Green Dragon Shield
Challenge: issue 110
- Aaron Klassen
- High Prairie, Alberta
Previously in episode 005 on Autumn 69 Unicorn with:
Settling into Hessan Manor with the staff and Baron Larap, Morgus is setting up his parchment making station. He studies spells, learning new incantations in time to deal with conflict.
We continue now in Morgus episode 006 of Owerton Challenge Issue 110 on Autumn 79 Unicorn:
Autumn 79 Unicorn
Walking into the waiting room with its artificial light of Imvor illuminating the room, it’s freezing in the chamber. Morgus enters with Tussel behind him.
Morgus asks the elven sergeant Elmar, who is in the room, “You knew the Imvor light would keep the wights at bay?”
Elven Sergeant Elmar, diminutive in stature, sighs with relief as he leaves the far side of the room where he was in the company of private Barran. Elmar answers, “I heard tales from my parents that wights dread bright light. I was hoping they wouldn’t transgress into the room. Thank you for putting that light up there.”
Morgus answers Elmar. “Creating and casting the incantation may have been fate or luck, only Ikerus knows. But it worked. I’ll pick a room on each floor and cast one ‘continuous Imvor light’ in each of those safe rooms. You know the wights’ll be back, right? We need a bishop or three clerics, or priests to deal with them. Do you know of any holy people who’ll live here to aid us? Do we have rooms for more staff?”
Elmar replies, “We have a staff bunkroom with five open bunks and three single rooms, one of which has a double bed. But it is the chamberlain or Ada who assigns rooms to staff. As to priests – I know of none.”
Tussel speaks up. “I know that a cleric of Imvor was wandering Loren Square and Market. He was looking for alms last six-day I was there. That was at the beginning of autumn.”
Morgus nods, “Thank you, Tussel, I’ll take a look soon. Did you catch his name?”
Tussel smiles, answering, “Yes, he was a jal by the name of Hez, from Arrington district.”
Morgus bows to the three warriors. “Fetch me if you need my aid. I’ll be in my study until morning meal.”
Morgus arrives at morning meal to eat with Ada and the nine others at the table, as the three night guards decide to stay awake and join the rest of the staff for morning meal. Morgus asks, “Ada, if I need to bunk three holy people, can I use the rooms we have for staff?”
Peering over at Morgus, the house servant matron asks, “And who is going to take care of the extra work they will cause?”
Knowing Ada well enough now, Morgus was prepared for this. “They will be working under you as well, putting in four hours a day each, and doing what you require, within reason, with every six-day off free.”
A twinkle brightens Ada’s eyes as she asks, “Do I have to pay them, or does Baron Hessan?”
Morgus frowns, knowing this would come next. He replies, “You won’t have to pay them from the house budget. Baron Hessan will be paying them until an issue that has arisen is dealt with.”
Looking deep into Morgus’ eyes, Ada responds, “Okay, then two of them can use the bunk room, and one can have a single room. But I want a full four hours of work from each of them every day, except on their free six-day. There will be no exceptions for as long as they’re staying here.”
Morgus leans across the table, extending his arm, and Ada clasps with him.
Today, Morgus crammed a total of four hours of mind-twisting spell research into the spell ‘locate object’. Now, he’s finished researching the spell, and he sits frustrated because it doesn’t matter how many times he memorizes and tries casting the new spell, the twenty-hours of complicated research seems to have resulted in a failure. Morgus appears to need to re-research the spell. This hurts his coin chest immensely, as he used two-hundred coin worth of reagents and supplies researching this and he has to do it over again. Morgus decides he that he should go for a walk to Loren Square and Market.
Leaving Hessan Manor half-an-hour before noon, Morgus walks to Loren Square and Market’s central square, searching for alms seeking clerics or priests. Finding several in the central square, he asks about an Imvor cleric named Hez. Locating such a priest more than three-and-a-half hours’ past noon, Morgus is soon approaching the alms seeking priest. Finding the priest dressed in soiled ragged robes, Morgus looks at the over half-century-years-old jalmal, saying, “Gods-grace good father. How fares you?”
From his seat on the fountain side, the disheveled cleric stares up at Morgus. He responds, “Poorly, good Master, could you spare a few dusters for Imvor?”
Morgus places three dusters in the empty alms bowl and says, “I have something more if you’ll come with me?”
