FreeHolds Adventure, Cycle 3 Part 2d

FreeHolds Adventure, Cycle 3 Part 2d

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Tipper had left her companions to settle into the Roburns Trading Company, Coach and Courier station. She headed over to the farrier where her uncle’s coach was waiting. She found Palk tending to the team. He had not recognized her, just given a nod as she approached, his attention on the horses.

She stopped a couple paces from the team and said, “Hello Palk, do you remember me?”

He looked up confused, glance around then gave her a speculative look, “Last winter solstice maybe?”

Tipper laughed, “No, last summer. I’m Tipper, Grange’s niece.”

He looked at her a moment, seemingly still confused, “Ah, maybe. But Grange isn’t here.”

“You heading to Calameer next?”

“Calameer? No. I don’t think so. Not sure we’re going anywhere.”

“Oh. Troubles?”

He looked around, then back to her, “Dorn will be back soon… I think.”

“Dorn’s here, that’s good. Where is he?”

He gave a frustrated sigh, pointed vaguely in the direction of the keep, “Over there.”

“Ah, do you think he’ll be back soon?”

He gave her a grumpy look, “I don’t know lady. You can wait with the others. He’ll be back when he’s back.”

“Alright. Sorry to have disturbed you.”

He went back to inspecting the team. Tipper looked over to the trio of people waiting nearby. They appeared more than a little discontent, a modestly well dressed man and woman seemed to be a couple, a second man seemed less well off judging from his clothing, he stood a bit apart from the other two. Tipper approached. The woman was complaining about the delay and how there were no accommodations for them here, not even a seat.

The second man looked at her with curiosity as she approached, “You looking for Dorn?” He asked.

“I am. You guys have a problem?”

“Seems like it.”

The woman included herself in the conversation, “I’d say we have a problem. We’ve been stuck here half the afternoon, at this rate we’ll be sleeping out here. No food, no place to sit, the place is abysmal with the racket of the smithies.”

“Ah, well, there’s seats in the coach.”

The woman cocked her head, regarded Tipper with an icy glare then pointedly turned away and continued to complain to the man she was with. The other fellow stepped further away from them and said, “Dorn went to see about a problem. I’m not sure what’s going on but I think he was told when we showed up that his company could not transport us any further.”

“I see. You were all headed to Calameer?”

“They are. I’m actually on my way to GreensBridge.”

“So still looking to get to Calameer today.”

“It’d be nice.” He looked dubiously at the other two he had been travelling with.

“Give me a while. I’ll sort things out for you.”

“Ah, really? Okay then.”

Tipper marched over to the Roburns station, found Adwin still in the main room talking to the station manager. When he finished his conversation she dragged him to one side and asked, “Do you think you can arrange to have our coach head back out?”

“Probably. You want to leave now?”

“Not us. Dorn and Palk are here, employees of my uncle. They’ve three people heading to Calameer, one continuing on to GreensBridge. If you could make arrangements for them with the company, then we could utilize my uncle’s coach for our needs.”

“Won’t that cause issues?”

“Doesn’t sound like it. I’m under the impression that Wikkersak Coach and Courier is in its last days.”

“Is your uncle alright?”

“I don’t know. Can you make this happen?”

“Yeah, I’ll get right on it.” He wandered back over to the counter where the manager was doing some paper work.

Tipper went back out to their coach, climbed up on top and wrestled through the luggage until she found her travel chest. Hidge was nearby, Tipper asked her for a hand, jumped down, thanked Hidge and then took her chest inside.

Adwin waved her over, “So I’ve bought regular coach tickets, two to Calameer and one all the way to GreensBridge.”

“That’s great. They’re going out this afternoon?”

“It cost a bit extra, but yes.”

“You’re the best Adwin. The three customers are over by the farrier. Palk is there as well, he’s a little slow on the uptake. Just tell him you’ll deal with Dorn when he returns.”

“So you want me to go give them their tickets?”

“That’d be great, thanks Adwin.”

“What are you doing?”

“I need to take this up to my room. We’re set up with the usual rooms?”

“Ah, yeah.”

“Great.” She headed for the back stairs, leaving Adwin looking a little bewildered.

She always chose the room closest to the stairs, she shouldered the door open and placed her chest on the floor near the small bed. She shut and latched the door then stripped off her travelling clothes, setting aside the extra garments and books that she had acquired in GreensBridge. She lay her weapons and armour on the bed then started putting the armour on.

A while later there was a soft knock on the door, “Tipper?”

She opened the door and dragged Adwin in, “I need you to get me a courier’s satchel.”

He looked her over as she started putting her weapons about her person, “What are you doing Tipper?”

“I’m going to try and nip one of our problem in the bud.”

“Okay. It looks like you’re intending to kill some people.”

She smiled, strung her bow, put it in the its carry case then slung it and the small quiver over her back, “Just one, if all goes well, otherwise it might be a few. Yeah.”

“Well, that sounds-”

She cut him short with a raised hand, “Look, I need you to trust me on this. Get me a courier’s satchel, on the sly, here stick it in this sack.”


“Then I want you to get our luggage and people ready to go. Load up my uncles coach.”

“Tipper, this seems really reckless.”

