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Max_Writer

Eriks D&D Game: Plague at Goblin's Tooth Part 1-1: Introductions

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Monday, September 24, 2012


(After playing Erik’s Dungeons and Dragons game Saturday with Stephen Turner from 6:00 p.m. to 2 a.m.)

Porthos’ Tale

I am Porthos, priest of Olidammara, God of music, revels, wine, rogues, humor, and tricks: The Laughing Rogue. This is the tale of my first meeting with Aeryn, Orrin, and Marzena.

It was the fall when I first met them. By the Elvish calendar, the year was 2012, though no one used those notations anymore. For some reason the Elvish year stuck in my head. I had left Sharn in the Spring to explore the other villages and the rural areas in and around the Aldharath Forest in the Eastwold. I only stayed in each village until my welcome had been worn out, usually by jealous or suspicious husbands.

I had last left the town of Cambol-Túr, a village under the control of Baron Bardon Signum, deciding to leave during that storm season after I had come under the scrutiny of some of the nobles of that village. They were not happy with the, let us say, friendships I had developed with their wives and daughters. I headed for Goblin’s Tooth, a frontier town that had been under hard times recently. I had joined a caravan of two wagons that were going in the same direction.

Early in the journey, we were overtaken by a contingent of armed guards not wearing the device of the blue arrowhead of Cambol-Túr but rather red and blue tabards with an eight-pointed star, indicating they were royal guards from Sharn itself. They were led by a man with a high-crowned, silver helm with a white horse tail coming out of the top of it. He warned us to keep our guard up as there were fell creatures on the road. He noted that several logging camps and caravans that had been attacked by fell wolves.

I was starting to think that travel might not have been the best idea.

On the first night, after we had crossed a ford in the river, I heard howls in the forest. The reflection of eyes, low to the ground, also appeared around the camp that night. It was most disquieting.

Early on the last day of the journey, we overtook another wagon on the road pulled by two sturdy-looking draft horses. Two men sat on the wagon’s seat: One wore a chain shirt and the other man was nondescript. In the back of the wagon was a woman, the hood of her cloak over her head. Even at that distance, I could see how striking her face was. A tarp was pulled over the back of the vehicle, apparently covering goods.

The man in the chain shirt climbed into the back of the wagon by the woman. He put a bow in his lap. I was sitting in the lead wagon’s seat, next to the driver and leader of the small caravan, Oswald, my loaded light crossbow in my lap. When we got close, Oswald hailed their driver, who merely grunted in reply. When he asked where they were headed, he replied “Where do you think? Headed back to Goblin’s Tooth.”

“There’s no reason to be like that,” Oswald called. “There’s strength in numbers. We’ve heard of fell creatures on the road ... and seen some too.”

The driver of the other wagon seemed inexperienced, which accounted for our overtaking them. Then the other man stood up in the back of the wagon. He held onto the side, his short bow in his hand.

“Was it orcs, goblins, or wolves?” he called in a thick, rural accent.

“We’ve seen wolves ... or something,” Oswald replied. “We heard howls on the road and saw fell eyes at night by the campfire. We knew not what they were.”

“Wolves. It’s a good thing you didn’t see ‘em up close.”

“I say I agree with you sir.”

“Very large. Very dangerous.”

“As wolves are wont to be.”

“No no no. These aren’t like wolves.”

He held his hand near his waist.

“These are wolves,” he said, then holding his hand near his neck. “That’s not an exaggeration.”

“Do you mean from where you are standing or from the ground?” I called.

“Shoulder high, up to me slats, was a wolf,” he replied.

I looked around more carefully at the woods around us.

“Those are very big wolves,” I muttered to Oswald.

“And there’s orcs loose on the road too,” the other man continued. “Led by humans, it seems.”

“I thought these roads had been cleared!” Oswald said.

“By who?” the other man replied.

“I’d heard that the last wagon had made its way to Goblin’s Tooth!”

“What wagon?”

“They sent a supply wagon ... some time ago.”

“Oh, yeah. Everybody from that was killed. We got the wagon back. Took it back to town but everybody was dead. Orcs and wolves and humans.”

“Bandits!”

“A little bit more organized. Perhaps a little bit more nefarious, I would say.”

“Bloody roads are not what they used to be.”

“No. You’re in for a little bit of a clear time now, though. We took care of most of them. Me and me mates.”

