Solo Kelpless

Ambrosia helps as much as she can when a batch of kelp beer spoils

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Center of scholarly knowledge and shipwrighting, Zeltiva is a port city unlike any other in Mizahar. [Lore]

Kelpless

Postby Ambrosia Alar on September 1st, 2020, 2:39 am

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Last edited by Ambrosia Alar on November 22nd, 2020, 2:31 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Ambrosia Alar
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Kelpless

Postby Ambrosia Alar on November 22nd, 2020, 2:30 am

Summer the 88th, 520 AV


“Ambrosia, this beer tastes like shyke.”

The barmaid glared from where she stood in the doorway to the Kelp Bar at Willie. He was one of their most loyal patrons, but she had just walked into the bar for the first time that day and was hoping for a different greeting than this. Constant complaints about the beer they served grated on her nerves. Besides, she hadn’t even been the one to serve it to him. Still, he was a paying customer, so she put on a smile, albeit one of her more sarcastic ones.

“You wanna know the secret, Willie? It always tastes like shit. You’re just dumb enough to keep drinking it.”

Willie laughed, but his face fell as he sniffed at his drink again. “I’m serious, Ambrosia. This tastes worse than usual.”

Sighing, Ambrosia wandered over, took a seat next to him, and held out her hand for his beer. It wasn’t often that Willie was willing to hand over a mug unless it was empty, but he gave it up without a fuss, sliding it across the bar top to her. There was only one thing to do, and that was to taste it, but before the mug even met her lips, she could smell it. Kelp beer didn’t smell good. Anyone would admit that, but this, whatever it was, smelled worse. Ambrosia’s face twisted in disgust, and her smile left.

Willie nodded. “See? I’m not lying.”

“I never said you were. Let me check something.”

Ambrosia left him and wandered around the bar to where a young barmaid was looking worried. Galya had only been with them a few days, and it was obvious she had no experience. Leon had just hired her as a pretty face, hoping she’d draw in the customers and keep them the way Ambrosia had. She was pretty, prettier than herself, Ambrosia thought. But she ad no idea what to do when that wasn’t enough.

“I’m sorry, Ambrosia. I don’t know what’s going on. People always complain about the taste of the beer, but today, it’s worse.”

Ambrosia gave her a calming smile, trying to instill confidence in the younger barmaid, but she was afraid the girl wouldn’t be with them very long. “Don’t fret. Stay calm and keep friendly.” She handed Willie’s mug over. “Here, love. Wash this. We’ll get this figured out.”

Snatching a mug from the counter, Ambrosia went to the tapped keg and poured a mugful. Fresh from the barrel, she could smell the odor rising without even lifting the mug to her face. She dumped it out in a bin meant for discarded drinks and frowned down at it.

“Shit.”

Galya heard her whisper and hurried over. “What? What’s wrong?”

Ambrosia smiled, so any customers watching couldn’t see panic but welcome coming from those in charge of hospitality. “Keep calm. Remember? Smile.” When Galya finally gave her what she asked for, Ambrosia explained. “The whole keg is bad. We’ll have to roll another one out and tap it.”

“I don’t know how to do that.”

“I’ll show you. Just stay out here and keep everyone as happy as you can.”

“How do I do that?”

Ambrosia had become decent at hiding her emotions, and she smothered her annoyance at her fellow worker. “Do whatever you have to. Tell jokes. Tell stories. Hai, just chat. You’d be surprised at what a little open conversation will do to people’s moods. I won’t be long.”

Disappearing into the back of the Kelp Bar, Ambrosia looked at the tops of the kegs. When she had been at the Stallion’s Rear, there had always been two dates marked on the tops, one for when the brewing had begun and one for when it was fit for tapping and serving. Thankfully, the Kelp Bar operated the same way. Leon had an organized system. The oldest kegs were closest to the door that led into the bar so they were easy to bring out while the newest brews were farthest back.

Gently, so as not to agitate the contents too much, Ambrosia gripped the far side, leaned back, and pulled with all the muscles in her shoulders and back to tip it at an angle and roll it on its bottom rim out to the front. Once there, she employed the help of some of her dockworker patrons to put it up on to the counter behind the bar.

Shoulders were clapped, and congratulations went all around. They were finally going to have a drink.

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Ambrosia Alar
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Kelpless

Postby Ambrosia Alar on December 1st, 2020, 2:23 am

Ambrosia waited for several chimes while the contents of the keg settled after being moved, then gathered the mallet and the tap and called Galya back over to where the keg lay at a slight angle in a cradle.

“I’ll show you how to tap a keg, love, if you wanna know.”

Galya nodded eagerly, maybe too eagerly. Ambrosia felt bad for her. She wanted to be helpful, but she didn’t know how. The younger, newer barmaid was like a puppy excited to be a part of things but tripping over its feet and getting in the way.

