The Silence after an Avalanche Fell

Eidr stood at the edge of the somber gathering, the weight of the cask of beer resting heavily on his shoulder. The funeral was a solemn affair, with mourners clad in dark furs and heavy cloaks, their breath forming frosty clouds in the frigid air. The bleak, rain-touched fall landscape served as a stark backdrop to the assembly, a reflection of the void left by Hallbjorn’s passing.

As he listened to the eulogies and laments of those around him, Eidr felt a profound sense of conflict within himself. It had been a long time since he had last taken on the mantle of a Skald, before his time in the unforgiving Rhimelands, before he had been forced to scavenge and fight for mere survival. In those days, he had roamed the harsh wilderness, far from the halls of poetry and song.

Now, as the Master of Coin of Runeheim, entrusted with the practical matters of the community, he felt that he had lost the right to call himself a Skald. The weight of responsibility had shifted from crafting verses, reading runes, and weaving tales to balancing ledgers and ensuring the clan’s economic stability. It had been a trade of skills, out of necessity, but it had left him feeling detached from the art of storytelling and the bardic tradition he had once held dear.

Eidr’s hands tightened around the cask of beer as he contemplated whether he had any right to stand before the assembly and recite the eddaic verses he had learned for the occassion. The verses, though etched in his memory, felt distant, like fragments of a past life. Doubts gnawed at his heart, whispering that he was no longer worthy to be called a Skald.

But as the ceremony continued, a deep sense of duty stirred within him. He could not deny the bonds of friendship that had connected him to Hallbjorn, and the promise he had made in the moonlit night, to honor his friend’s memory, weighed heavily on his soul. Eidr knew that, despite his changed role in the clan, he had a duty to pay homage to the fallen warrior in the most heartfelt way he could.

With this determination, Eidr steeled himself for the moment when he would step forward and share the poem he had prepared, knowing that even if his path had diverged from the art of the Skald, his heart remained tethered to the traditions and to the memory of his dear friend, Hallbjorn.

Eidr’s mind wandered back to the grim and fateful night previous, when he had first seen Hallbjorn’s lifeless body, surrounded by a circle of people, illuminated by the flickering firelight. The image was etched into his memory like a haunting painting. Hallbjorn’s chest bore the gruesome evidence of his demise—12 stab wounds, a grotesque testament to the brutality of his end. Worst of all, his heart had been ripped from his chest, a horrifying desecration of the fallen warrior.

As Eidr gazed upon the lifeless form of his friend, a seething rage had surged within him. His hands had clenched into fists as he watched Knut, another clansman, engaged in a one-on-one duel with the heretical enemy responsible for this vile act. The scene played out before him, and Eidr couldn’t comprehend why they allowed the wolf of slaughter the dignity of a duel, rather than descending as a united crowd to exact swift and brutal revenge.

He had expected the so-called heretic by the White Lion to pay dearly for the sacrilege of defiling Hallbjorn’s body. But as the duel unfolded, despair settled upon Eidr’s heart. The warrior, perhaps a coward in Eidr’s eyes, managed to evade the felling blows and slipped away like a wraith into the shrouds of the night, disappearing like smoke into the darkness. The grudge went unpunished, leaving Eidr and others with a gnawing sense of injustice, an unquenchable thirst for vengeance that was never sated.

In that moment, as he stood beside the fresh grave, with the echoes of the Eddaic poem still ringing in the cold air, Eidr couldn’t help but feel that the memory of Hallbjorn deserved more. His friend had been a warrior of unmatched valor, and the heretic’s vile act had gone unanswered.

After watching the enemy slip away into the night, with rage and despair gnawing at his soul, Eidr had retreated to the moonlit clearing he remembered so well. It was there that he had performed a ritual that was both an act of remembrance and a plea for justice in the afterlife.

In the quiet stillness of the clearing, he had sacrificed a fox, mirroring the gruesome manner in which Hallbjorn had met his end. The ritual had been a somber reflection of the depths of his emotions, with rage and despair mingling within him. Eidr had called out to Auvfaldr, the god of their traditional ways, beseeching the deity to grant Hallbjorn honor in the afterlife, despite the fact that his dear friend had followed the path of the White Lion God, Benalus. Eidr’s heart ached with the knowledge that their paths of faith had diverged, but he still sought to ensure Hallbjorn’s story and honor was preserved and that he received his rightful place among the Branded Men.

