“Easy, men!” said the River Ox as he watched the longshoremen unload his cargo. The Ulver was flowing nice and steady this Messidor, the spring floods of Germinal and Floreal long gone. Good weather too, the best for trading in--warm, but not enough to cause a draught, with the occasional pleasant rain to keep things cool. Bad weather made demands for certain products, true, but it also shortened tempers, and made travel difficult. Better to have nice, calm weather, happy customers, and steady profits.
So far, this year had supplied plenty of the first, if nothing else. The River Ox took a deep breath. What would his father have said in these evil days? Give thanks to the River for what little good had come his way these days, and pray for better days to come, most likely. It seemed as good a plan as any to the River Ox.
Still, his father had also always warned against becoming too involved with the Dark Lords, which he most definitely was. And if his father knew the exact business he was transacting here tonight…
Well, Tall Tom of the Rapids had been a decent man on the whole, but his taste for obscenities could peel paint when his dander was up, not to mention his son’s tender ears.
“Ahh… Master Ox,” came the voice of an older man. The River Ox turned to a man who, oddly enough, reminded him of his father. Another thing that would likely have offended Tall Tom, who had very little kind to say about the Sacristans, and most of that involved the fact that they could occasionally die in amusing ways.
“Preceptor Rho,” said the River Ox with a grand bow--and as a large man, the River Ox could manage a grand bow indeed. “You have concerns to discuss?”
The old Sacristan shook his head. “No, no--nothing really. I merely wished to thank you for your assistance in our move.”
The River Ox shrugged. “Just paying an old debt.”
Maximilian Rho’s eyes narrowed in interest. “May I ask to whom?”
“Not you,” answered the River Ox.
Rho nodded. “Ahhh. So none of my damn business then. Understood.” He glanced away. “Well, you have my thanks anyway. This couldn’t have been easy. Especially at night.”
The River Ox smiled quietly. “Me and mine are used to it. River traders move quick and move when they must.”
“Still, it must be easier to work in day,” continued Rho, apparently unwilling to let this go.
“Night and day are one to us,” snapped the River Ox, glancing worriedly at Ulverrun. By the Murkenmere, does he want me to flat out say ‘your new neighbors don’t like you very much, and we don’t want to provoke them to anything rash?’
Maximilian Rho’s eyes glanced over to the small town. “Ahh. That is good to know.” He coughed, then turned to the Chateau du Lac. “So--this used to be the Badb’s home, eh?”
The River Ox nodded. “So I’m told.”
“Damned nice of her to let us stay here,” the Preceptor said. “Damned nice.” He blinked. “There isn’t a curse on it, is there? Or some such nonsense?”
“Not that I know of,” answered the River Ox. “But then, I don’t know the Badb that well.”