Owerton Challenge, Issue 108, Morgus E004, Red Panda Chartreuse Road Sign

Owerton Challenge:

Morgus

Red Panda Chartreuse Road Sign

Episode 004

December 12, 2016

Issue 108

 

Challenge: Issue 108

  • Words:
    • Chartreuse
    • Red Panda
    • Road Sign
  • Contributor:
    • C S Burgar
    • High Prairie, Alberta

 

Previously on episode 003 on Autumn 59 Unicorn with:

Morgus, is a mage who burns his opponents when he challenges them, he finds the thief who stole from his friends. Morgus retrieves the stolen silver heart from a dead rogue.

Later, sitting in Perch Inn tavern with a quandary over a sealed parchment, Morgus ponders the meaning of the parchment.

We continue now with Episode 004:

Autumn 65 Unicorn

Sitting at the tavern table, Morgus stares at the parchment he holds as Pedren sets Morgus’ morning meal on the table along with an ale.

Sighing with exasperation, the mage cautiously breaks the seal and unfolds the parchment to open and read the carefully written masculine jal script.

 

Master Morgus: 

I am Baron Larap Hessan, I seek an audience at your earliest convenience to discuss business regarding my holdings.

Come to my residence at 1029 Drescol Street, South State district before Autumn 70 Unicorn. 

Yours, Baron Hessan

Autumn 64 Unicorn

 

Stunned, Morgus simply stares at the writing, puzzled as to why a baron would want to do business with an unknown mage like Morgus. The baron apparently desires Morgus to such an extent that he presents a personal invitation to him.

Carefully folding the parchment, the thirty-three-year-old mage places the summons into his belt pouch. He eats his morning meal pondering the call, trying to illuminate for himself the writ from the baron. But try as he might, the jalmal produces no answers.

Exhaling, stymied with the situation, Morgus finishes his meal and cleans himself up to put forth a suitable introduction. He dresses in a new tunic, shines his boots, and brushes off his leggings.

Leaving Perch Inn, Morgus precedes northwest on Drescol Street, on the almost seven-kilometre journey to Baron Hessan’s estate.

…..

Standing outside the gates into the demesne, Morgus mulls over if he really wants to access the trust of this nobleman’s life. What will it end up meaning to Morgus? What consequences? ‘I’m not exactly crystal clean. I have a spotty past, and even though my official records were wiped clean, that doesn’t clear people’s memories. What am I entering into?

Deeply sighing and taking the next step, he ventures forward into a new life adventure. Morgus is a man who has always taken risks, never shirking opportunities, even though he may question himself.

The manor house is nestled among four other immense buildings in a six-acre courtyard of the holding. Near the massive stone four-story manor is the vast double-story wooden barn, a stone and wood carriage house, a two-story stone and wood stable, and last is the enormous three-story building which must be the storage and craftsman’s shop.

Morgus walks up the stone paved drive to the brick paved path, all the way up to the double wooden front doors in the stone face of the building. Using the silk rope of the manor’s knocker, Morgus pulls on it, and then releasing the expensive rope, he waits.

Less than three minutes later a thirty-year-old toyfem opens the elaborately carved front doors. She speaks in fluent jal. “Gods-grace and good fate master. How may I help you?”

Morgus submits to her the writ from Baron Hessan, and he says, “I was summoned for a meeting by Baron Hessan for as soon as possible?”

Without receiving the writ, she asks, “And what is your name?”

Confounded, Morgus places the summons back in his pouch before replying, “I am Mage Morgus.”

Abruptly smiling, the woman answers, “Auh, Mage Morgus, welcome. I am Ada. Please! Please enter, wipe your boots on the mat and then follow me to the Baron’s den.” She waits for Morgus to enter and wipe off his boots on the bristle mat a few feet inside the doorway.

Morgus looks at the interior of the manor, bewildered at the opulence of the intricate heart of this structure. The intimate carvings of the wooden fixtures, the fancy metal work, and the stonework that is inlaid and carved to fine details. Hundreds of thousands of coins in craftsmanship alone were expended in this building.

Walking on the inlaid basalt stone floor, the footsteps of the duo echo softly through the rooms and hallways as they walk up to the second-floor den. Invading the den, Morgus finds a twenty-foot square room with a twelve-foot ceiling. A fireplace is on the wall that nestles against the exterior of the manor, along with two three-foot square windows. The room is even more opulent than the rest of the manor that Morgus has seen. A huge maple double columned four-drawer desk with an armed padded desk chair sits along the wall near the fireplace. In front of the desk, a bear-hide rug lays on the floor, with its head still attached. Morgus sits on the long lounge sofa across the room from the desk as Ada pours him a crystal tumbler of dark red wine. She hands him the tumbler and says, “Baron Hessan will be with you when he is ready. I will let the Master know you’re here, Master Morgus.”

Morgus accepts the wine and bows from the waist as he continues to sit on the sofa, saying, “Thank you, Ada.”

Smiling, the servant departs, closing the door behind her.

Scrutinizing the chamber, Morgus is in awe at the expense placed in the construction and outfitting of the room. Just the library shelves alone contain at least five thousand coins worth of texts. Morgus is impressed at the output of wealth in the estate. As Morgus waits – for nearly two hours – he finishes the tumbler of sweet wine.

Morgus is beginning to become impatient when the door bursts open, and slowly, Baron Hessan ambles in. It is immediately apparent from the wrinkled skin and stooped posture that Hessan is at least a century old, but the jalmal still bears himself well with deliberate slow determination. He still holds his handsome appearance to some degree, with above average intelligence gleaming through the expression on his clean complexioned face.

Walking to his desk, the baron sits with the assurance of a noble with a great demeanor.

Ada follows him in, and she pours the man a tumbler of the dark red wine, which Morgus found tasted so sweet. Baron Hessan gestures for Ada to refill Morgus’ tumbler as well. Settling back in the desk chair, Hessan is humming a tune in a low tone as Ada works. Hessan waits until Ada finishes and leaves the room closing the door.

The baron now undertakes a discourse with Morgus, “You wonder why I summoned you? Mage?”

Morgus, familiar with tormenting Hessan’s holding as a youth, does question his being here, but says, “I understand you have work for me. And being as I’m a mage, I think it has nothing to do with working in the stables.”

Laughing genially, Hessan continues by saying, “Oh my boy, you do state the obvious. You know I am Baron Larap Hessan, and I’ve held this estate holding for nearly eighty years after my forefathers have held it for over three-hundred-seventy years. I do admire men who get right down to the business at hand, as I have little time left to waste. My life-companion passed away thirty-eight years ago, leaving me five surviving children and nine of sixteen surviving grandchildren. So, I’ve lived a full life with little time left. Don’t waste my time, and I won’t waste yours. Deal?”

Liking Larap’s straight slicing, Morgus nods and says, “Go ahead.”

Larap pursues the dialogue, “Well as it happens, I have multiple holdings, and an individual has taken an interest in one of them. He is strong-arming me with his interest in my property, and I don’t have the stomach to deal with him. I had a chamberlain to deal with these things, but she passed on four six-days ago … One of my properties is Platter holding farm which a young Master Platter holds. He recently had an incident which a particular mage quickly and satisfactorily resolved – maybe not so cleanly, by the telling. I want to hear your version of events.”

Deciding not to laugh, Morgus ‘puts on’ his game face and answers Larap, “Baron Hessan, I see between the cracks of what you are saying, and that this is an interview on the suitability of my working for you. First, by interview, and then by test, dealing with the strong-arming individual.”

Morgus takes a drink while he observes the twinkling eyes of Larap who is gleefully acknowledging the game.

Morgus advances his theory, “So, to pass the interview I have to tell you how I resolved Farmer Platter’s issue. To tell you the truth might not be wise for my safety … but I’m a risk taker, and I think you’re bold and have crossed lines with decorum and law a few times yourself if I recall my past, here, correctly. Thus, I am going to disclose my solution to Platter’s dilemma, despite the possibility you might take action against me. I have been staying at the Perch Inn, do you know it?”

