Archive for February, 2017

Owertonna Challenge, Issue 109, Morgus Episode 005, Black Sword Pangolin

 

Owerton Challenge:

Morgus

Black Sword Pangolin

Episode 005

December 26, 2016

Issue 109

 

Challenge: Issue 109

  • Words:
    • Black
    • Pangolin
    • Sword

 

  • Contributor:
    • Eathel T Carmichael III
    • McLennan, Alberta

 

Previously on episode 008 on Autumn 65 Unicorn:

Morgus resolves his summoning puzzle, finding a dilemma where he must face his nemesis, Bargewright Toaren. Morgus does so while in service to Baron Hessan. Morgus used to raid Hessan estate as a youth, but Larap appears not to recall this. Morgus faces down Toaren, apparently winning this round and Baron Hessan’s favour.

We continue now with Episode 009 on:

 

Autumn 69 Unicorn

After a restless night in Hessan Estate’s Manor, Morgus rises two hours before Stonewire breaks the eastern horizon’s southern hemisphere.

He has a long day ahead – traveling to Perch Inn to gather his gear and clear his accounts, and then return to Hessan’s.

Morgus eats with the rest of the staff in their dining room near the kitchen, talking with Busia, the twenty-year-old jalmal tailor. Morgus asks, “Do you have the time to craft tunics and leggings for me?”

Briskly, Busia responds, “Of course, Morgus, anything else?”

Smiling ruefully, Morgus adds, “Yes, if you have opportunity – a new hat and shoes?”

Extending his arm quickly, Busia grins, saying, “Yes, two of each.”

Flabbergasted, Morgus clasps arms with Busia, asking, “How much will this cost?”

The clothier quickly does calculations, and then he replies, “Seventeen Flairs for the works.”

Choking, Morgus expected to be quoted a lower amount. “I’m used to a total more like 6.50 cn. Why so much?”

Busia grins as he thumps the table. “I don’t make common item or use commoners’ materials, my friend. If you want common, go to the markets. I am offering you a deal as it is, cutting about twenty percent off the costs.”

Stunned again, Morgus takes a moment before he can reply. “So, these would cost over twenty Flairs?”

Busia nods once.

Morgus sighs, exasperated with the deal he just made. Obviously, living here isn’t going to be cheap. Morgus adds, “Add a belt and necessary adornments as well. Tell me how much that’ll cost.”

Without delay, Busia replies, “I’ll do the rest for another twenty coin.”

Coughing as he chokes, Morgus closes his eyes, realising he shouldn’t have spoken. He just spent thirty-seven of his two-thousand flairs on his first morning before even starting.

…..

Walking out of the manor, looking back, he feels overwhelmed by the extravagance of all this already. He walks down the paved road to the street, in a hurry to Perch Inn. Pondering events, technically he has elevated his status in society by two classes, yet he could very well loose that today or tomorrow.

He best not get too comfortable or cocky with this.

…..

At Perch Inn, Morgus addresses the Innkeeper, Master Toya, “I’m checking out of my room today. You can keep my rent and rent out the room again.”

Toya looks flustered as he shakes and flutters his hands, blinking his eyes as he utters, “You and that bargewright as well. He moved out at gods-rise. What did you two do?

Morgus, not wanting to start fires, shrugs, answering, “I found a job, fairly far away. I’m moving to my work.”

Toya turns the register log, so Morgus can sign out, saying, “Good luck to you Master Morgus; you treated my staff decently. I heard no complaints about you, except from Master Toaren. But he complained about a good many things, so I take no mind of his complaints.”

Signing the register, Morgus replies, “Fair enough, you’ve taken good care of my old home, Toya. Good tides to you.”

With his signing out completed, Morgus enters his room and packs his belongings. He then returns to his new room in Hessan manor.

…..

Arriving late in the day, about two hours before evening meal for staff, Morgus settles his belongings and arranges his two rooms to his liking. He sets up the study as his laboratory, library, and work office. He washes before going to eat. Arriving in the dining room for staff, Morgus inquires with Ada, “Where do I take my baths and do my laundry?”

Ada says with a straight expression, “Your laundry is my duty. Your bath I prepare in the cellar in the staff facilities. I’ll show you the staff suite after we eat. You can leave your laundry in the laundry room. I do laundry every third day. I did laundry today, so next day is Summer 72.”

Morgus, unused to others doing any work for him, is dumbfounded, and he doesn’t know how to respond. He stares at Ada for a minute, disregarding his meal. Suddenly shaking himself as the others are good-naturedly laughing at his expression of confusion, Morgus asks, “Can I take a bath tonight?”

Ada replies, “Can you? I’m not sure if you know how. But if you want to try, I’ll heat the water, and you may try.”

Laughter breaks out around the table.

Morgus turns a bashful red, realising grammar may actually be as important here as it was in the university. Recently, he has fallen lax in the world of civilians. “Of course, yes. May we set up the bath for my bath tonight? When is a scheduled time?”

Ada nods and answers, “The Baron is usually in bed at gods-set, so I’ll have your bath ready an hour after that, Master Morgus.”

An idea strikes Morgus, “I also need facilities where I can manufacture my own specialized parchment. Where may I set up?”

Ada answers while pointing to a thirty-nine-year-old toymal. “Bushnel is groundskeeper; he’ll set you up tomorrow.”

Bushnell smiles and adds, “We will set you up in the craft shop. How much room do you need?”

Quickly, Morgus responds. “I need a well-ventilated area about twenty-by-twenty feet.”

Bushnel nods. “I have an area you may use. Is the second floor okay?”

Morgus grins. “It’ll be fine.”

Finishing their meal, Ada takes Morgus to the cellar showing Morgus the five room staff suite for work and recreation – laundry, bathing, storage and clothier’s work area as well as a social room.

Thanking Ada, Morgus returns to his quarters where he makes a list of items he requires for spell research and scribing, as well as a plan for parchment crafting. Setting these aside, he chooses a text from the shelves which Baron Hessan stocked. Sitting down, he starts to read until an hour after gods-set.

