Archive for February, 2016

Lanis, Episode four, ‘Really!’

 

Lanis

Lanis

Episode Four

By Rusty Knight 

Previously in episode three, ‘Hangela’s Duck’

Lanis met Hangela, again, having to buy three ducks for her master, Mage Lenden. Unfortunately, Lanis ended up with owning two of the ducks as Hangela misrepresented the sales to Lanis.

Now in episode four, ‘Really!’:

Spring 7 Bear

Lanis returns inside with Lenden to clean up their morning meal.

Lanis is coming to terms with the idea of owning two ducks, when Lenden sits at the table and utters, “Do you know what day today is?”

Lanis ponders this question carefully, wondering if today is a holiday, but she doesn’t recall any holiday that lands on Spring 7. “No, Master Lenden, I don’t, other than it is Spring 7. Something special about Spring 7?”

Mopping sullenly, Lenden says in a soft voice, “I was born on this day, seventy-two years ago, to a woman who raised me for thirty years before passing away from the pox.”

Lanis sits down and places her hand on Lenden’s. She says with conviction, “Shall we do something different or unique to celebrate?”

Lenden shakes his head and answers Lanis. “I want to study my new spell uninterrupted. So we are going up to the lab and I am going to show you your space. You can set up then go explore the library. But be careful not to disturb my concentration or the balance in my work space.”

Lanis grins, ‘Finally, my work space and the library. I waited long enough.’ “Thank you, Master Lenden. I will stay out of your way and not disturb your space or time.”

Lenden takes Lanis to the lab on the third floor of the manor and he designates her an area of the lab, fifteen-feet by fifteen-feet, in the north-west corner, so Lanis can set up her own area in the thirty-two-foot by thirty-five-foot laboratory.

Lenden watches Lanis move her table, two chairs and desk into an organized work space. Lenden grudgingly says, “Lanis, perhaps you can aid me for an hour or two with the more tedious organizational aspects of the spell research?”

Lanis smiles, realizing this is an in to learning more complex spells. They work on the mundane items of Lenden’s research for four hours.

A couple hour after noon, Lenden stretches and yawns. “Well, you are a decent research partner and you’ve made my birthday go well so far. How about we eat, then you spend some time in my library?

Lanis almost wets herself in her excitement at getting into Lenden’s library so soon. She shyly answers, “Of course, I’ll cook. Yes, Master Lenden.”

They eat a late mid-day meal of tubers and vegetables, in a peppered cream sauce. It is a recipe Lenden enjoys, and Lanis delights in.

Lenden takes Lanis to the library, a great room next to the laboratory, of equal size. The library is lined with shelves of great and small tomes and scrolls.

Lenden says with pride. “You can peruse the library for three hours. No tome shall leave this room.

Perusing the great and small tomes, Lanis goes into shock finding a rare tome by the relatively unknown artificer, Ranton. The tome is a class-four work, of his treaty on crystal structures in magical artifacts. She carefully picks up the sturdy medium size tome of oxen-hide covered parchment pages.

Sitting on the only couch in the room, Lanis opens the tome’s cover and beams the largest grin she has expressed since leaving the University. Ranton scribed in jalnoric script. Her hand lexigraphy script is neat and tight, allowing Ranton to put a large amount of script detail on each page. She used little in the way of flourishes and her diagrams are concise with only the necessary details. This is a basic text, full of details on the art of crystal artifact construction. By page four, Lanis is out of her element, but is so excited to learn what the pages contain that she doesn’t want to let the tome out of her hands.

Looking around the large room, Lanis ponders what other treasures Lenden has buried in here. She puts the tome back where she retrieved it from. Memorizing its location, Lanis walks to the library desk and retrieving two sheets of the highly expensive parchment and a bottle of the rare black ink, she sits down, scribing notes for herself on what she learned from the tome. She makes notes on what she can do now, using her own skills, for use in casting. Lanis fills both twelve-inch square parchment sheets with her own tight script. She debates using a third sheet, but instead blots the ink, to be sure it is dry, then she turns the sheets over and continues scribing. She nearly fills both of the pages, with barely two inches left on the fourth page.  Finished, Lanis sets down the gold quill worth ten Flairs.

She calculates what she owes Lenden for this: two Flairs per sheet of parchment, plus a Flairs worth of ink. So, she owes five Flairs. Thus, she has to do a lot of work for Lenden, or find income somehow.

To be continued …

In episode five, “Well?”:

Lenden and Lanis go for a carriage ride to Berry Market where Lenden makes some purchases for Lanis.

Lanis is a little forgetful and Lenden’s question is, “Well?”

© March 2016 by Rusty Knight with Inevitable Unicorn Press

www.inupress.ca rusty@inupress.ca 780-523-5835

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Bloodgrue – episode one, ‘Bloodgrue’

Bloodgrue Series, Canadian writer, Rusty Knight

Bloodgrue Series, Canadian writer, Rusty Knight

Bloodgrue

By Rusty Knight

Episode One

Autumn 76 Lizard: The sphere is clear as the gods breathe strongly eastward. Bloodgrue watches the skinny, armoured jalmal who is seeking help. The tall, unattractive, seventyish appearing man seems lost. So, Bloodgrue does his job. He approaches the man hoping, as usual, that the jalmal speaks native jalnoric. Sometimes they don’t; rarely, but sometimes.

