Yendor walked in the rain, keeping to the road unless there were signs of soldiers. There hadn’t been any sign of them for days. The rain came relentless. Pouring, drizzling,sometimes pelting, and now sleet. It dripped down from the leaves of the poplars, found the crevices and folds of his cloak and sluiced it’s way into his jerkin. It nestled into his shirt and spread across his body until his bones shivered. This far out it could snow anytime of year.
Yendor kept to the road despite wanting to be out of sight. When he was a child, traveling with Waters and the troupe, he had taken a shortcut on the way back from town to their camp in the countryside. He had accidentally wandered onto a farmer’s land, and the farmer, tending to his fields, had taken Yendor for a poachers. He had chased Yendor with a club, and Yendor ran with escape as his only thought. The farmer chased him for hours into the woods, and only gave up when it got dark.
The farmer was as lost as Yendor and had to set up a camp in the woods. Yendor stayed close to the farmer because as much as he feared the man, he feared the woods even more. The boy stayed out of sight as the farmer built a fire. The young boy must have fallen asleep, because hen was awoken by the sounds of bandits crashing into the camp. It had beenfoolish of the man to build a fire in an unknown territory, and it had attracted these bandits like moths. The poor farmer had been out in the field when he had given chase to Yendor and had nothing for the three burly men. They weren’t too happy about that and were about to asail the man with their knives when Yendor came running into the camp. “Father!”, he said, “I’ve found the sheriff and he’s right behind me!”
The bandits wasted no time high tailing it out of there. The farmer, Yendor came to know him as Mr. Trekle, was grateful to see the boy, who explained he was no poacher, but merely a lost traveler who meant no harm. Next day, when they found their way out of the woods, and back to Trekle farm, the farmer made sure Yendor had a full meal and some to take home to Waters, who assumed Yendor had gotten himself into mischief, but reckoned that’s what boys do.
Yendor kept to the road. By and by the rain abated. He was heading into the Wastelands looking for the rebel army. Danse’s brother had joined a few years back, she said. She didn’t know if he was even still alive, because the rebels had no communication with the outside world. Incarnate’s army was merciless with any disloyalty, real or perceived. There were always rumors of rebels but no one knew if they were true or not. How Danse’s brother had found them was a mystery.
As Yendor fed himself mostly by going town to town as a traveling musician, playing in inns for his supper and maybe a bed, he spent some time in the kitchens, being ignored by the regular help, who sometimes whispered about provisions being sent out in quantity off North, towards the Wastelands. Incarnate probably had spies looking for them. Probably these spies knew finding out how the rebels fed and clothed themselves would lead to the rebels, but so far, Incarnate didn’t have enough spies in the right places to find out where the rebels were.
Yendor didn’t know what to expect if he did find them. Would he join them? Was Danse’s brother with them? Was he alive? Yendor didn’t even know his name. The Wastelands was an interesting position, tactically. Depending on how deep into the Wastelands they were, there were no towns nearby. There was no way to grow your own food, and hunting was terrible. Yendor had only been to one town on the outskirts of the vast, frozen landscape, which stretched for miles on the eastern and northern most islands of the archipelago, but the island of Dukai Skal Seemed the most likely to Yendor. There were a few harbor towns where fisherman lived and traded with the rest of Fawn, but it was large and desolate. The name Dukai Skal meant “Dragon Bones” in the old tongue.
Yendor pitched his threadbare tent as dusk came on. He got his lantern lit before full dark had set in, but his flint was about done. He would have to keep an eye out for flint in the wild, but he had been looking and he wasnt’ sure if this island had any. Probably the trading post at the port would have some imported for a price. You had to have fire, and Yendor hadn’t solved how to do that with magic, though the ghosts know he’d tried. He’d seen the weather coming on early and gathered up some dry wood that he wrapped up before it started to rain, but he knew he’d be lucky if it was enough to boil a kettle, let alone cook anything. Not that there was much. He had some dried oats, pair that with some jerky and that would have to due for tonight. Maybe he’d try his luck fishing in the morning. Yendor didn’t expect there to be much wildlife this far north. They didn’t call these isles the Wastelands for nothing.
He got out his oud while he waited for the water to boil. Much farther north and he’d be able to boil the snow right off the ground. He had some time tuning the instrument in the cold, but he was a pro and soon enough he was making himself homesick with some of his favorites from before his life had changed. He didn’t allow himself a lot of retrospection because he figured that way lie madness, but it kind of snuck up on him tonight. Yendor had been on his way to a lively career beside his lifelong mentor doing something he really enjoyed that was truly a gift for him to be able to do. Now when he played for his supper, he felt he was really in disguise, a spy pretending to be a bard or minstrel. With the troupe there’d been company, a family, the only family he had ever known.
He’d thrown that all away for the first pretty girl that had paid him any attention.
The two of them had spent months practicing, training, getting to know each other. Now she was in a prisoner camp somewhere and he… well he had destroyed the only wizard’s coven still extant, and carried himself into the most barren place in all Fawn on a wild goose chase.
Yendor felt he was being watched. He reached out with his senses and there was no one there. Just his paranoia. Yendor ate his oatmeal and got out the scraps from the library just to get his mind out of the dark corners it had led him to.