Chapter 4.1: Elect

22 3 2

The Great Highway of the North, Kingdom of Dehn

A caravan of mounted cavalry and transport wagons appeared over the hill, bearing towards them with frightening speed

Oops! This image does not follow our content guidelines. To continue publishing, please remove it or upload a different image.

A caravan of mounted cavalry and transport wagons appeared over the hill, bearing towards them with frightening speed.

"Bad news, Captain!" said Praster Steele to his companion.

"A Dehnish sortie," said Karloh Haldar, his voice calm and cool as always. It would be the first real test of their deception; the first chance to exercise the lies they would tell for the coming weeks. "Remember everything we talked about." 

They'd passed several Dehnish envoys in the previous weeks, all moving with such haste it was easy to assume they were bound for the White City and the Five Year's Fair, or perhaps even to The Pike for the Tournament. But this group was too far north too late to be headed that far south.

"Two-hundred strong, mostly cavalry. Flying the crossed anchors on black," informed the third and final companion, Lenard Bowie, whose eyes were easily the best of the trio. They all knew the emblem: the shield of House Calazar was among the most recognizable in the realm.

When the riders drew near, a tall knight in glistening armor with a shag of curly black hair blowing wildly from under his helm, called for a company halt and escorted an envoy of eight horsemen forward.

"Ahoy, tidings from the Kingdom of Dehn," the knight bellowed in a piercing voice. He brought his horse to a stop ten yards away. "I am Yon Dehnal, lieutenant of this color guard. What brings three strangers on the Highway to the Great City? Do you fly any colors? Or bear arms?"

"Aye, sir knight. I am Karloh Haldar, and this is Lenard Bowie and Praster Steele. We are merchants from the capital, bearing some goods, though not many. We have arms to ward off thieves but only what you see."

The soldiers around Sir Dehnal were poised but blank-faced. "Tell me, Karloh Haldar, why any merchant would want to leave the White City now while it is the focus of the biggest Fair in history?"

"We are sent north to the Great City with more specific business."

"What specific business is that? Perhaps I can...steer you the right direction."

"Our business is with Vikko of House Goode, a local merchant from the Zuzinal district."

"I'm not familiar with the name. This business is something palatable to the Tsar?"

"Fibers, sir knight. Cotton, flax and hemp."

"You have samples?"

"Of course." Karloh nodded to Lenard who hopped down from his horse and unlaced the wagon's canvas flaps to reveal a heap of textile swatches. The knight peered into the cargo hold for a moment with his raptor eyes then nodded his approval. Lenard swiftly lashed it back down.

"Sir Yon," said a large knight, edging a massive  warhorse forward. "I don't like the feel of these merchants. And I don't trust his black face." He stabbed his finger towards Karloh. "Voldor burned the blacks as sinners. With some light questioning, we can uncover their true business."

The Razed Ruins Part I: Ill TidesRead this story for FREE!