Chapter 1: Inn Trouble - Page 2 - Myth-Weavers


Chapter 1: Inn Trouble

   
Jeremiah Walsh
When Elisa decided to come ahead scouting Jeremiah didn't think much of it. She had already proven that there was more to her than he had initially expected, so something new like this wasn't too surprising. What he did find surprising was exactly how she went about the scouting.

On their second venture his curiosity got the better of him, and he decided to actually ask her about it. "People having bits of magic is something I'm familiar with, but...what exactly is it you're doing?" he said, watching as her spectral orb flew away. "I've seen divination magic before, but this is different. Usually when people say the information comes to them they don't mean it quite so literally."

After a bit of a pause he added in, "There's definitely more to you than what one would normally think of for a merchant's daughter."


Ze'kik-Xil "Zeke"
To the party, Zeke spoke very little. It was plainly obvious he was not used to working with others, or even having members of the 'more civilized' races go beyond barely tolerating his presence, and he seemed so wary and cautious around them that it might have come across as rude. Even Elisa found him obviously uncomfortable with her presence at first, as subtle as she tried to be. Her attempts to make friends with Garm did not help; the first time she had reached out to pet the creature, Garm had fixed her with a look that made it quite clear that while he was well trained enough to be calm and passive around the others and their pack animals, he was still a wolf. Zeke seemed almost amused as she backed away carefully, but he mentioned to her in Draconic that it would take more than an afternoon for a creature of the wilds to trust contact with anyone.

A statement which applied as much to himself as it did to his lupine companion.

Despite the wariness, the journey was long enough that the walls had started to be broken down by the time they reached their destination. It was clear that the only reason he tolerated Elisa's company at first was her grasp of the Draconic language, and while their initial conversations were terse, he seemed hungry to again utilize his native tongue. She found him a surprisingly formal and thoughtful speaker here, a sharp contrast to the blunt, stunted manner which he used for Common, although the formality might well be him being out of practice with the language due to the relatively low number of speakers he had contact with over the years. Any questions of his own past were swiftly shot down, but Zeke seemed far more willing to discuss his wolf, and how he had reared Garm from birth and considered him his companion since his mother had passed away. The hint of sadness that crept into the kobold's voice when he mentioned that dissuaded any further questions down that path, but there was an obvious bond between Zeke and Garm that had existed for many years, the only feasible explanation for how the wolf could be both so feral and well-trained at the same time.

||

Elisa Schotten
Wagonride (Natali)

Though she listened carefully to Natali's story of her uncle, Elisa didn't speak much on the matter - it was obviously a melancholy subject in a great many ways, and not one that really benefited from dwelling on. Her mother's family though... it did seem a little odd that Natali got the inheritance, and while it was possible her mother's line had passed away, Elisa wondered if something else was going on. She left the subject alone, but made a mental note of it. The exact details of the uncle's will might bear looking into. Maybe I could talk to the barrister.

By contrast, Elisa was much more engaged with Natali's dreams and thoughts on the inn. "If its between the villages you'll at least get traffic between them. And... that would be a midway point between the Carmens and Palfrey, right?" Elisa tilted her head, trying to remember what she knew about the region. "They probably send messengers back and forth. Maybe more? And if my father's men come through Havenshire, I bet other traders do as well."

Elisa nodded as Natali mentioned Faolan and Eirnin's businesses. "You might be able to set up a small trading hub or market if you gather more people. Set a regular time to convene and trade to get spikes of business, and other small businesses that can cater to any traveler. A small supply store, maybe?"


Scouting Ahead (Jeremiah)

Elisa laughed a little, and smiled as she replied. "A diviner wouldn't bother with this kind of mystic hackery; they can just reach out and get the information they need." She gestured with one arm, stretching it out as if to grab something. Then she brought it back in and placed it on her chest. "I'm more limited. My magic is... internal. Mostly it just affects me, and anything beyond that is hard."

She took a breath and centered herself, then explained. "So what I'm doing is reaching inside of me, finding that part of me that's curious, that wants to explore..." The hand on her chest clenched, white fog gathered around it, then pulled away and let go as if yanking something out of herself, causing the indistinct what orb to form in front of her again before it darted off. "And letting it out. It doesn't see any better than I do, really, and it has to physically explore and see things. But its a little better than running around in person, I guess."

