Hunting Orcs

The young man stepped out of Varstaad’s moongate. He paused to look around the room and then he looked through one of the doorways to the outer hall, taking note of the many bulletin boards that lined the walls. Effiecent he thought to himself as he adjusted his fine cloak and headed for the south door. He casually strolled west, crossing the bridge, and taking in the town and it’s citizens as he walked. The young man was named Baas Meijer. The fifth son of Diederik Meijer, a prosperous merchant from a long line of prosperous merchants. His family had homes in Britain, Yew and Skara Brae and formerly Trinsic, before the fall, and though things had returned to normal in Trinsic his Father did not trust how things had come about there after such a long a time and he refused to set foot in the city.
Baas smiled to himself as he thought of his Father’s superstitions. He himself had been back to Trinsic many times since the miracle return of it’s inhabitants and though he found it a bit dull he did not find it threatening by any means.
Having reached the Varstaad bank he paused for a moment and looked around. The Calormen city seemed to be doing very well for itself. There were many people out and about on this fine day and the streets had many guards on patrol. Baas even took note of the vibrant new uniforms the guards wore before resuming his walk, turning at the bank he headed North. Along the road he passed a stable and a large mage shop.
Being the fifth son in a merchant’s family did not leave much room for advancement, and Baas had wanted advancement. He wanted fame and fortune, like his Father had, and he did not want to share it with his brothers. So instead of staying in the family buisness he had decided to branch out. He had no knack, or desire, for martial skills nor did he show much ability for the schools of magery. He was a well mannered, fairly good looking young man who was good at talking and little else, so naturaly he turned to politics. Baas, with help from his Father’s many connections, joined the Council of Towns. His Father approved greatly of this as he hoped Baas would provide him with inside information on the dealings of the Council.
It had seemed like a good plan three years ago. But here he was, a low level assistant to an advisor of one of the Council Members, running errands similar to the ones he would have been running if he had stayed in the family buisness. He sighed to himself as he turned sideways and squeezed betweem a provisoner shop and a tinkerer shop. Clearing the buildings he found himself standing before one of the larger buildings in Varstaad. Formerly a wondeful tavern known as the Mystic Muse it had , mysteriously, fallen into the hands of a new mercenary company called the Wolves of Calormen.
As he walked towards the building he looked it over. There was a large stone porch running half the length of the front of the building. One half of the porch had a table with a few chairs around it. The other half of the porch had a forge and some chests, for the most part neatly organised. He walked between the table and and the smithing area. Coming to the door he paused for a moment and took a deep breath before knocking loudly on the single door. He waited, and waited…
With no repsonse coming he decided to try the door and found it unlocked. Pulling the door open he walked into the large, dimly lit, main room of the building. He had visited the Mystic Muse once and it had been a very warm and friendly tavern run by a delightful lady named Lillie. It looked like these wolves still intended to run a tavern, but it was no longer warm, nor did it seem very friendly.
The bar had previously been across from the door he had just entered through but it was no longer there. He looked around the room and at the south end of the room it looked like a rough bar had been pieced together using barrels, sitting upright, with a heavy board laid across the tops of the barrels. A few stools stood before the rickty bar. Where the bar meet the wall sat a man. His stool was titled back so that his back rested against the wall. Baas realized the man must have been watching him this whole time. It was hard to tell the man’s height, over six feet maybe, but not by much. He had a wild mane of mostly black hair and a large unkept beard, shaggy eyebrows and a heavy brow that partially hid a pair of dark eyes. He wore dark chainmail with a few pieces of plate armor. A thick belt with many pouches circled his waist and he wore a kilt of the same color as his armor. A norse style helm, also the same color, sat on the bar and a finely crafted halberd rested against the wall within easy reach. Though a bit discomforted by the man’s stare Baas did not let it show. He had heard of this one. Artemas was his name. One of the partners that had formed the Company, he was making a name for himself helping the Covians fight the orcs…for a fee of course.
Baas turned his head slightly to the left and took note of another man. This one was behind the bar. He was giving Baas a measuring look as well and not making any attempt to hide it. Baas returned the look. The man was bald, most likely shaven, but he had a dark beard and mustache, short and a bit unkept. He was larger then the other man, heavier of build with both his hammer like hands resting on top of the bar. He reminded Baas of many of the famers who had worked for his father over the years. Big and strong as a ox. He gave Baas a friendly enough smile but the smile did not reach the man’s dark eyes. Standing up straight he waved Baas over and gestured towards a stool. "Want a drink?" he asked with a booming voice.
Baas gave him a friendly smile in return and walked towards the bar. This must me be Clarkson, the other partner. Baas did not know if Clarkson was his first name or last, but it did not really matter. "Thank you good sir, I would not mind an ale, or some wine if you have it." Baas replied as he climbed, a bit akwardly, onto the stool. With a casual look to his right he noted that the dark haired man was still staring at him. His look reminded Baas of how his hounds looked when they noticed a rabbit or squirrel in the yard. Tense and still, but ready to spring at a moments notice. Baas turned back to Clarkson and took the bottle of ale that was being offered him. "That’ll be ten gold, sir" the large man said as he casually rested his large hands back on the bar, the right one unassumingly nudging a tip jar towards Baas. Baas had been about to take a drink from the ale bottle and did his best to hide his surprise at the cost. Nodding he reached into his money pouch, noticing Clarkson’s eyes following his hand, and took out enough gold to cover the cost. He slid the coins across the rough bar. Clarkson frowned slightly as he scooped up the coins, giving another glance towards the empty tip jar before letting his eyes fall again to Baas’ money pouch. Baas smiled again and took a drink of the ale. He was surprised as the ale was quite good, not what he had been expecting from this pair.
