Gideon’s Arrival in MarikestAfter a long and difficult trek, Gideon makes his way into Marikest, the first of the Eight to arrive in response to Jolly’s missive. Although Marikest is a larger town, people who grew up here know one another and his calm bearing and garb easily mark Gideon as an outsider. As he wanders about the city, trying to navigate and take in the customs and layout of this new place, three dwarves give him a hard eye as they warily come out of a walled compound. They approach him straightaway with a body posture and gait that is serious but not overtly threatening—yet.
The leader of this trio, not discerned by his size and strength, but by his bearing, has a bit of a shuffle in his gait and is missing two fingers on his left hand. Although he is smaller than the other two, one can easily tell by the corded muscles in his right arm and shoulders that he is a Maester of the Forge and a dwarf to be respected, regardless of race.
He quickly sizes Gideon up in the short manner that is common to dwarves. He asks gruffly, “Who are you, and why are you here?” As a seasoned adventurer, Gideon knows tough customers when he sees them and he proceeds carefully and deliberately, slowly producing the document he received from Jolly.
The dwarf leader quickly reads the missive and reviews Jolly’s seal as a smile spreads across his face.
“So you’re one of the Eight?” he asks, not expecting an answer, “Jolly told us in the council that you would be coming. That salty son of an orc also told me that he’d throw in a cask of ale for me and the boys if we delivered you fellows to the Randy Shanker mostly unmolested. Well, the sun is over the mountains, I’m all out of steel to forge, and I could use a beer—or ten—and you’re my ticket to the finest ale. Come!”
The sturdy dwarf was clearly relieved at knowing that he would not have to draw steel just yet, and with the two flanking dwarves visibly relieved as well, the tension in the air discharged and slid towards a more celebratory air.
As Gideon and the dwarves walk along the creek, the leader abruptly turns, barks, and extends a hand. “Ah Shitte, where are my manners? The name is Hubrid Darkfather. You might see folks call me councilman or some such nonsense, but I’m really just an old anvil smasher who’s at home at his forge.”
“You may call me Gideon. Well met.”
By the time the pleasantries are over, they find themselves at the front of an inn. Despite Gideon’s training and his best efforts, he can’t help but laugh out loud when he sees the sign for the Randy Shanker. After looking at the sign, Gideon knew immediately that had he been dropped anywhere in the multiverse, and had he been looking for Jolly, then this would undoubtedly be where he would be.
Entering the tavern, Hubrid and his crew wasted no time saddling up to the bar for their expected pints. Hubrid is greeted with a strange mixture of joy, arse-kissing, and genuine respect that confirms he is of some import in this town.
As Gideon’s eyes adjust to the darkness of the inn, he spies his friend Jolly. It was a jarring juxtaposition indeed; from the gore-spattered dwarf, covered in the blood of friend and foe that Gideon left many months ago, to the unarmored brewer laughing with friends in a pub. The slayer of beasts had subsided under the surface and now the easy road spirit that loves to experience the world for all its beauty and danger was obviously, for the moment, paramount.
Gideon watches, as Jolly pulls a beer from a small cask into the tankard of a holy symbol he wears around his neck. The look on his face tells the whole story. He’s found his point of joy. Glancing up from his ale, he recognizes Gideon. As the smile spreads across his face he bellows, “I knew you would come, my friend!”
Jolly hustles Gideon into a seat by some very lovely dwarvish ladies who slam their iron tankards at him and vigorously slapped him on the arse as he saunters by. Their beards were as terrific as Gideon remembered. Other folks in the inn come up to Jolly and treat him as a long-lost brother or a battle-friend.
Gideon and Jolly drank, laughed, and talked long into the evening. However, even in the midst of this frivolity, Gideon realized that something wasn’t quite right. Patience being core to Gideon’s being, with wisdom being its partner, he pushed back the negative thoughts, and choose instead to embrace this time of good food, great company, and wonderful beer (it really was awesome), so long as it may last. For he knew it is never something to take for granted in times such as these.
In the morning, the rooster crowed and Gideon slowly opened his eyes fully expecting a hammer-blow from the previous nights excesses to come crashing in at the temples. “Freaking Jolly…”, he mumbled to himself, but as he sat upright, he instead found himself refreshed and as light on his feet as he ever did. With a smile, he rises and states more clearly while shaking his head, “Freaking Jolly.”