As he offered the fox’s life to Auvfaldr, the moonlight filtering through the trees seemed to cast an ethereal glow upon the clearing. Eidr’s voice had risen, fervent in its plea, and the very same Eddaic poem that he now considered reciting during the funeral had echoed through the woods. The words had flowed from him like a tribute to Hallbjorn’s legacy, a recollection of the Branding that had earned him the title of the Avalanche, a name that still rang through the hearts of Runeheim.

Eidr’s memories were a tapestry of emotions, intertwining with the traditions of his people and the unbreakable bond he shared with Hallbjorn. Now, as he prepared to share the Eddaic poem once more, he hoped that his story, his friend’s memory, and their shared history would be recorded among the annals of the Branded Men, so that future generations might know the tale of the Avalanche and the enduring friendship that transcended even the divisions of faith.

He spoke.

“Neath the mountain Einjallar, on the Wolfchaser river,
Winter’s ice thawing, the river-banks swelling,
As village-gates opened to spring’s first endeavors,
A wild man descended the rime-covered mountain.

He came to the meadhall, calling for guest-right.
His trunk as a barrel, limbs stout as tree-trunks.
The hair on his chest mixed with blood long forgotten.
Hallbjorn his birth-name, scion of Greywolf.

On the mountain he trained, through windstorm and blizzard,
The fire of his rage overcoming the winter.
His mentor surpassed, now he came to the lowlands
For bloodshed and glory, the hunt never-ending.

The men of the village met these words with a challenge,
The warrior’s way, a test of the stranger.
Should he prove himself strong against the warrior chosen,
Then he would be welcome, with shelter and feasting.

Seven men stood before him, the pride of the village.
As guest he could choose the one he must challenge.
Hallbjorn emptied his ale-horn and met them with laughter.
“Every one will I fight, and be done by the sunset!”

The circle was drawn, the warriors made ready,
Cast lots for the honor to be first to the blood-pit.
They took up their axes and sharpened their daggers,
Each eager to fell the arrogant stranger.

As the first fighter entered, the crowd roared to greet him.
Just as quickly the crowd fell back in stunned silence.
The mirthful great man, the wild man of the mountain,
Before them transformed to a terror of bloodshed.

The blood of the first still steaming, he pointed
To the second in line, and called him to come forward.
As a starving man given the key to the feast-hall
Was Hallbjorn when faced with the chance to do battle.

Seven entered the pit to bring down the stranger.
Seven men carted out, bloodied and broken.
Hallbjorn squinted against the sun not yet setting,
Looked to the crowd and called for more ale.
This was witnessed by Erik, the Skald branded Treehide.
In the feast after battle he stood and declared:
‘This unstoppable power that comes down the mountain,
I name thee the Avalanche, and call for the Branding!'”

An Ambitious Proposal

Eidr sat alone on a rugged stump at the edge of the cliff, his quill poised above a sheet of parchment as the wind tousled his unkempt hair. Below him, the grotto stretched out, a dark and mysterious abyss that had captured the interest of the Runeheim Society of Scholars. To Eidr in that moment, this was a much-needed sanctuary, a place where he could let his mind roam freely, far from the prying eyes of the highborn who now looked to him as the temporary Master of Coin.

His rise from a lowly gravedigger to the position of tax collector was nothing short of miraculous. But it was a miracle he intended to exploit to its fullest extent. The sudden vacancy in the position of Master of Coin, resulting from the execution of one of the previous Masters for slave trading, had presented him with an opportunity like no other. He had planned on using that title, planned on manipulating things as tax collector. But Lady Vindicta had given him something far greater than he had ever had before. He would repay the debt with work befitting.

Eidr dipped his quill into the inkwell and began to draft his proposal to Lady Vindicta Dragomir. He knew that in order to wield power, he must first appear legitimate, which was something he could never achieve in person. His social class had been one of servitude and poverty, but his mind was his weapon. It was his knowledge of academics and logistics that had set him apart.

