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Chapter 13, 1st Book of Serinity

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Chapter 13, 1st Book of Serinity

Postby SerinitysChild » Wed Nov 09, 2011 9:57 am

A week of being cooped up in even the grandest of houses is a week and a half too long for Serinity. The day after the summer storm ends find Serinity, Ashera and Shadow walking the north shores of the bay, picking through the flotsam that’s washed ashore during the storm. Clear skies, a brisk southerly wind and warm sunshine add to the festive air.
Watching as Shadow turns over a broken plank, Serinity laughs as the lynx finds itself face to face with an angry crab. The crab’s claws lift skyward as it scuttles sideways under a pile of boards and netting.
“Better be careful Shadow,” admonished Serinity, “that crab looked mighty mean.” Her laughter drifts across the water, nearly covering a groan from beneath the pile of boards.
Ashera looks at Serinity, lifts her shoulders in a shrug, then they watch as Shadow tears into the pile of wreckage. A second moan brings the women to the aid of Shadow, and her efforts to free whomever the storm has trapped under the wood.
Several minutes of lifting and tugging reduce the pile of wood to scattered bits of flotsam, and pieces of rigging. Beneath the wreckage, the women find a large man, his head bleeding from a gash, and his legs are trapped by a broken spar. Pulling the longest bits of railing, they can find from other piles of jetsam, Serinity levers off the spar as Ashera pulls the man from under it.
Once they’ve laid the man out, they stare in open wonder at this giant they’ve rescued. “I’ve often heard that giants still walk the earth, but I’d never given much credence to the stories.” Ashera’s comment draws Serinity back from a memory she’d just as soon forget.
“Oh, the stories are true enough. Several years ago I met one while I was searching for a shaman’s burial mound.” As Serinity absently rubs her head in memory, she continues her story. “That was the last time I got beat in a fair fight.”
Ashera looks over the body of the man they’ve found, and can see how such a man might beat her friend in a fair fight. The man they’ve rescued is at least two heads taller than Serinity, or maybe more, and his muscles’ have muscles. Long blond hair, tangled by the waves, and hanging past his shoulders, frames a squarish face. Heavy eyebrows, or is it a single eyebrow, marching heavily from one side of his face to the other without a break over the nose.
Looking at his nose, which is long and wide, Ashera then passes her gaze onto the beadwork woven into his beard. As she examines the rest of his leather clad body, she sees massive shoulders, long arms and legs, a huge chest, and the hint of mail peeking from under his leather jerkin. Around his forearms are metal bracers. Peering closer at these bracers, Ashera suddenly realizes that the bracers aren’t really bracers, but in truth are shackles. They’re slave shackles, to be precise.
“Serinity, someone has enslaved this man. I think we’d be better off summoning the local guard, than giving him aid in his flight.” Ashera has been around slave civilizations often enough to know that aiding a fugitive slave will bring harsh punishment on the good Samaritans.
Serinity looks at the man, and then looks at his shackles. “If we turn the eyes of the shackles toward his sides, then cover him with a cloak, I think we can get him carried to the house without bothering the guard.”
Two hours later, they have tucked the shipwrecked man into bed. They have removed his soaked clothing, the blacksmith who’d struck off his shackles is repairing his mail, and the Apothecary is finishing his examination of the man’s body.
Opening his carry sack, the Apothecary rummages around in it, and then pulls out three vials. The first vial consists of clear crystal, stoppered by a gold embossed sigil. The second vial is rose quartz stoppered by a silver embossed sigil. The last vial consists of clay, stoppered by a copper embossed sigil. Lining the vials on the nightstand beside the warrior’s bed, the Apothecary points to the clear crystal vial.
“When he wakes, give him three drops of this in a cup of mulled wine. It’ll flush out any remaining sea water from his lungs.” Pointing to the rose quartz vial, he continues. “Once he’s cleared his lungs, give him five drops of this in a glass of water. The potion will ease his pain. Next, give him a single drop of the potion in the clay vial, mixed in his food. This last potion will restore his strength. You may repeat the second and third potions as needed.”
Turning his attention from the sleeping warrior to Pearim, the Apothecary nods his thanks as the major domo hands him six silver coins, then places a single copper coin on the stack in his hand. “If you need my services again, you know how to reach me.” With that, the skeletally thin man strides from the room, down the stairs, and out the front door.
Clearing his throat, Pearim manages to draw Serinity's attention. “Mistress, I’ve ordered the warrior’s mail repaired, and have instructed all those who saw the shackles to guard their tongues in this matter. The shackles are resting safely at the bottom of the bay, and your lunch is getting cold.”
Turning her full attention on him, Serinity smiles and nods. “Pearim, what would I ever do without you?”
To Ashera she comments, “We’d best not keep the cook waiting too long, she gets cranky if the meal she’s prepared goes to waste.”
As Serinity and Ashera walk down the hallway to the stairs, Pearim mutters to himself, “You’d miss a lot of meals, Mistress.” Shaking his head, he returns his attention to the man lying on the bed.
“I wonder who you were before slavers captured you.”
From the bed, the man answers. “I am Largan, son of Drustoff, son of Erlamar, and I am no one’s slave.”
“So, you’re awake at last. Or, have you been awake for a while?” As he speaks, Pearim slowly reaches for the blade he carries under his jacket.
“No need for weapons, friend, I’m in no shape to fight you.” Largan, trying to rise from the bed falls back and sighs heavily.
“That being the case,” states Pearim, “let’s give you the medicine the Apothecary prescribed.” Quickly he summons servants, gives his orders, and then makes his way done the stairs and into the kitchen.
“Yer plate’s ready. I’ve kept it in the bread oven so it’d stay warm.” Cooks’ cool manner has more to do with his being late to lunch, than it does with her having to keep his plate warm. The former was not an unusual state of affairs, and the later was just common sense.