Ambrosia pointed out the spot on the barrel’s end that had been designed for the tapping, a small circle of wood that been built into the head of the barrel. “That right there is where you wanna place the tap. See where it sits in the head? It sits low so you can get most of the beer out, but not all the way at the bottom. That keeps the sediment from coming out when you pour.”

“And that’s why we let it sit, right? So there wouldn’t be any sediment floating about from when it was moved?”

“Precisely, love.” Maybe Galya wasn’t too bad. Maybe she just needed a little more time. Holding up the tap, Ambrosia set it against the point she had just pointed out and took up the mallet in her free hand. “Give it a few light taps to set it.” She did so, and the little circle pushed in slightly. “Once it’s ready, give it a firm blow or two or three, however much you need to get it set in place and not have any beer leaking around it.”

With that, Ambrosia whipped her arm back, then struck the tap once, driving it into place. She had done this a lot and had gotten efficient at it. She beamed a smile, one that wore all her pride in herself in it. “Easy. I’ll let you do the next one.”

Grabbing a clean mug from the counter, Ambrosia poured a healthy mug and turned around, only to find the entire bar, not many people for this time of day, waiting expectantly for her to try it, waiting for her verdict on the new batch of beer. She lifted it to her face and took a sniff. Her nose wrinkled. It smelled the same as the one before.

Willie gave her an encouraging nudge. “Come on, Ambrosia. Give it a try. Kelp beer always smells bad.”

“Not like this.”

“Just try. For us.”

Ambrosia shrugged, then lifted the mug to her lips, and took a big gulp. Her face screwed up, and she spit the beer right back into the mug. “It ain’t good.”

“But it’s kelp beer?” Willie asked hopefully.

Ambrosia shook her head. “No. It didn’t make right.”

Drunks couldn’t be kept down for long, and one of them threw out a triumphant cry of “Another keg!” Ambrosia couldn’t do anything else than go back to the storage room and look at the kegs. As she read the dates on all the kegs though, her face fell.

“Shit.”

“What?”

Ambrosia spun and found Leon, the tavern’s owner and brewmaster, watching and waiting for an explanation.

“The keg out front ain’t right. Something went wrong with the brewing.”

“Then get another.”

“We did that already.”

Leon’s face soured at that. “Then we try another.”

“All the ones that are ready have the same brew date.”

“Petch,” Leon swore under her breath. “I knew that kelp felt different than it ought to. I should have rejected it from the start, but I thought I could make it work. What about the next batch? How soon until it’s ready?”

Ambrosia read the date out loud, and Leon shook her head.

“That’s too far out. If we open it now, it’ll taste like shyke, too. Any bright ideas, kid?”

Ambrosia shook her head, but something surfaced shortly after. “I could go down to the docks, see if any of the trading vessels have any wine or liquor. We could buy something cheap until the next batch of beer is ready for opening.”

Leon nodded. “It’s all we can do for now. Don’t make it too cheap.” She thought about that a moment, then added, “but don’t make it too good either. We don’t want them getting a taste for the finer things and turning away from the beer completely.”

Ambrosia nodded. “I’ll get on it right away. I think Galya can keep them busy until I get back.”

Leon nodded. “I’ll go out and help her. The boys won’t walk away if I’m there. They love my establishment too much to disrespect it by walking away. But do hurry. I don’t want to test that. Here.” Leon reached into a pouch and removed twenty golden mizas. “Bring back a case and a representative from whoever you buy from if you can. I’ll negotiate with them on a longer supply. For now, though, we just need something to get us through the rest of the day.”

With the money in her pocket, Ambrosia headed out for the docks.

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Kelpless

Postby Ambrosia Alar on December 1st, 2020, 5:33 am

It hadn’t taken Ambrosia long to get the hang of Zeltiva’s geography. If one moved out toward the bay, they eventually ran into the docks. Zeltiva was built around those. Without the docks and the trade that brought, Zeltiva was nothing. But Zeltiva did have the docks, and it did have the trade that brought, and so it thrived.

Ambrosia made her way down to the docks quickly. The first few ships she stopped at had no alcohol of any sort to be bartered for. Every ship kept their own store of grog to keep scurvy at bay, but that was it. It wasn’t the most mind-blowing of drinks, but it had a special place in her heart. It had kept her from dying on her trip to Ravok, and the flavor had grown on her even more on the trip to Zeltiva.

She had moved down several piers and still had no luck when finally a familiar ship could be seen over some of the smaller ships around it. Ambrosia would recognize that ship anywhere. It had been there the day she and Madeira had gone searching for Tessa, back before Ambrosia knew she was dead. That day had been her first experience with murder. She had wet her hands with blood and had felt no shame for it, only relief, satisfaction. The ship in question was The Golden Hand, captained by one Captain Barsala, if Ambrosia’s memory served right.

