By Brian Flood
Chapter 28 - Separate Agendas
Asbravn, The Sunset Vale
Mid-Afternoon, 30th Day of Eleint; Year of the Tankard (1370 DR)
Dolak, and Kryian}
The departure of the two small groups leaves only Dolak, Kyrian, and Darius to assist the hapless wagon drover. He turns his back on the merchant who has, by now, expended his rage and returned to his customers. The drover smiles gratefully and holds out his hand to the trio of adventurers.
“I’m grateful fer yer help,” he says. “I’m Johann Darikson, by the way. Are ya thinkin’ ya kin fix ‘er?”
“And I'm Darius,” the druid replies. “Dolak, can you fix the wagon? I do not have knowledge of these matters.”
Whle Dolak considers his response, Kryian glances inside the wagon. “Fresh provisions, eh?” the mariner asks Johann.
The wagon owner nods affirmative. “Ya. I own a small farm ta the south o’ ‘ere. ‘Was bringin’ a load of fruit fer the market. Figered I’d get a good sell with winter comin’ an’ all.”
Kyrian smiles. “Aye. ‘Wouldn’t want to catch the scurvy, now would we? So, what say you Dolak,” he says, directing his attention back to the dwarven smith. “Kin ya fix the ‘mates cart?”
“Aye,” replies Dolak, “it shouldna’ be too much trouble, once we get the new axle.” He points to the broken axle. “See this is all the trouble is. The wheel itself is ok. Once the new axle gets here, we can run it up under the cart through the connectin’ joints and then attach the wheel on the outside through the collar usin' a couple of spikes. I was makin' sure the wheel itself wasna damaged, but it looks good. We are going to need somethin' to prop the cart up on while we run the new axle through it.”
The dwarf stands and offers his hand to Johann, “I'm Dolak Forgeson, from way north of here.” Glancing back to Kryian and Darius he adds, “Keep yer eyes out for trouble from the sufferin’god temple.”
Didn't Alani and others go for the axle?” asks Darius.
“What kind of trouble from a suffering god are you expecting Dolak?”
Dolak answers the druid, saying, “Alric was helpin’ me here a few moments ago, but then noticed that temple and walked off in that direction mutterin’ somethin' about payin’his respects. I don’ think he is a follower of the sufferin’god, so whatever he has in mind likely involves breaking things.”
“Ah, I see your point,” replies Darius. “The suffering god is Ilmater, and he is one of the good gods of the humans. Tyr, Torm and Ilmater are all aligned with each other, and Alric worships Tyr, so I don't think that there will be that kind of trouble.”
exclaims the dwarf. “I didna know
anything about Ilmater. In fact, I know little of any of the human gods.
Well, I guess he will nae be breakin’ too much stuff o’er there then.
Ha’e ya seen anything else interestin’ in the market, yet?”
“I’m seein’ a few lands needin’ of further explorin’!” states Kryian as he admires a female customer at a nearby booth.
Any response from the other two adventurers is cut short by a grunt and a growl from Soft Fang. The wolf’s ears have pricked up and he is staring intently at the nearby burned-out shell of the Goldcoin House, which stands about twenty-five feet directly across the road from the wagon.
“I think somethin’s wrong with yer d---” begins Johann before he is suddenly interrupted by a loud bestial blare – bordering on a thunderous, nasal honking – that emits from the ruined building.
Orienting their attention in that direction, the trio of adventurers (and Johann) can see no visible clue that would indicate the source of the noise. The front door of the ruined structure hangs loosely from its hinges and the shuttered windows offer no glimpse of the inside of the building.
Darius emits a short growl at Soft Fang and holds his spear in his left hand and prepares to cast a spell as necessary.
Kryian’s hands drop to his belt. He grasps his lasso with one hand and the hilt of his sabre with the other.
Dolak unhooks his warhammer from his belt and moves a few paces from the wagon in the direction of the shell of a building, and then goes to a guarding position. He says to the others, “Let's stick close together ‘til we know what we have here.”
