Something Must Be Done...
He didn't know what to expect at Adele's. The smells of supper
overflowed the kitchens and spilled out onto the dirt road, inviting
Greywarden to hurry toward the small, well kept inn. Her cooking had
always been Adele's best advertisement - in better times, caravans would
quicken their pace when the Giant's Pouch reared its top on the road
ahead, for the men knew the food ahead was far above the average.
Better times, though, was the key. From his perch on
the Pouch earlier in the day, Greywarden had watched the road below for
signs of traffic - watched with a different set of eyes now, for he knew
in his heart that he was committed to doing something about whatever was
threatening the trade, the traffic, the good will around this village.
The people here were good people, but they were scared. Something was
stopping trade, and no one knew what do do about it. There had been one
small caravan - two wagons - for the entire afternoon. Better times
indeed! That road should have been full.
And so he had led Stepper back to town and brushed her coat at the
familiar guild stables, afterward heading for Adele's and his
appointment with Bentir, hurrying - hurrying - as always, as the smell
of dinner invited him forward. Would the common room be full from the
earlier meeting at the guild hall - full of talk and hope that something
could be done to made these troubles go away? Or would it be empty -
fear taking up the empty void, reducing boisterous conversation to
furtive whispers and ....rumors.
Even before he set foot on the porch, he knew the room was empty. At a
table near the fireplace sat a quartet of men worn from the road and too
much tension. Greywarden noted the sapphire blue shirt of the older man,
and remembered it from his watch of the road earlier in the day. These
were the drovers from the pair of wagons he saw.
Maybe they had some news.
The blue shirt
and worn expressions of the men at the table tipped Greywarden off
that here sat the drovers he had spied on the road below him earlier in
the day. Well, here's a piece of magic to show them - it is at the end
of my right arm and is called my hand...
"Good day," he greeted the travelers and introduced himself. "It pleases
me greatly to see travelers on the road - there have been few of late.
It is seems these times are hard indeed. What news have you from the
road, stranger? Let me buy your drink!"
"I am Adem," replied the older man with the blue shirt. His eyes were
tired, but they held a wisdom that belied a positive attitude and self
taught confidence beneath his facade. Here was a man who knew himself.
"...and you are correct, son. Hard times indeed. My trade is pottery and
glass, and few enough are my wares, though I will have them for sale on
the morrow. And we are indeed lucky to have made it through to your
village unscathed. We passed the remains of a caravan earlier morning -
nothing left of it but splinters and blood...nothing left at all!"
Eyes narrowing, Greywarden questioned the man further: "Were there no
signs of fighting, nothing else to tell what took place there?"
"We didn't dawdle there, son. Makes a man nervous enough to come across
the remains of a scuffle, but this was...different. Some arrows left
around, but nothing else. Come to think of it though, there were some
odd footprints though, hard to recognize what sort of creature made 'em."
"Bad luck to speak of it, Pa. Bad luck." interjected one of the younger
"I mean no disrespect, son of Adem. I was only curious. I'll leave you
to your supper and bid you a good evening. Adele's stew is the best
around, enjoy your meal." Greywarden rose from his seat and turned away
from the small company, nothing in his mind but unanswered questions. He
wondered whether he should ride a short way from town in the morning -
to see what could be seen...