Pigeon's Roost - Insurance
The hunters get some solid information from the Roost's bartender.
Characters: Magramba, Madison, Castus
The tavern seems to be in a perpetual state of forced exuberance. There's nothing else to do except sit around until the otter mercenaries are ready to escort their charges, so unfortunately for everyone else (or fortunately depending on your point of view) that means extended stays in the tavern, wasting space, time, and money. But there's still plenty of ale to go around! Hurrah! Castus is near the raised platforms upon which the entertainers do their thing with lutes, pipes, and drums, sitting backwards on a chair with his chin on his arms.
Magramba, personally, is sitting on the edge of the raised platform, clutching one of the entertainer's lutes. The squirrel attempts to finger the frets with his bad paw and strum with his right.
Madison looks bored. There's a reason for that - it's early. Taverns are never merry 'til the evening. She accompanies Mag's lute by blowing into the bottle she drinks from. "Very exciting time."
Castus could have sworn more was going on not too long ago, but all right. He looks between Madison and Mag, smiling when he sees the latter apparently not enjoying themselves. He takes the flute he's practiced on out of his bag and blows, creating a small, simple tune. "Well, it's either this or go off into the woods and get eaten or something."
"Can't get run over by a swan every day, Maddie." Mag's right paw is doing it's thing, plucking individual strings with multiple fingers at rapid speeds. His left, however, struggles to keep up with the encumberance on his arm; hence, the occasional buzz or missed note.
Madison bah's. "Must be /something/ to do. No fun lazing about if there's nothing to procrastinate on." More bottle-tune.
Castus looks over his shoulder at the rat bartender. Apparently, the one they're supposed to talk to about their mystery squirrel. "Well. That rat can't hide behind customers right now. He's been trying to avoid me since we got here. Maybe we can go bug him."
Magramba gives the rat a significant glance over the body of his lute. "Hmm. Good point." The squirrel hits a really bad note, and, with a grimace, he puts the instrument aside. "I /hate/ this splint."
Madison takes the lute. >.< And hm's. A bit of moderate-paced melody. "I'll talk to him: one, please."
Castus rolls his eyes as the rat complies. So much for following their budget. They'll be indebted to this guy if they don't get a move on soon. "Well. Now's as good a time as any." And he puts the flute down, and goes over to the bar. The rat looks like he's actively attempting to be ignorant of his presence.
"You know what? That's it." Magramba begins fumbling with one of the knots. "Surely it's been long enough. I don't have to wear this thing." Who's he talking to?
Madison watches as drink is brought, and as Cas walks over. Hm. Then Mag's outburst ensues. "Yeah, you go! Naturism for Mag!" o_o
Castus turns back to Magramba when he gets to the bar. "Well, just don't break it again. I doubt a lot of those guys out there would give free medical treatment..." He takes the drink and slides it to the end of the bar. "All right. So we need to know about a squirrel." The rat grunts. "Lotsa squirrels comin' an' goin', you included."
"It's not /naturism,/ it's annoying." Magramba uses his teeth to assist himself, pulling off the ties and casting the stick aside with contempt. He winces, flexing his fingers. "That's better..."
"Yes, but, we're looking for one in particular. We were told you knew her." "Like I said... plenty a' squirrels," the rat says, shrugging once again. Castus hrms. "Dealreach?" "S'a name of a squirrel, yah." "You knew her?" "Prob'ly. Lotsa squirrels comin' an' goin'...."
"You said that already." Magramba steps up to the bar now. "You gonna help us, or not?"
"I got paid for food an' drink," the rat says, glancing Madison's way rather meaningfully.He leans onto the bar and gives Mag a stink eye. "Talk is cheap. Information... not so much."
Castus sighs and looks mournfully into their money bag. They've spent quite a bit already. "There's not a lot in here." "Depends on what you want to know," the rat declares, crossing his arms.
"I think he already told you." That statement's directed at the rat. Magramba confers from the side of his mouth, "Don't worry about the money, I've got this."
"I want some insurance," the rat says, not budging. "Certain circumstances make information about particular squirrels a bit more valuable than they normally would be. Ask yer question an' I'll name the price. Five copper pieces so I know you’re serious." Castus closes the money bag back up, looking to Mag for his particular brand of guidance. Sure he got stepped on by the swan, but that doesn't make him /not/ the more experienced of the two.