As he wrote, his thoughts flowed like a river, each word carefully chosen to convey his intentions without ever stating them outright. He spoke of fiscal responsibility, of the need to maintain the stability of the realm’s finances, and of the importance of fair taxation. He emphasized his commitment to upholding the laws and values of the land.

Eidr knew that Lady Vindicta Dragomir was no fool. She would read between the lines, see the potential for mutual benefit in his proposal. He couldn’t afford to be seen as a threat, not with so many eyes on him. He needed her support, her trust, and he had to earn it subtly.

The grotto below him whispered secrets of forgotten ages, and the cliffside stood as a symbol of his ascent from the depths of society. Yet Eidr couldn’t help but think that he still had to descend into it. He still had to investigate the blood-stained grotto beneath him.

With a final flourish, he signed his name at the bottom of the parchment. The proposal was complete, carefully crafted to give him the legitimacy he so desperately needed. He would send it to Lady Vindicta, and for now, let the ink on the parchment speak on his behalf. He would have to get second opinions, his words alone weren’t enough.

As he folded the document and pocketed it, Eidr gazed out at the grotto once more. It was a reminder of the lengths he had come, and the depths he was willing to explore to secure his position. The wind carried his thoughts away into the abyss below. He saw only shadows below.


Lord Svanhildr Saenger.
I regret that I am unable to reach Runeheim by the a̶f̶f̶o̶r̶m̶e̶ date that you gave me to reach the city. I̶n̶ ̶r̶e̶c̶e̶m̶ As an apology, I have included a casting that may help you this season. You may not give c̶r̶e̶d̶e̶ credit to these castings, but the runes are as old as Njordr and I hope that, by giving you these words, you might forgive my vagabondary.

You have been relying on yourself as you enter this new stretch of your life and it has been rewarding for you in the past. But as you enter into this new arena, find the source of your power and focus on learning where to spend your energy and what can be left behind. There will be a blockage in your path, but that delay may be rewarding. Have cautions, but press forward. You may have to face the fire of things that are hard this season. Seek out allies and remove the thorns already in your feet. Find your flow, and like the Kaltlina, your ambitions will take you out to sea.

I ask that you forgive my skiving. I travel as fast as the weather allows on difficult roads, but I will try to be there by next season. I pass this note up the river in hopes that it reach you.
Eiðr Fylgjason

