Map of Ylaruam City
Ylaruam City is walled – actually, it has multiple walls. The lowest wall goes around the Low City, which is the trade and skilled labor district. The main roadway runs from the city gate in the east to the Iron Gate (10) in the west, passing through the marketplace (12). The marketplace is full of tent stalls and corrals, but permanent storefronts occupy most of the low city. A typical structure is two-storied, with the commercial space at the ground level and living quarters for the family above. The wealth and class of the establishments form concentric rings around the market, with the finest businesses overlooking the market, and diminishing in status the further from it. [Note: In the map above, these are indicated as turquoise for high-class commercial establishments, mustard for middling class, and beige for low-class]. The lowest-class occupations are along the wall. The southern wall, for example, is the home of the tanners (14), dyers (17), and butchers (18). To the west of the tanners is a large neighborhood called the “foreign quarter”, composed mostly of multi-story inns and lodging houses, since any native Ylarui would either have his own house or that of a relative in the city in which to stay. To the southwest of the foreign quarter, squeezed in-between the outer city wall and the inner wall of the high city, is “little dwarfton”. Although the dwarf merchants of the district are prosperous through the metals and gemstone trade, they are considered of lower social class than human foreigners. Even infidels may come to know the Eternal Truth, but the soulless (la ’iinsani en Alaysian) never can. Thus, they occupy the space farthest from the market, despite their wealth.
Inside the second, higher, wall, the High Town is mostly a residential district for those who are so wealthy that they do not live on the premises of the businesses they own. It contains the gardens, villas, and palaces of nobles and well-off merchants and, it is said, a university, a library, and a hospital. However, infidels are not allowed through the Iron Gate – at least not unless summoned by the Emir, whose great palace (1) lies behind the third and highest wall.
Morgan returns to the Weeping Camel Inn before lunch and calls a party meeting. After she explains what the Hallonica House told her, they agree to split into three groups. Ember and Thrud will have all of their gems appraised, a few at a time, so as not to raise suspicions. The others will look for Remmy.
They leave the foreign quarter together, and travel to the high market (21), where a mix of oil and incense vendors, jewelers, and gem-cutters have their stores. There they leave Ember and Thrud. Looping back along Coppersmith Road (16), they stop first in a bowyer’s shop and Odleif buys a composite shortbow (therupon giving his old shortbow to Morgan). Then they split into two groups, moving slowly up the street, looking into every shop, store, and stall, trying to spot the thief. None of them have had lunch – one at a time they buy morsels of food from cafes and street vendors so that they may blend in with the crowds and extend their time on the streets. At the second intersection, they turn to the south wall, reasoning that they are most likely to find Remmy in one of the back-alley gambling squats, palm wine joints, or opium dens that hide between the legitimate (albeit low-class) businesses. As they make their way closer to the butchers’ and tanners’ district, the smells get stronger, both the foul odors of those businesses and the incense burned by the leatherworkers and brass dealers on their street to mask the offending smells from potential customers.
Wolfbane, Bhelgarn, and Poncherius find themselves outside of a tea store. Open-air tables with men drinking leisurely are outside – inside are boxes and bundles of tea leaves for sale in bulk. In the back, behind some boxes, several men squat on the floor, engaged in a dice game, but their faces are hard to see. Far up the street, some sort of patrol is coming, men in uniform, perhaps the city guard. A barefoot boy in rags, begging outside the shop, gives a short, shrill whistle, and the men throwing dice stand, quickly exchange money, and begin moving boxes about. This looks like just the sort of place the party wants to investigate, so they move inside and pretend to be looking over the wares.
Half a block down and across the street, Morgan, Odleif, and Fluffy are in front of a wicker store, overflowing with baskets, boxes, fans, and likesuch. A man in nondescript woker’s clothes sidles up to Morgan and whispers. “Ssst! Morgan?”
Morgan, startled, whispers back, “Do I know you?”
“Hawethorn, Hallonica House. See those soldiers coming? Those aren’t city watch – those are the Emir’s own guards. Better make yourselves scarce. You know, you are awfully noticeable – I mean, a dwarf, and you – a six-foot woman with flame-red hair? You kind of stick out.”
The soldiers are scanning the crowds, and Morgan puts herself behind a large stack of baskets. Four soldiers and an officer stop outside the tea store – they have spotted Bhelgarn inside. Once all the soldiers have their backs to them, Morgan leads her group across the street and into an alley, trying to come around behind the tea shop – but there is no back entrance to be seen.
