Consider the Possibilities (cont.5-6)
The world went nuts; that was the last thing he remembered. One second he's giving Buck a good punch in the arm, and the next he's flying around the inside of the van. He remembered hearing glass break. He felt the cold from the crisp mountain air and damp snow. Most of all he felt the pain. First came the sharp stabbing jolt, followed by…the only thing he could liken it to was the feeling of scraping his skin to the bone the time he had to lay his bike down, earning him a severe case of road rash. His arm broke the window and the rest of him followed through, at least that's what he thought he remembered. Thankfully, he didn't feel the pain anymore.
Was his arm still attached? He tried to wake up, move, do something, but he couldn't. He felt hands on him; he opened his eyes, and saw a blur of caring faces, none that he knew, then his world spun. He blinked to stop the world's view as a crazy tilt-a-whirl he was in too much agony to ignore. The second look showed the cramped interior of something . . . maybe he was still in the van. Wait…was that the sound of a helicopter? Yeah, it was. He looked right into the light.
"Kid? If you can hear me, follow the light."
Somehow he knew to obey; his eyes followed the light from side to side.
"Good, kid. You've been injured, and we're flying you to the hospital. Can you blink if you understand?"
"Great, kid. I need you to stay as still as possible. You move too much, you could hurt yourself worse. Unless you want me sticking a tube down your throat, keep still. Do you understand?"
JD blinked. Geez, what was this? Order JD Around Day, and threaten him if he doesn't obey? Sometimes he wondered if the people around him ever considered him an adult. He'd earned the right to not be called KID. It wasn't his fault he was given youthful looks, and in some cases he was proud to say, his looking younger worked in his favor when a teenager or young college student was needed as a cover. Besides, if he looked this young now, just imagine when he was older…he wouldn't look old. Ever. Okay, to be fair, his teammates had considerably more experience, and in some cases, years on him, but they knew him and learned to respect him. In turn, he respected them and earned his place. From them, he'd take kid every once in a while, but not from strangers.
"You look too young to be an ATF Agent, but hey, go with what the Good Lord gave you. He was watching over you today."
Thank you God, he thought silently.
"Yep, kid, you were real lucky."
JD silently cursed thinking if he could only speak, he'd show this guy he was not a kid. He wanted this guy to hear what he was thinking - something along the lines of, "Did you take the time to make sure my friends are okay?"
Pain started radiating through his body at an unbearable level and it was like an arrow shooting a bull's-eye right to his arm. It took over his thoughts, making him want to scream with the agony of it.
"Okay, kid, I can see you're hurting. Hang on, I'm giving you something for the pain."
He felt relief almost immediately. A haze enveloped him, letting him drift off into the arms of Morpheus, courtesy of morphine.
"JD! KID! Get a move on."
His eyes snapped open. "I'm not a kid!" he yelled back. What the heck was wrong with his voice?
He identified bunk beds right away, and that he was on the lower one. The first thing he realized was he was smaller than he believed himself. Stretching his hands out in front of his face, JD realized his hands were proportionally smaller, as were his feet, legs, arms, and torso. What was this Alice In Wonderland? The shock of it sent him sitting up, forgetting about the bunk bed above him, and slamming his head into the top.
"OW!" He stretched back out on the bed until the pain passed.
"Hit your head again, didn't you?" Buck was there. Everything would be okay now that Buck was here. "I told you, kid, not to jump up and down on your mattress. Happens every time, and every time I tell you again."
"He ain't payin' 'tention again," came the voice from the bed above him.
Vin was here. Everything would be okay, even though his head hurt. JD rubbed the sore spot. "Ow."
"Well, don't rub it, JD. That will only make it hurt worse," Buck said. "Find your clothes and get dressed. We're leaving after breakfast." The tall man laid out some clothes for the youngest in the household.
"Cereal," JD demanded.
"Chris is cooking you something good."
"I want cereal," JD snapped.
"Ya eat what yer given," Vin reminded softly.
"Yes, Vin." He didn't want to make Vin mad; Vin stood up for him back There, and took care of him. It was okay to ask for something else, and it was okay to protest, but when Vin or Buck said no with That Tone Of Voice, he stopped arguing.
Buck left the room, leaving JD alone with Vin.
"I don't want to wear ducks," JD muttered. His head still hurt, but he thought the shirt was too babyish for him.
"Buck picked that out 'special fer ya. Didya see him pull somethin' out fer me?"
"He knows better. You dress yourself, Vin. You don't let them pick out your outfit."
