Rise of the Thrall Lord
The Life and Times of Klinkar Strakentir - Part 1
Klinkar Strakentir dreamed. He didn’t like to fly. It wasn’t that he was afraid; he just looked at it in a “risk versus reward” type of way. Klinkar was very well versed in fighting on the ground. It was where he was comfortable and it was where he was best adapted. If something that could fly needed to be fought, he would devise a way to lure it to the ground. It seemed silly for him to go up to meet it where it would have all of the advantages of nature and experience. Yet here he was leading a group of hippogriff riding Sky Knights into battle. It was interesting to him that the battlefield was shaped differently, as tall as the sky, stretching from horizon to horizon and as fluid as the swirling winds. The Knights were graceful and strong as he gave them orders for attack that would take advantage of the height, clouds and sun. The angles of attack were as dizzying as the steep ascents, descents, gradually banking turns and whipping twirls of the mighty hippogriffs. He couldn’t draw his plan on a paper. He needed models on strings and wizard cantrips. Klinkar envisioned the engagement with the thrill and expectation of victory…and then The Red breathed.
Klinkar felt the soft sheepskin of his pillow beneath his head and the heft of his cowhide blankets above. It was how he always slept. The pillow was for comfort, but the tough, heavy blankets had saved his life more than once. Klinkar was a light sleeper, and a tug on the leather was enough to allow him to be awake with a dagger in hand before any part of him was visible to an attacker. It was rare that before he drifted off to sleep he didn’t think about the time his camp was attacked during the night by giant ants. The watches were the first to go. He survived because he woke when his blanket was being tugged away. He rallied the few other survivors to defeat the ants, but the picked clean skeletons of the sentries, boys who were his friends, continued their nightly haunting to this day.
Before removing the blanket from his face, Klinkar thought about a second nightmare, one different from the fiery dragon breath, that he was hoping to awaken from. He lifted the blanket slightly and sniffed the morning air. He smelled the manure and he knew not only that the nightmare continued, but that it was Thursday. On each day of the week a different field was tended, bringing up the dust from the fertilizing that had taken place in the spring. Today was the Breadgrain field. It was a mix of different plants all used together to make a delicious bread, although texture was an issue for those missing molars. The manure had been a combination of sheep and cow with a little bit of dark soil and composted leaves, they had told him. It was also proof that he was still in Berenholm, a town the locals now called Strakentir, much to his chagrin.
Klinkar rose and dressed as a matter of discipline. His years commanding troops had made him set an example, and habits are hard to break, even good ones. He knew his breakfast would be waiting for him downstairs. The kindly maid, Sofna, that the town provided him, was 90 years old with gray hair and gray skin so wrinkled that Klinkar thought she must have been a hill giant that had shriveled down to have so much skin. However, there was a spark in her eyes and a lilt in her voice that made it seem she would be there for years to come.
Klinkar knew that the rest of the morning would go the same as every other day had gone since his arrival two months prior. Vilcomb, his Captain of the Guard, a name much too vaunted for the actual task of overseeing nine guards in a town of shepherds, goatherds, pigherds and farmers, would tell him that the population hated him and that the orderly society the lands of Dunwynn were known for would have to be established through heavy measures of rules and discipline. Klinkar had grown up with the Duke and knew what he wanted. They had been the closest of friends for years. Klinkar’s current exile, eight weeks and counting, was still a mystery to him, and it was the source of his brooding. The responses from his brothers Ignar and Fafnar had done nothing to ease the pain of his current assignment. Klinkar’s mind backtracked to the two months prior.