Valygar’s cabin, late morning
Keldorn stretched and yawned, surprised at how easily he’d fallen asleep in the loft. Concerned about the goings on back in Trademeet, and more than a little anxious about the prospect of visiting the Sun Elf reservation, it had been his intent to stop only long enough to rest his horse and perhaps fix himself a breakfast of black coffee and hardtack. Valygar had insisted Keldorn get some rest for himself, however – a sentiment echoed rather forcefully, if not tactfully, by Jaheira.
“It will do no good for anyone if you wander about with your wits half-gone from lack of rest!” she had said.
Keldorn smiled faintly. For all her scolding, Jaheira was a fine woman, one who had made Valygar very happy. There was a peace in the home, Keldorn realized, peace enough even for an old man like him to find a few hours of sleep untroubled by the burdens of life.
The smile faded. Keldorn knew better than to indulge the moment any longer. This was not his peace, anymore than this was his home. His own home had lost that peace long ago, and Keldorn knew the consequences of continuing with that train of thought.
“Ho, Keldorn” called a voice from below. “Are you awake?”
“I am, Valygar” he replied. “I’ll be with you presently.”
Trademeet, Anarg’s General Store, just past 9 a.m.
Yoshimo entered the store the usual way, through the side door, away from the view of the street. It seemed a bit silly to Yoshimo, but his patron had insisted on taking the extra precaution, and Yoshimo was never one to argue with his client, especially one who paid as well as Anarg.
Anarg was standing at the far side of the back room, looking down at his pocket watch. A few feet away Taurgoz leaned back in a chair, resting his feet on a storage crate. Taurgoz’s two hired guns stood at the entryway to the front of the store, looking surly, and keeping a sharp eye out for some as yet unseen threat.
“You care explaining yourself?” Anarg continued.
“Ah, it was a rather late evening” Yoshimo replied. “I had much to research and-”
Anarg slipped his pocket watch back into his vest. “Forget it. Just don’t let it happen again.”
“Of course” Yoshimo said, glad to let the matter drop.
“Aw, now don’t be that way, Anarg” said Taurgoz, his amusement evident. “Your boy’s had a lot on his plate lately.” His face broke into an ugly leer. “Like that dancing girl at your hotel, fer instance.”
Yoshimo felt a flash of anger. He did not normally afford himself the luxury of liking or disliking the people he worked for. He was privately contemptuous of the two gunmen Taurgoz had brought with him, but that was a professional matter. They were the worst kind of lowlife scum - petty criminals who’d either failed at or been run out of anything resembling a legitimate living. Types like that were either undependable or unpredictable or both, two things that made a bounty hunter like Yoshimo wary. Taurgoz’s constant leering and jibing had started to wear a bit on Yoshimo’s nerves, however.
Of course, it was that behavior and not the comment about Imoen that was getting under his skin, he told himself. He told himself that a second time before speaking again.
“The girl is of no concern” he said dismissively, walking past Taurgoz. Yoshimo handed a sheaf of papers to Anarg.
“I have had some success in tracking the Rasheman Kid’s patterns” he began. “It should not be long before I can begin to search for him.”
Anarg shook his head. “Don’t worry about that right now, Yoshimo. Right now I want you to keep doin’ what you’ve been doing. Stick close to town, and to my store.”
Yoshimo raised an eyebrow. The sudden change in orders had been unexpected, but not entirely unwelcome at first, to Yoshimo. For the last four days and nights he’d not ventured further than the general store. Anarg had not given him an explanation, just orders. It had been easy work thus far, too easy for Yoshimo’s liking. Anarg was paying him top dollar to simply stand watch and “keep an eye out for trouble.” It was a task any fool could accomplish, unless there was something more involved. And Yoshimo was certain that there was.
“I do not wish to be disagreeable” he began, “but I would prefer to know what it is I am being paid for, if not to find the Rasheman Kid?”
Anarg gave him a dark look. “That’s none of your concern, Yoshimo.”
