Japsert

In the mountains east of Saj-Graf, there are many trails to take.  Most of the mazes of trails lead to dead end, but if you happen to know the right turns you can pass through the mountains without a care.  The main pass is called Anjin Col and from it there are many paths branching off.  Certain ones lead to various mining endeavors while others lead to mountain hideaways for hermits, and yet others lead to networks of caves that hold each their own mystery.  There are many in Saj-graf who would hire themselves out as guides through the mountains to a place called Pigback point.  Pigback is about halfway through the mountains, and allows for a nice look back at the progress one has made for a day’s journey.  By edict of the king no guide shall take anyone beyond Pigback as this is the edge of where they can provide protection.

This is where Jaspert left his guide.  Jaspert did not need the guide as he knew his way around here like the back of his hand.  Yet he did like the company they provided and Jaspert was a believer in the idea of not traveling alone when possible.  Really if he had it his way he would have only traveled with his guide three quarters of the way up and then sent him back to town.  Only, that would raise questions as to what Jaspert was up to.

The following morning Jaspert would travel down the path looking for the right turn off, marked with a small outcrop of gneiss shaped like an eagle wing.  It would be easily overlooked if one was not certain this was the marking they were looking for.  From there he would need to follow the directions indicated by his enchanted sapphire. It would probably a confusing half day as he still misread its directions from time to time.  But then he would get to the cave he was looking for.

Still too afraid to enter it, he would wait outside trying to ignore the growling and snarling from within.  He did not know how, but eventually the old man to come out.  He always came out wearing a gray robe and sandals; his beard always was longer than the last as if compensating for his bald head.  The old man was well kept for living out of a cave.  He would then instruct Jaspert to carry a package to the shop of Lyph and leave it with the old lady.  She would then pay him for his services.  He was not to open the package which always varied in weight but was consistently small enough for Jaspert to carry home in his belt pouch.  His instructions were always to burn the parcel if he could not deliver it to the shop in three days.

So Jaspert waited for the old man as always, watching clouds pass overhead.  The noises inside the cave eventually calmed down and out came the old man, this time leaning on a crutch and missing a foot.  Jaspert looked puzzled but did not ask any questions.  The old man smiled at him and told Jaspert that there would only be two more deliveries and to pass on this bit of information with the package.  The old man then hobbled back to the cave, whistling a tune that Jaspert swear he had heard before.

Halfway down the mountain, Jaspert would recall the tune the old man whistled.  He had heard it from a condemned man last autumn as he had made his way to the gallows.  The criminal had put his head in a noose and smiled a knowing smile, as if he knew some secret the town was unaware of.

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