In a small worn looking tavern just outside Iss-Imigh, noise burst into the air as one of the bar maids dropped the metal tray on the floor. Along with the crash of the cheaply made metal cups and clay bowls, a man jumped up from the bench and yelled. One of the clay bowls was filled with hot stew and had fallen on the large man's shoulder. Swinging around he stopped just before his large fist met the maids face. Startled even more, she yelped and fell backwards into the arms of a soft faced young man. For a Halfling he was quite strong. The young Halfling caught her without even a flinch.


 "Careful now! Watch where you swing those hammers, you lout!" the young man exclaimed with a calm Crennish accident. He gently set the woman aside. Grinning from ear to ear, he held out a full bottle of ale to the large man, and said, "If you forget about this maids clumsiness, I might forget where I put this mug of ale." The large man smiled briefly in return, tried to compose himself and nodded. Not many people would offend him like that then offer him some free ale. For that alone, the large man thought it was worth it to let it go. He could always take it out of his hide later on. Taking the bottle of ale, he sat back down with his friends and went back to talking. The room was suddenly back to its normal sounds of bustle and chatter.

The maid tried to straighten her hair with one hand as she bent over to pick up the pieces of pottery from the floor. "Here," said the young man, "Let me help you. My name is Cathos. I am glad I was in the right place at the right time." he said with his most charming grin. The maid glanced over for a scrutinizing moment, then replied, "I.. I am Tarra." she said noticing his deep blue eyes. "Th-thank you for your help. I must get this mess picked up though." She gave a small uncomfortable smile, and started picking up the spread out pieces from the brown splintered floor. Secretively she smiled as she thought of his soft but firm hands grabbing her around her waist and his strong arms. He did not look that strong however. In fact he looked quite average, if not a little stringy. Putting the pieces quickly in her apron fold, she hurried, stood up and was gone before Cathos could stand up himself.

"Silly lass", he mumbled half to himself while still smiling. His single length hair came just above his shoulders. He tucked his hair behind a short pointed ear while scanning the room. He observed that there was not a single table that was unoccupied. Brushing his hair back once more, Cathos scanned the room for an opportunity to toss some coin around. He hoped to find a good game of Bones in this tavern.

Each table seemed to be filled with its own theme of worn out solders, or drenched riff raff just looking to get dry, and over across the room appeared to be a single table by the dark corner. He glanced over at the table in the far dark corner. He could have sworn that the rough benches were filled when he first walked into the tavern. Yet there was only one person sitting there now. Cloaked with a dark cowl over his head, the lone patron at the table raised his hand towards Cathos and signalised to come and sit. Of course, Cathos did not think it was meant for him, but glanced around his surroundings and even behind him. He was the only one standing in the middle of the room. Pointing to himself he mouthed, "Who, me?" The stranger nodded briefly and tapped the table.

Cautiously dodging bar maids, drunken soldiers and other unsavory types, Cathos slowly made his way over to the far corner and stopped. "Have a seat, please. I have been expecting you." Even though the stranger's voice was no more than a whisper over the noise of the tavern sound, it sent a slight chill down Cathos' spine. He sat down on the far end of the table nearest the kitchen door. The stranger's cup was loudly set down on the table. "I have been watching you for some time young man." the stranger asked all of a sudden. Cathos about jumped out of his skin. "Why does this man make me so nervous?", he thought to himself. "What did you want me for? Do I know you, stranger?" he asked the man sitting across from him. A grin of old teeth came from under the cowl giving Cathos the chills. "Oh, no! I doubt that you know me. However I know a lot about you, Cathos." the stranger said as he pulled the dark hood away slightly exposing his face.

The voice was friendly enough, but something about it made it sound colder than the winter rain outside. Reassuring eyes however were exposed, and that grin became a gentle smile. "Let me introduce myself," the stranger continued, "I am Baltison, Master mage, Chief executive to Lord Chambers, ear and advisor to his lordship, King Elos and personal friend to her Ladyship, Queen Ellest." Somewhere during the flourished introduction, the man had presented a small tapered scroll. It was dark, rolled up and sealed with what looked like a red silk cord. Baltison held it out for Cathos to take. "I come seeking a select few to assist me, the royal family and the kingdom."


