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This is Black Rose Chronicles 13, by Belladonna Rose, narrated by Joline Sedai. Background music by Smartsound.
Visiting the various shops in Crossroads she made her way to the docks and spoke to the town crier who told her she could take a wagon or walk up the road a bit to get back to the main roadways. She decided to take the wagon. Once back on the road she looked out over the hillside and there near the coastline was a huge metropolis of buildings. The one in the center was very fancy looking. Walking down and bidding good day to those she passed she reached the gates of the city. Over the gate was a sign. Central Brittany. This must be where this Lord British fellow lives. Smiling she started towards the gate where one of the guards stopped her. He asked her name and her business and was a rather rude sort but she answered his questions. Once she gave her name and told him she was an Avatar he immediately saluted and offered to open the gate.
Before she could step through someone grabbed her arm and pulled her to the side. The lady seemed quite pleasant and very enthusiastic. She started going on about the Hidden Vale and how lovely and secluded it was there. Explaining that there was plenty of adventuring to do there and even some towns to call home. Pulling Bella towards the docks she pointed to the large ship and explained that this ship would take her to the Hidden Vale if she decided to take a look. Then she patted Bella on the shoulder smiled and walked away.
Shaking her head at the lady who was waving to everyone she passed Bella decided she would take a look around Central Brittany first.
The city was massive and there were a variety of homes throughout the streets. Some fancy some not
so much. Would prove to show who had and had not. Finally making her way to the docks she asked about for the boat to this Hidden Vale. The few dock workers were kind enough to point in the right direction and she once again on her way. It was nice to set foot on the deck of a ship even though it was a small vessel.
After about an hour or so the bells on the ship deck chimed alerting all that they were setting sail. It was coming up close to dusk and she hoped it would not land them on shore after dark. That was always the one thing she hated about sailing. Coming into port in the dark. Although most of her arrivals were of that kind it still gave her an odd feeling. She had had many altercations with other ship captains and even authorities when she made landfall. Either to rob her, investigate her cargo or to just out right arrest her. The latter was more common though. Shaking her head and laughing to herself she thought back to many of those times. “You transport one bad shipment and they always think you are up to no good.”
As the ship entered the harbor she looked out over the prow to see the upcoming town come into view. It was not what she had expected. Ramshackle buildings and a few folk wandering about. Not what she would think of being a port town for sure. As they set anchor at the docks she started down the plank to the landing. Many of the buildings she could see had been boarded up and the town looked like it had and was having a rough time of it.
Stepping up the rickety walk there were several boats anchored there. A few to different towns and such. But not the hustle and bustle that would normally be seen at a port town. Sadness seemed to steep into her veins the further she walked. Most of the folk here were ragged and tattered. An old man approached and she tossed him a coin. Smiling his toothy smile he thanked her and went towards what looked like an inn. She followed him and went inside. This was not what she expected but it would do for now.
Sitting at a table a barmaid came by and told her what they had on hand and she ordered the meager meal and a tankard of ale. Hopefully one of the two would be good. Wiping the crumbs off the table she looked about. No one really noticeable to the likes of anyone in charge of a port town. After a bit the girl came back and set a average sized tankard down and smiled. “Food will be around in a bit love. Its not been too busy today so having to scrap up a decent meal fer ya.”
Belladonna smiled back and took a swig of the ale. Not too bad she thought. She tried listening to the folk about town and heard names barked out of the surrounding area. Alot of hushed talk about the undead and such. Typical talk she had heard on her travels there. She heard a bit of chatter about the sewers being haunted here and in Owl’s Head. About missing folk from Braemar and about some bad goings on in the Owl’s Nest Mines. Shaking her head she thought that this place was just as riddled with bad things as the rest of the world.
Moments later the girl returned with a platter of assorted dried meats, cheeses and vegetables. Nary a fruit to be seen. Once she found a place and set down some roots she was for sure going to plant her some fruit trees if she could find the seeds and any other things she could grow. Her cousin, Aletta would be so pleased to hear that Bucaneer Bella was thinking of becoming a farmer. Biting into a crusted piece of bread from another platter she laughed at herself. That would be a different thing to do for sure. Farming. Goodness gracious how she had fallen.
As she continued with her meal she listened to some conversation amongst the patrons. Even enjoyed a lively tune being sung by a gentleman wearing tattered and worn clothing. Seemed to her that most all the folk in this town had once seen better days. Ragged and faded and weathered faces but all still willing to continue on with life. That to her was a good sign. At least they hadnt given up just yet. As she finished her meal she lay some coin on the table..walked over to the minstrel and tossed him a coin and made for the back door.
The alley was dim but not yet dark as it was still pretty early in the day. Many market tents were set up and she could see that some folks had found a way to make some sort of living. There was a nice man with a fish cart. A tailor selling bolts of fabric. And even a vegetable cart. She walked over to the man and asked if he carried seeds for planting. He smiled a toothy grin and told her he had several seeds for planting depending on what she wanted. She asked about fruit trees and he laughed and said yes but unless she was willing to set down roots somewhere there was no point in trying that. Said it takes a bit for them trees to grow and even in the soil around these parts they wont get too big. She smiled and told him she would keep that in mind.
Further up the alleyway she found an alchemist wagon. The lady was kind and gentle and offered many potions for various ailments. She would keep her in mind for later as well. Although Bella knew a bit about alchemy from her cousin Pol. She continued on up to a stone bridge and stood there looking out at the harbor. Again she found herself whisked away to another time and place. She thought of her cousins, Aletta, Pol and Katrina and wondered if they were worried about her. She thought too of her sisters, Crimson and Scarlet and what they might be up to. With a sigh she walked over the bridge and saw a gate leading out of town. There were still a few hours of daylight left. She might as well make the most of it.
Echoes From the Caverns