Into the Firelands – [Part 2] Taver

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The few crewman who acknowledged Taver, did so with indifferent grunts. Shielding his eyes from the sun, he regretted letting his companions go ashore without him. It had been two weeks since the incident between the women and the crew, and hushed voices spoke of mutiny. Travelling into the north would always put a crew on edge, add the two fiery women amidst his party; the historian had found himself outnumbered three to one by his disgruntled ship mates.

He wiped his nose, then cleansed his hand on his cloak. Made from thick wool, it itched at his neck. Stepping from the gang plank and onto the pier, he grimaced as he took a last look at the Elvebat. Twenty meters from bow to stern, it had once been an Eldoradi Carvel. Resting below a long bowsprit, a wood-carved dragon made for the figurehead. It’s duel masts, the front a little shorter than the back, sat with sails tucked away. As far as river going vessels went, it was a large ship. But necessary. Once they entered the Undermoutain Pass, they would not be able to restock for months.

Mid Run’s port was a shamble of half rotted piers. Sprawled like a spiders web across the river-fork. A thoroughfare for trade ships who ran the river Woge. Men barked at each-other, flinging parcels from jetty to boat, without sparing a minute to acknowledge the wiry historian as he nimbly walked between them.

Taver had decided to do some sight seeing. Sniffling, he stepped from pier to solid ground and paused a moment to take in the bustling street. The town was once populated by High Elves, some one thousand years ago, and the place was of great interest to the man. He’d seen paintings, and read about Mid Run, but nothing could beat visiting himself.

Stone worked buildings, with timber frames and straw thatched, pointed roofs, sat beside complex marble work. The high elves had been skilled craftsmen. Floral and vine carvings decorated the many pagodas and houses that lined the streets. Organic curves, and a broad arcs were common in elven architecture. Marble archways rested on thick pylons, and their houses had been open to the elements. But since man had moved in, they had closed them off and added timber walls to block out the weather. They had replaced expansive open living areas with a sprawl of small rooms.

Taver ummed and ahhhed at the different structures, and attracted curious glances as he dusted a marble column bracing the front of the town hall. They would not be stocked for the onward journey until midday, the following day, so there was no need to rush. After asking a passing woman with mug handle ears, and very Leonirian brown eyes and hair, he confirmed what he had suspected. That there were no scholars in the area.

Taver sighed, they did not have much use for professors this far north. People outside of the Mes Leonir were very different, their primary focus was on how to get from one day to the next. Chores to ensure they had food on the table and water in their cups took precedence. The idea of searching the the annals of time was pointless to them.

After visiting the town hall, and being declined entry into three (once) elven homes, and refused entry into the blacksmith’s forge; Taver finally gave up on his mission and made for the inn.

Etheros’ second sun, Duos, hung in the air, but Unos (the first) was long gone. It was the end of the long summer. After a year of sweltering days, things would be returning to normal. In less than a month the second sun would be gone entirely, and the days would turn short and cold. Not that it really mattered, the Fire Lands would be plenty hot enough.

***

Chatter of the afternoon crowd mulled in the room as Taver quietly closed the door behind him. Most of the twenty or so tables were full, and the aroma of roasted meat made the air thick but pleasant.

Four of Taver’s twelve strong group were sitting on high stools at the bar, cups of ale or mead in front of them. He swallowed audibly when he saw one of them was Melisande Flamestouch. Her hair danced on her shoulders as she tipped her mug back, wiped her mouth with the back of her hand then chuckled as she playfully elbowed one of the mercenaries.

Taver had thought perhaps the girls should stay in Mid Run, and he would offer them full payments to do so… But the idea of telling them, worried the man –

‘Hello, Taver – ‘ The historian jumped. He stifled a gasp with his hand, then sighed as he turned to see Lorena. In a face streaked with mistrust, those striking green eyes bore into him. The woman stood with three of the other mercenary men at her back.

‘Hello,’ Taver said, as he bowed.

Lorena gave a wry smile, and her face filled with warmth. ‘We’ve already ordered dinner, but if you hurry there shouldn’t be too much delay. We are waiting on a table, those fellows will be leaving soon.’ She gestured to a table of fifteen, including four young children. Their plates were empty and most sat rested back, their bellies full, as they listened to a thin faced man tell a tale, inaudible at their distance.

‘Very well, that sounds good.’ He had to think of a way to get the two women alone. Surely they would not pass up three months payment for just two weeks of sailing? Sailing they had little part in. It was a win win –

‘Well come on then,’ Lorena snapped. Her grin betrayed her tone, but it was no-less terrifying. Taver jolted from his thoughts and hurried across the bar.

———–

For more fiction by A.V. Cortez, and more about the world of Etheros, click here.

For information about the Blogevella poject, click here.

If you enjoyed this piece, and would like to read more, please like, share or follow! There’s a lot more to come.

Thanks a lot for reading.

Cortez

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