An Arrival, A Strange Girl, and an Inn

Hama Valon, the city around the Grey Tower.
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Welcome to Hama Valon! The aptly named 'mountain guard' is the city that has grown up at the gates of the Grey Tower at the western edge of the Two Rivers. Like all cities, there are quiet quarters with pleasant inns, such as Elman's Creek, which used to be the nearest village when the Tower was young, but was absorbed as the new city grew; its Band of Brothers Inn is still a favorite relaxation spot for many of the Tower's denizens. And again, like all cities the world over, there are less pleasant places--narrow, nameless streets that house hells and other houses of ill repute. Most of the city falls somewhere in between, with hawkers crying their wares in the streets, respectable shopkeepers ready to serve you, and petty cutpurses happy to follow you.

Novices, Soldiers, and drin'far'ji must be accompanied by a chaperon when outside Tower walls or they risk being picked up as runaways and duly punished.
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Carl
"New Spring"
Posts: 21
Joined: December 20th, 2021, 3:11 pm
PC: Callum al'Thalda

An Arrival, A Strange Girl, and an Inn

Post by Carl » December 23rd, 2021, 4:49 am

As his horse came into town at a slow walk Callum took it all in. It had been a good long time since the Grey Tower had been established, but even then, he hadn’t expected the town around it to be so large. He saw people from all over the world walking the streets. Accents, clothing, scents, skin tones, it all whirled around him in fantastic ways that made his head spin. Whitebridge wasn’t exactly a village, but, even there, things seemed so much the same all the time that this was just mind-blowing.

Bringing the horse to a stop he dismounted, the leather of his stirrup creaking against his weight, and then patted her neck to calm her. She’d never been around this much of a swirling, chaotic, and yet amazing press of people before and she was clearly nervous.

“It’s okay, girl. We’ve finally made it!” he said, with a relieved laugh.

“Are you okay, sir?” a girl asked as she passed. She was wearing all white and seemed concerned.

“Oh, yes, I am. I came to enroll at the tower, but I don’t dare present myself looking like this!” he said, waving a hand at his travel-worn appearance.

She giggled slightly, hiding behind her hand, and then brought herself under control. “Understandable, though honestly, it wouldn’t matter. If you’d like to freshen up and rest first though, I’d suggest you seek out the Band of Brothers Inn. It’s the most popular in town.”

Callum pondered that for a moment and weighed his purse. He had plenty of coin and could get more from any bank, but he didn’t know if he really wanted to stay somewhere that was described as the most popular inn in town. Finally, he shook his head, “No, I don’t think I’d like that. It’s been a long ride from White Bridge, I think something a little quieter would be better.”

She thought about that for a few moments and then nodded. “I know just the place, the Goldeneyes Inn. It’s not far from here, caters more to the simple folk, though your clothes sort of point to you not being exactly that…” she said, with a teasing glint to her eye. Seek out Mistress al’Corv, she’ll take right good care of you. And she has the best copper tubs in the city, so they say, even better than the Band has!”

“That sounds like just what I’d be looking for. Can you point the way?” Callum asked with a grin.

She turned, and held out her arm, pointing back to a street just inside the walls. “Take that street there, go about a quarter of the way around the city, it’s a good twenty-minute walk or so, even with those long legs of yours. You won’t be able to miss it, just keep an eye out for the sign with the big wolf's head, with flashing golden eyes.

He raised his eyebrows in surprise. Most mountain folk, like those from here in the Mountains of Mist, were extremely distrustful of wolves. He’d have to figure out that little puzzle a little later though. He’d already kept her more than long enough. “Thank you,” he said and bowed his head slightly.

“Don’t mention it, sir. I’ll see you at the Tower!” she said as she walked away, moving further into the city.

He watched her go, realizing that he’d just been speaking to a novice of the Tower, and then chuckled, and shook his head as he began to lead his horse back towards the street she’d motioned him towards.

It took him a good half an hour longer than she’d said to find his way to the Goldeneyes Inn. It wasn’t that it was far, it was that the street it was on was not the biggest, and he kept running into groups of people too large for him to expect to make way for him, not to mention the carts and had to keep finding his way into alleyways to keep from being a nuisance. But finally, glancing up to see the sign she’d mentioned, he found the Inn. Just as she’d said the picture on the sign was of a huge, shaggy wolf’s head, with blazing golden eyes, and there were also a huge hammer and battle-ax crossed behind it as well.

Shrugging he walked up to the boys sitting outside. “Any room for my horse?” he asked.

