Falistia 34th, 0600
The Mercenary Lord woke violently, starting at the early morning light creeping through the flaps of his flimsy canvas tent. It took him a moment to realise that he’d drawn his knife. Bad dreams,
he admonished himself, you’ve had one little nightmare and look, it’s reduced you to acting like a child, startled by shadows.
He forced a dry chuckle through clenched teeth and sheathed his knife, though his hand moved more reluctantly than he would have liked.
The sun was still weak in the sky when he exited his tent, the shadows weighing heavy upon his party’s small camp. The desire to relight the campfire was strong in him, something, anything, to drive off the dark. Only his anger stayed his hand. He was Stravi Kuznetzov, Captain of the Blackshield Brothers dammit. He wasn’t going to let one bad night’s rest unman him. But what if those were no mere dreams?
The question came unbidden and unwelcome to his mind, along with it mostly-forgotten stories of wood spirits and Will-O-Wisps. What if the source of his dreams had been a visitation from some denizen of the dark? His neck prickled at the thought, his hackles rising. Wars he could fight. Monsters and demons? Those were new to him. That skulking desire to light the fire returned, but this time he banished it with an annoyed grunt. If there was something in those woods, he was damned if he was going to hide from it. No, he was going to find it. Fucking kill it too, if he had to.
He searched the trees for the next hour, purposely striding through the rough as if he had not a fear in the world, daring any and all to challenge him. Demons? Let them come. Despite his searching though he found no sign of an intruder. More the pity, because by the time he was finished looking he was sore, tired, and irritable, and could have done with nothing better than an unwilling target to swing his sword at.
By the time he made it back to the camp Georgia was already up and kneeling by the fire. He hadn’t had much occasion to speak to the young woman yet, and wasn’t quite in the mood now, but he forced himself to approach the fire and sit by her. Any commander worth his salt knew that they had to foster good relationships with the men and woman serving under them, and one of the simplest ways to do that was to talk to them.
He held his hands to the flames for a moment, enjoy the feeling as the warmth slowly seeped into his aching limbs. Age doesn’t come alone. The day has barely begun and you ache already.
“Morning to you, goody Chandler. Tell me, how did you sleep? I had some trouble myself. Can’t quite shake the feeling that we share this mountain with some unknown presence
.” He fixed his eyes upon Georgia, watching for any flicker. He had considered keeping his misgiving to himself, but had quickly discarded that feeling as folly. Better to share his fears, and risk looking like a fool if they were naught but shadows and mist, than keep them to himself and risk ruin if there was some substance to his nightmares.