Jeremiah's final comment caused Elisa to fall silent for a moment before she replied. "Yes, I'm afraid I'm packed with additional nonsense, oddities, and nosiness, Jeremiah. I can only hope you all will put up with my eccentricities." The slight curve of her lips and lighter tone put the spin of a jest on her words.

Pre-dawn Campfires (Zeke)

Elisa wasn't someone who needed to be taught a lesson twice. After that first attempt she didn't try and touch Garm again, and while her curiosity remained it was tempered with a wary respect for the wolf. Similarly, Zeke only had to shoot down questions about his past once for her to take the hint; she didn't ask more on the subject after that. In truth, Elisa felt almost as uncomfortable about Zeke as he did about her at first, she simply expressed it differently. She didn't know what to make of him, and despite her best efforts to take him in stride it was a little hard for her to shake stories of kobolds as thieving, child-eating, bestial monsters. She didn't understand, so her instinct was to watch, learn, and sometimes ask questions.

She asked about Garm because the topic seemed safest, and it was the most common ground she could see. Having a bond with an animal was familiar to her - sure, her fondness for Steady was a small thing in comparison with Zeke's deep ties with the wolf, but she did care for her dense little beast. Perhaps Zeke might see the parallel as well when Elisa praised the mule and doted on him despite the mule's frequent struggle to distinguish her hair from the hay she brought him.

But over the nights Zeke's formal, contemplative speech won ground against her ignorance and societal prejudice. It certainly wasn't gone by the time they approached the inn, but her anxiety relaxed and it was certainly impossible for her to consciously pair Zeke with the image of the dull, animalistic kobold human stories often painted. It swiftly became easy for her to see why her father had selected him for the task: Zeke's staunch, professional ethic was strong enough to even leave Elisa a little envious, wishing she could be so driven and steadfast.

Perhaps there still wasn't a steady dynamic between them by the end of the journey, but Zeke had certainly acquired a little of her respect and eroded much of her discomfort. And she was carefully trying to win over Garm - leaving him tidbits of smoked fish and dried apple slices, as well as interesting objects such as a bits of scrap rawhide and a bone hanging from a string made of gut.


A Trip Through the HavenshireOn the morning of the twenty-second day of the journey, a simple wooden sign reading Púcastad - 32 miles announced that the group was entering the Havenshire. Although the weather may have already been a clue, as the warm sunny days of the south had given way to clouds and a more moderate temperature. After a particularly barren stretch of road, farms started appearing once more alongside the path, and by the time those 32 miles had passed, the landscape was dominated by rippling fields of flax, dotted with periwinkle flowers that merged together toward the horizon into a sea of blue.

"If it's just the same to all of you," Natali said hesitantly as the village drew into sight, "I'd rather not visit any of the towns up here until after we've had a chance to look at the inn. I mean, you know how gossip spreads in little villages. I don't want people talking about us and the inn before we can get things halfway sorted. Better if the first time they hear about it is learning that we've already started fixing it up, right?" She goes on to suggest that they keep camping alongside the road for the last few nights before arriving at her inheritance. With no particular objections voiced, the group bypassed tiny Púcastad without availing itself of the village's hospitality.

The road continued north, edging the Táirge Forest and the few houses near it. To the right as the group passed, a wet soggy mire stretched out for miles. There were few trees or undergrowth in this area, marked Nua Mire on Natali's map, just miles of open waterlogged land. At one point, the group noticed a series of wooden poles thrust into the mud in a line perpendicular to the road. Each was the height of a man and had a number painted on the edge. They were spaced to around fifteen paces between each, stretching into the heart of the mire and out of sight. "I wonder what that's about," Natali said as her wagon passed north and back into farmland.

~~~~~~

A more welcome form of water swooped south and met the road in the form of the Churnite River, the main waterway in the Havenshire. Green-headed mallards could be seen swimming in its gentle current. A wide stone bridge crossed the river just south of the village of Millborn, a collection of less than thirty buildings, all of them smaller than the town's obvious namesake with its large creaking waterwheel. Past Millborn, the road split into two parallel tracks: a rough path by the river's edge and a gravel road about a hundred feet up the sloped bank. The reason for the lower path swiftly became apparent as the group spotted the occasional team of two or four mules dragging floating barges against the current, moving barrels of trade goods from east to west. Travelers smiled and waved to the group despite not recognizing them. A few stopped to chat about the weather, but did not press to know the group's destination.

