Timberfell, Ralkhara, Late Autumn, 10:20pm
The Autumn moon hung lazily in the night sky, a translucent ring of frost which circled it a sure sign that winter was indeed close. Sounds of drunken revelry arose from the wood-walled village of Timberfell, audible from even the outskirts of the small, woodcutters' town. King Valance Avaryn, Ruler over the East and the Goodly King of Ralkhara by divine right, has proclaimed that there be a week of celebration to mark the coming of age of his first-born Son, Rowen - who will have seen Sixteen years of life, six days from today.
Along the beaten path from the west, a lone traveler emerged from the obscurity of the Wiltwood and came into view of the town.
Uthrepur swore quietly as he bent to loose a stone from his sandal. The traditional Sen-Rab footwear was great for the swamp to ward off foot-rot and get through the muddy landscape, but all this hard land was beginning to wear his feet out! The handsome man sighed - he may have to find some sturdy boots if all the roads in Ralkhara were like this, but boots which suited the rest of his attire were so hard to find!
Just ahead, Timberfell stood; the raucous inside clearly audible to Uthrepur. Its relatively low wooden walls were clearly designed to ward away wildlife, rather than keep people out. Nevertheless, two guards stood at the opened gate, one youngster with a rough wooden bow in his hand, and the other grizzled and aged, with a woodcutter's axe fastened to his back.
Somewhere, back within Wiltwood, a wolf howled. Lured by the thought of a warm bed and fresh food, the Sen-Rab man walked forth.
"Jethra; can't we just shut the gates an' go to Pigsplit?" the young man asked, pacing lightly, "It's freezing out here!"
"You should'a thought of that before ya decided Mira's purse was too heavy, Tommas!" Jethra replied harshly. "Besides, there'll be plenty of late travelers this week... Ah, see? Someone comes even now!"
As Uthrepur neared the gate, young Tommas's eyes shot open and he raised his bow, reaching to his back to draw an arrow, "By all the...! He's Rabbin!"
"BY THE ONE-GOD, BOY! Drop your d**n bow!
" The aged Jethra forcibly pushed Tommas's hand down, snarling, "The war ended before you was even born, boy! What is wrong with you!"
The chastised Tommas lowered his head and took a step back, but still kept an eye on Uthrepur, and kept his bow ready in hand.
"Sorry about the boy. Enthusiasm of youth an' all that. So what brings you this way, traveler? We don't see a whole lot of folk from Sen-Rab these days, what with tensions growing again an' all. On your way to Runlock to see the prince's name-day, mayhap?"
Jethra's tone was pleasant and he showed no sign of hostility; either he had no ill-will, or he hid his reservations well.