Location: Winter Haven Inn
Time: Morning, a week after the riots.
The Winter Haven Inn was a very well off Inn. Ideally located on the edge of the Garden District of Nyhem, it saw customers from both the nobility and the masses of lesser people and travelers of the great city. Thanks to its wealth, it was well guarded by both the City Guard and, often, its clientele. And because of this, it had been lucky enough to avoid any damage from the terrible riots that had rocked the city a week ago. As horrific as they had been, its proprietor, Marius Rothemor, was rather thankful for them. Many other Inns had been damaged or wiped off the map by fire or crazed lunatic, and their loss was his gain.
Not since the deposing of the Mad King had he seen such good business. And with that business had come information…
Dyril’s head was bent down. Her four fingers rubbed her temple as she read through the letter for what felt like the hundredth time. Each calligraphic letter made one thing absolutely clear: she requested more time in Formaroth. It all came with valid points, but most were elaborated with additional details about selling magic wares to the High King and the profit they might make. She purposely left out the attempt to grow mandrakes within Formaroth purely because she suspected they would try to sabotage it.
Relaxing from the weight being lifted, her back leaned against the chair. She then raised her arm to summon a waitress and order something to eat. Dyril slid the letter to the table’s side closest to her before puzzling out her next action: where would be the best place to grow the mandrakes. Being a foreign element in the continent gave her sparse knowledge about, even possibly outdated.
Marius had been watching his most unusual client ever since she arrived. It wasn’t every day he could claim to have served an Elf, much less a half-elf. She had seemed stressed and busy at first, and so he had not interrupted, but when the women finally deigned to summon one of his people, he took the chance to go and have a chat as well.
It was not uncommon, in this particular Inn, to see the proprietor at a table with his customers, talking merrily, sometimes softly, sometimes boisterous and loud, drink in hand. (Though the keen eyed observer would note that the one drink always lasted the whole night). And so it was, that he siddled out from behind the bar, and as the waitress left with the Elf’s order, he sat down across from her.
He held out his hand in greeting, politely beginning to speak as he did so. “Miss Dyril. A pleasure to meet you at last. I am Marius Rothemor, owner and proprietor of this Inn.”
Dyril’s posture stiffened abruptly when she spied movement from the corner of her vision. Her head turned to identify the owner then all her rising tension evaporated immediately. The riots had shown there was a xenophobia among a few of the city residents. This was enough to put her on high alert and expect any attempts on her life. Thankfully none had happened since the riot a week ago.
Softly exhaling, her lips curled into a natural smile. She was pleased that it was merely a curious individual rather than a thug intending on beating her to a bloody pulp.
“Hello,” She began, a little cautiously. An idea flickered into her head then as she began the digging for information.
“I’m a bit surprised you know my name. Most individuals usually ask it, but you got it right and even pronounce it correctly. That’s an interesting little trick.”
“Oh, I am just a humble Innkeeper.” Marius said in a well practiced way that would fool no-one used to courtly tones. “It was difficult not to hear the name of the Cities one and only Elf. My apologies if I acted too familiar. I only seek to show that this great City can be welcoming and pleasant, despite recent events.”
“I will admit, my first time in Formaroth was… unexpected. It is one I rather not repeat any time in the far future,” Dyril casually took a sip of her tea and cringed at the surprise bitterness dancing upon her taste buds. She struggled back a cough as she set it back down.
“It seems a lot is different here in Formaroth than Beilokias. The tea is more bitter than I expected,” Dyril chuckled to hide the roughness in her throat over the discovery. The half-elf continued on, she decided to ask him for assistance.
“Just another thing that wasn’t in the Elven library back at Norastir.”
“The cuisine of this land can be something of an acquired taste, it is true. Thankfully, I know of a little shop that sells several Beilokias native ingredients, if you’d prefer not to risk your taste buds every night.” He said with a smile, procuring a small folded map of the city from inside his waistcoat. He proceeded to point it out and give a few directions.
Dyril naturally leaned in. She knew that Kiseo would need direction to fetch them in the future, possibly even finding something suitable for the Mao’s tastes too. After memorizing the paths, she settled back into the chair then continued the conversation.
“You seem to know a lot about the city, were you born and raised here?” Dyril asked, trying to confirm her suspicions.
“Guilty as charged.” Marius mockingly bowed. “I have seen much in Nyhem, and Nyhem has seen much herself. I don't know if you have such a place across the ocean, but Nyhem is the heart of Formaroth. Everyone and everything worth knowing eventually arrives here, and if I have not spoken to them, I have spoken to their friends or family. For all its flaws, there is no place in the world quite like Nyhem.” Marius’s pride and love of his city came through in his voice strongly.
“We have many actually, but inland is where most of our more important individuals chose to gather. So in a few ways, Nyhem is as you put it is rather unique,” Dyril agreed while she considered her job had just became much easier.
“Any well known individuals able to move large quantities of goods for a negotiable price? Preferably those who take pride in their job rather than become careless over it.”
“By sea or by land?” Marius asked, before answering both possibilities anyway. “There is a Merchant Lord by the name of William Flin who might provide the services of his fleet for coin, though my dear, if you have any of those mighty Elven Caravels, you need not waste time on local ships. Mind you, the seas are far safer in this time of uncertainty. The war may be over now, but the church is split in two and bandits rule the lands. I’d suggest you find some mercenaries, or perhaps persuade a King to lend you some troops, if you need to transport valuables by land.”
