Day One: My name is Touchfire. I’m a wizard in the Army of King Taden of the House of Slinsil. Not by choice, but because all youth must join at the age of fourteen. This is my third year, the most crucial as I am learning warrior skills and can sometimes be sent out on “safe” excursions.
My friends and I were scouting the Rea Forest for game, following the River Siln, tracking a herd of deer when things went wrong. At first it was a pleasant ride under the shade of trees taller than any building I’d ever seen. At dusk we camped along the river even though we had intended to go much further. But fatigue drew us to the ground and so we stopped. After a meal of jerky that we had carried with us over many miles, we crawled into our bedrolls and fell asleep.
When my mouth was pried open and a foul-smelling rag stuffed inside I awoke, terrified. I fought as best I could, kicking and hitting, but my assailant was too strong. It was only when daylight brightened the sky that I realized what had happened.
Our scouting party had inadvertently crossed into the Kingdom of Mariea, ruled by the evil king Kraznir. Colwen, our scout, had somehow missed the boundary markings, a truly stupid error for it could cost us our lives. If we ever got out of this situation, he would no longer have that job, that’s for sure.
The problem was that we were outnumbered because Athor, Little John and Doughty, the best hunters in our party, were off searching for more food, even though we already caught and preserved over a dozen wild hare, a handful of marten, and two large deer. Our people back home were hungry, not having had much meat in the past month, and so the men strove to secure as much as our pack horses could carry.
Colwen and I was hauled deep into the dungeons of Castle Kraznir. If the others had been there, perhaps we would not have been overrun, not have been captured, for they were all skilled with bow and arrow.
My skills were questionable. As a wizard I could concoct a variety of spells useful for healing, warding off some evil, and enhancing skills like cooking, farseeing, listening and track reading, but nothing that would have protected us against a truly powerful wizard.
Despite my weak skills, the reason I was on this expedition was that I could read and write. Our king loved having stories written about his warriors’ adventures, and so it was my responsibilities to record everything that happened, and then embellish it with acts of daring do. I carried a journal tucked in my saddle bag and before dinner, would spend at least an hour writing.
Day Two: Colwen the scout was taken from his cell this morning to be brought before the king. While waiting for his audience, he spotted an interesting-looking chest nestled between two wine casks. The guards went off to retrieve some other poor soul, leaving Colwen alone. He took advantage of the time to scoot over to the chest. It was tied with strong hemp rope. Having no tools, Colwen used his teeth to saw through.
Inside were newish-looking papers. Since Colwen could not read, he deftly stuffed them up his sleeves, an amazing trick since his hands were tied together at the wrists.
While this was happening, news came that Athor, the dwarf, and Doughty, the warrior, were taken to the stables and put to work. While mucking out the stalls, they overheard stable boys bragging about having snuck into the maidens’ rooms by way of a tunnel that ran from the wine cellar to the stables. This would turn out to be an advantageous bit of information.
Little John, my favorite hobbit, captured with the others, was scrubbing chamber pots large and small, fetid and nearly empty. Considering that he hated water, this was the most despicable job he could have been given. But being a most clever fellow, he listened to the guards while he pretended to be giving each pot a good cleanse. He learned that all Kraznir’s guards slept inside the castle, none were stationed on the guardments high above. After an evening of dice and wine, the guards were rumored to collapse and sleep the sleep of the dead.
Thankfully I was spared odious duties, but like a pet dog, Prince Ovido walked me about the fortification on a leather leash. The little brat thought it was great fun when he commanded me to bark, growl, and crawl on all fours. He fed me gnarled bones and gave me water in a trough. I wanted to bite him on his rump, but Ovido was smart enough to not get too close.
At the end of the day, when we were returned to the dungeon, we all shared what we had learned. Colwen’s papers were maps, inventories of weapons and supplies, and directives to Kraznir’s troops. Kraznir intended to send well-armed troops into Slinsil.
This was shocking information. Slinsil was the richest kingdom. It sat high in the Rajata Mountains, whose mines burst with precious metals. There were also granite quarries that produced remarkable slabs. Invading Slinsil would not only give Kraznir wealth, but also access to a defensible position.
I’ve never cared much for the people of Slinsil, for they tended to be arrogant towards the various people brought into serve. My folk are farmers from nearby Thorne. I was sent to Slinsil to become a soldier, yes, but when a wizard discovered I could do a few tricks, he took me under his wing. Where I’m from, wizards are highly regarded, so it was with pride that I accepted his tutelage.
Even though I was a wizard apprentice, the Slinsilians treated me, a lowly Thornian, as if I were invisible. Or perhaps filth. Or maybe both. But however much I don’t care for them, Kraznir had no right to invade, for if he conquered Slinsil, the’d be in good position to take over all the rest of the kingdom.
Thus we decided that we’d escape as quickly as possible.