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Midsummer 1372, Day - kronk9
kronk9
kronk9
Midsummer 1372, Day
"Twenty silver."

"For this?"

Kronk hold bracelet in one hand. It too small to need two. Silver, with some sort of stone, maybe amethyst, set in side. It pretty. Too small for Kronk.

"What am I, a parrot? I already said it's twenty silver, I ain't say it agin."

Kronk grunt. "I can melt twenty silver and have enough to make this thing."

"Yeh, but you woodunt have the jewel, woodja?"

The kid smile, like he been Kronk's friend for thirty summers. But he not Kronk's friend, he not even been alive thirty summers. More like ten. Look clean, too, with a little robe cut to his size, and a traveling box full of jewelry and trinkets.

Probably been selling since he was seven. Everyone pay too much for bracelets and earings because he such a cute little kid gnome. But Kronk seen too much; maybe Kronk's heart is too hard. Maybe the kid's mother is sick at home, dying, needing medicine. Maybe she loves boy, and he loves her, and he take to selling junk at fairs like this to nurse her back to health. Maybe they live pure simple life until terrible disease keep mom in bed. Maybe if Kronk buy this bracelet, kid will have enough to help her, and he give up vagrant life for good.

Or maybe the kid is just grinning little theif who'd slit Kronk's throat if his arms were long enough. Maybe Kronk been hanging around Katri too long.

"Kronk give you four silver."

His little face crinkles up in scowl. "Four?! Yer crazy. I woodunt take less'n fifteen!"

He reach for bracelet, but Kronk hold it up out of reach. "Eight."

"Ten!"

Kronk reach for coin purse. "Deal."

The kid take the coins, and Kronk put bracelet in purse. Lilfen will like it, when I see her again.

It a lovely day for Midsummer fair. Sky is blue, with only a few clouds to shade the birds flying overhead.

Here on festival grounds, it noisy. Many people walk in clusters, talking in happy voices. All kinds of people in all kinds of dress, but they walk around in groups.


Three ladies with gowns and hats with feathers sit on bench and watch people go by.

Four men who look like hunters walk around laughing too loud, carrying mugs of beer and making comments about other women's bodies that make the women blush.

An old couple, man and woman, walk around holding hands, smiling at each other.

And flocks of kids dodge through crowd, laughing, too, but not like the hunters.

And everywhere Kronk look, there are tables and stalls and carts and tents, selling beer and wine and food and fine clothes and cheap clothes and toys and games and jewelery.

There even stands selling weapons, but not kind Kronk would fight with. They the kind rich people who like to pretend they can fight would buy, made from cheap, shiny metal, covered with baubles. High Guardsmen not allow real weapons here; they at all entrances to festival grounds, make sure nobody come in with weapons. They the only ones armed.

Kronk not like leaving sword back at room in Dancing Goat, but Kronk know better than to argue with High Guardsmen. They not that dumb. So Kronk walk around fair without a blade. Almost feel naked. But there not be fighting here today.

That almost make Kronk bored. But it too nice today for Kronk to get unhappy. And Kronk need something to distract self.

Katri is some better, but she not want to talk to Kronk when he go to see her. It just this morning. I go to Xara's store, and sign say store is closed. Kronk knock, and Xara open door after while.

"Ahh. You're here to see Katri?"

"Yes. Is she alright?"

"Well...yes. But...well, she isn't here." She close the door behind her.

Kronk lower brow. "Then where is she?"

Xara fold her arms. "Your guess is as good as mine. She left this morning before breakfast."

"How you know she alright, then?"

"She was fine this morning," she shrug. "I had gone downstairs to fetch some food, and she was waiting at the table. When I got back she had left the table, and her pack was gone."

"And you didn't try to find her?" Kronk's voice getting loud.

Xara bristle. "She's her own person now. She doesn't listen to her...she doesn't take orders from me." She look at ground. "If she wants to leave, I won't stop her."

"Kronk not believe Xara let her run off."

She get ugly look on her face. "Xara not especially care what Kronk thinks." And she snap fingers, and turn to go inside.

Kronk try to lift hand to stop her, but hand not lift. As door close in face, Kronk realize what she doing when she snap fingers; Kronk recognize feeling of hold person spell.

Kronk wait five minutes on her front stoop waiting for spell to wear off, people going by glancing at me. Can't even growl. Kronk hate magic user people.



"You big man."

Kronk look down. There little human boy at Kronk's feet, looking up. "Huh?"

"You big man. Bigger than my daddy."

Some kids afraid of Kronk. Some not. This one not, I guess.

Kronk shrug. "Was born big, I guess."

