Private Tales A Price for Honor

Discussion in 'The Chronicles' started by Maude, Jan 6, 2019.

  1. Maude

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    Maude Grumpy B(heir)

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    "I'm looking for a Mercenary. Big fellow named Gunnar, lots of tattoos, carries an axe..." Maude didn't think there would be a large population of men that would fit the description, but she was either asking the wrong people or the city was much larger than she thought.

    "I know 'im," said a man hunched over a barrel surrounded by other men presently enthralled with a game of dice, "that codger owes me money he does."
    Maude gave the man a skeptical look, "Owes you money?"
    "Tha's right, that fucker lost to me fair and square in a hand of cards and he owes me plenty of coin, he does."
    "Mm," still hard to believe, but by her knowledge Gunnar didn't like to lose and lived on a Merc's pay. No way this man could physically insist on payment if Gunnar didn't feel obligated to give it, "how much does he owe you?"
    "Ten gold," the man licked his lips.
    "And what will you pay me if I get it from him for you?"
    "I'll give you a good fuck, that's what."
    Maude's fist met the side of his face before his eyes could travel the height of her figure, he crumpled to the ground like a sack of potatoes. Out cold, "Anyone else know where I can find the Mercenary named Gunnar?"

    The lot of them turned wide eyes upon her, "The bowl," said one of them.

    "The what?"
    "The bowl...The Bowl!" he repeated.
    "Boggart's Bowl," grumbled another man, "the Inn towards the south entrance."

    ~~~

    The Boggart's Bowl Inn
    Evening


    An undeniable feeling of deja vu swept over Maude as the woman stepped into the very same Inn from a week prior. All things traveling in circles, coming back upon themselves. Like a cycle of war and peace. Life and death and life again. Words of Eodahl the Wretch.

    She was, at the very least, feeling fit this time if not somewhat world-weary from her travels. Too much strange news to contemplate, too many things undone. Admittedly the moment she stepped into the inn the smell of food and the sight of giddy men with their ales distracted the woman from her initial goal. Instead of looking for Gunnar, she stepped over to the bar and claimed an open stool, ordering herself an ale and leg of lamb.
     
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  2. Gunnar Bergstrom

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    Gunnar Bergstrom The Exile

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    The Boggart’s Bowl, his go to place after a long day, or a short day, actually any day in that regard. He sat in the corner of the place, drinking as he usually did simply to waste away time and thought. Gunnar sat here until the next thing came by, one thing about working within the city for a single employer was the fact that work always came along one way or another, but this time something had caught his eye, a bounty.

    “Another!” He yelled, throwing his wooden mug, which the bartender caught. It wasn’t the first time he asked for another drink quite like that, he was a steady patron to this establishment after all, at least they fixed the hole in the wall yesterday. It wasn’t long until he received his next drink and saw his bounty walking in to the establishment, or at least if he was planning on truly collecting.

    The bounty was for Gemaudelene, the one who requested it was anonymous but from what she had told him, Gunnar figured it was probably someone connected to Borvenir. She went straight the bar, not even looking around. He thought it odd that she’d come here of all places, somewhere where she’d get recognized and was a previously known location.

    He stood from his seat and walked over to her, no apology in his movements as he moved next to her and slammed a piece of paper in front of her on the bar. “Look who is here.” He said, gesturing to the piece of paper he had put in front of her. “Who knew you’d be back to my neck of the woods, unless you have some proper business here, I suggest you’d consider going somewhere else.” It wasn’t a threat though it’d be easily perceived as such. Gunnar was insinuating her bounty and as a bit of a courtesy offered her to leave before others recognized her, the fact was that a lot of mercenaries frequented this establishment.

    The poster had her full name on there, and a decent description of her and her prominent red hair, dead or alive with a huge reward.

    “Not wise to come back to a place with bad blood you know.” He said it in a lower tone this time around, the bounty was dead or alive, with a preference for dead as long as she was recognizable. Gunnar was pragmatic in most situations but he found himself unable to fight for this particular treasure simply because of what his brother had done, if it was true then she deserved at least a chance at revenge.

    “If you came here for me, then meet me at the house behind the Rusty Anchor.” The Rusty Anchor was a bar at the docks, the docks were not frequented except by sailors and it was one of the safest places in town for someone who was being looked for, it was also where Gunnar had his house, if you could call the hovel he lived in that, but it was home.

    With that he left the piece of paper and walked out the door, without paying his bill to the bartender. Gunnar had a longstanding running tab that he paid off not nearly as fast as he accrued debt, but every once in a while he made a huge payment and paid it off, hence why he got away with it.
     
