The ride north from Torcbayl was dreary and slow. Rain poured from the skies, your cloak helping little against the torrent. The palfrey was a poor replacement for your destrier which you lost in the Battle of Gaestfeld. Your thoughts dwell on the sacking of Torcbayl, and the death of King Hrodgar and Queen Wynda weighs heavy on your conscience. At least their heads weren’t placed on pikes. As you pass through the line of cyclopean monoliths called the Giant’s Teeth, a shiver runs through your body; a feeling you’ve never felt. You press on as the world grows darker as night falls. Eventually you make out the lights of the town of Lismorg. Spurred on by the desire to look upon friendly faces and to have good food again. You ride through the mud-stricken streets and up towards the castle of Gaer’Lismore. A pair of guards armed with spears approach you as you reach the gate.
“Ach! Who goes there!?” the taller one calls.
“Oh!? Come! I dinnae recognize you!” They lead you into the bailey and help you dismount. They take the palfrey into the stables and you head into the keep. You hang your sodden cloak on a peg and run your hands through your hair in an attempt to dry yourself before stepping into the hall.
The doors swing open and you are greeted by surprised faces, shortly replaced by smiles. Caelach leapt from his chair, stumbled, but caught himself and grabs you. You can smell ale on his breath.
“Luitbald! How’ve you been! Got any brave war stories to share!?” he cries.
“I’d prefer if we didn’t talk about the war,” you request.
“Of Course! Come sit! Eat! you must be weary!” Caelach leads you to the table, and gives you a the chair. Two young woman sit across from you, one you recognize as Breilyn; Caelach’s adopted elf-cousin. The other you don’t recognize. She’s quite beautiful and her raven hair is braided across her shoulder.
“Caelach? who is this maiden? I do not recognize her?”
“Oh, that’s Flora, Aonghas is helping her with her headaches and nightmares.”
“Pleasure to make your acquaintance,” you say. She nods but doesn’t say much. You realize that the druid Aonghas is not present.
“Where is Aonghas?” you ask.
“He’s helping…” begins Breilyn. She shoots a look to Caelach, who nods. “He’s helping Wynda, she’s been having pains.”
“Wynda? The Queen?! She’s alive?”
“Yes. Finian brought her here.”
“Earl Talamard is here? Where is Lachlan?” you ask. Silence falls over the hall.
“They’re dead… Both felled by an assassin’s blade,” mutters Caelach.
“What?” Dread falls over you. “Who sent them?”
“We don’t know… We think it was either King Cuthberht of Glanthia, or Queen Ealfith of Faichtalia,” explains Caelach.
“These surely are dark times…” you whisper.