Gender: Male Age: 53 Location: Las Vegas, Nv
|Introduction: The Kingdom of Elgon|
I rode into the walled town and everyone watched me closely. I stopped in front of a dry goods story and dismounted. I pulled each horse up and secured them to a hitching post before finally turning to go into the store. I moved toward the grain and dry goods and nodded to the old woman sitting beside a long wooden counter.
A couple of tall men stepped into the store and silently walked to stand beside the woman. When I carried everything to the counter the old woman smiled, “sidhe.”
I shrugged and opened my pouch and she laughed, “One gold piece, lord Sidhe.”
I looked at her, “A little high isn’t it?”
She nodded, “With all the thieving going on, it will likely cost more soon enough.”
I nodded and set a gold piece on the counter, “There were several sets of thieves on the plains.”
I looked at her, “I’m afraid they won’t be returning.”
She grinned, “Now, that is good news.”
I gathered everything and she nodded to one of the men who walked out ahead of me. I moved to one of the horses with the smallest pack and put everything away. I untied all the horses and swung into the saddle before heading towards the gate at the other side of the town. The hills were covered with trees and the signs of game were everywhere.
It was a few hours before dark, I stopped beside a stream and picketed the horses. I knew there had been watchers and ignored them. As the sun got lower, a man rode out of the trees and sat his horse looking at me, “May we share your fire?”
I smiled and nodded and he turned to gesture back at the trees. I was a little surprised at the number of people that rode out and swung down. They seemed to just keep coming and my camp quickly grew. I looked around as another fire flamed to life. Several men headed towards the stream with large buckets. Women moved around and before I knew it the smell of food filled the air.
The man that had asked to share my fire cleared his throat as he squatted across for me. I looked at him and he smiled, “You aren’t from around here. What Clan do you claim?”
I looked at him carefully, “I no longer have a clan.”
He frowned, “Clan is everything.”
I turned as a woman came to the fire and started placing pots and pans around it. I looked back and the man smiled, “sidhe. All sidhe have clans.”
I shrugged, “In my country they are called Travelers, but I have never been part of their clan.”
He just looked at me, ignoring the women that moved around the fire. I sighed, “I was a master in the Quirrin clan.”
He jerked as if I had just hit him and the women stopped what they were doing. I smiled, “I see you know what my clan was.”
He gestured and the women went back to work, “You said was.”
I shrugged, “I did not wish to kill for money.”
He nodded, “Honor.”
I sighed, “To protect the clan is one thing but…”
He nodded, “beware the Kingdom of Elgon. The clans here have many enemies.”
I shrugged, “I will not take sides unless attacked.”
He tapped his chest, “I am Craig, leader of the Cnoss clan.”
I nodded, “Lan.”
It was just before dawn that my eyes snapped open. I rolled out of bed ignoring the clan around me and the dying fire. I looked into the forest and turned to pick up my bow, “Craig.”
The whisper was more than enough since his eyes were already on me. I nodded to the forest, “someone comes with many horses.”
He hissed as he shifted away from the woman and suddenly a dozen men were on their feet. His hand gestures in the dim predawn light were swift and they nodded before moving away. When the hoard of horses charged out of the shadowy forest I was ready and began shooting arrows. The first was a big man in the lead and then the next man beside him.
The Cnoss clan seemed to find shelter before the riders could harm them and the other men Craig had warned began shooting arrows. Soon the raiders were turning to escape. When quiet returned a couple of women built up the fire as I moved to check my horses. Only two horses from clan Cnoss were injured and they weren’t hurt that bad. The only ones injured or killed were the raiders.
As I saddled the horses and packed up, a warrior brought my arrows to Craig who came to return them, “You are a worthy companion Lan.”
I smiled and accepted the arrows before checking them and then replacing them in the quiver. I swung up into the saddle and nodded to Craig before riding off into the morning. I rode and began thinking about what I had been told. First I knew I would have to avoid all the clans or I would end up fighting most of them.
I stopped at noon to water the horses, I wasn’t going fast so they were eating the tall grass beside the trail. I glanced across the stream as two men walked out of the trees. They hesitated before continuing with the buckets they carried. When I started off again I was waiting, the four men that attacked an hour later never even reached me.
I put an arrow through the chest of each one and looked at the one standing next to a tree watching. He frowned and then turned away as I started moving again. That night I set up camp in a thicket after watering the horses. After cooking a rabbit, I put the fire out and moved into the shadows to one side. I relaxed into my half sleep and woke to sounds outside the thicket.
There were only two ways into the thicket and I could see both. Six men moved into the cleared space in the thicket. They were silent and from the bare knives I knew this wasn’t a peaceful visit. I threw two poisoned darts and the two men I hit jerked and yelled, “ATACK!”