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  3. Maude

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    Maude Grumpy B(heir)

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    Could smell him, of course, well before he made his appearance. Smelled like sweat, musk, and a whole lot of drink. Maude maintained her poise, lip twitching in a barely-contained growl as the man slapped his hand on the bar before her. The parchment in question was folded to avoid the obvious giveaway, and she waited until he was done with his show and out the door before lifting it to view.

    Fuck.

    Seemed word traveled fast when good coin was attached.

    "I won't be serving anymore trouble in here -" the Innkeep said, "take your coin somewhere else."

    Gloved fingers slowly curled around the parchment, crinkling it in her grasp as she slowly stood from her stool and left the Inn without another word.



    The House Behind the Rusty Anchor
    1 hour and half later. Give or take.


    It wasn't that the place was hard to find. Once you asked the right people it was a fairly straight-forward walk to the docks at the marina. Unfortunately the walk was a different obstacle altogether. Some other Mercenaries had caught up to her ... six maybe? Humans, mostly. An elf. And, to her surprise, the armored dwarf from the bar brawl. She spared the dwarf anything mortally damaging but lightened his person of his coin - along with all the others, once they'd been taken care of.

    So when she walked up to the house, hovel, hole in a wall, she wasn't feeling particularly pithy. Maude let herself in and turned her livid green gaze on the man. A sizable collection of bounty papers were crumpled in her right hand, which she indicated with a short gesture of said posters, "How long have these been posted?"
     
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  4. Gunnar Bergstrom

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    Gunnar Bergstrom The Exile

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    He had stumbled back and in the one and a half hour he had to himself he tried to sober up a bit, he wasn’t completely drunk by the time she’d arrive anyway. He was sitting in one of the two chairs that was inside his house, honestly it looked as worthless on the inside as it did on the outside. The place was filled with bottles of alcohol, it had a straw bed covered with a cheap sheet. The two chairs looked like they had been stolen from different places since they looked worn and not alike at all.

    He had to admit he was surprised when she decided to simply walk on in but he figured she had quite a few questions. The first one of which she did not spare a second asking, no thank you for letting me know or anything alike.

    “About a day after you left the city? So four days after our meeting?” He said, the house smelled like booze but it showed that he wasn’t here too often, just to sleep, a couple of cheap candles keeping it lit for the time being.

    “Why don’t you start by saying thanks for giving me the fucking heads up Gunnar, before I got stabbed in a way that you can’t heal from.” He said it only slightly annoyed but that was mostly because his personality was that of an ass and he couldn’t help himself in his inebriated state.

    “Have you seen the bounty on it for that matter? I swear a man could live like a king for a lifetime.” He smirked, she probably knew as she had seen the paper by now. “Not a long lifetime but still.”
     
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  5. Maude

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    Maude Grumpy B(heir)

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    Maude was drawn like a bow waiting to snap, the lines of muscle taught along her jaw and bracing down her spine. It wasn't him, not really. The fury boiling in her veins was for a man countless, fathomless leagues away. Three months journey, at least. Maude wasn't certain what she had expected from all this after escaping Borvenir's wrath. For him to maybe give up the hunt?

    No. Of course not. He was smarter than that.

    The woman looked to the posters in her hand, green gaze burning across the bounty price listed. Just a bunch of numbers to her. Gold had a very different value in Nordengaard - hardly demanded for anything other than its price for trade to the Summerlands. The men here valued it far, far too much.

    Nordengaard Kings didn't surround themselves with gold.

    "Thanks," she replied flatly and began ripping the paper up to toss outside his door, "help me take back my home and defeat Borvenir and I will pay you my bounty fee."
     
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  6. Gunnar Bergstrom

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    Gunnar Bergstrom The Exile

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    He saw her anger and rage push through her, the sensation was almost electric as it seemed to move through the air. It was a kind of blood lust he had felt only a handful of times in his life and usually it meant that the person was ready to give life and limb for a chance at killing someone.

    He didn’t expect her to ask it so straightforward, last time they met she seemed against mercenaries like him. “You want me to risk my life and limb for a bit of gold? I use gold to live but I have a different price.” He said as he gazed upon her, he was being straightforward, he didn’t desire gold, he wanted something more substantial than that, something that would make him stronger.

    “I want a Solstal armor made for me, a complete set and an axe.” That was his demand, if he was going to risk everything for her and join her in revenge against a ruler of a kingdom, he needed something that would be truly worth it.

    “I know the worth of it, but I also know what you are asking of me, though I feel my brother is dishonourable and deserves punishment, I have no such aspirations however, I need something that is worth risking everything for.” He needed proper motivation, because the fact of the matter was that he could very well die long before he earned his prize.