~~~~


Your Destination AwaitsAt the start of the fifth day since entering the Havenshire, the upper road had strayed as far as a mile from the river, but the two came back together as noon approached. By midafternoon, the farmland that has lined the road had given way to rougher ground, clearly not suitable for farming. The occasional sparse tree dotted the otherwise weed-covered land, which expanded as far as could be seen to the north. An deep and imposing wood could be seen on the south bank of the river to the right; no foresters or sawmills could be noticed at this woodland's edges. What few travelers were spotted in this area seemed hurried and wary, scanning the horizon while glancing back at the forest occasionally. Most went out of their way to avoid the team, switching to the low road when their wagon train was spotted.

In the heart of this stretch of unfriendly land, a large wooden sign could be seen. Or rather, the remains of such a sign, as it was in poor repair, with one of its two posts completely knocked over. Pulling her wagon over, Natali hopped down and examined the faded writing on it:
SignINN
<---Turn left

She turned back to the others instead. "I guess this is it," she said, her voice shaky with uncertainty.

A less-trodden path turned left off the main road, rising gently about two hundred feet toward the north up a sloped patch of land. At the top of the incline, the path widened into a circular cul-de-sac of sorts where three buildings could be seen.

The largest sat on the right side of the clearing and was very clearly the inn itself. It stood three stories under a sloped roof with as many shingles missing as not. Details were hard to see at that distance but it was apparent that every window had been boarded up. A few scraggly bushes and low trees surrounded it.

The second building huddled to the left, across the cul-de-sac from the inn. It appeared to be a stable—low slung with large doors that were falling off their hinges. No greenery attended it.

The third and smallest building was a shed of some sort, made of cinderblock. It sat on the left side near the stable, but another 50 feet further away from the main road.

Elisa Schotten
A Trip Through the Havenshire

Natali's request to leave aside the villages simply got a nod of agreement from Elisa, though inwardly she was disappointed. She yearned to investigate and speak to the townsfolk, to get a better idea of the happenings in the region. Her instinct would have been to spread the word, engage, and start building interest and learn about the potential market. Natali has probably thought of something I haven't, she thought to herself, letting the decision pass by without comment.

When they got to Nua Mire, Elisa's interest was piqued by the sight. She thought she saw something in the distance, and the strange poles tickled at the back of her mind. The numbers didn't make sense to her, but the style of them brought back a memory of beams out in a harbor, notched and marked to show the highs and lows of the tides. Is this something similar? She came to a decision as they started to pass, and hopped off her place in Natali's wagon. "I want to look at this. Go on ahead, I'll catch back up."

Journal in hand, Elisa came to the first pole and examined it. She brushed lines in her journal with a finger, leaving behind the white marks of her magic as she roughly sketched the pole, noted its numbers, and moved on to the next to do the same. She examined the ground as she went further out, and then paused as she got far enough out to really get a view of what she had seen in the distance. That's a farmhouse. Is there something worth farming in the mire? No, there would be others or some sign of planting if there was... but that's an interesting thought. She took out her pen and wrote the words 'swamp agriculture?' down. Maybe it was something they could look into: offering unique produce could help attract interest, after all.

She compared the numbers on the markers, noting that they didn't seem line up with distance, or depth like the ones in the harbor she remembered. But she was convinced she was on to something, and the sight of the farmhouse just confirmed it to her. I think I see the pattern in this. And with that, she thought she had an idea of what those numbers could mean... but it would be nice to double check it somehow.

Getting back to the group required a bit of a run, but that was nothing new or unwelcome to her. The air raced by her and cleared her head, helping her focus on everything she observed. It all seemed to click, and by the time she caught up with Natali's wagon she felt pretty sure of her conclusion. "I think the swamp is expanding." She greeted Natali as she leapt back into her seat without waiting for the wagon to stop for her. "There's a farmhouse out in it where no one would build it, and I bet those poles are tracking the spread." With her pen she carefully traced over the best picture of the pole markers and a handful of the numbers she had been comparing and trying out, as well as a rough sketch of the farmhouse - mostly focusing on dimensions and its position in the swamp rather than pleasing aesthetics. She was no artist.

