The following is best consumed after this, the prequel. Hopefully not having read that doesn’t take away from this story though. Enjoy
Sweat dripped from his furrowed brow as Mer strained under the tremendous weight of the fully loaded cart. “Almoooost…there!” he exclaimed as he lifted the carts wheel out of the mud pit. “Been awhile since I’ve had to do that, the locals know to steer clear of this, it’s not just a little puddle like it seems.”
"Many thanks sir, " The stranger replied “do you often get travelers around these parts?”
“You’d be the first in…I don’t know how many years.”
"Well then, " The stranger began with a thoughtful tug on his beard “perhaps I have come to the wrong place”
“You looking for something in particular?” Mer replied cautiously, suddenly wary of this man he’d never seen before.
“Not something, someone. I’m looking to venture out beyond the great mountains, to land yet unclaimed by any king or earthly ruler. I’m looking for a few strong men to start a city.” The stranger explained with a twinkle in his eye.
Mer was quietly thoughtful, as he recalled the dreams of his youth, the nights spent imagining building great cities.
“Ah, I see adventure in your eyes sir. And you’ve a strong back I’ve seen…perhaps you can be persuaded to join me in this? Ah! How rude! I haven’t even told you my name. Godric Greenskin, pleasure to have made your acquaintance.” He said as he extended a hand.
“Mer, Mer Burlyhands.” Mer said as he shook Godric’s hand.
“A fitting name, you’ve a strong grip Mer. Are you interested in coming with me on this…quest?”
“Years as a carpenter will do that to you.” Mer mumbled almost without meaning too, deep in thought. “You said you’re looking for a few men, do you already have anyone with you?” Mer inquired intently.
"A blacksmith by the name of Samson Moonstoke has accompanied me. As well as Illowyn Farstrider, a hunter.”
“And what is it you do?” Mer asked.
“I’m a shepherd. Not that a shepherd without a flock is much good. Although I suppose we’ll all be without the tools of our trade soon.” Godric answered.
“I’ve nothing left for me here, I’ll join your little band. How many more do you plan to recruit before we set out across the pass?”
“Just one, I believe five will be plenty for us to found a city. The others can all carry their own weight and then some, so I believe we’ll have what it takes to get the job done. Or survive at the very least.”
“I pray you’re right. Where do you plan to recruit the 5th?”
“We’ll be getting our 5th from the city Cannon, not far from here. Then, once we’ve got this 5th from Cannon, we’ll set off with enough food to cross the pass, and not much else. Few have crossed and lived to tell. But I imagine since we don’t need to come back, we can manage if we don’t bring much. We’ve booked rooms at the tavern…well not exactly rooms. Repurposed broom closets more like. In the morning I’ll introduce you all before we set out.”
Mer nodded once and began the walk back to his home, noting how quickly it had gotten dark. That night Mer hardly slept, but when he did, he dreamt a familiar dream…