“I heard that the caravan leaves shortly after dawn,” you say, keeping your tone even and conversational even though you make no move toward them.
Taz leans back in his chair, lifting his mug. “Yep.”
“Then I would think you would be preparing and resting for the journey.”
He scoffs. “Sleep tomorrow, on the road. This job’ll be easy. Ya gotta enjoy the pleasures when ya got ‘em.” He wraps an arm around one of the maids and she giggles.
“Still,” you say, eying him as he takes a long drink, “tomorrow you should be alert and ready to fight. If an attack comes-”
Taz snorts into his mug and jerks back in a mix of coughs and laughs. “Attack? Attack? They’ll be over fifty men huddled around two little wagons. Only fools would attack!”
The other guards cheer, some raising their drinks.
You frown, annoyance growing. The fools are those who get too comfortable in their assumptions. “Then perhaps you might consider the contract you signed only this afternoon. I seem to recall a rule forbidding entry to the main house.”
“You’re here.” Taz shrugs.
“The contract I signed was altered. I was hired to keep order here.”
“That’s what you call it?” Taz grins and pulls the girl onto his lap. “Don’t need no letters to do this.”
The others in the room join in the laugh.
Taz bangs his mug on the table. “That lousy money-counter don’t know nothing about fighting. Good thing the son does. Master Gallino tests all the riffraff hired – see if they’re really worth it. He wouldn’t put a monk in a man’s job.”
You take a deep breath and wonder if you should count to ten but doubt it would do much good. “Your little celebration is over. Head back to the barracks, all of you.”
Taz’s face darkens and he climbs to his feet, dumping the girl on the ground. She squeals and scurries away as Taz approaches. “Make me, monk.”
Having no interest in fighting the punk to satisfy his own vain curiosity, you keep very still. He’s drunk. Drunks are far too good at seeing only what they want to. “Save your taunts for a real battle, Taz.”
His lips pull back in angry disgust and he lunges at you. It might have worked, too, if he had been sober. Drunks may be unpredictable, but they’re still slow.
You step to the left and kick his rear as he barrels past. He crashes into a table, tipping it and scattering broken pottery everywhere. Sticky ale trickles through the wreckage.
Taz struggles to draw his sword and stand, but you kick the blade away. One of the other men stumbles toward you, hand on his own hilt. You draw your sword and lift the tip to the man’s chest.
“Leave now,” you say, “and I may choose not to mention this unfortunate mess. Stay and I’ll see to it that Master Galen knows all. And lest you scoff that I cannot without names, I must warn you there are other ways. Markings left by blade would suit the purpose just fine.”
A maid gasps. “Barbarian!”
One of the men kicks a chair and staggers for the doorway. Another follows. Several of the maids help their drunken companions stand, but you shake your head. “You girls stay.”
The girls hesitate, but stay. Meanwhile, the deprived men glare at you as they file out. All the men have regular, noisy boots. So, if the conspirator is among the group, he must have been without and then put his boots off after entering the room. The ones who even resemble sober certainly don’t match the height or clothing, so either Selyna’s accomplice wasn’t among them, or he was an excellent actor.
“You’ll regret this,” Taz grumbles as he tromps by.
You sigh. Drunks aren’t very original either.
After the men are gone, you start to sheathe your sword, but one glance at the angry bunch of women make you stop. “I suggest you girls clean this mess up and head to bed. I somehow doubt you’d like this reported to the Mistress and Master either. Or should we go and wake the head cook?”
One blond tilts her head and raises an eyebrow. “You gonna cut us up, too?”
“Don’t need to.” You give her a disarming half-smile. “I don’t have any trouble at all remembering faces like yours.” You slide your sword back into the sheath at your side, amused at the woman’s startled gasp. You may not have all their faces memorized, but you are pretty sure you could pick most them out of a group if it came to that. “Hopefully you’ll stick around long enough for me to learn your name, too.”
The attempt at an insulted huff was almost laughable.
You lean against the wall, watching them, waiting. At first they glance at each other and avoid your gaze. Then, just like the men, one girl crouches and starts gathering up the broken pottery. The rest slowly join in.
Once all of them are at work, you set about righting the two tables. The women eye you, keeping their distance, but the tension does ease a little. You stay helping long enough to ensure the worst is dealt with, then head back to the shadowed corridors. It had taken a bit longer than you wanted, but while the men would be away with the caravan, the maids will be here each day. You know too well that an angry woman can make life pretty miserable. A little sympathy on your behalf might be useful.
You spend the rest of the night walking the hallways and circling the outside of the building. You poke your nose into every shadow big enough to hide a man – and even find a couple more you have to chase off to the barracks, but none that remind you of the mysterious accomplice.
By the first light of dawn you are exhausted, your feet aching, but you find your way back to knock on Galen’s door. After waiting a few minutes, the door behind you opens and Gallino walks out of his study. He pauses when he sees you and raises an eyebrow.
“Is something amiss?”
You shrug. “I had a few questions and clarifications about my duties and would like to report to Galen before I rest.”
“I was on my way to gather the caravan, but if you walk with me, perhaps I could help.”
“Thank you for the offer, but from what you told me before, then these issues are the sort to discuss with Galen himself. Repairs and such.”
Gallino pulled his door shut and sighed. “Then you might as well get your rest first. My father is not an early riser.”
“Doesn’t he at least see the caravan off, to make sure all goes smoothly?”
“Alas, no.” Gallino hesitated. “In his old age, he suffers from difficulty sleeping at night and so he takes tonics to help him rest. It ensures a deep sleep but is slow to wear off. He’ll probably be up before noon. Until then he is nearly impossible to rouse and drowsy even if you can. The caravan will be long gone before he wakes.”
“However, if it is about servant help, I might be able to lend you one of the men under me. I have a good man who’s handy with wood. Selyna was in one of her moods last night so I can’t say I’m surprised she didn’t help. I probably should have warned you that she has a particular disdain for mercenaries.”
The creak of a wooden door opening catch your attention and you turn to see Selyna emerge from her rooms.
Since you can’t inform Galen, take up Gallino’s offer of walking with him, borrowing help and perhaps give an anonymous tip that the Caravan might be in danger. After all, Gallino is in charge there, and he should have a heads up to prepare/watch out.
Go take a well-deserved (and needed) rest while you have the chance and keep the warning to yourself until you can talk to Galen
Voting is Closed.
For those who missed the rules for this game check them out here!
And to see how this adventure began, see Renegade Project #1