    Maude was an attractive Nordenfiir, she smelled good and she came from a strong lineage, but Gunnar was not looking for love, not yet anyway, all he wanted was to regain his pride and this was a way to do it with true honour at the end of it. Solstel was priceless in Nordengaard and to have a custom piece of armor or weapon made.

    “If you promise me that, then I will fight for you until we succeed or until we die.. And…” He shrugged with a chuckle. “If I die then you won’t have to pay me, I have no one I want to leave anything to so it’s part payment and part gamble for your part, so what’ll it be?”

    This in the end truly showed that he was a mercenary, to fight for something physical was a foolish en devour to some, but to him it represented so much more.
     
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  7. Maude

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    Maude Grumpy B(heir)

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    "You...want Solstal?" not even something she had considered truthfully. Maude had never had to pay anyone to fight at her side before because duty and honor demanded they fight together. The man could have asked for anything. A Jornhood of a Norden settlement and a harem of honored Shield Maidens. Hell, he could have demanded a place on her own harem were she to become Queen and she might have considered it.

    But he wanted Solstal.

    That was a high price. The only thing higher was Eogorath's Amulet, something he had already demanded but seemed to have forgotten about.

    Solstal could only be obtained by citizens of Nordengaard who had been given the highest honor by their King. Permitting him such an honor would mean lifting his Exile and then providing enough Solstal to arm him. Knowing his size...that meant quite a bit. Perhaps he knew the implications of his price, perhaps he hadn't even considered them. Either way, it was no small ask.

    Then again, neither was her own.

    "Fine."
     
  8. Gunnar Bergstrom

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    Gunnar Bergstrom The Exile

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    He had figured that amulet was of some great importance to her and though it fascinated him still he figured she wouldn’t let it go even if she died, but he would not need something that already existed. “Then my services will be yours.” He had honour, but not like most Nordenfiir did, he did not feel a duty to a people he had abandoned unless it involved recovering that which he had lost and gaining what he had always desired in the first place.

    He had given up on the notion of ruling as he did when he was young, he knew better now than to think that he could somehow change the cruelty of this world, he just couldn’t openly admit the error of his ways.

    “This is not a simple commitment however, so I have a proposition.” He said, he seemed rather lucid however at this point in time. “I will swear myself to you before Eogorath, and you will give me an armband.” He gestured to the one she was wearing. “I will stay loyal to you, as long as you uphold your end of the deal, and afterwards I will remain to serve your new kingdom, by giving me your armband, we seal our fates together.” He was strangely eloquent, even though in a sense it was a business deal, it was also Gunnar tying his fate to the woman who would be queen.

    Gunnar knew very well that this was no simple decision made in the heat of passion. Revenge, desire, anger, hatred.. All those feelings were foolish when you considered what a mountain she was trying to climb. She may have a few people that desire to help her out of past loyalties or revenge, but he was well aware that he was signing his life away for a last chance at redemption.

    In a way it seemed a little poetic that he left after a fight with a King and that he would finally swear loyalty to a Queen, both of whom had defeated him in combat. If Gunnar believed in fate then this would certainly have been fated.
     
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  9. Maude

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    Maude Grumpy B(heir)

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    #9 Maude, Jan 6, 2019
    Last edited: Jan 6, 2019
    Maude's gaze shifted to the gleam of the armband presently settled around an exposed wrist, just below a handmade bracelet of leather bearing the braid of Arnor Skuldsson. The weight of this vow he meant to give settled uneasily on her mind and heavily on her heart. The woman wrapped her opposite hand around the first of only two ornaments she'd ever held value or personal attachment to.

    "This was given to me by my grandfather, King Iordahn, on the day I swore my vows to him as a Ranger of Nordengaard," he knew, then, what it symbolized to her. What it meant to her. It was a source of comfort in times of hardship and loss. It had reminded her, on more than one occasion, what it was she fought for. That she had made a vow to uphold a certain code of honor and ideals to the betterment of her people. That she had made a promise to a man who was lauded by many as the greatest King to ever rule Nordengaard. It had given her strength in a way that Eogorath's Amulet did not.

    She would lament losing these things.

    Frowning, Maude pulled the ring free from her arm and clasped it tightly in her hand. Steps slowly carried her further into his home, bringing the woman over to where he presently sat. She offered the band but did not immediately release it.

    "You swear to aid me in my cause to avenge the deaths of my King Iordahn, my family, and my people by the hands of Borvenir the Usurper. To see the Kingslayer and his loyalists who partook in his dishonor brought to justice. To restore peace to the Kingdom of Nordengaar, no matter the cost of life or limb. To serve at my side and keep my counsel, to act in my name, to kill in good faith, to revel in comraderie of my friends, family, and allies alike. To share in our burdens and our grief. To lay to rest past grievances and seek redemption in the Great Frozen Halls."
     
