Book Two: The Lone and Level Land
Tiganis Rin

Berrona Umbermoraday

After making the trip from Selunaport to Lake Dakar, Tiganis Rin was not in the least disheartened to find that the Dwarven shipbuilder his patron hoped to purchase had already been sold. Even if the overland visit had taken him away from his dreams of swashbuckling on Lake Seluna, it did afford him a chance to visit Riot’s Gate, and on the eve of the terrible eclipse, no less! He and Bao Xi (Lu Rin's business associate) were in the Skybridge Tram returning from McGreevy Town when it was stalled by a fantastic battle, and rescued by a daring group of adventurers who were still being celebrated as heroes across the Federation (Oh how Rin wished he could have been there himself!)

In Cauldron, while Patron Rin’s representative looked through the books of several other shipbuilders whose operations were up for sale (or potentially for sale) Rin had a lot of time to wander around the docks of Cindercone, Cauldron’s neighbouring port. Most owners were based in Cauldron while most operations were based in Cindercone. Rin’s task of hanging around the docks to try to get a sense of the operations Bao Xi would consider purchasing left him a lot of time to do what he most inclined to do regardless, hang around with sailors and dockhands to swap lies and tales.

The lines to get into Cauldron, a state capital, were long and the Border Marshals here were particularly corrupt, so Rin found a place to stay in Cincdercone. He would meet with Bao Xi every couple of days to share his observations of the establishment under consideration and here the latest update on the sales negotiations.

Rin had found another Dwarven shipbuilder, Piotr Timbershins, who ran a tight little operation that he was not looking to sell. Rin had learned, however, that Tibershins was enough in debt that he might be willing to take on a partner, especially one as wealthy as Lu Rin. Bao Xi was delighted with this news and said he would look into it. Apparently negotiations in Cauldron were not going well.

Rin had started watching the Dwarf regularly and making discreet inquiries. By and large he liked what he heard and saw of the shrewd businessman if not the conservative shipbuilder. One evening after watching Piotr speaking in a tight little knot of older, rougher looking dwarves in a dockside bar, he was surprised to see them joined by a human priest of St. Cuthbert. After speaking briefly, all, including Piotr, soon left the bar and Rin was a little too curious to exercise as much cautious as was his nature. He found the surly group of Dwarves, and the priest, waiting for him outside. “Like what you’ve been hearing sonny-boy?” one of them growled.

Rin stood in the doorway of the bar, his back to the light pouring into the street, his darkened face would be his only advantage, he thought to himself wryly as he surveyed the area for a quick exit to the rooftops.

Rin had little doubt he was about to receive a beating, when he heard one of the Dwarves comment on the “nimbus of light” that framed him in the window. These words seemed to hold the priest fast where he was standing, a wizened Trudorean with long white hair. He called for the closing Dwarves to halt and stepped forward to inquire Rin’s name and business.

For some reason, Rin thought the better of lying and was totally honest with the man he would later learn was named Wulfgar. Much to his own surprise, he even spoke aloud about his interest in Piotr.

Wulfgar was immediately very interested to know more of Rin’s heritage and Rin was only too happy to keep the conversation going. As long as the ywere talking, those Dawrves weren’t kicking him into the dust. Even as he spoke, and the Dwarves became notably calmer and more interested in the conversation, Wulfgar’s attention seemed to be elsewhere.

By this point, Rin was not surprised when Wulfgar suggested to Piotr that he consider Bao Xi’s offer and said he would act as a guarantor for Rin’s character, begging the shipbuilder to overlook the bit of “spying” in which Rin had been engaged as “all in the name of business,” something that to Piotr, being a Dwarf, actually made perfect sense.

Wulfgar begged the Dwarves to excuse his haste, their business having been concluded, and asked Rin to join him on a walk to Cauldron. Before they left, Piotr grabbed Rin’s shoulder and spun him around to offer his hand to shake. He looked at him slyly and growled, “I look forward to doing business with you.”

Wulfgar leaned on Rin much of the walk up to Cauldron Gate, much as a grandfather might walk with his grandson. Rin found himself doing most of the talking, answering Wulfgar’s familiar questions, which seemed to Rin, like little more than friendly small talk.

Along the way, Wulfgar explained that he would like him to meet some friends of his who would have a business proposition for him, but he would ask another Cuthbertian priest to make the introductions. For the small indulgence, he assured him that he would be able to guarantee the sought after partnership with the Dwarf, Piotr.

At the temple, Wulfgar bade farewell to Rin. When he exchanged words with a neophyte, who seemed to have been waiting his return with a large bundle of equipment, the young priest cast Rin an appraising look. Wulfgar told him that he had to attend some business, which would include a word the following day with Bao Xi He asked that Rin accompany the neophyte and assist him with the load. Had it been any less a person than this distinguished priest who had begged such indulgences, Rin would surely have balked, but as it was, he felt he could only agree.

After moving down towards the central part of the city, the docks around Cauldron pond, Rin and the neophyte soon reached a ramshackle if not well kept tavern and inn called Uncle Ogre’s Monocle. Rin felt some splash on his cheek, though it had not rained in days and the sky remained clear.

Rin and the neophyte waited barside, soberly playing pick-sticks, well into the night. Finally, long after the last visitor had left, a group of companions, as filthy as they looked exhausted, stumbled noisily in. The neophyte smiled broadly, looked at Rin, and stood, looking for all the world as though he were preparing to address royalty.

Thalazzar's Clockwork Lake

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