It’s dusk. Davian walks among the shanty town tents outside the south-west gate of the city. While eying some worthless merchandise being sold by a desperate looking couple, he overhears the following:
“Apparently he’s paying well for expenses. Hazard pay I suppose.”
“Hazard pay for what?” the man speaking apparently has no concern for hazards, his arms speak for him. “Brigands are only a fear to sheltered politicians playing games.”
“Exactly,” says the first, not nearly as beefy as his cohort, but shows the grizzled signs of not backing down. “I’d say as that’s why everyone’s gunning for it. Chump money. Only trick is you have to convince this sheltered wuss you aren’t just going to walk with his money.”
The man with the arms laughs brutishly, “I suppose he doesn’t take broken noses…”
It’s at this point Davian notices Sergius (whose name he doesn’t yet know) looking at him queerly. Sergius continues looking towards Davian, looking puzzled and uncertain. He glances at the two other men, the returns his gaze to Davian. Davian raises an eyebrow at Sergius, then turns toward the two men and approaches them confidently.
“Sorry boys,” Davian cuts in, “but I couldn’t help overhear someone mentioning hazard pay. Anytime there’s a politician involved, I know the gold isn’t far behind.”
“What’s it to you?” says the grizzled, but smaller one.
Sergius walks up to the two men. He looks very uncomfortable and awkward.
“When opportunity knocks, I prefer to open the door,” Davian says with a wry grin which is greeted with deepening frowns.
Sergius is continuing to watch Davian. Although, now he is starting to look more confident.
Davian notices they are just staring at him and not really saying much. “Thanks, guys. Glad to know you care” He then turns toward Sergius and says “Need something, stranger?”
Sergius again looking awkward and uncertain says “I am Sergius and I believe you are the man who knows the secrets of this false-forest….uh…that is ‘city’” The word ‘city’ comes out very awkwardly.
The two ruffians have started whispering, but neither Segius nor Davian notices. Davian looks around to see if anyone’s watching, thinking it’s a practical joke.
“Say what, friend?”
Sergius asks the tall guy [davian] “Do you know all the paths and dangers of this city? Where do the prey hide?”
Davian looks uncertain, “I am familiar with the.. ah.. paths as it were, yes. As far as prey … do you mean unsuspecting merchants with more purse than brains?”
“Quite likely I do…but I am not sure. I have never been to one of these pink-skinned encampments”
Ironically, it’s at that moment the big guy jumps at Davian and tries to strangle him, but Davian slips out, saying “What the hell are you trying to do, man?” and pulls out a dagger. Sergius follows suit putting his quarterstaff from his waist and holds it in front of him.
The larger man, now feeling a little embarrassed and mostly angry, socks Davian across an apparently glass jaw. Davian’s feet give out beneath him and his consciousness follows close behind. Sergius takes an ineffectual swipe, handing his quaterstaff over to the other brigand, who juts it into Sergius’ belly.
Luckily, Sergius coughs out the tail end of the summoning and his wolf nips at the quarterstaff thief. Both of the men run. Sergius give his assailant a tap on the shoulder with his fist, but the wolf tears a large bit of flesh from the calf. The man cries out in pain, forgetting the staff in order to reach down to his leg and hobble away.
Sergius walks through the disappearing wolf and reaches down to pick up his staff. He stands over Davian’s unconscious form growling at the passers by. The couple behind the wagon where Davian was rummaging peek out from around the corner and notice the wild man huddled over and immediately turn back around. They stay like that for a quarter hour until Davian finally blinks and opens his eyes.
In all this time, no authority or peace keeping officer makes an appearance. Not that they were expected.
Davian mumbles as he wakes up ”...so much rum…” then he notices Sergius near him and gasps. “What the?!? Oh.. it’s you”
“Tall-brother you are safe now” Sergius says peering down at him.
“Did someone trample me with a horse?”
“Pink-skins fear animals.”
“Yeah, sure. Oh my head…”
“They ran, not as whole as they came,” Sergius says gesturing toward the trail of blood.
“Serves them right… augh… was he using brass knuckles?” Davian sits up, rubbing his face.
“You are a soft-skinned tall-brother and he was not so soft.”
“Whatever the case… I thank you for the assistance.”
Sergius offers a hand and helps Davian to his feet, wobbly, but standing. Sergius tells him, “Come I do not like this spot.”
With the gleam returning to his eye, Davian asks, “Any idea which ‘sheltered politician’ they were talking about?”
“I am not sure what this “poh lo tishan” is.” Sergius nods in agreement, “but we must seek shelter.”
Davian shakes his head in a failed attempt to clear the cobwebs and mumbles, “Don’t worry about it. Uh, it’s a city thing. You wouldn’t understand.”
“Do you?” Sergius asks pointedly.
Davian frowns a little, not trusting his ears, “Do I understand?”
“Do you understand seety?” Sergius says, returning to his theme.
“Sure…” Davian says not sure how to proceed, “My work involves… well, you wouldn’t be interested in that. Come on let’s find someplace to get a drink.” He turns to walk, but realizes that Sergius is still standing there.
“This is a very large tribe. Who is alpha?”
Davian turns back, “Alpha? I don’t follow…”
“Who is the leader of the pink-skin pack?”
“Oh the leader. Ah, well…” he strokes his chin, thinking about it, “We are governed by a group of senators.”
Sergius nods, “Like the birds and the trees, then.”
“Something like that…” Davian agrees unconvincingly, “It’s all very…complicated.”
Sergius looks at him. “Take me to this drink place.”
“Let’s go!” Davian says, happy to be in familiar territory with the conversation. They begin to walk in the direction of the Fairy Garden Tavern. One where Davian keeps a seat regularly warmed. Best serving wenches in the city, he smiles to himself. “By the way, where you are from friend?” He looks down at Sergius, “We don’t get many…woodsy folk around here.”
“I am from the low hills of the mountain over there,” he says pointing to the north west toward the only real mountain to speak of on the continent. It’s known as the Leviathon. A long snaking mountain range stretching east to west and dividing the northern wilderness from the southern populace.
“Not much in the way of city life over there, I take it?”
“I was born in the woods and raised by a wolf.” Sergius agrees, “Tall-brother, you are the first pink-skin brother I have met.”
Davian stops and stares at him for a second, then as he leads the way around the corner to the Fairy Garden, he mutters under his breath, “That explains a lot.” Then more loudly, “Wait…” Davian pauses again, “You were raised by wovles? So who taught you the staff?”
“What do you mean?” Sergius says as they push through the doors to the tavern, “What does it explain?”
“Uh, nevermind…” Davian says and aside he says, “You weren’t supposed to hear that.”