Black Sword Pangolin
December 26, 2016
Challenge: Issue 109
- Eathel T Carmichael III
- McLennan, Alberta
Previously on episode 008 on Autumn 65 Unicorn:
Morgus resolves his summoning puzzle, finding a dilemma where he must face his nemesis, Bargewright Toaren. Morgus does so while in service to Baron Hessan. Morgus used to raid Hessan estate as a youth, but Larap appears not to recall this. Morgus faces down Toaren, apparently winning this round and Baron Hessan’s favour.
We continue now with Episode 009 on:
Autumn 69 Unicorn
After a restless night in Hessan Estate’s Manor, Morgus rises two hours before Stonewire breaks the eastern horizon’s southern hemisphere.
He has a long day ahead – traveling to Perch Inn to gather his gear and clear his accounts, and then return to Hessan’s.
Morgus eats with the rest of the staff in their dining room near the kitchen, talking with Busia, the twenty-year-old jalmal tailor. Morgus asks, “Do you have the time to craft tunics and leggings for me?”
Briskly, Busia responds, “Of course, Morgus, anything else?”
Smiling ruefully, Morgus adds, “Yes, if you have opportunity – a new hat and shoes?”
Extending his arm quickly, Busia grins, saying, “Yes, two of each.”
Flabbergasted, Morgus clasps arms with Busia, asking, “How much will this cost?”
The clothier quickly does calculations, and then he replies, “Seventeen Flairs for the works.”
Choking, Morgus expected to be quoted a lower amount. “I’m used to a total more like 6.50 cn. Why so much?”
Busia grins as he thumps the table. “I don’t make common item or use commoners’ materials, my friend. If you want common, go to the markets. I am offering you a deal as it is, cutting about twenty percent off the costs.”
Stunned again, Morgus takes a moment before he can reply. “So, these would cost over twenty Flairs?”
Busia nods once.
Morgus sighs, exasperated with the deal he just made. Obviously, living here isn’t going to be cheap. Morgus adds, “Add a belt and necessary adornments as well. Tell me how much that’ll cost.”
Without delay, Busia replies, “I’ll do the rest for another twenty coin.”
Coughing as he chokes, Morgus closes his eyes, realising he shouldn’t have spoken. He just spent thirty-seven of his two-thousand flairs on his first morning before even starting.
Walking out of the manor, looking back, he feels overwhelmed by the extravagance of all this already. He walks down the paved road to the street, in a hurry to Perch Inn. Pondering events, technically he has elevated his status in society by two classes, yet he could very well loose that today or tomorrow.
He best not get too comfortable or cocky with this.
At Perch Inn, Morgus addresses the Innkeeper, Master Toya, “I’m checking out of my room today. You can keep my rent and rent out the room again.”
Toya looks flustered as he shakes and flutters his hands, blinking his eyes as he utters, “You and that bargewright as well. He moved out at gods-rise. What did you two do?
Morgus, not wanting to start fires, shrugs, answering, “I found a job, fairly far away. I’m moving to my work.”
Toya turns the register log, so Morgus can sign out, saying, “Good luck to you Master Morgus; you treated my staff decently. I heard no complaints about you, except from Master Toaren. But he complained about a good many things, so I take no mind of his complaints.”
Signing the register, Morgus replies, “Fair enough, you’ve taken good care of my old home, Toya. Good tides to you.”
With his signing out completed, Morgus enters his room and packs his belongings. He then returns to his new room in Hessan manor.
Arriving late in the day, about two hours before evening meal for staff, Morgus settles his belongings and arranges his two rooms to his liking. He sets up the study as his laboratory, library, and work office. He washes before going to eat. Arriving in the dining room for staff, Morgus inquires with Ada, “Where do I take my baths and do my laundry?”
Ada says with a straight expression, “Your laundry is my duty. Your bath I prepare in the cellar in the staff facilities. I’ll show you the staff suite after we eat. You can leave your laundry in the laundry room. I do laundry every third day. I did laundry today, so next day is Summer 72.”
Morgus, unused to others doing any work for him, is dumbfounded, and he doesn’t know how to respond. He stares at Ada for a minute, disregarding his meal. Suddenly shaking himself as the others are good-naturedly laughing at his expression of confusion, Morgus asks, “Can I take a bath tonight?”