“You did? Are you King’s men, then? Or guards from Goblin’s Tooth? What are you?”

“No no no. We’re just ... uh ... gentlemen and a lady of opportunity, as it were.”

“Mercenaries,” Oswald muttered to me.

“Not bandits?” I replied.

“Could be either one,” he said, nervously. Then he raised his voice. “Good day to you lads, good day!”

He slapped the reins on the horses and they increased their pace.

“But what about safety in numbers?” the other man called.

“Yes, there are great numbers still in Goblin’s Tooth!” Oswald called.

“Have a nice day,” the driver of the other wagon growled.

I saw the man with the bow climb over the seat and talk to the other man as we passed. I winked at the lady in the back and gave her a nod. She didn’t look up at all.

“There is a lady with them,” I said to Oswald once we had passed. “Should we not consider this?”

“I doubt she’s a lady at all if she’s with those bandits,” the man replied.

The sound of galloping hooves came from behind and, when I looked back, I saw that the bowman’s wagon had increased speed and was now chasing the two wagons in the caravan.

“It looks like a race,” I muttered.

“No! They’re coming to rob us! They’re coming to rob us!” Oswald said in a panic.

“I do not see any weapons,” I said calmly as he urged the horses into more speed. “The man in the back seems to be hanging on for dear life.”

I did the same.

“You will kill the horses!” I said.

“Not if we make it to Goblin’s Tooth first!” he replied.

“Though they appear armed, they do not appear ready!”

“It doesn’t take much time!”

I sighed and hung on to the wagon seat as best I could.

“Better make good use of that crossbow, my lad!” Oswald shouted.

“Well, if they attempt to board us, I will do my best to repel boarders!” I shouted back sarcastically.

I looked back again. The driver was laughing hysterically.

Well, happy people are good people, I thought.

The pursuing wagon struck something in the road and lurched upwards, coming back down with a crash and a crack. There were shouts of confusion and anger as it slowed, one of the wheels obviously broken.

“If they mean to board us, they are failing quite spectacularly,” I muttered.

Oswald laughed.

“They broke a wheel!” he said. “We have a chance.”

“They look more pathetic than pirate, if you ask me,” I said.

“Oi!” one of the men shouted from the wreck. “Are you going to stop and help us with the wheel?”

“We outnumber them two to one,” I pointed out to Oswald. “They appear to be in great trouble. Perhaps we should stop. I will lend assistance. I will distract them while you go on to the town.”

“You’re welcome to hop off if you want to, but I’m not stopping,” he replied.

He slowed the wagon and I jumped, landing solidly in the road. I gave Oswald a quick salute.

“I’ll see you in Goblin’s Tooth for that drink you promised me!” I called.

He took his cap off his head and waved it. I stepped back and the second wagon, pulled by mules, roared by. I took off my hat and waved at them as well and they waved back. Then I walked back to the wrecked wagon, whistling. The two men were arguing heatedly.

As they argued, I took a look at the damaged wheel. I guessed it could be fixed with magic. In between spokes, some sections of the wheel were missing, but I guessed if they could be found, I could use the magic to mend it.

“We don’t have another wheel,” the woman said. “What are we going to do?”

“I don’t know,” the man with the bow replied. “I guess we’ll have to walk back and borrow another wagon.”

“We’ll just ride the horses,” the other man said.

“Excuse me, gentlemen, I do not wish to interrupt your conversation,” I said. “Once you’re finished, please let me know.”

“You just did,” the larger man said. “What do you want?”

“I am Porthos, priest of Olidammara,” I said.

“Who?” the bowman said.

“Olidammara. Party God,” the larger man said.

“Party God?” I said. “That’s exactly correct! It’s surprising to me that people recognize sometimes. I could, perhaps, mend your wheel, if you so desire?”

“How much would that cost us?” the bowman said.

“A ride into the next town?” I said.

“Oh, sure,” the bowman said. “I’ll help you find the piece.”

We searched down the road for the pieces that had ripped free of the wheel. It took us some time to find the pieces, possibly because I continued to look back at the woman on the cart, trying to get a good glimpse of her face. The bowman noticing me.

“Yeah,” he said. “From here up,” he indicated the upper part of his face, “is just as good as from here down.” He waved near his mouth.

“Is she all right?” I asked. “We had a rough ride. Have you checked on her?”

“She’s fine, mate,” he said.

The woman was standing by the wheel, looking at it. She was very short and had a nice figure.