In clear jalnoric speech, Bloodgrue offers the man, “Hello outter, you look lost. I am a dragoman apprentice. Perhaps I can help you. My name is Bloodgrue.”

Drawing back slightly for a moment, looking down at the urchin who approached him, Genner thinks about the offer. “Yes! Yes, I need help. I am here for the coronation of the new king. My barge was late so I missed the ceremonies, but I am still going to Palace Hill to grant tribute. Who around here can guide me to the Palace, or to a place near the palace I can stay? I am Sir Genner Mal.”

A particularly strong gust of breath ruffles clothing and dust, irritating those it passes. Bloodgrue blinks the dryness away from his eyes, then answers. “Sir Genner, I can escort you to near the palace easy enough. It will cost you one Dyns a day, plus food and lodging. Fair enough? We can start right away. Do you have others to go with you?”

Genner guffaws and shifts uneasily for a moment or two as he looks about, watching the crowded dock. North Dock’s citizens are an odd mix, as all classes of society mingle here. Low, middle and upper class mingle shoulder to shoulder together. Sir Genner is a knight, though he is not a landed knight, so he is not upper-class as such. But still, he is a knight so he is upper-middle-class.

Bloodgrue is dressed in near rags, which indicates lower-class. At best his clothing suggests upper-lower-class, even though the Dragomen are actually middle-class. So to Genner this is confusing. In Genner’s mind this makes Bloodgrue a very poor lower-middle-class, which indicates his master is either not very successful, or he is a very deep miser.

Sir Genner is a river sailor, when not being a knight, so he knows appearances can be deceiving and thus he comes to a harsh decision. “I will hire you. But you keep two paces to the side. If I feel you are misguiding me or are being inappropriate, I will report you or deal with you myself. The best you can hope for is firing with full pay, if I have to deal with you myself. Understood Bloodgrue?”

Bloodgrue bows politely as he understands his appearance throws folks off. Master Onar refuses to buy upgraded clothing for Bloodgrue, never mind supplying more than one meal a day. If Bloodgrue does not get one client in a day, Onar doesn’t even feed Bloodgrue. So Bloodgrue bows then offers his arm in the customary arm clasp to seal an agreement. He is happy that Genner never took to renegotiating fees.

“Sir Genner, I take it you came in on a barge. Do you have baggage? Which barge do we need to unload you from?”

Sir Genner, concluding Bloodgrue knows deal etiquette, accepts the arm clasp and seals the deal. Responding casually to Bloodgrue’s questions, Sir Genner answers cautiously. “I sailed in on the Hawk’s Nose as its 1st mate. I have no baggage, apprentice. Let us begin our journey. The gods rose half an hour ago, so if we get moving we can make some good distance. If you want to jabber we can do it while we walk.”

Bloodgrue smiles and with a shallower bow, acknowledges the command. “Follow me Sir Genner.”

Bloodgrue leads the way silently up the slopes of the river dock’s bank of streets to Osmo Road, navigating the crowd for the pair. He keeps his two pace distance as requested by Sir Genner.

Finally, reaching Osmo Road, Bloodgrue stops and watches the traffic as Sir Genner recuperates from the jostling of the dock’s streets. In his mind, Bloodgrue plans out their route.

“I think we will head toward Oak Street, but before walking Oak Street we will turn south onto Willow Road. We will follow Willow Road down into Velan District which is District four, that will then bring you closer to the Palace districts and Palace Hill. We can stay overnight in the Nobleman’s Inn and continue on in the morning from there. I feel from the pace we might set, it will be near the time of gods-set when we reach Nobleman’s. There is a closer inn, the Willow Rest, but we can gain four hours on the journey tomorrow by continuing to the Nobleman’s today. What do you say Sir Genner?”

Sir Genner, frowning, thinks a while on this, then nodding he answers curtly. “Let’s make it to the Nobleman’s Inn tonight. Start walking boy.”

Bloodgrue turns east to start on the journey.

Bloodgrue considers what he has with him: worn old cloth shoes, a tunic that is almost see-through and needs washing, leggings that are four years old, his only pair and need patching, a cloth belt holding his leggings on, a small cloth pouch attached to the belt which contains his worldly possessions; three copper dusters and a small rust pitted knife with a 2 inch blade. Oh yes, also a small green ball that is seven feet of 1/8 inch jute twine. This is all Bloodgrue has to show for being an apprentice, since his twelfth birthday, with Master Dragoman Onar. Bloodgrue turned sixteen, last Spring 12 Unicorn. It was sad, as he was alone that day, and try as he might he couldn’t acquire a client. So, he went to sleep without a meal on his sixteenth birthday! There were no friends to celebrate his birthday with him, but he wasn’t feeling particularly like celebrating. Right now, though, he could celebrate, as this is the perfect job, as it should be at least four days in length. This job should pay four Dyns. He should get to sleep on a cot, at worst, for four nights, instead of on the floor of his furniture-less eight-foot by ten-foot room.

