I expected Far Spire to be just the same as the other keeps we’d seen on our travels. Imagine my surprise when it turned out to be the same size and configuration as our monastery. They even had both the east and west towers, thought they are both still standing. I wanted to explore them both to see if there was anything different from ours. But I didn’t want to do anything before I got us squared away in this village. Sebastian had taken a shining to us and helped us make our way around; steering us to an inn that wouldn’t ask too many questions, but advised Liz to keep the hood on her cloak up to avoid any trouble. Actually he suggested the same for me. The Legion of the One True God, or the Fist of the One True God as they preferred had set up a bivouac outside of the village against the western wall of the keep.
“Those are the fields we stabled the caravans for the last three seasons,” Sebastian told us with a chuckle. “The first good hard rain we get and they’ll be ankle deep in old manure.”
We stopped the wagon outside the village that was built right up against the southern and western walls of the keep and spent a little time gawking. Oh, I’d been out to the village back home twice in my life and I recall how overwhelmed I’d been by the sheer number of people. This village swelled to three thousand at the height of caravan season, but in the off-season it fell to a little over twelve hundred. Most of the trade here came from protecting the traders and making a profit of their visits. During the off season, trade shifted to less acceptable trade like with some of the demi-human populations around the region, including the hobgoblin and froggies, which they called froglodytes. I laughed at him when he called them that. Luckily he didn’t care what I thought on that subject so we didn’t have an argument. He said I could call them any damned thing I wanted.
That name told me that these people didn’t get out into the swamp enough to know the difference between the frogs and troglodytes. But who was I to argue? I called them frogs which could confuse the casual observer. Not like they were the tiny, hand sized amphibians that sat on logs and serenaded the other swamp dwellers.
After a bit of goggling, Sebastian asked us what we wanted to do. I’d read dozens of tales depicting life in villages and recalled enough of the stories that Lilith/Sparkle had told of growing up in her father’s inn. I had a few priorities and found the first use of that treasure I’d hoarded in the bottom of my pack all this time. When I pulled out a handful of gems Sebastian made me put them away and said to not show them to anyone until I could get a few of them exchanged for coin.
He was a known individual in the village and could get us set up on credit, until he could arrange for us to meet a reputable exchange agent. Probably one of the remaining wagon masters in town would be interested as long as he thought he could take advantage of us. I asked Sebastian what some of the gems were likely worth, and how much he thought we could get in exchange. It was all so ridiculous One of the clear gems was a diamond that he said would be worth three to five hundred gold coins. That seemed like a lot of weight to carry around so I asked him if I could exchange it for less.
Apparently that wasn’t the smartest thing I could’ve said, because he looked at me like I was soft in the head. Instead he wrapped my hand closed, covering the diamond and other small gems and asked me to put them away. He promised to arrange for us to get a few niceties taken care of first. Then we’d see how much money we really needed for the time we were in town, and to arrange for an exchange. He said I was not to show anyone else those gems unless I wanted to be robbed. Being in a village already seemed like far too much work and distrust. It’s not like I had toiled for those gems, I’d found them in the lairs of a few monsters we’d killed. Nothing even in the same category of what Calladil, my mercenary friend, had to do for his coin. I agreed and dropped the gems back in my pack. I’m just glad I didn’t take out the really big ones if that was the reaction I was going to get from one the size of my thumb. I had at least three other gems that were double or triple the size. Civilization was crazy.
With that settled for the moment, I told him that we wanted to find a place like an inn where we could sleep unhindered. We also wanted to hide Kithri from prying eyes, but Sebastian didn’t know about Kithri so I told him I had some items I was not happy about exposing to greedy or prying eyes. After the gems, he seemed to understand and said he knew just the place.
There was an inn on the far northern edge of the village on the eastern side of the keep that was honest and didn’t ask too many questions. He knew the owner and assured me that she and her family ran a clean place. I thought it sounded fine so he arranged for us to have a large room with two beds and meals delivered to the rooms or we could eat in the main room, as we preferred. They also had a stable attached where we could board the horse and wagon until we decided to sell the rig, or keep it. We could also store the weapons and armor before we sold them.
Turned out that Captain Kershaw may be willing to take the whole load off our hands if we were interested. I asked if it would help he and his men protect the roads in this region and Sebastian assured me that was the case.
I told him I’d just donate them to the keep, but he shook his head and told me that people valued things when they had a stake in them, especially around financial ventures. If I gave them the armor and weapons, they would feel beholden to me and it would wreck any objectivity they needed to remain neutral if things political. I thought it was silly, but didn’t argue. Why would I want them to remain neutral? I wanted them to do the right thing regardless of politics. Is that too much to ask in the world? (The answer is, apparently, yes. I do not like that answer.)
Basically I just wanted to sleep for a week and practice with this new divine flow was going to do to me. What I expected to happen was that I’d get no sleep and that we’d be accosted by these Fist of the Hand of the whatever jerks. I was too tired to care anymore. Sebastian said he’d report to Captain Kershaw and that he’d see to the religious troops. At least we wouldn’t be accosted for a few days. It would take them that long to get their house in order.
We entered the inn through the back door, Liz and I carrying Kithri while Sebastian watched the back alley to make sure we were not disturbed. He didn’t see what we carried in, and he also didn’t ask any questions.
Once the wagon was stashed in the stables with a guard hired by Sebastian, we went into the inn and slept like the dead.
I was feeling pretty great when I woke up, until I saw that I wasn’t in the inn any longer, and that I was alone in a cell. That was not what I expected.