Penfold and Seenchena strolled into Strobe’s immaculate Seaview Tavern to the sounds of a large, painted sign being nailed to the signboard near the entrance of the Inn.
In was in fact one of the best Inns thay had been to in Northland. Seaview Tavern not only was clean it had a balcony with a spectacular outlook out to the shell strewn beach along Codfish Bay. Today’s drizzle made inside much, much nicer…cosy tables, friendly innkeeper and a warm fire. Seenchena led Penfold to quiet table with a view to the tall pine trees of Blackwood.
Ordering tak from the friendly, red headed barmaid, they settled and took time to look around at their fellow drinkers. A few heads turned towards them and nodded but most of the men appeared to be looking towards the newly posted sign, frowning. In fact the tavern seemed to be unusually full at this time of day, with weathered working men, who surely should have been out earning their keep and supporting their families. Penfold wondered if that was why so many of the men seemed intent on the sign and turned to take another look.
“Looks good…What do you think? Know much about cows, Penfold?” asked Seenchena looking up at Penfold.
“Sounds okay…think I am better at working with wood than cows though… In fact I am quite certain I am better with wood than cows.” said Penfold.
“Could be interesting though…don’t know about you but my funds are starting to run low…could do with a bit of casual work and we would get to travel a bit more. You know I used to travel a lot when I was working for Dad. Fixing wheels and the like. " replied Seencheena.
A cool breeze signalled a new arrival to the cosy tavern. Expecting to see another weather worn labourer, coming to quench his thirst, the pair were astounded to see a vision glide through the double doorway. Creamy skin, silky white hair, knee length, glittering like silver and the most perfect bone structure they had seen in a long, long while. The vision had poured themselves into chocolate skin tight leather leggings, topped with an elaborate brown and gold vest with some sort of floaty red garment underneath. Slender, graceful and with a boyish figure that somehow hinted at curves and secrets. Perhaps glide was the wrong word…sashay was more apt. Conversation paused for a moment as the Seaview tavern’s occupants admired the new arrival as they paused and took in the room.
“HHEELLLoooooo! Pretty people! Thirsty work this travelling, I feel all hot and bothered. Can anyone buy me a drink?” trilled the blonde vision who just entered the Tavern, smoothing long blonde locks. “Silly me. I forgot to introduce myself. Skye. I am Skye as in blue Skye…and thirsty, my lovelies.”
“Ummmm…okay,” mumbled Penfold stunned by the charmer walking towards him. It was only then that they noticed the vision was flanked by a grim faced boy. Probably a body guard thought Seencheena.
Groaning Seencheena said, “We were thinking of going on this drove,” indicating the sign behind them. “Not something, someone like you would be interested in, rough dirty work I imagine.”
Barely glancing at the sign, Skye pursed her lips, winked her brilliant blue eyes and simpered, “Well sounds like you need me….I can get anybody in anywhere! If you know what I mean…besides sometimes rough and dirty can be fun…if it’s the right sort!”
Their conversation was interrupted by the door near the sign opening and a voice asking all applicants to enter in an orderly fashion in preparation to meet Master Goodberry. Master Goodberry was intending to interview all applicants presently. A few men in the tavern almost stood but sat down smartly after looking towards a dark figure in the corner.
Not one to be late to a meeting Seencheena moved quickly, made herself presentable and proceeded to the doorway, focussed on the task ahead. She turned to the group, “Coming?”
The three figures left at the table got up and followed their halfling friend, fingers crossed and hopes high.
An hour later the group exited the room and entered the tavern’s drinking room to a sea of grumpy faces. Not one other person had applied for the position. Intent on their success they didn’t notice the ill will in the room.
“Well, that went well!” exclaimed Seencheena,“…and Skye you were actually a great help! I am sure Master Goodberry wouldn’t have made such a good offer without your help.” Seencheena pulled her notes from the meeting from beneath her robes and commented, “We are now official employees of one Master Greenleaf and have to deliver the cattle within ten days with a personage called ‘Spud’….I wonder what a Spud looks like?”
