The signage slightly waved from the wind. The doorbell that was placed in the top of the door rings. He entered inside and was welcomed by the sight of Men drinking their beers. Their bodies were well-muscled, scars around their body could be seen, and they carry a sword or a dagger on their waists.
Roan of Mir passed over the men drinking beers. “Roan!” hollered the Patrons. “How about a drink eh?”
He waves his hands. “Another time, Uncles.”
“Bah, what’s keeping you?”
“I have business with Cod.”
“Old Cod? Eh, go in, we ain’t bothering you no more.”
Roan was relieved that he didn’t have to sit around. He continued deeper inside the tavern. He was in the back of the establishment. It was filled with crates and barrels of beer and ale. There was a trapdoor hidden under a mat. He went in, climbed down, navigated the two men wide tunnel until he reaches an iron door. He taps the iron ring thrice. A pair of eyes peeked inside the door.
“Sir Ton. Is Old Cod around?”
“I am here, Bastard. Come in and tell me why you are down here in this pit.”
He entered the room. It was a wide room. Shields were in the walls. Rows of weapons were scattered around the tables. There were barrels containing muskets and gunpowder.
An Old Man pats the back of a young man. He pointed at the muskets and held on to his belt with his other hand.
“You were right, Roan. They were hiding the Muskets around the Old Fort. Those new rifles aren’t there as we thought. They must be hiding it well— knowing that we might find them.”
“Farmer’s Day—” said Roan hurriedly. “They’re planning to kill the Lioness of Bluemaine and accuse her of treason in that day.”
The face of the old man turned grim. He pulled his hands back and folded his arms. His brows met as his eyes narrowed.
“Are you sure? There are fools that want to murder the Young Lion?”
“I heard it from their spies. They were making Camp near the River Ford when I caught sight of their orders. I was able to steal the documents.”
He reaches for his bag, placing documents in an empty table. Old Man Cod scurries over, his eyes examining the papers.
“From the Tully Folks and the Eran Clan?”
“Take a look at that.”
In the document, there was a signature that Cod was familiar off.
“Well I’ll be,” said Old Cod. “The Fray’s are trying to bring the Lioness down. This is beyond what I expected. Are you sure that all of this was in the Camps?”
Roan didn’t tell. He waited and squared his shoulders. Old Cod frowns. The Lamp behind him flickers. Old Cod raises his head and stares at Roan.
“You were right, Roan. As far as I can tell you are right. If this evidence are true then this puts our Country in the path of War again. I thought that they’d change after the last War. I am wrong again.”
Roan had this feeling since the last Gunpowder War. The War where the muzzle flashes of gunpowder blinded the world. Smokes and fumes covered entire valleys as men gather in rank and file shooting enemies from distances or fixing their bayonets.
Roan was one of the Young Guards who was trained in melee-fighting. He carried a sword in that war and thought that he’d be distinguished like his father and his ancestors.
Instead, he was awoken by the gunshot and cannon fire that broke the silence. Mangled bodies were strewn across fields, the rain then created areas of slimes, where men drown by the mud, along with the corpses that were left behind.
Roan was thrown into the fray alongside the folks that visit this tavern. Out of the original one-thousand men, only five hundred went back home. Roan still remembers burying the bodies of his comrades and brothers-in-arms down shallow graves.
The War Ended five years ago and another one was brewing. This time new rifles that could fire more than a musket was being introduced to the world. The cannons that devastated the romanticism of War were further improved. It was a developing country that took interest in these long-range shooters.
Roan squeezes his eyes. He knew that there was nothing he could do other than forgive Old Cod who naively thought that War won’t come. He was one of those old fools who believed that the days of swords and axes would return.
“No, you are not wrong, just mistaken that they wouldn’t be greedy.”
Old Cod looked down in silence. “It’s clear that they want to start a war. The Bluemaine Lion will be cut down and that will result in conflict. We cannot allow that.”
“Yes.” He clenches both fists. “She’d be used as a spark for another pointless war that ends with our boys in shallow graves.”
“Where should we start in the first place?”
“I say that we inform the Bluemaine Lioness.”
“Directly? She’d call us a mad!”
“We got to try. We have no cards to play and even our tails and eavesdroppers found no information. We can only try to use these documents and convince that we are on her side. The Bluemaine Lioness is known for her reasonable self and I believe that she will hear our reasons fairly.”
Old Cod looks at him. “Roan, I think you talk to the Lady yourself. I believe that you can do it.”
“What will you do then?”
“Try and find these shipments. I’ll call the Boys to clear the area of anything that might resemble the shipments of these new rifles. We’ve led against them and it is important that we keep guard. We’ll follow the clans that are involved in these schemes.
Old Cold took a stride towards Sir Ton.
“Ton, I want this place secured and have some of our best rangers come alongside me. Have the rest ready and able for anything that might happen. We don’t know what’s coming but I believe in you, Roan.
Old Cod patted his shoulder. He turns towards Sir Ton who was readying the tools that they should use. Roan steels himself. He was about to talk to the Lioness of Bluemaine.
Roan of Mir took the streets of Bluemaine.