Looking enviously at the three copper coins, the jalmal asks, “I don’t travel with strangers. Where would we be going?”
Morgus sits beside the cleric, saying, “Then let’s get to know each other. I’ll even buy you midday meal if you like? I’m Mage Morgus, Baron Hessan’s aide. You are Cleric Hez of Imvor, and I would like your support.”
Hez stutters as he says, “W … where … did you … come on m…. my name?”
Placing his hand on Hez’s shoulder, Morgus says, “I heard of your plight, and your good will, Cleric Hez. I am in need of a few good priests, so I seek your aid. Will you work for a Dyns per day until my plight is solved? It requires putting to rest several walking-dead.”
Staring at Morgus, Hez drools slightly for several seconds before responding, “By all means, yes. How many priests do you want?”
Clapping Hez’s shoulder, Morgus smiles, and then he says, “I think that I should look for two additional priests.”
Hez stands as he picks up his alms bowl, “Will we administer to the household?”
Morgus nods as he smiles, saying, “Of course, yes.”
Hez starts walking northward. “I know that the cleric’s hostel for Imvor has acolytes that might help.”
Morgus follows Hez to the wooden structure that is the Imvor hostel, arriving nearly half-an-hour later.
Introducing Morgus to a jalmal acolyte, Hez steps aside.
Morgus says, “Gods-grace good priest Frise, I’m Mage Morgus of Baron Hessan’s estate. We’re in need of priests for the estate. Would you be interested in residing with us?”
Frise grumbles, and then after shaking his head he says, “I’ll not work for a noble.”
Morgus tries again, “If I pay you a Dyns a day?”
Frise walks away.
Next, Hez introduces Morgus to a thirty-year-old jalfem named Loura.
Morgus greets her, “Greeting priestess Loura, How fare you?”
Smiling, Loura responds. “Good fate Master Morgus, Imvor’s blessings unto you. I fare greatly, though poor of funds. Would you spare some coins?”
Seeing that Loura is practical and in need, Morgus responds, “If I pay your debt, plus offer you a wage of a Dyns per day, will you work for my Baron Hessan?”
Immediately extending her arm, Loura grins, saying, “Indeed … yes.”
Before clasping arms, Morgus asks, “How large is your debt here?”
Thinking a moment, Loura then says, “I believe I owe the priory 0.11 coin.”
Smiling, Morgus clasps arms with her, saying, “Gather your things and meet with me in the front foyer.”
As she walks away, Morgus says to Hez, “I would like one more priest. How large is your debt here, Hez?”
Bashfully, Hez responds, “0.17 coin. Let’s see if Hon will join us.”
Greeting the over forty-years-old jalmal, Morgus says, “Gods-grace, good fate priest Hon. How fare you?”
Hon bows to Morgus, and then responds, “Imvor’s-grace Master Morgus, please, a correction – I’m not a priest. I’m merely an acolyte of Imvor. I’ve been a captive recruit of the temple and hostel for over eight years. I’d leave, but I can’t afford to pay out my debt.”
Morgus nods, saying, “If I pay out your debt and Baron Hessan pays you a wage of one Dyns per day, will you come with me today?”
Hon’s eyes leak with tears as he bows. Kneeling, he says, “Yes! Please, Master Morgus. Anything to leave here!”
Morgus utters, “Fetch your things and meet me in the front foyer right away.”
After clasping arms with Morgus, Hon rushes away.
Morgus modestly turns to Hez and says, “Take me to the office and the headmaster.”
Several minutes later, in the headmaster’s office, Morgus faces the tall, heavy, century-old jalfem in the dank room lit by only one candle. He says to her, “Headmaster Chou, I’d like to pay out the debts of the acolytes Hon and Loura, as well as for Cleric Hez, purchasing their services for Baron Hessan’s estate.”
Gruffly, Chou looks through her books for records of the three. Then, she makes some rough calculations on her old chipped grey slate. Finished, she looks up at Morgus and grumpily says, “3.57 coin for that to happen, Master Morgus.”
Expecting to be paying less than a Flair, Morgus suspects she is charging a discharge fee for each. Considering the future, and that Morgus wants the good graces of the hostel and the Temple of Imvor, Morgus hands her four Flairs, as he smiles and cheerily says, “Keep the extra; don’t fret about change. Consider it a personal donation from me.”
