The landscape has now taken a turn for the exciting. We're near one of the places where the Cataclysm did some real damage. This used to be - according to the old histories and maps I've seen - lovely fields with a big clear river running through it. It's all crags and rocks stabbing upward outta the earth - and of the Surbin river? Nothing now but a dirty trickle before it sneaks away underground.
We're starting to pass caravans coming FROM Waterdeep. The big ones all look so serious and nervous - they positively scream "hey, we got shit to steal". Then again, they've been cheating so long, using the portals, I guess they forgot how to do it right. The little caravans who've been driving for so long aren't so bad - they'll at least throw you a smile. Mind you, they've less to steal, but it's worth more to them too, so....
Ugrun pulled me aside while we took a break for lunch. He was kinda obvious so I blurted right out that he could have her. (Not real gentlemanly, but she'll never know) He sorta blinked - well, and it was clumsy, then asked me for advice. He can't explain - not to any of us, including her - but he's not free to pledge himself on his own say-so, but he's REALLY interested. (Sounds awful like nobility to me, y'know...all that life under a fellow's lord and shit) Anyway, I told him to just explain that and let things fall out where they're gonna. Figure Aprilane knows the customs, she's got a bunch of half-orc brothers doesn't she?
OOPS. I forgot, half-orcs raised entirely as humans. Ugrun brought her over a bunch of flowers - a real trick to find 'em around here - a rabbit pelt (as nice as the one she was working for me and I sure hope that IS a was) and a small dagger. Whooee. He's not dealing in small change, is he? No wonder he's worried about starting something when he can't pledge - that boy is thinking of some SERIOUS pledging. But he said his piece and she nodded with that "um, ok, where did THAT come from" look. He didn't walk off crushed, so she didn't dump him straight off. Instead she slipped over to Allyson for an explanation - I figured it was just ordinary girl talk so I snuck close enough to overhear - you never know when juicy gossip comes in handy. Poor Aprilane had NO clue. Ok, the flowers she figured 'cuz those are the same everywhere - well, almost - and she sorta guessed the rabbit pelt, but the dagger? Allyson explained that whole "orc girl can kill you if you try anything so going in her tent is a big risk" bit. Kinda lame, I mean what guy doesn't know where the lines are? It's not THAT big a risk, but anyway... So, Allyson told Aprilane that Ugrun (well, after a comedy routine where Allyson blinked that it was Ugrun doing this - honestly, did she think I was serious? You'd think she'd know me better, honestly.) was putting his life in Aprilane's hands.
Honestly, the idea that I was settling down at all.