Taking a set of clean clothing, Morgus wanders down to the cellar and finds a hot steaming, violet-scented bath waiting for him. He has also been supplied with plush towels and washing cloth, as well as oiled soap powders. Morgus luxuriates in his first noble servants’ bath. Morgus takes an hour to enjoy the treat, before happily returning to his room. This evening is alleviating his fears from earlier.

Autumn 70 Bear

At gods-rise, after the Baron Hessan has eaten his morning meal, he has Ada summon Morgus to the baron’s study.

Arriving in the study, Morgus finds Larap sitting near the soothing fire of the fireplace. Pointing to a second chair near his, Larap commands, “Sit.”

Obeying, Morgus takes the seat, finding it warm and comfortable.

Larap states, “Our agreement is eighteen Dyns per day for as long as I live, plus a signing bonus of two-thousand Flairs. Seven Hells if I’m going to carry two-thousand Flairs for you. Those two chests have one thousand in each. You carry them to your rooms. They’re your responsibility after that.”

Looking at the two medium size chests, Morgus grunts. He’ll ask for help to carry them up as they’re both over one-hundred pounds. Turning to Larap, “Thank you Baron Hessan, I appreciate this.”

Larap waves Morgus off, saying, “Have them out by noon or I reclaim them.”

Standing and bowing to Larap, Morgus swiftly exits the office in search of Ada. Finding her in the kitchen with the cook, Morgus asks, “My dear Ada, I have a task to complete, and I was wondering if you’d help me with it?”

Ada hrumps loudly and then says, “It’ll cost you. Is it those damn chests Bushnel and I lugged to the baron’s study?”

Bowing, Morgus acknowledges her, saying, “Indeed it is, all the way to my rooms, you and me.”

Ada slumps forward, sighing, “Damn Seven Hells, my aching knees, and those damn stairs … It’ll cost you one Flair a chest.”

Pulling two Flairs directly from his coin pouch, Morgus holds them out to her.

Ada smiles and accepts the coins as Morgus responds. “We have to do it now. Larap gave me only two hours to move them.”

They move the chests quickly, as both are strong, able workers, despite Ada telling Morgus otherwise. Setting the chests in his bedroom, Morgus tips Ada a third Flair and another thank you.

Needing a physical rest after the carrying the two 155 pound chests up two flights of stairs to his rooms, Morgus decides to work on the studying of his spell.

Getting lost in his spell for over five hours, Morgus comes out of his reverie to find midday had passed long ago and evening meal will be in three hours.

…..

Walking around the grounds of the estate with Bushnel, Morgus begins collecting items for parchment making, and placing the supplies in the space of the craft-shop provided to him by Bushnel. The location is more than adequate. There is more room than Morgus is used to working in. He is able to set up his troughs, including drainage, work tables, and surfaces. Almost everything is available, except a few crafting work items. There are no hides available, so Morgus needs to find a farm, market, or butcher to get the hides he needs. Plus, the knives he needs will have to be purchased. Satisfied with their progress, Morgus and Bushnel enter the manor to clean up for evening meal.

After the meal, Morgus pays Busia for the clothing.

Autumn 71 Unicorn

Yesterday was sweltering hot. Today, the gods switched, freezing the world to cause ice on the edges of any open water. This is the environment of autumn in Mount Oryn of North Amara on Quantos. It is a world of extremes.

Morgus spends the morning in his study twisting his mind over the new ‘continual light’ spell that he is crafting – a spell of greater difficulty than any he has tried before. Morgus is attempting a spell that is more complex than even a journeyman with five-years service would be expected to try.

Midday meal finds Morgus’ mind warped and tired of trying to work out the spell. He eats with Ada, where he asks her, “Is there a decent blade-smith nearby who makes good knives – someone who I can buy from or who will make specialty knives for me?”

Ada thinks a moment, and then replies, “Master Smith Beraran at 928 Drescol Street.”

“Thank you, Ada, I’ll go see him after our meal.”

Walking the nearly six kilometres in two-and-a-half hours, Morgus finds Beraran Smith quickly enough, with its large hammer sign at the gate to its courtyard.

Encountering the thirty-year-old jalmal is another treat, as he is excited upon greeting Morgus. “Gods-grace and good fate Master, how may I be of service to you?”

Trying to be gracious, Morgus returns, “Gods-grace and good fate Master Beraran, I’m in need of parchment crafting knives. A whole set if I can get them?”

Chuckling, the smith leads Morgus to his displays, pointing to his well-crafted set of skinning and draw knives. The knives are used for cleaning and dressing hides and then for processing the hides for parchment. He says, “This is a set I made for a master’s student who passed away from illness before I finished. I’ll sell them to you for a decent price – fifty Flairs. The knives are masterly crafted by me.”

Morgus, knowing knife quality, examines a few of the knives. Spotting a few imperfections, he points these out stating, “I’ll pay ten Flairs for the lot; they’re only worth five.”

Beraran huffs gruffly, puffing out his chest, saying, “The cost of material that has gone into these is more; pay me at least twenty.”

Morgus walks away from the knives. “Craft a new set without imperfections, and I might consider paying twenty. But I’ll never pay twenty for that set.”

“Okay, ten, just so I can get rid of them.” Pleads Beraran.

Morgus shakes his head, “No! They’re not worth the effort – make a better set. I need quality knives for my work.”

Eager to please, Beraran says, “Okay, come back in twelve days and I’ll have a set of eight knives for you for twenty Flairs.” He extends his arm to clasp.

Morgus looks at Beraran but doesn’t clasp arms, stating, “I’ll be back around Autumn 83 to examine the knives. If the knives meet the qualities I need, then I’ll purchase them.”

Leaving Beraran, Morgus turns south to Platter holding. He arrives tired, several hours later where he finds Lasiter home.

Lasiter greets Morgus enthusiastically. “Good day Master Morgus. How fare thou?”

Chuckling, Morgus extends his arm, stating, “Because of you, I’m Baron Hessan’s aide and estate Mage. I owe you a debt of gratitude, my friend.”

Motioning Morgus inside, Lasiter smiles broadly, saying, “then we should celebrate. Come in and have a drink with me.”

Entering the Platter house, Morgus sits with Lasiter, accepting a dark rum. “Lasiter, do you know where I can get some good hides for making parchment?”