"While yer talkin', I got dressed. Now yer further behind."
"All right, all right, I'll wear the ducks." JD pulled the clothes on, heading for the bathroom. He took care of things, washed his hands, and found his way through the big corridors of the ranch house to the kitchen.
There, Mr. Chris was untying the "Kiss the Cook" apron Mr. Buck gave him, hanging it on the proper hook in the walk-in pantry. "Morning, JD."
"Hi." He pulled himself into his special chair, with the "booster" seat. In front of him was a bowl of cereal, some toast, scrambled eggs, and strips of bacon. He got his cereal, which made him happy. And the other stuff didn't look bad either; at least it wasn't burnt like Buck cooked it sometimes.
"Did you wash your hands?" asked Chris.
"Good. Morning, Vin."
"'ey." Vin got into his chair across from JD, with the two adults on the ends of the table. "I washed m'hands."
Reminded to do so, Buck washed his hands in the sink. "You boys ready for today?"
"Yes, sir," Vin replied. "JD and me gonna have a great time."
"Yeah. I wanna see the fun
house, and the haunted house, and ride a lot of rides, and keep riding them over
and over, and then I want some cotton candy. Blue cotton candy, because pink is
for girls, and then I want…"
"You eat your breakfast before we drive to the fair," Buck smoothly interjected into JD's dialogue.
"Rides are going to be later in the day when your stomachs are settled," Chris announced.
"But, Chris…" Vin protested.
"But nothing. I am not watching you, or allowing you, to get sick right when we get there. You'll be miserable for the rest of the day. Don't worry it will take us an hour and a half to get there, you won't have too long to wait, but that's the way it's going to be." Chris gave both boys a stern look.
JD squirmed. He didn't like Mr. Chris when he made that face. His momma always told him that if he made a bad face for too long, his face would freeze that way. He didn't want Mr. Chris to have that permanent frown face with all the lines all over his cheeks and forehead. Maybe if he ate more breakfast, Mr. Chris wouldn't have those funny lines.
Buck had funny lines, but he called them laugh lines, not funny lines. JD still could not remember how to say that word that sounded like, "Dee-sting-squished," or what it meant, but Buck always used that word when Mr. Chris pointed out the lines when they teased each other. "Dee-sting-squished" sounded like a bee getting smooshed or like when he stepped on a spider and its guts went everywhere, so he told Buck that one day. Mr. Chris laughed hard for five minutes. Buck stared, or more like made that face at Chris with all those funny lines, or he tried. Then he burst out laughing too. He didn't tell either of the men about his bug comparison again, but Mr. Chris made beelike sounds every once in a while.
When Mr. Chris and Buck teased each other, it made JD think about him and Vin. He thought they'd be just like that when they got that old, having sport with each other. JD shuddered. He found it hard to imagine being that old.
"Eat, JD," Buck suggested, pointing a fork at the still-full plate.
JD grabbed his cereal.
"Kids," Buck muttered under his breath.
"Gotta love 'em," Chris replied.
The ride to the fair was taking too long. The DVD player was okay, but the movement of the car made him sleepy. He closed his eyes, for a minute he promised himself, but woke up when the truck door slammed.
"We're here, JD," Vin enthused. "Well, not here, but here here, and we're meeting the others."
"Your surprise, Kid. You didn't think I'd forget to invite our friends, do you?" Buck chuckled. "You gents ready?"
"Absolutely, Mr. Wilmington. To see the expressions on the faces of the young sirs will be worth getting up before the crack of noon," Mr. Ezra said with a smile.
"I ain't no young sir," Vin protested. "I ain't nothin' fancy."
"It means young gentleman, Mr. Vin, and you are, or will have the characteristics of, a young gentlemen under my tutelage."
"Don't be letting all that hot air go to waste," Mr. Nathan interrupted. "Unless we can get him to scream it out on one of the wild rides."
"Gentlemen do not scream. They emit Rebel Yells."
"Are we ready to go?"
Mr. Josiah's voice shook JD from his reverie. He could listen to the old man's stories for hours. Of course, sometimes, he felt that voice lulling him to sleep. Mr. Josiah never minded when he fell asleep during his stories though. And he never told Buck or Mr. Chris that JD couldn't stay awake, which made him a very good friend. He also didn't tell Mr. Josiah that he thought that Mr. Josiah was really, really old. He did listen to Mr. Chris and Mr. Buck when they both told him to respect his elders. He didn't think anyone else could be older than Mr. Josiah until he met Mr. Travis. Mr. Travis was older than Mr. Josiah. But, Mr. Travis brought his grandson Billy to play with them sometimes, so he was okay too.
