13 April 2006

Chapter Five

They made it as far as Bisecting Road before they stopped.
“Clearly, we're going to need supplies for the journey.” said Dandy, looking quite pleased with himself. “Why don't we meet up at the Lavish Luxury Inn in the morning. That's where my coach is, and we can each make our own preparations in the meanwhile.”
The others nodded, except Selfless and Snarky. They looked to each other instead.
“What would you suggest?” asked Snarky.
“The Rally Inn at dawn, and no coach. We should keep a low profile. Traveling nobility will draw more eyes that we want or need,” replied Selfless.
“The Rally Inn it is then. I will arrange for an ox cart to carry our baggage, something simple. We will get horses on the way out of town.” Snarky looked at Selfless, who had taken on a strange expression.
“Ox cart? You planning on eating the horses?” laughed Dandy. Amiable and Adolescent both chuckled, but Selfless just stared contemplatively at Snarky.
“They do things very differently in Distant,” said Selfless, still staring. “I'll come with you to get the wagons and some good horses. The merchants here will rob you blind if they think you're stupid.”
Snarky thought for a moment and then nodded.
“Make sure he doesn't try to eat them!” chortled Dandy.
Snarky gave his head a slight shake, then raised his right hand to give a little wave. He and Selfless turned and stepped into the passing crowd and vanished from the sight of the others.
“What was that about?” asked Idiot, gazing down at the fresh dung Stupid was shuffling his feet about in.
“Something about wanting someone to eat a cart. Boss said no.” replied Stupid, staring at the harmful facade of the Chapter Three Building and absentmindedly shuffling his feet.
“Boss is smart.” said Idiot, nodding in agreement. “What now, Boss?” His gaze shifted suddenly to Dandy Fop.
“Time to go shopping, lads. Why don't we go get some new boots before we pack our things.” Dandy smiled proudly at his armsmen, and they both followed as he casually crossed Cross Street and disappeared behind a fast moving wagon of timbers.
Cleans darted away across Bisecting Road. Several passing horses flinched at his odor, and he took was soon obscured by traffic.
“Okay, now what?” asked Adolescent.
“We get our things ready.” said Amiable.
“Come with us, laddie. We're sponsoring you so it's our responsibility to make sure you are properly prepared to fight na'er-do-wells.” said Noreach, clamping a hand on Adolescent's shoulder and pushing him down the road.
“Let's start off with a couple of nice bags for your share of the plunder, laddie.”
“Why do you keep calling me 'laddie'?” asked Adolescent as the dwarf continued to steer him.
“Dwarf rules.” answered Amiable. “Anyone in the Dwarf Union has to talk like a dwarf, and that means saying 'laddie', 'bloody', and 'arse' a lot.”
“Dwarves are very strange, I don't think I want to be one. Ugh.” said Adolescent, having been pushed into a door by the dwarf. “No offense, Master Dwarf.” The dwarf gave Adolescent a few more rough pushed into the door before looking up at Amiable.
“The door says 'pull', 'Master Dwarf'.” said Amiable with a slight grin.
“Oh.” grunted Noreach. He let go of Adolescent's shoulders and soon had the door open so that they could enter, which they did. Going through the doorway didn't lead them anywhere. They were in a bag shop which, because it was a shop and not a signpost or path, could not be followed, only perused in. Peruse they did. Noreach spent time looking at shelves of small pouches, some plain and some ornate before the clerk told him the shelves were not for sale.
Amiable was rather more focused and helped Adolescent pick out a very large canvas bag with a leather shoulderstrap short enough to prevent the bag from dragging on the ground as he walked. They also picked out a large backpack that had many small leather loops on the outside to hold an assortment of tools and weapons, and a much smaller leather bag with a concealed pocket inside. Noreach bought a small pink coinpurse with light blue lace fringe so that the clerk wouldn't think he really wanted to buy one of the finely made shelves.
When they left the bag shop, appropriately named The Bag's End and adjacent to the Bag Inn, they went to a nearby cutlery store. The Pointy End sold mostly knives, but had a varied, if not numerous, selection of swords. They bought him a nice long sword with something unintelligible carved along the blade, and several knives to hang in the loops of his backpack. They then went a few more blocks to the Adventurer's Store, where they bought him a Standard Adventuring Kit, something Adolescent had never heard of before.
The Kit contained three cloaks, two blankets, a tinder box, and a small manual on how to be an adventurer. Amiable threw the manual away as they left, “No reputable guild agrees with their advice.”
They also bought him thick leather boots with thick soles and fur inside at the Orphan Store, which specialized in Orphan Quest adventurer's and their needs.
“Are you an orphan?” asked Adolescent of both Noreach and Amiable. Noreach just shook his head.
“No. Both my of my parents are alive but these prices are really hard to beat.” said Amiable.
Adolescent mused on his being an orphan and considered confiding that to Amiable, when Noreach grabbed a few strange metal objects off of a countertop.
“Plot devices!” he said eagerly over his shoulder as he rushed off to find a salesclerk.
They dined together at the On The Way Inn, where Amiable and Noreach had rooms at a Free Association of Recycled Character Embodiments discount rate. Afterwards, not yet a member of the Association himself, Adolescent returned to the Smelly Stable, an unscrupulous establishment that claimed to be a youth hostel and overcharged for space in the hayloft.
Adolescent slept fitfully that night. He dreamed of his aunt and uncle chasing giant rapsberries around their smithy. He dreamed of a woman, half-starved to death and wearing impossibly thin and tight yellow clothing, who spoke like the dwarf, waved around a strangely curved sword, and kept asking questions about the Advisors. He also dreamt of Teenage Sweetheart, a girl from his village, but she was not in a smithy, not armed, and not clothed.

Goe, over 6000 words now!

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