Ada replies, “Can you? I’m not sure if you know how. But if you want to try, I’ll heat the water, and you may try.”
Laughter breaks out around the table.
Morgus turns a bashful red, realising grammar may actually be as important here as it was in the university. Recently, he has fallen lax in the world of civilians. “Of course, yes. May we set up the bath for my bath tonight? When is a scheduled time?”
Ada nods and answers, “The Baron is usually in bed at gods-set, so I’ll have your bath ready an hour after that, Master Morgus.”
An idea strikes Morgus, “I also need facilities where I can manufacture my own specialized parchment. Where may I set up?”
Ada answers while pointing to a thirty-nine-year-old toymal. “Bushnel is groundskeeper; he’ll set you up tomorrow.”
Bushnell smiles and adds, “We will set you up in the craft shop. How much room do you need?”
Quickly, Morgus responds. “I need a well-ventilated area about twenty-by-twenty feet.”
Bushnel nods. “I have an area you may use. Is the second floor okay?”
Morgus grins. “It’ll be fine.”
Finishing their meal, Ada takes Morgus to the cellar showing Morgus the five room staff suite for work and recreation – laundry, bathing, storage and clothier’s work area as well as a social room.
Thanking Ada, Morgus returns to his quarters where he makes a list of items he requires for spell research and scribing, as well as a plan for parchment crafting. Setting these aside, he chooses a text from the shelves which Baron Hessan stocked. Sitting down, he starts to read until an hour after gods-set.
Taking a set of clean clothing, Morgus wanders down to the cellar and finds a hot steaming, violet-scented bath waiting for him. He has also been supplied with plush towels and washing cloth, as well as oiled soap powders. Morgus luxuriates in his first noble servants’ bath. Morgus takes an hour to enjoy the treat, before happily returning to his room. This evening is alleviating his fears from earlier.
Autumn 70 Bear
At gods-rise, after the Baron Hessan has eaten his morning meal, he has Ada summon Morgus to the baron’s study.
Arriving in the study, Morgus finds Larap sitting near the soothing fire of the fireplace. Pointing to a second chair near his, Larap commands, “Sit.”
Obeying, Morgus takes the seat, finding it warm and comfortable.
Larap states, “Our agreement is eighteen Dyns per day for as long as I live, plus a signing bonus of two-thousand Flairs. Seven Hells if I’m going to carry two-thousand Flairs for you. Those two chests have one thousand in each. You carry them to your rooms. They’re your responsibility after that.”
Looking at the two medium size chests, Morgus grunts. He’ll ask for help to carry them up as they’re both over one-hundred pounds. Turning to Larap, “Thank you Baron Hessan, I appreciate this.”
Larap waves Morgus off, saying, “Have them out by noon or I reclaim them.”
Standing and bowing to Larap, Morgus swiftly exits the office in search of Ada. Finding her in the kitchen with the cook, Morgus asks, “My dear Ada, I have a task to complete, and I was wondering if you’d help me with it?”
Ada hrumps loudly and then says, “It’ll cost you. Is it those damn chests Bushnel and I lugged to the baron’s study?”
Bowing, Morgus acknowledges her, saying, “Indeed it is, all the way to my rooms, you and me.”
Ada slumps forward, sighing, “Damn Seven Hells, my aching knees, and those damn stairs … It’ll cost you one Flair a chest.”
Pulling two Flairs directly from his coin pouch, Morgus holds them out to her.
Ada smiles and accepts the coins as Morgus responds. “We have to do it now. Larap gave me only two hours to move them.”
They move the chests quickly, as both are strong, able workers, despite Ada telling Morgus otherwise. Setting the chests in his bedroom, Morgus tips Ada a third Flair and another thank you.
Needing a physical rest after the carrying the two 155 pound chests up two flights of stairs to his rooms, Morgus decides to work on the studying of his spell.
Getting lost in his spell for over five hours, Morgus comes out of his reverie to find midday had passed long ago and evening meal will be in three hours.
Walking around the grounds of the estate with Bushnel, Morgus begins collecting items for parchment making, and placing the supplies in the space of the craft-shop provided to him by Bushnel. The location is more than adequate. There is more room than Morgus is used to working in. He is able to set up his troughs, including drainage, work tables, and surfaces. Almost everything is available, except a few crafting work items. There are no hides available, so Morgus needs to find a farm, market, or butcher to get the hides he needs. Plus, the knives he needs will have to be purchased. Satisfied with their progress, Morgus and Bushnel enter the manor to clean up for evening meal.
