Kingmaker

The Stolen Lands 4
Raid on Oleg's: Part Deux

Morning came all too early for Eein MacGarth as he slept in the guests room at Oleg’s. Some complained within the company of mercenaries when Eein had claimed the last vacant bed. “Fuck that” he had exclaimed at the notion of anyone else using it, for he was a noble, and not going to sleep on the ground outside. At least not if it could be helped, and in this case, it could. Even if it meant sharing a room with a few others he had only met the night prior. Not wanting a fight or to tempt fate, his compatriots had just let the matter go.

A long days travel through the seemingly endless plains of the northern greenbelt, a night spent of merriment and feasting, even getting to see his childhood friend and fellow noble of house Medvyed, Aegin dePayens,of which he was most excited.

Then the dreams. Increasingly dark and morbid were his dreams of late. Usually vivid depictions of himself committing murder or some heinous act. Things he would never otherwise contemplate doing in his waking life. But his dreams were becoming increasingly detached from who he was. It was as if he could only gaze upon a dark reflection of himself. In his heart he would fight as though through a sliver of consciousness, pray to any ancestor to give him strength to stray from his course, but much as a puppet can’t fight the strings of its master, a shadow of a thought would always push him forward. “A curse” he would think to himself after a sleepless night. “A persistent and vile black magic” he would muse. Knowing full well that the notion was equal parts humorous and incredibly unlikely. Trying to lighten the otherwise grim tidings of his dreams, and alleviate his mood on the matter. Only this time it felt truly hopeless to tell himself it. For in his most recent dream, the victim was unmistakably someone he had just met.. Slightly awake, he stirred in his bed as he quietly mouthed a prayer to his ancestors, hoping for a moments respite. But before sleep could find him, commotion had struck.

“Wake up darlin!” a low guttural voice whispered. “Riders on the southern approach” it continued.

Eeins eyes shot open and before him on the opposite side of the room was Konall The Fearsome astride Aevys. Shaking her. “Not the smoothest of people” Eein thought to himself. But he had liked Konall, even jested with and perpetuated the notion that it was reciprocated affection that Aevys was feeling towards him. That she was merely playing hard to get. The notion of which only seemed to swell Konalls already enormous pride. Eein smiled at the scene playing out before him even though he knew it came with even more grim tidings.

“Wake your friends, and meet me on the ramparts.” Konall said sternly, and then swiftly made his way out of the room. Bounding from the bed to the door, almost too quietly to be believed for someone his size.

Eein had heard enough to not need waking. His dreams wouldn’t allow sleep right now anyways he thought as he got up out of his bed. Donning pieces of his armor as best he could, and asking Aegin for help on the pieces he couldn’t.

“Honey Black” he thought as he gleefully pulled his sword partially from its sheath. Taking a quick moment to examine it’s blade. A lustrous black blade it was, much akin to obsidian in look, but it felt colder than any ice he had ever known. Even in the depths of the worst winters at Stoneclimb. Yet it seemed as hard as steel and deceptively light for its massive size. It had been his twelfth birthday present. A family heirloom as he had understood it. All he knew for certain is it would likely see its first real use today, or at least since he had come to own it. Eein had sparred many times, but using mostly just practice swords. Usually the biggest ones he could find. “This will be my first time in real combat” he thought to himself as slid the sword into its sheath again. “Perhaps even killing someone.”A morbid prospect he knew, but one he felt strangely comfortable with. He had never killed before, but for some reason the thought of it didn’t unnerve him. In fact, he felt a bit of solace from the idea that anyone who might die today, would likely deserve it. A vast improvement from the killing he had come to know from his dreams. “Oh Honey Black.I can’t help but wonder how many lives you have claimed.” he briefly pondered with a faint smile.

He slid the sword around his shoulder and moved to join his companions as they filtered out into the courtyard. It was alive with movement to say the least. Though the mercenary company only numbered 5, counting himself, they had totaled 11 after counting everyone. “The help” Aegin had called them. Eein paid it little mind though, “green adventurers” he thought, but they seem friendly enough.

The rest were busy moving assorted supplies to the southern gate. Upon which a quick glimpse revealed Konall and Aevys astride the southern palisade walls, bows in hand. “I count nine!” Konall shouted. “All on horseback, and they’ll be upon us shortly!”

“Any banners?” Shouted Kesten, hoping that it was perchance a lost envoy of some kind returning from the Greenbelt, a prospect that they all knew would be incredibly unlikely.

“Nay!” Konall shouted. " Not a one." As he pulled an notched an arrow from his quiver.

