In the morning there was a desire on the part of most everyone to stay in bed longer than usual. Only the children were up and ready to go, and after grabbing some food from the tavern’s kitchen, they headed out to explore the city. Hilde was the next to face the day, and she did so only because she wanted to hang some posters. Trangdor got up and lounged about in the mostly empty tavern, catching up on some reading and waiting for Grundoon to come downstairs.
Jandle spent some time getting his lord’s uniform and armor ready. He wasn’t sure what the Governor-General had in store for the day, but if he wanted to explore outside of the city, it would be a good idea to have his battle gear prepared. Porger lent a hand to this, and whispered excitedly about the day when he would have his own armor, and a better bow. For now, it was enough to tend to his father’s armor, checking for signs of rust, inspecting the straps and catches, and looking for pieces that might need replacing. This was the very same armor that Grundoon had worn in the battle for Garvin’s Gap, and that was a point of pride for the young orc, that his father had led an army to victory wearing this suit of banded mail.
Grundoon was slow to awaken, and even after getting dressed and heading downstairs, it could be argued that he was half asleep. Trangdor and Jandle accompanied him as he grabbed a quick bite to eat and then walked down to the city hall. He made his way to the mayor’s office, and by the time he knocked on the open door, the old orc was as awake as he was going to get today.
The mayor stood as the Governor-General entered, and smiled broadly. He said, “Good morning!” and it wasn’t the worst attempt at the Slothjemian language Grundoon had ever heard. Grundoon smiled back, shook the mayor’s hand, and motioned for him to sit.
Nodding at Trangdor to commence translating, Grundoon asked the mayor “Do you have a chief of police here, or something along those lines?”
“Yes, my lord. Our police chief is waiting for you in his office just down the hall.” Said Trangdor, translating for the mayor. The mayor was about to stand again, and Grundoon shook his head, motioning for him to stay.
“Do not trouble yourself, sir. I’ll just go down and introduce myself.” Said Grundoon.
The mayor responded, and Trangdor told Grundoon “His name is Walther Krimm. He is expecting you, my lord.”
Grundoon smiled, and gave the mayor a jaunty wave as he turned and left the office.
“Never go into a city hall and neglect to visit, however briefly, with the mayor.” He whispered to Trangdor. The dwarf and Jandle snickered.
Trangdor pointed to the small sign hanging over a door in the hallway. “That is it, sir.” Grundoon looked, and made a mental note that the curious words meant Chief of Police, or some such equivalency. This door was also open, and inside was a small writing podium, a table filled with papers and books, and a small, lockable bookcase that was wide open.
Grundoon recognized the magistrate he had spoken to the night before, Trendt, and two other men, one quite young and the other at least as old as the magistrate, and perhaps older. They seemed to be reading over the book of Slothjemian laws that the Governor-General had given the mayor. Clearing his throat in the doorway, Grundoon knocked on the open door.
The three men looked up, and Grundoon said “Good morning, Magistrate. Which of these fellows in Krimm?”
Trendt smiled that thin, reluctant smile of his and bowed slightly as he motioned towards the younger man. “This is our police chief, Walther Krimm, my lord.”
The police chief saluted Grundoon, and smiled, showing a startlingly white set of teeth. “I am pleased to be meeting you, sir. Welcome to entry here.” His language skills needed work, but Grundoon just returned the salute and the smile. This man’s Slothjemian was a damn sight better than Grundoon’s Romillian.
“You didn’t waste any time going over the laws, did you?” said the orc with a chuckle.
“No, we thought it best to dive right in.” replied Trendt. “This gentleman here,” he motioned to the older man in the room, “is our senior constable, Delberct. He oversees the majority of the patrols within the city limits and does the scheduling. He wanted to see what changes had to be made, too.” The old man smiled, and nodded at Grundoon.
“I wouldn’t want to interrupt, then. This is an important step in moving away from military rule to civilian governance.” Grundoon clasped his hands behind his back to look more at ease. “I’ll come back some other time to inspect your command, Chief Krimm.”
“Oh no, it will be nothing to be showing you.” The young man put his cap on, and smiled at Grundoon. “Taking relief now is good from laws. Come with me, sir. We are to be going downstairs.”
Grundoon, Trangdor, and Jandle all followed the police chief as he led them downstairs to show them everything they ever wanted to know about police work in Kederlenn. As they went, Grundoon explained the changes that the police here would have to make. It turned out to be far less extensive than in Brakoff. The police in this city were a well-organized, and professional force. Other than new uniforms, badges, and an earnest attempt to learn a new language, there wasn’t much Grundoon felt needed to be changed. They had good jail cells for holding prisoners, a thorough and effective foot patrol regimen, and even a fortified wagon for taking prisoners to other jurisdictions. It didn’t take long to see all of this for himself, and the Governor-General thanked Krimm for his work. He also complimented him on his growing language skills. Jandle took notes all the while, and when Grundoon whispered to him that this police chief was a keeper, Jandle told him that he had already made note of that.