Your Destination Awaits

Hearing the shakiness in Natali's voice, Elisa offered her a smile and quiet reassurance. "You've got good people behind you. We'll make something of this no matter what." By this point, she felt pretty certain of that: the skills the Zeke had shown over the course of the journey could provide for all of them, and with Faolan as a cook and brewer and the rest helping she was confident they could start some kind of business. Eirnin, she was convinced at this point, could probably build an inn from scratch. So even if Natali only had a plot of land, they'd be able to put something together.

That said, the wariness of the travelers they met here, combined with the worry she had picked up from people further out, made Elisa wonder. There's something people are avoiding. Bandits? The lack of industry near an obviously well grown forest made her focus attention there, wondering if there was some kind of threat lurking within it. If so, that'd be a major problem, and certainly something for their more adventuresome members to try and resolve if they could. There was no way they could get a business running if people weren't safe nearby.

For now though, she turned her thought towards the inn. As it happened, Natali didn't just have a plot of land, or even just an inn: she had three buildings. Granted they were all in a state of major disrepair, and the shed was nothing impressive, but it was something to start with. Curious, Elisa hopped off the wagon and started up the path to take a look, leaving Steady where he was for now. She'd have to find a good place to unload, and she wasn't sure any of the buildings would be suitable at the moment. It was the inn she was most interested in; the animals could be tied up outside if need be, and the shed was of only minor note. If the inn was even passably habitable, they would have places to store things and sleep while getting everything up and running.

"Eirnin do you think it looks..." Elisa gestured vaguely at the inn, searching for the word she wanted. "...stable, I guess?" She was a little wary of going inside if the entire thing could collapse on them, and given how run down it all looked, she didn't want to wager on it.



Eirnin Donnabháin
Eirnin had only been in love once before, but she immediately fell for the Havenshire. It was perfect. Even the fields were her favorite color! The trip along the road put her in a great mood, and if there was anything going on with the swamp that Elisa was interested in, she didn't notice. She was eager to ride into Millborn and start looking around, but she listened to Natali's request, even if she didn't really agree with the thinking behind it. Eirnin didn't see any good reason not to just explain to people that they hadn't been to the inn yet, but she also didn't feel especially strongly about it and was willing to just let it pass.

The inn itself was both in better and worse shape than Eirnin had imagined. The building was standing, which was good. The area was two bad days from being blasted wilderness, which was bad. It would take a lot of work to get it up and running, and a lot more to convince travelers to stay there.

In response to Elisa's question, Eirnin scratched her chin. "Not sure," she said. "I think I'd have to get closer to check it out, and we should stick together." She cast her gaze around the flat open land, at least on this side of the river. "Seems like if a critter or some roughnecks were looking for a place to hole up, those three buildings're pretty much the only option hereabouts. I reckon we're about to evict them if so, but still. Let's be careful." She patted Elisa on the shoulder. The woman had a lot of spirit, but she clearly wasn't thinking like a warrior yet. That was OK, though. Protecting this band was Eirnin's job. And maybe Faolan's. That was a man who looked like he could take a punch or five.

She turned back to the rest of the group. "When y'all are ready, I think we should check out the stables first. If it's clear, we can stable our donkeys and such there while we poke around the inn. Or the shed." She shrugged. "Unless someone else's got a better idea."


Eirnin's Best GuessLooking at the three buildings, Eirnin was fairly certain that the inn was not going to collapse any time soon. Maybe the roof wouldn't make it through a heavy snowfall, but the main structure of the building seemed to be in good shape. She was equally certain that she could give no such assurance regarding the shed. She didn't think it would fall down just by opening the door, but she knew no one should lean against the walls. Luckily it was only about ten feet square, so she felt like they could probably get a good view inside from the doorway without actually entering it.

As far as the stable went, she couldn't say. The design of the structure was too reliant on internal support beams she couldn't see. She did notice a wagon parked mostly out of sight behind the stable with what looked like an old tarp thrown over it. The amount of debris and dirt on the tarp implied that it had been left there at least through this past winter, and perhaps the one before it, too.


