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Library: A tale of three cities.


Author: foir
Date:Jan 3 2008

O.....Oany years ago, before the world was shattered, 
in a remote corner of the world there lived a young orc
named Gashk. When he become of age and was to choose a 
profession, he seeked the advice of the village elder, 
the shaman Sharak. "I'm not sure what I want, if I should 
become a soldier, a merchant or a healer! What is the best
profession? The most honorable? The most glorious?"

Sharak sighted "Oh, *that* question..., well i'll ponder 
about it, if you do me a favour." Eagerly Gashk agreed.
"A few days to the east, there are three cities: Ashabi, 
ruled by the military, Begatt the city of merchants and 
Curvien, where priests and healers govern.
Bring me and apple from Ashabi, medicine for my leg 

from Begatt and a sword from Curvien, and come back. 
If you still need help with your decision, I will do so."
"Consider it done." replied Gashk.
"Oh and don't think about cheating... I do NOT want a 
sword from Ashabi or medicine from Curvien... now be gone."

O.....Ofter an uneventfull journey, Gashk stood at the
gates of Ashbi in the vanishing light of an early evening.
He greeted tha guard and asked for an apple. Pointing be-
hind him the guard snored: "The low building at the end 
of this road, be quick they'll close soon."
With the last rays of the sun Gashk reached the doors of a
small one storey building, knocked and entered.
"Hello, I'd like to buy an apple here, and if you could

tell me where I could get a bed for the night -its late
and im tired- i'd be most grateful."
"An apple and a bed... sonny you're at the right place."
The man behind the counter smiled.
"But" and here he looked rather sad "we're ermmm, facing 
shortcommings of hmmm, apples lately, so in order to be sure 
noone gets more than one.. errr everybody needs to sign
a paper like this." he waved a small green form "A bed will
be no problem, we have no shortage there."
Gashk's face went red "I can't read and write..."
"No problem sonny, just press your thumb here,... good, and
... here, very good!" He laughed at Gashk "Here's your apple!"
"So where's the Inn I can stay?" "Inn?" the man laughed "Inn!
Sonny you just signed up for the army, you'll sleep in the 
barraks tonight and every other night you're not in the field
for the next 10 years!" Gashk was parralyzed with a mixture 
of fear anger and amazement.
"Guards! A new recruit needs to be shown the way to 
the barraks!" the man yelled.
Gashk wasted no time, like a flash he was out, and sped along 

the road. The darkness helped a bit, and he got out of the 
gates before the guards there knew what happened.
He ran the whole night, his feet aching and blood drumming in
his ears. In the early morning when he felt he broght a safe
disctance between himself and the army outpost he crawled 
under a tree and fell asleep.

O.....Oext time I'll be more carefull!" Gashk thought after
a short sleep. "They wont recruit me in Begatt, I swear!"
By luck his nightly escape brought him close to Begatt, and
he reached the city early in the afternoon.
The city was like a bee-hive, buisy people all over the place

and whenever he tried to ask someone where to buy medicine, he
never got past "Where".
After wandering the city for several hours he began to wonder 
if he'd ever find a pharmacy or a healers house. Tired as he 
was he sat on the stairs of a large building and stretched out
his legs.
"New here, eh?" He turned around. A young man in shabby clothes
stood behind him. "trying your luck here? Lokking for work?"
"Nah, well, kinda. I AM looking for a job, but not here. Do 
you know where to buy medicine here?"
"Hm, well beeing ill is not exactly popular around here." 
answered the young man, and sat down.
"What do you need it for? You look quite healthy."
"Oh I am, its for the shaman of our village."
"Is he rich?" "Rich? I don't know, but I do not think so."
"Well then he wont be able to afford the medicine from the
private healers here. You wont find healers of pharmacies in 
Begatt. If someone is ill here he keeps it secret and pays a 
lot for this secrecy."

Gashk let his head hang down, "Then I guess I failed."
"Nah, you're lucky you met me! I'm not from here. And I 
have some herbs at home that may help your shaman."
After a short walk they came to a hut in a quarter of the town 
that looked much poorer than the rest of the town.
"Wait outside, I'll be back in a minute!"
He returned with s pouch full of dried leaves. "Since you're
not that rich either I'll give them to you for half the price...
20 gold pieces and they're yours."
Twenty gold pieces were quite a lot for Gashk, but if the alter-
native was 40...

O.....Oith two of the three tasks solved Gashk slept well that
night outside the city in the woods. 
On the next day he started the last part of his journey. 
Two days later the road climbed up a hill, and from the top of 
that hill he expected to see the beatifull city of Curvien.
But the sight wasn't beautifull at all. Fire was in the parks and
streets, smoke rose from the ruins of the temple district.
Long lines of shakled people chained together left the city under
the whips of soldiers - soldiers Gashk realized that wore the
uniform he was about to wear just three days ago.
Gashk left the street and crouched through the underwood towards 
the city. At the forests end he hid behind a bush and watched the 
scene with horror.
Suddenly he realized he heard someone weeping. Just a few yards
away a young man hid behind another bush, unaware of him, staring
through the leaves and crying.
"Hey!" Gashk whispered, "Hey, over here!"

The young man drew his sword and looked furiously in Gashks direction.
"I mean no harm, no need for swords" Gashk said.
He crept closer "What happened?"
"Those cowards!" the young man cried. "Half of them wanted to wait
for help from above" (he rose his fist towards the sky) "and the 
other half was afraid to fight! We showed no resistance, and I.."
he started weeping again ".. and I fled, and didn't fight either.
But I will fight! One day they'll pay!"
He sheathed his sword and sat down again.
"Soooo" said Gashk "you'll probably need that sword?"
"Of course!" replied the man. "Why?"
"Err nothing" said Gashk, "never mind. Maybe we should leave? 
They may search the woods."
"Then I'll fight here!" said the man "I'll fight and die here!"
he said a little louder. "I wont be afraid!" he allmost cried.
"Hm, sure, well, but I'm off!" Gashk whispered.
He could still hear the young man for a while, yelling and cursing,
while he fled through the forest. "Poor lad" he thought "Now he's
going to be enslaved or killed, too."

"And I failed my last task, but that can't be helped, Curvien is 
no more."

O.....O few days later he stood before Sharak again.
"Show me what you've got and tell me what happened!" the old man
demanded. And Gashk sat down and told him about his adventures.
"Curvien destroyed?" Sharak sighted "Thats bad. Really, and
it wasn't part of my plan. The medicine.. well you bought a pouch 
full of oak leaves for 20 gold pieces" he grinned " but the apple
is a good one, not as good as the ones we grow here, but better 
than expected."
Gashk let his head hang. "I failed, I'm sorry, and now I'll have 
to find out what to become on my own."

"Now, now!" said the old orc. "You didn't really fail! What do you 
think about soldier, healers and merchants now?"
"Hmmm" Gashk though a while "I think I didn't like the cities 
ruled by the military or the merchants very much, and the city of
the healers was weak and destroyed, I don't know, are all choices 
bad, is none of them a good profession?"
"They all are good professions, and there are many more, bards, 
nuns, caprenters, hunters, farmers and so on. I think we can sort out
mages for You" he smiled " but none of them is the BEST. A society
needs a mixture of them, do not go for glory, decide what you like, 
and look what is needed, then become good in what you've chosen."
Gashk sat silent for a while, then he stood up.
"I think I understand now" he said slowly "thanks for the advice."
The old shaman nodded. 
On the next day Gashk became the old shamans apprentice. He never
became shaman, though, but thats another story.