City of Andilain Settlement in Wanted Hero | World Anvil

City of Andilain

As the sun rose once more, the fog lifted, revealing a winter landscape unlike anything Wendell had seen before.   Following behind the Wolen, he watched the mountains open up to a valley as far as the eye could see. Vast fields, now covered with snow, all rolling up to meet what looked like a giant crown sitting upon a hill.   ‘Ting.’   Brilliant white walls rising hundreds of feet into the air, grasping at the clouds. Along its base, huts and homes mixed amidst a thick tree line. Trails of smoke rose from the chimneys of villages speckling the fields about the monolith of stone.   The ‘ting’ of the Wolen’s bells cut through the morning silence, alarming the indigenous fowl, scattering them into flight.   It’s…HUGE, Wendell gasped, And this was all built by dwarves? He tried to imagine just how many hands had to work together to construct something so immense. The walls encased all but a minor incline, where the forest met the chiseled white stone. The closer they approached, the taller the walls seemed to grow, reaching up until they touched the sky.   There has to be a million people living in this place!   Wendell had never thought of how many people might live in such an area. He’d been to Sanctuary—which the Iskari had mentioned was fifteen valleys merged together at its center. When he’d asked Chuck how many people lived in Sanctuary, he’d fidgeted with his fingers for a moment.   ‘Ting.’   “At least five thousand souls per valley, but usually more, depending upon what they grow and manufacture,” he’d replied.   I wonder if Andilain is bigger than Sanctuary?   Wendell leaned back in his seat and tried to take the experience in as they rolled forward. “Is that the…wall you told me about?” he finally asked in awe.   Green nodded. “Built in layers. My dad said the whole city was designed to resist any siege. It rests on top of the natural springs under it. Fresh water, areas to grow food, raise animals, buy and sell goods, all within the safety of the walls, if need be. Though you can see that during peace, the fields outside the walls are in full use.” He pointed ahead, “There are seven gates, each surrounded by farming villages.”   “All of them guarded,” Huey added.   “Which is another reason we’re behind the Olen,” Green added.   Wendell studied the huge building swaying on the giant wagon that never stopped. “Why?” Green grinned wickedly. “You’ll see.”   ‘Ting.’   Across the valley they rolled, moving through settlements where people waved and children played in the snow. A few decided to take a shot or two at the gnome with their snowballs. Green either dodged them or caught them with a lightening precision.   …then threw them back.   Hard.   Two boys learned, to their pain and humiliation, that it was unwise to throw things at ambidextrous little men in wagons.   As they approached the heavy metal gates to the city, the ring of the Wolen bell changed.   “Ting, Ting, Ting,” it rang aloud, warning those in its path.   Wendell heard a commotion and the faint shouting of the guards. Small figures dashed about excitedly, screaming at one another.   “Open the gates! Open the gates,” one shouted, waving his arms. As they rolled closer, his look of fear grew. “Are you hearing me?! The Olen is here…open the bloody gates!!  I don’t get it, Wendell wondered, what’s all the panic about?   When he looked back to Green, that wicked grin was firmly tacked across his face. “I love seeing the reaction when people hear that little bell.”   Scrambling in large groups, guards shoveled desperately at the snow, while others pushed wildly at the giant metal gates.   …just in time to throw their bodies against the walls and suck in their bellies.   The Wolen sang again.   “Ting, Ting, Ting,” it rang aloud, rolling slowly through the archway.   “Halt!” the guards cried, immediately jumping between the Wolen and their own wagon.   Yet the gnome kept smiling and rolled on.   Scrambling out of the path of the horses, spears promptly dropped, pointing at Green and Wendell from either side of the wagon.   Green slowed, but did not stop.   “We said HALT,” demanded a rather large fellow with a scar down his cheek and nose so bent, it looked like it’d been glued there. He stepped closer and grabbed the reins of the horses, bellowing, “Papers before entering!”   Mouse locked his chocolate brown eyes onto a guard and gave him a deep growl—the spear getting just a bit too close to Wendell.   Pointing a single finger at the Wolen, Green said calmly, “I’m traveling to the castle with him.”   There was an immediate uneasy hesitation.   The party seemed a bit odd in the first place: a human, traveling with a gnome and a ridge hound? The big man shrugged and nodded to the others.   Both the spears and guards backed away.   Green kept smiling and rolled along.   Wendell kept quiet as the humans stared at the gnome with a measure of uneasiness. A few gawked at the Ridge Hound warily, who continued to growl.   “Easy buddy,” Wendell whispered, stroking Mouses neck. “We’re okay.”   When they’d passed the gate and rolled out of earshot, he turned himself fully in his seat. “You lied.”   Green didn’t look at him. “I don’t know what you’re talking about. I said I was traveling to the castle.”   