"Yes, Mr. Josiah. I want to see everything at least once, and I'm going to the fun house, then the haunted house, and I want to ride all the rides, and not just the sissy ones for short people." He saw Mr. Josiah nudge Buck with an elbow while smiling.
"Let's get the circus on the road. You boys okay following me?"
"Josiah's driving," Nathan commented.
"He felt that his truck would be less conspicuous and more useful than my Jaguar." Ezra sniffed.
"You ever been to a country fair?" Buck asked Ezra. "You need a four by to get on the road to the fair, and don't even get me started about parking. That's why we brought Old Betsy here, because she's got a lift kit."
"Same here," Josiah agreed, indicating the lift on the Suburban. "Ground clearance, especially if we get that storm they're talking about tonight."
"We'll get it," Vin quietly contributed.
"Then let's roll the circus now before we get rained out," Chris ordered. "I don't want to be driving these two home wet and wiped out."
"Come on, boys, back in the truck." Buck put JD back in the booster seat, and Vin buckled up.
JD hated the booster seat. Vin didn't have to sit in one, but he did because he wasn't heavy enough or as old as Vin. He was almost six, well, five and a half, and he didn't need a booster seat. The straps cut into sides, and he couldn't move. He was sick of everyone treating him like a kid; even Mr. Ezra said he was a young sir. When Vin was distracted, he did what he usually did – unbuckled the safety harness and left it sitting there like it was still hooked up.
That let him breathe a little easier, and he didn't feel sleepy, even after Buck started the DVD up again. He didn't know how long they'd been going, but he figured it was pretty far into the movie.
"What the hell?"
JD felt the truck lurch to one side, skid on the loose shoulder, and then come to a fast stop. The harness didn't hold him back, sending him flying out of the car seat; he didn't remember anything after hitting the driver's seat where Mr. Chris sat.
Lord have mercy, what did he do? How much did he have to drink? Forcing one eyelid open, Josiah seriously regretted the action when a bright light speared his pale blue orbs.
"You awake?" He felt his left eye forced open, a tiny line of light forcing him to pull away.
"Okay, pupils are reactive."
A hand patted him reassuringly on his shoulder. "Hang in there, man, we'll get you out."
Out? Out of where? Please, Lord, tell me I wasn't drinking and driving. I already repented that sin more than once, Lord, Josiah thought.
The sound of a mechanical device cutting something – probably metal, his former steel shop employment memories told him, drowned out any conversation. His brain took the opportunity to recognize and catalogue his surroundings.
This process woke up the pain receptors, which promptly shouted in their loudness decibel. The focus of the agony was his legs, and it was telling him they weren't going anywhere anytime soon, and there was some serious pressure on them. He lowered his eyes to the very edges of his line of sight, most of his vision limited by the immobilizing collar. Yup, there was the steering wheel in his stomach, the airbag lying spent. That explained his chest and arms hurting. Forced to squint in the poor lighting, he could tell the dashboard was destroyed.
Memory continued to return; he figured out several things – he was in pain, and he had not been drinking. The latter relieved him; he endeavored to ignore the former.
"Okay, we're getting there, but it's going to hurt when we move your legs. I'm going to give you something for the pain."
Drugs were a good idea, he silently agreed. He could take pain, but he preferred not to if possible. Besides, seeing the condition of the vehicle told him that it wasn't going to be an easy job to extricate him. His size probably did not help, either; he was bigger than the average guy, and that was probably going to be a hindrance and more painful to maneuver his large frame.
He felt the flow of medication and the almost immediate relief. Letting his eyes close, Josiah let the pain soften. On further reflection, he really didn't want to be awake when they pulled him out of the vehicle.
Josiah woke to darkness. Stretching over to the bedside table, he reached up for the light switch. His stretch promptly knocked something off the table, and he heard it hit the floor hard. He winced. Rolling over, the big man looked over the side of the bed to find a round, half-exposed ball with a cloth half off, light spilling out from the uncovered side.
Curse Ezra's strong ale. Whatever possessed him to get into a drinking contest with Buck? The mercenary had a constitution better than an ox, a bull, and a hardy warhorse combined. He knew better. Yes, he could hold his spirits, but not as well as Buck, who was far more use to the over indulgences marking the victorious end to the numerous battles he'd fought. That's why Buck was the mercenary fighter, and Josiah the wizard. Or mad alchemist, depending on who was asked.
