Sparta's Epic Pursuits - Chapter 3 - Tangleton

Sparta rises early the next morning, taking in the scents and sounds of the new clan hold as the fresh rays of dawn peek through the round window. The scent of breakfast cooking in the dining hall wafts though the room. The quiet sounds of Halflings scurrying to their morning chores. Sparta stretches happily as he thinks back over the last few weeks. Nana Zenda was saved from her cataclysm and reunited with Papa Manty. Both have ascended to the pantheon, a feat Sparta never even dreamed of seeing, nonetheless participating in so actively.

Sparta dresses in his finest clothes and exits quietly into the passageway. He can tell Dale is still sleeping in the adjoining room. He doesn’t want to disturb her. She has labored hard the last few weeks repairing Troll’s Bridge and now her strength will be required to strengthen Tangleton’s defenses and to build their villa. As he passes through the clanhold every Halfling stops to greet him, but it doesn’t take him long to follow his nose to breakfast.

The clan’s cooks are setting out dishes of food on the long tables as more and more Halflings stream into the hall. Some might consider it a feast, but to the hardworking Halflings this is just an everyday meal to break their evenings’ fast and prepare them for a hard day’s labors. Soon the hall is a bustle with platters towering with meats, bowls of fruit, loaves of bread and all matter hearty of food passed around. Milk and juice is poured from pitchers and the earthenware mugs passed down till all have taken their fill.

Finally the tables are cleared as each halfing makes his or her way to an assigned task. Some will continue to dig into the great mound that Dale raised to grow the clanhold. Others take their turn upon the ramparts watching vigilantly to protect their little village. The youngest Halflings band together in a kindergarden watched and fussed over by wet maids. Slightly older Halflings are herded off to a room to learn their numbers. Later in the day, they’ll be led to the farms to herd the goats and slop the pigs. Halflings in their tweens get the best privilege for they are allowed out of the village gates to hunt for mushrooms and wild game to keep the clan fed. If only they would listen, the tweens are under strict orders not to venture far from the palisades and never near the sinkhole. Before long, some of the Halflings will be filtering back for second breakfast followed by brunch, elevenses, lunch, dinner, supper and midnight snacks. The dining hall never sleeps and three sets of cooks are needed to keep it running, just on average day.

While Sparta lingers at the table smoking a pipe as more Halflings come up to shake his hand and welcome him home. The Halflings don’t need his direction though they would jump at his word to any task he assigned. They have organized the chaos of their life just as every other Halfling village has. Each attends to the chores that need doing as best they can. What doesn’t get finished today will get some attention tomorrow. Finally, just as second breakfast begins to organize itself, Dale glides into the room followed by a bevy of tittering young maidens, each vying for her attention and eager to be seen with the Lady of the Hall. Dale takes her place besides Sparta as more platters of food and tankards of mead are placed before them.

Sparta welcomes his Lady, “Good Morning Dale. You nearly missed breakfasts, though it seems as though there is a never ending supply to be had.”

Dale replies, “You should have woken me. Why if the maids hadn’t come to make up my room, I might have slept the whole day away.”

“Aye, I thought you could use the rest. You’ve been driving yourself hard and now that we’re home there is more work to be done”, Sparta replies as he spears a sausage from a platter as it passes down the table. Dale nods in agreement as she digs into her breakfast.

After Dale has broken her fast and Sparta is temporarily sated with his second breakfast the pair of Halfling leaders decide it is time to call up on the their old friend Nyza.  They find Nyza hard at work weaving her magic spells into shaping her rising castle. They are surprised to find her shadowed by a tiny kobold, only a few weeks old, but already independent enough to be able to climb around the castle all by herself.

“Howdy Nyza, what’s cooking?” Sparta jokes with the flaming lizard sorceress.  Nyza introduces them to Naka Nyde, her hatchling. Together they start making plans for the growth of the village and the coming hatching of many more kobold eggs.

In the days that follow Dale and Sparta set to helping around the village and building their villa.  Sparta takes to hunting in the forest. He teaches the younger Halflings by ones and twos how to track coneys and other small game. He shows the older tweens how to lie in wait along the deer paths, just as his brother Elroy once taught him.  

Meanwhile, just as she did in Troll’s Bridge, Dale summons her natural powers to meld the earth, stone and wood together. Soon, the villa is rising from the valley floor.