As Eein looked around he had noticed that the sentiment of an imminent fight had been contagious. Weapons had appeared wherever there had been a free hand throughout the meager fort. Kesten Garess had seemed to be busy barking out orders at that point, but Eein felt little concern. All the voices and the hurried movements seemed muddled and distant. Perhaps it was his nerves, his senses being overloaded with a mix of anticipation and fear, but he didn’t think it was fear. It felt like something else.

A firm clasp on the shoulder had interrupted his thoughts. He turned to see Aegin dePayens, and gave him a faint smile.

“Come friend, you wont do much good in the middle of this courtyard with that giant sword of yours.” Aegin said with a faint smirk. “You should mount up. Perhaps we’ll have to attempt to sally.”

“I was counting on it.” Eein replied with a light chuckle. “Though I think I’ll stick to fighting from my own two feet.” A bold sentiment he knew, maybe a little too bold, but he didn’t care.

The next few minutes seemed to pass by in a blur for Eein, as he made his way over to the gate.His compatriots had assumed various positions around the meager face of the southern palisade walls. Honey Black had found its way into his hands suddenly. He was certain he drew it, but with the swelling of adrenaline, he couldn’t rightly remember the act.

Then Quiet.

The lull before the storm he knew. The shared feeling of anticipation almost seemed to permeate the air around him, as the unmistakeable thud of hoof beats grew louder and louder. Then Silence. He felt his grip tightening and tightening on the handle of Honey Black.

“Fools!” a voice rang out from the other side of the gate, shattering the brief silence. “This is the price you pay for defying the Stag Lord!”

Suddenly the sounds of shattering of glass, and thudding and twangs of exchanging volleys of arrows.

Then, a voice. Kesten, he instantly recognized, from atop the palisade walls. “Fire!” it shouted, “On the walls.”

As Eein looked up briefly to address the sudden commotion, one of the mercenaries sailed passed him from atop the walls and hit the ground with a thud. Arrow sticking from his neck. “Poor sod” Eein thought, worse still, he couldn’t even remember the guys name.

“Put it out men,” Kesten continued. “Eein, Aegin, cover them!”

Eein didn’t need to hear anymore. As fast as the board barring the gate had been moved, His hand grasped at the handle to the gate, and flung it open with an almost violent force.

Then he was running. Almost too fast to be believed for someone clad head to toe in crimson and black enameled plate. Straight to the closest of the riders. Poor guy barely had time enough to draw his sword, And it did little and less to deflect the angled chop from Honey Black. His greatsword connected with such massive force that it turned his blade aside, chopped almost clean through him, and dismounted him in a single blow.

The other riders had taken note, and some had even drawn melee weapons and moved to engage. Charging furiously to avenge their fallen comrade.

Eein had found himself quickly on the defensive, trying his best to turn aside and deflect blows with his massive greatsword, as some the riders were attempting to harry him.

Then suddenly a loud pang, as his shoulder shot back. His plate had deflected it, but he had understood it was an arrow. On the far side of clearing, he could see one of the bandits had taken aim. Happs he realized. He fit the description of their leader, worse still, he had seemed to be quite good with his bow.

His confidence was slowly giving way as he found himself struggling to stave off the increasing ferocity of their blows. Trying to find a window to turn the tide amidst the arrows sailing overhead, and the methodical dancing of blades.

His sudden concern disappeared almost as quickly though. For his greatsword had found yet another victim in the riders trying to harass him. A violent explosion of gore as another solid shot from Honey Black had nearly clove the rider in two. The riders encircling him seemed to scatter. Between the few slain in melee, and the constant pressure from the archers atop the walls, the fight was starting to taper off. Trying to capitalize on the brief swing in momentum, he turned to address the seemingly skilled archer.

But much to Eeins surprise, Happs was missing an arm, and already in mid retreat. Aegin astride Marango had found his way to him amidst the flurry of combat, and landed a solid blow with his longsword. “Ah good, I’ll have to thank Aegin for that later” he thought. "shame though, looks like he will get away.

“I got it!” a voice rang out.

Eein turned to see one of the adventurers he had met the night before, astride the palisade walls, bow in hand. “The drunkard one” he thought. Remembering that he seemed more than eager to jump at every chance for wine throughout the night. “Impossible he thought briefly. At that range…”

Andorin loosed a single shot. With a high arc and a long flight time, Eein could barely believe it as it crashed into the back of one armed bandit, sending him rolling violently, lifelessly in the dirt as it dismounted him from his horse.

