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  • The Story of the Sticky Pickle

    Aveline Blue stepped off the ferry into a foggy Shirogane morning and pulled her coat a little closer around her chest. Her fluffy pink ears lay back close to her head and she shivered.

    In spite of the cold, Aveline was awestruck by the quiet beauty of the foreigner's ward. Brilliantly colored buildings were only outdone by the brilliantly colored foliage. Here, nature in the form of small parks, meandering brooks, and quiet hotsprings overlooking the sea were interwoven with warmly lit shops, cafes, homes, and manors. A wave of travelers broke around her, standing there on the main road. People from all clans, all backgrounds, all walks of life, here to make a better one for themselves. The perfect place to set up a friendly neighborhood tavern.

    Only one problem--the "broker" Aveline had been in contact with, and who had assured her a fair price on a good building, had skipped out on their contract-signing appointment. Most likely long-gone on a ship back to Eorzea or Thavnair or wherever the hells he'd crawled out of. She'd promised the League a tavern, though. A modest business venture to provide not only income and job leads of the more adventurely sort, but also to act as a safe house for those in the League doing business in Kugane.

    Aveline bided her time in the hot springs and the market squares and spent three nights in a small Shirogane hostel before the opportunity presented itself: A small game of cards with some other business-minded adventurers over a few too many bottles of local rice wine.
    "Deal me in," the ruddy-faced Lalafell with one good eye and two bad boots slurred.

    "Barrel, no. Go home."

    "What're you going to bet with?"

    Barwal Vedewal, known to friends and neighbors at his insistence as Barrel on account of his extremely stout physique, pulled out a folded, ale-stained parchment and tossed it into the pile of gil and baubles in the middle of the scarred wooden table.

    "That," he said, settling into a stool and glaring at everyone through his one good eye, daring them to say otherwise.

    "What's that?"

    "The Sticky Pickle!" Barrel scoffed, spilling some of his drink down his shirt as he spoke.

    "Doesn't look like a pickle to me. Looks more like a sticky letter of some kind."

    "Let me see that," Aveline's ears were tingling--a sure sign to an Ul'dahn that a foolish person with a bargain was in her midst.

    She picked up the paper--gingerly, for it was indeed very sticky--and unfolded it, scanning the contents with increasingly widening green eyes. She remembered at the last moment to wobble on her stool to keep up her pretense of being a drunk lightweight.

    "Some kinda deed?" she inquired to Barrel over the top of the paper. He nodded proudly and that almost unbalanced him completely. Barrel gripped the table to stay seated.

    "My tavern, out in the Eleventh ward here in Shirogane!"

    "Since when do you own a tavern, Barrel?" Gus, the dealer, demanded. He snatched the deed from Aveline's fingers and read it over himself, then tossed it back into the pile.

    "I inherited it from my da's sister!"

    "You mean your aunt."

    "Yeah! My aunt! She passed away last year, left a tavern. But you know me, I'm much more interested in getting drinks than servin' 'em. So it's just been sittin' here ever since."

    Aveline looked around the table and smiled wide and gleaming-toothed. She picked up her cards, which were good but she'd make better over the course of the game. "You heard Barrel, deal him in!"