“You there!” shouts the officer in Common, while pointing at Bhelgarn. “You will be coming with us to the Emir!” As the soldiers enter the tea store, the patrons scatter, and there is a moment of confusion. Wolfbane, headscarf on, dashes out unnoticed with the rest of the customers. When the officer closes in on Bhelgarn, he up-ends a table, knocking the man down, and barrels his way out of the shop. The dwarf makes a hard left, crouching behind a wagon unloading in the store next door, with Wolfbane in front of him, trying to use her flowing robes to block him from sight.
As Bhelgarn peers out between the crates on the wagon, he sees the officer and two soldiers emerge from the tea store and, a second later, the remaining two soldiers, one on each side of Poncherius, holding his arms and frog-marching him up the street. The Cyndician looks confused but compliant. “What can you do?” Bhelgarn hisses at Wolfbane.
“I can web the lot of them, but not without being seen – and then they will be looking for a Darokite witch.”
Not finding a way into the store from the rear, Morgan, Odleif, and Fluffykitten continue along the back-alley until a branch connects it again with the main street. Morgan and Odleif hide behind the corners of buildings while Fluffy moves toward the street. When the guards with Poncherius pass, she darts out into the street, and grabs the hem of the officer’s tabard. He tries to backhand her, cursing in Alaysian, but she twists away. In a curious mix of Common, Darokite, and Alaysian, she says, “Dog bite me! Dog bite me! Big mean dog in alley. Come! Come!”
The soldiers look up the alley where she points, but none seem intent on following her. She shrugs and uncovers her head. “Lookit me!” she says to the officer. “I iz halfling! I iz one you want to captures!” The officer yells something at the two free guards, and they dart after Fluffy, who leads them down the alleyway. Down the street, Wolfbane and Bhelgarn enter the alley and begin making their way toward Odleif.
When the soldiers chasing Fluffy are out of sight of the street, Morgan casts a sleep spell. A second later Poncherius slumps in the arms of the soldiers, then one of them falls as well and they both collapse in the street, leaving one soldier standing over them. One of the soldiers in the alley falls, landing on a pile of broken crates and half-rotted tea leaves. The remaining soldier rounds the corner after Fluffy, whereupon Odlief clouts him mightily with his handaxe. The blow takes the soldier in the head, on his metal helmet. The helmet is dented but not split, and the man collapses unconscious with a trickle of blood running down his cheek.
Morgan casts a second sleep, and this one takes out the remaining soldier and the officer. Fluffy turns and runs back out in the street, shaking and slapping Poncherius until he rises, then leading him dazedly into the alley. By now Bhelgarn and Wolfbane have caught up, so the party is together. Blood is flowing freely from the guard’s head. Fluffy takes off his helmet, cuts a section of his tabard and wraps it around his head, and says “He be fine.”
Morgan leads the party back to the inn, using side streets and back alleys, but finds a squad of soldiers waiting outside. She dispatches Bhelgarn to little dwarfton to look for a place to go to ground while the rest of the party waits, hoping that Thrud and Ember are still at highmarket.
After about twenty minutes the soldiers leave, and she waits another ten before approaching the inn, slouching and making sure her headscarf covers her hair. The innkeeper tells her, “The Emir’s own guarrd was herre, looking forr you. I told them you had alrready left. I hope I made the rright decision.”
“You did,” she assures him, and hands over a platinum piece. “We need to get our things…”
“They are underr the strraw in the camels’ stalls,” he interrupts.
She nods and leaves, returning to the alley across the street and the party. In an ash pile she finds a piece of soot and has Fluffykitten write a note to Ember in Halfling – “Come to Short Town”. She tells Fluffy to give the note to one of her urchin friends, and have them deliver it to Ember – before she reaches the inn. Then, the party is to go to little dwarfton as inconspicuously as possible. She will meet them there.
Morgan casts invisibility on herself, then heads for the market. The Hallonica House Office is in an impressive stone building facing the marketplace. She sidesteps the guards in front of the house, whispers to a secretary that she wants to meet with the merchant master, and heads for his office.
BANG! When she crosses the threshold of the room, there is a flash of light. By the time she can see again she finds that he has risen from his desk, is pointing a wand at her, and she is visible.
“It’s Morgan…” she begins.
