Diary of a Traveller

14th day of Ferial 497

Vif-Haven Caravan

How did I become a caravaner? You sure have some buzzkill questions, don’t you…

Does it really matter? Y’know, sometimes it’s better to keep some stuff buried…

But alright, I guess it makes sense to you people of Vif-Haven... They say that collecting stories is kind of your thing… Also, I wouldn’t like to be rude after you offered us shelter… But I warn you, my story is nothing special, just the same as so many others...

When I think about it, it almost feel like it was in another life… And yet, it was not so long ago actually… 16 years ago, I lived in a little cottage in the region called High Empire with my wife and son. I was a brewer in the brewery my spouse inherited from her father. Wisely, he left it for her instead of his son, a violent alcoholic. Life was not always easy but we couldn’t complain.

It happened during the winter of 481. Honestly, I don’t even know all the details of this story. What I know is that the Golden Empire used a company of mercenaries as garrison in the village, as much to protect it as to keep an eye on its inhabitants. Captain Argos and his thugs were posted there since three years at that time. Long enough for Teuts smugglers to have bribed them enough to “forget” about some goods and not to question the carts which crossed the village.

But during that winter, the Golden Empire administration had enough with it. Did anybody tell on Argos and his little arrangement? Was it pure bad luck? Anyway, on a foggy and freezing morning, shadowmancer Bakenramef along with a phalanx of skeleton warriors settled in the village and took over the mercenaries. Bakenramef, who was incorruptible, spent two weeks dismantling the network and gathering proofs against Argos and his men. Seems that some smugglers managed to escape the purge though.

They came back a few days later, along with tenth of Teuts fanatic rebels. They wanted to avenge their comrades by killing the shadowmancer, a prey of choice, and get their hands on the rare and precious life stones he surely owned. They waited for the night before setting multiple fires in the village as a decoy. The brewery was one of the first buildings to be set on fire by the rebel archers.

Panic quickly rose in the village. Mercenaries were yelling orders and villagers organized themselves in chains with buckets of water. That’s when the rain of arrows started to fall, making no difference between villagers, mercenaries and skeleton warriors. I remember people falling, wounded screaming and my own panic while I was looking for my wife and kid… Then I saw a Teuts rebel emerge from the smoke, charging at me, shield and mace at the ready… and everything went black...

When I woke up, I was lying in Hans’ barn serving as an infirmary… I wanted to get straight up to find Jezabel and Tim, but my head started to spin and all went out again. When I finally came back to consciousness, Hans came to me and informed me that my wife and son hadn’t made it. Of the brewery, there was nothing left that wasn’t burned or scorched. In just one night, I lost everything. Bakenramef on the other hand was alive and left the village with thirty undeads among which was Argos.

I took a few things and took the road without talking to anybody. Nothing was holding me there and couldn’t see myself starting over in the same place… to many painful memories. At first, I thought about going to a big city to find a job in another brewery. On the road, I heard about a gathering of caravans held a few leagues there and I decided to go, hoping to join one of them on the road toward better lands.

It’s when I reached the gathering that I realized that I was just like so many others… a refugee, broke, with no future, hopeless. I wasn’t the only one to cling to the idea of finding a caravan that would accept me. I searched a whole day before meeting Talia, the captain of the Pierced Wheel caravan. She asked me what good I would be to the caravan. I told her I had my way with fruit alcohol. She looked at me and examined me from head to toe before saying “Find some gear to distil fruit alcohol and you’re in.” It took me two busy days to get what I needed.

And that’s how I became a caravaner. Quickly, I realized that this way of life was perfect for me: always on the road, with the only purpose of moving forward, no matter where, no matter how long it takes. There’s always a next destination. You can find peace in this life when you want to flee from memory. I quickly forgot about settling in a big city… I quickly forgot to put down my luggage altogether… I had found a new family, a new home.