Archive for category Creative Writing
“What sort of business offer could you possibly have that would interest us?” Bruce as Aaron continued to approach the table.
As Aaron arrives at the table, Bruce stands up. “If we are to discuss your business proposition, then I think we should adjourn to our office.”
Harold arises as well now, “Don’t look so surprised.” He remarks to Aaron, “we are men of means, from which come many advantages. An office, or more to the point private rooms in this establishment is just one of the benefits.”
Picking up his tankard, Bruce, starts to walk to the bar, “If you’d be so kind as to follow me Aaron, we will adjourn to our rooms.”
Arriving at the bar, Bruce nods to Rufus, “I fear we will be making more work for you today Rufus. We will be retiring to our rooms. Would you be so kind as to serve lunch for three, some of the good wine, and a cheese and fruit board to conclude, in our drawing room.”
“Certainly, I sent the spit boy, to fetch Amanda to serve when I heard Aaron’s voice.”
Bruce continued, “That was very wise of you Rufus, but we will have to discuss your keeping possible business opportunities from us.”
“Aaron only enquired if yourselves would be in residence, a couple of weeks ago. He did mention a business opportunity, but has not been in for a week, or more. As you always say: don’t count your chickens before they hatch.“
“Fair enough Rufus.” Turning to Aaron, “Would you follow us upstairs, then we can discuss your business opportunity in a more private location.”
The leave the tavern common room through a door marked “Guests Only” in bold letters, and enter a narrow stair case.
Aaron remarks, “I would not have though that there was enough space for more than a couple of very small rooms up here.”
Harold bringing up the rear, reply’s, “A very accurate observation Aaron. Our rooms are not technically in this building, The rooms we are about to enter exist in the warehouse which backs onto part of Rufus’s Traveller’s Rest.”
“How very cunning. It must have taken some doing to have all this built.”
Bruce replies, “My friend, the best part of the surprise is yet to come. Neither of us is entirely sure how this was built, or by whom. As you could probably guess from the tavern, it has been here for a very long time. Longer than anyone can remember in this village can remember at least. The warehouse likewise appears to have been built at the same time as the tavern. Harold and I, acquired both many years ago, as part payment for a very successful campaign we waged, for a very thankful Noble.”
Arriving at what appears to be a blank stone wall, Bruce continues, “Now the real surprises start”. Placing his hand on one of the heavy stone block in the wall, high up to the right. Bruce pushes very firmly.
Aaron’s gasp of surprise is audible, as what appeared to be a stone wall only a few seconds ago, start to slide apart, revealing a solid, iron bound, oak door. Bruce retrieves a large iron key from his belt pouch, inserts it into the door’s lock, and turns it. There is a solid clunk as the mechanism of the door unlocks. Pushing the door open, Bruce says “Welcome to our drawing room”.
Aaron entered and was very surprised. There before him was a room which he would not have credited to two old warriors. Looking around the room Aaron was impressed. In the wall which the door they entered was a substantial hearth. The fire in which was well banked, but Harold was stirring it back to life. The large fire iron looking like a toy in Harold’s grasp. As the embers of the fire were exposed, Harold selects a couple of substantial chunks of wood from the large, and full, wood nook beside the hearth.
Aaron continues his quick survey of the room, the wall opposite the door which they entered also contains a door in the centre. Surrounding the door on the walls to either side was the largest array of armour and weapons Aaron had ever seen. Holding pride of place on either side of the door are two suites of what look gold embossed plate armour, dazzling in there brilliance.
Glancing at Aaron, Bruce guesses what has caught his eye, “Well my friend, don’t you have your Sunday best.”
Harold chimes in, “Don’t pull the lads leg. You know we will only were those for a King, and only very important Kings at that”.
Bruce continues. “Even in those circumstances, I’m not sure we would don that armour. There are certain magical qualities invested in them which make it very unwise to advertise the existence of the armours.”
Harold, has grabbed one of the four leather upholstered arm chairs are interspersed between glassed faced cabinets which line left wall and is dragging it towards a small table which is already surrounded by two similar arm chairs.
Looking up and catching Aaron’s gaze, Harold indicates that this will be Arron’s chair for this meeting.
As Aaron walks to the offered chair, he surveys the right wall, which is likewise covered by large glass faced display cases. Both sets of cabinets appear to contain a mixture of books, and other ornaments, with books being the predominate type of content. Taking the offered seat, Aaron glances up, above him is what appears to be a forest of war banners, and flags. What puzzled Aaron was the fact that there were not many of them that he recognised.
Bruce catching the direction of Aaron’s gaze, and then furrows in his brow. “Well spotted, most of those were already when we came into possession of this establishment. Some of them we have added from our own collection, some of them we have and they are truly ancient, many we have not been able to find in any of the books that we have here. “
Aaron “I’m a bit older than I appear, and many of the banners up there are completely foreign to me. Also, thankyou for entrusting the secret of this lair, it would seem to be a marvellous and very well hidden home.”