Lasiter stops and thinks for a bit, and then replies, “I have a couple hides, and I can search around, fetching you more. Where do you want them sent? Say, three Flairs each?”

Morgus flinches, saying, “I appreciate that, but I would have to see the hides and inspect them before I pay that much. I would only pay two Flairs without seeing them first. Or, you can deliver them for my inspection, and I will buy the ones I want for three Flairs?”

Leaning forward, Lasiter offers, “I’ll take three Flairs each for the ones you inspect and accept if you return the ones you don’t accept.”

Hesitating, Morgus adds, “Only if you cover the expense of returns.”

Extending his arm, Lasiter says, “Done.”

The two men clasp arms, and an agreement is arranged. Morgus says, “I need at least twenty good hides in the near future.”

Nodding, Lasiter acknowledges Morgus’ order.

Autumn 72 Unicorn

Morgus stretches as he has spent another five hours in studying ‘continual light’ True to his word, he checks in with Larap this morning and finds no new work with the Baron. With fifteen hours of study into the spell, Morgus is slightly disturbed when Ada knocks on his door.

Morgus asks, “Yes, Ada?”

The servant boldly says, “A Master Lasiter is downstairs in the waiting room; are you expecting him?”

Morgus jumps to his feet, nearly tripping as he says, “I’ll be down to meet him. Where is the waiting room?”

Stepping out of Morgus’ way as he rushes by, Ada replies, “First room to the left from the entrance.”

Bounding down the stairs rapidly, Morgus arrives in the waiting room as indicated by Ada. He greets Lasiter enthusiastically, “Great day to you Lasiter. Did you bring hides?”

Pointing to an enormous bundle by the door, Lasiter smiles, saying, “Indeed, I brought four to start with.”

Unwrapping the package, Morgus carefully examines the four hides in minute detail, looking for scaring and damages that disqualify any of the hides for his use. Finished with examining the hides, he tosses one aside, saying, “I reject this one. But, as agreed, I’ll pay three coin a piece for these three now. Seventeen more hides and I’ll be on my way to being happy.” He hands Lasiter nine gold coins.

The farmer gingerly handles the coins, quickly placing them in his coin pouch. Then Lasiter hastily wraps the rejected hide, as Morgus carefully rolls the other three.

They walk out together: Lasiter to go home, and Morgus to take his new acquisitions to his shop to begin preparations for making parchment. Morgus determines that Lasiter had prepared the one hide so well, that Morgus can put the hide in the soaking bath with minimal preparation. It takes Morgus several hours of preparations and general work to prepare the other two. Cleaning up afterwards, he enters the manor in time for evening meal. Morgus goes to the staff dining room after confirming with Baron Hessan that there is no immediate work for him.

Autumn 73 Unicorn

Late in the morning, with his mind exhausted after completing another five hours of mind-wrenching computations for his spell, Morgus sits back overjoyed as he cheers, “Praise Stonewire!” He has put over twenty hours of work into developing the ‘continual light’ spell. Now it is time to test the incantation to see if it works. Dedicating twenty-minutes of mind-numbing memorization to the spell, Morgus finally stands and looks at the wick-hood of his lantern trying to decide if he should cast on the cloth wick or the metal hood. Then, with his decision made to cast on the small metal hood, Morgus gestures and utters, “York.” He is nearly blinded by the Imvor orange-red bright light, illuminating the entire room. Quickly, Morgus moves to draw the shutters closed, drawing it down to a mere quarter sliver, dimming the illumination enough to light the room, but not overwhelmingly so. “Well, that worked. Let’s see how long the light lasts.”

Sitting and using the light from the hooded lantern, with his spell illuminating in it, Morgus begins the tedious process of meticulously scribing the new spell into his spell-tome, which is filling past the halfway mark. Celebrating as well, Morgus pours himself a tumbler of wine to drink while scribing, indulging for the first time during his study since arriving and setting up.

Autumn 75 Unicorn

Before morning meal with the staff, Morgus convened a meeting with Baron Hessan to confirm work, finding nothing. After eating a hasty morning meal, Morgus excitedly returned to his brightly lit study with the spell still lighting the lantern from the original casting, going on the third day.

Past gods-set, Morgus sets down his quill, stretching and then rubbing his eyes. Looking down at his tome, he counts the pages he filled in his completing the scribing of ‘continual light’. Five – five neatly packed note filled pages with diagrams, calculations, and notes. Satisfied that he has the complete spell scribed in the tome, Morgus paces between his two rooms for twenty minutes. Then, he sits and begins memorizing a castable version of the spell.

After he finishes memorizing the incantation, Morgus chuckles to himself. Walking down the four flights of stairs and entering the waiting room, he chooses the stone carved fixture of artwork representing a pangolin’s armour and focuses on the creature, casting the spell so that the illumination will be on the pangolin’s casing. Suddenly, he is greeted with an orange-red light that is almost as bright as Imvor’s light just before gods-set. Morgus cheers loudly. “Blessed be Stonewire!”

He hears running footsteps almost immediately and coming into the room are two armed men, bearing black longswords.  They shield their eyes as Morgus tries to recall if he has seen these people before. Realising that he hasn’t met Baron Hessan’s guards, Morgus steps back, saying, “Good men of Baron Hessan, I am Mage Morgus, the estate mage. You can sheath your deadly black swords as the pangolin will now and forever illuminate this room with Imvor’s setting light.”

A thirty-six-year-old toymal in studded-leather armour responds, “I haven’t seen you around before. When did you start?”

Morgus, feeling a little trapped without his quarterstaff, nervously answers, “Autumn 68.”

The accompanying elfmal sheathes his longsword, uttering, “Yes, Baron Hessan mentioned he hired an aide who is his estate’s magus. Morgus, I’m Sergeant Elmar. How long is that infernal light going to shine?”

The first guard sheathes his longsword as well, saying, “Mage Morgus, I’m Private Barran, the third guard on duty is Private Tussal; he’s up on the second floor right now.”

Morgus views the orange-red pangolin and ponders it, nearly blinding himself. Facing the two guards, he shrugs and responds to Elmar. “I don’t know. I cast the first spell in my room nearly four days ago, and it’s still shining as bright as when I cast it.”

