Sunday, 17 March 2019

Marn's Crossing

The Inn

“He’s a cheat!, Get him!” The man yelled to the other men in the small back room of the Tavern. Myro looked about nervously. As a stranger in Marn’s Crossing the room looked to be siding with this dumb oaf. Best to get out of here with my winnings Myro thought.

I have made a small map to show the locations that appear in my previous few posts of fiction. Marn’s Crossing is an old stone bridge that spans the Croydes Stream. The stream is dry throughout the year except in the Spring. Snow meltwater turns the stream into a raging river and blocks travel. A few hundred years ago a stone bridge was built to allow year-round travel.

A few carpenters and stone-workers were settled near the bridge to help maintain it. One of the more enterprising carpenters expanded his cottage into a simple Inn. The Inn at Marn’s Crossing has had several expansions in size since then.

The current Innkeeper is Lars Montefelo, a middle-aged, heavyset man. Lars brings in extra coin by hosting dice and card games in the back room of the Inn. The games draw in the usual local rabble and travelers.

The Inn and cellar map

Tavern Area
There is a mud porch outside the door to the Inn and a nearby outhouse in the yard before the river road. The tavern has a bar stocked with local ale a little else. There are six wooden tables surrounded by stools and chairs. No two alike. Three doors exit the tavern to other rooms, Lars room, a sleeping area and the door to the kitchen.

In addition to finding Lars working behind the bar, he has two maids/helpers who work the tavern. Sisters Jona and Caelia serve drinks, make beds, clean and do just about any other odd job around the Inn. They sleep in the loft above the tavern. It is accessible by a ladder against the wall.

Owners Area
Lars and his wife Marion live in this simple room. There is little more than a bed, table, and a few chests of clothes.

Sleeping Area
For a pair of silver pieces, a traveler can purchase one of five beds in the sleeping area. The tavern and the sleeping area are kept warm in the fall and winter by a large fireplace.

Kitchen Area
The kitchen has a cooking fireplace, preparation tables and crates and barrels of food. Marion, the wife of the Innkeeper, does the cooking. She is a passable cook but is often let down by the scarcity of fresh ingredients. A wooden door leads to a rickety wooden stair to the cellar. A young boy lives in this area, sleeping near the fire on a bundle of wool blankets. Roald is an orphan that Lars has agreed to look after in exchange for work gathering firewood and tending the fires in the four fireplaces.

Back Room
In the back room, there are three tables that can be used for drinking, eating or gambling. A game of cards or dice can usually be found here once the sun goes down. Aside from a few local toughs, most of the gamblers are travelers on the river road passing through.

Occasionally, a lone traveler will go missing after winning one too many hands at cards. Whether it is at the hands of a local tough or passing mercenary. Lars can be counted on to dispose of the body for a share of the winnings.

Beneath the Inn.
Lars uses the cellar beneath the Inn to store non-perishable foods and supplies for the Inn. For some reason, the cellar is always very damp. Lars is unaware that the Inn is built over the ruins of an old temple to a forgotten god. Previous Innkeepers many years ago used the crypts beneath the Inn to hold smuggled goods.

Marn's Crossing

Monday, 11 March 2019

Three Crowns, Part 4

Picking up the candle again, Myro quietly headed back out into the hallway. He passed down the hall and moved past the stairs he had come down. Ahead was another stone archway. There was a very dim light bleeding through the archway.

“A way out”, Myro exclaimed. He quickened his pace. Then Myro heard a sound echoing down the hall toward him. Something was moving in the chamber. There was a scraping sound and a metallic rattle. Like the chains on a ghost, Myro thought to myself.

Softly Myro advanced to the archway, beyond was another small, stone chamber. The chamber was almost as dark as the hallway but a dim light came through an opening barred by rusty metal bars halfway up the far wall. It looked like the entrance over a long forgotten sewer.

Myro felt the hairs on his right forearm come to attention. Glancing down, he spotted a dim, blue glow emanating from the short sword. From out of the shadows by the wall came motion and a skeleton of a man lurched out of the dark holding a shield and swinging a rusty sword.

“Ahhh!”, Myro screamed and brought the sword up defensively. The sword met the skeleton’s sword mid-arc with a thunderous clang of metal. Jumping back, Myro tried to prepare himself, but the skeleton moved forward and was on him again. He desperately parried two more ringing strikes from the skeleton moving back as he did. He felt the cold stone wall at his back.

Myro leaped forward trying to get around the skeleton and swung the sword in an arc as he vaulted by. Landing past the skeleton, Myro turned toward the hallway as he heard a clatter of metal and bones behind him.

Moving into the hallway, Myro carefully, looked behind himself into the room. The skeleton was an unmoving pile of bones on the floor. A rotted wooden shield and rusty sword lay nearby.

“Hah”, Myro yelled. Exhilaration filled his muscles with energy. His breaths were short and ragged. Myro paused and breathed out slowly for a few short, long breaths.

