by Joe AuBuchon
During the remaining hours of the afternoon, caravaneers, their sons and guards emptied a third of Konna’s cellars and distributed the goods among the wagons. His wagons were also loaded and readied for the morning’s journey.
Late in the afternoon, the caravan’s guards and teamsters were treated to their own feast and wine. As the sun set, they returned to their posts, and the traders and their families filled the Dragons’ Roost.
Konna provided chicken and lamb, beef and pork, fresh breads, fruits and vegetables, mead, beer, ale and wine. Musicians traveling with the caravan provided music and song. Between the guards, teamsters and the traders’ sons, some of the serving girls earned twice a month’s wages in exchange for their virtue.
Konna said goodnight and went upstairs to bed before the last of the festivities were over. He wanted one last good night’s sleep in the four-poster he had carved for himself and Asyra; the bed in which they had conceived the girl and the boy, and in which she had birthed them.
An hour before dawn, Konna rose–one of the few without a headache and hangover–bathed and gathered the two small strongboxes and the inn’s books. Taking them down the stairs, he found Manzl and Corrin, the other three town aldermen, the mayor and the priest of the new god and Fysal.
Sitting down to a breakfast of tea, oatmeal, eggs, bacon and bread, they made polite conversation until Konna finished and brought out the bill of sale from the inn’s financial books. He quietly explained the sale and its terms. Manzl handed Konna a gold taler, and they signed the document. The rest of those present also signed as witnesses.
Konna then gave Manzl the ledgers for inventory and expenses and income. Next came the tax documents showing that they had always been paid early or on time and were paid through the end of the current year. Finally, came the strongbox with the inn’s operating money and the keys to the Dragons’ Roost.
Manzl and Konna shook hands and hugged. Each knew it was the last they would see of each other. Corrin hugged him and cried. Konna pressed the gold taler into her hand and whispered, “For Jenn on her wedding day, hers and hers alone.” He said good-bye and shook hands with the rest, except for the priest who turned his back on the old innkeeper when Konna offered his hand.
Konna picked up the small strongbox, and he and Fysal walked out of the Roost. Two of the caravan guards were waiting with horses, as the caravan had pulled out shortly after the breaking of dawn. At a signal from Fysal, one of the guards took the strongbox from Konna, and the men mounted.
Turning the horses to follow the caravan, the four quietly rode out of the town. The smell of fresh-baked bread signaling its awakening.
to be continued