She sighed, went to him and placed her hands on his shoulders, “Look Adwin, sometimes opportunities present themselves and sometimes risks have to be taken. Please get me the satchel, I’ll meet you in a bit by the back door.”

She helped him out of her room, closed the door behind him and packed everything she did not need back into the chest, sliding it over beside the door. She took a moment to compose herself then went downstairs.

She did not have to wait long, Adwin came down the hall and passed her the sack with a courier’s satchel in it. She gave him a crushing hug and said, “It’s likely best if you head out as soon as everything is loaded. Head back to Wikkersak and lay low once you are there. If I don’t show up within the next day, then you all should carry on to Lekas. If all goes well, we’ll be leaving Wikkersak first thing in the morning.”

It looked like he was going to try and talk her out of what she intended to do, instead he shrugged, “If you get yourself killed I’ll be pretty angry with you.”

“I’ll be pretty upset with myself as well. Now, get everyone together and load the coach.”

He nodded, “Good luck.”

“Thanks.” She headed out the back door, past the outhouses and then towards the keep along the approaching road. She took the satchel, placed the sack inside it then slung it over her shoulder.

The keep was old, but had been well maintained. The walls were six paces high, she climbed the hill to the gate. Someone stood up along the wall and looked down at her, “What’s your business?”

“Just coming in from GreensBridge, I’ve a message for Lord Sharlok.”

“You’re the second one today.”

“Is that so?”

He looked her over, “Seems you lot need to get better organized.”

“Busy times.”

“There’s a side entrance opposite the stables. Ask for the steward.”

“Much obliged.”

“Sure. Move along.”

She walked through the gate, noted a couple murder-holes but saw there was not a portcullis. She was surprised by how modest the yards were, there were no gardens and few windows in the keep. No one seemed too concerned by her presence. The stables were fairly large, maybe set up for a couple of score of horses and whatever livestock they kept on hand to feed people. The aforementioned side door was above the base of an adjoined tower of the keep. She went up the stairs, noted a short wooden bridge lead to the door, the sort that could be raised to prevent an easy egress. The door was open, she walked in.

It took a few moments for her eyes to adjust to the dim light within. She was in a large entry, half dozen people were engaged in various domestic tasks. Rushes covered the floor, Tipper approached a middle aged woman who did not seem to be immediately occupied. “Excuse me. I was told to ask for the steward. I’ve a message for Lord Sharlok.”

The woman gave a curt nod then shouted over her shoulder, “Beatra, fetch the steward.” Then she looked Tipper over with a critical eye, “You’re better put together than the little slip of a thing that came in here this morning.”

Tipper did not respond.

The woman shrugged and walked away, “He’ll be here shortly, stay put, no wandering around.”

“Thank you.”

Tipper waited a fair while before the steward made an appearance. “You the messenger?”

“I am.”

“You have something you need me to sign.”

“Message is for Lord Sharlok. His eyes only.”

The man looked a bit offended, he took a moment to compose himself, “You Roburns people are an odd lot, to be sure.”

Tipper regarded him expectantly.

“Come along then, this way.”

He lead her through the keep, they passed a small shrine then went up a flight of stairs and down a dim hallway, past three closed doors, up another flight of stairs with a couple positions for archers to shoot down into the yard. The next level was an open hall, likely Sharlok’s feasting hall, it was less impressive than she had been expecting. On the next level, there was an open living area, a handful of women were doing needlework by one of the two windows. Three children sat at a table being instructed by a priestess of Mercy. The steward politely addressed them and explained his purpose.

An older woman looked over at Tipper, “Busy day, we had another girl in first thing.” She waved a hand to the stairs across the room, “He’s upstairs with Kite. In the war room.”

Tipper followed the steward as they ascended to the upper level of the keep, there were two rooms up here, one appeared to be the lords bedroom, the steward took her to the other door, from within Tipper could hear a gravelly voice speaking with some passion, “… I agree it is good news, though it changes little for my plans this spring. I see no point in delaying my planned operation to await this shipment of alchemical weapons. If they show up, then I’ll use them as I see appropriate.”

A vaguely familiar voice suggested, “They are powerful weapons, High Lord.”

High Lord? Hearing that title applied to Sharlok made Tipper especially happy to be where she was. She was going to enjoy smashing in Sharlok’s skull.

The steward paused in the door, “My Lord?”

Tipper pulled the courier’s satchel from her shoulder, the gravelly voice said, “What now Derbon?”

“Another Roburns messenger, my Lord.”

“Well, what is it?”

“Your eyes only sir, it sounded important, I brought the messenger up with me.”

“Enter.” The steward turned and waved Tipper through then followed her in.

This room was in fact a war room, dominated by a large table, strewn with maps, scraps of paper, scrolls and a couple of books. There was an oversized hearth, unlit. A tall window was open and there was a small balcony outside. The only other furniture in the room were three chests, two armour racks, a weapons rack and a falcon’s perch near the window.

At the far end of the table a very well dressed man with a trim grey beard regarded her. The man at the nearer end of the table was familiar to her, “Mr Hollen, so nice to see you again.”

Sharlok immediately looked offended, the steward gasped in shock, Mr. Hollen’s eyes widened, “You!”


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