This is the last scene of the chapter, and it introduces a new ally to the story in the form of an Elefdar merchant who may be more than he appears to be...
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Inquiring at the guild turned up no immediate information, but they did get some advice as to who else they might ask in Castor. After a few more inquiries throughout the city, someone was finally able to direct them to the Merchants Quarter, and to a particular small warehouse that belonged to Adradomir. Apparently, he both lived in and did business from the same house, a common practice among merchants who wanted to remain close to their inventories.
The warehouse was nestled between two larger buildings, also warehouses, belonging to other merchants. It was two stories tall, with a single front door and two windows on either side, and a larger upper-story door. There was an intricate pulley system suspended above that door from a thick wooden beam near the peak of the roof, and Balfrith surmised that it could be used to lift goods from the ground outside the warehouse, up into the loft where they would be stored. He’d never seen such a thing in action, but he had heard of them.
Since they had spent most of Moonday in their search, they decided to leave a note on the door, and return the next day.
On Tiallsday, they broke their fast at the inn, then Balfrith retrieved the letter from his rucksack, and they were on the street by mid-morning. It was only a short walk, less than half an hour, to the Merchants Quarter and the warehouse of Adradomir. Upon their arrival, Balfrith knocked on the door, and they waited.
It only took a few minutes before the door opened, and a Man looked out at them. He was about Balfrith’s height, though older, with graying hair and a hard face that spoke volumes of the kind of life he must have led. “Yes?” was all he said.
Balfrith answered, “Good day, goodman, I am master Balfrith of Nûmidëa. I have a letter with me, from a friend of Adradomir’s - lord Felaranthir of Illithëon. My friend and I left a note yesterday announcing our arrival, and desire to meet with Adradomir today if possible. I was instructed to deliver the note to him personally.”
“Wait here.” The door closed, and they waited. A few minutes, later, the door opened again, wider this time. “Come in, and welcome. My apologies for being rather abrupt before - my master does not much like interruptions of his breakfast. But for you, and this letter, he will gladly make an exception. Please, follow me.” He turned and led them down a short hall and through a door on the left.
They entered a well-furnished dining room, with woven cloth on the walls, deeply-stained hardwood table and chairs, and gold-inlaid tableware. The man who sat at the table was likewise well “furnished”, in a robe of deep blue silk, with silver ear cuffs and other masculine adornments common to the Elefdar.
He rose from the table as they entered, and said, “Be welcome, guests. I understand you have a letter for me from an old friend.” As Balfrith stepped forward to hand over the rolled-up and sealed letter, Adradomir’s brows rose and he looked past Balfrith. “Eldamir, is that you?”
Eldamir bowed slightly, looking a bit perplexed, and said, “Yes, my lord?” he obviously did not know this man Adradomir, though he was apparently known by him.
Adradomir laughed, and said, “I am sorry to surprise you like that - of course you have never met me, though I know your father well and have seen you from a distance a few times. Please, come in and have a seat while I read.”
They did so, Balfrith sitting on the edge of his seat both literally and figuratively: he was burning with curiosity about the contents of that letter.
Adradomir examined the seal briefly, then broke it and unrolled the single long page. He read quickly, eyes scanning row after row as Balfrith watched, subtle expressions crossing his face from time to time. Balfrith’s curiosity grew each time he saw some evidence of a response. Finally, Adradomir set the letter down, and it sprung back into a roll as he released it.
“Do you know what is in the letter?” he asked, looking at Balfrith.
Balfrith shook his head. “No, my lord. Lord Felaranthir told me nothing of what he wrote, he only asked me to deliver it directly to you.”
Adradomir nodded. “First of all then, you have my thanks. You have done well, Balfrith, and are to be commended. In addition, lord Felaranthir has good things to say about you. Interesting that he didn’t mention he was sending his son, however…” he looked at Eldamir.
Eldamir said, “My lord, my father did not know I intended to accompany Balfrith on this journey at the time he wrote the letter. He must have assumed Balfrith would come alone.”
“Yes, that would explain it,” Adradomir said, seeming satisfied. “Well, I cannot tell you all that is said herein, for Felaranthir and I are old friends and we share knowledge of, and interest in, some things that are for no eyes but mine. But I can tell you that he has asked me to give you whatever aid I deem will help you best. He doesn’t say what quest you are on, but I know my friend too well to believe that delivering this letter was the sole reason for your journey.”
Balfrith smiled and said, “No indeed, my lord Adradomir. Lord Felaranthir has sent me on a quest to repair something of value to my family, and while I would rather not say too much more about it - he has asked me to keep such things to myself - I can say that you are correct. The delivery of this letter is a side-track from the main reason for my travels.”
Adradomir nodded. “I thought as much - and I will not probe you for more information than you are wont to give, master Balfrith. Can you tell me where you are bound next?”
“Indeed, I’m happy to. Eldamir and I are currently seeking employment to raise a little coin, but the next stage of our journey will take us to the School for Learned Studies in Westmere. That is, if we’re not side-tracked. We are given to understand that work can be found guarding caravans, but we’ll take whatever we can find for now, hoping to eventually join up with a merchant bound for Westmere.”
Adradomir laughed aloud, and said, “Well, this is a happy coincidence - one might even say providential! For I myself have a wagon almost ready to go to Westmere, loaded with several items of some small value. I always have a few stout and trustworthy men guarding it, and I would be glad to hire you both for the job. Can you be prepared to leave quickly?”
Balfrith stood, excited, and said, “My lord, we can be ready to leave today if need be. We are hardly rooted in this city, having only arrived a week ago, and we could pack and depart on a moment’s notice.”
“Then you’re hired. The wagon departs tomorrow morning, so be here an hour after sunrise. I pay the guild standard rate, one silver eagle per day.”
Balfrith grinned and said, “My lord Adradomir, it will be a pleasure working for you. This is, indeed, a happy coincidence, and I hope it may be a harbinger of things to come.”
Adradomir now stood, and said, “Well, my friends, you have my thanks for the delivery of this letter. Eldamir, please send my warm regards to your father. If I have opportunity, I will send him a letter, but you may see him before I get to it. And now, I have other tasks to accomplish today, so I hope you will excuse me. Roidh will show you out.”
Just then, the hard-faced man appeared in the door, and bowed slightly. Eldamir stood with Balfrith, and they followed him out of the room and down the hall to the front door. As he opened the door, Roidh said, “Masters Balfrith and Eldamir, I shall look forward to seeing you in the morning. My master clearly trusts you - do not disappoint him.”
It wasn’t exactly a threat, but Balfrith shivered anyway, and nodded. “We’ll be here within an hour of sunrise, as expected.”
“Good day, then, and see you on the morrow,” Roidh said, closing the door behind them.