Larap gestures a positive with a flick of his hand.

“Perch Inn used to belong to my family, so when I left the university on my one-year journeyman walkabout, I returned here. I met a fellow from my checkered past there, from before I entered the University, and he has not seen eye-to-eye with me since we’ve met here. You still with me?”

Yawning, Larap flips his hand, “Go on, quickly.”

Morgus continues, “I had a run in with Bargewright Toaren –”

“BARGEWRIGHT TOAREN!” fumes Larap, “That bastard?”

Resisting smiling, Morgus precedes, “Yes, anyway, I went for a walk. Recalling the Platters were family friends in the past, I dropped in for a visit as I was traveling by.”

“You are long winded, boy.” Larap mutters.

“Lasiter informed me that my family’s friend, Master Ferfeo had passed on. While we were visiting, Lasiter advised me that he had been robbed the night before. I suggested that I might be able to locate the missing jewelry, not informing him how, but informing him that he might have to pay to get the item back.”

“But you got it back without him paying,” says Larap.

Morgus smiles. “Yes, by luck. I know the rogue guild’s fence for the district. Also, knowing that there have been a few thefts locally and the items have shown up with this fence, I surmised I would find this item there. Hoping I could get there and have him hold it until something could be arranged for the jewelry’s return to Lasiter, I traveled immediately to the fence’s building. By a stroke of luck, I arrived while the thief was trying to broker the sale of the necklace to the fence. Being as the fence and I have a history together when I correctly identified hidden markings on the jewelry he refused to buy it from the thief. I confronted the thief, who happened to perish in the confrontation. I had to arrange for a priest before returning the item to Lasiter with his lost stolen coins which I could gather from the rogue. Upon returning to Lasiter, he gave me a minor job, and being with nothing else to do, I sought to complete it quickly. He rewarded me with a few coins, and apparently was satisfied.”

Larap chuckles, “Boy, you have no idea how ecstatic Lasiter was. He reported your resolution and raved about how excellent you treated him.”

Morgus squares himself up and addresses the new issues, “So, am I going to be charged with murder or consorting with known rogues?”

Sitting up painfully straight, Larap clears his throat. After smiling, he commands, “Seven Hells, no. You’re a man I want on staff. Do my next job for me, and I’ll offer you a position on my staff as either chamberlain or estate mage, we’ll decide after you complete the job for me.”

Now Morgus gleefully laughs, as he acknowledges to himself that he recalled Larap’s personality correctly.

Larap says, “Before you laugh, you should know the job.”

Morgus settles down, agreeing with Larap, “What is the job?”

Smirking, Larap then answers, “Deal with the man strong-arming me, your Master Bargewright Toaren.”

Bolting back on the sofa, Morgus stomps a foot. For the first time in years, he reacts violently to news he receives, saying, “Seven Hells! No! Are you serious? Really?”

Now Larap mirthfully laughs for several seconds before answering, “Create your way out of this, boy.”

Morgus ponders the situation for at least four full minutes. Then he says, “I need an office here!”

Larap nods, saying, “Done, third floor, the old chamberlain’s office. Ada will show you to it.”

“I need access to funds?” quips Morgus.

“One-hundred Flairs will be placed in a chest in the office for you,” answers Larap.

Morgus walks over to the desk and extends his arm.

Larap shakes his head and then says, “Only if your solution is satisfactory.”

Morgus utters, “I don’t know the issue, but it will be resolved in your favour Baron Hessan.”

Larap furrows his pale brow, as he answers, “It had better be, rogue mage.”

Smiling, Morgus steps back and bows to Hessan.

Ringing a bell that is on his desk, Larap asks, “More wine? When are you going to start?”

Mulling the offer over, Morgus’ smile stuck between being polite and being over-indulgent, he replies, “I best start as soon as possible. Ada can show me the office and inform the staff that I will be on and off the property over the next coming days. I will familiarize myself with my surroundings without lifting anything. Then I’ll start with Master Toaren’s issue.”

Ada walks into the office as Larap replies, “Exactly what I wanted to hear Morgus … Ada show Master Morgus to the chamberlain’s office and inform all staff that he will be working on the estate from that office for several days at least. Help him as much as possible … Maybe even let him eat with you once a day.”

Ada grins and she curtsies, replying, “Yes, Baron Hessan.”

Morgus and Ada walk to the third floor, going to the far northwest corner, to a darker fifteen by twenty room with a ten-foot ceiling. It is less opulent than Larap’s but still finer than any other room Morgus has been in before.

Ada asks, “Do you need anything, Master Morgus?”

Morgus snickers softly before replying, “Pinch me … no, to be serious, I’ll need ten sheets of parchment, ink, and quills, also good light. The chest Baron Larap is ordering, goes on the floor at the far end of the desk. I’d like two pitchers of wine for tomorrow afternoon, as, if all goes well today, tomorrow Master Toaren will be visiting me in this office.”

Scowling, Ada asks, “Do we have to let him in? He’s been tormenting Baron Hessan for two six-days now.”

Morgus winks, “That is why I’m here. To relieve Baron Hessan of the issue of Master Toaren.”

Deeply sighing, Ada says, “Whatever you need … to get rid of him. I’ll help.”

Morgus nods, “Just the items I mentioned.”

Morgus familiarizes himself with the office, the texts on the shelves and the desk. He then walks down to the ground floor, seeking the staff. He finds them in the staff dining room next to the kitchen. Greeting the cook and clothier, Morgus then leaves to walk back to Perch Inn.

…..

Arriving at the Perch Inn half-an-hour after gods-set, Morgus finds Toaren in the tavern drinking ale. Sitting down with Toaren, Morgus orders rum from Pedren, and then faces Toaren, “I said we would talk, as I have a message for you, Master Toaren. You’re asked to a meeting at Hessan Estate Manor, tomorrow afternoon. Can you be there?”

Grinning, Toaren leans forward saying, “So the old goat is giving in; he’s going to talk?”

Morgus answers, “I said you have been granted a meeting tomorrow afternoon. Can you make it?”

The bargewright replies, “By all means, yes.”

Morgus orders a hot meal with meat and he tenders two Dyns for the rum and meal. Morgus joyfully savors his meal at another table, separate from Toaren.

Autumn 66 Unicorn

It’s an hour past noon as Morgus wipes his boots off on the bristle pad of the front entry at Hessan estate manor. Excited to start working to prove his suitability to Baron Hessan, Morgus walks up the stairs after greeting Ada.

Ada says, “Master Toaren is in the office already, Master Morgus.”

Thanking Ada, Morgus walks upstairs quickly. Finding the office door open, he walks into his office.

“Gods-grace and good fate Master Toaren. Glad you’re here. Let’s get down to business.” Morgus says as he sits on the desk chair.

Toaren rises from his seat, growling, “What the Seven Hells are you doing? I’m here to talk with Baron Hessan!”

The mage responds, “No such luck. If you want to deal with the baron’s estate, you deal with me. Now sit back down, or give up on the idea of dealing with the baron.”

Morgus pours two tumblers of wine as Toaren paces aggressively back and forth across the room. The mage watches Toaren.

Finally sitting back down, taking the tumbler of wine, Toaren mumbles, “Seven Hells.”

Morgus lets out a deep breath, and then breathing calmly, he says, “Tell me what it is you want from Baron Hessan.”

Outraged, Toaren glares at the mage. “I want trees from Renol Holding which is held by Baron Hessan.”

Curious, Morgus asks, “Tell me why?”

“They’re tall, straight, wide, and with few branches, so have few knots in them.” He answers.

Morgus nods, saying, “Fair enough, I don’t see an issue. Let’s go and take a look after eating midday meal here. How many trees do you want?”

Distrusting the jalmal mage, Toaren quizzically replies, “Twenty-five?”

Morgus nods, “Okay, we’ll see. How much are you offering for stumpage?”

Seeing Morgus seems to know a bit about the business, Toaren replies, “Seven Flairs.”

Morgus shakes his head as he stands and leads the way down to the staff kitchen where they eat midday meal.

