- Markshire PCs:
Now Iâ€™m gonna get to writtinâ€™ â€˜bout the dragon Jon and Iathouz and me run into a few nights ago in thrymâ€™s pass.
Even though Balâ€™ynez is boarded by snow covered cliffs to the north, west and south, and the freezinâ€™ Timeless Desert to the east, the dwarven wizards has managed to weave a powerful magic â€˜round their fine city protectinâ€™ it from the chillinâ€™ cold just outside its walls. Yup! Those wizards worked it out so itâ€™s always kinda warm and comfortable here! Sometimes quite humid too!
Because the climate in the city is so pleasant, commander Zawa, who controls the cityâ€™s militia, went about settinâ€™ aside a section in the center where he allows the local venders to do their tradinâ€™. And itâ€™s right outside in the open air! Itâ€™s called the â€œMerchant Bazaarâ€ and the first thing me and the boys done after gettinâ€™ inside the gates was to head over there.
Here each oâ€™ the dealers has set up temporary booths, crafted from what looks to me like red oak. The trees is probably felled somewhere in the Narlynwik forest and I guess the logs is hauled out to the city by wagon, but I ainâ€™t too sure oâ€™ that. The kiosks ainâ€™t fancy, the shelves and counter tops is rough hewn and hastily hammered together, but theyâ€™s built sturdy and enable the hawkers to properly display their wares.
The bazaarâ€™s a noisy place. Thereâ€™s always an ox cart or three, piled high with all sorts oâ€™goods and itâ€™s clippity cloppinâ€™ along, the driver weedlinâ€™his way from one kiosk to the next, replenishing each merchantâ€™s goods.
Itâ€™s always bustlinâ€™ with people too. Theyâ€™s wanderinâ€™ about, some just lookinâ€™, some stoppinâ€™ fer a moment to sample a fabric, or heft a new weapon, others to haggle with a merchant â€˜bout the price oâ€™ an item what might oâ€™ caught their eye and theyâ€™s thinkinâ€™ â€˜bout makinâ€™ a purchase.
And the marketâ€™s filled with all sorts oâ€™ temptinâ€™ aromas! Theyâ€™s cominâ€™ from the big iron cook pots and skillets what some of the merchantâ€™s got set up beside their stands. That odorâ€™s waftinâ€™ up at you and ticklinâ€™ your nose and makinâ€™ your tummy grumble!
Oh geez! Hot venison stew loaded with potatoes, carrots, onions and assorted spices boilinâ€™ and bubblinâ€™ away! And sweet sausages, laid out in orderly rows on little portable iron skillets, sizzlinâ€™and cracklinâ€™, cookinâ€™ in their own juices!
All the venders is bellowinâ€™ â€˜bout the fine quality oâ€™ their goods, some oâ€™ them even offerinâ€™ a guarantee or a huge discount if you buy their product!
Tâ€™was here at this market we stocked up on suppliesâ€™. Healinâ€™ kits, arrows, potions and the like. Itâ€™s always a good idea to do that before startinâ€™ any kind oâ€™ journey in Markshire. I mean . . . you never know . . . you know?
After I changed outta my special one oâ€™ kind outfit with the happy buttons, what Anastasia and kareena had crafted fer me, I bought a few things too. I also stole a bag oâ€™ toasted almonds, a baked apple what was drenched in a brown sugary syrup, and two oâ€™ those plump, sweet sausages right off a skillet what was set up along side Gromkâ€™s stand while he was lookinâ€™ the other way. They was really hot but I managed to make â€˜em disappear right under me cloak without burninâ€™ my fingers too much.
Well . . . I figured it would be nice to have a thing or two to nibble on while we was slogginâ€™ alongâ€™ through the pass!
Anyways, off we went, the boys and me, my cloak now bulginâ€™ with the pilfered goods. We made our way past the guards what the commander always has stationed on almost every corner oâ€™ the city.
