Saturday, July 2, 2011

The Matter of the Matchsticks--Part 3

“So, what was His Magnificence like?” asked Calabrun Truegoods.

“Mmmm,” muttered Brontin Goldleaf, sipping his drink. “Very proper. Listened to me most intently.” He slammed his mug on the wooden tabletop before him. “I tell you, it’s good to know the Plains have him lookin’ out for them!”

The various members seated in the Fellowship Hall of Worthy Gentleman of High Trades all nodded in agreement. “Aye, aye,” said Gosric Milkbeard. “A fine Dark Lord. Very fine.”

“Fine?” declared Elias Clabbermouth. “He’s the finest Dark Lord there is! We’re lucky to have him!” He looked around at the other Fellows, who all heartily nodded in agreement.

“I said ‘very fine’!” said Gosric querulously.

The Fellows were in the midst of a debate of whether ‘very fine’ was an adequate compliment to pay to the Dark Lord of the Plains when Menadarb Brighthand walked in. To everyone’s surprise, he walked right to the bar, put down a few copper marks and declared. “A whiskey.”

The assembled Fellows watched as their young comrade stood there quietly, his expression meditative--even pensive--for once. It was strange. Mendarb was usually a cheerful young man, a man who whistled and smiled and made pleasant comments. But now, he was doing nothing but standing there, and waiting for his drink.

Gosric Milkbeard blinked. “Master Brighthand--what’s that on your sleeve?” he asked in dull wonder.

Menadarb shook his head then glanced at the blackened satin vest. “Ah. That is… soot. I believe. From the--fire.” He shuddered slightly, and then turned to accept his drink, which he gulped down immediately. “Thank you,” he stated to the bartender.

“You were at the fire?” asked Calabrun.

Menadarb glanced at his shoes for a moment. “Yes. I… I was helping that… bucket brigade when the Dark Lords came.”

Brontin shook his head. “You ought not to have done that, Brighthand. Remember--Fellows stick together! The Mayor had no right to order us to put it out, and we were demonstrating that!”

Menadarb stared at him for a moment, then headed to the door. “Have to be on my way. Rhea’s waiting. Just needed a drink.” He was about to head out when he stopped with a jerk and turned to look at the assembled Fellows. “Pleasant evening to you all,” he said with a mechanical wave. And then he was gone.

Everyone was silent when he left. “I think something’s wrong with young Master Brighthand,” said Elias. “He seemed… off.”

“Mmmm,” said Brontin. “Well, you know, his father owns so much of Cheapside. Probably worried how much this will cost his family.”

“Aye, aye,” said Calabrun. “That’s almost certainly it. And who can blame him? He’s had so much for his whole life--losing it all must seem awful.”

“No fear of that though,” said Gosric. “I know for a fact that old Hadrub has an arrangement with the Emporium for this sort of thing happening.” He nodded, and sipped his drink. “A canny man. Very canny.”

“As canny as they come,” agreed Calabrun. “But I doubt Menadarb knows that. So one can understand why he’s worried.”

“Indeed, indeed,” said Elias with a nod. “Just being a dutiful son.”

“Mmm,” agreed Brontin. “Of course, he ought not to have helped that bucket brigade.”

“True, true, true,” said Gosric Milkbeard.

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