“Yes, I know now,” he interrupts. “Have you any idea how much a contingency-dispel magic costs?”
“No, but it’s a great idea. I need your help.”
“If it involves getting you and your party out of town and away from the Emir, I’m in.”
Morgan asks for assistance in retrieving the party’s belongings and beasts from the inn. The merchant master officers to have them waiting at the city gate, inside or out, this evening or the next morning. Morgan selects morning, outside. The merchant glances through a stack of papers, then tells her that Junior Merchant Alek will be leading a caravan north on the morrow. He will have their camels packed and ready for them to claim, once they are out of the sight of the city. Hallonica House will fill their waterskins for free and charge them at cost for food. “Make it for a week,” Morgan agrees.
Morgan makes her way to little dwarfton, visible but as covered as possible. Once there, she wanders aimlessly from storefront to storefront until a dwarven child, hair just coming in on her chin, tells her to follow her to her friends. She leads Morgan to the back of a warehouse, raps twice on the cargo door, and ushers her inside, closing it behind her.
All of the rest of the party are there – including Bhelgarn, Thrud, and Ember. Bhelgarn says that the dwarves will not shelter them while they continue to look for Remmy, because it poses too much risk to them, but will let them use a secret tunnel under the wall to escape the city – if they consent to be blindfolded. Morgan agrees. Ember says that she and Thrud had all of the gems identified, and were passed the note by an urchin when they were still one block from the inn, oblivious to the danger. Morgan tells them that their equipment and beasts will be waiting for them outside the wall in the morning. “Poor luck we didn’t find Remmy, but I am ready to be out of this city.” The others agree.
Around dinner time a dwarf appears with two kettles. Inside one is a simple meal – potatoes fried in camel fat, while the other contains water, cool and most likely well-drawn. “Ye cun use yon pot fer yer business, after,” he says gruffly, ignoring the faces of those in the party who have been waiting for hours to make water.
With neither beds nor bedrolls, the party bundle their robes for pillows and try to get some rest on the stone-flagged warehouse floor. Bhelgarn has tired of telling Fluffy, repeatedly, that there is nothing for her inside the crates of the warehouse and even if there were, she still is not allowed to look. “Fluffy…no…don’t…” he mumbles between snores.
They are woken long before dawn by four dwarves dressed all in black; tunics, breeches, and cloaks. They produce eight black bags, placing them over the heads of each party member and tying a cord about their necks. They lead them through little dwarfton in the dark, over rough cobblestones, and into another warehouse (judging by the sound of the door). A crate is slid across the floor, a trap door opened, and the party descends a ladder and then passes down a narrow tunnel, touching weeping rock wall on each side, walking through water several inches deep. At the far end of the tunnel they are permitted to remove their blinds. One dwarf, black gear removed, now dressed for desert travel, leads the way up a ladder, lifting a trapdoor that opens upon a copse south of the outer wall. He looks and listens for several minutes, then hustles the party up the ladder. Those in the party with infravision can see that the top of the trapdoor is covered with “fallen” branches and leaves and once in place would be virtually indistinguishable from the ground.
A dwarf carefully checks the trapdoor
They try to thank them, but the dwarves are already gone. Emerging from the copse, those with infravision lead the rest of them onto the caravan road and into the crowd that has been camped outside the gate all night. Later, when the gates open and the flood of traffic from inside the city starts, they find it easy to surreptitiously join the workers and guards preparing the Hallonica House caravan. Morgan speaks with Alek. He tells her they should stay with the main caravan, spread out, none of them together, none walking by their own beasts, for at least half a day. If they wish to go off by themselves after that, they will make better time – he has personally inspected their camels and found them to be sound beasts, lightly loaded. Morgan asks what they should do if the Emir’s men come looking for them. Alek replies that they are likely still searching for them in the city – if she and the dwarf can keep their heads down for the first day, they will know soon enough if the Emir is sending anyone after them.
The caravan does prove slow-moving, and Morgan is restless all morning. Many patrols ride by, but none pay more than cursory attention to the caravan – only one even bothers to ask Alek to show him his customs form. When the caravan pulls off the road and begins making preparation to take a midday meal, Morgan has the others round up their camels, remove the empty bales, boxes, and barrels the House placed on them as camouflage, and mount. They ride for a good hour before making their own camp. After their meal they continue on until dusk, and Morgan estimates that they are now a good 35 miles from Ylaruam City.
