Hello everyone! Here is a wonderful story by Jivalax entitled Greenfields. Awesome story!
Greenfields-By Jivalax You want to know where I’m going? Well, first, you gotta know where I’ve been. Many years ago when I was a young man, just after I had seen my first war, I was discharged and set free upon the world with coins in my purse, armor on my back and a sword at my hip. Like many young men who survive something dangerous I felt invincible. I decided to follow my feet to whatever adventure they might lead. Maybe it was my nana’s fault; she filled my head with stories of brave warriors, cunning wizards and fearsome beasts from the time I was in the cradle until I left for the war. “Be brave,” she said, “you never know where adventure will lead you.” So, with the exuberance of youth and a weapon in hand, off I went to find my fortune. That first year was hard. I went from town to town picking off random monsters and bandits as opportunity allowed. But, with a good steed and a building reputation, I was confident fame and fortune were all but in hand. It was during this time of naiveté that fate led me to the tiny thorp of Greenfields. No, don’t bother looking for it on any maps. You won’t find it. It’s naught but a handful of crude huts and an inn. I know, I know, you’re thinking, ‘why would such a small little place have an inn.’ I thought that too, but after you’ve spent a few days sleeping on the ground, you don’t spit at good fortune. So I rode up to the inn, a rather well kept place really, larger than you’d expect. Dismounted and tied my horse to the rail. It wasn’t until that moment that I really noticed the other horses tied there. Ratty old things. But, big boned. The more I looked, the more it seemed these creatures were old warhorses. You know, the kind that wore plate barding and carried knights into battle. Well, these things were a decade out of any kind of service and had been in their prime sometime before that. Not that it is terribly unusual to see old military mounts repurposed as plow horses and given to farmers, but these particular creatures looked to be almost as much scar as horse. Oh the battles they must have seen. Now, they were probably too old to even pull a plow. As I stepped onto the porch of the inn, one of the horses turned a dead eyed stare at me. I stumbled back a bit and reached for my sword. I would never have admitted it at the time, but if I’m being honest now, I will. That horse had probably seen more death than I had. The thing actually scared me a little. Imagine that, me being scared of a horse, and an old broken down one at that. But I got over it; it was just a horse after all, and stepped into the inn. Inside the place was clean and remarkably well stocked for a tavern in the middle of nowhere. The candles and fire cast a dim, flickering light on everything inside, but it wasn’t unpleasant, rather, it felt cozy. Warm and safe really. A quick survey of the place showed me a handful of grey-headed patrons all of whom gave me a disinterested glance and went back to their own business. The bartender, a large – but solid – balding man of increasing years, smiled and waved me over. “Beautiful place you have here. Really glad I found it.” I have found it is very helpful to be polite and it costs nothing. “Thank you. Bit of childhood dream to own a place like this. What can I get you stranger?” He favored me with a large smile that seemed genuine, but also included a hint that shenanigans would not be tolerated. “A drink to start with and some information. You see, I am a man of adventure,” yeah, I really was that silly back then, “Are there any problems you might need a sword swinger to solve? Bandits in the area perhaps? Monsters?” The barman seemed to warm considerably and smiled as if barely able to hold in a secret. “No, this is a calm little community. There is nothing here any monsters or bandits want. But have a mug on me, friend.” He slid a tankard of brew across the counter to me as he continued to eye me with a smile. But, as you know, everybody needs to make a living and I am not one to rely on the generosity of others. “Could I get some food as well?” I asked, sliding a few coins back in his direction. He gave me a hearty chuckle and soon produced a plate containing a big T-bone steak, baked potato with sour cream, and roasted asparagus on the side. Now mind you, at the time I had never seen such fine fare. Growing up on the farm we only ate beef when a cow died, and roasted veggies were for royalty. Even the army officers didn’t eat so well. I was sure the pitiful coins I had passed him wouldn’t cover the meal, but he refused to take another penny. I had barely finished blessing my food when I noticed a tug on my cloak. I turned to find this nice old woman mending a tear I had garnered some weeks earlier. She smiled up at me with a kindness that melted me. I missed my nana so, and this woman looked somehow familiar. “There you go young man. All better. I’m a tailor. I can mend things,” she crooned.
