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Archive for October, 2009

The late evening sun is setting when the gates of Fallcrest come into view.  The gatehouse and walls look to be well repaired and manned.  A couple of soldiers can be seen manning the towers above the gates while a burly dwarf in a guardsman uniform watches travelers with a grim eye.

“He’s getting worse.” Jui looks to Ravnus from the wagon.  “I can’t say how much longer he’ll hold on.”

Ravnus rides on ahead to the gate.
“Open up, please, and hurry. There’s a man who is hurt, perhaps dying. He needs a healer!”

The dwarf doesn’t seem to be inclined to move and stares up at Ravnus, “That’s as may be, neighbor, but don’t nobody get through here without me giving it a looksee.  Hold up that wagon there.”

Ravnus scowls at the dwarf, “Fool. If he dies, it’ll be on your head!”

Ravnus considers another rout, and goes on, “Look, you seem like a reasonable sort, and intelligent. You can keep a crossbow trained on me or something, and then inspect the man as he goes by. His wounds are quite obvious. I’ll even stay here until you’re completely satisfied. Would that suffice?”

“Yeah.  If he’s a trick to smuggle in something, it’s on my head too.  Pull up.”  The dwarf stands in the way.  “Otto!  Stand by to fetch a healer!”

“Aye, Sarge!”  Comes a voice from the top of the tower.

Ianto obediently stops the cart so the dwarf can hop up into the back of it.  The stout dwarf pulls himself up.  “What happened to him?”  He takes a quick look around and then hops off the cart.

“Otto, open the gates and fetch ol’ Grundelmar!”

“I believe he was shot by goblins,” is Ravnus’ reply to the dwarf’s question.

The gate swings open.

Ravnus stares at the dwarf. He had seen one once before, part of a merchant mission from the mountains. This one looked very different from the one he’d seen, however. His curiosity won’t let him stop staring at the dwarf, marvelling at its features

“How far back are these goblins?  Them wounds look fresh.”  The dwarf returns Ravnus’s stare.  “What’s wrong with you, boy?  Ain’t never seen someone pretty as me?”

Ravnus is taken back, and it takes a moment for him to be sure that the dwarf is kidding.

He shakes his head, “apollogies. The goblins could be right on our tail, for all I know. They could have gotten here ahead of us, seeing as they got to him before we did.”

The dwarf waves the wagon through the gates.  “Take him to the House of the Sun, driver.  The priest should meet you on the way.”  Ianto nods and snaps the reins to get the horses moving again.

“Mind staying a mite longer and easing some of my curiosity?”  The dwarf asks while gripping Ravnus’s mount’s halter.  “Goblins is a worrisome subject.”

Ravnus looks after the wagon, but shrugs.

“Certainly. I’m not of any use to that man now. Only the Gods can save him.”

“What can I tell you?”

“Your name for starters.  Mine’s sergeant Murgeddin.”  The dwarf says.  “Then perhaps you might fill me on the finding of that fellow.”

“Ravnus Rai-Moorhouse, at your service,” says Ravnus. He then goes on to tell the dwarf all he can recall about the circumstances of finding the wounded man.

“Well, that’s damned unnerving.  Goblins in those numbers.”  Murgeddin shakes his head.  “You going to be in town for a spell?  Captain might have some questions if the Rider don’t pull through.”

“For a while; exactly how long I can’t say. I’m doing a survey of this fair land of yours,” says Ravnus trying to emulate the dwarf’s dry sense of humor.

Murgeddin raises an eyebrow. “Well, in that case, there’s the Silver Unicorn or the Nentir Inn.  The Unicorn is a mite pricey for a mere sergeant but it’s on this side of the river.  The Nentir’s a favorite of the less lofty and is right across the Five Arch Bridge.  If you don’t mind letting one of the gate guards know where you’ll be staying, Captain won’t have to go searching all over for you.”

“The Unicorn sounds more my style,” says Ravnus with a grin. “The captain can call on me there. Thanks for your hospitality.”

“I’ll let him know.”  The dwarf looks back at the empty road behind Ravnus.  “Now get on in with ya.  You’re blocking traffic.”

************************

While not as well-lit as the southern cities at night, Fallcrest is far from dark.  There are lanterns outside most buildings and it seems the Lord Warden has had lamps placed at cross streets.  Ravnus sees a few boys refilling the oil reserves on these lamps as he rides through the town.  The Silver Unicorn is right inside the northern gate of the town, while Ravnus entered through the eastern gate.