Kid's eyes widen. He must only be four years old, maybe. "You weren't small when you were born?"

Okay. Kronk have to laugh. Kid not dumb.

Kronk squat down in front of him. He a grubby looking kid. His mother dress him nice red tunic and pointy leather shoes, make him look pretty for fair, but that not last long; now he missing left shoe, and tunic is grimy with dirt. His face covered in white cream; more cream oozing out of something he clutching in right hand. He not scared of big half-orc in front of him.

"No, Kronk not born this big...I start out small, too, like you did."

"Really?" He shove some of whatever in his hand to his mouth.

Kronk grin. "Maybe not quite as small like you, but pretty small...what that you eating?"

"Cream horn. It's good." He hold up hand and show big, sticky mess of cream and crumbling pastry flakes.

"Want some?"

"Thanks, but you can finish that one. Where you get it?"

"Over there. Mommy got it for me at that booth."

"Maybe Kronk get one for himself. Where is your mommy? She proba--"

"Tybalt!" Woman screams from crowd, comes rushing up and grabs kid. "Tybalt! How many times have I told you not to wander off? And after mommy bought you that nice cream horn! Don't be bothering the nice--"

Kronk rise to feet as woman turn to look at him.

"...the nice...orc...oh, dear Eldath..."

Her eyes widen, but not like kid's. She start babbling. "Please...I'm...he's sorry. He's only a child, he doesn't know what he's doing, don't...please don't do anything, he only got away for a minute..."

Kronk has seen it before. The kid isn't scared at all. Still staring at Kronk, even as his mother scoops him, clings to him to her side, to protect him. Or maybe herself.

I smile. "It okay." Kronk reach to pat kid on head. Woman flinches, nearly pulls him away. "He just telling about his cream horn. You go have fun now, okay?"

"Okay, Mr. Kronk."

Woman nod her head, eyes still like saucers. "Yes. Yes, thank you for...looking after my son." She hurry off, still holding her kid to her like he welded there. "Now what have I told you about talking to strangers, Tybalt? Especially strangers like..."

Kronk watch them leave, turn, and head back into crowd.




Cream horn is sweet and tasty, for such a little thing. Kronk is licking his fingers, walking by people who give him funny looks and not caring when there is voice in the air.

In my dreams I'm dying all the time...

Kronk is big half-orc. So why his knees get all wobbly? Because it her voice!

Then I wake its kaleidoscopic mind...

It Thralia! What she doing here? Was she supposed to come here? Yes, Kronk remember gnome person saying something about Sun & Moon playing at fair in Silverymoon? Or did Kronk only imagine that? Kronk doesn't know!!

I never meant to hurt you...

Kronk have to get away from the voice. Have to get out now. Fair not that good anyway. Need to leave...

Kronk move quickly through fair. Not run. But move quick. Move around slower people. Some not get out of way fast enough. Kronk shove them. Not hard, but shove. They angry, but Kronk not notice. There is little kid who told Kronk about cream horn. He being held by mother; mother glare at Kronk. Voice still in the air...

Kronk not sure where he going. Kronk not care. Kronk burst out into open area: lots of people, but no tents. Just big stage at end of field. It where music coming from.

And there she is.

...I never meant to lie...

Kronk want to run, but can't take eyes off her. Her band name is right: she is like sun and moon. Her smile dazzle like sunlight; her hair flow like moonlight.

She see Kronk.

So this..is...is good-bye.

She pause singing, only for moment. Nobody notice, probably. But Kronk notice.

She turn away. So does Kronk.

Kronk need drink now.




"Eight silver on ther dwarf!!"

"Nawr, yer barmy, that orcish fella is ahead by two now!"

Voices of people all around Kronk. Kronk hardly hear them. All Kronk see is face of dwarf sitting across table from Kronk. It ugly face, ugly like only dwarf face can be. His big nose is red and swollen, two hairs growing out of wart on left side. His thin little lips are buried underneath beard like wire bristles, oiled with grease from whatever he eat last. Except now he cleaning it with beer, dripping all the way down to tuft under the edge of table.

He walleyed, too: his right eye looks at you while left eye look over your shoulder. Now he focus right eye on Kronk.

"Neffer met a shcarbeharer yet I couldun' drink unner th' table," he mumble, then spit in empty mug next to him.

Kronk raise half empty mug to him, arm wobbly. "Here mud in your eye, cave-fungus." And Kronk drink it down, and barmaid puts fresh one in front of him, lay hand on Kronk's arm.

"Don't listen to old Rurik the Goat. The only reason he can get all that liquor in is because his mouth is so big."

