~ Rumors ~
In Eldenguard, the capital of the Dumveille Kingdom, the market square was a sign of prosperity and usually bustled with activity. Most of those who visited this place were humans, but dwarfs and elves could also be seen now and then. The jingle of their purses was the only language they needed to speak, and everyone understood it.
Market stalls stood aligned in several rows with enough space between them to let even a carriage pass through. This was where the commoners bought their goods, and small merchants sold theirs. For the rich and mostly those of noble lineage, there were many stores surrounding these stalls. They sold only the most rare and expensive of wares in the entire market. Their merchandise varied from precious jewelry, clothes, armors, and swords of all kinds to house decorations and simple wood toys for children.
Weary travelers often found themselves taking rest on one of the benches placed outside of these reputable stores. Tired old folk also took advantage of them from time to time, just like the two in front of Morack’s Armor Store.
Rows of wrinkles and creaky old bones confirmed their advanced age while their clothes told the story of two simple workers with just enough money to keep themselves going through life. With their hands resting on their sturdy oak canes, they watched those younger than them how they prepared before the arrival of Lady Night.
“Have you heard about it, Leor?” asked the old man sitting on the right side of the bench.
“Heard what? That you got senile, Gerald? Yes.” replied the other with a smirk on the tip of his lips.
“Hehe! Maybe, but no, you old donkey! About the rumors, the rumors!” said the elderly man showing a small smile.
“Hm? Rumors? Which ones?” Leor asked as he stuck a finger in his ear, trying to get rid of some wax, in the hope of hearing his friend a little better.
Almost… almost… There! he thought as he pulled it out. He looked at the big yellow smudged on the tip and then wiped it off on his shirt.
“They say that late at night, in the Penhaven Woods, one can hear the howls of a wolf!” Gerald said leaning closer to him as if he was telling him some well-kept secret.
“You really have gone senile, you old fool! There have been wolves in that forest since ancient times! My friend, Alex, got mauled by one of those beasts when we were just wee little lads.” Leor said as he raised an eyebrow.
The door of the shop suddenly opened and a mercenary walked out. The two old men stopped and looked at him. He was tall and had a sturdy frame, but the man didn’t look happy at all.
“Two gold coins for one single armguard! Is he mad?” he shouted in anger.
Hah! Another poor fool thinking he can buy a noble’s armor! thought Gerald as he watched the man stomp away, spewing curses under his breath.
Looking back at his friend, he leaned close and whispered to him “I know, but I’m not talking about those wolves, but one walking on his back feet like a man, a werewolf!”
“What ya say?” asked Leor as he furrowed his brow.
His hearing was failing him, and none could blame him. They were both well into their sixties. In all honesty, it was a wonder they still had the energy to go on strolls through the city instead of staying in bed all day, complaining about their old bones.
“I said, the howl comes from a wolf that walks up like a man! A werewolf!” Gerald repeated, trying to refrain as much as he could from shouting into his ear.
“Ah! That! I heard of it! They say the same thing about mountain cats in the town of Tullhard! Don’t listen to those rumors, you senile fool! Nowadays, if someone sees a shadow and hears the roar of a bear, they immediately think it’s some sort of demon or man eating monster like a werewolf or one of those werechickens!” scorned his friend squinting his eyes.
“But it’s true! My grandson swears on his life, and he has never told a lie in his entire life!” he said trying to prove his words.
“Yes, they also say a dragon has been born to our great king, but we all know her majesty died before she could bless him with a child! Ha! I even heard people mentioning the Grand Sorceress! That she never ages and is so beautiful, she can melt your heart in one go! But listen here, I have been to the castle, and I have seen the sorceress! There is no trace of that dragon, and while the sorceress is pretty, she isn’t as young as people claim her to be!” replied the old man, dismissing the boundless rumors.
“So you say, but they may be keeping the dragon a secret!” said Gerald, showing his stubbornness.
“What for? We all know that a dragon is a god-given blessing to a kingdom and there hasn’t been one here for the past three hundred years! Maybe the gods just forgot about us…” Leor sighed and looked down at the ground. His eyes showed a deep sadness and worry about the words he spoke.
“Maybe, but that’s even more of a reason why I want to believe in these rumors! They give this stubborn senile old fool some hope! Besides these rumors and this little hope, we… we don’t have much, do we?” he asked with a low tone of voice.
They were both looking down.
“No, we don’t. We are just two old fools.” replied his friend.
Gerald let out a deep sigh and then leaned back on the bench. He gazed up and watched the sky for a bit. Although there was still light outside, the golden moon of this world began to make her appearance. In less than an hour, the skies would certainly turn dark, and the people would need to light up their torches and oil lamps to be able to see.
“Let us return to our homes, you old fool, before your werewolf gets us…” Leor said as he got up from the bench, steadying his old bones on his sturdy cane.
A werewolf and a dragon, huh? More like myths and legends of the young folk… but still… he thought and looked towards the end of the street where one store owner was already gathering up his wares.
Letting out a long sigh, Gerald steadied himself and got up. It was a bit harder for him to do so though. At their age, even getting out of bed was rather troublesome.
“Sometimes, I wonder if the only reason I’m still alive is to keep on spreading these strange rumors.” he said in a soft manner.
“Who knows? Maybe…” said Leor with a soft smile on his lips.
The two old friends made their way back to their homes while the night settled in over the Dumveille Kingdom. Soon, a deep silence would cover the whole city. Only the local drunk, some passing guards, and the occasional rat would dare to disturb their peace.
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