“A good day, mmm?” Carrone took a long drink and then responded to Ranger Learone’s pointed tale with his own story, something about a swan who had decided to follow a man around, until eventually, the man brought the swan home. The swan would attack him — of course, it was a swan —but it wouldn’t leave, either, so he fed it and let it follow him around, until eventually people started calling the swan his wife. Continue reading →
It was a broad, big map, taking up most of the space behind the bar, a portion of it turning around the corner to show all of the mountains in their glory. And it had a scale, carefully listed in both the Imperial shede and Haloran fetter. From the looks of things, they were half a day from the capital the way the two of them would walk, or a little over a day the way they traveled with their little train of people. Continue reading →
Deline blinked at the woman in front of her, digging quickly for a name. “Pallar. I didn’t think we’d gotten that close to the capital…” Had she gotten that turned around? Or that thrown off by the attack?
“It’s a mess out there, isn’t it? I could get lost in my own yard, storming like that. No, no, we branched out. Pennit took the capital bar, I moved out here, and Pollo went east. Anywhere you go, your road lead to us!”
Deline relaxed. “Good to hear business is going well. I… have a situation.”Continue reading →
In the far North of a continent lives the Bear Empire, an arctic (late Middle English: via Old French from Latin arcticus, articus, from Greek arktikos, from arktos ‘bear, Ursa Major, pole star’, yes, this is a pun nation) empire; in this empire and many of the adjacent ones (although the Bear Empire, being expansionist, does not get along great with its neighbors), magery is, if not common, existent, marriages and most other things are a village or town affair and are rarely monogamous, and people pay homage to not only Mama Bear but several other of the spirit-gods who make up the nationalities within the empire.
Born from a Seventh Sanctum prompt for a story often called Row-Mance.
Deline wasn’t quite sure what it meant, and she didn’t quite want to stop and ask, either.
They’d gone from being two people dodging bounty hunters to being an entire entourage, the wounded on wagons with their healers, the rest trudging along through mountains that were clearly no more familiar to them than they were to Carrone.
They had no privacy and no time to talk, but, on the other hand, they weren’t very worried about being attacked. Not with Ranger Learone and Lord Eigeran having decided that they were Deline’s personal bodyguards. Not with their surviving able-bodied soldiers stalking along as if they were an invading force led by Deline.Continue reading →
Deline considered their prisoners, the wounded, the dead, and those in between. “Who of you who’ve surrender have medical training?”
One person cautiously raised their hand.
“Just basic field stuff.”
“Okay. So. If you have surrendered, you are now under the care and aegis of the crown of the Bear. You belong to the Bear until your trial. I am going to put you to work seeing how many people we can save, do you understand?”
The soldiers had begun backing up again. Deline raised her chin in defiance at the enemy commander.
He had clearly had enough. With an angry grunt, he shoved Teshone in front of him. “Your turn,” he snarled.
The big man balked and stumbled. His forward foot barely missed hitting the outer circle. There was a blade pricking at him, urging him forward. Teshone looked at Carrone; he looked like he was pleading.
“No help in this direction, my ‘friend’.” Carrone hissed it out quietly. It sounded like final rites for the dying. Continue reading →
There were twelve soldiers — without uniforms, but Deklegion and Haloran from the looks of them— rushing towards Carrone and Deline.
“Halt!” The commander – had to be the commander, the way he was talking – pushed forward, pushing Teshone in front of him. Teshone clearly didn’t want to be moved, and the commander was using a sword and two of his cronies to do the forcing. “I’m not joking around, Carrone, I will push your friend into whatever trap you have next.”Continue reading →
“So there were fifty of them,” Deline murmured. They stood ready, weapons drawn, listening to the shouts and screams. “How many do you think we’ve taken out?”
“Over half,” he murmured back.” The shouting stopped; they fell silent.
Somewhere on the other side of the boulder there, a whole bunch of people were trying to kill them. It should have probably frightened Deline. They’d already blooded her here, for one. She found she was smiling. Carrone’s traps were nasty and amazing. The spell-work she’d been pulling out of nowhere was exhilarating. Continue reading →