Sometimes people just don’t change with the times. The same holds true for wood elves. When Antonia Bayle began the construction projects that made moving into guild halls fashionable, an old wood elf named Yonger Celli just couldn’t bear to leave North Qeynos. He liked working outdoors at the woodworking table, and with the Ironforge Exchange, bank, and broker within easy walking distance, why should he move? That easy walking distance was important as Yonger’s adventuring career was cut short by a leg injury he suffered in the mage tower when he first arrived in Qeynos and walking from the bank to his home in the inn was as far as he really wanted to travel.
But a careful look at Yonger makes one realize that the old wood elf didn’t just stay in Qeynos running the family business. The fine cloak and striking earring he wears could have been bought, but his companion gives the lie to the image of a stay-at-home merchant. For following Yonger around on his daily activities is a sokokar. Sokokars are usually found in the lands of Kunark, a place most consider inhospitable to all but the most experienced travelers and adventurers.
I finally got up the nerve to ask Yonger about his pet sokokar and this is the tale he spun.
The whole thing started because I like king prawn. Now, I should know better than listen to my daughter Rosemarie about travel plans. Just because she’s travelled to the far corners of Norrath doesn’t mean she gives the best advice about where to go. But a fishing trip where I could catch all the king prawn I wanted sounded so good. My son Boyrdi can do wonderful things with king prawn and perhaps I let my stomach do my thinking for me.
So I went down to the Antonica docks and boarded the Maiden's Grace bound for Dreg’s Landing in the Kylong Plains. The trip didn’t cost me anything but time. I suspect that the ship owner is in league with those Gibblegobbler goblins that run a gambling operation on the docks and that is how he is able to provide free transportation, but who am I to gainsay popular wisdom about the ship owner's generous nature?
When I arrived at the docks, I started looking around for some official looking person. Rosemarie didn’t tell me if I needed anything like a fishing license from the local authorities and I don’t like king prawn so much that I’m willing to land in the local gaol. So I looked around until I saw a little halfling in what seemed to be the local uniform and hailed him.
"Hello there stranger!” the halfling said. “Good to see more friendly visitors coming to the area. Just call me Jones, everyone else does! I work for the Lieutenant here, we help maintain this landing for Teren's Grasp. And who might you be?"
"I'm Yonger, nice to meet you,” I replied. “And what is Teren's Grasp?"
"That's our main outpost, along that path up to the west,” Jones said, pointing up toward the mountains. “As you may have heard, there's intense fighting going on between the Di'Zok sarnak and the Sathirian iksars around this area. Those of us who aren't allied with either can find it quite dangerous. Fortunately, Teren's Grasp is tucked out of the way up in the hills and so far they've left us alone."
"Sounds as if you're pretty safe up there then," I told him.
Jones replied, "Well, Teren says that's just because they don't know about the outpost yet. With Bristlebane's blessing it'll stay that way! But we're ready for any contingency if they do decide to attack us. I think we're fairly safe for the moment though."
"Why's that?" I asked.
"Well, as you can see, we're not exactly hiding our port here,” the halfling pointed out. “I think the iksar and sarnak are just too busy killing each other to worry about us. Now, when one of them finally wins the war, then we may have to worry about the outpost. In the mean time, I have more pressing worries on my mind ... like what to do with five hundred and twenty-seven bags full of drolvarg fangs!" Jones exclaimed.
I was starting to think Rosemarie had forgotten to tell me something important. Of course news of a mysterious group of invaders arriving in the Kunark might have made her disregard some of the more mundane dangers. "What's a drolvarg?" I asked.
"Filthy dog-like beasts, vicious with a weapon and barely intelligent enough to hold it the right way up. The Sathirians sometimes use them as mercenaries, though you'll often find them causing problems all on their own," Jones explained.
Halflings are famous for collecting jum jum, not body parts, so I asked, "And, uh, why on Norrath do you have five hundred and twenty-seven bags full of their teeth?"
"Oh, well,” Jones began, taking a deep breath. “Borbin here, he's always encouraging visiting adventurers to go hunting them down, and they bring back the fangs as proof so they can collect the bounty. He used to ask them to bring back the ears, but I put my foot down on that! Bags full of rotting ears is not something you want lying around on a hot day, let me tell you. At least the fangs keep well. But I'm at my wits' end what to do with them, I tell you."
I don’t always think about business, no matter what my children say. But the poor little halfling looked just a bit desperate, so I asked, "Ever considered making them into something useful?"
"Oh, a bit of a crafter are you?” Jones asked. “I never had the patience for it myself, but if you can figure out something to do with all these fangs, I'll be eternally grateful."
"I believe I do have an idea ...", I said. I’m a woodworker, so the answer was obvious. Arrows, with the fangs as the arrowheads! I can make arrows in my sleep. So I just do a little work, gain some favor with the local authorities, and then sit on the docks, enjoy the sea breeze and fish for some yummy king prawn.
"I'll be happy to give you a bit of coin for your troubles,” Jones offered, handing me bags of drolvarg fangs. “Oh, and I should warn you, the merchants around here do tend to overcharge strangers though, if they don't like your face. I doubt my budget can extend to refunding the kinds of fuel prices they charge if you get on their wrong side, so you might want to shop around a bit."
"Thanks for the tip, I'll be back in a bit," I told him and wandered off in search of the crafting area.
I wasn’t worried about dealing with the local merchants. I always have some sort of crafting materials we woodworkers use on me. Heck, even when I think I have everything put away, I always seem to have something tucked away in a pocket I forgot about. So I just strode over to the crafting area and …
Did I forget to mention that Dreg’s Landing is small? I’d grown so used to Qeynos where even the outlying villages have everything a crafter needs to ply his trade that I never considered what it's like trying to make things out in the boondocks. Dreg’s Landing is no Qeynos and all the small port had was a forge. No tools for woodworkers to make masts and replacement parts for ships damaged by storms? No looms available to repair sails? I was beginning to get the impression that Jones and his group needed help with more than disposing of some unwanted teeth.
But I did promise to do something about those fangs and one thing I learned in business is to not go back on a promise if you can at all keep it. I did happen to know a way to make arrows using a forge. They wouldn’t be my best, but they would be a lot more useful than what Jones had now. But that meant dealing with the local merchants who naturally jacked up the price of coal for the stranger. Ugh!
After taking a lot longer than I’ll ever admit to the guys back in the Ironforge Exchange, I finished and headed back to the docks and Jones.
"Did you get rid of those fangs for me?" Jones asked.
"Yes, I did. Ta da ... fang-tipped arrows!" I said as I handed him the arrows.
"Oh, that's brilliant!” Jones exclaimed. “I can hand them out to the drolvarg hunters when they go out to get more fangs. I'm sure the rangers in particular will use up hundreds of these arrows in one outing. And here's some coin towards your fuel costs, thank you so much."
"It was nothing, really,” I bragged. “All in a day's work for a crafter."
To be continued…
EQ2 Tradeskill Epic: Working for Teren's Grasp
EQ2 Tradeskill Epic: Yonger Gets a Sokokar
EQ2 Tradeskill Epic: Yonger Gets a Sokokar
EQ2 Tradeskill Epic: New Lands, New Profits