The capital city was one of those cities that didn’t so much as rise into sight on the horizon as pop up suddenly when you rounded a bend in the road. Nestled in the middle of the Bear Mountains, the city had been stopped from expanding further by the need to keep the pass clear through the entire year, including the six to eight months a year where the pass might be covered in snow. There were buildings carved into the sides of the pass, but by regulation and army enforcement, those buildings were forced to stay back from the edges of the track far enough that even the widest wagons could head through with no problems, even in the worst weather.
Thus, they went from the vendors leaning over the edges of their balconies, calling down to them about their fine wares, better prices than in the city, of course, and better quality of manufacture as well, around a corner where no vendors had managed to carve homes, into the gates of the city with the buildings looming up above them. Continue reading →
Deline was trying to pretend that she wasn’t tense, and she wasn’t doing that good of a job.
She walked by Carrone and near Ranger Learone, wishing for the casual conversation they’d had the day before. The rain had held off while they camped, at least, but now, with the capital city looming on the horizon like a monster peeking out through the Bear Mountains, the rain, too, was looming. It suited her mood, and the tenseness in Carrone’s shoulders, and the worry on the Ranger’s face and in the set of Lord Eigeran’s pace, stomping as if he could kick away his concern. Continue reading →
“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?”