North along the caravan trail
The next day begins with a long, steady climb and they make their way out of the huge bowl of the Alaysian Basin. The sand dunes grow shorter even as the land rises, and patches of rock between the dunes emerge. Mountains appear on the northern horizon. By mid-day, they can see the fertile land of Tel al Kebir in a deep valley below them, but the caravan trail runs on a ridge above the valley, and the steep, rocky slopes down do not appear safe. It is afternoon but well before dusk when the trail turns and starts down into the valley, and they pass through many small farms and orchards. It is closer to dusk but still light when the walls of Cinsa-Men-Nu appear before them. It is a squat little trading town of perhaps a thousand people at the base of an escarpment. By the light of the evening sun they can see the caravan trail continues up the face of the escarpment, in an innumerable series of switchbacks.
In a brief exchange with the soldiers guarding the gate, they learn that Cinsa-Men-Noo is in the Emirate of Nithia, and all are happy to have left the Emirate of Alaysia behind them. Morgan is still concerned about the fate of Captain Haldimar, to be sure, but at the end of the day, “better him than me” she thinks. As a trial, they make no effort to hide Bhelgarn, and the guards do not say anything. Taking this as an auspicious sign, they boldly enter the town gates. The city is alight in a red glow, as the setting sun warms the escarpment above it. The marketplace is still a buzz of activity. Ylarui are everywhere, to be sure, but dwarves and northerners are in abundance as well, and Morgan notes that although the native Ylarui have darker skin than in central Alaysia, many have red hair or beards as well – perhaps there is northern blood about?
An inn is easy to find, and stabling for their mounts, but by the time that is secured the market is closed. Only two days out of Ylaruam City they are fine for food, but Odleif and Bhelgarn say they have equipment to get on the morrow. In the common room at night they listen – talk is of the tension between Rockhome and the Nordic countries, though many locals are hopeful that if the dwarves restrict trade to their northern neighbors, more trade will flow through the city, and thus they look on the potential conflict favorably. As far as the lost caravan and the Hallonica House, not a word is spoken. Ember and Thrud have been here before, though in the spring, and they ask the locals what to expect of Jotunvalk Pass this time of year. They warn of an early snow, though admit that the chance of that is low – they are more likely to see raiding by kobolds or even giants. They hope for the party’s sake that they are experienced – eight people and mounts is precious few to be braving the pass.
While most of the party has a leisurely breakfast, Odleif, Bhelgarn, and Poncherius are in the market as soon as the first venders arrive. Odleif picks up several utility items he left in the pyramid to save weight: a crowbar, hacksaw, caltrops, etc. Bhelgarn is equipping Poncherius, and finds him a suit of boiled leather that fits him well, as well as a light crossbow and a case of bolts. Once they are returned to the inn, the party sets out, through the north gate and immediately up the side of the escarpment.
Climbing the switchbacks up the escarpment to the north of Cinsa-Men-Noo
It is hard work on treacherous slopes, and much of the way they are dismounted and leading their camels single file. There is no way a wagon could traverse this, and as the camels make missteps on loose rocks occasionally, they are thankful they are lightly loaded. The only comfort they get from the grueling climb is that for every step they take it is infinitesimally cooler, as they rise above the blazing desert below. With every step, their view increases as well. By the top of the escarpment, everyone in the party knows how to say “I can’t believe how far I can see!” in Cyndician, thanks to the constant repetitions of Poncherius.
Once they have gained the top of the escarpment, the rest of the day is spent working their way north and up along the trail through dry, barren, hill country. The ground is littered with broken baskets, split waterskins, and piles of dung attesting to frequent passage, but they do not see a soul the entire day, just circling hawks and vultures. A dry riverbed at the mouth of a steep valley marks the entrance of the mountain pass, and serves as their campsite for the night.
The next day they head up the pass. It is certainly cooler, but still dry, and they find no streams to re-fill their skins. Pines grow on some of the slopes, but cutting for firewood has kept them well away from the trail, which is fine with Morgan. No cover means no giant or kobold ambushes.
Out of Alaysia and up the Jotunvalk Pass
They camp in the pass, and Ember says they are making great progress and might be able to arrive at Castellan by the morrow’s eve.
The caravan trail from Cinsa-Men-Noo to Castellan
The next day they continue to climb before cresting the high point of the pass. Morgan swears she spots something moving in a stand of pine near the trail, and puts the party on alert, but nothing emerges. Once they are over the crest, it is easy going down the other side. Despite Morgan’s warnings, Ember insists on stopping to give thanks that they are now safely back in Soderfjord.
