By Brian Flood
Chapter 23 - Separate Agendas, Pt II
Kendall Keep, Kingdom of Cormyr
Early Afternoon, 18th Day of Mirtul; Year of the Tankard (1370 DR)
Salik follows the furrier’s directions and soon locates the quartermaster’s shop. Inside, the rogue discovers a general store typical of other such businesses in the towns he has visited. The walls are lined with shelves that hold all varieties of common adventuring gear – backpacks, blankets, oil, rope, and many other familiar items.
The small bell that rings as the door opens results in some movement from behind a Dutch door that is set into the western wall of the adventuring gear section of the store. Moments later, a balding man in commoner clothing appears from the back section of the store. He smiles at his newest customer.
“Hoy there, stranger! Quartermaster Moseley, at your service – what can I do for you today?”
“Good day to you sir,” the rogue replies. “I was wondering if you were interested in these goods I have to offer. The road has been a harsh one and I have realized that my pack is too heavy, and so I wish to sell these items.”
Salik rummages in his backpack for a while. “Ah, here we go – a crowbar, never used, seven days of dry rations, and a large ball of twine. What will you offer me for this lot, kind sir?”
Moseley purses his lips as he considers the items. “That’s about seven or eight lions worth of goods,” he estimates. “I’d be willin’ to trade you for a like amount off what I have here in stock, or I can give you…fifteen silver falcons for the lot.”
“Alright, it’s a deal,” says Salik, not bothering to haggle with the merchant. “I’ll take the fifteen falcons…unless you have any special merchandise that I might be interested in?”
“Nothin’ in particular,” Moseley replies. He hands over the coinage to the rogue who, in turn, takes a fifty-foot length from the spool of twine before handing all of the goods to the merchant.
“Is there anything else I can do for you?” Moseley asks.
Salik answers, “I wonder if you would also be interested in this bauble I found…I’m not sure I want to sell it yet, but I thought I’d see how much you were prepared to offer me?” Salik shows the man the bird-woman’s earring.
The quartermaster frowns as he studies the piece of jewelry. “I don’t really traffic in those kind of goods,” he says. “You might wanna try that runt Mouse – across the street in the locksmith shop. He typically pawns that kind of thing.”
Salik thanks the merchant and wanders off in search of the fabled Mouse. He checks directly across the street and finds that the buildings there are private residences. Making his way westward, he arrives at a larger, sturdy stone building that anchors the western end of the line of apartments. The sign in front of the building depicts a padlock and key. Assuming he has found the place, Salik enters.
Inside the building, Salik finds a small store that obviously caters to more than simple locksmithing. Shelves and counters display other wares – a few suits of armor, some jewelry, as well as several varieties of locks and locking storage devices such as coffers and the like.
“Can I help you?” a voice says.
The rogue looks to the sound of the voice and then downward to find that the question has come from a halfling. The diminutive shop owner stands with his hands on his hips, gazing up at Salik and tapping his foot impatiently.
“Maybe…” the rogue digs into his pouch for the earring. “I wonder how much you’d offer for this bauble? I’m not sure I want to sell it yet, but I’d like to know how much I can get for it.”
The halfling takes the earring and looks at it using a jewelers’ glass that hangs by a thong around his neck. He grunts softly and then says, “I’m willing to offer…eighty lions for this piece.”
“Hrm, I’ll think about it,” Salik says pensively. He takes a closer look around the store to see if there are any items of particular interest. In addition to the two suits of armor and the assorted jewelry, the only other item that catches the rogue’s eye is a silver dagger in a matching jeweled scabbard that rests on a display stand. Salik gazes at the dagger longingly, knowing he cannot afford the beautiful item, and then heads off to the tavern to meet his friends.
* * * * *
The Green Man Inn
Declan has been studying his spellbook for about an hour when there is a soft knock on his door. He sighs softly, marks his place, and then answers the door.
In the hallway stands Jess, the serving girl from the One-Eyed Cat tavern. “Master,” she says, “Miss Calista sent me to tell you that your second room is ready.”
“Thanks, Jess,” Declan says with a smile. “Have any of me companions returned from the tahn yet?”
The girl shrugs her shoulders. “I don’t know, Master. I have spent the last hour or so preparing your other room.”
