Ziedon looked around and listened. From the sound of it, quite a crowd was gathering around Rosteral's house, but no one was in his line of sight, or close enough to hear him. Ziedon stripped down and changed into his clean robe. He wrapped up his old robe to contain the blood, and put it in his backpack.
Clean and collected, Ziedon continued moving down the back alleys, as swiftly as possible making his way to the other side of town. His speed was frequently impeded by the recurring pain in his leg. Once he was far enough that he felt safe, he looked for and quickly found a tailor's shop with its door open.
Inside the shop was an older man slowly and with care sewing a pair of breeches. The old man cleared his throat and looked up. For a brief second Ziedon's hazel eyes meet the milky white orbs of the old man, and startled, Ziedon took a step back. He put too much weight on his bad leg, causing a small noise to slip out of his throat.
Chuckling to himself, the man looked towards Ziedon without quite looking at him, and said “That be everyun's reaction to ol' blind Hannor.”
Ziedon chuckled as well for a different purpose, thinking, “The blind fool thought I was shocked. I am truly blessed by the gods.” To Hannor, he said, in a noticably but unintentionally poor approximation of the man's intonation, “Takes un back, yaknows?”
Smiling, but continuing his work, Hannor asked “What can'I do fer ya?”
Ziedon replied carefully. “Going' courting an messed me clothes sumting good. These be me gooden clothes. Got sum Agg's, need new clothes.”
“Skin'em off, lemme take yer measure.” He put down the breeches, reached to his left, and dug into a basket until he found a rope with knots spaced a couple inches apart. He stood up and stepped behind a privacy curtain, “Come on, don't got all day.”
Ziedon quickly shut the shop's door and removed his pack and robe. Standing in his shortclothes, Ziedon seemed tiny and frail. He went behind the curtain. Hannor had Ziedon assume a few positions; arms outstretched, arms raised, arms flat against his sides and feet together. After Hannor measured each area, he counted off the number of knots. When he measured Ziedon's leg, Ziedon turned to ensure Hannor only touched his good leg. When he turned, Ziedon noticed that the blood was saturating the bindings, and that the swelling spot from Rakbaven was still there, two inches below the wound. He couldn't decide whether it was for better or for worse that both ailments were on his left leg, instead of one on each.
Muttering softly to himself, Hannor shambled off into the back room. Using the time that Hannor was away, Ziedon opened his pack and withdrew some more clean cloth. He unwrapped the soaked bandage and dropped it into the bundle of clothing in his pack. Then he quickly rewrapped the wound. Ziedon finished just in time to see Hannor emerge from the back room with an armload of long-sleeved shirts of different colors. “These should be fitting ya.”
Ziedon picked through them and pulled one out that was a shade of dark gray he had seen often in town. Slipping it on, he found the shirt a touch big but acceptable. He handed the other shirts back to Hannor, and the old man puttered off again. A minute later, he returned with an armload of breeches, some worn and old, others new. One pair nicely complimented the shirt, so Ziedon tried it on. The action was almost unbearably painful, and Ziedon once again found reason to appreciate the utility of robes. The breeches were too tight around the hips anyway, so he took them off with some difficulty, and threw them back in the pile. Ziedon searched a bit longer, and found another pair of similar color, not quite as good a match for his shirt, but acceptible. He almost cried out with the effort of putting on a second pair. Fortunately, they fit well, although at that point Ziedon wasn't sure he cared. They were loose on the legs, which would help disguise the wound.
“These be winnas,” Ziedon said, sitting down to put on his boots. “Howsbout a cap and belt?”
Hannor moved over to two covered baskets and removed the lids, “Take'yer pick.”
Ziedon looked into the baskets and in one saw a wide variety and assortment of hats, different styles, colors and sizes. The other was full of belts with varying lengths but very similar styles. He quickly found a simple gray cap that covered his head and hair without looking too contrived, and a light brown belt.
“That'll do it. How much do I owe ya?” Ziedon asked, removing his money-pouch from his belt.
“Fourty, even,” Hannor replied.
Ziedon noisily gulped. “I can pay ya twenty.”