Plus, he will be fed, so how could he not want to celebrate? He gets one of these jobs every couple of seasons.

The pair turns down Willow Road, still observing the silence Genner instilled upon their journey.

This road has traffic going both directions. Bloodgrue, though polite, observes his client’s demands, it is just that sometimes he needs to communicate with anyone who will communicate back. Bloodgrue has had enough silence; he has to try having conversation at least once this trip. “It’s odd to me how we have to start a whole new calendar because we have a new King. What was wrong with the old calendar? We couldn’t continue with the year of the Unicorn when King Dollan the IV was coroneted today? We have to get rid of the old calendars today and officially start new calendars at year of the Lizard? So today doesn’t go on the Royal Records as Autumn 76 Unicorn, 17th  Cycle of King Regeanus III. It is Autumn 76 Lizard, 1st Cycle of King Dollan IV. Why couldn’t we just say it is Autumn 76 Unicorn?”

“Don’t ask silly questions boy. We can’t continue marking time in the name of the old monarch. We have to record time in the name of the new monarch, so we start the calendar at the beginning of the cycle and the cycle starts at the year of the Lizard, then follows through the seven years of the cycle as has been done for about a thousand years now. There is the reason for doing it this way.”

Bloodgrue, interested in learning, is ever curious, and having Genner talking now, continues. “But why? Why do we do it this way?”

Sir Genner huffs grumpily. “How should I know? I am not a scholar or such. I sail and I hurt people. That is what I do, now shut up and keep walking or I will choose to do one of those two. We are on dry land now so you can understand which I will choose.”

Bloodgrue, not the slowest fish in the river, shuts up, keeping his two pace distance from Sir Genner, as they walk along Willow Road.

After sometime they arrive near Willow Rest. There is about seven hours of gods-light left in the day. “Sir Genner, that is Willow Rest. We can stop there or keep going to the Nobleman’s Inn. At this pace it will be close to dark when we arrive. It is your choice. There is nothing in-between these two.” Bloodgrue stops in front of a stone and wood building, which is two stories high that is painted brown and orange. The large sign out front has a simple, solid red square painted on it.

Sir Genner looks at the building a few moments, as he rests from their five hours of walking, then he shrugs and turns to Bloodgrue. “We go onward boy. You can still lead the way. But first we eat and you can exercise your lungs and jaw during this time. I just like to travel in quiet, but I will socialize while we feast. Is the eats good here?”

Bloodgrue sighs happily. It was yesterday morning the last time he had food. “Yes, the foods edible here. The dark ale is a winner as well.”

“Then in we go boy.”

Together, the pair enters the dim interior of Willow Rest. Sir Genner chooses to sit at the table near the door and wall. When the barman arrives, Sir Genner speaks up. “We will have two hot meals and two dark ales. Also, I need water for my dragoman, as he needs to talk and his speech was cracking on him last time he spoke. Bring the water right away. Bring the ales next, then the food when it’s ready. Where do you keep your privy? I haven’t stopped since the river.”

“The privy, Sir, is back in the stable’s courtyard. I will get the rest as soon as I see three Dyns.”

Sir Genner chuckles as he pulls free his coin purse from his backpack. Carefully digging out three silver coins from the bulging coin purse, Sir Genner hands them to the barman. Putting the coin purse back into the backpack, Genner puts the backpack against the wall next to their table. “You stay here for now and keep an eye on that. If anything goes missing you will be missing and not returning home. Understood?”

“Yes, Sir Genner.” Stammers Bloodgrue nervously.

Sir Genner unsheathes his dagger and sets it on the table in front of Bloodgrue. “Likely you don’t know how to use it, but just in case you need it. Stab with it, don’t slice. I’ll be right back. You best be here and my stuff be here.”

Looking up at Sir Genner, Bloodgrue simply nods a nervous yes, without touching the dagger.

Looking at the dagger after Sir Genner leaves; Bloodgrue estimates it is worth to be at least two Flairs. ‘I don’t think Onar has anything worth two Flairs. And Genner’s long sword has to be worth dozens of Flairs and his armour I have no clue. I don’t even know what kind of armour that is.’ 

The barman places a mug of water on the table in front of Bloodgrue near the dagger, and offers Bloodgrue advice. “If you don’t know how to use it, don’t pick it up. You’ll just get into more trouble than you might be able to handle, if you pick it up.”

Bloodgrue eagerly drinks a few small sips of water, knowing from experience what large sips or gulps of water will do when this parched. By the time Genner returns, Bloodgrue has nursed half the mug of water and has had a few sips of the dark ale already.

