Adventures of the Companions - Free Chapter 1
 Book 1

The Foundation of the Companions

by

Fred Buchholz

CHAPTER 1 - Old Friends Met, New Friends Found

    Obegee's, it felt more like home than home did to Gorman. She had spent most of the last year here, avoiding her mother on her father's advice. Poor dad, bless him, he had insisted on telling mom that it was done and the vesturing ceremony complete. Obegee's… a warm large rectangular common room with 2 fireplaces, one on each short end. The double door and four windows along the street wall and a long bar that went almost the whole wall away from the door. Two arched openings on either side of the bar lead to 3 private dining rooms, the stairs to the 2 floors of rental rooms, and the kitchen. The room was light and cheerful, and Gorman had to admit; Obegee knew how to run an Inn. Gorman looked at her reflection in the huge mirror behind the bar: Medium height, her dark brown hair, free from her Chain-mail coif, fell to her shoulders but was tied back from her face with a beaded leather cord. Her face didn’t look that of a warrior with the soft rounded features, but her sky blue eyes held the look, for those that have seen it, of a determined fighter. Her chain mail shirt didn't flatter her figure but neither did it hide that she had one. Even as the sword and mace at her belt told all she was a warrior it was her medallion that she wore openly around her neck, that proclaimed her of a knightly order within the kingdom.

    Gorman stood next to Almar at the bar, glancing now and again at a priest in the corner, her wine cup hardly touched. Almar still had on his traveling leather armor, even though his bow was upstairs in his room the large sword on his back, the hand ax and dagger on his belt marked him as someone you didn't want to cross. Short with a weathered complexion, his green eyes seemed to pierce the shadows of the common room. His light brown hair was just past his shoulders and hid the vestige pointed Ears that were his heritage, for he was of mixed blood, Elf and Human.

   Gorman was wondering if Caley would really turn up today at Obegee's. Caley had left a message that he had an important errand and if he missed her vesturing at least he should make it to Obegee's by evening. Almar broke into her thought's "Gorman are you listening at all," he said with exasperation. She turned her thoughts back to their discussion and said, "I guess we can check out the border and the supposed attacks there, I'm now free to find my way." Almar looked at her intently and said " Well we will need to get a bit more gear and food before we go, how about we start tomorrow on that?" Gorman's gaze drifted to the priest again as she said "Sound's good." But she wondered 'What is it about that priest that is bothering me'. She was just about to ask Almar if he knew of the priest, when the door opened on the evening and in walked two travelers, both wrapped in Grayish Green cloaks but one was only about 2 feet tall, the other threw back his hood and she recognized Caley. 

   He was tall for an Elf, about Gorman's height; his golden hair shining like the sun and his piercing amber eyes marked him as elf kind even with out the pointed ears and slim fair face. His traveling cloak fell open to reveal chain mail and a sword and at his belt. His bow however was in his hand and the Quiver of arrows slung at his other side. He glanced around the room pausing a moment on the priest and then finally found Gorman at the bar. He and his companion made their way directly for Gorman; the Rest of the patrons had paused in their conversations and had slid back from Caley's path where they could. He was known at Obegee's but even those who called a hello to him did so hesitantly as none really understood elf kind. Caley answered the calls with a short 'greetings' as he came up to Gorman and Almar at the bar.

"Well Met Gorman, Good hunting Almar!" Caley Said as he got close enough to grasp each arm in turn. "I suppose my news of raids by persons unknown on the border is old with Almar here? Well no matter, I am deeply sorry I missed your Vesturing Gorman, but I had a spell cast, that one I told you two about last week, remember?" Almar responded "The one that could take a week? So it worked?" Caley looked at his companion who had just climbed up on a Bar stool and said "Well yes and no, I didn't get what I expected but it seems to have worked exceedingly well…" Caley's companion chimed in "Pure luck or higher intervention I tell ye" it said in a grumbling voice, "I ain't supposed to get got by naught under the 5th school, I just don't understand…" Caley broke in with a high Elvish laugh "Hah luck or intervention you were glad I showed up as I remember it" Almar broke in "Just who is this Caley?" "I be Tollin" the 2 foot person replied and he dropped his Cloak's hood.

   His skin or hide, Almar couldn't tell which it might be considered, was covered in a short glittering red fur. His face was flattened and he had large tufted pointed ears. His mouth held pointed teeth like many a predator Almar had seen, but his eyes were jet black and seemed to reflect your image back at you. His body looked like muscular human even if only two feet in height. Almar noted the cloak bulged as if wings were folded on Tollin's back. Caley continued "The spell took the full week and led me to him when I thought it should lead him to me. Once there I sort of helped him out of a jam." "Hah I would have figured out what she had done in a few more minutes!" Tollin grumbled. "You would have been diced and stewed by then." Replied Caley "Just remember the rules I told ye about, ye being so inexperienced I can't help to me full abilities until ye make the 5th school" retorted Tollin. "We'll just have to wait and see won't we?" Caley said softly with a smile. "Well I guess we will be 4 for dinner then?" said Gorman. "Better make it 5 my dear" a tenor voice said from behind Gorman and Almar, "Especially since you can't pay without your purses." 