At the crest of the Jotunvalk pass, a faint hint of snow remains in high summer
By afternoon they can see the sprawling city of Castellan far below them on the trail. As the afternoon wears on, they realize they will be hard-pressed to arrive by nightfall, and indeed, the city gates are closed by the time they make them. But this is no Ylarui city with mud-brick walls and a towering gate-house. The earth embankment and rough wooden palisade seems almost rustic. When Ember calls out in Nordic, the guards are happy to open the gate for them. “Now you will see true people, ya?” says Thrud contentedly.
The gates of Castellan
Thrud leads them to an inn, seeming to judge by the size of the common room. Once they are stabled and quartered, he strides into the common room, jumps from bench to table top, and stands above all. Ignoring the jeers from those drinking at the table, he pulls Zargon’s Horn from his pack and throws it down on the table, knocking over two tankards – but now there are no protests, only a curious silence. “T’e god what wore t’is horn had twelve tentacles unt a mouth of teet’ like dirks,” he says. “Would ye hear t’e tale a-how I killed t’is god?” he asks the room. A few men at the table reach out and touch the huge, sleek, ebony horn, and nod.
Thrud begins his tale, relishing in Nordic, where the fineries of combat can be distinguished at a level of detail just not available in Common. By tale’s end, many men and women from the street have come in to hear, and there is a call for him to start over, from the beginning. He pauses to give everyone a chance to refill their mugs, and then starts again, adding even more embellishments this time, knowing that he has the trust of the audience. Upon that finish, even more people have crowded in to the common room, and the horn is being freely passed around. By last call Thrud has told the tale a half dozen times and had more than a dozen flagons passed up to him. As the innkeeper helps him up the stairs to the rooms with the rest of the party, he tells him not to worry about paying for the rooms in the morning – he has more than made that in tonight’s business.
Morning comes far too early for Thrud, but he consoles himself with a huge breakfast of porridge with cream and honey, bacon, eggs, and small beer. While the party is purchasing food for the road, he is visiting furriers, and finds for himself a huge bearskin jacket, with a hood and ruff lined in wolverine fur. It is far too heavy to wear now, but Ember says that today is the second of Ninmonth, and autumn not far off. Ember buys a bucket of lard in addition to their rations. On the road, she tells the party that while Thrud was playing skald the night before, she was asking about the Rockhome situation. They could not follow her conversation at the time, as it was entirely in Nordic. These Soderfjorders are alarmed, but also angry at what they call the “pig-headed Vestlanders”. “Why does that ‘Duke’ Rhoona want to spoil our relations with the dwarves?”, they asked rhetorically. “The fool doesn’t even have the decency to call himself a Jarl like a true norseman.” “There he sits controlling the access to the best trade route we have with Rockhome, and he thinks he can do as he pleases.” “Does he not consider how his pride will cost all of us? Obstinate Vestlander.”
The day’s travel is through dry hills, but these seem as much dry from the end of a long, warm summer as they are perennially barren. Certainly they cross several streams in the afternoon and at times the grass around them is high. By evening they arrive at a small village on the banks of a large river.
Quaint Soderfjord fishing village on the edge of the Great Marsh
While they could book passage on a rivercraft, that would mean giving up the camels, and they intend to keep them a while longer – at least until somewhere where they can get a better price for them than this thorp. A large, flat barge provides them passage across the river, and by late morning they have started down the Marsh Road – a narrow trail of raised earth and rotting logs. The bugs are at them even before they make landing, and once the barge is unloaded Ember rubs herself down with the lard, covering all of her exposed skin but trying to avoid her hair. She then passes the bucket around.
The marsh road provides passage from Castellan Valley to Backwater
Fortunately the camel’s thick fur and long lashes frustrates most of the mosquitos. No one relishes the thought of chasing a spooked camel into the marsh. Mile after mile of marsh trail is covered, with little sound beyond the droning of the insects, and the calls of the frogs and waterbirds. Early on the party spots something high in the sky – too high to make out clearly, but as the day wears on they realize it is large and circling them. Perspective is difficult, but it is descending gradually, and with a sickening feeling they come to realize it is larger than the largest marsh kite, larger than a dog, larger than a horse…by late afternoon the words “wyvern” and “dragon” are being used, but still it is far above them.