If he broke his orb of light, he'd really be mad at himself. Staring down at the orb, he felt relief. Expending the energy into making another orb really was not something he wanted to do, and buying another one would be expensive. Giving his money to those who needed it, like the villagers they protected, ranked as a better use of his funds.
A wave of dizziness swept over him, causing him to close his eyes and roll onto his back before the ale made a reappearance in a less pleasant form. Unrelenting, he continue to feel sick to his stomach, the world spun, and his legs felt crushed. When it eased off enough for him to reopen his eyelids, he didn't recognize his surroundings. It almost appeared he was in a metal carriage – with glass windows – and some type of contraption bent in and around him. He heard the sound of metal rending and tried to move his neck to see where the forge or battle was in relation to him. His neck would not move, with the sense of something metal keeping him in place. A touch of fear entered his system; everything was unfamiliar. Perhaps he accidentally transported himself somewhere.
Crushing pain destroyed his thought processes. He closed his eyes against the onslaught, opening them again to stare at his familiar ceiling.
Curse Ezra and his ale, he thought again. Making me think about things I have no idea what they mean. Now I'll have to figure out what I saw, and if it's a harbinger of things to come. Sighing, Josiah gave up on sleep. Stretching before he stood, he felt his back crack in several places. For some reason, his chest ached and his legs tingled, but he chalked it up to the ale. Ezra had been "enhancing," as he put it, the formula for the ale to give it more kick as a potential item for sale in Buck's inn.
He felt a mule had kicked him in the head and chest. Dressing in slow painful movements in his day wear – simple breeches, long lace-up shirt over a soft linen shirt that rested against his skin, and a leather vest with multiple pockets to complete the ensemble – Josiah headed for his inside cool storage tank of water. He pulled out a tankard of water to soothe his throat, sipping it greedily. Finished with that, he headed for his work area.
Given the volatile nature of the materials he worked with to make potions, his work area sat far back from his four-room cabin. He even put it in the middle of a wide, flat field, surrounded by high hills, to contain any accidents he might have during the combination of ingredients. His feet crunched on charred grass, a remnant of one test gone awry. Periodically, he whispered a word or two here and there during his journey.
Entering his private sanctum, the smells, and the sense of peace he received from the place helped clear the remaining fog from his losing battle with Ezra's ale. He passed a couple hours straightening up, getting things back into their proper places where he could find them when needed. Once he finished, he scrubbed all the surfaces, finally standing back to survey the results of his hard work.
Much better, he thought to himself.
The knock on the door – a distinctive pattern – did not surprise him.
"Come in, Nathan," he called out.
A dark head peeked in. "Anything going to fall on me?"
Josiah chuckled. "No, I cleaned."
"Good. I don't need to fix a headache for myself." He stepped inside, closing the wooden door behind him. "I almost forgot the passwords."
"That would have been bad," Josiah countered.
"I'd also rather not repair fireball damage I did to myself."
"You know why I have the wards and glyphs," Sanchez reminded him.
"Knowing and remembering after the celebrating last night are two different things," Nathan countered.
"A good time. My head attests to that."
Nathan whispered a few words.
"Much better, thank you."
"There are rumors, you know."
"I'll let Ezra tell you, if you can tear yourself away from here."
"I need to make some potions for those who feel the need for them before they return to their adventuring ways. Same deal as before?"
"Absolutely. Easy gold for little effort."
"Yup." Josiah smiled.
"I'm starting to sound like Ezra," Nathan said. "Don't tell him, and I'll tithe a little more this time."
"You always tithe more," Josiah replied.
Working for a few hours, between the two of them, they came up with potions and scrolls to sell at Ezra's Emporium. No matter what either of them thought about Ezra's chase of gold, they knew that when they went adventuring, either for cause or to raise a ruckus, gold talked. Gold also paid mortgages, bought food, and ingredients for the spells and potions.
After a night of wild abandonment, reckless drinking, and the possibility of a new crop of children in nine months, the festival continued with a variety of daytime activities. The foot race attracted the most attention, while the equestrian events were equally as popular. Axe throwing, dagger tossing, arm-wrestling, wrestling, and all sorts of activities awaited to welcome travelers from near and far and to entice them to spend their money. Legends and personalities from all over the lands came to try their luck against the accuracy of the half-elf ranger known as Vin.
The festival, brought here through slick negotiation by the bard Ezra, provided the village with an economic boon. People from all over came to visit, to spend money, to fill Buck's inn, with the nearby fields overflowing with tents and bedrolls.
