Our serial series is set in Kenneth Shumaker’s medieval fantasy realm of Quantos. We find the Apprentice Mage Morgus is out from the Mage’s University and on his one-year walk-about before he returns for his journeyman certification test on Autumn 50 of Pine, during the reign of King Regeanus III in the royal city of Mount Oryn’s South State district. Our intrepid hero, with a checkered past, is an attractive thirty-three-year-old human Jalnoric male with a bold personality and is determined to survive his walk-about year at any cost, even if it means snuggling in and working with nobility.
We continue now with Episode 004:
Autumn 67 Unicorn
Master Toaren walks to his room, and then comes back down with three sacks of Flairs for Morgus, who takes these to his room.
Morgus half-heartedly 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 at three hours after noon.
The den office door opens and in walks the slightly infirm pampaloo, 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 tall 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 stumpage of twenty trees from your Renol Holding fief. Plus, your holding gets employment for workers in lumbering the trees and freighting the lumber to East Dock’s drydock bargeyard. 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 replies, “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.
After a few minutes, 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 hitched to 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-hands tall 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’s 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 baronage.”
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 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 Dyns 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 eighty-eight hundred 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 1,062.00 coin, plus their yearly upkeep of 8,802.00, plus the wages of the warriors and their expenses, coming to a total for my heavy horsemen of 188,042.00 coin 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 evening meal.”
To be continued in part five …