Farson Windhoek: Deadfire part 1
THE OTHER FARSON. (PRELUDE) by Forbes West
Farson Windhoek is a fan-favorite character in the podcast. We’re excited to share with you the first chapter of a forthcoming novella going deep into Farson’s backstory. Be sure to visit every Friday for a new installment!
BEWARE the eyes of Deadfire,” the poor witches said. But the armored caravan did not heed their warning. They made their way across the great, brown plain of Parth, in the open, under the fading light of a cloudy afternoon that would soon give way to a storm. The only sound was the rustling of the wind over the great plains and the sound of their heavy wagon wheels plodding on the dry earth. The patrollers who rode in each wagon begged the gods that there would be no rain and no curse. So far, luck had been with them.
Galen Oxwagon—tall, fair skinned and covered in a jeweled armor worth the wealth of ten cities—rode forward under the gray, dark skies of the Trade Lands, oblivious to the fact that he would be murdered within moments by the man he trusted, Farson Anaris. Farson and Galen rode their horses yards in front of the caravan that had made the icy, five-day journey away from Hanging Pass without incident or peril. The sellsword Anaris had misgivings about their trip. But the payment (and the possibilities) were too much to ignore, and he had managed to sneak away from his proper place of employment without much notice. Snow, Galen Oxwagon’s beautiful white horse, snuffled as he brought the beast closer to Anaris’s unnamed and rough-looking nag with a shaggy coat.
“Beware the eyes of Deadfire,” Young Galen said in falsetto to Farson, who looked straight ahead at their final destination. Farson was slightly disturbed—Deadfire wasn’t what he thought it would be at all. He had assumed, quite wrongly, that Deadfire was a Dwarven stronghold, or a city perhaps, just like the other dead cities that dotted the Trade Lands, rotting. But a manor house in the middle of the plains? What was this? Some sort of illusion, perhaps? Some sort of odd magic left over from nameless creatures from a nameless time? A wizard’s odd choice of illusion?
Strange. And strange, in Farson’s decades of experience, meant dangerous. Always.
Farson put on a slight grin, but he was uneasy nevertheless. It took him a moment to respond to Galen and to give the younger man a view of his pearly white teeth.
“Yes,” Farson Anaris, the gruff patroller man nearing fifty years of age said, before slowly taking out the throwing dagger he had attached to the back of his wrist. He flung and it caught Galen Oxwagon in the side of the neck, just above his armor. Galen fell off his horse and onto the cold dry dirt of the plains, his last thoughts consisting of total shock and fear. Farson hopped off his nag quickly despite his age and knelt down next to his target. Oxwagon began to flail and struggle, the life leaving his eyes, an expression of sheer surprise overcoming his face. But he didn’t die fast enough for Farson, who stared into Galen’s fading eyes. He decided to end it quickly by pressing his thumbs into Oxwagon’s eyes, crushing them and stabbing them into his brain. Farson made a small prayer to whatever gods who might be listening to take care of the young Oxwagon’s soul, and looked upon the bloody ruin of the once-good-looking son of a Lord.
“That’s the last one,” Farson said. He wondered what he meant by that but even he didn’t know. Last one what? He knew deep down there would be more bodies to bury here in the great and barely known stretch of Parth. There would only be one way to a life of leisure for Farson, and he knew that way would be covered in blood.
They buried Galen Oxwagon in the barn a little while later, six feet deep, stripping the man of his jeweled armor, in case someone, somehow, went digging in that old ruin of a building. They were careful for the most part to cover up the crime. But one of the armed men in charge of holding onto Snow lost his grip on the animal as he tried to tie it to one of their supply wagons. The animal was worth its weight in gold pieces. When they all returned over the border to Accadios, it would fetch a handsome price at some midnight auction done at some shepherd’s barn. The horse ran off, and despite an attempt by Farson Anaris’s men to stop it, Snow evaded them. They turned back to the entrance of Deadfire and informed Farson, who spat on the ground in anger but shook his head.
“That horse is known, boys. ”
“The horse is five days away from any settlement, boss. Chances are the hiders will gut it before it makes it out of the plains.”
Farson stared ahead at the large manor that sat by itself in the middle of the great, brown plain. It was four stories tall—wide, brown, ugly, and falling apart. Large shutters covered the windows, but a flickering white light seemed to leak out from every gap, up on the third floor on the western side. An old, wooden barn that could have been a stable at one point in its grim past stood off to the side, falling apart after years of neglect. Someone, at some point, had decided to decorate the side of the bar with the pelts of wolves. In the common tongue, someone had painted a warning in white paint. “Beware the eyes of Deadfire” the graffiti said, an open and crying eye painted under it.
Farson thought of how he had started this grim journey.
“Deadfire is a just a house. Just a special house with something very special inside. The first settlers here in the Trade Lands, they never went near it. Told us that there are unnatural things, things of the utmost darkness, haunting the halls and the great something beneath the floors. But I have a key. A key to enter an impossible-to-enter place deep beneath Deadfire. A far-off trader from a distant land had it in his possession. I relieved him of it. He was a talker full of wine, and he bragged too much. We buried him in an old tomb on the Bridge of Graves.” Galen had explained.