Kraka Drakka - Part Three Hundred Fifty -- (350)
Note: Continuation from previous post....
Situated within the High City district that looks down upon the Port of Erengrad is Skvortskov castle surrounded by two curtain walls. The first wall protects the outer bailey and the second wall protects the inner bailey and the large keep in the center. To the north of the castle is the Goldsmiths Hall, to the south the Carriers’ Guild; to the east the Garden of Ursun; and to the west Shipwrights Hall. Within Skvortskov castle Petre is seated at a table reading the latest report from the Goldsmiths’ Hall, the Shipwrights’ Hall and finally the most powerful of the three; the Carriers’ Guild.
The present Carrier’s Guild Master or Druzhina, is Mitri Hchenko whose appointment by the Tzarina makes him one of the most powerful men in Erengrad who are not considered nobility. Not only does he rules the Carriers’ Guild but the Tzarina granted the guild the right to enforce her laws some years ago and to established law-courts within the guild house. For over twenty years those courts have become more popular the Boyar’s Courts and for obvious reason. It is fortunate that Mitri is honest Petri thought as well as a good loyal friend.
However powerful Mitri Hchenko thinks he is, his influence and wealth pales in comparison to Druzhina Thurgrom Thyksnev of Kraka Drakka who is the oldest serving Druzhina on Erengrad’s Guild Master Council. Many within the council do not realize that Thurgrom fought alongside the Pulk over 300 years before during the sack of Erengrad and think that he is a relative newcomer and is only there as spokesman for the Erengrad’s Dwergsbezit merchants thus the de facto leader of the Erengrad’s Dwarves.
It is snowing heavily outside but the room is warm mainly due to the fact that after the sack of Erengrad Kislev’s allies to the north; Kraka Drakka had helped to rebuild the city. As a result this stone castle and its walls were built by Dwarf artisans making it not only the strongest but also the warmest in Erengrad. No icy tendrils of air seeped through the chinks in the wall. Tonight Petri is surrounded by court records and Chekist reports when he heard the knock at the door but did not look up from what he was reading for he had recognized the step and the placement of the knock upon the door, when it opened the chamberlain entered, went to one knee and then stood waiting until Prince Petre Von Skvortskov acknowledged his presence. Looking up he saw that his chamberlain; Yuri Taalychev whose family came from Urszny is not alone. Behind him still outside the door to his library is Chekist Captain Boris Dazhdalev who he had been expecting but beside him is Boyar Vaja Rybkin the business partner to the Dwarf Guild Master in the city of Erengrad and Yulia Fedokova Vaja’s bodyguard. Yuri announced them and they entered each taking a knee before proceeding several steps in to stop as a group several feet in front of the table though Yulia remained just behind her Boyar.
“What news?” the Prince of Erengrad asked looking to each.
The Chekist spoke first though he glanced as a way of acknowledging Boyar Rybkin’s part in what he had to report. “My Lord, first I would like to say is that Pyotr Rebikov was executed at dawn for his crimes of murder and cremated; his ashes were dumped into the Lynsk.” Prince Skvortskov nodded his approval as Boris continued, “I would have liked to say that the Tzarina’s Chekist were responsible for his capture but it was those working for Druzhina Thurgrom Thyksnev of Clan Ironhand who captured Pyotr Rebikov and brought him to the Chekist guard house. Without their help I am not sure he would have been captured as he had sought refuge aboard an outbound trading vessel heading for Marienburg. The master and crew of this smuggling vessel are now being interrogated and the ship; the Icehag has been impounded and the goods within seized. The ship and the goods will be sold by the Prize Court and the proceeds will be shared between the Tzarina and Clan Ironhand for their help in this matter.”
As he listened Prince Petre realized he is indebted further to Druzhina Thurgrom and indirectly to the King of Kraka Drakka; first for his son Gregori which is a personal debt, and second for the capture of the escaped criminal as well as the seizure of a smuggling vessel operating under the nose of the unscrupulous Harbormaster of Erengrad; Radii Synvasalisa. The second would be easier to dismiss through his auspices as Lord of Erengrad but the first is personal, much harder. Turning to Boyar Vaja, Petre asked; “How would you suggest that the dispute between the Cooper Guild be handled which indirectly bears upon those who escaped from the Chekist jail cells?”
“It would seem,” and here the Chekist Captain turned to Boyar Vaja “that the Druzhina’s Bocharov and Bondarev of Erengrad’s Cooper Guild took umbrage to Druzhina Thurgrom selling cooperage to the Tzarina’s Pulk. I have since learned that they attacked Master Nyi Brokkson as he delivered the firkins that the Pulk had ordered.”
“How many were involved in this attack?” the Prince asked he looked at both the Captain and Boyar.
Boyar Vaja answered. “Master Nyi and his two young apprentices were leading a cargo sled pulled by four wolf-hounds when they were ambushed by twenty armed Cooper apprentices lead by Bocharov and Bondarev.”
Petre had read the reports of the attack and asked, “Why was only Master Nyi taken into custody by the Chekist?”
“That would be the fault of Sergeant Vlasi Vdovyn who had responded along with Corporal Antal Jakov and Oleg Novosi. The Sergeant stated he could not understand what Master Nyi was saying and when Corporal Antal and Oleg had questioned the Cooper apprentices they all stated that the Dwarves attacked them. Sergeant Vlasi decided that since he could not understand what Master Nyi was saying and he could not speak a word of Dwarf he decided to take him into custody.”
“What injuries were incurred in this ambush?” the Prince asked.