“She’s not exactly a delicate flower,” he went on. “She takes care of herself.”

“That is good,” I said. “Everyone should take care of themselves.”

“No, I mean, she can handle herself just fine. That’s what I’m saying.”

“Very well. I am looking and I’m glad she can take of herself.”

“Yeah, but you’re not looking at the road, mate!”

“I have been looking. I looked here and I looked over here.”

“Marzena! You got that piece of the wheel? I didn’t think so! See, she don’t have it.”

“Marzena, what a lovely name. Where did you hit this thing that you hit that damaged the wheel?”

“I didn’t hit nothin. I was in the back.”

“Yes, where did your friend ... what is his name?”

“Orrin.”

“Really? Anyway, I’m sorry, what is your name?”

“Aeryn.”

“Aeryn. Is great pleasure to meet you.”

We continued looking.

“Where did you hit ... where did he hit whatever he hit?” I asked.

“I don’t know!” he said. “Orrin!”

Orrin stomped our way and then picked up something and walked back to the wagon.

“He’s got good eyes,” I said.

“Yeah, but he’s embarrassed,” Aeryn said.

“He’s embarrassed?”

“Yeah, give him a good rib poking about it when you get back – no, wait. Don’t. Don’t do that. You can’t do that. I’ll do that. Just don’t say nothing to him.”

“I could try to soothe him and tell him he doesn’t need to be embarrassed.”

“It’s a bad idea! It’s a bad idea!”

“All right.”

We walked back and I used two spells on the wheel to make it whole again. It didn’t look as badly damaged as I first thought it was, however.

“All right, let’s go!” Orrin said.

“You drivin’ again?” Aeryn asked. “Take your time this time. Slow it down, mate. What was into you? I don’t know whatever come over you, driving like that. It’s reckless.”

“I let you get in my head, that’s the problem.”

“It’s reckless of you. You endangered all of our lives.”

“But you didn’t!” I said. “And did you enjoy yourself? Was it invigorating? Stimulating?”

“It’s was great until we hit that rock,” Aeryn said.

“I am not asking you, I’m asking him,” I said.

“It was good,” Orrin said.

“Then there you are,” I said. “It was all good. Where would you like me to be? Whoever’s in charge of this party?”

I looked towards Marzena.

“Who is in charge?” Aeryn asked.

“I guess that’d be you,” Orrin said.

“Really? Me?”

“Very well,” I said. “Do you wish me on the back or do you wish me on the seat in the front.”

“Sit where you want, mate, I don’t care.”

I walked to the back of the wagon and sat next to Marzena. I made small talk with her. She said very little but it was all right. I could talk enough for two. I chatted away with her though she only barely replied. I also chatted with Aeryn though Orrin said little more than the girl. When I asked her if the race was invigorating, she merely said “It was very fast.”

“But did you find it invigorating?” I pressed. “Did you find it was something you enjoyed or something you hated?”

“Neither,” she replied.

“So, you remain neutral and uninterested in the race?”

“Quite.”

Aeryn offered all of us biscuits as I continued chatting with Marzena. The girl merely took the biscuit without a word. I took the dry hardtack and ate it for my lunch. We talked about the best way to prepare such unappetizing food and I told him about dwarf bread.

“Is it made from real dwarves?” Aeryn quipped.

“I believe they use gravel,” I said. “You take it out, you look at it, and you realize ‘I am not as hungry as I thought I was.’ A good loaf of dwarf bread will keep you going for days without food.”

“It gives you days without taking a shit is what it is!” Orrin said.

“Not that I know of,” I replied. “Just looking at dwarf bread and you no longer wish to eat. It is good to carry some with you. It reminds you how hungry you are not.”

“I don’t think I know any dwarves,” Aeryn said.

“I know a lot more now,” Orrin said.

“So, you come from Cambol-Túr, eh?” Aeryn asked.

“Yes, I said. “I decided to travel here in the fall. Find a place to settle down. Spread the teachings of Olidammara.”

“Goblin’s Tooth?”

“Yes, I’ve never been here. I find that going new places and seeing new things is invigorating. It is good for the soul.”

“For about the first five minutes it’s all right. Then you’ve seen the whole town.”

“That is fine. It is a good place to winter, is it not? Where are you from?”

“Lots of places.”

“But where most recently?”

“Back down the road a little ways,” Orrin said.

