Part II: That Which Never Sleeps
"Crimmor, City of Caravans, what shall I say of thee? The life-blood of half Faerun streams through thy streets, by coin and creaking wagon-wheel. Here Amn works for its glittering gold, and by such striving, half the Sword Coast North is fed, and fine-work of a thousand-thousand hands sets forth to remote stead and backland croft. Crimmor, where barge, drover and wagon are lords, work never ceases and folk can sleep through din worthy of a siege. Crimmor, the beating heart of the haughty Merchants' Domain, bones beneath the striding skin of gold. No man is truly a caravan master, who has not passed through Crimmor."
Mandivur Taeruld, Sage of Amn,
Tales of a City Unsleeping [1342 DR]
The cobbled street he moved upon basked brazenly in burnt bronze. The Sun was high, Lathander's grace had embraced the city wholly. Thankfully the winds were calm. He remembered the particular thick reek that came from the Alandor when the winds blew, still, even the smell of laboring draft-beasts was difficult to get used to once more. He left his companion at one of the caravan grounds outside the city proper, the coin should keep him fed and well cared for. Lone eye narrowed while he moved through the thin haze of hoof-flung dust, his memories betraying him as he kept trying to find the place. Suddenly he found himself in front of a vaguely familiar warehouse, the scent of precious silk and textile overwhelming his senses.
"Maximillian, do not dally behind, we have a lot of work today."
The boy was sulking, Evendur could see that clearly. Spending the day in a dusty warehouse with his old man was not exciting, and that boy lived for excitement. Alas today was the day he introduced his firstborn to the family business. What was the point, he wondered with a heavy heart. They will come in a year, and take him away. The oath will be fulfilled.
Father and son strode between the shelves, emerald eyes shifted left to right. Maximillian was pouting at the boredom he was pushed into. A sigh here, a sigh there… Evendur picked his son up and sat him down on a wooden box. Maximillian's eyes returned his father's gaze with curiosity.
"Son, I spend my days managing this warehouse. It is our livelihood. I take pride in our product, and I take pride in my work. It is not the most exciting of callings, however that does not make it any less important. Do you understand?"
The boy nodded slowly. There was a certain lack of enthusiasm which the boy used as a silent protest. "I understand father. And one day your duty shall pass onto me."
Evendur shook his head slowly. "No Max. The fate of a textile merchant is not for you."
Maximillian's eyes grew wide in confusion.
Evendur smiled. It was a tired smile, one he forced just for his son. "The path you shall set upon is a noble one. From that point on, your fate is your own to determine."
"A noble one!?"
The boy suddenly jumped up in excitement, grinning widely. "You mean I will get to be an adventurer? Like mother and you used to be?"
Maximillian picked up a roll of silk, and began swinging it around, as if it was a weapon.
The expression on Evendur's face was far from an amused one as he grabbed the boy's hand. "No my son..."
he said with a slight tremble in his voice. He was a confident man, always keeping his composure, however looking into those innocent green eyes, filled with excitement, nearly broke the man. "Not an adventurer."
How was he to tell his son that he will no longer live with his parents? That he will not see his mother when he wakes in the morning? How will he explain to a ten year old boy that there is a higher calling awaiting him, and that he must make sacrifices? He shuddered as he embraced his son, holding him tightly.
He nestled the leather gloves under his left arm, curious gaze swept the tiny warehouse office. The man behind the desk was a short, chubby fellow. Fat fingers continuously wiped beads of sweat from his face and neck as two tiny eyes stared at the man curiously.
"How can I help you?"
"The owner. When does he usually come in?"
"I am the owner"
The man replied, curiosity making way for confusion.
Brow furrowed as he continued to stare the chubby man down "Blackthorne imports? Am I at the wrong place?"
A chuckle of relief left the man's throat "Ah, you are looking for the previous owner. I bought the warehouse from him years ago."
"... That makes no sense, why would he sell?"
"His wife was sick, and he was looking to sell under the price.
" pride filled the fat man's features, a sleazy grin forming on his face "I managed to bring it down some more. People will go for anything in times of need. I assure you, I'm twice the businessman he was, I can offer you better prices and a better service. You just tell me what you need"
Right hand reached for the man's collar, pulling him over the desk, until he was mere inches from an intense emerald glare.
"Where did they go?"
"ARE YOU INSANE!? I WILL HAVE YOU..."
Bardeid's arms flailed wildly, eyes opened wide in alarm. Words got caught in his throat as a fist met his eye.
"Where did they go?"
The man repeated in a calm voice.
Bardeid continued squirming in protest. Another punch, then he felt the grip on his throat.
"I will throttle the life out of you. Where did they go?"
"D.. down... south. Te-thyr. Myratma."
He managed to utter a choked out statement.
Maximillian released his grip on the man.
He stood by the window, lone eye set upon the dark street below. The city never slept it seemed, even in the middle of the night the sounds of labor spread through the alleyways. The warehouse had been sold... The house, auctioned away. They had gone back Tethyr, years ago.
How in the nine do I go through that nightmare?
His room was damp and cold. An old table with a chair occupied the center, squeaky bed lay at the wall opposite the window. He turned to the table, for what must have seemed like the tenth time this eve, a parchment of paper was spread across it. He stared at it intently, determination and fear sharing features in his expression. Finally, he mustered the courage to move closer, right hand started to tremble as it picked up the inked quill. The table shook as he slammed his hand into it, cursing himself for his cowardice. A long swig from the bottle of cheap swill that the proprietor of Ivyposts called "whiskey", and the words began to flow.
The folded letter was placed in a satchel, along with an elegant krys, made of dragon bone, two deep blue sapphires sparkling from its pommel. Lastly he reached around his neck and pulled a silver chain with a heavy silver disk, A raven, turned sinister, bearing twin daggers engraved upon it. He shifted the medallion through his fingers, lone eye staring at it with a sorrow filled gaze. He then placed it into the satchel, and went on to finish the bottle.
He lay on his back, gaze fixed on the ceiling above.
Tomorrow... Tomorrow I will find someone to deliver it. Then, we ride south, to Murann.
He squeezed his eye shut, bracing for the nightmares that were sure to come once more.