Hannor smiled and returned, “Thirty's the limit. Can't be doin no favors.”
Ziedon laughed, “Theys be good fits. Okay,” and handed over the coins. Ziedon packed up his robe in his backpack. He made sure the sleeves covered his arm sheathes, tied his pouches to his new belt and doned his backpack, saying to the old man “Have'ah good day.” Ziedon left the store, his appearance radically different from when he entered.
Ziedon headed away from the lake, and stopped at the first inn he found. It was neither the best nor the cleanest of such places, but nevertheless Ziedon secured a room. “I am not picky good innkeep. As long as it has a soft bed and a stout door that locks. You've heard about the Baths? Isn't anyone safe around here anymore?”
“A lock'll cost you half more. That's five up to seven and five.” He turned around to find the right key on a small rack. With his back turned, he asked, “What's in the baths? Someone slip?” A man who'd had more to drink than he should have laughed. Otherwise, no one in the uncrowded room noticed the conversation.
Ziedon leaned forward, lowering his voice to take a tone of conspiracy, “You haven't heard? There was a triple murder at the Baths. Something about the bath assistant killing the Master of the Baths and then raping and killing his wife. Frightful! I'll be barring my door tonight.” Fishing out his coins, Ziedon paid the innkeeper and took the key.
“Three and rape? And after the one yesterday? Dun'ig ain't a place for hard working normal folk anymore. Who's the third?”
Ziedon lowered his voice dramatically and said, “I heard the assistant was so torn up with grief at what he dun, he killed hisself afterwords.” Ziedon asked, “What's this about yesterday?”
“You know three today, but noone told you 'bout the butcher?” The drunk began to laugh again, but Ziedon was unsure whether it was at the innkeeper's question.
Ziedon scratched his head and with a dumbfounded look on his face replied, “Butcher? What you talkin 'bout?”
“Everyone in Dun'ig's heard 'bout that. Killed yesterday by some specter.” The drunk, whose laughter had died down, started up again with full vigor. “Strange things going on, and that the worst, and you haven't heard. How can you hear one and not the other?”
Ziedon said sheepishly, “I started drinkin early yesterday an seemed toah passed out. Speaking of drinking…” Ziedon smacked his lips as he signaled the barmaid for a drink for him and one for the old drunk. “Bah, specters? Sounds farfetched ta' me. What other strange things ben going on?”
“Those killings, king's men about… Rumor's men go to Healer An'ritha and healed in a day. Like the whole town's crazy.” The barmaid placed an ale in front of Ziedon. “You don't look a drinker.”
Ziedon snorted, “Nope, purdy bad drinker I am. Donna take much ta knock me down.” Ziedon took a drink of the ale and said to the rumormonger with a guffaw and a playful elbow into the ribs of the old drunk next to him, “Healed inna day? Bah! Next you'll be say'n a woman done it.”
The bartender laughed quickly. “Not 'less An'ritha herself, so I'll wager.”
Ziedon's mind whirled quickly, “Could it be Ardith? Were they heading to Dunweig? They were supposed to go talk with the Baron. What are they doing in Dunweig? Though Dunweig _is_ on the way to Huerten… They are nothing but meddlers. If they are here, they are sure to pry into my business. Damn, if Ardith is here and she was called at the Healers she may have been able to save the Master of the Baths, I should have just stuck him with a dagger. That is what I get for trying to be fancy. This may complicate things immensely.”
Ziedon took a long pull at his mug to cover his thinking, though he only actually drank a little. Setting his mug down, Ziedon laughed with the bartender, “We'all be the better fer it, sure 'nuff… What'sa talk bout king's men? Donna they know to stay outta our nets?”
“Who can know? Haven't been here that anyone knew in years. Know, your accent changes faster than I can keep up. Where are you from?”
Ziedon laughed again, stopping abruptly with a hiccuping sound. When he continued, his words were slightly slurred. “Born an' raised in Maelbourg. Donna take much ale ta bring it out.”
“You don't sound like you're from Maelbourg. Not like any of the wool merchants who come through here.”
