Chapter 1: A Conjunction of Fates | Part 1
It was a bright and cold Spring morning as Aggie looked out at the frost that still sat on the rooftops of her small hometown. Of the twin moons that hung in the sky, only Luna could be seen in the dawn-light, slowly waning like the closing eye of a lethargic god.
Hektor’s words stuck in her mind like a thorn. This town, this life was all she had ever wanted. It held her parent’s memories and love. Wasn’t that enough? Sighing, Aggie turned back into her tavern.
The wooden floor was clean and the tables and chairs had been arranged neatly. A well-worn bearskin rug lay before the simple stone hearth, which crackled with the morning’s fresh firewood. The creaking of the floorboards above foretold the rising of her guests from their slumber. And it would be amiss for any one of them to wake up without breakfast and a hot drink to greet them into the new day.
‘MOJITO!’ Aggie cried out, startling the mixed-blood Dragonborn, who had been quietly raiding the pantry before the other guests had awoken, causing food to scatter across the floor in the process. ‘How many times to I have to tell you to stay outta my kitchen?’ her southern drawl softened the tone of her loud Orcish voice. Mojito’s vibrant blue crest stood on end, like the fur of a kitten that felt threatened, as he reeled back coughing.
‘S…shhooryy…’ choaked Mojito, between coughing fits, which quickly became silent as he struggled to catch a breath. Aggie walked up to him and gave him a solid thump on his back, knocking him to the floor, and causing a large chunk of onion to come flying out of his mouth in the process.
‘Now you know that that tastes better cooked right?’ Aggie said as she helped her scaled visitor to his feet.
‘Well yes, quite,’ replied Mojito regaining his composure and intonation, before diving into a hurried explanation ‘I was hoping to set out early today and was very worried that I would go hungry because I am not sure when Alysha is planning to eat, if she wants me to be with her at all, and if she does not then I am uncertain what it is that would be good for eating around these parts, as I have grown rather accustomed to your home-cooking and figured that your raw ingredients would taste a hell of a lot better than whatever I could find in the woods.’
‘Well raw onions ain’t good for no-one,’ replied Aggie as she started grabbing food out of the pantry, and setting it out on the kitchen counter. ‘And if you can waitfur five minutes I will throw sumthin’ together that will taste a lot better than anythin’ you could scavenge on your own.’
Mojito, satisfyingly full, walked to the tall stone tower where Alysha had set up her study and observatory in the heart of Harstead. The chill was slowly breaking as the sun rose, and Mojito was excited about what the day might hold. As he strode past townsfolk beginning their days work, a small mote of light caught his eye. Floating on the wind like a dandelion seed, the small figure of an elemental landed upon Mojito’s hand. The translucent, vaguely humanoid spirit pointed skyward, and as Mojito shielded his eyes from the sun’s glare, something came into focus.
A comet slowly burned silently across the sky, brighter than the Morning Star.
As Mojito stood transfixed by this omen, those around him started to notice the celestial event as well. Worried and excited whispers and shouts came from the townsfolk as early birds roused their households to see this important sign. Realising the hubbub that now surrounded him Mojito looked to his now empty hand curiously, before continuing onward to his teachers home.
Aggie had just started to eat her own breakfast with Tana, after serving the handful of guests that had rented rooms, when Hektor burst through the Tavern door. ‘Where’s my lil’ Aggie?!’ he roared to the startled and sleepy room of guests who were thoroughly underprepared for such excitement so early in the day.
Although he had not been taller than Aggie for many years, Hektor had always called her ‘lil’ Aggie, and hearing those words from the scarred, chip-toothed, bushy bearded veteran, always filled her heart with excitement, even after all these years.
‘Goodness Hektor, what are you shoutin’ about? Are you tryin’ to scare the skin off of everyone here?!’ She roared back, slamming her heavy fist onto the wooden table she was sat at as she spoke.
There was a moment’s silence as uncertain guests shifted uncomfortably in their seats, before Hektor and Aggie could no longer maintain their composure and broke into hearty laughter.
Embracing each other, Aggie lifted Hektor off his feet for a moment before putting him down again and bringing over to the table where she was sat with Tana. ‘How’re you doing little one?’ Hektor asked the small deep gnome at the table.
‘Okay,’ Tana said, averting her eyes from the large man that took a seat at the table opposite her. She found the way Aggie’s friend looked at her to be unnerving. He seemed to know who she was as soon as he had met her, four weeks ago, after Aggie had offered her the shelter she had so desperately sought. He had asked why she had come to Harstead back then, but he did not seem surprised by her story, it seemed like he had already heard it before. But Aggie trusted him, even if he wasn’t telling her everything.
‘So what’re you doing here?’ Aggie called out, as she returned from the kitchen with fresh bread and cheese, which she placed in front of Hektor.
‘The sky’s on fire Aggie,’ Hektor replied with a smile as Aggie sat back at the table. ‘And that means that the time has come for you to make a choice.’ Unmoving, Aggie kept Hektor’s gaze as he started to eat…
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