After the meal, Morgus pays Busia for the clothing.
Autumn 71 Unicorn
Yesterday was sweltering hot. Today, the gods switched, freezing the world to cause ice on the edges of any open water. This is the environment of autumn in Mount Oryn of North Amara on Quantos. It is a world of extremes.
Morgus spends the morning in his study twisting his mind over the new ‘continual light’ spell that he is crafting – a spell of greater difficulty than any he has tried before. Morgus is attempting a spell that is more complex than even a journeyman with five-years service would be expected to try.
Midday meal finds Morgus’ mind warped and tired of trying to work out the spell. He eats with Ada, where he asks her, “Is there a decent blade-smith nearby who makes good knives – someone who I can buy from or who will make specialty knives for me?”
Ada thinks a moment, and then replies, “Master Smith Beraran at 928 Drescol Street.”
“Thank you, Ada, I’ll go see him after our meal.”
Walking the nearly six kilometres in two-and-a-half hours, Morgus finds Beraran Smith quickly enough, with its large hammer sign at the gate to its courtyard.
Encountering the thirty-year-old jalmal is another treat, as he is excited upon greeting Morgus. “Gods-grace and good fate Master, how may I be of service to you?”
Trying to be gracious, Morgus returns, “Gods-grace and good fate Master Beraran, I’m in need of parchment crafting knives. A whole set if I can get them?”
Chuckling, the smith leads Morgus to his displays, pointing to his well-crafted set of skinning and draw knives. The knives are used for cleaning and dressing hides and then for processing the hides for parchment. He says, “This is a set I made for a master’s student who passed away from illness before I finished. I’ll sell them to you for a decent price – fifty Flairs. The knives are masterly crafted by me.”
Morgus, knowing knife quality, examines a few of the knives. Spotting a few imperfections, he points these out stating, “I’ll pay ten Flairs for the lot; they’re only worth five.”
Beraran huffs gruffly, puffing out his chest, saying, “The cost of material that has gone into these is more; pay me at least twenty.”
Morgus walks away from the knives. “Craft a new set without imperfections, and I might consider paying twenty. But I’ll never pay twenty for that set.”
“Okay, ten, just so I can get rid of them.” Pleads Beraran.
Morgus shakes his head, “No! They’re not worth the effort – make a better set. I need quality knives for my work.”
Eager to please, Beraran says, “Okay, come back in twelve days and I’ll have a set of eight knives for you for twenty Flairs.” He extends his arm to clasp.
Morgus looks at Beraran but doesn’t clasp arms, stating, “I’ll be back around Autumn 83 to examine the knives. If the knives meet the qualities I need, then I’ll purchase them.”
Leaving Beraran, Morgus turns south to Platter holding. He arrives tired, several hours later where he finds Lasiter home.
Lasiter greets Morgus enthusiastically. “Good day Master Morgus. How fare thou?”
Chuckling, Morgus extends his arm, stating, “Because of you, I’m Baron Hessan’s aide and estate Mage. I owe you a debt of gratitude, my friend.”
Motioning Morgus inside, Lasiter smiles broadly, saying, “then we should celebrate. Come in and have a drink with me.”
Entering the Platter house, Morgus sits with Lasiter, accepting a dark rum. “Lasiter, do you know where I can get some good hides for making parchment?”
Lasiter stops and thinks for a bit, and then replies, “I have a couple hides, and I can search around, fetching you more. Where do you want them sent? Say, three Flairs each?”
Morgus flinches, saying, “I appreciate that, but I would have to see the hides and inspect them before I pay that much. I would only pay two Flairs without seeing them first. Or, you can deliver them for my inspection, and I will buy the ones I want for three Flairs?”
Leaning forward, Lasiter offers, “I’ll take three Flairs each for the ones you inspect and accept if you return the ones you don’t accept.”
Hesitating, Morgus adds, “Only if you cover the expense of returns.”
Extending his arm, Lasiter says, “Done.”
The two men clasp arms, and an agreement is arranged. Morgus says, “I need at least twenty good hides in the near future.”