   As Gorman and Almar spun around they saw a handsome young man of middle height with short sword on his belt a dagger in one hand and their purses in the other. His short cropped hair looked unruly, like he'd just gotten out of bed, but his eyes showed laughter in his long sharp featured face, sporting a slightly misshapen nose. "Really you two need looking after, why any cut purse in the city could rob you blind!" He said with a flourish and presented their purses to them. "ANDY!" Gorman Exclaimed, I didn't know you were here." "Gorman, when, if ever, have I missed a party I could attend?" Andy said loudly Then lowering his voice for those next to him only "I just checked out a couple of folks I saw at your vesturing ceremony, one of them is over in the corner there, the priest, the other" Just then the doors banged open loudly one of them breaking a hinge and in walked 5 tall broad men.

   They all were over 6 foot tall and built like prize fighters, The largest looked around the room and settled his gaze on Gorman. "Well here she is boys, the girl who would be knight haw haw, ain't that rich!" he bellowed like a bull. Gorman took a step forward glowering, Almar looked behind her to Caley and said "Did he just say 'girl'?" Caley looked grim and said simply "yup." Tollin looked at them both and said, "What's that got to do with anything?"
Caley leaned his bow against the bar, pulled his purse up and dropped it on top and said "Watch that for me will you Tollin?" Andy dropped Almar's and Gorman's purse on the bar as well and sighed "I really hoped we could have met them outside, it's so much cheaper." The largest was a man everyone at Obegee's new as Bruto, he bellowed again "Obegee you serve a sniveling girl who pretends to be a knight but not us!"
Gorman said in a growling voice, sounding like a threatened she tiger, "What did you call me. Merry!"
Bruto looked at her and screamed "MY NAME IS BRUTO you bastard girl child! Hide behind your father's position, the only way they would ever let a girl… UUUFFFGH"
Gorman's punch took Bruto's breath away, The other 4 came at her but were met by 4 others, Andy crashed a chair over his opponent, which slowed him down about 10 seconds. Caley grappled and drove one of them into the wall with enough force to knock him out, Almar grabbed one and twisted his Arm up and behind then propelled him out the Window amongst crashing glass. The last brute heard one word from the priest in the corner; "DIE" and he fell to the floor. A few seconds later as he tried to rise the priest clipped him with a mace and he stayed down.
Bruto had regained his breath and swung wildly at Gorman, rather than duck she took the blow on a mail covered arm and all heard the snap of an arm bone breaking. Bruto went down with a howl grasping his broken arm. Gorman let him fall to the floor and turned to where Andy's opponent should be as she had heard Steel drawn, the last tough, he was standing stock-still, with Andy's short sword and dagger crossed over the tough's own short sword and keeping it pinned to his chest. Andy said in a mild voice "I believe that just about ends this discussion, I suggest you gather your comrades and leave, oh and me 'Merry' Bruto, the guild will hear of this, I suggest you might want to leave town after mending your arm."
Gorman looked at the one standing tough and said "Take Bruto to my church tell them I will pay for his healing." Then Gorman looked at Andy and said "What's that about a guild?" Andy replied "I know some of Bruto's employers and they frown on open conflict like this, especially when no profit is forthcoming, let's leave it at that, OK?"
"OK Andy" Gorman said with a look that said it was far from being left, and turned to the priest who was assisting the bouncers in removing the unconscious members of Bruto's gang from the common room. "Sir Priest" she began. He turned, bowed, and said "Acolyte actually I hope to be Cannon some day, a merry brawl you had but hardly fair."
"Fair is for tournament and challenges" She replied. "Might I have your name and your reasons for intercession in a private brawl?"
"I am called Blain. I serve a different set of gods and goddesses than you, however my order currently does not accept the 'holy warrior' caste such as you. In attending your vesturing ceremony I was intrigued. I intervened in hopes of convincing you to allow me to travel with you for a time. I wish to see how this works that I might report it to my own church and possibly convince them that its a good idea, of course that is only if it really IS a good idea. Might that be possible?"
"You are too polite to turn away Blain, come join us for supper this evening at least."
"I thank you Lady and I accept, if I may ask though, might I ask my traveling companions to join us as well? At my expense?" Gorman responded "Nay this day I'm paying Blain, how many do I have Obegee set for dinner?" I have two friends but bring food for three between them." Laughed Blain. "I must come to more of these vesturing parties as they seem to entail free meals." Gorman turned to the bar and said in a loud voice "Obegee we are seven, no eight" (nodding to Tollin) "for dinner, set us the room I reserved if you please, and while we wait, to all you good folk it's my vesturing day and the next round's on me!"
The serving maids made their rounds to general acclaim and well wishes from the patrons. Obegee smiled and took only half of the damages from the purses on the bar. He said in his Bass voice "It's worth half the damage done to see Bruto put in his place publicly me lass." Gorman smiled and thought 'a good fight, old and new friends and a feast to come, if only dad can make mom understand, this would be a perfect day'.
    Later that evening Blain introduced the first of his two companions, Dimitri Twinaxe a dwarf from the southern dwarven kingdom, he stood a little over 4 foot tall, broad and stocky as befit his race. His beard, so black it was blue, was long enough to have it braided and tucked into his belt as he ate. He had a mirthful deep voice and seemed far more jovial that what Gorman had heard of Dwarves. Dimitri seemed uncomfortable with his given name and asked that everyone call him 'DT'.
Blain chuckled at Dimitri when he said that, Caley asked "So what is the joke?" "In the Empire when one is doing something unwise, one is said to be a dumb troll, thus the initials D.T." Explained Blain. "But the initials have a special meaning to him, meaning decapitating thoroughly; how do you say it DT?" DT stated gruffly, yet with a sparkle in his Eye, "I DT orcs!" Blain smiled and explained further "DT has a reputation of an orc fighter in the Empire, I believe his best was 13 in one battle?" DT harrumphed "It was 15 but no one would confirm the other two I claimed so they left me with that 'bad luck' number, I haven't bested it yet…"
Blain's other companion a Gnome interrupted "At least you weren't named after 3 different relations!" Almar broke in "3 relations? What is your name anyway?" The Gnome rose to his 2 ½ foot height and proclaimed with an alto voice: "Fralimicious Rendarious Edgar Dromidian, one of the famous Dromidian Gnomes of the Empire." His ruddy face was somewhat flushed but his bright red hair and beard might have accounted for his coloring. He had sparkling dark brown eyes and was stocky as well. He wore a yellow tunic, green trousers, and bright blue boots. The entire ensemble with the red beard hurt Gorman's eyes if she looked at him too long. "But to my friends I prefer to be called 'Fred'." He finished with a bow.
Blain explained "We are traveling from the Empire north in search of various pieces of knowledge. I as I have said am interested in the holy warrior castes. DT here is looking to make contact with dwarven armorers we've heard tell of, and Fred there he thrives on new information especially for his art." Fred looked at Caley and said, "I greet one of similar persuasion." Caley remarked "I did not know any gnome followed the art, we must talk…" Andy exclaimed "but not before Dinner!" At that point Obegee and several servers entered the room with the main courses of Beef, Pork, Chicken and Fish, Warm Bread, butter, Potatoes, some other vegetables in a mix and best of all Obegee's Famous baked apples. Obegee's baked apples were known throughout the kingdom, he had even served them once to the King and many Senators. No one knew his secret recipe but they were sweet and had bite all at once.

