Sunday, 10 June 2018

Blackwind's Tower Chapter 2

Badger set down the heavy wheelbarrow with a grunt. He had asked for a cart and the wizard had produced a rickety wheelbarrow from inside his shop without a word. Then he had nodded at Badger locked the shop door and walked off at a brisk pace. Clearly, the wizard felt he had done his part. It had been up to Badger to drag and stuff the man’s body into the cart. He had furtively moved the body down a back alley before finding bags of garbage behind a butcher’s shop to pile on top of it.

At first, Badger had looked about for somewhere to quickly dispose of the corpse - garbage heaps, sewers or dark holes. But, it turned out, Pirn was pretty clean for a town of its size and clearly had no sewers. So Badger realized he was going to have to get the body out the gates to the garbage dump. Getting past the guards at the gates were not going to be easy.

As a stranger to Pirn, he was bound to attract some attention from the guards at the gate. Looking down at the load in the wheelbarrow Badger could see a loose arm dangling out from under a bag of garbage. Bending down he moved to push the arm back under the garbage.

“How do I get into these situations,” Badger thought as he carefully covered the body with garbage. Pirn was the end of the line for Badger. Located at the final stop on the edge of the Realms before the Wilderlands. Badger was a child of the cities. An orphan raised by a street gang in Shallowport. Chased out of Shallowport he had wandered further and further to the edges of the Realms. From here there was nowhere else to go.

“And now in my third day in the town, I am already disposing of bodies,” Badger mused with disgust. “At least this one was not my doing.” Still, depending on how he played it, the wizard should now owe Badger a favour. Of course, the wizard might not react well to being asked for a favour. “If I can just get this body out of here - and get back in.”

Ahead lay the Quarter Market gate. Two square towers with the gate between them. The gate was open and clear but three guards were on duty. Likely the gate would close at dusk. Looking about, Badger could see the shadows lengthening. Dusk would come soon.

Two guards had stacked their polearms against the wall and had their attention focused on a set of dice they were rolling onto the dirt just outside the gate. But a third guard was checking people walking in and out of the gate.

He needed a distraction of some sort Badger watched the gate for several minutes before he spotted his opportunity.  Approaching the gate leading a horse, was a man clad in worn armor, a sword swinging at his hip. The horse was laden with a half dozen full sacks. Just behind the horse came another, smaller man with a heavy sack slung over one shoulder. This pair was going to get the guards attention.

Badger quickly lifted the wheelbarrow and pushed it into the fading sunlight of the gate square. He had to time it just right. He approached the gate as far away from the alert guard as he could, timed for just as the two travellers approached. Badger ducked his head down and put his best “bored peasant” expression on his face. It was one of his best skills at avoiding notice. Look away but do not appear to be looking away.

“Hold and state your business!”

The guard spoke out, Badger kept moving assuming the guard was speaking to the incoming travellers. “Travellers looking to enjoy a clean bed in your fair town”, came the reply. Good, they have his attention thought Badger.

Surreptitiously, he peered toward the two guards to the right. Their attention was held by the dice and they did not even spare Badger a glance.

“Damn dice are against me today,” Badger heard one of the guards curse. Then as he moved off he heard one of the guards straighten up.

“Who is that with the wheelbarrow?” came a distinct voice. “Never mind him, throw the dice I mean to win back my coppers, Jadon”.

Badger relaxed his breath, his heart was beating a little faster than normal but he had things under control. He continued on down the road with a calm gait.

The Quarter Gate

Pirn was built on top of a hill. The path from the gate moved down the side of the hill at a gradual angle. To either side of the road, Badger could see small piles of garbage carelessly dumped. Mice and rats darted amongst the refuse.  It would be best to move further to one of the pits where the garbage was supposed to be dumped, Badger thought. He straightened and looked in the direction of the setting sun. He figured he only had a short time before the sun dropped beneath the distant hills. Unless he wanted to be sleeping outside he needed to move on quickly.

Up ahead, off to one side of the road was a large pit, a natural formation formed in the side of a hill. Piles of refuse filled the pit. A few wild dogs ranged amongst the garbage. Badger levered the wheelbarrow to the edge of the pit. He looked about to make sure no one was in sight. The towers of Pirn still had a clear view of him but he reasoned he was too far away for anyone to see what he was doing. He removed the bags of garbage and set them down then dragged the body from the wheelbarrow. The corpse was heavy but not something Badger could not manage. Too big to run in the street gang back home anymore, Badger was quite strong. That strength that had scared the gang leader and led to him being chased out of Shallowport. Badger grabbed the feet of the dead man and dragged him well into the garbage. Then he made two trips to drop the bags of garbage on the corpse to hide it completely.

As he checked that the corpse was covered, Badger heard a low growling. Looking up he saw a mangy black dog glaring at him from 15 feet away. Four other dogs edged forward behind the black dog.

“It's all yours, I was just leaving,” Badger said and waved toward the corpse with his hand. Time to get out of here. Badger carefully walked back up out of the pit to the cart.

The sun was setting. Grabbing the cart he lifted and pushed at a brisk pace back toward the gate into Pirn.

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