Sunday, December 10, 2023

A Dissonant Chord - Part 5

In part 4, Ikram escaped from an elder wolf that chased him. He found an abandoned house and discovered strange artifacts and humanoid remains locked in the basement. After attempting to leave, he was instantly transported back to the edge of the forest. He continued his journey and saw a family of broken emerge from a cave and he was later almost drowned in a flooded river by a sodden.

27th day of spring, year 132

In the morning I immediately left for Greatrock. I realized en route that my provisions were ruined by water and something was growing on most of my fabrics. Camping would be difficult under the circumstances, so I decided to press on, hoping I'd soon find some road or settlement. The hilly terrain meant less dense forest, so I covered quite a distance before reaching dense foliage again, where I had to take a night's rest before continuing. I still couldn't sleep properly. I kept dreaming of that sodden. Was I getting too worried? I had more mundane things to worry about.

28th day of spring, year 132

I had no breakfast to eat this morning. I jumped on Valeri and left for Greatrock. I finally reached Greatrock! I went straight to the shops and reprovisioned for 18 arrowheads. I ate and slept in the inn.

29th day of spring, year 132

In the morning, I checked around town for any odd-jobs. I stumbled upon a mercenary who was looking for a crew to go after a nearby settlement of broken. I was shocked when he said the job would pay well because it was sponsored by both Greatrock's mayor and the "Cove of Lament" clan. I asked another man in the crowd who the "Cove" is. He told me the cove is the elf-bound clan led by Namura, Greatrock's newest mayor. I felt my heart sink. I had come to the base of my enemy to find help to defeat my enemy. I left before anyone could realize how shaken I was. I started walking toward the inn, thinking about my next step. Obviously, they were not actively looking for me, and they wouldn't expect me in their hometown either. But the chances of a random encounter would have been high, very high, based on my experience outside Mournwood. I finished loading Valeri and jumped on her. I had to camp alone outside the city and think about what to do next when my mind would be clearer. I found a good place in the forest, far from the road and hidden from Greatrock's view. I tried to sleep.

30th day of spring, year 132

I felt rested in the morning. I eventually would need to go into the city, so I needed some way to conceal my face. I experimented with applying a bit of mud to my skin, trying to find a way to make myself look more wrinkled. Then I cut my hair much shorter and tried tying it differently, but if anything, this seemed to make me stand out more — at least based on my rippling reflection in water. I wished I had an actual mirror or a shiny metal surface. In the evening, I spent some time rehearsing different fake voices. I got a few nailed down really well! But it was getting late.

31st day of spring, year 132

I woke up feeling rested again. I walked to the edge of the forest closest to the city gates. I spent the day watching who went in and out. That evening I saw a group of warriors, clearly part of the Cove by their clothes and armor, leaving Greatrock with their leader and enough provisions for a very long trip. I wasn't sure if many more remained in the city, but I was willing to risk spending some time there to learn more about them. I walked in and went straight to the inn. I sat next to an older man and ordered some food and ale for me and another ale for him. "You're not in a rush, are you?" I asked. "I haven't had a chance to talk with someone for days!" I added. He seemed friendly. We began talking. I kept buying ale for him, hoping to get him to open up, but I seemed to be getting drunk more quickly than him. His name was Cortin. He did not seem eager to discuss his past, but he was extremely enthusiastic about telling me all about his future hopes — to write a book about the elves and convince the Cove clan to take him along on their next trade journey. I asked if he was certain this was a good idea and how much he really knew about the Cove, whether he could trust them. He said he didn't know much but had secured a meeting with one of them the next morning. "Here at the inn?" I asked. "No, they have their headquarters in the east side of town," he replied. We had a few more drinks before I got a room to sleep.

In the next part, Ikram forms an alliance with an unusual couple who promise information and aid for one of his difficulties in exchange for assisting with a perilous mission. Danger, cunning, deception and arcane objects lie ahead as they plan their next steps.

To be continued...

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