The Melford Four
The musings of an ex-guardsman
They say it’s easy to forget where you came from as the years pass by. Not for me. I remember how this all started out more clearly than anyone of us. Having lost everything I ever knew to the actions of a man too proud to admit defeat, I turned to the bottle for solace, whittling away my last few coppers in the hope I could score some mercenary work to tide me over to the next drink, and the day that thrice-damned guard-captain Dago decided my fate. If someone would have told me back then that being in the Inn that night would lead to me discovering I was heir to the Dahl bloodline, becoming a king and founding a new country I probably would have punched them in the face and told them to piss off and leave me alone. Funny how things turn out. Still, I remember that night like it was yesterday…..
A dull thud sounded as the tankard hit the wooden surface of the bar, swiftly followed by the grunt of “Another one”. There I sat, another lonely night spending my coin on beer to drown my sorrows in, hoping that maybe this time someone would post some work on the board, that if I got enough money together, I might be able to hitch a ride on a caravan out of that damned town, if there were any left. But of course all the caravans had buggered off a fortnight or so before everything went to goblin shit. Convenient eh? That was the first time I met Drenches, as I sat at the bar thinking about what had happened the past few days, and just about to order another drink. Back then he was just a random guy who pulled up a seat next to me and introduced himself. He was dressed in fancy robes, probably from the bloody upper class, but nonetheless I offered him a drink out of courtesy… Even if I was down to my last few coppers. To my surprise this guy actually turned to the barkeep and paid for both our drinks when he brought them over to us! Turned out he wasn’t completely up his own arse like most of the folks round here. Nice change. Anyway we got talking; found out that he was looking to get away as soon as possible like myself, preferably on the morrow, but of course had the same problem, no bloody caravans. That was when an odd looking gnome wandered into the tavern, pulled out a little wooden stool, climbed up and nailed an ad to the notice board. I couldn’t believe my eyes at the time, strangest sight I’d ever seen! Naturally half the Inn jumped up and ran over to the board to get first shot at the job. Times were hard in Blackwall back then. I got up and moved over to check it myself after downing my drink, and as the tallest in the room by a good half-a-foot, and the most muscular by a long way, it wasn’t hard to get to the front. Hells, even Drenches wanted to check so I cleared a path for the two of us. Turned out there was a caravan that hadn’t left this cursed town yet and furthermore, it needed guards for its journey to a town called ‘Melford’ somewhere across to the East. If that wasn’t a blessing from the five I don’t know what is! If they didn’t hire me then they’d be fools! I was the best swordsman in town dammit! Turned out my drinking buddy Drenches was also interested, though at the time I hadn’t the foggiest why he’d be any use as a guard. How wrong was I! Still, we decided to head over together at the crack of dawn to this ‘Alton’ to try and beat the rush, both of us hoping to get the hell out of this place for good.