The terrain that Ziedon passed through was entirely unfamiliar to him. Whether travelling north or south, there should have been a river or road to cross somewhere, but the only rivers ran parallel to whatever direction Ziedon was travelling.
The travelling gave Ziedon a lot of time to think, and the obscure wound on his leg occurred to him often. He made sure to clean it thoroughly when he made camp for the first night.
By morning of the second day, there was a considerable drop in temperature. At this rate, it seemed it might snow a month before winter. It did not snow that day, but there was a powerfull rainfall that shot most of the remaining leaves from their branches. Ziedon arrived at Dunweig more drenched than Black Lake itself could have made him. The lake barely fulfilled its name that day, when the torrent of raindrops made it glimmer white.
Ziedon barely noticed that he had arrived at Dunweig from the north. The bridge accross Dunweig's river was unguarded during the storm, so Ziedon passed easily to the gates. The guard there was well-sheltered under a canopy. Ziedon looked expectently at the guard, and the guard squinted back. “Oh, I almost didn't see you there. There's a one aglar toll to enter Dunweig.”
Ziedon handed over the coin and asked for the location of an inexpensive Inn.
Upon reaching the Inn, Ziedon shook off his cloak as best he could, and entered. He glanced around the room to see who was there, and then approached the innkeeper. Saying the words to a spell of persuation, Ziedon cast his magics on the innkeeper.
He then frowned and said, “Sorry, I guess that tongue is not spoken here. I would like to get a room if I could.”
The innkeeper was round and exceptionally short, but his voice boomed when he spoke. “What a night to be travelling! We have plenty of room tonight. It'll cost you seven aglars a night.” Ziedon continued to frown. “Seven aglars? Dinner and breakfast is included, yes?”
“Seven gets you a warm room and a soft bed. Dinner and breakfast will cost you extra.”
“That will be acceptable. In advance I would think, yes?”
Ziedon counted out the coins, waiting for the Innkeeper to turn his back. When he did to check some markings on the wall, Ziedon softly called his well-used spell to the front of his mind. He would need allies in this town to accomplish his tasks.
When the innkeeper returned, Ziedon paid him and went up to his room for a good night's sleep. Not bothering to check for success of the magic, Ziedon asked the innkeeper when breakfast was served.
Nodding at the his response, Ziedon entered his room. After barring the door, he hung his cloak and robe up to dry and tended his wound. He then lay down and fell fast asleep.
In the morning, Ziedon rose fully refreshed from sleeping in the warm and dry bed. He sat on the bed and studied his spellbook, smiling as he felt power fill his mind.
Running his hand over his face, Ziedon noted that his beard was filling out and would need trimming soon. Gathering up his belongings, he went down the stairs to the common room below. He picked a corner table so he could observe the occupants of the room.
The room was not heavily populated that morning. In the corner, asleep, was the flutist who had been playing the night before. He had not been very good. A single barmaid was laughing at the joke of one patron, a short but handsome man at the bar. Three others ate breakfast at seperate tables, none of whom looked like they could be fishermen. Two of them were wearing ragged enough clothing to point them out as either beggars or travelers.
With hushed words and hidden gestures, Ziedon released a portion of his magic in the aims of turning the handsome flirter into an ally. He waited a few moments, looking for any discernable difference in the fellow's demeanor, but saw none.
Deciding to test the results, Ziedon stood and moved to the bar. “Excuse me,” Ziedon interjected, “What is available for the morning meal?”
The man turned toward Ziedon and smiled. The barmaid turned with an annoyed look. “Warm bread, sweet rolls, wheet meal and mead, unless you want meat.”
“I want meat and warm bread and light mead. Off with you.” The barmaid glared at Ziedon, and then turned with a scoff.
“Good morn,” Ziedon said. “My name is Baroon. I am a travelling herbsman. Are you from around here?”
“Herbsman? Oh, sure, I've lived here all my life. If you've come to sell, you should visit the apothecary in the temple. He's always low on supplies.”