One of the boys hopped up. “Too right, sir! She’s a beaut! Will you be staying, or just quenching your thirst?” he asked, brightly.

“Staying at least the night, if there’s room for me too,” Callum replied.

“Oh, sure there’s room! Just leave her with me and get yourself inside. Mistress al’Corv'll take good care of you, get you fixed up right nice!” the boy replied and held out his hand for the reins. Callum handed them over and unstrapped his saddlebags, tossing them over his shoulder as he watched his horse be led towards the stables in the back of the inn.

Walking into the inn he was reminded of some of the ones he’d spent many a night in back home in Whitebridge. It was a spacious common room, with lots of tables and chairs, a small, raised platform for if there were performers, a stairway on either side and doors leading into the back. He was surprised at how large the fireplaces were at either end of the room, but then, this was a mountain town, he figured they probably came in quite handy when it got cold.

Before he could take five steps into the common room a pleasant-looking woman in stout woolen clothing, and an absolutely spotless white apron tied around her middle approached with a beaming smile. “And what might I do for you, young man?” she asked. Her voice was melodic and soothing, and she had a long braid coming round from the back of her head and draping across her shoulder.

“I’d like a room if you’ve got one,” he replied with a friendly smile.

“Oh, aye, I’ve got more than one,” she replied with a hearty laugh. “I don’t hurt for business, but most of it’s down here in the cups,” she added with a wink.

Callum smiled and chuckled in return, liking the woman already. “Well, I’m sorry to say I won’t be staying but the one night, but I’ll also be paying for a bath, and a meal, and maybe some of those cups as well,” he replied.

She patted him on the arm. “Off to the tower, are ya?” she asked.

Callum’s eyes widened a bit in surprise. “How did you…?” he asked.

That really got her to laughing. “My boy, I’ve run this inn for near on forty years. Ain’t nothing goes on here that surprises me, and most times I can see someone who came here for the Tower a mile off. You all have a certain look on your faces that give it away.”

Callum nodded, not sure he understood, but going along with it anyway. “I’ll be going tomorrow to enroll,” he confirmed.

“Well, from the looks of your clothing I’d say you’ll fit right in,” she said with a teasing wink. Callum smiled in return, liking her all the more for her blunt honesty, and her sense of humor.

“Well, the room won’t cost much, nor the meal, or the cups, but the bath, that’s a specialty of ours. I’ll have it drawn up just as soon as I can. You look plumb beat, so I’m assuming you’ll probably want to get that first, then a bite to eat, maybe in a private dining room?” she said.

Callum shook his head, “No, out here will be fine, but I do want that bath first. I feel like I haven’t touched water in years.”

She guffawed and slapped him on the shoulder. “On up those stairs, tell Colvy I sent you, we keep water hot just in case.”

Callum nodded and headed up the stairs she’d indicated. They went right up to the top floor and opened onto a long hallway. At the end was a large wooden door, and on a stool just beside it sat a boy with features that made it obvious the woman downstairs was his mother. “Colvy?” he asked as he approached. At a nod from the boy he continued, “Mistress al’Corv sent me up, I’m staying, and I need a bath.”

Colvy hopped down off his stool and held out his hand for the saddlebags. His arms strained under their weight, but he managed and sat them in a safe space behind the stool where someone would have to get past him to get to them. He took a key out of his pocket and unlocked the door and ushered Callum inside. It was warm, and the air was wet with steam from the huge cauldron of water set over a roaring fire. In the middle of the room were a few of the biggest copper tubs Callum had ever seen.

He waited until Colvy had added enough water, both steaming hot, and room temperature, and set out a bar of soap and a towel. Once the boy had exited, he quickly stripped off, putting his clothes neatly to one side, and then stepped into the tub. The feeling of the water was like silk, and aches he hadn’t even realized he had started to loosen and disappear as the warmth seeped into his muscles. As he lazed back in the tub, he heard the door open again and glanced up, seeing Colvy come in with a fresh robe and pick up his clothes. Apparently, laundry was a service here, and he was thankful for it.

It was nearly an hour before he was done, feeling loose and languid, and clean for the first time in weeks. He dressed in the robe after drying, and then exited the bath. Colvy was sitting on his stool, and quickly handed over the bags. He waved his hand in a beckoning gesture and led Callum back towards the stairs, taking him down to the second floor, and along a corridor to a door.

“This is my room?” Callum asked, and got a simple nod from Colvy, who it was becoming apparent either didn’t or couldn’t speak. “Thank you,” he said and gave him a penny for his troubles, which elicited a grin.