He left the chief back in his office, where the magistrate and the senior constable had kept going over the laws in the chief’s absence. Grundoon decided to take a walk around the town, and see more of it for himself.
The walls of the city were thick, and primarily made of stone. The upper third of the walls were comprised of a wooden stockade, though, a sensible design with so much lumber available in this part of the region. There weren’t any notable structures outside of the walls, unlike Brakoff that had outgrown its original defenses. There also were not as many abandoned buildings. During the war the mayor of Kederlenn had thrown open the gates and offered no resistance to the Slothjemian army. Word had reached the people of Kederlenn about how quickly Brakoff had been taken, and how messy the assault had been, and they wanted no part of that for themselves.
They found Hilde while they were walking around, and she joined them as they strolled through the city. It was clean, and the buildings were in very good repair. They passed a number of people on their walk, and didn’t see any beggars, or shady types lurking about. Most of the criminal element, whatever there had been, had probably been conscripted into the army and were killed, or fled the region, or had blended into the countryside to hide from the Slothjemian patrols to become highwaymen or brigands.
There was a printing shop here in Kederlenn, and Grundoon paused outside of it, looking curiously at the front. He pointed at the little sign over the door. “What does that say, Trangdor?” he asked, almost offhandedly.
“B. Velferin, Printmaster.” Replied the dwarf.
Grundoon stepped forward, and opened the door to the shop. A small bell rang on the door, and the smell of parchment filled the air. The rest of the party looked at each other in surprise, and then followed the orc inside the little room. A long counter separated the room roughly in half, and there was a large room in the back. From someplace deep inside that back room a voice called out something in Romillian. Trangdor translated, telling the group that the proprietor would be out in a moment.
“Hilde, do you have your posters with you?” asked Grundoon.
“Yes, papa.” She replied, handing them to her father. Grundoon took one of them, and handed the rest back to his daughter.
A small dwarf, younger in appearance than even Trangdor, with a neat little beard and tightly braided hair, both as black as midnight, came walking into the room from the back area. He stepped up onto a low bench that ran behind the counter so that he was another six inches taller. He lifted his goggles up on to his forehead, and gazed with open surprise at the guests in his shop. He said something, a note of incredulity in his voice, and Trangdor translated with a chuckle in his own. “He wants to know what he can do for you, and it is fair to point out that he is calling you sir.”
“Ask him if he is Brandt Velferin.” Said Grundoon.
Trangdor posed the question to the dwarf in Romillian, and the dwarf seemed taken aback, at least at first, but then regained his composure. He stood as straight as he could, and looked Grundoon squarely in the eyes. He nodded his head, and said what Grundoon already knew was the Romillian word for “yes.”
Grundoon then said to Trangdor, “Inquire as to whether or not he is related to the Archduke of Linkristle in any way.”
“Alright, milord.” Said Trangdor softly. He asked a lengthy question of the dwarf, choosing his tone carefully. Trangdor wasn’t altogether certain what Grundoon was after, so he tried to maintain a neutral aspect.
Brandt Velferin took a deep breath, and began to answer Trangdor. But he spent most of his time looking at Grundoon. He seemed to want to make it obvious that he was speaking to the orc, and not a fellow dwarf. Trangdor relayed the message as it was given. “No, not in any meaningful sense. I am the illegitimate grandchild of the Archduke, son of a kitchen maid and the youngest son of the Archduke. I never knew my real father, and he was killed in the recent war. My stepfather encouraged me to use the family name of the Archduke, as it would lend a more aristocratic flair to our professional endeavor. However, my stepfather left Kederlenn when the Slothjemians attacked, and will not return. My mother died some years ago in a carriage accident. I am without family.”
Grundoon listened, and let this information soak in before he responded. When he did, he spoke softly, and very deliberately. “Have you taken over this business, then?”
Trangdor translated this, and then the reply from Brandt. “I cannot take over this establishment, everything is in my stepfather’s name except the plaque over the door. Besides, there is no business anymore. There has been nothing to print. I would like to work as an engraver, or as a printer, but there is no other master with whom I can apprentice in this region.”
“It sounds as if you don’t have much attachment to your surname. Do you prefer another name to Velferin?” Asked the Governor-General.
Trangdor again relayed the message. “I would like to go by my mother’s maiden name, Fessler, but I don’t know how to change my name under the new laws.”
Grundoon thought about this, but continued to watch the dwarf’s facial expressions. “Do you know who I am?” he asked the dwarf.
Brandt answered, and Trangdor told Grundoon “He does not. If I were to guess, I would say he assumes you are a high ranking military officer, but beyond that he doesn’t know who you are.”
