FreeHolds Adventure, Cycle 2 Part 3c

FreeHolds Adventure, Cycle 2 Part 3c

Previous Next


Despite the word from the GreensBridge boss of the Roburns Trading Company, regarding the formation of a new Acquisitions Team he would be joining, the previous couple of days had been business as usual for Adwin. He showed up at the office for his usual shifts and made copies of reports for the company. Addath continued her usual activities as well. It was not until he had finished his shift the day before that he received an update on the new project. He was to have his usual day off, for which he was very thankful, as he had not wanted to cancel his plans with Tipper once again. Though, starting tomorrow he and Addath would begin working on the new project.

Adwin was both curious and concerned about the new job. Excited to be involved, happy to be able to cause further problems for the Fingures and concerned about how it might impact his relationship with Tipper. The last issue was his main concern. He was due to meet Tipper around midday at Dohporra Courtyard and the ongoing evasiveness regarding his employment was starting to weigh on his conscience.

There had been a heavy snowfall throughout the night and into the morning, not really a storm by local standards, but still, a considerable amount of snow had fallen. Adwin had been one of the first employees awake and outside, having skipped breakfast. He had been delighted by the snow covered streets and buildings, however, that idyllic scene had soon vanished as more people joined him to help with the shovelling and others had trudged through the snow, marring the perfect scene. Now, with sunrise having passed, still leaving the city in the grey twilight of a cloudy winter day, there were neat paths and waist high piles of snow around the building. Wagons had been brought out and the work yards were cleared, the snow carted away, Adwin did not know where the snow was going but assumed it was getting dumped into the river.

He guessed it was near the tenth hour of the day when most of the shovelling was done. He returned the shovel he had used to the corner near the main entry to the employee accommodations. Then he washed and changed, he was always surprised by the hot water from the taps, not pump, but he knew there were a couple of boilers in the sub-levels of the warehouse complex. It did not take him long before he was pulling his poncho on and heading out the door again.

Before heading to Dohporra Courtyard, he swung by the market to pick up some food. Adwin dithered a bit about what else he might get an old lady he did not know, from whom he wanted to hear a specific story. He ended up buying a selection of food stuff, some dried flowers, a basket and a warm cloak. Most of the food was preserved, dried or pickled, but he also bought a fresh meat pie, still warm at the time of purchase. The basket had a hefty weight to it when he had finished at the market, bells sounded from around the area and across the city, marking the half day point. Without further delay he continued on to meet Tipper.

The area of the Inner Quarter that had been rebuilt by the Brv-rocht dwarves was warmer than other parts of the city. The streets were clear of snow and running water trickled along the gutters. The small yards and garden areas were clear and there was no ice or trampled snow on any of the roads for the two blocks leading to the fountain at the courtyard. The fountain itself was running, the only one in the city he had not seen turned off and covered for the winter. There were a few people in the area, a small group gathered at the south side of the fountain and a handful or two coming and going.

Adwin spotted Tipper sitting off to the side on a stone bench facing the fountain, she was reading a small book, seemingly oblivious to the activity around her. He knew better than to assume she was unaware of her surroundings. As he approached she placed a bookmark and put the book away in a small satchel she had beside her.

“Hey Tipper. How’ve you been?”

She smiled and shrugged, “Busy. I have a job now.”

“Hmm? I though you were focusing on your studies?”

“Well yes. My objectives haven’t changed. But it seems the Arcanium is short handed these days.”

“You’re working for the Arcanium? How? I mean, I thought that was a mages only sort of thing.”

“So did I, but come to find out the Warders are not all mages.”

“Your a Warder now?”

“Not really, no.”

“Then what are you talking about?”

She laughed at his confusion, “Recent happenings have left the Arcanium short staffed and it seems I’ve come to the attention of at least a couple of them. One of the Archivists, my professor, and one of the Warders, just a fellow who had seen me training a few times at the yard near the Arcanium, both forwarded my name as someone who could help relieve the manpower shortage they are suffering.”

“Oh, wow. Well, that’s good then?”

“For the most part, I think so.”

“So what are you doing? Helping to hunt down mages?”

“Ha. No. Nothing so thrilling as that. Essentially I’ve been conscripted into the Warders to help guard the grounds. I’m part of an auxiliary unit, not an actual member of the Arcanium, but they have me and a few others helping with security. Specifically, the main gate and the docks.”

“So is that going to help with finding the information you were looking for?”

“I think so. But I still don’t have access to the Red Tower. Though, now I’m allowed to be on the grounds, in certain designated areas.”

“Well, that’s something.”

“A step closer at the very least. So anything new with you? Still working at the docks?”

“Sure, we all had to shovel snow today. Have you noticed the lack of snow here?”

“You mean the cleared streets? I was told by a local youngster it has something to do with a special type of boiler the dwarves made when they rebuilt this section of the city. But, I did not ask for details.”

“I heard some of the streets never get snow accumulation, because of the Eldra magic.”

