People in the Mist

Chapter Twenty-Three

Nothing happened on the journey to have any of us expand our lines of thought into other areas.  While I did continue to go over what facts I had or had speculated, nothing new came to mind causing me to feel I was spinning my wheels.  Others seemed to feel the same, and I felt was the line of thought causing them to come up with the strategy used when we arrived at our destination for this part of the journey.

The gates to the city were closed with a guard asking, “Who do we have here?”

Orintious asked, “What city is this?”

Therper replied, “This should be Junorshy, Sir.”

“Junorshy.  Junorshy.  Oh!  I am Orintious, Gentry of some renown.  Here to transact business:  get supplies, maybe buy some other stuff, I don’t really know.”

The line of thought for that reply was to get the guards to wonder about us without thinking bad about us, and I did not know if the idea worked when the guard asked another question.  “Where are you headed?”

“Headed?  Why don’t you ask where I am coming from, or how much money I have, or something else that I am not going to answer?”

“You will need to leave your weapons at the gate.”

That was actually the command Sterrig had warned us to be wary of, and showing his trust in our deviant brother Orintious replied as taught.  “Why, so your disreputable citizens can take us without any trouble?  Come on.  Let us transact business in an open and forthright manner.”

“Any harm done, or death, will be yours to pay.”

I had to allow the plan worked when Orintious replied, “So, are you going to open the gates?”

It did surprise me to find the streets and buildings to be clean.  Being in the mountains, the primary building material was stone.  The reputation of Junorshy had me however believe the inhabitants did not waste the time or money on assuring a good infrastructure.  There however were drains where rain, snow melt, and unwanted materials could be removed.  People were sweeping outside their establishments with some on ropes or scaffolding making repairs or otherwise caring for the structures.  The people showed signs of having bathed.  Even the building where we were told to stable our horses appeared clean.

A guard patrolling the streets asked, “Where are you headed?  I mean, what type of supplies will you need?”

Orintious replied, “We do have business.  Where we are going probably depends on how our business goes.  I don’t want your best inn, but your next best.  Oh, and tell me the name of one large enough to house all of us.”

The guard looked us over, then asked, “You going to put your men in a common room?”

“A private common room.”

A man yelled, “You can come with me, Gentlemen!  My place is empty right now, so I need the business.”

“You don’t need my gold!  At least, not all of it.”

“Gold,” he said pointing at Orintious.

My older brother pointed at me and said, “Gold,” then pointed to Sterrig to say the same before adding, “Then two more rooms.”

“Four gold a day.”

“Including meals.”

“Breakfast and evening.  And drinks for the meal only.”

“The men pay for their own additional drinks.  Us three gold people get our drinks, assuming we don’t start guzzling your stock.”

The man turned while saying, “Come on.  I need the business.”

Orintious rushed up, then counted out coins to make it obvious he was a paying customer before saying, “Two days, up front.  Not certain of any further days.”

“Come on.”

Actually worried about where we were going, I studied the man and the quality of the section of town we headed into.  The supposed owner of our residence appeared to have some wealth, as he had dressed in what I considered a recently purchased clean suit.  The buildings were not close together, and I was pleased to see the alleys were also clean.  Seeing the bright colors on the sign, I could only wonder if the place we were going to had been recently rebuilt or renovated.

I believe a number of us spoke of the type of curtains, tablecloths, and other decorations causing the man to say, “I just had a group of here.  I'll have things switched up.”

Considering one of the lines of thought we had coming here, it did not surprise me to have Durkith ask, “Women?  There was a group of women who came to this town?”

“None other than Queen Lonarey of Nuchistern.  She did not stay in the castle, as she was mad at our baron.  A rather interesting period.  Still, it has me thinking I can fix things up for a better clientele.”

Lexonor said, “We are not hoping to be that.  We have some business, and will be polite guests.  Attempting to be something special, or better clientele, is not what we are up to.”  He then looked to Orintious to ask, “How are we going to use the rest of this day?”

My older brother replied, “Some of us have plans that cannot be done properly until later.”

Sterrig said, “That is my group.”

“Lexonor, you want to go with Vernallor or me?  In case you are wondering, I am going with Amelgo.”

Lexonor asked, “You are trusting Vernallor?”

“He has proven himself, and he has been studying more than the rest of us.  Yes, I trust him.  You can stay with Durkith and Velsnill.”

“Vernallor, who all are going with you?”

I replied, “Therper and Begaxy.”

“Neither one of those are money people.  I’ll go with Vernallor.”

Orintious said, “Vernallor, you’ll have Lexonor with you.”

Actually not displeased, I replied, “Actually, he can help.  Truthfully, I am thinking about seeing the city right now.  Lexonor will probably see things I don't.”

“I will be heading out as well.”

There was a period where we checked our rooms and made what preparations we felt was necessary.  I had spent the last few days not only making notes about slavery, but being ribbed by the others as I asked questions.  I felt able to handle the situations with the proper attitude.  I however did not feel Lexonor would be any problems, as I had been on two previous missions with him, so after a short period of assuring my preparation I told him and the two others to follow me.

