He was supposed to meet Grevvin at the smithy at noon, and they would make arrangements to go down into the tunnel in the coal shed Bolgia had hid in. Greyson explained that it led into the old mines that were under the town. When Bolgia asked what they would be doing in the mines, all Greyson offered was “inspecting”, despite Bolgia’s pressing for more information.
Greyson found out about the tunnel and, after having some research done for him, discovered that the mines had been abandoned not because they were spent, but because two centuries ago, a wall collapsed, and opened into a cavern occupied by two large groups of trolls who seemed to be at war with one another. At least until the miners had arrived. The texts stated that the two bands of trolls put aside their differences, at least long enough to drive the miners back to the entrance, which was dug in the center of the town. The Lord of the town at the time, one Verna Pryaton, had made the unfortunate decision to seal up the mine, and upon doing so, decreed that anyone caught with an entrance to the mines would be put to death. That law was never taken off the books, and most people had forgotten about the mines.
“So, in exchange for our lives, we are to see if the tunnels are fit to be mined again, is that it?”
Lord Greyson had nodded, and gotten up to leave, setting the bag of gems down on the bed before crossing the room and opening the door. As he shut the door behind him, he stuck his head in and laughed. “You may find Faerin of some help if there are still trolls down there.” With that, he closed the door, and despite all of the noise everyone else made walking up the steps of the inn, silently carried himself away.
He would bear watching thought Bolgia.
Judging by the position of the sun outside his window, noon was still a few hours away, so Bolgia had some time for research, and to make a few last minute acquisitions. He got dressed, proceeded down to the common room of the inn, and ordered a slab of last night’s ham, some bread, and a glass of cider to wash it down. When Grouss brought his food, Bolgia asked him if he knew if Faerin was still in town.
“Aye, ’e is, but what business d‘ya ‘ave with that fool?” Bolgia felt it was more of a statement than a question.
“I’m not sure,” began Bolgia, dropping a couple of gold coins onto the table, more than enough to cover the fare that had been brought to him, letting them clink rather loudly. “The place is not that busy, care to tell me if any of the stories about him are true?” So began the research.
“’O-‘o,” Grouss had a booming laugh, causing the few other patrons to turn their heads toward him. “Would’ya like to ‘ear about ‘im burning down my first tavern, or about the flamin’ goblin fight?”
“I knew he had burned down a tavern, but didn’t know it was yours. I’ve heard bits and pieces of the goblin tale, you mean the one that happened near Dra’enmoor, right?
“Aye, that’s the one.”
“Let’s get your take on that, and if there is time, we will talk about the old tavern.”
“Well, there ‘e was, travelin’ down the road leadin’ into Dra’enmoor when a group of nine or ten goblins, a bunch of the critters, came out of the surrounding woods and ambushed ‘im. Now, I’ve ‘eard it told that these goblins were after revenge, but Faerin told me ‘imself that they were just after ‘is money. Any’ow, whatever the reason, they were there and they began to come at Faerin.
The first of them, Faerin knocked ‘im so ‘ard upside ‘is ‘ead with a quick blow from ‘is stave.” He started laughing again as he told it, ”an’ the second fell over the first, stickin’ ‘im with the business end of ‘is sword, right through one of them gangly arms. That set the two of them off fighting amongst themselves. Faerin then waved ‘is hands, castin’ somethin’. ‘E took the third one out with that spell, froze ‘im in place ‘e did.” By this point, Grouss’ grin was huge, and looking around, Bolgia realized that everyone else was listening in. “Finally, now this is where ‘is reputation catches up with ‘im, you see. Faerin tried to throw a fireball, I’m guessin’ to scatter the remainin’ gits. Well, the fireball doesn’t make it too far, and ends up catchin’ Faerin’s robes on fire. ‘E went up like that duck two weeks ago, I was lucky that bucket of water was nearby, any’ow, ‘e was covered in flames and started runnin’ round all wild like, flailin’ and everythin’. ‘E managed to tag one of those gits while ‘e was flailin’.” He was chuckling again so hard that it took him a minute to continue, after using his table rag to wipe some tears out of his eyes. “Now ye ‘ave these two balls of fire racing round the road.”
“About here is where my brother showed up,” claimed one of the barmaids.
“Ach, yer brother was never there, ‘e just wants to capture some of the glory for ‘imself whenever glory is around.”
“No, he was there, he said he walked up on the fight to see these two, balls of fire, as you called them, running around wildly until the smaller one fell over, thrashing. By then, the two gits who had been fighting with each other had noticed that Faerin was on fire, and none of their friends were around, and they bolted. All that was left was the frozen one, which, again my brother told me this, Faerin walked up to, put his hand around it’s neck, and let the heat from the flames thaw him out.”