**********

Tied to the last wharf south of the Drifter’s Inn, the good ship Storm’s Haze is undergoing a mutiny of sorts. Although the crew is angry with the ship’s owner and captain, they’re not trying to take over the ship, far from it. They’re trying to abandon the ship.
“Enough of your lollygagging. We’ve no been paid for three weeks, an’ ‘tis no our desire to ship out with ye again!” The voice of the big man ripples down the deck as the first mate gathers his sea bag and walks down the gangplank to shore. He’s followed quickly by the crew. From ships’ cook to purser, the entire crew lifts their gear and makes for the Drifter’s Inn.
As the captain stands dejectedly on the forecastle, a woman’s voice behind him jerks him around. “I was about to ask if this ship is for hire, but I see I came at the wrong time.”
Serinity, accompanied by Shadow, is standing on the main deck, looking at the docks, and the retreating backs of the sailors. With a sigh, she mutters to herself, “Now I have to find another ship.”
“If it’s a ship you want to hire, then this one’s not for you.” The captain’s statement left no room for argument. “However,” he continues, “if you’re in the market to buy a ship, then this one’s for sale.”
As Serinity looks of the ship, she realizes that here’s the perfect opportunity to continue her quest. She also realizes that she’s no judge of the seaworthiness of this, or any other ship. Although the wood seems solid, and the crew has neatly patched the sails, she knows enough about ships to know that woodworms could be eating the hull, or that so many barnacles could be attached that the ship would only make half its speed.
“How much?” Serinity isn’t interested in purchasing the ship. However, bartering with the owner of one is a good way to find out the going price for owning, or hiring, one.
“Three thousand silver, and she’s yours.” The owner’s voice quivers as he enters the bargaining.
Serinity is never sure, after her arrangement for the ship to be registered in her name, whether the captain was laughing or crying as he offered his ship up for sale. A question she’d ask herself repeatedly, after she gave him two hundred silver coins to hold the ship until she can have the balance of the price transferred to him.
Hurrying back to House Artris, she sends for a courier, and informs him of his duty. Paying him half his fee, she has him wait in the study, and then she rings the hall bell to summon Pearim.
As the major domo comes close enough for her not to have to yell, she asks, “How much do you know about ships?”
Taken aback by the unusual question, Pearim thinks before answering. “I know enough to know that I don’t know much about them. Why?”
“I’ve purchased one, and I need someone to tell me how badly I got robbed. I’ll need to know how much it will cost to make her sea worthy. How much it’s going to cost me for supplies, a crew, and a captain. In addition, I’ll need charts of the northern seas, and weapons and armor for the mercenaries I’ll need to hire if the ones I’m sending for are busy. I’ll need ship’s officers I can trust, and men that won’t abandon the ship at the first sign of trouble.” Pausing to catch her breath, Serinity looks into Pearim’s eyes, grins, and then asks, “Know anyone who can do all that?”
Pearim ponders the last question before he answers. “I know an old sea captain that’s been ashore for several months. He’s well respected by sailors, but lost his last ship to pirates, so he’s not been able to find work in Milesport. I’ll talk to him first thing in the morning, and see if he’s willing to take on the task. As for those other tasks you’ve set for yourself, I’d say twenty-five thousand silvers should cover most of it, and, if it were me, I’d lay in another twenty-five thousand silvers, just to be on the safe side.”
“Uh, how many gold rings would that be?” Serinity, staggered by the large amount of silver, has completely forgotten the conversion factor she’d learned. “I’ve a courier waiting, to ride to my father’s castle with the amount needed. That, and to request all the mercenaries he can spare to guard the gold, and to serve as my military force when we reach hostile country.”
“Uh, if my math is right, four thousand one hundred sixty-seven gold rings should be fifty thousand silver coins.” She’s put Pearim’s composure to the test as he considers the weight of so much gold. At sixteen rings to the level weight, that’s two hundred sixty one level weights, or nearly twice the weight of an averaged sized man. More than enough reason to hire mercenaries to guard the coach needed to haul such a fortune.
It’s not usual for Pearim to question the statements of his current employer, however, such a vast amount of gold would ransom at least a duke, if not the king of a small country. “Mistress, is it wise to ship such a vast amount of gold, trusting it to the abilities of mercenaries?”
Serinity ponders his question for two heartbeats, and then chuckles. “When the boys get here, with the gold, I’ll let you ask them personally.”
Having just destroyed Pearim’s faith in his employer’s mental stability, Serinity moves into the study, finds quill and ink, paper and blotting sand, then scribes a massage to her father requesting the gold, a score of her medium sized jewels, and at least a hundred of his mercenaries. At the bottom of the note, she adds a few words about why she wants so many warriors, and what she’s about to do. Quickly she signs the missive, folds it in three parts, and pours hot wax over the overlapping edges. To the wax she places her signet ring, removed from its hiding place, and then makes three marks around the seal. These marks will reassure her father that she’s not requesting the fortune under duress.
Replacing the seal, Serinity hands her letter to the courier, bids him safe journeys, and watches as he leaves the house, gets up on his first of many horses, and rides quickly away. Couriers like the one she’s hired are well trained in delivering messages from one kingdom to another. She’s no doubt that this one will quickly carry her letter to her father, and that her father will just as quickly grant her requests.
Chuckling to herself, she remembers the first time she requested a large amount of gold be paid from her account. Her mother had shaken her head while her father had called an Apothecary. Two hours of talking had persuaded her father that she really did need the money, and that she really hadn’t lost her mind. Since then, her father had never shown any doubt about her sanity. At least not publicly.
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