8th day of Alturiak. Afternoon. Fairton Farm
"Yer right, this ain't Arabel," states Ortho flatly after hearing Hammel Fairton's response. "This is Milbourne where a local farmer must protect his good name and should not want to be labeled as someone takin' undue advantage of others who are working for the good of the community. Working for no payment or reward, Ah might add. Now, it seems ta me that the Red Feather Company, of which Ah am a principal member and carry considerable weight, has done some good for this community and has gained some notoriety. Ye wouldn't want me ta tell everybody, and Ah do mean EVERYBODY, how you charged me TWICE a fair rate fer yer mules, would ye?" queries Ortho with one bushy eyebrow raised.
"Ah'll give ye eight crowns fer each mule. That's still quite a premium from the prices in Arabel," states Ortho.
"You claim to threaten me with yer position in this adventurin' company?" states Hammel angrily. "Why me and my family have farmed this area fer three generations. People here in Milbourne know me and know me well, Mr. Pestkiller. You want ta tell tales, you tell tales. A man's got ta feed his family and I quoted ye a fair price fer the mules."
Ortho shakes his head at the words of Hammel and calmly turns to walk away from him, leaving Hammel quite shocked. As he passes Esther, Ortho says, "Mistress Esther, Ah offered yer Hammel 8 crowns each fer two mules - more than a fair price. And he refused. Ah'm sorry yer husband has refused ta deal fairly with the Red Feather Company. Ah hope the ladyfolk in town don't think unkindly of ye fer it. Good day, ma'am."
As Ortho speaks, the color slowly rises in the cheeks of Mistress Esther. By the time Ortho has finished, her face is flush with redness. "Wait here, Mister Ortho," she says to Ortho. Not a request, but a demand that Ortho finds amusing but he stays nonetheless. Her eyes locked on Hammel, Esther quickly walks over to talk with her husband. Ortho can not hear the words she speaks to him but from the body language and the rapid succession of the words, he knows that they are none too kind. After a few brief words of retort, followed by even harsher sounded responses from Esther, Hammel raises his hands and turns to look at Ortho again.
"Master Ortho, it seems that I was quoting prices on mules that clearing belonged to me wife. The eight crowns will be fine."
Ortho smiles as he pulls forth his pouch. Quickly counting out the sixteen crowns, he hands the money over to Hammel. As he takes the reins of the beasts from Hammel, he turns to address Esther, "Mistress Esther, that's a fair man yer married to as well as yerself. Ah hope me an' the Red Feather Company can bring some more business yer way." Reaching into his pocket, Ortho pulls forth two gold crowns and hands them to Esther. "Here, Ah appreciate yer help. Next time yer in town you buy yerself something nice. Ah'd do it meself but Ah think we'll be back on the trail soon. An' remember, ye have a friend in Ortho Pestkiller of Ironrock, Chosen of Moraddin, battle leader of the Red Feather Company."
Esther beems with pride as she clutches the gold coins before slipping them into a pocket of her skirt. Hammel frowns at the back of Ortho as he waves before heading back to town.
Riding back into Milbourne around mid-afternoon, Ortho heads straight to the livery stable where he finds Garth working with his pony, Bucky. Holding his hand out to the beast, Bucky eats the sugar cube offered by his master. Seeing Ortho approach with the two mules, Garth waves his friend over.
"Hoy, Ortho! Watch this."
Garth whispers something into the ear of Bucky before moving away from the pony to the other side of the corral. Stepping up on the bottom board of the gate, he climbs up to sit on the top. Once settled there, he puts two fingers up to his lips and gives two quick whistles. Right away the ears of Bucky straighten and the pony quickly trots over to where Garth sits.
"Nice trick," remarks Ortho to his friend as Garth smiles and hands another cube to Bucky. "I may be needin' yer help with these foul beasts later," says Ortho with a smile.
"Just takes a little patience," answers Garth.
Ortho lets the two mules loose in the corral before going over to unsaddle his own pony, rub it down and put it in its stall. After taking care of this he moves out to the corral to begin working with the mules.
"I've gotta watch this," mumbles Garth to himself as he settles himself on the top rail of the fence, a broad smile on his face.
After an afternoon of fruitless searching the area around Milbourne for a suitable residence for his mother and the Company, Ras decides to head back to Milbourne. Having talked to several of the local farmers about land in the area, he comes to the realization that this would indeed be the ideal place for his mother. Most of the people have come to take on an almost reverent attitude toward any member of the Company, and he feels that his mother would surely be watched out for by the townsfolk as long as the Company is around.
If only I could find a suitable place for everyone, he thinks to himself as he turns his pony toward Milbourne.
Perhaps an hour before dusk, Ras reaches the outskirts of Milbourne and heads straight away to the Baron of Mutton. Once inside, he finds Ortho, Garth and Snagger already seated and about to enjoy a hearty meal. Snagger appears well on his way to a good drunk as his slurry speech greets Ras.
Ras motions for Barthelew to bring him a mug of ale and another plate as he wearily slips into the chair.
"Any luck findin' a place," asks Ortho around a mouthful of meat.
"Well maybe tomorree," responds Garth, ever optimistic.
The four settle in to enjoy the meal as they relate the events of their day to one another. Snagger having little to add beyond the afternoon spent with his uncle drinking at the Silver Crown. Garth chuckles softly to himself as he listens to Ortho relate his story of trying to train the mules to Ras. The frustrations of the afternoon's work clearly evident in the words of the dwarf.
As the meal passes and the companions push back their chairs and enjoy their drinks, thankful to be able to relax, there is no sign of Kre. Ras eases the concerns of the others somewhat as he tells them of seeing their friend the night before walking the streets with a beautiful woman on his arm.
"Besides, he said he'd be out of pocket most of the time," states the halfling.
"Wal, he'd better not be in trouble," states Ortho flatly. "I don' wanta be havin' ta go lookin' fer him."
Motioning to their waitress to bring him another mug of ale, Ortho catches the eye of the young boy Andrenn looking at him rather closely. Nodding his head to the lad, Andrenn moves over with a look of shock on his face, his eyes locked on the blue cloak that Ortho took from the orc cavern.
"Jelenneth's cloak!" says Andrenn excitedly. "Where did you get this? You've seen her?! Was she ok? Where is she?"
"Ah'm sure Ah don' know what yer talkin' about," says Ortho as he pulls the cloak from Andrenn.
"This cloak was Jelenneth's," explains Andrenn, a look of hope on his face.
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