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Old 12-29-2003, 11:06 AM   #1
Spirit of Mist
Join Date: Jul 2000
Location: Tol Eressea
Posts: 3,261
Mithadan is a guest at the Prancing Pony.Mithadan is a guest at the Prancing Pony.
Sting Here There Be Dragons - RPG

The breeze which entered through the open window was hot and carried with it a variety of odors. The sea tang was ever present, even as it had been in Lond Lefnui, the home of his youth. The scent of burning wood and cooking meats was also in the air. These were familiar to Mithadan. Less familiar were the smells of the odd local flowers and fruits, yet these at least were pleasant. But less pleasant were other smells. For the air was infused with the fumes of rotting garbage and even sewage.

The Havens of Umbar were a mighty port and city, located on the verge of the great sea. Many were the towers and spires of Umbar and the hill which overlooked the port was crowded with the houses and warehouses of the rich; the traders, lords and princelings of the city. But outside the opulence of the central square, the hill and the primary docks were the homes of the less well off. The farther one traveled to the south and east of the palace of Umbar's Lord Falasmir (as he was known in Westron) the poorer was the housing until the surroundings degenerated into a maze of hovels and shacks; a place of filth and violence. To the north was a river on which inland trade was conducted and across the river were plantations and farms.

Between the city and the slums to the south was a vast market which lay in a broad arc around the base of the hill. There, a dizzying variety of goods and services could be had. Spices, foods, fine cloth, gems and metals were sold there, as were animals, including the odd humped beasts that some rode instead of horses. In the center of the market was a square which was bordered by a large, fenced-in pen. But the pen housed not animals but rather men and women who were bought and sold for use as servants, beasts of burden and less humane tasks. Mithadan shuddered at the mere thought of that place.

Weeks ago, the trade minister to King Elessar had approached him to undertake a voyage to Umbar, one of the first since the War of the Ring. Mithadan had been reluctant at first, but a personal note from the King had persuaded him. Piosenniel had been angry, both because of the possible danger as well as because he would not allow her to accompany her on the voyage. They had argued long into the night until she agreed to remain at home with the children, at least for this one voyage. Gilwen, Isilmir and even little Cami had accompanied their parents on a number of voyages to the north, even to the Grey Havens. But this time, they could not come along and Mithadan had steadfastly insisted that his wife stay with them. "Perhaps six weeks at the most," he said. "Likely five or less. We will not be long separated."

Three weeks and five days had now passed since they had left port. The Lonely Star's holds were nearly empty. The ship had carried a cargo of fine wood from Lebennin as well as the work of Gondor's craftsmen
when she had departed from Minas Anor. When she reached Umbar, she had been escorted into her berth by a black sailed corsair. The cargo had been off-loaded in a matter of days and had fetched a fine price. Then Mithadan and his crew had been eager to deal with the local traders for spices and other rarities with which to return to Gondor.

But Falasmir's trade minister has suggested (almost demanded) they wait. He explained that a great caravan was expected which
would deliver the best and newest goods at better prices. In the interim, Mithadan and his first mate, Airefalas, were invited to stay at the palace, "for just a few days, until the caravan arrives." In the interim, the crew were invited to shop at the Great
Market and enjoy the hospitality of the port.

Whenever his crew went abroad they were accompanied by guards. Yet even so, it seemed that crewmembers were often separated from their "guides" when in the Market. They learned quickly to maintain their sense of direction and keep to the north side of the Market, away from the ghettos of the south. At least two of his crew were robbed and beaten when they wandered too far. Others had their purses cut by pickpockets. Mithadan was ultimately forced to order his crew to stay aboard the ship except in broad daylight while travelling in groups of four or more. Even then, they ventured into the city only one group at a time. It was not long before they became bored and began to
complain, for the "few days" stretched out to a week and he had heard no word of the caravan, at least until this morning.

A messenger arrived from the trade minister bearing a note. It read: "The caravan is now two days away. Its advance riders have now arrived. Please honor the Lord Falasmir with your presence this evening for dinner, where you will be introduced to Umbar's most
reputable traders. Please attend to the Lord Falasmir this evening at six bells at the Great Hall."

Mithadan placed the note on a table, and turned to Airefalas. "Well, it seems that we may yet escape this place," he said to his first mate. "The caravan approaches and we are invited to dinner to meet some traders."

"Say not 'escape'," said Airefalas. "I do not like the sound of it. Say rather that we will depart with a full hold sooner rather than later. The Lord Falasmir's hospitality aside, I am eager to return home. I feel as if we have been delayed intentionally. What can this caravan hold that we cannot purchase here already?"

"I also am ready to leave," answered Mithadan. "I have not been separated from Piosenniel and the children for this long since Cami was but a babe in swaddling cloths. Falasmir, I am sure, wishes only to
present Umbar in the bast light possible. Yet I too chafe at the delay."

"At least the wine is good," said Airefalas with a slight laugh as he raised a cup. "It is the only thing that has kept the crew from mutiny, cooped as they are on the Star."

Mithadan nodded. "They are not yet that bored, and they have had a chance to explore such of the city as they might wish. And they have all filled their cabins with trade goods of their own. They will be happy when we return to Gondor."

Airefalas sipped from his cup and looked out the window at the city. The bray of some beast of burden echoed through the streets below. "None too soon," he muttered.

Last edited by piosenniel; 04-05-2007 at 11:22 AM.
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