“Getting Elven ships to travel outside Beilokias is much harder than one might imagine,” Dyril bitterly noted.
She was pretty much the runt in the litter when it came to any of her relatives, especially when every single one was untarnished by human blood. She sighed a bit then decided on the mainland method because of the mandrake requirements to grow.
“How would I be able to get a hold of this William Flin? Is there a common place he visits or found that I could find him?”
“I’m sure.” Marius said knowingly. “But don't underestimate how much of an impact even one or two can make here, even crewed by us lowly humans. One Caravel might be nothing to you in Beilokias my dear lady, but its a King's ransom here in Formaroth. Or at least a Princes.” He laughed, then proceeded to point to some more spots on the map. “Rumor has it Mister Flin will be relocating to Nyhem from Akki very soon, and you’ll find him at these spots if he still follows his old habits.”
“But if you feel the need to buy a few local ships for yourself, I’ve heard that a Grand Tide Master from the Summer Isles has just landed at the docks not two days ago. Make nice with her and you might get a good price on some captured pirate ships.”
“What might be her name?” Dyril inquired while she wrote down the information on another slip of paper.
“Oh my. My dear you’ve caught me in a rare moment of ignorance. I know she is the daughter of Grand Tide Master Arthur Zerrikan, so your best approach will be to look for one Lady Zerrikan. Naturally though, it will be easy to find her. The most exotic ship in the harbor will belong to her, and i’m sure her crew will be willing to help a seafarer such as yourself.”
“My last experience on the sea was a fairly good one with the unfortunate case of a pirate who took down our escort ship. It was a terrible ordeal to witness as they set the ship on fire, burning it and the crew alive,” Dyril shivered at the memory then pushed it aside for a better focus.
She wrote the name beside Flin’s locations.
Marius shuddered as his guest recounted her experiences. Fire consuming a ship was a terrible and often very final thing. “My condolences. With any luck, the Blackwells will see to the securing of the Oceanic coasts now that the war is over. At least the inland seas are quite safe.”
“I hope so, or getting additional goods from Beilokias will be difficult, if not impossible.”
Dyril finished writing out her notes then decided to address one final thing, the most important tidbit. Her hands folded back on the table while she spoke again.
“Where would I be able to find information about Formaroth’s various environments? I’m intending to set up a production for a rare and sensitive crop that needs the right conditions. In order to determine where, I need records over rainfall and other conditions.”
“Oh, well, that is hardly my specialty…” Marius said, a little dejected, before perking up. “But I can tell you who might know. That kind of record keeping on paper is definitely the area of the Circle of Magic. If you’re lucky, the farming focused Noble Houses might have records of their own land, but you’d certainly have to cut them in on the profits when you sell whatever you might grow on their lands. There I go assuming again… You do plan to sell this crop don't you?”
“Some might be sold, yes. Others will be more ingredients in the manufacturing of specialized goods, something they might be interested in since it aligns with their focus,” Dyril said, feeling she hinted too much to the nature of her request.
“Ah. Well, the ones most likely to be able to fulfil all of your requests are the Kings. His Majesty Alasdair is the local one, but he has been… embattled of late. I’m sure he’ll bring the land out of this mess eventually, but swapping from advisor to High King and having a war and a religious schism in the first year of your rule… well it’ll either look really good in the history books, or it’ll be, shall we say, a very short entry for the scholars to study. Eli Blackwell on the other hand, is an ambitious upstart. A very rich one at that. I’d wager we’ll be seeing him in Nyhem soon. He isn’t going to get very far politically if he hides away in Mercy. The Blackwells are a bit different. They respect skill, not prior titles. If you’ve expertise to demonstrate in any field, he might be willing to help you out. Just remember, it's a land of opportunity out there right now. The really powerful Kings have barely been in power longer than you’ve been in the country.”
He paused there, then lowered his voice. “Oh and one other thing. Careful of the religious types. The church leaders may all be filthy rich, but they are even more petty and likely to stab you in the back, or the front, than the nobles. You didn’t hear that from me.”
“I think I’ve gotten a good glimpse of the church’s opinion over magic and things related to it. I do aim to avoid them purely for self preservation,” Dyril tried to lightly chuckle, but the sound made it obvious her heart wasn’t in the performance.
Again, her quill went to paper to write down the information and possibly list her options. She wanted to avoid being tied to one individual source of income because one thing she did learn from her Uncle was that limitations often spelt terrible consequences. Especially when the funding individuals felt they could control the production purely by withholding their support. Not eager to brave that storm, she polite thanked Rothemor.
“One last thing, for the moment. I need to ship this off to Beilokias. Is there any trustworthy ships or ways to get it there with the least risk?”
“I think I know a man.” He wrote a name on a slip of paper and handed it to Dyril. “This captain should be sailing for Beilokias in a few days with a sturdy ship. Tell him I sent you and he might take your letter at a discount.”
“I’ve solved several issues thanks to your information and for that, I’m grateful to you.” Dyril said as she began to collect her papers, stacking them up and ensuring she had it all.
“Happy to help.” Marius said, a glimmer in his eye. “There is plenty of greed and hate in the land, I like to do my bit to counter it out every now and then.” He stood then, nodding politely. “It was a pleasure to meet you in person.”