Nodding, Lasiter acknowledges Morgus’ order.
Autumn 72 Unicorn
Morgus stretches as he has spent another five hours in studying ‘continual light’ True to his word, he checks in with Larap this morning and finds no new work with the Baron. With fifteen hours of study into the spell, Morgus is slightly disturbed when Ada knocks on his door.
Morgus asks, “Yes, Ada?”
The servant boldly says, “A Master Lasiter is downstairs in the waiting room; are you expecting him?”
Morgus jumps to his feet, nearly tripping as he says, “I’ll be down to meet him. Where is the waiting room?”
Stepping out of Morgus’ way as he rushes by, Ada replies, “First room to the left from the entrance.”
Bounding down the stairs rapidly, Morgus arrives in the waiting room as indicated by Ada. He greets Lasiter enthusiastically, “Great day to you Lasiter. Did you bring hides?”
Pointing to an enormous bundle by the door, Lasiter smiles, saying, “Indeed, I brought four to start with.”
Unwrapping the package, Morgus carefully examines the four hides in minute detail, looking for scaring and damages that disqualify any of the hides for his use. Finished with examining the hides, he tosses one aside, saying, “I reject this one. But, as agreed, I’ll pay three coin a piece for these three now. Seventeen more hides and I’ll be on my way to being happy.” He hands Lasiter nine gold coins.
The farmer gingerly handles the coins, quickly placing them in his coin pouch. Then Lasiter hastily wraps the rejected hide, as Morgus carefully rolls the other three.
They walk out together: Lasiter to go home, and Morgus to take his new acquisitions to his shop to begin preparations for making parchment. Morgus determines that Lasiter had prepared the one hide so well, that Morgus can put the hide in the soaking bath with minimal preparation. It takes Morgus several hours of preparations and general work to prepare the other two. Cleaning up afterwards, he enters the manor in time for evening meal. Morgus goes to the staff dining room after confirming with Baron Hessan that there is no immediate work for him.
Autumn 73 Unicorn
Late in the morning, with his mind exhausted after completing another five hours of mind-wrenching computations for his spell, Morgus sits back overjoyed as he cheers, “Praise Stonewire!” He has put over twenty hours of work into developing the ‘continual light’ spell. Now it is time to test the incantation to see if it works. Dedicating twenty-minutes of mind-numbing memorization to the spell, Morgus finally stands and looks at the wick-hood of his lantern trying to decide if he should cast on the cloth wick or the metal hood. Then, with his decision made to cast on the small metal hood, Morgus gestures and utters, “York.” He is nearly blinded by the Imvor orange-red bright light, illuminating the entire room. Quickly, Morgus moves to draw the shutters closed, drawing it down to a mere quarter sliver, dimming the illumination enough to light the room, but not overwhelmingly so. “Well, that worked. Let’s see how long the light lasts.”
Sitting and using the light from the hooded lantern, with his spell illuminating in it, Morgus begins the tedious process of meticulously scribing the new spell into his spell-tome, which is filling past the halfway mark. Celebrating as well, Morgus pours himself a tumbler of wine to drink while scribing, indulging for the first time during his study since arriving and setting up.
Autumn 75 Unicorn
Before morning meal with the staff, Morgus convened a meeting with Baron Hessan to confirm work, finding nothing. After eating a hasty morning meal, Morgus excitedly returned to his brightly lit study with the spell still lighting the lantern from the original casting, going on the third day.
Past gods-set, Morgus sets down his quill, stretching and then rubbing his eyes. Looking down at his tome, he counts the pages he filled in his completing the scribing of ‘continual light’. Five – five neatly packed note filled pages with diagrams, calculations, and notes. Satisfied that he has the complete spell scribed in the tome, Morgus paces between his two rooms for twenty minutes. Then, he sits and begins memorizing a castable version of the spell.
After he finishes memorizing the incantation, Morgus chuckles to himself. Walking down the four flights of stairs and entering the waiting room, he chooses the stone carved fixture of artwork representing a pangolin’s armour and focuses on the creature, casting the spell so that the illumination will be on the pangolin’s casing. Suddenly, he is greeted with an orange-red light that is almost as bright as Imvor’s light just before gods-set. Morgus cheers loudly. “Blessed be Stonewire!”
