3 Chapter 3: The Meeting
After nearly two months of travel, Lothær reached a vast plain of golden grass. It seemed to stretch for hundreds of miles.
"This must be it," He thought to himself. "Ralstrog".
He saw a small farm in the distance to the west and began walking towards it hoping to find shelter and a warm meal for the night. As he reached the front of the farm, he noticed the door kicked in. He then took his axe from his back and slowly walked towards the door.
"Please, don't do this my father had just gone into town to pay his debt!" a woman screamed from inside.
As Lothær entered the front door, he noticed in the corner, a young woman holding two boys in her arms in a corner as a man in all black approached them slowly with a dagger.
"If you can't afford the protection fee, boss said I get to decide what to do with you, my blade here has been pretty starved as of late, I think she needs some food, don't you?" the man says as he raises his dagger to strike on the woman.
Lothær grabs the man by the wrist, noticing the difference in stature between them, this man seemed like a child compared to Lothær.
"Preying upon the weak is no way to prove your strength, worm," Lothær says menacingly.
The man turned around, looking up at Lothær
"Who are you! Release me you oaf!" the man screamed as he went to pry his arm from Lothær's grip.
Lothær tossed the man through the wall of the farm outside.
"I will not be spoken down to, child. Now either fight like a man, or run like a fawn, or I will ensure you meet the dogs of the underworld on this night." Lothær says, brandishing his teeth.
"You'll regret this, you beast!" the man says as he gets to his feet and begins to run away.
"You dare. To continue to speak to the great Lothær like that!" Lothær yells as he throws his axe, cleaving the man's legs from under him. The man hit the ground with a loud scream. Lothær approached the man as he tried to cry for help. He steps down on the man's back,
"Die, like the pig you are," Lothær says as he grabs the man's head by the jaw and cranium.
He began pulling as the man screams grew louder and more animal-like, until Lothær ripped the man's head off, throwing it to the ground. He grabbed his axe and put it back onto his back and walked back into the farmhouse. The woman was still there holding the boys, now all crying.
"You are safe now, are any of you injured?" Lothær said to the three.
"No, we are all unharmed. Who are you?" the woman asked, still shaken up from what had just happened.
"My name is Lothær, I am th-" Lothær paused for a moment, remembering that he is a king no more.
"I am a traveler, I came to this farm to ask if you may have extra food or perhaps a bed I could rest in for the night," he said solemnly.
"Of course, if you could help me pull that table back up, I can give you what food we can spare." the woman replied.
"Mother, is that man dead?" one of the boys asked.
"You needn't worry about that Lydan, we are safe and that is all that matters," the woman said to the boy as she hugged them both.
Lothær lifted the table back onto its legs and wiped the dust and straw off of it. The woman shooed the two boys upstairs back to their rooms.
"Thank you, I don't want to think of what would have happened if you weren't here to save us, I am Reyda. This is my father, Dalyn's farm," she said as she brought a large bowl to the table in front of Lothær.
"You aren't from here, obviously. Where are you from? I have never seen a man of your stature before." Reyda asked.
"I am from far north of here" Lothær replied
"You are from the mountains? My mother used to tell me stories of the monstrous men that reside there," she said.
"I would not call my people monsters, my people would never do what I had witnessed that man try to do, I would say that is monstrous, not us," Lothær replied quickly.
"I apologize, I didn't mean to insult your people. I had just assumed those stories were just stories told to children to keep them from straying too far from home." Reyda said, looking down.
Reyda left the room temporarily, then returned with a large pot with steam radiating from the top. She set the pot down on the table and began ladling a hearty stew into the bowl in front of Lothær.
"I hope you are ok with Stag, it's all we have at the moment. This harvest has not been kind on us." Reyda says as she sits at the table with Lothær.
Lothær lifted the spoon of dark brown stew to his lips. His eyes lit up as the stew touched his tongue.
"This is amazing!" Lothær said as he began to laugh.
Reyda laughed with Lothær and they began to talk all night until he decided to go to the bedroom that Reyda said he could take for the time being. Before he closed the door, Reyda called to him
"My father and I will be going into town tomorrow if you would like a ride into town."
"I would greatly appreciate that" Lothær replied.
He turned around to see a small, cozy, wooden room with little more than a large bed and candles. He put his axe next to the bed and began to undress. He then laid down and looked at the ceiling. Thinking about how much Bulrah would love this place, he began to get sad and sat up and began to say a prayer to the All-Mother.
"Hear my voice, for I have a request of you" he began
"Accept my brother within your embrace, he is gone too soon to you. But he is strong, and honest. He will be a great asset to you. Do not let him drift, I ask this of you. On my own blood"
The door slowly creaked open as Lothær finished his prayer. He looked to the side and saw one of the little boys.
"Ah, boy. I had thought you'd been in bed for a long time by now." Lothær said
"I needed to make sure I could protect mom if I needed to." the boy replied.
Lothær laughed, then smiled at the boy.
"You have the makings of a true warrior, protect those close to you young boy, you never know when they will truly need you," he said.
"I'm not a young boy, my name is Petruyn. And I'm ten."
Lothær laughed again and Reached his hand out for the boy.