“Yeah, back there,” Aeryn said. “A mile and a half, maybe.”

“You have a house in the woods?” I asked.

“Sort of,” Aeryn said.

“No, you asked where we’re from,” Orrin said, thinking he was explaining a joke he’d said. “You met us down the road a little ways so that’s where we’re from.”

I laughed politely.

“So are very literal as well as clever?” I asked.

“Um ... aye,” he replied uncertainly.

“Yes ... or not?” I said. “I don’t know. I just met you. It’s hard to make an impression of people that you do not know.”

We continued chatting as we rode. I noticed the glint of metal from under the tarp and as I reached over to look, Marzena grabbed my wrist.

“You should mind your hands of everything in this wagon,” she said quietly, turning and glared at me. She had very striking, green eyes and dark black hair.

“I do touch anything or anyone who does not wish to be touched,” I said.

It had looked like the back of the wagon was filled with weapons. There were also bags of coin.

“So, you are traders, then?” I asked.

“No,” she said, turning away.

“We will be shortly,” Aeryn said.

I advised them that they might have to pay taxes on any goods going into Goblin’s Tooth. Aeryn noted that they hadn’t had a problem with that before. I continued chatting with Marzena.

The village of Goblin’s Tooth was quaint and probably housed only about 300 people. A green, thorny hedge wall surrounded the town and we passed a graveyard on a small hill near the road as we approached it. The guards at the gate waved the wagon through. The market square dominated the town. A large statue stood in the middle of it of a man dressed heroically and holding a sword. A mill stood not far from the market square. A large building that looked like a grocery of some kind and a trading post was on one side of the market. I finally spotted a tavern with what appeared to be a dragon rampant on the sign.

A young man stood in the stocks on one side of the market.

“What is the man stockaded for, do you know?” I asked Marzena.

“I don’t know,” she said.

“Gentlemen! Good gentlemen!” the boy in the stocks called as we passed. “Come and free me.”

“Why would we do that?” Aeryn called to him.

“Because I asked, how about that?”

“Do you see a tabard on my chest that says ‘deputy’ or ‘sheriff’ or ‘constable’?”

“What have you been stockaded for?” I asked.

“Did you trip and fall and get yourself locked in the stocks?” Aeryn asked.

“No, no, I’ve been wrongly imprisoned ... for love,” the boy said.

“Stockaded,” I said.

“Whatever,” he replied. “Technicalities, mate.”

“For love?” I said.

“Then ask love to let you out,” Aeryn said.

Orrin stopped the wagon at the trading post. I climbed off the back of the wagon and offered the lady my hand, which she ignored as she climbed down. I bowed to her. She nodded.

“It was a pleasure to speak to you and your friends,” I said to her.

She nodded again.

I left them, walking across the market towards the boy in the stocks.

“Oi! We’ll be in the Staggering Dragon in about an hour, hour and a half!” Aeryn called to me.

I pointed towards the one with the dragon rampant.

“Yeah!” he called.

“Thank you!” I called. “I would love to join you for a drink!”

I swaggered over to the stockade.

“Yes, yes, my good friend!” the boy of maybe 16 said.

“No, we don’t know each other,” I said to him. “So, we are mere acquaintances. Why are you locked up? And I need more than ‘love’ because I have dealt with my share of ‘love’ and I can understand how someone could be locked up for it. I’m curious as to your story, for the moment.”

“I was trying to prove myself to my love and fell into hard times and unluck and that ends me here. Tavian the Unlucky, they call me.”

“How were you so unlucky? Who was the man whose woman you were trying to ...?”

“Hopefully she would have been mine.”

“But she was not because she said no?”

“It’s not like that! I wouldn’t force myself on any woman!”

“No no. Tell me your story.”

“I was born to simple parents out in the farmlands,” he began.

He told me tales that were mostly true. What was true is that there was a girl in town he was trying to impress. Egged on by “friends,” he had pulled the rope on the alarm tower to prove his love for the girl. He was to be locked in the stocks for a day or two.

“Unless some kind gentlemen would release me and ...” he said.

“... take your place?” I guessed.

“No, not take my place,” he said. “Release me and I would be ... in your charge, I suppose.”

“Uh-huh. I would be responsible for you if you pulled off any more shenanigans.”

“Of course I wouldn’t pull off any more shenanigans.”

Beyond some of the lower houses, I could see a large stone building that looked official.

