Hello everyone, this is Asclepius, with the next chapter of a wonderful story from Belladonna Rose, entitled
Black Rose Chronicles
Background music by Smartsound
The walk back to Soltown was quiet and solemn. Bella thought back to the people she met in the Solace Bridge encampment. They had all been through so much and yet many still survived and endured all they had been through. The children although a few were orphaned she was sure seemed to pull through and hold out for some form of hope. Playing and doing their best although a bit odd. Smiling at the children dancing around the campfire singing the Ballad of Bloody Bones seemed innocent enough. But after seeing that creature at the Ebon Dawn ritual sites she was not all that sure.
Passing the awful bridge area again made the whole thing sink deep in her thoughts. There truly was something evil lurking about and causing all this trouble. She just hoped she could help end it all.
And the sooner the better it would seem.
Entering the edge of Soltown she was greeted by the refugees there at the campsite. Captain Stanley waved from the edge of the docks as he ushered more folk from who knew where. Patting her sides she remembered she had to deliver a message for him to some town called Ardoris. As she walked up to Stanley his smile dimmed a bit. She thought to herself ..Do I look that bad? Do I show some sort of misery to him that I bring bad news? Odd she would think this but it must show on her face. She had always been so good about hiding things like this.
“Ahhh Avatar…I mean Mistress Belladonna. Good to see you have managed well from the outskirts. I take you have news for me?”
“Yes I bear a message from Captain Kinsey. She bade me inform you that they are holding down things there despite some interruptions. But things are going well. A few folk are packing up to move on for other parts but most seem content to stay there.”
Frowning a bit he looked down at his feet…then looked back up into her face.
“I don’t know if things will ever be alright again M’lady but tis good that we have you Outlanders here to help out. Meaning no disrespect mind you. It’s good to have you here. Things in Soltown have been a bit strange of late but I guess that goes with so many refugees about.”
She gave him a puzzled look and turned to look over her shoulder.
“They all seem to be faring well at the moment. Not sure what else could be going on.”
“Ahhh well see that is the thing. The regular folk of town are a might up in arms over the folks from Solace Bridge being here. Rag tagged and all. They feel that what happened at the bridge might find its way here. And quite frankly we are not equipped or manned for such an assault.”
Bella nodded in understanding and started to step away.
“Its more than that though I am afraid.” Clearing his throat as to speak more he moved closer as if to whisper in her ear.
“Seems there have been some things happening the last few nights. Robberies, fires and someone mentioned there were bandits coming up outta the sewers. Not what one would expect here. If you wouldn’t mind moving about town and see if you can find more information about these things I would truly appreciate it.”
Patting him on the shoulder she nodded to him she would and that simple smile grew on his face again. It was amazing to Bella that this man would hold so much trust in her since she was an Outlander. Shaking her head she grew to hate that title more and more each day.
Walking towards the camp everyone bid her a good day and she made a point to speak to each one. One lady mentioned that she went to put flowers on her daughter’s grave and the pendant she had placed there was missing…and there were large footprints around her grave. She told Bella it had to have been the thief as her husband was off fighting somewhere and the boot prints were extremely large for any of the men about town. Giggling she told Bella she had spent the last couple of days going about town looking at all the men’s feet. Bella couldn’t help but laugh as well. She told the lady she would look about and see if she could solve the mystery.
One of the men in the camp was going on about a fire a few nights back..burning an entire wagon to the ground. Almost killing one of the horses. And one of the other women agreed that she had seen someone walking about with a red sash or some sort of red clothing. But she wasn’t sure as it was getting dark. Everyone was unnerved that someone would try to burn them out after what they had already been through. Many were already talking about taking what little they had and moving on. At least they wouldn’t have to deal with this.
She nodded to them her understanding and thought to herself they were better off here than out side the town. Too much evil was lurking about ..and that wasn’t just the things she had been fighting. Things like this often bring out the worst in folk.
Moving through town she stopped and spoke to Arabella a short time then made her way into the inn. Ordered some food and sat down to eat. Minding her own business as she ate she did listen to the conversation at the table. No one seemed to give her a second notice.
