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Stolen Dreams - 3. Pranks and Ponies



Skins peppered the counter, several garlic cloves waiting for the knife. Wulfrin was always nervous the eve of a fight, and tonight was no different. Cooking allowed him to focus on something other than his possible death, and trading recipes with Svetlana meant the fighters would be well fed by the time the fight came.

The gnome stood on a wooden crate, his dagger slicing one handed as he held the current clove with the other. He could see Svetlana working on a wine based sauce out of the corner of his eye, and Wulfrin put his plan into action.

“Is that a Galt wine? I didn’t think they exported those with all the fighting going on.”

The woman looked up, a small smile on her face.

“Actually, it’s one of my personal projects. I call it Restov Ice. There’s three vines out back that I tend to as a hobby when I’m not cooking. It took a while to convince Oleg, but after the first bottle fermented, he was more than happy to let me have my plants.”

Wulfrin continued cutting, looking over at the woman.

“Icewine? You need to harvest that in Kuthona, right?”

His dagger rose and fell, slicing through garlic, and then cutting through his left wrist. Red spurted out of the injury as Wulfrin continued cutting. A sudden scream finally made him pause.

“Erastil’s blessed bow! Your hand!” Svetlana yelped, rushing to grab a cloth.

“Oh… I did it again,” Wulfrin sighed, setting his dagger down.

Raising the stump of his wrist, his face took on a moment of intense focus before he slid his sleeve up, revealing a whole hand covered with a stripe of red juice. Svetlana stared wide eyed at the hand, her head shaking in disbelief.

“That was… that was too much, wasn’t it,” Wulfrin sighed, picking up the wooden hand left on the counter. “My apologies…”

“Oh… Oh, it was just a joke!” Svetlana exclaimed, a nervous chuckle escaping her. “I haven’t had a good scare like that since Irenna left… Or Kressle now, I suppose…”

Tucking the sculpture away, Wulfrin returned to mincing the garlic.

“Kressle?” he asked politely.

“Yes, she decided to rename herself after getting sucked into the banditry that is the Stag Lord. Something about how he’s actually doing something to protect the people of the land, standing up to the tyranny of Brevoy. He’s a drunken lout and his men are thugs, plain and simple.”

Svetlana sighed bitterly.

“It was one of the things we constantly fought over. Then one day, she was gone to join one of his camps at the Thorn River Ford. Took the ring Oleg gave me, probably as payment to get into the gang. If you and your friends can find Kressle, do you think you could spare her? I know you’re here to kill bandits, but she’s not a bad person. I swear it. She’s just confused, searching for answers.”

“I don’t know if I can keep her alive. There is so much we don’t know,” Wulfrin sighed, scraping the garlic into a bowl of meat. “But I will do my best.”

“That is all I ask,” Svetlana smiled in relief.

They worked through the afternoon, the kitchen filling with the smell of supper. Wulfrin carried platters out to the group of tables that sat just outside the trading post. The mercenaries had been busy that day, and he could see several bear traps that had been set to funnel any attackers into a narrow corridor between the gates. A pentacle with several drops of blood sat in the dirt, on the outside of the traps, a threatening aura to the symbol. Wulfrin shuddered just looking at it.

Setting the platter on a table, the gnome touched the songbird tattoo on his forearm, murmuring a cleansing prayer to Shelyn. That pentacle was evil, pure and simple, and he wanted nothing to do with it.

“We need to find the bandit camp,” Kesten Garess said, slapping his hand on a nearby table.

“Captain, no one agrees more than me that we need to find the camp. That is our main goal at the moment,” Amethyst said patiently. “But Hope and I are diviners, and we’ve both seen a tomb. Now, if it was just me, I’d understand. The Harrowing is not always the most accurate, especially when it involves someone close to the reader. But when multiple diviners suggest a course of action, it would be best to listen to them.”

“Trust me Captain, I know what I’m doing,” Hope added, motioning toward a map. “If we follow the road east until we arrive at Nettle’s Crossing, we can travel down the Shrike River to the crotch… confluence… of the Shrike and Thorn Rivers, then follow the Thorn River north while searching for the camp. The tomb is barely ten miles out of the way; half a day, no more. And I have a suspicion that is where your Tartuccio is holed up with the other half of your mercenaries.”

“These are unknown lands to us,” Amethyst continued. “I am in charge of my band. And if we wander around blindly, we’ll get lost. That will leave you with no scouts, no vanguard. You’ll be forced to protect Oleg to the best of your abilities as your men dwindle around you. I want to avoid that, and avoid as much loss of life as possible.”

Wulfrin clambered up onto the bench beside the table, staring at the map. It seemed rather bare to him, marking only the area directly around the trading post, the curve of the Shrike River, and not much else.

“You think the Thorn meets the Shrike?” the gnome asked, looking at the tiefling.

“Guarantee it. And the Stag Lord is sitting somewhere near the confluence. Maybe a little further east. But we won’t find that until we deal with the bandit camp, the old sycamore, the temple, and the tomb,” Hope replied, ticking them off one by one. “Which means dealing with the Pitaxan spy the captain so graciously allowed into his band. Not that I blame him; enchanter sorcerers can be nasty to fight.”

“We should eat before the food gets cold,” Wulfrin noted. “Besides, we don’t know when the bandits will come back. It’s better to fight on a full stomach.”

