Siobhan was making the rounds again, working her ‘magic.’ She had stayed up late singing. Then she was telling stories to the Tailors at breakfast, and then their goodbye’s to the Tailors. Then she followed that up with near non-stop talking from business to business outside Avondale. Her mouth must be hooked up to her legs, because apparently neither of them ever needed to stop! In three hours they had visited a cobbler, a tinker (maker of small items, usually out of metal, such as cups, hooks and miscellaneous household items), an exiled dwarven railroad engineer, his three sons and his wife…he made it clear he designed the tracks, beds, bridges and tunnels…he did not toot the horn…she made it clear that he was who she wanted to talk to, a tinkerer (i.e.: inventor) and a gnome clockmaker. They made one last sales pitch to a baker who partnered with a butcher to stuff his rolls with the most delicious combination of meats, vegetables and “secret sauces,” and then it was time to head out towards Bowerstone while there was still light. At least…that is what she TOLD him.
They almost made it out of town. Almost. Before being intercepted by a squad of ten glavians in Avondale livery. “You two!” the largest one in front bellowed…in glavian. “We’ve been looking for you!”
Siobhan raised an eyebrow towards Toot-Toot. “This is trouble,” he said softly.
“Is it?” she asked…innocently…though he was not sure if she was ever innocent. “Is it, really?” She kept walking towards them, neither slowing nor hastening her pace. Body language…unnaturally casual.
“Siobhan!” His voice, still low enough not to carry to the glavian band, but conveying a sense of urgency as he reached to undo the snaps across his kilij crossguard so he could unlimber it quickly if this went sideways. “You still don’t know orcs well. They are not just ugly, tusked humans. His stance is aggressive. He’s looking for trouble.”
“Well then,” she said with a measured air as her hand rested against his sword hand lightly, “maybe you should think twice before taking an aggressive action and giving them something to react to.” Gawd…she could be so naive at times. What works with humans just does not work with orcs.
She could tell he did not think she had a clue. She reached up and scruffed the back of his head, “trust me. This will be just fine.”
They were not waiting for the two of them. The leader started striding towards them…aggression all over his face and in the measure of his walk. He was reaching over his back, wrapping his hand around the grip of his sword. He was huge. At least a foot and a half taller than Toot-Toot. One of the others was at least a foot taller than Toot-Toot and another by at least half a foot. None were more than an inch or two shorter than he was. If these watchmen had any martial skill at all, then he and Siobhan were in deep, deep trouble.
“The White Queen sent us for you!”
“Easy, Toot. No hand movement to your hilt.”
“Siobhan,” he said through clenched teeth. He was about to tell her not to tell him what to do when she followed up.
“You are faster than he is. You can draw and cleave while he is still picking his nose. Now…what did he say?”
“He said the White Queen sent them for us.”
She stopped…which in turn made him stop, and then the guardsmen…well…they did not stop, but they slowed down to see what Toot-Toot and Siobhan were about to do.
“He said what?” It was as if she had expected to go totally beneath the White Queen’s notice. And, that probably was not an unreasonable expectation. They really were not causing trouble.
“He said the White Queen sent them for us.”
“The White Queen?”
“Yes…” He was not sure where this was going.
“For us?” Her pitch was a little higher. He was not sure if that was fear, excitement…or what.
Her face lit up in a smile that would melt ice. Wait a damned minute. What the hell did he just miss?
“Well,” she said with excitement and turned to the watchmen, “please, Toot-Toot, introduce us to our new friends.” She started sauntering towards the watchmen, arms wide, smile open…and genuine.
“Siobhannnnn!” She was such a child.
“FREINDS! Greetings! My friend here is sometimes slow…”
“Siobhan, what are you doing,” he spit out between clenched teeth. They were all gripping weapons now.
“What I asked you to do,” she replied so off handedly she might as well be telling him he dropped his napkin.
“I’m Siobhan!” She made a big gesture with both hands, flinging them out, then bringing in her hands to just over each breast, fingers spread wide. You did not have to understand her words for her gesture and tone to tell you exactly what she was doing. Toot-Toot could see their leader was now as confused as he was. He took some small comfort in that.
“This is my best friend, the honorable and noble Toot-Toot!” She now gestured grandly in his direction with both hands while continuing to face the watchmen.