Bruce, continues, “Don’t be mistaken this is more of a gentlemen’s club for two, then a home. We both have estates, with wives, children, servants, tenant farmers, and the rest of the trappings of the life of nobility. All of which we have earned, some of it as warriors, some of it as generals, most of it through the business skills our wives. Both of our wives decided very early on, that our line of work might leave them penniless and husbandless at a moment’s notice. So, they have dedicated themselves to managing whatever income we brought home as astutely as possibly. In short, we both are not comfortable when in our houses; they both revolve around our wives, who in reality are the anchors of the lives of the families. We both feel that we are intruders into a life we do not really belong in. Hence, when we came into possession of these buildings, we both decided that a gentlemen’s club, or bolt hole, would be a very nice sanctuary for both of us, and we have kept this place as our private domain ever since.”
Aaron continues, “Which makes me wonder even more. Why did you invite me to join you, in this very private club of yours?”
Harold nods to Bruce and says, “You’d better tell him. You’d make a better tale of it than I.”
“Ok, let me begin with the simplest reason. You are a man of magic. Any discussion that we held downstairs could be overheard. In Gryffin’s Wake, discussion of magic, or admission of magical abilities, is not conducive of a long life. Any hint of magic and the locals are gathering any wood they can find, plenty of lamp oil, and anything that can light the pyre, and placing accused magician on a stake in the centre of it. That, although we have just meet, is not something I’d find entertaining. Secondly, we have been expecting you.”
Aaron’s jaw dropped. “How could you be expecting me? My decision to approach the pair of you was only made today, after consulting the rune stones. There is no man alive who could have forewarned you of my decision to approach you for assistance in my search!”
Bruce continues, “Well for a man of magic, you have very limited horizons. It was a man indeed, who foretold your approach to us with your ‘business proposition’. Harold, would you be so kind as to tap the keg of dark ale, and pull three tankards. I’ve a feeling that I’d better tell the tale of how we were forewarned of Aaron’s approach, and why we were there in the first place.”
Gathering the now empty tankards from the table, Bruce replies. “Ok I’ll tap the keg, and pull the first round. But, do we have to include why we went there in the first place?”
Bruce, “I think the man needs the context of journey, and anyway it was not the King of this country we went there about.”
Aaron, replies “Well with my horizons about to be broadened, my curiosity piqued, a tankard of good ale, and lunch of roast lamb and red wine, on the way. Please, tell on Bruce.”
Bruce leans back in the char and places his hand behind his head. “So, to summaries we have one of these alternatives. Firstly, a local lord, who by all accounts is a jumped up little domineering, cut throat, greed little pig.”
Harold chimes in, “Who would not blanch at stealing the pennies from his dead grandmother eyes, if he thought no one was looking!”
Bruce continues, “Who is looking to settle a minor boarder dispute.”
Harold interjects, “Which probably amounts to a greedy little land grab from some other lord! Who will undoubtable take exception to his neighbour’s lack of manners! This probably means a full-scale armed conflict will result. With us used as either: the scapegoats for the conflict; or the first volunteers for the front lines.”
“So, Harold. Given your enthusiasm for the job offer. And kindly pointing out the points of the employer and the job on offer. Am I to cross this one off the list?”
“I think so. Although, if the job was teaching that lord some manners, then let’s start today!”
“Unfortunately, your lessons in manners may land us in more hot water than we are really prepared to accept. The nobles, in general, do not take kindly to having one of their own being given physical lessons in manners.”
Bruce, leans forward and picks up his tankard. “So, that one is off the list”. Taking a mouthful of the ale, and draining the contents of the tankard. He places the tankard back on the table. “Your trip to the bar, I believe”.
“I do believe you’re correct, we should talk Rufus about providing us table service. Or, at least a serving wench, to save our legs the walk to the bar.”
“Oh, please don’t! You know what happens when you get table service in a tavern. You are a bottomless pit when it comes to ale! However, we do not have unlimited gold to buy ale to try to fill it!”
“Oh, you do go on! Once, it happened, and only once! But, you’ll never let me forget it. And before you say it, no I’m not being touch, just being nagged. Anyway, I am on my way to the bar. See, Harold is standing up and starting to walk to the bar. I’ll be back with another two tankards.”
Returning a couple of minutes later, “Rufus will have a nice joint of lamb for lunch in another half an hour, and here is you ale. And before you ask, I did not spit in it!”
Bruce, “So, to offer two. The Right and Holy Order of Jezabel and their mission to save the remains of the founder, from some unspecified dangers.”
Harold snorts, “The Jezabel’s and the bones. If the order, did not believe that gold was a poisonous substance, which means that they will not pay us for our efforts. The average mental stability of it’s members, makes raving lunatics, or rabid dog, look sane. They want to start searching for the Holy Bones is Flame Blades Forrest. Let me remind you of Flame Blade Forrest, it is place with more dangers, than a pit full of vipers having a bad year. And, the leader of this, so called, Holy rescue mission, spend half the say pretending to be a twist drill, spinning on the spot.”
