There proved to be little going on this early inside the Inn of Crees. A few older men were sitting around drinking their morning coffee and gossiping like old hens. Their chatter and sometimes overbearing laughter was what filled the small room with noise. Tall tales and the current weather seemed to be the morning conversation.
Rafe entered the room quietly, trying to remain unnoticed. Seating himself towards the back, he picked up the small flyer on the table and pretended to study it. It was written in the Common Tongue. It was a menu, which listed the house specials and ales available at the Inn of Crees. Rafe had little contact with the commoners aside from hunting them, and while their language was familiar with him, it was still somewhat unintelligible. Shifters were quick learners, however, and soon enough he would be able to speak it.
"What'll it be for you, sir?" She was a young woman and tired seemed to describe her entire personality. Rafe stared blankly, dipping his eyes back to the menu. He hesitated, moving his lips as if in mid-decision. "I'll—I'll have the cured pork and eggs." His words were a bit shaky. Rafe coughed, trying to cover up his difficulty. It worked, "And a coffee love, its been a rough morning." Winking, he pushed the menu face down on the table. It appeared the custom whenever one was done ordering here. The woman forced a smile before walking off slowly towards the kitchen. Having spoken his first few words in the common talk, it was as if an entirely new world had been opened for him. The words that the old men were bellowing in the back made more sense. The topic at hand however meant little to Rafe.
Rafe sat patiently, awaiting his coffee. A few other patrons trickled in, seating themselves among the sea of tables and chairs. Rafe watched as the same tired woman mechanically took orders and brought dishes and drinks. It was as if she was dead, both mentally and physically. She would certainly be an easy target.
"No," Rafe thought aloud.
That's when the excitement began. A large man and his young companion, most likely his son, burst through the door with looks of absolute terror etched into their faces. "There's been an attack!" The older man bellowed. He grasped his son by the back of the neck, leading him into the safety (or so they thought) of the building. "Granger Sethdu's been murdered!" Rafe pretended to be concerned, as were the others in the Inn.
"He was found stripped naked, nothin' but his shoes on. There was a note and his belongings still with him. It doesn't seem natural… what theif would'nt take any of his belongings?" The man was shaking terribly. Rafe immediately knew that his victim was probably more important than he had originally thought. Sipping the bitter coffee, Rafe turned his eyes back down to the meal before him. He wasn't much hungry.
"I say it's a demon. Could be a shifter. Could be something worse. The vile beasts seem to be crawling about ever since the Benralli hunters have been through. They're a nasty lot themselves," one of the older men in the back finally pipped up. "I believe they headed back to Sell. Capital folk." Rafe perked up, which proved to be a foolish mistake. One of the other older men noticed. He was thin with a wiry moustache. "Say, I don't recall seeing you around here before. Sort of odd, a man goes missin' in cold blooded murder and all these strangers start showing up…" The man's observation seemed to rouse a few other suspicions among the crowd.
"Me?" Rafe appeared dumbfounded. "This is Crees. You are a midway point for travelers everywhere." Coughing, Rafe could feel the eyes around him. They were burning holes in his back and head. He would have to think quickly. "I'm somewhat ill. I'll be moving on before noon."
"So if you are a traveler, why are you traveling alone?" The man was persistent.
"I'm on my way to see my sister in Jekkl."
"Alone? When you're ill as you claim to be?"
"Yes, I'm her last living relative." Rafe was becoming increasingly irritated, despite him trying to conceal it. "Her husband passed and she needs a man's help on her homestead, ill or not."
He knew his body had healed tremendously due to his prior breakfast. Rafe was fit and ready for another battle. Making it out of Crees unnoticed now would be a problem, since the old vultures had decided to make his presence known. "Besides, if there was any shifters hanging around the area, do you really think that he'd be stupid enough to hang around?" Rafe knocked back the rest of his coffee. It was so awfully bitter.
Rising, he felt it was best to make his leave. The low mutter of whispers between the old men and servers alike had caused the entire atmosphere to change. Rafe laid some coin down on the table to pay for his tab and made his way for the door. The feeling of a hand on his shoulder caused Rafe's entire body to tense. He hated being touched, especially in these situations. It was the large man from before. The man grabbed Rafe by his jaw, but that was only because Rafe had let him.
"His teeth," The man gripped Rafe tighter, but it would prove to be a fatal mistake. Rafe snarled, snapping the man's wrist to relieve his grip. The man didn't go down as easily as the shifter had expected. The man swung, making contact with Rafe's jaw once more. The impact sounded as a loud thud and received a few gasps. Rafe grabbed at the man's face, holding his throat with both hands. The man's face was once again twisted with fear as he realized what kind of creature he was dealing with.
The heavy blows did little damage to the shifter. "You see, normally, I make sure guys like you are still alive when I eat them. You're persistent and stupid and have no idea when to stop." Rafe looked up at the crowd. A man stepped forward to intervene but a loud growl from Rafe ended that. "smart move." A smirk grew on Rafe's face.
It was the first experience with a shifter these Creesfolk had dealt with and they had been completely unprepared, especially with one at such short range. Rafe's grip tightened on the man's head and his once flush white face was now red from the beginning of asphyxiation. With a single swift motion, Rafe snapped the neck of his second victim in Crees. The man's legs twitched slightly under the shifter's body before finally settling. The tired woman who had been his server screamed.
Seizing the opportunity, Rafe fled out the door and quickly disappeared among the other travelers.
"I fucking hate the Crees…" At least he had gained some knowledge. The Benralli were from the capital. Sell was many miles before him. Traveling alone was not common for a shifter. If he wanted to make it far, Rafe knew he would have to find some sort of companion. The hopes of finding another shifter, especially one from his clan was slim.
A familiar, yet different, scent was on the air. Rafe lifted his nose up, turning his body to the East. It was a shifter. A female shifter, but she was not of his clan. Quietly, Rafe turned his feet to her direction. The further from Crees, the better.