With over four Dyns in donation, which is more generous than most of her patrons, Chou carefully and with precise facts, crafts three discharge documents, correcting the account books carefully. With the first smile she has granted in several six-days, Chou hands Morgus the three documents, and she firmly says, “Thank you, Mage Morgus. Please, if there is anything we can do for you, let me know. Come back anytime.”
Seeing how much his goodwill meant to Chou, Morgus silently lays another Flair on her desk. He takes the documents and standing he moves to leave. Before exiting the room, he turns back, noticing the glistening of extra moisture in Chou’s eyes. Morgus says, “May you be blessed, Matron Chou. Thank you for your service and good will.” Turning, Morgus casually walks out and fetches his three priests. They begin the walk home to Hessan manor.
Arriving home about half-an-hour after gods-set, Morgus smiles and greets Ada. At the meal table, he introduces the three priests, and then he says, “I would like clean clothing and baths for the three tonight. Hez is assigned to a single room, as Hon and Loura sleep in the bunks, as per our agreement. They will start working tomorrow after everyone attends Imvor services performed by Hez at an hour before gods-rise. Ada, may I suggest Hez work with Henden? Perhaps, Hon should work with you, and Loura should work with Fen. Let’s see how that works out, as I think those jobs appear to be where their skills lie.”
Ada gruffly shrugs, saying, “I’ll consider your opinion. But I’ll assess their strengths myself as we settle them in tonight. For now, everyone sit and dish up a plate of food. Eat, you will be working hard tomorrow.”
Autumn 80 Unicorn
In frustration, slamming the table hard with his fist, Morgus hastily looks around his office. He has invested five hours into researching the spell, ‘locate object’ and he seems to be going the same direction he went last time, with only a couple minor tweaks. These changes might mean the difference in success, but he needs a break from researching.
‘I need to find an old friend. I had a couple of local friends. Harol lived an hour north. I’ll go and see if he still lives there.’ Morgus dresses for traveling, and he gathers his quarterstaff. Then, Morgus departs Hessan Manor, walking north on Drescol Street to go to 889.
Arriving at the small lot with the old wooden two-story house, Morgus knocks on the weather-beaten door. A beautiful jalfem, nearing thirty years of age, answers the door. It is now nearly gods-rise as Morgus bows, soul-struck. His eyes sparkle as he says, “Gods-grace master, I’m Mage Morgus. I came to see Master Harol. He’s an old friend, but I think I’ll forget him and I’ll see you, as I’ve just forgotten everyone else. Who do I have the pleasure of meeting?”
With her eyes now sparkling, her cheeks flushed, pupils expanded, and her breathing changed to slightly more rapid, the woman answers after a giggle. “I’m Leza, Harol’s younger sister. Master Morgus, would you do me the honor of coming in for tea?”
Trying to catch an even breath, Morgus attempts to remain calm. “Indeed, I would enjoy a mug of tea, along with your company, Master Leza. Is Harol around?”
Leading the way to the kitchen, Leza makes the two of them a pot of strong tea and sets milk and honey on the table for the tea.
Using the milk and honey sparingly, Morgus pours himself a mug of steaming tea. Morgus discovers that he is having a difficult time focusing, as he is trying to look away from Leza.
They sit across the table from each other with their mugs of tea. It is Leza who finally speaks, her voice quavering. “Unfortunately, the pox struck our family five years ago. Everyone in my family died except myself and my youngest brother. It hit hard in this area, nearly two-hundred passed away in a season.”
Morgus places his hand on hers. “My sympathies, Leza. It must be hard maintaining your home with just the two of you, and being without your loved ones.”
Glistening moisture rises in her eyes again as her lips quiver, but then she regains her composure, and Leza says, “I’ve become a journeyman tailor, working over at Armal Tailors. And, Sesan has steady work on Renol fief. We earn more than enough to support ourselves. We’re saving coins to lease a tailor shop for me, for when I become master, and also enough to buy Sesan an apprenticeship.”
Morgus smiles, and then he asks, “Would you both like to come to Baron Hessan’s on Autumn 84 Unicorn? We can discuss an apprenticeship fund for Sesan.”
Blushing again, embarrassed to be going to a noble’s, Leza hesitates.
Morgus says, “I’ll send the carriage in the morning, about an hour after gods-rise. I’m glad you’ll make it … How did the pox start?”
