Itori nodded as Victoria agreed with the suggestion that the tenko would be the one to handle the talking, at least at first. While the nine-tailed fox was quite certain that Victoria would also be able to extract the required data if push came to shove it was true that she usually had an easier time convincing people to provide the information willingly. Aside from the fact that she had a more polite demeanour that put people at ease her natural charm as a kitsune meant that most creatures had an inclination towards liking her and going along with her wishes. This wasn't a power that Itori abused intentionally often but when it came to learning the location of a group of slavers (if the rumours were true about there being slavers in the area) she was willing to be a bit more flexible with her ethics.
One ear twitched as she heard Nenet comment on her 'overly polite behaviour' but the tenko refrained from commenting. She knew the phoenix well enough that she was just teasing and trying to get a rise out of her. For Nenet the fact that Itori was nearly impossible to rile up was just a challenge, and every time she got her friend to actually snap at her was in a way a victory.
Nenet meanwhile raised one eyebrow at Victoria. "Oh it's very nice and all but don't you think it might be a bit stiff for a bunch of thugs out here in the cold?" The phoenix shrugged before going with the other two. She'd be lying if she said that she didn't like Itori but for a hothead like her the tenko's calm attitude could get kind of tedious at times. Where was the fire, the passion? It was little wonder that Nenet would often leave Itori to her own devices and go out to find something fun to do.
Itori waited for the other two to join her at the entrance to the tavern before she opened the door, stepping inside and holding the door open until Nenet reached out to hold it so the nine-tailed fox could make her way further inside. The inside of the building looked like what you'd expect from a hillside tavern which often had to deal with such weather: the walls were thick and sturdy so as to keep the cold out, the ceiling was low and off to one side there was a large fire pit dug into the floor and surrounded by a rectangular stone border which served to warm up the room and, looking at the spit placed above it, the occasional roasting of big game. The tables and chairs were all close to the walls, leaving the middle of the room open. The counter which simultaneously served as a bar took up most of the back wall with most of the actual wall obscured by big barrels. There was a door-sized opening behind the counter which lead to the kitchen where another fire burned, and next to the counter there was a door which was ajar from which food could directly be delivered from the kitchen to the customers at their tables. On the wall opposite to the one with the fire pit there was a door which no doubt lead to the first floor.
There was little doubt that this tavern saw much use but at the same time it was clear that this place was meant for hunters, sellswords, outlaws and other folk who would be described as unsavoury more often than not. It was not the kind of place a travelling merchant of good repute would use unless they had good bodyguards or were very desperate. The wooden floor was worn down, the air smelled of ale both old and fresh along with the body odours of men who didn't get to bathe very often, and the smoke from the fire pit trickled away very slowly, slithering across the low ceiling and threatening to prick the eyes of the people in the room.
Itori for her part did her best to ignore the scents and the poor air quality as she made her way to the bar. Of course the arrival of three ladies didn't go unnoticed: the only other woman in the room was the one bringing food to some of the tables, and beyond that it was clear that the three of them weren't your average travellers. About half of the tables were being used, some of them crowded and others occupied by one or two weary men trying to warm their bones with ale. There was also two men at the bar, who turned around to watch the newcomers for a moment before returning to their conversation.
The overall noise of the place died down a little before it started up again, most of the men having decided that they weren't drunk enough to start bothering a nine-tailed fox, a lady who looked like she could probably lay them out with one punch and a chick with fiery wings. That wasn't to say that there wasn't some leering but one couldn't expect any less in a place where the ale was as vital to people's warmth as the fire from the pit.
The bartender straightened up a little as Itori approached the bar, having been listening to the two men arguing over their drinks before the door opened. He was a fairly heavyset man, with a close-cropped beard and messy brown hair that almost reached past his chin. He could've been a pretty boy if he put some more effort into cleaning up and shaping up, but as it was he was more accurately described as ruggedly handsome. At least his girth appeared to be as much muscle as fat, so if need be he could forcefully separate the customers if a fight broke out.
Blue eyes focused on Itori as the tenko gave him a slight nod of her head as greeting. In this kind of place an actual bow would have been out of place and drawn even more attention, something which they already had more of than entirely desirable. The bartender/tavernkeeper looked... curious more than anything else, although there was also some wariness in his eyes as he rested one hand on the countertop.
"A good day to you sir," Itori opened up with her lyrical voice, albeit speaking softly. "We are in need of the aid of a man who is knowledgeable about the area. Could you assist us or do you know of one who could?"
The tavernowner didn't immediately reply, his gaze instead moving up and down to seize Itori up before switching to Victoria and Nenet. Nenet lifted one hand from its position behind her head to give him a wave and a grin, the man's eyebrows lifting before he returned his attention to Itori.
"Yer a strange sort a'right. Depends on wha' yer looking for, but if ye need sum'one who knows lots about the area ye best be asking Harver over there." He nodded towards a group of three men sitting at a table close to the fire pit, specifically a man who wasn't speaking much. He was draped in fur and leather, drinking from a mug and seemingly having little else of importance to focus on at the moment. While not exactly heavy he looked sturdy and the first glance could let you guess he was used to surviving out in the wilds. "'E's known for being one of the best hunters in these parts, does his hunting closer to the mountains than ev'ryone else." The taverowner lowered his voice a little. "That said ye best be quick with yer bus'ness. Smart folk won't be bothering you but three pretty ladies ain't sumthing ye see ev'ryday. Not ev'ryone is smart enough to know not to try anything, y'get what I'm saying?"
Itori gave the man a grateful smile. "I understand. I assure you we will depart as soon as we have the information we need. Thank you for your assistance."
The man shrugged and turned halfway around. "Don't worry about it. Jus' make sure ye don't waste time." With that he entered the kitchens, where he began to talk to the cook, a woman with a strong build which indicated she didn't shirk from doing her share of the heavy labour to keep the tavern running.
Itori turned back around towards Victoria and Nenet, although one of her ears was swivelled into the direction of the kitchen. When next she spoke she was speaking almost softly enough to be a whisper, although her voice still clearly reached both of her companion's ears. "I believe that he is telling the truth, both that Harver is the man we should be asking for information regarding the area and that the longer we stay here the more likely it becomes that trouble will find us. Not all of the customers harbour positive intentions towards us." Her sensitive ears were about the best one could hope for when it came to picking up on things people didn't want you to know. She ignored the whispers which were clearly motivated by the libido of men but some of those low voices talked about things less innocent than some hands-on flirting.
Nenet rolled her eyes. "So we buy that Harver guy a drink and ask him to tell us whether he's seen the people we're looking for. And if the others try to do anything I'll straighten things out." The way she grinned as she said that made it clear that she wasn't going to settle things peacefully if things came to that. It was practically a slasher smile.