be smaller, with only a few climbers who are either getting one last cooked meal or have decided to chicken out of the climb mingling among the locals. Only the cowardly and family members will be back by the lunch rush tomorrow. Nana will be back as expected, and she'll probably encounter a few more drunkards who cry over their failures. Nana can't help but chuckle a little. Can't guarantee herself that her grandpa won't catch her laughing then.

"Nana, back to work!" just like he can catch her slacking off now.

"I'm on it!"