With another slidelong glance he noted that the other man was still sitting still and watching him. Clarkson noticed the look and let out a deep, rumbling laugh. "Don’t mind ’em sir, he don’t talk much ‘less he knows ye." Clarkson said as he sat down on a stool behind the bar.
"Ye just here to drink or are ye here on buisness?" The large man asked as he opened a bottle of ale for himself. He shot his partner a questioning look as he held up the bottle of ale, receiving no response he drank deeply from the bottle before placing it on the bar and giving Baas his full attention. Baas smiled slightly and took another drink of his ale. "The ale is surprisingly good but I am here for buiness gentlemen. My name is Baas Meijer and I am an aid to one of the members of the Council of Towns." he paused to measure the impact of his words on the two men. The one to his right still sat still and watched him, the other, Clarkson, seemed unimpressed and drank deeply of his ale. Finishing it and, leaving his empty bottle on the bar, he reached into one of the barrels for another. "There are many people on the Council concerned with recent orcish activites." Baas nodded toward Artemas " The Covians speak well of your efforts there sir. " Baas turned towards Clarkson " and we have heard you have lent a hand there as well." Clarkson gave a dull nod in response and drank some more ale. Clearing his throat Baas continued. "Word has reached the Council recently of unusual activites among various orcish camps and forts. Stronger leadership then what is usually found there and the Council would like to hire you, off the books of course" Baas grinned a little sheepishly. "They would like you and your company to clear out the orc fort near Yew and then march over to the Orc Dungeon." Baas checked to see if he could gauge the two mens interest thus far and was slightly disappointed to still find the one staring through him and the other looking out a window. Baas paused and finished his ale, setting the empty bottle on the bar he unconsciously wiped his mouth with his sleeve before starting in on his pitch again. "Once at the dungeon the Council would like you and your company to clear out as many orcs as you can from that hole. But," he paused and looked at them both "most importantly, they want you to dispatch a particular orc." He again studied both men…at least now Clarkson was looking at him, though he still seemed bored. Frowning slightly Baas jumped back in. "This orc is a powerful warlord who rides a large warg and he stays deep, deep within the dungeon. The Council would like you to bring them that orc’s head! If you and your company can clear the fort and the dungeon AND " Baas stressed the word knowing this last part would hook the merc’s. "bring us the head of the warlord you will be paid fifteen thousand gold!" Baas sat back triumphantly, his eyes sliding back and forth between the two men. Clarkson had sat up straighter and shot his partner a curious look. For his part Artemas no longer stared through Baas, and though he looked the same Baas no longer felt the man was ready to spring. Artemas had turned his head and was now sharing a look with his partner….both men slowly began to grin…but Artemas stopped and quickly turned his shaggy head back to look at Baas. "State yer terms, clearly…what exactly are ye hirin’ us fer?" Artemas’ rough low voice surprised Baas, giving him pause as he went over what he had said to the mercs, and then he reviewed it one more time for good measure before speaking. "The Council would like you to kill all the orcs at the orc fort located between Britain and Yew, and then you and your company would march to the Orc Dungeon in Yew. Again, killing all the orcs found within the dungeon and specifically the orc warchief within that rides a large warg. Bringing them the warchief’s head as proof that you have slain him. Do this and you will be paid fifteen thousand gold to be split however you see fit." Baas paused for a moment and then he nodded. "Those are the terms." He said as he rested his hands on the bar. Looking at Clarkson he gestured towards his empty bottle "May I have another one please?" he asked.
Artemas had listened closely to Baas’ terms and then turned to give his partner a look and a sharp nod. Clarkson, for his part grinned and brought out another ale for Baas, sliding it across the bar as he spoke "This one is on tha house and ye sir have got yerself a deal. We accept yer terms, but we’ll need a couple a days to get things in order. " Clarkson paused and shot his partner an amused look. " and yer gonna have to give us at least five thousand gold up front. Deposit and all, ye understand."
Baas took another drink as he listened and smiled to himself. He had expected them to ask for half and was slightly surprised that they had not. "That sounds very resonable gentlemen. I will make arrangements with the local bank and you shall have your deposit by the end of the day. With the understanding that you will perform the requested tasks within the week. Agreed?" He smiled as he finished. The mercenaries leaned in to talk with one another briefly. Artemas stepped back and turned towards Baas. Spitting into the palm of his right hand he held it out towards Baas, who frowned only slightly, before grasping the offered hand and giving it a firm shake, and then repeating the process with Clarkson.
Baas finished his drink and thanked both men. " I look forward to seeing your results gentlemen. Good hunting!" and with that he turned and made his way to the door and through it. Smiling broadly as he walked back towards the bank, wiping his hand on his pants leg as he walked, he thought to himself that if the mercenaries managed to succed it worked out well for the Council, and if the mercenaries failed then the Council was only out five thousand gold, which was nothing to the orginazation. And if they were successful perhaps there were other jobs that the odd pair could do for the council….off the books of course.

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