Genner sits and happily sighs. “It’s out back if yah need it boy. I see you’re smart enough not to drain your water mug right away. Good boy.”

“Sir Genner, you said I could talk now?” Asks Bloodgrue seriously. “Yes boy I did.”

“Okay, can I ask you questions?” inquires Bloodgrue.

“Yes you may, everything, except my sex life. That doesn’t exist anymore and I am not going to talk about the history of it. Go ahead.” smiles Genner cantankerously.

“I don’t know about weapons and armour. Or even knights and nobles. So I want to know about your armour and weapons. What type are they and what are they worth?” asks Bloodgrue eagerly.

Genner pauses for a bit as the plates of hot food are set down for the two of them. “Well, the armour is an older set of banded mail I had made for me, at a cost of two hundred Royal Flairs, about twenty five years ago when I was better off. Now, as to the weapons; well, the dagger you have on the table before you I picked up in my early years of training for a Flair. My short-bow, I traded three hundred pounds of salt for, six years ago. That brings us to the only weapon and armour pairing I really care to use, my long- sword and knight shield. No one can defeat me while I use them. This here shield would cost over seventy Royal Flairs on the open market, if I ever was convinced to separate from it. The long-sword I had specially crafted over fifty years ago and cost me one- hundred and fifty of those pieces of gold. A regular long-sword could be fetched for fifteen. So, if you want a word of advice, don’t touch my sword or shield. You won’t do it twice. You can keep the dagger and learn to use it. We are also going to buy you a waterskin from here, before we continue, and fill it with the dark ale like you just finished draining.”

The pair finishes eating and are on the road again. Bloodgrue, with the dagger rolled in his legging’s waist band, as instructed by Genner, and a full eight litre waterskin slung across his back, is smiling. Bloodgrue had listened and been rewarded. He hadn’t been told to shut up because he wasn’t wanted, but to save Bloodgrue’s throat. Also, because his client likes to travel in silence, so silence is what Sir Genner gets.

They travel through Willow swamp and then out into Velan District. Before the two day- gods set, the pair arrives at Nobleman’s Inn. The painted Imvor-orange, wood and stone structure, stands out in the landscape, although its medium-size wooden sign with its black line drawing of a square, doesn’t.

Bloodgrue turns to Sir Genner. “Are you sure? I can keep going with you. It is another full day’s walk to Outer Palace Hill gates. I don’t mind walking the full distance.”

“No, Bloodgrue you go home. You described the roads well enough. I navigate worse sand bars. I think you earned what I gave you. You go home. I will set you up with a room and a hot meal tonight and a cold meal tomorrow at gods-rise. But that is all. You did okay. When we met I didn’t trust you, but you showed me intelligence and that you can be trusted. Also, I need to travel on my own, as you talk too much. Not your fault. Some folk are that way. You do well, for about five hours of silence, but then you can’t hold it in anymore. No issue, I do understand, I know many sailors the same way. You go home. Let’s get in here and find rooms and food, but you only get one dark ale tonight.

That skin today might have helped loosen you up. Fill it before you leave tomorrow. I’ll buy.”

They enter Nobleman’s Inn; Bloodgrue spots a century old jalfem wearing an apron, serving a lone customer. As she leaves the customer, Bloodgrue approaches. “Excuse me, are you the proprietor?”

She stops and appraises Bloodgrue, then Genner. Sighing, she nods. “Yes I am. This is the Nobleman’s Inn. Rooms are a Dyns each a night. Hot meals are a Dyns each, dorm cots a duster. Ale is a duster a mug, it’s a house brew. Waters free. There are no baths, and no laundry service.”

Sir Genner coughs and steps up, quickly cutting in with his response. “I see you waste no effort, neither will we. We want two good rooms, two hot meals tonight, two more in the morning, two ales tonight, two skins full and two mugs in the morning, all for the sum of one Flair. That is my offer.”

The Innkeeper, taken aback greatly, stops, looks at Genner then smiles. “Room four and five are yours. I will have your ales and meals in a minute.”

Sir Genner un-slings his backpack and then digs out his coin pouch, taking a gold coin from the pouch. Genner gives the single Flair to the old crone.

The two travel companions sit down to eat and drink. “Bloodgrue, get lessons with the dagger and remember stab with it, don’t try to slice. Keep it out of sight, because if someone sees it on you, they will assume you know how to use it. Always travel with a few coins and keep a full waterskin with you. It will save your life.”

… Continued in the Bloodgrue short story series.

 

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Thank you for read the Owerton Blog and if you feel like it, please leave a comment and I’ll respond, I will contact those who leave their name and e-mail address as well when they e-mail me at rusty@inupress.ca

 

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Lanis, episode three, ‘Hangela’s Duck’

Lanis Header 1

 

By Rusty Knight

Episode three, ‘Hangela’s Duck’

 

In the previous episode two, ‘Lenden’s Dilemma’:

Lanis had to prove her skills to Master Lenden. With eight, five-hundred Flair usury notes, he sent Lanis hunting for gems. He was happy with two of the five gems Lanis brought back and was impressed with her skills as a mage’s assistant.