Glad to change the subject, Leza responds, “Oh … it was when a green dragon came and breathed on our food supplies in the area. He was driven away by a knight who had a dragon shield and sword. The knight wasn’t able to kill the green dragon … the dragon shield saved the knight’s life three times before the green dragon left angry and defeated.”
Morgus files this information away in his mind – with an idea to research green dragons. If the dragon is still alive, he’s likely to return. Morgus also wants to know what happened to the knight and his dragon shield and sword.
Morgus spends several hours with Leza, talking about local history and Leza’s life. Morgus skillfully avoids discussing his past, specifically his pre-arrival at Perch Inn.
Morgus excuses himself two hours before evening meal. With a light step, he slowly walks home. It takes him an extra twenty minutes to walk home – a walk that would usually take an hour.
To say he is happy is an understatement. The last time he saw Leza, she was five-years-old, and the family was strong and healthy with a thriving merchant business, Sesan had not been born yet.
Entering Hessan Manor, Morgus scrubs his boots off on the mat and walks to the staff dining room. Cheekily, he says to Hez, “How fares the holy?”
The three priests wear new sparkling clean robes of Imvor-red linen. All three are grinning as Hez replies, “You are our saviour, Master Morgus. We actually get real food, real work, with pay and believers who’ll pay attention to us if we preach at appropriate times! And we don’t have to beg for alms. You did us each a great service. Working with Ada is great. Even though Ada likes to complain, you couldn’t find a harder worker.”
Ada huffs and grins while the others laugh.
Morgus asks, “You’re welcome. Now Ada, can I use this dining room to entertain guests for meals?”
Ada shakes her head, answering, “No! Use downstairs in the staff social room. Do you need meals cooked and served? Loura can cook, and Hon can serve. If so when?”
Looking at Bushnel, Morgus asks, “Can Bushnel pick up a couple of people at 889 Drescol Street on Autumn 84, at about an hour after gods-rise? Then, we’ll entertain the guests with morning meal and midday meal, with Bushnel returning them to 889 right after his own meal after midday?”
Bushnel nods, saying, “Barring Baron Hessan’s needs, yes, of course.”
Gesturing haphazardly, Ada replies. “I know of no issues. So far, Larap hasn’t informed me of any appointments.”
Cheering loudly, Morgus does a small jig in his chair.
Autumn 82 Unicorn
Having talked with Baron Hessan about setting permanent ‘continuous Imvor light’ lights on each floor in safe rooms, in case the wights come back, Morgus selects a safe room on each level. He exhausts himself casting three of the ‘continuous Imvor light’.
Resting, Morgus looks at his research notes and estimates that he’ll be at least ten more hours researching the spell, ‘locate object’.
Autumn 83 Unicorn
Sighing deeply, Morgus rubs his tired eyes. His mind is cloudy and exhausted. He has been working on his research for five hours, and it’s a little more than an-hour-and-a-half to gods-rise. Morgus walks down to the staff social room where Hez is holding his Imvor service. All of Hessan Manor’s staff and Baron Larap Hessan are attending the service.
At the end of the service, Morgus approaches the baron, asking. “Baron Hessan, would it serve you better if we held services upstairs?”
Larap chuckles, “It would greatly serve me better, mage.”
Thinking about different locations, Morgus says, “I noticed there is a large unused room on the ground floor, which is next to the dining room. Perhaps the priests could use that room as a chapel?”
Clasping arms with Morgus, Larap answers, “Make it so, my aide.”
Morgus and the others are eating their morning meal when the baron enters the staff dining room. Immediately, all stand and Larap gestures for them to sit. He says, “I see you now have Imvor priests on my staff and Mage Morgus petitioned me for a chapel. The Hessan Imvor Chapel is now on the ground floor next to the dining room. Please make good use of it. I will attend morning service with you, which I hope you will now hold at half-an-hour before gods-rise … for an old man’s sake?”
Cleric Hez nods, saying, “Yes Master. Baron Hessan, it will be so.”
Hessan smiles and leaves, causing much talk during the meal.
Later, while leaving the dining room, Morgus recalls that he was to pick up his parchment knives from Smith Beraran today.
Entering Bladesmith Beraran’s shop, Morgus clears his throat to get the smith’s attention.
