Chapter 1, Part 5

posted Dec 16, 2009, 7:28 PM by Jeremy Poehnert   [ updated Dec 16, 2009, 9:56 PM ]
His head was spining, and he looked out the open window of the carriage while trying to gather his thoughts.  The street was muddy from the rain the previous night, which was doing nothing for the ever-present traffic.  Almost everyone agreed that the city, when rebuilt, would be beautiful.  But it had been seven years since the war ended, and their was a palpable sense it would be nice if the rebuilding could end sooner, rather than later.  But the blessing and curse of the city's near-complete destruction during the war was that they were rebuilding it almost from scratch.  That meant that everything had to be debated and discussed.  How big would the merchant's quarter be?  What happens when there aren't any surviving owners of a property? (the default was that all unowned property belonged to the crown, which meant that there was always someone prepared to claim a given property belonged to them).  What about these strange new "improvements?"  What's this about "public schools?"  And what's a sewer?  Hence, the construction process backed up, and the streets were full of lost carts of contrustion supplies, not to mention the normal supplies that kept the city running.

The carriage detoured around a collision between a cart carrying a group of Orc laborers and a wagon full of wulbern (an animal) eggs.  While the two drivers were arguing some of the more industrious bystanders were trying to help themselves to any surviving eggs.  The Orcs, clearly trying to avoid any trouble, huddled quietly to the side.  Truman sighed; whatever his issues, they didn't compare to what the city's newest waves of immigrants were facing...

They finally reached the Ruling Quarter.  The first area of the city rebuilt, the streets were paved with cobblestones, layed out in a clear pattern, and even had signs with words (although they also included symbols since literacy was still the exception, rather than the rule, at least among humans; for that matter, even the more literate Races, like the Goblins and Dwarfs, often werent' fluent in reading English).  At which point their progress picked up quickly.

Truman realized the Phin and the Lawgiver were openly inspecting him, and was quickly brought back to his predicament.  He was surprised when the Dwarf offered him a flask, taken from a rack sitting between the cushions on the two sides of the carriage.  He said, in High Mountain (the Dwarfish Language) "Would you care for a drink, Young Apprentice?"  Truman, realizing how thirsty he was responded eargerly, without thinking "Thank you, Elder Lawgiver."  

The Lawgiver Darlon raised an eyebrow, and Phinn smiled and nodded.  "So you speak High Mountain."  Phinn's High Mountain was truly flawless, without what Truman knew to be his own, heavy accent. Unsure how to respond, Truman simply nodded, and took a deep drink of the clear liquid.  At which point he realized it wasn't water.  He felt the warmth slide down his throat and into his stomach, and looked in surprise at the flask.  His hosts were watching him, the Bard with a clear smile, apparently waiting for a reaction.

For a moment he was annoyed.  Were they testing him?  Why?  Despite his circumstances (and possibly because of the alcohol) he suddenly felt a flush of boldness.  "It's...It's been a long time since I've had Lowland Nectar."  Without any special intention he said it in High Mountain, as if continuing their conversation.

Lawgiver Darlon nodded, as if Truman had in fact passed some sort of test...which was both satisfying and frustrating.  What was going on here?  What did they want from him?

It was Phinn who responded, continuing in High Mountain; "I'm impressed you recognize it; it's not common in this area.  Have you been to the plains?

"I was raised there by my grandfather, and moved to the capital only when I entered the Guild."
"Ah, your grandfather, the esteemed Elder Historian (need last name).  He was truly one of the great Historians of our time."
Truman felt like like a response was needed "Thank you, Master Bard, your words honor my family." 

The Bard signed, and said to his companion, using English (I need a name for the human language) "No offense my friend, but I feel that this conversation would benefit for the more informal nature of my native tongue."

To Truman's surprise, Lawgiver laughed and responded "Informal?  Don't you mean sloppy?"