Entry 29 Part 3: Riloth the 19th the 24th
Illunia 22 - Edgewater
Unfazed by the transformation, Ludvik barked, "Tobren, Mobear, we must secure the fortress before the enemy musters their forces to retake it. Can I count on your aid? If we get there, I can summon support from the dwarven kingdoms and repay your help in kind. I suspect we will need to stand together in the coming days."
Ludvik, Tobren and Mobear agreed that day to an alliance of sorts. No papers were signed, but they all vowed to stand together in opposition to the forces rallying against them. The rest of the day, I was forgotten as the town mobilized to retake the fort. News of our adventure was quickly overshadowed in the wake of the dragon’s departure. As a group, we elected to stay in town and not return to the fortress. No one begrudged us our rest and we were given beds in the mayor’s home. From what I surmised, he "disappeared" during the battle. No one seemed willing to tell me, but neither did they miss him.
We stayed in Edgewater for two weeks. The town collected loot from the slain invaders, who were carrying quite a lot of wealth on their persons. To show their appreciation, they gifted us each with sacks of coins totalling around five gold each, a fortune for anyone. We spent those two weeks as conquering heroes. Trish’s retelling of our tale spread far through the town after the shock of the dragon faded. She took advantage of the goodwill fully outfitting herself—and then some—for our trip to find her ship. I was less greedy with the adoration of the town, and modestly equipped myself for the road—indulging only in a new writing set and journal.
Daulf refused the payment outright, and instead insisted an orphanage be built for the refugee children. He stipulated that it must have a school and that any local children should be granted access if they wish. Many refugees volunteered their labor and the building was underway before we left. Daulf promised to send more funds should he acquire them.
Roland spent the time in the forest with Maple, finding enemy stragglers and leading parties to hunt them down. Daulf oversaw the medical tent while also arranging parties to start construction on the orphanage. There was no shortage of hands looking for work.
The first time I saw Bearskin after the dragon incident, he was wearing a tunic and pants in the style of the town.
"I didn’t know you wore clothes," I said.
He laughed, and I blushed, relieved he took my earnest question as a joke.
"Of course I wear clothes. No one ever offered me a shirt. It took a long time to get one made to fit."
Bearskin followed me everywhere I went those two weeks, while I tried to discreetly ask around about my father, and why he might have been coming here. My father’s notes in his satchel were of no use. It was all maps and pre-flood histories. Nothing that even mentioned this region, let alone plans for a rendezvous. At the time, I hadn’t remembered the conversation between him and my mother where he’d mentioned the dragon’s name, and the idea that it had been here to see my father never even occurred to me.
After a few days and no results, I settled into the small collection of books in the mayor’s library. I had guessed that the missing mayor may have been the man my father was meant to meet here—though from my brief experience with the man, I hoped not. His library was full of impressive looking books of no academic or historical value.
The ex-mayor’s house had become the headquarters for the town. I suppose it always was, but now it was filled with constant activity. They erected Mobear’s command tent in the front lawn, and Tobren sat behind a desk in the foyer, sending messengers to the dozens of projects he managed through the region. The influx of refugees continued each day, and the town was working to rebuild the sawmill so they could build homes for all the new people. Mobear declared that no taxes would be due for five years for anyone who farmed a plot of land. He declared the land east of the town open for anyone willing to work it. Technically he didn’t have the authority to do such a thing, but if anyone above him in the chain of command still existed, they were not around to naysay.
Between studying, I spent time with Trish, Bearskin, and Daulf. Each took a turn training me in their own particular martial talents. Trish helped me practice knife throwing, for which I was terrible.
Despite that, she pressed me to continue, “Your little Conjure spell may seem like a cute trick, but if you can become even a little competent at knife throwing, you can take your enemies by surprise.”
Before that past week, I would have asked what enemies she was referring to and given up the practice, but I’d learned how far a little skill could go and I didn’t plan to become complacent in my own abilities.
Daulf too took to training me. I’d yet to show him my father’s sword, so he trained me with a shortsword and round shield. As to be expected from Illunia’s Chosen, he was a great teacher, but I was a poor student. A combination of distrust in him and dislike in a weapon combination that allowed for little room for magic made my progress slow.
