Patchwall 25, (Godsday) continued
Anders makes a courtly bow as he takes his leave. You can see the villagers turn to follow his progress as he makes his way back towards the inn. Some of them stop him to ask him questions, and though you know he is in a hurry, he is very polite, and takes time to speak to each one, learning all their names, and encouraging them to come see his next performance.
Na’Pungu finds a spot at the edge of the village green and watches. He watches the villagers, looking for any signs of tension. He knows that eventually the work will come to him. There is always someone with a problem that can’t be solved by tradtional means. Sometimes he just needs to be nearby when someone wants to talk. Na’Pungu is a very good listener.
Valshea wanders around a bit, talking about the weather with the villagers, who seem a bit uncomfortable having an Elf noble in her finery among them.
Valshea comes upon Carth talking shop with Tongan the blacksmith. Both men stop and greet her. Carth points her to the edge of the village green, where an old man sits with his back against a tree, with a mug of cider in his lap, people watching. “There is Old Creel, in his favorite spot. Go introduce yourself.”
Valshea walks up to Old Creel. She observes for a moment before she blunders in with an opening line. Her familiar, Seanait the Falcon, helps her examine the situation closely with her beady Falcon eye.
Creel is old. He has swollen joints that indicate arthritis. There’s a cane lying on the grass beside him. A middle age woman is hovering near, obviously his daughter. She is speaking to another villager, but she often looks his way, making sure he is all right.
He notices Valshea looking at him and squints back at her. “Ah the elven princess. Well, come on girl, I won’t bite. My name is Telemon Creel, but folks around here just call me Old Creel. Come have a seat and tell me about yourself.”
He pats the ground beside him in invitation. “I’ll even share some of this fresh pressed cider with you.”
Valshea sits down on the grass beside the old man, uncaring of her fine clothes and takes a sip of the cider. She introduces herself, tells him about her family so that he has a sense of where she sits in the world (context) and then explains that she is curious about the history of the region and the things Telemon himself might know about the history and environs of Namburil. Valshea tells him that she sees herself settling here for a good length of time.
Creel listens to the elf’s story attentively. “So, not quite a princess. Oh well”
After a few minutes, his daughter comes over. “Dad? Is everything okay?”
He looks up at her angrily. “I’m fine Lori, I’m fine. Why can’t you just leave me be? I swear I’m going to live longer than you if you keep worrying like this. I’m just making a new friend.” He pats Valshea on the knee and looks at her a little lecherously. “Now run along. I’m busy.”
Old Creel listens as Valshea wraps up her introduction, and then tells her about himself.
“As for me, my family has lived in the area for generations – I was born not far from here. As a youth, I wandered the surrounding woods and mountains, always curious what was behind the next tree, or over the next hill. There’s lots of neat old ruins and secret places around here if you know where to look. I was always too chicken to go inside them though. I guess maybe that’s why I’m still here. I’ve heard some stories about people getting more than they bargained for checking out old tombs and such.”
“Anyways, I went away for a few years, signed on as a merchant guard, but returned to raise a family. I always had a wanderlust though, and used to spend whatever time I could away from home, especially beyond the settled areas. I even made a few maps. Fortunately, the woods were relatively safe back then, thanks to your people.”
“I eventually married a local girl, Edyth was her name. She died a few years back. Now my daughter and son-in-law take care of the farm. They’re good people, but not very imaginative. Its nice to talk to young people who are a little more worldly.” He pats Valshea’s knee again in a friendly manner.
They talk for a while about landmarks and points of interest in the area. He is happy to give you directions to a number of ‘interesting places’, but he’s concerned that you don’t do anything foolish. “We’ve just met. I’ll be expecting you to come around and keep this old man company every once in a while.”
Valshea asks if he knows of any local wizards and Creel shakes his head. “I don’t know about any wizards round these parts. We get the odd one passing through, but people around here don’t really go in for that sort of stuff.”
He pauses, thinking back, “There was talk years ago that the hermit who lives out southwest of here was involved in witchcraft or bad magic or something, but I never believed it. I met him a couple times in my wanders, and he never seemed like anything special.”
Valshea and Creel talk for a while longer, before his daughter comes over again. He grumbles at her, but allows her to help him up. She curtsies to Valshea, as best she can, and thanks her for putting up with her father. Creel says his farewells and the two of them head off, presumably back to their farm.
Meanwhile, the village green is starting to clear as people head back to their homes. Brother Dunstan has brought some long staves out and is showing a few of the younger men basic attack and defense positions as if they were wielding spears.
Valshea approaches, and she can see that Dunstan is teaching very simple techniques to these farmers. They are still learning how to hold a spear properly, and how to ensure that their opponent doesn’t knock the tip away and then move inside their effective range. He is a patient teacher, but his students are not very attentive, especially once Valshea joins them.
Dunstan calls for them to stop and pay attention. He squares off against Valshea, and the two of them demonstrate basic attack and defense moves. As he feels out her skill level, he begins to speed up, using more complex combinations. Valshea is game, and soon the two padded staves are whirling as each opponent presses advantage or retreats as the tide of their mock battle shifts back and forth.
Dunstan calls out pointers to his students for the first few minutes, (“Watch our footwork! Don’t overextend yourself!”), but soon fending off Valshea requires all of his concentration. Eventually, Dunstan lands a lucky blow on Valshea’s shoulder, and he stops and apologizes to the elf maid.
Both of them are panting from the fierce competition and Dunstan takes a moment to recover his breath.
“Now, I want you to pair up and practice what you’ve just seen. Your life could depend on this one day.”
The farmers are much more focused now, and seem to be trying to impress both Dunstan and Valshea.
Valshea thanks Dunstan for the workout, and they arrange to meet for dinner at the Rusty Golem. She heads back to the inn, with na’Pungu in tow.