FreeHolds Adventure, Cycle 2 Part 8d

FreeHolds Adventure, Cycle 2 Part 8d

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Efferada ‘lel Vettetia, originally from the Principalities, was GreensBridge’s most respected maker of travel chests and security boxes. He looked dubiously at the arm of the water pipe Mokha had offered him. They had just finished a large midday meal, a late lunch, and had been served coffee and dessert. Mokha had invited him to Hearts Nook on his day off and had reserved the best of the private dining rooms. Efferada’s apprentice was setting up the samples that had been brought.

The islander smiled and accepted a drag from the water pipe. He inhaled deeply, the pipe bubbled. After a moment or two he exhaled, “Mmm, pleasant. I’ve not had good hashish since they closed the Tannican District.”

“As it happens, I do have enough to to provide you with some, remind me before we finish our business.”

“I certainly will, very generous.” They relaxed and engaged in pleasant conversation as they finished their meal. When they were done the staff cleared the table and left a full urn of coffee.

Efferada had his apprentice show Mokha the samples, different types of wood, cloth, leather and metal. Mokha had placed his new lute and sitar on the table and some measurements were taken as he looked at the available materials.

The afternoon was nearly done before their business was concluded. Mokha paid half the fee up front and included the small block of hashish he had with him, promising to have some more when the luggage was delivered. He had ordered two cases for his instruments, he did not see a point in getting one for Lef, the short neck lute was in rough shape. Efferada had also convinced him to purchase a travel chest, a small lock box and a portable wardrobe. By the end of it, Mokha was unsure which of them had negotiated most favourably. He also wondered what he would do if Adwin did not hire an airship for their trip.

After his business was complete he quaffed a Flow potion and gathered his instruments. He was surprised to find Sefla waiting for him in the hallway. She smiled, “Hello.”

“Hello to you. I was not expecting to see you around here for another eight-day or so.”

“Well, that answers my first question. I thought you had paid for the healers.”

“No, not I. Though I’m glad to see you up and about.”

“Well, I’m very happy for whoever arranged the healing for us.”

“So you’ve all been cared for?”

“Yes, we’ve all been healed. As well, our room at the inn has been paid for until the end of spring and a tailor has been commissioned to make us clothing and performance costumes. We just have no idea who did this for us. I thought it might have been you, you’re the only one we know who is wealthy enough to have done so. Well, maybe Dios…”

“I don’t know, I’ve a couple of friends who I told your woeful tale to, it would certainly be in character for one of them to have been so generous.”

“Well, maybe you could find out if it was your friend, discretely perhaps. I’d love to demonstrate my appreciation.”

“I’ll let you know who your mysterious benefactor was, if I find out. What was the second question?”

“Ah, well, I was hoping we could resume my training?”

“Absolutely. I won’t be around again until the new eight-day starts. We can start early on first-day if you would like to.”

“That would be lovely Mokha, thank you.”

He had thought she was done, though as he moved past her she put a hand on his arm, “I kind of had another question…”

“A third question, if I answer correctly do I get a wish?”

She laughed, “I’m no demon Mokha. No wishes to grant or other worldly powers.”

He liked her smile, and the fact she had understood his reference made him a bit nostalgic for Rogh Mohk Tahl. Most people were not aware of the fact, but the city had once been rules by a demon prince, for nearly three hundred years. The bard, Ajax Burgandy and a band of Aggedrah had been able to defeat the demon and banished it from this world. They studied each other’s faces intently for a few moments and she moved a step closer, her breath smelled of cloves.

“Ah… I was wondering if you were taking any apprentices. In the Aggedrah tradition.”

That surprised him a bit, but given his upcoming travel plans he did not think it the best idea. Still, if she was serious, she would make a great performer and even if she did not have an ounce of talent for magic, the paths of mysticism the Aggerdrah followed did not require someone to be gifted. He said, “I had not really thought to do so, though I am inclined to say yes. I mean, no. You need to understand, I intend to travel east in the spring and am unsure where that trip may ultimately lead. I think it unlikely I would return to GreensBridge.”

She looked a bit confused, crossed her arms and stuck out her tongue, “Yes and no you say. Which is it?”

He laughed, “Sorry. I think you would make a good Aggedrah and the answer is yes. But I travel with dangerous companions and likely will face many challenges on the road to Kaymere this spring. So if you do not mind the dangers of the road, then yes. Though I’m inclined to say no because of those dangers. Is that more clear?”