Roland watched me shoot a bow once, and told me to stick with magic.
Bearskin, judging Trish and Daulf sufficient in teaching me other areas of combat, decided to teach me wrestling and unarmed combat. With different townsfolk and soldiers as my sparring partner, he would watch, comment, and demonstrate proper technique. I was amazed to discover that wrestling had a depth of skill and technique as vast as any other martial form of combat. I didn’t master it, but being aware of the basic concepts did much to improve my prowess. He also made me run, and carry heavy rocks across a field. I hated every second of that, but it almost certainly saved my life in these resets.
The days were long, but not unenjoyable—except for the conditioning. Once I’d given up on canvassing the town for signs of my father’s meeting, I was almost able to block out the pain of my parents' loss.
After I’d read through the books in the "library" Tobren drafted me into his service as a scribe. It was because of this that I was present when the gray orc contingent from Orinqth arrived. Three gray-skinned orcs, with long braided hair and decked out in hides and furs burst through the entry to the mayor’s house as I was writing a request for aid Tobren was going to send to Lakeside.
"Where is he, Tobren?" the lead orc yelled as she walked in. She was female and carried a large ax, her hair was shaved save for a small circle at the top, and the hair from that was braided, extending down past her waist. The other orcs had similar haircuts with less impressive braids.
Tobren jumped back from his desk.
"Tamra! It's been so long, you look, uh—” he fumbled for a word, “—strong. How have you been?"
She stopped right before the desk and slammed her ax down into it, cutting a stack of papers in half and wedging it in the table-top. "Cut the flattery, where is my husband?"
"Ex-husband." Tobren corrected quickly, seemingly from habit.
"Orcs do not get divorced," she said coldly. "Now tell me where my husband is."
"Ahem," came a polite cough from the still open door. Roland stood there, casually leaning against the door frame. "Hello dear wife, or is it Great Warchief Wife? You know I’m terrible at showing deference."
Then, to my shock, the scary orc lady—who was apparently Roland's wife?—started giggling, and the giggle turned into a snort. Tobren relaxed, but I was still afraid she would snap back to anger and attack at any moment.
Roland and Tamra embraced each other in a hug, and after they whispered something I couldn’t hear, Tamra spoke for us all to hear. "I need your help."
"I figured as much. What happened? Need help crushing your people beneath your iron heel?" Roland asked.
I couldn’t tell if he was joking or not.
Her laughter stopped, she stood back from Roland and stared straight into his eyes. "I’m serious. You know I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t dire. A stranger has come, and put thoughts into my father’s head. She has convinced him that our people are weak, and that we must return to the Old Ways. She brought with her some giant men, and they have won the attention of the people through success in the arena. Her ideas have spread and thousands of warriors have gone missing over the past months. I know not where."
"Giant men? With tattoos?" I asked.
Tamra turned around, and noticed me for the first time. She looked me up and down, evaluating if I was a threat.
"Yes, how did you know? We saw one of their kind last night when we reached the town. You know him?"
"Bearskin?" I asked.
I hadn’t found him all day, which was strange, he usually followed me around and I’d begun to worry.
"I don’t know, but when we saw him, we tried to capture him. It, uh, did not go well, but no one died," she seemed embarrassed to admit they’d been defeated by one man. "After he had disarmed us, he asked us why we had attacked. After we explained to him what I just told you, he set off to Orinqth. He told us to tell some ‘Theral’ that he would find him after he sorted this out, and gave me this," she pulled out an obsidian blade from his weapon. "He said, he’d be able to find it again. I take it you are this Theral?"
"Fauel and Flood," Roland cursed, resigned. "You are in luck Tamra. I don’t know if I would have helped you, but I owe that stupid giant a debt."
We moved quickly, preparing to set out after Bearskin. Daulf agreed to join us when Roland asked him to come. Trish pulled me aside, "Are we really going after this guy? You already saved him once, this is a great chance to slip away from your handsome jailor."
I thought it over for a moment, then rationalized to her—and maybe myself, "I have to go. We are likely still being hunted, so we can’t stay here. It would be easy for whoever is looking for us to get at us among the chaos of this growing town. It's probably much safer traveling, especially with Daulf and Bearskin. It’s not like we are going to run into another situation like we just saw. Right?"