An Industrious Evening

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For background: This vignette takes place on 12/28/5119. It was snowing in Mist Harbor. The adventurers had been planning things to help the townsfolk, and Juspera took donations to go bring non-blight-infested firewood from Mule.

Juspera set out for Icemule at dinner time. When she hit the glacier, the fading light was casting long blue shadows on the snow; then the sun went down, and the vanishing glow on the western horizon was soon barely enough light to see by.

She turned right up a side path that led in the direction of 'Mule. The snow under her boots became soft, and then she stepped and sank in to mid-thigh. Grumbling, she pushed back up onto the crusty surface, but fell through again a dozen steps later. Soon she was punching through on every step, post-holing past her knees, the granular snow working its way into her boots and soaking her socks. She looked around her in the near darkness. Light touches of wetness on her forehead told her snow was beginning to fall.

"Forget this," she mumbled. "Nothing wrong with Landing wood."

Her leggings and socks were soaked by the time she made it back to Uxbri's tent. The wood was stacked on every side, its musty, ashen bulk honeycombed with rot. Chattering, she asked the price for a piece, then asked again when she thought she'd misheard.

It was only a hundred and fifteen silvers.

She tried to do the mental calculation to determine how many pieces of wood she could buy with the nearly four hundred thousand silvers that had been donated by the Mist Harbor adventurers. Then her mind drifted to the question of how many vaalin lockpicks she could buy with four hundred thousand silvers. She stopped when she realized she was staring into space, thinking how she'd left a kettle on the hot stove at Aspis.

The assistant's question jarred her from her reverie. She told him she'd take two pieces of firewood, just to start. She hoisted one on each shoulder, feeling a trickle of something slide down the back of her shirt as she did so. Shaking her head vigorously, she trudged back to town, then froze when she realized she couldn't turn her teleportation bracelet while she was holding a large chunk of wood on each shoulder. For five minutes she twisted in a variety of contortions on West Ring Road, trying to reach her bracelet without dropping the wood, before realizing she could bring one piece at a time. She set one down on the side of the road, where it tipped into the sodden gutter.

She had no idea where she'd teleported to in Mist Harbor. It took her a half-hour to find Gardenia Commons, but when she did, she set down the lone piece of firewood with pride and sat on a bench, looking about surreptitiously see if anyone had noticed. The handful of people there were absorbed in chatting, arranging their items or spelling up. Still, she paused to admire her work. In her mind's eye, she was bringing bundle after bundle to the Commons, her sweaty brow aglow with the luster of hard work and virtue. Everyone was telling her how wonderful, wise and generous she was. A tall, handsome Human was complimenting her firewood-carrying technique and was offering to buy her a drink...

A drink. That sounded like a very good idea.

One flask of whiskey and one refill later, Juspera realized exactly how sore her shoulder was. She reached up to massage the muscle. Her fingers trapped something against the skin, and she drew the thing out to examine it. It was a dead earwig.

She stood immediately, dropping the flask, and let out a shriek that could have pierced vultite. She grabbed her shirt and began shaking it out. A small avalanche of ambiguous debris fluttered to the snowy ground, from where several bits began to crawl erratically away. Juspera stomped the moving bits into the snow, panting and cursing. Finally she snatched her flask from the snow and drained the last drop, then let out a long exhale.

"A job well done," she spoke decisively to herself. The square was now empty; it was late. She would have to get the other... how many? A hundred? A thousand? ...pieces tomorrow. With a hazy kind of apprehension she realized she couldn't recall exactly what she'd done with the rest of the donation money. She quickly suppressed an intruding tendril of panic.

It was no trouble. Everything would be clear in the morning, once she slept off the whiskey.