The Callindra Chronicles Book 2: The Rise of Evil – Chapter 56

“I’ll be right back.”  She said, heading toward the source of the smell.

“Hey, wait!”  Tryst said, “We’ll go together.  What’s going on?”

“I think I need to find someone.  It’s said only a select few smoke this blend and I think I can trust the one who I find.” She said, moving through the crowded streets.

She quickly found a small stand with pipes laid out on trays and approached the man sitting on a stool in front of it smoking a long stemmed pipe.  Walking right up to him she smiled and held out a hand.

“It takes a sophisticated palate to enjoy that tac.”  Callindra said, “Not many enjoy the Imperialis blend.”

The man gave her a considering look, “Even fewer sprouts barely young enough to be out of their mother’s skirts.” He observed with a sour expression.

Callindra bristled and the winds reacted to her temper, fluttering the awning over the stand and blowing dust and pipe smoke into a waist high cyclone that whirled briefly before fading away as she took a breath to calm herself.  “True, good thing there don’t seem to be any fragile young things about then.”

His face split into a grin, “I haven’t met anyone could recognize the scent in years.  Bit of a shock if you get my meaning.  You looking for just the tobacco?”

She grinned ruefully in return, “Nay, I need a pipe and case too.  Lost mine when I was swallowed whole by a monster in the northern glaciers.”

“Sounds like a tale.”  He said, blowing a plume of aromatic smoke into the air.  “I’m always interested in a good story.”

“I’m afraid my brothers are in a bit of a hurry.”  She said, glancing over her shoulder as they approached, pushing through the crowd that her slim agile form had navigated far easier.  “Perhaps I could simply pay in gold?”

His eyebrows rose slightly at the clink of coin when she patted her belt pouch, “Well now, gold does tell a tale with a sweet voice.  If you get the chance I wouldn’t mind”

“If I have the time, over a pint.”  She said with a grin.  After looking over his wares, she chose a long stemmed pipe carved of dark wood, a sealed case and striker.  “I’m not sure how long we are going to be here though.”

“Surely you’re not that pessimistic about your chances in the tournament?”  He asked, raising an eyebrow.  “You all look capable enough.”

“We’ve been traveling for a long time and just happened across this place actually.”  Callindra said, “What’s all this about a tournament anyway?  Is Adbar looking for warriors or something?”

“Everyone has a theory about why he’s putting on a tournament but nobody knows for sure.  The mystery is part of what has brought so many contestants in from all around, the Count has promised a fantastic prize for the winners though.”  He said, “I’m not competing myself, but I’m definitely going to be attending.”

“How does one sign up?” She asked, tamping the tac into her new pipe and lighting it from a splint the shopkeeper proffered.

“Just go up to the keep, give them your information and you’ll receive a chit for entry.”  He said, “Best of luck…”  He trailed off, looking at her expectantly.

“Callindra.”  She said absently, shaking his proffered hand.

Cronos was the first to arrive, looking suspiciously at the shopkeeper and then glaring at Callindra.  “Gods and demons; running off just to get that pipe weed?  We might have gotten separated.”

“Not if you’d just stayed put like I asked you to.”  She retorted with a grin.  “You’re acting like I’m some helpless damsel.”

“You’re far from that sister.”  Vilhylm said, “However this is an unfamiliar city and it would be wise for us to stick together.”

She knew she had let her enthusiasm get the better of her judgement and ducked her head.  “You’re right of course.”

Their eyebrows rose in surprise at her admission; normally this would be a time when she would say something brash in denial.  She shrugged, feeling almost as surprised as they looked.

“Can you recommend a decent Inn for us sir?”  Tryst asked.  “I do not believe there is a chapter house here that I could impose upon.”

“That’s for sure.  From what I gather there isn’t a lot of respect given to the religious orders hereabouts.”  The shopkeep said, spitting through his front teeth.  “You could try the Silver Mantle or the Brass Rose.  Either one is a decent enough place but not too expensive.”

“I really need a hot bath.”  Callindra said, “And a decent ale.”

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