Mayhap it was my imagination, but Zawaâ€™s men seemed edgy â€˜bout somethinâ€™. Each oâ€™ â€˜em nervously fingerinâ€™ their dwarven war axes, eyes dartinâ€™ about, their jaws set like stone, shiftinâ€™ their weight from one foot to the other, and watchinâ€™ every move we made. We left the market street, passed through Balâ€™ynazâ€™s Outer Hall, and made our way to the cave what winds and wiggles deep under the outskirts oâ€™ the city, finally makinâ€™ a connection to Thrymâ€™s pass.
I ainâ€™t took a breath and kept glancinâ€™ back over my shoulder â€˜till we got well into the cave, thinkinâ€™ Gromk would discover some oâ€™ his provisions had gone missinâ€™, then fly into a rage and be screaminâ€™ for Commander Zawaâ€™s Militia, realizinâ€™ I might oâ€™had somethinâ€™ to do with the thievery! I suppose Gromk ainâ€™t noticed nothinâ€™ missinâ€™ from his booth or off his skillet cause no guards come chasinâ€™ after us and before long we was outta the cave and into Thrymâ€™s canyon where I took a big bite outta the sausage Iâ€™d filched and began breathinâ€™ normal again!
For those oâ€™ you whatâ€™s planninâ€™ to do a bit oâ€™ explorinâ€™ in Thrymâ€™s pass Iâ€™d recommend wearinâ€™ a good set oâ€™ woolens . . . worn over your flannels what youâ€™ve already pulled on over your linins. Itâ€™ll be a bit cramped inside your armor because oâ€™ all that extra clothinâ€™, but for sure, itâ€™ll keep you warm and toasty! Anyways, it ainâ€™t so much the cold in the pass what causes problems for folks. Itâ€™s the damn wind!
Thrymâ€™s wove some magic into it to make it do his biddinâ€™ and that wind oâ€™ his donâ€™t never stop! Itâ€™s always there, howlinâ€™ away and soundinâ€™ like a bunch oâ€™ banshies screaminâ€™ at you! Thrym sends it whippinâ€™ and wooshinâ€™ between those canyon walls what act like a funnel fer it, makinâ€™ it even stronger and it keeps tearinâ€™ at your clothes, attemptinâ€™ to rip â€˜em right off your back!
And somehow the wind is always blowinâ€™ smack in your face! Yup! It donâ€™tâ€™ matter none which way your headinâ€™, left, right, up or down . . . east or west! Which ever way youâ€™re facinâ€™ that damn windâ€™ll still be hittinâ€™ you square in the face! Sometimes Thrymâ€™ll mix a bit oâ€™ sleet in with his wind too! Oh geez! Itâ€™s like havinâ€™ a thousand tiny needles tattooingâ€™ away at your cheeks! I mean it! Needles!! If you spend more than a few hours strollinâ€™ â€˜round in Thrymâ€™s pass, for days after, your face is gonna resemble chopped liver!
He must oâ€™ done some powerful magical weavin to accomplish that trick! Well, itâ€™s his pass and I guess itâ€™s up to him to decide whether or not to go foolinâ€™ â€˜round with Mother Nature! After all, the dwarven wizards does the same, in keepinâ€™ Balâ€™nyez so warm and humid, you know?
I got some friends whatâ€™s good at weavinâ€™ magic. Kayla, Faith and Nitha, to name a few. Ainâ€™t none oâ€™ them can weave a spell as strong as Thrym or them dwarven wizards what manage to keep Balâ€™ynaz so pleasent but theyâ€™s fair to middlinâ€™ at it, you know? Evergreenâ€™s good at it â€˜too, â€˜cept all oâ€™ his weavinâ€™ winds up either hurtinâ€™ somebody or killinâ€™ some poor soul outright!
The wizard Monty ainâ€™t bad at it either. â€˜Cept Monty ainâ€™t too careful â€˜bout where heâ€™s aiminâ€™ his weavinâ€™. Oh, you gotta stand far back when Monty goes about conjurinâ€™ up one oâ€™ his spells else you might disappear right along with what ever the hel heâ€™s aiminâ€™ his magic at! You know . . . mayhap thatâ€™s what happened to him! I ainâ€™t seen him in a month oâ€™ Sundays! Could it be that Monty went and wove himself right out oâ€™ Markshire?
