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Something Must Be Done...

Part 3: News

2007 Aric Olsen

He didn't know what to expect at Adele's. The smells of supper overflowed the kitchens and spilled out onto the dirt road, inviting Greywarden to hurry toward the small, well kept inn. Her cooking had always been Adele's best advertisement - in better times, caravans would quicken their pace when the Giant's Pouch reared its top on the road ahead, for the men knew the food ahead was far above the average.

Better times, though, was the key. From his perch on the Pouch earlier in the day, Greywarden had watched the road below for signs of traffic - watched with a different set of eyes now, for he knew in his heart that he was committed to doing something about whatever was threatening the trade, the traffic, the good will around this village. The people here were good people, but they were scared. Something was stopping trade, and no one knew what do do about it. There had been one small caravan - two wagons - for the entire afternoon. Better times indeed! That road should have been full.

And so he had led Stepper back to town and brushed her coat at the familiar guild stables, afterward heading for Adele's and his appointment with Bentir, hurrying - hurrying - as always, as the smell of dinner invited him forward. Would the common room be full from the earlier meeting at the guild hall - full of talk and hope that something could be done to made these troubles go away? Or would it be empty - fear taking up the empty void, reducing boisterous conversation to furtive whispers and ....rumors.

Even before he set foot on the porch, he knew the room was empty. At a table near the fireplace sat a quartet of men worn from the road and too much tension. Greywarden noted the sapphire blue shirt of the older man, and remembered it from his watch of the road earlier in the day. These were the drovers from the pair of wagons he saw.

Maybe they had some news.

The blue shirt and worn expressions of the men at the table tipped Greywarden off  that here sat the drovers he had spied on the road below him earlier in the day. Well, here's a piece of magic to show them - it is at the end of my right arm and is called my hand...

"Good day," he greeted the travelers and introduced himself. "It pleases me greatly to see travelers on the road - there have been few of late. It is seems these times are hard indeed. What news have you from the road, stranger? Let me buy your drink!"

"I am Adem," replied the older man with the blue shirt. His eyes were tired, but they held a wisdom that belied a positive attitude and self taught confidence beneath his facade. Here was a man who knew himself. "...and you are correct, son. Hard times indeed. My trade is pottery and glass, and few enough are my wares, though I will have them for sale on the morrow. And we are indeed lucky to have made it through to your village unscathed. We passed the remains of a caravan earlier morning - nothing left of it but splinters and blood...nothing left at all!"

Eyes narrowing, Greywarden questioned the man further: "Were there no signs of fighting, nothing else to tell what took place there?"

"We didn't dawdle there, son. Makes a man nervous enough to come across the remains of a scuffle, but this was...different. Some arrows left around, but nothing else. Come to think of it though, there were some odd footprints though, hard to recognize what sort of creature made 'em."

"Bad luck to speak of it, Pa. Bad luck." interjected one of the younger men.

"I mean no disrespect, son of Adem. I was only curious. I'll leave you to your supper and bid you a good evening. Adele's stew is the best around, enjoy your meal." Greywarden rose from his seat and turned away from the small company, nothing in his mind but unanswered questions. He wondered whether he should ride a short way from town in the morning - to see what could be seen...


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 updated 4-13-07