In Chapter 4 we pick back up with our rogues: Caladin and Quinn. They’ve enter a new town on the outskirts of the world. Nearly out of gold they are in desperate need of a word Caladin refused to say…work.
Chapter 4- “A New Town. A New Opportunity”
Caladin and Quinn pulled into Ironwood, passing through its large wooden gates, happy to be on the final leg of their long journey. Dusty and disheveled, the rogues wanted nothing more than to clean up, find a nice, warm, comfortable bed, and eat a meal that consisted of more than beans and bread. They were forced to take in the sights and sounds of the new town from the vantage point of the back of a wagon, at least until they reached the stables in Mid-Town.
Once they reached their destination, Caladin stood up in the wagon and stretched, as Quinn alighted over the side. Caladin then disembarked from the rear and dusted himself off.
“Cousin, I am going to need new attire. This outfit is simply dreadful. Full of dust and sweat. I would love to partake of a fine glass of wine and the company of a nice, young lady. Nay, make that the company of at least two nice, young ladies.”
“Well, we’re going to need gold then, and lots of it,” Quinn remarked.
“Might I inquire as to the amount we still have?”
“Enough for a room and a meal. A common room and basic meal for tonight, and tonight only.”
The potbellied merchant who had hired them, a man who belied his age as he looked several winters older, interrupted the cousins’ conversation. “Well, fellas, I got ya here as promised. That’ll be five silver pieces for each of ya for the ride and meals.”
“What? What kind of crap is this? We shouldn’t pay anything!” bellowed Quinn as he walked toward the merchant, his hands reaching for the swords at his hips. “We were hired to help protect your wagon and its goods. Quid pro quo, you bastard!”
“Quid pro what?” the portly merchant responded as he shied away from Quinn, retreating with a few hurried steps.
Caladin grabbed his cousin by the arm to stop him. He then addressed the merchant. “He means something for something. We helped to protect you and your cargo on the journey, and you in return, gave us food and a ride. That was our original compact, good sir.”
Caladin’s calm demeanor helped to diffuse the situation and put Quinn at ease. “Here, good sir.” Caladin handed the merchant two gold pieces. “A gold piece for our travels. Exactly as you have requested. The additional coin being yours if you will point us in the direction of well-to-do establishment that has a comfortable bed, strong libations, and a hot meal to offer. We are new to this place and would greatly appreciate your assistance.”
Quinn grabbed Caladin by the arm and turned him away from the merchant. He chided in a loud whisper, “What in the hell are you doing?!”
“Tsk-tsk, Cousin. It is only gold.” Looking past Quinn, Caladin could see that the merchant was enthralled. He had spit on the gold pieces and briskly cleaned them with the sleeve of his shirt. Caladin took his cousin by the shoulder and turned him away from the merchant. He then whispered to Quinn in a more serious tone, “We can ill afford any more issues. We are nearly at the world’s end out here. We have nowhere else to retreat to at the moment.”
Quinn responded in kind. “We can ill afford to give up two gold when we don’t have a pot to piss in. He owes us. He broke the covenant.”
“Do not fret about finances, Cousin, we can always procure more. Sometimes the same coin that greases one palm ends up back in the purse from whence it came.” Caladin smiled and winked at Quinn.
Quinn’s eyes lit up, and he returned a devious smile.
Turning back to face the merchant, Caladin spoke loud enough for the merchant to hear. “You know what my mother, your aunt, use to say. ‘You catch more flies with honey than you do with vinegar.’” He walked over and placed his hand on the merchant’s shoulder getting the man to focus on him. “Please forgive my cousin. He can be… a mad-cap at times. Please take no offense because of his actions. It was a long and arduous journey, and I am sure that he is just spent. Please, we prefer friends to enemies. I had a discussion with him, and he would like to apologize for his behavior. Would that be all right?”