* * * * *
“Say,” Cyzicus says, changing the subject. “I've been thinking about picking up some chainmail. It makes a bit of noise when I'm scouting, which is the reason I don't wear it already, but I'm not doing a lot of scouting on this trip. What do you think?”
“Hmm....Why the need to be encased in steel?” asks Alani in reply. She tosses her long hair as if discarding that line of thought. “I guess you can always take off the armour to scout if called upon. So it can't hurt...”
“My thoughts exactly,” the halfling agrees. “I just like to bounce ideas of someone first.”
The two adventurers make their way through the crowded marketplace. They pass by the crowd that still gathers around the three jugglers in the center of the large area. They note that the performers are now juggling a variety of bladed weapons – to the obvious delight of the cheering crowd.
Approaching the building that houses Rolling Wheel Wagons, the first thing that the pair notices is the titanic wagon wheel that dominates the front of the stone-and-wood barn that houses the wagonmaker. The item is easily twenty feet in diameter; its spokes are currently being used by a band of small children who hand and climb from the thick wooden hafts.
A tall, bearded man in a carpenter’s apron emerges from the front door and quickly shoos the children off the large wheel, chiding them for not being more careful. He spots the two approaching customers and his face lightens.
“Hoy there!” he calls. “A happy Harvestfest to you both! Are you needin’ a wagon to haul your merchandise?”
“A happy Harvestfest to you too,” replies Alani politely. “We actually need a replacement axle for a wagon that’s broken down on the other side of the fair. It’s blocking up the road. I’m not sure who the owner is, as we forgot to ask his name! Oops.... Do you have any replacements?” She smiles up at him, batting her eyes in mock distress.
The wagonwright crosses his arms and rubs his chin in thought. “An axle you say? Yup, I reckon we might be able to help with that. But, it’d be best to bring the wagon here to the shop so’s we have our tools close at hand,” he suggests. “Can you get it here?”
we could get the wagon here, there wouldn't be much use in acquiring a new axle,
would there?” Cyzicus says with a slight degree of irritation, which he
struggles to keep from his face as he looks up at the wheelwright.
“You can either take the tools you need to the wagon, or go to the
wagon to measure the wheel base and return here to craft the axle.
Transporting the wagon here is not a realistic option.”
The wheelwright rubs his chin again as he considers Cy’s remark. “I suppose yer right,” he concludes. “I’ll have to get some basic tools before I go over to measure the axle. ‘Care to step inside ‘n look ‘round while I gather my things?”
“Thanks,” the halfling says as he steps forward and allows his eyes to take in the minimal wonders of a wheelwright’s shop.
Inside the large building is a scene of controlled chaos. It would appear that the inside of a former barn has been converted for use as a wagon construction and repair facility. Fully half a dozen carpenters supervise the work of twice as many apprentices. The sounds of handsaws and hammers fill the large room. A layer of sawdust seems to coat everything within sight and threatens to cause the two adventurers to sneeze. Seemingly unaffected by the irritable powder, the wheelwright grabs a sack from a nearby wall rack and tosses a length of rope, a hammer, a saw, and several other small tools into the bag.
“By the way,” Cyzicus asks while the companions wait. “Do you know where I can acquire a decent suit of halfling sized chain mail in this town?”
The wheelwright stops his packing briefly as he ponders the halfling’s question. “Hmmm. No armorers in town. The Red Cloaks get their arms ‘n armor from dealers in Hill’s Edge. But, it bein’ Harvestfest and all, you might just find a traveling arms merchant er two that’ll have what yer lookin’ for. You’re a warrior, then?” asks the wheelwright.
“I am a devoted priest of Arvoreen,” Cyzicus boasts. “Responsible for, among other things, protection of the halfling race. Yes, I am a warrior.”
“Excellent!” exclaims the wheelwright. “I am always eager to listen to the tales of traveling warriors – perhaps after this repair job we can exchange stories over a tankard or two at the Tankard ‘n Sheaf!”