“Only bruises, no broken bones other than a few noses amongst everyone,” Boris admitted. “Most were just knocked unconscious the Dwarves did not even use any weapons unlike the Cooper apprentices.
“So if they, Master Nyi and his two apprentices wanted to they could have killed every single attacker? Am I not right? Our northern allies who helped us rebuild after Erengrad was sacked, who are also our good trading partners showed remarkable restraint when attacked,” Prince Petre stated.
“Yes my lord,” Captain Dazhdalev admitted then added quickly, “Other witnesses have since come forward collaborating that it was Bocharov and Bondarev who attacked first,” Captain Boris admitted. “I am sure Master Nyi felt he was unjustly incarcerated and decided he did not want to wait a week for the magistrate to hear his case in the Boyar’s Court.” Though Boyar Vaja had a different opinion about why Nyi Brokkson did not want to wait was that in all likely-hood Nyi would have been transferred to Erengrad’s fortress headquarters of the Tzarina’s Chekist. Within those dungeons lies torture and death and once a person enters that grim structure, they will in all likely-hood, never be seen alive again. Better to escape from the injustice of a holding cell than to just disappear.
“Captain Dazhdalev, all charges will be dropped against Nyi Brokkson. Druzhina Thurgrom has agreed to pay for the services of healers that were injured during his escape.” And here Prince Petre smiled wickedly, “In addition the Chekist under your command will take weapons training conducted by Druzhina Thurgrom’s weapons master. No longer will your men be beaten by an unarmed opponent. Is that understood? You will also investigate the Coopers Guild and find out why they are building shoddy firkins for the Tzarina’s Pulks. For that alone is why they lost the contract and their work in treasonous. Ensure that the Carrier’s Guild Druzhina Mitri Hchenko assists in this endeavor as well.”
“One other thing, see that the Sergeant is demoted, it has come to my understanding that he assists his brother selling watered down Jewel of Kislev Kvas. Which I believe is reason enough for my son, Gregori to get angry with the bartender who needed to be beaten. You will inform Mitri about this and take care of that disgrace upon Kislev’s good name,” Prince Petre said most forcefully. The Chekist captain could only nod in acknowledgement. “Also it seems to me that Sergeant Vlasi Vdovyn’s error in judgment and leadership is the root cause for this predicament and I believe that Chekist Corporal should Tordimir Kudrov should be promoted.” Captain Dazhdalev nodded in the affirmative. “Captain you may leave and good night to you.”
Boris back out and closed the door behind him pleased that he still had his head where it should be. It was time to clear out the dead wood within the Chekist garrison of Erengrad. He had no problem with zealous pursuit of those who are true enemies of the Tzarina and Kislev or worshipers of the Dark Gods but he hated incompetence and dishonesty and Sergeant Vlasi had both in abundance but he had been saddled with Vlasi when he was promoted to Captain; time for a change.
Prince Petre von Skvortskov turned to the two remaining guests and gestured for them to sit. What was to be discussed now would be his personal debt and wanted everyone to be somewhat comfortable. As they sat Petre filled three tankards with Kvas his favorite, Jewel of Kislev he also noticed that Yulia Fedokova remained standing off to one side but behind her Boyar’s chair and that her two weapons were tied down with honor-knots while in his presence. He heartedly approved and wished more of his own guard absorbed the nuances of Dwarf honor. As Yulia absently rubbed the spot on her chest where the Beastmen arrow had pierced her Boyar Vaja accepted the tankard and handed the prince the message tube from Thurgrom Thyksnev of Clan Ironhand.
Gregori’s father unrolled the contract and slowly read; This Indenture Contract states that Gregori Von Skvortskov puts himself as an apprentice to Guild Master Thurgrom Thyksnev of Clan Ironhand of Kraka Drakka and Boyar Vaja Rybkin business partner to Guild Master Thurgrom Thyksnev to serve each for a period of three full years. During which time he shall be supplied with sufficient food, drink, clothing, lodging and all other necessaries befitting such a warrior and merchant apprentice. Further Gregori Von Skvortskov will obey all commands of those appointed over him during his apprenticeship; any disobedience will be dealt with in accordance to standard Master to Apprentice norms. At the end and expiration of said time, Gregori Von Skvortskov will be free to leave if he so desires. This Indentured Apprentice Contract is Witness by all parties involved and have placed their signature and Seals on the 13th day of Durgzet in the year 2517 in the presence of the Lord of Erengrad, Petre Von Skvortskov and Guild Masters Thurgrom Thyksnev and Boyar Vaja Rybkin.
Petre looked up as he finished reading and nodded his approval; opened a small ornately carved wooded box and removed a red candle lit it and dribbled a small puddle of hot wax. Removing his signet ring he pressed it into the wax leaving an impression of a rampant bear. Then he dipped a quill into the inkpot and signed his name and dusted his signature. Then Boyar Vaja Rybkin did the same signing below Thurgrom’s Rhun, then pressed his signet ring of a crossed horse-bow and an anchor.
When they were finished Petre asked, “How did my son take the news of his indentured status?”
Yulia suddenly laughed then smiled; “Gregori has found out that we have two weapons masters in Erengrad’s Dwergsbezit, one is Nyi Brokkson of Kalan Ironfinger and the other is Zamnil Narsson an Ironbreaker of Kalan Ironhand. Zamnil is the husband of our healer Duree Boriadottier whom Gregori is smitten with.”
Boyar Vaja Rynkin added his own laugh, “My lord you will find that Thurgrom and I are harder task masters than either of the weapon masters. In three years you will be able to trust him with your money, your life and possibly your mistress.” Then he added, “If he survives.”
Note: to be continued.... have a pint on my tab.