Morgan calls for a sustained march until it is so dark that those without infravision are in danger of walking off the trail into the marsh. They build a fire, and she has them unload the empty waterskins and food bags, arranging them to look like bedrolls. Then they wait until it is truly dark, lash the camels together, and start back along the trail at a careful walk. Morgan goes last, walking slowly backwards, maintaining concentration on the phantasmal force she summoned of people and camels gathered around the real campfire.
They are more than 200 yards away, and she is having trouble seeing the campfire through the clouds of insects, when Bhelgarn calls for a halt. He is leading the column, looking ahead with his infravision, and he has spotted something large on the trail ahead.
From the darkness comes a hiss, then a deep voice. “The falssse camp wasss a good idea, but it doesss not sssmell like you…” it says, in Nordic. Ember translates.
Morgan ceases concentration, and the images of people and camels wink out. She moves to the front of the party, squeezing past comrades and beasts on the narrow trail. “Who are you?” she calls out, in Common.
“SSSisssaren,” the voice responds. Bhelgarn pulls forth his sword and says “lumos”, and the marsh is lit brightly. Ahead of them on the trail is a huge, black, reptillian creature. Its great black wings vouch that it is the thing that was following them all day.
“I am massster of thisss land,” it continues, switching into Common in response to Morgan.
“We did not know,” responds Morgan, a bit relieved the monster seems to want to talk, but very aware of the party’s precarious position on the trail, with no room to maneuver. “What do you want of us?”
A throaty rasping sound comes from the creature. Is it laughing? Purring? “You have ssso many interesssting sssmellsss,” it says, “but there isss one I cannot plassse. Thossse ssshaggy beassts you lead…I have never sssmelled one before. I wonder what one tassstes like?”
Morgan swallows. “They are called camels. If we give you one, you will let us pass the marsh?” Behind her, Ember lets out a horrified gasp.
“One for today’sss passsing. One for each day I allow you to traverssse my marsssh.”
Morgan turns to the party. There are nods of agreement, some sullen, some terrified. Even Ember, eyes damp, assents. They unload one of the camels, moving its gear to the others, then stake its lead rope to the ground. Ahead of them, the huge form of the creature slides silently into the water on the side of the trail, leaving barely a ripple. They continue on, the light on the solitary camel fading. It gives one grunt and a questioning bleat. Several moments later, there is the sound of an explosion of water and a terrified camel scream, then horrid rending noises. Their own camels bleat and pull nervously at their lines. Morgan leads them grimly on for another half mile, then permits them to camp.
“Cold supper, then get what rest you can,” she says. “We leave at first light, and no mid-day camp – we will eat as we walk. We need to be out of this marsh before nightfall.” No one objects.
In the morning they load the camels, but find them sluggish. Their gear, split between seven camels rather than eight, is still easily bearable, but at a reduced speed. They could lead rather than ride, but they walk slower than even the laden camels. The first thing they get rid of is the pack saddle from their lost camel, then Odlief’s extra food stores, then a days’ worth of water. By the time they are down to five days of food and four days of water remaining, Morgan feels the camels are unencumbered enough to move at full speed even when ridden.
They emerge from the marsh in the afternoon, though no village marks its end, just firmer ground and an absence of the log trail. By evening they spy the wooden walls of Backwater. Morgan has some choice words for the town guard, beginning with how aptly named their town is, when they can’t even post signs warning of the dragon. They are surprised at first, mentioning that the young black wyrm was unknown until this year, and has only recently begun to bother travelers, a sign that he may be emerging into adolescence and growing in confidence. As Morgan continues, they become apologetic, explaining that they have sent patrols after him, but he always disappears into the marsh, where their horses cannot follow. Morgan suggests that they prepare an ambush with beasts of burden as bait, and they promise to take it up with their officer…who is not present on the gate at the moment.
Once they are inside the gate, Ember tells Morgan that she shouldn’t be too hard on the guards. It is summer raiding season, and anyone of any capability and initiative is at sea, out on the longships. The guard this time of year is composed of green boys, old men, and those who have lost a hand or an eye or somesuch. Ember assures Morgan that when the true warriors return in the fall, or more like when the marsh freezes over in winter and they can hunt the dragon by sledge, then this will be taken care of.
“Even a green boy can post a sign,” huffs Morgan, but lets the matter drop as they search for an inn.