"Quiet, wench!" he bellow.

"See what I mean?" she smile. Kronk smile back. She looking pretty good. Long hair and big chest in low cut blouse. Almost make Kronk forget.

Kronk try to remember how he get here. Contest. Drinking. That right. Kronk turn away from Thralia singing, needing drink. Halfway across fairgrounds there tent, big banner across entrance: CHEAP ALE. Kronk not go any further.

There are tables in front, lots of people drinking. Kronk get mug of ale, sit down across from ugly dwarf. He have three mugs in front of him.

He sneer at Kronk. "One mug! Why not just go out back and dump it in the latrine? Save ye the trouble of pissin' it out later."

Kronk eyeball him. "What you need three mugs for? Dwarves so short, they run out of room after first one."

People are gathering around us. Ugly dwarf grin. "Bet I can outdrink you, laddie."

"Heh! Rurik's finally found a challenger!" someone behind him say.

Kronk think about seeing Thralia. Then he smile. "You're on."

That about a dozen beers ago. Now ugly dwarf struggle to focus one eye on Kronk. "Ye orcken lot are all alike," he slur, waving one finger. "Thinken 'cause yer so big ye can hold all that booze in yer."

He thump mug on table, getting loud. "Ye seriously think ye can outdrink a dwarf?"

All his buddies around him cheer, yell, pound him on back. He turn to them. "Am I right or am I right?" Rurik smile to self, nod head. Only nod not stop; his head land on table, knock over last mug.

There moment of silence. Then Kronk stand up and roar. Some people groan, some people cheer. Barmaid wink at Kronk. Kronk try to wink back, but eye not work right. It look like table getting closer, and then Kronk feel table under his cheek before whole world gets dim...




Kronk wake up with sun in eyes. Dwarf is gone; so is barmaid.

When you wake up after drinking, first thing you always do is check coin purse. It still heavy; bracelet still inside it. Good.

Kronk pick up pack, not bother to check it. Nobody ever mess with pack.

Sun is lower in sky; it late in day and fair is wrapping up. People walking like they tired, but happy.

Kronk not so happy. Kronk's head hurt. Stomach not happy, either; after a few steps, Kronk have to go behind tent and throw up.

When Kronk step back out, people get out of his way, wrinkling noses. It time to go home. Walking toward exit, Kronk hear another voice that he know.

"Won't someone help a poor, blind child?"

Kronk follow voice; there is 'little boy' begging for alms, eyes covered in dark glasses. He stiffen as Kronk walk up.

Katri's dark glasses are just glass maker's trick. She can see fine from behind them. Her head turn towards me; she forget she's supposed to be blind for moment, then turn back.

Kronk pull copper piece out of purse, drop it in her leather cup. "How is your mother doing, little boy?"

She nod after a moment. "She is fine, bless you for asking."

"And you? You not hurt?"

Again she raise her head, dropping the blind boy act. People walking by turn heads, curious. She shake head briefly, then gather her things. "I am fine. But my ma will be worried. Could you help a poor beggar find his way home," she say, offering her arm.

Once we walking, she lead us off the main walkway, behind place called Gnatkiller's word-Kronk-can't-spell of Exotic Leaves, or something. It smell like smokeleaf there.

Out of sight, she turn to Kronk and pull off dark glasses. "By the Hand of Ilmater, Kronk, are you trying to get me killed?!"

"No! What Katri talking about?!" She turn away. "Kronk talk to Xara, ask where you go. She say she not know."

"That's because I left this morning, before she could say anything. She was probably furious with me..." She shake head again, then look at Kronk, scowling. "You need to stay away from us, Kronk. For our safety as well as your own. If Xara gets in trouble because of those tokens--" She raise hand to jab finger at Kronk, then cry out in pain, grab side.

"You still hurt."

She gasp, catching breath. "Yes."

"Why you leave Xara?"

"Someone came to the store after you left. Someone who claimed to be with the High Guard."

"But he not?"

Katri shake head. "Xara was convinced he wasn't. Kronk, those were lauthal tokens. They're...they let whoever holds them go anywhere in the city. If you have one, the whole magic defense shield on the city...it might as well not be there. They can put you in prison just for having one. And that man...whoever he was...he took them. He must be working with that Lord Aesir." She hold her forehead. "Falcon's droppings, I'm such a fool. I wish I'd never stolen that satchel..."

"Xara couldn't keep him from taking them?"

"She had little energy left after healing me. Anyway, she didn't realize he was using a disguise until he already had everything." She sigh. "She told me what had happened right after he left. I know you told her the whole story, I couldn't add anything to it. But I could tell she was scared. Those tokens are dangerous, even for her. So I left this morning. I thought she'd be safer that way."