Declan gets out a silver coin and passes it to her. “Thank you,” he says simply. Once she is gone, Declan returns to his studying.
The fire mage continues his studies for another candlemark or so and then rises to head down to the tavern. As he moves to the door, he hears voices and movement in the hallway. Cracking his door slightly, he sees that the litter bearers have arrived at the inn. They are waiting in the hallway for Calista to open the door marked with the number ‘four’. On the hallway floor lies the litter, upon which Baulin still rests motionless, covered by the owlbear pelt.
* * * * *
The Green Man Inn
The small group of stretcher-bearers slowly makes its way to the Green Man Inn. Passing through the marketplace, they notice that there is now a small group of stalls that have been erected and are occupied by merchants of various wares. The adventurers step through the door of the two-story inn and find that Calista, the innkeeper, occupies her usual position behind a desk in the small hallway.
“Hello again, travelers!” she says in greeting. “Welcome back to the Keep. I believe one of your friends has already been here – he rented two rooms for four persons each a little over an hour ago. He has already gone up to the first room, and the second room is now ready for you.”
Then she leans over the desk to see the burden that the adventurers bear. “Oh my,” she exclaims, “your friend is obviously hurt.”
She purses her lips for a moment as she studies Baulin’s still face. “In fact, I know this dwarf. He has a room reserved in his name, as well.” She studies her ledger briefly and then confirms, “Yes, here it is – Baulin Redbeard. He took a tenday rate on a room back on the eleventh of Mirtul. That means he still has it for three more nights. Room number four is his – I imagine he should have his key on his person somewhere.”
Then she looks up at the small group. “Your other friend – the one with the strange accent – is up in room number nine at the top of the stairs.” She sets an iron key on the desktop. “And this is for room number ten, right next to it. As I said, your wounded friend’s room is yours for two more nights after this one. I would ask that you renew the reservation for these additional two rooms in the morning, however. We have a small caravan in town and if we receive another, we will need to know how many rooms we have to offer.”
Velgardrin raises an eyebrow questioningly at Amiel and then at Alain. “Iffin we takes herm ter room ten mehaps we can set ‘im on a bed while we search fer the key. What think ye?”
With a grunt, Malk says, “Please let’s get him to a bed, any bed. I can’t carry this weight much more, especially with the pelt over it. It’s going to be hard enough getting him upstairs.”
Looking over the load that the party is carrying, Alain addresses Calista. “Can you run ahead and open our friend’s room, while we carry him up the stairs?”
“I’m sure Mistress Calista has a spare key for Baulin’s room somewhere?” Amiel says to Calista hopefully. “Oh and another thing Mistress. Our party numbers eight. I presume that the rooms four, nine and ten have sufficient beds to handle that number? If not can temporary cots be arranged?”
Calista looks from Alain to Amiel. She answers Amiel first.
“As I mentioned, your friend asked that his two rooms be arranged for four persons each. We have done so by adding hammocks and sleeping pallets to each room. Your stout friend here has a standard room – two beds. Those lodgings together will accommodate ten persons.”
The innkeeper next turns to Alain. “Yes, I will open the room for you. I will not, however, give you my spare key. If you – or your friend – has misplaced the key, we will need to charge you for both the key and the cost of changing the lock to the room.”
The small band struggles with the litter but manages to get it up the stairs to the upper floor of the inn. They follow Calista down the hallway until she stops at one of the doors engraved with a number ‘four’. Using the spare key, she opens the door and steps inside.
Velgardrin turns to Amiel and Alain and says, “Unless someone else wants ter, I will take the extra bed here to be near in case Baulin needs extra tendin’.”
Then with a broad wink at Amiel he adds, “Unless you wish me ta bunk with you of course. Then I’d be havin’ ter get Baulin weller quick.” The dwarf’s eyes sparkle and his whole face lights up as he thinks of the possibilities of such happening.
“Vel, you and I are going to have to spend a LOT more time together, if you want to pursue that ‘course’,” Amiel says with a crooked smile and her hands on her waist.
In the wake of Amiel’s answer to the dwarf, Declan steps into the hallway from a nearby room. “How’s me friend Baulin?” the mage asks.
