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Old January 6, 2019, 09:06 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Hoskuld Coal-beard is a famous HeroHoskuld Coal-beard is a famous Hero


Some People Find Vault Like There Is a Reward For It (Tali, Vree)

Timestamp: Early Ponutis, Era XXVI

It felt good to be back home, in Primus Gaudeo. It also felt cold as feth. The narrow, marble-lined alleys of Hoskuld’s old neighborhood funneled an icy blast into the dwarf’s face, which loosed a swarm of stinging snow powder at his eyes. ”Diana’s inverted arse,” he muttered from within the depths of his winter clothing, as he wiped the snow away from the narrow strip of exposed skin around his eyes with a fur-gloved hand. The dwarf plowed grimly through shin-high drifts untouched by the streetsweepers, who were no doubt too busy just then servicing the snootier areas of the northern city.

As it turned out, Hoskuld was headed towards one of those areas-specifically, towards the Fire-Setter offices just off the King’s Road. His oldest brother Hoggy and his lovely wife Citrina had regaled him with tons of news about the latest schemes of her uncle, Yurik Fire-setter. Yurik, apparently, was trying to get some people together to open the legendary Vault of Stone. He had initially tried to recruit Hoskuld’s second brother, Doli; however, Doli had showed no more enthusiasm for such an undertaking than he had for much of anything since returning a broken veteran from the Xet wars.

Then, when Yurik had gotten news that Hoskuld was in town for Primehiems, he had suggested that the younger brother might go instead. Coal-beard had not forgotten the favors Yurik had done for him previously, and what was more he knew the Fire-setters could and would make his efforts worthwhile, should he succeed. Hoggy himself was to be a father soon, and Yurik wasn’t about to risk making his favorite niece a widow if he could avoid it.

By contrast, Hoskuld mused sourly, fording a knee-high drift to emerge at last on a street that had been cleared, Yurik would see him or Doli as a flunky who could be spared. No wife, no kids, no irons in any of the Fire-setter’s various other fires. Grumbling, he stomped his expendable feet loudly on the cobblestones to shed the snow that clung to his lower legs, then turned west, towards the now-audible noises of the King’s Road. It was not far now, he knew, and the rest of the way would be easier. This, at least, managed to lighten his mood somewhat even as his thoughts on how his extended family was using him weighed it down, and he was tunelessly singing to himself as he arrived at the impressive oak doors that fronted his destination.

The Fire-Setters were gem-buyers; in their heyday, theirs had been one of the largest houses in the trade in Centripax, and, although they had fallen back a bit in recent eras, their wealth and connections remained impressive. Consequently, Hoskuld had figured that those oaken doors would open onto an opulent vistas of tapestries, statues, and fountains. To his dismay and surprise, the interior was cold and formal, looking for all the world like the lobby of a bank, large and impressive, but spartan and chilly, with only iron-barred teller windows to greet visitors.

Tamping down on his disappointment, he stepped towards one of those windows, behind which sat an elderly, drab dwarf who regarded the newcomer with a dry, appraising look. ”Serale, and welcome to the House of Fire-setter,” the teller recited with cool formality. ”Do you have an appointment?”

It was an off-putting question, but just this once Hoskuld had an answer, or would have once he had peeled the scarf off of his lower face and rubbed enough warmth back into his cheeks to speak clearly. The teller’s face did not offer a promising response as the visitor explained his errand; Hoskuld half-expected the employee to offer an insincere apology and state that there must have been some mistake. Instead, he said: ”Of course, well met, Mr. Horn-hold” addressing Hoskuld with his rarely-used clan name, ”please have a seat in the ‘Bear-hunt Lounge’ to your left.” the dwarf pointed to where Hoskuld could go. ”It is behind the second large set of doors down that corridor,” the teller explained, ”though I think the tapestries will make it plain enough which one is the ‘Bear-hunt Lounge’. Make yourself comfortable, and do not hesitate to put up your things in there. They will be quite safe.”

The teller’s instructions brought Hoskuld to a spacious sitting room much warmer both literally and figuratively than the lobby, much more in line with what he had expected to see when he had first opened the front door. Cherry furniture sized for both humans and dwarves sat atop bearskin rugs, offering the visitor plenty of comfortable places to sit. A warm fire blazed from a large fireplace flanked by tapestries showing scenes of noble humans and dwarves on a bear hunt; the teller had spoken true about that. Considerately close to the fire stood a large coat rack, on which Hoskuld was able to hang his coat, hat, and scarf, where they would warm and dry quickly.

Sighing in relieved comfort, Hoskuld sat himself on one of the dwarf-sized upholstered chairs and waited.
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Last edited by Hoskuld Coal-beard; January 6, 2019 at 09:16 PM.
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