It was a rather simple enterprise, actually. Bjorn having barely survived his last adventure, concluded that there had to be a better way of making a living than traipsing through dungeons. He then had the brilliant idea of setting up adventures for others. He went to the last site and carefully mapped it. He then sold the quest map to others. How could it be his fault that someone had robbed it already?
King Alfor III had died two years before. His son had been off exploring far off lands, and had just recently returned to find out about his father’s demise. In his absence, the land had been watched over by an uneasy coalition of nobles, but rivalries had put Pandia at the brink of civil war. Now, perhaps, that could be averted and the country returned to its former greatness.
“Alfor will now make his profession, and be anointed our leader,” Halifin the Mage announced.
Eight thousand eager eyes locked onto the tall, slender man who now took to the platform.
“I, Alfor son of Alfor, do profess and declare that I am of true blood of the Pandian people, and rightful heir to Alfor, the son of Alfor, the son of Alfor.”
With that Halifin poured oil on the head of the man, and placed a bronze crown upon his head. “All hail Alfor the Fourth, Lord of Pandia.”
There was a mighty cheer from the crowd.
Alfor, or should I say Anfwin son of Orry, leaned over to the mage and whispered, “Can I have that sandwich you promised me, now?”
“Soon, Lord,” the new chief advisor said with a grin. “Soon.”
Henry tossed and turned. For the life of him, he could not settle. It wasn’t that there were urgent issues on his mind, nor was he overly stressed. It was purely that he could not get to sleep, despite being tired.
It was then that the first inklings of stress began to creep it. How, I going to function at work tomorrow if I don’t get some rest?
He rolled over again and glanced at the clock on the bedside table. Nine-o’-five. That’s like midnight, he thought. Well, the middle of the night, anyway.
I often assert to my wife that 9pm is “midnight,” especially for those that have to wake up for work while it’s still dark.
Garn was said to be a man without equal. He was tall and muscular, as well as ruggedly handsome. He was in most every way a symbol of his nation. He, himself, saw such talk as worthless, however, for Garn was a man of action and not words.
As he strode down the corridors of the palace, the various guards and attendants smarted themselves in his presence. Reaching the throne room he waited for not introduction or summons, but walked right in. He stopped and gave a courteous nod to the king; no bow or bent knee, for such was not in Garn’s character.
“Ah, Captain Garn,” the king said. “It is good of you to come on such short notice.”
“Always at your disposal, Majesty,” the hero replied.
“I have a matter of the utmost sensitivity for you. There seems to have been an incursion on the northwest border.”
“What is sensitive in that, I can deal with it straight away, and make an example of the Helians.”
“”Well, that’s just the thing,” the king said clearing his throat. “It seems it is we who have crossed the border, and now the officer who crossed over is trapped alongside thirty of his men. I am afraid that I will need your special skill-set to find them and lead them back to this side of the frontier without alerting the Helians to your, or their presence beyond the border.”
“Can we not deal with this diplomatically, and state is was a foolish act of a minor officer?”
“Well, here again it’s a bit tricky,” the king said. “The officer in question is Prince Talbo.”
“I see,” the hero said with no attempt to disguise his distaste for the situation. “I will leave immediately.”
“I knew I could count on you,” the monarch said with a weak smile.
Hugh Carter stood at the door of the tavern. He was thirsty and road-weary and scanned the packed room for any sign of a seat. It was then that he spied a small table in a far corner. He maneuvered himself through the throng and slid into one of the three vacant seats and set his travelling bag in one of the others. He then slung his cloak on the back of the chair he was sitting in before making his way to the bar and ordering a pint and a pie.
When he returned to the table he saw a neatly folded piece of paper tucked into the wicker back of the chair opposite. He leaned over and retrieved it and opened it to see what it might be.
It read, My friend, if you are reading this, you are in grave danger. As I would would not wish any misfortune to befall you, please move to the far side of the tavern. I trust you will be thankful for this warning.
Hugh looked around but no one seemed to be taking any particular notice of him, but he did get an uneasy feeling from a large cloaked man two tables over. Taking a wide berth of the man he gathered his drink and belongings and went and stood near the bar. As soon as he made the move, three rather weedy-looking youths sped to the now vacant table. A particularly spotty lad with bad teeth gave him a wave and shouted, “Thanks mate.”