“Maggie, let the nice man eat his meal,” the bartender said. He looked at me and twitched his hand near his head indicating the woman was perhaps a bit daft. Maggie patted my shoulder and toddled off repeating, “I’m a tailor.” “She’s a kind woman,” I said. The barman smiled and nodded. “Don’t let your steak get cold.” Pay attention now, I’m going somewhere with this. As I looked over toward Maggie it struck me why she looked so familiar. Remember I said how Nana had told me those stories? Well in her story book there were pictures. Have you heard about Margaret of the North? AKA the Sorceress of the North, well Maggie looked like her great grandma. It really made me miss Nana. Just before I was done with my meal, the door flew open and this mountain of meat walked in. He was a young man, even younger than me, but twice my size. His arms were bigger than my legs and I’m sure stronger too. I was no wimp, but this guy was big. And big trouble I judged by how he swaggered to the bar and slammed his ham-sized hand down hard on the counter. “Barkeep, fetch me the best swill you have in this rat infested hole!” he bellowed. To his credit, the bartender didn’t seem at all impressed or intimidated. He simply reached for a tankard, filled it and passed it over. The big guy took a long pull then looked around the inn. “Any of you geezers got daughters or will I be taking your haggish wives to bed tonight?” Now, normally I don’t go for such language, especially around women. I considered inviting this brute outside to discuss proper manners with him. Two things stopped me. One, he was huge, as I’ve said. But, I’ve fought bigger. The second though made my gut knot and my blood turn cold. The patrons of that inn didn’t cower in fear or hustle off and hope there was no violence. In fact, they all just stared at the big man. Stared appraising, in the way a farmer looks at a sheep when he has decided his next meal will be mutton. The big man actually looked a little concerned for a minute. Finally an old man stood, with some effort, and threw off his cloak. He was wearing the most ridiculous outfit. It was one like the actors wear when they are telling the story of Kalvi the Destroyer. You know the one, the big muscle bound guy, raised as a slave, trained as a gladiator, became a king. Anyway, I figured this grandpa used to be some kind of actor. The armor didn’t even fit him. It was way too big for him, but even at his age he was tall enough that it seemed clear it used to fit. “You’d better be going now sonny. Nobody here wants to hurt you. Just walk away.” The big guy laughed uproariously. “You fogies need to be taught a lesson!” he yelled as he took a step. The old man in the costume closed the distance and poked the big guy right in the eye! As the man let out a yelp, the greyhair punched him in the throat. The big man hunched over gasping, both hands to his neck. I had no more comprehended what happened when this blast of freezing cold roared past me and crashed into the big guy turning him to solid ice and pitching him through the door the way a child would throw a small toy. Maggie brushed frost from her hair and the table in front of her. “I’m a tailor.” “Oh Maggie. Why’d you have to ruin another door?” the bartender asked. The old man in the – not so silly anymore – armor said, “Don’t worry. I can make you a new one. I’m a carpenter.” “Of course you are Kalvin, and I’m a bartender.” Then he looked at me. “And you, young man, are welcome back, when you’re ready.” I fled from that inn. I was terrified at the time. I thought I knew all there was to know, and seeing that I didn’t, scared me to death. But it didn’t stop me. You know I’ve made a fortune, lost it and made another. I’ve been everywhere and seen everything. I’ve killed enough men and monsters to run the river red from here to creation. I got nothing to prove to anybody. You can have the castle and the kingdom and knights and their horses. I’m done. Carry on with the petty wars, the politics, the drama, the intrigue and the lies – or not, I don’t care. I’ve got no belly for it anymore. You asked me where I was going. I’m going to Greenfields. I’m a farmer.