  10. Gunnar Bergstrom

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    Gunnar Bergstrom The Exile

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    Talk, it was one thing that could mean everything and nothing at the same time, he had given his demands, he had offered a sentiment for the deal and the vow that went with it. The fact was that it felt heavy on Gunnar’s shoulders, the fact that she was willing to part with something that meant so much to her also showed her conviction and in turn tested his.

    He replied to her words as best he could, the fact that it was so personal meant that this was something that would substantially change his life and hers for the future, bound together in life and death, or so it felt to him.

    “Then the meaning will not be lost to either of us.” He said as he stood from his seat, only to kneel before her. Gunnar never thought he would swear loyalty to anyone for any price but he hoped somewhere deep in his heart that this was what his parents would have wanted. He had considered the matter after she left, the fact was that his brother had brought great dishonor upon his family and he might very well be the last person to care to restore such. His reasons hadn’t changed much since he was a teenager but the comprehension of consequences however were far greater.

    “I, Gunnar Bergstrom do so swear before Eogorath and you, my Queen.” There was no reason to note the deal they had made in this instance, they both knew this oath had a price, his life for the promise of honor and glory, which was what it all came down to.

    If she allowed him to take the bracelet, he would place it on his wrist, exile though he may be, he was a Nordenfiir in blood and bone and he knew what this meant. “We’re bound now.” He said to himself more so than to her.

    He rose to his feet, and stood before her, a giant compared to her above average stature. “I suggest we leave Alliria immediately, the Summerlands are no longer safe with this bounty on your head.. There is another precaution I suggest we take.” He gestured to her hair. “No one can mistake fire red hair like that, you should dye it to make traveling through the Summerlands a little easier.” He would be there to aid her but the fact was, being hunted and easily recognized would probably deliver them an early grave. He was adamant about doing everything he could to see the end of his deal delivered.
     
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  11. Maude

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    Maude Grumpy B(heir)

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    If this was what being a Queen was supposed to feel like, Maude wasn't sure she wanted it. Something about the sinking of her stomach and the heavy weight on her heart ... she could feel it down to her very soul. Her Svalen internally grieved the loss of her armband. The woman's stony face barely contained the grimace.

    A hard gaze met that of Gunnar as he stood once more, she felt her expression go stony at his suggestion.

    He wanted her to dye her hair? To cover that which had been passed down for generations? The fire and fury of crimson, long since established on her father's side. Even King Iordahn boasted a mane of scarlet in his youth, though he'd gone grey early. Many suspected it was due to his premature rise to the throne - Maude was beginning to agree. Eogorath's power, as she had learned, came at a great price.

    The woman rolled the thought around in her mouth like a bone in a bite of meat, frowning in disgust. She hated it, but he was right. The bounty posters were detailed enough to list her red hair as an easy identifier. And her twin Solstal swords - another issue to deal with at another time. The hair would be easy ... or so she thought.

    Maude gave a single nod in agreement before turning and heading out of his home. She would return one last time to the Apothecary to gather what she needed for the final treatment of her shoulder and see if Syndell had a remedy for violently red hair.

    She snatched a length of worn canvas off a stack of crates as she went - likely something used to cover open containers - and pulled it over her shoulders like a ragged shawl. A portion of it was pulled over her head like a hood. It stank of fish (not such a bad smell to a Norden) but it would do.
     
  12. Gunnar Bergstrom

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    Gunnar Bergstrom The Exile

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    Gunnar had lived a long time and had been in difficult situations, made choices that not everyone would agree with and perhaps created more violence than most. He didn’t break under her gaze, looking her over as he considered the colour.

    “You need something far different, so I suggest you make yourself a blonde, it’s far from red and would make it easier to hide in plain sight.” He smirked for a moment. “And I love blondes.” Whether he said that simply to mess with her or because he actually enjoyed the sight of blondes was up in the air.

    “I take it you’re leaving, I will meet you at the gates in a few hours, I need to make some arrangements.” He would be giving up his life here, contacts he needed to inform and he couldn’t just leave his place unfinished. He was a mercenary but he had lived here for quite a few years

    When she left with a single nod he knew well enough that she needed a moment to herself, she had both promised him a great prize and given him something personal to seal the oath. To him it was because he knew she shouldn’t make such promises lightly and that was a way to purvey that.

