Traiel shivered slightly at the encroaching cold and looked up he came to an old wooden bridge that crossed a swift-flowing stream. Past the bridge, the forest widened to a small clearing. In the centre of the clearing was an impressive, though rundown Lodge that would serve as his home for the foreseeable future.

He had been on the road for 7 days since leaving Oppara, and while the physical rigour of the journey hadn’t been that much of a burden, the threat of brigands increased dramatically the further you travelled from the capital making the journey a mentally taxing one, and a potentially deadly one for one caught unawares, so there was a slight spring to his step as he approached the Lodge, looking around him wondering at the lack of attention his approach had made.

He opened and walked through the front door, stomping his travel-worn but serviceable boots on the ground to clear the mud from them, noticing first the pelt adorning the floor in front of him, and then the back wall of a more than welcome fireplace that glowed pleasantly, highlighting the other side of the room, revealing a long bench and a gruff, stooped figure sitting there, warming himself at the fire with an ale, chatting with what sounded like a few more people hidden behind the fireplace. The oaken walls of the Lodge gave it a very homey, warm feel, but Traiel hesitated at the door to see the reaction of his intrusion.

The figure looked casually over as Traiel opened the door to let the chill in, and paused for a moment as he looked over the half-elf, but then quickly regained his composure and grunted to him ‘Well, don’t just stand there in the doorway, come in and shut the damned door!’. Traiel took this response in and acceded, closing the door gracefully and striding towards the man.

’I’m Traiel, i’ve just arr….’ ‘Yeah, expected as much, come in and grab an ale from the side there and make yourself comfortable in front of the fireplace. You can leave your gear there by the door’. Traiel looked around, and shrugged, dumping his packs as indicated and grabbed himself a flagon and brought it the fire. The other two came into view, revealing another old, wizened man there seated as close to the fire as possible, who eyed his greatsword with a start, and then nodded miserably with a ‘damn cold this winter.’ Traiel nodded to another young lad, around his own age he suspected, seated easily in his chair, with short brown hair who gave him an easy smile and greeted him in fluent Elvish. ‘Greetings brother, and welcome, I understand you have just come from Kyonin’. Traiel paused in shock at this, his normal composed self caught unawares, hearing the fluent tongue of a Kyonin elf coming from this man’s lips. He recovered and greeted him back, in a far more accented Elvish ‘Thankyou friend and well met to you’. He took a seat next to the gruff old man, who introduced himself as Garth, the miserable man as Cal and the young ‘buck’ as Marcus.

’Don’t worry about making yourself too comfortable here, you’ve already been assigned to work with Heldren itself and will have use of an old trappers hut as your own. There’s a room through that door there you can bunk for the night, some of us are out and about down south, so theres a spare bed for you. The commander is out on patrol, but you were expected so I have your instructions. You’re about to become a liason young one. Marcus here will help you get settled in, and will support you in your role until you have it down. Your duties will be to go back and forth from the Lodge to bring supplies and reports. You are also responsible for confirming claimed bounties of bandits and handing them Sentinel Marks, wooden inscribed tokens that are taken to the town hall and exchanged for gold. When your up to it, feel free to get Marcus to show you around’.

Traiel nodded, sipping his ale, and Garth took this as acceptance and understanding, so satisfied, turned back to Cal and Marcus, continuing with his story from where he’d left off… ’… yeah so it was about twenty years ago that we last saw such a cold winter, and let me tell you what happened back there…. ’. Traiel let the words flow around him, glad to sit down and take some repose, but he did focus a little on his new companions, especially Marcus who he found to be a very likeable guy, although with that uncanny, almost unnatural gift for the Elvish language that Traiel had struggled to learn only fairly recently while at Kyonin.

The afternoon progressed with a few more tankards, a few more stories. Towards the evening another pair, Hallis and Drave, both middle-aged men who while well built, definitely shared a friendship that seemed to come from a shared love of fishing, came in having caught some rabbits and a deer, and everyone pitched in to get dinner prepared. Traiel enjoyed the simple act, and enjoyed hearing the experienced Sentinel’s talk about the surrounding area and their experiences, and heard them talking about Ceridwen, a witch who lived in the woods hereabouts. He decided to spend some time exploring, perhaps under Marcus’ guidance and get a lay of the land, and maybe spend some time visiting the local haunts.

Not long after dinner, Traiel found one of the beds, after nodding off a few times near the warmth of the fire and the din of friendly conversation and drifted away, strangely content to have not caused to much notice.


Reign of Winter Wildhunt78 Traiel