Magramba produces a large copper belt buckle from an inner pouch. "I've had that valued at twenty." Mag gives the rat a look. Yeah, we're that serious. He puts it on the bar.
"Well. Now we're talking." "Are you sure?" Castus whispers to Mag, but the rat ignores him, pocketing the copper. "So then. Yeah, I knew 'er," the rat continues. Castus decides to let Mag handle it, as he asks, settling back to let him ask the questions.
"Yeah, I'm sure," Mag murmurs. "Don't question me in front of him, you'll undermine my influence."
Instead, Castus decides on a whim to ask the questions himself. "Is her treasure real?" He figures it's best to jump right into the thick of things, but the rat instead leans back, taking a deep breath. "Well, now. That's one of those things circumstances have made it difficult to share about." He shrugs. "Depends on what you're askin' for, but... yeah, based on what she said, it is." "What is it, then?" The rat shakes his head. "Dunno. But she assured me it was of great value." Castus sighs. "Value to her, or... valuable?" The rat, rather knowingly, smiles, revealing old, yellowed teeth. "Ahh... that'll take some tellin'. An' requires more funds."
Madison pfft's. "You're both dense." She says in a low voice. "If he knew, he'd have it already."
Magramba moves his head side-to-side. Yeah, well. The squirrel dips into his reserves again. And... produces a silver earring. Not a hoop, mind you; just a stud. Onto the bar it goes.
The rat narrows eyebrows tufted and greying with age at Madison. "I ain't no common vermin, miss guzzle-lot," he says with a surprising amount of conviction. "She trusted me wi' information, an' I ain't one to betray that. 'Sides! I just /said/ I dunno what it is anyhow." He snags the earring, taking out a little magnifying glass. And then he bites it. "Nnh. You want to know what's valuable to 'er, you want ta' know /about/ 'er. She was part of a branch of th' Mossflower Guard that used to operate around here. Typical at first. Young, capable, an' all that. Always paid what she owed. But as time went on, life happened. Hordes an' warbands an' burned villages never got easy to look at. She got strong. Silent. Bitter. Then she comes in one day an' she says, 'Snitter,' she says to me, 'I need somethin' that'll keep after I'm dead.' That's rather what she wanted. A legacy. Know she was makin' a difference, I suppose."
"Typical." It's out before Mag can stop himself.
"Typical?" Castus repeats as he turns to Mag, curious. The rat pauses his story. Or maybe he just wants more before he'll go on.
"Behavior." Mag waves it off, producing the other stud from the set of two. "It's just typical behavior, is all."
"Oh... all right." Castus isn't sure he understands, but Snitter is highly pleased he's getting more. Now he seems much more receptive, and launches into his tale again with gusto. "She never had a family that I knew of. Never started one, neither. She didn't make much sense ta' me. But soon after that, she seemed ta' get worse. Came less. Talked less. Drank a lot. Her buddies in the Guard weren't often with her, an' then they stopped comin' too. Think she got kicked out o' the Guard. I 'eard tell of some big goings-on further east, near Collinsell an' the Eastern Sea, something about vermin activity an' pirates landin' further in. She was involved. So time passes. She comes back one last time, all harried an' tired looking. Says she's going to Redwall ta' retire, an' if the 'right types' showed up, I should point 'em in the right direction. Said I'd know what ta' look for."
"That it?" Magramba produces a ring that matches those earrings. Where does he get this stuff?
"No, it ain't," the rat says, shrugging. He takes the ring. Castus raises an eyebrow. Either he's always very prepared to shower people with jewelry, or he's been swiping from the traders holed up here. "But there's a special type a' thing ta' look for. An' that's not for sale." Castus' ears spring up as he gets a thought. He reaches into his pack. "What about... this?" He pulls out the seal they found in the lockbox in the house. The rat's eyes catch on the object, and go wide and white as pieces of chalk. He seems incredulous, and snags the item, then ducks below his bar to look at something else. "By my whiskers," he whispers, standing back up. He's holding another seal, identical to the first. "Impossible. How'd you get this?"
"Why didn't you get that out /sooner./" Mag mutters, a paw clutching the spot where the inner pouch is concealed.
