Monthly Archives: April 2011

Finding Marta

Ludo picked up his backpack and followed the guards out of the Court Room. Breathing a sigh of relief he turned to his companions. “I think we should get Feldard a sword as soon as possible, no doubt Golthar is aware of our presence and if he true to form he will try and make our lives as difficult as possible. I also think we should avoid that court at all costs, personally I think that Curate is as crooked as a dogs hind leg, and he was just looking for an excuse to throw us in the clink.

Hasan filed out of the court, as silently as he had stood within. The human justice was strange. In his own hard village, those who challenged the Quiet Way would have been sent into the forest, to return nevermore. This judge had imposed some crazy restriction against axes and bows, but not against a sword, whip or … well a pike for that matter. The elf left happily enough, and finally spoke, as the party assembled in the street outside the court. His tone was weary. “Let’s us flee this settlement and the rot that infests it! There is nothing for us here.”

“Agreed,” Stephan said to the elf prince. “Aside from long-held obligations,” Stephan referred to the task of delivering Nicolai’s ashes, “we really don’t need to tarry here. We’ve enough supplies to get us going. Let’s get out of this town. I’ve a bad feeling about this place.”

Feldard nodded his agreement to the overall sentiment. “Bah, buying a sword would be a waste of time. I just said that to make my point. Let’s just find this Marta and deliver Nicolai’s last wish.”

The group exited town hall. Standing in the plaza outside, they began to discuss their next steps. The town hall was at the south end of the plaza, and the Temple was to the west.

The dwarf glanced about and, spotting a group of youths, Feldard made his way over to them. “I’ve a coin for the one who can direct me to the dwelling of Marta, mother of Nicolai.”

“Sorry sir Dwarf, we’d love your coin, but we ain’t heard of her,” responded one of the boys.

In a town of 5000 folk and a large number of wayfarers, perhaps this would take some time.

“Stephen I agree with you, even though I have no way of knowing I feel that Golthar has a lot of friends in this town and we have none. This is a dangerous place for us, I felt safer in Xitaqa. I think that the Curate has been paid off, not the first time that the clergy have fallen to evil for personal gain. The sooner we leave and head north the better. I do need to restock some arrows, replenish some rations and gather some extra supplies. May I suggest we see to Nicolai’s ashes and fulfill our obligations, get the supplies and be gone from this town before nightfall. I do not want to remain in this town any longer.

Miklos had also remained silent during the exchange. He filed out with the others keeping a close eye on Maruc’s resolute face. When they were out of earshot he murmured. “So you hoped he’d help us then?”

“I sought to get the measure of him. I needed to know how bigoted he was,” Maruc’s smile broadened into his familiar grin. “And that my friend is alot less than I thought. He did not ask if one of us was a wizard. We are not incarcerated. We challenged him—a wise and powerful ruler in his one citadel and he was lordly and predictably haughty. But he was not evil, nor crooked he did not penalise us. He has no need to follow us, fore he can see that we are resolute and of noble heart. He was not troubled by us. We have a tacit sanction to pursue our errand but not to turn the city upside down in the process.”

“Hmm. Ok” Miklos said absently. “I don’t know about you lot but a night or two in a boat is enough to warrant a bed. We are all travel stained tried and irritable. If I was Nicolai’s mother, I would expect so respect from his companions, and that means being clean and fresh. And that means a good nights sleep in a quality Inn. No one knows where they are going. We need information about the road ahead and we need to ensure Golthar isn’t following us.”

On the way to the Town Hall, walking from the docks to the east, the group had passed quite a number of inns, most streets had at least one.

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Dismissed

The dwarf scowled at the insults to Maruc and the Halav faith. “Well it seems your wisdom is as boundless,” the words said dripping with sarcasm, “as your town’s hospitality.” Feldard commented. “Since our presence is so disturbing, we will do our best to make our visit in your town brief. Just direct me to a weaponsmith where I can purchase a sword for defense, since your rules deny me access to my axe.”

Stephan gulped a little too loudly. He still wished to be way out of this place. He imagined walking into the Black Jug Tavern and ordering a dark, woody brew. He loved the small of ale in his beard and was often purposefully sloppy while drinking just so he could wear the stuff as a sort of cologne. He’d have at least four steins if he could. He’d….

The woodsman snapped back to attention and the reality of his situation weighed heavy on his brow. The chambre was still echoing, at that moment, with Feldard’s final word “axe!”. The dwarf stood defiantly before the town leaders. Stephan still wished to be a mouse and skirt out that window Ludo seemed to have claimed.

