AR 1214-10-21 Zen says goodby
Zen and Yari
“Who do you represent?” The words were sudden and hurried. Yari jerked back from them and blinked at Zen in confusion.
“Huh?” the cleric asked blankly.
“Listen,” Zen said, rushing to make himself understood, “I know you aren’t and haven’t been preachy, and I really appreciate that. The book I’ve written would put you to sleep, just as surely as most religious talk puts me right out, but I don’t even know who you represent. I know your father was a cleric of odin, but I have no idea if that follows family lines, or if you chose differently. It just doesn’t come up all that often, and no, I’m not converting, just thinking about our,” he finally slowed down to gesture at the room, “cover story.”
Yari stared at Zen like was insane. “Zen, we’ve grown up together!” he stammered. “We were neighbors for twelve years, and cavemates for nearly five. Are you seriously telling me you don’t know which Aesir I follow?”
“Yes,” came the simple reply.
The cleric unslung his shield from his back and presented it in front of him. It was the same shield Yari had used since his first day at the academy, and Zen had seen many, many times. It was blue, emblazoned with the three interlocking triangles that formed the holy symbol of the Allfather. “Odin, Zen,” he said flatly, “I follow Odin.”
With that Zen seemed to change gears abruptly again, dropped his stuff, and took off like a ballista bolt. Yari was left standing in his dust, still blinking in confusion. After a moment, the cleric rolled his eyes and re-strapped his shield. “Zen can be a touch off sometimes,” he said to no one in particular, “but now he’s acting worse than Geo!”
Yari followed Zen a little way down the hall, until he saw Zen was heading straight for Aldhis’ quarters. “Huh,” he muttered. “Who knew a shield could be an aphrodisiac?”
Turning to go back to his packing, Yari rolled his eyes again and sighed, “Whatever.”
Zen and Aldhis
Zen caught up to Aldhis, and asked her to walk with him. They headed to waterfall within an hour’s walk, so he could use the noise from the falls for cover. On the way, he talked about their early years at Eagle Keep, Zen was always curious about the year she was there before him. This was Zen’s subtle way of making sure she is who she appeared to be. Zen let Aldhis know that he and the others would be leaving soon due to “early graduation”, the precedent set by her class, and a convenient excuse to make more room for the children of the Thunder Rift clan at the school. She was aware of the change on the Dwarven council, and the growing animosity towards everything not “true Dwarf”. Zen let her know that his friends are going off in different directions. Rissa and Yari would be stopping in Hidden Valley to see their parents before setting out in their own directions. Rissa was about to hit the road as a traveling bard collecting lore and trying to repair the damage done to her family’s reputation. Sardi was so besotted with her that he is leaving without graduating just to act as her yeoman. Yari will be following his clerical call in the temples of Odin. Wolf was keeping his cards close to the breast. Zen shared that he thought his intentions had something to do with fighting for the poor and that he was seriously considering offering him his assistance. It would put me in a good position to start rebuilding Zen’s family’s connections.
Krunch was in the wind, under threat to leave the valley. No idea where he was headed. The Dwarf Ober seemed to have it out for him. This must have been a power play. Thunder Rift was in ruins. It looked like Ober was using sympathy to get followers. He was also trying to discredit Krunch and by extension Kendric maybe as a way of making a play for the crown at Golden Eagle Keep. Zen and Aldhis both agreed that they still could not believe that they set Krunch on the road without a chance to talk to anyone.
Zen told her, “My father’s caravan is being run from the road. I took copious notes during my time at Eagle keep. I will use what I’ve learned and reestablish my family as an even more powerful Trading House.”
Zen led Aldhis so close to the falls that water was splashing on them, he held her close and said into her ear “I’ll be gone with the dawn 2 days after Wolf departs, if things were as they were before the quake, I’d ask you to come with me to explore new territories. We could watch each other’s backs and grow old together.” Aldhis looked at Zen, and said “That would be nice, but I cannot accept. I owe King Kendric so much and he needs me even more now to prove to the dimwitted dwarves that humans are worth something. I could not break my allegiance to him. Maybe in the future when things settle down. I would really like adventuring with you.” Zen replied, “I know, I had hoped to change your mind, but your right, you’re going to be needed to help watch Kendric’s back.” Aldhis expression soured “The way the things with Ober and the others from Thunder Rift are going, things are getting tense around here,” Aldhis stated. Zen nodded, then went on, “Aldhis, you are beautiful, and intelligent, and I wish I could spend the rest of my life making you laugh, dancing till dawn, fighting side by side, but” he whispered in her ear, “we are needed in different places.”
Zen’s Last Gold Piece
Zen slowly made his way with a medium sized barrel of ale on a cart. He approached the Dwarven Trading Hall. In the early days Krunch had to help Zen sneak in here back when he was trying to convince the Dwarves in the business/trade offices to teach him what they knew. He shared with them insights on the caravan trading, and they took a long time to verify by practice that Zen was not selling them pyrite at gold prices. Eventually they put him to work as an intern, only occasionally did they switch to Dwarvish to keep Zen out of something specific. Zen never made notes in front of them, but every day would go and compile what he learned and overheard. The result: “Zen’s masterwork, a business reference book fit for a library,” so he thought anyway. This was the summation of centuries of Dwarven trading, and organizational management tweaks and experiments tried over the ages. Zen planned to use this as a guide for making the Borgan Caravan Co, a strong challenge to the other Trading Houses in larger cities.
Zen entered the large cavern that served as the clan’s trading and supply office, Zen slammed the keg on the ground and declared that he was starting the holiday early. The head trader looked up and growled “what holiday?” Zen called back, “My departure!” “Praise Moradin!” Came the reply. “This is the last barrel of ale you get from ME without having to pay top gold plus 10!” responded Zen. There was laughter, and mugs appeared out of nowhere. When asked what was next, Zen told them that he was going to rebuild his family’s fortunes and break the Boton trade cartel, and that the next time they see him he will be selling them their own iron ore.
With that Zen was down to a few silver and 5 copper. You have to spend money to make money, hopefully the Dwarves here would remember him, and his family well when they come to do business.
Before dawn, Zen and Aldhis awoke in each other’s arms. “I have something for you” Aldhis got up and took the cover of a pile in the corner of her room. Lying on the ground was Half Plate armor. “I wanted you safe while you went on your adventure”. Zen got up and hugged her. Then they got ready and walked to the edge of the keep together. Reflecting on his time at the keep, which seemed to go by fast, and his time with Aldhis, which went even faster Zen set out along the caravan routes he could walk blindfolded.
“I don’t know where we are really going, but I’ve put out enough disinformation to keep us off anyone’s radar for a while I hope” he said to Aldhis as he kissed her goodby.
“We had warehouses, cart builders, stables, and wheelwrights, in a central location and kept a steady stream of commerce flowing through the valley with multiple teams,” Zen thought. I was going to try and get us to open a satellite in Hidden Valley, or even close to Thunder Rift. “I’m going to have to get my book to Stephen, maybe he’ll be able to shake the mourning, and get creative”