“What is this girl’s name?” I asked.

“Daphne,” he said.

“I will see what I can do for you, my friend,” I told him.

“It doesn’t take much! Just unclasp that ... I just can’t reach it ... my hands are ...”

I walked towards the stone building and noticed the men I’d rode into town with unloading weapons and armor from the back of their wagon. They also had sacks they were taking into the trading post.

I found two armed guards in front of the barracks, which I guessed housed the town guard and sheriff. I introduced myself and the temple was pointed out to me.

“There’s a boy in the stockade,” I said. “Tavian the Unlucky? What did he do? Is he a criminal? I am just curious.”

“Damned boy rang the alarm bell,” one of the men said.

“How long is he supposed to stay in the stocks?”

“I don’t know. Day or two?”

“Ah. Is it true that if someone releases him, he becomes their charge?”

The guard laughed.

“If you want to take charge of Tavian, you’re bloody welcome,” he said.

“But the person who took charge of him will end up in the stockade if Tavian does again something foolhardy?”

“Aye – for the rest of the time he’s supposed to be in there. The rest of the day or so.”

“Ah.”

I chatted with the deputies and learned their names were Dudley and Ballard. I learned that Daphne was a farm girl and they joked of who would have an interest in “that dumb kid.” I didn’t get the idea that she was repelled by his advances, however.

I left them and wandered around town, getting the lay of the land. A dairy was near the barracks and closer to the center of town was an inn with stables across from it. A sign declared the inn to be the Shady Oak and I could see several oak trees around the building. A few of the houses in town were very well made. I passed the manor house and saw that smithies were on the road that led to that building. On a hill overlooking the town was obviously a temple, as well as a small, ramshackle building, and the watchtower where Tavian had probably pulled the alarm bell.

I finally returned to the marketplace.

“Have you learned your lesson?” I asked Tavian.

“Aye,” he said. “Aye.”

“Really?”

He nodded.

“Tavian, I’ve been told you have some time left in the stockade,” I said.

“Maybe only a day or so,” he replied.

“That’s what they told you.”

His eyes got wide.

“I will need you to stay with me until such a time as your sentence has been fulfilled,” I told him. “Are you willing to do this if I let you free?”

“Yes,” he said.

“I will let you go free, but I will require you to be my servant. This does not require much, but you will have to stay by my side at all times.”

“All right.”

“Well, not all times, obviously. If there’s a lady involved. This girl Daphne: perhaps I could help you with that situation.”

I learned from the boy that his parents were farmers and he had numerous brothers and sisters. They lived far outside of town and I asked if he needed to go home that night. He told me he was the 7th of 10 children, so they had plenty of help. Then I let him loose.

“Do you have any money?” I asked him.

“No,” he said. “Do you have any money?”

“No,” I replied. “We shall find a way. Come.”

We went to the Staggering Dragon and I told him about women and Olidammara as we walked. We only talked about Daphne a little, though she seemed more interested in Fred, according to Tavian.

The tavern was a tidy establishment containing a bar, small stage, trestle tables set up along the center of the common area, and a few booths along the walls. Each booth had a small archway for an entry and curtains could be drawn across the archways for privacy. Behind the bar was a very attractive, handsome older woman who was probably in her late 30s.

“Evening lads, what can I get you?” she asked.

I looked around the tavern but saw no sign of Aeryn as of yet.

“I am Porthos, priest of Olidammara,” I said with a smile. “And this is my charge, Tavian. You probably know him.”

“I know Tavian,” she said. “Come in lad.”

“He has been in a bit of trouble so I am keeping an eye on him rather than leaving him in the marketplace.”

“So you took him on, did you?”

“Yes.”

“Brave man.”

“Why thank you. You are a beautiful woman.”

“Thank you.”

“A glass for each of us, please. Ale.”

I paid the four silver coins for the beverages and chatted with her, telling her I was waiting for a recent acquaintance by the name of Aeryn. She thought she knew him. I asked Tavian if he was hungry to which he replied “I’ll always eat.” I ordered lunch for the boy but declined to eat myself, noting I had had a biscuit and it was enough for a poor and devoted priest. When she asked, I told her that I was a priest of Olidammara and could bless or heal something if she wished, though I also noted she looked very healthy. Lunch was stew and consisted of a bowl of stew and a piece of bread for the boy. It smelled delicious so I had some as well.

