Written by George Sanders

Captain Stoke sat by the fire reading through some of the daily reports. The old stone building held a chill without a fire, even with it being summer. The building used to be a Guild Hall for the Hunter's Guild. The threat of attack from goblins, gnolls, or worse brought out the 3rd Expeditionary Force force from Etonia. His squad had completed an escort mission and now were stationed at one of several fortified checkpoints along the main road in the forest.


The dim light was barely enough to get through the pages. At the 4pm entry he made an adjustment one two squads of Ardelis' Arrows on their way to Everst. He thought back to that moment, a young warrior, Supheli, had been with them. They ran into her a few weeks ago during the battle for Mirasoon. Lt Tymal had talked to her both times about the old ways. Ardelis was with them as well. He put an 'x' on the identity verified column.


"Hey Tymal, we've been out here for two months now. You've talked about the old ways a couple times. What happened that made them the old ways? Why did your people leave the forest?"



Tymal paused for a minute, settled in his chair more. Took a drink from his mug. "My grandmother tells a story about that." He stopped there, seemingly lost in thought. Stoke had a pretty good feel for who Tymal was now, enough to know that he loved to play up the drama of a story. "The People had already been living in small groups scattered in the forest. They were the descendents of those that turned away from the violence of the Kingdom of Many-Arrows. As the Kingdom turned to ash, destroyed by its own greed and hatred, they slipped away into the forest."


Tymal took another drink, looking to see if he had everyone's attention, "We didn't want to leave the forest. Generations had passed, it was home. But, my grandmother would say, it was like the time of the Kingdom. First the magic started disappearing, then people started disappearing. A few would be lost to the forest every year but soon it was happening every few weeks. We realized ancient Evils could be back, hunting us like in the days of the Kingdom of Many-Arrows."


"When I was old enough to walk, my family moved to the shore, hoping to get away from the curse of the past. Etonia was already being built up at that point so that is where we stayed. More of The People arrived over time. I don't know that there are any of The People left in the forest."


Tymal continued with flourish, "My grandmother said the council would protect us and return us to the forest. And here I am." He ended his story with whoop, downed his drink, and slammed it on the table. He got a few nods and laughter out of the other guards. Captain Stoke got back to his paperwork.



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