And now in episode three, ‘Hangela’s Duck’:

Spring 6 Bear

Lanis finishes cooking the morning meal as is her duty now. She is excited to be working with Lenden in his lab, after morning meal for the first time today. Realising he can cast spells like the Lesser Sign of Sealing, means he has more than a little skill. Studying with Lenden is a stroke of luck. She could have done worse.

Setting the food on the dining table, Lanis sits down to eat with Lenden. She is eager to start and asks, “Master Lenden, when do we start in the lab today?”

Dishing some of the scrambled eggs onto his plate and the breaking off the drumstick from the roast duck, Lenden replies, “Did you kill my duck for the meal this morning?”

Lanis nods, “Yes, they are easy to come by. I can get another one.”

Lenden titters, he utters, “No, my dear, you do not kill my egg laying ducks. I use the eggs for more than eating. You do not start in the lab today. You go to Hangela’s for three new egg laying ducks. That is your task for study. Three egg laying ducks from Hangela’s. I’ll give you ten Flairs, but the three shouldn’t cost a total of one Flair, if you do this right.”

Dejected, Lanis mumbles, “Yes, Master Lenden.”

Lanis finishes eating the meal in silence, then cleans up the dishes.

Lenden brings her a pouch with ten Flairs.

Walking out into Quantos, the gods are breathing stiffly north-west, hampering Lanis’ walking and the heat makes walking intolerable, but the gods are providing some partial cover in the Sphere for some relief. The walk today to Hangela’s takes almost an hour longer, because of the hampering by the gods and Lanis’ reluctance to go to the mercantile.

Entering the building, Lanis sees the toyfem and bravely approaches the trader. “Good day, Trader Hangela. I’m here on business for my master.”

Hangela nods, and she smiles disarmingly, which turns Lanis’ stomach. Hangela asks, “How may I be of service, Master Lanis?”

Lanis sighs openly. “I need three egg laying ducks for my master.”

For the next half hour, the two haggle over the prices of three individual ducks that Hangela shows Lanis. Each is very different and even though Lanis asks questions, Hangela is very vague in answering, simply replying shes not a farmer, just a trader. In the end, Lanis feels proud at haggling a price of two Dyns total for all three ducks. This is far less than even the one Flair, that Master Lenden suggest was the maximum he expected to pay. The most expensive duck cost eleven duster and it was all fancy with shiny coloured feathers. Hangela said it was imported from Shespan.

Realising she has no way of getting the ducks home, other than herding them, she flounders with thoughts of getting the ducks home.

“Master Hangela, how do I get three ducks eight kilometers home?” asks Lanis nervously.

Reaching for a wicker cage, Hangela says, “For three Flairs, you can have this cage.”

Lanis doesn’t think its worth one Flair, so offers low. “I don’t think so. I’ll give you, maybe one. At most its worth two.”

Hangela extends her arm, and says, “For two, its yours.”

Realising she could have gotten it for less if she hadn’t said two, but she did say two. Lanis clasps arms. Then she pays Hangela the two Flairs for the cage and three ducks.

With some difficulty, Lanis carries the ducks home in the cage. Arriving home, after gods-set, she lets the ducks loose in the chicken run. Then setting aside the cage, she enters the house to find Lenden.

She tells her master. “Master Lenden, here are your coins. I purchased three ducks for two Dyns, but I had to purchase a cage to bring them home in, it cost two Flairs.”

Lenden waves off the coins, he says, “Hold onto those for future purchases for me. I’ll look at the ducks in the morning.”

Spring 7 Bear

Lenden is laughing so hard, that Lanis thinks he is going to stop his heart. He has been laughing for a minute, and she doesn’t know why. He looked at the three ducks and just bellowed out laughing.

Finally, he quit laughing and said, “Butcher that one for evening meal” Pointing to the fancy feather duck that cost Lanis the most.

“Why?” she asks.

Lenden, going serious, replies, “Because he can’t lay me one damn egg in his entire life, that is why. You brought back two drakes and one hen. Hangela saw you coming all right. You have to know your stuff when dealing with that dog. She’ll take your coin, all of it, and give you just about damn near any thing, even stuff you didn’t ask for, or nothing. As a lesson to you, how much did you pay for that one and that one?” He points to the two fancy feathered ducks.

Lanis answers, “Elven dusters for the brightest one, and four dusters for the small one.”

Lenden nods, he says, “Okay, fifteen dusters are coming off your wages, I believe that equates to eight days pay. The two ducks are yours. Do with them as you wish. But don’t use my feed, unless you’re going to pay for it. Get them out of my chicken run and put them on the pond.”

Lanis frowns with mixed feelings. She now has her first property, but she is out eight days of wages. Hangela will pay for this somehow. Someday.

To be continued …

In episode four, ‘Really!’:

Lanis finally gets lab time, but is it what she is expecting from Lenden? She begins developing her own area of the lab and she explores the library, discovering a treasure she didn’t expect.

