Dandelion (as Reynart Jean Launfal de Pyrac-Peyran) carefully stepped into the now cool rubble with the laborers hired to clear it out. There was nothing left. A few blackened posts still stood but the rest was dark ash and melted metal mixed in an ankle-deep mess.
The fire had completely destroyed the tavern – a joint venture between himself and Mazer – and the ash was all that was left.
Laborers, coated in the ash, worked to shovel out the debris as Dandelion pulled out a handkerchief to put over his mouth to reduce the dust he was breathing in. He could see the circular burn mark where the wall of flame had been just outside the walls. He crouched and looked at where the heat had caused the sand and dirt to turn to glass in that immediate area.
“Definitely not a normal fire. Too bad I can’t see what caused the ‘earthquake’ that helped with the collapse – spell or burrowing creatures?”
A worker bent over and started throwing small bones into a wheelbarrow.
“Hey, treat those with respect!” Dandelion shouted. “Bring a box. Put the bones – all of them – carefully into the box, clean it up and have it delivered to the Two Lutes for Love tavern.”
Dandelion shook his head. He wasn’t completely sure that those were the bones of the Eagle, head of Gyri spy services, but they probably were and that guy deserved a decent burial, even if Dandelion had to pay for it himself.
Dandelion continued to look around when his foot bumped something solid. It appeared to be melted metal and glass; one of the globes the Eagle had used to expose those with changed appearances (mundane or magical). Dandelion picked it up and tried to dust it off. Hopelessly broken and melted, it wasn’t of any value to anyone so he dropped it back into the ash.
The destruction had been carefully planned and executed for maximum damage directly to the tavern with no chance for escape.
Had the Ambassador’s Stepchildren really executed this brazen attack? Had they also attacked the fight club thugs? Were those thugs actually ‘Aspect of Strength’ men? Or was someone framing the Gnomes to pit the Gyri against them? If the Gnomes and Gyri were at odds then the Downlands would be completely cut off from the rest of Gyruff and even easier for Keoland to retake.
Someone needs to talk to the Gnomes, Dandelion thought to himself. Before this spins out of control.
The small back office where Dandelion had spent most of his time while at the tavern was no better than the rest of the building. There was a small piece of a flute made from the bone of a deer leg. He’d gotten that as a gift when very young. No trace of his desk or the letter from home.
“Same as it’s always been; things start looking up for me and the world comes crashing down.” He groused.
As he stepped out of the mess, ready to go get cleaned up, a messenger approached on horseback. The rider stopped and gawked at the destroyed building with a look of confusion.
Dandelion approached. “I’m the proprietor of this former building, now pile of ash. What do you need sir?”
The messenger had a relieved look on his face. “I was told that these packages had to be delivered to the manager of this tavern and none other. I was a bit worried when there was nothing left.”
“Packages?” Dandelion questioned. “I wasn’t expecting anything.”
“Our delivery company was simply told to tell you they are from a ‘friend’. We’ve brought them a long way from the east, but I don’t even know where they originated.” The messenger shrugged as he had Dandelion sign for the two small boxes.
Dandelion wandered off, wondering who would have sent him packages. Paranoia struck for a moment and he suddenly wondered if the packages would explode when he opened them. But he decided to at least look at the enclosed note.
Even though it was not signed, he recognized the script – this was from one of his old teachers, an Old Lore Bard who was getting up in years.
To my favorite musician;
I hope your talents are going to better use than in the past. You always had more talent than brains but I’ve started to hear about this “Two Lutes” group in Gorna so I expect you are indeed finally becoming the musician that I knew you would.
But enough of that. A little birdy (of the nice weather kind, if you know what I mean) got a message to me and indicated that you may need some help with your new “gig”.
I know you love that lute of yours (Lucival was quite the musician) so I’ve enclosed some items to help enhance the sound properties. Take these special sound holes and replace the existing decorative ones in the lute. And apply this special lacquer polish as well. You will find that the sound of your lute is “magical”.
My hands have grown too old and stiff to play anymore so I hope it will be of use to you.
Also, I know how you love to wear that silly scarf so I included a pearl pin for you. You’ll find it helps make things come easier for you.
Good luck to you.
Dandelion stared at the letter for a moment before hurrying to the Two Lutes for Love Inn and Tavern. He quickly cleaned up, removed his disguise, and put on his fancy clothes; re-assuming his Dandelion persona.
The smaller box did indeed contain a small pin with a good sized pearl on it. He quickly pinned it to his scarf and adjusted it appropriately as he looked into the mirror. The odd feel of it made it clear that there was more to the pearl than a simple pretty stone.
He opened the other box and marveled at the decorative sound holes, clearly made by a master and enchanted.
An hour later the lute was ready. There were a few bars and cords on the back of the note that were suggested to try.
“Ok, let’s give this a shot.” He said and gave the instrument a little test strum. It sounded beautiful and a few bars later suddenly Dandelion disappeared!
“Wait, what happened? Oh, this could come in handy!” I gotta tell Mazer about this…