“Dwarf,” responded the elder priest. “Your hotheaded temperament is typical of your race, so I will excuse your outburst at this time.”

“Peace! My friends peace!” cried Maruc, quickly trying to cut off another angry retort from Feldard. “Patriarch Sherlane is wise and his views in his own citadel are sacrosanct. If his representative wishes us to leave, then leave we shall. But, remember he has yet to decide. We have laid weighty matters before him. Doubt not the chosen of Halav for the will of Halav will guide him as he has guided me. I believe he will aid us for he will not wish to serve the evil that we chase.”

Maruc turned to look into the eyes of the old man in open honesty and absolute trust. “He reminds us of our humility and that we must be careful of the power we tackle. He is farsighted and may be being mindful of our safety. And what lord would wish trouble within his walls?” Maruc’s level gaze bored into the keen eyes of the patriarch. “But equally his Holiness knows his best chance of swiftly resolving this problem lies with those most steeped in the knowledge of his enemies. He can see into our hearts and he knows we are true. He alone knows we are steadfast in our pursuit of evil. He will not stand in our way for to do so would be against the will of Halav. He already knows the name of the man we seek. Do you not Holiness? Also His holiness knows my rank and refuses to use it, still for his insults against my order I have not judged him for the matter we pursue is beyond petty bickering.”

Miklos was a little unnerved that Maruc had assumed that the Patriarch and his court was aware of Golthar, because it presumed that Sherlane had done nothing about it. For all the others blustering defense of Maruc, Maruc’s words had a edge of steel to them that Miklos had not heard before. He had at once dismissed the rude interpretation of Marucs’ order and maintained the moral highground whilst subtly slighting the old man in the process. Miklos started to wonder what sort of a man Maruc was. Either way he had laid down the gauntlet, the question was the court elder foresighted or blind?

The look on the Curate’s face was not promising. He had been regarding Maruc with some curiosity, but was clearly not taking him very seriously.

Ludo inwardly fumed. The pompous fools! Stepping forward he approached the Court Elder. ‘My Lord, you imply that we intend to take action and violence against this evil mage, however we came to warn you of the danger. What action you take is of course up to you, not us. This mage is evil and he has many spies, some of which ‘could’ be here in this very room. He has murdered and led people into slavery. He has united goblin tribes to invade Duke Stephen’s lands, and murdered his subjects. My friends and I risked our lives to bring you this information, and the reply from you is to evict us from town. I would suggest a prudent course of action is to ask us for his name and his description and then to bring him here for questioning. We have broken no town laws, we have not caused any disturbance within these walls, all we asked for was an audience with the leaders of the town, so they can be made aware of the danger…”

“Enough,” the Curate banged his gavel. “As thee hath not broken any laws, and have agreed to comply with the weapons ordinance, I hereby grant thee access to the town proper forthwith. If I see thee before this court again, I shall be less kind, as thou hast already taken up quite enough of the court’s time. Sergeant Arthol, I trust thee well to keep track of this crew whilst they remain within our gates and be on watch for this supposed yellow-robed warlock of which they speak. This matter is now dismissed.”

The sergeant rolled his eyes and grunted as the gavel was banged again. “Back to our posts men,” commanded the sergeant, leading his men out of the court. “Our shift will be over soon and we’ll be back at the Hook and Hatchet before ye know it.”

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Maruc Pleads His Case

Ludo sighed, in his experience the clergy were more about process being followed than taking action, they had just been told that a dangerous wizard was in their midst, yet they still wanted to question Maruc about his order. He fidgeted with frustration. Casually looking around he noticed that the guards were relaxed and that the shutters on the window were open to allow a cool breeze to flow through the hall. Lowering his backpack, he placed it against the wall next to a window and then stood and faced the ongoing proceedings. He figured that if things started to go badly, he would leap through the window and make himself scarce to come back and attempt a rescue later. Still he mused, if it wasn’t for the stubbornness of Feldard and Maruc then they would not be in this mess in the first place.

