|The Many, Part One (standard:fantasy, 1973 words) [1/2] show all parts|
|Author: Vincent Collevera||Updated: Apr 04 2010||Views/Reads: 1486/849||Part 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 Click here to read the rest of this story (93 more lines)
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