Author Topic: A Free Man  (Read 3396 times)


  • Noble Lord
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Re: A Free Man
« Reply #15: May 05, 2013, 02:15:56 AM »

The southern forest of Wraithwalk was known to him, so Lokenth spurned the advice of his guardsmen and the few local peasants. During his adventures he'd hunted the dead here, and they had hunted him too. He knew the safe ways, knew how to find the gaps in the leaves to see the stars and find your way out. He knew the secret, abandoned wells covered in vine and leaf, knew the small streams from which to get fresh water or fish, knew to watch your step because sometimes the ground opened up and would swallow you whole, like the grave.

Why did their leader risk such a dangerous path? the men wondered, no doubt. But he'd risked the same path then, and for something as worthless. Coins and baubles collected from the remains of the dead - how they had seemed so valuable, hard-earned as they were. Worth a man's life? No. Worth a week's worth of bread in the towns, worth some drink in a scabby tavern in the city, worth a new knife or coat or some rope. Utterly useless now, with all his wealth. It was a shorter journey - shorter by a day. And what, Lokenth reflected, was worth more than the time of a man's life?

Worthless, worthless. Risky. Yet it brought back some of the old life, some of the old joys.

But the journey was over before it had hardly begun. The treeline diminished and the endless sea approached, stretched out before the line of horses and wagons, shimmering brightly, the tangy salt smell of the ocean. As his men gave a joyful cheer he sighed wearily, and took another long pull of his wineskin. It was empty, again. Luckily he had more.

Along the coast, through the villages. Almost home.

The manor of the lord of Mraulaxon was rich in history. No less than the king-turned-emperor had once dwelled here. Lokenth ordered his men to relax, keeping just a few to watch the estate borders and doors for him. He sat his saddlesore ass down at the writing desk and unfurled the last letter he'd had from his emperor and his mentor:

Dear Viscount Lokenth,

Congratulations on your appointment to Mraulaxon. You have come far from the adventurer roaming the countryside in search of monsters and treasure. Hopefully you consider it to be far in the direction you wish.

Take good care of the region - I was once lord of Mraulaxon and I still hold a great deal of fondness for it. Perhaps some rest in the coastal estate will help you recover from the illness that has plagued you recently.

If you have not already assigned Dame Kinnie to an army, please assign her to the Legion.

Yours sincerely,

Sir Velax de Vere
Emperor of Arcaea
Royal of Arcaea
Marshal of Imperial Arcaean Legion

He frowned and turned his gaze upward, out the windows to the sea. The sun was setting, casting the blue with rays of orange and red.

Yes. Very peaceful.

He took care of the most important tasks first - finding the local deputy steward and making sure the winecellar was well-stocked. Then he ordered up a few bottles of wine, and drank one of them while the sun set. The room got dark and he thought briefly about the wars. Uncomfortable memories. Men he'd known, men he'd saw as his brothers - common-born, just like him, living foolish, brave and short lives before death came upon them.

He turned away from those thoughts. He had a knight to dispatch to an army. Politics to follow. And the wars, the wars were being fought, even now. But he didn't light the candles and write the letters. The darkness was here his ally, as it had been in the forest and the wilderness. Alone, you had a chance. Alone, you had no one to grieve. He opened another bottle.

I'll just sit here... and recover, he thought with dark amusement, amusement tainted by shame. Recover from my illness. Cough, cough.

The next day was the same, and the next after that. The lord of Mraulaxon was almost home.
Lokenth, Warrior of Arcaea, former Adventurer
Adamir, Lord of Luria Nova