Part 1 of the tale of Oerthan Generosity and Hospitality
“I must see for myself...” he thought; as two ravens circled above him.
The old man reaches for his cane as the last rays of daylight strike the mountain side ahead of him. Cane in hand he looks up at the mountains as daylight turns to starlight. A brisk wind blows into his beard as he begins to walk towards the mountains. Both ravens land on him one on each shoulder. He looks at them both for a moment and then nods his head…
“Yes indeed.. The seasons are changing my friends.” The old man mumbled as he fades into the dark wilderness ahead. The song of two wolves howling can be heard in the distance.
“Squire have you taken care of the horses yet?” Prince Gregor asks.
“Yes Your Highness!” Kollr Ulfsson replies; as he bows.
“The seasons are changing Squire. I’m glad to see you on top of things.” Gregor says as he pulls his coat closer.
“If you can Squire, add more hay to the stables tonight. I will see you for training in the morning.” Gregor says as he begins to walk off.
Kollr bows and says, “Of course Your Highness.”
Kollr walks towards the head of Hawkes Keep where the barn is. He loads two bales of hay onto the cart when he hears the guards at the gate announce a visitor.
“Who goes there?!” Alric Skegglauss exclaims; as an old man emerges from the darkness.
“Just an old man passing through.” The frail figure replies; clearly shivering from the cold breeze.
“Can we help you? Our Lord has charged us to help travellers in need.” Alric says; as he walks towards the old man.
“I don’t wish to impose yet I am very cold and hungry. I have a long trip ahead of me and it would be great to rest for the night.” The old man says as he pulls back his hood.
Kollr pushes open the front gate and walks through. In the torchlight he sees an old man with a long scraggly beard. His right eye is covered with an ornate leather patch. In his right hand is an old gnarly cane. The momentary silence is broken by the call of two ravens; who fly just above the torchlight.
“Do you need assistance Alric?” Kollr asks as he walks toward the stranger.
“Yes indeed Kollr! Can you see to this man's needs so I may continue my guard shift?” Alric asks, as he motions for Kollr.
“I’ll let His Highness know we will be having a guest this evening.” Kollr assures Alric.
The old man thanked them both as he followed Kollr through the gates into Hawkes Keep. The clouds part revealing the moon. Two ravens fly off toward the moon and varnish into the distance.
“Sir, I must finish my duties in the stable. It will only take me a few minutes. Would you mind helping me?” Kollr asks as they both walk toward the barn.
“Sure it’s the least I can do for the hospitality you are showing a complete stranger to your lands.” The old man replied with a smile on his face.
Kollr shows the old man the cart loaded up with two bales of hay and says, “If you like climb aboard the cart. I can pull it to the stables. From there we can disperse the hay between horses.”
The old man nods and climbs onto the cart. Kollr grabs onto both handles and pulls the cart to the stables. Both men make short work of the task. Once completed they both head towards the inner chamber of the Keep.
“Can I ask you your name before we talk to my Lord? Kollr asks as he glances over his shoulder looking at the old man.
“Of course. Some call me Hrafnagud.” he replies as they continue walking down the hallway.
“What happened to your eye?” Kollr blurts out before thinking.
Hrafnagud smiles at the young Squire and replies; “Wisdom comes at a price my son…”
As they both approach the inner chamber they are greeted by Sigurd; The Sinister Paw of the Prince.
“Do you have business? His Highness has retired for the evening.” Sigurd says, as he looks at the old man.
Kollr bows and says, “My Lord Paw this is Hrafnagud. He stumbled upon our Keep cold, and tired, after sunset. We promised him hospitality for the evening.”
“Of course… I will take it from here Kollr. Now get some rest. His Highness expects you on the training field at first light.” The Paw replies as he motions for Kollr to retire for the evening.
Kollr bows and then walks off pondering what the old man had told him about the cost of wisdom. Something seemed very familiar about Hrafnagud. He just couldn’t put his finger on it.
“Here let me show you where your room shall be this evening Hrafnagud.” The Paw says as they walk down the torch lit hallway. “Oh and this is the kitchen to your left. It is open all night. You are welcome to anything you would like. Your bed chambers are just past the Kitchen on the right.”
“Thank you Sigurd. Your Lord's generosity and hospitality knows no bounds. Are you sure no one is going to get into trouble for allowing me to stay for the evening? I do not wish to impose upon your people.” Hrafnagud says with concern in his voice.
“Not at all Hrafnagud, I assure you. We Oerthan’s are here to make a difference in each others lives and that is why we are so strong. His Highness expects nothing less from the people in these lands.” Sigurd replies with conviction in his voice.
“Very well. I think I shall eat and drink, then retire for the evening.” Hrafnagud replies with a smile on his face.
So what I have heard is true about these Northern people… Hrafnagud thinks to himself as he heads for the kitchen. I am a complete stranger to these people, yet they treat me like one of their own. Huginn and Muninn we’re right about Oerthans…
“The seasons are changing my love.” Gregor says to his wife; Bella Princess of Oertha. He kisses her forehead softly as he pulls the covers up on their bed.
“What do you mean love?” Bella replies with concern upon her face.
“I’m not sure it’s just a feeling I’ve had all day.” Gregor replies perplexed at the unknown feeling he has been having. “I’m sure it’s nothing. Let’s get some sleep. We have much to do in the morning.”
Gregor and Bella fall asleep. The darkness in their minds begins to take shape. They are both running side by side. Something is different though. From their perspective they are lower to the ground. The cold air slams them both in the face as the last rays of daylight strike the mountain ahead of them. Two ravens can be seen in the distance circling an unknown figure.
Gregor and Bella stop running, and look at each other. They both see a majestic wolf with blue eyes standing where their love should be. Shocked they both exclaim, but only a howl escapes their lips…
The cries of ravens can be heard as the figure vanishes into the darkness that is the Oerthan night…