Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Chapter Eleven, Scene 4

Moonday morning could not come soon enough for Balfrith. Though he and Eldamir used the time to good effect, making a few last-hour purchases, cleaning their weapons and armor, and packing their gear for travel, still he grew more anxious by the day, looking forward to meeting this new helper that Adradomir had mentioned.

They ate a quick breakfast that morning, then took their gear and walked to Adradomir’s home in the merchants’ quarter. As promised, Roidh was there awaiting their arrival, clearly expecting them. He welcomed them with a smile this time, which was better than they’d received before, and Balfrith smiled in return, genuinely glad to see the man.

He ushered them into the meeting room, where Adradomir sat, along with two others. Calunoth was there at the table, leaning back in his chair to the point where he looked like he might fall backwards, and another man that Balfrith recognized from the guild: it was Hallgeir, the one who had tested Eldamir upon their application to join the free-lancers.

Eldamir spoke first, exclaiming, “Hallgeir! Glad I am to meet you here. Adradomir had informed us he was bringing in another free-lancer to join us, but he gave no name in his letter.”

Hallgeir nodded in greeting. He also sat at the table, though he kept all four chair-feet on the floor, slouching comfortably in it. Calunoth tipped himself forward, and said, “Balfrith, Eldamir - your countenances bring a light to the room that was lacking. I fear my counterpart, here, brought a shroud of gloom that is not easily dispersed.” He grinned and winked in Hallgeir’s direction, but the northerner merely glowered and said nothing.

Adradomir stood and spoke up then, saying, “I see you all know each other. I had no idea this was the case, but I suppose I shouldn’t be too surprised. Calunoth recommended Hallgeir when I mentioned this little journey, and after meeting him, I was satisfied that he would be able to help us. And now that all four of you are here, I will share some additional details that I’ve withheld from each of you until now.

“Balfrith and Eldamir, you both know of the task that I had planned for you: to deliver a letter from me to my associate in Drakenmount. Of course I do not need four men to courier a simple letter for me. But in the time since we last met, I also came across an object of some value that I wish to have delivered with the letter, to the same man. I hired Calunoth and Hallgeir to help with this, for I have Roidh busy with other tasks at the moment. Though the object is not very large, it will take one man his full strength to carry it. And it is valuable enough that I want to have the rest of you able to defend it, and the one carrying it, should you be assaulted.”

“What is this thing?” asked Balfrith.

“Simply a gift for my associate. It’s a small statue, from lands far to the south, across the Inner Sea. I know it is something he has desired for some time, and as it happened, I came across this in my own travels recently. I’d almost forgotten that I had it in my possession. And now, I can send it to him as a gift, with the letter. I have already given Calunoth and Hallgeir instructions about its delivery, so there’s no need for me to go over that again. They can tell you more about it as you travel, for you’ll be at sea for some days, as you know.

“Other than that, as I mentioned in my summons, I have told both Hallgeir and Calunoth of your planned journey further to the north, though I’ve not given them any details. Again, you can tell them about it while you’re aboard ship. I should mention that Calunoth and Hallgeir are not hired for that part - if they choose, they may decide to not accompany you. I have left that choice to them, and you can work out whatever payment you deem reasonable, should you choose to hire either or both.”

Balfrith and Eldamir nodded their understanding.

Adradomir continued, “And now, my friends and associates, I must bid you farewell. I have other business to attend this morning, and I know you will want to prepare for your journey. I’ve entrusted Calunoth with the purse, and enough coin to cover your travel expenses as far as Drakenmount. Roidh will see you to the door.”

And that was the end of the meeting. All four of the free-lancers rose, nodded or bowed toward Adradomir, and departed the room, followed by Roidh who said his own farewells before closing the door behind them.