He headed back into the kitchen to grab the rest of the food, passing Svetlana as the woman carried out several jugs filled with water. The gnome hurried through his work, eager to try the food Svetlana had taught him to make.





The horse snorted, his hoof slapping the dirt that filled the stall. Ilyas scowled at his horse, reaching for the silver leg again.

“Come on, you need clean feet. Hoof,” he said sharply in Kelish.

Jawhara begrudgingly raised his leg, and the Qadiran began picking out the small stones and dirt that filled his foot from the long journey. His eyes flicked over to the wall of the stable, studying the strange black goop that marred the wooden walls.

“This place is filthy. I don’t trust it,” he told Jawhara. “There’s no one taking care of you. Oleg seems more interested in protecting his dinar. I can’t even find any hay for you to eat.”

Flicking a bit of mud off the hoof pick, the man let a rush of air blow away the dirt that clung to the hoof walls. Jawhara snorted as the breeze washed over his foot, and Ilyas set the hoof down, before reaching for the next.

“You’re going to need a trim here soon,” he added.

A sudden rustling startled the man. Looking around, he found the cat man digging through a barrel.

“What are you doing?”

“I found some oats,” the cat replied, scooping them into a bucket.

He began walking from stall to stall, filling feed buckets and petting the horses that filled the stable.

“Hey there Fedha,” Elias purred, stroking a silver dapple’s nose.

“An interesting name,” Ilyas noted, switching to the last hoof. “What does it mean?”

“It’s Bonuwat for silver. It seemed fitting for her,” Elias smiled, pouring oats into the horse’s bucket. “Better than naming a horse Elluin just because you never got to fuck your crush. No offense.”

The cat patted the next horse gently, Hope’s sorrel jennet. Elluin let out a snort, his head lowering slightly under Elias’ hand

“I wonder where the bandits found these horses. Many would not be bred here normally.”

“They’re bandits,” Elias shrugged. “I’m sure they were stolen. Shit… I guess you should get a smaller amount of oats, huh?”

Ilyas dropped Jawhara’s hoof, glancing back at the cat. Elias was holding the bucket away from Wulfrin’s pony, the small black animal squealing in frustration when it couldn’t reach the food.

“Don’t tease him. Just give him a quarter of that bucket,” the Qadiran said.

Elias poured out a little more into the pony’s bucket, pushing his nose away before the pony could nip him.

“I believe he is a fell pony from Ustalav,” Ilyas mentioned, running a brush over Jawhara’s coat.

“You know your horses,” Elias noted in surprise.

“I should. My father was Althameri, and Jawhara was the first horse I tamed under his tutelage,” Ilyas said proudly. “See his markings? He is Zefaheen, the horses of the wind. His get was sent to the satrap of Qadira personally. Horses of his breeding are sent to the royals, but Jawhara refused to go. For a Zefaheen, he can be remarkably strong headed, almost like a Misayyah.”

“Is he… you know… god touched?” Elias asked, studying the horse.

“Hardly. He is descended from the creatures gifted my tribe by jinn of old. Most tribes tame and ride Istaheq, the horses of the earth. But my tribe favours the fluid grace of the Tuanu. I was the first to tame a Zefaheen in my generation, and for many generations before. It’s because I have the blood of djinn within me. My father always said I was sylph, but I think he was mistaken. I’m not wispy enough.”

The Qadiran chuckled quietly, looking down at his thickset body.

“No, you are quite a bit of man,” Elias agreed with a smirk.

“The ladies would agree,” Ilyas laughed, returning to Jawhara.

“There’s no shame in that,” Elias shrugged, carrying his bucket back to the barrel. “But the men will still stare in jealousy.”

“Let them stare at my perfection. And when they’ve had their fill, they can look upon my horse, and see that Jawhara is just as worthy of their jealousy.”

A sudden breeze made Jawhara’s white mane billow. Ilyas patted his neck, a smirk on his face.

“Yeah, I get it,” Elias sighed quietly. “I think I can smell dinner. Maybe we should finish up in here? I don’t want to miss… whatever it is Wulfrin cooked.”

“Of course. You go ahead. I need to finish grooming Jawhara,” Ilyas waved off. “I’ll talk to Ramiel about Greenbriar tomorrow. Something needs to be done about that mane, and his tail…”

The Qadiran clicked his tongue shamefully, looking at the Charger’s tangles.

“Well, you have fun with that. I’m sure Ramiel would love to have someone criticize the way he cares for his mount,” Elias shrugged.

The cat hurried from the stable, and Ilyas let out a scoff.

“Some people just don’t know how to handle rejection."

Copyright © 2021 Yeoldebard; All Rights Reserved.
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Join the 'I want to ride Elluin' club. YOU CANT JUST FILL THE MAP HOPE. and what about setting the traps? or just rawdoggin it....

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If Ramiel can take care of a devil he sure as hell should be able to groom his horse dammit! I hope someone really sets him straight! 

Embarrassed Shame GIF

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2 hours ago, IkeNeko said:

If Ramiel can take care of a devil he sure as hell should be able to groom his horse dammit! I hope someone really sets him straight! 

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To be fair, the devil doesn't need to be brushed out and fed, and he vanishes most of the time.

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On 10/19/2021 at 3:23 AM, Yeoldebard said:

To be fair, the devil doesn't need to be brushed out and fed, and he vanishes most of the time.

So maybe he should tell the devil to brush his horse? 😂

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