A window to the rich
At first glance the boy at the Trading post lodge entrance might be mistaken for someone from the slums begging for scraps. Loitering about in the snow, he was dressed in a tattered and patched cloak, completed with a pair of old worn boots. The torches at the entrance was lit as the night descended.
If the garrison patrols were keen to seek favors, they would have immediately ran the little whelp away from bothering the lodgers. Only on closer view however, would they notice that the Trading post guards paid no attention to the kid. Sometimes they might even strike up a conversation, puzzling onlookers.
“Ho, ho. You are early. Nothing from the local bigwig. Follow!”
Young master Gofart appeared and without slowing or any courtesy, he continued on with the same stride. Chu nodded to the guard and left following behind him and his companions. This ‘master’ didn’t show any respect for anyone. From his brief speech and being late yet shrugging it of, Chu was painting his picture of how the upper class operated.
The young master continued onwards to the south gate accompanied with Chu and two servants. Chu realized from their direction that this idiot was really intent to have a good time. The debauchery and intoxicating reputation of the new Trading tavern was already infamous.
With a wave of his hands the young master past the guards at the village gate. Decked in a lavish coat and a glittering mail underneath, the guards were not stupid as to try to impeded him. Especially when the coat bore the large insignia of the Military.
Ever since the Tavern burnt to the ground, this was the first time Chu ventured out the south gate. What awaited him was a sight he never imagined.
A huge bonfire was the first thing that greeted him on exiting the gate. It was roaring at the far end of the roadway that swung towards the farms. Even from the entrance he unconsciously felt the radiated heat. A pile of branches were placed at the side to satiate its hunger.
Torches lit the areas around the Trading post not illuminated by the bonfire. After the Tavern incident, apparently the Trading post company was taking no chances. That bonfire as well as those torches were kept some distance away.
The collection bay area was bustling with adventurers and hunters. A line with sleds loaded with the days catch were waiting on inspection. They passed the Post on their way.
“Fiver silvers, not a copper more!” (clerk 1))
“Two silvers, this pelt looks like you were beating the damn wolf even after it was dead!”(clerk 2)
“Deal! Six silvers will bag me Madame Cocotte tonight. Hurry I need the money before the rest of my party finds me.”(adventurer 1)
“Three silvers, come on man three silvers. I have to get Rock wine tonight. please man!”(adventurer 2)
Chu heard the haggling coming over like a marketplace. He saw a weary John in the lamp light busy attending to these ruffians.
On the side of the collection bay, the Trading post store had the front window shutters removed and were selling liquor. Most of the time those who were selling their goods at the Bay simply came over to purchase their choice of vice.
Younger master Gofart continued onwards towards the bonfire. As they crossed the road Chu saw how the groups were spread out around the bonfire. Adventurers, Scouts mercenaries and even those from the Military and Garrison were represented here.
In the best position for viewing the fire and the Trading post a platform about two feet was constructed. Cured pelts were spread on the top making it an enviable spot in the harsh winter cold. Three individuals were stretched out on it like those Roman emperors of old.
“Well, well if it isn’t our young master Gofart.”
“You’re late as usual, I was starting to get bored.”
Young Master Gofart simply shrugged his shoulders. With a swift movement that defied his bulky frame, he joined the others on the platform. The servants quickly moved to the side to avoid obstructing their views. Chu quietly followed and fitted himself behind them.
“Hahaha, lighten up my friends, we are not competing in the cities anymore. Since we have been thrown together in the Military by our families we should forget the past and become friends.”
The loud burst from Gofart had the opposite effect on these individuals. Instead of pacifying them it raised their tempers.
“You are really one to speak master Gofart. Especially when you have been secretly sending out mercenaries to hamper my families scouts.”
“Hmph! As if you are any better, the trackers I paid were certainly killed by your people.”
What nonsense are you spouting? If it was not for your family trying to send assassins to do a scout’s work, there would have been no fighting.”
Chu listened as the bickering among these four young masters continued. Their servants at the side remained standing as still as a rock. Eventually they quieted down and sat up on the platform looking around.
“Hey Daffodil, go get us some bottles of the best wines from the Trading post.”
A huge man wearing a shirt that could barely contain his muscular figure briskly walked out heading to the Trading post. Before Chu could recover from his shock, young master Gofart called him out with a wave.
“Young masters, let me introduce to you the local boss of this place. Big dog, step forward.”
If this was any other place and time, young master Gofart might be nursing a broken jaw right now. Unfortunately Chu had neither the strength nor backing to disobey. That slight sneer visible in the flickering light disclosed the others intentions if he ignored him.
Walking to the front of the platform he bowed and sent his greetings.
“H..Ha..Have mercy my l-l-lords, t-this lowly o-o-one greets-s these great ones.”
Chu stuttered as he used the crudest of language to salute these individuals. From the way Gofart communicated with them it reveled their status as equals. He was a child of a frontier village. So he had to perform as such to avoid suspicion.
“Hahaha, good greeting, I was hoping that theses brothers might have made you wet your pants but it seems you emptied them before.”
Young master Gofart sneered and laughed.
“Master Gofart since when did you start introducing the common riffraff to us. Picking them up is easy by throwing out a handful of coppers. I can get even better specimens.”
“Tochus, not all of us want someone like Daffodil fawning over us all the time. By the way, I hope you have recovered from the pounding that Commander Fredijak gave you. You’re still walking bent from this morning.”
“Damn you Prickus! I told you not to mention my private affairs in public. You see me running my mouth on you and Rufang holding your orgies with those reluctant wives!”
“Hey, don’t sour our sweetest moments Tochus, At least me and Prickus did not have to get our family to bail us out like Young Master Gofart. Only that idiot would try to forcefully bed the City lord’s daughter.”
Chu was still standing with his head bowed. With the uproar in front of him he was at a loss to stand still or slink away to the side. The last thing he wanted to do was attract attention from these ‘young masters’. These types had a habit on venting their anger on the poor to satisfy their egos.
Luckily servant Daffodil came to the rescue at this critical juncture.
“My Lord the wine is here. The Trading post has guaranteed it is the best they have at the moment.”
Hearing that squeaking voice, Chu slowly backed away to the side.
In the presence of the wine, Chu was forgotten as the young masters indulged themselves in merrymaking. Soon this corner became as boisterous like all the other groups in the surroundings. This area under the effect of the alcohol became like a large open air fish-market.
Chu kept himself hidden behind the servants to avoid becoming a target. Glancing around he witnessed how these people squandered their hard-earned money after risking their lives.
In the partial darkness the moans and pants of individuals locked in vulgar activities could be heard. Seems like Madame Cocotte was going to be making some money tonight after all.
‘So much for the threat of a wolf demon.’
He was thinking those thoughts when some soldiers wearing the Military uniform materialized from the darkness. They walked along the edge of the darkness and melded into it once again.
‘Seems like Commander Fredijak was not so stupid after all. This was the best bait for a hunter like the wolf demon. Everyone here was like a piece of fresh meat waiting to be plucked.’
As the night wore on, Chu gathered some intel from the boasting of those young masters. He constantly kept himself hidden from their eyes as they chatted loudly. In Chu’s mind all that remained of their character was to get drunk and try to seek a fight or smash something.
Chu was in the middle of thinking how to slink away and provide a suitable excuse when a loud slurring voice cut across their group.
“Well, well s-seams like you young nobles feel your h-h-home in the city. Hey w-w-why don’t you whelps leave this bed for the big boys to p-p-play.”
Chu rolled his eyes.
‘OMG! can anyone be so itching for a beating?’