"You will be a fierce leader one day then, Petruyn. I see a lot of my brother in you, keep your heart where it is, and I'm sure you will worthy opponent for anyone who will cross your path"
After a moment, Petruyn looked at Lothær's hand and looked back up smiling.
"Remember that if you ever think of hurting my mom, you'll have to deal with me!" Petruyn said making a fist and smiling at Lothær.
Then Petruyn closed the door and left. Lothær laughed to himself one last time before crawling back into the bed and closing his eyes.
The next morning came, and Lothær awoke to the sounds of shouting. He got dressed and grabbed his axe and went downstairs.
"Frey's men will have all of our heads if he finds out about this!"
"Father, he saved us!"
"It doesn't matter much if he saved you last night if he will only cause us to suffer later! I will not keep him here, end of discussion!"
Hearing this, Lothær walked down the stairs to see an older man and Reyda standing by the table.
"You must be this Lothær that my daughter is talking so defensively of," the old man said.
"And you must be Dalyn, I am sorry for any trouble I have caused. I can leave now to rid you of the stress of keeping me." Lothær replied.
Dalyn grumbled to himself and left the room, throwing his arms up in the air. Lothær looked to Reyda and apologized for being an issue and began to leave.
"Wait!" Reyda called out
"Stay for a moment, allow me to talk to my father for a moment," she said as she stepped in between the door and Lothær.
Lothær nodded his head and sat at the table ad Reyda ran outside to speak with her father. Several minutes passed as Lothær sat. he stood up and walked towards the door to leave. As he stood up, Dalyn and Reyda entered the room.
"Since you were kind enough to save my family, the least I could do is bring you into town, but I can't have you show your face near this farm or my family again. That is the deal." Dalyn said.
"I am thankful to you for being willing to do that," Lothær replied.
After a few moments of silence, Dalyn cleared his throat and said "well, we better get a move on before you cause me any more trouble." then turned and walked out the door with Reyda and Lothær following.
"Get in the back of the wagon so no one sees us bringing you in," Dalyn said to Lothær.
Lothær did as he was told, and got into the back of the wagon and sat on a large pile of straw.
"Hyah!" Dalyn called as he whipped the reigns of his horses.
The journey took about 2 hours, and no one talked during the ride. As they got closer to Ralstrog, the silver towers cast an intense, almost blinding light on the wagon. Lothær squinted and held his hand above his eyes as he looked at the large gate that they were entering.
"It's amazing." Lothær thought to himself.
The wagon took several turns until it reached a back alley of Raltrog where no one was.
"This is where we say our goodbyes," Dalyn said as he hopped off of the wagon and opened the canvass from the back. Lothær jumped out of the wagon and thanked both Dalyn and Reyda.
"No, thank you for what you have done for me in the short time we knew each other, Lothær. I know that our paths will cross again one day." Reyda replied to Lothær.
"And until that day, take care of yourself," she said before slightly bowing her head towards Lothær and climbed back onto the wagon. Dalyn then walked up to Lothær and brought a small pouch from the inside of his shirt, putting it inside of Lothær's hand. "There is an inn at the end of this alley to the left, this is enough to stay a few days. Thank you for saving my family," he said before he too, climbed on the wagon and drove away. Lothær looked in his hand and opened the pouch, finding 18 gold pieces. He looked up and smiled towards the wagon as it left. Then he walked to the inn.
As he entered the inn, everyone went quiet, seeing a non-elf inside of Ralstrog was very unorthodox. Lothær walked up to the innkeeper and asked how much for a room.
"Standard room is 2 pieces per night," the innkeeper said.
"That won't be necessary" a voice called out from behind Lothær.
He looked behind him to see a tall, pale-skinned high elf with long blonde hair, and piercing yellow-gold eyes wearing nice black robes with his hand raised walking towards him.
"This man is a friend, he will be staying with me," the man said.
"Y-Yes, Sir Aroyn" the innkeeper quickly said.
"Come, friend. I'll bring you to your room" Aroyn said to Lothær as he outstretched his hand leading towards the stairs in the corner of the inn.
Lothær and Aroyn walked up the stairs together and entered a large room, full of books from wall to wall and a large fireplace in the center of the room.
"Sorry for not introducing myself prior, my name is Aroyn. And I can see that you have been touched by a god as well. We are two of a kind, my friend" Aroyn said as he lit his pipe with a snap of his fingers.
"I'm sure you have questions, my friend. Here, take a seat" he said as he sat on one side of the fireplace.
Lothær hesitantly walked to the fireplace and sat down.
"What do you mean, touched by a god?" Lothær asked
"Are you not carrying one of the axes of the god Stälgrim? It's very easy to see a god's weapon once you have one of your own." Aroyn says as he raises his hand, showing an obsidian black, clawed gauntlet.
"I can only assume you were chosen as one of the two champions of this realm. Just as I was. We are to be the final defense this world has against the leaders of The Fallen" Aroyn continued.
"You know of The Fallen?" Lothær interrupted
"My clan had eradicated them, but they have somehow-"
"Come back?" Aroyn interrupted in return.
"Yes, that was what I had thought as well. We have much to talk about my friend."