“Only a bit. I’m not unfamiliar with the dangers of travelling through the freeholds and I understand your concerns in that regard. So I’m inclined to accept your yes.”

“Okay then. You have time to think it over.”

“I’ll need to talk to my companions, I had not mentioned any such inclinations to them. I’ll let you know when I’ve made up my mind.”

“Alright, I’m glad we figured that out.”

He said his goodbyes and put his instruments in Dios’ office, then he went out the back and cut across the campus, heading to Setta’s residence. The Flow potion kicked in when he was about halfway there, he stopped to watch the clouds move across the sky for a while but did make it to Setta’s place before it was dark.

Her rooms were warm and her hug very welcome. She agreed to try Flow and they spent most of the night making love. Flow and sex went very well together. They slept a bit towards dawn and it was well into the afternoon before they ventured out to find food.

Setta chose one of the taverns near the university. Simply called The Tap Room, it was built over and incorporated parts of one of the green-stoned Ellodran ruins. The establishment was known for their dumplings and mead, Setta had stew with extra dumplings and cider. Mokha liked the mead but was not overly hungry, he had a bit of cheese and spicy bread.

They watched the other clients and staff as they ate, saying little to each other. Both of them were a bit distracted and Mokha could still feel the last effects of the Flow. Setta ordered more dumplings and offered Mokha some, he thought they were well flavoured but the mushy consistency was not to his liking. They had another round of drinks before settling their tab and then decided that a walk would be nice.

The day had become almost warm, still below freezing, but pleasant as compared to the cold of deep winter. It was the first hint that spring was not that far away. It was snowing huge fluffy flakes and the sun peeked through the clouds regularly. They ambled along the edge of the university grounds holding hands, Mokha felt very content.

“You don’t have to go to Elquin.”

Mokha was surprised by her comment, “Are you asking or suggesting?”

“Neither.”

“Well, it’s my best lead to gain a longer life. As well, I’m still hopeful Shak is somewhere out there, it’d be nice to find him.”

She was silent for a while, then they stopped and faced each other, she took his other hand in hers, “I’m your best lead.”

“Above and beyond all others, my love.” He smiled at her, marvelled at her beauty.

She regarded him with a tender look and returned his smile, “I’m serious Mokha, though I’m not supposed to tell anyone outside of the Arcanium.”

“I can keep a secret. What is it you can’t say?”

“We, the Arcanium, can delay the aging process.”

“Oh?” This was news.

“Yes, it’s not even that difficult, I’ve known the spell for decades. It’s part of the healing disciplines.”

“Ah? That means you’re…”

“Older than I look.”

“I see.”

“I’m not exactly sure how old I am. In my younger days I was involved in a couple of expeditions to the Great Barrier Mountains, seeking lost Ellodran cities. During my second expedition there was a mishap, those of us that survived spent upwards of a decade lost in the mountains, but elsewhere as well. Maybe another world or another time, we still do not know.”

“Okay, that must have been challenging.”

“It was, only a handful of us survived, our minds had been tricked and for years we knew not who we were. We did eventually come to our senses and were able to return to GreensBridge. Once we had returned I had decided that I was not going to do anymore field work and started teaching at the university. That was fifty-two years ago.”

“Wow, so you’re what…?”

“Well, I was approaching my mid thirties when I went on my second expedition, we returned eleven years after leaving, so I’m ninety-seven, or there about. That assumes an equitable amount of time passed in the other realm.”

“Oh, wow.”

“I’m sorry I didn’t tell you sooner.”

“Wow, oh wow. Ah…”

She looked away, embarrassed? Disconcerted? Fearful of rejection?

“Ah…” He was at a loss for words and a shiver ran down his spine that had nothing to do with the weather.

“I can cast the spell on you as well. Even teach it to you if you want. I’m not planning on coming back to the Arcanium after the Kaymere expedition. We can go anywhere, do anything.”

He still did not know how to respond, she started to pull away. He pulled her back into a tight embrace and the two of them stood there a long time holding each other. Eventually he stepped back a half pace, still holding her arms, to regarded her tear streaked face. He kissed a frozen tear and she laughed in relief, the two of them shared a deeply passionate kiss.

“Wow.”

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