'lar woke in an unfamiliar room, it was quite dark but she could hear birds outside, she squinted as she cast her eyes over to the sunlight creeping through a boarded up window. She sat up on the bed and looked around as her eyes began to adjust, the room smelt faintly of mould, she could see other beds, all vacant in this reasonably sized room, where was she?
he instinctively picked up the hat next to the bed and went to put it on, 'I guess this is my hat…' she thought. Was an interesting hat, a top hat made from leather with a pair of rather odd looking goggles attached. As F’lar stood up she took stock of her clothes, plain cloth, not high quality but could be worse, at least there were no holes. F’lar felt unsteady on her legs, weak and disorientated, she could recall her name was F'lar Minuai and seemed to have vague recollections of a sister, possibly named Pea and a friend whose name she couldn't remember, like much of everything else, F’lar had no recollection of anything in her life before waking up just moments ago.
here was a backpack also sat next to the bed, she picked it up and had a look through, a book with nothing written on the pages, a knife, some lint, not a lot to help her work out what was going on. With bag in hand she moved across the room to a doorway which led to another room beyond it, her feet creaked across the old wooden floorboards and the ceilings were low, definitely a roof space, as she made her way to the back room F’lar found a staircase leading down, she could hear voices, crackling from a fire and clanking of mugs and tankards.
s she got to the bottom of the stairs a rather large burly man called over, 'Sleep Okay?'
F'lar made her way over to him, 'Welcome, I'm Flynn Gilson to the Braemar Inn and Tavern. Best ale in all of Vale!'.
'Ale' she muttered in confusion.
'Well, we have fireweed ale that Abela says is a bit on the strong side, spidersilk stout which of course doesn't have any spiders in it and crabapple cider which is old Karl's favourite brew.' Flynn smiled and pointed to a rather lanky looking drunk fellow by the fire. 'I brew it all here locally, mainly because we haven't gotten any real ale from Kingsport in weeks now, maybe if you get up to Kingsport you can ask the innkeeper there why we haven't gotten any ale shipments? I know there have been wolves and the occasional undead along the road but this is ALE we're talking about.'
t that moment F'lar heard a large, well-dressed man at the bar call to the barmaid, 'Abela, another cider please. This one seems to be empty.' F'lar looked over at the man and Abela.
'That's Albert Halverson' said Flynn, 'Poor ole Albert is stuck here with the rest of us. He doesn't say much. Just comes in, drinks his ale, and pines for whatever, or whoever, he left back in Owl's Head.'
'How long have you known the barmaid?' F'lar enquired..
'Who Abela? Well she is a sweet girl. Lonely, I think. Lost her whole family to those things. It ain't right. Someone needs to do something or we're all gonna end up just like they did.'
F'lar's mind began to spin, was she a victum of whatever Flynn was talking about? Had she lost her family to the ‘undead’? Was she attacked by them and lucky to be alive now? F’lar needed fresh air, she began to ambulate away from Flynn and towards the open door of the tavern.
ust before she made it out Abela approached her, 'Did you sleep well? Are you feeling better? You have been up there for days just sleeping, Flynn found you in the forest a few days ago! I don't know how you survived alone and unarmed, what were you doing out there?'
F'lar explained that she couldn't remember anything. Abela's look of concern was unmistakable, 'Maybe you should stay a little longer, have some food and a drink perhaps, you haven't consumed anything in days, and you’re weak.'
'Tell me about Flynn?' F'lar asked.
'Flynn has been good to me since my family passed. Gave me a job and a room in the loft to call my own. He's been like a second father to me.'
F’lar held Abela’s kind smile for a moment, 'I will be back later' F'lar confirmed and left the tavern.
he sun felt warm on her face, she closed her eyes and just felt the goodness soak into her skin, for a moment she felt so calm, more normal, more like herself…she opened her eyes as she wondered if she did feel normal, more like herself or if she had forgotten that feeling as well. Suddenly she was interrupted by a perfect stranger, 'Hello, my name is Elijah Brightblade. I like to help out new visitors to this area, never seen you before so I know you are new, just saw you come out the tavern, did you find the basement? If not, you should pop down there as I happen to know the innkeeper has a sword and iron chest armour on the very bottom floor, might be worth grabbing those before you head out.'
lightly bemused but appreciative of the helpful nature F'lar was certain she didn't want to go stealing anything from Flynn. She began to look up and down the street, if it could be called that. There were some houses along a dusty track but otherwise it seemed like the tavern was the only attraction in this place, a few people shuffled about the dust. ‘Maybe a walk in the warm sun, some fresh air and possibly a chat with some locals followed by a good meal and an early night is all I need to feel as right as rain again’ she thought. That is exactly what she went on a did, however as dusk began to draw in she didn't feel relaxed or calm, the stories and news she had heard about this small sleepy place called Braemar was unpleasant, many of them had mentioned she should talk with Halmar the only guard in Braemar.
almar was roaming along the dusty road, back and forth. She greeted him and he instantly made a request that if she caught sight of any undead nearby that she should report to him. The 'undead' had been mentioned by everybody she had spoken to in Braemar that day, Halmar told her of undead legions that were raised by the Obsidian Order during the war, F'lar listened but she wasn't sure who the Obsidian Order were or what war he was referring. 'If you feel up for helping out you should journey north to the city of Owl's Head, where Lord Enmar leads the defence of the vale.'
