Chapter 3 – Seabound vessels and wagons, merchants and locals, men and women

As Raymond walked toward the island’s docks he began to grow a new appreciation for the nature on Navaden. The land, though generally very flat, had a dazzling assortment of streams, ponds, trees and mushrooms. In some areas it seemed like an artist intentionally placed trees where they were rooted to maximize the beauty of the scene. As the young man continued the road crossed under three rocks that formed gateway marking the next area. Behind that gate lay a bed of mud and pebbles which spanned across the left side of the road while the right had an army of trees which appeared almost evenly spaced out. The distant left side was covered by a thick swampland, but just behind the evenly spaced trees on the right lay the ocean. Raymond enjoyed the outdoors in Navaden, but his mind was set on leaving. He would soon arrive at a new land with breathtaking sights of its own.

When he finally emerged from the road on to the docks he met a crew of traveling merchants. They wore dense leather and fur outfits and every one of them had a sword in a sheath on their backs. This was the standard for visitors on the island as it was home to many dangerous beasts, including the one that killed Raymond’s mother. Raymond did not carry a sword himself because his destination, Ascalon City, was rumored to have almost no danger aside from an “insignificant” battle with a race of “cat-men” called Charr. Rose, before she left, told Raymond that the war with the Charr was highly exaggerated by the Ascalonian military to make a bigger name for themselves.

A small but elegant ship arrived at the docks. Rather than the standard brown wooden exterior of most ships, it was painted red and lined with white. Raymond and the merchants silently lifted their bags over their shoulders and stepped aboard the ship. Aside from the captain’s assistant showing them to their private rooms and collecting their fees, few words were exchanged. Raymond went to his room and dropped his bags on the bed. The room was small but luxurious. It had a nicely made bed, a circular porthole window and table with a chair. However, unlike the exterior, the wood inside had no coloring. The ship departed and Raymond was lucky enough to have been placed in a room on the side where he could watch the docks as they drifted away. The docks slowly faded into the distance completely barren with nobody around to wave at Raymond or the merchants as they sailed away.

James could not be there to wait for the ship and see his son leave because he needed to tend to his farm. Rose had already left the island several days before, but Raymond thanked her in his head for getting him a ticket for such an expensive ship to make his journey on. The young man felt very little swaying during the journey as the ship was designed to minimize sea sickness. After a few hours of sitting on his bed and imagining what his near future would hold, he finally moved his bags to the floor and lay down to an afternoon of sleep.

He slept like a rock, quite possibly dreaming about something interesting, until the captain’s assistant knocked on his door and woke him.

“WE’VE ARRIVED AT OUR DESTINATION!” The assistant’s voice rang through the door.

Raymond lie still for a moment trying to remember his dream, but then reality hit him and he quickly rolled out of bed. He hoisted his luggage over his shoulder and stepped out of the room into the middle hall of the ship. Merchants emerged from their rooms behind and in front of him and they all began to slowly shuffle toward the ladder in the front of the hall. The morning sunlight blinded Raymond for a moment as he climbed up the ladder onto the deck. As he crossed the deck his mind began to slip back into trying to remember the dream. Without thinking he followed the merchant in front of him, but did not mind gap between the ship and the dock. Fortunately his foot landed on the dock, but it was way lower than the deck of the ship and for a second he thought he was going straight into the water.

As he regained his balance and looked up he remembered that his journey was not at an end yet. Ascalon City did not reside near the ocean so he still needed to catch a short ride to get there. Raymond left the docks and followed a sandy path beneath dozens of palm trees until he came face to face with four oxen attached to covered wagons. Each wagon had a driver who held up a small wooden sign. The wagon to the far right had a sign that read Caerise Corner, Raymond approached the driver and tipped him a few coins before jumping into the back. For a few minutes he sat by himself inside the empty wagon, but he soon heard the sound of a bunch of women laughing coming in his direction. Within moments, five women hopped in the back of the wagon and sat down around him.

They were giggling and talking about some vacation they just returned from. They all wore the same outfit which consisted of brown leather pants, a green long sleeved cloth shirt and a brown leather vest. One of the women was fairly old, she had curly gray hair and for this she appeared to be the leader of the group. One looked quite young and had fiery red hair and moderately tan skin. Two of the others had long blonde hair, but one seemed rather young and the other looked middle aged. The last one, which sat furthest into the back outside corner of the wagon, really caught Raymond’s eye.

