Kingmaker

The Stolen Lands 5

The Mischievous Fey

Travel came slow as Fritz meandered the Thorn rivers’ shallow beds and soft banks.

Aevys didn’t mind the slow pace though. The battle two days before had been more than enough excitement for her tastes. The attempted raid at Olegs’ Outpost had been fierce, and the rest of the day afterward had meant tending to the wounded survivors for her. She had helped as much as she could during the fight, with her arrows striking true from time to time, but it was in the solace she offered the wounded afterwards where she had really stood apart from the rest of the group. She had been quite fond of her growing prowess with the arcane arts, and found that her sharp wit in the timing of spells could be infinitely more helpful than any blade.

The soft thuds and splashes of Fritzs’ hoof beats did little to break her concentration as she quietly fiddled with a wooden block and carving knife. She had purchased the knife and chisel set a couple days prior at Olegs’, and the wood had been easy enough to find in the vast forests that made up much of the northern Greenbelt. She knew that it probably wasn’t the safest or wisest decision with all they would likely encounter in the untamed wilderness around them, but she wasn’t about to pass on the golden opportunity for a practical joke that had presented itself. Besides, with the now purple haired ranger scouting ahead for them, and her faith in her beloved Fritzy, she felt at ease enough to take up this new craft.

“The mischievous fey” she thought to herself, as she stifled a guffaw of laughter. In her travels, she had spent a decent amount of time in Restovs’ taverns, and had come to learn about the pranks that often befell travelers of these enchanted woods. Pranks that were courtesy of the woodland sprites that dwelled here. She was also keenly aware of rituals to protect oneself from these pranks. Knowledge of which, she had kept to herself. It wasn’t that she didn’t want to help the group, but there was something all too enjoyable about watching these woodland tricksters dismount the arrogant noble who kept referring to her as “the help”. A feat most humorously performed with a wound up tree branch. There was also the drunken rangers hair changing color overnight, of which no one had yet told him about.

All the japery aside, the decision to set off into the wilderness had not been an easy one for Aevys. Not all of the bandits in the raid party had been slain, and she knew it was all too likely that any survivors would have found their way back to their camp by now. Those that had survived of the mercenaries from Restov had insisted that the bandits likely wouldn’t try to attack again anytime soon, but that they needed to be dealt with none the less, and soon. The part that had unnerved her the most though, was their numbers. Between those among her allies lost, and those that elected to stay behind, in case the bandits did attack again, their current expedition numbered only four. The two nobles, the drunken ranger, and herself.

Of all the compelling arguments put forward by those that had survived, it was Olegs wife, Svetlana, whose plea that moved her the most. Kressel they called her. Rumored to be their leader she was. Well, aside from whoever this Stag Lord was. She Stole Svetlanas’ wedding ring though. Even threatened to kidnap, rape, and murder her.

So revenge was her mission. Well, that, and the promised reward of several hundred gold pieces for retrieving the ring. With all the morbidity aside, Aevys was making considerable coin in her adventures with her current companions. The nobles seemed too interested in forgoing payment for social standing, and the drunk didn’t seem to care much for anything but a chance to get shit-faced. Leaving her many opportunities to seize the lions share of the rewards for herself.

She tried her best to keep her eyes peeled on the forestry around them from as they moved, whenever she wasn’t fiddling with her figurine. She didn’t want others to notice what it was she was doing, but the constant threat of ambush loomed overhead as they drew nearer and nearer to the bandits’ camp.

It was a dense and lush forest, one that had withstood many attempts to tame it, throughout countless ages. The unmistakeable outline of any number of ruined buildings, parapets, forts, and temples in various forms of decay had dotted the country side. Each one had a story she knew, but all so long forgotten, she had wondered in anyone remembered them anymore. The Stolen Lands it was commonly called. With its neighboring countries each in turn blaming the others for stealing claim over the land from them. When in reality, it seemed the only sovereignty to hold claim, had been nature itself.

She found herself wondering if they would encounter a bear. The thought of which summoned a snicker as she worked intently at her piece of wood. It was rather crude looking, but it was starting to take shape. She examined it for a long second, wondering if it was time enough to call this particular piece finished, and move on to the next. “With all the pranks being played by the fey, he would be none the wiser.” she thought, gazing at the pieces rudimentary shape.

But the second had been too long. A loud sounding explosion had shattered her whimsical thought, likened to that of a thunderclap. She peered around, frantically trying to get her bearings. Several arrows in flight had caught her attention.

“Ambush!” she knew immediately. Only this time, it wasn’t the mischievous fey.

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