Cathos looks, for the first time, carefully at the man before him. He appeared old, almost ancient. Yet try as he might, Cathos just could not make out this old man's age. Not even a guess. Though his face presented dark circles under the eyes and were lined with etchings of tiny wrinkles that come with age, his eyes appeared young. Steel grey and bright, they were a contrast to the rest of this man’s face. It appeared as if he had attempted to cut his own hair, as it was long, yet uneven as it fell down to almost his waist belt. Relaxing a bit more, a sudden calm fell upon Cathos. "I guess it was just my imagination" he thought, and took the scroll from the old man's offered hand.

"What do you want from me?" he asked the old man in confusion. Before Baltison could answer him, he continued. "I am just a poor lad that really has not done anything amazing, or even in the least bit spectacular. I am the most unremarkable person in this town, just a commoner trying to make it in this world." Baltison just smiled at him as he prattled on. Once Cathos was finished, Baltison began to explain. "I have watched you for a while. And you are actually quite remarkable. More so than you give yourself credit for. Take that serving wench over there as an example." He stopped and took a long sip from his cup. Cathos watched the steam slowly swirl up from the cup while he waited for the man to continue. A faint scent of mint and something sweet he could not recognize joined the dancing swirl of steam. "Hot tea," he thought, "That sounds good." then realized there was not a pot of tea on the table. He glanced around the table once more when Baltison set the cup down and continued.

Clearing his throat, he spoke somewhat softer then before he took his sip of tea. "You were in the right place at the right time. And yet, how did you get there?" he asked. "Why I..." Cathos started, "I guess I was just looking for a place to sit down." Cathos almost always seemed to be in the right place at the right time. However, before his mother died, she used to tell him to try to be not as noticeable. That someday, he was going to end up in the wrong place at the wrong time. It was a bit confusing when his mother said it, and it was still somewhat confusing when he thought about it. The old man smiled. "What about that time the branch broke when the kids were climbing that tree outside town? You were not at the wrong place in the wrong time now were you?" Chills went through Cathos spine again. What a coincidence that he had just thought of that expression. "You know, my mother used to say that to me all the time." he blurted out before thinking about what he was going to say. Baltison just smiled and nodded.




"I must be going now," Baltison said as he stood up, "however here is a map. If you are interested in assisting me and the kingdom, be at the marked spot by midnight tomorrow." Baltison reached into his sleeve, or at least Cathos thought it was his sleeve, the cloak he though the old man was wearing appeared to be more of a large hooded robe. It was dark, burlap like, yet emitted a slight shimmer. "My eyes must be playing tricks on me again" he thought to himself and blinked once, long and purposeful. Glancing again, the same shimmer was still present. His robe was edged in silk and appeared as if some weird writing was embroidered on it in a colour just a bit lighter than the dark brown robe. Baltison held out a folded sheet of paper. "Do not open up that scroll until you reach the location tomorrow night. I will explain everything else when we meet again. Here is a small bit of coin as a payment of your time. Spend it as you wish, though perhaps you might want to get a few extra supplies. We have a rather distant trip ahead of us."

The sound of coins clinked as a small pouch hit the table. Cathos glanced down at the sound and back up. However Baltison was gone. "How can an old man like that move so fast?" he thought. "What old man?" one of the maids asked from behind him. Cathos jumped and fell off the bench realizing he had said that out loud. "You did not see him? I have been talking to him for the last half hour." The woman just shook her head and grinned. "Perhaps you should find a place to sleep it off." She smiled sweetly and Cathos knew she did not mean any insult. Even though Cathos knew he was not drunk, he just nodded and smiled back. "I think I will take you up on that offer my fine lady." She blushed at being called a lady, and quickly went back to the kitchen where she worked.

The tavern was quieting down. Cathos knew that he ought to head on back and get rested up for tomorrow. If he chooses not to go, at least he will have some coin he will not have to steal or gamble from some poor unlucky soul. He picked up the small pouch and realized it weighed more then it looked. He opened up the pouch and saw a nice small glint of silver and copper in the dimming light. Pulling on the ties and tucking it inside one of his many pockets hidden in his vest, and checked his hidden daggers, the town bells began to ring. It was midnight. "Well, I may as well go. If this old man can afford to give away coin like this," he thought to himself, "then what could he possibly pay if I do meet up with him?" Grinning, he skipped towards the door, bowed at the bar maid he helped and hopped out the door. He was feeling quite lucky tonight.