Valen looked down at the documents spread across the the table, shadows danced across the drying ink as the candles flickered in the late night breeze. “Well if its going to change we all have to play our parts,” Valen murmured as he bent over and signed both copies of the Gravethorn Company contract. After returning the quill to the ink pot the tall youth place a figure on each contract and focused intently, a short moment later the image of a single small silver claw unfurled itself next to his name.
“Done and done, sealed by my magic. As long as I and my friends have the means to support you and your company, we will intrust this region’s care, protection and management to you Captain Isabeau Javair.” A small smile played across Valen’s face as he looked Javair and Gravefoot in the eye. “Later when we tell this story lets not mention how bad the room smelled.”
“The Staglord was not known for his…cleanliness,” Javair said apologetically as she lifted her copy of the contact and looked at the signatures.
“We have all been in worst places and in worst company,” Gravefoot said diplomatically.
“True enough,” Javair said looking up and smiling at Gravefoot, “but speaking of company, how will your companions react to the contract?”
“Kevlann will support it I think,” Valen said thoughtfully.
“I agree and so will Fell….eventually,” Gravefoot said, “he may complain about not killing all the bandits right from the start but he will come around.”
“Mercenaries,” Javair corrected.
“Not from Fells current view, I suspect” Gravefoot said with a shrug, “but he will come around once you and your company prove your worth.”
Javair let out a breath, “and what about the other? The mouthy one, the one with the singing voice?”
“Arumn?” Gravefoot said gruffly as he adjusted his scarf to cover his fearsome visage, “who knows, he may accept that we support it, but will not back it or he will change his mind.”
“Aye,” agreed Valen nodding, “he is the most mercurial and passionate man I have ever met.”
“That is for you two to deal with,” Javair said as she rolled-up her copy of the contract. “I must take my leave to inform my men, it will take time to organize them and set up a plan to round up our forces still in the wind.”
“Very well my Captain,” Gravefoot declared as he straightened snapping his heels together.
“Present company excluded, of course. Your role is to help them pacify the rest of these lands.” With a smile to Gravefoot and a nod to Valen the newly christened Captain of the Gravethorn Company turned to the door and exited the Staglord’s old quarters.
Gravefoot and Valen stood in the room after Javair had left. The old cleric ran his calloused finger slowly along the top line of the Contract feeling the rough paper and the dried ink. Thoughts of the past and this region’s future ran through his mind like a thundering herd of cattle until his reprieve was broken by his young friend’s question.
“You know her, do you think she can do it?”
“She thought the Staglord was the way forward for the Greenbelt. Do you still trust her judgment?”
“You signed the contract as well. Don’t you?”
“I trust your judgment of her’s,” Valen commented as he rolled their copy of the contract.
“In that case I would say that now she thinks you are the way forward for this region.”
“Ha, I think I find that more disturbing,” Valen said laughing.
Gravefoot gave the youth a lopsided shrug, “I am confident.”
“In that case I am hopeful.”
The two friends walked slowly out of the small, smelly room that was recently home to a bandit on the cusp of being a tyrant. Valen carried the rolled contract loosely in one hand while the other gestured to their companions sitting by the fire. “So who should tell our fellows about the contract with Javair?”
Gravefoot replied immediately, “I can of course, it was made at my urging after all.”
“No, the question was more rhetorical in nature. You have to prepare for cleaning out that group of undead we heard about west of here. I will do it.”
“Are you sure?”
Gravefoot nodded slowly, “all right. I do need to prepare…” Gravefoot raised his wide hand and set it on Valen’s shoulder, ”luck.” With that the old half-orc turned and walked away into the night. The sorcerer’s eyes followed Gravefoot’s retreating back until he vanished into the darkness then he slowly turned to the small fire with three figures reclined in its dancing light. Their forms were easy to make out, even in the faint light of the fire; Fell’s hunched form absently running a stick through the coals, Kevlann inspecting his sword for any flaw or nick, and Arumn playing a haunting tune on his flute.
As Valen approached the fire he could see Fell’s eyes fiercely glowing from the reflected light, his glower seemed to follow all movement in the fort, never resting on one point very long; the man had no need to hold a weapon to be threatening. Next to Fell sat Kevlann slowly running his whetstone along his sword, insuring its perfectection for the next time he has to draw it forth. Each carefully stroke seemed to draw nervus attention from the men in the fort; considering it was the weapon that struck down their Staglord perhaps they found the owner’s stoic care for his weapon more intimidating than Fell’s glare.
Finally, Arumn lounged, seemingly totally relaxed, on a carefully arranged pile of packs and blankets. Absently he fingered notes on his flute conjuring images of forests dressed in fall colors and the long shadows that the last rays of the setting sun invoke. As Valen approached the fire, Arumn’s wondering tune flawlessly transitioned into a marching tune matched perfectly in time to Valen’s strides.
“Well,” Valen said without preamble as he joined his companions at the fire, “Gravefoot and I have made a contract with Javair…..”