'Halmar what are those?'
F'lar pointed to a metal looking spider walking around making an awful racket. 'That is a Watcher, the Watchers are mechanical devices of the Oracle, though most call them 'Clankers'. They act under the Oracle's direction and report, I assume, to the Oracle directly.' he replied.
'The Oracle?' F'lar enquired.
'Yes, the Oracle is the closest Novia has to a commander, yet she does not lead overtly. The Hidden Vale has been known to the people of Novia for some time now, though they have resisted accepting the Oracle's dominion.' Becoming increasingly uncomfortable with the conversation F'lar wished him farewell.
'lar headed back to the tavern, Flynn welcomed her back and gave her a bowl of mutton, it did not taste good, but at least it was strength building grub. With her belly full she sat in front of the fire with a mug of ale and thought about the things the locals had been telling her.
From what she could work out there had been some sort of an attack from monster the residents refer to as the undead. It seemed these undead had killed and/or taken residents of the town, caused destruction and left chaos in their wake. A farmer named Seamus said no man should have to live with what he had seen, although F'lar was sure for a moment he was about to say 'done' instead of 'seen'. A man named Bodan said he hadn't been out hunting since the night they went looking for Seamus' family and the others that were taken. Undead had been seen moving north towards the city, even the animals he used to hunt were smart enough to have cleared out, 'Wonder what that says about us?' he had pondered.
Then she knew the next thing Bodan said she would never forget, 'Seamus was a good man, or at least I thought he was. Until he turned his back on his family to escape his fate. Some say it was just a moment of weakness, but I say no man worth his salt should abandon his family like that when they're in danger. I understand the urge to survive is a strong one, but so is the need to protect your own kin.'
ne man F'lar spoke to had gone AWOL from his group of smugglers, Red Sash he called them, seemed to be some kind of smuggling ring operating out of Kingsport, or that's how she understood it and this Jarred character seemed to think it was only a matter of time before they were all dead. A lady named Bridget Helvig showed concern for her husband, Veimor, she spoke very highly of him but was concerned about his safety, before he had left for the forests by Owl's Head he had fully stocked the pantry for her with rabbit and wild boar. Stories of farms destroyed, loves ones lost, enemies closing in all around, everywhere she looked people had a face of doom and stories to match.
bela come and sat next to her, 'Any clues as to who you may be or where you came from?'
F'lar shock her head as she watched the flames crackle about the logs on the fire, ‘But I am thinking I may head to Owl's Head, see about maybe helping towards the defence of Vale...via Kingsport maybe and see what is happening to all the ale. I feel it is the least I can do as Flynn and yourself have been so kind and I have no other plans.'
Abela got a familiar shine in her eye that had become so common place throughout the day as so many people seemed to be making requests of F’lar to travel to one place or another through the danger, 'What do you want me to do?' F'lar asked.
'Well, if you're not too busy, can you check on my friend Kelly?'
F'lar took a swig of her rather unpleasant spidersilk stout which she is certain does in fact have spiders in it. 'Kelly?', she asked.
'Well, I had heard since she left Braemar she had been seen in the company of bandits! I hope that's not true...You may want to ask Bodan about it.'
F'lar looked at Abela 'Bandits? Are they the same as the Red Sash?'
Abela's eyes didn't flicker, 'What do you have that is red?'
This took F'lar a little by surprise, 'What?’ F'lar asked.
Abela instantly got up 'I really must be getting back to work.' and left F'lar sitting in front ont he fire.
little confused F'lar headed upstairs and sat on the bed she had woken from that morning, she took the empty book from out of her backpack and wrote all the things she wanted to remember, all the tasks she wanted to do for people, places to visit, things to check on as it seemed the tasks were mounting up. She may not remember who she was or where she came from but she certainly wasn't short of things to do until she found out and who knows, maybe she might find the answer while out travelling.
'lar placed her journal back in her backpack and blew out the candle, as she lay there in the dark listening to the chickens outside settle for the night she thought about what she wanted to do before leaving Braemar, firstly, tell Flynn she will go to Kingsport and find out about the ale and see if he will part with the sword and armour rumoured to be in the basement. Secondly, talk with Bodan again about Kelly and thirdly, chat with Halmar one last time, see if there is anything else she may be able to help with while on her journey north.
er eyes heavy she slowly drifted off to sleep.
More to come...The progression of this story will also be on my website Travels of the Avatar.