The dark-haired teenager immediately recognized the slightly raspy voice of the tavern’s owner, which made him smile, but couldn’t place its origin exactly. He had to walk forward a few steps before finally noticing the silhouette of the small woman cleaning a table in the corner. All the curtains had been pulled making it difficult to see the room clearly at first.
“Hello.”, he replied as he looked around. “I hadn’t seen you Carmen, I thought the room was empty. It’s crazy, it seems like nothing has changed since last time, it only feels fresher.”
Thrista noticed the inside of the fine establishment had been renovated slightly, most of the tables looked brand new and the paint seemed freshly redone. But other than that everything was exactly the same, in the same place. Well, except for dirt: not even a trace of dust was visible on the ground.
“Ah, yes! I apologize for the obscurity. I’m taking advantage of the fact that there’s no customer to clean a little, and I hate to do it when the sun beats down like today. Plus its really hot out there so I closed the curtains to keep it cool inside. Isn’t it much more pleasant like this?”, the small woman said, her arm actively scrubbing the wooden table to make every last stain disappear from its surface.
“But do we know each other sir?”, she added, finally looking up smiling, seemingly satisfied with her work.
“So you don’t remember me? I do admit it’s been some time but even so…” asked the young man with a small pout.
The small woman put her tools away and walked towards him, eying his face curiously, her brows furrowed as her gray eyes carefully took in his features. She remained like that for a few seconds and Thrista simply stood there, his smile slowly getting bigger as he waited for the realization to kick in. He had changed quite a bit since the last time she had seen him, he had grown at least a good fifteen centimeters, his shoulders had gotten broader and his hair was a bit longer. It now fell down on his ears even though he used to keep it cut short. His face had gotten thinner and longer and his features slightly sharper, he was almost unrecognizable. Almost. The older woman tilted her head slightly to the right as she slowly voiced her thoughts.
“Your eyes…”, she started while narrowing hers,”Yes, I remember! Thrista! My gods, it has been so long, I hadn’t recognized you! You have grown so much!” she exclaimed as she pulled him into a tight embrace.
Despite her small frame the woman, who was now well into her fifties, possessed an otherworldly strength. This, coupled to her iron will, made it difficult to prevent her to get what she wanted. The young man found himself struggling to breath for a moment before responding to the embrace with a slight chuckle. He was happy to see her again after his long journey, he hadn’t realized it until now but he had missed her warmth. She had been part of his fond memories of Eneleïa since the first time his father had brought him. She was an old friend of his, dating back to childhood if Thrista had understood correctly, and had introduced the strong-willed but incredibly kind woman to him as soon as they had arrived. The young man had become attached to her very quickly. And this had been true the other way round too, Thrista realized this as he saw a small tear roll on her freckled cheek as she finally let him go. She quickly turned around to blow her nose and wipe her cheek.
“It is me”, he nodded with a smile.