“Yeah, it’s true. I saw some of that on my way here this morning. One thing I like about the snowy weather is there are way less people out and about.”

“The market was still pretty busy this morning.”

“I tend to avoid the big markets.”

“Too many people?”

“Too many.”

Someone started ringing a hand bell and a small procession was seen to be heading to the fountain. An old woman, slightly stooped, though brightly dressed, was being escorted by a handful of youths and a couple of adults. A chair was set out for her and people began to gather. A fair number of children came out of a number of the houses in the area and converged towards the fountain.

“I guess we should go see Heklertha.”

“Sure, though don’t expect me to get in amongst that swam of children.”

“Sure, I mean I have to give her this stuff I picked up, but we can stand off to the side to listen.”

By the time Adwin made his way up to where the old lady was sitting, wrapped in blankets and shawls, he was surrounded by over fifty children and youth who were all very excited and shouting requests for the story they would have today. There was a dozen or so adults as well, though they were more subdued.

Adwin could see a small pot had been set out beside the old woman and some of the gathered people were dropping coins into it, while others had delivered foodstuffs of various sorts. Adwin set the basket on the edge of the fountain next to the pot. He noted that he had brought more than all the rest combined.

The old lady looked up at him and then to the basket he had set down. He asked, “Are you Heklertha?”

She gave a bit of a giggle and raised her eyebrows, “Who are you to ask my name?”

Adwin was a bit taken aback, maybe this lady followed the Old Ways? “I’m Adwin of Willik’s Hold.”

“To what do I owe such a wonderful bounty young man? Have you come a-courtin’?”


This time the elder laughed, “Just having fun with you dear. No need to look so frightened.”

“Ah, sure. Well, I had a request. The last time I was here a girl told me to be generous, that you make your way with stories.”

Still chuckling the old woman nodded, “Sure, sure. I see you are no miser. What story did you wish to hear?”

“The one about the heart-tree and elf?”

The kids were getting rambunctious and it was getting increasingly difficult to hear her, “Oh, that’s a good one, though it is properly called The Elf, The Tree and The Maiden.”

“Yeah, sure. That one.”

She raised a hand and looked around at the children who all settled down much to Adwin’s relief. “That’s the sort of story best told on a hot summer’s eve or on festival nights. Not something I’d bore these youngsters with today.”

“I can’t wait until summer.”

She laughed again, eyed the large basket, “Alright, given your generosity I will tell you that tale. Though it will have to wait until tonight. Return here near dark and I’ll have someone meet you to bring you to my place. I might invite a few others and you are welcome to bring someone with you as well.”

“Okay, I can do that. Thank you. Oh, and there’s a meat pie under the cloak, it was still hot when I bought it.”

“I’ve a good nose son, now let me get on with the story.”

Adwin extracted himself from the gathered children and returned to stand near Tipper. Heklertha’s voice was surprisingly strong and clear for one of her years, everyone else in the area settled down to listen. She told a story of a fox who stole the stars and a huntress who tracked the fox through all manner of hazards, the huntress then tricking the fox into returning the stars to the sky. It was not an unfamiliar story to Adwin, though it was certainly the best telling he had ever heard and the old lady’s embellishments and character voices were excellent. The locals loved her, he could see it on the faces of both the children and the adults.

Tipper said in a low voice, “You have an admirer.”

Adwin looked at Tipper, feeling a charge of fear and concern he may have brought trouble to the locals, but Tipper seemed amused, not threatened. “What do you mean?”

“The youth, just the other side of Heklertha, keeps looking at you.”

Adwin casually turned back and noticed the girl he had met the past eight-day, when he was last here. “Oh, her. Yeah, I don’t think so. We met a while ago and she seemed less than impressed with me.”

Tipper chuckled, “That’s not what I’m seeing.”


“Alright.” She was still smiling at him in a the way that always made him a little mad.

He asked, “Should we go elsewhere? Do you want to get some food? My treat.”

“There is a book seller nearby, I’d like to see if they have a particular book I’m looking for.”

“You want to go look for books? I thought it was your day off.”

“It’s something I want to take back for my family.”

“Okay. Let’s check it out.”

Heklertha had started her second story of the afternoon. Adwin wanted to stay and listen, but not if he had to have Tipper teasing him about some girl. After the book shop he hoped they could go to a cafe or maybe even one of the fancy restaurants. He was really hungry.

As they left the fountain he walked past a fellow who, oddly, had a floppy-brimmed hat that looked a lot like his old one, except it was cleaner and had been dyed reddish. He smiled and nodded to the fellow, but he had not noticed Adwin as they passed. Tipper called his attention to the book sellers shop; the building looked like a small palace but was slightly smaller than the average building along the street. It was an odd looking structure more so because of the glass door and large windows looking in on well lit rooms with many shelves of books, reading nooks and a statue of one of the Nine, the knowledge goddess. Adwin could not remember her name.


Previous Next

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *