Krogenar: Sawdust and Spirits - Part 2

[ 80] Krogenar: Sawdust and Spirits - Part 2   
Sat Dec  6 20:17:08 2014
To: all
The strider leapt from rooftop to rooftop, heading north, scenting for
beer - about the only thing the city had that interested him. Crouching,
his head cocked to an unfamiliar scent - for Westbridge, anyway: sawdust.
 
Thick and fresh, sappy and resinous, it hung in the air like a
curtain and made him think of the wild spaces. Some of that wood told stories.
The smell led him to a black-tiled roof.
 
Peering down over the edge of the roof, a battered wooden sign depicted
a bruised and stitched arm, healing over. Across the street, in the
dimming light, workers carried wood timbers into what was once
Zalan's Bar. Legend held that long ago the bar's namesake had brought
down the wrath of some deity, who burnt him alive in his own bar.
 
In fearful respect to the god's wrath, it had been left as it was:
   a burnt out shell.
 
But first things first.
 
From the back end of the roof, he spied a cart trundling into the
kitchens, pushed by a sweaty worker with thinning hair. The cart
was filled with ice and wooden cases. The strider produced a
nugget of gold in the palm of his hand.
 
'Sussh, Hesh...' he whispered, and the worker's hair was blown back,
stunning him. While he rubbed at his eyes and smoothed his hair back
into place, a single wooden crate slowly lifted from the cart, and
found its way up into the strider's waiting hands. The worker
continued his labor, not noticing the nugget among the ice chips.
 
Smiling, Krogenar alternated sips from the small brown bottles with
long draws on his pipe. Workers filed in and out of Zalan's Bar with
planks of wood, while citizens watched across the street.
 
They peered into the burned doorway, from which sounds of an argument
could be heard.
 
He blew a cloud of smoke out before him, and for a moment, an angry
female face was visible in the coiled smoke.
 
A voice whispered in his ear, "What's happening? Why won't you tell me?"
 
He shrugged silently, and watched. A man fell out of the doorway,
one eye bruised and blackened. A small, wide ... person, a woman, by the
scent of her, emerged with an axe in hand. She kicked over some stacked
planks. Carrot red curls of hair hung from her lower jaw.
 
"Take your crooked wood with ya," she said, loudly enough for the
gawkers to hear. "Or I'll make it firewood." The man stood, seething,
and his delivery men soon rallied around him. A city enforcer placed
himself between the female dwarf and the supplier, holding him back.
 
"Aye, I'd burn this shitehole down, but i's already been done -
 - ye stupid bitch!"
 
Now it was the enforcer's turn to hold back the dwarf, who swore in
a language that the strider did not know, punctuated by obscene hand
gestures. Its ferocity alone was enough to make him smile.
 
After a time, peace was restored, the dwarfess (he wasn't sure what
to call a female dwarf) returned to the interior of the blackened bar.
The rejected supplier ordered his men to load the planks onto a waiting
wagon. From his vantage, Krogenar could see that many were warped, or
deeply knotted.
 
When all but two of the planks remained, the boss waved them off, said
something that made his workers look at each other and smirk.
The strider's ears could not pick up what they said over the tavern din
below him, but the smirks did not bode well.