Spring Planting, Planter’s Day 5, Year of the Lion number 428; March 8, 1739 Agathon; Linne 182
I stayed with Aurore a few days before moving on. I tried to get her to talk more about her family – not her children, but the elves. She wasn’t very forthcoming, though. I suppose I could see why. Here she was, the daughter of the queen, but unable to do magic, and was denied the right of succession. Strange laws and customs, I said, but Aurore didn’t see it that way.
I started getting the feeling that me being there was becoming a burden. Sapp tended to stay clear as well, only dropping in when something was needed. After a few days I said my goodbyes and resumed my journey. Tonight, I’m back on the road heading toward Shrinehall. The road is deserted; I haven’t seen anyone, going either direction, all day. The trees are sparse in this area and the field grass is flattened by the recent snow and rain. The skies are cloudy and the wind gusts are biting.
I don’t know how to make an uneventful day interesting to readers of my journal, so I guess I’ll just put the last dot on the last sentence here.
Spring Planting, Planter’s Day 12, Year of the Lion number 428; March 20, 1739 Agathon; Linne 182
More uneventful traveling. I didn’t realize how long and lonely this road would be. Today, three men on horseback passed me heading north. They didn’t even slow down and acknowledge me as I stood to the side to let them pass.
The skies have cleared up a bit, allowing the sun to warm the lands and melt the last patches of snow. To my right, the mountains have crept closer as the road angled toward the range. Haughgen Mountains.
This evening, I saw a flock of large birds flying north.
Spring Planting, Planter’s Day 18, Year of the Lion number 428; March 26, 1739 Agathon; Linne 182
I hope I haven’t lost track of days. The road is now closely following the foothills of the mountain range. These mountains are not as great as some I’ve seen, especially those near Linne, north of Avensaria. They are mostly covered with trees that are just beginning to bud out with their spring growth.
Today I came to the first real sign of civilization since I left Hiltmar. Nestled between a couple hills there’s an old farmhouse. The fields, which stretch further south, are barren. It’s still too early to start planting. And too wet and muddy. In front of the house was a stout woman drawing water from a well. At first, I thought she was a man, as she had a modest ginger beard. When I got closer, she was definitely a she! I waved as I walked past and she kindly waved back. I thought about stopping to talk, but she had already turned her back and was heading into the house.
The road cut through the modest farm fields. There were more houses, barns, and a couple pens with livestock. Men and women alike were doing various chores, but there was no one in the fields. Finally, just as the sun was getting low on the horizon, the road forked. The sign pointed west to Shrinehall and south to Queencaves. Either way, I’d have to cross a river flowing from the nearby mountain. I made the right turn and walked over the bridge.
A young couple held hands and stood at the rail. His beard was dark, thick and covered his chest. Her beard barely colored her face. They turned to look at me as I walked past. When I was even with them, the girl said, “Aren’t you a Tabaxi?”
I stopped and curtseyed. “My name is Kabize Vipertree. And yes, I am a Tabaxi.”
They looked at each other and she stifled a giggle. He said, “And what brings you to Gathia?”
“I am but a traveler. I’ve heard many good things about Shrinehall, and I wanted to see it for myself.”
The two looked at each other again. “Yeah. Shrinehall’s neat. Good luck on your travels, ma’am.”
I nodded. “Thank you very much. And I hope things go well for you, too.” I smiled to myself as I walked away. Young love. Need I say more?
At the end of the bridge I found just the place I was hoping for. An old, rickety building with a freshly-painted sign in front: “Clover’s Brewhouse.” I almost had to duck as I entered, as this place was made by and primarily for dwarves. It wasn’t particularly busy at this hour, but there were enough patrons to raise the noise level. The fireplace was inviting and I was relieved to find an open table near enough to catch its warmth.
I sat alone, watching the people and listening to bits and pieces of their conversations that a good quarter hour passed and I realized that a serving girl hadn’t stopped to greet me. I looked around and finally spotted one and waved at her. She held up a finger, “one moment.” Twice she went back and forth between the bar and several tables before finally coming over to me. “Can I help you?” I felt like I was being an imposition. Her entire demeanor was different as she addressed me compared to how she related to the dwarves.
“I’m sorry. Is there a problem? I’ve been traveling for several days and I’m really thirsty. I hope my gold is good here.” I dropped four gold coins on the table.
“We got a variety of dwarven ales and beers. There’s a honey mead that is popular among the humankind.”
“That sounds good. I’ll take a mild ale.” She left me to go meet a group that just walked in the door and take their order. I watched as she brought them their drinks, helped another customer with a refill, before bringing my order. The mug wasn’t even half full, though it tasted okay. I sipped it slowly, figuring I’d never get a refill anyway.
Eventually, I got up to leave. The girl never stopped by to check on me, or to see if I needed anything else. I left two of the gold coins on the table and made my way to the door. Outside, it was dark. The clouds had returned, hiding the stars from view. I followed the road toward Shrinehall for about an hour as it wound upward into the mountain. Finally, I was too tired to keep going so I found a small outcropping sheltered by pine trees. The moon shone just enough through the clouds that I could write today’s journal entry.
I’m left wondering. Are all dwarves like this? While I met dwarves on my travels this past year, none were outright rude to me. But this is my first foray into their lands. Their country. I don’t know. I just hope the people of Shrinehall are different.
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