The proprietor of the Inn is a matronly halfling who introduces herself as Wisara and shows Ravnus to his rooms which are quite comfortably apportioned.  She does take his 2 silver crowns in payment first.  All in all, he spends a comfortable night.

The next morning he is enjoying his breakfast when a well-dressed man enters the common room and approaches.  The gentleman is tall and ruddy in the extreme, almost red in point of fact.  “Kelvin Azaer, at your service.  Might you be Adept Ravnus Rai-Moorehouse?”

Ravnus raises his eyebrows, “Yes, I am he. you are of the house of Azaer?”

“I am.  I am.” Kelvin smiles, revealing slightly pointed teeth. “Mind if I join you, Adept?”

“Please do,” Ravnus gestures to the seat across from him. “Thank you for meeting me.”

“No thanks are needed.  My dear sisters says to go meet with a certain gentleman from the south, that is what I do, as an adoring and faithful brother.  It is only right, wouldn’t you say?”  He sits down and waves to Wisara.  “Madame!  A glass of wine and some breakfast, if you please.”  Wisara nods with a grimace and hustles through the kitchen door.

“I don’t think she likes me much.” Kelvin whispers.

“I’d have to concur,” says Ravnus. “Why in the world would that be? Is she the sort that is jealous of her betters?”

Kelvin grins.  “I doubt it but it is possible.  I think it is more likely because of my breeding.  It makes her uncomfortable, an unfortunate if all too common reaction.”

“Ah, I should have expected such a parochial response so far from the city,” says Ravnus. “So, is your sister well? Will I be able to meet her at some point?”

“Amara is quite well.  Thank you for asking.”  Kelvin accepts his wine and food from Wisara as she returns.  “She told me to extend her greetings and to… I quote… be as helpful as is reasonable.  So, my cultured friend, how may House Azaer be of service to you?”  He takes a drink and begins to cut a slice of bread.

“Well, I was hoping you might have some records I might review, historical or educational in nature, that might give me some clues as to where to go next on my hunt for things arcane,” says Ravnus with a slight smile.

“We might at that.  Is there anything in particular that you are searching for?  For general knowledge, old Aiden is a reliable, if somewhat cranky, fount of knowledge.”

“Aiden? Who is he?” Asks Ravnus.

“Well, my friend, he’s all that’s left of the now nearly defunct Fallcrest Mage’s Guild.”  Kelvin chews slowly before continuing.  “Seems the rest of his fellows had the poor luck to go and get themselves killed in the Bloodspear War some years ago.  Left our dear Aiden as the last member of his order.”

“Ah, I see. That is a shame,” says Ravnus, still working on his breakfast.

“Where can I find the chap?”

“He’s in the Septarch’s Tower generally, unless he’s boring the Lord Warden to death with tales of past glories.”  He gestures towards Ravnus with his fork.  “Now, the Septarch’s Tower would be an interesting place to take a look around.  Not that old Aiden is going to let one of my ilk anywhere near the place.”

“He shares the town’s prejudice?” queries Ravnus.

Kelvin grins.  “Not so much.  I think he just doesn’t like me. You see…  To me there are many ‘ilks’ in the world and you likely, being an urbane sort, share the same perception.  To Septarch Aiden, however, there are only two ‘ilks’ that matter.” Kelvin swallows some wine.  “Those of a serious and studious nature… and then those like me.”

“Ah,” says Ravnus with a raise of the eyebrows. “Well we won’t hold that against him, will we?”

He smiles at his breakfast partner.

“I’ll ask my sister about other reading material for you.  Off hand though, the Misttower is the only overtly ‘arcane’ place I know of.”  He smiles over his glass.  “You are welcome to tag along next time we send a trading expedition north if you want to see it.”

“Indeed I would,” says Ravnus, wiping his face as he finishes breakfast. “Thanks for the offer. Is there anything I can do for you or your sister in return for your gracious help?”

“Make ol’ Aiden invite me to dinner at the tower?”

“I’ll see what I can do. I may know some magic, but there are limits to one’s powers, you know,” he says with an enigmatic grin.

“Well then, we’ll just hold off on repayment until we’ve done something more than just words.”  Kelvin says.  “In the meantime, try the wine.  It is actually quite good here.”

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