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.
“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.”