As he blinked his eyes and wiped the dripping ale
from his beard, Iolo slowly turned to face Dupre. "I want to find
out what's going on as much as thee, my friend, but smashing mugs and
getting drunk is of little help."
Dupre glared at Iolo then began picking up the pieces
of the shattered mug. "I'll agree that I should at least empty the
mug before slamming it down so. Forgive me, Iolo, but this idleness suits
me not. I feel we should be doing something. Anything. Lord British and
the realm appear to need our help. We must accept and do what we are able."
Iolo nodded, agreeing with the sentiment. "It
irks me to know that I sat in this tavern while other fought the fires
in Moonglow. But we could not have known that attack was coming, and by
the time we did learn of it, 'twas too late. When Shamino arrives, we
shall determine what course we shall take."
Dupre stood and walked a couple paces beside the tavern
table. He stopped and ran his finger along an ale soaked carving in the
tabletop. Then abruptly turned and sat back down. "Nay. As much as
I would have our friend at our side, 'tis no longer acceptable to wait.
We should go speak with Lord British. Sir Geoffrey told me he worries
about Lord British and these visions. While I put little faith into such
things, 'tis hard to ignore something that so strongly effects our Liege.
We must offer our aid and do whatever can be done to remove the furrow
Lord British's brow."
Staring across the room where two bar patrons took
turns hurling their daggers at a target on the wall, Iolo finally nodded
his concurrence. "Thou art correct, Dupre. Lord British needs our
help. Shamino will catch up to us when he is able. But I suggest we find
and speak with Nystul first..."
The castle barracks seemed especially cold this night
thought Sir Geoffrey. He stopped in front of the twin oaken doors. They
were of normal stock... banded and hinged in metal. He had seen their
ilk countless times across the years, but these two seemed to give him
pause. 'Twas just stepping through these doors that Branson One-Thumb
was murdered by a member of the Followers of Armageddon not so long ago.
And behind them now were three warriors he hoped were not being sent to
They had been chosen by he and Halston to investigate
Buccaneer's Den. 'Twas a vital task. It still gave him a twinge of guilt
to send someone else on such an errand. But Halston had spoken true when
he reminded Geoffrey of his duty to Lord British here. If not for his
concern about his King's wellbeing, Sir Geoffrey might have gone on the
mission himself anyway.
Geoffrey sighed and opened the door. He was immediately
greeted by Halston Montil. Sir Thevel, Lady Catriona, and Sir Hrothgar
quickly stood and came to attention. Sir Geoffrey motioned for all to
relax and sit.
"How goes their preparations, Halston?"
"Quite well, sir," Halton confidently replied,
"Physically, of course, all were already in peak condition. But 'tis
their minds which will likely prove the difference between success and
failure. They have been training to blend in with the pirate natives of
"Avast ye matey," said Sir Hrothgar with
a smile, "shiver me timbers."
Shaking his head, Sir Geoffrey inspected the soldiers,
one by one. Finally his gaze came back to Halston. "I trust misused
pirate clichés are not all they've learned?"
"Nay, of course not," Halston quickly answered.
A fleeting glance at Sir Hrothgar proved that the soldier had reddened
"'Tis a serious matter this," continued
Geoffrey, "the slightest slip could prove they undoing. And speech
is the least of thy worries. 'Tis the instinct to offer aid to others
that could be thy greatest foe. Most pirates serve only themselves and
greed. There are exceptions, of course, but in newly arrived faces and
in these current times, such could easily be viewed suspiciously. This
is truly the most difficult part. The virtues will be of little direct
aid to thee in Buccaneer's Den. Not on this mission, anyway. Hold them
close to thy heart, but I fear ye must conceal them from everyone but
thyselves. We need the information ye seek in Buccaneer's Den, thus it
is vital that ye be accepted. Those who are the driving force behind the
attack on Moonglow, and perhaps even our Lord's visions, must feel comfortable
around thee else they shall reveal nothing."
Sir Geoffrey paused and looked each in the eye. He
was gratified to see, not fear or worry, but rather bold determination.
Geoffrey visibly relaxed. A bit. Not completely. "I have the utmost
confidence in the three of ye. Just be sure to come back safely and unharmed."
With an inward glance and a short, quick of his head, Sir Geoffrey took
a seat in the corner of the room to observe the rest of the night's training.
A lone crow sat atop a metal signpost outside of the
Magical Light mage shop in Vesper. A strange inner fire lit its eyes,
and its head seemed to move with a purpose unusual of the featherkin.
It seemed intent upon watching as people strolled by its post and keenly
interested whenever someone entered the shop.
An older man pulled the door to the shop open just
as a young mage inside had been making ready to leave. Plowing into the
older man and almost knocking him over, the mage stopped and began apologizing
for not watching his steps. While they stood in the doorway, the crow
leapt from its roost and flew through the opening.
Landing on a bookcase in the back of the room, the
crow began to watch as the shopkeeper helped her customers. When she opened
a chest to sell an alchemist a few reagents, the crow again took flight...
this time landing beside the recently opened chest. It hopped under the
counter, where it would not be noticed, and vigilantly began to watch
the chest of reagents...
From the Town Cryer - The Journal of Ultima Online, Saturday, March