Malk quickly steps in. “He needs help and rest. I think we should make him comfortable here, and go back into your room and talk there so he can rest.”
As the bard speaks, Calista steps back into the hallway from Baulin’s room. When Malk has finished, she takes the opportunity to speak to the growing crowd.
“There,” she announces, “it’s all yours. As I said, I’m not going to give you this spare key. If you cannot find the key I gave him, then I will have to charge you for a new lock. This room’s rent is paid for this night and two more. You will have to clear your other rooms before midday tomorrow – unless you rent them for a second night, of course. Is there anything else I can be getting you?”
Amiel eyebrows rise at the woman’s words. “We’ll see if we can locate the key,” she says a little sourly to Calista. For a moment she wishes they were out in the wilds again, where she’d simply pull her sword and see if three feet of tempered steel would adjust Calista’s attitude.
“That would be fine,” the innkeeper replies in her friendly tone. With that, she returns downstairs, leaving the companions standing in the hallway. Grunting with one last effort, the group moves their burden into Baulin’s room.
With the litter placed on the bed, and Calista gone, the bard shuts the door. Going to his stricken friend, he tries to give him a sip from his water bottle. As the dwarf is still unconscious, Malk starts to gently search his friend for the key as he tries to make him comfortable.
Shaking her head to free it from her dark thoughts, Amiel instead turns to the group. Briskly she says, “The sleeping arrangements will be as follows: Vel and Baulin; Malk, Tiron and I in one room; Salik, Alain, and Dec in the other.” She casts her eye around the group. ‘They look tired,’ she thinks to herself.
In a far gentler tone she continues, “I’m going to find somewhere to wash this road grime off and then get a hot meal and a an ale at the Tavern. I intend to have a word with Jadale tomorrow, re-supply, rest another night and head out again early day after next…does anyone see any problems with this plan?”
Tirondalin, silent in the effort needed to bring the litter and its weight up the stairs, speaks up suddenly. “The chaplain, Abercrombie,” he says, addressing Declan, “wasn’t all too helpful. It seems that religion has its price in this portion of the world also,” he states with a brooding frown but quickly changes the subject in reply to Amiel’s plans.
“As for myself, I would heal Baulin but perhaps my faith is better saved – I was thinking of taking a trip outside of the Keep to gather supplies for the fletching of arrows – if the party is in need, that is. Would you accompany me on such a foray, Cob? I would also like to visit this merchant caravan that’s pulled into town, as I’m sure the rest of us would,” he says finishing there, leaving the air free for the words of others.
Amiel’s expression suddenly changes at the mention of a caravan. She looks like she just remembered something. “Scrap the bath" she says her eyes narrowing, “I’m joining you in seeing what the caravan has to offer,” she says to Tiron.
Then, the ranger turns to Cob. “I believe we owe you some money for excellent services rendered thus far?” she asks the hunter.
The hunter shrugs and answers. “I reckon so. Ain’t sure what ta charge, though.”
Then, with the sound of triumph in his voice, Malk announces, “I think I found it!” The bard holds an iron key in his hand, similar to those that Calista gave out for the rented room.
“It was in one of his belt pouches,” he says and then wrinkles his nose. “Along with a great deal of garlic.”
As people look ready to leave, Malk says to the group, “Can we agree a time to meet back in the room downstairs if we are going to split up. We have much to discuss. Cob you may want to be a part of this. We could discuss your pay and if you wish to continue with us. It’s up to you and the others. I suggest we have time to rest though.”
The bard takes off his pack and looks at the other members of the company. He asks, “Would you accompany me to the caravan and market and see if we can sell this pelt that we have carried through what feels like half of Cormyr? We could lock our things in your room, Declan. I would appreciate it if we could call briefly at the stables on the way. I need to say hello to my ass.”
Alain steps across the hall and quickly drops his pack in the room from which Declan emerged. Returning to where the others are gathered in Baulin’s room, he replaces the owlbear hide that covers the dwarf with a more mundane blanket. Hefting the hide, he says, “Malk why don’t you come with me and we will swing through the stables to see your ass. After, we can go sell the hide, and then meet up with Amiel and Tiron in the market.”
