Tsukiko looked around frowning to herself. The place was a real fixer-uper and she wasn't sure if the payoff would be worth the price sunken into it. She heard the owner shift around behind her as she looked the place over. The windows that faced the dirt patch of a parking lot and framed either side of the doors were hoplessly shattered and their frames cracked and swollen beyond repair. Upon entering the tavern the first thing she had noticed was the large bar that ran against the back wall of the room and against a staircase to the right.
Walking up to the bar she was somewhat surprised to find it in good condition. Placing her left hand on the edge, she absentmindedly it across the dust covered wood and immediately felt indentations in the wood that she mistook for cracks. Looking down she discovered that this wasn't the case at all. From the little dust her hand had wiped clear she noted the bar's true color. A deep red of some kind of wood most likely varnished over and near the edged was a gold trim set into the top of the wood about an inch from the edge itself. In the trim she could see what she presumed were words but due to the lack of light and dust still present, she couldn't be sure.
On impulse she took off her black jean jacket and used the sleeve to start wiping away at the bar top. Finishing the task several moments later she looked back at her work and saw that along with the gold inset ring around the top of the bar, there was an image of a raven facing the staircase with his wings set to take flight. In his claws he held something that sparkled and was about the size of a silver dollar.
"Whats this?" she asked, tapping the image and indicating the object he held. Coming forward, the owner tilted his head looking down at it. "Ah," he said, "I believe that has to do with the name of this place when it was first founded."
She looked up at him waiting for him to explain but he seemed lost in an old memory, for his eyes were looking at the raven as if no longer seeing it but seeing something long forgotten. "This place was called the Raven's Nest." he said softly, running his fingers over image of the raven. "My great gramps poured his heart and soul into this place. Everything he had went to making this place better. When he died this carving was added to the ravens feet. I believe it was supposed to be his soul..."
The man's voice trailed off and Tsukiko couldn't help but be a little stirred. She thought it was a touching act to do that for someone who had passed away and could only hope someone would show her the same kindness when she departed this world. "I think your right." she said softly, causing the man to stir from his revery.
"In any case, he would have been happy to know that his tavern was getting a second chance." he said looking at her. Tsukiko was slightly put off by the man's comment. She wasn't entirely sure she intended to buy the place yet, but the time weary man looked down at her with eyes that seemed to plead to be rid of the place if only to know it would be reborn.
Unable to hold his gaze any longer, she looked around noting a few broken tables and chairs still left around. Few of the furnishings seem to have held up as well as the bar had and she knew it was going to cost her heavily. Moving across the room she stopped at the opposite end of the bar. It stopped nearly seven feet shy of the west wall. Looking back down the bar to the stair case, she asked "Whats up there?"
The old man looked about then at the stair case and said "There is an office and a loft up there." the man said as he turned back to her. She raised an eyebrow at that, but then it occurred to her that it would be a near full time job running a bar and back then, horse would have been the method of travel. So closing up and heading home on a nasty night wouldn't have been an option. The patrons as well as the owner would have most likely stayed over. Sighing to herself she spoke. "I really would love the place, but I'm afraid I wont be able to aford to fix it up." Glancing for what she assumed was the last time at the well sized room, she sighed once more. She knew this would be a waste of time. But something in her had practically taken her hostage and marched her all the way out here in the middle of nowhere.
The old man, though, only seemed to brighten up as if he had heard something entirely different or exactly what he wanted. Walking around the bar to stand behind it, he moved towards the staircase and beckoned her over. "Let me show you something, young lady." he said in a tone that made Tsukiko suddenly very curious.
As she rounded the bar and walked to the man she could see nothing but the other wall beneath the staircase. Leaning over slightly, the old man reached beneath the bar and suddenly Tsukiko heard a barely audible snick as if something had just popped open. Straightening, the old man stepped beneath the staircase and pressed his hand against the back wall. Suddenly Tsukiko could see what she thought was a large crack. Looking to her the old man grinned. "Brought a flashlight? No? Well lucky I did." Suddenly from out of nowhere a bright light shone directly in her eyes forcing her to shield them. "Always prepared." he said, his voice catching a hint of humor.
After her eyes readjusted Tsukiko looked to the wall where the man was shining the light. It had opened up and as she looked at the wall, she could see just how hard finding the door would have been even if she had known it was there. The whole wall seemed to have been designed to hide it. Rolling her eyes she couldn't help but say "You old timers and your hidden passages." which elicted a chuckle from the old man. As he opened the door wider and shown the light downward Tsukiko immediately noticed a set of stairs.
Her more sarcastic nature kicking in she looked pointedly at the old timer and said "What? All this secrecy for a cellar? You do know they have these things called storage units right?" This brought a patronizing grin from the old man and he nodded towards the stairs and said "Not quite." before leading them down. The first thing Tsukiko noticed was the air down here was cooler than up top. Yet for some reason it also seemed much dryer. As the light bounced around in front of them, she noticed that the walls here were made of stone as well as the floor. She saw several doorways leading off in either direction and when she paused at one, the man turned back and stopped to shine the light in it. "There are quite a few rooms down here. This 'Cellar' as you called it was actually the basement level of an old mansion that used to cover the majority of the property that the tavern now sits on. Its over a half a mile long and nearly as wide."
Her mind boggled a bit at that. That was one hell of a basement. Shaking her head she noted that almost every room they passed had a pillar in it with an iron ring attached to it, which she assumed without close inspection was for sticking a torch or something in. Some rooms had brazers and others were just eerily empty.
Moving through the passages he finally brought her to what she assumed was her destination because he stopped and she ran smack into him, nearly bouncing off. "Ow!" she said holding her nose "What the hell's that back of yours made of??" Rubbing her nose she looked up to see him shining the light in the room. Inside the room were a bunch of objects covered in tarps and canvases. Moving into the room she pulled one off at random and found a well made table. Removing another she found a few chairs and a few more tables. Several canvases latter she was staring at everything from floor panelings to liquor shelves. Turning around in amazement, she looked over the items then looked at the old man guardedly. "How much extra is all this gonna cost me?" she asked, a note of suspicion creeping into her voice.
"Nada." the man said. "In fact, if you will recall our agreement, anything on the property is yours the moment you agree to purchase."
Tsukiko stared at him hard. There had to be a catch here. No one gave anything away for free. After several moments the old man sighed and said, "Look. I'm old and my body's broken down. I wont live to much longer and my grands will have to foot the bill. I just want to make ends meet before I go pick the final fight with God. That so much to ask?"
Tsukiko bit her bottom lip and thought it over. Everything she needed except the labor was right here. She would have nearly a square mile of land and a potential business to boot. It really was a good deal. The land was outside city limits and on an old dirt road. The place was surrounded by a dense forest and even had only one path to it. "Okay." she said. "Its a deal."