Fight, Swear, Loathe; Chapter 8

Trangdor had dinner waiting when Hilde got home. The entire house smelled like a feast had exploded. It was a glorious dwarven meal, and it was far more food than the two of them could eat in one sitting. They talked while they ate, covering what they were going to look for in Belynda as a squire. The dwarf could tell that his dear friend was excited to be taking on this new chapter in her life. A good part of Hilde becoming her own self was this kind of thing. Taking on the house, having a career that afforded her ample time away in order to do whatever she wanted, and now looking to acquire an aide and begin pursuing a life of adventure.

Not every knight set out on quests and the like, but Hilde was determined to have a healthy dose of exploits and escapades to spice up her existence. Her vivacity was intoxicating. Trangdor adored being near to her when she spoke about her dreams and ambitions. He wasn’t a very exciting man, even by dwarven standards. He didn’t know how to work with metal and stone, and he had no interest in martial pursuits. He had a fine head for finances, and was well-versed in literature, history, and most anything of a scholarly nature. Together they made a formidable team. Hilde knew how to fight and never shirked from her chance to brawl. Trangdor knew how to focus her energy and harness her formidable enthusiasm. In exchange, she brought him immeasurable joy. She more than anyone else knew how to really enjoy life, and for those lucky enough to be on hand, it was a delightful thing to behold.

They spent the following day fixing up a room for Belynda. Some of the furniture that Hilde’s younger siblings had used were repurposed to suit the possible needs that the xvart might have. They already knew that Belynda was mystically inclined, so they found a small writing table for her to use. Hilde had no idea what else a squire might need, and Trangdor wasn’t altogether sure what would be appropriate, either. After pushing a few chairs around the room, they threw their collective hands up and called it good enough. Belynda would have to decide what all she wanted to add to the room if it was decided that she was going to become Hilde’s squire.

Trangdor waited with Hilde at the depot the following day as she waited for the arrival of the stagecoach. Hilde was nervous, but not because she was about to meet somebody new. She was anxious about whether Belynda would think her a suitable mistress. Other than being a knight, Hilde wasn’t sure what she had to offer as an enticement. She wasn’t wealthy, and she hadn’t made a name for herself in any meaningful way yet. Trangdor smiled as he watched Hilde fidgeting.

“She is going to like you.” He said.

Hilde looked at him, startled by his statement. “What?” she asked.

Trangdor chuckled. “Everyone that meets you, likes you. The weight of this rests on your liking her.”

Hilde wasn’t sure what to say, so she just grunted and went back to watching for the coach’s arrival. “What if she wanted to adventure with somebody seasoned. Maybe she wants to get into shenanigans with somebody who has a reputation for heroism.” She said softly.

Trangdor sighed. “She is fresh out of the academy. More than likely her goal is to build her own reputation alongside of somebody who is also just starting out. More glory to be had by being a part of the saga right at the beginning of chapter one than being introduced halfway through the middle of the story.”

Hilde smiled. That made a lot of sense to her, and she found it comforting as well as exciting. She was going to really do this, to go on adventures, and travel, and fight villains. She gazed at Trangdor. “Are you going along with?” she asked quietly.

The dwarf grinned. “I’ve no desire to be mentioned in the saga. I’m the one that is going to be writing it all down.”

They laughed, and sat on the bench in front of the depot together. There were plenty of people to watch today, and this always delighted Trangdor and Hilde. Time passed quickly, and before they knew it, the coach was rumbling down the street towards them, pulled by four horses. The large carriage came to a stop in front of the depot, and footmen ran out from the depot to open the doors and set down steps to make disembarking easier. The luggage was unloaded as the passengers began to climb wearily out of the creaky coach.

There were several people that staggered out, stretching and trying to wake up their sleeping limbs. Finally, one of the footmen reached up and helped a lovely little xvart descend to the ground. She wasn’t even a full three feet tall, her skin the most stunning royal blue color. Her head appeared to be closely shaved except for a two-foot long white ponytail that flowed from the top of her head right at the back of her skull. As with most xvarts, her ears were long and pointed at the top, with very tiny earlobes. Her eyes were pupil-less and bright orange. This made it impossible to tell where exactly a xvart was looking and caused other goblinoids to view them with distrust. One took for granted the concept of eye contact when speaking face to face until that whole idea was thrown into disarray by not being able to tell where the person was looking to whom you were speaking. Hopping gingerly out of the coach with her was a lean, glossy-black rat with piercing yellow eyes that quickly gazed about to take in these strange new surroundings.

The xvart was wearing a lime-green sleeveless doublet and a matching skirt that had several pockets in it. She had to pause and slip her shoes on, and then went to the back of the carriage to see about her luggage as it was being unloaded. Trangdor stood and went to see if he could help. Hilde stood, and hesitated for a second before following along.

The clerk had identified which bags belonged to the xvart, and set them aside. She was looking over them to make sure they were all accounted for, and then looked over her shoulder at Trangdor. As he drew closer to her, she straightened up and turned to face him.

Trangdor smiled, and bowed slightly as he addressed her. “Hello, I am Trangdor Goldenhelm, loyal friend of Shar Hilde. Might you be Belynda?”

She smiled broadly, revealing tiny sharp teeth. “Yes, I am!” she said, her voice sounding very small and feminine. If a listener wasn’t aware of who was talking, they might think it was a human child. “Honored to meet you, sir!”

