Three full moons had past now since Tol and the ragged band of survivors of “the purge”, as Carlyle had called it, returned to Moonstair. At first Tol hadn’t noticed the tension, he’d often wondered at the things the people here worried at, who their master was, and how fairly they were treated; Whatever this Wencelen wanted, they had food in their bellies and were able to go about their business, for the most part, unmolested.
He noticed it now, the silence could be cut with a knife, the three boatmen swung silently in the breeze, in time with the sloshing of the pontoons in the river. Most of those that past this way refused to look upon the sight. Tol had no such qualms, he popped a chunk of bread and cheese into his mouth, eating noisily, and not for the first time wondered at the stupidity of these men.
If they were to refuse to pay the new guys men off, then hide your wealth, don’t be seen, pay what little you must and keep the rest to yourself. You don’t stand against a dozen armed men and spit in their eye, not if you want to live. He’d heard the Abbot was to speak to the people in the centre of town this evening, to decry what had happened no doubt. Tol shook his head, the people here would learn soon enough… he had long ago.
Tol left the moorings, the corpses and the carrion birds behind; Carlyle has requested that he meet him at the church and if the pits had taught him one thing, it was to remember who your friends were. He knew the church quite well, he’d done odd jobs there now and again, for a meal and a little coin, and slept in the stable a few times when he couldn’t find a welcome elsewhere. But he had never seen this part before.
In the chamber was Carlyle, Eomund and two others. He had seen the church knight before, Gwen was her name he thought, the other he didn’t recognise, but she had the bearing of a warrior, confident and still. Tol caught the look she gave him as he entered, an exasperated frown, there for only a moment before the calm and focus returned, but there, she named herself Ellie. No matter, he grinned his broken toothed grin at Carlyle and greetings over began to eat as Carlyle explained what he wanted from them.
Carlyle had a book, more valuable than his own life, so he said. How such a thing could be puzzled Tol, but then there was much that still puzzled Tol about these peoples ways. Either way Carlyle, Eormund and Gwen were guardians of the knowledge it contained and there was an item of value that would help them to understand it better and Carlyle wished them to get it. Gwen was to take payment for the item to the north moorings at dusk. The owner of the item would meet them by the statue and once the bargain was complete, they were to return here with the item. Gwen was to seal the bargain, and was given a pouch of coin and gems to do so. Ellie was to ensure the item made it back to Carlyle. Tol was to keep Gwen safe. Needless to say, this was to be kept from Wencelen’s men, who would be out in force today following the hangings and given the Abbot’s planned speech.
Dusk was some way off so the group headed to the silver plate to get a good meal and find a spot to see what the Abbot had to say. Tol knew Master Cham, the owner of the Silver Plate, a little anyway; He’d helped Cham “find” things he’d lost once or twice, these things were usually lost in some loud and arrogant merchants purse and Tol had always eaten well for a few days after “finding” them.
Gwen ordered, Ellie paid and Tol ate. The crowd swelled and the Abbot spoke. It soon became clear there was going to be trouble, Ellie spotted Wencelen’s men in the crowd, armed but not obviously and the Abbot had whipped the crowd into a frenzy. Gwen was torn, but there was nothing any of us could do, she spoke to Master Cham and while he prepared to get out of the town while he could, Tol and the others made it out through the kitchen where, to Tol’s great pleasure, there was still much spare food.
Dusk was fast approaching now. Gwen guided them through the back streets towards the north moorings, Tol helping where he could. It wasn’t long, Wencelen’s men and something else, something that made them nervous too, were hiding down a side street. There was no time to wait and see what was happening, but as creeping past Tol was left feeling very uncomfortable and couldn’t help thinking of the stories he had heard about the portal to the Fae realms, from which Moonstair had gotten its name.
Dusk had fallen and the north moorings were deserted, or seemed to be at least. Gwen approached the Statue, Tol remaining at her side while Ellie kept watch. A figure emerged from the shadows, he had spotted Ellie who had disappeared from tols vision some time ago. Tol was reminded of the arrogant merchants that Master Cham liked so much. The figure wanted more, something Tol was begining to expect from people now.
Rumour had made it this far that the Abbot and Wencelen had made an agreement. It was then that Tol was certain there would be much bloodshed this night and his mind conjured up the image of patrol hiding in the alley and the strange figures with them. For all his taunts, the figure either didn’t fancy crossing swords with Tol and the others that night or he knew more than he’d let on and wanted to make good his escape, he settled for what Gwen had.
Wencelen’s men found them. Gwen tried to reason with them, Tol liked Gwen he had decided, even now she could make a joke. Wencelen’s men didn’t find it quite so funny though, even less so when Ellie cut two down, while Gwen was fending the others off and Tol looked for an opening to strike. For a while it looked like Gwen may be overwhelmed, but the opening came; The leader struck at Gwen, his club caught on her shield, exposing his side, the blade entered the gap between his ribs and he slumped to the floor. The others ran.
Tol’s eyed the surroundings nervously, keen to be off before the ones that ran off returned with re-enforcements, while Ellie searched the bodies. Gwen proved what a joker she was by suggesting they could have disabled their attackers and didn’t need to kill them. Another thing the pits had taught Tol was to never leave an enemy behind you if you had a choice.Ellie found a note on the bodies, Carlyle and the others at the church were wanted, Wencelen’s men were searching for them and no doubt anyone associated with them. Gwen passed Tol a tabard from one of the bodies and soon they following the smell of burning through the streets and back to the church.
The acrid smoke thickened as they got closer, Ellie caught Tol’s eye, she had found Carlyle, in an alley not far from the church, near the chjurch buildings being ransacked by Wencelen’s men. Tol didn’t catch all of what was said there, but it was clear to all their time here was done. When Gwen returned from speaking with Carlyle it was with instructions to head south.
Two choices through town to the south moorings and find a way across the river or east out of town and through the wilds. Tol prefered the first one, he was sure he could get by unseen and a short boat trip over the river was preferable to hiking who knows how far through the wilds, but gwen feared there would be too many of Wencelen’s men that way, and if Gwen is to go that way then so must Tol, Carlyle asked him to protect her after all.