Jeremiah Walsh
A Trip Through the Havenshire

As the group entered the Havenshire Jeremiah decided that an advanced scout likely wouldn't be necessary for the remainder of the trip.
It might not be well populated, but there were enough people that the roads would likely be reliable, and a single unknown rider would be more prone to cause unwanted rumors among locals than anything else with how little traffic came this far out. And if he were to be honest, a few days of slightly more relaxed traveling wouldn't be unappreciated, and Opal certainly wouldn't mind a slower pace.

Jeremiah was slightly surprised about Natali's decision to stay out of town for the moment. That being said, when asked he gave a shrug and went along with it. He wasn't too familiar with town gossip as when traveling more often than not he was in and out of a town before it could really get going. He could agree though that first impressions go a long way when somewhere new, and it he considered it to be her decision, since it was her name that was on the line. And after 3 weeks, a few more days of camping wouldn't hurt anyone.

When passing the marsh, Jeremiah certainly found the marked poles intriguing. That being said, he couldn't think of any reasoning for them at the moment and they had business a bit more pressing to tend to. He could have sworn he saw a house of some sort off in the distance which was even more curious, and he made a mental note to ask about it in town when they got the time. He might have been imagining things, but that was definitely a rather odd location for a building, and if there was an...entity...living in the mire it would be something worth being aware of. The potential explanation Elisa gave after a more thorough study was plausible, though he's not sure if it was any more reassuring. Either way, asking the locals would hopefully clear some things up.

The travelers they met definitely seemed more skittish than Jeremiah would expect. The repeated farewell was also troubling. If the roads were at a point where it was worth telling a group of their size to stay safe then things were a bit worse off than he had expected. He was definitely grateful that they hadn't had a violent encounter yet on the journey, but this nervous atmosphere and not knowing what to expect was almost worse, in its own way.

Your Destination Awaits

Upon reaching the turnoff for the inn Jeremiah jokingly announces "And here we are, home sweet home for the foreseeable future." After hearing Natali's response he adds in a bit more softly "Come now, we've come this far already. Let's at least take a look around first, worrying at this point won't do you any favors," ending with a hint of a smile.

After hearing Eirnin's assessment, Jermiah gives a nod of agreement and starts moving up the way, heading towards the stable. Getting the animals taken care of is always a good first step after traveling, and it would be worth taking a closer look to see if the stable can actually be used in its current state. As he gets closer Jeremiah keeps an eye out both on the stable and the inn, to see if there might be signs of any potential recent or current inhabitants.



Faolan Reid
| On The Road |

Sitting near the front of the wagon with Eirnin he smiled as he watched her play with her damned rock for what had to be the fifth time in the last hour. He didn't really understand what it was, but the blacksmith seemed both impressed and entertained by it. He found talking with Eirnin to be refreshing, she just didn't seem like the kind of person who worried too much about things, rather just taking everything in stride. Which was not to say she was incapable of planning ahead by any means. Her idea of setting up a smithy beside the inn was wonderful news. An inn with locally made ale was a welcome stop along a roadside. But an inn where you could get your horses reshoed and wagon fixed up while you enjoyed a night of peace, now that was a destination worth making your way towards. Nodding towards the hunk of iron he said, "It doesn't look like much and yet I cant recall I've ever seen a hunk of metal do that before. If you can find something clever to use it in, perhaps we can find more of it in the area. Had to have gotten stuck in those gnome's cart somewhere along the way."

For his part he didn't interact with the others significantly, aside from Natali whom he often joined and chatted with at meal times alongside Elisa. Listening to her plans for the inn and generally enjoying seeing her so excited about the opportunities. He didn't quite know what to think of Zeke and his wolf companion. When he couldn't sleep due to bad dreams and memories he would occasionally go out and sit with Zeke in the dark, not really talking but offering company to the strange lizard creature. He didn't speak a lick of Draconic, which didn't really help the whole communication issue, but as they traveled he made an effort to listen when Zeke and Elisa spoke, seeing if he could pick up certain words or phrases. Elisa was probably the person he talked to most after Natali and Eirnin. He hadn't known quite what to expect from her when they first met up. It was all too easy to imagine her as a spoiled merchant's daughter. But he quickly came to see that while she might have been shaped from a position of privilege she possessed a number of talents which she put to use on their group's behalf. He enjoyed talking to her about cooking, though his knowledge was based more on flavors and personal experimentation and hers on the economics behind ingredients and services, it was fascinating to pick her brain about the possibility of running his own business attached to the inn. Jeremiah spent most of his time scouting ahead for the party, which Faolan was thankful for given his lack of wilderness knowledge, mostly if they talked it was small talk and swapping simple stories at meal times. For Rifin's part she seemed content to entertain herself with her sketches and notebooks. Because she seemed anxious to do so he did let her come into his wagon and help him organize it a little bit. Considering he'd never traveled with so many supplies it was helpful to have her focused mind applied to the task of making sure everything was in its proper place.


