The last time we saw our burly bearded brethren, the Barkeep came to town looking for information and provisions, stopping by the Distiller’s cozy tavern and distillery to find both. The Barkeep continues on, both in search of more supplies and the elusive Marksman. The Distiller stands in the doorway, adventure calling him, but his current life holds him back…
The Barkeep tightens down the last strap across the rum and bourbon barrels in the back of his wagon. The Distiller had provided them several large barrels of rum and bourbon, enough to last for several months on the open seas. The Distiller worked with a local butcher to provide the Barkeep several crates of dried beef, as well. These provisions would go a long way in supplying the voyage. The Barkeep slapped the top of the barrels and then walked over to the doorway where the Distiller stood pensively.
“Thank you Distiller for the supplies, we should be packed and squared away at any moment. Are you sure that you won’t take greater compensation for your trouble?” asks the Barkeep.
“Heavens no Barkeep, I’m merely helping a friend and besides, you and your men did most of the lifting. I mostly sat and watched,” replies the Distiller, “If only I could go with you.”
The Barkeep motions back towards the wagon, “Well there is still plenty of room if you would grace us with your presence on this journey.”
“I couldn’t, I have to keep this place up and running. My adventures consist of what new concoction may be born from this head of mine,” laughs the Distiller.
“Well, I would value such a trusted traveling companion, but alas, I understand. Farewell Distiller and may the tavern’s kegs flow forever and ever,” replies the Barkeep, climbing onto his wagon.
“Farewell may we meet again,” answers the Distiller.
The Barkeep snaps the reins and the wagons pull out of town. The Distiller watches the line of wagons head towards the Baguay River, and then walks back to the tavern bar. The Distiller looks around at the tavern. The tavern is quiet and empty. The Distiller reflects on his conversation with the Barkeep for a good while. There is a wide world out there, full of exotic flavors and materials that would create some of the most incredible creations the world has ever seen. The thought is tantalizing to the Distiller. He was always one to create the new and the wonderful.
“But my tavern, my distillery, my people, this is what brings me joy,” thinks the Distiller to himself.
He looks around and sees his bottle of Distiller’s beard oil on the shelf, his first true adventure. He remembered the sense of accomplishment and the rush of excitement as he found that perfect mixture of vanilla and bourbon. Nothing could touch that feeling. Now another chance to capture that magic was before him.
The Distiller ran to Riordan’s home. Riordan is the tavern manager, a long-time friend and trusted business associate. He knocks on the door and the manager emerges from the house with his barkeeping clothes on, ready to serve.
“Distiller, I thought we didn’t open till later this afternoon. I assure you I would never dream of leaving you short-handed by being late,” answers Riordan.
“Not at all sir, I am going away on a business venture and I may not be back for sometime. I am entrusting you with my tavern and its operations. You know the business better than anyone and I trust that you will keep everything in order until I can return. Here are the keys and whatever profits you make while you run the tavern shall be yours. Just don’t forget to pay the workers their wages and don’t lower them. In fact be sure that you raise them during the holiday season if I have not returned by then,” instructs the Distiller handing Riordan the keys to the tavern and distillery.
The manager is speechless.
“Very good then. I shall be off,” says the Distiller as he hurries across the street to his horse. He mounts the horse and then thunders off through the town, heading toward the river Baguay.
The Barkeep was just finishing loading the rest of the provisions onto the longboats. The boats would ride the river all the way down to Whitepond where there is said to be a Herbalist who deals in all sorts of herbs for both medicinal and calming purposes. His herbs would be a welcome addition to such a long and grueling voyage.
The Barkeep climbs into the boat, followed by his crew. Each boat had ten men manning the oars along with the boat guide calling out commands. The boat guide watched the waters ahead and directed the rowers to help avoid collisions, they were especially helpful when hitting rougher waters.
“Ready?” calls out the Barkeep.
“HO,” cries the crew.
The Barkeep looks around, trying to decide what boat was unprepared to make way. Then on the top of the hill, riding towards them, he sees the Distiller.
“Hold,” calls the Barkeep.
The Distiller pulls the pony up next to the longboats and dismounts.
“Now go, Rasim, return to the tavern. Riordan will take good care of you,” says the Distiller and he pats the horse on the rear, bidding him homeward.
“I thought you had a tavern to maintain,” questions the Barkeep.
“What be life without a little adventure” retorts the Distiller climbing onto the Barkeep’s boat.
“I would love to be a travelling companion, if you would still have me,” says the Distiller.
The Barkeep looks at him and nods then once more gives the command, “Ready?”
The crew answers once more, “HO.”
The ships then push out into the Baguay.
The sailing was smooth for a while. It would be about a day’s ride from Lock to Whitepond. The Distiller mostly sat watching the landscape as the hills rolled and the trees sat upon the shore.
“Steady men!” cries the Barkeep. The Distiller looks forward and realizes the water is moving faster. The boats slide through the next bend and ahead the Barkeep sees the increase in speed. They had been sailing across a plateau but this river was descending into the valley.
“Front two, poles at the ready!” cries the Barkeep. In unison the crew follows his command. The front two oarsmen traded their oars for poles, sitting their oars in the floor of the boats. These two oarsmen are responsible for helping keep the longboat away from large rocks.
The boats slip into the rapids and so begin the treacherous descent.