When a young squire asks for a place at a merchant caravan's encampment, the price is a story. The tale she tells is one of a blind bard's encounter with a dragon, but the ending is interrupted by the arrival of the knight she serves.
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First Page: Everything has its Price
“And what would you offer for a place by our fire?” the merchant-guildsman demanded.
I let my eyes travel doubtfully over his portly, dust-covered frame and ignored the knight who had ridden up behind me.
“A tale,” I replied.
The knight snorted and rode past to make his camp not far from that of the caravan. I caught the gleam of interest that sprang into the guildsman’s eye before he could hide it.
“A tale,” he repeated eyeing me with the same doubt I had shown of him.
There was a murmur from the men behind him. The journey had been dull enough to warrant a tale, it seemed. The guildsman sighed, as though pressured beyond fairness by his crew.
“Very well,” he grumbled. “A tale it is.”
I wedged myself between two burly teamsters and, ignoring their frowns, began my story.
“Few about this fire would recall a blind bard, even if they’d had the fortune, once, of meeting her. Few would credit it indeed.”
A low murmur of disbelief greeted this. I moved to quell it, knowing that the murmurs would stop soon enough.
“The route they took was new then, but is well known now. The traders followed Dragon’s Way through Drudonelle’s Forest and almost reached its edge before disaster struck.