Night would be upon them soon as Aegin dePayens and his friends neared Oleg’s trading post. A long few days it had been, setting out into the notorious and vast untamed wilds of the Stolen Lands. Ambushing bandits, followed by meeting a crazy and eccentric druid named Bokken, then fighting a trap door spider that mistook them as an easy meal, gathered some moon radishes after slaying some kobolds, even ran from a band of trolls, all while mapping the lands as they went. The thought of easy rest tugged at Aegins mind, but he knew it wouldn’t be so. Despite the many rigors of his last three days and the toll it was taking on his aching body, a thought kept coming back to him. “Let him go.” He mulled over the notion silently. In his heart of hearts he knew he had done the right thing, but was it for the greater good? He was above killing an unarmed and defenseless man, so for him the decision came easy, but at what cost he wondered. Happs he said his name was, and a chance at redemption he got. Still the words lingered. “Let him go”
Time seemed to pass by in a tired daze as he sat astride his painted draft horse Marengo. Closing the distance to the entrance to Olegs’ Outpost, much the same as he had a few days prior. The much welcome smell of freshly cooked food seemed to quietly inspire their pace. Only this time something was different. One of the wooden double doors that served as the entrance sat ajar, and he could hear voices… more than the 2 people they had left before.
A tad apprehensive but ever rash and curious he proceeded into the courtyard astride Marengo with friends in tow. Before him was a sight he had not truly expected. South of the stables on the west side of the courtyard tents had been set up, and around the very same fire-pit they had eaten dinner 3 night passed was a group of armed mercenaries, joking laughing, and otherwise seeming to enjoy themselves. A bit hesitantly he moved to tie up his horse and join the festivities.
“”/characters/aegin" class=“wiki-content-link”>Aegin dePayens!" a voice shouted from the group as he neared. A voice that he knew well. For it was that of Eein Mcfinen (Rogarvia). A rather large youth with long golden blonde hair, that preferred to fight with a seemingly even larger two handed sword. A long time childhood friend and sparring partner of his. “By my ancestors is it ever good to see you” he continued, as he moved towards Aegin.
Aegin smiled and welcomed his friend with a rather surprised but hearty handshake. “What are you doing here?” he questioned.
“Well I decided I couldn’t let you have all the glory. I heard word that you left after some charter, so I traveled to Restov shortly after you left from Stoneclimb. Asked around, heard you came this way, joined this here fine mercenary company and well… here I am!”
A puzzled look found its way onto Aegins face. “But aren’t you worri..”
“Not at all” Eein interrupted. Clasping a firm hand on Aegins shoulder. “Remember, I’m noble born” he said with a smirk.
“Aye, and so am I!” A rather gruff voice chimed in. Glancing over Aegin saw a rugged looking half orc clad in leather armor standing sternly, pounding his chest with a closed fist. “For I am ”/characters/konall-the-fearsome" class=“wiki-content-link”>Konall The Fearsome. Supreme tyrant of the river kingdoms, sworn enemy to the swordlords of Restov, sacker of the forgotten citadel, commander of the Eight order of the lance… Bwahahaha" the orc interrupting his own tirade with uproarious laughter. “Naw, I am only joking with you. I’m no noble. Only a hunter of these parts. And I see the fairest game of all has found its way here” he continued, winking at Aevys, and moving to sit next to her. “I don’t believe we’ve met, darling”.
Aevys let out a loud and disgusted sigh, and abruptly moved seats. A spectacle to which much of the company around started laughing.
The next hour was filled with food and jest alike, as the returning adventurers ate their fill and prepared for a nights rest. Before Aegin could make it to his sleeping arrangements he felt A firm tap on his shoulder. Turning to look he saw a middle aged man with brown hair clad in chainmail standing over him. “Aegin is it?” the man said, and before Aegin could respond. “May I have a word.” he continued.
“Certainly” Aegin responded. “Not sure what to make of this” he thought to himself as he rose to follow the man who had already begun to walk away from the fire. A short distance away in the enroaching shroud of night the man stopped and turned abruptly to face Aegin.
“You may not know me.” the man stated flatly. “But I have heard much about you” he continued. “My name Is ”/characters/kesten-garess-44" class=“wiki-content-link”>Kesten Garess. Not that who I am matters much, but I couldn’t help but notice that you are a fellow noble not in his court?" The man said ponderously.
