Starting to explore the tower

The door on the other side of the guard room wasn't locked but its hinges screeched as Venne opened it, Mirko and Lianna again standing ready with their weapons drawn.

"Why didn't the front door squeak when we opened it?" said Mirko thoughtfully.

"Keep that staff up!  And you can ask all the questions you like when we've checked the tower out.  Keep your mind on the job."

Mirko jerked his staff back up into a guarding position and fell silent, moving slowly and cautious like Lianna as she approached the door.

The room on the other side was empty and dusty, with footprints tracking across the floor to a door in the right-hand wall.  It was smaller than the first room, only half as wide, but better lit; there were two windows high up in the walls, neither one shuttered or curtained.  Another table, much smaller was pushed against the back wall with a chair trapped behind it, and next to the new door on the right were some wooden cupboard or lockers, stacked two high.  Between the windows was a wide, shallow fireplace.

"Looks clear, but keep your wits about you," said Lianna.  She walked over to the new door and checked it.  "This one's locked; maybe this is what your key's for, watchmender."

"Could be," agreed Venne, who had gone to the lockers and was checking them.  "These were locked once, I'd say, but someone's already looted them."

Mirko looked around, still holding his staff in the guard position, unwilling to be reprimanded again by Lianna.

"There's a lot of space in here," he said slowly.

"This room's barely half the size of the other," said Venne, leaning into one of the lockers.  "Aha!  Found something!"

"Be careful," said Lianna immediately, leaving the door and joining Venne at the lockers.

"Just coins, three schillings.  And mine, by my Lord Wickhold's leave."

"Finders Keepers rules then.  But I'll have no fighting over things.  If you can't agree who saw it first, it gets left behind."

"I meant," said Mirko, scuffing the dust in the floor with his foot, "that the room's laid out to leave a lot of space here by the door.  The desk's over there, those lockers are right over there...."

Lianna looked around again and frowned.  "I see your point druid.  This looks a lot like every guard room I've served in now I think about it.  That would be the Captain's desk then."  She walked over to it, her sword now sheathed but her hand hovering near the hilt still.  One-handed she pulled the desk out, the wooden feet scraping across the floor, and walked round it.  "Hah, and we have two drawers."

One drawer was locked, but the other opened to reveal a thin book bound in leather, than opened up to reveal lists of scratchy, twig-like characters.

"That's Hob," said Mirko.  "They're all lists of names though: Vetchil, Ulla, Bregyll."

"Rosters and roll-call," said Lianna.  "This must've been a guardhouse at some time then, that makes me feel better.  Can't use a place as a guardhouse if it's not strong and safe."

"Why's it written in Hob though?"

"Code.  Someone knew Hob and used it to keep the log secret from the recruits.  Wouldn't be the first, I had a guard-captain once who used a system of notches on a piece of wood.  He was the only one who ever knew anything.  Not much of a captain, but a good man with a sword.  Watchmaker, want to try your key in this drawer?  A guardsman might just hide his key above the door."

Venne checked the last locker and then came to the desk brushing dust off the sleeves of his cloak.  "Key's too big," he said glancing at it.  I'll try the door though.  I reckon you can probably just pull that drawer open."

By way of answer Lianna braced a foot on the desk and pulled on the drawer, ripping the whole front of it off.  "Pretty much."

The drawer held an empty clay jug , a couple more schillings and a copper ring, large enough to fit Mirko's thumb.

"Hah, definitely a captain's desk.  That'll have been his wine or moonshine in the jug.  Looks like the money and ring's mine this time."  Lianna scooped them up and slipped them into her pouch, tying it securely back to her belt.  "How's that door then?"

The End

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