It was not long before Galdrutt arrived at the border of the Wolfpack region. Their faction had no established borders, but there was a general focus on the rugged mountains and hills of that part of the world that the Wolfpack had built their sturdy villages and hideouts on.
Galdrutt was heading for an inn. He knew the place well; it was one of the few buildings of the Wolfpack that other factions could visit. All the same, he loosened his sword in his pack and kept a firm grip on his axe - the Wolfpack were a dangerous lot, even to those familiar with them, and you could never afford to be lax - some wandering rogues with knives would not be uncommon, even on the borders. The land further in was said to be far worse - there was talk of organized crime gangs, secret cults and even monsters.
However, it was still daytime and the road was quite wide. Galdrutt reached the old but large inn without incident. The inn was nothing remarkable - there were several broken windows, the dark paint was flaking off and the doors had to be forced quite a bit, but Galdrutt liked the place - he knew many people here, and it was a good place to kill some time. As he entered in under the faded title, he nodded his welcome to some people outside. Inside, it was filled with a throng of people from all over the land, and several outsiders, including Galdrutt himself. He shifted quickly through the crowd, avoiding any of the brawls or anyone who looked overly suspicious, and made his way over to a corner of the bar. He grinned - his favourite chair was still there. His grin quickly turned to a scowl when he say that one of the chairlegs was missing. Groaning, he slumped down. "Bring me a brown, frothing beer, will you?" he called down the long bar.
"It'll be under your chin in a - bloody hounds, is that you Galdrutt?!" gasped a surprised barman.
"Who else drinks all your best produce?" Galdrutt replied, smiling wryly at the chunky fellow, who finished serving a thin Wolfpack man, before turning round for a chat.
"So, Tapher, how goes your wonderful little business?" Galdrutt asked casually, knowing exactly how to speak with the man, who handed him a drink. "You seem to be attracting the same types as you always did - thieves, drunks, and others far worse. I wouldn't trust most of these brigands with a crust, let alone good beer."
Tapher looked like he might have been offended, but instead he broke into a quick smile. "You know that's how it's always been in these parts. But never mind that. What are you doing back here? I thought you were getting rich with Crusaders! When I heard the war with the Knights Kingdom had ended with a win for you I thought you'd be on your way to a new life, with gold and women and all that good stuff."
The humour was lost on Galdrutt, who frowned and glared into his drink for a long while, before speaking. "It went well to begin with. As I told you when I was here last time, seven months ago I got hired by their king to take care of the Knights Kingdom problem, as they were supplying the filthy Bull savages with weapons and horses to raid the Crusader farmlands with. The usual commander of the northern armies had a fatal heart attack a week before. So I got their forces together and we drove right into the southern parts of the Knights Kingdom countryside. Some Prince Lionel bloke moved in to halt us with his little army. That's when the fighting began. It was almost too easy - we outnumbered them from the start and had superior weaponry. Their tactics were awful - the knights and footsoldiers would charge us head-on and we'd cut down their front ranks with archers. Then we'd sweep forwards with infantry and crush the remaining ones. I don't say this lightly - it was a terrible business. Those knights we fought against asked for no mercy - they were brave, regardless of how bad they were at swordplay, and so we had to kill every last one of the buggers. I killed men of all ages and watched as the men under my command did the same. I saw men I had just become friends with die before my eyes. It wasn't at all as bad as the war with the Dragon Masters - that was something else - but still, I was the reason why those men on both sides died." Gladrutt said quietly, showing the contempt and even sadness in his eyes.
"It weren't you who started that war. You was just a mercenary; a hired sword. It were just a job." Tapher suggested.
"That was the thought that kept me going through that whole bloody mess - that I might come out of it with some good money and be able to make something of myself there. But then things turned bad, as they often do for me."
Tapher rolled his eyes at Galdrutt's trademark negativity, before motioning him to continue.
"The campaign stopped after about two months. Our force had gone too far in - supplies were too stretched. Also, new enemy forces were coming in from the north that would have probably smashed us. So we called for a peace treaty and that's what everyone got. Crusaders agreed not to expand farms onto land that wasn't theirs and Knights Kingdom agreed not to fund Bull responses. All that killing, just for a few pieces of parchment. Bloody typical. So once we returned back to the Crusader lands, I asked the king for my reward. But the decadent worm refused me - he told me that I should have pushed on and attacked the northern half of the country, though we would have all died in such a move. When I argued against it, the slimy traitors threw me out of the castle with nothing to show for all those weeks of butchery but a few scars. Having nothing else to do, I wandered through some Pirate towns for three months until I ended up right here."
"The arrogant tossers!" Tapher spat in disgust. "Just the sort of rubbish I'd expect from that new king. He's nothing like his father was."
"Maybe - but that how life is, innit? We lose the good old types for this new trash." Galdrutt answered, getting into his drink.
"Oh show some bloody optimism for a change!" Tapher shouted, chuckling. "So, what do you plan on doing now?"
"I've been thinking about this for a while, actually - I might try going home." Galdutt uttered the last word quietly.
"You're not serious, are you? They'll probably kill you if you return."
"Now who's being negative?" Galdrutt retorted, giving one of his rare winks.
Tapher sighed. "Well, do what you feel is right. Your old stuff is through the back."
Downing the last of his beer, Galdrutt nodded his thanks and then Tapher was called back to bringing out drinks. Picking himself up, Galdrutt went through into the back of the inn.
Last edited by Sir Kohran
on Sun Feb 04, 2007 12:49 pm, edited 2 times in total.