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Ash'vhenan

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There are few things in this world as enjoyable as the smell of old books being opened after so long in storage. Kylan smiled as she eased open an old copy of “A Guide to Orlais” and scanned the index of chapters. She wasn’t looking for anything, and had no plans to visit Orlais anytime soon, but just setting her fingers to the worn pages of the book brought her a sense of peace.

She had built this place from the ground up, finding a street corner in the heart of the most elven district in Emprise du Lion and making it her own. The adorable little coffee shop next door had been snatched up at the same time, and she had removed the walls separating the two, creating instead a little reading nook and comfy corner where the bookshop and coffee bar had met.

 One of her best friends, Dorian, had agreed to help run and manage it, and her other friend Sera worked part time as a barista.

Through years of careful cultivation, she had accumulated an impressive array of rare and unique book titles to adorn her sweet little used Bookshop, Lath'in. It had become her greatest triumph, and her personal haven.

A loud ding from the bell above the shop door signaled the arrival of a customer and shattered her quiet moment. Kylan breathed deeply and snapped the book she was holding shut, nestling it back into its spot. She had barely enough time to turn around again before a blond blur whooshed around the corner and jerked to a stop in front of her. Rather than be startled by this, she sighed heavily.

“Oy! None of that!”

“What do you need, Sera?” Kylan crossed her arms and stared the girl down.

“Need? Ah, lots. For sure. One is for yer bum to remove its stick and come have fun tonight!” Sera grinned and pulled a very crumpled flyer out of her back pocket before shoving it at her.

Kylan took and smoothed it out as Sera bounded over to the check out counter and plopped herself up on it.

The flyer was dark with silver lettering and “White Rabbit: Bar and Venue” was splashed across the top. It was an announcement of a night of bands to perform that night, with a Headliner named Uthenera. The name piqued her interest and she quirked at eyebrow up as she looked at Sera.

“Really? The main band is Elvhen and you are interested?” She handed the flyer back to her and grinned.

Sera snatched it from her with more force than was needed. “Well… yeah the band is all elves...but they ain’t snobby elfy elves… Y’know? Shite, just come out and have fun fer once! They’re good. Really good. And you need less arse sticks.”

Kylan laughed and moved to grab a stack of books to be re-shelved. “Alright, alright. I’ll think about it. Come back and ask me after lunch.”

Sera hopped off the counter and sketched a very poor military salute before turning on her heel and skipping out the door. Kylan couldn’t help but laugh and shake her head as she focused in on the books before her and settled back into the day.

~~

“Are you serious? You. Are going to a rock show. You?”

Kylan rolled her eyes and nudged her way past Cullen, reaching for a new pile of books collecting by the counter. “Yes, Cullen, I’m thinking about it.”

He moved out of her way and crossed his arms over his chest. “But it’s you. Your playlist consists of ethnic fiddle music and whatever passes for popular music these days, specifically of the overly cheery variety.” He raised an eyebrow on the final word. “You’re going to hate it, Ky.”

She decided ignoring him was prudent and simply shuffled the books around on her cart and pushed it off into the stacks. Her taste in music was certainly laughable, but he didn't need to point it out like that. Was she really such a boring stick in the mud?

Cullen was less than pleased at being ignored and followed behind her. “And who are you going with? Just Sera? It’s a good thing you have my number, you can call me when you can’t take it anymore.”

Kylan looked over her shoulder at him, a slight frown on her face. “Take what? Sera or the music?”

He chuckled slightly. “Both. Though calling that noise music is a bit of a stretch.”

She set one of the books back into its home and shrugged. “It’s good to get out of my comfort zone. Healthy, even. Why does it bother you so much that I agreed to go out with Sera?”

That shut him up. He shifted from foot to foot and rubbed the back of his neck. “It’s just… well whenever I suggest something out of your norm, you shut me down.”

And there it was, the insecurity. She sighed and turned to face him properly. “Cullen...we’ve been on two dates. Getting to know someone is not the place to stress comfort zones or go to a rock concert where you can’t even hear the other person speak!” She rubbed her forefinger across her brow and leaned her hip against the book cart.

Cullen shrugged and dropped his arms. “I suppose I can understand that. Well...I hope you have fun. Give me a call if you need a way out.” He gave her a gentle, affectionate squeeze on her shoulder and quickly left the store.

Kylan watched him leave a smiled a little sadly. He was a good friend, but he did tend to pry a bit much. She thought back on their other dates, typical dinner and conversation pieces, and chuckled to herself. Well, he was right...they certainly didn’t push any boundaries. She shook the thought away and went back to work, letting the day glide by.

Before she knew it, Sera was standing in front of her desk, grinning from ear to ear and holding the most ridiculous outfit of ripped clothes and boots.

“Oh creators...” She stopped in her tracks and her mouth fell open. What had she let Sera talk her into? Tonight was going to be interesting.