Grouss picked it up here again as the barmaid stopped for a breath. “As the goblin thawed, Faerin seemed to go out, well, the flame did I mean. ‘E told the git somethin’ and let ‘im go. That goblin took off runnin’, and Dra’enmoor ‘asn’t ‘ad a goblin problem since.”
“Yeah, that sounds about right, but my brother said that when the flames went out, Faerin didn’t have a scratch on him, and his robes were untouched too!”
As the telling came to a close, one of the other men in the tavern, dark skinned and balding, yelled, “I heard it was a dozen orcs!”
“No,” Grouss countered, “the orcs were where ‘e accidently caught ‘is own staff on fire and threw it at them before causin’ it to chase them.” Grouss laughed again, “Bolgia, if ye ‘ave to deal with ‘im, keep ‘im away from fire, ‘e’s just not that good with it, but ‘e is good at improvisin’ when it does go wrong.”
“I fear that that is exactly what I may need of him. I appreciate your time.” Bolgia picked up the gold coins from the table and handed them to Grouss.
As he pocketed them, Grouss felt the weight of a few more than he had seen on the table.
The extra coins were worth it, if this Faerin was half the bumbling fool that Grouss, and everyone else for that matter, made him out to be. This was going to be a long journey, but something told him that Greyson’s suggestion had not really been a suggestion at all.
Bolgia decided it was time to go get some supplies. If there really were trolls about, his whip and sword would not cut it alone. And maybe, if he went to the right shops, he might find some information about the mines. He went to his room, opening the door cautiously, lest he have another visitor, and proceeded to take a handful of gems from under the mattress, as well as refilling the pouch of coins that hung on his hip. If he found everything he needed, this would not be cheap. Stopping only to grab a hat, wide brimmed and flat he closed the door and locked it.
As he went down the stairs, he called out to Grouss, “Hey, where can I get some liquid flame around here?”
“What’s liquid flame?”
“Try the Elves over near Artificers Street, there’s a place there, don’t know it’s name, but it stinks somethin’ awful, and it looks like it’s burnt down before.”
“More of Faerin’s work?”
Grouss chuckled, “No, the Elves did this, one, or two of their experiments gone wrong.”
Bolgia didn’t like dealing with Elves, they tended to think very highly of their work, and charged for it, but if Grouss said they would have acid, he would try.
Artificers Street was on the other side of town, near the Sarven Bay, where the town got its name. Sarven was a town that had grown up around fishing even before the mine was dug, and then had become a port town, after the mine troubles and the fish left. That was about fifty years ago, and the fish were beginning to return, but the amount of other goods that came through the town still made it prosper. What this meant to Bolgia though, is that almost anything could be found there, for a price. It took him about an hour to traverse the streets, browsing the stalls on Merchant Street, and looking in windows as he went. He knew he had arrived by the stench.
Grouss had said it would stink, and the smell of sulfur wafting down the street was unbearable. Bolgia pulled a salve from his satchel that he had used while cleaning out graves and spread it underneath his nose. It cut the smell considerably, but not completely. The building, third on the left, was built out of burnt timber. Outwardly, it looked as if it was ready to collapse in on itself momentarily, but upon entering it, the inside walls appeared to be new, and were what was really holding the structure together.
The room he walked into upon opening the door had walls of white, and contained four things, other than himself; a desk, two chairs, and a female elf. There was a door set slightly off center in the wall behind her, in addition to the door he had entered through. Very lithe in appearance, she had blond hair, blue eyes, and wore a matching blue blouse. She was seated, and did not rise when Bolgia entered, so he crossed the room and sat down in front of her.
“Yes?’ The voice was almost as thin as she was.
“I am looking for some liquid flame, and was told I could get it here.” He dropped a platinum coin on the table, to show he meant business. The coin alone should buy about half what he needed, but she did not need to know quantities, she just kept the rabble out. There were probably armed men on the other side of the door, in case there was trouble.
“Let me see what we can do for you.” She got up and opened the door, signaling for him to wait. He did, and momentarily, before the door was shut, two men, both holding crossbows, came into the room, to keep an eye on their guest.
Bolgia reached forward and picked up the platinum piece on the desk and began to flip it back and forth across his knuckles.
The door opened again, perhaps five minutes hence, and in walked the tall blonde, followed by a shorter, also female, elf with ebony hair. She introduced herself and asked Bolgia to come down into the labs. Of course he wouldn’t mind the guards accompanying them, would he?
Bolgia felt he had no choice, again, and followed the elf down the stairs that were through the door. Two more guards were at the top of the landing, and took over the guard duty, leaving their predecessors waiting behind the door. At the bottom of the stairs, a door was opened revealing a showroom before him. Stoppered vials containing liquids of every imaginable color, cases to hold vials, and far in the back, an apparatus to make the liquid contents, all found homes in this room. The brunette, he’d already forgotten her name, opened her mouth to speak.
