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by Jonn
Rated: 13+ · Chapter · Action/Adventure · #2091560
I think I like Cairntarry, Now if I could just remember where it is.
For your consideration, a messy fragment from a musty, unfinished project. I've got lots and lots of words; a drunken band of unremarkable, unruly characters vying for the lead and an uncooperative plot. Grammar and Punctuation were last seen rolling on the floor naked in the kitchen. Posted here for your amusement and thoughts.
Writing a draft, I throw everything into the Puttanesca Sauce, and let it simmer. I'm pretty good at picking out the unpalatable bits but always appreciate some help. Please let me know if you find something worth keeping. And thanks for slogging thru the swamp with me.


Cairntarry is by most people's reckoning out in the middle of nowhere; which is indeed true. A trip to the civilized world entails a sea voyage south, sailing contrary to the current, for four to six weeks before finally arriving at Highlander's Bay. Going overland is impossible due to the barren nature of the landscape. Away off in the far distance there are mountains and bogs encircling the village, which make the way on foot in any direction simply impassable; nearly everyone was agreed on that.

However, this was not entirely accurate, there was an over-land route winding South-West to the city of Anari-Anar, a narrow and very secret way known to only a few. One of those who did know of its existence was Nestor, an iron worker by trade and the Mayor of the Village as appointed by the Highland King. He lacked any education except for his trade-craft but was a wise man and fair. He generally avoided interfering with people's affairs as much as possible and so was highly regarded.

It helped Nestor's reputation that he worked at smelting ore into iron and then wrought the iron into steel. This was considered somewhat magical by most-- but in a good way. Little did the fishermen and miners of Cairntarry know that they produced the finest steel tools, weapons, and armor that could be found anywhere, not just in all of West Andor but in all the world.

One day, Nestor was wearing his heavy goggles and leather vest and pouring liquid metal into a mold when he heard a great uproar of voices outside his door. This was not a good moment for an uproar to occur and Nestor was not pleased. How-so-ever, he put down his tools and ran to see what was the matter.

Standing on his front porch he immediately saw the problem. Before him, three young men were roped together with their hands tied. Inexplicably, none of them had blue eyes and even more 'un-normal,' one of them had black skin...and that was quite disturbing. The black one was not burnt, nor did he appear sick or injured. In fact, he appeared in good health and was a rather handsome young man in an odd sort of way.

Nestor was speechless, he had never heard of black people or black elves, nor black dwarves... not that he had ever seen a dwarf. For a moment, he entertained the thought that this could be a case of too much exposure to the sun and elements. Then, after a moment Nestor realized how ridiculous a theory this was. The man was wearing his natural skin, there was no doubt about it. But then there were the eyes, they all had brown eyes.

Still, Nestor needed to think fast and say something. The wisdom of the mob was that this black man was a demon and that he and his two followers needed to be burned alive immediately. Nestor did not believe in executions in general and especially those done in a hurry. But his citizens were badly frightened; nothing unusual ever happened here-a-bouts and his neighbors and friends weren't used to dealing with such foreign occurrences.

"Friends," Nestor yelled in his loudest booming voice, "Before we start burning people or anything else, let me hear the tale of how these 'MEN' came to be at my front door."

This produced a moment of silence quickly followed by a new uproar of various stories and some facts. Nestor soon pieced together enough information to realize these men were simply shipwrecked sailors and the black man was no demon; rather, he must be very far from home. "They all must (by necessity) be far from home, what with brown eyes and all," thought Nestor.

"My friends," cried Nestor. "This black man here is no demon, he comes from a whole nation of Black folks down in the far south. Now. There is nothing to be afraid of so go back to your work!"

"What about those eyes? You haven't explained that!" yelled Gillis.

"Gillis, it's the nature o' foreigners to have a different look about them. The elves are a bit odd to look at, but they are our friends. Are they not?"

Nestor did not know this to be true, of course, but it sounded plausible and indeed it was closer to the truth than he realized. Besides, it made the townsfolk happy. The citizenry of Cairntarry trusted their mayor.

He quickly brought the men into his home and made them feel as welcome as he could. It took a few weeks for them to get over their suspicion that the execution had only been put off for a later time. But Nestor put the men to work in his foundry and paid them the same rate as he paid his other workers and so the three strangers became a part of the community and began to learn the language. They appeared very happy in Cairntarry and seemed to have no desire to go anywhere else.