…..

The two men access Renol Holding fief an hour after evening meal. Addressing the bailiff, Morgus shows Reeve Gaeric the writ prepared by Baron Hessan. “We’re here to examine the timber lands and mark several for logging. The ones we label for logging are to be left alone, except by Master Toaren, here.”

“Understood, Master Morgus, as dictated by Baron Hessan through you,” answers Gaeric.

Toaren leads Morgus to the timber lands he wants the trees from. He finally states, upon seeing the giant more than three-foot diameter trees, “I disagree, twenty-five flairs stumpage is way too high, even for these trees.”

Morgus answers, “I’ll go twenty then.”

Toaren rebuffs, “Fifteen each and I’ll take the whole twenty-five.”

Morgus shakes his head, no. “For fifteen, I need you to do all lumbering work on Renol Holding, hiring all your workers from residents here, and you only get twenty trees.”

Bargewright pirate hesitates and then says, “You drive a hard bargain, but these trees are larger in circumference than I initially recall. If I can choose the twenty I want, and I can mark them right now, then I’ll agree.”

Extending his arm, Morgus says, “I can work with that.”

They grudgingly clasp arms.

The two walk the timber patch and Toaren marks twenty of the largest trees, and then they return to the bailiff’s home.

Morgus confronts an eager Gaeric, “We need rooms for the night.”

Setting up the two men with meals and beds for the night, Gaeric listens as Morgus and Toaren arrange for facilities and workers for Toaren’s tree lumbering, as well as freight shipping northeast to East Dock’s dry-dock barge yard.

Autumn 67 Unicorn

Sphere cover shelters the two men as they walk southeast on Drescol Street toward Perch Inn through the freezing medium gods-breath.

Morgus finds Toaren slow. It takes the two almost eight hours to walk to their destination, arriving half-an-hour before evening meal.

Toaren walks to his room, and then comes back down with three sacks of Flairs for Morgus who takes these to his room.

Morgus half-heartedly rests for the night, trying to construct a new game plan, which is harder than he expected.

Autumn 68 Unicorn

Morgus impatiently sits in Baron Hessan’s den, viewing the extravagant setting. He observes the scenic painting near the fireplace, as he deliberates the affluence displayed by Larap in this chamber. Morgus has been sitting and waiting for ten minutes since he arrived three hours after noon.

The den office opens and in walks the slightly infirm man, who eagerly assesses the stash of three sacks of coins on his desk as he asks, “What is this?” as he sits on his desk chair.

Morgus stands and bows to Larap before taking a seat on a chair near the desk. “My answer to the quandary you set to me. This is three-hundred Flairs for twenty trees stumpage from your Renol Holding fief. Plus, your holding gets employment for workers in lumbering the trees and freighting the lumber to East Dock’s dry-dock shipyard. I think you will find this to be an equitable economic solution to Master Toaren’s strong-arm request.”

Touching the sacks, Larap reflects on the deal, before he asks, “Tell me the particulars, how many trees and the stumpage?”

Breathing deeply before answering, Morgus answers, “Twenty trees for fifteen Flairs per tree, as long as all workers are hired from Renol Holding, and all lumbering is completed on location in Renol.”

Tapping his desk, Larap’s lips are tight and straight across, “How many trees did he originally ask for and how much did he offer to pay?”

With knots in his stomach, Morgus is getting nauseous with nerves, “Toaren asked for twenty-five trees at seven Flairs stumpage. I countered that he could take twenty-five trees for twenty-five Flairs, but lowered that to twenty Flairs when he said he would go elsewhere. We talked and looked at the trees, and he countered with fifteen Flairs stumpage, taking the trees off-site. But I refused, and we struck our deal. He selected the twenty trees while we were on site.”

Still tapping the desk, Larap eyes Morgus through squinting eyes and furrowed brow. Stopping his tapping, Larap drinks wine, and then he says, “You and I are going for a drive.” Ringing his bell, the baron refuses to talk anymore as they wait.

Ada arrives and Larap demands, “Have Gendal hitch the carriage, as he’s driving master Morgus and me to the Red Panda today and bringing us back tonight.”

Ada quickly leaves after bowing and acknowledging the command.

Half-an-hour later, Larap leads Morgus to the courtyard to mount the waiting, gilded and carved carriage with its four horses.

The driver sets out on their journey, turning left on Drescol Street and heading to a chartreuse road sign. They turn left onto Handle Avenue, driving to the Red Panda Stable.

Confused, the puzzled mage follows Baron Hessan into the large upper-class stable.

The old man slowly leads Morgus to a stall and points to the beige seventeen-hand stallion, saying, “This is my prize seven-year-old heavy warhorse, Red Panda. I’ve had him since he was a colt. Master Ostler Henreitte trains my warhorses for me and keeps them here. I have ten heavy warhorses all trained by Master Henreitte of the Red Panda Stable. She’s been my horse trainer for over three decades. Should I continue keeping warhorses?”

Morgus gulps, as he doesn’t know nobility responsibility or requirements. Uttering cautiously, “Baron Hessan, I have no skills with the responsibility of nobles. So, I cannot advise you at this moment whether you should or should not keep your warhorses. Nor can I advise you as to whether you should have men-at-arms, or what staff you need or should keep. That is what I can say. My apology if you thought otherwise.”

Laughing flamboyantly, Larap steps away from the stall as a ninety-year-old jalfem approaches the two. Larap addresses her, calling out, “Good-day Master Henreitte, Master Morgus, here, is proving his salt to me. He seems to feel that his life has little value. I am deciding his value to me. Please inform Master Morgus the place of my horses in my baron-ship.”

The pampamoo smiles her toothless smirk, answering, “By all means, Master Larap. Morgus, my boyo, Master Larap is a baron who is required as a noble baron to supply 240 days of military service to the king each year. In this capacity, Baron Hessan provides 240 days’ worth of heavy horsemen for his service. With a service of ten heavy horsemen, he only need send his team for twenty-four days. So, you see this team is important to Baron Hessan’s noble rank.”

Morgus, suddenly curious, asks, “But at what costs do you send the horsemen?”

Henreitte answers, “It costs Master Larap twenty-seven Dyns per horse per days for upkeep and training to keep the horses here. Sending them to service costs thirty-three Flair per day per horse. The penalty for not sending troops is one-hundred Flairs per day for each of the 240 days missed.”

Morgus quickly does the sums of the numbers in his mind, replying, “So, if you don’t send any troops at all, then the fine is twenty-four-thousand coins. If you fulfill your obligation with these heavy horsemen, then it costs you 792.00 coins.”

Larap drawls, correcting Morgus. “Not quite – the twenty-four-thousand penalty is right – but my costs for my contribution is higher because to get my troops to the post they serve from takes a minimum of five days of traveling. So, my minimum costs each year are thirty-four days at 1,122.00 coin, plus their yearly upkeep, plus the wages of the warriors and their expenses, coming to a total for my heavy horsemen of 19,124.00 cn every year. But you may learn more. Let’s go back to the manor. You are invited to dine with me when we return to Hessan manor.”

Morgus estimates it is now an hour before gods-set, and the drive back is about three hours. It will be two hours after gods-set when they arrive at Hessan manor. Even a quick meal with the baron will mean the time will be midnight before they complete their social gathering. Morgus asks, “May I have a room for the night?”

As the two walk back to the carriage, Larap answers, “We’ll discuss that over our meal.”

Arriving back at Hessan manor, an hour and a bit after gods-set, Morgus is impressed how fast Gendal drove the carriage back and kept the ride comfortable.

Now sitting and eating an impressive hot meal of turkey, tubers, and vegetables with mulled cider, Morgus asks again, “Baron Hessan, it is now around two hours until midnight. I have a three-hour walk back to the Perch Inn, so I’ll even pay for a room for the night.”

