Hello! Benjamin from Brother’s Campfire here!
I made you a cup of hot chocolate, enjoy!
Now, I have a tale to tell. Set back and warm yourself by the Campfire.
“Guilty as charged,” Proclaimed the Alderman.
Ashton stood bound before the Alderman, the Bishop and the townsfolk in the town center.
Having been held for two days in the gate tower, he was dehydrated and in poor shape.
Egil Halvard, father of Yara, and a host of longboatmen were present, staring hatefully at Ashton.
The Alderman continued.
“Ashton, you are guilty of the murder of Hallr Agnar and his men by means of witchcraft. You transformed yourself into a demonic beast and ate them.”
Ashton, delirious from lack of sustenance, replied, “Yes Sir.”
Not helping his case, the kraa of a crow could be heard as it landed near Ashton looking for the morsels he provided them when there was food available.
It squacked, “your friend!, your friend!,” as it looked up at Ashton.
“Blasphemy!” spoke the Bishop. “A crow speaks the language of men!”
You are of evil and such sickness shall be driven from the land!”
One of the gentry cried, “Kill the vargr already!”
The crowd yelled in agreement and Ashton was secured face down on a block of wood.
There were few swords available to remove Ashton’s head off his shoulders as cleaning a sword properly is no easy task. It was decided that a longboatmen’s axe would work almost as well, but it may take a few tries.
As the details of the execution were discussed in the presence of the condemned, there was argument as to how the executioner would be compensated.
Ashton resigned himself to death and hoped it came quickly.
The selected longboatman had a mean streak and lifting Ashton’s head by the hair, he yelled, “wake up when I am killing you!”
This was not found in good taste by the townsfolk, but the longboatmen laughed heartily.
As the killing blow was to be delivered, Jeptha the Woodcutter shouted. ” It must have been me! I cannot remember. See, before the Shepherd’s Crook Man touched me I was a loathsome…..”
The Bishop raised his hand. “This is no time for proselytizing or stories, Jeptha. Proceed, executioner.”
Jeptha took his wife by the hand and left in sorrow. When he was gone, it was silent.
The Longboatman lifted his long handled axe and a sarcastic voice cried out, “This place is as dark as Silverfinch, let the scrawny boy alone and let’s talk.”
The simultaneous slide of sword and dagger could be heard as a tall, dark skinned man with dark leather clothing walked boldly into the crowd.
The town watch and landed men drew arms as well. This was a breach of official proceeding.
Like a lithe whip, the man walked up and stayed the axe with his dagger hand and the man stepped back. He was selected to execute Ashton, this was not a fight for him.
A heavy watchman approached with his weapon drawn, only to be grabbed by the wrist and thrown deftly to the ground.
“My time to talk is short here. We can speak with steel or otherwise. The final quest I seek is death. Do I find it here amidst a pile of filthy guards?
He pointed his dagger towards the fallen guard and glanced at the others dismissively.
“Fellow men,” he began,
“I have come on a journey from faraway Vijayapura, a land you may never heard of to meet a man’s father in search of a bride. Upon meeting the man and his wife, who is of my people, I was permitted to meet her, but she was nowhere to be found.”
With surprising quickness the heavy guard leapt off the ground in a low tackle towards the speaker only to have a dagger thrust in his ribs by the speaker. A vicious kick to the mouth knocked him down to the ground, screaming and holding his side and caved in teeth.
The other watchmen responded immediately, followed by the well armed, landed men of the gentry.
The whiplike man parried with ease, cutting ego more than flesh with his speed and efficiency of movement.
In all fairness, the lesser trained watchmen got in the way of the better trained and armed gentry.
The Alderman signaled the guards and gentry. “Let him speak.”
The men stepped back, but not much.
Gathering his composure, the man continued gesturing to the injured man before him.
“By all means, help your friend. I am not uncivilized.” He looked at the townsfolk as they pulled the man away. ” In a village this size, I trust you have someone skilled in the art of medicine.”
The townsfolk looked to the earth.
“Well, here is the story. The man was at a time Sarpanch, or rather the head of our village and I promised at once to locate her. It was not hard, I had only to step out and hear a call for help.”
Ashton, arms tied behind his back, was grateful for the temporary reprieve, but was seeing the error of his ways in running his mouth. This man was long winded and he was almighty uncomfortable kneeling like he was.
“So, being the man that I am , I ran to the rescue of a screaming maiden to find four brutish scoundrels cornering two young ladies.”
He pointed to the man he had stabbed.
“This was no time for small talk so I spoke with my blade like I did with toothless over there.”
“The last one standing failed to flee and I separated his head from his shoulders hanging it on a tree as a reminder to all that appropriate manners must be used, even in the forest.”
The silence after his words made the ears ring.
“So, upon escort of said ladies to their homes, I discovered that one of the men lived nearby. It would not have been right not to inform his kinfolk. Well, I walked on over there to find this man, Hallr, I believe, to have a whole sounder of hogs penned up. Would you believe that people eat them? Evil I tell you. Who eats meat?
I let those poor creatures go. It was only right.”