He hears running footsteps almost immediately and coming into the room are two armed men, bearing black longswords. They shield their eyes as Morgus tries to recall if he has seen these people before. Realising that he hasn’t met Baron Hessan’s guards, Morgus steps back, saying, “Good men of Baron Hessan, I am Mage Morgus, the estate mage. You can sheath your deadly black swords as the pangolin will now and forever illuminate this room with Imvor’s setting light.”
A thirty-six-year-old toymal in studded-leather armour responds, “I haven’t seen you around before. When did you start?”
Morgus, feeling a little trapped without his quarterstaff, nervously answers, “Autumn 68.”
The accompanying elfmal sheathes his longsword, uttering, “Yes, Baron Hessan mentioned he hired an aide who is his estate’s magus. Morgus, I’m Sergeant Elmar. How long is that infernal light going to shine?”
The first guard sheathes his longsword as well, saying, “Mage Morgus, I’m Private Barran, the third guard on duty is Private Tussal; he’s up on the second floor right now.”
Morgus views the orange-red pangolin and ponders it, nearly blinding himself. Facing the two guards, he shrugs and responds to Elmar. “I don’t know. I cast the first spell in my room nearly four days ago, and it’s still shining as bright as when I cast it.”
A fifty-five-year-old jalmal in studded-leather armour rushes into the room with his longsword drawn. Stopping as he sees Elmar and Tussel relatively relaxed, he views Morgus. The guard sheaths his sword, asking, “Who are you?”
Getting tired with introductions, Morgus only says, “The estate mage, Morgus.”
Extending his arm, the man genially says, “I’m Tussel.”
The two clasp arms, and then Morgus clasps with Elmar and Barran, affirming his place on the estate with the guards.
Morgus, relieved that the new spell works when memorized from his tome, returns to his room and goes to sleep for the night, satisfied with life.
Autumn 79 Unicorn
It is 4:45 am as Tussel wakes Morgus. Feeling the coldness of the freezing night air, Morgus crawls out of bed quickly as Tussel loudly whispers, “Mage, there are four walking-dead wandering the grounds. We have no priest or cleric to put them to rest. Can you deal with them?”
Realising that this is his job now. Morgus pulls on his new Imvor-orange suede leggings and royal-blue velvet tunic made for him by clothier Busia. Then, pulling on his old knee-high brown leather boots, Morgus retrieves his quarterstaff and turns to Tussel, saying, “Show me, and we’ll deal with them.”
In a rush, the two men nearly run down the broad staircase to the ground floor to find the other two guards holed up in the waiting room with four walking-dead pacing outside the room.
Morgus stops as he recognises the creatures. They are highly intelligent, mean, vile death-dealing wights – a hunting pack seeking to gain recruits – killing hosts by draining their lives, thus converting the unlucky. The manor really needs a cleric or priest with holy items to deal with these, but something comes to Morgus’ mind. These creatures fear or hate bright light, that is why they haven’t gone into the waiting room. Elmar must have realized this, too.
Before the creatures realize Tussel and Morgus have arrived, Morgus casts his one memorized ‘continual light’ spells directly into the eyes of the closest wight, hoping that this will drive the lot of them out the open front door.
Three, including the lit one, flee as quickly as possible out the front door into the darkness of night. But one wight remains and searches for the source of casting, angry with the intrusion and the attack from a mage.
Quickly, Morgus calls out, “York” for a second time, trying to cast into its eyes, as the creature rushes him. The spell hangs in mid-air behind it as the creature reaches for Morgus. Then, the light vanishes.
Tussel intercedes between the walking-dead and Morgus, as Morgus shouts out, “York” for a third time, making the required gestures and casting the spell upon the creature’s nose.
This ends the fight for the wight, sending it fleeing after its comrades, and thus, saving Hessan estate from a hunting pack of walking-dead wights. Morgus sighs with deep relief as the three guards congratulate him.
Morgus counts his castings, wondering about the exhaustion he is feeling, and if he could have cast another ‘continual light’ or any spell? Would the people of Hessan have been at the mercy of the wight if his last incantation had failed to send the creature packing?
Allowing the good wishes to follow, Morgus ponders the usefulness of their three black swords and the ability of the four of them to protect against future wight invasions?
To be continued …
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