“Of course. No offense taken,” said the merchant. Then, he looked at the two gold pieces longingly for a moment before placing them in his belt pouch. He patted the pouch as if he had just tucked his children into bed. “I would be most obliged to accept his apology. You’re most generous men. “
Quinn approached as if he was a child who had been lambasted by his stern parent for some transgression that a young boy should not commit. He walked up with his head down and his hands crossed in front of him. “I… I… I am… most… sorry for… my behavior sir,” he stuttered. “That outburst was unbecoming and most unnecessary. You were only trying to get what was rightful yours. I mean, without you, I just don’t think my cousin and I could have managed to find our way here. We may have been lost or even killed out in that great wide world. I thank you for your hospitality. Allowing us to sleep in the dirt, stay up all night standing guard, and for making us that wonderful bean soup, night, after night, after night.” Quinn extended his hand in a gesture of friendship. “Will you forgive me? Friends?”
The merchant took his hand willingly. “Of course, son. Friends. And, no hard feelings.”
Quinn moved in closer and patted the merchant on the back as he shook his hand.
Caladin spoke up. “Uhm, good sir,” and the man turned to look at Caladin.
That is when Quinn struck, cutting the merchant’s purse from his belt and swiftly placing the “procured” item in his tunic.
“You did agree to show us the way to a most fine establishment for the extra coin,” finished Caladin, as he smiled disarmingly.
“Of course. Of course,” responded the merchant jovially, a hop in his step as he walked toward Caladin to show him the way.
Once the merchant had given them the directions, they were off. They didn’t head to the place where the potbellied merchant had suggested, but instead headed for another establishment that Quinn had been told about by an “associate” in another town.
“How much did we unburden our colleague of, Cousin?” inquired Caladin.
“Felt like roughly twenty coins. Hopefully most aren’t copper. “
“Well, we know two are gold for sure. Let us discover how much richer we have become.”
“I doubt that we will be able to define what we took from that greedy, fat merchant as becoming ‘richer,’” Quinn quipped as he emptied the contents into his hand.
Caladin could see a look of surprise on Quinn’s face. Quinn smirked. “It’s better than I had hoped. The chubby little snot had mostly silver.” He pursed his lips and raised his eyebrows, giving Caladin a look of “Not bad.”
“Give me the two gold. I am going to purchase our abode for the evening, and then I will investigate this wor… gainful employment your contact has described. I shudder at the thought.” Caladin visibly shook as if he was freezing cold.
Quinn laughed at him. “It’s not as if the job description was shoveling dung or laying brick. We’re just supposed to kill orcs and the like.”
“I know. I know. It is… the word—”
“Work,” Quinn interjected.
“Yes, yes, that word gives me the shivers.” He stopped walking for a moment and stood with a sour look on his face as he contemplated work. Coming back to the moment, he said, “See what you can find out about this town. Who are the players? Is there a thieves’ guild here? If so, what kind of clout do they possess? I prefer to not be gainfully employed for too long, but I do not want to step on anyone’s toes unless we think that we can cut them off or put a boot on them.”
“As always, Cousin.” Quinn turned and walked away.
“Cousin.” Caladin waited for Quinn to turn back to him. “No more of this.” He then jingled the merchant’s purse and tossed it to him. “At least not until we know the rules of this place. I know it is hard, but please refrain from using too much of it.”
Quinn caught the coin purse in a deft manner, then remarked as he looked down at his own nether region, “Not yet it’s not. If I spend the coin in brothel it will be. And when the gods have blessed you like they have blessed me, it makes it very difficult to refrain from using too much. There’s one of your… double entendres.”
“Ha ha. You know what I meant, you licentious wretch. Use the money to garner information, not wenches, will you?”
Quinn had a bawdy smirk planted on his face. He turned and continued walking down the street as he said over his shoulder, “See you in about a movement of the sun for supper.” He disappeared down an alley.
So, Caladin is off to secure a place to stay and find employment. Where will the cousins end up? Let me know what you think by visiting my website: johndpepeauthor.com, emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by simply commenting here at godamonggeeks316.com.