The mintstrel who usually is singing for a pint was sitting by the fireplace on a stool….staring warily into the flames. When she finished her meal she approached. Touching him lightly on the shoulder he almost jumped out of his skin.
“Scared me half to death ya did. Don’t be sneakin up on folk like that.”
“I did not sneak up on you and I did call your name out but you were too engrossed in watching the fire. Is there something the matter this evening. You seem very on edge.”
“Well I don’t be knowing what “engrossed” means but yes I am a bit distracted.”
Bella smiled and pulled a stool up next to him and patted him softly on the knee.
“ Here I be out back of the inn…takin care of business in the darkness when two hooded figures come barreling by me knocking me to the ground. Neither a care in the world that I could have been hurt. Rudeness if you dont mind me saying so. But that aint the thick of it. They smelled funny they did. Kinda like damp stone and moss. Like they been sleeping by the river or somethin. But it was way worse. Kinda had a dead smell about them too.”
Shivering he looked back at the fire and shook his head. “It was just strange. Made me teeth chatter thinking about the way they smelled. I thought maybe they went into the inn but they never did. I came back inside and they were nowhere to been seen.”
Patting him on the back she listened to him.. Motioning for Emily to bring over a couple of pints. As she got the mugs she handed one to the man and told him to drink up. She sipped the second one and decided she would give it to him instead. She never was good at drinking ale and beers.
After a few gulps he seemed to settle down a bit. Then she asked him if he could tell her what direction they came from and she would check it out. He told her and she again patted him on the shoulder . Standing she walked to Emily and handed her a few coins. Asking her to get the man a bed for the night so he could rest. Emily smiled and nodded.
Here she stood with three new missons to accomplish. Find a thief, an arsonist and some thugs.
Well isnt this going to be a fun time indeed.
After many days in Soltown Belladonna finally completed her missions. She found and dispatched the thief in the graveyard and returned the missing necklace to the rightful owner. She uncovered the arsonist and reported him to the Captain in town so he could deal with him. The wealthy merchant fellow is still a bit under suspicion to her though. He did not seem like a friendly fellow. Again she talked to Arabella and was told to venture out into the world. Finish the tasks at hand in the city of Ardoris and go forth to Blood River and High Vale. There were many things needing to be done in both those area to finally find the cause and reason for the Undead uprising . Also the additional uprising of the Elves.
Belladonna pondered her newfound circumstances. Now she would have to tread throughout this still unknown land trying to help fix all their problems. Shaking her head she moved on towards Ardoris
After talking to many folk throughout she met many along the way that sent her here and there for different tasks. Making her way to a shop she purchased a coal stick and blank book so she could write down all this information so she would not forget it. Each person she talked to she jotted down clues and such to help keep track. She smiled as she sat at a table in the Pelajar Tavern eating a small meal. Pulling the book out and sharpening the slight charcoal stick she wrote down the past things she had done since she arrived. Some were disturbing remembrances and some were funny. Finally catching up to the present time she stretched and took to her room for the night.
Arising the next morning she had a small breakfast. Visited a tent shop to purchase some provisions and then headed out. It was time to explore this vast world and see what it had to offer her. She needed to find a quiet place to settle down and make home port. There was no way she could keep venturing further and further without having a place to go to and revive herself both mentally and physically.
Making her way back up the road from Ardoris she passed by Soltown again. And on past Solace Bridge. She reached the area of East Reach Gap and made her way across into a desert area. Dry, hot and very few villages along the way she found herself in Desolis. Here she stayed the night and picked up more information about this and that from the villagers. Restocking her supplies she headed west as she was instructed. “Head to Brittany. There you will find what you seek” said one of the travellers in Desolis. So that is what she did.
Crossing the remaining desert she approached green grass and trees. Finally. Some respite from that horrid heat and sun. Not that she was not familiar with heat and sun being a ship’s captain but the dry air was not to her liking. She liked the sea breezes for certain.
Coming over the hillside she saw many villages dotted across the lands. This was obvious due to the smoke pillars from all the homes. She stopped into one town and took a rest there. Crossroads was the name although it was not a cross road at all. But it was a nice enough place to rest for the night. Early the next morning she stopped at a small row house shop and resupplied herself. At least the small scrabbles she had along the way gave her enough coin to purchase what she needed.