“Does anyone know anything about cows?” asked Skye’s bodyguard grimacing. Everyone turned around startled…noone had heard him speak before. In fact Seencheena thought he may have been mute.
“Ummm…er…well….How hard can it be?” replied Penfold.
" As hard as you want it to be…you minx!" smiled Skye fluttering her glossy, dark lashes.
“I have a herding dog,” said Seencheena helpfully.
Their happy chatter was quickly interrupted by a large, bearded man standing beside their table.
“That wasn’t wise…not wise at all…,” he muttered slowly fixing each person at the table with a dark stare.“Noone here works for Master Goodberry…EVER! No one with morals anyways and those without morals…well they seem to get what is coming to them…”
The brooding stare faltered and stopped, finding the clear, blue gaze of Skye. His expression softened slightly as a silky, white hand patted the vacant space beside a leather clad thigh. Penfold and Seencheena glanced at each other, smiled and sat back to watch the now increasing familiar show. Alex, Skye’s bodyguard, sighed heavily, and turned away to study the large, black spider spinning a web between the window sill and a nearby potted plant.
“Now, now big boy. No need to get yourself all hot and bothered (well not yet anyway). Sit down and I am sure we can sort something out.” Skye soothed, fluttering her impossibly long, black lashes. “First things first. I am Skye as in ‘blue sky’ my lovely and these wonderful peeps are my friends Seencheena, Alex and Penfold and we are very, VERY pleased to meet you!”
“UUMMMM….uh…..well. Griffin….” muttered Griffin slowly.
“Well! What a manly name!” exclaimed Skye softly stroking one of Griffin’s muscular arms. “And sooo strooong. No wonder your mother called you Griffin…such a FIERCE man. Now we are better aquainted. There seems to be a tinsy, tiny bit of confusion. Is there something we can help you with?”
Before the end of their drink Skye had not only managed to get the full story of Strobe’s political situation but had also promised help and enlisted some of Griffin’s henchmen to help on the drove. It turned out that Griffin was a staunch supporter of a Lord Candalas, the local rival to Lord Dalicore our official employer for the drove.
According to the now friendly Griffin, Lord Candalas had been wrongfully accused of plotting against the beloved Halfling Queen of Northland. Griffin heatedly defended Lord Candalas. He was quite insistent Candalas was not a Trezkillian Blackcloak. Quite the opposite he was a fair and honourable employer, and unlike Dalicore he was a true local man who honestly cared for the community. This honour had an unfortunate consequence. It led Candalas to travel to East Port to answer the charges against him. Lord Dalicore on the other hand, apparently was nothing like the good Lord Candalas. He was not a local, a spend thrift who spent most of his time in East Port, leaving gluttonous Master Greenleaf to do his work for him.
“Wow!” whispered Seencheena to Penfold. “ Skye is good really good…”
“Never seen anything like it before,” whispered Penfold behind his mug of Tak. “Shhhhh… I want to hear what is next.”
Between the odd thigh stroke, batting of lashes and hair sweep, Skye also found out that Griffin was the doting father of three small children and the voted local leader of the boycott against Lord Dalicore. Griffin had ran a successful campaign until we arrived, successfully stopping the ‘spineless glutton’ Greenleaf from hiring and locals or new comers alike. They had been trying to recruit for months now and were quite desperate as there was only 12 days left before the cattle handover was finished for the year.
We explained our position of needing work and honouring the needs of the queen by herding the cattle as tribute to the lizard man but agreed we didn’t know enough about who we worked for. In the end we said we would be happy to split the money with Griffin so he could distribute it to the needy locals and prevent Lord Kandalas from profiting. He offered to send two of his men, Dolan and Priah to help drove the cattle. To this end a mock fight with Dolan, was staged to set the scene for his ‘defection’ in a couple of days.