“Your Holiness, I have the pleasure of serving our Lord Halav, as you can see from my garb.” Maruc said carefully, this was a can of worms that must remain closed. “He has, as my companions will attest, guided our path vanquishing the evil that haunts this land. In His infinite wisdom he has guided us to you. Halav is wise and has placed us before you that we might be in a position to aid each other. True there are ecumenical differences between our beliefs but now is not the time to explore them. The laughter of our enemies will be our reward if we indulge in theological debate. However worthy.” Maruc had remained kneeling. “Needless to say I am not under your direct command from a religious perspective but whilst I am within your dioceses, I shall respect your customs and traditions and observe your laws. However roughly instituted by less devout people.” Maruc’s eyes swiveled to the rude sergeant. “And far-be-it to gainsay your loyal servant I am before you unarmed as your rules dictate. With the greatest respect your Holiness do we have your permission to rid your city of this foul wizard?”

Stephan stood at the back in a cold sweat. The priest was giving way too many details.

“By Xanathon!” he muttered to Feldard. “So much for stealth. We’re swiveling into doom, here.”

“Quiet!” barked Arthol.

The curate coolly turned his attention on the woodsman at the back. “Have you something to say, traveler?”

“Oh Haav…”, Stephan said sotto voice. He cleared his throat. “Beg, pardon, sir. I was only saying to my friend here, that we are happy to comply with your laws and hoping to find some good eats around here. Heh, heh.”

Stephan’s attempt at humor fell flat. The chambre was silent.

“Um, well. It’s just that I’ve heard Threshold has some mighty fine victuals. Da. And, um, drink!” He smiled, trying to alleviate the tension. “Da”, he faltered. “I’ll just be quiet, m’lord.” Stephan wished he could shrink to a mouse at that moment and run into a hole.

Ludo cringed, this was going badly.

The dwarf took position a step or two beside and just slightly behind the priest as Maruc greeted the Clerical Council.

Feldard couldn’t care less about stealth or subterfuge. But in truth, he didn’t understand why Maruc was offering up so much detail and seeking permission to go after Golthar. All Feldard had wanted was to be able to carry his axe about town, just like a swordsman was allowed to carry his sword. It was a simple enough request.. fair in fact.

The dwarf kept silent as he watched the priests reaction to Maruc’s request. Good thing to, given the guards reaction to Stephan’s quiet whisper. He remain quiet until he was spoken too.

Miklos realized that Maruc fully trusted the priestly elder. On the one hand he felt oddly pleased that some honesty was about in the world and he hoped Sherlane would respond kindly. Or Maruc was desperately indoctrinated to believe all clergy were as honest and forthright as he was. The mage saw that Maruc was leaning on the obvious mistrust the Clerical court seemed to hold against Magic Users. Miklos thought Maruc was treading a fine line. But it might pay off, he hoped for all their sakes it did. The patriarch might even allow them their weapons back…. or better might lend them the aid of the local militia? Even careful to keep a low profile Miklos kept his ears open and hid beside Lucius.

The elder cleared his throat and spoke. “I am familiar with the bizarre beliefs held by those of you in the Cult of Halav. There are many that regard all in your order as insane. You say there is a there is a threat inside our city walls—a rogue mage on the loose, is it? As you have noted, we have laws that deal with magecraft, and we are well equipped to deal with those who break the law.” He nodded in acknowledgment to Arthol, who grunted in satisfaction. “We also do not tolerate vigilantism. Frankly, I am tempted to have you escorted directly out of town.”

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Before the Clerical Court

Feldard eyed the guard with a scowl and for a moment considered telling the others to continue on without him but that would mean he would not be present when the others met with Nicolai’s mother.. that wouldn’t do.

The dwarf stomped his way over to the scribe and gruffly gave his name and handed over his crossbow and his two axes. “If they are tampered with in anyway, YOU..” Feldard pointed to the guard, “will find out quickly that this dwarf doesn’t need weapons to upset your precious peace.”

Stephan muttered under his breath and followed Feldard’s lead in allowing the town’s guard to register his bow and arrows.

He followed along with the group, keeping an eye on the townsfolk. Upon seeing where their weapons would be kept, he said “Da. I’ll be on my way then. Back for my things soon.”

Hasan and Ludo followed suit, quietly handing the guard their bows. The scribe recorded their names and confiscated weapons in her ledger.

“We don’t need to all stay and present at the court, do we?” asked Stephan, turning to his companions. “I’ll go with Feldard to Nicolai’s mother’s place. We’ll meet back here at the third hour.”

Ludo muttered to Stephen. “Yes, but what will Arthol say? He has in effect ‘asked’ us to accompany him, I doubt he will agree to you and Feldard splitting off after we ‘demand’ to go to the Clerical Court.”