Just Business- A Gale Party

“This is boring as all hell,” grumbled Count Strongbull. “Not a single auroch in sight.”
“That’s because this is civilization, Richard.” Count Archibald shook his head.
“It’s late spring now, the aurochs are at their most aggressive. This is the *perfect* time for some wrestling.”
Dame Josefine brushed past William. “Raimunde is looking for you.”
Sighing, William pushed off from the wall and started toward his most recent employer. The party, or ball or whatever, was in full swing now and he found Raimunde Gale talking to Kirk Renett. Perhaps an alliance, though frankly William disliked the boy. He stood to the side and waited for their conversation to end.
“I can’t *believe* Rosomon and Alexandra are going to be finished schooling soon. It’s such a waste,” the Renett boy was saying.
“What do you mean?”
“Well. Why *should* they study. It’s not like they’re going to be doing anything *important*. Just wives and mothers. Why don’t they learn things that would be more fitting to them?”
Raimunde shifted uncomfortably. “Well, it’s better for everyone when knowledge is more widespread. Otherwise why would the University be there.”
“*I* don’t think women *belong* in the university. Like I said, they should be learning things more fitting to their future tasks.”
Raimunde smiled to William, then looked back to Kirk. “I’m sorry, I’ve been waiting for news. Perhaps we’ll find more time to talk later.”
Kirk looked at William. “He looks like a clown to me. I thought you’d grown out of that sort of thing, what’s with the mask?”
Raimunde shook his head, but maintained his smile. “Excuse me.”
Leading William away from the boy, he apologized. “My father told me I should make friends. No one my age seems to be worth knowing, frankly.”
“I’m sure that I couldn’t say, my Lord,” William replied.
Shaking his head again, Raimunde sighed. “Anyway. Did you hear anything interesting?”
William glanced toward the table where the representatives from the Houses were sitting, specifically toward Count Dracian, who he assumed was the one who was really employing him, rather than Viscount Harlan, Raimunde’s father, who sat beside him. “Oh yes,” he began.
“I heard a rumor that Baron Valerian there came in the same carriage as Count Bradford. The Valerians *could* use the support and the Bradfords haven’t the military to defend themselves if anything were to happen. Though at the same time, Baron Telford sent a few gifts towards the Valerians as well, so perhaps it has something to do with trade, rather than warfare.” He paused as one of the Ascalon servants passed by.
“Master Corvo di Talmerin, there, with the Baines family. He swore he’d seen a servant of House Drake slipping a sealed note to Viscount Avery when she was pouring his wine. Meanwhile I also heard that Count Gareth Addison has sent his second son in secret on a vampire hunt towards the City of Lanterns as well. I *believe* that his eldest hasn’t yet had that opportunity, so perhaps there’s something there.”
Raimunde smiled and pressed a coin into his hand. “Thank you. You’ve done wonderfully so far.”
William nodded, bowing slightly. “There’s nothing else for the moment, but I think I’m going to go wait by the drinks and see who comes around.”
Nodding, Raimunde put on a more serious face.
William laughed. “Keep smiling Raimunde, you’ll find better company that way.”
Raimunde’s façade broke somewhat and he smiled again. William patted him on the back and headed toward the drinks. He stopped at one of the tables on the way and wrote a quick note, then handed it to a passing servant. “Can you take that to Dame Josephine please?” He gestured in her direction. The servant acceded and headed that direction. William watched until Josephine had received the note and had started heading toward its true intended recipient before he continued toward his destination.
Sir Harry Callahan met him there and William smiled again. “Did you talk to Baroness Ismania Faulkner?”
Harry nodded. “She says there’s nothing you can do about the trade guilds on Ard Kreight.”
Sighing heavily, William shook his head. “I wish more of these noble houses acted like the Telfords. They’re not *all* bad.” He wrote another note and did the same as the last, sending this one toward Corvo.
Turning back to his companion, William shook his head. “I’m sorry, Harry. You probably don’t care.”
He laughed. “You asked, I answered. I owe you after how you helped me with the Faulkner’s problem.”
William shrugged and smiled. “I’ll find you later if I need anything else. Thank you. I mean it.”
Harry shrugged and took a drink, then walked away.
William listened for a while longer, then moved to a corner to write his reports. As he worked, he hummed along with the Wind Singers guildmembers staffing the party. A hand came down on his shoulder and he looked up, glad he’d been writing in his own personal code.
“You are William, yes?”
Nodding, William covered his notes and turned. “How can I help you?” He noted the House Valerian sigil on the man’s armor.
“You will come with me now.”
William stood. “I’m sure there’s no need for that. Perhaps we could talk here? Or someplace quieter?”
“Come with me.”
The man walked away and William sighed, waving to Harry as he followed.
They walked out onto the balcony and the man punched William in the gut. He fell to his knees, winded, and let out a groan of consternation. “What was *that* for?”
“Stop looking into House Valerian’s business. It’s none of yours.”
William shook his head and stood, using the balcony railing for support. “Alright, alright. I have nothing against you or your house.” He backed away a little, putting a hand between them in case the man tried to hit him again.
The man went inside and William sighed and straightened. A moment later, Harry came out. “Are you alright?”
“Yeah, I’m alright.” He shook his head again. “Just business.”

Sailing the Sea of Coils

Sharp wind cut through the thin blanket that William had wrapped around himself. He took a shuddering breath and crouched next to a crate to block the wind.
“First time to Njordr?”
William looked up at the voice, eyes dead. He nodded.
“You look cold.”
William nodded again.
“I’m Asja. Asja Gatewatch. And you’re William, yes?”
Sighing, William sat straighter. “What do you want, Asja?”
“Well… the others were saying that you were one of the guys in charge of the Sea Beggar? Big fan of your business. I was the one who helped Fearghas Llewyn get North.”
William shrugged, still not really interested in pursuing the conversation.
“Well, before we left, the captain, Julio de Monique? He said that you could use some help.”
William sighed. “No. I really don’t want any help. I don’t care who you are. I just want to be left alone.”
“God, you’re depressing.” Asja folded her arms and shook her head.
William shook his head as well and huddled down again.
Asja shook her head. “Look. Julio told me about Miss Tiarnan. Said you’d need some help getting back on your feet.”
William felt his anger building, but shook his head again and didn’t respond.
“I’m trying to help,” she said with a sigh. “If you don’t want it, I’ll just leave you alone.”
Pulling the blanket tighter around himself, William sank back down to his slumped position.
Shaking her head, Asja turned and walked away.