A fifty-five-year-old jalmal in studded-leather armour rushes into the room with his longsword drawn. Stopping as he sees Elmar and Tussel relatively relaxed, he views Morgus. The guard sheaths his sword, asking, “Who are you?”

Getting tired with introductions, Morgus only says, “The estate mage, Morgus.”

Extending his arm, the man genially says, “I’m Tussel.”

The two clasp arms, and then Morgus clasps with Elmar and Barran, affirming his place on the estate with the guards.

Morgus, relieved that the new spell works when memorized from his tome, returns to his room and goes to sleep for the night, satisfied with life.

Autumn 79 Unicorn

It is 4:45 am as Tussel wakes Morgus. Feeling the coldness of the freezing night air, Morgus crawls out of bed quickly as Tussel loudly whispers, “Mage, there are four walking-dead wandering the grounds. We have no priest or cleric to put them to rest. Can you deal with them?”

Realising that this is his job now. Morgus pulls on his new Imvor-orange suede leggings and royal-blue velvet tunic made for him by clothier Busia. Then, pulling on his old knee-high brown leather boots, Morgus retrieves his quarterstaff and turns to Tussel, saying, “Show me, and we’ll deal with them.”

In a rush, the two men nearly run down the broad staircase to the ground floor to find the other two guards holed up in the waiting room with four walking-dead pacing outside the room.

Morgus stops as he recognises the creatures. They are highly intelligent, mean, vile death-dealing wights – a hunting pack seeking to gain recruits – killing hosts by draining their lives, thus converting the unlucky.  The manor really needs a cleric or priest with holy items to deal with these, but something comes to Morgus’ mind. These creatures fear or hate bright light, that is why they haven’t gone into the waiting room. Elmar must have realized this, too.

Before the creatures realize Tussel and Morgus have arrived, Morgus casts his one memorized ‘continual light’ spells directly into the eyes of the closest wight, hoping that this will drive the lot of them out the open front door.

Three, including the lit one, flee as quickly as possible out the front door into the darkness of night. But one wight remains and searches for the source of casting, angry with the intrusion and the attack from a mage.

Quickly, Morgus calls out, “York” for a second time, trying to cast into its eyes, as the creature rushes him. The spell hangs in mid-air behind it as the creature reaches for Morgus. Then, the light vanishes.

Tussel intercedes between the walking-dead and Morgus, as Morgus shouts out, “York” for a third time, making the required gestures and casting the spell upon the creature’s nose.

This ends the fight for the wight, sending it fleeing after its comrades, and thus, saving Hessan estate from a hunting pack of walking-dead wights. Morgus sighs with deep relief as the three guards congratulate him.

Morgus counts his castings, wondering about the exhaustion he is feeling, and if he could have cast another ‘continual light’ or any spell? Would the people of Hessan have been at the mercy of the wight if his last incantation had failed to send the creature packing?

Allowing the good wishes to follow, Morgus ponders the usefulness of their three black swords and the ability of the four of them to protect against future wight invasions?

 

To be continued …

 

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Owerton Challenge, Issue 108, Morgus Episode 104, Red Panda Chartreuse Road Sign

Owerton Challenge:

Morgus

Red Panda Chartreuse Road Sign

Episode 004

 

December 12, 2016

Issue 108

 

Challenge: Issue 108

 

  • Words:
    • Chartreuse
    • Red Panda
    • Road Sign

 

  • Contributor:
    • C S Burgar
    • High Prairie, Alberta

 

Previously on episode 003 on Autumn 59 Unicorn with:

 

Morgus, is a mage who burns his opponents when he challenges them, he finds the thief who stole from his friends. Morgus retrieves the stolen silver heart from a dead rogue.

Later, sitting in Perch Inn tavern with a quandary over a sealed parchment, Morgus ponders the meaning of the parchment.

 

We continue now with Episode 004:

 

Autumn 65 Unicorn

 

Sitting at the tavern table, Morgus stares at the parchment he holds as Pedren sets Morgus’ morning meal on the table along with an ale.

Sighing with exasperation, the mage cautiously breaks the seal and unfolds the parchment to open and read the carefully written masculine jal script.

 

Master Morgus:

 

I am Baron Larap Hessan, I seek an audience at your earliest convenience to discuss business regarding my holdings.

Come to my residence at 1029 Drescol Street, South State district before Autumn 70 Unicorn.

 

Yours, Baron Hessan

Autumn 64 Unicorn

 

Stunned, Morgus simply stares at the writing, puzzled as to why a baron would want to do business with an unknown mage like Morgus. The baron apparently desires Morgus to such an extent that he presents a personal invitation to him.

Carefully folding the parchment, the thirty-three-year-old mage places the summons into his belt pouch. He eats his morning meal pondering the call, trying to illuminate for himself the writ from the baron. But try as he might, the jalmal produces no answers.

Exhaling, stymied with the situation, Morgus finishes his meal and cleans himself up to put forth a suitable introduction. He dresses in a new tunic, shines his boots, and brushes off his leggings.

Leaving Perch Inn, Morgus precedes northwest on Drescol Street, on the almost seven-kilometre journey to Baron Hessan’s estate.

…..

Standing outside the gates into the demesne, Morgus mulls over if he really wants to access the trust of this nobleman’s life. What will it end up meaning to Morgus? What consequences? ‘I’m not exactly crystal clean. I have a spotty past, and even though my official records were wiped clean, that doesn’t clear people’s memories. What am I entering into?

Deeply sighing and taking the next step, he ventures forward into a new life adventure. Morgus is a man who has always taken risks, never shirking opportunities, even though he may question himself.

The manor house is nestled among four other immense buildings in a six-acre courtyard of the holding. Near the massive stone four-story manor is the vast double-story wooden barn, a stone and wood carriage house, a two-story stone and wood stable, and last is the enormous three-story building which must be the storage and craftsman’s shop.

Morgus walks up the stone paved drive to the brick paved path, all the way up to the double wooden front doors in the stone face of the building. Using the silk rope of the manor’s knocker, Morgus pulls on it, and then releasing the expensive rope, he waits.

Less than three minutes later a thirty-year-old toyfem opens the elaborately carved front doors. She speaks in fluent jal. “Gods-grace and good fate master. How may I help you?”

