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The Tavern

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They came in the night, hundreds of them, listless and demoralized, determined to look upon the site of such destruction. They stood at the edge of the crater, looking down at the barren scar where once the symbol of their dreams had stood. It had only been a building, and yet it had meant so much more…

The crowd continued to grow. Many of them were soldiers, warriors who had drunk away the fear of battle within her mirthful walls. Others were simply admirers, worshipers of the heroic slain and the triumphant cause. And still others were acolytes of the mystic ways, silent adherents to a deep truth, who understood the true value of this place. It had been so much more than just a bar.

After a moment of somber silence, paying their respects to the fallen, they began to work. Each talent diverted to its appropriate cause, teams formed naturally. Those familiar with the earth gently coaxed the ground back up from its depleted state. Those more familiar with life quietly courted the spirits of grass, and tree, and brush, pleading for their return. Those of muscle and strength lifted logs and placed beams, and erected walls along perfect lines. Magic was employed, as was skill, and lore, as the work proceeded steadily onward.

They worked by torch light, speaking only in hushed tones as if marching at a funeral procession. The air was thick with mourning, their hearts heavy with sorrow. But as they sweated beneath their labors, slowly their souls were cleansed, chastised and made new through the heavy burdens they bore. And slowly… slowly it rose once more.

Wagons rolled into view, laden with shipments of food and drink, tools, nails, boards, building materials of every variety. There were crafted goods as well, benches, chairs, couches, and tables. All donations from the grateful inhabitants of towns near and far.

There was no need for direction as they labored away, each heart was familiar with the design they lay, they all had perfect pictures of the doors and windows in their minds eyes, they knew the way the bar curved round, they were familiar with the placement and style. This place was a symbol, an emblem of a dream of freedom and wonder, and its image was as familiar as the depths of each of their souls.

Finally it was done. It stood in the cold night, built of wood and stone, hope and love. The Tavern, as it was before, and yet slightly more, this one built to defy the blight, a symbol not only of what can be, but what will be when those who have the courage stand up and fight. The living embodiment of indomitable spirit, a beacon, a watch tower, a home for the lost and wandering.

The crowd then dispersed. The bartender stood at her post, while a skeleton crew of waiters worked in silence to replenish new cupboards, to refill new vats, to breath life into the newborn structure, in hope that such acts might fill the void left by loss. It was a vain hope, and yet they dared, and yet they tried.

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