Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Abdael: An Unexpected Summons

"Oh! Your commission is finished, my lord!"

Abdael stopped in the doorway of the scrivener's shop, surprised: he knew the shopkeeper, but he hadn't expected the book to be ready, and he certainly hadn't expected to be addressed as nobility. He'd honestly just stopped in to make sure that he'd be able to take a copy of his favorite book back to Neverwinter with him when he returned. He blinked a couple of times, then said: "Gleaming Gods, Janaes, you know I'm not a noble. You can't call me a lord."

The man behind the counter was an older elf, his golden hair touched with silver and the smooth, youthful skin of his face just giving way to the faint lines of age; but then, he'd looked like that for Abdael's entire life, and likely would long after. "Ah, but you're a big famous adventurer now, and I wasn't sure how else to address you."

"How about, 'Hello Abdael, I remember when your parents had to pry you back from gnawing on my merchandise as a toddler, it's so nice that you actually purchase the books now'?" Abdael grinned. "I mean, if you knew somebody when they still wore cess-cloths, you shouldn't be that impressed with anything they grow into. And anyway, I'm not that important."

The door opened again behind him in a soft, tinkling melody of silver bells, and Abdael stopped to glance back.

The woman in the doorway was Human, expensively dressed, and wearing a pair of shortswords and a bow across her back. Abdael blinked; in Neverwinter, such a sight would be normal enough, but here in Splendorhaven the majority of the population was Elven, of one sort or another. Humans were unusual; armed humans even more so. This one had the distinctive look of an adventurer, or -- and this was when Abdael realized that she was actually a little younger than himself -- someone who very much wanted to be seen as an adventurer.

Janaes looked at her, then flicked a glance at Abdael. He nodded, as subtly as he could manage; Humans tended to be blunter and more excitable than Elves, and it would likely be best if Janaes dealt with her first. Inclining his head, the older elf asked, "Gentle lady, how may we help you today?"

The Human slowed, however. She glanced at Abdael, then looked back at the scrivener. "You... seem to be already engaged. I can wait."

Janaes didn't respond, a courtesy that some humans would have taken as an insult; instead, he turned back to Abdael. "If you'll grant me a moment, I'll fetch your commission."

Abdael nodded, and Janaes disappeared through the curtain into his workshop. He emerged a moment later, holding a book in a leather travel case. "Here it is."

Abdael drew the book out and looked it over, then flipped through it. "Oh, you transcribed the whole thing."

"You said you wanted all of it," answered Janaes. "So yes, I copied A Wizard Most Wondrous: The Many Accomplishments of Mordenkainen the Mage along with your Born in the Blood."

"Ah," said Abdael. "And you included that in your bargaining? That wasn't extra work atop the price you asked?"

Janaes shook his head. "No, you asked for an exact copy of the volume, and here you have it."

Abdael nodded. It was extremely nice work, carefully scribed on proper vellum and bound in leather, with a travel case to protect it from the elements. Expensive, but certainly worth the money. He pulled the bag of golds that he'd brought along just in case, and handed it over to Janaes. "Your work is admirable as always, Janaes."

Janaes smiled. "Give my best to your parents. Your mother said you'd penned a monograph, and if you'd care to have copies..."

Abdael grinned. "I'll send it over." It would be a gratuity of sorts, something that Janaes could sell to those who wanted a copy of their own.

He turned and started towards the door. Behind him, he heard Janaes address the human woman: "Now, young lady, what may I do for you?"

"Well," she said, "I was going to ask you if you'd seen a warlock named Abdael Nightflower..."

When he turned around, she was looking directly at him. "...but I think I may have found him."

He sketched a bow. "You have indeed. What is it you want from me?"

The young woman didn't answer immediately, but returned the bow instead. "I am Tatherine Flurilis, daughter of Countess Evrinel Flurilis." She was definitely familiar with Elven customs, or else had been coached extremely well before coming here. "The Lord's Alliance has asked that those who were... involved... in the discovery of the mine and its current disposition come to the manor of the Duchess Morwen and give their accounts of the events leading up to the current state of affairs." She paused, studying him, then added: "Basically, my mother asked me to find you because important people want to talk to you and she was busy with politics."

"It's good that you're not important," observed Janaes, absently, from behind the counter. "And that you're not yet a big, famous adventurer that important people would want to talk to."

Abdael shot him a friendly glower and shook a melodramatic finger at him: "And don't you forget that!"

Janaes must have been waiting for that, because he answered immediately: "Don't wave that finger at me, young man. I remember when your parents had to pry you back from gnawing on my merchandise as a toddler, so it's nice you actually purchase the books now."

Abdael half-choked, then burst into laughter.

Janaes chuckled and retreated to his workshop, leaving Abdael to face Tatherine alone. "Very well... do you want to take me to your mother? Should we arrange a meeting? How are we doing this?"

Tatherine looked momentarily nonplussed, then straightened: "I think perhaps we should visit your parents first, so I can explain. Then we should return to my mother."

Abdael nodded slowly. That sounded as if there was some urgency to the summons, which might mean the possibility of more work or might be the result of some noble's expectation that everyone should hurry for them. Either way... "Very well," he said. "If you'll follow me..."

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