Morgus submits to her the writ from Baron Hessan, and he says, “I was summoned for a meeting by Baron Hessan for as soon as possible?”

Without receiving the writ, she asks, “And what is your name?”

Confounded, Morgus places the summons back in his pouch before replying, “I am Mage Morgus.”

Abruptly smiling, the woman answers, “Auh, Mage Morgus, welcome. I am Ada. Please! Please enter, wipe your boots on the mat and then follow me to the Baron’s den.” She waits for Morgus to enter and wipe off his boots on the bristle mat a few feet inside the doorway.

Morgus looks at the interior of the manor, bewildered at the opulence of the intricate heart of this structure. The intimate carvings of the wooden fixtures, the fancy metal work, and the stonework that is inlaid and carved to fine details. Hundreds of thousands of coins in craftsmanship alone were expended in this building.

Walking on the inlaid basalt stone floor, the footsteps of the duo echo softly through the rooms and hallways as they walk up to the second-floor den. Invading the den, Morgus finds a twenty-foot square room with a twelve-foot ceiling. A fireplace is on the wall that nestles against the exterior of the manor, along with two three-foot square windows. The room is even more opulent than the rest of the manor that Morgus has seen. A huge maple double columned four-drawer desk with an armed padded desk chair sits along the wall near the fireplace. In front of the desk, a bear-hide rug lays on the floor, with its head still attached. Morgus sits on the long lounge sofa across the room from the desk as Ada pours him a crystal tumbler of dark red wine. She hands him the tumbler and says, “Baron Hessan will be with you when he is ready. I will let the Master know you’re here, Master Morgus.”

Morgus accepts the wine and bows from the waist as he continues to sit on the sofa, saying, “Thank you, Ada.”

Smiling, the servant departs, closing the door behind her.

Scrutinizing the chamber, Morgus is in awe at the expense placed in the construction and outfitting of the room. Just the library shelves alone contain at least five thousand coins worth of texts. Morgus is impressed at the output of wealth in the estate. As Morgus waits – for nearly two hours – he finishes the tumbler of sweet wine.

Morgus is beginning to become impatient when the door bursts open, and slowly, Baron Hessan ambles in. It is immediately apparent from the wrinkled skin and stooped posture that Hessan is at least a century old, but the jalmal still bears himself well with deliberate slow determination. He still holds his handsome appearance to some degree, with above average intelligence gleaming through the expression on his clean complexioned face.

Walking to his desk, the baron sits with the assurance of a noble with a great demeanor.

Ada follows him in, and she pours the man a tumbler of the dark red wine, which Morgus found tasted so sweet. Baron Hessan gestures for Ada to refill Morgus’ tumbler as well. Settling back in the desk chair, Hessan is humming a tune in a low tone as Ada works. Hessan waits until Ada finishes and leaves the room closing the door.

The baron now undertakes a discourse with Morgus, “You wonder why I summoned you? Mage?”

Morgus, familiar with tormenting Hessan’s holding as a youth, does question his being here, but says, “I understand you have work for me. And being as I’m a mage, I think it has nothing to do with working in the stables.”

Laughing genially, Hessan continues by saying, “Oh my boy, you do state the obvious. You know I am Baron Larap Hessan, and I’ve held this estate holding for nearly eighty years after my forefathers have held it for over three-hundred-seventy years. I do admire men who get right down to the business at hand, as I have little time left to waste. My life-companion passed away thirty-eight years ago, leaving me five surviving children and nine of sixteen surviving grandchildren. So, I’ve lived a full life with little time left. Don’t waste my time, and I won’t waste yours. Deal?”

Liking Larap’s straight slicing, Morgus nods and says, “Go ahead.”

Larap pursues the dialogue, “Well as it happens, I have multiple holdings, and an individual has taken an interest in one of them. He is strong-arming me with his interest in my property, and I don’t have the stomach to deal with him. I had a chamberlain to deal with these things, but she passed on four six-days ago … One of my properties is Platter holding farm which a young Master Platter holds. He recently had an incident which a particular mage quickly and satisfactorily resolved – maybe not so cleanly, by the telling. I want to hear your version of events.”

Deciding not to laugh, Morgus ‘puts on’ his game face and answers Larap, “Baron Hessan, I see between the cracks of what you are saying, and that this is an interview on the suitability of my working for you. First, by interview, and then by test, dealing with the strong-arming individual.”

Morgus takes a drink while he observes the twinkling eyes of Larap who is gleefully acknowledging the game.

Morgus advances his theory, “So, to pass the interview I have to tell you how I resolved Farmer Platter’s issue. To tell you the truth might not be wise for my safety … but I’m a risk taker, and I think you’re bold and have crossed lines with decorum and law a few times yourself if I recall my past, here, correctly. Thus, I am going to disclose my solution to Platter’s dilemma, despite the possibility you might take action against me. I have been staying at the Perch Inn, do you know it?”

Larap gestures a positive with a flick of his hand.

“Perch Inn used to belong to my family, so when I left the university on my one-year journeyman walkabout, I returned here. I met a fellow from my checkered past there, from before I entered the University, and he has not seen eye-to-eye with me since we’ve met here. You still with me?”

Yawning, Larap flips his hand, “Go on, quickly.”

Morgus continues, “I had a run in with Bargewright Toaren –”

“BARGEWRIGHT TOAREN!” fumes Larap, “That bastard?”

Resisting smiling, Morgus precedes, “Yes, anyway, I went for a walk. Recalling the Platters were family friends in the past, I dropped in for a visit as I was traveling by.”

“You are long winded, boy.” Larap mutters.

“Lasiter informed me that my family’s friend, Master Ferfeo had passed on. While we were visiting, Lasiter advised me that he had been robbed the night before. I suggested that I might be able to locate the missing jewelry, not informing him how, but informing him that he might have to pay to get the item back.”

“But you got it back without him paying,” says Larap.

