Encounter in the Market

by Dan D'Alimonte

"You. Yes, you. Do you think that I have not seen you staring at me everytime you have passed by? Come over and sit by me. I can see that you are curious. I will not hurt you, I just wish to talk.

"You are interesed in a poor old man such as myself? My filty ragged form that has obviously not seen bath, nor bed, nor kitchen in an untold time catches your eye? Would I be one of the sights to see of the many sights to see at the fabled castle of Metamor? A place of magic, a place of learning, a place of wonders seen nowhere esle in the world. Of all the wonders of Metamor, I'm sure you never expected to see a lowly begger sitting in the corner of the market, his bowl presented to the crowd in an attempt to gain the few measly coins that sustain his existance.

"You are not from around here, are you? No, you do not have to answer that. I can tell that you are not. It is not in your dress, or in your voice, but the fact that you lack the mark that this place's curse leaves on all who remain. Are you just visiting, or has some perverse twist of misfortune trapped you here to meet the same fate as the rest of us?

"Oh, you drive a wagon in one of the caravans? That sounds like an exciting life. Travelling from kingdom to kingdom, exporing new realms, seeing new things, meeting all kinds of interesting people. What, it is boring you say? Well, I guess that it just looks exciting from where I am looking at it.

"Adoption? Sir, do not let your eyes decieve you. Remember you stand inside the walls of Metamor Keep, where nothing is as it appears. Some have gained fur and claws, some are looking at sex from a whole different prespective, while others, such as myself, are presented with chance to go through childhood again. I can give you assurances that I will be seeing my fifteth year come the summer festival."

"Of course I have worked. I was gainfully employed until the Wizard's spell stripped me of the ability to continue. I was a common labourer. It was not a fancy or exciting job, but but the pay was decent and I was good at it. I would spend my days lugging stuff from one end of the Keep to the other. Hard work, but honest. Work I no longer can do since I now find myself stuck in the body of a twelve-year-old boy.

"What was that? You say I speak quiet eloquintly for a common beggar and labourer. Thank you. I pride myself on my voice. You see, I have also plied the storyteller's trade. Still do on the occasion when someone is willing to drop a coin to hear a great tale of the past. The fall of the Sulieman Empire, the division of the Midlands, stories of dragons and damsels, of giants and knights. In that trade one has to speak well, or have no audience willing to listen.

"Yes, you have heard right. Lord Thomas is a most generous man, and does provide some support to those in need. Why I do not accept this help? I guess I am prideful, and do not see myself as in-need. I am my own man, and manage to survive on my own. I do not need the charity. Why should I rely on the Duke to give me food when I am capable of earning enough to live on. Yes, I said earn. Do you think I just sit here all day and wait for people do drop their money in my lap? I do errands for shopkeepers, act as a guide to visitors, and sometimes even tell a story if there are any who are willing to listen. Though it may not be much, I do earn my own coin.

"Oh, you have to be going so soon? Yes, I guess it is getting late in the afternoon. I would guess that your caravan leaves tommorrow morning and you have some things to do, yes? I though so.

"What is this? A bronze piece? Thank you very much for your generosity, young man. Have a good trip back to your homelands. Oh, and by the way, if you can make it, I would sugest visiting the Inner Keep. Stop at the cenotaph. Pay your respect to those brave men and women who laid down their lives to keep the Midlands free. As well as being a solem and beautiful reminder, it is one of the best places in the Keep to watch the sun set behind the Dragon Mountains. A truely stunning sight.

"Thank you very much for stopping for this chat. It has made this old man's day. If you are ever at Metamor Keep again, stop by and I will tell you a tale of the black knights of Telenad."