© 2016 Rusty Knight with Inevitable Unicorn Press

www.inupress.ca rusty@inupress.ca 780-523-5835

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Lanis episode two, ‘Lenden’s Dilemma’

Lanis Header 1

Lanis

Episode Two

By Rusty Knight

 

Previously in episode one, ‘Home? Really!’:

Lanis encountered Lenden and her new home. Lanis is now out in the world on her one-year journeyman test as an artificer mage. She has to survive out in the real world, away from the Mage University, then at the end of the year she can return for her final test for journeyman certification as a mage. She is specializing as an artificer class mage.

Now in episode two, ‘Lenden’s Dilemma’:

Spring 2 Bear

Lanis stretches in her new bed. It is currently the first morning in this new house and it’s about two hours to gods-rise. The two gods rise about eight minutes apart. First to rise is the yellow god Stonewire, who breaks the eastern horizon, then is followed about eight minutes later by the red-orange god Imvor cresting the eastern horizon. This is how Quantos citizens start marking the beginning of each day. Some days the Sphere is covered over, or partially covered over, and the visibility of seeing the gods is restricted. But it is known they break the eastern horizon on their trek across the Sphere to the western horizon every day.

Most days the gods blow their breath eastward, but some days they decide to breathe other directions, causing some havoc. And some days they breath gently, some days stronger, and some days so hard they damage the structures of Quantos, thus many barge Captains won’t risk sailing on those days. It sometimes rains, occasionally it ice sleets. Because of the latitude of Mount Oryn, it rarely snows in autumn or winter; once in a while there is a spring with the odd snow fall. But rarely does it get cold enough to freeze over open-water solidly.

Lanis looks at her belongings as she dresses for the day. She has to start the stove to cook morning meal for Lenden every day now for the next year, to keep her secure job here. This is a safe place for her one-year journeyman walk-about test. There are numerous stories of so many apprentices dying on their walk-about, because they went to superstitious villages and made mistakes casting magic, thus were killed for witch-craft. Or there are others who simply starved to death because they couldn’t make an income. No, Lanis thought this out, get hired on with a master mage as an assistant for the year and stay smart. Stay in his good books and survive the year, then go back to the University and take the journeyman test, hopefully pass and become a certified Journeyman Mage. The trick is to survive this year. The statistics say only twenty-three percent of apprentices who go out on their journeyman walk-about, make it back to the University for testing to certify.

Lanis plans on being one of the twenty-three percent. Not only that, but she has specialized, which less than ten percent of mages do, and she’s even making the odds tougher. Not only is she specializing by being one of ten percent of mages; she’s also being one percent of specialists. She’s going to be an artificer. Yes, Lanis chose a tough road, but she chose her road to go on and build. She has the plan already. Her class-one skill knowledge is complete already. When she goes to test for certification, she wants to have a complete class-two as well. That should make the testing easier. Maybe some class-three skills to help out, if old Lenden will teach her. As he is, after all, class-seven, and she plans on staying with him for the full year. That is part of her plan.

In the kitchen, using her cantrip ‘firefinger’, Lanis ignites the fuel in the stove and then she fills the water-boiler. She lights the oil-lantern with a second ‘firefinger’, and she looks around the kitchen, gathering the food to prepare for morning meal.

At the dining table, Lenden says, “Lanis, this is actually good. You seem to know how to cook. What do you know about spell components?” asks Lenden, as they sit eating the morning meal Lanis has prepared.

Lanis ponders Lenden’s question. The question is so broad and has so many answers, so she simply chooses one. “Basically, spells are made of three components, verbal, somantic and material. The verbal is the sound component we make, the somantic are the physical motions we make and the material is the substances that fuel the spell.” ‘There, the basic university answer for class-one apprentices.’ She thinks haughtily.

Lenden frowns and he says, “Okay, you told me what any student can tell me. Tell me what YOU know about material components, assistant. I don’t want student answers. I want to know if my assistant is worth her salt.”

Now Lanis smiles. This was her strong suit in university, and one of the reasons she chose artification. “Master Lenden. Not all spells use material components as fuel. Not all materials can be used as fuel. For example, the jump spell uses live spiders swallowed by the caster. But the caster can not use just any spider. For the average caster, one in twenty spiders he examines will be suitable for his use in casting his jump spell. You also need to know that the spider which one caster can use for the jump spell, may not be suitable for another caster to cast the jump spell. Each caster has to select his material components based on criteria individual to himself as a caster. Even though two casters are casting the same spell, they may not be able to use the same materials.”

Lenden leans forward, grinning. He reaches out and pats Lanis’ arm. Speaking slowly, Lenden says, “Then you understand my dilemma. I need some very expensive material components for a class-three spell. The value of the components for each casting are at least one-hundred flairs. But to purchase the components, I must send you out with four-thousand Flairs, and an understanding that you know what to look for.”

Lanis stares at Lenden without blinking, drool starting to collect at the corners of her mouth. ‘Did he just say he’s sending me out to collect components with FOUR THOUSAND Flairs?’