After dressing he went back down to the common room and got a smile from Mistress al’Corv as he stepped out of the stairway. “Well don’t you look a good sight better than most who come through here,” she said with a grin. “Set yourself down over there, I’ll have one of my girls bring you your meal and a bit of ale. Hope you don’t mind spicy, the cooks trying out something new.”

Callum watched as she moved off to survey the rest of the common room and sat himself down at an empty table. He’d barely had time to settle in before a bowl was set before him, as well as a board with a warm crusty loaf of bread and some butter. Next came the ale, still with the foam on top. He inhaled deeply and was enticed by the smell of the food. “Thank you,” he said with a smile to the serving girl who had brought him his food. She returned the smile and then disappeared back into the crowd.

The meal was some sort of stew, perhaps mutton, but it definitely had a bit of a kick, maybe ice peppers he thought to himself, perhaps something else. He couldn’t quite place it, but it left his lips and tongue-tingling slightly, in a way that wasn’t entirely unpleasant. The bread was warm, and pillowy and soaked up the butter just right, letting it melt along his tongue, soothing the burn, and the ale, pale and bubbly, must have been made with some sort of honey because it had a sweetness he had never had before in ale. It was one of the best meals he could remember ever having eaten in his life, and when Mistress al’Corv came back by he told her so and sent her back off beaming into the crowd.

By the time he climbed the stairs back to his room and got himself undressed for bed his bone weariness had returned. He collapsed into the mattress, pulled the blanket over himself, and was asleep before he could think about what was waiting for him the next day. When the sunlight streaming in woke him he felt more refreshed than he felt he had the right to feel, but it was a nice change. Tossing the bedclothes aside he stood, scrubbing his hand along his face to rub the sleep away, and then approaching the washbasin on a stand to one side of the bed.

In the mirror above it, he saw that the sleep, in a real bed, had done him a world of good. The dark circles beneath his eyes were gone, and his skin, which had gone a bit grey with the dirt and the lack of sleep had returned to its natural caramel color. He splashed some of the cool water on his face, letting it trickle through his beard, and down, where it tickled through the hair of his chest. Using the towel that had been left he dried himself and started to dress.

A bit later he exited the stairs back in the common room. He’d dressed in his finest clothing, a pair of dark blue trousers, and a light blue, striped shirt his mother had woven the cloth for herself. Atop that he had on a brocaded vest, with golden cranes and flowers seeming to float above the darker blue of the silk, and at his throat a sort of scarf, tied in a fancy knot, and held with a pin, the tails tucking inside the vest. When Mistress al’Corv saw him she gave a nice whistle and eyed him up and down.

“Well now, don’t you clean up nice and pretty? Are you sure you are going to the Tower?” she asked, circling him. “Maybe you had better get on over to the banking district, get yourself a loan and start up some sort of business, looking all official as you do.”

Callum blushed, and then shook his head, chuckling. “No, it’s to the Tower I’m headed, once I settle my bill with you.”

She nodded and gave him the price, which he paid from the purse he carried. She then ushered him over to a table and told him he wasn’t getting away from her inn without a proper breakfast and snapped her fingers at a serving girl. Moments later the nicest breakfast he’d ever seen was laid before him. There was fruit and nuts, and fresh bread with soft cheese, and even some sort of breakfast meat that was deliciously salty and sweet and seared to perfection. By the time he’d eaten it all the buttons on his vest were fairly straining, but he felt bolstered up.

“Now, you best be getting on. The Tower ain’t far, and I’ve had your horse prepared, so it’ll be a quick ride there,” Mistress al’Corv said, beaming at him.

Callum heeded her words and went outside, where his horse was already saddled and ready in front of the inn. He tossed a silver penny to the boy who’d brought her out and fastened his saddlebags to her. As he led her out into the mostly deserted street, he mounted her and headed back towards the main road into town. He had a destiny to go meet, and all the roads in this town would lead him straight to it. He was off to the Tower, ready to sign his name in the books and start his new life.

Alianora
"The Path of Daggers"
Posts: 910
Joined: May 2nd, 2016, 8:32 pm
PC: Liaran Sedai, Blue Ajah
SC: Amaranie Sedai, Indigo Ajah
TC: Kalyan Rihera, Dedicated

Re: An Arrival, A Strange Girl, and an Inn

Post by Alianora » January 1st, 2022, 10:15 pm

Kalyan Rihera, Dedicated
Kalyan yawned as he trudged down the street, carrying a sack in his arms. Blinking in the morning sunlight, he looked around him at the mostly empty streets. Far ahead, the black-clad form of Rylan Asha'man was approaching the Grey Tower, moving much faster than Kalyan could manage with the weight of the bag he held. He pushed the sack up, gripping it as close to the bottom of it as he could. His burden wasn't that large, but it was heavy enough, filled with dirty laundry. At least I don't have to help wash it when I get back. The thought made him smile even as Kalyan stifled another yawn.