And that would have been the end of it but unfortunately, it was not. A year passed and one evening in May strange sails appeared from the out of the mist on the horizon, beneath the sails many odd looking ships were headed in the direction of Cairntarry. The villagers were not disturbed over much, at first, as ships heading faring north occasionally put in at their docks but only lost ships ever come out of the east.

When their only black citizen, Cornelius, arrived to take a look at these ships of unknown origin he was overcome with dread. He explained to those around him that these were the ships of his countrymen, and in that country and on those ships Cornelius and his companions were slaves.

Nestor was working on a fine, delicate piece of armor with many moving parts; an armored glove called an articulated gauntlet. At that moment he was rudely interrupted by a loud commotion rising up from outside his front door. Nestor did not like to be meddled when working but he put down his tools and went to the door to see what was happening. He was the Mayor and it was his duty to look into such things.

Outside before his front porch was a crowd consisting of almost all of the villagers. In front of the crowd were Cornelius, Able, and Linden, the shipwrecked sailors. Cornelius the leader of the three spoke first.

"Nestor! The slavers have come to take us away!"

After much grumbling amongst the crowd Old Banky yelled out. "These three men have become our neighbors. We can't allow any strangers comin around here and kidnapin folks."

Nestor placed his large hands on his front porch railing and leaned his stout frame forward, there was a dangerous glint in the eyes of his broad, good face. "Now everyone just calm down for a moment. There's not goin to be any slaving in Cairntarry or kidnapping. We will fight them if we must!"

All the townspeople cheered and roared their agreement.

Nestor did not fully understand all the facts of the matter but he knew the villagers would fight, whether he agreed with it or no, before they allowed pirates to cause harm to any of their people.

"Banky, go and ring the bell. Cornelious fetch my keys and open the armory. To arms! To arms! Arise Cairntarry! Someone send a rider to the Miner's town.

Nestor walked over to the armory to watch Thomas and Richard, his brigade commanders, sort out the arming of the village. This maneuver was practiced twice a year, every year, so everyone knew what to do... Mostly.

A boy ran from the sea shore yelling ,"Three long boats are on the beach!

Nestor cried, "Thomas take your brigade to the beach and stay on my right. Richard, you're with me we will go straight for them. Long Bowmen pick your own ground."

Nestor led the militia through the East gate and down to the fishing village and there on the sand were marks where three boats had been but they were gone and could be seen rowing out to sea in the twilight only a child was left on the beach, Millwork's nine-year-old son, Touly. The boy seemed enchanted with the visitors.

A cold shiver of clarity ran through Nestor. "It's a trick!" He shouted. But it was all too late, their enemy had entered the city by the west gate and soon shouts and screams were heard.

The Mayor of Cairntarry called his commanders to him. "There's nothing for it boys. The advantage is lost. We have to charge back into the village the way we came out. All together now, we will beat them with naught but courage and strength."

He turned and ran back up the road to the East gate. "Follow me!" Nestor roared to his small army of twelve hundred. Once inside they discovered a hundred men each wearing matching uniforms of blue with white shoulder capes and only a breastplate and helmet for protection. They were formed in two straight lines. These soldiers were musketeers each armed with pistols and a long-barrelled arquebus with a fork rest.

The musketeers fired two volleys at the approaching barbarians but to their dismay, most of their shot bounced off the cairntarry armor.The village militia quickly closed the distance to their enemy and hacked at them with their war hammers and long axes. The musketeers drew their swords and fought bravely these were clearly verterans but they were hopelessly outclassed by the heavily armored Cairn-tarrians and the musketeers broke and ran.

But the next wave of the enemy ran into were men-at-arms wearing full armor and carrying swords, flails, maces, and pole axes... trained killers.

Despite their superior arms and armor, the villagers suffered from a lack of and experience. None had actually used a weapon in anger, they lead peaceful lives.

The battle grew confused as it went on through the night, every side seemed to have the other side surrounded and all sides fought valiantly shoulder to shoulder from street to street. Civilians ran to and fro among the combatants but none were harmed: at least not on purpose. Prisoners were taken and the wounded tended to. Brave counter attacks were followed by determined assaults. Neither friend nor foe could find an advantage and by first light, all were too exhausted to fight anymore. The villagers were retreating north to the woodlands and mountains, while the invaders held the village.

