Narrative: CY 610 – What Once Was

What Once Was, Fall, 610 CY, The Axewood

Kimbertos knelt amongst the thinning bush and sited down the arrow shaft timing the movements of the deer he took aim at. The creature was thin, but it was the most promising target that he had found all day. Game was becoming harder to find in the Axewood with all the competing factions struggling to survive now.

“Slow breath in, slow breath out.” he murmured quietly to himself… and loose. The twang of the bow string seemed to hang in the air.His target, a thin deer, bucked and leapt off through the brush. Kimbertos rose slowly and made his way to where the buck had been standing. “Blood trail,” he thought, “Well, that’s a good sign.” He followed the trail through the brush a few yards and found the creature laying still, an arrow protruding from behind the right leg. Dropping his bow and quiver, he drew his knife to begin dressing the animal.

“That’s a fine prize,” he heard from behind him, “Enough for everyone to share.” Looking over his shoulder he saw a young man dressed in woodland garb perched on a rock outcropping.

“Why, yes it is.” he replied. Turning back to the task at hand, “If you would care to help, I am sure that we could both benefit.” Kimbertos said.

“Oh, I think I have a better plan in mind.” he heard as Kimbertos felt the sword blade touch his shoulder and neck. Kimbertos froze, and then slowly looked up to see several others had now arrived, some with bows drawn and trained on him. “When I said ‘enough for everyone to share’, I might have had a little something different in mind.” The man removed the blade from Kimbertos’s neck. “However, we thank you for the meal and for that we will let you live. How’s that for a benefit?” The man’s friends laughed at this. One of the group stooped over to pick up the deer while the others kept watch.

“Taking a man’s kill is a dangerous game nowadays.” Kimbertos said while he gritted his teeth.

The man looked at him with interest. “What once was yours is now mine.”  With a wink and a bow, the man added, “You could say that about a lot of things now, couldn’t you?”

Narrative: Autumn, CY 612 – The Search

Autumn, CY 612 – The Search

War, pestilence and starvation had plunged the Sheldomar Valley into a pain and suffering almost too great to endure.  “How could I feel this old in less than two score years,” he wondered aloud as he walked through the crowded market. A few of the shoppers nearby gave him strange looks as he talked to himself. The market was alive with the haggling and shouting of the vendors, but it was a merely a shade of what he remembered from his childhood.

Even the resilient citizens of Cryllor reach a point where they break and would never be forged anew. “The crucible needs to refine the metal, not destroy it, if you want to make a sharp blade or sturdy hammer.” That was the advice given by a surly dwarf met in this same market all those years ago.  It seems the very thought of that dwarf and our companions still brings more joy than sorrow. Will the crucible of these times destroy these good people or forge them into a bastion of strength and resolve?

Everywhere he went he saw hunger and disease, pain and death. The remnants of the Times of Trouble still echoed loudly even after all these years. “Not a long period of time for a dwarf or an elf, but I have too few summers left to see if the seeds I plant will grow into the heroes who can restore peace and deliver prosperity for future generations,” he mused.

His thoughts were broken by a tug at his sleeve. “Will you want the usual, Master Clearspring?” It was Sandoval the Bald, his usual wine merchant.

Absently he responded, “Yes, and have it delivered to my shop, payment on delivery as usual.”

Sandoval paused a moment, and then continued. “A question, if you don’t mind; you have a small dry goods store, no family to speak of and yet you buy wine by the hogshead every fortnight. Do you swim in it?” A quick laugh and a smile was all that was needed to deflect such curiosity. Wine was one of the most useful ways to loosen the tongues of those who would be heroes, doomed to an unmarked grave or those who had the potential to be the sword or hammer the kingdom needed. How many start to seek fame and fortune only to find they serve a higher purpose for the greater good?  A question only the gods could answer.

The handbills posted in the local taverns, guilds, refugee camps and the city gates always brought out a crowd. The mere mention of adventure, fame, and fortune (with a free glass of wine) made the curious and the brave come out. For nigh on three years these meetings had withered to only a few who possessed the skills required to survive the adventuring life. Those who showed potential were either old campaigners long in the tooth or those too young and unskilled to survive an encounter with an angry bar wench, let alone orcs, trolls, or worse.

His shop was small and unremarkable from the outside. Always cautious, the door locked and shutters closed; a quick hand gesture and a few minor words of arcana would reveal any magical auras. The only emanations were on the expected items. Unlocking the door, he entered, and quietly relocked the door. With a word he moved through the ether between places to a warehouse on the outskirts of Niole Dra.

“Welcome back, my friend.” the scowling Dwarf exclaimed. “We have serious matters at hand. When will you give up on these fishing trips?” In his mind, “Never” was the answer.

“Where are those the kingdom will need?  When I find them, I will guide them, prepare them, and forge them for the future.”

Narrative: Fall CY 603 – Evil Intentions

Fall CY 603, Hookhill, the Gran March

The room was dimly lit as he entered his grandfather’s room.  His grandfather was very old and everyone in the family knew he didn’t have much time left. Everyone gathered around his grandfather’s death bed. The room was silent except for a soft whisper. A sense of fear washed over him as he stood in the doorway and everyone in the room stopped what they were doing to look at him. The silence broke when his grandfather said,” Ahh, young Rourik; come and say hello to your old Grandfather so he can wish you a happy birthday.”

