FreeHolds Adventure, Cycle 3 Part 2b

FreeHolds Adventure, Cycle 3 Part 2b

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Tipper had been unable to send the packages she had wanted delivered. Not due to the price, expensive though it had been. The courier that usually worked the station was out on a delivery and another had briefly been in Domkee, she had left for Calameer just before midday.

The station manager had suggested that Tipper could leave the package with her, promising it would go out with the next available courier, or she could wait until she reached Calameer in the hopes the courier that had headed out earlier had not moved on from the station there.

Tipper had decided to wait, mostly because she did not have a package on hand to send.

Pridden had been happy that they had no desire to extend their stay in Domkee. He had warned them about the weather though, claiming that he would try to reach Calameer before the rains hit. There had been a slight delay as they waited for Adwin to return from the local market. Tipper asked him to ride on the back with her.

Adwin had heard an unbelievable story of a great magic city that a powerful earth mage was building somewhere in the Kaffern Hills. The teller of this tale had claimed that there were towers to rival GreensBridge, buildings of pure crystal, magic orchards and that the Tannicans had already sent an army to try and destroy them. Adwin was so enchanted with what he had heard that he suggested a quick detour to go see this supposed magic city, it was just a ways south of Sharlok’s Hold, just past Bowder.

Tipper listened to the fantastical tale until Adwin’s enthusiasm had waned, then she said, “The Kaffern Hills are on the northwest edges of the Sudakkar, much closer to our homes than they are to the south of Sharlok’s Hold. Chances are there’s a village down that way called Bowder, but it’s not anywhere near the Bowder just south of here. At the very least we’d have to cross the migratory path.”

Adwin looked disappointed, “Are you sure?”

“Yeah. Besides, there are no earth mages left. The last of them were killed a long time ago… Maybe even as far back as the last Elemental War.”

“Oh, do you think the guy made it up?”

“Likely he just heard it from someone else. Maybe Lord Allark is building a new castle or town walls and by the time the story reached you it had been embellished a bit during each retelling.”

“Yeah, I guess.”

“I was hoping you could help me with something.”


She smiled, “I need a package to send to Lekas and another for Aramy, though I don’t much care what we send to Aramy, whatever goes to Lekas needs to be something I can hide a message in or on.”

“I’ve the box from the Temple of Mercy, for Del.”

“I’d prefer something five bars or less in weight.”

“Well, I know there was a couple of new robes in the box for Del. Would one of them do?”

“I think so.”

“Are you going to warn them about Sharlok’s army?”

“That’s the plan.”

“Why don’t you care what goes to Aramy? We should warn them too.”

“We could try, though I’m not sure anything in Aramy is as it was. Besides, the package to Aramy is only being included as a distraction.”

“Both places are well beyond the eastern line, that’ll be expensive.”


“We could send a message to Dresmend. Maybe with a payment for something he has.”

“That’ll work.”

The coach lurched as it crossed over an old stone bridge and a moment later clattered off the other end. Adwin looked around with a concerned expression, “Pridden is really pushing the horses.”

Tipper pointed to the northeast, “He’s trying to get to Calameer ahead of the rain.”

“We’re really moving. I don’t think I’ve ever gone this fast before.” He looked around then stood up to see what was ahead of them.

Tipper sat back and thought about what they faced on the road ahead. She agreed that it was unlikely anyone would recognize them outside of Wikkersak and even that was unlikely. She expected that anyone who had seen them last year would not see past the fancy clothing and apparent wealth they now displayed. She was also worried over her uncle’s departure from Wikkersak, if in fact that was true and not just a rumour. More concerning was the army between them and Kaymere, though she hoped she would be able to solve that problem when they stopped at Sharlok’s Keep.

“What do you think of Sefla?”



“Does it matter what I think of her? Is there a problem?” She glanced over and saw Adwin was concerned about something.

He took a few moments to sort out his thoughts, then said, “Well, she’s maybe the most beautiful person I’ve ever met.”

Tipper shrugged, “She’s more so than most others, to be sure. Though personally I think Calathy is more attractive.”


“What are you concerned about Adwin? I don’t see how her being beautiful is much of a problem.”

“Do you think she and Mokha are having sex?”

Tipper laughed, Adwin looked hurt. “I don’t think so. Why would it matter?”

“Mokha’s different.”

“Yeah, he’s been sober.”

“I don’t mean that. Though, maybe that’s part of it… He’s way more serious. He seems responsible.”

“Thank the gods for that.”

“I miss the old Mokha.”

Tipper shook her head, “Listen, Adwin. I think Mokha is fine, I’d put good money on him falling back into his old ways once we settle into the job at Kaymere. Our present situation is not exactly overly accommodating to getting messed up and having a bunch of sex.”