Trangdor motioned to Hilde who was now standing next to him. “And this is Shar Hilde Eigenblade, Sergeant-Major of the 10th Army and soon to be renowned adventuress.”

Belynda curtsied, and smiled. “A great pleasure, milady. I’ve heard much about you, and I look forward to being your squire, if you so approve.” The xvart pointed to the black rat that was sitting against her leg. “This is Cinder, my familiar. She is a terribly good rat.”

Hilde returned the smile, and said “Let’s get you back to our house, and get you settled in. We’ll go over the particulars then.”

Belynda heaved her satchel over one shoulder, and smiled. “Spellbook.” She said, in a matter-of-fact way.

Trangdor picked up a large trunk, and Hilde took up a smallish bag made of colorful fabric. “Anything explosive in any of these?” asked Hilde somewhat warily.

Belynda laughed. “No, nothing is going to blow up. I didn’t even bring any reagents, they take too much room.”

Trangdor muttered under his breath with a chuckle “Then what in blazes did you bring, your brick collection?”

The women laughed, and Belynda said “I wasn’t sure what shoes to bring. So, I opted to bring them all.”

Trangdor led the way to the house, and while the three of them walked, Hilde filled Belynda in on everything a person needed to know about the city of Brakoff. Of interest to the little xvart was where she could procure items necessary for her magicks, and how readily available were parchment and ink. Trangdor had to answer those questions over his shoulder as he labored to carry the trunk. Hilde asked a few questions too, and found out that Belynda was not what anyone could term meek and defenseless. She had a very inquisitive nature, and said “hello” to everyone that they met on the way to the house. Belynda had a three-foot long staff, made of some yellowish wood with streaks of green and gold in it, and at the top was a natural knot that had been sanded down and carved to look something like a grotesque face. She mentioned several times how lovely it was to be in a city designed for both human and dwarven-sized people, as it made getting into places easier to have the door latching hardware placed lower. Hilde had never even considered how useful that could be for smaller races, but Trangdor laughed and exclaimed his agreement.

Belynda had no trouble keeping up with Hilde and Trangdor despite her size. She was very quick, and seemed to be able to carry on a conversation while hastily walking without getting winded. The xvart seemed to see and make note of everything. She didn’t pester in a childish fashion, but she commented on the things that most interested her. The architecture of the buildings, the walls that surrounded the inner half of the city, the wide array of races living here now, and the subtle changes that must have been made since Slothjemia took over the region. Hilde was impressed with how much the xvart noticed, and equally distressed that she had never noticed these same things even as they were taking place right in front of her.

When they arrived at the house, Belynda naturally expressed her admiration. The work that had been done to turn the place into a habitable domicile was, in retrospect, more than just necessary repairs. The house did look as though somebody important lived here. Hilde had always joked to herself that somebody important had lived here, but now it was just her.

Trangdor set down the trunk with a relieved grunt, and opened the front door for the ladies. “The butler has taken the year off, and he took the rest of the staff with him.” He quipped. Hilde laughed, and Belynda giggled as she stepped inside.

“It’s so fancy!” the xvart declared, looking around at the entryway and the great room that took up most of the first floor. “So much room for activities!” Cinder set off immediately to explore this wonderful place while the non-rodent members of the group did whatever it is that they do.

Hilde took her on a quick tour of the house, starting with the room Belynda would be moving in to. The xvart set her satchel down, and delightedly set her spellbook on the little writing table. This room was directly next door to Hilde’s room. Trangdor managed to wrestle the trunk up the stairs, and set it just inside Belynda’s room. He awkwardly took his leave and went back downstairs to fix dinner.

 Hilde then showed Belynda the rest of the house, including the extensive basement. While the xvart got acquainted with her surroundings, the two of them chatted about the superficial aspects of what Hilde wanted from her squire, and what she was willing to pay for those services. The monetary amount was satisfactory, but the best part for Belynda were the additional benefits of room and board, and all her spellcasting materials. That could add up to a lot of money in the long term. Belynda did a poor job of hiding her enthusiasm, and this pleased Hilde. They agreed to discuss the particulars after dinner.

Trangdor had done his best with the meal, and the women weren’t disappointed. There was plenty of food, and he hadn’t missed a trick. The delicious aromas filled the entire first floor of the house. Hilde and Belynda set the table, a far larger article of furniture than was needed for the three of them. Trangdor brought out the fare, and quickly the three of them sat down to devour the feast.

Belynda was a lively conversationalist, and she jumped easily from topic to topic as she explored what Trangdor did for a living, how long Hilde had been in the army, how they came to live in this huge house, and what sort of things Hilde and Trangdor liked doing in their free time. Hilde found her almost supernaturally easy to talk to, and Trangdor liked having somebody around even shorter than he was.

He couldn’t contain his curiosity any further. “So, tell me Belynda, how is it that you have such a stunning ponytail? I have never seen a xvart with hair before.”

Belynda smiled, and adjusted herself on the little crate that she had to use to reach from the chair to the table. “Sorcery!” she said with a giggle. “The only way to have hair if you are a xvart is through magic or a wigmaker. This way, though, I can make it any way I like. I chose this style because it looks adventurous.” She turned her head back and forth quickly, making the ponytail swish about dramatically. “Doesn’t that look simply smashing?”

Hilde laughed loudly. “Yes, it sure does!” she cackled. “I always braided mine before battle to keep it out of the way, but your way does add panache!”

Everyone laughed, and it was clear to them all that they would have no trouble getting to know, and like, each other with the greatest of ease.

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