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7.5. Extra: Old Acquiantances

In the early hours of the day, a hooded figure strode towards the village’s main gate. The horse’s clopping served as enough of a signal for the armored man standing on guard beside the torch to straighten his posture, a hand immediately going to palm the pommel of his sword.   “Halt! State your name, and your business,” the guard called out, his voice rich with an accent common to central Varia. The rusting armor plates clanged as he stepped forward with a torch in hand. The flames illuminated the features of a brown-haired man in his prime, though his features worn and a somewhat unkempt beard.   “I am Tycus. A…traveler in search of shelter, and security.” With those words, the hooded figure dismounted his steed and removed the garment over his head to reveal a handsome face, dusty blond hair trimmed short with scruff adorning his jaw. The corners of Tycus's eyes creased as the guard in front of him stared incredulously.   The guard tensed, his hand gripping the sword’s hilt. “Tycus of–”   Tycus raised his hand. “Nay. I hold no other name…As I presume of you, now. Henry.”   Henry’s hand remained on his sword, though gradually the grip released. “So the rumors are true.”   The two men maintained the other’s gaze for what seemed like minutes, until both simultaneously brought forward a hand to grip the other’s forearm.   Henry nodded to him. “Then we have no quarrel.”   “I had heard that you require a toll for those wishing to enter Gredel.” Tycus watched as the other pursed his lips.   “Heard…?” He paused and then huffed through his nostrils. “A matter done out of…necessity.”   Tycus slowly nodded. “These are difficult times. What is my toll then, Henry?”   Another pause. “Five gold.”   Tycus raised a quizzical brow before quietly handing over the toll.   Henry pocketed the pieces without a glance. “You may enter. At this hour, you will find shelter only with the alchemist. The second hut to the right of the main path.”   “I thank you.” Tycus took hold of his steed’s reins and then hesitated. “But, perhaps we may speak first?”   Henry noted the crease in the other man’s brow. “Very well.”


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