I threw two more darts and pulled two spikes as a torch flared to life. My horses were screaming and starting to panic when I killed the last two men. The other four men had begun to stumble around like they were drunk. I ignored them as I moved to calm the horses. After I had them calm I turned to the six bodies and moved to check them.
I pulled them to one opening before putting the sputtering torch out. When I rode out in the morning a man was back in the forest watching. I looked at him but he didn’t say or do anything. I rode into a small farming community that afternoon and decided to stay the night in the tiny inn. I was able to talk to several men and they drew a map for me.
The next day I rode out listening to their warning to stay away from the crazy clans. Unfortunately I ended up riding into the middle of one later that afternoon. They actually seemed to ignore me as I rode along beside them. When I swung away to stop for the night they paused and the next thing I knew they were setting up camp beside me.
It turned out the clans knew all about me and what I could do. They still ignored me as I cared for the horses and made a meal. I cleaned up and leaned back against a saddle and let myself slip into my half sleep. I rose an hour before the sun and saddled my horses. I packed up and swung into the saddle before riding away as several men watched.
Later that morning I saw the movement ahead of me on the trail and pulled the horses to a stop. Not that they minded, they drifted to the side of the trail to rip up the greener grass. I watched and waited with my bow in my lap and finally three men appeared and looked down the trail at me. The stared for a moment before another appeared leading horses. They mounted and turned to ride into the forest.
I rode out into a larger farming lane later that day. The houses beside the large fields were more like large walled forts. It was almost dark when I reached the small city of Elgon. It to was walled and the guards at the gates hesitated before allowing me to enter. Just inside the gate was a large tavern. I put my horses in the small corral and fed them. My packs went into a small stone room with a lock. The room in the tavern was small but comfortable.
At first everyone in the common room was quiet but they finally started talking again. As I ate a hot meal I asked if anyone knew how far it was to the next town. That earned me silence before a large breaded man turned to look at me, “Its two days away and two separate clans are between here and there.”
I shrugged, “I am not part of either clan.”
Everyone laughed and a thin man that looked like a farmer snorted, “Those stupid clans don’t care unless you are part of their clan.”
I smiled and ignored their looks, “Is the road between here and there good?”
The breaded man snorted, “You’ll not have trouble with the road, it’s overgrown but sound. The trouble will be the damn clans.”
I finished eating and stood up, “thank you.”
I was up early which earned me a smile from the innkeeper’s wife as she set a large bowl of porridge on the table. When I rode out several farmers watched me and shook their heads. It wasn’t long before a man on a horse rode out of a small clump of trees and blocked the road. I pulled my horses to a stop and he came closer, “This is clan Bedal’s territory.”
I smiled, “I am only passing through.”
He shrugged, “Only clan Bedal rides here.”
I leaned forward, “I am riding through. If you or your clan wish to stop me they will die. This is a common road through this kingdom and I intend to use it.”
He sat back and his lips thinned, “Then you will die outsider.”
I smiled, “Clan Quirrin are born knowing they will die.”
He jerked and his eyes went wide as I started my horses forward and pushed past him. They had been right back at the inn, the road was extremely overgrown. The horses loved it though and I kept the pace down so they had a chance to eat as we traveled. I spent the night in a grassy turnout that had a large fire blackened pit in the center.
All day riders rode along on one side or the other. The sun was just finished setting as three older men rode in. They looked at me and then swung down and walked towards the fire. The oldest had a grey bread. They warmed their hands and the young one looked at me, “Turn back or we…”
I came to my feet, my swords sweeping out as I dove and rolled. Two arrows stuck in the ground where I had been. I sliced sideways as I passed the men and disappeared into darkness. One of the older men went to his knees with blood pouring from his neck. Now it was a time of silent hunting in darkness. Only, unlike them I could still see as I moved through the trees.
The first I came to was two bowmen, I stepped into them and cut out with both swords. As I moved away they were screaming as their bowels poured onto the ground. The next set was a swordsman with another bowman. I cut the swordsman’s throat and stabbed the bowman in the stomach before disappearing. One group after another I attacked, always leaving at least one man screaming.
The last two men standing were the two older men left by my fire. I walked out of the darkness and knelt beside the body of the one I had killed. I cleaned my swords as they held their swords in clutching hands. I gestured to the darkness, “If I see even one of your clan I will take you all, GO!”
They backed into the darkness and I swiftly packed and saddled my horses before swinging up and riding away. I rode until midnight and then set up camp again. The next day several men rode along beside me but at a distance. It was late afternoon when I rode into a small farming community. In the middle of the village was a small building with two men in two different uniforms.
The building was in the street and as I approached they got off the stools they had been sitting on.
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