He thought about it for a while, “Yeah, I guess.”

“Are you jealous of Sefla?”


“Maybe a bit?”

“No.” He seemed really flustered.

“Alright… Well, I don’t know what to tell you Adwin.”

He brooded for a long while, then changed the subject, “Do you think we should switch over at Sharlok’s Keep or wait until we reach Wikkersak?”

“You mean getting a wagon and animals and continuing on ourselves?”


“I’m not sure. If my uncle is still around we’d likely get a pretty good deal from him or through him. He’s been in Wikkersak for years, his wife’s family is from there.”

“It doesn’t sound like he’s there though.”

“No, but from what I can tell, the Wikkersak Coach and Courier is still operating. Maybe we’ll have a better idea once we reach Calameer.”

“I was thinking there’d be a better selection of animals at the keep.”

“Likely. Though with Sharlok set to wage war, we might find neither wagons nor teams for such there. It takes a lot of equipment and supplies to keep even a small army operating in the field for any length of time.”

“I hadn’t thought of that.”

They fell silent for a long while, Adwin still seemed out of sorts. The dark clouds moved in above them, the wind picked up a bit.

“I’m going to sit in the coach, before the rain starts.”

“Sure, I’ll stay put.”

He paused a moment, “Have you been in a war before? Did you fight in the Winter War?”

“Yes, I’ve been to war before, twice in fact. But I was not in the area when the Winter War happened.”

“Should I be concerned?”

“Always my friend. Concerned and cautious. Stay alert for news and remain aware. We’ll keep up on the training.”

He considered her words then nodded, “I’m glad I met you, Tipper.”

She smiled. He clamoured around to the door of the coach leaving her to her own thoughts. She hoped Adwin never had to see a war. Wars changed people, usually not for the better. Unless the rain caused a delay they could be in Wikkersak tomorrow evening at the latest. She thought it might be best to leave Roburns Trading Company behind at the keep, by the time Adwin dealt with the switch over she could be done her business. Things would be different by tomorrow evening, one way or another.

Tipper watched the countryside as they raced along the road. Pridden had been pushing the horses hard, rarely slowing. She trusted that he was not going to injure the animals for the sake of a little rain. She glanced up and noted that the clouds had nearly filled the sky, they hung low and heavy. She doubted they would make it to Calameer before the rain poured down.

It turned out she was wrong, for a short while later they were in sight of the small town, as they came up on the final approach a few drops started falling. They crossed the bridge into the town just as the downpour started. The coach hardly slowed, as they shot past the newly rebuilt station and warehouse Pridden and Hidge both started shouting and cheering. A couple of people sheltering under the eaves of the station watched them shoot past with surprised expressions on their face. The coach slowly dropped its speed as Pridden circled back around the town returning to the station, steam came up off the horses.

When they had finally came to a rest, just outside the stables and coach house, it seemed like most of the employees had turned out, despite the pouring rain. Tipper spotted the courier Whyse among those gathered. Someone shouted out, “What was your time Pridden?”

The coachman dug out his pocket watched, shielding it from the deluge and put it close to his face, “Two and two-thirds of an hour.”

This elicited another round of cheers, back slapping and congratulatory statements. Tipper hopped down, her four companions had gathered at the window and peered out at the unusual behaviour of the station employees. Adwin asked, “What happened?”

“Don’t know, but it seems like a good thing.” She opened the door for them.

As they moved into the shelter under the station’s porch the company people all pitched in, they unhitched the horses and started getting them moving again, a few of them unloaded the cargo and put it on the porch, then the big coach was rolled into the warehouse. The station manager, a well dressed man with a fancy walking stick called Pridden to come inside.

Adwin was quick to follow them, Tipper and the others filed in behind with a number of the crew.

The manager pointed to the stove with his cane, “Someone stoke that and get some water boiling. Pridden, bring your paperwork over.” He turned to the passengers and said, “Please forgive us a moment, We need to confirm the departure time.”

There was a lot of inspecting of paper work and glancing at pocket watches, eventually the station manager signed Pridden’s logbook then declared, “Two and two-thirds of an hour. Congratulations my good man, you’ve broken the record on the Domkee to Calameer run by half an hour.”

More cheers rose from the employees, Pridden received handshakes, hugs and back slaps from his peers then he was taken over to the table and given a drink. Eventually that left Adwin at the desk with the station manager, who finished a bit of paperwork then looked up at the group of them. He spoke to Adwin, “You are the ticket holder?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Very good. I’d like you to place your mark here as a witness to the new record coming in from Domkee. Then I’ll get you to sign in and we’ll find a spot for your luggage and get you all settled.”

Tipper looked around at the new station house. It had been less than nine months since she was last here. She suspected the entire station had been rebuilt before the winter settled. It was a sobering thought.


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