Larap sets his fork beside his plate, washing down his mouthful of food after he chews it. He looks at Morgus, saying, “You have a lot to learn if you are to be my chamberlain, yet you have much to offer. I can’t just ask for these from someone off the Avenue. So, I feel I am in a quagmire. What do I do with you? Of course, you can have a room tonight. Don’t offend me again with offering to pay for the room or for my hospitality, mage. You currently are my guest. Do you want to change this?”

Contemplating Larap’s statement and query, Morgus responds, “As I understand you, you’re offering me a position. Correct?”

The baron nods curtly once.

Morgus, seeing Larap is concise and to the point, does likewise, saying, “Yes.”

Smiling for the first time with a handsome genuine friendly smile, Larap says, “Good, I’m not offering you the position of chamberlain, not just yet. You have to show me you’re earning that. No one gets the position knowing all its details; they earn the position, learning the details while on the job. But you have too little knowledge right now to be of service to my estate or me. What I will offer you is a position as my aide and as estate mage. That is what I think you qualify for. Remember, the position only lasts as long as I live. After I die, my children decide if you stay on. Which could be tonight at my age.”

Not able to resist, Morgus burst out in good-humoured laughter, as does Larap. Morgus responds, “For as long as the position lasts, it does fit my abilities. Will I have a laboratory and library?”

Larap starts tapping the table, saying, “Not yet, you supply your own supplies and equipment.”

With a sad, sullen face, Morgus asks, “What about a room, or rooms?”

Larap, still tapping, mulls this over and then replies, “If we agree on this, you can have two adjoining rooms on the fourth floor.”

Sighing with satisfaction, Morgus sees a future here, however temporary. He asks, “Then the matter of pay comes to bearing. How much?”

With an expression that would freeze water, Larap stares at Morgus while still tapping the table. “I think one Flair a day is fair.”

Choking on the frugal amount, Morgus counters, “My dear Baron, no self-respecting mage will enter into a contract for that price. A chamberlain or aide might. A mage may if you supplied a laboratory AND library. No, a minimum of three Flairs a day, or two and a laboratory.”

Guffawing, Larap answers, “Not likely, two and no laboratory.”

Evaluating this counter offer, Morgus counters, “Eighteen Dyns per day and a laboratory.”

Shifting uncomfortably in his seat, drawing frustration from negotiations, Larap replies, “No, two per day plus an initial two-hundred coin.”

Seeing an out in the impasse, Morgus offers, “How about two Flairs per day plus an initial bonus of two-thousand Flairs?”

Leaping forward, Larap’s friendly smile returns and he stops tapping the table. Extending his arm, he says, “Done, this is for you to be my estate mage and my personal business aide.”

Morgus leans forward clasping arms with Larap while adding, “With the caveat that on Autumn 49 next year I take leave to return to the Mage’s University to administer to my testing for master journeyman mage certification.”

Grinning happily, Larap says, “At your own expense, of course, agreed.”

They seal the agreement with the gentleman’s clasping of arms.

Finishing their meal together, Morgus asks, “Who do I eat my meals with?”

Larap commands, “The staff … I will get Ada to show you to your room now, Morgus. Have a good night. You officially start your position at midnight tonight. But you can fetch you gear tomorrow from Perch Inn.”

Smiling mirthfully, Morgus stands and bows to Larap. Morgus is happy his financial situation is resolved, and his residence is situated firmly, at least for a while.

Larap rings his bell for Ada.

…..

In his rooms, Morgus finds the bedroom to be large – a richly appointed wooden room with two windows and a double size goose-down-filled mattress. The attached room is slightly smaller but big enough for a study or laboratory and library with its shelves and large intricately carved oak desk. Both rooms have area floor carpets and many wall-mounted hooded lanterns.

Saying good-night to Ada, Morgus washes and then crawls into bed just after midnight, unable to sleep.

To be continued …

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©2016 by Rusty Knight with Inevitable Unicorn Press

www.inupress.ca www.owerton.ca inupress@inupress.ca 

 All Rights Reserved. No part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by an information storage and retrieval system (except by a reviewer who may quote brief passages in a review or other endorsement or in a recommendation to be printed in a magazine, newspaper, or on the Internet) without permission in writing from the publisher. However, when contacted, the author may be generous with reprint rights and articles.

No association with other corporations or the names is implied or intended.

We would like the acknowledge the work of the following:

The episode author is Rusty Knight

Our episode graphics designer is Rusty Knight

Our editor for the episode is Donna Shumaker

The episode producer, publisher and distribution, marketing and promotions are by Inevitable Unicorn Press known as InUPress

Have an wonderful day

Yours,

Rusty Knight

If you desire to reach us we can be contacted at any of the following sources:

www.inupress.ca or www.rustyknight.ca

or by email at:

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T0G 1E0

Owerton Challenge, Issue 107, Morgus Episode 003, ‘Blue Horse Toy’

Owerton Challenge:

Morgus

Blue Horse Toy

Episode 003

 

November 30, 2016

Issue 107

Challenge: Issue 107

  • Blue
  • Horse
  • Toy
  • Sub-titleBlue Horse Toy

Contributor:

  • Brian Hill
  • High Prairie, Alberta

Previously in episode 002 on Autumn 56 Unicorn:

Morgus ventured over to an old friend’s for a visit, where he discovered a theft. In an attempt to help the old friend, Morgus encountered trouble and had dealings with a healing priestess. Eventually, Morgus returned home, but he’s not out of trouble, yet.

We continue now with episode 003: 

Autumn 59 Unicorn

Sitting in his room at the medium sized pine desk, Morgus tries to focus on his studies. He has an idea, but it is taking all his university training to keep his mind off his wounds and on his studies.

Working late into the night, burning much lamp oil, Morgus stretches, and yawns as he decides to call it quits for now, until tomorrow. Rubbing his eyes, he stands and wanders out to the communal chamber pot before returning and settling into bed for the night.

Yawning again as he turns out the lantern, Morgus grudgingly sighs, considering that he almost has the spell figured out enough to scribe into his spell book. He’ll be able to use the spell as an offense – to burn the poor bastards he’s battling with. It will be better than simple melee, for sure.

Autumn 60 Unicorn

Clamoring out of bed, needing to use the chamber pot, Morgus uses the facility and then dresses and hurries down to the tavern for a quick morning meal. He had an epiphany last night, and he needs to work the details of his epiphany into the spell incantation.

Finding Erec in the tavern, Morgus waves the servant over to his table. Gesturing to his slashed and blood stained tunic. “Erec, I’m in need of a tailor’s services. As you can see, a blade found my tunic, along with my own blood. I’m under repairs, but unfortunately, my tunic has no such whim of its own. Do you know someone who can stitch together my tunic?”

Erec laughs and answers, “Lessa is a seamstress of sorts, so perhaps if you talk to her?”

“Can you ask her to come out here? I might not be welcome in the kitchen of this establishment.”

Erec nods and wanders off toward the kitchen. Roughly ten minutes later, as Morgus is ready to walk back up to his room, Lessa arrives at his table. The jalfem addresses Morgus. “You wanted me?”

Morgus stands, indicating the cuts and blood stains on his tunic, “How long will it take you to clean and repair this tunic?”

Lessa looks over the slices in the fabric. She hums and then answers, “Two days.”

Morgus frees his coin pouch from his belt and replies, “Will five dusters finish the work?”

Lessa shakes her head, saying, “No, six will make it happen.”

Morgus sighs shallowly, frowning, counting out six copper coins. “I’ll leave this tunic in my room.”

Lessa takes the coins. After bowing, she leaves Morgus to go back to the kitchen.

Returning to his room after eating, Morgus changes into his only other tunic, a tattered blue beast from his early days in the university.

Sitting back at the desk, Morgus continues his studies, deciphering the construction of the spell. After working out the spell for an hour, he starts scribing the script into his book.

At an hour before noon, Morgus is interrupted by Lessa as she is retrieving his damaged tunic. So, Morgus takes a brief break.

After a fifteen-minute break, Morgus continues with scribing until evening meal. Morgus is happy with his progress in scribing the spell.

Morgus quickly devours his evening meal and then he returns to scribing. Just before midnight, Morgus sets down the quill, viewing the page in his book. Smiling, he memorises the finished spell written on the one page.