Morgus smiles. “Yes, by luck. I know the rogue guild’s fence for the district. Also, knowing that there have been a few thefts locally and the items have shown up with this fence, I surmised I would find this item there. Hoping I could get there and have him hold it until something could be arranged for the jewelry’s return to Lasiter, I traveled immediately to the fence’s building. By a stroke of luck, I arrived while the thief was trying to broker the sale of the necklace to the fence. Being as the fence and I have a history together when I correctly identified hidden markings on the jewelry he refused to buy it from the thief. I confronted the thief, who happened to perish in the confrontation. I had to arrange for a priest before returning the item to Lasiter with his lost stolen coins which I could gather from the rogue. Upon returning to Lasiter, he gave me a minor job, and being with nothing else to do, I sought to complete it quickly. He rewarded me with a few coins, and apparently was satisfied.”

Larap chuckles, “Boy, you have no idea how ecstatic Lasiter was. He reported your resolution and raved about how excellent you treated him.”

Morgus squares himself up and addresses the new issues, “So, am I going to be charged with murder or consorting with known rogues?”

Sitting up painfully straight, Larap clears his throat. After smiling, he commands, “Seven Hells, no. You’re a man I want on staff. Do my next job for me, and I’ll offer you a position on my staff as either chamberlain or estate mage, we’ll decide after you complete the job for me.”

Now Morgus gleefully laughs, as he acknowledges to himself that he recalled Larap’s personality correctly.

Larap says, “Before you laugh, you should know the job.”

Morgus settles down, agreeing with Larap, “What is the job?”

Smirking, Larap then answers, “Deal with the man strong-arming me, your Master Bargewright Toaren.”

Bolting back on the sofa, Morgus stomps a foot. For the first time in years, he reacts violently to news he receives, saying, “Seven Hells! No! Are you serious? Really?”

Now Larap mirthfully laughs for several seconds before answering, “Create your way out of this, boy.”

Morgus ponders the situation for at least four full minutes. Then he says, “I need an office here!”

Larap nods, saying, “Done, third floor, the old chamberlain’s office. Ada will show you to it.”

“I need access to funds?” quips Morgus.

“One-hundred Flairs will be placed in a chest in the office for you,” answers Larap.

Morgus walks over to the desk and extends his arm.

Larap shakes his head and then says, “Only if your solution is satisfactory.”

Morgus utters, “I don’t know the issue, but it will be resolved in your favour Baron Hessan.”

Larap furrows his pale brow, as he answers, “It had better be, rogue mage.”

Smiling, Morgus steps back and bows to Hessan.

Ringing a bell that is on his desk, Larap asks, “More wine? When are you going to start?”

Mulling the offer over, Morgus, smile stuck between being polite and being over-indulgent, he replies, “I best start as soon as possible. Ada can show me the office and inform the staff that I will be on and off the property over the next coming days. I will familiarize myself with my surroundings without lifting anything. Then I’ll start with Master Toaren’s issue.”

Ada walks into the office as Larap replies, “Exactly what I wanted to hear Morgus … Ada show Master Morgus to the chamberlain’s office and inform all staff that he will be working on the estate from that office for several days at least. Help him as much as possible … Maybe even let him eat with you once a day.”

Ada grins and she curtsies, replying, “Yes, Baron Hessan.”

Morgus and Ada walk to the third floor, going to the far northwest corner, to a darker fifteen by twenty room with a ten-foot ceiling. It is less opulent than Larap’s but still finer than any other room Morgus has been in before.

Ada asks, “Do you need anything, Master Morgus?”

Morgus snickers softly before replying, “Pinch me … no, to be serious, I’ll need ten sheets of parchment, ink, and quills, also good light. The chest Baron Larap is ordering, goes on the floor at the far end of the desk. I’d like two pitchers of wine for tomorrow afternoon, as, if all goes well today, tomorrow Master Toaren will be visiting me in this office.”

Scowling, Ada asks, “Do we have to let him in? He’s been tormenting Baron Hessan for two six-days now.”

Morgus winks, “That is why I’m here. To relieve Baron Hessan of the issue of Master Toaren.”

Deeply sighing, Ada says, “Whatever you need … to get rid of him. I’ll help.”

Morgus nods, “Just the items I mentioned.”

Morgus familiarizes himself with the office, the texts on the shelves and the desk. He then walks down to the ground floor, seeking the staff. He finds them in the staff dining room next to the kitchen. Greeting the cook and clothier, Morgus then leaves to walk back to Perch Inn.

…..

Arriving at the Perch Inn half-an-hour after gods-set, Morgus finds Toaren in the tavern drinking ale. Sitting down with Toaren, Morgus orders rum from Pedren, and then faces Toaren, “I said we would talk, as I have a message for you, Master Toaren. You’re asked to a meeting at Hessan Estate Manor, tomorrow afternoon. Can you be there?”

Grinning, Toaren leans forward saying, “So the old goat is giving in; he’s going to talk?”

Morgus answers, “I said you have been granted a meeting tomorrow afternoon. Can you make it?”

The bargewright replies, “By all means, yes.”

Morgus orders a hot meal with meat and he tenders two Dyns for the rum and meal. Morgus joyfully savors his meal at another table, separate from Toaren.

 

Autumn 66 Unicorn

 

It’s an hour past noon as Morgus wipes his boots off on the bristle pad of the front entry at Hessan estate manor. Excited to start working to prove his suitability to Baron Hessan, Morgus walks up the stairs after greeting Ada.

Ada says, “Master Toaren is in the office already, Master Morgus.”

Thanking Ada, Morgus walks upstairs quickly. Finding the office door open, he walks into his office.

“Gods-grace and good fate Master Toaren. Glad you’re here. Let’s get down to business.” Morgus says as he sits on the desk chair.

Toaren rises from his seat, growling, “What the Seven Hells are you doing? I’m here to talk with Baron Hessan!”

The mage responds, “No such luck. If you want to deal with the baron’s estate, you deal with me. Now sit back down, or give up on the idea of dealing with the baron.”

Morgus pours two tumblers of wine as Toaren paces aggressively back and forth across the room. The mage watches Toaren.

Finally sitting back down, taking the tumbler of wine, Toaren mumbles, “Seven Hells.”

Morgus lets out a deep breath, and then breathing calmly, he says, “Tell me what it is you want from Baron Hessan.”

Outraged, Toaren glares at the mage. “I want trees from Renol Holding which is held by Baron Hessan.”

Curious, Morgus asks, “Tell me why?”

