She opens a stout iron bound door and continues down a maze of turns while you rush to keep pace. After a few minutes she takes yet another turn and before her stands another doorway with a pair of dwarves standing to either side. At her approach they immediately draw themselves up and attempt to act rigid.
She begins to shake her head in disappointment, "Artin and Gimiril, I should have known. What if I had been an assailant intent upon the King?" in an accusatory manner. "It's late, no one is about," said the one on the left. "We had our pikes in hand," stated the other.
Haegara let out a loud sigh of frustration as she went immediately to the door and opened it. "Beldas, you have company," as she waved you to follow.
Ertryd rushes along to keep pace with Haegara. Sometimes she cursed her relatively short stature, as her legs needed to work almost twice as fast to keep up with many of the clanhold's residents.
Once they reach the door, Ertryd takes a moment to catch her breath and smooth her clothes and hair. Her attention is focused on her approaching meeting with the king, so she barely even notices the guards as she passes.
As Ertryd walks into the room, she stops at a respectful distance from the King and bows to the him, waiting to be acknowledged.
The room was quite spartan, having only a few chairs and a table. Three doors were visible, but all were closed, leading to other areas. Seated at the table was Beldas, High Thane of Uerythtar and a lone bottle of spirits. Beldas did not even glance up until Haegara mentioned she was not alone.
A strained smile washed upon his weary face, "Aye, Ertryd yer tale did honor and courage to your clan. I'm right glad you were there, jis wished they'd been more moved. Do me a favor and sit a spell, need a partner fer drinkin and Haegara done told me her mind," as he rises to pull out your chairs.
"I appreciate yer courtesies, I do, but we're amongst freinds here and I'd like ta hear yer appraisal of what happened..."
You can sense that his mood had quickly shifted at both your company. He gathered a small set of delicate crystal wine glasses and set them down upon the table for you both. The dicotomy of drinking dwarven spirits with fine crystal was somehow amusing to him and he began to laugh heartily.
Ertryd was surprised by his change in character from that of the court, but she took the opportunity to drop the etiquette and subtlety and get to the point.
"King Beldas, I am afraid that the decision of the court could cause tragedy in the stead. I fear the potential for famine, and I think that the reluctance to trade with other races should not mean that some of our people starve," Ertryd sighed in frustration.
"Further," Ertryd reluctantly continued, "I believe that it will take famine or some other tragedy before the court will rule in favor of trading with outsiders."
Ertryd paused momentarily before coming to her point, "I think the best course of action is to work discreetly, without the knowledge of the rest of the court. If you agree, then I would be willing to be a discreet envoy. It disheartens me to have to disobey the court, but I think the good of our people is more important than following orders."
Ertryd took that moment to take a drink of spirits. She looked pensively to the king, feeling slightly vulnerable, but trusting, or at least hoping, that the king would side with her.
Haegara grinned and nodded her head while she spoke only after she finished offering a sly, "Tha's why I brought her, she don't have her head full o' those others fool politics."
Beldas seemed very pleased at the appraisal, "Well, you sure speak yer mind now don't ye," as he takes a drink. "As the High thane, I could never hear of anyone bein' charged wit such as that, but now what clear headed folk do of their own..." a slight grin playing across his face. "Yer assessment is good, I'll give ya that. The Worldthrone clan opposes me and Balabault chases the others in line. I can't say they's in allegions, but I sure don;'t sit comfy with em. As far as da others go, they all gots their own reason, fer sure. Some jis do it cause they got dinner late or they felt a callin. I respect their age and what they do, its frustrating for sure, but its their way and I took this role willingly. I wish I could set their mind at ease, make em understand the outsiders mean no harm," seeming to become sullen.
"Now to call off this meetin would be impossible, hell its in a few weeks. I could appoint someone to go though, someone with some snap and should they not get the message exactly correct I could only say they had tried, but maybe they mispoke or sometin..." looking at you in a manner that suggested he could not to tell you what to do.
"Not even a chanter is infallibly eloquent," Ertyrd grinned conspiratorily, "A 'translation error' it is."
Something occurred to her. "Will I be travelling alone, or with others? If there are others, will any be expressly against trading? I need to know how open I can be."
He stroked his beard in thought, "Well, I should send more then just you as the way can be dangerous. I know of a few that could lend me their best, they would likely be amiable toward trade, but I can not outright ask it of them without arousing their suspicion."
His eyes drifted of as if in thought, suddenly snapping back. "They shall be assembled shortly and if it be the will of the Mordinsammon then so be it. Be wary though, Balabault will likely try and uncover your purpose and finding no weakness with you will try and pressure any others. Mind your tongue and words for he will twist them against you. He does mean well, but I fear he will eventually be protecting us within a tomb of our own makin'."
"Seek ye out Thane Osk Verbain, he be freindly to our goal and is none to fear as Balabault be concerned. Bein' Duergar he'll attract little notice as many just avoid them. He speaks fer Dumathoin, patron of our kind and he could likely guide ye..." as he gulps another shot from the dainty crystal glass.
"Very well, my king," Ertryd replies soberly, "I will proceed with caution."
She smirks thoughtfully and says, "I suppose it will be a little suspicious for me to leave the hold after I clearly expressed my opinion on the subject of trading with other races. No matter, I won't give Balabault enough evidence of my intent, and it truly is my choice to go. I will find the Thane at once and make any necessary preparations for the journey. I am grateful to you, my king, for allowing me this opportunity to help our people. It warms my heart to know that our king is more concerned with the good of his people than with politics."
She downs the rest of her glass, shakes her head a little due to the strength of the spirits, rises, and bows to the king.
"This talk has done much to lift my spirits. You may trust that I will put forth my best effort to secure trade with the humans and elves."
"Aye, tis nothing me lady. I am but meself and know little of political ways. I fear I have been gettin taught 'nough fer ten lives in the past years, but I know of the outsiders and it does an old dwarf good to hear that I ain't the only one. Now do whatever ye can, Osk will help as he knows me well and his heart is good. I look forwerd ta hearin 'bout yer progress. Be safe and lissin ta yer heart if ever ya don't know what answer ye shhould give, it'll never lie," as he stands and clasps you in a chaste hug.
"Now go on an' git fore someone notices ya hangin 'round the likes o' me, and Moradin watch yer steps" with a grin as he ushers you out the door.
As the door shuts you are left looking at the two guards standing beside the doorway with their weapons held high. Artin and Gimiril both nod slightly to indicate the easiest way to exit back to the stead proper.
Ertryd nods her thanks to the guards and makes her way back to the stead by the route pointed out to her.
Along the way, she considers what just occurred. Ertryd has never been far from the stead, so she feel a combined sense of excitement and nervousness at the idea of travelling through potentially dangerous lands. She also feels some surprise at the daring she showed in suggesting that she be the one to initiate trade with the humans and elves. She is the daughter of a Thane, which both gives her a small amount of power and a reason to stay safely in the stead. Still, she is of low enough rank that defying the council is, under normal circumstances, well beyond her power. She muses about whether it is common to disregard the decision of the council, or whether it is only in truly dire circumstances.
Snapping out of her thoughts, she decides that she will pay her visit to Osk immediately. She navigates the long, winding tunnels until she comes to the set of rooms belonging to the Thane. She again smoothes her hair and clothes to set forth her best foot in her meeting.
(Moving to To seek a Thane thread)