While Feldard only wanted to be done with this place as quick as possible, he wasn’t willing to split off from Maruc and the main group. Maruc had stretched the truth a bit, by telling the guard that he, Feldard, was his personal bodyguard. Feldard wasn’t about to let the cleric be caught in a lie by leaving his side just as he was going to see this Court of Clerics. “Where Maruc goes, so do I—you know that, Stephan,” Feldard answered loud enough for the city guard to overhear. “Nicolai’s remains will wait. Plus do you REALLY want to be without the priest when you tell her that her son died? Not I,” he added softly.

Stephan knew all too well when he was defeated in an argument. He grunted acquiescence and stood near the back of the group, watching with some curiosity the goings on.

Arthol and his contingent of men held their posts on the wharf until another group of guards showed up to take their place. All dressed uniformly in white surcoats over chain mail, they saluted one another and then Arthol explained the situation.

“This lot be raisin’ a ruckus ‘bout surrenderin’ their arms. That one,” said Arthol, indicating Maruc, “seems to be the ringleader. We be goin’ to Town Hall to see what the clerics make of this.”

They started off into town. Hoisting his backpack, Ludo wondering where the spies were that Golthar had most likely hired were watching from. He felt strangely nervous about entering town and wondered if perhaps buying Arthol a few drinks later might reveal some information about Golthar’s whereabouts. A man of his description should not be hard to find, especially having traveled to Threshold on a flying carpet.

In the meantime, he followed the guards and the group to the Clerical Court. As they walked through the bustling streets, he turned to Miklos, “This could go badly for us, its much better to obey the law when they watching, and do what you like when they are not”.

Feldard followed the group, his scowl would remain in place for the entirety of their guided walk into town.

Ludo chuckled, “Feldard, maybe they have heard of your reputation with that axe and figure that this is the best way to keep the peace. You should take it as a compliment.”

The elf fell into step with the troops and trudged through the town, bristling as he heard the little boys heckle the group of “five men traveling with one girl — she must be tired! how desperate can they be?” He didn’t care that the boys had seen so few elves they thought he was a girl. The elf turned in fury to Feldard, “Your stubbornness will be the death of us yet, dwarf! Would it kill you to enter somewhere quietly, even once?!” The boys in the crowd tittered more, and the butt of a guard’s spear dug deep into the small of Hasan’s back. The elf stumbled forward again, quietly.

“Is it my fault the folk here are ninnies? They cower from an axe yet think nothing of allowing those with swords into their city freely,” the dwarf retorted.

As they walked to the clerical court, Ludo kept a wary eye out for land marks and suspicious faces in the crowd, sadly having the guard ‘escorting’ new arrivals to the town was making that job impossible, as it seemed that everyone in town was congregating to see what the fuss was about. Sadly Ludo’s thoughts of sneaking quietly into town, conducting their business and leaving just as quietly without fuss had just gone up in smoke. Golthar would know all about their arrival now.

Maruc remained aloof and silent in front of the guards. He wasn’t really one for trouble making but he felt he needed to teach this sergeant a lesson in deference.

Finally, they arrived at the Town Hall, located in the center of the frontier town. One of the few stone buildings in Threshold, four guards were positioned outside. They saluted Arthol and he led the way inside. Throughout their walk and particularly inside the hall, it was clear that he was well known and respected by his fellow guards and city officials as he gruffly returned the salutes and greetings he received along the way.

The clerical court was comprised of five clerics appointed by Patriarch Sherlane. Charged with overseeing the running of the town, they took a dim view of lawbreakers.

Normally, they would have required an appointment, but apparently it was a relatively slow day and after Arthol conversed with one of the bailiffs, they were brought into one of the courtrooms.

after description of court and introductions of key characters…

Arthol started right in, quickly, and gruffly stating the matter as he saw it. “This here man seeks to be bringin’ illegal weapons inside the town borders. His whole crew be lookin’ suspicious to my eye,” he said gesturing to his non-patched eyeball, “but all of ‘em have complied, ‘cept for him. I’m happy to be rid o’ the lot of ‘em and leave them to ye to deal with.”

The priestly judge nodded at Arthol and then turned to hear what Maruc had to say.

