In which we set the scene and briefly introduce the main character of our story.
It was early October, and the leaves of Elwynn Forest were just beginning to change and fall from the trees, covering the usually green forest floor with a smattering of rich reds and earthy browns. The sun was beginning to dip in the clear sky, silhouetting the Northshire Abbey against a blazing orange sunset, and the air was warm, the cool breeze having faded away earlier in the day. In the distance to the north, the sheer backs of the Blackrock Mountains which formed part of the valley shone gold with the sun’s reflected light.
The Abbey itself was a cheerful white-brick building with red roof tiles, stained glass windows and a square bell tower, similar in its design to many other buildings dedicated to the teachings of the Light. It had been extended in the past to include a library, kitchen and crypt, but work had halted in recent years due to the lack of available manpower, and a variety of tools and building equipment now lay abandoned next to the small churchyard. Next to the Abbey, a small stream, which flowed down from the mountains and through the valley before entering the forest proper, provided water for the inhabitants of Northshire as well as irrigation for the vineyards that the area was famous for.
While there were some small farmhouses dotted around the landscape, most of the buildings in the area were grouped close to the Abbey both for ease of access and for protection, since this was where the local guards had their residences. War could touch anywhere, and even the inhabitants of Northshire Valley knew this well. The fight against the enemy Horde was taking its toll on the Kingdom of Stormwind, a name which rang somewhat hollow now that the King had been missing for so long. Leadership had instead fallen to his ten-year old son, the Prince Reagent Anduin Wrynn, who ruled with the help of his close advisors, army general Bolvar Fordragon and noblewoman Katrana Prestor. Yet the country struggled; most of the army had been drafted either overseas or to the far north of the continent, leaving the remnants spread thinly to watch over the Kingdom, and the strain was beginning to show. There were enemies both within and without.
On this sunny afternoon in Northshire however, the war was for once at the back of the community’s mind as it busied itself bringing in the harvest before winter set in. Buckets of grapes were stacked around the fields, ready to be inspected and crushed into wine for transportation to Stormwind City itself, where the finished product could be bottled and sold. The going price would be low, but it was a living. Men and women toiled even at this late hour, picking the fruits and carting buckets around, and the air was filled with the sounds of workers shouting, horses snorting and carts creaking.
In a field on the western side of the valley, one man straightened up and wiped his brow with a cloth. He was finished for the day – the light would soon fade and there was not much more that could be done before he hopefully would renew his temporary contract the next morning. Picking up his backpack, he walked steadily through the rows of vines to the farmhouse where he could collect his payment. Such was the life of a mercenary; a living had to be made, whether by fighting or by farming, and tomorrow he could be doing anything from hunting wolves to felling trees – whatever payed the most.
Approaching the building, the worker was raising his hand to knock at the thick oak door when it swung open, revealing a cosy interior and a large, round farmer standing in the doorway, who scowled as he rooted around in a small moneybag attached to his overalls.
“Come for yer payment then, eh, Mister Veliaf?”, drawled the farmer.
“As we agreed. Will there be work for me tomorrow?”
“Who knows? I could wake up tomorra and not have any work meself! Come an’ see me in the mornin’ and we’ll see.”
Veliaf accepted the small copper coins and put them into a pouch on his belt. Nodding at the farmer, he turned, hoisted his backpack over his shoulder, and strolled over to the field’s gate, which let out onto the path down towards the Abbey and, more importantly for Veliaf, the local inn.