“Mines are treacherous things, and very much like a woman. Once fire gets into her heart, there is no easy way to put it out.”
Flemin, one time Commander of Outpost 51
They had been warned about the fire on the voyage abroad, but nothing prepared them for what they saw. A billowing and erupting dark cloud swept over the city from the two mines, that they had been told, were on fire. All reports indicated that they were close to being contained, and the citizens, rather than build elsewhere, would simply need to sit it out. Commerce was at a standstill, but it wouldn’t be for long. They hoped.
As the ship moored, the smoke choked the air and made breathing difficult. With cloths over their faces, they ushered themselves up and off and had their gear and associated things loaded for them. The others, making the journey acted as if the air wasn’t a problem in the slightest.
“How long has this been going on?” asked Iricah.
“Few months,” said a sailor come to help from the docks. “But rumor is it’s nearly out. No need to light your pipe’s while you’re here in town, m’lady.”
There was no fanfare, no crowds. No nothing. In fact, no one knew who they were. A group of merchants? Nothing new. The harbor which was nothing more than a respite from a storm after a few seasons became a town. And now as of today, it was a principality of the Realm, which they presently presided over. So said the scroll of parchment from Lord Borindin. Areia’s Landing was composed of 250 residents now, maybe 500 in a full port. They could almost feel the whole of those few hundred souls from the ship as it came landward. Men and women of grit, working and laboring to earn a living in the oppressive humidity and danger of the isle. Carved out of the jungle, Areia’s Landing looked like it had half as many residents. Walking up the avenues towards the place they now would reside, Areia ignored the fishmongers trying to sell those who had just disembarked. “Well, maybe naming this place after me does make sense,” sighed the rogue. “You guys still feeling famous?”
Only a couple of hundred or so paces through the haze brought them to the end of the main street, and to The “Lord’s Manor.” It looked like it well belonged with the rest of the village, and after their things were brought up from the docks, they talked with their staff: One talkative cook, two quiet maids and a grumpy “house manager”.
“It’s been a long voyage,” said Iricah who of course was now disguised as a Cheillini Brother. “Where can we meet some of the town, have a drink?”
“Best place in town for drink is Slimmy’s Bucket. Everyone goes there, before a show. Should be relatively lively tonight too.” Said the sheepish cook. His colleagues agreed.
“The only place for humans to eat around here is a bucket?” asked Thrak.
There was an awkward silence, as Thrak’s question hung in the room. The staff seemed not to know what to answer and his companions chose not to.The others moved toward the foyer. Areia stood in front of the mirror and admired herself. She curled her moustaches, one at a time. She walked over to the cook who still looked as though he wasn’t able to figure any of them out.
“There’s one in every family,” she whispered sideways. She winked at him as if she was letting him in on a secret. And then, appearing now as she did as a large human man in full noble attire, she skipped out into the night with the others.
Dabbling in thieve’s trade
Watching the shield’s made…
All the adventurer’s spendin’ their coin….
“Oh goodie, a live band,” said Areia. “Worry not my friends! I have no intention of leaving you in your moment of need to hang out with a drunk halfling this time.”
The Brother’s Cheillini walked up the steps carved into the magnificent tree that grew along the shore. It’s branches hung out over the water, and in those massive limbs were what looked like many multi-colored boxes, sandwiched together. A sign on one of them read “Slimmy’s Bucket”. They entered a door that was trapezoidal instead of rectangular.
Inside, a skinny old man played a banjo on a platform in the back, and many groups of people sat, listening, talking and drinking. The place seemed rather lively. The man with the banjo smiled at them when they entered and almost immediately a young dwarven maid who was nearly too thin to be recognized as a dwarf approached them. “Welcome to Slimmy’s! You’re new here, right?” Her red hair was pulled back in a braid and her tattoos looked unfinished, but plentiful. She was sweet and even Areia had a hard time making a smart comment so soon. “Well, welcome to The Bucket. That’s Slimmy,” she pointed to the man with the banjo, “and I’m Laureline. First set of drinks is always on the house. Sit where you’d like and let me know what I can get ya!”
They took their seats and Laureline brought the ales out quick. They weren’t half bad and it was easy to see why Slimmy’s had the best business in town. Before long, they were laughing and talking with many of the locals. They learned all about it’sorigins some 10 years ago. How the Lord’s Andril and Haryk, founded the harbors and established operations there. How trade had begun, the sahaugin invasion of 87′. Areia, appearing as Marvolio, had a great laugh about the ceremony each year held in Areia’s honor. Others told them of local rumors, the death of a newspaper writer. Something about a note. Nothing too worrisome.
