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Forgot to cross-post this. Oh well. - Hunter's Guild

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May 10th, 2004

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12:59 pm - Forgot to cross-post this. Oh well.
Kael short story #1

Randai Morar saw the signs of brewing trouble almost right away. His was the only inn in the village of Voratim and come nightfall, all the locals found their way there for a pint and a smoke. But since the incidents started, tempers had frayed and innocent jests had turned into malicious verbal barbs. And for the first time in the 20 years that Randai had owned the inn, there had been fights, utterly viscious brawls the likes he hadn't seen since he had left the King's Army. But as bad as they had been, nobody had been killed. Not when the people they were fighting were their friends, neighbors, and acquaintences.

But tonight was different.

In the far corner of the inn, near the fire, was an unfamiliar face. He had come in shortly before sunset, when the regulars would start making their way in from their farms and shops. He had asked for a room and a meal in a voice that had had been deep, but quiet. After paying for these things, the man had walked to the dark table and said no more through the evening, resisting every attempt at small talk from Randai, his wife, or his sons who all worked at the inn. The man was tall and even as he sat at his table he was swathed in a heavy brown cloak, a short sword of some sort jutting out from each shoulder. Randai had almost asked for the man to disarm himself while in the common room, but the look in the man's eyes had frozen the request in Randai's throat.

But now Randai wished that he'd asked anyway. The common room was getting as loud and rowdy as it had been, but now all the regulars had a new place to focus their anger and frustration. If they couldn't let loose all the way on each other without consequence, maybe they could and would on this stranger. Instead of broken noses and bruises, Randai would have blood and bodies to deal with. Probably many of them, if he judged the stranger correctly.

And now Randai's fears were starting to look more and more like they were going to come true. He heard voices being raised from the far side of the common room in anger and he recognised who they belonged to. Olan Gakat and Rumm Eral, two men who had been particularly hard hit by the recent troubles. Olan had come home one evening to find his wife and two daughters torn to shreds by something unknown, while Rumm had lost his son and nearly three dozen head of cattle in the same way. They weren't alone in their loss. Someone or something had gruesomely killed more than a dozen people and even more animals in the last six weeks with no end in sight. And it sounded more and more like Olan and Rumm had found all the scapegoat that they needed.

Randai heard, more than saw, the two of them stand up and walk across the room to the stranger's corner. Others joined them, gaining courage through alcohol and numbers, some loosening the daggers at their belt. Randai called his sons from the kitchen even as he hurridly stepped out from behind the counter, but he was already too late.

"Me friends and I are a bit curious, stranger." Olan hooked his thumbs into his belt, his right hand conspiciously near to the long skinning knife on his waist. "We don't get much in the way of visitors out here, so we want to know what you're doing in Voratim."

The man's voice was quiet, almost drowned by the muttering and background noise, but still somehow managed to grab the attention of everybody and hold on. He answered without even looking up from the frosted mug of beer he was drinking. "My business here is my own. I do not need to discuss this with the likes of you."
Current Mood: Blargh

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