Standing by the bed, facing the door ten feet away, Morgus extends his hands with his thumb tips touching, and fingers splayed out, fan-shaped. He focuses quickly and utters the words, “Fire”. A 120o arc, consisting of bright yellow flames, spreads out from his fingers and extends forward five feet, not quite reaching the far wall.

Feeling the extreme heat from the flames, Morgus falls back. Smiling, he congratulates himself.

Ready to sleep, Morgus chuckles as he closes his book.

Autumn 61 Unicorn

Sitting two tables away from the pirate bargewright, Morgus doesn’t even look at the thug.

But, unfortunately, Toaren has different ideas. Toaren, the bargewright, walks over to Morgus, and standing near him, the bargewright says, “You best leave this area, boyo. You’re not wanted by me or the locals – by no one, ever. This is your only warning.”

Morgus says, “I think I’ll listen, and take your advice under advisement after you sit and talk with me.”

“There’ll be no talking, boyo.”

Morgus shrugs, answering, “Yes, I think we will.”

Toaren huffs and walks away, saying, “You’ve been warned.” He exits the tavern.

Deciding to go for a walk to get clear away from Toaren for a while, Morgus leaves Perch Inn and journeys south on Driscol Street.

The air is cold, but the gods barely breathe, gently wafting east under broken cover.

Having ambled south just over three kilometres, Morgus is passing a farmstead at 1387 Driscol Street, when he has a thought, ‘This is the old Platter Holding, and I recall being friends with the pappa. I wonder if they’d mind me stopping in.

Morgus walks along the roadway, through the old plum orchard, and up to the house.  Morgus finds the old two-story stone house much the same as it was twenty years ago. Knocking on the sturdy wooden door, and followed by a couple of minutes of waiting, a twenty-year-old jalmal of average build answers the door. The jalmal asks, “Yes, how may I help you?”

Morgus respectfully replies, “Gods-grace and good fate young master. I am Morgus; I used to live at Perch Inn before my father died twenty years ago.  I knew the master here, Ferfeo. Does he still live here?”

The youth frowns sadly. “Yes, I know him; he was my pappa. Ferfeo died last year from wasting disease. I’m Lasiter Platter, holder of Platter holding. Come on in and have tea with me.”

Bowing in respect for the loss of Ferfeo, Morgus says, “I would enjoy that. Let’s get to know each other. I’m in the area for a year.”

“Where are you staying?” Lasiter asks while they go inside to the kitchen to dine on tea and buns.

“I have a room in the Perch Inn, again.”

Lasiter asks, “Are you looking for work?”

Chuckling, Morgus nods, replying, “As a matter of fact, yes, I am.”

“I was robbed last night. I actually believed you were the City Watch I sent for. I reported the theft to Loren Post.”

“Another robbery? Robberies seem to be rampant in the area. Another friend of mine was robbed at Punting Horse Stable. What did you lose?” asks Morgus.

Lasiter answers, “My safe chest was emptied, clearing over forty-seven Flairs and my mamma’s silver heart necklace.”

Morgus, shocked at the theft, asks, “Was that the necklace your mamma received on her life-companion ceremony day to your pappa? The one with the initials of both her and your pappa’s engraved on the back?”

Now it is Lasiter who frowns and squints at Morgus, “You know the necklace?”

Morgus nods, answering, “Yes, my father gave it as a gift.”

Lasiter sighs deeply, “You do have family ties with us. In the least, I would really appreciate getting the necklace back.”

“It may cost you, but I think I know where to find it. I’ll see if it’s there, but I won’t be able to make a deal to get it back. Only confirm if they have it. I’ll leave now to see if I can get there by tonight,” offers Morgus.

Heading out back on Driscol Street, nearly an hour after sitting down in Lasiter’s house, Morgus is soon on South Street Road going north to Hampton Market, knowing full well where his destination is this time.

An hour along South Street Rood, Morgus meets Toaren, who is walking south towards Morgus.

“Boyo, I hope you are leaving South State. You don’t want trouble here,” says the pirate bargewright.

“I might want on a crew, actually Captain. I know you’re running the crew now, so light up the signal, and stop being a damn mule.” Morgus commands.

Toaren scowls again, uttering, “Bilge rat, Seven Hells be your home.” Without looking back, he continues walking south.

Morgus watches him walk away, thinking, ‘Well, he is easing up.

Continuing to walk north to Fletcher Moren’s, Morgus arrives at an hour after gods-set. He then enters the trade room behind the main shop.

He stops as he finds an eighteen-year-old good-looking toymal youth trying to sell Moren a silver necklace. Taking a close look at the necklace, Morgus smiles inwardly. But outwardly he curses, “Bilge rat, Seven Hells, you stole my necklace. Be damn if you’re going to sell it. Give it back.”

Stunned, the youth stutters, “T … th … this ain’t your n … necklace. I a … ain’t s … stole from you. I d … don’t even know who you are.”

Morgus turns to Moren, “This bugger stole my necklace. If you look at the back, it has my parents initial engraved on it, F P and E P in jal. The script is about three-eights of an inch high.”

Moren turns over the heart of the necklace and whistles. Handing the necklace back to the youth, he says, “I can’t buy this from you with the rightful owner standing here.”

“Damn Seven Hells, It ain’t his. I stole it from Platter’s holding.”

“He identified it correctly, so you take it up with him, Timin,” says Moren.

Morgus says, “I want the necklace and coins you took.”

The boy shouts, “I ain’t givin you shit back.”

Morgus moves in for a melee attack with his staff, forcing the youth to defend himself by drawing his dagger after placing the necklace quickly into his pouch.

Morgus strikes the youth hard, and then a second time as Timin defends himself. The second hit knocks Timin down on his ass.

Timin grunts and then leaps to his feet, stabbing Morgus.

Morgus strikes the youth yet again with his staff, knocking more air out of him.

The two vie for position, each of them looking for an advantage.

Then, Morgus decides magic is his strong suit and braces to cast ‘fan flame’ with thumbs touching, while he stands, balancing his staff against his shoulder. As he is about to say “Fire”, the youth stabs Morgus, breaking the mage’s focus, and causing him to lose the spell.

Being in the stance already, Morgus begins casting again. This time he avoids the attack from the youth. As the youth is recovering from his failed attack, Morgus says “Fire,” causing the sheet of fire to fan out from his fingers, five feet forward. Morgus’ aim is so precise that the yellow flames catch Timin and nothing else. The flames cause Timin’s clothing to burst into flames.

Morgus rapidly grips his staff, swinging at the burning rogue.  But he misses and strikes the floor instead, shattering his staff.

Timin is busy extinguishing the flames on his clothing as Morgus pulls free his knife.

With Morgus holding his knife, Timin has the fires out. However, the youth has second-degree burns on large areas of his body.

Rushing Timin, Morgus draws blood twice through separate wounds, causing a fatigued and severally injured Timin to yield, calling out, “I give, the necklace is yours.”

Morgus drops back, and accepting the offered necklace, he says, “I want the coins, too.”

Timin answers, “No, I just earned those.”

Morgus steps forward slashing with his knife. The blade opens up Timin’s chest, leaking a large volume of blood, killing the rogue. Morgus says, “You can’t keep them; they’re not yours.”

Kneeling, without remorse, Morgus takes the two coin pouches and the dagger from the rogue.

Standing again, he addresses Moren, “Do the Dragon Horsemen have a priest to tend to dead victims?”

Shaking his head grimly, Moren answers, “Not for you.”

“What about Draken; will she tend to this dead man?”

Again, shaking his head, Moren answers, “No, she doesn’t tend to the dead.”

Considering all of this, Morgus asks, “If I get a discrete priest tomorrow, will you put me up for the night? I’ll even cook morning meal again.”

“For a Flair, sure,” says the rogue’s fence.

Sorting through Timin’s coins, Morgus picks out 1.00 coin and gives the coins to Moren. “I’m hungry; do you mind if I cook?”

“A Dyns for the food.” replies Moren firmly.