“I must have the honour of being in the presence of The High Court of the Most Holy Patriarch Sherlane? I give you greetings and and prayers from my Abbot who resides in a modest quarter of Specularum. Thank you for your servants’ … kind invitation to visit your city. He was however somewhat robust in his respect for the cloth. I very much doubt that your Holinesses would have him disrespect those of a …higher station? It would surprise me greatly that, although his loyalty is beyond question, his freedom to treat the priesthood in the manner demonstrated to me …. was what you desired.”

“If I have caused offense by showing my feelings to this servant then I beg your forgiveness. This is but a small matter, and he has my weapon. But I felt this matter deserved some small moment of your attention. I shall pray for his misguided soul and this matter will not reach the ears of the clergy of Specularum as I know the special relationship that dwells within the hearts of all clergy.”

Maruc affected a brave but slightly hurt face for a few moments before dropping his eyes in a solemn gesture. “Mere greetings is not all I have to bring to your attention Most Holy. Firstly, a brave companion of mine has fallen in battle against an evil….wizard.” Maruc paused. “I have brought his ashes for his mother to bury. The wizard was vanquished and my companions and I are hunting out his Dark Brothers who have infested these lands. Despite the best efforts of the soldiery of the Divine Duke Stefan.” Maruc looked up into the eyes of the Patriarch

“This brings me to my second reason for standing before you. We have uncovered the identity of one such Dark Brother who was seen entering Threshold. I seek your permission to bring this man to Holy justice. He is a dangerous and powerful Wizard and will stop at nothing to gain his own ends. He can call on vast numbers of indoctrinated slaves and I fear what mischief he will cause within your walls.”

Maruc knelt. “Your holiness, do we have your permission to continue our Holy quest?”

Miklos winced behind his hand at Maruc’s out of character bluster. There must be some reason for this as the cleric was normally is that enthusiastic about violence. Perhaps these last few months have opened his eyes to the world. But something about what his was donning smacked of manipulation. Like he wanted to see the Patriarch and didn’t want to wait for an audience. Either Maruc was stupid and was going to end up in a cell or Miklos was witnessing a master stoke of political wiles.

Time would tell. While he slunk along behind Lucius making himself as unobtrusive as possible, he wondered also if this bluster was almost aimed at taking attention away from him? Either way Miklos distanced himself from Maruc.

The curate regarded Maruc inquisitively. “Specularum, you say? What order be you?”

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Sergeant Arthol

Miklos slunk back a way. He hunted in his back pack and found his old student clothes he used to run around Specularum with when he was truenting with the others. He slipped over the tunic and belted it up. He felt less mage-like and more the nobleman’s son. He didn’t want to stick out too much in this cleric-run town.

“By the way I am looking for Cardia the Elf. Do you know where I could find her?” inquired Ludo.

“We guards are here to protect Threshold, not answer inquiries,” he replied gruffly at first. Then, his mood lightened momentarily. “But, if ye wish to make inquiries of me or my men, ye may have some luck getting answers with the purchase of an ale or two when we be off duty over at the Hook and Hatchet.

At the announcement, Feldard scowled. “Bah! I ain’t handing over my axe to anyone,” The dwarf stated firmly. “If you want, I’ll figure a way to peace tie it.. but I ain’t handing it over.”

Stephan’s jaw was askew at Patch’s proclamation. But instead of objecting, he grabbed a large sack from the Mudlark and stowed his bow and quiver in it. Using the loop from the sack’s drawstring, he hoisted the load over his shoulder.

“Right then, Patch. We’ll keep the arms under control.”

“The name be Sergeant Arthol, and I’m afraid that won’t do. I don’t write the law here. Ye may not like it, but that be the way it is.”

Ludo upon hearing the grizzled veterans statement, sighed “Sir, I am just a hunter, my weapons are of no danger to anyone in town, and I would be more than happy to unstring my bow whilst I am in town.”

“The way it goes is ye give yer name to my scribe Anya here, and she records all yer prohibited weapons. Ye can pick them up over at the Town Hall when ye be ready to leave.” The sergeant’s tone was getting more gruff by the syllable.

Maruc raised an eyebrow. “One moment Feldard.” He stepped right up to the guard, the words ‘clerical court’ sounded interesting. He stood a moment allowing the guard to take in his clerical garb. “Are you about to disarm my guard? Do you know whom you seek to stop in their god given duty? Who are you to stand in the way of a servant of the Lord Halav?”

Not used to having his orders questioned, Arthol was quickly losing his patience. “Father, if what ye say is true, then ye should know that these rules are enforced by decree of Patriarch Sherlane himself.”

