A loud noise splits the misty dawn. Echoing for a while in the small, mountain valley, it slowly fades away, only to be replaced by another of its kind. Indeed, the Church of St. Andras was ringing in the rapidly approaching morning. In a storage building, near the village gates, a grunting can be heard amongst the hay bales and horses. Then another noise echoes through the silence.
“Bloody bells, why don’t you let a poor man sleep, ey?”
A fourth clang can be heard.
“Oh for the sake of…”
A fifth clang.
A sixth clang.
No more complaints this time, merely a deep groan.
Finally the tower above appears to have gone silent.
The leather bottom of a boot makes firm contact with the side door of the storage building, which flies open with a painful creak. Framed in the doorway is a tall, porky man with an onyx beard all the way down to his stomach. Whether this was compensating for the complete lack of hair from the man’s scalp was anyone’s guess, but most knew better than to ask him. In his decade of traveling, back and forth between the Kingdom of Kaldaross in the west, and Larkimar in the East, time and time again, he’d gained a reputation in the village.
As it were, few would pick a fight with Lanas Tüzes, and so no one complained that he’d remained in the stables instead of taking in at an inn in the capital, just up the road. Lanas seldom visited the city, for despite its many merchants pouring in and out on a daily basis, he had little to gain with his kaldean goods, which generally got shipped in from Piterud, and were sold for far less than he could ever manage. No, the kaldean goods he’d go on to sell in Larkimar, for there people paid well.
Lanas stomped out onto the grass and yawned wide, revealing a set of yellowing teeth. Stretching his arms wide, he looked around as Kirugrad came to life around him. A few people nodded in his direction on their way out through the gates, to which Lanas grunted back, before walking back inside to tend to his horses.
As it happened, on this fine bright morning, he was not going on all the way to Larkimar, but had scheduled a meeting with an old acquaintance to be able to head west once more. The fellow merchant was to arrive in Kirugrad by mid morning. After that, he was going to stroll down to the nearest mine, presumably the same one as the villagers were currently heading for, but rather than enduring another painful and exhausting day in the dark, he was going to pay a visit there merely to trade the spirits he had acquired on his latest western visit, for some prime quality tin sheets. He was unsure of exactly why, but these sold incredibly well in Kaldaross, and getting them straight from the mine – and more importantly, outside the capital – would mean that he could save expenses on taxes, customs, and the time it’d get his mares to trot back and forth. Time was money after all.
As the sky turned ever bluer, and the sun appeared from behind Mount Domogoc, Lanas ate a stale breakfast of dark, tooth shattering bread and jerky. He sat on the sunlit threshold of the stables, leaning on the doorframe, while throwing glances at the gate every so often and simultaneously listening for the familiar clanking sounds of horse bells approaching. The stream of people on their way down for work ceased to a dribble as the morning progressed, and after an hour or so, it stopped completely. “Poor sods,” he thought glumly, “I’ll probably outlive them all.” He couldn’t help grinning slightly at this notion.
But time was ticking, and as Lanas sat there, covered in breadcrumbs, he began to get impatient. “He’s late!” he grumbled. “Great!” This was just what he needed. A late start! Teeth jarring, he angrily thought that he’d just pack up and traipse up the road to the city anyways, to at the very least earn a bit of money today. How could the bloke have stood him up like this?
However, as he rose up, his mind set, breadcrumbs falling to the ground like autumn hail, he heard them; the bells. For the first time this day actually happy to hear a bell ring, he dusted off his coat, and went on to stand in the doorframe with his hands clutched behind his back in an attempt to appear as tall as possible. The cacophony of clanking noises grew in strength all until a huge carriage, drawn by four chestnut horses, thundered through the gates, before coming to a halt in the small town square. Holding the reins with ease in his huge right hand, he waved merrily to Lanas, before dismounting.
Lanas began walking to the man, and despite his strong emotions, he couldn’t help but to smile once again. “Boti, my old friend!” he cried out. “Lanas ye old egghead!” came the reply, “how are ya? Looking fine as ever!” Lanas reached Boti, and the two men shook hands vigorously. “Fine indeed,” he croaked, “And lovely weather to travel too!” He then added, in a kind of undertone. “Any problems on the way here?” Boti stretched his back. “Mi back right wheel broke,” he then said grumpily, his grin which had been present since entering Kirugrad flickering. “Had to replace it miself too,” he went on to complain, “not a soul on the roads today!”
“Shit happens man,” Lanas interrupted somewhat agitated, “stop whining! I’m on a schedule mate! You got the gold we agreed upon?” Boti turned and reached inside the carriage. Straightening up again, he tossed a woolen sack to Lanas, who caught it hungrily, then opened it to count the containments. That looks right! he said after a little while of silence. And my kaldean delicacies? Boti said silkily. Yeah, yeah, Lanas said agitated, in here! He led his fellow into the stables, and climbed into his own carriage. There he opened a crate, and removed from it, one at a time, rough wooden boxes with what looked like karrifruit. WIP