- November 15, 2015
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- Prestige Class - The Wild Guardian
- The Red Knight of Damara (Saga of the Vaasan Knight #1)
- Prologue: City that Never Sleeps
- The Road Home (Saga of the Vaasan Knight #2)
- A First Lesson (Preludes #1)
- The Mistress of the Cross-Trade
- Hunter in the Darkness
- Setting the [Game] Table: Riddleport at a Glance
- Interlude: Moon Rise
Anton Vyrlich and Mamadou Dreng looked at each other blankly and then looked back down into the gaping darkness of the hole that had formed in the floor of the watchpost's lone jail cell.
"A dark omen, it is, Mam'ou," the councilman muttered to himself. "A sign of displeasure from the Devouring Pit..."
"Nonsense, Anton," the constable replied. "It is a natural cave-in. Look, see for yourself."
Constable Dreng squatted down and pointed along the rough and uneven edges of the crevasse.
"You and I have both seen this happen before. Not three years ago there was a small cave-in south of Eli Tanner's place. The coast is riddled with such faults."
The councilman rubbed his chin thoughtfully for a moment.
"Perhaps it is as you say, old friend," he said, reaching down to give Dreng a hand up as the lawman stood. "And perhaps not. I think perhaps we should summon the lads who helped us out with your prior... condition... so we can talk some business. They were discreet the last time. I assume they will be so again."
"Excellent thought," Dreng replied, rubbing his own chin thoughtfully. "No time to waste. I don't have anything big enough to cover up this hole. I'll keep the cell door locked, just in case."
Both men chuckled darkly, and councilman Vyrlich took his leave, hoping to get at least a few hours sleep before it was time to go back to work in the morning.
* * * * *
The Black Kraken Inn beckoned warmly as he made his way through the cold rain. Autumn was turning to winter, and a gale was sweeping off the sea, turning the uncobbled streets to slogging mud.
It had been quite a while since Bondisario had been this far from the river. Actually, he had never been this far from the river. He had once gone with his uncles to buy horses a few hours outside Logash, but that was it.
And now, here he was, hundreds of miles from nowhere in a small fishing village on the edgeof the sea. All because of the tales he had been told since childhood. But he had had no choice. Something was calling to him, and he had heeded the call.
He knew Queen Mary was concerned at is departure, although she did not show it. He was not wilding in Logash, nor sowing his oats somewhere in the south, as most other young bravos did before settling into their chosen craft and natural place in the clan.
He wasn't even sure how he would begin his search.
Before he could consider his state of affairs further, he had arrived at the heavy oaken door of the inn. Upon pushing it open, he was met with the warm glow of a well kept hearth. And the penetrating, distrustful stares of the local townies.
In Yorvik, no one would have looked at him twice at any of the inns in town. Everywhere else was different, though.
Not quite sighing to himself, a single thought passed his mind.
Some things never change.
* * * * *
As the door of the Kraken swung open, Twitch briefly looked up from his mug of stout. A wiry human had arrived. The patrons instantly realized that the new man was a stranger, and their gazes went from curious to unfriendly in the flick of a whisker.
Humans were so quick to judge based on appearances alone...
Logrash leaned over to him and whispered, "gypsy."
Twitch assumed that was supposed to mean something to him, although it did not. Humans looked much the same to him, although their fur was sometimes different colors. They mostly smelled the same to him, too... like wet dog... especially when they were wet.
But apparently gypsy meant some kind of distinction to the others, including Logrash, who was only part human himself, and yet smelled considerably better to him than the others did. The others seemed to think the opposite, though. Human senses appeared rather dull, on the whole of it, so it was yet another point of confusion and learning for him as he spent his time away from the Warren as a liaison to the people of Hannsport.
He then noticed something that he had somehow missed entirely at first. Shinies! The new human had plenty of them. Well, these gypsy had excellent taste in apparel, if nothing else. He couldn't stop staring at the wonderful, bright shinies.
Taking a deep swig of his stout- alcohol was such a treat, but especially whiskey! (when he could get it)- he looked over to Logrash, nodding and adding sagely, "gypsy."
* * * * *
Wonders never ceased in this dumpy little town.
A river gypsy had just washed into the Kraken as winter was blowing in. Outstanding. At least being trapped out in the sticks until the spring thaw was going to be interesting. Well, at least if they didn't run the bloke out on a rail first.
He leaned over to Twitch and whispered "gypsy."
He had seen many of their sort growing up in Yorvik. Old Gundar, his dwarven mentor, had done business with them from time to time. Sometimes at knifepoint. Such was life in the big city. Charlatans, pickpockets, smugglers and thieves. His kind of scum.
Twitch whispered back "gypsy." Obviously his companion knew this was going to be entertaining, too. Logrash put his feet up on the table and leaned back in his wooden chair, waiting for the fun to start.
* * * * *
Bondisario made his way past the staring patrons to the bar and dropped his pack on the stool in front of him.
"Mulled wine," he said, dropping a coin on the rail.
The bartender looked at him blankly.
"We got brown stout, or we got whiskey. Take your pick."
"Whiskey it is, then," he said. "and I'd also like a room."
"We ain't got any rooms," the barkeep replied, pouring out the drink. He set the tumbler down in front of Bondisario and leaned heavily on the bar with both hands. "Finish your drink and sling your hook, tinker."
The room quieted as the patrons waited to see what the young Lovari would do. Bondisario looked down at his drink and carefully considered his next move.
Out of the corner of his eye, he spied a sneering half-orc giving him the once over, and a slippery looking ratman eyeing up him up like a tart. He reckoned they'd be the first scum to do him down if and when things went red. So... it seemed like Hannsport wasn't that different from Yorvik, after all...
* * * * *
Constable Dreng realized he'd walked into some sort of situation at the Black Kraken Inn as soon as he entered the common room through the front door.
"Right," he said authoritatively to no one in particular. Looking around the room, he said "I need you, you... and you," pointing at Logrash, Twitch, and after a moment of confusion, at Bondisario. Without further word, Dreng turned and took his leave of the place, not waiting for the others to follow.
The half-orc looked visibly disappointed, but rose and headed for the door. The ratfolk rogue followed suit, but not until he could separate his lingering gaze from the various trinkets adorning the young gypsy.
As for the traveller himself, Bondisario Blackpool continued to look down at the whiskey sitting in front of him. He picked up the cloudy, impure hand-made glass and tossed back the drink. He set the empty vessel directly in front of the barkeep, and touched the edge of his broad-brimmed hat.
"Much obliged," he said, before turning to leave.