Bruce holding up his hands palms facing Harold across the table, “Enough already! I think I get the picture. Your sense of religious charity will not extend to working for a bunch of raving lunatics, trying to find the impossible, in a place which death is quickly found, and probably be the nicest alternative. Scratch option two from the list.”
Harold, “Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for seeing somewhere new. But Flame Blade Forrest, is deadly new, at every turn. And, whilst I’m not pious like you, I am tolerant of most of the religions in this land. It’s just the Jezebels’, and their gold is poison, attitude does not buy my tolerance. So, what is the third option? I hope you’ve left the best to last. I hope you’ve been building me up for some sweet job, with good pay, no ankle deep mud, and three good meals a day.”
Bruce, “Well, maybe, let me explain this one.”
“This does not sound promising, Bruce. There is a third alternative? Or, is it just your desire to always be eloquent getting in the road of a good story again?”
Thunk, went the main door into Rufus’s Travellers Rest. Harold, with his back to the door immediately reached for one of the four the throwing knifes sheathed inside the left arm of his jacket. Bruce’s, reaction was to reach for his dagger sheathed in the swordless sword belt. Bruce’s sword being in his room upstairs. When Bruce’s hand came back to the table surface, his fingers were crossed. Harold read the sign, magician! Bruce had the knack of picking a magically trained person; most of the times they entered a room. Bruce’s eyes stayed fixed on the entrant as he walked to the bar.
“Hello in there. Rufus are you working out back?”.
“Yes Aaron, I’m tending the roast of lamb.”
“Oh, a woman’s work is never done!”
“That enough out, of you young whippersnapper! You know that Mrs Beggs is taking care of her sister! So I have the cooking duties at present. My two gentlemen guests enjoy their food, and as the host of this fine establishment, it’s my pleasure to serve them three good meals a day. ” Rufus said as he emerge through the kitchen door, carrying the aroma of roast lamb, roast vegetables and fresh bread.
“Are they,” Indicating towards the table which Bruce and Harold are sitting, “the two gentlemen, you mentioned the other day?”
“Yes, they are the two gentlemen you wanted to meet. But, as I said before, they are a bit highly strung, so no quick movements!”
Bruce visibly relaxed, but only marginally, on hearing that exchange. At least if Rufus knew Aaron, well enough for some friendly banter, there was a good chance that he was not here to cause trouble.
Aaron approached the table, “Gentlemen would be interested in a business proposition?”.
So here, we are again.
Bruce and Harold are sitting in Rufus’s Travellers Rest, discussing which of the three offers for the skills to accept. The pair are deep in a convoluted discussion. If the decision on the offers were simply a question of which offer put more gold on the table, it would be a simple decision. However, gold was not the only consideration. Being, highly skilled, and middle aged, warriors, getting out of the escapade alive had become a very important consideration also. Weighing equally in their considerations is also the reputation of the potential employers. Specifically, how well the potential employers cared for the lives entrusted to their hands.
The hubbub of world outside is something that is irrelevant, to the two close friends. The daily toils of the dray drivers, merchants, artisans, and labourers of Blake’s Crossing not intruding on their discussion.
The two warriors were almost oblivious to the outside world. The occasional squeal of a child at play, outside the tavern, did register with them. The occasional squeal from the children at play only eliciting only a minute reflexive response. Only a well-trained eye would spot the slight tightening of the shoulders and the right hands moving slightly towards the daggers in their belts. Those large hands momentarily moving away from the tankards they were previously nursing.
That the two were warriors was blatant to anyone who would care to notice. The pair shared the physical characteristics one would expect of highly skilled warriors, broad shoulders, barrel chest, and very well muscled arms. The slightly out of date apparel, adorned with sword belts (definitely not part of the original ensemble), the other tell tale.
The two friends were in some respects as different as chalk and cheese. Bruce was classically handsome; a portrait painter would not need to employ any artistic licence to produce a pleasing image. Harold on the other hand, bore the scars of the numerous scraps lived to tell the tale of. Harold’s broken nose, which he steadfastly refused to have corrected by any healing order, did not quite crown his face. What did crown Harold’s face was a livid scar that snaked down from his forehead, over his left eye, and finished on his left cheek.
That a god had touched Bruce would be obvious to anyone with the piety and knowledge of the god in question to see. The god in question would surprise some. The identity of the god is a secret that Bruce must keep under a gies from that god. But, the physical handsomeness of Bruce is a god given gift is obvious to see.
Harold also has been god touched, but only those who have seen him really fight would have noticed. Those who were on his side of the fight would have seen the red mist of a berserkers rage descend over Harold. The warrior god of the frozen north tribes, being the only god who would bless, or maybe it is a curse as well, a warrior with such a gift.