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 65 Unicorn
Mulling the offer over, Morgus’ smile is stuck between being polite and being over-indulgent, he replies, “I best start as soon as possible. Ada can show me the office and inform the staff that I will be on and off the property over the next coming days. I will familiarize myself with my surroundings – without lifting anything. Then I’ll start with Master Toaren’s issue.”
As Ada walks into the office, Larap replies, “Exactly what I wanted to hear Morgus … Ada show Master Morgus to the chamberlain’s office and inform all staff that he will be working on the estate from that office for several days at least. Help him as much as possible … maybe even let him eat with you once a day.”
Ada grins and she curtsies, replying, “Yes, Baron Hessan.”
Morgus and Ada walk to the third floor, going to the far northwest corner, to a darker medium size room with a high ceiling. It is less opulent than Larap’s, but is still finer than any other room Morgus has been in before.
Ada asks, “Do you need anything, Master Morgus?”
Morgus snickers softly before replying, “Pinch me … no, to be serious, I’ll need ten sheets of parchment, ink, and quills, also good lighting. The chest Baron Larap is ordering, goes on the floor at the far end of the desk. I’d like two pitchers of wine for tomorrow afternoon, as, if all goes well today, tomorrow Master Toaren will be visiting me in this office.”
Scowling, Ada asks, “Do we have to let him in? He’s been tormenting Baron Hessan for two six-days now.”
Morgus winks, “That is why I’m here. To relieve Baron Hessan of the issue of Master Toaren.”
Deeply sighing, Ada says, “Whatever you need … to get rid of him. I’ll help.”
Morgus nods, “Just the items I mentioned.”
Morgus familiarizes himself with the office, the texts on the shelves, and the desk. He then walks down to the ground floor, seeking the staff. He finds them in the staff dining room in the cellar next to the kitchen. Greeting the cook and clothier, Morgus then leaves to walk back to Perch Inn.
Arriving at the Perch Inn half-an-hour after gods-set, Morgus finds Toaren in the tavern drinking ale. Sitting down with Toaren, Morgus orders rum from Pedren, and then faces Toaren, “I said we would talk. I have a message for you, Master Toaren. You’re asked to a meeting at Hessan Estate Manor, tomorrow afternoon. Can you be there?”
Grinning, Toaren leans forward saying, “So the old goat is giving in; he’s going to talk?”
Morgus answers, “I said you’ve been granted a meeting tomorrow afternoon. Can you make it?”
The bargewright replies, “By all means, yes.”
Morgus orders a hot meal with meat and he tenders two Dyns for the rum and meal. Morgus joyfully savors his meal at another table, separate from Toaren.
Autumn 66 Unicorn
It’s an hour past noon as Morgus wipes his boots off on the bristle pad of the front entry of Hessan estate manor. Excited to start working to prove his suitability to Baron Hessan, Morgus walks up the stairs after greeting Ada.
Ada says as he greets her. “Master Toaren is in the office already, Master Morgus.”
Thanking Ada, Morgus walks upstairs quickly. Finding the office door open, he walks into his office. “Gods-grace and good fate Master Toaren. Glad you’re here. Let’s get down to business.” Morgus says as he sits on his desk chair.
Toaren rises from his seat, growling, “What the Seven Hells are you doing? I’m here to talk with Baron Hessan!”
The mage responds, “No such luck. If you want to deal with the baron’s estate, you deal with me. Now sit back down, or give up on the idea of dealing with the baron.”
Morgus pours two tumblers of wine as Toaren paces aggressively back and forth across the room. The mage watches Toaren.
Finally sitting back down, taking the tumbler of wine, Toaren mumbles, “Seven Hells.”
Morgus lets out a deep breath, and then breathing calmly, he says, “Tell me what it is you want from Baron Hessan.”
Outraged, Toaren glares at the mage. “I want trees from Renol Holding, which is held by Baron Hessan.”
Curious, Morgus asks, “Tell me why?”
“They’re tall, straight, thick, and with few branches, so have few knots in them.” He answers.
Morgus nods, saying, “Fair enough, I don’t see an issue. Let’s go and take a look after eating midday meal here. How many trees do you want?”
Distrusting the Jalmal mage, Toaren quizzically replies, “Twenty-five?”
Morgus nods, “Okay, we’ll see. How much are you offering for stumpage?”
Seeing Morgus seems to know a bit about the business, Toaren replies, “Seven Flairs.”
Morgus shakes his head as he stands and leads the way down to the staff dining room where they eat midday meal.
The two men access Renol Holding fief an hour after evening meal. Addressing the bailiff, Morgus shows Reeve Gaeric the writ prepared by Baron Hessan. “We’re here to examine the timber lands and mark several for logging. The ones we label for logging are to be left alone, except by Master Toaren, here.”
“Understood, Master Morgus, as it is dictated by Baron Hessan through you,” answers Gaeric.
Toaren leads Morgus to the timber lands he wants the trees from. He finally states, upon seeing the giant trees, more than three-foot in diameter. “I disagree, twenty-five flairs stumpage is way too high, even for these trees.”
Morgus answers, “I’ll go twenty then.”
Toaren rebuffs, “Fifteen each and I’ll take the whole twenty-five.”
Morgus shakes his head, no. “For fifteen, I need you to do all lumbering work here on Renol Holding, hiring all your workers from residents here, and you only get twenty trees.”
Bargewright pirate hesitates, and then says, “You drive a hard bargain, but these trees are larger in circumference than I initially recall. If I can choose the twenty I want, and I can mark them right now, then I’ll agree.”
Extending his arm, Morgus says, “I can work with that.”
They grudgingly clasp arms.
The two walk the timber patch and Toaren marks twenty of the largest trees, and then they return to the bailiff’s home.
Morgus confronts an eager Gaeric, “We need rooms for the night.”
Setting up the two men with meals and beds for the night, Gaeric listens as Morgus and Toaren arrange for facilities and workers for Toaren’s tree lumbering, as well as freight shipping northeast to East Dock’s drydock bargeyard.
Autumn 67 Unicorn
The sphere cover shelters the two men as they walk southeast on Drescol Street toward Perch Inn through the freezing medium gods-breath.
Morgus finds Toaren slow. It takes the two almost eight hours to walk to their destination, arriving half-an-hour before evening meal.
To be continued in part four …