The Golden Oak tavern was indeed a wonderful place. Not as opulent as the Black Boar, but larger. Unlike Brakoff, the smaller city of Kederlenn didn’t have as many taverns, but the ones they had were bigger to allow more people a chance to drink and socialize. Entering into the great main hall of the tavern, Grundoon couldn’t help but smile. There were two fireplaces, each with roaring fires. There were quite a few folks here already, and a lively accordion player sat on a stool along the back wall. Almost everyone here was human, but there were a couple of dwarves, too. Two human officers of the Red Guard were here as well, and were having a spirited chat with a couple of townsfolk. It looked as though they were all trying to learn each other’s language, and using beer to smooth over the rough patches.
Grundoon and his squire took a small table near to the center of the room, close to the front door so that they could talk over the music a little easier. An old woman approached, and with an uneasy smile indicated that she was there to take their food and drink orders. Trangdor explained in Romillian what they wanted, and when she left for the kitchen he told Grundoon and Jandle “I told her we were waiting on others in our party, but that we are a party of seven and would like dinner and pints of ale.” Grundoon nodded, and Jandle put some coins on to the table.
“Porger and Cloe are old enough to handle a small bit of good drink.” Said the old orc with a chuckle. “Hopefully they get here before we eat all of the food.”
Kreg walked into the tavern and looked about awkwardly as was his style. He spotted his lord and joined the group just as the old woman brought out the pints. Jandle said “Good timing!” and Kreg just did his customary open mouth grin. The old woman was visibly disturbed by this, and Grundoon scowled at Kreg.
“Shut your mouth, you dolt.” He whispered hoarsely. “You are frightening the lady.” Trangdor tried to stifle a laugh, and it came out as a muffled cough.
Hilde and the two younger children came in to the tavern just as the food was brought out. Porger and Cloe clapped their hands excitedly, and eagerly grabbed at what looked to be part of a roasted hog. The regular customers of the tavern tried to not stare conspicuously at the party making merry in the heart of their favored haunt. The old woman who was serving them smiled a lot, but Grundoon was aware the dear soul was wary of the weirdos tearing into their food.
A man looking to be in his forties approached the table that the party was seated at. He was clean shaven, and wore a long, dark grey robe. There was a heavy golden necklace around his neck, and from it hung a large, light blue gemstone in a golden setting. His hair was long, but not unkempt. He didn’t smile, but made steady eye contact with Grundoon as he drew near. The orc set down his food, and met the man’s gaze.
“Excuse me. Are you the Governor-General?” the man asked in near-perfect Slothjemian.
“I am, sir.” Said Grundoon, rising from his seat. “What can I do for you?”
The man stared at Grundoon for a moment. “An intriguing inquiry, my lord. Gracious, and indicative of a man who serves, rather than a man seeking to be served.” He continued to look at Grundoon.
Grundoon smiled despite himself, a sort of half smile that dimpled only the left side of his mouth. He wondered if he had meat on his tusk and fought the urge to wipe his mouth with his hand. “Would you like to sit? Join us, if you please. I am Baron von Vorkel.”
“I am Maximillian Trendt, my lord. I am the magistrate of this county. Or what was this county, I should say.” He continued to look at the Governor-General. “To be honest, I am not sure that I am the magistrate any longer. Perhaps you could enlighten me on this matter.”
Grundoon picked up a napkin from the table, and wiped his hands clean. He stepped away from his chair, and walked slowly to the gentleman. He sucked air through his left front teeth, making a quick whistle that dislodged a bit of cheese from his dinner, which he swallowed. “How about if I join you at your table, sir.” Grundoon said.
The man nodded, and motioned for Grundoon to have a seat a couple of tables away, in a nice booth with high-backed, leather cushioned benches. Another man who had been sitting there quickly snatched up his tankard and hastened to clear the way for the orc, avoiding eye contact and joining another group of men at yet another table.
Grundoon sat at the booth, and loosened the top button of his tunic. “Your honor, have you signed the loyalty oath?” he asked. “Because if you have, then your position is assured. I delivered a copy of the Slothjemian legal code to the mayor so that you and he could begin familiarizing yourselves with whatever changes will have to be made, and of course every magistrate in Romilmark will be given their own copy as soon as possible.”
Maximillian looked thoughtfully at Grundoon, and said “Yes, I signed the oath. I hope I do not grow to regret that decision.” He paused, and took a deep breath. “My life has been dedicated to the law, and upholding justice. The laws may change but the concept of justice is a constant. Or at least that is my fervent hope.”
Grundoon nodded his head. “I can see where you are headed in that line of thought. Your concern is that our laws might be very different to your own, and because of those variations the basis of justice is lost. Is that about the size of it?” He watched the magistrate’s face carefully, but the man betrayed nothing in his expression.
“Precisely.” Replied Maximillian. “You have identified the root of my concern with unerring precision.”
“Then I tell you what we’ll do.” Said Grundoon, folding his hands in front of him on the table. “Go over the legal code with the mayor, and whatever representatives you have here for law enforcement. Discuss it. Find the areas in that code that perplex you the most, and then you and I shall begin working on resolving your worries. If the entirety of the matter is simply too much to bear, then I will accept your suggestions of who shall take your place as magistrate, and we’ll leave it at that. But if the new laws are something you feel you could support, with the same dedication you had for the old laws, then I will designate you as the chief magistrate for the entire region.”
Maximillian stared at him, and for a moment his flawless façade dropped. He regained his composure quickly, though, and said “Why would you elevate a man you don’t know to such a high position?”
Grundoon chuckled. “If you were an enemy to Slothjemia, a dedicated foe, you’d already be dead or living someplace else. If you hated us at all, you wouldn’t have mastered our language. And if you were anything other than a sincere keeper of law and order, you never would have approached a hungry orc and interrupted his meal to talk about justice. You, sir, are a man to be respected.” He chuckled again. “Besides, if you had any evil intent, my squire would have notified me.”
A thin smile began to form on the magistrate’s face, a show of emotion that must have been unfamiliar on the stern man’s visage. “Your reputation is justly earned, my lord. I was told that you were fair and reasonable man. I will admit to not believing it without meeting you. But it is true. I am honored to do as you suggest, and give our new laws close consideration. Thank you.” Maximillian got up from the booth, and motioned towards Grundoon’s party. “Please continue your dinner, my lord. Thank you for indulging my curiosity.”
Grundoon got up, and smiled at Maximillian. The orc held out his hand. “Well met, Master Trendt.”
Maximillian hesitated, and then that thin little smile crossed his face, and he shook the orc’s hand firmly. There were audible gasps throughout the room, and the accordion player missed three notes. After they shook, Grundoon returned to his table to finish eating. The magistrate went by some of the other tables, telling his friends good evening, and then he left the tavern.
Grundoon and his party finished their meal, and then Jandle arranged for lodging for the group in the rooms upstairs. Hilde and Cloe would have their own room, and the men would share two rooms between them. They retired to their rooms, and Grundoon especially found that he felt overwhelmingly tired. It had been a long day, with all of the stops that they had made. Under normal circumstances it wasn’t a full day’s ride to get here, not even close. But he was feeling the weight of the travel now that his stomach was full. Sleep didn’t leave any of them waiting for long, and soon the snores of goblinoids filled the inn. Grundoon had a nightmare, in which he was pursued by a hooded figure shrieking “JUSTICE FOR ALL!”, but upon awaking in the morning, he remembered nothing about it.