    He went to his most frequent employer and informed him of his next steps, he informed some of his acquaintances

    After everything was said and done, he went to the gate, he was rather early honestly but it was a familiar place. He had taken everything he had and put it in a small satchel that he hung loosely from his axe as he leaned it on his shoulder. He sat down with a single bottle he had been saving for a better occasion than this, it wasn’t that it was particularly expensive liquor, it had been the first thing he bought in this city, and now that he was leaving it seemed as good a time as any to drink it.

    The fact that he made an oath told him he’d probably never come back to this life, even if he survived he would live back in Nordengaard and aid Maude in whatever she felt was needed. He uncorked the bottle, taking a good long hard look at it before putting it to his lips, a quiet toast.

    “Father, Mother, and Markus… Wait for me.” He took a deep gulp from the bottle, he had been drinking so much to forget about the pain of their loss and now for once in his life he was drinking to remember them.

    “I’ll make sure to go down in a sea of blood.” He said, looking up to the sky as he leaned against the wall behind him, he was a warrior after all. If Gunnar was going to die he didn’t want to die sleeping in his bed, but fighting for whatever reason or desire he would have at the time.
     
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  13. Maude

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    Maude Grumpy B(heir)

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    The process of chemically bleaching long and thick red hair was not, as Maude came to learn, a fast process. Nor was it particularly pleasant. One of the methods used to achieve lighter hair was to take wood ash and mix it with either vinegar or lye soap and apply it to the hair. Now, this is considered a chemical process, and unless you were experienced working with these substances, there were some seriously unpleasant side effects that could occur (aside from the disgusting smell of the vinegar or lye on your head): the mixture could burn your skin and also cause your hair to break at the touch if left on too long.

    Fortunately for Maude, Syndell had enough experience to make the process as quick and painless as she could. Nevermind combing and washing out several months of tangles and a rather stubborn few braids.

    "What happened to this one?" the elf had noted after coming across the section at the base of Maude's skull where an entire braid had been cut at the roots.

    Somehow, somewhere, the fates were sniggering. Maude found it peculiar that she should have cut an entire braid free only to ruin the remainder of her infamous red locks. She continued to tell herself, over and over, that it would grow out. Eventually. But for now Arnor Skuldsson would have the only proof of what had been. Eogorath willing, she was going to kill something and it was not going to be swift.

    While she waited for the chemicals to do their work, Syndell gave her shoulder wound one last thorough cleanse and applied the last of her poultice over the stitches, then topped it with a clean bandage. Syndell's assistant was sent to purchase some items from the merchant square with the gold Maude had taken off the Mercs - as well, he was instructed to collect any posters bearing Maude's likeness to burn in the fireplace.

    When Maude left, complete with a few new items including a hooded traveling cloak, she hoped that Syndell might do herself a favor and take the memory draught. Wouldn't do any good for the elf to recall treating her wounds or hearing her stories. No good at all.

    She arrived at the gates with the moon high in the sky but plenty of night hours ahead of them. The disguise, for what it was worth, seemed to work. The dwarf from earlier had walked right by her, even excused himself out of her way. Polite fellow, it was too bad he couldn't be recruited. He seemed pretty well married to his coin.

    Green eyes sought out the unmistakable figure of Gunnar over by the outer wall. She waited only long enough for him to realize he was her before turning and making her way down the road, hood drawn and mood foul.
     
  14. Gunnar Bergstrom

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    Gunnar Bergstrom The Exile

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    He had finished the bottle about half an hour ago and he had a good buzz going, evening had started to come and he was actually quite content in his current position. Gunnar had to admit he may have been a little rash in his decision, he had not expected her to promise him such a prize, a full set of Solstal armor and a weapon was probably the largest amount of Solstal used on a single person ever. At least as far as he was aware, but he was no history buff.

    He finally looked up to see that Maude was there, her face was easy enough to recognize, and so was her body and ass, Gunnar could appreciate that. She looked like someone had just killed her pet though and that seemed to be a foreboding of things to come, or so he felt.

    “Great, you’re here, I figure it’s about time we get going then.” It would be easy to smell booze on his breath, he was also still holding the empty bottle he had been drinking from, he wasn’t drunk however but enough to become visible upon him.

    “So where are we going first?” He said, he wasn’t fully amused to be perfectly honest but he had given her his word and he was wearing her bracelet.

    For better or worse, his fate was now tied to hers, and considering her expression and mood it was probably going to be worse for a little while.
     
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  15. Maude

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    Maude Grumpy B(heir)

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    Maude did not look back, but kept her measured stride moving with purpose. Not that she was marching as if off to war - no, her weeks of continuous movement and the stresses on her body were catching up to her. Her steps were weighted with fatigue and the heady fog of many heavy emotions, but she was committed to the path set before her.

    "Southill," the woman replied, "a village two-days journey west. Hugi is waiting there."
     
