Times were not easy in the mining outpost, Avalon. The pirates had no experience mining, and progress was dreadfully slow. Orichalcum was also extremely difficult to extract, and Forte had to face a whole new challenge—dwarven raids. Angered by the murders of their brethren Gritwort and Hamwick at the hands of Forte and Nightmare, the relatives and close friends of those dwarves began to attack what could pathetically be called a town, a few log houses storing ores. Nightmare mercilessly slaughtered the dwarves as they came, while Forte helped occasionally.
Forte was also lacking smelting equipment, so all the party could do was mine ores. Their pickaxes were wearing thin. Forte would have to pay a visit to Rottheim, and visit the human merchants. Avalon desperately needed new steel pickaxes, smelting, and smithing equipment.
The problem was that Forte could no longer bring Nightmare to the human domain and easily explain him away anymore. Nightmare would have to stay in Avalon.
Forte could communicate simple emotions and commands such as “come” or “stay away” via his magical bond with his dragon, which would have to suffice. Thankfully, due to a bond ability beyond Forte’s understanding, Nightmare could always find him if he needed. The bond between a dragon and his master ran deep.
Pirates Jack, Cook, and Tew were to stay at Avalon with Nightmare to continue mining orichalcum while defending the settlement from dwarves. They had discovered a nearby iron ore vein as well as the coal vein from the first dwarf mining area Forte destroyed, and so with the proper smithing materials, Avalon could start producing steel.
Forte stored the soul of Backbeard into his amulet, just in case something happened and he needed him. He mounted Nightmare and packed the silvers he had collected throughout his adventures, and flew off north towards the human domains. A month long trip by horseback would only take a week on dragonback.
Their journey was smooth. They hunted during evening, and flew during the day. Any stray packs of raptors were driven off by Forte’s fire magic or Nightmare’s fire breathing. Before long, Forte reached the human outskirts.
“I’ll see you, buddy. Sorry I can’t take you along.” Forte said to Nightmare. The dragon scoffed and flew off to the south, towards Avalon.
Forte began the second leg of his journey alone.
He headed to the nearest town and bought a basic horse with a wagon caravan for 538 silvers. He had 7470 silvers remaining after the purchase. In his inventory, he also had two small chunks of orichalcum to sell. They would total to approximately 700 silvers to the right buyer. To purchase mining and smithing Forte would have to travel to the nearest blacksmith, and the nearest blacksmith of good quality was in Adith. He’d have to revisit the city.
The next morning, he read the headlines and he had to reevaluate his plan. Adith has declared independence from the Kingdom of Rottheim. King Richard III has not retaliated so far. Perhaps it was safe now, with the looming war with Halfast acting as a cover for his business in Adith, he thought. He shuddered, thinking about his last experience in Adith, getting ambushed by raptors in his inn room and then kidnapped by Mace Thaddus, and finally dragged to the Count’s mansion. But that was years ago. He had grown much stronger. It was his time to counterattack. But not yet.
Forte decided that he would go back to Adith, despite its new status as an independent city-state. He needed mining supplies for Avalon, and Adith was the closest city with a respectable maker of pickaxes and smelting equipment. He presumed that it would not be dangerous for a while because while the two kingdoms prepared for war with each other, they could not spare resources on petty squabbling cities.
Forte began his journey to Adith, a journey that would take a few days. Having entered the human domain, there were little to no beasts around, such as carnivores like wyverns or herbivores like the venerable slog. Forte’s journey was unperturbed, and he reached the mid sized city of Adith after a few days. He gazed at the familiar ivory gates, and then walked up to the gate guards.
“Halt! Past these gates is the free city of Adith. Please declare your goods for sale now. The city takes a 25% tax on any sales made by nonresidents of Adith within this city, and there will be an additional surcharge if you require the services of the Merchant’s Guild.” The guard announced.
Forte smiled. “I’d like to declare 700 silvers worth of orichalcum to be sold in Adith. That is all.”
The guards’ eyes lit up. “Orichalcum? You? Never judge a book by its cover, huh.”
They inspected the inside of the caravan, and confirmed the goods being sold.
“You may pay the 175 silvers tax here.” The guard said.
Forte paid the tax, and entered the city. Several people that overheard his conversation stared at him in awe. They thought, how did a young man like him happen to possess orichalcum? Forte headed straight for the Merchant’s Guild, so they could appraise and check the authenticity of his orichalcum. The Merchant’s Guild of Adith was stately, and Forte stepped in on the fine rug and admired the brilliant tapestries.
“Can I help you sssssssir?” A merchant inquired.
“I’d like for you to appraise these two chunks of orichalcum.” He said confidently.
The merchant beckoned Forte into a room and sat him in front of a table. A few moments later, a young woman with a looking glass walked in and greeted Forte. She examined the pieces of orichalcum.
“Yes, these are authentic.” She said, beckoning to an assistant. “Please give the gentleman here a stamp of the merchant’s guild’s approval for sale of these two chunks of orichalcum ore. Of course… we can buy these from you here, and you won’t have to pay our appraisal fee. We offer 290 silvers per chunk.”
Forte disliked the shaving off of 110 silvers, but reluctantly agreed. He netted 580 silvers from the transaction, and left the Merchant’s Guild. It was getting dark, and Forte sought refuge an inn across the street for 5 silver per night. He ate boar belly and beer for dinner, costing him another 2 silvers. He decided to check out the city attractions and treats, having built up enough of a fortune to afford some luxuries finally. His worth was 7868 silvers, but he only carried a thousand silvers around while he left the inn.
Forte saw an advertisement for a melted chocolate candy stand, and took a shortcut through an alleyway to reach the city center. He realized his mistake when the turned the corner. A group of bandits surrounded him suddenly, cutting him off.
“It’s the orichalcum boy, eh? Why don’t we shake his purse a little? See if some orichalcum falls out?” The bandit taunted.
Forte frowned. These bandits must have heard of his fortune with orichalcum. He unsheathed his gravitite greatsword.
“You guys are going to regret this.” Forte smirked.
“Regret my ass, grab him!” The bandit leader yelled. The bandits ran at him with swords. Forte parried their blows and landed clean blows on two of the bandits, on the sides of their bodies. The power behind the hits send them reeling, as Forte dealt with the last two bandits with a blow to the neck for one, instantly killing the bandit, and a sweeping hit across the other’s torso. One of the bandits grabbed Forte from the back, retraining his arms while the other approached with a sword.
“Infernus!” Forte burned the bandit behind him with a flash of heat, forcing him to release his grip. The other bandit’s eyes flashed in fear as he saw the magic being cast.
“Curses, he’s casting spells!” The bandit yelped, before Forte crushed his bodice with his heavy sword.
He looted the bandits, but to his dismay they were not carrying any money or valuables. Forte continued onto the market without a second glance, keen on getting that melted chocolate candy before it was too late. Unfortunately, he arrived at the stand moments after it closed.
To his left was a familiar sight, a strange little magic shop with levitating baubles in the windowsill. It had not yet closed. Forte entered the shop again, and chimes announced his entry. An elderly mage sat in a rocking chair, petting a cat in the corner. Forte knew his name from Eric Lockheed. It was Bumbus Biggles.
“And who do we have here? A return customer, I say.” Bumbus Biggles muttered absentmindedly.