Handing him another Dyns, Morgus cooks a quick, hot, meatless, meal. They eat, and then Morgus cleans up the trade room before settling into a restless sleep.

Autumn 62 Unicorn

Rising late, Morgus is fatigued from repeated late nights, early mornings, and strenuous activity. Morgus doesn’t have his spell books with him, so he can’t memorize spells. But, he has a mission today: travel to the Orange Temple to Imvor on Hex Avenue.

Sitting with Moren while Morgus eats his poached eggs and fried meats cooked by Morgus, Morgus asks, “This dagger is a hindrance for me. I have no use for it. How much will you give me for it?”

“A Flair.” Is the simple answer he receives.

Placing the dagger on the table, Morgus replies, “Okay, agreed, but it’s worth twice that.”

“To a customer of a weapon seller, yes. I need to make a profit, so I pay you less.”

Morgus accepts the Flair from Moren and then cleans the kitchen after they finish eating. He heads out once he has made sure the currently crippled fletcher and fence is taken care of and is set for a day of working.

Walking west on Hex Avenue, Morgus arrives at the Orange Temple to Imvor an hour after noon. After talking with an acolyte, Morgus is quickly escorted to the headmaster of the Temple.

In his office, Headmaster Peneal greets Morgus coldly, “Gods-grace and good fate master mage, what do you seek from Imvor?”

Addressing the old jalmal, Morgus answers, “Gods-grace and good fate Master Peneal. Imvor’s blessing on us all. An unfortunate incident involving the death of a young man took place yesterday. Unfortunately, his family cannot be located. I was wondering … with a proper donation, will this Temple see to the deceased’s Right of Passage?”

Observing Morgus’ appearance, Peneal ponders this, and then replies, “Unfortunate incidents are expensive: seventeen Flairs will acquire a retrieval team for Right of Passage of one body.”

Satisfied, Morgus stands and offers his arm, saying, “Accepted.”

After clasping arms together, Morgus pays Peneal from Lasiter’s coin pouch saying, “If anyone asks, the body turned up in your care with no sponsor or claimant.”

“I’ll get your team ready to go with you right away,” offers Peneal.

Leaving the room, the headmaster returns thirty minutes later with three people. “You will be taking a wagon with these people. Priest Herod is leading, followed by our elven acolyte, Stump, and their aid, labourer Arabellen.”

Morgus greets the jalmal priest and then greets the other two. They mount the wagon and make the long ride to Fletcher Moren’s, where the jubilant Herod enthusiastically leads the team in. They hurry to load Timin on the wagon to take the body back to the Orange Temple.

After the wagon leaves, Morgus turns to Moren and says, “I know you would enjoy my services as a servant with me paying you for me to stay here, but I should go. I may be back again to seek your services in the future. Maybe.”

With that, Morgus leaves the stall shop and returns home in a rush to Perch Inn. It is well after midnight before he arrives at the inn and goes to his room. After he has set traps to warn him of intruders in his room, Morgus settles into bed and goes to sleep.

Autumn 63 Unicorn

Entering the tavern in the morning, Morgus finds that Toaren is present. The pirate waves Morgus to his table, and then says to Morgus, “If you insist on staying, it’ll cost you eight Flairs every thirty days, boyo.”

“We’ll see, Captain – depends if I’m earning a wage or not.” Morgus leaves and sits by himself to enjoy a meal he has already paid for.

As he is sitting enjoying his meal the jalfem cook, Lessa comes out of the kitchen with Morgus’ morning meal and repaired tunic, “All done, good like new.”

Nonchalantly, Morgus sets aside the tunic for later. Finishing his morning meal, he then places his tunic in his room before he travels to Platter’s farm. Arriving at the holding at noon, Morgus finds Lasiter working in a shed.

Handing the farmer the coin pouch and necklace, Morgus says, “The thief got caught on the way to his destination. He may have divested himself of some coins already.”

“Can he be brought to justice?”

Morgus replies, “He already has been; he is at the Orange Temple.”

“We need to purchase horse toys for our colt. If you could do so, I’ll pay you. Take the wagon. Here are two Flairs to purchase them with,” says Lasiter.

Morgus bows as he contemplates taking the wagon home to the Perch Inn. Then thinking that he needs a new tunic and a new quarterstaff, Morgus decides that a trip to Hampton Market is in order. So, instead of going home, he turns east as he is heading out of Platter Holding and travels to Hampton Market.

Searching the market, Morgus can’t find a staff, but he finds a deal on tunics for five Dyns each, buying three. Also, he finds a good price for two blue horse toys worth a Flair each.

Returning home to Perch Inn, well after three in the morning, Morgus unhitches the wagon and tends to the animals before going to sleep.

Autumn 64 Unicorn

Leaving Perch Inn at gods-rise, Morgus delivers the wagon and two blue horse toys to Lasiter Platter.

“Thank you Morgus, not only did you get back the necklace, but you got back most of my coinage, and you were quick on the shopping trip. Here are five Dyns for your trouble.”

Morgus smile, “Thank you Lasiter; I was glad to help.”

Still needing a staff, Morgus walks to Loren Market. Searching long and hard, Morgus finds a suitable staff for two dusters at a mercantile.

The rogue mage arrives back at the Perch Inn two hours after gods-set. Morgus is now reequipped, but coinage is low. He goes to sleep without eating.

Autumn 65 Unicorn

Groggy from extremely long days, Morgus stares at the sealed parchment in his hand. He reads it again … it is addressed to him, here at the Perch Inn … it is from Baron Hessan.

To be continued …

Awesome, thank you for reading Issue 107 of the Owerton Challenge where you the reader participate in the writing of each issue.

We here at InUPress have gratitude for your reading and participating. If you desire to participate by contributing to an issue please follow one of the links at: www.inupress.ca or www.owerton.ca and go to the comments following that and leave these three items for an issue of Owerton Challenge and please if you haven’t already, subscribe to the InUPress and/or Owerton Challenge email list.

Owerton Challenge items list:

  • __________One colour
  • __________One object related to fantasy medieval or alien, sci-fi setting
  • __________One creature real world or alien, fantastic

Include your name with location and e-mail address as well so proper credit can be given to you as the contributor. We will not share your email Information unless you instruct us to, giving us your permission to do so.

We would like to acknowledge the following for their work on the episode”

The author is: Rusty Knight

The editor is: Donna Shumaker

Our graphics are by: Rusty Knight

Episode production, publishing and distribution is completed by: Inevitable Unicorn Press known as InUPress

Marketing and promotions of episodes are by: InUPress

Thank you for your time and effort from;

Rusty Knight and InUPress

©2016 by Rusty Knight with Inevitable Unicorn Press

www.inupress.ca www.owerton.ca inupress@inupress.ca

All Rights Reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by an information storage and retrieval system (except by a reviewer who may quote brief passages in a review or other endorsement or in a recommendation to be printed in a magazine, newspaper, or on the Internet) without permission in writing from the publisher.

However, when contacted, the author may be generous with reprint rights and articles.

No association with other corporations or the names is implied or intended.

To contact us regarding these works, go to:

www.inupress.ca or www.owerton.ca

Or email:

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The InUPress phone number is:

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And the InUPress postal address is:

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Box 3323

High Prairie, Alberta, Canada

T0G 1E0

 

 

Owerton Challenge, Issue 106, Morgues E002, ‘Red Horse Comb’

Owerton Challenge Blog:

Morgus

Episode 002

Red Horse Comb

Owerton Challenge: Issue 106

Challenge Issue 106: red horse comb

 

Contribution words:

  • Creature = Horse
  • Item = Comb
  • Colour = Red

Contributor:

  • M J Domet of Beaverlodge, Alberta

 

Autumn 56 Unicorn 3rd Cycle V Succession of King Regeanus the III

Previously on challenge episode 001 on Autumn 50 Unicorn with:

Morgus left the Mage’s University traveling to South State District, where he paid the Perch Inn for a season’s residency. During his first evening at the Perch Inn, and as he was having a meal, Morgus was confronted by an old acquaintance from his less than legal past.