As he continued to make his way slowly towards the Tower, he let his mind drift back over everything he'd learned during last night's infirmary shift. Instead of a normal night spent within the infirmary, he'd been told, to his surprise, to accompany Rylan Asha'man to the home of a woman who was giving birth. He hadn't done more than function as a spare set of hands, fetching and carrying at the Asha'man's command, but he'd still appreciated being allowed to be present, observing what took place and assisting in any way he could. It had been a long night, longer than he would usually have expected to work, but it had all seemed worth it once he saw the newborn baby in her mother's arms.

He couldn't help but think, even as he dragged his feet with his fatigue, that he'd be glad to help again if he were asked. Despite the mundane chores that were all he'd been expected to do, the work had been interesting enough that Kalyan wasn't sure he'd be able to sleep when he reached his room. He shook his head and kept walking, crossing a few streets and stopping multiple times to reposition the sack, which was beginning to seem much heavier than it had when he'd started to head back home. After crossing a few more streets, the Dedicated was finally forced to stop at the side of the street to let himself rest.

Kalyan plopped the bag down beside him, leaning against his leg, and tried to watch people go by. There weren't many of those to be seen; it was still too early for most of the people of Hama Valon to be out. There were a few maids, some other servants starting their days....and one well-dressed man on a nice horse who seemed quite out of place to Kalyan's eyes.

He watched the man and horse as they approached the spot where he stood, now entirely distracted from his earlier thoughts. As they passed by him, Kalyan spoke.. "Beautiful morning, isn't it?"

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Carl
"New Spring"
Posts: 21
Joined: December 20th, 2021, 3:11 pm
PC: Callum al'Thalda

Re: An Arrival, A Strange Girl, and an Inn

Post by Carl » January 2nd, 2022, 5:22 pm

Callum pulled up short. He'd been paying very little attention to his surroundings and felt a little bit foolish. His mind was mostly focused on the Tower in the distance and getting there to get enrolled. He looked down at the man speaking up to him and gave him a slight smile and a nod. He was standing next to a bag of what looked like laundry of sorts, a few bits poking out of the top of the bag made it a bit more apparent.

"It really is a beautiful morning, didn't get many so pretty back in Whitebridge," he admitted as he climbed down, and extended his hand.

"Callum al'Thalda, good to meet you...?" he said, turning the end of his statement into a question, hoping to draw out the other man's name.

Alianora
"The Path of Daggers"
Posts: 910
Joined: May 2nd, 2016, 8:32 pm
PC: Liaran Sedai, Blue Ajah
SC: Amaranie Sedai, Indigo Ajah
TC: Kalyan Rihera, Dedicated

Re: An Arrival, A Strange Girl, and an Inn

Post by Alianora » January 10th, 2022, 11:13 pm

Kalyan Rihera
The sack Kalyan had been carrying rolled onto its side as Kalyan stepped away from it. He stopped to stuff the escaping sheets back into the bag, then continued forward. He looked up with a smile as he shook the offered hand."Kalyan Rihera," he introduced himself, "and nice to meet you as well." Letting go of Callum's hand, Kalyan took a step backwards.

"So you're from Whitebridge?" he asked. "Heard that's a fine place to visit." He turned his head away from the other man for a second, covering another yawn. When Kalyan looked back towards Callum, the Dedicated was smiling again, and continued speaking with another question. "What brings you from Whitebridge to Hama Valon at this early hour?"

User avatar
Carl
"New Spring"
Posts: 21
Joined: December 20th, 2021, 3:11 pm
PC: Callum al'Thalda

Re: An Arrival, A Strange Girl, and an Inn

Post by Carl » January 13th, 2022, 9:14 pm

Callum smiled, "Whitebridge is a wonderful place to visit, and an even better place to be raised. But then, I'm likely to be biased, seeing as both apply to me."

He looked around at all the hustle and bustle around him, wondered if he should be honest and get roped into a possible conversation, or make something up on the spot and go about his way. He finally decided honesty was the best policy, since he was likely going to see the other man around at the Tower, and didn't want him to already think of him as a liar. "I came to enter my name in the books. Had no idea I could even channel not too long ago, and then I was in a really bad situation and it just sort of happened," he replied with a sheepish look.