It was Rourik’s 16th Birthday and he was now old enough to join in the family business, which was always kept a secret from younger members of the family and anyone who married in. Rourik felt two hands on his shoulders as his father gently pushed him into room. Rourik slowly walked into the room and continued until he was standing right next to head of the bed his grandfather was lying in. His uncle stood beside him, a man he had not seen since he was six years old.

He leaned down next to his grandfather and gave him a kiss. His grandfather looked up to him and said, “Welcome to the family.” With some help from two of the other family members the old man in bed sat up, and after letting out a raspy cough he addressed the family. “We are meeting here today for two reasons. First, we are here to welcome in a new member of the family. Young Rourik is now old enough to take part in the family mission that was set by my grandfather almost a hundred years ago after the great betrayal that nearly destroyed this House. It was my grandfather who then made a promise to make those responsible for our family’s destruction and exile pay for what they had done. It was then through a divine power our family was granted a boon to make sure our revenge was achieved. Unfortunately such a pact requires a sacrifice.”

At this moment Rourik who was full of fear was grabbed by his father again, but this time much firmer than before. Rourik’s uncle and another family member grabbed his arms and bound his wrists behind him. At this moment, scared of what was to come next, Rourik looked at his grandfathers as he said, “I am sorry my son, but the Litharian family requires you.”

Narratice: CY 600 – The Council of Militants

600 CY, Loftwick

“We meet today with the goal of ending Grosspokesman squabbling.” Marius Lindon shouted, commanding silence from the representatives seated before him. “Our nation is on the brink of destruction. We are surrounded, and the reaction of the Council has been too long delayed. Therefore I have called you, the representatives of the militias of the five high districts of our country, to decide the most important decision of your lives. For long The Yeomanry has been a free nation, but we have been weak, we have been open, we have been vulnerable. This country needs a true leader. A leader with the power to raise a true army, not a militia. A leader with the power to judge and preside over all the land. A leader that must bow before none save the Gods themselves. The Yeomanry will become a power to be reckoned with, and no force, whether Giant, Orc, Human, or otherwise will stand before us. I have long defended this country as well as I can, but I need the power to do this as I see fit, without the need for petty arguments amongst a group of representatives with little knowledge of the world outside their villages. I put forth the motion, that I, Marius Lindon, Freeholder of The Yeomanry, should be named Lord of the Lands, Commander in Chief of the Military, and judge, jury, and when it comes to it, executioner of this great nation. I call a vote to name me Dictator, until a time in which I am no longer needed.”

I saw the council’s eyes widen. Some were taken aback, others outright angry, but none could deny his claim. Marius Lindon was a force to reckon with, both as Freeholder and as a ranger in his younger days. A vote was called at this point, with each representative raising hand to show his decision. Of the one-hundred men and women present, thirty voted nay. I stood in the front row, my hand raised in support of Lindon. A smirk crossed his face, obviously proud of his accomplishment. A man stood up in the back. At first, it almost looked as if he were going to congratulate the new Dictator. I glanced backwards, only to see a knife in his hand. The man charged, had Lindon pinned, and was ready to deliver the final blow. But I was already on my way. I tackled him, and began striking the man with closed fist. I caught his dagger as he thrust in my direction. Prying it from his hands, I vigorously stabbed at the assassin’s exposed chest. He struggled a little longer and was still. I stood, grabbed Lindon’s hand, and raised it high in the air. “All hail Marius Lindon, Dictator!” The crowd cheered as Democracy died, I cheered as well, for I knew it was best. I’d come to regret that decision.

Narrative: Spring, CY 599 – Like His Father

Spring, CY 599, Niole Dra

“It’s going to be a beautiful day,” she thought.

The sun was shining, halfway to its peak for the day, as Ereleigh hung her laundry on the line. Then she thought once again of Vorland, and how much she missed him. She remembered when they had met, at the market. Ereleigh was looking for some fresh fruits to be included in some pastries, sent by her parents who owned the Rising Sun Bakery.

She had just bought some cherries and dates, and was turning around when she found herself on the ground, fruit rolling everywhere. He was in a hurry and not watching where he was going. “He was so handsome, I don’t know what he saw in me,” she thought. He apologized as he helped her up, and she knew he was the one as soon as their hands touched. They used to love to tell the story of how he literally knocked her off her feet the first time they met.

Not so long ago, really. Hard to believe it was seven years ago. It seems like a lifetime.

She looked beyond the clothesline, to the small garden that needed tilling and planted, and the fence that needed tending. But most importantly, she looked at her children, Wilby and Mistelle, playing in the cramped backyard. Wilby was the oldest, a boy now 5, very much like his father, so mischievous and bold. “At least he will have some memories of his father,” Ereleigh thought. Mistelle was born shortly after Vorland died in the Invasion, protecting Niole Dra. Ereleigh was told it was quick, and that he did not suffer, and for that, she was grateful.

Thank Phaulkon that they have good neighbors, ones who have helped her and her family through the winter. She thinks of her only sister, and Vorland’s father and brother, all of who passed over the winter. Thank goodness for Karthan, Vorland’s captain, who checks in on them regularly to see how they are doing. He always brings treats for the children, and Ereliegh always finds a few coins after he leaves.

As she watches, Wilby swings a stick around as if it were a sword. “Take that, foul dragon, and that,” Wilby cries out as he dances around the picnic table, slashing at it with his “sword”.

“So much like his father,” Ereleigh thinks, as a tear comes to her eyes. Not the first tear, and likely not the last.