Maybe he just liked hearing the story! "I didn't know! You were the one giving out your wedding gifts as payment..." Castus mutters right back, turning again to Snitter. "We found it in a house that might have once been hers." The rat now glares at the two of them, as though thinking they're trying to pull a fast one. Abruptly, the ring is passed right back along with the seal. Snitter sniffs, and looks rather like he doesn't want to deal with ancient history all of a sudden. "Righ'. I'm too old for this. You want what you're lookin' for, find the beasts wot use this seal. They's an otter tribe, sure 'nough, further east. Dealreach knew 'em, though she just told me where ta' find 'em. Mark it on your map, I will." Castus hands it over, and he takes out a quill and ink, and stabs the parchment. "Gotta go through the /woods,/ you know. The ones filled wit' vermin an' toads an' all that." He smirks. "Got your work cut out for you, tough guys. Hope you really are the right sort she was talkin' about..."
"Well, I don't know what sort /she/ meant, but we definitely are the 'right sort.' Mag reclaims his booty with little interest. "And these aren't my wedding gifts." *Thump* That's Mag's open paw on the back of Castus' head. His bad paw. Wince.
Thump. "Ow." Moment of silence. "Oh, sorry, is the ring going to your intended?" Castus quickly ducks whatever other swipe is coming his way with a grin. Snitter snorts and turns away, disinterested in continuing the conversation. "Ye'll wanna talk ta' Kaelon if you want ta' help with the defense. Seasons know we need it."
Unfortunately, the next swipe is a kick. With the cripple leg. "Shut it." He's headed for a table.
Whatever abuse is heaped on Castus, it's not enough to chase him away, though it does stop more heckling. He trails after the older squirrel. "I'm sorry if you didn't want to give up that stuff, Mag," he says, voice low. "I would've given from /my/ bag. Most of it's mine anyway."
Magramba shrugs calmly. "I know, Cas." The squirrel slides into a seat, propping his bad leg up on another chair. "Thing is, that's exactly why I gave it to him. Here's a secret for you." The older of the two pulls out one of his inner pouches, one of the ones he keeps inside his tunic. "You always carry some trinkets with you. Junk, really, but impressive-looking. And you always carry it inside something so it looks like you really don't want it stolen."
Castus glances into the pouch, and his eyes grew a bit wider with understanding. He makes an 'o' with his mouth, but of course does not clue Snitter into the deception. Instead, he sits down next to Mag. "So looks like this isn't gonna be your average day trip."
"What made you think that?" Magramba chuckles drily. "Was it the giant swan, or the army of assorted baddies between us and where we need to go?"
"Mmf. Swan kinda tipped me off, but I hoped that was all we'd be looking at." Castus looks down at his paws, taking a deep breath. "Is it getting there or getting home that's the harder part?"
Magramba says, "Well, that depends."
"Huh." Castus folds his paws over his chest now, leaning back in the chair. "I guess there's no set rules for that kind of thing, huh? Too bad." There's a few moments of silence while Castus picks at the wood on his chair arm. "What first made you do it? Go out and... devote your life to this kind of thing?"
"Well..." Magramba lets his tone die off. "That's not exactly what I meant, but ok." The squirrel looks thoughtfully down at the table, though it's doubtful his thoughts are centered on the wood. "...My da' always taught me that we were from an ancient warrior line... that we'd always protected Mossflower, and we always would." He swallows a bit. "When my family was killed, I was in the woods, cleaning my da's armor and sword. Da' said it was good for me to get out alone and learn stuff like that.
"When I got back, they were all dead. So I went back to the woods. I used to wear his armor, and I used his sword almost as long. I've tried to give it up, more than once." The older squirrel's eyes gaze into the distance. "It never worked out, though. This is all I was ever meant to be." After a moment, Mag's eyes take on more their familiar light. "So whenever I get the chance, I kill some vermin and protect some innocents. Just one big pattern, over and over."
In a room page-pose, Magramba needs to go soon. So... get back here. XD
There's a silence that stretches out after that. And Castus just /stares/ at Mag, perhaps admiring, perhaps not surprised or very much so, or maybe he just doesn't know what to think or say. He only blinks a couple of times, loath to let his gaze depart. "That makes you a good guy. I'm glad you're one of those."
"Well, /yeah/ I'm a good guy." Mag resists the urge to thump Castus again. "Glad to hear you approve.