Velgardrin chimes in. “I be wishern to talk more with Father Abercrombie. Mehaps he can clear up a bit er confusion I herv about the dead attackin’ us. He may have guidance on that fer me teachin’s be lackin’ in those things. The Father o’ Battles be preferrin’ me to axe first then investigate such things.”
Then, almost as if his thoughts form unintended words, “Maybe that fine-looking soldier lady might be likern company,” slips quietly from his lips.
“And I be needin’ that key also,” Velgardrin says as he reaches his hand out to Malk.
Cob looks around the room, a confused look on his face. “Not ta be rude,” he says, “but, before ya all scatter to the four winds, I thought ya were gonna compensate me fer my help. And, before I go on downstairs to get a drink or two at the ‘Cat, what’re ya gonna need next from me? Er are ya done with me?”
Alain shifts his attention to Amiel and gestures at Cob. “I would suggest that Cob accompanies you until we link up at the market and we can pay him from the proceeds from the sale of the hide.”
Looking back over at Cob, Alain continues. “As far as your continued employment, I would feel better having everyone together to discus it, say over dinner this eve.” Widening his view to encompass everyone, he adds, “What say you all? Did I forget something?”
Malk hands the key to Baulin’s room over to Velgardrin. “Have it and welcome. I suggest if we do split up into groups that we meet back at the ‘Green Man’ at sundown.” The bard looks across at Cob and resorting to his eloquent speech style says, “For myself, I have no knowledge of a fair pay for you; that indeed you have loyally earned. Perhaps those with tracking and guide skills would know.”
The bard pauses for a moment and then adds, “If you have things to do, we could meet you at sundown and settle the matter after we sell this pelt. Alternatively, you are welcome to come with me if you wish.”
“I completely understand your confusion, Cob,” Amiel laughs. “Tiron, Alain, and I are going to town. Fletcher, caravan, pelt merchant, whatever. Vel’s off to see the good father. Why don’t you take Malk with you? I’d prefer if we traveled in small bands rather than individually. You could stop off at the stables on the way. We’ll all meet at the Tavern in two hours…fair enough? That includes you too, Cob. We’ll settle your payment then.”
The hunter simply shrugs. “Sounds fine by me. I reckon I’ll just head on down to the ‘Cat and try to drink away these past few days. Zombies, giant mosquitoes, bird women, owlbears…it’s enough to drive a man to the keg!”
Tiron grins at the hunter. “If the gods cannot save this world’s problems, the keg certainly can,” he jokes and turns to Amiel to continue, the smile still smeared on his face despite the hardships of the last few days.
“Certainly a good plan Amiel, but I’d still rather craft my own arrows than to give my sparse monies to someone to do so for me,” he says. But after a very quick moment’s thought, “I shall do it tomorrow, if we plan on staying at the Keep for the day?” he asks of the female ranger.
“I’m not going straight to the ‘Cat,” Malk announces. “I need to talk to people in the caravan, and then I need to get things from the stables. We could all do with a bath and some rest. Is two hours long enough?”
“Two hours should be ample time,” Tirondalin states. But he says no more and looks to Amiel for her final words with a soft smile.
Alain listens as the confusion is slowly sorted out. “I think that two hours will be plenty of time. It’s not as if we have a dragon’s hoard to spend. That is, of course, assuming that we are going to go.” With a quick grin, Alain hefts the hide and starts making his way to the door.
Tiron speaks up just as the group moves out of the room. “Who has the key to the other room?” he queries. “The one that Malk, Amiel and I are staying in?”
Declan says, “I ‘ave one key,” and he holds up a key. “To the room I were studyin’ in, right, and where me things are already.” Having clarified his piece, the mage exits Baulin’s room and makes his way toward the One Eyed Cat.
When Amiel indicates that she has the key to room number ten, the Tiron takes the key and follows the hall until it brings him to their allocated room, whereby he opens the door and leaves his backpack by a pallet in the corner. Malk and Amiel quickly do the same. Upon locking the door, the three roommates catch up to Alain and then head down to the market.
The last to leave Baulin’s room, Velgardrin arranges his and Baulin’s equipment in the room. He removes his armor but re-belts his axe, peace bonded still, and heads out to discuss zombies with Father Abercrombie.
The content of Company of the Silver Claws is the property and copyright of Brian Flood, and are not to be published or redistributed without permission.
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