  16. Gunnar Bergstrom

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    Gunnar Bergstrom The Exile

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    Gunnar followed suit, still a little tipsy but with his constitution it would pass soon enough, she had quite the stride going which made him wonder if she was in a hurry. “You in a hurry or something? A swifter stride on a two day journey is just gonna make us tired and half an hour early.” He said that with a shrug of his shoulders, he was fine with a good stride if there was a reason for it.

    “If you’re stressed and angry, we could just have a go at it, calm ya down some.” He said as the large forest between here and the village started to come in to sight. Whether 'have a go' meant something peaceful or aggressive was difficult to say, perhaps a bit of both.
     
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  17. Maude

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    Maude Grumpy B(heir)

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    Maude felt her right eye twitch at the man's words and something inside the woman snapped.

    Perhaps it was the man's sass. Perhaps his lackadaisical manner in which is seemed to perceive what her life had become. Perhaps she really did just need to kill something. Either way, her stride came to a sudden halt and she turned, quite suddenly, to face him.

    "My King and family were slaughtered by a man with no honor. I was chased from my home and hunted by the very people I've spent my life protecting, supporting, and respecting. I have journeyed thousands of miles to have a duty I never asked for placed upon my shoulders and a power I probably don't deserve entrusted to my care. I am tired. I am hungry. I am in pain. And all the things I must accomplish ride on my ability to make people who can't be made to care give an ounce of anything for nothing because I have nothing to offer of worth to them. I have a bounty on my head that would make a man a King and only three people who would fight for me, one of which is half a continent away embroiled in a siege, and another I don't know...I think he thinks this is a joke."

    Green eyes narrowed at the last part on Gunnar.

    A deep frown settled on her face. Maude lifted a hand, fingers curled into a fist that desperately wanted to fly and break something, "And my life now hangs in the balance of the fucking amulet around my neck. How is it you want me to be calm?"
     
  18. Gunnar Bergstrom

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    Gunnar Bergstrom The Exile

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    He actually listened to her when she spoke, angry as she might have been. The large Nordenfiir didn’t flinch nor argued as she gave him a piece of her mind. Instead of talking her extended his hand, gripped her shoulder and if she let him, seeing her strength he would have pulled her close.

    “Life is one big problem, I don’t think it’s a joke, but if I keep thinking about how impossible this task seems, it’ll just make shit worse.” He didn’t do anything, it wasn’t an embrace but she was a few inches from his face.

    “But you’re as tense as any Merc I’ve worked with and you said it, tired, hungry and all kinds of shit, so we’re gonna make camp once we’re in the woods, I’ll get us some food and then we can fight and fuck if you like, get out some of that anger you got.” He said it pretty casually, he was after all a mercenary and he had been on the road quite a few times in his life. He knew very well what life and death situations felt like and how to deal with them, he had been alone and when you’re alone you take what comforts you can get.

    “Can’t lead if you drop dead can you?” He said, stepping away from her and leading the way towards the forest, they could use the trees as cover in case of enemies, there were bound to be some beasts there he could hunt and a good feast, fight, fuck and sleep would do them good, or perhaps he was just a little more pragmatic in his emotional range as well as his nature.

    If she’d follow him he’d make up a simple camp, gathering a few branches for a makeshift hut, covering it with some leaves and added to the camouflage, at least from a distance. He knew that if for some reason it would rain it would give them some place somewhat dry. Gunnar enjoyed the outdoors, no rules to worry about and nothing but you and nature to contend with one another.
     
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  19. Maude

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    Maude Grumpy B(heir)

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    Maude didn't resist the hand on her shoulder only because she was hoping he was going to throw his attitude at her. It was just her luck that his drink seemed to have cooled his proverbial jets enough to remain calm in the face of her seething anger. A good quality to have in a Kingsguard ... or Queensguard, as it were. Not that she intended to give this arrangement a name or title. She wasn't Queen yet and Maude had her doubts he'd go for such a thing.

    Too much of a willfull spirit, that one.

    But he did have a point.

    Wouldn't do her much good to continue pushing past her limits. Eventually she was going to drop from exhaustion. Much as the idea of making camp for the night went against her ingrained desire to push onwards to the next checkpoint, Maude was well aware what would happen if she did so. She'd push forward to the next, and then the next. There'd be nothing left of her by the time they reached Elbion.

    Her body was well convinced of all the reasons to stop and rest, her mind took a little longer. Gemaudelene stood there on the path where he left her long enough that he'd already reached the tree line by the time her feet were moving again. She joined him in a relenting silence, taking stock of his actions while she lightened her physical burdens of non-essentials. The twin Solstal swords in their leather sheathes were set along with her travel pack and cloak, revealing for the first time the new mane of wheaten-gold braids crowning her skull. Maude set to work digging and crafting a Ranger's firepit - inset into the ground and easy to douse for a quick departure. Something that didn't throw a lot of light but still retained its uses.

