Part 2 of The Adventures of The Split Falchion
Marwyn awoke with a dry headache. It was not unlike a hangover, though the pain was not through nausea and indigestion. He sat upright and immediately regretted it, but did manage to get a look around before collapsing back downward. This only heightened the pain, his left shoulder flaring with an exquisite pain not unlike a fresh burn. Lesani rushes in, he must have screamed and not realized.
“Marwyn, Marwyn, calm down. You are safe.” A dwarf passes by the door, questioning the sight with his eyes but moving on all the same.
“Did… the others.” Marwyn manages to croak out.
“They are fine. Whatever spell that mage got off knocked us all out. The rest of us woke up and hauled out of there before the guards’ backup got there. You were in a pretty bad shape, though. Not as experienced as us I would imagine.”
“Not…. in every way,” Marwyn forces out of what he tries to make a grin.
“Good, joking. If you are feeling that well perhaps I should ‘help’ you out of bed?” Lesani grabs at the sheets, feigning an attempt to pull Marwyn out of bed, and then lays a hand over his forehead. “The fever is gone, at least. I have no idea what that that spell was, but it made us all sick. Cletus was throwing up all week, but that is probably because of his drin..” Lesani throws a hand over her mouth, shocked, “I am sorry, I did not mean for it to slip out like that.”
“A week?!” Marwyn attempts to sit up again, wincing, though the pain had lessened.
“Yes. Jorduna was rather explicit about what we should do with you, but Vargard would not hear of it,” she pauses, hesitantly, and then adds, “it did not, however, stop him from taking the room charge out of your share.”
“I don’t… mind..” Marwyn mumbles, suddenly tired.
“You should rest. Do not worry about us, Vargard believes the buyer will not be in town for a couple of days. Your share is.. also still in good health. To his credit, Vargard did haggle the price of your room for you.” She turns to leave, closing the door behind her.
“Thank… you…” Marwyn says, to the empty room.
Below, in the near empty common room of The Half Moon, Cletus, Vargard, and Jorduni sit around a small table, huddled together and speaking in low tones. It’s midday, after the lunch crowd but before the dinner rush and midnight marathon drinkers. An orc stands behind the bar in the classic bartender stance, polishing a never-clean glass with a dirty rag. Vargard looks behind him, startled by the noise of someone coming down the stairs, and then relaxes as he sees it is Lesani.
“Les, how’s the kid?” he asks softly. “We all heard him scream. Malius said he’ll kick us out if that becomes a regular occurrence,” he nods to the bartender, who returns a scowl.
Lesani returns to her seat, and the huddle reforms. “Sleeping, again. He is better, and does not seem to remember the last time. More coherent and less crazy. His fever is gone. The mark is still there though, same as us.”
Cletus, without warning, sits up from the table and runs out the back door. Retching can be heard from behind the door. The bartender gives the remaining group a pointed stare.
“Var, he’s been doing this for, what, a week now?” Jorduna asks, annoyed. “When will he take the hint?”
“This is the only time he’s done it today Jor,” Vargard responds plainly, “And I’d be the fool if I tried to take Cletus’ drink outside of a job.”
“It’s just revolting. He’s going to come back stinking of it like always, and the bartender over there always looks at me as if it’s my fault.”
“Malius can curse us in his head all he likes Jor,” Vargard says, placatingly, “take solace in the fact that he won’t kick us out so long as we have the coin, and there’s plenty of it from the job.”
“About that, Vargard,” Lesani whispers, as if speaking ill of a king in his own court, “I dislike lying to Marwyn, even if it is to placate him.”
“Les, you’ve got a good heart, but Marwyn’s going to need as much rest as he can get, both mentally and physically. I don’t want him worrying that we’ll leave lying there.”
“As if we could, even if we wanted to,” snaps Jorduna
Vargard stiffens, then acridly states, “Jor, like it or not the kid’s with us for now. I’ve got a contact tracking down Blue Cloak, but it’s going to take some time. Now, you can bitch all you want in your own time, but say nothing of the predicament in front of the kid, or subvert my authority on a job, or we’ll get to see what happens when we try and remove these things physically.”
Jorduna grumbles, barely audible, and goes over to the bar. Cletus returns from the back, grabs a flask of water from the bartender, and heads back outside, avoiding everyone’s eyes.
“Lesani, how’s your end going?” Vargard asks, returning to his usual calm, measured persona.
“Not good. My friends in the Eldeen Reaches have heard nothing of this Blue Cloak, or the mark he has given us,” she pauses, whispers again, “Vargard, are we to ignore what it said. The artifact they acquired, it originated in the Mournlands.”
“Yes,” Vargard responds outright.
Lesani continues in her low pitch, letting horror tinge her voice, “The Mourning was wrought by forces none of us can imagine. The mists…”
Vargard takes her hand with both of his, “Lesani, I know what you went through. You were lucky enough to have escaped. If this is getting to be too much for you, you can stop looking for now. We don’t have to solve this today, you deserve some rest. If you are up for it, I have a lead on another job that’ll let us get our minds off of gold for a while, and get some serious attention from the mages of Fairhaven.”
“Yes,” Lesani says, relieved, “some rest, perhaps, and another engagement. Back to normal, as close as we can get, anyways. I shall return to my chambers.” Lesani gets up to leave.
“Les, we’ll be ok. Don’t let Jorduna get to you, either. I know you like the kid and her malice must hit you too. Leave her temper to me.”
Lesani smiles softly, and turns to leave. Jorduna storms out of the front door, without explanation. Vargard sighs, and heads up the stairs after several minutes. Closing the door, and quietly placing the bed against it, he sits down against the far wall. Reaching into his haversack, he pulls out a small piece of parchment, and stares at it. Inscribed in black ink by Lesani is a twisting design of intertwined symbols, connecting to form an overall circular mark, the same imprinted on the backs of himself, Lesani, Cletus, Jorduna, and Marwyn. He traces it, over and over with his finger, trying to gleam some insight as to its purpose.
In the room next door, Marwyn turns in his troubled sleep.
Continued in Part 3, Road to Lathleer – Progress and Delay