Bolgia cut her off, “I need two of those cases,” he said, pointing to a leather bound box, no bigger than a book, but with slots to contain four vials, “and enough liquid fire to fill each.” He was still flipping the platinum coin across the back of his fingers.
“That will take some time.”
Another coin appeared and fell into rotation on the back of his hand, this one also platinum.
“And what are you going to use that much liquid fire for?”
Bolgia turned his other hand over, and opened it, palm up. It contained a third platinum coin.
His business was concluded a quarter of an hour after that, and he left with the boxes tucked safely away in the bag he held on his back.
As he passed the blonde elf that was at the desk, where she had resumed sitting, he tossed her a fourth platinum coin, “Forget I was here.”
Bolgia then headed toward the smiths, though it was not yet noon. He would avoid Grevvin for the time being. While he walked, he thought about the cost of the liquid fire. He had been flashy with his money, and luckily it had worked, he got out about a platinum less than he had thought he would need to spend. He found a blacksmith who was willing to look at his short sword. It had been nicked recently and while, he could have repaired it himself, Bolgia had other things to do. While the dwarf fixed his sword, Bolgia looked through a number of daggers that were on display and after testing the weight of many of them, settled on two. He also asked a younger dwarf, probably an apprentice, if there were any runesmiths in the town.
The dwarf said that his father was one and his shop was five doors down, towards Market Street.
The information cost him two gold, and the daggers and sword sharpening another five. Two last tasks, and hopefully both can be accomplished at the same place thought Bolgia.
A brief moment later, Bolgia was knocking on a door where the sign read “Runesmith Fiercehammer”.
An older, grey bearded dwarf answered the door. “What can I do for you?” His voice had softened over the years, but it was still full of the earth.
“Your son sent me to you from the blacksmith’s down the way. I am in need of a rune, if it is within your power to grant it.”
“Aye, it be within my power, but is it within my desire? What rune need you, and what do you offer?”
“I need this blade to dance with fire on command. I have brought a vial of liquid flame and three platinum coins for you to melt to do the work with, and I will pay you in these jewels.” He pulled out a diamond and the remaining two rubies of his stash and set them on the table.
The dwarf reached over to a shelf on the wall, pulled a monocle off of it, and began inspecting the gems. “I had heard someone was collecting charms, but did not expect to meet you in person. Throw in another diamond and I will do it.”
Sighing, Bolgia reached into his pouch, found another diamond, and passed it to the Runesmith. He had known this was not going to be cheap.
“And what should the trigger word be, and for this kind of money do I get to know your name?”
“Beowyn will be the trigger word, and you, Master Runesmith, may call me Bolgia. Perchance, can you make the trigger a mental command, and can you have it ready in two days?”
“If I start now, I can have it ready tonight. And the mental thing can be done, but I need another diamond for materials, and do you have any onyx?”
Bolgia dug into his bag again, and pulled out the last of his diamonds, and two small pieces of onyx. “I think this will do fine, and starting now will not be necessary, I will pick it up on the day after tomorrow.” Bolgia carefully opened one of the boxes he had obtained from the Elves and handed a single vial from it to Fiercehammer, along with the three platinum coins that would be used to make the rune. “Now, how long have you been in this town?”
Another hour passed as Fiercehammer told Bolgia about the battles of the mine, and how he, along with a brigade of other dwarves, had blasted the entrance to the mines, causing a cave in. The mines had been full of metals, both gold and iron and had provided good, hard work for many young dwarves at the time, many of which left after the battle. There were only a handful of them remaining, including all of the blacksmiths of the town.
That includes Grevvin, thought Bolgia. “I thank you for your time. I will be by to pick up my blade in two days time.” Handing over the payment, plus a third piece of onyx, which caused the elderly dwarf’s eyes to light up, Bolgia took his leave.
It took only about five more minutes to get to Grevvin’s smithy. A big sign hung on an old chain across the door stating that it was closed until further notice forced Bolgia to call out.
“There you are,” Grevvin stated, unhooking the sign and letting Bolgia in.
“We will leave in two days, my gear will be ready by then, and I plan on giving our newest companion an afternoon to clear his calendar.”
“What do you mean companion? No, Greyson mentioned him to me too, but no!”
“Did Greyson ask you to do this? When he offered me this job, it did not feel like I was negotiating, on any of the details.”
Another huff, and Grevvin spit on the floor. “No, you’re right, but I don’t trust him. Either of them for that matter. I don’t like being a puppet, and I like babysitting even less.” Grevvin spit again.
“I agree, but must say that I value my head much more than I dislike being a puppet, and that tunnel of yours is just as damnable as my crimes were. Besides, we may be able to use whatever hold he has on Faerin to our advantage. Come early tomorrow, meet me at The Shut Eye, and we will serve our newest friend notice of our friendship.” He clapped the dwarf on the back and walked away, it had been a long day already and he was tired. He planned to sleep the sleep of the damned. And he did.