They say that people come to the Stop when they’re ready to die.
They say that Death himself is a patron. Certainly, that’s where the tavern got its name.
Azrael’s Stop. Watering hole for the Angel of Death.
There’s an altar in the corner, a white ash cabinet with a statue of the angel. It’s simple, but stands out—most taverns don’t have altars to Death, after all.
They say you’re supposed to leave an offering on the altar, instead of tipping. Not wanting to risk attracting Death’s attention, most do it. That’s also why most avoid the name, and just call it the Stop.
They said people came to the Stop to die.
They said Death himself was a patron.
But Ceph didn’t trade in rumour. He just served drinks.
Biggles and the Departed
“Welcome back to the Stop,” Ceph said.
“Thank you! Um… back?”
“You’ve been here before.”
While Ceph prepped for the day, Rye wandered. Gazed at the altar. Pored over the wine selection. Taunted the crow. Watched Ceph.
Elegy of the Twilight Prince
It was a particularly rough night for Ceph. No matter what distraction he sought, the faces of the dead lurked behind his eyes.
“You all right?” Old Tom asked.
“You don’t sound it,” Nael said.
“It’s a good myth. Cain. But it’s just a myth,” Ceph said.
Nael shook his head. “No myth is just a myth. No song is just a song. No story just a story. Telling it gives it meaning. Hearing it gives it meaning. Gives it power. There is great power in story, in music. There is truth in even the most blatant fiction. You find the meaning you need.”
That night, Ceph closed the bar early, kicked the patrons out, poured himself a drink. The crow watched him, head cocked, as he made his way to his bed.
The sheets needed cleaning; they were browning from sweat. He hadn’t been sleeping well.
The crow could feel it. Could hear the uncanny sounds of a low, soft voice, speaking indistinguishable words that are at once calming and terrifying. The sounds were far away, indistinct, as if they didn’t quite belong.
“People come here when they’re ready to die.”
“You weren’t ready, Rye,” Ceph said.
“Maybe I was. Maybe you weren’t.”