Anyways, most folks â€˜round these parts is hard and tough enough to deal with the tricks Thrym does with the weather in his pass. I mean, the wind and sleet Thrym conjures up with his weavinâ€™ll make your cheeks sore but that ainâ€™t gonna kill you, you know? Nope . . . but thereâ€™s other things in his pass whatâ€™ll kill yuh dead as dust! Yup!
Stone giants fer example! Massive, revoltinâ€™ lookinâ€™ monsters, three, mayhap sometimes even nine oâ€™ them in a group wearinâ€™ only loin cloths, cause their backs is covered with dense hair, what protects them from the cold!
And as your tryinâ€™ hard to make your way along, battlinâ€™ the wind, those giants is dancinâ€™ â€˜round on ledges far above you, hurlinâ€™ pro . . profan . . . profani . . . .uh, curses down at you along with huge stones what theyâ€™ve piled up like cannon balls and stashed â€˜em within easy reach! And if you ainâ€™t got no shield to hold above yer head to protect you from beinâ€™ squished flat by one oâ€™ those stones, fer sure all that will be left oâ€™ you is a little gore, and a big bloody splotch in the snow!
Now Iâ€™ll be the first to admit there ainâ€™t too much I understand oâ€™ the stone giant language . . . itâ€™s made up mostly of assorted grunts and growls. But I knows when a thing is hurlinâ€™ a curse at me, especially if itâ€™s sailinâ€™ along in my direction with a huge stone attached!!
Thereâ€™s even worse things youâ€™ll run into while youâ€™re saunterinâ€™ along in Thrymâ€™s pass besides them damn stone giants. Minions! Theyâ€™s about the most vile and wicked creatures youâ€™re likely ever to meet up with anywhere in all oâ€™ Markshire! And the Titanâ€™s got the damn things patrolinâ€™ the pass! Those things is so evil they suck up all the goodness around them and obliterate it, includinâ€™ any stray light what happens to be near by! All thatâ€™s left is an inky blackness what surrounds â€˜em!
And if I was the bettinâ€™ kind, Iâ€™d wager theyâ€™d be killinâ€™ you before youâ€™d be killinâ€™ them! Thereâ€™s a few different kinds oâ€™ minions, mayhap more than two kinds, I ainâ€™t so sure â€˜bout it. But Iâ€™ve only seen two kinds in the pass. Little ones, what look somethinâ€™ like a cross between a bat and a wyrm . . . and big ones, mayhap the size oâ€™ a worg or a bit larger. I ainâ€™t gonna say no more â€˜bout minions â€˜cept if you happen to see one, turn around quick and run like hel back the way youâ€™ve come!
Now when you leave the cave what connects the dwarf city with Thrymâ€™s pass you gotta make a choice â€˜bout which way to go. You can travel east toward the town oâ€™ Foothold or . . . you could take the road what winds west. Goinâ€™ westâ€™ll bring yuh right up to the gates oâ€™ Gastlynyk, the burned out city what the Titan demolished.
Choosinâ€™ the west road would be â€˜bout the same as buyinâ€™ a one way ticket to someplace and you better go about sayinâ€™ goodbyes to all your friends and relatives! Mayhap even give some thought â€˜bout makinâ€™ out some kind oâ€™ will! Cause fer sure, if you pick that west road whatâ€™ll take you on to Gastlynyk, you ainâ€™t never cominâ€™ back again!
The four oâ€™ us, Jon, Iathouz and me, paused just outside the cave, our weapons ready, lookinâ€™ â€˜round here and there, makinâ€™ sure nothinâ€™ was lyin in wait, gettinâ€™ set to pounce on us. Weâ€™d already done our choosinâ€™ â€˜bout which way to go. Weâ€™d planned on takinâ€™ the east road. The road what led to Foothold . . .