Rushing over to Morgus, Beraran says, “The knives are ready for you to take, Mage Morgus. I finished the final touches this morning.”
Morgus holds up his hand, saying, “Hold on, I want to see the knives before I purchase them.”
After Beraran shows Morgus the knives, Morgus is deeply disappointed, finding several obvious flaws. He sets down the last of the eight knives, saying, “I can’t take these. They’ll damage my hides and parchment too much for the quality I need my parchment to be. No.”
Gesturing wildly and rubbing his hands together, the smith pleads. “Let me try again, but you have to give me more time. I need ten days.”
Morgus frowns, feeling put out, and not wanting to deal with further poor craftsmanship. Thinking, he considers different possibilities. Morgus says, “If I give you another chance and ten more days, then I will offer only fifteen Flairs.”
Beraran extends his arm eagerly. “Yes! Yes!”
Morgus clasps arms with the smith, thinking to himself. ‘Hez said that he is a smith. So, if Bushnel and I can set up a smithy for Hez, then I’ll ask Hez to craft a set as well.’ Walking out of Bladesmith Beraran’s, Morgus walks home with a driven purpose.
Seeking out Ada and Bushnel, he asks the pair, “Would it be feasible and okay to set up a small smithy in the crafts shop for Hez to work?”
Bushnel smiles as he nods, and then replies, “We had a smith before, so we have a smithy set up. We even have supplies in stock from before. Hez can start when you want him to, with Ada and Baron Hessan’s permission and his agreement.”
Looking at her co-partners, Ada says, “I’ll get the baron’s permission tonight, but I agree, as there are a few items I’ve been wanting to be smithed, if Hez can form them. You give us equal time between the items, and I’ll agree, giving him up from his husbandry duty.”
Morgus extends his arm and he clasps with Ada.
Seeking out Hez after evening service in the new chapel, Morgus sits with him in the chapel seats, asking, “How do you feel about giving up being estate husbandry servant and become official estate blacksmith as well as official Cleric of Hessan estates?”
Sitting back, mouth dropping open, brow furrowing, Hez says, “You draw me deeper into Hessan, but a smith or an official Cleric both earn more than a Dyns per day. How much would I earn?”
Morgus smiles as he had asked Bushnel how much the old smith had earned. Morgus has an idea how much priests and clerics in temples and monasteries earn from researching texts in his office. Morgus says, “Tell me how much you’re asking for.”
Hez ponders this, and then he says, “Well, a typical estate smith earns three or four Dyns per day plus ten percent of the value of the goods he produces. A typical Temple cleric earns two to three Dyns per day, plus alms earned. So, I would say at least three or maybe four Dyns per day? Plus, bonuses such as alms and percentage of products?”
Prepared for this conversation, Morgus had numbers in mind already. “I think we will offer four Dyns per day, plus the alms, but with no percentages. This is to keep things simple. But I have to get Larap to approve this.”
The gleam of moisture in Hez’s eyes betrays his excitement as he says, “I accept.”
Sitting in Baron Hessan’s office with Ada and Larap, Morgus continues their conversation. “Thank you, Baron Hessan, for allowing Hez to use the forge and smithy in the crafts shop. But I would like to propose that you hire Hez as official estate smith and cleric.”
Ada silently nods in agreement.
Larap notices her nod, and he starts tapping his desk. “And how much do you propose we pay him?”
Morgus replies, “Let’s keep things simple and pay him a combined wage of four Dyns, plus he keeps his alms.”
Again, straight-faced and emotionless, Ada nods.
Larap is not watching Ada; he is studying Morgus like a Spertan focused on its food. Larap says, “Mage, I like that. You are working out well. You’re doing chamberlain work, even though you’re only my aide.”
Morgus’ face turns a light shade of red, and he replies, “The priests are a simple response to the wights of a few nights ago, as are the safe rooms with the ‘continuous Imvor light’ in them. Remember, the room next to your bedroom is the safe room on the second floor if you need it.”
Larap stands and walking to his bookshelves he removes a large tome, placing it on his desk. He retrieves two larger tomes, adding them to the first. Sitting again, he returns to tapping the desk as he eyes Morgus, before saying, “Read these, as they are treatises on being a chamberlain for an earl or baron. Study them well. Then, when you’re finished, seek me out again. I agree with you on Hez’s pay and titles. I approve the positions and wage for him.”
To be continued …
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