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The Many, Part One (standard:fantasy, 1973 words) [1/2] show all parts
Author: Vincent ColleveraUpdated: Apr 04 2010Views/Reads: 1534/878Part vote: 0.00 (0 votes)
Celebrated heroes are few and far between, but the men and women who constantly stand vigil, and do their deeds with no accolade or acknowledgement are many. These are their stories.

He finished making the daily entry in his journal and closed it, resting
his calloused fingertips on the faded brown leather cover.  Today's 
entry had been the last page.  It was time to leave.  He'd been in this 
town for a year now and had taught them enough to begin to teach 
themselves.  In a generation or two, this little fortified village 
would be home to some of the brightest minds and deadliest swordsmen 
and women outside the Cities.  They now had a schoolhouse, a barracks 
for their militia, proper roads and a working sewer system to keep them 
clean of refuse.  He'd shown them how to make earth berms and palisade 
walls.  They even had some small, simple siege equipment. 

A true army would slaughter them.  He'd taught them enough to know this
as well.  But brigands and marauders would be little more than a 
nuisance until the Royal Guard was summoned to break siege.  He drained 
the last of his glass of whiskey and set it down with a sigh.  It would 
be several weeks before he reached the next village and he would have 
no more until then.  He took one more pull from his pipe and knocked 
the dottle out of it onto the floor before putting it into its simple, 
worn wooden case.  On his way towards the stairs to his room, he left a 
small tip on the bar.  Once in his room, he began to pack.  He would be 
leaving in the morning. 

His journal went into the footlocker with its preceding volumes.  The
squat wooden chest still smelled of fresh cut cedar when he opened it, 
even after all these years.  It was one of his most useless 
enchantments, but also one of his favorites.  The chest was the first 
thing to go into his knapsack.  That was perhaps his most useful 
enchantment, and the one that had taken him a very long time to 
perfect.  No matter how much he stuffed into the shapeless canvas bag 
with its single shoulder strap, it never got full.  He packed away the 
majority of his clothing, leaving out a fresh set for the morning, and 
placed his myriad knick-knacks and other sundry items from his stay 
here inside as well.  When he left in the morning, the room would 
appear as though he'd never been.  These tasks complete, he undressed 
and stuffed his soiled clothing into the bottomless knapsack and slid 
between the cool cotton sheets of the bed.  Sleep was never long in 
coming to a soldier.  He proved this notion by being asleep before he 
could finish thinking it. 

The cock's crowing coincided with the completion of his morning
ablutions.  Dressed and thoroughly awake after scrubbing his face with 
cold water from the carafe on the bedside table, he stepped quietly out 
into the hall and shut the door behind him with a mildly audible creek. 
 It was a matter of great skill to oil hinges just enough to soften the 
noise rather than eliminate it.  A somewhat noisy door is the next best 
thing to an actual burglar alarm.  He slipped quietly down the stairs 
and into the common room.  No one was about this early, with the sky 
just turning grey in the east and his passage outside went unnoticed. 

It was becoming late in the season now and, while there was no frost
yet, the air had a bite to it that made the dark wool cloak he wore all 
the more necessary.  The walk to the common stables at the other end of 
the village took perhaps a quarter-bell and by the time he'd arrived 
the stable hands were already up and about, stumbling bleary-eyed and 
groggy into the early morning tasks of cleaning out the stalls of last 
night's straw and droppings and putting new straw in its place.  One of 
the lads looked up and saw him approaching.  "Master Eddon, good to see 
you.  What brings you out to the stables so early?  You usually don't 
take Chord for his run until later in the day."  He smiled and sighed 
at the lost opportunity to leave without having to say goodbye to 
anyone.  He was bad at goodbyes, despite all the years of practice he'd 
had.  "About time I move on, young Stev.  Not much more I could do for 
the good folks around here and there are still plenty more who could 
use my skills elsewhere."  To his surprise, the boy took the news with 
a solemn nod.  "Well then I'll be wishing you a safe journey and 
success in all your ventures, Master.  If you ever happen to be out in 
these parts again, you'll be welcome here; as well you know.  So don't 
be a stranger."  And he went back to mucking out the stalls. 

Carl Eddon chuckled a bit at that and began saddling his horse.  Chord
wasn't fond of other people and could get downright nasty when touched 
by someone unfamiliar.  He tightened the girth and waited until Chord 
blew out, then tightened it down the rest of the way.  Damnable horse 
was always trying to find ways to casually drop him out of the saddle.  
He found the saddle bags to be full of food and provisions and a 

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