Tradden, the stick now safely stored in his pack, strode off in the direction of his next port
of call — a little abode on the edge of the town.
Despite the fact that it was presumably built at the same time as the other buildings, this cottage,
seemed, well, more ramshackle and aged than the others. It didn’t stand out hugely, although the slightly
purple hue to the smoke coming out of the chimney was a small giveaway as to the identity of its resident.
After a short delay the wooden door opened to Tradden’s knock, but only a crack. One bushy, white
eyebrow appeared first, closely followed by an eye which looked him up and down appraisingly.
‘Yeeesssss?’ said a crotchety sounding voice only slightly muffled from being delivered from behind
the gnarled timber.
‘Hello. Umm. Tradden. Aversward. New hero in town? Just wondering if I could, er, have a word,
‘Not interested my lad. I am busy with a project extremely important at the moment and it would be
dangerous for you to enter-eth. Understand?’
‘Err… yes. Well, maybe not that last bit…’ replied a confused sounding Tradden. He rallied.
‘I have something, erm, magical I think, I wanted you to look at. Something we found outside the walls.’
‘Well, why didn’t you say so to start with? Enter-eth!’
Tradden ducked down to enter the door and on the other side found himself in a large darkened room.
It seemed as if the whole cottage was in fact one large space, although it was hard to tell as various
oddities hung from every beam and it was cluttered with benches, chairs and unidentifiable other surfaces
all covered in various forms of items and, well, junk. Lucius Drax, the singular arcane representative in
the town, brushed off a sleeping cat and sat in his favourite chair.
‘Well? What’s the matter lad? Frog got your ears? Hand it over!’
‘Ah, yes. There you go.’ replied Tradden, pulling the stick out of his pack and passing it to
Lucius, who started to look it over. With that Tradden stood back, his head bumping into what he
hoped was merely a dried up piece of mud hanging on some string.
A few minutes went by, with Drax making few sounds — just the occasional ‘Hmm’, and ‘ahhh’. Tradden
eventually felt compelled to fill the silence. ‘Erm — what is the project?’
‘Hmm? Oh, lunch.’
‘Ah.’ sighed Tradden. ‘You said it was dangerous!’
‘It would be dangerous for you if you ate it instead of me, boy.’ The eyebrow was up again.
‘Anyway, this is a strange thing you have brungeth.’ Tradden got the feeling he was being
deliberately toyed with now, but continued to appear oblivious to the oddities of Lucius’s language.
‘It does have magical qualities, but, is not from any arcane source that I can identify. Not really my
specialism this kind of thing. Besteth I can give thee is that it is some kind of shamanic totem.
Perhaps it used to belong to a heathen witch doctor or somesuch? I vaguely recall reading something
about this kind of thing in a journal once but darned if I can remember anything about it.’
‘Erm… Sounds less than useful to be honest. I was, erm, on the assumption that, it err…, was not
otherwise useful, was hoping it might be something to give to Caldring. She needs items to melt down,
or something, to get res-sid-uuumm?’
‘Well you are out-eth of luck there my young fella, it’s not that kind of thing at all. As I say, an odd
old stick.’ After staring it it for a moment longer he handed it back to the clearly crestfallen
youngster. ‘Anyway, unless you wish to buy anything you are now officially holding up my lunch. Off you go!’
And with that the fighter was ushered out of the door. ‘Farewell!’ cried Lucius as he trudged back
down the street. Closing the door he leant back against it for a second. ‘Eth’ he added, chuckling
and heading towards the bubbling cauldron of soup.
Once again finding he was doing a lot but not actually achieving anything, the downcast Tradden
headed back towards The Bronze Lion, stick still in hand. As he neared he passed one of the paths
leading round to the back and heard a sharp sigh coming from the semi-darkness. Back-tracking he stepped
inside the shadows to find the tiefling Sorrow sat on a wooden cask. She had presumably been contemplating
the infinite as it was only at that point she registered his presence.
‘Whoa!’ said Tradden, holding up both hands as she got up to move off. ‘I just wanted to
make sure you are alright.’ She stood still, not moving. ‘Erm,’ Tradden continued,
slowing pointing to the red stain on her white shirt. ‘It is, er, possible that I may be partially to
blame for that. Sorry.’
‘It’s alright.’ Sorrow replied, after a short pause. Again there was a heavy sigh. The harmony of her
voice was quite unusual — Tradden had never heard anything quite like it before. It was lilting, but
also a little sad. He could hardly expect otherwise really — she had been through quite a lot in recent days.
‘Look, I will leave you alone — I just wanted to make sure you were alright. Cheer up though — things are
not so bad around here.’ He gestured expansively, indicating he meant the circular town.
‘Although,’ he sighed himself this time, ‘it has its issues. No one can tell me what this is for
instance. Seems simple enough doesn’t it?’
‘Let me have a look,’ said the lilting voice again, holding out a hand. Her movements were hard to
define — oddly flowing and gracious, even with small actions such as that.