How dare he. How dare Julio tell this stranger about him, about his business. And how dare she bring up Lile. He gritted his teeth and tried to fall asleep. He dreamt of Lile.
He awoke to wind whipping past his face and his stomach lurching. He was falling. He hit the water and his breath was slammed from his chest. He fought his way to the surface and took a deep breath. He looked around, treading water. It was dark. William grabbed the edge of the boat and began to pull himself from the water, letting his waterlogged blanket fall from his body. He heaved himself over the rail and collapsed to the deck. He rolled over, still gasping for air. An axe hit the deck next to him and his eyes rose to meet those of a thickset man with njordic markings coating his skin. William’s eyes opened wide.
“What the hell?!”
The man lowered the axe toward him. “Don’t move you fat swine.”
William held his hands up, somewhat relieved. Maybe they’d just kill him.

Sitting in the boat, all William could hope for is that he’d freeze to death. His eyes were dull and he couldn’t feel his fingers anymore. He wished they would at least have left him his mask. They were sailing North, towed behind the enemy’s ship. He tried to feel something at the very least, but honestly couldn’t. Maybe it was good that he’d survived, but he didn’t care, not without Lile. North.

A Wilted Lily

William pushed his hair out of his face, grinning as he tied off his final line. He waved toward the Capitan. “Julio! I’m going to go! I’ll see you later!”
Julio laughed. “Say hi to Lile for me.”
William waved again and snatched his bag, and the box next to it, from by the gangplank as he left. He smelled the lily he’d gotten for her; his terzo regalo. She’d finally asked for it when she gave him the ring. He grinned as he thought about it, shifting his gear around himself to make it more comfortable.
“William!” came a friendly call from behind him.
Laughing, William turned. “Slaine MacAlister, what are you doing out here?”
“What, I can’t come see the Sea Beggar make its triumphant return?”
William rolled his eyes. “What do you want Slaine?”
His friend put his hand on William’s shoulder, smiling. “Conor and Malmuira are making a big meal tonight to celebrate, why don’t you and Lile come?”
“I suppose we should,” he laughed. “Since we’ve skipped the last few.”
“That’s not your fault, you’ve been travelling a bunch. How many are you at now?”
William smiled. “I don’t keep track. Not enough until we can fix the whole issue.”
Slaine shook his head. “You’ve helped a lot of people William. Don’t forget to take care of yourself.”
Laughing, William shook his head as well. “Why do you think I’m trying to get back to Lile.”
Slaine grinned and patted his shoulder again. “I’ll see you later.”

Craigellachie was beautiful in the fall. William took a deep breath as he walked through the town. He waved to a few people he knew as he went. It’d been nearly three years since he’d come to Dunland. He’d never thought he’d fall in love, not with the city or with Lile. Something was different in the air that day. Maybe it was that he’d been away a couple of weeks, maybe it was that he was going to see Lile again. He smiled as he thought about Saoirse, the girl he’d taken to Port Melandir, who reminded him so much of Lile. But there really was something different on the air. He sniffed it again. There was the smell of fire on the wind. He frowned. Was there a fire somewhere? There was no smoke on the horizon. Leaving the city boundaries, he kept walking toward the Tiarnan family farm, still thinking about the fire. It didn’t smell like a cooking fire, nor really a bonfire. He shook his head. It seemed too much for that.

William stopped on the corner of their farm, hands growing weak as he saw the stake rising from next to their house. He dropped the box in his hands and sprinted toward the building, dropping his bag when it got in his way. There was the pyre, burnt out on the yard. There was the stake, still standing from the charcoal. He paused there, looking at it. Who had been burned? What had happened here? A moment passed and he tore himself away. He pushed open the door. “Lile!?” he called.
Llwyn, her brother, was standing next to their crying mother. He turned to William with fire in his eyes and ran forward to meet him, then slammed his fist into his jaw.
William collapsed against the doorframe, eyes wild and hand to his cheek.
“It’s your fault, you bastard!” Llwyn yelled in his face.
William shook his head, not understanding. Then his eyes grew wide and he staggered back out of the building, back toward the pyre. “Lile!?” he cried out again as he pushed through what was left of the pyre. His palms were tearing open on the rough wood as he cleared the wood. He found a bone, carbonized flesh fused to it. He cradled it and screamed out.