He was being rained down with his coat wetting the rain. He grabs hold of his sword and crosses the streets, boots splashing the gathered water, his chest aching, and blurry sight.
All he could hear was rain coming down. There were few mutters but he never paid attention to them other than what he was seeing in front. The continuous downpour has been perpetual in the City of Bluemaine. The Country itself was not a country of sunshine – there was barely light. The Sun was a rare guess in summer that they look forward to.
Farmer’s Day is the day where the sun would make his appearance. It was the day of thanksgiving for the folks who grow crops. It is also the day the higher classes would come and spew words of gratitude to their people. Everyone other than the King would participate in the act.
A day of celebration would become a day of slaughter. Fresh blood would fall and a War would begin again. They could give many excuses but Roan would rather keep this gloomy peace that he was basking in. He strolls the streets in a rather slow pace. Passing the blocks and navigating through the empty market. He took a left and saw a Mansion looming over the distance. He approaches.
The Guard named Payne was standing tall. He’s bored out of his mind, grumbling as the rain, drops down. His raincoat was heavy. His rifle was just hanging. Raising his head a bit he caught sight of a figure walking under the rain without care. As he squinted he finds a surprise.
“Payne, you’re guarding?”
“What of it?” he snorts. “Roan of Mir, the Young Guard, the madman who charged the breach with a sword and pistol and took the Fort of Tarija from the Rosin Clan.”
The two stood face to face under the rain.
“Payne of Kyrie, the Sword for Hire who slew a hundred men for a stack of gold now guards the Mansion of the Lioness of Bluemaine.”
“Yes, the guy who has a stack of gold, who should be in a Villa near the beaches of Tyra, now stands guard under the fucking rain? Figure it yourself.”
“I won’t pry. But it’s still good to see a brother.”
Payne kept silent before swinging his hand at Roan’s shoulder.
“Bah, no wonder I like you, Roan. You’re not a cunt like the rest of the Young Guards.”
“They’re all dead.”
“And that’s because they were cunts.” He spits. “So what you are here for?”
“I need to talk to the Lady.”
“Any reason why?”
“It’s about her safety.”
Payne’s bored expression turned serious. His crouching back turned sharp like a sword as he stares back at Roan. The switch was flipped. The weary Guard turned into a warrior that he was. Roan told him everything. By the end of it, Payne has gripped his sword hard enough. He looks at Roan and to the sky.
“The nicest Lady in Bluemaine and they want to offer her blood to the Gods on Farmer’s day? Roan, you reminded how much I despise these bastards. Come in, I’ll show you the way.”
Payne hollered at the Guard standing from the other side of the Gate. They were let in and Roan was led inside the Mansion. The servants of the Mansion took notice of them. Payne and Roan walked up the stairs and into the long halls of the Mansion.
“You’d be the second Visitor this week.”
“The Second Visitor this week?”
“A Man in a Black Frock coat visited and made the Lady locked herself in her office. I thought it was one of those usual messengers.”
“A Man in Black Frock coat you say?”
“Aye, he had ashen hair, silvery eyes, and a tongue of the devils. When he came strolling I thought I was dead and the Reaper had come for my soul and take it to perdition. Turns out he’s the most polite of all messengers. I should have guessed that he warned the Lady of this scheme.”
“Did you notice any affiliation?”
“No. He wore no symbols.”
Roan thought back to the meeting in the church. Could it be that that man led him to this choice? He couldn’t understand why. His thoughts went wild in suspicion. Was he part of a scheme?
“I don’t think he’s part of anything,” Payne said. “He had the look of someone of a bystander despite it all. He’s just the Messenger, Roan.”
“Is that what you think?”
“Yes. And I don’t want someone like that man being an enemy.”
Roan halted his steps.
“You’re afraid of the man?”
“I won’t lie. I am. You heard what I called him. I know when to fight and who to fight. Even with the rifle, I don’t think I’d win.”
“I can’t believe it. You’re really saying that?”
“I know little to no fear. But when faced with Death you can’t help but shudder. He resembled death and I’d like to believe that a man that grim hopefully won’t become an enemy.”
“I hope so.”
Payne’s words struck Roan like bolts. He knew Payne more than anyone in this Mansion. He knew how fearless he was and confident he was in the art of killing. But now he fears a single man. Roan never thought about it but now he felt his heart shrinking as well.
“The Lady is inside, Roan.”
They arrived in a door. Payne grabbed hold of the door handle and opened it. Roan entered and inside he saw Allina Von Blaine busying herself in paperwork. Her golden hair is untidy and there bags on her eyes.
“Milady,” said Payne. “Someone’s come to visit.”
“Who is it?”
Roan took a step.
“I am Roan of Mir, one the Young Guards who fought in the Gunpowder War.”
She lifts her eyes and placed it on him.
“May I ask why you are here, Sir?”
Roan wasn’t going to lie. He knew what must be done and he decided to be honest.
“I’ve come to warn you about the danger that comes. And if you would allow it,” he kneeled. “Then let us folks who are weary of War, to be at your side at the day when the Sun rises from the West.”