“THE WINDS OF THOR”
1 Imbolc, 2020au
New Moon of Salazar
/ Shard of Delarius
After taking their vows as Bowmen of the Bordermen Society in the hallowed halls of the First Lodge, Byron Fletcher, Arthur Hawke, and Edmund Stewart travel the Spine Trail to a Borderman Lodge nestled in the shadow of the Spine of the Dragon, between Broadhead and Longsaddle.
Three of their brethren had been stationed to this waystation, and all killed by some form of vicious animal attack. The new recruits are charged to serve at the Lodge, as trail protectors, and to perform any tasks necessary to aid in the comfort of travelers and to maintain the operation of the Lodge.
Upon arrival, they are met by Darryn Moore, the Lodge Handyman and Smith. He helps them store their mounts and warns them about the Lodgemaster, a Ranger Borderman formerly of House Fisher. “He’s a hard man, and harder to read. Best stay on his good side and do as you’re told.”
Fletcher leaves his wolf Togo with Moore, while Hawke nests his bird of prey in an old caravan, then both joined Stewart as they entered the Lodge where they were greeted by Lodgemaster Garlan Hook. “Welcome to the Winds of Thor,” he bellowed. He introduced them to the Housemistress, Agatha Ward. “Stow your gear upstairs, then mind yourselves in the inn. We’ve guests from the King’s Court, White Cloaks, so if you swear by the Old Gods, keep that nonsense under your bloody hats.”
The Bowmen did as their Lodgemaster ordered, stowing their things in a 12×12 room with three beds, three chests, and a wash basin. Without so much of a glance, they dropped their gear on the bed and headed down for a drink, taking a table at the base of the stair. They were served by the young Lodgemaid, Elena Vane, who brought them each ales, explaining the drinks were purchased by the White Cloaks, even though the Bordermen drink for free in the Lodge. She impressed upon them that they shouldn’t abuse the privilege.
Elena cast several barbs in Fletcher’s direction, revealing that her sister had given birth to a son after a tryst with the Archer Bannerman. Fletcher gave her a coin, to be sent to the mother, and a promise that he would check in on them next time he was home. She was taken by the gesture and spoke softly so as not to be overheard, explaining that there was an abundance of bandit activity in the area, and that the brigands frequented the Lodge, and that they often left a substantial pouch of coin in the Lodgemaster’s care.
After a brief respite, a nobleman sitting with the White Cloaks approached, his House Sigil denoting him as a Whitemane bannerman, House Paice. He was pompous, arrogant, and altogether unpleasant. He excused himself and left out the side door, headed for the facilities. A few minutes later, Hawke followed, declaring he meant to check on his horse.
Meanwhile, Fletcher and Stewart approached the White Cloaks seated in the corner, two Men-at-Arms and a Knight of House Gaines, bannered to House Somerfort. Things did not go well, with the Knight casting aspersions toward the two Bordermen, especially Stewart. Before things could go further, Hawke came back inside and called his companions to his aid.
Stepping out into the moonless dark, Hawke came upon blood and animal tracks. Fletcher examined the tracks and concluded something had been drug across the ground. Moore and Togo were both missing, as was Hawke’s bird of prey, and the nobleman as well. Hawke took note of his bird circling the woods across the trail, and they heard the sounds of Fletcher’s whimpering wolf.
Heading into the dark forest, Hawke discovered the nobleman, dead upon the heather, his face torn off. As his companions circled into the wood, a brown bear came forward, attacking the Borderman. Hawke retreated, luring the bear away from its kill. Fletcher tended to his wounded wolf, then joined in the hunt for the savage beast. He and Hawke attacked with ranged weapons, Archer Longbow and crossbow, while Stewart moved in with spear in hand. Stewart took some damage from the creature before it was finally put down by a concerted effort of all three compatriots.
The White Cloaks, now fully armored and armed, exited the Lodge and approached their fallen comrade. Fletcher, looking after the bear’s remains, noticed Moore coming out of the caravan and quietly slip off into the darkness.
Sir Gaines realized the nobleman’s official attache was missing from his corpse and he proceeded to have the Bordermen searched and then confined to quarters — after Fletcher finished skinning and harvesting the bear.
The Bordermen headed up to their room, stunned by the events of their first night at The Winds of Thor. Where could the attache have gotten off to? Stewart suspected Vane might be the culprit. She had mentioned that Paice had been rather handsy with her. Then there was the suspicious nature of Moore, and the warnings they’d received about Hook being aligned with the local bandits…
Then Stewart said, “I wonder if that bear even killed Lord Paice?”
Fletcher replied, “I harvested its stomach, so I guess we sure could find out.”
“Let’s get a few hours of sleep,” Hawke said, “then we can tackle this mystery fresh in the morning.”
featuring Rodney Transier as Byron Fletcher
Aaron Hurst as Arthur Hawke
and Connor Freeman as Edmund Stewart