Today is a new day and my plans to continue my adventure and writing the Midlands Field Guide have been hindered. The town of Lancaster will soon be behind me, and I will personally be all the better for it. There’s nothing here for me. I feel bad for Eddie because she clearly has an interest here – that is, looking for members of her family and house who may have made it here from Stillwater like her. I feel bad for Nichola as well. His Merchant’s Guild is suffering in Lancaster and he means to deal with it. But me? I have no stake here. I’m writing a book about adventuring, not the political affairs of a few rich councilmen. At least, for me there is nothing pressing and imperative at the moment. That may change.
(Editor’s Note: Much of the following had major edits and revisions as Mr. Revelk’s writing was fast and imprecise. As he put it, he found a place to sit still, collect his thoughts, and hastily put a quill to paper to record them. I had to fill in the blanks in a few places at Mr. Revelk’s permission.)
First off, I should mention this first. The inn of Elard’s Forge is delightful and hospitable, but the food might not be to your palate. I couldn’t catch the word for their version of cookies, but if you’re looking for a dry biscuit with bits of chocolate or fruit in it, look elsewhere. And if you’re fine with a breakfast consisting mostly of potatoes and a mysterious meat, the breakfast served will surely be fine. But take caution; whatever egg they used for a side dish comes with small flecks of rocks in it that may or may not get stuck in your teeth.
Our trio was engaged in breakfast and discussions for the day and we were lamentably eavesdropped upon by the wait staff. A young dwarf with a human name – Jim – overheard our talking and made a few suggestions to us. Jim stated that the official guilds are exempt from the levies, or the levies are either waived or altered for them. Someone like Igard at the Hellhound’s Tavern might have no interest in helping alleviate the levies in town. The levies don’t affect him and he might not be interested in changing that. He thought that the local barrister, a man named Voss Willow, would have more information for us.
Our group separated. Eddie went to Hellhound’s Tavern to meet with her friend, someone named Carmina. She thought she might try taking on some of the jobs at the Adventurer’s Guild while she was there. Nichola and I went first to the Merchant’s Guild for more information before going to see the barrister. The woman at the guild recommended that we watch ourselves at the barrister’s. He was a shrewd man who required payment to even meet with him, and he was currently on retainer for the city and the council. Five years ago when the levies were imposed, the Merchant’s Guild attempted to sue, and Willow represented the opposition, resulting in a loss for the Guild.
Ever since, the Merchant’s Guild has suffered from the levies and most of their trade routes through the area have been redirected. From what I understand, the Merchant’s Guild is very close to writing off all of Lancaster as a loss and relocating entirely. Such would be awful for the city as the traveling merchants bring in many goods and cultural items into Lancaster. I get it, though. If the levies are too expensive, there’s no money to be made in Lancaster.
Looking back, I do not think it was worth a shot to go to the barrister’s place of business to try to speak with him. The rude receptionist charged us fifteen gold to speak with him, and we had to make certain that our agreement – we had to sign a contract for the meeting – would not allow him power over us in any way. Mr. Willow’s fancy pipes, expensive marbling, liquor table, and austentatious scales of justice could not make up for the fact that his demeanor, despite his smile, was full of venom. This man means well for himself and no one else.
Nichola and I had prepared a few questions we wanted to ask, and these were the responses.
- First, was Voss Willow around when the new mayor was elected and the corrupt council was put in place? He answered yes to that.
- Second, where are the previous council members? He said he did not know, nor did he care.
- Third, does he have a way for us to contact them? He said he did not, and still did not care.
- Fourth, what is the election process in Lancaster? He said everything on this could be found in the library. New mayors are elected and they are given the right to choose the council.
- Fifth, how was Lord Wilage elected? He replied that this was done simply by popular vote.
Sensing our questioning, Willow claimed (probably truthfully) that he understood why we came to see him. We were looking to help aid the town and alleviate them from the burdens of the levies. His response is that it did not matter to him because the levies worked in his favor. Why should he bother? But if we wanted to bother about it, there are processes that can be done. Hearings with the council could be scheduled, but Willow hinted that such were futile.
In an attempt to appeal to his humanity, we told him of the likelihood of the Merchant’s Guild abandoning Lancaster. This still did not bother him. In fact, he became somewhat threatening when learning of our connection to the Merchant’s Guild.
If there is any help from this man, I’m afraid Nichola is on his own. I’m an adventurer writing an adventuring book. This town and its politics are not in my area of expertise or interest. Adventurers, there may (or more likely, certainly will) be times in which you find your adventure halted by politics. Do your best to navigate them as you will, but make sure that this navigation allows you to reach your goals. My goals are not reachable while I am staying here.
I intend to find Eddie and leave, if she will come with me. If Nichola wishes to remain in town, that is his and the Merchant’s Guild’s business, but I will have no part in it. I don’t take kindly to threats and needless banter on whose pockets are deeper. It is a redacted measuring contest that makes me terribly uncomfortable. I thanked Willow as politely as I could muster for meeting with us and hurried outside to catch my breath.