In which Veliaf leaves Northshire Valley for the wider world.
The freezing morning air numbed Veliaf’s fingers and shocked his lungs as he stepped out of the inn to face the new day. The sun had risen not long ago and a chill mist, not yet dispersed by wind or heat, still hung above the dew-covered grasses of Northshire Valley. The ground was hard and crisp underfoot, probably signifying the beginnings of a frost, and the moon was still faintly visible in the clear sky. Temperatures in the Valley had dropped dramatically with the recent transition into November, and many in the settlement were now preparing for the harsh winter months as autumn faded away.
Leaving the frosted windows of the inn behind him, Veliaf strode across the barren forecourt and out onto the road, turning south and heading for the trail which would lead down towards the hills and, eventually, the exit from the Valley. It was a shame – he liked the area, with its peaceful vineyards and its cosy community, but mercenaries generally could not afford the luxury of staying for too long in one place. Issues of reputation aside, the absence of work meant that he would not be able to afford his keep for the winter, and so regrettably he would have to move on and try to find a job elsewhere. Pulling his leather gloves tighter onto his hands, he strode on.
He had been walking for maybe forty minutes, following the stream which had earlier flowed by the Abbey and now gushed alongside the path, when he spotted the guard post in the distance which signalled the boundary between Northshire Valley and the rest of Elwynn Forest. The air was still chillingly cold, and the two lone guards were seated around a small fire just off to one side of the path. As Veliaf, approached, they stood up, chain-mail clanking, and the near one spoke:
“Now then sir, leavin’ for the forest are we, eh? What’ll be your business there then, eh?” The guard’s young features twisted into a suspicious frown.
“Well right now I am headed for the nearest stable to purchase a horse. Either of you two gentlemen care to direct me?” Veliaf replied curtly, annoyed at the interruption.
“How’s about I tell you that when you tell me what your business really is, eh? It’s almost winter. Most people don’t like t’ travel in winter.”
“Well, I don’t have much choice. My business is private, thank you.”
“Is that so, eh?” The guard took a step forward, blocking the path, and shifted his hand towards the sword on his belt. Before he could move further, the other guard, older and weathered, put a hand on his companion’s shoulder and addressed them both:
“Alright, calm down, this is silly. Sir, the closest stable is in Goldshire, just follow the path down into the town. Forgive my colleague here for being overly cautious but some strange traffic passes us these days, and it’s our job to keep folks safe from danger.”
Veliaf nodded. “It’s fine. Thank you for the information; I’ll be on my way now.”
Stepping around the still-tense younger guard, he subtly relaxed his hand from its grip on his concealed dagger under his traveling cloak and wrapped the worn garment around himself once more to keep out the cold. Walking through the guard post – really little more than a walled cover over a small stone bridge – he continued along the path and into the forest.
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