DEADFIRE part 5: ON THE WAY TO THE BRIDGE OF GRAVES…
I LICKED my chapped lips and thought what I should do with these guys.
Was there a Halfling tribe around here? Probably not, most of them had been enslaved when the Trade Lands were taken by King What’s His Face with the Long Nose and the Bad Hair and given to the Lord Proprietor, some hopped up commoner with the last name Oxwagon that all the books kept mentioning. The man was an entrepreneur in the new spirit; he had just a little bit of money, a lot of social connections, and a willingness to use violence against those in his way. I called out to see if anyone was around after I did this deed, which I should tell you is completely justified again because these little rodents were out to rob me and then do something unspeakable.
You see, that’s the reason why I don’t trust Halflings. You think these little creatures that look like men are just sweet and innocent and the next thing you know your daughter’s knocked up, you’re missing money and the dog’s dead. That’s how it works. Sad to say. Look it up in your holy book, it’s all explained there. Halflings can’t be trusted; the Lord of the Rings was just propaganda for the hobbit agenda.
Anyway, I called out. I don’t know why, maybe I was feeling cocky after getting one over on these creatures, and at first I didn’t’ hear anything but the squirrels chatter in the snow filled trees and the absolute silence of the pass. I tried to get back on the horse but it bolted away and I flopped onto my ass. Only for a moment, it returned, looking me dead in the eye. It was like the horse was judging me in some different and odd way.
“Yeah, don’t eyeball me boy.” I looked over at the dead Halflings and shook my head.
We started to walk forward, with me explaining how the Dwarves across the border would love to make him into glue if he kept up this crap of not letting me ride him anymore. That was true. I wasn’t lying. The Dwarves across the border of the Trade Lands were mean. They had these little underground caverns where they made odd vases and glue and they all smelled like an old person’s house in summer when they never opened the windows. Their food tasted like mold and their beer tasted like flat Doctor Pepper.
I stopped suddenly, realizing I was letting something go. “I gotta maximize my profits, here, Mr. Horse. One moment. Don’t look, you won’t appreciate what I have to do because you’re an animal.”
I did what I needed to do. It was sort of gross.
My hands now bloody, I thought about his saddle too. There would be a village fifteen wheels north, the aptly named Cold Run Run. I shouldn’t have such an obviously stolen saddle that has a name that’s definitely not me embedded into its size like some cheap ass elementary school project. I should have done the saddle thing earlier but well, whatever. Fifteen wheels was reasonably far as it was but better safe than sorry. I could run into something more than goofy possibly rape happy Halfling robbers who don’t know how to murder and rob properly. I could run into some real danger. Like human or orc bandits who liked to barbecue their captives while singing tunes to their awful moon god. Or a dragon. Or a hider.
Whatever that was. Or the curse even….
“Galen. Well, Galen, my horse now.” I took out a small bloodstained knife and dug the jewels out of the saddle and placed the stones into my pack. There were a lot of stones. Lots of good junk.
“We’re friends now, don’t act like a jerk. You settle down.” I said, petting the horse’s head.
Once I found a real place to hang my metaphorical hat I would be swimming in some gold… and then I’d find Farson Anaris. And stab him. Badly. Kill him, is what you people might call it, if you didn’t understand my predicament. He would end buried by the bard. That was my promise to those in far Accadios, with whom I had a lifetime long contract with.
I STILL couldn’t get the horse to let me onto the saddle. I tried three more times after I cut off the heads of those little bastards but this horse was having none of it and he was just being a dick. I could at least tie my stuff to the stallion; so far it had allowed me to do that. The heads I placed into an extra cloak I had on hand and I tied it to the saddle like some barbarian warlord carrying proof of his victories. I’ll tell you why in a moment, believe me, there’s a reason for everything I do even if it seems cruel, unjust, random…
The sky was a cold gray and the wind was whipping past my face something awful when we came to the abandoned village and the dead homes of the elves that had once lived there. The ancient wood structures were all burned out and were empty; the Ugly Road flowed through the middle of the place like a white stone river. Ravens by the dozen were on the old homes, watching with oddly blue and tremendously eager eyes myself and my new friend, the white horse.
There were more signs at the crossroads here about fugitive slaves. Written in the common tongue and with the same rough and stupid looking drawings of elves, catfolk and humans that had broken loose from their cruel masters, I could tell I was still on the right path to Cold Run Run. It was then onto that fabled Bridge of Graves that His Lordship’s High Adventurers and Patrollers had secured a decade ago after clearing the tombs there of the reanimated dead that would feast on the flesh of those living. That place was now the main city in the Trade Lands.
I could just make out the turrets and the tall buildings of that great and massive bridge-city that hung over the Grand Chasm, the mist of the canyon obscuring most of the high towers except for the tallest with the yellow and black banners fluttering in the wind. It was far but still visible, the size of the place staggering. That was my destination point thus far, but it was far away and the other side of the valley.
Farson Anaris should be there.