Aufora: Icebound Keep, Chapter 2 (Old)

Ian had stood in Kingsridge Square for a few hours. Nothing all too interesting had happened. Ian was assigned to the defense of Kingsridge Square with his friend, Brom Reinford. Their assignment to the square typically meant one thing– Waiting. Waiting for someone, anybody to commit a crime, no matter how small. Earlier, they had caught out a citizen attempting to scam one of the merchants out of a penny. The citizen looked like he was angry at the entire world, and wore a cheap cotton shirt and brown pants. He carried a small scabbard at this side. They had been drawn towards the stall due to the argument that had sparked between the citizen and the merchant. Ian had noticed the dagger and wanted to stop any escalation in the issue. The last thing that he wanted was for a merchant to get stabbed. Brom had moved forward, making the citizen pay the merchant two copper bits because of their attempt to take advantage of him. The merchant was grateful at the extra, unexpected coin. The citizen was most certainly not. They threw the money at the foot of the stall, and shot a withering glare at both the guardsmen who confronted him and the shopkeeper, taking the cheap bottle of wine he had bought with him. Ian made sure he had gone, as to make sure he wouldn’t circle back around and try to attack him or the shopkeeper. The merchant laughed, his tone dry yet amused, coming around the front of the stall to pick up the money.

“Thank you for your help, Guardsmen. I really appreciate it– And the extra coin you got me too.” He smiled wryly, holding one of the copper coins between his thumb and forefinger as if to support his point. “You don’t know how many people try to pull the same trick every day. Too bad all the guards aren’t as attentive as you,” he said in an absent-minded tone before quickly looking up at the faces of Ian and Brom, worried he’d offended them with his remark. Neither of them seemed to notice, and he continued slowly. “You get used to triple-checking the coins before you sell something to anybody, no matter how trustworthy they make themselves look.” The merchant was an older man. His hair was black and graying, wrinkles formed around his mouth from his constant happy manner. His stall was quite makeshift for this part of town, being little more than a few upturned, wooden crates as a counter and a hastily patched up canvas held up by two wooden poles. Bottles of wine were placed carefully on the crates, seeming to have been arranged by him earlier in the day. Strangely, the man wore rich clothing to go with his makeshift stall. There was the small fact that he was covering the cost to rent space in Kingsridge Square. The man caught Ian staring at the boxes, attempting to put the different parts of the puzzle together. The man smile with a small chuckle.

“I can see you’re wondering about the crates and canvas approach I’m going with. I don’t run my business out of this square all the time. I figured that I’d set up a stall in this square for a few days. Trying to see if I can rope in any more customers up here than in my winery on Tier Three.” Brom and Ian both nodded in understanding.

“Well then. Best of luck to you,” replied Brom as he gave a friendly wave to the merchant. “It’s been nice talking with you. Now, if you’ll excuse us, we have to go make sure nobody else is trying to pull the wool over some other merchant’s eyes,” Brom said, gesturing around the large square. The merchant gave another wave before turning to a customer who had been scanning his selection of wine, no doubt about to make an attempt to persuade him to buy the goods he had been looking at. Brom heard the crowd quiet down for some reason. “What’s the silence about?” He asked Ian, and his friend gave a shrug.

“Let’s find out, shall we?” He replied, walking towards the most silent area of the square. Finally, they saw why the crowd had gone silent. Lord Halmar had just begun to walk through the square, and the crowds seemed to part as if he had a protective shield over him that prevented anybody from entering. A woman and her three kids walked away from him, the woman looking quite shaken. Lord Halmar walked down the center of the square, the citizens making a path for him. Ian and Brom slowly made their way towards the front of the crowd to check for anybody that could pose a threat to Lord Halmar, scanning the silent square. The crowd started closing once Lord Halmar had gone through their section, like water being drawn to a hole dug in the sand. He nodded to the citizens watching him in awe. Although Lord Halmar wanted to be seen as an ordinary man, others still only saw the nobility in him. Lord Halmar smiled as he saw Ian and Brom, waving politely. Some turned to see the relatively unimpressive city guards but turned back to Lord Halmar seconds later. Throughout the crowd, a light jangling noise sounded. Ian looked to both sides and shrugged before he and Brom both waved back. The crowd eventually fully closed up again, and Lord Halmar was lost to sight in the sea of merchants, citizens, and the nobility. Ian and Brom turned back to the square without a second glance, continuing their patrol under the fluttering flag of Aufora.

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