She had pale white skin, but with slightly blushed cheeks and a light assortment of faded freckles across her nose and cheeks. Her hair, cut just bellow shoulder length, was a very dark shade of blonde leaning toward the brown side. However, her facial expression is what really got Raymond’s attention. She had this look of confusion, her head was tilted and she had slightly raised eyebrows. Much like Raymond’s eccentric fascination with rainy days, this look of confusion fascinated him as well. He tried to imagine what might have been going through her head.

Did she leave something at the location of her vacation? Did she suddenly lose all of her memories? Was she being held hostage by these seemingly peaceful looking ladies? Maybe she just hates life at home?

His focus, and what might have become an embarrassing stare, was interrupted by the oldest woman quickly extending her hand toward him. Raymond reached out and shook her hand.

“Hi!” She started, “My name is Deborah and we are all trainers at the Academy of Advanced Archery.”

“Pleased to meet you,” Raymond responded. “Now that you mention it, the uniform did have me curious.”

“Indeed!” She giggled, “and who might you be?”

“I’m new here.” He replied “My name is Raymond Varis.”

He briefly explained that he was planning on living in the area, then Deborah began to introduce the other women.

“This is Sandra.” She reached over and touched the knee of the young blonde.

“I’m Chelsea.” The tan redhead added.

“Hey.” The middle aged blonde waved at Raymond. “My name is Lindsey.”

“They call me Brownie.” Said the confused looking one in the back.

“YOU SPOKE!” Sandra and Lindsey exclaimed simultaneously.

“Good job, you!” Chelsea winked at Brownie.

Raymond politely waved but did not respond. Brownie turned her head and looked out the back of the carriage to try to make it look like she ignored the other women’s remarks. At this point Raymond’s fascination died and he became uncomfortable. Not because he liked her, but because the response of the women indicated that there was something wrong with her.

Raymond glanced out the back of the wagon. He watched as bright green hills rolled by. Every now and then the wagon would pass under a large white wall and the guards at the gates always waved at the women who rode with Raymond. They all waved back except for Brownie who always seemed to find something inside the wagon to look at every time they passed a few gate guards. Occasionally a little two story brick house with an orange clay shingled roof would appear on the green hilltops outside, but much of the land was uninhabited. The scenery was a complete change from the island Raymond left where grass was a rarity.

Eventually the wagon came to a stop. The driver informed his passengers that he stopped to pick up another traveler. They waited for a short while before a short bald man hopped in the back and began making his way to the front trying his best not to brush any of the other passenger’s knees. Aside from his height, he had an otherwise perfect build. He must have been a man of manual labor who was also careful and clean. He wore a white robe like some sort of monk.

“Hello, Red Feather.” Brownie said to him.

The man looked at Lindsey then back at Brownie.

“You know, that’s the first time I’ve heard you greet someone who did not first greet you.” He responded.

“Oh, sorry.” Brownie mumbled, “I’ll work on that.”

The bald man smiled and winked at her then continued his way toward the front of the wagon and sat down next to Raymond. He reached out his hand.

“Hey, you’re Raymond Varis right?”

“Aye, did my father contact you?” Raymond asked.

“Indeed, he did.” He answered, “My name is Red Feather, I am the leader of the village in Caerise Corner.
“Your father trusts us as much as we trust him… which is QUITE a lot.
“I’m not sure how much he tells you about his visits up here, but he has done so much for us that I can not even begin to explain it all.
“Anyway, you won’t have any trouble finding us, we’re on the map.
“If you don’t find yourself an affordable place today, just come to our village, we have a tent for visitors.”

“A tent?” asked Raymond.

“Our village is tents only.” Red Feather smiled, “Wow, your father really doesn’t tell you much about us then?
“Yes we chose a bit of a tribal lifestyle, but we still get in with the everyday life of Ascalon.”

“What about the lifestyle of Caerise Corner in particular?” Raymond inquired.

“The land is great, that’s why we live here.
“However, the people in this corner aren’t so peaceful and pleasant as the rest of Ascalon.
“If you really share your father’s beliefs and values, you should either buy a house very close to our village or buy one somewhere outside of Caerise Corner.”

“Oh yeah? Why is that?” Raymond raised an eyebrow.

“Because we have a college, a massive pub and Ascalon’s most shady marketplace.” Red Feather began to rant, “I tell you what, there is always something scandalous or vulgar going on.”

<< Chapter 2 | Chapter 4 >>


2 responses

11 06 2011

So far still good. I like all the characters, especially Red Feather even though I’ve only a seen a very little bit of him.

26 06 2011

Thanks for the feedback, Sheik. I’m glad you like it.

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