Captain Darris examined the tall, lean figure in front of him. An elf. A High Elf, to be precise, but an elf was an elf as far as Darris was concerned.
“What’s an elf doing in the Southlands?” asked Darris, over the din of screaming children. The impatient headsman motioned for the next prisoner in line to be brought forwards while the captain talked to the elf.
“Being executed.” replied the elf, looking down his nose at the captain.
“You know what I mean.”
“Answer me and I may spare you from that.” Darris gestured to the headsman’s blood-caked axe arcing into a weeping woman’s neck. The children screamed louder.
“You wouldn’t let him kill me…” whimpered the elf, looking worried.
“I’ll do it myself if you don’t answer the damned question.” The elf remained silent, and Darris pushed him back in the line. The captain commanded a soldier to manage the executions, and called Girram over to him.
“Please, be quick. Prayers must be spoken for the innocents you have murdered.”
“Dammit, they’re saying enough prayers for Eres to hear. Your voice won’t make a difference. And those children are giving me a headache.” Darris motioned for Eres to follow him into the keep.
The keep was little more than a glorified tower, but had room enough for comfortable chambers belonging to the Lord of Eastridge, (these were currently empty, as Darris was in the position of Marshal Defender until a new Lord was appointed) rooms for any resident priests, a storeroom, several rooms for high-ranking military officers, and a stable off to one side. Captain Darris led Girram up to his rooms, and closed the door.
“Captain, why must we come to your chambers to speak? Surely the courtyard is-“
“The courtyard is not private. This matter is private.” Darris sat in a deteriorating oaken chair, which groaned under his weight.
“I need your help, Girram. Hrogar may not have a head, but he still has loyalists who wish to decorate their homes with my guts. Damn it, I need someone I can trust in these gods-forsaken hills.”
“Then send for a Ranger from the capital, Captain.”
“Rangers are fighters, not thinkers.”
“They have tactical minds, Captain.”
“Bloody hell, Girram! I need someone who can read and write, someone who can tell me what’s happening when I’m not around. I need someone who peopletrust. Soldiers don’t trust Rangers. Soldiers trustyou.”
“I won’t hear of it. Now go pray for the traitors. I need some rest.”