Almar looked up at Obegee and asked "How about THE story again Obegee? These new friends of ours have not heard it I'll bet." Obegee looked at Gorman and she nodded as she set into the apples. "Well it be like this ya see, I and me mates were out on patrol, when we comes upon a group of Ogres just settling in don't ya know. Well we weren't gonna let just any one settle in that didn't have leave ta, so's we ups an attack 'em meaning to drive 'em off. Well they weren't the driving kind and we had us a battle. We kilt them all but 17 of our 21-man patrol were gone as well. We four survivor's divided up their ill-gotten horde. My share bought me this place. Two o me mates spent theirs in the gambling and drinking and whoring until they both showed up dead in the alleyways, when the second died, Tarrasch come to me and said they was murdered and he left the kingdom right after, he was me third mate. That were a few years gone by now. Left a scroll case for his young son and a fair coin for his wife. I look in on 'em from time to time.' Obegee looks off at the wall of the room and after a moment says softly "I often wonder if I shouldn't have left then too." "Then old Chass would have this inn! The best thing to happen in this part of the city was when you bought this place and made it go!" Said Andy holding a steak bone like a baton. "Why it caused most others around here to stand up to his veiled threats and now we have a decent place for travelers and city folk alike." Obegee looked at Andy with eyes like daggers. He seemed about to set to an argument when the cook came in talking about a problem in the kitchen. Obegee said "Just ring the Bell if you need anything and someone will be along, I have to see to this I guess." And he bustled away.

The rest of the evening was spent eating and drinking, discussions between Caley and Fred over their magic 'art' started getting arcane and only Tollin seemed interested; Blain and Almar discussed geography, kingdoms, and religions; and DT and Gorman debated the ax versus the sword in combat. Andy looked over the several conversations and thought 'what a crew this would make, we could do almost anything!' Little did he know that other conversations were echoing this same thought.

Across town Bruto reported his encounter to his new employer, someone even Andy didn't know about. The comment was made that this group of people could do anything. The topic turned then to how to get them out of the way permanently, and plans began.

In still another tavern an old man in gray robes, with a dark blue traveling cloak sat drinking his ale and muttered to himself, 'They could do anything the question is will they do the right thing? Will they be the ones?'

And so night fell and the companions, as they would become known as, went to their beds. The morning promised to be busy as they would all be preparing for their trip to the borders, or so they thought.



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