“They’re tall, straight, wide, and with few branches, so have few knots in them.” He answers.

Morgus nods, saying, “Fair enough, I don’t see an issue. Let’s go and take a look after eating midday meal here. How many trees do you want?”

Distrusting the jalmal mage, Toaren quizzically replies, “Twenty-five?”

Morgus nods, “Okay, we’ll see. How much are you offering for stumpage?”

Seeing Morgus seems to know a bit about the business, Toaren replies, “Seven Flairs.”

Morgus shakes his head as he stands and leads the way down to the staff kitchen where they eat midday meal.

…..

The two men access Renol Holding fief an hour after evening meal. Addressing the bailiff, Morgus shows Reeve Gaeric the writ prepared by Baron Hessan. “We’re here to examine the timber lands and mark several for logging. The ones we label for logging are to be left alone, except by Master Toaren, here.”

“Understood, Master Morgus, as dictated by Baron Hessan through you,” answers Gaeric.

Toaren leads Morgus to the timber lands he wants the trees from. He finally states, upon seeing the giant more than three-foot diameter trees, “I disagree, twenty-five flairs stumpage is way too high, even for these trees.”

Morgus answers, “I’ll go twenty then.”

Toaren rebuffs, “Fifteen each and I’ll take the whole twenty-five.”

Morgus shakes his head, no. “For fifteen, I need you to do all lumbering work on Renol Holding, hiring all your workers from residents here, and you only get twenty trees.”

Bargewright pirate hesitates and then says, “You drive a hard bargain, but these trees are larger in circumference than I initially recall. If I can choose the twenty I want, and I can mark them right now, then I’ll agree.”

Extending his arm, Morgus says, “I can work with that.”

They grudgingly clasp arms.

The two walk the timber patch and Toaren marks twenty of the largest trees, and then they return to the bailiff’s home.

Morgus confronts an eager Gaeric, “We need rooms for the night.”

Setting up the two men with meals and beds for the night, Gaeric listens as Morgus and Toaren arrange for facilities and workers for Toaren’s tree lumbering, as well as freight shipping northeast to East Dock’s dry-dock barge yard.

 

Autumn 67 Unicorn

 

Sphere cover shelters the two men as they walk southeast on Drescol Street toward Perch Inn through the freezing medium gods-breath.

Morgus finds Toaren slow. It takes the two almost eight hours to walk to their destination, arriving half-an-hour before evening meal.

Toaren walks to his room, and then comes back down with three sacks of Flairs for Morgus who takes these to his room.

Morgus halfheartedly rests for the night, trying to construct a new game plan, which is harder than he expected.

 

Autumn 68 Unicorn

 

Morgus impatiently sits in Baron Hessan’s den, viewing the extravagant setting. He observes the scenic painting near the fireplace, as he deliberates the affluence displayed by Larap in this chamber. Morgus has been sitting and waiting for ten minutes since he arrived three hours after noon.

The den office opens and in walks the slightly infirm man, who eagerly assesses the stash of three sacks of coins on his desk as he asks, “What is this?” as he sits on his desk chair.

Morgus stands and bows to Larap before taking a seat on a chair near the desk. “My answer to the quandary you set to me. This is three-hundred Flairs for twenty trees stumpage from your Renol Holding fief. Plus, your holding gets employment for workers in lumbering the trees and freighting the lumber to East Dock’s dry-dock shipyard. I think you will find this to be an equitable economic solution to Master Toaren’s strong-arm request.”

Touching the sacks, Larap reflects on the deal, before he asks, “Tell me the particulars, how many trees and the stumpage?”

Breathing deeply before answering, Morgus answers, “Twenty trees for fifteen Flairs per tree, as long as all workers are hired from Renol Holding, and all lumbering is completed on location in Renol.”

Tapping his desk, Larap’s lips are tight and straight across, “How many trees did he originally ask for and how much did he offer to pay?”

With knots in his stomach, Morgus is getting nauseous with nerves, “Toaren asked for twenty-five trees at seven Flairs stumpage. I countered that he could take twenty-five trees for twenty-five Flairs, but lowered that to twenty Flairs when he said he would go elsewhere. We talked and looked at the trees, and he countered with fifteen Flairs stumpage, taking the trees off-site. But I refused, and we struck our deal. He selected the twenty trees while we were on site.”

Still tapping the desk, Larap eyes Morgus through squinting eyes and furrowed brow. Stopping his tapping, Larap drinks wine, and then he says, “You and I are going for a drive.” Ringing his bell, the baron refuses to talk anymore as they wait.

Ada arrives and Larap demands, “Have Gendal hitch the carriage, as he’s driving master Morgus and me to the Red Panda today and bringing us back tonight.”

Ada quickly leaves after bowing and acknowledging the command.

Half-an-hour later, Larap leads Morgus to the courtyard to mount the waiting, gilded and carved carriage with its four horses.

The driver sets out on their journey, turning left on Drescol Street and heading to a chartreuse road sign. They turn left onto Handle Avenue, driving to the Red Panda Stable.

Confused, the puzzled mage follows Baron Hessan into the large upper-class stable.

The old man slowly leads Morgus to a stall and points to the beige seventeen-hand stallion, saying, “This is my prize seven-year-old heavy warhorse, Red Panda. I’ve had him since he was a colt. Master Ostler Henreitte trains my warhorses for me and keeps them here. I have ten heavy warhorses all trained by Master Henreitte of the Red Panda Stable. She’s been my horse trainer for over three decades. Should I continue keeping warhorses?”

Morgus gulps, as he doesn’t know nobility responsibility or requirements. Uttering cautiously, “Baron Hessan, I have no skills with the responsibility of nobles. So, I cannot advise you at this moment whether you should or should not keep your warhorses. Nor can I advise you as to whether you should have men-at-arms, or what staff you need or should keep. That is what I can say. My apology if you thought otherwise.”

Laughing flamboyantly, Larap steps away from the stall as a ninety-year-old jalfem approaches the two. Larap addresses her, calling out, “Good-day Master Henreitte, Master Morgus, here, is proving his salt to me. He seems to feel that his life has little value. I am deciding his value to me. Please inform Master Morgus the place of my horses in my baron-ship.”