Alianora
"The Path of Daggers"
Posts: 910
Joined: May 2nd, 2016, 8:32 pm
PC: Liaran Sedai, Blue Ajah
SC: Amaranie Sedai, Indigo Ajah
TC: Kalyan Rihera, Dedicated

Re: An Arrival, A Strange Girl, and an Inn

Post by Alianora » January 15th, 2022, 11:07 pm

Kalyan Rihera
Kalyan nodded, remembering how he'd made that same discovery not so many years ago. "It's that way for a lot of people who are born with the ability," he said. "Nothing to be bothered by." He shrugged, then bent down to pick the bag up off the ground. "It's different for everyone. I'd been channeling for a while without knowing it before one of the Asha'man found me..would never have guessed it without him." He adjusted the sack in his arms, pulling it in closer to his body.

"Anyways, I'm headed back to the Tower myself, and you can walk with me if you want," Kalyan offered, having no idea if the other man knew how to get there or not. With a quick grin, he added, "If you think your horse can stand to go as slow as I will, dragging this back to the laundry!"

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Carl
"New Spring"
Posts: 21
Joined: December 20th, 2021, 3:11 pm
PC: Callum al'Thalda

Re: An Arrival, A Strange Girl, and an Inn

Post by Carl » January 18th, 2022, 4:23 pm

Callum smiled broadly, "I think I'd like some company, and you could guide me so I don't get lost. I can wander the streets of Whitebridge blindfolded, not so much here."

"And as for my horse, and that bag of laundry, I think maybe we can combine the two and make things a bit easier. Then we can just get there at our own pace," he said, in reply to what the other man had said about going slowly.

Alianora
"The Path of Daggers"
Posts: 910
Joined: May 2nd, 2016, 8:32 pm
PC: Liaran Sedai, Blue Ajah
SC: Amaranie Sedai, Indigo Ajah
TC: Kalyan Rihera, Dedicated

Re: An Arrival, A Strange Girl, and an Inn

Post by Alianora » January 22nd, 2022, 2:27 am

Kalyan Rihera
Kalyan set the heavy bag back down at his feet again, having no desire to stand around holding it while they talked. With a smile, he said, "I'd be happy to show you the way, though you don't have to worry too much about getting lost. Hama Valon isn't that big, and while you're a Soldier you won't be allowed in the city without permission." In an encouraging tone, he added, "It's not as bad as it might sound, you'll be kept busy enough not to mind."

He paused to breathe, then continued, "I could show you some of the Tower too, once we get there. Might be easier than having to learn your way around after you see the Master of Soldiers." The Dedicated stopped talking then and looked down the street and towards the Tower, searching for the dark form of the Asha'man he'd been with. Kalyan was pretty sure that Rylan Asha'man had reached the Tower long ago, but wanted to be sure, because he doubted the man would approve of Callum's suggestion regarding the sack of laundry.

Looking up at the horse, he commented, "I can't deny I'd be grateful if your horse carried the bag, but it's heavy. You sure it won't hurt him?"

User avatar
Carl
"New Spring"
Posts: 21
Joined: December 20th, 2021, 3:11 pm
PC: Callum al'Thalda

Re: An Arrival, A Strange Girl, and an Inn

Post by Carl » January 24th, 2022, 7:09 pm

Callum patted the horse's neck. "Trust me, he can handle it. He hauled me all the way from Whitebridge, and I doubt that sack of laundry could weigh more than I do."

"And as for your offer of showing me around, I think that would be quite nice, and very well appreciated. Need any help getting that up?" he asked, pointing to the sack.

Alianora
"The Path of Daggers"
Posts: 910
Joined: May 2nd, 2016, 8:32 pm
PC: Liaran Sedai, Blue Ajah
SC: Amaranie Sedai, Indigo Ajah
TC: Kalyan Rihera, Dedicated

Re: An Arrival, A Strange Girl, and an Inn

Post by Alianora » January 26th, 2022, 11:05 pm

Kalyan Rihera
Kalyan nodded. "No, but thanks for asking,"he said with a smile. "If your horse does get tired, I can always carry it myself." He lifted the sack up, rather slowly, and settled it into place on the horse. The animal didn't seem to notice the bag was there, which made Kalyan feel less nervous about adding to its burden.

With the sack dealt with, the Dedicated looked towards Callum. "Ready?" he asked.

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