Ziedon chuckled and said, “Dem uppity mer'chans be from…hiccup… from north Maelbourg. Dey be too good to mix wid us poor folk.”
Ziedon raised his glass and waved it, causing the liquid inside to slosh but not spill, “Like ya say, no king's men in…hiccup…years… hiccup, whasah talk bout'm now? Kingsmen in Dunweig?” While he spoke, Ziedon thought “A Kingsman would be immensely useful right now. The King needs to learn of what is going on in the proviences. Balban and Ulan are threatening the fabric of society with their uprisings, they need to be put down.”
“I hear they're around.”
Ziedon waved a hand in dismissal, “Bah, rumors juss like spectors… hiccup.” Ziedon finished his drink and signals the barmaid, “Whatcha got to eat? Need…hiccup…some food inna belly.”
The bartender interrupted before she could answer. “You're not from Maelbourg.”
“What?” Ziedon was caught by surprise.
“And you're not drunk. Who are you?”
Ziedon laughed. “Usually thas wha I say;” He took on a haughty expression; ”'I aint drunk!'” Ziedon finished his drink and, holding up the empty mug, said, “Nother ale here.”
The bartender signalled the barmaid to stay where she was. The expression on his face remained neutral as he spoke, “Do you take me for a fool? I've met many actors in this room, and among them, you are the worst!”
Ziedon drew himself up erect, his spine stiffening. With indignation, Ziedon said, “Actually good barkeep, I am an actor.” His shoulders slumpped. “However, my former troop leader agreed with your assessment and dismissed me.” With a touch of venom, Ziedon looked straight ahead staring at nothing. “Said I didn't have the knack.”
Ziedon stewed for a second before refocusing his eyes on the bartender, a note of despiration in his voice. “My performance was that see-through?” Ziedon cut off the bartender before he had an opportunity to reply. “Was it my accent? I have so much trouble with accents, at least that is what Nilaroo said.”
Ziedon suddenly slamed the mug down and grumbled, “Bastard! I don't care what he says, I won't return to the village. I won't live that life!”
Suddenly, the drunkard, who had been asleep, got up and yelled something short and incoherrent at no one in particular, then stomped out of the building.
By the time the bartender was done laughing, his mood was noticably changed. “Get the actor the ale! No, nothing 'bout your act. You act fine. Have some food. Not much, but maybe you're from out of town, so you don't hate fish.” He had another laugh at that. Fortunately, he didn't notice Ziedon's wince as the pain in his leg acted up.
“I didn't mean to wake him,” Ziedon said. Shaking his head as the bartender laughed, Ziedon said to the barmaid, “Just bring me an ale to drink and whatever the house special is to eat. I am going to deposit my things upstairs and hit the jakes. Be right back.”
Ziedon hooked his pack over his shoulder and used that as an excuse as to why he favored that side. He climbed the stairs and entered his room. Once there, Ziedon quickly locked the door and set his pack on the bed. Going through his herbs, Ziedon mixed a herbal poultice of woundwort and hifar tears. Cutting a fresh bandage from his ruined robe, Ziedon sat down and took a few deep breathes before he pulled down his pants. He gritted his teeth at the pain and took a second to gain control of himself. Ziedon frowned at the still-bleeding wound. It had almost soaked through the bandage.
Ziedon cleaned the wound with the water from the washbasin by the door, and carefully applied the poultice and a fresh bandage. The herbs caused a cool, numbing sensation to spread around the wound, deadening the pain and slowing the bleeding. Feeling better, Ziedon cleaned his hands in the water and pushed his pack underneath the bed. He took a moment to glance at his message stone before collecting himself.
Ziedon left the room, locking the door behind him, and returned to the common room to find a large bowl of stew and a fresh mug of ale at a seat near the bar. He licked his lips as he sat down and grabbed his spoon. Ziedon paused before digging into the food and asked, “So.. What kind of food do we have here?”
“Fish stew,” said the bartender. “It's most what we got.”
