The traveler walks silently through the cornfield. He wares a dark blue hood and brown cloak. He has brown hair and a full beard. His features are rather hard to discern from where I sit crouching behind a rock. In his right had he car-ries an oaken staff. In front of him looms a forest. The leaves are just budding out. Above him a bright three quarter moon sheds light on the fields of Balston.
"Halt! Who goes there?" another man shouts as the traveler emerges from the cornfield and reaches the fringe of the wood. The traveler stops instantly.
"I am just a simple traveller wandering these lands." the traveler replies.
"Where are your citizenship papers the man asks." The traveler looks at the man quizzically. "You know that anyone who travels abroad in these lands who doesn't have his citizenship papers is liable to be arrested and subsequently put to death by a death squad." The traveler looks and sees more guards around him. His face pales but his look remains determined and he replies confidently.
"I have been wandering the lands periodically for years without any papers."
"Are you aware that any foreigner wandering about in the lands of the king of Piremë is liable to imprisonment and even able to be killed? Also any who flee the lands of the king will be killed instantly without any trial whatsoever?"
"I am not breaking any law to which I am subject. Last I heard the lands were the property of the king of Húrn, Alfred. And I do not obey the king of Piremë."
I grasp my sword ready to spring to the aid of the stout and loyal traveler.
"Arrest this man guards!" The sentinel roared. But befor I or the guards can join the fray the traveler draws his sword. In a flash the sentinel's sword is cut in two. The traveler then slices through the sentinel's steel cap. John and I pounce on the other guards in an instant. After a short encounter I disarm one.
"Anmë, kill that bowman." I shout urgently my companion. He instantly takes out a knife and throws it at the man. The knife is buried into the man's chest.
John and I soon dispatch a second guard and knock another senseless.
"So." John says. "The rumors are true the Piremë have overrun the border."
One week later I walk about my hunting lodge with anxiety. The expedition went well: too well. We found out much that had once been secret. I turn on my heel as I hear a knock on the door. My squire John answers the door. Anmë the traveler walks through the door with his stout oaken staff in his hand.
"Ah! I was waiting for you to arrive." I say. "Come in and have some coffee."
He throws off his blue hood and follows me and John to a large living room furnished with two black couches and two wooden rocking chairs. The couches face each other while the rocking chairs have theirs back to a large fireplace at an acute angle. In the center of the room sits a coffee table. I order one of the servants to put a pot of coffee on the fire. He does so at once. In the meantime the three of us sit down and start talking together about the "expedition".
"Something has to be done about the threat to the Húrnan border." I say.
"I agree." Amnë says "But the problem is that Alfred will not consent to have foreign troops enter his land. That even extends to us. We can't help them."
"Why do we have to help them in the first place though." John says. "It is not our custom to help others unless they plead with us for it or pay us money. I say that we wait for an offer from them. I know that I am only a squire but I think that I should have a say. We have nothing to gain but trouble. I say we lay low."
"I get your point." I say. "But it is up to the Council to decide what our mission is. For now we will lay low but I will take the matter before the other councilmen first. You, John, will come with me." I say before turning to address my former apprentice. "Traveler I want you to head back into Húrn and continue keeping an eye on the Piremë." (Traveler was the nickname I gave him during his youth.)
"Aye sir, I will. But what do want me to do if I encounter Piremë?" he asks.
"Avoid large bodies of troops. If you run into Piremë patrols take out one or two and then give them the slip or give them these." I hand hand him a folder.
"Forged papers I imagine?" he says. I grin communicating he guessed right.
"What if they see that they are actually fake?" Amnë asks with concern.
"They won't." I state flatly. "They hardly even look them over." I continue.
Anmë let out a short barking laugh. As a member of the Order he was used to being careful and secretive. But he has learned that the Piremë, though cruel and brutal, we're rather indifferent as long as you gave them what they wanted such as papers or a bribe and acted like you were minding your own business.
"Now we better get out of here." John says as he packs his things. I agree.
"Right." I say donning my hood and cloak and taking my staff in hand. We all walk outside and get our boots on. We walk over to the stable and enter. After saddling our horses we mount them and bid each other a merry farewell.
John and I turn our horses west toward the Fertile Valley. After riding for an hour we emerge from Underbrush Forest and come out into the open. The fertile valley encompasses us on three sides. Far ahead in the distance the Stormy River running through the Great Canyon flows south to the sea. More than twice that distance to the north loom the Fell Mountains. But we go south.
We turn our horses down the royal road, which splits Húrn in half. For miles ahead we see no one. Little farms and villages can be seen with smoke rising up from chimneys. But to the east all the land is barren and devoid of any homes. Instead they are replaced by fire, ash, and a horde of Piremë. But they are still many miles away and cannot see us even though we sit astride horses.
"We will have to be less careful than I at first thought." I say to John. "There are no travelers for miles round. All we have to do is avoid Triston Castle."
"Do you think the Pirmë have come to it yet?" John asks me. "If they have–"
"No." I say cutting him off. "The fires have not come close to it. But they do have scouts. We will have to be careful to avoid any and all civilization until we come to Kore." Kore is a a small island to the south of Deydon (day dawn) the continent where the realms of Húrn and Piremë are. It is less powerful as well.
"I guess that means hard tack and whatever else we can glean for a while?"
"Yes. I am afraid so. But at least the land here in Húrn is extremely fertile."
After our short discourse we ride on in silence as our horses eat up the road. After riding for a long while we see a a party of horsemen crest a low, distant ridge. I think about how we should react. The enemy will soon spot us even if they haven't already. Finally I come to a firm conclusion and address John.
"Those horsemen are probably Piremë." I say to John as I watch the riders slowly come toward us. "We will give them these papers that I made in the past week. If they are Húrnan then we will act like soldiers going to the war. We will try to act as unobtrusive as possible. No charging into them all right, John?"
"Fine, though I beg to differ about charging into them. I would shoot them all."
"Point taken. But I do NOT want you doing anything of that nature either."
"Killing five Piremë would do about as much damage as spilling a drop in five buckets anyhow." John says. I merely grunt in agreement with my apprentice.
"Just act natural. As long as you do that the Piremë won't be suspicious."
"I know. I'll act as I'm trained." With that we are silent as they approach us.