Yoshimo chose his next words carefully. “It is only my intent to be…effective while in your employ” he said. “If the matter at hand is somehow related to the Rashemani, perhaps my research could be of some help?”
Taurgoz chuckled and plucked a yellowed paper from the nearby wall. It was a wanted poster for the Rasheman Kid, complete with a sketch of the bandit. Taurgoz held it up and pretended to study it intently. After a moment, he tossed the paper aside.
“Nope, don’t look a thing like him” he chuckled. “Way too tall, for one.”
“Taurgoz”, Anarg said in a low, cold, voice. His eyes narrowed and there was a sudden hardness to him that surprised even Yoshimo. The bounty hunter took note of it, along with the fact Taurgoz’s smile vanished just as suddenly. Taurgoz opened his mouth to say something, but decided against it. He got up from his chair and motioned to his two men, leading them into the other room.
Yoshimo took a new measure of Anarg, and decided that there was indeed more to his present employer and to the situation in which he currently found himself. Much more.
And Yoshimo was sure that whatever it was, he wasn’t going to like it.
Valygar’s cabin, about an hour later.
Keldorn settled into his saddle, feeling much refreshed after his rest and the light, but altogether satisfying breakfast of spiced fruits and honey-infused cakes Jaheira had prepared. Keldorn had decided the half-elf’s skill with herbs and edible plants lent itself well to mealtime.
I wonder if I can convince her to teach Deputy Brega how to make a decent pot of coffee? , he wondered.
Valygar emerged from his cabin, bearing a small bag and several cloth bundles that had been soaked with water.
“Do not forget to dampen the rolls every two hours” Jaheira reminded Valygar. “As I’ve told you twice before, the plantings will dry out if you do not-”
‘I won’t forget, Jaheira. You can rest assured I will guard this blackberry bush with my dying breath.” Valygar gave Keldorn a wink even as he gave Jaheira a look of mock seriousness. Jaheira gave him a clout on the head in response.
“Ow!” he said.
“Serves you right” she replied, folding her arms across her chest.
Valygar chuckled. “Aye, I suppose it does at that.” He embraced Jaheira, and the two shared a long kiss before he turned to load his gear.
“I will see you in three days” she said, in a matter-of-fact tone that Keldorn found slightly odd.
After loading the bundles onto his saddle, Valygar mounted his own horse.
“She’s worried” Keldorn said.
Valygar nodded. “She is, though you’ll never get her to admit it.”
“How much trouble do you think we’ll have, lad?”
Valygar frowned. “I can’t say for sure, Keldorn. My friends within the Sun Elves tell me things are getting worse by the day. General Sovalidaas’s support among the younger elves is growing, and some of them might act before thinking.”
Keldorn rubbed his chin. “Lad-” he began.
Valygar raised a hand. “I know what you’re going to say, Keldorn, but don’t. Jaheira and I have already decided the risk is worth it. Not just because you have a bandit to catch, but because if we don’t find out what is driving the unrest, there is going to be bloodshed. Bloodshed of the kind we haven’t seen since the last war with the elves.”
“All right then, lad. We’d best be on our way. Where are these contacts we are supposed to meet?”
“We’re meeting with a merchant friend of mine just outside the main reservation” replied Valygar. “He does business with the Seldarine’s clerics.” Valygar patted the bundles Jaheira had given them. “Jaheira collected these plant clippings and some rare seeds for us to use in trade. It’ll give us a cover story if anyone questions us.”
Keldorn saw the wisdom in that. The Sun Elves had a love for beauty and living things that was notable even to other elves.
“From there, we’ll be escorted to the Temple of the Seldarine, where the high priestess Demin is waiting to meet with us. And then, perhaps, we’ll both have the answers we seek.”
“I hope so lad” Keldorn said grimly. “I surely hope so.”
No replies to this topic
0 user(s) are reading this topic
0 members, 0 guests, 0 anonymous users