The barmaid chimed in tiredly as she passed, “and fish soup, and baked fish, and broiled fish, and broiled fish with beans, broiled fish with gruel, broiled fish with potatoes, broiled fish with fish…” She trailed off as she left for the kitchen. The bartender laughed the whole time.
Ziedon gave a short laugh. “Actually, I like fish.” Ziedon attacked his bowl, hungerly devouring the stew, and pausing only to take a short drink of ale. When he was finished, he pushed the bowl away, and asked the bartender for more. After paying for his second helping, he ate slowly, and listened to the talk of the room. Unfortunately, as it was well before the normal time for dinner, there was only one other patron in the room, and he was not talking.
Not willing to let the time go to waste, Ziedon stopped eating and tried the bartender again. “Seriously though, what is this about the butcher?”
The bartender, who had been looking into the kitchen, turned back to Ziedon. “Wha? Oh, killed like a ghost. White bone skin, neck broke, colder than the lake 'as what they say. So I said a specter. All's the same, something crazy happened.”
Ziedon shivered and said, “seems a lot of people have a tendency to die around these parts. Maybe this isn't a very good place to visit after all.”
“No, maybe not. Soon nuff, people'll go back to the farms.”
“Ziedon ate another bite of stew. “Farms? I thought this was a fishing town?”
“Fishing, but there are farms north to east. Farms ev'where in this world. You don't know that?”
Ziedon shrugged. “I turned my back on that a long time ago. I don't know why anyone would like to be a farmer. Being a fisherman must be a lot more exciting.”
“Heh. Not if you ask the fisherman.”
“This priestess you talked about, she wasn't able to help the Butcher? I have heard rumors that they can heal the wounded,” Ziedon lowered his voice, “and even raise the dead to walk again amongst the living.”
That caused the bartender to break into peals of laughter. When he'd somewhat recovered, he said quite loudly, “raise dead? And you say priestess, when you say before 'couldn't be a woman!'”
Ziedon said in mock offendedness, “You don't have to laugh,” and continued in normal tones, “I was acting then, besides you are the one that said it was a woman. And I _have_ heard of such things, my father used to tell me such tales when I was a little tyke. But, from your response, I am going to guess that she wasn't able to do anything like that.” Taking a sip of ale, Ziedon asks, “What, she gave people a foul smelling potion that _supposedly_ is a miracle cure?”
“Who knows what happens? I hear people come out healed, tha's it. Nothin' 'bout potions or women or anything.”
Ziedon shrugged again. “Probably just tales.” He finished his bowl of stew. “You know, this stew is not half bad. So what is there to do around here for excitement?”
“You wait till winter, there's the play, maybe you can get work. This time a' year, not much. Hurry to the catch in the morning, to the taverns at night.”
Ziedon frowned. “That is a long ways off, I would have to,” Ziedon let off a slight shudder, “find work.” He shook his head. “No.. I think a few days to rest my feet and then I will continue on, maybe I will come back in the winter though.”
Ziedon dropped a small coin on the bar. “Thanks for the chat.” He glanced out the window absentmindedly. It was mid-afternoon.
Ziedon returned to his room, locked the door, and propped a chair against it, and then set his pack down on the bed. Going through his herbs, Ziedon mixed an herbal concoction and cut a few strips off his old robe to form a new bandage. Very carefully, he pulled his britches down.
Sucking in a deep breath through his clenched teeth, Ziedon removed the old bandage and put it in the old wrapped up robe. He applied the mixture of woundwort and hilfar tears to his wound, and set a new bandage. He sighed in relief as the herbs caused a cool, numbing sensation to spread around the wound and deaden half of his leg.
No longer having to wince at the pain, Ziedon pushed his pack underneath the bed and glanced at his message stone before he finished taking off his clothes and got into bed.
Partly because of his general exhaustion, and partly because of the cool, numbing herbs, Ziedon's eyelids were drooping before he even had reached for the covers. Before long, he was fast asleep, the thin blanket loosely covering him to his waist, and hanging off the edge of the bed.
Your Bill, Sir: 30ag (clothing), 7.5 (room), 0.9 (dinner)
Edit 1/8/2013: I invented the “posted date” for this turn, because it was lost years ago.