Maffick

The three travelers and their caravan arrived to find the town in celebration, or at least building up to the full swing of it. Bunting was being hoisted above the cobblestones, oak tables being set out along the promenade, and children were boisterous in the street re-enacting some great battle.

The driver of the caravan was a dark-haired Dwarf, his hair kept trimmed short and his facial hair trimmed and shaved into a simple, neat mustache that came down to form a beard on his chin. His piercing blue eyes kept an eye on the streets as they headed to the inn, mindful of the swarms of young kids dashing about. Fortunately, the Ridgerunner Razorbirds they used to pull the caravan were of a stoic temper, unlikely to lash out in the unlikely event they were startled.

“What’s going on out there?” A woman called from the back of the caravan.

“Looks like we’ve arrived in the midst of some sort of festival.” The driver called back. “Maybe Erste has some idea, she rode on ahead after all. Speaking of, can you pass me that map now?”

A tanned and well-weathered hand came out of the drape-covered doorway to offer the sheet of parchment. “Don’t go getting lost. Jessad’s streets aren’t good for backing around in.”

“You could come up here and help.” He suggested, carefully guiding the birds through the gaily decorated streets. The whole town of Jessad was awash with excitement, especially as they got closer to the center. The parchment he had been passed indicated that they had to get past the town hall, situated in the middle of the promenade, in order to get to their inn.

“I’d love to, but you -do- want these holes in your clothing darned, right?” Came the chuckling reply.

As the caravan passed under the arch to the inn’s courtyard, there was a soft thud and Erste was suddenly besides the driver. The tall elf was dressed in a dark green cloak that hid most of her slender body, brown hair tumbling out of the raised hood. “Denan.” She said in greeting to the now tense Dwarf.

“Wish you wouldn’t do that, Erste.” He grumbled, passing her the reins. “You know where we’re going, you drive.”

“Welcome back Erste.” The woman in the back of the caravan called out. “I finished rebinding that dagger hilt of yours. And fixing those socks.”

“Thank you, Berys.” Erste replied, guiding their caravan into the bay they had been alloted, feed and water provided already for the birds.

“Any idea of what is going on here? There’s a lot of activity in the streets.” Berys asked as she ducked out of the back to join her comrades. She was old, with walnut brown skin, grey hair and plenty of wrinkles, but her arms and general physique spoke of considerable strength.

“That.” The Elf sniffed distastefully. “That little maffick is for one of the town’s hunters. Came upon them when they were sleeping, drove them off and desecrated their lair. All for the crime of missing sheep.”

“Harsh.” Berys agreed.

“You’re telling me, beastkin roam out here to hunt sometimes, there’s no telling if they were plucked up and flown off with by a dragon unless someone saw it. Did they?” Denan asked,  swinging down from the front of the caravan to secure the locks on the breaks.

“Of course they didn’t.” Erste snorted, removing the birds from their harnesses so they could feed and rest.

“No wonder Zekal decided to pass on coming here with us.” Berys spoke of their Drakekin fellow, off pursuing his own research while they ran this delivery job. Ducking into their wagon, she started to pass their belongings out. “Let’s go settle in for the day. I think we could all do with a good meal and getting our ear to the ground.”

Seasoned travelers, well used to working the caravan routes, it did not take long for them to secure their belongings and make their way into the ground floor of the tavern, the front of the house being given to the bar whereas the back contained the mess hall for inn customers to stay. The clientèle were of a mix of groups, sequestering themselves away at various sturdy tables. As they made their way in the bartender, a sour looking half-ogre in a surprisingly clean smock and apron, laughed.

“A Human, an Elf and a Dwarf walk into a bar-” He began to joke, leering at them.

“And yet the bartender is still the biggest joke in the room.” Berys retorted with a chuckle, drawing laughs and low snickers from around the room. The half-ogre growled, before blinking and peering closer.

“By the Hells! Berys!” He exclaimed, his disposition changing only after he cleared room at the bar for the three of them. “You’re not here on the Order’s business, I hope?”

Denan and Erste shared a slightly confused look as their fellow trader slapped the back of the bartender’s hand, and let hers be done in turn, before sitting.

“No Kreisk, I’ve not been with the Order in many a year.” She smiled, before leaning in closer. “But if that was not the case… what could you tell me about this so-called dragon hunter who is being venerated in such a grand manner?” She said with a gesture to outside, yet more bunting being hung from the buildings.

Kreisk glanced left and right, before leaning in with a large grin crossing his oddly shaped face. “Oh, now that is definitely a story worth telling over a drink.”

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