“Sometimes one must leave his court to advance in it.” Aegin responded, unsure of the man and his questions. But the name did ring a bell… one of the other noble families from Brevoy, but there was something more to it, he was sure.
“Too true friend”. He said with a light chuckle. A brief silence befell them, as Kesten seemed lost in thought. “I myself find my absence from court to be one not of my choosing though” Kesten continued, with a tinge of sorrow in his voice.
“So what brings you then, friend? Surely there are worse fates than some time spent in the wild.” Aegin responded. Hoping that the reasons behind this clandestine encounter would soon become apparent.
" Love my friend. Love brings me here. For I had the ill fate of falling in love with a low born woman. A tailors daughter no less" Kesten responded. " When my family learned of this affair, they had me disowned and denounced" he continued. The gravity of his statement filling the air with another short and uncomfortable silence.
Aegin lets loose a hearty laugh. “Classic, my friend. Perhaps there can be no better cause, even if this is the result.”
Surprisingly Kesten bursts into an equally hearty laugh as well in a sudden change of mood. His melancholy demeanor suddenly shifting to one of purpose. “Which brings me to why I’m before you now, if you are interested, I would like to extend my hand as a friend, a comrade even. Oleg and Svetlana told me of your readiness to help them.. With little promise of pay or recompense from these simple traders, you risked life and limb to help them. Helping the downtrodden in their time of need is my orders prime edict.”
“Your order?” Aegin said inquisitively. “What order is that?”
“The Order of the Land my friend” Kesten said with a swell of pride. “An order whom seeks to do right regardless of status or wealth, an order I feel you would find much akin to your ways.”
“The Order of the Land” Aegin thought to himself. A rush of thoughts overwhelmed Aegin for a minute as he tried to hurriedly contemplate all that was being said. He had found himself utterly taken aback by such a blunt statement. Having heard of the prestigious Order of the Land in his days at Stoneclimb. It was no secret that Aegin was born of mixed blood. A fact that always seemed to inspire him through many long nights of helping the less fortunate. He had never felt much of any allegiance to the highborn nobles, despite enjoying their comforts in life. Before he could truly sort through his swell of thoughts, Kestens voice interrupted.
“Well, I figured I’d put forth the offer for you, from one noble to another, if you will but swear an oath, I feel you would make a perfect addition to the order” said Kesten.
“It would be an honor to have the backing of such a prestigious and widespread Order.” the words nearly exploding from Aegins mouth, in a manner that seemed equal parts rash and fueled by untamed emotion. “Lay your oath upon me, and I shall take it.” He continued, almost unbelieving of his luck. “This is surely a dream” he thought to himself.
“Swear! Swear that under the eyes of gods and men, that as a cavalier of the Order of the Land, you will always strive to protect the common folk from the depredations of oppressive regimes. That in defense of the people, you will not decline any duty or mission because you are not properly equipped for it. Swear unto your dying breath, that you will do all that is in your power to protect the downtrodden, regardless of the cost!” Said Kesten in a hallowing voice that almost sapped the strength from Aegins lungs.
Fighting for the words, but soon enough finding them, Aegin spoke. “The stars see me, and as the stars see all, I shall swear it. ‘I swear as a Cavalier of Order of the Land, that I must always strive to protect the common folk from the depradations of oppressive regimes. I must not decline any duty or mission because I am not propoerly equipped for it. I swear this unto my dying breath.’” The words almost feeling unreal as they left his mouth.
No sooner had the words left Aegins mouth as Kesten held forth an open hand. In his palm is a silver necklace, depicting a lance piercing a crown. “Here, take this. The symbol of our order, and keep it close, so you may always remember your vows.” as he places it in Aegins out stretched hand.
“Always.” … the words echoing in his ears as he says it.
With that Kesten offers Aegin a smile and a nod. After which he about faces in a soldierly fashion, and heads towards his tent. “Rest well” he states, before fading into the cold black night.
The darkness around him seemed a thousand times more vibrant as the cold night air stung at his flesh. Suddenly, it all mattered so little though, as a long moment passed staring at the amulet he held in his hand. Though a simple and modest amulet made of silver, it seemed to be the most illustrious and beautiful piece of jewelry he had ever seen. “Always” the words rang in his ears again.
He made his way towards his room, and after taking off his armor, climbed into his modest bed. “What a long few days it had been” he thought to himself in the dark. He closed his eyes hoping for a restful sleep.
“Let him go”, still the words lingered.