Erith's Trading Post

Mirko left Alenna's with a jar of ointment for his rash, some of which she'd already applied for him.  The itching was still there, but was subsiding rapidly.  In return he'd given her a small bag of herbs and mistletoe picked from the druid groves.  From the avaricious look in her eyes when she checked the contents he guessed that he'd been a little overgenerous.  However, the druid enclave's policy was to maintain good relations with the town, so a little generosity here and there was seen as sensible behaviour.  It was for exactly that reason that he now took the middle path into Kinewick, heading for the trading house to see what work needed doing.  Whenever the druids came into town they made sure that if there was something that they could help with they did.

The path into town was muddy and wide with small puddles here and there from the insistent drizzle.  Mirko walked through it all, squelching happily along, paying attention to the birdsong in the trees and noting the decreased activity in the hedgerows as the houses starting appearing and clustering together.  The trading post, owned by a retired Ranger called Erith, appeared quickly, also towards the edge of the town.  Initially Erith had wanted to set up on the edge of the town green, central and closest to would-be shoppers, but the Mayor had objected, saying that it would only attract travellers and wanderers into the heart of the town.

Mirko went in; the trading post's door was always open when it was.  The post was a large rectangular room with a second, much smaller room behind it and some rooms above where Erith lived.  The main room had a wooden floor and a long, clean counter behind which Erith was sat chewing tobacco.  A broom stood at one end, leaning against the counter, and lined the walls holding various goods.  Some more freestanding racks of shelves came out a little further, all low enough that Erith could stand and see over them to watch for shoplifters, and behind the counter were sacks of grain, flour, dried beans, and at this time of year, dried apples.  The air smelled earthy, the grains and flours contributing strongly to it, but there were hints of paraffin wax and a light dairy note as well.

Mirko left the dirt of his travel behind again, and his arm instantly started itching.  He tsked softly under his breath as he realised that his charm had also removed the ointment from his skin.  Then he walked over the to the counter; behind it were posted the help-wanted notices.  To his surprise, he recognised the two people already perusing them: Lianna and Venne from Alenna's.

"Druid," said Venne, looking up.  "Surely you can't be looking for work."

"We always see if there's anything we can help with when we're in town," said Mirko, smiling.  "It's neighbourly.  But tell me why a man with an apprenticeship and a burned arm would be looking here."

"Hah." Venne smiled, showing his teeth.  "That's exactly why I'm here, druid.  I cannot manage delicate clock-work with my arm as burned as this, and Master Zesh does not like to see his apprentices idle.  I am to find something to do for the next week or so until I can handle the clocks again."

"It's irrelevant anyway," said Lianna shaking her head and scuffing a foot.  "There's nothing here for any individual; there's a mining team wanted for the dwarf mines up at Tinawl Mountain and a survey crew wanted, but that's it.  Precious little work in Kinewick for now."

"Tinawl Mountain, isn't that where --" started Venne, and Lianna cut him off curtly.

"Where they found four dead miners missing their arms and legs; that's the one.  There's ghouls in there at the very least, probably worse.  Not a job for anyone who wants to live a long life."

"What's the survey crew wanted for?" said Mirko, out of politeness rather than interest.

"Posted by Baron Edgewick's son: they found an old tower during some land clearance work.  They want a team to go in, check its safe, draw up a floorplan, and evaluate it for defence.  Boring," said Lianna.  She waved a hand dismissively.  "I'd do it myself, but they want a team of two, and I've dealt with the Baron before.  He's a stickler for these things, there's no way he'll hand it over to just one person."

"I could help you," said Mirko, his voice merging into unison with Venne's.

The End

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