Lenden taps Lanis’ forehead, “Quantos to Lanis, you there?”

Lanis jerks. She blinks several times as she coughs. “Sorry, yes. Yes, I’m here. Did you say four thousand Flairs?”

Laughing, Lenden sits back, watching Lanis. After a bit he settles down, and says, “Yes, I did. Get used to it, as a mage you will be dealing in thousands a lot.”

Lanis sits forward and enquires, “What are we looking for?”

“Good girl. I want some diamonds, emeralds, rubies, pearls or sapphires for my spell, Lesser sign of sealing.” Lenden goes on to explain the specific properties of each gem that he requires. He gives Lanis eight usury notes, valued at five-hundred Flairs each, made by a local Master Usury.

Lanis takes a moment to simply stare at the notes in wonder, pondering the incomprehensible value in her hands.

About an hour after the two gods rise, Lanis sets out, under the directions of Lenden, to Morgus Gems at stall 12 of Berry Market. It takes Lanis half-an-hour to negotiate a price on two pearls, for a total of nine-hundred Flairs.

Giving Morgus two notes, he burdens her with ten pounds of gold Flairs and two pearls worth about five-hundred Flairs each. But, Morgus refuses to give referrals to any lapidary or merchants selling gems.

Lanis leaves the shop and wanders around Berry Market in search of gems, or someone who knows someone.

A little over half-an-hour later, at nearly evening meal time, a merchant refers Lanis to Trendonal, at Happenstance Jewelry over at 4369 Wenton Road.

Walking to Happenstance, Lanis finds a less than co-operative young elfmal who has one ruby that suits Lenden’s needs. But an hour later they are still at four-thousand Flairs for it, so Lanis begs off, asking instead for a referral to someone with possibly less expensive gems.

Trendonal is more than happy to give Lanis the address of Jessen’s Gems on Beddington Avenue.

Lanis walks home, arriving mid-morning on Spring 3, exhausted. Going right to sleep after settling in.

Spring 3 Bear

Waking early and after cooking morning meal, Lanis is quick to excuse herself and set out for Jessen’s Gems.

Arriving, she finds several gems available, an emerald and two sapphires. Negotiating prices with Jessen, Lanis ends with purchasing the sapphires, one for nine hundred Flairs and one for 1,180 of the gold value. She pays Jessen with four notes and eighty of her one-hundred Flairs

Asking for referrals, Jessen supplies her with Hangela’s Mercantile on Tickton Street.

After getting directions and considering the time of day, Lanis decides it is best to go home, then to Hangela’s tomorrow.

Arriving home, long after gods-set, Lanis gives Lenden the four gems she has purchased so far. He sets them aside and informs her that he will assess them all once she completes her purchases.

Spring 4 Bear

Entering Hangela’s, Lanis’ breathing and heart stop. ‘It’s her, that woman from the first day at Lenden’s’

She starts breathing again as her heart pounds in near panic, thumping hard in her chest so loud she is sure the woman, twenty-feet from her, can hear her heart beating, and hear her breathing.

The woman looks up into Lanis’ eyes. Lanis shivers, goose bumps spread over her arms and back. ‘Is this fear, or panic? What is this? Why? I don’t know her.’

The woman approaches aggressively, stomping up to Lanis. Stretching out her arm, the woman says easily in trade jalnoric. “Good day Master. I’m Trader Hangela. Welcome to my mercantile. What are you looking for? If I don’t have it in stock, I may be able to get it for you.”

Lanis swallows and blinks, feebly clasping arms with the offensive woman. ‘Why don’t I trust or like her? She hasn’t done anything.’

“Trader Hangela, I’m looking for gems.” says Lanis, quickly removing her arm from the clasp, and she continues. “In particular: diamonds, emeralds, sapphires, rubies or pearls.”

Hangela smiles. “Indeed, follow me.”

Hangela leads Lanis to a small back room, where a table and two chairs occupy the space along with a locked chest. Hangela unlocks the chest with a key from a heavy neck chain around her neck.

Opening the chest, it is filled with sacks. She pulls out a smaller sack and closes the chest lid. Untying the sack, she dumps about forty gems on the table. She sorts out five gems for Lanis. Lanis picks three: two emeralds and a sapphire. Hangela places all the others back in her sack.

They negotiate the price of the three gems, but in the end all Lanis can afford is the uncut emerald for five-hundred Flairs, paying with one of the remaining notes.

“Do you know any other merchants or lapidaries that I can go to?” asks Lanis boldly.

Hangela snarls, “What, do I look like a dragoman? No, go find them yourself.” She places the remaining gems in the sack and places the sack back into the chest, locking it again. “Are we done? If so, let’s go back out front.”

Lanis leaves Hangela’s, feeling unwashed and violated, still not sure why.

Walking home with one note and twenty Flairs left, Lanis addresses Lenden. “Next time I’ll pay a dragoman to guide me around. But this is the last of it. Here’s an uncut emerald, a note and twenty Flairs to add to the others.”

