Kingmaker

The Stolen Lands

Arrival at Oleg's.

It was getting to be late one summers eve as Aevys made her way down the seemingly endless dirt road. 30 miles or so by her best guess since they left the city of Restov much earlier that morning. A feeling of elation engulfed her as the distant tower lights could be seen shining from the lone wooden palisade walls in the distance. A feeling that was almost palpable between her and her new-found traveling companions. She didn’t know them, but she did know that with rumors of bandits and all manor of untamed wilderness around, they would all be much safer traveling the road together. Her trusty steed and companion Fritz didn’t seem to mind the trek though, aside from the strangers with which they were traveling, there was little commotion and less noise. For Fritz was a friendly horse, though a tad excitable.

Approaching the gates to the disused fort seemed to take forever, as the feeling of exhaustion mixed with the anticipation of coming rest seemed almost too much. Nearer they drew, to be greeted with the unmistakable smells of roasted venison and fresh bread. Until eventually before them stood a 30 foot wide double wooden gate. Much to Aevys’s delight, one of her new companions, a bearded youth wearing fine silken garments over lamellar armor (whom she would later come to know as Aegin) dismounted to attempt the gate. A huge sigh of relief forced its way out as the wooden gate gave way, for her muscles ached from the long journey and she knew that complete exhaustion loomed nearby.

As the group filtered into the courtyard, a middle aged woman approached with a smile on her face. “Welcome!” she says cheerfully, “I’ve made supper for you guys if would have some. As our way of saying thanks”

A pang of confusion struck Aevys as she looked about the fellow travelers, only to find the same befuddled look on their faces. But much to her dismay, no one spoke up, and before another word could be breathed about it, one of her companions had already started for a series of tables lined with food, not far from a campfire to the west side of the courtyard. A hooded and cloaked ranger with a bow slung on his shoulder and a bastard sword sheathed to his back. (Whom she would come to know as Andorin). Feeling hungry and genuinely dissatisfied with the lingering taste of trail rations, she found herself compulsively following suit, despite any sense of reason. Only stopping long enough to tie her horse to a nearby hitching post.

After a few moments of sating her sudden and voracious appetite with fresh bread, finely spiced cuts of venison, satisfying beef stew, and even a graciously offered cup of wine from their puzzlingly courteous hostess, the question found its way from the back of her mind. “Why the generosity she thought?” As she looked up to speak she was cut off by the bearded youth.

“Pardon me Ma’am, but why the unusual generosity” the bearded youth said firmly.

“Oh, it is the least we could do to show our appreciation for helping us with our bandit problem.” replied the middle aged woman.

Another wave of confusion washed over the group as curious and befuddled glances were shot from one person to the next.

“Bandit Problem?!” The bearded youth continued.

No sooner had the words left his mouth then a commotion started to the northern side of the courtyard. A grizzled man astride a latter threw his hands in the air and muttered angrily, as he knocked the tools he had been using haphazardly around, some of which came crashing to the ground. Aevys though still perplexed turned back to the middle aged woman, hoping that some sort of clarity would present itself.

“Oh don’t mind him. We had both hoped that you were the reinforcements from Restov we have been waiting on for weeks now. A hunter friend of ours stopped by earlier today and had told us of your coming. I guess we shouldn’t have been so quick to assume that you were here to help.” the middle aged woman elaborated.

An awkward silence fell upon the courtyard.

“Well…” she continued. “If you guys would be willing to help us, there is free room and board in it for ya, and I can continue to cook you such fine meals” she said cheerfully.

“Free” Aevys mouthed quietly. I like free she thought. The word echoing through her head as she closed her tired eyes to rub them for a bit. And what trouble could a few bandits be…

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JamesThorne

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