Soaring Steel

And now it begins,

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Summary

  1. Mystery man supplies Grumekk’s mountain clan with steel
  2. Mystery man convinces the clansmen to attack a hamlet
  3. Raiders successfully attack and sack a hamlet

Prologue

The grey smoke from the hamlet could be seen from afar, could this truly be the work of the clans? The little grey man thought to himself as he rode with his companions. They had never struck a guarded settlement, the clans were bold, but this was not their way.

The patrol who came upon the aftermath of the raid led the group into the hamlet. It was a simple settlement, but its defences were enough to deter clansmen. The little grey man cringed as he looked upon the decimated settlement. His steed became unsettled at the scent of the dead, especially when it neared a corpse of its kin.

The little grey man slid off of his small shaggy garron, holding onto its black mane for support. The little man placed a hand on his back, stiff from years of wandering. “Two ’o them we found”, Pyte the skinny came up to the little grey man, gesturing at the corpse. The little grey man ran his wrinkled digits over his bald head until he reached the remnants of his hair at the rear of his skull.

This one could not be older than ten and two, the little grey man thought to himself. His torso was split halfway from the side, he did not suffer. The little grey man moved to the one beside the boy, “T’is one we found aways in the woods.”, Pyte kicked the heels of the dead woman. An arrow through something important, gave her enough time to get away, but not enough to see home again, the little grey man concluded with a nod.

The little grey man strained himself as he turned to look at the hamlet, who’s only crime was living too close to the mountains. The little grey man hobbled towards the small hall, with several arrows protruding from its walls. Beside its steps were the six men who gave their lives for this hamlet, laid neatly in a line, unlike the clan raiders.

The little grey man groaned as he knelt before the fallen guards, a split skull, clean with no splinters; Arm missing below the elbow, a sword of great width driven through his chest; Multiple stabbing wounds, with an arrow lodged in his shoulder, sword driven through his neck; Slashes across the chest, the mail did save this man’s life; The little grey man squinted his aging eyes, the glimmer of broken rings from the guardsmen’s mail marked the spots where they were slain.

“What has been left?”, the little grey man called to Pyte the skinny, returning to his feet with some difficulty. “Woman, food, tools, anything of use they co’ld carry has been taken. What they coult’n, they put to the torch.”, Pyte gestured at the husk which was a quiet hamlet just a day ago. A typical raid, very successful for the amount they have taken to the amount they lost. “The clansmen’s weapons, where would they be?”, “The hall.”, Pyte helped the little grey man up the steps of the hall.

The hall was cluttered with remnants of belongings, people, and guards outnumbering the survivors, but only the weapons held the little grey man’s interest. The weapons laid on the table seem as if they had come from two different realms. The crude bow, dagger, and knife sat on one side of the table. On the other, a shortsword, spear, and dagger made of castle steel. The little grey man picked up the steel shortsword, stained with the dried blood of good men.

The little grey man had never carried a blade in all his years of wandering, but he knew when a sword was of superior quality, balanced, tempered, flexible and sharp. Something a regular mountain clan would not normally have, something which would cause them to become bold. One steel weapon could have been a stroke of luck, but luck had no part in putting together three of these weapons. From the wounds, the little grey man knew the clansmen who made off with their lives had steel of the same quality.

“Bury the dead, pray to whomever pleases you.”, the little grey man took a firm grip of the shortsword, tucking it into his belt as he turned back towards the stairs. Pyte helped him down the steps, “I tho’ut you said you were too old to start carrying a blade.”, the little grey man looked at him with a determination in his eyes. “This is no ordinary blade”, the little grey man flashed the blade in the setting sun, making a mark on the blade obvious, “this is Afallon steel.”

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