Chuckling, the Governor-General placed the poster he had in his hand on the counter in front of the dwarf. “I would like two hundred of these printed up, with the flag here in color. If all goes well with this, then I will be directing all such jobs to you.”
Trangdor told the dwarf what the orc had just said, and the two of them, Brandt and Trangdor, talked amongst themselves for a few minutes. When they were done, Trangdor told Grundoon “He is very grateful, milord. He will begin work immediately, and have them ready for you the beginning of next week.”
Grundoon motioned at Jandle, and the kobold pulled out his coin purse. Trangdor asked Brandt a question, and then told Grundoon “The full cost will be three hundred and twenty gold.”
Jandle let out a whistle, and looked at his master. Grundoon nodded at him to go ahead, and the kobold counted out twenty gold coins, and thirty platinum coins. “I’ll have the remainder of the fee when we pick up the posters.” Said Grundoon. Brandt didn’t even try to hide his enthusiasm, and Trangdor pointed out what colors would go where on the drawing of the Slothjemian flag.
While the dwarves discussed details of the poster, Grundoon told Hilde “That is a fine price for replicating that many posters. If we had wanted to use magic instead, it could have been five times as much, if not more.” He smiled at his daughter. “What an age we live in!”
When the transaction was complete, Grundoon said “Changing your name is easy. And taking control of this business is not a difficult task, either.” He waited while Trangdor translated, and then continued. “Go see the magistrate, tell him you wish to change your name and that you want to petition the Governor-General to have the ownership of this business vacated so that you can take it over. Simple.”
Brandt smiled, and thanked them for coming in, for their business, and the counsel. Trangdor was beginning to run out of ways to express the other dwarf’s thankfulness. The party took their leave, and headed out to continue exploring the small city.
The entire day was spent just wandering about looking at things, noting the buildings and businesses, and watching the tradesmen and townsfolk going about their work. They ended their day at the Golden Oak tavern, and it was there that Cloe and Porger caught up to their father with breathless excitement. Any hope Grundoon had of having a quiet dinner in the near future was dashed as his children talked over each other with overflowing enthusiasm.
“Father! You must see what we found! In a big building all boarded up! Hurry, you won’t believe it!” was repeated often, and by both children, in some form or another the entire time they dragged him from the tavern and down the streets of Kederlenn. The rest of the party followed in bemusement, and Grundoon was both perplexed and intrigued by what could have caused such a stir in his offspring. They weren’t leading him anyplace nearby, either. The apparently abandoned warehouse that was the center of their concern was off to the west side of the town, and was, as they had said, boarded up. Big chains secured the massive wooden doors that ran from the ground all the way to the roof, two stories tall, and covered the entire wall on one end of the building.
The children led him to a smaller door, one that they had discovered had a loose board in it. Prying the board back, they unlatched the door and it swung open. There was some light in the late afternoon, and the party waited for their eyes to adjust. When they did, they were shocked by what they saw.
A great wooden ship, hundreds of miles from any body of water capable of holding it, sat on stabilizing blocks in the center of the room. On one wall was a massive mountain of what looked like furled sails, and on the opposite wall were several metal tanks that reached all the way to the roof. Grundoon knew immediately what this was, and so did Jandle, because they had seen one of these during the war. It was a Romillian skycruiser, almost completely constructed.
“Jandle, when we get back to city hall, find out who owns this building.” It wasn’t likely that whoever owned it had stuck around, but Grundoon wanted to make sure. “Also, alert the Red Guard and have them post a guard here. I want this place secured, and the contents examined in detail.”
Jandle nodded his head, and gazed about in wonder. Seeing one of these weapons this close kind of took away from the mystique of the thing. It was just a ship. An odd place to find such a vessel, but that is all it was.
Porger and Cloe described everything they had found. They had been disappointed to discover the skycruiser had no cannon, and they hadn’t really found anything interesting other than the craft itself. They were sure that this place, and perhaps other places in Romilmark, had been where the enemy had built instruments of invasion. They imagined that if they waited, they might find a mysterious army of hidden dwarves were still working on this ship to reignite the war they had lost not long ago. But from the dust and cobwebs here it was certain that this project hadn’t been an active endeavor for quite some time.
Jandle headed off, back to the Red Guard headquarters to tell them of what they had found. The rest of the party looked around for a while, but hunger called to them, and Grundoon finally convinced his young children that having dinner was in everybody’s best interest. He made a point of thanking them for their diligence, and for finding this prize, but also warned them against breaking into sealed buildings in the future. If they had been hurt, or worse, their father might never have found them. They reluctantly agreed to be warier and more respectful, but winked at each other to acknowledge their accomplishment.
When the party finally made it back to the Golden Oak for dinner, it was well after dark. It had been a long day, and Grundoon wasn’t that accustomed, of late, to being on his feet that long. After they ate, everyone made their way upstairs to sleep. Grundoon fell asleep almost instantly.