They didn’t tell anyone who they were yet, and certainly not that they were here to govern under the direction of the king himself. Instead, they just listened. Zy’an had particularly planned this out. Smart, thought Frank. Getting to know the town from the inside out. It was the only opportunity they’d have to do it.
“This place is one hot bed of activity,” said Zy’an. “But I like it.”
“Me too,” said Frank. “Reminds me of home.”
Some people claim that there’s a wizaaaaard to blame….
but I know, duh duh duh duh…
it’s the sorceror’s fault….
Wasting away again in Tuatha-ville!
Searching for my lost dagger and sword
“Tuatha-ville?” gasped Iricah. She spat out her ale.
She looked around and her companions all had the same expression on their faces. They knew that Tuatha had considered himself acting governor of this harbor. They also had every intention of letting him know his services were no longer needed. But changing the name?
“Oh, Ket, no,” sighed Areia. She looked at the others and stood, her chair falling behind her, just missing an Orstman’s leg. Not something one wants to have happen in a pub at night.
“What’s the meaning of this?!” shouted Areia. As Marvolio of course, she stood up on the empty chair next to her and pointed at Slimmy. He stopped strumming his banjo and the music stopped. The bar, incredibly grew silent. “Hey Bub, this here town is called Areia’s Landing. Named after the famous and super pretty stabbing girl. Whatcha doin’ calling it Tuatha-ville?”
Slimmy looked bewildered and puzzled. “It’s been changed since the 10 year anniversary of her death. Everybody knows that, mister.” He strummed his banjo once in the same chord as before, and he smiled. He had rosy cheeks and a bald head. “Let me play you another song, sir! How about the Tale of Tuatha on First Isle? It’s how Tuatha came back from losing his friends, fighting sea demons and flying things! I know you’ll love…”
The others lost it.
Zy’an stood up on the table next, followed by Iricah, then Frank and Thrak. Like siblings in some gentile pirate gang, they all stood facing out to different parts of the crowd.
Zy’an raised his voice. “Look here citizens! My name is Georgio! Georgio Cheillini! And this official writ,” he took the scroll that Iricah held out to him, “This official writ directly from his majesty, Lord Borindin himself, declares us as the new ruling governors of Areai’s Landing.” There was a hush. A few peels of laughter. A shout. But then it grew quiet.
A small gnome tried to call out from a corner, but couldn’t be seen. He climbed his way on top of a table. “Don’t you mean, Tuatha-ville, mister? That doctrine needs to be verified by me, I’m the recorder of the port!”
“Then, you’ll want to take a look at it,” said Iricah, she took it over from the monk and handed it over to the gnome. He pulled out an eye glass and after about a rare silent minute in the bar, he looked up with wide eyes. He puffed out his chest and took a deep breath.
“Areia’s Landing, is now governed by these gentlemen from Cillandar, the Meichillini Brothers!”
The crowd gasped and there were murmurs from many areas. Some people shifted in their seats to face the brothers, a new look of respect on their faces.
An old man called out from the bar next. He was red in the face and clearly enjoying everything about this exchange. “Don’t you mean Tuathaville?! Sure we’ve got a new set of governors, great. But it’s still Tuathaville. Areai’s been dead these ten years.”
Marvolio smiled. He jumped down from the chair and walked over to Laureline who had been observing this all from the bar herself. Placing a bag of silver coins atop it, he slammed his hand down and said, “Drinks for the night are on the Lords of Areia’s Landing! So named, and still named for the famous rogue! Not to mention she’s super pretty!”
Many a “Hear hear!” arose then, and the brothers found themselves shaking hands. Areia’s gambit had worked, for now. Popularity first kids, she said inside their minds.
When things settled down, Slimmy greeted them. Iricah asked, “So is your place the only place in town to enjoy oneself? It sure seems that way, Slimmy.”
“Oh no, there’s a few other places. Actually, we’d be packed to the gills as usual, if it weren’t for the theatre house opening.”
“The theatre house opening?” said Frank. He glanced at the others.
“Yeah,” said Slimmy. “The Lord Tuatha’s theatre hall opens tonight. In fact, his first show will be starting any minute. If you hurry you can just make it.”
“What’s the performance about?” asked Iricah, but she already knew.
“It’s about the night Lady Areia died, a’course,” said Slimmy.
“Well, we wouldn’t want to miss that,” said Marvolio.
Besides said Iricah. I love a surprise ending, don’t you guys?