    It would be crackling and popping by the time he returned from his hunt.
     
  20. Gunnar Bergstrom

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    Gunnar Bergstrom The Exile

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    He went to hunt, the forest seemed alive enough to contain something worth eating, he was a self-taught hunter mostly and found himself upon a track, a boar he figured. It didn’t take him longer than half an hour to follow the scent and find himself close enough to the boar to be able to see it, it was a decent sized boar, seemingly alone. He observed it for a moment and then came out, threatening but making himself small to make the beast more likely to attack him. He obviously wasn’t a hunter, since his way of hunting was getting beasts that were likely to attack him.

    The boar seemed to take the bait and as it rushed him, he was able to strike at it, if only a moment to late, one of the tusks left a gash past his leg. “I’m an idiot.” He sighed as stopped the bleeding by wrapping it with some cloth. The boar was dead though, a single strike well placed but a little late.

    He took a knife and immediately removed his innards right there, it’d be easier to carry and that’s all he figured. It took him about an hour to navigate back to camp where he found there was already a campfire waiting for him.

    “I imagine we’ll have a bit of a feast.” He said as he put down the boar and started skinning it, the skin didn’t weigh too much and it took more time than he cared to spend out there. In the woods it felt like night came a little earlier than on the planes or in the city, finding himself looking up through the remaining light that was able to pierce the trees.

    After he had skinned the boar he made a makeshift rack to put the boar on since he had nothing to spit it with.

    “Should take a few hours, even if we arrive a little late at that village, take time to rest, I’ll keep watch.” He wasn’t particularly kind in his words but he certainly had her best interests in mind, his persona certainly didn’t make his actions seem like a kindness even if they were.
     
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  21. Maude

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    Maude Grumpy B(heir)

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    She had shed most of her armor, a ritual not often taken beyond the walls of a familiar and safe place, but her instincts told her that the woods were quiet on this night. Despite the armor having become like a second skin, it did well to relieve tired joints. A bit like pulling braids that had been set for too long. Maude rested near the fire with her back against a tree, silently reading the letter she'd received from Arnor before she left Alliria for the last time.

    Reading it for a third time, to be exact, when Gunnar reappeared with the boar.

    Her brows faintly raised as she looked at the felled beast, "So it would seem." Though, admittedly, she wasn't sure if what she felt was hunger or simply an overwhelming exhaustion. Everything ached, including her soul.

    She folded the letter and replaced it to its pouch within her rucksack, settling it inside the cover of the sketchbook Arnor had sent previously, where his other letters remain stowed. Maude was not up to respond on this night - her mind was heavy with many things, including thoughts of the man back at Belgrath too complicated to place into words on a blank roll of parchment. No, she preferred something simpler to distract her mind for a while, and so she watched Gunnar skin and prepare their meal. Another ritual she knew by heart, could do in her sleep she'd wager.

    "I am resting," a half-hearted rebuttal given to him once he completed his task and their meal began to cook. He was an interesting man, if nothing else. All outward actions and words given to one thing, but undefined intentions given to another. Maude couldn't recall the men back in Nordengaard being quite so ... burdened with layers.

    "You are injured," her eyes settled on the makeshift bandage around his calf, "by the boar? Let me treat it so it won't fester."
     
  22. Gunnar Bergstrom

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    Gunnar Bergstrom The Exile

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    He was not idle, making sure the meat was rotated frequently to get the most out of this meal, it had been a while since he had such fresh meat. Gunnar thought it strange how you could desire something that was not that difficult to obtain, but when in a city you often find yourself so absorbed in the way of things that you forget there is another life out there.

    "Resting is good, you look like you need it." He said, giving her a look, she was an attractive woman, strong with just enough delicate features to make her beautiful, at least to a Nordenfiir like him. Most normal women looked too small or delicate, not to say he had not been with them, a man wants what a man wants after all.

    "Memento's?" He asked her as she folded her letter, he figured it may have been a keepsake from someone, he recalled often looking at belongings of his parents when he was younger, even if he had left them all behind in Nordengaard.

    She finally drew attention to the wound on his leg, a simple flesh wound nothing more. "It'll be fine, just get some rest, I can dress it myself." He said, defensively. "I told you I'd take care of things, so sit down and shut up, I'll wake you when the food is ready." He snarled at her just a little, he was not good at expressing himself in a positive way. Gunnar wasn't the kind of man that asked for permission, he'd rather seek forgiveness, though he didn't do that either.