Myro walked over to the sewer opening. He could see a tunnel and a dim light in the distance. A slight, cool breeze played across his face. Myro gripped two of the rusty bars and pulled. The bars budged slightly. Looking about, Myro picked up the discarded rusty sword on the floor. Placing it between two bars, he levered the bars until they began to move. With a sudden start, one of the rusty bars snapped off and fell to the floor. There was just enough space for him to fit.

Myro tossed the bent, rusty sword into the opening and squeezed in after it. Picking up the rusty sword in his left hand and clutching the short blade in his right Myro crawled down the tunnel.

After a dozen feet, he came to another opening. Rusty stubs of metal marked where the opening was once barred. Clumps of grass ringed the opening. Pushing through the opening, Myro tumbled out into a dry streambed. Looking up he could see the stars wheeling above.

Myro lay on his back for a few minutes taking an inventory of the night's events. Pushing himself to his feet, Myro slid the short sword into his new scabbard and trudged off into the night.


The Exit

Three Crowns, Part 3

Descent into the Depths

Myro looked about in the near total darkness. Four walls with no sign of an exit and a few dark shapes rising out of the floor. Picking up the nearby candle, Myro leaned over the stairs in the bottom of the crypt. The stairs were old, stone and very steep. They appeared to descend about twelve feet to a passage.

Shivering to himself, Myro thought, “There is no obvious exit up here so down I go I guess”.  Not likely to find an exit if I keep going down Myro thought. I could wait up here until the furor in the inn settles down.

“Where is the adventure in that,” Myro said out loud. His voice sounded a little tremulous to him. “Screw that,” he thought. And stepped gingerly into the crypt and descended the stair.

Upon reaching the passage, Myro saw ancient stone walls before him. The passage went a short distance before entering another passage at right angles. Nervously, Myro extended the candle into the new passage. The flame atop the candle guttered for a moment then was still.

“There must be a way out!”, Myro thought. There was clearly a breeze from somewhere. Myro looked left and right. Both directions looked the same. Stone walls of large worked blocks leading to an archway. The passage was fairly wide, at least five feet and just over six feet tall. The ceiling was slightly arched. The entire passage looked old. Far older than the buildings of Marn’s Crossing.

“Scrittch”, an odd scratching sound came from Myro’s left. He could barely hear it but in the deafening silence of the passage, it seemed really loud. The hairs on the back of Myro’s neck stood at attention and he felt a cold chill run down his back.

“Right it is then”, Myro said aloud. No, I am not scared at all he thought to himself.

Myro softly padded to the right, passing under an archway part way down the passage. To his left and right were two openings in the stone walls. In each opening sat an old wooden coffin.

I am not looking in those coffins, no matter that they might be bodies buried with gold, Myro thought. I can come back later, let's just get out of here.

Ahead was another archway but this time it led into a small chamber. Myro looked about, raising the candle high. The chamber was filled with old wooden barrels and crates. Broken wood and straw littered the stone floor. Thick dust and cobwebs covered everything. To the right behind a broken wooden crate, there was a pair of moldy boots. Myro breathed in sharply. The boots looked to be attached to feet and legs but were unmoving. Slowly Myro advanced and shone the candlelight around the corner of the crate. Beyond was the corpse of a long dead man. The man was slumped into a seated position clutching one hand to his chest. In his other hand was a short sword.

“Juvan's reach”, Myro exclaimed.

Putting the candle down, Myro took a good look at the unfortunate man lying on the floor.

“You’ve been here a long time, haven’t you my friend.”

Myro noted the small leather pouch at the bodies waist., Well I am sure he has no use for it anymore thought Myro. He reached for the pouch and slipped it off the belt. There was the beautiful sound of metal on metal. Dumping the contents into his hand, a number of silver coins fell into his hand. Counting them quickly, Myro counted 24 silver coins.

“Thank you good sir”, Myro said to the corpse. He turned to leave, but then he spotted the short blade again.

“Pardon me”, Myro said to the corpse and gingerly picked up the sword. It felt light and well-balanced in his hand. Not used to blades much longer than a kitchen knife, Myro swung it awkwardly. The blade swished through the air.

“Better to take this too”, Myro thought to himself. He looked at his waist. His simple leather belt did not make much of a scabbard. Looking back down at the skeleton he noted the leather belt and scabbard at its waist.

“Well, I guess I need this as well”, leaning in close Myro carefully unbuckled and removed the belt, the skeleton shifted and leaned against him. Glancing to the right, Myro looked directly into the skeletons face. Dark, empty eye sockets looked back at him. Gingerly, Myro pushed the skeleton back against the wall. It stayed put, then the head seemed to nod forward in agreement with Myro’s actions.

“Well, that is unsettling”, Myro whispered. I wonder who he was and when he died Myro thought. And I wonder if what killed him is still down here. Myro gripped the borrowed short sword more tightly in his right hand.

Looking about Myro could see no other exits from the chamber. Well, I guess I have to head back Myro thought to himself.

An Unfortunate Adventurer