It is a breezy cold morning, late in the fall season with the first of the winter snows just weeks away. The trees are baron of their autumn colored leaves now, which blow across the dirty flagstone road you currently stand. The town is a fairly large one, being somewhat of a trading hub rather than a farming community. It has several blacksmiths, armories, taverns, and a large bazaar for trading. Even at this early hour, with the first beams of warming light yet to peek out from the horizon, you see merchants and traders vying for position setting up their stands for the day’s commerce. You watch the caravan crew warily as you wipe the last of the sleep from your eyes.
The crew works diligently on final preparations, ropes and knots double and triple checked, wagon wheels inspected for their integrity. A blacksmith checks over the horse team and pack mules, making sure their hooves are properly shoed. Several guards check their armor and weapons, tightening and sharpening as needed. The efficiency in which this group has packed and prepared the caravan –the last of the season before the winter snows obstruct further travel- lends to an air of experience. They are veterans of their trade for sure, and you are confident in your decision to travel with the group.
Normally you would not fear to travel with a single companion or even alone; however, the last few days you’ve spent meandering through town and eavesdropping on tavern chatter has wisened you against your usual course of lone travel. Your destination will lead you straight through a region saturated with ruffians. From what you have gathered, it is almost unprecedented to make the eastern journey to Iridine without incident in the last several months.
So here you stand, with the last caravan
a convoy of four wagons, ten horses, and four pack mules destined for Iridine with a plethora of quality goods to trade for vital food and livestock. To them you are just another passenger along for the ride… another mouth to feed and body to protect. As you eye the ten men who make up the convoy’s guard, you grin, knowing better. Most appear to be fairly common soldiers and mercenaries, but your eye is drawn to one. He stands taller and more confident than the rest. Gilven, you hear a few of the crew address him, is the leader of the guard and responsible for getting the caravan safely to Iridine. A man who’s seen at least fifty winters, dons finely crafted armor, with a very dull finish probably blackened with coal to reduce glare. Sporting long greasy black hair pulled back tightly into a pony tail and a clean shaven face, he reveals many nicks and scars on his face, lending to the veteran prestige he carries. His eyes are an unusually pale green, especially set into his contrasting dark skinned face.
Gilven notices your stare and eyes you inferiorly as he turns his attention your way, grumbling about the “extra baggage” shaking his head as he approaches. “Heaven forbid you do anything useful while ya stand in the way!” You ignore it sidestepping out of his way, knowing by the end of the trip, your position of standing will most likely be reversed. He brushes past and quickly makes for his horse.
You notice Gilven draw his bastard sword from the scabbard fastened on his horse. He begins brandishing it about expertly, testing its balance, then thrusts it out forward to arms length clutching the blade at eye level, peering down its center. Satisfied with his inspection –which you suspect was more to show off and intimidate you- Gilven nods with approval and addresses the group, “Alright listen up everyone! We’re setting off for Iridine in thirty minutes! If you’re not here, too bad! This caravan will not, I repeat, WILL NOT wait for anyone. Once we make the bandit territory, rest and relaxation will be a distant memory…” He pauses and glances over in your direction, then continues. “We will stop for emergencies, ONLY if I see fit! Get hurt and can’t make the journey, tough! Our duty is to the goods in these wagons, not any of you freeloaders!” and again he scowls in your direction. You’re beginning to get the impression good old Gilven doesn’t like you!
You offer a resigning sigh and ponder any final preparations you need to make before the adventure begins.
Whether it is wealth, adventure, or a personal quest you seek, something has led you all to this point, with a common destination in sight… Iridine. A city who’s humble beginnings started out as a monastery dedicated to St. Cuthbert. As time went on and more and more settlers sought to harvest the fertile valley around the monastery and eventually a city was born, ran by the monks and clerics of the monastery and a great wall was erected to protect its citizens.