Snorting, “Yeah, with the Wolen.”   Huey hummed from behind. “That’s not what he said.”   Wendell frowned.   Sighing, Green bobbed his head from side to side. “I didn’t technically lie, Wendell. We are going to the castle, and we are also technically with the Wolen. We’re following right behind him, are we not? And we’ve been traveling with the Wolen…”   Shaking his head, “You’re splitting hairs, Green.”   He shrugged, “Maybe. But what did that hurt? They didn’t get their merchants fee, which means I can treat you to dinner and even breakfast because of their assumptions.”   “Oh let it go,” Huey strummed. “Green’s not a fan of over taxing people.”   The gnome grunted, “I’m not a fan of taxes, period. Life is hard enough without people trying to put their hands in your coin purse at every turn.” His smile completely vanished. “What irks me is then leaders, especially in these bigger cities, decide to spend coin however they please, and then force the repayment upon the working class. It’s just not right! No one holds them accountable!!”   Wendell was about to make a mental note concerning the gnomes perspective,…but Mouse’s massive tail whacked him in the face, nearly knocking him from his seat.   “Ow, Mouse—be careful…”   “Welcome to Andilain, Wendell,” Green said just above a whisper. “The capital city of High King Robert III.”   Wendell’s hands gripped his seat so tight, they turned white.   In front of them was a much smaller wall, though it was still magnificent to behold. It lay on the far side of an immense bridge of stone, steel, and wood—five wagons wide…and nearly ten times that across.   The gap between them was filled with water.   “Andilain has…a moat?”   Wendell had no clue of how many millions upon millions of gallons of water circulated around the city, but there were boats out. Small and medium boats, floating around the inner wall, fishing with lines and nets among the floating chunks of ice. Perches of stone jutted out from the side of the outward slanting walls. Docks, where other unmanned boats bobbed up and down with the mild current.   Green smiled. “It has a lake, Wendell. Engineered to serve dual purposes. The waters from the spring roll down from under the castle, through the communities, who use what they need. The rest flows out to feed a great lake, which serves as a natural defense.” Rapping his knuckles on the seat, he added, “Quick, Wendell…grab Huey for me, would you?”   The wagon rolled slowly across the bridge, and through a second heavily guarded gate. This entrance, however, was through a fortified tower, where dozens of soldiers huddled around open flames, spears propped up against walls and bows hung over shoulders.   Wendell sat back down in his seat and traded the lute for the reins.   “Slow us down to a crawl, Wendell.”   “What?”   “Just slow the wagon down.”   Wendell pulled back lightly on the reins.   The portcullis was up, doors open, allowing their wagon to roll through the deep stone tunnel.   Green nodded to the soldiers as they passed.   “Good day, gentlemen!” He gave Huey a strummed across his strings, emitting a beautiful chord, echoing across the water and up over the walls. His facial expression instantly changed, a light gleaming in his eyes. “How fairs the greatest city of humans?”   The question drew many smiles his way, including a polite nod from an older soldier warming himself at a fire.   “Far better now that a bard is among us,” one called from the end of the bridge ahead of them. He stepped out into the path and added, “Do you bring news from lands beyond, fair gnome?”   Agile fingers worked their magic, creating a melody of spring, drawing faces from wall and window above.   “I do,” replied the gnome, “but only rumors of greatness, my friends!” Standing upright in the seat, “My name is Bartleby Luckyfeller, and you can find my stories in song at the Broken Tooth tonight!”   A few guards let out a cheer, while others gave a wave of dismissal.   This didn’t stop the bard.   Instead, he let his fingers fly, picking a complicated tune that caused even Wendell’s blood to rise in anticipation.   “Don’t be fooled and cast me aside, my friends,” Bartleby cried aloud, “For I bring stories of the Hero and Mahan, not of old, but new!” He paused, waiting for wandering eyes to once more fix upon him. He grinned in delight from under hunched brows. “Come hear of the shadows now crossing your lands, and how a young boy, now gifted with the Ithari, has made the first strike against the darkness!”   That got their attention.   Bartleby closed his tune with a strum of the strings to the clapping of the guards on the ground.   The gnome bowed deeply.   When the wagon finally passed under the guard gate, he quickly tossed a silver coin to the young man who’d asked the question. “This is for the first round of drink for you and a friend, brave soldier of Andilain. See me after the performance, and I’ll treat you to a second!”   The soldier caught the coin in his gloved fist and raised it overhead. “I’ll be there!”   Wendell shook his head in disbelief and sank back in his seat. “You’re one of a kind, you know that.”   “Oh, he knows it,” Huey whispered. “He knows it all too well.”
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