We continue now with challenge episode Morgus, E002 on:

Autumn 56 Unicorn

Waking to the silence of a room without roommates, Morgus stretches, yawns, and smiles. All those years in the dorm rooms of the mage’s University trained him for lack of privacy and life with schedules. He recalls that he is now renting a private room in the inn his family used to own, before his father’s death.

Within the district, Morgus had many friends with whom he used to run the streets with before his mother was forced to give up the inn and move the remaining family away to a new lesser home.

Standing, he stretches again and tries to look around in the pitch darkness. He recalls that he has no windows in his room, which was not an oversight by the innkeeper but a deliberate slight against Morgus’ negotiations when negotiating for the room.

“What the seven hells, I still have a private room at a reasonable rate.”

Concentrating, Morgus holds his hand out in front of himself with his index finger extended, and he says boldly, “London”.

A bright orange light bursts into existence at the tip of his finger. The glow of a medium light shows his room within a five-foot radius of the two-inch glowing globe.

Morgus looks around and sees the hooded lantern on the nightstand. He uses his other hand as he reaches towards the wick and says, “Usten”, igniting a small yellow flame at the tip of his extended index finger. Still smiling, he lights the lantern’s wick.

Now that the room is lite fully with lantern light, Morgan extinguishes the flame on his fingertip, as well as the orange globe of light on his other fingertip.

‘I think it’s time to visit some haunts of old friends and see if anyone familiar is still around.’  Thinks the mage as he uses the chamber pot in the far corner of his small twelve-foot-square room.

After extinguishing the lantern, and walking out of his room down to the tavern, Morgus finds Toaren, already eating his morning meal.

In spite of there being several unoccupied tables available to sit at, Morgus sits with Toaren. He says to the bargewright, “Good morning bargewright. You never told me if you’re working.”

Toaren scowls and tosses his fork onto his plate. He stares at Morgus. “I never invited you to sit with me, boyo.”

Morgus shrugs, and then says, “I know. – But we got off to a bad start yesterday. I thought I would try to make amends today.”

Huffing, Toaren hastily stands and walks out of the tavern.

Pedren approaches the table as Morgus frowns and watches Toaren stomp away.

Pedren clears his throat while looking at Morgus.

Morgus jolts to the present and turns to the tavern keeper. “Yeah, I’ll have my morning meal, please. Did Toaren pay for his?”

Pedren shakes his head and answers, “No, he never.”

“How much?”

The tavern keeper answers, “Seven dusters. What can I get you?”

The mage considers events, and then smiling at Pedren, he says, “I’ll have a couple of eggs and some bacon, with an ale.”

Pedren replies, “That will be another six dusters, Master.”

Morgus offers Pedren thirteen dusters and the tavern keeper heads to the kitchen.  He soon brings the morning meal.

Leaving Perch Inn after his meal, Morgus travels southeast on Drescol Street until he reaches South State Road. Crossing the intersection, Morgus then continues on the paved Drescol Road eastward until he reaches 1516 Drescol Road, Punting Horse Stable.

Standing outside the large courtyard of the noisy stables, Morgus recalls that his older friend, Terrec, used to live here.

Shivering nervously, Morgus enters the half full courtyard and walks towards the large three-story stone house.

As Morgus is nearing the red-painted house, a high voice calls to him from the stable. “Hey, we’re over here. What can we do for you?”

Recognising the voice, even after being away twenty years, Morgus turns sharply and walks towards the giant man.

Greeting the seven-foot-two-inch average appearing jalmal, Morgus smiles and begins to extend his arm. “Good-day Terrec. It has been too many years.” Morgus resists breaking into pirate speak here.

The giant of a man squints as he peers at the six-foot-four-inch and two-hundred-pound mage, frowning as the ex-pirate draws closer to Terrec. He asks cautiously, “Do I know you?”

Morgus laughs as he finishes extending his arm to the stable master. He then says, “Yes, but long ago, old friend. We were trouble buddies, running together on the streets of Drescol Road area and terrorizing the hapless rich families. Though, that was over twenty years ago.”

Terrec suddenly grins mischievously and asks, “Is that you, Mor?”

The two men eagerly clasp arms as Morgus nods and says, “Yes, Terror Tot.”

Laughing, the two men embrace in an awkward hug. Then, backing away from each other, they examine each other thoroughly.

Terrec is wearing a blacksmith’s apron over dark leather leggings and a grey wool short-sleeve tunic. On his feet are ankle-high leather boots.

Morgus has on a long-sleeved bright orange wool tunic, and vibrant Imvor-red wool leggings with knee-high brown leather boots, topped off with a wide-brimmed Imvor-orange leather hat.

But, even with his dandyish appearance, Morgus doesn’t take care where he sets his footing, not bothering to avoid soil surprises from animals.

Terrec leads Morgus into the stables while asking in his crude jal, “What brings you down this way, old friend?”

In the office, Morgus takes the seat indicated as Terrec pours two light ales. He answers Terrec, “Well, I’m not really sure. I have a year to travel, work, or cause havoc before I return to the Mage’s University to take my journeyman test for certification. So, I thought I would hang-out in South State for a while. I came to my old stomping grounds to see what I could find.”

Intrigued, the two men eye each other as they slowly drink their ale.

Terrec asks, “Do you want work?”

Morgus chuckles, then he replies, “I’m no stable boy, Terror.”

Waving erratically Terrec says, “No, No. Not a stable worker. I had a theft which I was wondering if you’d solve for me, seeing as the City Watch can’t.”

Sitting up straight, Morgus enquires, “Really? How much are you paying?”

Terrec sighs, “If you agree to do it, I’ll pay more than I can rightly afford – a Flair.”

Morgus frowns. He looks at his friend and sets down his ale. “A Flair is more than I’m earning now, but it depends on what was stolen and when. Tell me more.”

Leaning his tall, lanky frame forward, Terrec replies, “The red curry comb and mane brush of one of my customers who stores her horse grooming gear here with her horses. In fact, all her grooming equipment was stolen. I thought she took it, but she says she never. The halters, ropes, mane brush, dandy brush, and curry comb were all stolen during the night on Autumn 53. She had a unique set of grooming tools made – all are Imvor-red.”

Morgus and Terrec talk for nearly an hour more. Then, Terrec shows Morgus the grooming gear storage room.

Morgus sighs and says, “There’s not much for information or clues that I can get from in here. I have an idea. I’ll see what I can do for you two. I’ll go now. If I find the items, I’ll be back with them and collect that Flair.”

Walking west, back along Drescol Road, Morgus arrives at the Perch Inn nearly an hour after evening meal time.

Entering the tavern, he takes a seat alone at a table separate from Toaren who sits alone at a table near a corner.

As Pedren addresses Morgus, the mage observes the tavern keeper’s hands and arms. Not seeing the signs he’s looking for, Morgus keeps his thoughts to himself. Ordering his meal, he dines by himself and then goes to his room for the night.

Autumn 57 Unicorn

Morgus walks into the Loren Square and Market and tries to recall where the stall he wants was located twenty years ago, uncertain it will still exist.

Eventually, locating the old stall in the popular market, Morgus sighs, as it has obviously been abandoned for many years.

Searching for one of the members of the local rogue guild, Morgus wanders among the thinned out crowd of evening pedestrians. Many stalls are already closed, and Morgus is hungry. He hasn’t eaten since morning meal at gods-rise, and it is almost gods-set now.

Seeing an old fisherman’s stall still open, Morgus approaches, intent on buying food to cook over a campfire somewhere.

But, Morgus quickly realises that the stall owner is one of the people he has been looking for, as her right hand’s tattoos give her away.

Dropping a silver Dyns onto the woman’s counter, Morgus looks around to make sure there is no one nearby to overhear him. Satisfied that he will not be overheard, Morgus quietly says to the woman, “I need a fence. Oh, and some food.”

The heavy, tall, toyfem coughs, and then taking the coin, she says, “Buy two of my fish, and I’ll talk to you. Twelve dusters.”

