September 12 720 by Kingdom Reckoning
A gust of wind picked up the edges of a frayed cloak as a lone figure topped the final hill before his destination. He looked out over the rolling hills of rural Ashmont and sighed. It had been a long time since he'd been home. So much had changed since he'd left and yet the landscape still looked the same. He singled out an old stone cottage among the smattering of small homes on the hillside and began to trudge toward it, pulling his collar close against the cold autumn breeze. He could see a faint glow in the windows. A thin plume of smoke rolled out the brick chimney before it was caught up and scattered by the wind.
Young Brendan Wolfsbane regarded his Granddad's home quietly, remembering days spent on the porch listening to his stories of adventure; the time he chased down and killed a group of bandits by his lonesome, the time he was captured and tortured by goblins or when he slew a great she-wolf and earned his surname. Brendan and his brothers had dreamed of finding adventure like Granddad. However those were not the tales Brendan sought now. He wanted to hear a different kind of story. One not told on a happy summer afternoon, but now, in the dead of night, when everything in nature was asleep and the wind blew from the north.
He knocked once on the door and then opened and stepped through out of habit. In the great front room, where once so many brothers and sisters and cousins and nephews had crowded, sat his Grandfather alone in a high backed chair, staring into the fire. He looked well, 5 years older than last time Brendan had seen him, but still sure and strong. His father had told him that Granddad's hair was once as red as the sunset after a storm but he had only ever known it to be white. Brendan could see a puff of white hair sticking up over the back of the chair and he laughed to himself. Granddad always wore an old knitted cap outdoors in the winter and taking it off had made his wispy hair fly every which way.
He coughed and his granddad looked up.
"Well, well look who it is! Me favorite grandson Brendan. How are ye boy?"
"I'm well Granddad, as well as I can be after hearing about ma and pa."
The old man spat into the fire and cursed, "I thought the new king had taken care of the bandit problem down those parts! If I had know about it I'd have drawn blade and taken care of it myself!" He gestured to an old hand axe hanging above the fireplace.
Brendan chuckled and fought back an eye-roll, "I'm not here for revenge Granddad, sisters are at aunt Nancy's house and the boys are old enough to hire out on their own. I'm here to ask you a question. I want to know what happened in the tomb outside of Bremel."
"Oh lad..." he sighed as he got up out of his chair and went to the fire. Grabbing a fire poker he pulled a kettle off and began the preparations for tea. "Lad that's best left buried in the past." He idly poked at the coals and sparks flew up the chimney.
"Granddad, I already know most of the story, my guild keeps good records. I just want to get a version from someone who was there and you're the only one I know." Brendan began counting on his fingers, "the Beast went to his den in the east a long time ago. The Tracker walks the long roads to the south. The Dwarf won't speak of it. The Red is lost at sea and the Shade...well you know what happened to the Shade."
The old man grunted and shook his head. He stood staring into the flames with his back to the great room. Brendan could imagine him in his prime, killing goblins and bandits and dire beasts. "Granddad, these stories need to be told. The old days are passing and with the ogres returned, the Bear Clan reborn and the Blinkers we need all the weapons and all the knowledge we can get!"
"Boy, ye don't know what yer talking about. There's nothing but death and fear and sadness in those tombs. Even if you could find where the entrance popped up this time, you'll only regret it."
"But still...I need to know." Brendan dropped his hands to his side and slumped down into an over-stuffed chair.
His grandfather looked at him and grinned, "oh fine, just like when ye were a boy: always want one more story before bed time. Alright, well pour me a cuppa and I'll tell ye the whole tale." He sat back down into his chair and pulled a bear skin over his legs and began his story...