| Your Destination Awaits |

Faolan was glad to finally reach their destination. Long stretches of travel were relatively unusual for him. Back when he'd been a soldier they had patrolled. But generally you were only responsible for a small area of land and there wasn't really a destination you were headed towards, you were just meant to keep an eye out. It didn't help that when they encountered fellow travelers heading in the opposite direction Faolan couldn't help but pick up on feelings of anxiety or nervousness. No one seemed concerned enough to offer a real warning or explanation, but in some ways that made it worse. Faolan didn't like not knowing what to expect, walking into situations blind had led to some of the worst moments of his life. He didn't know what kind of threats might be common out here, whether bandits, wild animals or god forbid something truly dangerous like orc raiders. Just thinking of the possibility made his blood run cold and caused him to grip the reigns a little too tight. So it was a relief to finally come to their destination, even if the sight of it was somewhat underwhelming. On one hand he should have known what to expect in coming out here to an inn that had been closed for over nine years now. On the other hand it was clear that they all had a great deal of work ahead of them to get it even remotely functional again.

As they pulled to a stop and Eirnin gave a quick once over of each of the structures from a distance she mentioned people using the building as squatting grounds. Given the moods of the villagers over the last few days he piped up and added, "Everyone keep your eyes open. It seems like people have been making an effort to avoid us on our way through Havenshire. Cant say I know what the wildlife or brigand situation is up here but something has been keeping people on edge. Lets take our time and be careful as we check things out. As a place to start, I think the stables like Eirnin suggested is as good as any other."

He grabbed a couple bottles of ale from his wagon before pulling the donkeys over onto the side of the road. Once they were sure the table was safe he would move them into there, but in case there was some animal taking up residence he didn't want to risk spooking them. Downing the bottles rapidly he loosened up and the faint nervous shake that had been starting in his hands disappeared somewhat. He had gone on this trip knowing violence was a very real possibility at some point, it was a large part of why he was here after all. He was expecting it and he wasn't going to let anyone here get hurt like Alex had. He wasn't some dumb kid anymore, even if it felt like he still had to prove that to himself at times.

| |

The StablesJeremiah lead his horse up the path, examining the stable closely while also keeping an eye on the inn. Whether or not anyone had been using the building, they certainly hadn't been using it as a stable—he could see no signs of hoofprints on the path leading up to it.

The stable was a long rectangular building, about 80 feet long and 20 wide with the short side facing the main road and the long side facing the inn. On the near end, two halves of a large double door each hung crookedly, leaving large gaps at the top and bottom. It seemed unlikely that it had been opened properly in a long time, given that it seemed clear that it would fall off its hinges if one were to do so now. At the other end, a regular human-sized door faced directly opposite the inn's main entrance. This door was harder to examine closely on account of being further away, but from that distance seemed to exhibit no telltale signs of disrepair. Likewise, the main inn door seemed in working shape, insofar as it was closed and performing one of its two main functions—keeping people out. The two windows alongside it were boarded up, as were the windows on the second and third floor.

Jeremiah was moving closer to the stable with the intent to get a better look at the smaller door when his question about whether or not the structure was currently occupied was answered conclusively by the sound of movement within. A sort of nondescript sound anything would make when brushing up against wood, it told him nothing about what might have been making it, other than that it existed. A glance over his shoulder showed him that Faolan and Elisa had heard the same thing. Eirnin unsuprisingly heard nothing over the sound of her armor, but could easily read the the look on Jeremiah's face nonetheless—as could Rifin and Zeke, a bit further back up the path.








 

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