In the Livery Stables of the Ducal Palace in the City of Koros in the Kingdom of Braxis

Early Morning, Twelday, the 4th of Dutinell in the Year 331, Spring – Light Breeze and Clear Skies

“Yes, Mrs. Bramblepatch,” Justin, squire to Sir Jamie, says as to the halfling woman who, though a commoner, is in charge of current operation. The woman had been working for Sir Jamie for longer than the two years that Justin has been his squire. To hear her tell it, she’s been working for Sir Jamie since before he was a squire. Her duties to the knight are, basically, the maintenance and stewardship of Sir Jamie’s traveling kit, the wagon and the animals, and the foremanship of any camp site.

Justin double checks the rigging on Wendel, one of the oxen that’ll be pulling the wagon, even though he’d attached everything properly not ten minutes ago. It’s part of his job as a squire to make sure his knight’s equipment is in proper working order. “There’s something wrong with the harness,” she says, not even looking at the animals. Sure enough, after about a minute of tracing the traces, Justin spots part of the hitch that’s not secured properly and works quickly to correct it. “Found it, Mrs. Bramblepatch!” Justin calls up from under the massive beast. Wendel takes the opportunity to shit all over the ground, splashing up on the squire’s right leg and both boots. “Yup, that’s it, Squire,” she comments while checking something else. “Excellently done young man. Feels much better.”

Erdo Bramblepatch shows up with a three men carrying sacks of supplies. “Pay the men, Squire. Five silver tiels,” the rotund little halfling orders Justin, who’s cleaning the ox-shit off his pant leg and boots. Justin fiddles in his purse for the coins, and Erdo continues, “Where’re we headed off to, Squire Justin? All we heard was ‘git the wagon ready for campaignin’ and such.”

“A quest, Erdo,” Justin says, beaming as he pays one of the porters. He starts to elaborate when Mrs Bramblepatch stops him. “You’ll not be spreadin’ gossip around the castle while I’m around.”

“But,” Erdo starts in, “but I was just askin’ the lad what he knows about…”

“I said quit yer gossipin’ and I mean it! Squire Justin, you get Dutch outa his stall right now, we’re close enough to leavin’ that he’ll not get too ancy-prancy.”

“Yes, Mrs. Bramblepatch,” Justin says.

“And Erdo Bramblepatch! You gossipy little doodlewharmer! Get all yer supplies ready for the road. We’re ready to leave as soon as the master arrives.”

“Yes, Mrs. Bramblepatch,” Erdo says, defeated.

After Justin secures Dutch, Sir Jamie’s warhorse, to his tie on the trailer next to Jenny and Curtis, the pack mules, he and Erdo get the supplies squared away in the back of the wagon.

As they do, more foot steps are heard approaching. “Hey in the wagon, how do things stand,” Sir Jamie calls out as he leads Inthernar who is leading two servants who are carrying his massive trunk. “Very well, Sir Jamie,” Mrs Bramblepatch answers. “The team is fully hitched, the mules are ready, the wagon’s mostly packed and everyone’s here now that you’re here.”

“Yes, we are certainly all here,” a cool voice says from inside the livery in the shadows of one of the stall doors. A young woman, barely more than a girl, steps out into the light of day looking harmless to any who might see her, looking deadly to any who know her. “Jamie,” she nods her head in greeting.

“Nyx,” Sir Jamie says coolly, “I didn’t expect you to be in this part of the city.”

“Not my usual hang out, but then it’s not often that someone who owes me would be leaving town. Are you running out on me?”

Justin’s had enough of this young woman’s insolence (her calm insolence at that), and threatens, “Sir Jamie, just say the word and I’ll teach this, this…”

Entrepreneur,” Sir Jamie says, “is the word you’re looking for, squire.” He smiles and adds, “I’m not running out on you, Nyx. Got kicked out of town by my father-in-law actually… family trouble. If you’re interested in protecting your investment, you’ll have to travel with us. Certain danger, low odds of success…”

“Stop teasing me,” Nyx answers. “I’ll not let you just saunter off. I’m in.”

A very tense moment hangs in the air.

“Everyone,” Sir Jamie announces, “This is Nyx. She’s… got skills, and she’s joined our expedition.”

“Also everyone, this is Inthernar, a scholar of sorts. He also has skills. I’ll explain more when we’re on the road.”

In a few moments, the wagon’s load is set. Inthernar sits on his traveling chest, Nyx lays out out comfortably on a big trunk with her back to the buckboard. As the wagon passes through town on the way out, Nyx catches sight of a tuft of red hair on a rooftop. She swears under her breath because she knows that her brother’s noticed her leaving town… and in whose company.

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