Even with the constant sounds of construction, the city seems quiet. It’s weird. This place looks like it’s been around for a while, like, for centuries, if not longer. However, there seems to have been a sudden decision to build quickly, as though someone recently found a bunch of cash or something.
I wander the city streets with Griff, which are now mostly dirt, instead of the cobblestone pathways they’ll become, and think of how different everything looks, while still being basically the same. It’s a disorienting experience to notice the roads take the same basic paths as they do whenever Uthyr takes charge around here, but the buildings themselves are almost non-existent. There are a few shanties around, presumably housing for the peasants who have been brought in to build.
I’m guessing if we were to get closer to the castle area, which isn’t quite visible from here due to the proliferation of considerable-sized foliage, we would find the people with money who are the reason for this sudden surge in construction.
Griff suddenly cuts off to the left, through a collection of ratty looking tents. I chase after him to find a group of men huddled around a fire, on which a pot is bubbling fiercely.
“Hey chaps,” Griff says, rubbing his hands together eagerly, “what’s for dinner?”
The men all sit up rigidly at Griff’s arrival.
“Oh, um, welcome, sir, um, lord. We’s just making some carrot stew,” says the man stirring the stew.
“Sounds bland,” I mutter.
Griff slaps me happily on the back, “Oh, come on kid. Sure, it’s no gruel, but I’m betting it’s amazing. Mind if we join in, gents?”
“Um, no sir,” the same man from before says. “Here, have my seat.” The man stands and lifts the small wooden stump he had been using as a chair, pointing it in Griff’s direction.
“Oh, nonsense, my good man, you’re the chef, the seat is yours. I feel like I’ve been bound to that chair’s descendant for too long today already.”
The men shift uneasily in their seats.
“Um, Griff,” I say, pulling him to the side. “You and I might be a little overdressed for this dinner party.”
“What?” Griff questions. Then, looking down at his own clothes, he responds by turning to the men and continuing his conversation. “So, what do you think of the duds? Found them outside one of the houses up on the hill. Pulled it right out from a fire. Guess they decided this wasn’t in fashion anymore.” He gestures to burn holes.
“I can’ts say I’s ever seen much like that kinda dress before, myself,” says the man by the fire.
“Yeah,” Griff agrees. “It’s certainly not my normal style, but when you’re out looking for a change of clothes and you don’t have any money, what’re’ya gonna do, am I right?”
“If’n you want,” says a man from his spot just outside the circle. He had been staring at us quietly since we arrived. “I saw some deer just outside a’ town dat would make a mighty fine tunic.”
“I think I’ll cope for now,” Griff recovers after a short pause of shock at the offer. “But thanks. How long we got on food?”
“Just waiting for Tenney to come back with the spice. Shouldn’t be long now.”
“Cool. So, what do you boys do to pass the time around here?”
“We’re traders,” another man says.
“I mean for fun, what do you do for fun?”
“Fun?” the man at the fire says.
“Yeah, you know, drinking, dancing, maybe picking up some ladies?”
“Ain’t no ladies here ‘cept for the king’s wife.”
“Oh. Well, still, you’ve gotta have some great grog, right? Isn’t that what you folks drink?”
“If’n you mean the ale, we’re a mite low at the moment, but tis a fine batch.”
“I think you’re barking up the wrong tree, Griff,” I say to my companion.
“Yeah, I’m beginning to think we might be better off checking out this new king guy.”
“Tis a mighty fine piece of jewelry you’re wearing there, missy,” a man says as he enters the area.
“Tenney!” the man at the fire yells. “Find the spice?”
“Of course Roul,” Tenney responds as he lifts a dripping piece of brown cloth and throws it into the bubbling pot.
I grab Griff’s elbow and shake my head violently at him.
“Alright, gents,” Griff says, not missing a beat, “looks like we’ve got to be heading off.”
“Oh, but the stew should be ready any minute now,” Roul argues.
“I actually just realized we just ate three hundred years ago,” Griff replies.
“Who kidnapped the king’s wife?” Tenney asks.
“What?” Roul replies.
“The girl. She’s the king’s lady, right? She’s got the dark skin and she’s wearing that locket. That’s her ain’t it?”
Go to Chapter Forty