“This is sooo unexpected. And unnecessary. But so much appreciated,” she spread her arms wide as she approached the leader. Hey…did she say…’best‘ friend? Wait…what is she doing now.
She stopped just short of the leader as he started to draw his sword out expecting some type of surprise ambush. She brought her right fist in and thumped it up against her sternum and Toot-Toot realized his feet had quit moving. “Well met, sir!” she exclaimed as he worked to quickly close the distance back up with her…while trying not to appear to be rushing the watchmen.
“What is this?”
“Um…” she put her right hand in front of her face and bit her index finger indicating she was contemplating something as her thumb rested under the edge of her jaw. “Friends?” Pause. “Yes, friends.”
The leader straightened back up. This was obviously not what he was expecting. They were suppose to resist or run.
“I is sorry. My’s glavian…um…needs construction.” She looked back at Toot-Toot and windmilled with her left forearm, “Toot-Toot, get up here and translate you big goof!”
Toot-Toot quickly came up beside her, “She is Siobhan, my friend, I am Toot-Toot. Well met,” and he thumped his own chest.
“The White Queen sent us…”
“Toot-Toot,” she interrupted, “what’s his name?”
The leader glared at her. She seemed oblivious to the fact that she interrupted him in mid-statement and cut him off as she looked up to Toot-Toot to get answers.
“Uhh…if you don’t mind…” he tried to remember the way Siobhan asked somebody for their name…without asking them what their name was. Got it…”and, how are you called?” He tried to smile.
He grumbled at the two of them. “I am sergeant Ranvir, of the 64th Avondale Watch. The White Queen sent us for you.”
“Whatdidhesay? Whatdidhesay?” Honestly, she was like a child in a candy store.
“He said he is Sergeant Ranvir and that the White Queen sent him for us.”
“Oh…that’s so nice.” She seemed so genuine, “but totally unnecessary as I said before,” she glanced at the sergeant, “and again, so very much appreciated.”
Sergeant Ranvir furrowed his brow at both of them. Then looked at Toot-Toot.
Toot-Toot was not so certain that the sergeant did not understand exactly what Siobhan was saying, but he could play along as if he could not. “The Siobhan says she…we…are very grateful. That this is not necessary at all. But it is very much appreciated.”
He watched the sergeant to see if he was going to reach back for his sword again and this time go ahead and pull it out and just try to cut her in two. She was playing word games with him. Orcs did not like to be played for fools. It…did not bring out the best in them.
“The White Queen sent us.” Sergeant Ranvir was trying to keep it simple. Do not get sidetracked. It was basic orc training for dealing with people where cleaving them in two should not be the first option.
“Did you just call me…the Siobhan?” she asked incredulously.
“He said the White Queen sent them.”
“So she did,” Siobhan replied lightly. No concern in her voice. She had to know this situation was going to get ugly.
“Well then, so be it. Tell him we are headed down the road to Bowerstone.”
This was going to end badly. Toot-Toot sighed. “We are headed to Bowerstone.”
Sergeant Ranvir was going to see that as a challenge. But before he could even process what Toot-Toot was telling him, Siobhan had reached out both hands to Ranvir’s left elbow and gently turned him towards Bowerstone.
“Really,” still so casual, “you can tell the White Queen we are so grateful, but we don’t need the escort.” She leaned into Ranvir like he was her friend. He looked back at Toot-Toot and then he turned to face Toot-Toot and planted his feet.
“What is going on here?”
“She said we appreciate the White Queen sending us an escort. and while We really don’t need or have to have the escort, it is appreciated.”
“Problems,” she asked…innocently.
“We are to take you TO the White Queen. Not to Bowerstone.” He was getting angry. This was about to get violent.
“Siobhan, he says he is supposed to take us to the White Queen, not Bowerstone.”
“But…doesn’t she have her own bards and minstrels? And Gilby was going to handle the diplomatic side of our visit. Did Gilby get thrown in the dungeon?”
“What’s she saying?” He was looking for a reason to fight now.
“She said she thought the Queen had her own bards.”
“So? So, why does she need us?” Siobhan cut in.
“You speak GLAVIAN?” He was getting ready to cut her down where she stood. Toot-Toot was tensing up ready to turn on his rage. He seemed to had forgotten she had used a smattering of glavian earlier.