Tuesday Teaser: Hieratgate again: a civilized welcome

The weary travelers’ arrival in Hieratgate was noted by many in the town. By the time the caravan worked its way round to the central agglomeration and stopped in the stable-yards, gossip had fully informed the town that these were survivals of the fearful sack of Venarium: dancing-girls once the property of Venarium’s governor, but ravaged from his bleeding corpse by the Cimmerian Bardic. The return of the renegade Aquilonian Friar Edric and his two infamous murderer-bodyguards Morath and Celo was also noted and widely discussed. Gossip had already long since dealt with the flight east, in company with vicious, bloodthirsty goblin raiders, of the renegade Bossonian ranger Vorel.

Lacking a constabulary of great number or prowess, the town merchant-councilors decided to do what they always did: flatter and accommodate. Therefore, although stables were hard to find, the fourteen horses and one pony were all stabled together; the fiery black stallion was stabled well away from the others in his own roomy stall; and although the inn generally only had common rooms to rent, rooms of varied security and privacy were found to match the needs of the newcomers.

Gifts, too, were sent. Gollarn was plied with ale and female companionship and the merchant-councilors swiftly filled in all of the details that gossip had not supplied. Bardic was sent a fine fruit platter by a councilor – this a retired mercenary captain – who recalled that, renegade or no, he had once had King Luchistheyrn’s favor. Perhaps there was more to the councilor’s kind gift than that: Bardic determined to seek him out and ask. Lord Pras Rooduir, ruler and richest man in the town, sent Morath a fine replacement for his lost jerkin of reinforced black leather. Naturally, this was not without some quid pro quo being expected. As the emissary from Lord Rooduir said:

“Lord Rooduir is aware that you intend to auction your fine stallion, and wishes to place himself in a favorable position when comes the auction.”

Tired as he was, Edric took Celo with him that same evening, and set out to track down an herbalist – other than Pras – who might be able to help him with ingredients and preparation time with potions.

After paying a small donation in the Mitraeum, he discussed the desperate plight of Aquilonia in Cimmeria with the resident Priest. Edric had no word of survivors to share. As he said himself, it was a sad setback to the blessed crusade to shine the blessed light of Mitra into the darkness ruled over by the demon Crom. Edric was directed back to the guild-hall, where at least one of the merchant-councilors would be able to help with his herbal needs.

Seemingly unaware that Edric was once again putting himself in danger, the others slowly gathered in a private room at the inn, and began to table ideas of how they might handle Edric’s task of assaulting and sacking the Damson Friars’ fortress. Lacking Celo’s physical sketch of the layout, they concluded very little, and broke up once more, expecting that at any moment, Edric would return. Weeks of living on wilderness fare made for a zesty supper, and afterwards, some found that they had the energy left for female companionship.

And the dusk deepened into night.

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