The pampamoo smiles her toothless smirk, answering, “By all means, Master Larap. Morgus, my boyo, Master Larap is a baron who is required as a noble baron to supply 240 days of military service to the king each year. In this capacity, Baron Hessan provides 240 days’ worth of heavy horsemen for his service. With a service of ten heavy horsemen, he only need send his team for twenty-four days. So, you see this team is important to Baron Hessan’s noble rank.”

Morgus, suddenly curious, asks, “But at what costs do you send the horsemen?”

Henreitte answers, “It costs Master Larap twenty-seven Dyns per horse per days for upkeep and training to keep the horses here. Sending them to service costs thirty-three Flair per day per horse. The penalty for not sending troops is one-hundred Flairs per day for each of the 240 days missed.”

Morgus quickly does the sums of the numbers in his mind, replying, “So, if you don’t send any troops at all, then the fine is twenty-four-thousand coins. If you fulfill your obligation with these heavy horsemen, then it costs you 792.00 coins.”

Larap drawls, correcting Morgus. “Not quite – the twenty-four-thousand penalty is right – but my costs for my contribution is higher because to get my troops to the post they serve from takes a minimum of five days of traveling. So, my minimum costs each year are thirty-four days at 1,122.00 coin, plus their yearly upkeep, plus the wages of the warriors and their expenses, coming to a total for my heavy horsemen of 19,124.00 cn every year. But you may learn more. Let’s go back to the manor. You are invited to dine with me when we return to Hessan manor.”

Morgus estimates it is now an hour before gods-set, and the drive back is about three hours. It will be two hours after gods-set when they arrive at Hessan manor. Even a quick meal with the baron will mean the time will be midnight before they complete their social gathering. Morgus asks, “May I have a room for the night?”

As the two walk back to the carriage, Larap answers, “We’ll discuss that over our meal.”

Arriving back at Hessan manor, an hour and a bit after gods-set, Morgus is impressed how fast Gendal drove the carriage back and kept the ride comfortable.

Now sitting and eating an impressive hot meal of turkey, tubers, and vegetables with mulled cider, Morgus asks again, “Baron Hessan, it is now around two hours until midnight. I have a three-hour walk back to the Perch Inn, so I’ll even pay for a room for the night.”

Larap sets his fork beside his plate, washing down his mouthful of food after he chews it. He looks at Morgus, saying, “You have a lot to learn if you are to be my chamberlain, yet you have much to offer. I can’t just ask for these from someone off the Avenue. So, I feel I am in a quagmire. What do I do with you? Of course, you can have a room tonight. Don’t offend me again with offering to pay for the room or for my hospitality, mage. You currently are my guest. Do you want to change this?”

Contemplating Larap’s statement and query, Morgus responds, “As I understand you, you’re offering me a position. Correct?”

The baron nods curtly once.

Morgus, seeing Larap is concise and to the point, does likewise, saying, “Yes.”

Smiling for the first time with a handsome genuine friendly smile, Larap says, “Good, I’m not offering you the position of chamberlain, not just yet. You have to show me you’re earning that. No one gets the position knowing all its details; they earn the position, learning the details while on the job. But you have too little knowledge right now to be of service to my estate or me. What I will offer you is a position as my aide and as estate mage. That is what I think you qualify for. Remember, the position only lasts as long as I live. After I die, my children decide if you stay on. Which could be tonight at my age.”

Not able to resist, Morgus burst out in good-humoured laughter, as does Larap. Morgus responds, “For as long as the position lasts, it does fit my abilities. Will I have a laboratory and library?”

Larap starts tapping the table, saying, “Not yet, you supply your own supplies and equipment.”

With a sad, sullen face, Morgus asks, “What about a room, or rooms?”

Larap, still tapping, mulls this over and then replies, “If we agree on this, you can have two adjoining rooms on the fourth floor.”

Sighing with satisfaction, Morgus sees a future here, however temporary. He asks, “Then the matter of pay comes to bearing. How much?”

With an expression that would freeze water, Larap stares at Morgus while still tapping the table. “I think one Flair a day is fair.”

Choking on the frugal amount, Morgus counters, “My dear Baron, no self-respecting mage will enter into a contract for that price. A chamberlain or aide might. A mage may if you supplied a laboratory AND library. No, a minimum of three Flairs a day, or two and a laboratory.”

Guffawing, Larap answers, “Not likely, two and no laboratory.”

Evaluating this counter offer, Morgus counters, “Eighteen Dyns per day and a laboratory.”

Shifting uncomfortably in his seat, drawing frustration from negotiations, Larap replies, “No, two per day plus an initial two-hundred coin.”

Seeing an out in the impasse, Morgus offers, “How about two Flairs per day plus an initial bonus of two-thousand Flairs?”

Leaping forward, Larap’s friendly smile returns and he stops tapping the table. Extending his arm, he says, “Done, this is for you to be my estate mage and my personal business aide.”

Morgus leans forward clasping arms with Larap while adding, “With the caveat that on Autumn 49 next year I take leave to return to the Mage’s University to administer to my testing for master journeyman mage certification.”

Grinning happily, Larap says, “At your own expense, of course, agreed.”

They seal the agreement with the gentleman’s clasping of arms.

Finishing their meal together, Morgus asks, “Who do I eat my meals with?”

Larap commands, “The staff … I will get Ada to show you to your room now, Morgus. Have a good night. You officially start your position at midnight tonight. But you can fetch you gear tomorrow from Perch Inn.”

Smiling mirthfully, Morgus stands and bows to Larap. Morgus is happy his financial situation is resolved, and his residence is situated firmly, at least for a while.

Larap rings his bell for Ada.

…..

In his rooms, Morgus finds the bedroom to be large – a richly appointed wooden room with two windows and a double size goose-down-filled mattress. The attached room is slightly smaller but big enough for a study or laboratory and library with its shelves and large intricately carved oak desk. Both rooms have area floor carpets and many wall-mounted hooded lanterns.

Saying good-night to Ada, Morgus washes and then crawls into bed just after midnight, unable to sleep.

To be continued …

Thank you for reading Issue 108 of the Owerton Challenge where you the reader participate in the writing of each issue.

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