“Would you be willing to walk me there after breakfast?”
“I'll point you in the right direction. I'm headed the other way.”
“Thank you, I'll go back over to my table so the barmaid can have your undivided attention.”
Returning to his seat at the secluded corner table, Ziedon cursed silently at the fact that his magic had been failing him of late, first with the Innkeeper, and then this common rabble. Discretely muttering the magical words again, Ziedon released his final spell of persuation, directed again at the young man.
Ziedon sat at his table and waited for his food to be brought to him, wondering what effect of his most recent magical endevours might have brought him. His attention was distracted when the barmaid appeared with his breakfast. Dropping the wooden plates noisily, she gave her customer a rude smile and then spun around to return to the bar.
Ziedon absently watched the barmaid and the man she spoke to, his plans formulating themselves in his head. Ziedon's eyes blazed as his change was dropped on his table. His cadaverous hand snaked out and seized the wrist of the barmaid. His other hand hovered over the half-circle of a cut copper diyar for a few seconds, before the bony thumb and index finger dropped down and gently picked up the coin.
Ziedon exerted a slight pressure on the the wench's wrist, forcing her to turn her palm upward. Staring directly into the barmaid's eyes, Ziedon placed the coin in her palm. “I know of at least two towns in which I could legally kill you for this.” Ziedon worked his cold stare on the barmaid for a few more seconds, concentrating his anger with such devotion that he was unaware that the man from the bar had walked up right behind her.
“Now _you've_ got a pleasent temper.”
The man's words broke Ziedon's concentration, and the barmaid was able to pull her wrist from the necromancer's grasp. She dropped the coin, turned with a scoff, and walked quickly away.
“That's just an old scam of Ranes'. The mead costs half a diyar, and if you drink too little, you get just that. No one wants a half-diyar, so they usually buy another drink before they go. Nothing to get worked up about.”
“It is still illegal.”
“Illegal? The townsmen don't seem to mind. Bring it up with them before you start attacking us mere working people.” He smiled with half his mouth.
Three or four different scenarios filtered through Ziedon's mind, all of them involving a lot of pain, before he shook his head slightly, clearing it. Putting his half coin in his pouch, Ziedon stood and said, “I should be off, you were going to give directions?” He moved for the door.
The streets were cluttered from yesterday's market day, and the town was full of people. Fishermen walked quickly back from the early morning catch, carrying buckets, dragging wheelbarrows, and even driving covered carts full of fish. Others hurried to the docks, so they could move out onto the Black Lake and take from it what remained. Salting shops and smoking shops and shops to repair the rods and nets were full of activity, and many were already setting up tents under which to sell what they called “the best of the day's catch.” Ziedon had never seen a town so busy, so early in the morning on a regular day.
“Well, this is where we part,” said the man. “The temple's over that way. Tallest building in town, so you're not likely to miss it. You can ask in there about the apothecary.”
Ziedon noded. “Yes. What was your name?”
“Oh, it's Dalast.”
“Thank you for the assistance.”
Ziedon went off into the crowd. Moving down the main road, he watched for the butcher shop between a decrepit building and a barber.
The shop was not hard to find. Even from a distance, Ziedon could see the sharp stones jutting ten feet from the ground at the end of the main road. It had to have been an impressive building before it was destroyed.
When Ziedon came closer, he noticed yet another hint of the butcher's presense. The smells of fresh and rotting meat mixed with those of still-living animals in the back of the butchery. The combination was not an entirely a bad one.
Ziedon stopped momentarily outside the shop to think through his options. Finally, he nodded his head and entered. The shop had two shutterless windows at eye-level, one on either side of the door. Each was only six inches wide, and probably served little purpose other than ventilation. Taking a deep breath in to savor the smell of blood and death, Ziedon noted the lack of customers, and asked the butcher,
“Excuse me, I am looking for the Butcher Moren. Might you be he?”
Your Bill, Sir 1.95ag (breakfast. Ziedon now has a half-diyar), 7ag (board), 1ag (toll)