Having months to prepare for the festival, considering everyone needed time to travel, the locals made and stockpiled goods – everything the adventurer could possibly need, with everything their wives, girlfriends, significant others, and/or children didn't need but wanted. If everything went right, the profits from the festival, if managed correctly, could carry the villagers through the winter months.
Ezra's Emporium, the shop Ezra ran when they were not adventuring, and the foundation of a good portion of his income, stood near the center of the village. He carried just about everything, usually on a consignment basis. Say, for example, a farmer's wife made sturdy ropes, but she did not have the time to wait around for customers to sell them, he would sell them for her, only taking a very small fee for the service. Given that he only charged a small fee, and not a large percentage, won him favor with the locals, thereby increasing the number of items they brought for consignment. One could walk into the Emporium and leave nearly fully outfitted for anything, with the exception of armor and animals.
When Josiah and Nathan walked in the side entrance, the one designated for those bringing items for sale to agree on a price instead of haggling in front of customers, they found a few villagers ahead of them with new clothing, equipment, rations, and crafts.
The bard himself, fit, trim, and resplendent in his festival clothes of bright red and black velvets, worked quickly and pleasantly through the line.
"Gentlemen, my friends, what do you bring me?"
"Our usual complement," Josiah replied.
"Went a little heavy on the potions to cure light wounds," Nathan added.
"Most excellent. We seem to be having a demand, especially since some fool shot himself in the foot with an arrow."
"He all right?"
"Yes, my dear Cleric Nathan. Your
acolyte treated him, and a proper payment was rendered to the church fund."
"Rain's good at what she does," Nathan replied with pride. "Give her a little more training, and she'll turn into a great cleric."
"True enough, if one wants to devote their life to the church," Ezra replied. "Please don't start, Nathan. I prefer my strumming to the time you spend on your knees in prayer."
"I know better than to try and convert you, Ezra," Nathan replied with a smile.
"Yes," Josiah agreed.
"Good. I'll probably need more tomorrow."
"I'll be happy to make them," the wizard answered.
The cleric and the wizard left the bard happily working making profits, walking to the area set aside for the archery contest. Inside the long, straight line of shooters aiming at targets of varying distance, their friend Vin, the half-elf ranger, did an outstanding job of working his way through the competition.
Dressed simply in leggings, a long tunic, boots, and bracers, his long hair flying behind him, the half-elf looked calm and composed. He barely allowed the noise of the crowd to distract him, nor did he allow the taunts of his competition to rattle him. He fired when necessary, wasting little motion.
"Poetry in motion," Josiah observed.
"I'm waiting for Ezra to compose an ode," Nathan replied.
"You have to pry him away from the Emporium," a new voice commented. "Likewise on getting Buck out of his inn."
"At least at Buck's one can enjoy a drink," Josiah said.
"I'm senior guard. Can't even do that." Dressed in his armor, for Chris rarely went anywhere without wearing it, the man looked formidable. With his propensity to glare, Chris was a mercenary most dared not challenge, except in friendly games. His blond hair stood out against the darker colors of nature he chose, shades of brown, gray, and green, with black accents.
"How's that going?" queried Nathan.
Chris grimaced. "Having the King's Royal Guard has been helpful in keeping the peace, just by their numbers."
"Yet the politics outweigh the helpfulness," Josiah remarked.
"Let's just say the jail's full almost all the time now, and people are only thrown out when they are sober and swear an oath to the King," Chris remarked. "Try not to get locked up. Pass the word."
"When does the King arrive?"
"Either today or tomorrow; they're not saying exactly when so it's not common knowledge. They wanted time to investigate everyone before he arrived." He applauded when Vin won the round.
Since there would be a break for the new targets to be set up further, Chris, Nathan, and Josiah continued walking through the festival area. They entered the bazaar, the place where the traders set up their own little encampment to buy/sell/or trade for goods. Not too far into it, they found JD watching one of the new arrivals.
JD, a young fighter, watched with rapt attention while a man hid a small piece of round colored glass beneath three cups. He then moved the cups around in a fast pattern, challenging his player to guess where the round colored glass ball ended. It cost three copper to play, with the chance to win fifteen copper. Not large stakes, but something to amuse the masses.
"Going to try your luck?" asked Josiah, leaning down to the younger man.
"He's cheating," JD calmly whispered back. "Having learned from Ezra how the cheats are done, I can see it plain as day."
"Pretty strong charge, JD," Chris warned.
