192/366 – Sowing Rumors

Day 50 of 100 Word Prompts: Splinter

The gates of Watherlis had not been opened for nearly a season, yet the Salvation Brotherhood maintained their encampment just out of reach of the guards on the walls of Watherlis. Dylian had checked every day as he crossed the road and helped the leatherworker Torfi with his craft, and, in exchange, he had taught him a fair amount of the giant tongue.

“I can’t believe that they haven’t gone yet,” Torfi said one morning, nodding toward the gate. The supplies in the shop lay abandoned on the bench, and despite the time of day, Dylian caught the smell of wine from the leatherworker’s breath. “I fear their resolve is too great this go around.”

“It’ll be okay,” Dylian said, seeing the wine bottle lying on its side empty next to his friend, “We have what we need. The Brotherhood will move on soon enough, and everything will go back to normal. Their numbers have decreased with each passing span-”

“There’s still more than three-hundred!” Torfi said, throwing a knife across his shop, embedding it in the wall. “The traders didn’t come this season, so my wares are no longer being sold!”

Dylian’s face paled at the display of anger from the old man. In the whole time he had worked alongside him, he had never seen his friend drunk, let alone angry like this. Torfi, noticing his hesitation to enter the shop, lowered his head.

“I’m sorry, Dylian,” Torfi muttered. “I’m worried that without fresh supplies, or the traders that bring them, that my livelihood is doomed.”

Dylian nodded, thinking back to the Pondspar Farm. “I don’t blame you,” he said as his gaze moved to the portcullis, “my parents would often feel the stress of a bad yield from the fields, or worse, the traders being delayed due to the weather. It is normal to worry about things outside of your control.”

“Something needs to give,” Torfi said. “The Brotherhood needs to leave, or the Mayor needs to march on them. We can’t stay like this forever.”

At that moment, Dylian saw a wagon trundle out onto the road. Though wagons were not an uncommon sight in the city, this one drew his attention. The back of it was filled with barrels of swords. The protruding hilts gave him an idea.

“Wait here,” Dylian said as he ran to catch the wagon. After a few minutes, he reached the side of the cart where a portly dwarf sat holding the reigns. “Hello, friend!” Dylian called.

“G’ day,” the dwarf replied with a sneer.

“Where are you taking your weapons on this fine day?” Dylian asked.

“None of your business, half-elf,” the dwarf spat. “My business is my business, and that certainly isn’t yours.”

“Fair point,” Dylian said with a nod as he quickened his pace to keep up with the driver. “Might I ask, are these going to the guard?”

“Listen to me very carefully, half-elf,” the dwarf said, pulling the wagon to a stop as he turned to look Dylian in the eye, “If ye don’t stop with the questions, I’ll shove some of them in a very uncomfortable place, if ye catch me drift. Move on, and leave me be.”

A wide smile spread on Dylian’s face to the dwarf’s statement.

“Ye think it’s funny, do ye?” the dwarf asked, rising to his feet. “Ye think this is some game where ye can poke ye nose in places it don’t rightly belong?”

“I just like your attitude,” Dylian replied as the dwarf reached for the hilt of a sword. Dylian put up his hands. “I was curious is all. Wondering more if your trade has also been interrupted by the Salvation Brotherhood. I just heard from some of the guards that they were planning an assault to drive them away, that’s all.”

The dwarf eyed Dylian harshly, squinting one eye as his grip loosened on a weapon.

“An attack ye say? On the Brotherhood?” the dwarf asked, an eyebrow raised. “I hadn’t though the captain of the guard, or the Mayor for that matter, possessing the stones to do such a thing.”

“Oh, yeah! It’s going to be great. There was a guard drinking last night at the inn, I can’t remember his name now,” Dylian said, smacking the side of his head with his palm to add to the ruse. He fell silent and looked to the ground as though lost in thought.

“What about this guard?” the dwarf asked.

“Oh, right! Sorry,” Dylian said, bringing his attention back to the dwarf. “So, yeah. This guard was saying that the town’s forces only numbered about one-hundred-fifty guards and that the Brotherhood outnumbered them two-to-one.”

“Enough of the story, lad. What of the attack?” the dwarf pushed.

“Yeah. So, he said that the guards had more volunteers-people outraged by the lack of trade in the area. He said that they would attack today at dusk when the goliath’s eyes would take away their advantage of size,” Dylian said.

“Piss off,” the dwarf spat in disbelief. “They’re really going to attack tonight?”

“Yeah, but they still don’t have enough weapons or volunteers,” Dylian said, feigning a sad expression and shaking his head. “A shame, really. I had hoped that you were bound for the guards because they had found enough people already. It’ll be a slaughter, if not.”

“Ye right to assume that, lad,” the dwarf said, falling onto the driver’s seat of the wagon with a somber expression. “I’d say we need at least three times their numbers to stand against them. Two if we have the dark on our side.”

“I agree,” Dylian said, nodding in agreement, “but I guess that there’s no hope. The guards will open the gates, attack the Brotherhood, and die for nothing. In the end, the Brotherhood will claim the city and likely kill anyone who doesn’t have giant blood in their veins.”

“To the nine hells with that!” the dwarf boomed suddenly. “I’m fixing to have a word meself with the captain of the guard. Ask him to hold off the attack until I get there. This is our town, and the Mayor be damned if he thinks he’s going to launch a poor excuse for an attack on them.”

“You should go get your armor and meet up at the guardhouse. I was going to do the same,” Dylian prompted.

“Aye,” the dwarf said, nodding. “I’ll be around shortly.”

Dylian’s smile widened as he turned away from the dwarf and sprinted toward the guardhouse. Behind him, he heard the dwarf cursing his horse as he moved to turn his wagon back. He knew that if he played his cards right, he could form a quick militia of at least two times the force of the Brotherhood. The militia, alongside the guards, would have enough strength to drive through the Brotherhood and splinter their camp into small pieces, easily manageable for a small detachment of guards.

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