“Lets go to my lab then, assistant.” Says Lenden.

Together the two go to Lenden’s lab, and under his focused continual-light, Lenden examines each gem, humming and hawing, but generally looking frustrated, muttering, “This won’t do.”  a lot.

“Okay, so here we have five gems chosen for qualities to be components for my spell. Most assistants would get one out of twenty right. So I could expect you to get zero out of this lot of five. But you, my dear, did outstanding. This sapphire and this uncut emerald are perfect for my Lesser sign of sealing. Congratulations, you succeeded beyond the average. So in my eyes, you are more than average. I hope you can keep that up, assistant. Tomorrow, the lab and library are yours to use. But you still have to cook both meals. You owe me three evening meals.”

 

To be continued …

In episode three, ‘Hangela’s Duck’:

After Lanis has her day off, Lenden sends Lanis to Hangela’s to make purchases. Lanis discovers a reason to dislike and distrust Hangela, and uncovers her reason for panic.

© February 2016 Rusty Knight with Inevitable Unicorn Press

www.inupress.ca rusty@inupress.ca 780-523-5835

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Lanis, episode one, Home? Really!

Lanis Header 1

Lanis

Episode One

By Rusty Knight

Opening episode, Episode One, ‘Home? Really!’:

She is sitting still as her mentor instructs Lanis on proper etiquette of addressing him.

“I want you addressing me as Master Lenden when you talk to me. Your room that I give you is on the second floor. You are responsible for your own laundry. You will cook both of our morning and evening meals every day for us, except the sixth-day, the day which is yours free to do with as you desire. Your other duties include: three hours of study with me each morning; three hours of self-study each afternoon and two hours each day to go to market for gathering of supplies for the household and laboratory. The rest of the day is yours. Understood, Apprentice Lanis?”

Lanis sighs, yet nods and answers sadly, “Yes, understood, Master Lenden. My room is on the second floor, and I have every six-day free. I also understand my duties. When do I start?”

Lenden frowns, as the seventy-one-year-old jalmal master-mage adjusts his sitting position in the plush sofa. “Tomorrow. You can settle in here today, and familiarize yourself with my house and laboratory. I understand you came to me for your one-year journey-man walkabout, to further your studies as an artificer. I am not an artificer, but you can practice your art as long as you follow my rules and do my work. Understood Lanis?”

Lanis carefully answers, “Yes, Master Lenden, I have access to your facilities to learn and practice my art, as long as I accomplish your work as you order.”

Lenden smiles and offers his arm to clasp. “Good, we understand each other then. The library and laboratory are both on the third floor. My personal room is on the second floor; my office is this room on the ground floor. We eat together, morning meal and evening meal in the dining-room next to the kitchen, here on the ground floor. There is no indoor privy, its an outdoor outhouse you use, if you need the facilities. As you know, I’m classed as rank seven mage, but that means nothing if I don’t have my spells and mind to use them. Once you pass a few of my tests you can view my spell-tomes. But that will come in time. Do you have your tome?”

Lanis smiles and pats her backpack. “I have my cantrip-tome and my spell-tome, Master Lenden. Everything I own is here with me in my backpack and this sack.”

Lenden smiles for Lanis. After they clasp arms, he says, “Then apprentice, let me show you your new home, and your room that you will live in for a year.”

Having stood and clasped arms with Lenden, Lanis follows the old man around the house, carrying her backpack and large sack of possessions. They traverse the ground floor, then the third floor, then the half-story that is the fourth floor and finally the second floor. The last room Lenden shows Lanis is a ten-foot by twelve-foot stone walled, maple floor and ceiling room, with one shuttered window. The room contains a single maple bed with feather mattress and pillow with flannel sheets.

Lanis sets her backpack and sack on the maple table that stands next to the four drawer chest-of-drawers. There is also a lone maple armless chair.

She looks down at the rough woven Imvor-orange carpet next to the bed and she smirks. Her carpet in the university was much nicer; she’ll replace this one as soon as she can afford to.

Looking at the empty three-shelf, maple book-shelf, Lanis takes her two tomes from her backpack and sets them neatly on the top shelf.

Turning to Lenden, Lanis meekly asks, “Master Lenden, it has been a long morning, where would your outhouse be?”

Lenden frowns and waves for Lanis to follow him. He shows Lanis his courtyard facilities with its well, garden and stable, then the outhouse. There he leaves her to do her business.

As Lanis is entering the house a little later, she nearly runs into a crudely dressed toyfem exiting the house. Their eyes briefly meet, but long enough to cause Lanis to shiver.

To be continued …

In the next episode, episode two, ‘Lenden’s Dilemma’:

Trying to study a new spell, Lenden needs a spell component and he’s having difficulty acquiring some, he sends Lanis on a search.

 

© February 2016 Rusty Knight with Inevitable Unicorn Press

www.inupress.ca rusty@inupress.ca 780-523-5835

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