Chapter 8 - Authorized Company Travel

Elric sat at a wobbly table eating breakfast. The Quavery Shanty tavern was a respectable place. The beer didn't seem watered down and the food was more than just stew or an overpriced chunk of meat. His lunch of a mix of bread, cheese, and bits of fruit was enjoyable.

The other tables did not wobble. Elric didn't choose this table, it was where he was to meet his contact. Otherwise he would have chosen one of the many other tables that appeared to be in better repair. The barmaid had given him a weird look when he had sat down here.

Before Elric could pursue paranoia a short man dressed in bright blue tunic slid into the chair across from him. The shorter man to be a little over 4 feet tall based on the size difference with Elric's own five foot eight stature.

"Do you know a good door repairman?" the shorter man said.

"No," Elric said but immediately remembered that was part of the introduction. "er, Yes. I swing that way." Inwardly he groaned and wondered how long it took Eft to come up with it.

"Norman," Norman said offering a hand to Elric. They shook and Norman waited an uncomfortable few minutes as Elric finished his food.

"I apologize," Elric said between a mouthful. “I didn’t know how soon you’d be here.”

“Non-issue.” Norman waited patiently as Elric finished his food.

Elric stuffed the leftover bread into a pocket as he stood up. Without a word Norman also stood up and headed towards the door. Elric followed, giving a quick glance at the tavern before he stepped out. No one seemed to care or pay any attention that they were leaving.

Outside, Norman walked directly to two horses that were tied up to a post nearby. He leapt atop his horse in a smooth motion. Elric followed and paused by the horse’s side.

“Do you need help up?” Norman said.

“I actually have never ridden before.” Elric said. A quiet sigh escaped Norman before he could stifle it. “I’m a wizard, not a…” Elric struggled with finding the right word after a moment he shook his head. “I’m not an animal person. They seem to sense magic ability and get nervous.”

“Oh,” Norman said as he nodded his head.

“I can hover if you have a rope, then just drag me behind.”

“Na, the city folk are suspicious of the arcane here.” Norman dismounted and grabbed the reigns of Elric’s horse. “We’ll walk till we get a bit outside the gates, then use magic.”

“Great, I’d love to hear about your employer.” Elric said.

“He’s,” Norman paused for a moment as they walked. An older man leading a goat passed them by. “He’s a lover of beer and anything containing alcohol. However if he offers you a drink, make sure you only take a sip.”

“Alright, what about the other rumors. Some of the guys…” Elric stopped when Norman flashed him a glare. Norman looked around at the various shopkeepers and people trying to sell wares on the sides of the street. Elric nodded and kept his mouth shut as they walked through the town. In the center of the town a massive church, topped with a clock tower that faced the cardinal directions. Briefly Elric considered shifting his vision into the magical spectrum but knew the clock was too far away to detect anything. He did make a mental note about incorporating a clock into a trap.

As they approached the gates, Norman slowly turned the horses away from the gate. Angling towards a small stone building build into the wall. The building had a thick chimney poking out the top and a sign with an anvil hanging on the front.

“Wait here with the horses, this shouldn’t take more than a few minutes.” Norman said hanging the reigns to Elric. Without waiting a response he stepped inside the building and closed the door quickly behind him.

Elric sighed and briefly pondered why he had to watch the horses. There were tie rails built into the building going all the way around it. Carefully he leaned against the rail and tried to look relaxed. The town bustled around him as it woke up and people hurried about their morning errands.

Out of the corner of his eye, he saw the curtain blocking the barred window open a little. Briefly a part of Norman’s face appeared in the window. Elric stared at the window for a moment questioning if Norman was trying to send a message. After a minute of nothing there, he resumed scanning the traffic going in and out of the gate.

Fifteen minutes later, as told by the massive clock tower that loomed over the town, Norman stepped out of the blacksmith shop. He was holding a sword wrapped in canvas. Stopping in front of Elric, he held out the sword with both hands, palms up. May this blade protect you from all your demons.

Puzzled, Elric slowly took the sword and pulled the blade from the scabbard. The blade looked like it was made by an idiot. Bumps along the edge and odd patterns in the metal. Three quarters down the blade a seam went from left to right at a forty degree angle.

“Thank you, but I don’t need a sword.” Elric said slowly.

“Yeah, it was the cheapest he had.” Norman replied as he untied the horses from the railing.

“Then…” with a raise of Elric’s eyes he looked back towards the gate. The guards looked different. One leaned against the building while the other seemed to be watching only the women pass by.

Normal threw a reign to Elric and they walked out through the city gates. A guard only looked in their direction when they passed in front of a fruit vendor that juggled her wares to pass time.

“Alright you said you could levitate.” Norman said. They had stopped out of sight of the town stood in a slightly wooded area off the road.

Elric focused his will and spoke a word of power. The spell he invoked wasn’t really a levitate, he had mastered changing his weight. He changed his weight to that of a feather. When he was done, Elric jumped into the air, to slowly fall to the ground.

“Nice,” Norman said. He handed the end of a rope to Elric who took it and wrapped it around a wrist. Norman measured about twenty feet of rope then cut it. He placed coil back into a bag. He made a slipknot that secured the rope to his belt. A quick nod, then Norman mounted his horse.

“Yeah, but if it gets windy things will be interesting.” Elric said.

“Let me know if it gets too windy. Also if you drag me from my saddle, your stay will not be enjoyable.” Norman said.

With a command and snap of his reigns Norman urged his horse forward. The other horse without a lead tied to it followed closely behind. Elric sprang upwards and was pulled along once the rope went taunt. Carefully Elric allowed his jacket to spread open to catch some air as he was pulled. Like a kite Elric flew through the woods towards Lichenstein’s manor.

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