Among the missing were Nestor, Cornelius, Able, and Linden; presumed captured or dead.

But Cornelius was not dead nor did he know what to do. He and his companions were locked in a cellar.

Three small candle lanterns sat on the floor burning brightly. Each man picked one up and eyed it with curiosity. The candle burned more brightly than a candle should and showed no sign of burning down. You could blow on the flame as hard as you might but the flame would not leave the wick.

Able spoke, "I'm thinkin this might be the magic that all the folks here believe in."

"I wouldn't jump ter any conclusions so fast," said Linden, "That thar candle might just be made from some kin-o' stuff we haven't seen before."

Earlier, before the battle began, Nestor had escorted them into the cellar and said, "It's for yer own safe keeping." He then turned, walked out and barred the door. It was a very sturdy cellar, stone walls and floor with heavy planks overhead. The door was equally robust and there was no opening it.

There was no way out so the three men settled down to wait. They did not wait long when the door burst open and there was Nestor standing in the doorway. Sounds of battle could be heard from the outside. "You men have two choices, you can stay here and rejoin your countrymen or you can come with me on a long journey to the west. You will be safe there."

Cornelius spoke, his countenance was one of grief and guilt. "I am sorry, Nestor, I have lied to you, we are spies. The whole story about being shipwrecked was a deception." Cornelius could no longer look Nestor in the eye and he stared at the floor. "Our hearts have changed since we arrived. The people here are free in a manner unknown to us and we wish to remain free men."

"Alright then," said Nestor, "I always suspected as much, but I have liked you anyway. The past cannot be undone. I will put my trust in you again, but make sure this time I am rewarded with trustworthy companions."

All three said, "thank you very much," then Able said formally, "Nestor, we will follow you wherever you lead, to any end or purpose." Cornelius and Linden enthusiastically agreed. They said many other things but it all meant much the same.

"Let us join the battle, we will fight by your side as proof of our loyalty to Cairntarry!" Cornelius declared loudly.

Nestor interrupted before anyone else could speak. "The battle in the streets must be settled without us. My commanders are much more knowledgeable concerning warfare than I and I trust them to what is right in my absence."


"You are not safe here! I don't rightly know where you will be safe. However, in the event of disturbing events such as these, I have been instructed by the King to contact him directly. So that is where we are going. We will go see one of the King's Knights, who is a friend of mine. He will know what to do. Yes, that's it! We will go see Sir James.

"Your King wants to see us!?" said Cornelius.

"Indeed, I suspect he has been looking for you for a long time now. Not you personally, of course. You are Vendell are you not?

The eyes of the three sailors went wide and there was a shocked silence.

Cornelius kept his eye locked on Nestor's face. He wondered, 'What did this good man know?'

Cornelius had come to both love and respect this simple man who was illiterate with no formal education and, nonetheless, was the wise Mayor of this thriving village.

"Nestor! we cannot leave now, your wife and children are out there! We must..."

"Don't you think I know that," said Nestor, his voice became sad and quiet, "my first duty is to King Clarence, he is as good a king as anyone has ever had. I accepted this responsibility when the King, himself, game to Cairntarry and put his hand on my shoulder. He said he needed me. Said he trusted me."

"I saw my family not fifteen minutes ago. Told my wife I had to see you three to safety, told her it was the Kings business. And that woman, with five children in her care, summoned forth the courage of her fathers and told me to go. Not a tear in her brave eyes. Told me to go and not look back. My three boys each had a sword in their hand and Carl is only thirteen."

Nestor stared into the distance of the walls around him. When he turned back to the three men in had a determined smile on his face.

The journey that I recommend is epic and magnificent, you will know beauty and freedom in a manner known to very few men. The journey is long and will take us about six months but do not worry I know the way and we are hail and hearty.

Able spoke up, "But, Sir, we being sailors, we knows nothing else. How wills'-we survive ah journey ov-the-land for so long ah time?"

"There is a magic in the woods and I will show it to you. In time you will learn how to wield it and then the forest, the lakes, and the rivers will provide you with everything you will need.The wilderness will become your friend and not your enemy.

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