He didn’t know how long he sat in the pyre, ash coating his skin. When he came back to himself, it was raining. His exposed skin was burning under the ash, but it didn’t matter. His heart was broken. What had happened? He began to cry, probably not for the first time. He slowly began to stand, pulling what bones he could find from the pyre. He pulled his blanket shawl off himself and wrapped up the bones. He walked up to the house, but Lwyn stood at the door.
“You’re not welcome here anymore.”
William didn’t say anything, he just stared.
He glared at William. “They said she was a witch. She was screaming about ‘just wanting a child’ as they burned her.”
William still didn’t respond.
“Get out of here. You’re not welcome here,” he said again.
After a moment, William turned and walked back toward the pyre. He stopped, tears still streaming down his face. He bent down and picked up the little tressertag bracelet he’d given her months before.
He walked to the pyre and paused again, then pushed past it. He kept going, stopping only to take his bag before he continued back to his ship. He left the lily behind, wilting in the mud.

The Lily of the Valley

William looked up from his notes at the pile of boxes that had just been delivered. He sighed and rolled up his sleeves, picking up a crowbar to get them open. Bottles clinked together as he counted them. All there. He grinned and stuck his head into the main part of his new tavern. “We got everything. Rai, can you come help me for a second?”
Raidho, his first real legitimate employee, approached with a smile. “Let me guess, need a hand unpacking?”
William rolled his eyes, chuckling. “You know I have a bad knee.”
She shook her head and pushed open the door, moving to pick up some of the boxes.
William moved back to his notes, double checking a few receipts. He’d have to go talk to Alonso before too long, see if he found that consierge he was looking for. He had mentioned Isadora… He sighed again and stood back up when he heard the door open. He stuck his head out the door again and smiled. “Azra. You finished the sign?”
“Yes sir.” They bowed and William frowned.
“I told you, you don’t have to call me that.” He shook his head. “You’re in the Throne now, free. You don’t have to call anyone sir anymore.”
“Yes sir.”
William sighed, but didn’t comment on it. Instead, he looked toward the pile of boxes Rai was unpacking. “Will you please help Rai with this?”
“Yes sir.” They moved to do so.
He shook his head again, but smiled and nodded. Yawning, he left the bar to see how Azra had done. Excellent, as always. He nodded and flipped the sign to open.

Not long later, William sat back at his desk, journal open in front of him.
‘Finally the Lily of the Valley is now open in Silbran. I never expected things to happen so quickly Lile. But here we are. I hope you approve. You would’ve liked it here. Silbran is nice, small town. Baroness Drake is certainly intimidating, but I’ve worked for her before. Do you remember?’
William put his quill down and sighed. He looked out the window and thought for a moment.
‘Hekte has recently become Master of Coin in Silbran. Things move so quickly here. Corvo is leaving, Saoirse’s made some good friends with the other Duns in the area. There’s quite a few of them that you would’ve liked. Niamh and Elona both remind me of you. I am curious, by the way. Saoirse says that her mother’s name was Sloane. Coincidence I’m sure, but it’s crazy to find out that there was another Sloane Tiarnan. But if it’s not coincidence… That would make her my niece I suppose. Don’t even know what to think about that.’
He sighed again. “Can’t believe it.” He shook his head.
‘I’m thinking about getting back into singing. You always loved that. I just found it too hard after you were gone. Saoirse thinks I should. Maybe I will.’
He paused, taking another breath.
‘I wish you were here. I’ve been relying on your memory, and that’s been enough for me, at least for now. This valley could certainly use your touch. You were always more adventurous than me. I didn’t expect things to be so hard here. Maybe in the future things will become better. But starting with nothing here was not the best of ideas. I probably should’ve brought more with me, maybe returned to Dunland first. At the same time, I’m almost glad I didn’t. Kirk Rennet showed up here. Apparently, he arrived a few months ago. If I had gone back, seen your family maybe, I wonder if more than just him would’ve followed me here, though Dame Kirsa Blackiron said that she took care of the problem. I owe her. She said that I don’t, but you know I can’t leave things like that. Apparently, we’re worth three gold apiece, Saoirse and I. That’s all we’re worth.’
He tapped his quill on the table for a moment, thinking.
‘I made some new friends in the meantime. A freed Jharad, Shazaad Jharad Azra ibn Jahan. I wish that they would understand that they are free though. They’ve been treating me just like their new master and I hate it. But they’ve started to work for me, just helping out around the place, maintenance stuff mostly. My other employee is named Raidho. It means Journey. I think you would’ve liked her too. Though frankly, I wish I could’ve found someone who knew how to use a sword for the place. I wonder if the MacLaren siblings would be willing to come this way.’
William looked up. The door was opening again. He grinned and set down his quill. “First Customer.”