    The wound wasn't too bad but could indeed fester if left unattended, not that Gunnar was too concerned about the matter, he had had worse wounds than that and they had healed fine by themselves.

    He tossed her a pouch of water. "Drink." It was true what she thought, he was not like most Nordengaard men, but then again he had lived a long time outside of that place. He had lost the warmth that men could have in good company, he wasn't merry when he was drunk or sober and even concern was expressed in annoyance.

    About an hour later the meat would have been done. "Hey, meat's done, let's eat." Regardless of what other actions happened, bellies needed to be filled.
     
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  23. Maude

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    Maude Grumpy B(heir)

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    She made no comment to his inquiry on the letters and found herself caught between seething amusement and tethered aggravation at his persistence in being an insufferable malcontent. Fortunately for them both, she was too tired to do anything about it other than let it roll off a mental armor stronger than Solstal and just as difficult to forge. It was made of shattered dreams, flayed beliefs, and bitter resentment.

    Maude drank from the pouch in silence, replaced the stopper and decided to try and rest.

    "Hey, meat's done. Let's eat."

    Her eyes snapped open, heavy as boulders, and winced into the light of the fire where Gunnar presently pulled their meal from the flames. Had she slept? Maude couldn't tell - felt as though she'd only just closed her eyes a moment leaning back against the tree. The woman rubbed a hand over her face and sat forward, bringing herself closer to the fire to take the proffered quarter from him.

    "Seven hells..." she said after her first bite, "I don't think I've been this hungry since I left to Take the Path when I was a girl."
     
  24. Gunnar Bergstrom

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    Gunnar Bergstrom The Exile

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    He didn't inquire further about the letters, partially because he didn't care and everyone had things they'd rather not talk about, so fair was fair. He cut some of the meat up and handed her some. "Good, there is plenty to eat." He said as he took some of the meat for himself, using a small knife to cut it up rather than biting it off the bone.

    He ate quite a bit, as Nordenfiir did but he took his time and enjoyed it, everyone had their little rituals and this was simply one of his, the only regret he had was that he had already emptied the one bottle of alcohol he took with him, at the gate.

    "This would be better with some mead." He grumbled out loud, giving a look at Maude. "So I was thinking, you have no army, you have a few people that are loyal and I'm the brother to the person you're trying to kill." He said, pausing as he took a bite from his meat.

    "Depending on how well known these people are in Nordengaard, I could take them, possibly get an audience with Borvenir and kill him." He said it rather matter-of-factually but he was obviously serious. "It would have a high chance of getting killed, but you don't have a lot of other options and it would be easier to take over on the merit of your bloodline if Borvenir is dead and his followers disrupted." He was no strategist, simple and straightforward in the way he thought about this.

    "At best you'd get rid of Borvenir, at worst you'd lose a handful of people." He had after all given her his vow and as a mercenary he had done a handful of truly dangerous missions, this was no different. If possible he'd get his brother alone and kill him then, but if there were others around and he had to give up his weapon he'd simple hide a knife on him, or without another choice he'd use his Svalen form.

    "Think about it, I'll hold watch while you sleep."
     
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  25. Maude

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    Maude Grumpy B(heir)

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    She made a sound of agreement to the comment on mead. He wasn't wrong - a horn of mead or ale right now would right-well hit the spot. Regardless of the absence of libation the meal was welcome. Maude wasn't one to eat a meal voraciously, and she didn't, but it was clear that she'd not had a good meal in quite a while. She ate while he pitched his thoughts on how to approach the situation with Borvenir.

    In theory it had the makings of a good idea, but in practice she had some major doubts and took issue with the basis of the plan. Her gut instinct was to reject it entirely and give her reasons for why, but something told her to hold her tongue. A notion of a wise King who took the time to consider all his options, even in dire straits. Right now she had nothing but time on her hands. Time to evaluate her choices and take advantage of given opportunities.

    After eating her fill she reclined by the fire, laying on her back with every intention of falling asleep to the sound of crackling flames. Though she closed her eyes and attempted to rest, Maude could not find sleep. Her mind was far too crowded with fears and doubts, anger and grief, concerns and regrets. Green eyes peeled back open to stare upwards at the canopy above, spying the night sky and stars through openings in the leaves. It looked so different within the south - there was not a single gleam of color traipsing across the expanse of black beyond.

    In Eretejva the lights and colors in the sky were said to be Eogorath's dying breath, trailing in an endless march across the stars to remind his people just how far they'd come. Now, absent that, she was reminded only that he held no presence or meaning in these lands. Perhaps that would one day change.

    "Do you miss them, Gunnar," Maude asked after a time of silence, "your family?"
     

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