"Watch his hands, Chris. There goes the ball under the middle cup…but his left hand has now curled while he's covering the other cups. Meaning either the ball went into his hand and under another cup, or it's still tucked in the curl of his fingers, inside his palm."
Their eyes concentrated on the hands, and not the movement of the cups. Sure enough, all four spotted the lift of the ball into the man's hands.
Before Chris could come forward to confront the man before he cheated another person, a yell stopped him.
"THIEF!" The bellow resounded throughout the bazaar, nearing the group where they stood.
"I am no thief, sir! You put it down and let me borrow it!" A higher-pitched voice answered.
All four men turned to see a huge half-orc fighter advancing on an opponent with his arms spread in supplication.
"I closed my eyes for one second, and it disappeared. Give me my pouch back!"
"Sir, you lost it, I found it, and I will be happy to return it to you. Now, where did I put it?" The smaller male, just a touch smaller than a Halfling, rooted around his belt where no less than six pouches hung. A topknot with multiple sparkling ribbons worked into it whipped above and behind the character, no less breathtaking in clothing, what with a lime green shirt and bright blue leggings.
"Give it back or I will turn you into a pouch to wear on my waist."
Since they were supposed to be the peacekeepers in the village, the four men arranged themselves where they could intercept the half-orc and his target to settle the matter quickly and quietly.
"There's no need for violence, sir. Oh my, where is it? It was right here?" The character kept searching his multiple pouches, rearranging everything in the process, so it was unclear what pouch had been checked and what had not.
"I'm gonna hang you from your topknot! Then I will empty your pouches, take all your precious belongings, and spit upon your carcass," the half-orc snarled.
"I wouldn't recommend you do that," Chris said softly. "We'll settle this peacefully. If there was a wrong done, we'll right it."
"He's a kender. Have you dealings with them before?"
"Yes, I have," Josiah said. He looked at the small character. "Stop rearranging, and check the tiny pouch to the left of your belt buckle."
"Oh, there it is!" The kender smiled. "Here, sir, with my apologies I misunderstood your intent. I felt you were abandoning it; I had no idea you wanted it back."
"Kender thief." The half-orc snatched the pouch. "No charges." He stomped off.
"I am not a thief," the kender said indignantly.
"Of course you're not," Josiah calmly replied. "Gentlemen, may I present - ?"
"Ripplewood Dewberry. A pleasure to meet you. Friends call me Rip." He stuck out his hand.
Josiah shook it solemnly. "A pleasure. I am called Josiah. This is Chris, JD, and Nathan."
"How do you do? I am quite grateful, Chris, for your aide. The King, His Highness, my most esteemed friend, enjoys my company, and I believe he would be distressed to know if someone was giving me a hard time."
"You cheat! The ball's in your hand!" The sound of a fist hitting flesh greeted them from the spot of the con game.
"Stay with me, Rip," Josiah offered. "But don't touch me." Concentrating, he prepared a web spell to detain the people. Given they were mostly common folk, and only a few adventurers among them, his creation of a large-scale web would detain the populace long enough to get the cheater out of the bazaar and into the jail. Chris and Nathan would have no problem with the web if they were caught in it, but JD might, depending how quickly he could jump out of the way.
Chris, JD, and Nathan approached the fight in progress. Using their might, they broke up the two men, but not before the yells of the victim reached other victims' ears. An angry muttering began, spreading through the bazaar area.
"Oh dear, oh my. I believe I will go to the inn. That's what I'll do, go to the inn. There are people there. Friendly people. Why, they might even like kender there." Ripplewood Dewberry started in the direction of the exit. "Now where is that stone of mine?" He started rooting around in one of his pouches. "Nope, that's not it. That's for emergencies only." Rip kept rummaging around, one hand holding an earthen bottle, keeping it separate from the rest. Consequently, he did not pay attention to his surroundings and ran right into Josiah.
The spell went off, causing Rip to drop his bottle. Wizards can prepare spells in advance, holding them until they wished to release them. But if anyone touches them, or breaks their concentration in any way, one of two things will happen. Either the spell will go off, dependent on the spot where the wizard stopped preparation of the spell, or the spell will be lost.
In this case, Josiah had the spell primed and ready, and the simple bump from Rip into his legs was enough to send the web flying from his fingers, coating everyone in the process. Rip, not expecting to run into the solid form of the wizard, dropped his earthen bottle. It shattered when it hit the ground, releasing a smoke grenade.
The bazaar filled with smoke and web, causing panic within the area.