Considering her unreasonable request, Morgus decides to bite and sets twelve copper coins onto the oily stall counter.

The woman gives Morgus two of her larger fish, and she says, “Go to the fletchers on the west edge of the square, two alleys over. Say that Dorea sent you.”

Morgus, carrying the fish, starts to leave, but he stops and turns back, asking, “Who am I looking for?”

“Fletcher Moren.”

Nodding, Morgus leaves and walks away looking for the indicated fletcher’s stall.

Finding the fletcher’s stall 32 on the west edge of Loren Square & Market, Morgus notes that it is a large water-blue wooden building two stories tall. Morgus enters the wooden structure, finding the shop lit by only one lantern.

A voice calls out from behind a floor-length, multi-coloured wool curtained doorway, “We’re closed.”

Not one to waste effort, Morgus replies loudly, “I’m Morgus. I was sent by Dorea. I’m looking for Fletcher Moren for a particular item.”

A taller heavy toymal walks from the back room and looks at Morgus for a long minute. Then he shakes his head and says, “I don’t know what you’re talking about, mage.”

Morgus can see the guild tattoos on the man’s right hand and wrist. “You’re the local fence for the Dragon Horsemen Guild. I am looking for certain items.”

The man quickly draws his dagger and rushes Morgus, cutting the sleeve of Morgus’ tunic as the mage tries avoiding the attack while attempting to cast his ‘Fireburst’ spell using the flame from the lantern.

The attack by the fletcher drops Morgus’ focus, causing his loss of the spell.

Morgus readies his quarterstaff as Moren attacks again, slashing through Morgus’ tunic front.

Morgus deflects the next blow using his quarterstaff, causing Moren’s dagger to break.

Moren strikes out with his fist, which Morgus avoids.

Swinging his quarterstaff, the mage strikes Moren hard, and then comes around in another attack, driving the end of his staff into Moren’s left hip, breaking the hip, and dropping the fence to the floor.

Morgus, breathing heavy, steps back.

“I’m not here to harm the Horsemen. I am looking for your help.”

Moren, in severe pain, moans loudly and rapidly blinks his eyes as he lays on the floor of his shop. “Bugger off. I know you now. You’re done.” He utters through gritting teeth.

Morgus, trickles of blood on his chest and arm, steps closer, and he says, “I never intended harm. Help me, and I’ll go and get help for you.”

“Bull, you will. You’ll get the City Watch.”

Morgus considers this, and he frowns before he says, “If I get your guild healer, will you help me?”

“Help kill you I might. Go get Drakin, and I will help you.”

Morgus stalls for a couple of seconds and then asks, “Who is Drakin?”

“Our priest of Lorn.”

Smiling and eager now, Morgus answers, “Yes, where is he?”

Growling in pain, Moren tries to move to a more comfortable position before replying, “She is at the Lorn shrine in the central square. Tell her that Eric Teller requests her presence and that she is to go with you.”

It’s just after gods-set and already dark when Morgus arrives at the shrine. Entering the shrine, he finds a six-foot jalfem dressed in blue robes of Lorn, holding services for about thirty people. Morgus takes a seat and waits, observing the rituals for the hour.

With the services now complete, Morgus approaches the large woman and asks, “Are you Priestess Drakin of the Dragon Horsemen? If you are, I was told to inform you that Eric Teller needs your help and that you should come with me.”

“Let me get my gear. Who got hurt?”

Satisfied, Morgus sighs, and then he replies, “Fletcher Moren.”

It’s after nine-thirty in the evening by the time the pair arrive at the fletcher’s shop. Morgus is becoming fatigued, famished and thirsty. As he shows Drakin to Moren, he asks the fletcher, “Do you have something I can drink? And, somewhere that I can cook the fish that I left here?”

Moren, frowning, stares at Morgus. He then says to Morgus, “You’re shit, you know that. But you did what I said. In the back is my kitchen, help yourself.”

As Drakin starts working on Moren, Morgus heads towards the rear of the store. As he passes through the next room, he spots a full set of Imvor-red horse grooming gear. Sighing a little, he continues to the kitchen where he fillets the two fish after pouring himself an ale. Morgus cooks the fish, as well as some tubors, on the brazier.

Morgus is pleasantly relieved as Drakin helps the hobbling Moren – now with a splinted leg and bound hip – into the kitchen.

Both delightfully sniff the air and smile. Moren says, “So you can cook.”

Ready to serve the food, Moren is setting plates of food for the three of them on the table. “Sort of. I think I didn’t poison us. No promises, though.”

The other two nervously laugh. As Morgus serves the plates of food, they wait for him to eat first. After Morgus eats several bites of fish and tubers, he says, “I saw what I was looking for as I was passing through your inner room. The red horse comb and grooming gear.”

Moren laughs and then says, “You stayed and fought me for that shit? You’re stupid. It’s worth maybe five Dyns to me. Pay my priest bill, and it’s yours.”

Morgus looks at Drakin who casually says, “Five Flairs.”

Morgus sadly shakes his head, and then says, “Not my bill. I’ll send the gear’s owner. Hold the items for the proprietor for twenty days. You’ll know the owner when she tells you that Mage Morgus sent her.”

Drakin looks at Moren with determination, “I need payment.”

Moren gruffly looks at Morgus, “It’s your responsibility.”

Morgus wonders what will happen if he shrugs this off. Morgus decides that it might not be good to get on the wrong side of the Dragon Horsemen yet. He already must contend with Toaren, and who knows what links he has. “If you give me a place to sleep tonight then I’ll cover the charges.”

Moren nods curtly, “Done.”

Morgus says, “I’ll collect the grooming gear in the morning.”

The fence shakes his head, answering, “No, if you stay the night then the gear is another five Flair for the trouble you’ve caused me – if you want to leave in peace?”

Taking his coin pouch from his belt, Morgus dumps his remaining coins onto the dining table. Counting out five gold Flairs, he hands these to the priest. Counting his remaining coins, he finds he has three Flairs, seven Dyns, and eight dusters to get him through nearly 360 days and then back to the Mage’s University.

Autumn 58 Unicorn

Walking into the Punting Horse Stable, Morgus finds both brothers working with horses. Morgus also sees a beautiful mature toyfem with rare blonde hair and amber eyes working with a black mare and a tawny year-old colt.

Morgus addresses Terrec, “I found the grooming gear, but they were going to cost me five Flairs to acquire, in addition to the five Flairs it already cost me to leave peacefully. If you want them, it’ll cost you a Flair for me to tell you where they’re at.”

Terrec addresses the toyfem woman, “Larra, is your grooming gear worth six Flairs to you?”

The woman shakes her head, and she answers casually, “No, leave it there. I can buy new gear for less than a Flair.”

Damn to Seven Hells, I lost five Flairs for nothing.’ Thinks the mage. Morgus smiles and then says, “If you’re ever curious as to where to find the gear, then let me know. Terror, I need a place to sleep tonight. Do you mind putting me up for the night?”

Terrec’s brother, the smaller six-foot-seven-inch jalmal, responds, “A Dyns and you can have a bed in the stable for the night, boyo.”

In the past, Morgus never got along with Essen, and already their relationship is not starting off well.

That evening, Terrec and Morgus spend a few hours rehashing the antics of their childhood days – particularly their runs on the wealthy family estates. Morgus realises that their antics might have been partially to blame for his family having to move.

Essen didn’t join the two after he collected a Dyns.

Autumn 59 Unicorn

Morgus left the Punting Horse an hour after gods-rise, arriving at the Perch Inn roughly three hours later.

Entering the tavern, Morgus asks Pedren when he last saw Toaren.

Pedren answers, “Autumn 58, why?”

“Nothing, I was curious.” Morgus stops and asks, “Has Toaren ever said why he is here?”

“Toaren said that he’s looking for something for his barge crew.”

Damn it, he’s running a crew now.’ Morgus says, “Thank you Pedren.”

He eats his cold mid-day meal, followed by a relaxing bath, before retiring to his room.

To be continued …

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