The Barren Lands

It was a frosty morn, the sun barely pushing through the thick cloud that threatened more hail and rain. He stirred his black coffee, the sweet aromas rising in gentle wisps, dissipating Into the cold air of the hardwood room. Polished boards meeting carpet in the hallway and wrapped as lovers to the front door. His white socks soft against the plush rug, a loose board creaked, -hmnmnr? Came a sleepy call from the bedroom followed quickly by gentle snores from an exhausted wife. Cigarette and coffee in hand, he opens the front door silently, stepped onto the porch and into the crisp air  taking a deep breath, feeling the cold air fill his lungs as he rubbed what little sleep he got from his eye and thought about his tasks for the day.

Imagine, if you were any further from home, you would be halfway back to where you started. And it was true, 15 years ago when he was cast from the guild and branded on the inside of his left wrist, forced west, out of the western hills, through Salom Woods to the sea, escorted in chains and kept below deck for the couple of months it took to cross the Dead Sea and dropped at the shores of the Barren Wastes. Working the paddles with common slaves and exiles, sleeping in Damp corners when the sails were down and the wind was fair, and fighting the rats for scraps. -Thanks be to the gods for thy safe passage, the calm seas were a blessing and shan’t be so kind next time.

Touching down in The Barren Lands, far up in the north where winter was just beginning and would last another 5 months lay a little town called Greniada. He had 3 gold pieces, 5 silver and 20 copper, about the same as 3 months from the guild kitchens. Trained in basic combat and marksmanship, as were all members of the guild, members of the royal kitchen were trained in detecting poisons and brewing them as a specialty. They were also trained as assassins. Being based in the kitchens, able to move freely pretty much anywhere, and strategically placed all through the land as eyes and ears for the guild. But that isn’t the life he knew anymore. After being framed for the murder of the chief of grounds and the murder weapon being found hidden in his room, he was sent off to The Barren Wastes to serve out the rest of his days in the cold misery that would soon become his life.

Eldred flicked a match, lit his cigarette and took a gulp of his coffee. There’ll be trouble today I tell ye, it’s brewing just as sure as I stand here now, he though to himself. and as if it weren’t bad enough, the fair maiden who sleeps just beyond knows not of my tale, just what I’ve told her, that I’m a cook from across the Dead sea, orphaned and sent here after their passing. which was almost true, after being found guilty of poisoning his father, the head of the guild and ambassor to the king, it was decided by the king himself, being doubtful of the lads involvement, that he exiled him Instead of hanging. -I knew ye is well boy, just as well as I know yeself. I dont believe ye had a hand in this, yet the evidence weighs strongly against ye and to find you innocent in the light of evidence would look to be as if I’m favouring ye, so it would. So to keep in honour to ye pa, ye will be exiled, given a small purse and the chance to start anew.- And the king was fair, he was just and he was loved by many. Eldred understood the reasoning of his king, loved him for it, and was crushed when word reached the Wastes of the kings passing.

Monie woke with a start, still dark outside, barely, and the cold winter frost coated the Windows. Dying embers In the hearth gave a faint glow and a little heat While the howling winds tried their hardest to take what little warmth there was from their small home. Left to her by her father before he passed, his essence remained in the extra room he added as a study to write, not about anything in particular, but whatever crossed his mind and it refused to leave until he had gotten it to paper. Small stories about lost treasure and even more lost boys. Scribbles on local wildlife and their migration patterns and sources for food. He even wrote about when he thought he would die, and it came to pass within a few weeks of word to paper. he would often make predictions, or prophecies and without a doubt they all came true. From what would Happen that day to what the annual harvest would yield. He was touched, he had a gift and there were some who would exploit it. Elias was his name and he would hold a special place in her heart until she passed too.

Posted from somewhere amongst the tangled interwebs….

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