“I will hear none of your petty excuses!” responded Maruc. “Take me at once to your High Priest, and we shall see what their holinesses have to say about your conduct!”

“Very well then!” said Arthol, now angry. He whistled loudly to summon the eight guards posted at the docks. “We can take ye to the Clerical Court at once, but first, ye’ll be handing over those weapons!”

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Threshold

Maruc gazed up at the flying carpet. He nudged Miklos. “Not an inconspicuous way to travel? I wonder who the other two are? I’d recognize Jolenta even from this distance.” the cleric turned to the ferryman. “Captain Scylla. Have you seen that flying carpet yonder before?”

“Aye,” replied the venerable riverboat captain. “That be Cardia the Elf. She runs a service for those that can afford the fare for express carpet flights for various destinations in the Duchy.”

Miklos grinned as the overladen bandit leader struck the water with a splash. He clapped. “Bravo!” he cried wincing at the pain in his shoulder.

Ludo sighed, the days activities had been exciting, a pity that Captain Scylla had not wanted to capture the river pirates. He felt that the Captain had missed an opportunity.

“Stephen, when we stop for the night, I think we should stand watches, those pirates could be back. It would also seem that Golthar knows our destination, we should discuss what our plans for Threshold, I think Golthar will have some surprises waiting for us, he is not likely to stand idly by while we replenish our supplies and then head north. I think that the least amount of time we spend in Threshold the better.”

“Da, Ludo,” responded the Traladaran warrior. “We’ll keep watch through the night. But I don’t think the captain means to stop. The river can be navigated in the dark, but the going may be slower.”

Feldard glanced up with a hopeful expression hearing Ludo talk about stopping for the night. Even his strong constitution was being taxed by the motion of the riverboat. “I take the middle watch, ” he offered.

When the talk turned to planning, Feldard grunted and put in his thoughts. “I can’t speak for what Miklos or Maruc have planned in Threshold, but gave my word to bring Nikolai’s remains to his mother and that’s what I plan to do.”

“Aye Feldard, honouring oaths and one’s comrades is important. Do we know where Nikolas’ mother lives? My concern is that Threshold is a frontier town. The Duke’s law is represented here, but only barely. Golthar will have plenty of men looking for a chance to earn some money. We also have to consider that with his power he may have the Dukes representatives in his pay, in short we must be on our guard, or we could find ourselves in the local jail with Golthar holding the map”.

The dwarf snorted in reply, “Only over my dead body.”

Miklos nodded at Feldard, “It is true we must deliver Nicolai’s ashes to his mother. Also we need to find out more of the journey ahead and plan our supplies carefully. Those mountains look unforgiving and I for one do not wish to avoid Golthar only to die of exposure!”

“I take responsibility of Nicolai’s ashes,” muttered Maruc almost daring anyone to gainsay him. “I will speak to the local clergy and determine where his family are. I believe he spoke of Fogor Isle, but I shall confirm it if I can. Captain Scylla, who is the High priest of Threshold, also where might we find a good Inn?” Maruc already assumed the the temple would be easy to find. These places usually were, they tended to have towers and bells. “I shall go directly to the temple when we disembark. With Feldard if he wishes. We shall meet at the Inn on our return.”

“Ludo,” he said addressing the rogue’s concern. “I fully expect Golthar to try something. Going by his previous behavior he is likely to be indirect. We must watch for anything suspect.”

Later, Stephan muttered to Maruc, “Whatever inn captain recommends, maybe we should not go to it. I did a little spying for the Duke when I was in his service and seems to me, captain may get questioned about our plans and whereabouts.”

* * * * *

The Mudlark pulled into port at the thriving frontier town of Threshold. Along the town’s wharves, river boats bob up and down at their moorings. The Windrush River flowed around an island packed with buildings. A guard patrol was posted to inspect all vessels as they arrive at the town. They were led by a grizzled veteran with an eye patch and a deep scar on his left cheek.

With his huge hands, the sergeant unrolled a parchment and, giving a mighty cough reminiscent of distant thunder, cleared his throat.

“Right, we can get this next bit done and then you go in,” he spoke gruffly. “Threshold is a law abiding ‘n peaceful place. To make sure it stays that way, yer only allowed to carry daggers, swords and staffs. What’s more, yer can’t cast no mage spells in this ‘ere town or it’ll be up before the clerical court with yer. Any questions? Yer better make ‘em quick, I ain’t got all day.”

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