Kronk's head hurt worse. Must be the ale. "Why you care so much for that magic-user woman, anyway?"

"She's always looked after me, ever since Talo was killed. I don't know why she should care, but...she always gives me a place I can turn to when I need it. Kronk, we need to..."

Her mouth keep moving, but Kronk not hear rest of what she say because of screaming. From someone else.

"What was that?"

We look out from behind tent. People are running in all directions, and it easy to see why. There is big troll with club.

"Wonderful," I mutter. "And Kronk without sword."

As we watch troll pick up halfling; halfling look like little doll in troll's hand. Katri's fingers dig into Kronk's arm. "What are they doing?"

Troll drops halfling into cage made from rough wood. There other people already in cage.

Katri never been outside city. Kronk has. "They harvesting. For food."

"You don't mean..." Her voice trail off.

Kronk turn to her, push her away. "Run. Get out of here."

She turn to go, and then is lifted into air. Another troll is reaching over tent, picking her up.

NO!

Kronk not have weapon. But Kronk can make one. The tent of herb seller is made from rough canvas held up by wooden poles. Herb seller won't mind if Kronk use one, right?

Troll notice when Kronk hit his foot with tent pole. He look over at Kronk, let out growl.

Kronk sneer. "You want meat? Kronk give you tougher hide than that!"

He drops Katri; she land all fours, start to crawl away. Troll is about five feet taller than half-orc. Bigger and dumber, too. He reach for Kronk, but Kronk too fast: swing tent pole like staff, hit him in side of face with it. He pull hand away from his head, sticky with black blood, and roar.

"You have to fight for this meal, ugly!"

It feel good to fight again, even though Kronk's head hurt. Then pain in head get worse all of sudden. Kronk realize it from club to back of head--another troll.

Drinking contest was bad idea...




"Kronk, are you alright?"

Kronk wake up to Katri shaking his shoulder. We inside troll cage.

"Are we going to be okay, Mr. Kronk?"

It little kid from earlier, kid who showed Kronk the cream horn. His mother still clinging him to her. Eyes even wider now.

"Tybalt...yes, we'll be okay. No need to talk to that orc."

"Half-orc," Kronk mutter.

"Kronk, I think we will be alright," Katri say. "Look."

There maybe a dozen people in the cage. We all gather at bars to look. The High Guard is outside, some on horses, a couple on horses. They driving off the trolls.

Everybody in the cage start to cheer. Pretty soon the Guardsmen surround our cage. They cut out a couple bars to make a door.

"Out one at a time, please. We need to check you for your safety." They start to check us as we each step out.

By now, Katri no longer looks like a boy. They a little rough with a girl in beggar's clothes. But she not have her cup anymore, so they can't prove she was doing anything wrong. They let her go.

She linger while they bring out Kronk.

Both guards are human, half head shorter than Kronk. They look wary about searching half-orc, but Kronk's head still hurt. Too tired to give them trouble.

"Did you have any money on you, sir?"

"Just coin purse..." Kronk reach for it. It not there. "Shit!"

"What about the pack?"

Kronk hand it over. There not anything good in there. Where did change purse go? It had bracelet for Lilfen...

"Sir, can you explain how you got this?"

"Got what?"

He holds out a little piece of metal, shaped like sheild. One of the token things.

Kronk look up for Katri. She not there.

Kronk shake head. "Not know."

"Sir, if you'll come with us..."

They lead Kronk to another cage. This one not wood like troll cage, but portable jail cell. They shove Kronk in.

Inside, there three other people: elven girl in fancy dress--Seledra?--Dhavra, that drow woman, and some little mayfly in robes of magic-user person.

Kronk take one look at them, then turn around and throw up one more time. Afterwords, wipe hand on chest.

Magic user person's eyes dart from one girl to the other. "Looks like his barf is worse than his bite."

Kronk barely hear him as he slump down against bars and close eyes. Kronk has had long day.
2 comments or Leave a comment
Comments
vaudy From: vaudy Date: June 15th, 2010 02:49 pm (UTC) (Link)
There seems to be a revision here I've never seen.

Kronk would not know Ralenthra as Mayurra at this point. That alias wasn't revealed until after she left Everlund, and Kronk didn't see her at Olostin's Hold. He would remember her as Dhavra. You need to change that.

Also, there's a line break in the middle of a sentence near the top of the post.
kronk9 From: kronk9 Date: June 18th, 2010 04:49 am (UTC) (Link)
Kronk fix and fix again.
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