There were only a few others in the tavern. A dwarf sat at one table while at the end of the bar was a disheveled and unhealthy-looking man. He was thin and had a bulbous and reddish nose. He sat, staring blank-eyed at his ale. The teamsters from the caravan were also having lunch in one of the booths. I learned that the tavern-keeper’s name was Rebecca. I asked her about the other two men in the bar and learned that the man at the bar was Edvard.

“Poor man,” she said. “Spends most of his days here at the inn.”

“Why is he poor?” I asked. “It is not my business.”

“It’s all right. He’s a grocer but he’s missing his brother.”

“How did his brother go missing?”

“That’s maybe a story for another time.”

She told me the dwarf was named Marr and he was taking some time from his pregnant wife.

The teamsters came over once they spotted me and Oswald asked how I had escaped the bandits. I told him it was a misunderstanding and that the men hadn’t been bandits at all. I did note that the driver had not seemed that confident but urged them not to tell him that I had said that.

The door was suddenly kicked open and a man leapt in, hood over his head and scarf pulled up, covering his face.

“All right!” he shouted. “Nobody move!”

“Uh ...” I said, recognizing Aeryn. “Or I could be mistaken.”

“Hey lad!” Rebecca said.

He yanked the hood off.

“Sorry, just a joke,” Aeryn said. “For these lads, right here.”

He gestured to the teamsters, who had fallen to the ground in fright.

“You chaps need some drinks,” Aeryn said to them. “Obviously.”

“Perhaps you should buy them some then,” I said.

“I would be happy to buy you all some drinks,” Aeryn said. “Drinks for everyone in here.”

I helped Oswald up. They seemed shaky and Aeryn advised they relax a little bit.

“What’s with bustin’ in here like that?” Oswald said.

“Because I knew that’s how you would react,” Aeryn said, laughing.

“You about to give my heart an arrest!”

“You’re fine.”

“But it was just a joke,” I said. “And he’s buying you a drink.”

Oswald looked at Aeryn.

“You better make that two,” he said.

“Well, maybe I’ll make it half a one, since you left us stranded on the road,” Aeryn replied.

“Or perhaps three,” I interjected.

“If it hadn’t been for the generosity of your ...” he looked at me.

“Travelling companion,” I offered.

“Right!” he went on. “We’d still be stuck back there!”

“You shouldn’t have posed as bandits!” Oswald said.

“Who was posing as bandits?”

“Gentlemen!” I said. “Perhaps we should just solve this by having a few drinks together and sorting this out. There are better ways than arguing, especially in the beautiful establishment of a beautiful woman. Now, aren’t you embarrassed about the way you are both acting?”

“No, not really,” Aeryn said. “If I’m going to buy this fellow a drink ...”

“I suppose it was a bit presumptuous,” Oswald conceded. “But when I saw you racing up behind us, I suspected the worse. You don’t exactly look like–”

“You panicked!” Aeryn said, refusing to let it go. “You soiled your britches and you drove off in a huff, didn’t you?”

“Now, there is no need to press and issue, especially when one bursts into a room like he was a bandit,” I said.

“Oh, c’mon.”

“Ah.”

“Relax.”

“Ah.”

“Relax. It was a little joke.”

“It was a little joke.”

“It was a little joke.”

“But there’s no need to embarrass a man in public.”

“Orrin’s sitting on the porch, laughing.”

“Orrin cannot drive a wagon to save his life apparently.”

Orrin came in just then. He slapped his hand on the teamster’s shoulder.

“No hard feeling, mates,” he said. “How ‘bout we buy you a round?”

“Or perhaps two,” I said.

“Yeah, perhaps two!”

“Your associate is a generous man,” I said to Aeryn.

He frowned.

“That’s fine,” he said. “That’s fine. He’s a very generous sort, isn’t he?”

He noted I had Tavian with me.

“Yes, Tavian is guilty of loving too much,” I said.

“Yeah, we heard him shouting that,” Aeryn said. “What the hell does that mean?”

“Tavian could probably tell you his story,” I said. “Go ahead, Tavian, tell him your story. You must be patient though.”

“I was in the stocks,” Tavian said quietly.

“It’s very fascinating, is it not?” I said.

“You let him out?” Aeryn asked.

“He’s in my charge,” I said.

“He’s a very generous man,” Tavian piped up. “Olidammara’s known to be very generous.”

“Especially with food and drink. And women.”

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