“I’ll be damned Eein thought.” “The help.” Aegin had called them. A somewhat disrespectful moniker to be sure, but “helpful indeed”, Eein thought.

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The Stolen Lands 3
Into The Wilds

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” and still the words lingered.

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The Stolen Lands 2
Raid on Oleg's

He awoke the next day with something of a headache. “Red Wine” he thought, as he sat up in his free room at Oleg’s. Andorin Rand was never one to pass on free drink, even if it was red wine. But perhaps he should’ve stopped at two glasses he speculated a top his shabby bed. His attention quickly shifted back to the present. The suns first rays would be upon them soon and he had to be ready. His other compatriots he met the day before were already busy donning their armor and readying themselves for the fight to come. “And some armor that is” his inner voice remarked, noticing the young guy with the beard in fine silken garb over some rather costly looking armor. A paladin or a noble he wondered, his brother was a paladin of an order some many miles away from here. The notion of asking “… Aegin was it?” which it was in a silly hope of happenstance that he might know his brother had crossed his mind, but would have to wait. They had made some of the preparations the night before, but he would still need to be in position.

Some moments later after some brief preparation, (made even faster for Andorin as he was accustomed to sleeping in his armor) he made his way out into the courtyard. The proprietor of this fine establishment, (an older grizzled looking man) Oleg greeted him with a silent nod and motioned to the capsized wagon not far away. A fine hiding place Andorin had decided the night before, "perfect for concealing his presence for this ambush, and some cover to boot. " he thought. He made his way into the north facing hollow of the wagon, and drawing his bastard sword from the sheath on his back, he laid it against the wagon. A quick glimpse south towards the double wooden doors and he could see Aegin had made it to his planned spot, hiding behind the closed door, with the other swung wide open. And slightly to the right though up a good 15 feet on a wooden platform attached to the palisade walls was Aevys with a short bow in hand. He wasn’t sure how he felt about her, she had been mostly quiet, though when she did speak it seemed almost unnaturally eloquent.

With little else to do Andorin took a seat inside his over turned wagon and closed his eyes. It would be killing time soon. They had decided that the night before. After what Oleg’s wife, Svetlana, had told them about the horrible things these bandits had done, the decision came easy to Andorin. Harassing these poor common folk with threats of death and rape in a gleeful joyous fashion, all while stealing their only means of livelihood. “Despicable” he thought. A few minutes seemed to last an eternity for Andorin, as he sat there playing through the fight to come in his mind. Picturing his strikes and imagining the faces of his enemies as he drove his bastard sword home in a murderous frenzy. Hoping that when the time came, his movements would be as swift and accurate as he was dreaming they would be.

There was no signal, or alarm. Only the predicted sound of hoof beats coming closer and closer. Andorin’s muscles tensed, and he shifted from sitting to kneeling, and grabbed for the hilt of his bastard sword.

“Come to get the taxes we have.” A man in ragged leather armor with a green cloak mused while dismounting his horse.

“And just be glad we don’t fuck your wife’ chimed in another.

But something happened just then, something that surprised even him. A voice, singing, echoing through the courtyard. Paired with the sounds of a wooden gate slamming shut. It was time he knew.

Andorin burst forth from his cover swinging his bastard sword as best he could at the nearest of the bandits. Being taken completely by surprise the bandit stood little chance of turning the blow aside with his short sword. Andorin’s blade had found its mark, and his unsuspecting victim had found a quick death.

As the adrenaline sinks in and the thrill of battle takes hold, he finds himself mere feet away from three other bandits, all drawing their swords aside from one, who draws his bow.

A smirk crosses Andorins face, as an arrow flies true and finds its mark, striking one of the bandits. “Aevys” he thought, “A nice shot!”.

Though his smirk is quickly replaced by a grimace of pain. Enraged at the death of their fellow bandit, the remaining swarm Andorin, and while he is able to turn their blows with a few will timed dodges and parries, an arrow shot from one finds its mark. Striking him in abdomen.

A haze takes a hold of him. Everything seems so distant suddenly as his mind is filled with severe pain. His body moves more out of instinct then anything, as he cuts another bandit down. What little control he can muster bursts through his adrenaline filled frenzy.The sharp pain in his abdomen offers him a brief moment of sobriety from it, and without much thought, he moves deftly around the wagon to gain some cover. His last clear memory of that fight is seeing Aegin. Bearded youth that he is, charging forward, shield in hand, vaulting over his wagon. His grimace of pain disappears, and he smirks yet again.

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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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