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PostPosted: Thu Apr 14, '11, 3:47 am
Chapter 1

When the innkeeper finally brought me my meal, I was just about ready to pass out. If the smell of this smoking bowl of… whatever it contained was any indicator of the taste to come, it would have been worth the wait!

“You look famished. Take it easy lad, don’t choke on your meal, looks bad for the establishment!” The large man roared into laughter. His clothes were fitting of his trade and his apron was a testament of the long hours he had spent in the kitchen earlier today. His hair might have been red, once. What was left of its original color was of a timid crimson shade. I guessed that his round cheeks was where all this redness went. Jolly was probably the best word to describe this keen eyed innkeeper. And now I was about to see if his talent at making a meal surpassed his sense of humor. I hoped so.

“If you want bread and ale to wash that down, be sure to let me know!” He added before going back to his kitchen. I nodded and signed with my hand, showing immediate interest to his proposal.

I honestly had no idea what that meat was. It was… well it had the color of the broth in which it had been cooked so it was hard to tell. The first bite revealed it to be rather stringy, but the taste was there. The bowl was also populated with bits and pieces of bulbs and roots, probably local food.

I hadn’t been here long but a quick look around was sufficient to make a good guess. This city was well populated for its size. I couldn’t imagine it had lots of import, however. Except for the two small villages, one on the coast and the other on the island nearby, I had failed to see any other sign of civilization. I had come from the south and there were not many agricultural fields along the way. I would have imagined that, with two coastal villages close by, fish would have been on the menu. Perhaps crops were grown on the other size of the bridge, just outside the main gates. It did lead to another large city.

And here I was, pondering about where the vegetables came from instead of taking care of sending where they needed to go. I could not but help as to smile at these thoughts of mine. Such an inquisitive attitude might be a good sign of who I was.

The innkeeper came back with a loaf of fresh bread and a large canister filled with golden, foamy mead. “So”, the man began, “where are you from? I’ve never seen you around these parts. Landen may be large but at my age and especially in my business, you get to know pretty much everybody.”

“Funny”, I answered between two large gulps. This mead was exactly what I needed, it took that much to realize how thirsty I had been. “I was just asking myself the very same question.”

The old man frowned. “You’re not funny lad. I have shown courtesy to you, show some respect in return.”

I took another bite of bread. “I assure you sir, I am being quite honest. I have no idea where I am from. As a matter of fact, I don’t even know who I am!”

The man gave me a look of disbelief. Seeing how I did not suddenly burst into laughter, he finally decided to take me somewhat seriously. “Well then!” He decided as he took a mug of mead for himself. “You sure look comfortable with that idea! Were I you, I would not be so casual about it!”

I swallowed another piece of meat before answering. “I had all the time I needed for worrying and panicking. It’s been days, perhaps weeks since I found myself with this rather unsettling void in my credentials. Now I realize that I’m still healthy, I have all my important pieces and to top it all, I sit in front of a hearty, delicious meal.”

“About that”, the man inquired, “I hope you have the meseta to cover this.”

“Meseta?” I honestly answered, not certain of what he meant.

Obviously, my answer did not please him. “Do not be coy with me young man! You need to pay for this meal!”

This is what he meant; currency. I had no idea what meseta was. In fact, if the place I was from had any form of currency, which it probably did since the concept of currency was so obviously clear to me, I couldn’t remember what it was. I had to find a quick answer to this. The last thing I wanted was for him to kick me out before I was done with this meal, the first I had in several days.

“Would this be satisfactory?” There was an orange gem attached to my belt. I had no idea if it had any significant value to me but in this current realm of priorities, it was either a shiny gem or food to keep me going. I could always acquire this meseta he referred to and buy it back later if need be. I presented him with the gem.

He whistled in amazement. “Now that is one large piece of a gem. I can’t accept that for a meal son. There might be corrupted people about, but those aren’t me. But if you’re willing to part with it, I’ll ask my son to accompany you to the armorer’s shop, he’s a friend of mine. He’ll make you a good price for it, more than what you need to eat and lodge until you find some work, if you plan to stay that is.

I nodded. “To be honest, I do not know if I will stay around or not. I currently have nowhere to go but then again, I have no reason to remain here either. But one thing at a time; if you would bring me one more bowl of this delicious stew of yours, which I will compensate accordingly later, I would gladly accept your offer.

“Very well!” He declared, satisfied that all was well. “Lars!” He loudly called. A mere few seconds later, a young man who judging by the family looks was the son he had referred to, came into the common room. “Bring another bowl of stew to this lad here and when he’s done, take him to Fraz’s shop.

“Yes father”; answered the young man as he grabbed my empty bowl and ran away to the kitchen. I barely had time to scan the crowd of curious patrons around be before ‘Lars’ reappeared with the second part of my meal.

“Nice to meet you, I’m Lars! What do they call you?” He asked me with a barely hidden enthusiasm.

“If you see ‘them’, be sure to ask, because I have no idea.”

“You do not know your own name? That’s… different. So you can’t tell me where you’re from or what you do? Your clothes have seen better days. You travel lightly. You don’t have a weapon?”

This kid would simply not stop. Not only was his inquisitive stream so packed, I could not answer one of his question but eating a bite made me look impolite.

“I’ve never seen eyes like yours. You’re not from around here, obviously!”

Now this piqued my curiosity. What did I even look like? I took this opportunity as he stopped talking for the brief moment where he decided what he thought of my eyes. “You wouldn’t happen to have a mirror around do you?” He nodded and got up. I do not think that he immediately caught my train of thoughts. The idea of someone not even knowing what they looked like was, at best, uncanny to most people. Lars soon came back with a small mirror which he handed me.

So what did I look like?

Apparently, by hair was of a bright orange with copper reflection. It was short and currently unkempt. My eyes were blue. Actually, they were so blue that they almost popped out of my head. Needless to say, I had a truly icy cold stare. My skin was tanned from the many days spent under the sun, but I guessed that my original complexion was quite pale. I guess my overall traits were… angular? My nose was a little bit long but not at all broad. My mouth was small and it looked like all my teeth were still there. They were white too!

“So, what makes me so special?” I asked Lars.

“Your eyes!” He answered as if I asked him is the water was wet. “I mean, orange hair, bright like yours, that’s less than uncommon, but eyes like that? Everybody has brown or green eyes here! Are you a Layan?”

“A what?” I honestly answered.

“Nevermind.” He concluded, disappointed. “Are you done with your meal? Old Fraz closes early and I have more chores waiting for me.”

The bowl was still half full but judging by the innkeeper’s reaction, I would soon have enough to provide myself with as much as I wanted. “Make sure this stays warm, I’ll want to finish this when we come back.”

Lars nodded and took my bowl as he stood up, disappearing in the kitchen. He soon came back and motioned for the door. “Let’s go.”
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