The afternoon sun felt marvelous on her bare shoulders coming through the ground floor windows as the young waitress served the front tables. Rowdy laughter burst out in a corner table nearly making Ana drop the pitcher she carried. A guest eyed her for a scant moment as she closed her eyes, sighed and regained her bearings, smiling at the man as she topped off his mug. "There you are. It will be a little longer on the chicken, sorry for the wait." "Oh right right, no worries." he nodded and wiped at his sleeve as she made her rounds with what was left in the container. It would have been a first in a long time for her, had she dropped it, it was bad enough some splashed on him, but the old merchant barely paid her mind after the brief glance and resumed his tale to the others gather at the table. Only his lunch of roast chicken in her hand would have him light up when she spoke. The past week had her on edge. Both Inn and pub were filled with both people from all walks and races. Good food was not picky of race and the Blue Ladle attracted them, particularly when the larger Inn's were packed. Ana was feeling the strain, but it wasn't that fact that pricked her normally calm nerves. She could handle so much more, but lately ...things felt a little off for her, so much so her older brother was just beginning to notice. Before she took her shift in the hall he made her promise him that she was feeling okay. Ana lied. It was easier than explaining what she herself couldn't put her finger on. Well she could put her finger on it and she did at that moment as she worked the dining hall. The smooth black stone no bigger than the tip of her thumb could be felt in it’s hidden pouch beneath her belted tunic. It was the source of both comfort and confusion for her since the day she acquired it... from the body of a dead man along with the rest of his valuables. He no longer needed it and only her brother, whom she split the loot with, knew she had it. He had no use for the rock and teased her for being a typical girl collecting pretty stones. It was beautiful, and the moment she touched it she knew it was more than just a pretty stone. Weaving through the tables, stools and an afternoon drunk or two was a familiar dance and soon she was back in the kitchens. The noise wasn't less, only different. The roar of the crowded dining area was replaced by the roar of the fire and boiling savories in large pots about the kitchens. The front kitchen was modest, but served it's purpose well. Food in various stages of preparation lined both the wall and counters, giving off a smell that could sometimes choke the inexperienced the first few days in the tidy room, particularly when combined with the heat. Spotting her mother and aunt gabbing by the cutting table she exchanged her empty pitcher for a full one, but set it down for a moment. Ana slipped up behind them, listening for moment before making her presence known. "He had enough ale in his gut to drown three horses, I should know, I emptied a barrel waiting that table of his. He should have known better than to come this far south with that much on him. Colors of a noble house or not, was foolish." Her aunt's voice carried well in the room and filled it almost as much as the pub full of guests. "Aye. Alone too, at that. They say he'd been dead for three days. Imagine that. Nobody noticing you was gone for three days? That's a lonely existence. At least his bill is paid too." A smile spread on her face when her mother utter those words and she mocked the older woman's tone when she finally spoke up. "Gossip mongers the lot of you. Should be ashamed. Carrying on like this and the man hasn't even been in his grave a fortnight." her sudden speaking startled both of them and she scampered off, but not before swiping one of the strawberries they were cutting up. "Go on with you! The chicken is done, take that and the bread out to the far tables and quit your lurkin. That habit of your is unnatural I tell you.” her aunt huffed and flapped her rag at her niece. “I can’t help it if you’re too wrapped up in your gabbing you can’t see me.” she giggled over her shoulder to both ladies on her way back out. Her aunt huffed again and her mother just shook her head. “At least she’s smiling...” her mother watched her walk all the way out, the older woman's face neutral. Ana gave the group a kindly bow as the cheers broke out at the sign of the chicken coming their way. It was a routine day and so long as she could control the strange waves of shadow that passed over her soul, she’d be fine. It was the stone, but she could not bring herself to get rid of it. There was magic there and inwardly she worried it may be some sort of curse. It was taken from a dead man after all. There was a history of great magic in her blood, but it was so far back she didn't think on it too long. She brushed these thoughts away with a shake of her head as she served the tables, eyes looking to the door as yet more customers entered.