Rakhanar came out in an immense circular hallway, the biggest building he had ever been in that he could remember. There was a small fountain centerpiece in the middle of a large round rug that covered nearly the entire floor, but what instantly drew the eyes on entry were the four huge tapestries hung on the opposite wall, stretching all the way up to the high domed ceiling.
The first depicted Fire, not in a static picture but in two flickering, moving swirls of orange yellow. The second breathed living Air, a peaceful blue sky with light, white clouds moving through it. The third was Earth, a living mosaic of huge green vines and flowers, and the fourth, the last, was the element that Lord Toran had assigned to him, Water. This tapestry flowed clear, with rippling reflections against a dark background.
Rakhanar stepped forward, awed, as Lord Toran shimmered into the space behind him, his hand over his own amulet on his chest, still speaking.
“… could be so kind as to meet us at the front entrance, please, Lady Lhasa?”
Behind him were two tall double doors, and to the left of that a strange-looking ornament, a white, weirdly twisted tripodish piece with three prongs holding an onyx ball.
Banedon noticed his gaze. “Yes. Go ahead, touch it. It is imbued with the guild call spell.” Rakhanar stepped up to it as he was told and placed his hand on the onyx ball, shivering slightly as a buzzing zapped through his body. “Whoa…” he murmured.
He looked up at the double door entrance. Lord Toran caught this look also. “Do not ever go out these doors. The Freeport guards are known to strike first and ask questions later, if they get around to asking at all. And you couldn’t answer anyway. We do not need any extra attention from them.”
Rakhanar nodded, adding a salute for good measure, just so the Lord would know he took the warning seriously.
At that moment, an elven female strutted into the room. Rakhanar turned, noting the blue-black skin and white hair, and bowed politely.
Lord Toran made the introductions. “Lady Lhasa, this is Rakhanar, our new member. One for your ranks.” This was said with a slightly deprecating tone.
Lady Lhasa shot him a withering look and turned to Rakhanar with a smile. She curtsied politely, but was giving him a once over similar to Lord Toran’s appraisal even as she straightened. “Hmmm. You’ll do, I suppose,” she said, but there was a gleam in her eye as she flicked one brow up.
Turning to Lord Toran, she nodded curtly. “I’ll take it from here.” Back to Rakhanar, she inclined her head to the archway that she had just come through, on his right. “Come, young fighter, I will give you the tour.” Snapping off a smart salute to Lord Toran, she turned on her heel and headed off at a military clip.
Rakhanar managed a bow to Banedon even as he was turning to follow the unusual, to him, dark-skinned elf female.
“This is our crafting hall,” she said, waving a hand about her as she entered the large rectangular room. “It’s fully equipped for all professions.” Rakhanar noted the workstations and clipboards all around the walls.
Lady Lhasa nodded to a staffed counter to her left. “This is Qinefer and Morbier. Qinefer will take just about anything off your hands.” She smiled coldly at Qinefer, who was a very small but human looking female. She looked up from sorting a bag overflowing with strange oddities. Rakhanar noted teeth, feathers, hooves, bones – really, just about anything. The little female nodded shyly up at him. He didn’t realize how tensely he had been holding his shoulders until he looked at her and found that she evoked the same reaction from him as the fae. Little people calmed him.
“Morbier, on the other hand, has some connections with quite specific tastes and the gold to satisfy them.” Lady Lhasa smiled a little more generously at the broker. Morbier was a little furred fellow, like a rat walking upright. He showed his little ratty teeth in a grin. “Meeses gots the goods,” he said with a sassy salute. Rakhanar smiled wryly back at him.
Crossing to the other wall, Lady Lhasa brought him to another counter, behind which was a huge vault. “The guild bank. If you find something in your travels that you can’t use, feel free to put it in the vault here so someone else can. And if you need something, a tradeskill book or spell or some such, you may find it here yourself.”
Standing in front of the vault was a huge, red-headed, red-bearded man. Rakhanar instinctively bristled. “Just ask Reade. He’s our banker.”
Rakhanar nodded curtly, and Reade gave him a nod just as perfunctory, crossing thickly muscled arms over his wide chest. Apparently he doubled as the bank guard, as well. Very well.
I hope he can count. Rakhanar couldn’t keep the snide thought out of his mind. He was getting slightly overwhelmed and his control was beginning to break. It had been a long time since his discipline had been tested to this degree. Huge males just made him want to fight.
Lady Lhasa gave him a sharp glance. As a fighter whose life depended on catching details before those details skewered her, she didn’t miss much.
“Well. Do you do anything besides fight?”
Rakhanar looked at her and chewed his lip before answering. “I.. uh, haven’t really thought much about a crafting profession.”
She nodded. “’Then this isn’t a whole lot of good to you just yet. Quick tour then. I’ll introduce you to the others later.”
There were two other staffed counters, but she just waved and headed past, with a quick nod to a big box on counter at the far end of the crafting hall. “You will want to use that. We keep all our harvested materials there, so whatever you pick up on your travels, we’d like you to contribute. It’s magical, so it can hold much much more than it looks like it could.” She smiled tightly. “We all benefit, we all contribute. Except very rare materials. You can do what you like with those.”
They headed into another large room, more dimly lit, at the far corner of the crafting hall.
“This is the Tattered Scroll Tavern, named for our fearless leader’s tendency to spill things on very valuable reading material that he has not completely translated yet.” She snorted. “I’m quite fond of this place, actually.”
It was decorated tastefully as well, in warm, subdued browns and reds, with a well-stocked bar on the wall to their left. Large kegs of ale hung from the ceiling behind the counter, which was lined with low, sturdy barstools. There was a massive granite fireplace on the wall to the right of the entrance, with cozy chairs close before it. The long wall before them was lined with card tables, and the far end wall to the right had a raised platform with a grand piano before the bay window.
Rakhanar was beginning to feel the stress of the day creeping up on him. He hid this with a lazy stretch, which actually helped him to release a bit of the tension, and a yawn, totally forced.
The red haze that sneaked up from the corners of his eyes backed off a bit.
Lhasa watched him carefully. He suspected she knew more than she let on and could probably even tell him his temperature to within an eighth of a degree as it rose from this nagging near rage.
She said, simply, “Enough for your first day, eh? I’ll show you to the docks, then, where you can use the globe to get back to your home. Which is..?”
He couldn’t think of a plausible lie, so he told a short version of the truth. “Qeynos.” That was, after all, where he had been born.
She looked surprised at that. “You are a long way from home,” she said, as she turned and led him back through the crafting hall to the circular entranceway. There was a short hallway on the left that he had not had a chance to investigate, before. It was lined with boxes and at the end was a transporter globe.
“Well. Here we are. It’s been a long day and I still have more to do. Good night, soldier.” She saluted smartly, he returned the salute respectfully and she turned and left him to ponder his next move.
* * *
Wizard of Wildfire & Shadow Walker Wordsmith ((a/k/a The Real Me ))