The man then switches his attention to Alani. He seems to notice, for the first time, the bow case that is slung over her shoulder. “And you miss,” he says. “That is a fine case for a bow of some sort. Am I to guess that you are also a warrior?”
* * * * *
Lucas, and Slyvia}
“Why don't we try the Tankard and Sheaf first,” Kjira says to Lucas as trio walks away from the wagon. “I'm not so sure I'd want to follow you into the House of Joy,” she winks mischievously at the young mage.
The three companions make their way thru the crowded marketplace and past the merchant stalls that ring the bustling area. Dodging browsing customers and eager merchants, they arrive at the Tankard and Sheaf. The building is typical of the construction in the town; a layer of stone eight to ten feet high is topped by a second story of wood. This particular building stands about twenty feet tall but is dwarfed by the four-story building next door – The Board Laid Bare.
Stepping through the door of the Tankard and Sheaf, the trio finds themselves in a busy tavern. The noise and conversations of loud and thirsty customers, who are packed elbow-to-elbow in the large taproom, nearly drowns out the visitors’ ability to hear each other. Likewise, the clash of colors and clothing from countless regions threatens to hypnotize the casual viewer.
The tavern appears to be a single, high room. Its windows are placed along the wooden portion of the wall – nearly ten feet above the ground. The walls are adorned with the implements of a farming life – scythes, sickles, rakes, and other tools of the fields.
Kjira looks around the rustic establishment, grimacing at the sight of customers packed in like cattle. She had hoped for a bit of quiet and relaxation after the day’s travel, but it looked as though she’d have to pursue that elsewhere. Motioning for Lucas and Sylvia to follow, Kjira tries to make her way through the dense crowd to the bar. It is time for a drink.
The three adventurers plunge into the crowded tavern. After several minutes of maneuvering, they manage to make their way to the serving bar. Behind the wooden, chest-high fixture, stands a middle-aged woman. She appears calm and detached, despite the noise and commotion around her. Catching the eye of thirsty travelers, the bartender makes her way down the bar toward them.
“Happy Harvestfest!” she hails, barely audible over the din of the tavern’s patrons. “I got Iriaeboran North for a copper, and a tasty local brew for four. For wine, I got a red for four coppers or Berduskan Dark for two silvers. What can I get ya?”
listens to the older woman rattle off her list of wares, sure she had done it a
hundred times already that morning. “How
about a round of Berdusk Dark for me and my two companions here,” Kjira
replies as the woman finishes. She pulls out one of the gold coins Tomar
distributed earlier and sets it on the wooden bar top.
While the woman retreats to fetch the liquour, Kjira turns to the straight-laced Lucas. “No fruit juice for you my friend. For two silvers you’d better drink every last drop!”
Lucas chuckles at Kjira as he lowers the red hood of his robes revealing a sly smile. As he removes his cloak to fully reveal his clean, bright red robes Lucas starts, “A fine choice...Berdusk Dark is one of my favorites. I am sure the others will sorely miss the first round or three. Let us look for a table if one is to be found and try and discern what all is going on in this village during Harvestfest.”
The bartender returns to the small group and places three flagons of the familiar Berduskan Dark wine on the countertop. She accepts Kjira’s payment and returns the change in silver coins.
After receiving his drink from the barkeep, Lucas raises his glass in toast. “To the two fair ladies that I share this glass of fine Berdusk with...may the Goddess bless you and yours!”
to the barkeep, Lucas adds before she can run off to serve the crowded bar,
“Bring us another round and a round of your fare for the eve for we hunger
after our travels on the road. We shall be at the table over yonder,”
adds the red robed mage with a gesture. Lucas motions for the others to
follow him and glances about the room.
The trio moves through the crowded tavern and manages to locate a table that is just then being emptied by a pair of farmers. Sitting down, they slide the used plates and tankards to the side for the serving girl to retrieve.
After placing his cloak over his robe, Lucas seats himself and scans the room for anything of interest. With a smirk of mischief, Lucas begins, “So Kjira and Slyvia, shall we play a little jest on our dwarf friend?”
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