Week 2, Finding Work
First, some background data. The city of Eastmarch lies on the Russ River. Nearby lies the Wildwood. Further off are the Iron Mountains. There are three major roads running through the town, and a somewhat Greco-Roman empire off to the south. We are on the frontier of this empire.
Remember the Golden Boar, where the innkeeper Elias had some strange house rules? Here are the rules:
Meanwhile, we are still making a living. Tom, at the gunsmith's, introduces the six-shooter and thus multiplies his pay scale tenfold. Nate hires on with the Baron's guard.
Cantrel seeks work with the guard, too. He asks the captain if they have any openings for spies. Sorry, no, but he might try the Colonel, a commander of a mercenary troop and a highly respected member of the town, in fact a member of the town council.
The Colonel has no immediate need for a spy either, but would be impressed by Cantrel's skills, should he turn out to be telling the truth. Cantrel proposes that the Colonel take him on spec -- give him his equipment and see how good he is. Then hire him, or take back the equipment and don't. The Colonel agrees. He tells him to come back tomorrow. Meanwhile, the Colonel recommends that Cantrel stay his first night at the Black Falcon. The Black Falcon, together with the Golden Boar and the Great Troll, are the inns that give the first night free to people from the well. (Lorelei got a job there as waitress, earlier in the day. Sophie, Chris, and Pfusand, meanwhile, are at the Golden Boar, and the rest of us are at the Great Troll.) Until tomorrow, and keeping in mind his potential role as spy, Cantrel should keep a low profile.
So Cantrel heads off for the Black Falcon. As he nears it, an arm snakes out of a dark alley and pulls him in until a knifepoint strikes his back. "I recommend you find different lodgings." He is then released. Cantrel gets a glimpse of motion in the alley, then nothing. Being under orders to be discreet, he pretends to great fear. He nonetheless goes into the Black Falcon and orders a room and a beer. (He is pleased to see Lorelei on the other side of the bar.)
In the bottom of his beer stein, he finds a copper coin. One side has a black X painted on it; the other side has a rough sketch of a black bird (not a falcon). Going back up to his free room, he notices it has been disturbed, as for a search. Since Cantrel owns absolutely nothing in this world, the search was fruitless. But he decides he'd rather not sleep in a room subject to such interruptions. He slips out the window, up the wall, to the roof. And there he finds a nondescript individual in dark clothes.
"Yours?" he asks, showing him the coin from the stein.
"Yes," admits the other amicably, throwing a dagger at Cantrel. Cantrel catches it. The man calmly congratulates him and tells him he can keep it. Cantrel thanks him and tries to sweep the man's legs out from under him. The man jumps out of the way (just barely) and touches Cantrel on the shoulder. "Tag. You're it." He then starts to run like hell. Cantrel trips him telekinetically. "Tag," quoth Cantrel.
The man smiles broadly and say, "In that case, at least come for a run."
"Hey, you're It," objects Cantrel, and starts climbing. There's nothing to climb, but that hasn't bothered Cantrel for some time. He goes about 20 feet above the roof, and the other guy leaps and tags him back. (LEAPS?! 20 feet!?) The man then whistles as if summoning something. Cantrel spots a black falcon stooping on him, ducks, and tags it. The man then lassos his ankle, so he lands. "Buy you a beer?" Cantrel asks. "Have them bring it up to your room," the man suggests. So they do. The mystery man isn't very talkative, though he is cheerful and pleasant. He slips out the window without further comment.
The next day, Cantrel presents himself to the Colonel. "You're hired." "I am? I thought I did rather poorly last night." "Well enough, I'm told."
A month goes by.
Daewen has been drifting in and out of town, elf-fashion. She now announces that she'd like to check out that locus of Glamour she felt in the tree growing through the dwarf-smith's smithy. Alag, Chris, Lorelei, and Tom volunteer to accompany her. Alag picks the lock and Daewen enters, carefully pointing out the tripwire rigged to the nasty-looking crossbow.
Once we are all safely in, she touches the tree, which begins to glow gently. Everyone else revs up their psychic sensibilities to feel what's going on. The tree indeed feels rather like Boomer's magic war hammer. It begins to re-shape and eventually splits down the trunk, revealing a doorway in the air. Through the door, we can see beautiful flowering woods and fields. We study this and the surrounding magical auras for a bit, alert the rest of the group by telepathy and let them look, then decide to put everything back the way it was. This is probably Faerie. If we're really lucky, it might be the same Faerie that the Black Mage mentioned in his system of worlds. But we don't feel ready to go exploring there yet. Daewen zips up the tree and we all tiptoe out.
Two weeks later, Daewen announces that she is sure the mysterious major magic that Boomer keeps in his back rooms, is another door. Grand Central Station.
We let more time pass, building up money and equipment, and training each other. Eventually, it is four months since we showed up at the well. Somewhere in there, Daewen stopped by the Great Troll and asked the great troll (Boomer) about his major magic, in a circumspect way. "That Boomer's business! No touch! No mess! Bad! Lavalon say not touch!"
Pfusand, who is a useful person to have around an excited troll, asks him to tell her more about Lavalon. He goes on at great length about Lavalon's great power and riches (he has a house in town, a big one) and adventures. "He always go away. Always come back." He also ran a business manufacturing magical refrigerators.
To pacify him further, Pfusand gives Boomer the recipe for ice cream. And with this we leave him. Next week, we rather think we will go exploring in the catacombs.
Copyright © 1998, Jim Burrows. All Rights Reserved.