Newsletter Flyer

If I haven’t spoken to you already, could the newcomers to Stragosa reach out to me? We like to include introductory information for newcomers in the newsletter and would love to help you find your place here.

To El Maestro di Mille Delize

To El Maestro di Mille Delize
I have done as you have asked and learned some fascinating things. Despite having followed them and learned what I could, I learned much less than I expected. I was surprised to find their information gathering skill the same or higher than my own. But despite this, I have still learned much. Their current practice and occupation seems the least of their skills. They are a skilled craftsman and inventor, who’s focus seems lit on the incendiary. Specifically those outside the techniques of Capacionne-born technology. But I also learned that if they are capable beyond natural means of creating this fire, they are unrelated to the guild. Unfortunately I was unable to determine the full truth of their abilities. Additionally, I have been told that their current services are quite addictive, though they had few, if any, customers at this last gathering. Unfortunately I don’t know how much of that is innuendo or if it just emphasizes the skill of their practice. I know they prefer wine to beer, and the current deal they have arranged with the Farmer’s Daughter.
Despite my small harvest, what I did learn has given me much to think about. I don’t know how much you knew about them before, but I hope that this service has been performed adequately.
With Regards,
The Friends of the Orange Baron.

Arriving at Costa Nera

William blocked the sun from his eyes, looking toward shore. He would’ve smiled under different circumstances. Glancing over his shoulder, he shrugged to his friend. “There it is Leo.” He shook his head. “Costa Nera.”
“Dreary place isn’t it.”
William nodded in agreement.
A voice rang over to them. “William! On the lines!”
William glanced to the speaker. “Aye Capitano! Moving to Port!” He laughed and shrugged to Leo again. “Duty calls.”
Leandro smiled. “Get going then. We’ll talk when we dock.”
Moving to the portside beam, William called his readiness and, as they pulled alongside the dock, he leapt across the gap with the line and tied it off. “Lines Secure!” he called when the others were done as well.
“Full stop! Hale up the brails!”
A chorus of “Aye Capitano”s rang out as the crew moved to store the mizzen sail.
William looked over to one of the crewmen on the dock. “Trice that line,” he called to the man, who coiled the spare line.
William waited while the gangplank got moved into place and the crew began to disembark to their various chores. For his part, William pushed his way to the Capitano. “Julio. I’m going to miss you.”
The man laughed and wrapped him up in a hug. “With your luck William, you’ll be back aboard the Sea Beggar in no time. Just take care to save some of that coin, don’t gamble it all away. You can’t win anything with nothing.”
William looked at the purse that held the last of his inheritance. It was all his mother had left him. “Don’t worry. I’ll buy back the Sea Beggar if it kills me.” He smiled. “I can’t let my mamma’s company just disappear.”
Leandro laid a hand on his shoulder. “You ready to go?”
He nodded to his friend and hugged the capitano one more time. “I’ll see you soon Julio. I’ll write you when I can.”
The capitano smiled. “Take care of yourself, piccino.”
William and Leandro headed down the gangplank together.
“Thank you for coming with me Leo. You didn’t have to.”
Leandro laughed again. “You think I was going to let you leave Le Sorelle without me?”
William smiled. “No I suppose not.”
The two headed toward the town.