As was hoped, there was no need to ask about the slavers.  Moving about town checking out the various merchants some urchin came up mentioning something about women.  I believe he meant prostitutes, but Lexonor spoke of buying a woman instead of only renting one.  That was the correct comment, as the boy spoke of where we could purchase slaves.

We did not head directly there, but we did not intentionally stall either.  We had no goal to gain a slave, but stayed on our objective of learning what we could of the land.  The town really was not that large, so after finishing our present business we did head to the slavers.

It seemed that there were three groups of slavers in town.  Two actually had buildings they worked out of, but the third had set up some canvas in an open area.  None of them came out to promote themselves.  I made a quick decision, then went to the group that had the more professional men at the door.

“What can –“

One of the men simply opened the door.  I looked in to see a white tiled floor, walls of a light blue cloth, with the room lit by a chandelier.  There were pictures on the walls of horses.  The furniture did not appear polished, but it had a substance that had me accept it was of some quality.  There was a man looking at a map, and he looked up as I stepped in through the door.

“What can you tell me about married couples falling into trouble together?”

He asked, “Are you looking for anyone specific?”

“Oh, come on, how many married couples do you have under your possession?”

“We actually do not get customers here.  This is where we hold some of our more rebellious people and those wanting to improve their skills.  Those we have here are the more expensive ones.  I could however check the records should you give me a name or two.”

Lexonor asked, “How about those seeking to gain some magical skills?”

“Alchemical, you know to make special unctions and other special mixtures for someone that needs extra care.”

Lexonor looked to me and said, “Alchemical.  You know, we really did not think to consider the various fields of magical study.”

While we had not practiced any routines, we had proposed enough ideas that I felt able to play off the statement.  “Well, we certainly did not feel the more dangerous avenues would be allowed a slave.  We were thinking maybe conjuration.”

“Oh, no.  That can get dangerous too.”

“Well, not alteration or transmutation.  Not enchantment either.”

Therper somehow knew what to say.  “There are some good enchantments a slave could benefit a master by knowing.”

I felt it was time to drop the part where we expected trouble.  “Like binding spells.  Having them able to protect things is good, but it also means they might be able to release them.”

The slaver said, “You want the other team.  Go to the other building and ask for Evert.”

While I am sure he saw some grins, I felt the need to ask, “Is she pretty?”

“One of them is.  I wish you boys luck.”

We thanked the man, then went to the other building.  Honestly, I had no problem with going to the tent.  This was just the first day, so the fact we were possibly gaining any objective was unexpected.  Orintious and Sterrig had agreed that it might take some conniving over a few days to gain any information.  Actually wondering what we would find, I went to the other building.

A man opened the door while asking, “Didn’t find what you wanted with Nelganot?”

I hoped Therper got the name, as we had not asked it, even as I replied, “He sent us to you.  We asked him about someone who sought to develop magical talent.  We had concluded some form of enchantment.”

“Ah, yes.  If you gentlemen will come this way.”

There was a door to shut the hallway, but it was open.  He did not walk far, but stopped at the second door to the left.  He politely knocked.  I did hear a man’s voice, but there were also voices of what were ladies and possibly children.  Hearing them say it was okay to enter, I noticed that he did not need to unlock the door before opening it.

Lexonor patted me on the back while saying, “You can handle it, Vernallor.”

Therper let me know, “I will track what you say.”

I stepped in to see the man at a podium acting as if about to cast a spell.  There were four children and two ladies.  What caught my attention was how they were dressed.  One lady and a girl had on really nice dresses.  The others were in loose clothing with a robe as the major source of protection.  I thought about an event that happened as we made our escape from the priest, then tied it with what we heard from the man in whose establishment we were staying.  I pointed out the two nicely dressed females, then turned to the man that had escorted us into the building.

I asked, “Were those two paid for, or only supplied clothes?”

He replied, “Interviewed.  She was just high enough in rank that the dresses were considered mandatory.”

“Like a queen?”  The countenance of the man told me enough to turn to Therper and ask, “Do we waste our time interviewing them?”

The chronicler replied, “It would be improper to ask, Master Vernallor.  Since she turned them down, I believe we have the information we want.”

“Actually, we don’t.  However, I doubt these two know what she was looking for or what we are looking for.  Let me ponder this.”

“I believe Orintious would be relieved that you did so.”

The owner said, “They will come at a good price.”

I replied, “She turned them down, and if I do it might be tough for you to get that price.  Still, let me think.”

“They give me no trouble.  Give them a good home, and you should see a return on your investment.”

“We are here on business.  My question is if I will see a return on my investment before I take them home.”

“Oh, I see.”  There was a period of silence, then he said, “If you come to interview them, please bring your means of paying for them as well.”

“I have to admit that if I return, I will know what I am looking for.  Thank you.”

After turning to speak a thanks to all in the room, I left.  Going back down the hall I made certain to get this man’s name.  To further satisfy my curiosity, I asked some things about slavery in general.  After we left the building, I felt the need to further my experience dealing with slavers, so told the men with me that we would also speak to the slavers in the tent.

And another arrives to join the group.