Making her way down the pier, she wandered up the gangway. Few people were out and about on the deck, so Ambrosia followed familiar steps to where the captain’s quarters were. She knocked and let herself in to the cabin when the man inside offered an invitation.

His eyes flashed in annoyance when she entered, not because of who she was but because of who she was not. Barsala had obviously been expecting someone, and Ambrosia was not that person. He said as much. “You’re not who I thought you were. Quick, let me know what you want, so I don’t waste anymore of my time.”

He was about to say something else, but something flashed almost imperceptibly behind his eyes. “Wait. We’ve met before. I know you from somewhere.”

Ambrosia nodded and smiled. “We met once before in Alvadas. I came looking for any leads on finding my missing sister.”

Barsala’s eyes brightened. “I remember. Alar.”

She nodded again. “Ambrosia.”

“Ambrosia. Did you ever find her?”

Ambrosia nodded again and pushed any thoughts of her sister out of her mind. There would be time to mourn for her, but it wasn’t now. Right now, she needed to do her job, so she could eventually get the funds to get back home. “Eventually, yes. I did.”

“That’s wonderful news. So what fine fortune brings us back together today, two years later and half the world away?”

“I happen to be working at a tavern here.”

“Not that shithole with the gods-awful beer, the kelp stuff.”

Ambrosia smiled. “The one and only.”

“I can’t stomach the stuff.”

“You have refined tastes, Captain. I don’t blame you. I can barely handle it. But we’ve got a problem there.”

Captain Barsala raised his eyebrows, so Ambrosia went on.

She almost mentioned the ruined stock of beer, but she knew sounding desperate would only make the prices go up. “Some people have been complaining about the taste of the beer. We were hoping we could add something else to the menu, maybe wine of some sort, something for people with a more refined taste.”

Captain Barsala’s eyes narrowed. “You aren’t getting my Godspirit, Miss Alar.”

“Goddesses, no. I would dream of separating you from that. I said more refined tastes. No one who frequents our bar has that discerning of a palate, and certainly no regulars have that deep of pockets. I’m looking for something we can buy off of you in considerable bulk, something by the case.”

Barsala nodded. “I might have something for you. It’s low quality and been sitting in my hold for too long. It’s nothing to write home about, but for those who don’t know any better, it’ll taste decent, and it’ll get them drunk.”

“That sounds right up our alley. How much?”

“A golden miza a bottle.”

Ambrosia laughed. “We both know nobody who drinks kelp beer is going to pay that sort of price for a drink.”

“What price sounds fair to you?”

“A silver miza.”

“One silver?” He was incredulous.

Ambrosia shrugged. “You’re the one who said it was low quality.”

“Not that low of quality.”

“You also said it’s been sitting unused for a while. Make me an offer, Captain.”

“Four silver mizas, and I’ll go no lower.”

Ambrosia shook her head. “Two. You and I both know you’ll still be making a hefty profit. Two, or make me an offer I can’t refuse.”

“Fine. Three silver mizas.”

Ambrosia nodded and held out her hand, sealing the deal with shake of the captain’s large hands. “Excellent. Tell you what. We’ll buy a bottle of something nicer off you, too, if you’ve got it, something from Bluevein.”

Barsala nodded. “I’ve got a few bottles of Blood.”

“That will do just fine. Thank you, Captain. I think the tavern keeper would like to talk to you about setting up a steady supply. I know it’s not a high price item, but the steady requirement it has will likely bring you a decent profit.”

He nodded. “I’ll send someone by to talk to her.”

Ambrosia handed over the immediate necessary coin and took a case of wine with her. It wasn’t a long trip back to the Kelp Bar, but a dozen bottles of liquid got heavy. Her arms kept getting tired; and her hands, cramping. She was forced to stop and set it down several times along the way before straining her muscles against it again.

When she arrived, one would have thought she was a war hero, someone who had saved the entire nation, with the cheer that rose up for her. Wine went all around, and it was drunk with gusto. Despite the flavor of the new beverage, Ambrosia heard several complaints throughout the night that it wasn’t beer. Once, she caught Willie making a face at his mug of it.

“What’s wrong, Willie?”

“This drink, Ambrosia…”

“Wine.”

“Yeah. This wine. It tastes…” He searched for the word. “Good.” He shrugged at that and looked back down into his mug again. “I don’t like it.”

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Ambrosia Alar
"The kid's got smiles for days."
 
Posts: 224
Words: 243071
Joined roleplay: September 28th, 2014, 2:54 pm
Race: Human
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Medals: 6
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