The warm breeze rustled the leaves of the trees on what seemed like a perfect morning to Garath. Breathing deeply the moist air, he scanned the trail ahead and thought back to how he had come to be tromping through the dusty trails in the back roads of Ansalon.
Garath had had such great hopes of adventure and honor. The tails that had filled his head as a child, battles of old, brave warriors, and the rewards given to the honored of war. He and his friends had fought around the courtyards of Fort Ranik playing with sticks for swords, pots for helmets, and a shovel head from the stables for a shield; their imagined quests and feats of glory had filled their boyhood days and captivated their nighttime dreams. Smiling fondly he thought of times spent following along, trailing behind Sergeant Killian, the hard working, hard swearing master of Arms for Lord Darrin, then coming home to have his father tan his hide when he used his new found vocabulary. Oh how he wanted to man the wall, fight the char and be issued into the Hall of Heroes with honor upon his death. As soon as he hit sixteen he had signed up with the Guard. He was a Guard of Ansalon, a proud heritage, an honorable career, a man in the pursuit of adventure... and then he had to go and throw it all away. All for the sake of too many drinks and the wiles of a thoughtless girl. "Damn!" He thought, "Why did the Duke's daughter have to settle her 'itch' at my expense!"
As a new member of the Guard the older men decided that Garath needed some hair on his chest and thus plied him with drink and advice. How to wench, how to drink, how to piss like a man - and so it was that after five hours of riding the pine with flowing tankards, his bladder warned that it was going to explode and forced him to lurch to his feet and stumble towards the door.
Bouncing off right side of the door's threshold he stumbled into the night, tipped into the darkness, and landed face first in the dirt bouncing his head hard off of the packed earth and dried horse droppings which made up the street in front of the tavern. If it wasn't for the knock to the head that he received on the way down... if it wasn't for the copious amount of liquor... if he hadn't been regaled all night by the men telling him how to claim a women... then he might have thought twice about propositioning the young lady that passed by as he dusted himself off. IF IF IF!
They had found him, covered in hay, pants around his ankles, passed out on top of the young lady and still somewhat covered in dry horse dung. When the guards grabbed him off of the young lady he was so dead drunk that he stupidly complained to the captain of the Guard that the Ale had made him limp, had stopped him from 'performing', and to let him lay down and take a second shot. That's when they saw who the young lady was who had been stuck under him. That's when the guards, his brothers in arms, thought it might be better if he sobered up as far away from Fort Rankin as possible and as far from the Lord and his impending murderous rage at the attempted 'deflowering' of his 'innocent' daughter. And thus Garath came to be wandering the wilds, protecting the tulips and the daisies, trouping along coated in the dust of the road from the most rural area of Ansalon possible, rather then following his dreams of warrior hood.
Garath's musings were suddenly cut short by the blood-curdling cry of anguish from up ahead. He suddenly realized that in his daydream he had turned up a trail little used; the trees closely pressed and underbrush thick about the roadside. Shaken, he drew his sword and hurriedly tried to remember the lessons he had learned in basic training. "Ok, Garath, get a hold of yourself." He said out loud, "You are a guard of Ansalon, there is nothing that your people can not conquer." (Deep breath) "You remember the stories that relate to this don't you..." (Big exhale) He realized that at that moment, No, he couldn't remember the stories. In fact, he was pretty sure that in the stories he had been told as a child the hero usually traveled in a party and knew instantly what to do in any situation; hardly helpful in his current circumstances. Especially considering his whole training as a warrior amounted to basic training (pointy end goes in bad guy) and one night of drunken carousing and advice from veterans.
Breathing deeply to calm himself and pulling his courage around him like a cloak, Garath crept up the trail slowly, every step ringing in tone with his beating heart. About fifty yards up the trail Garath peered around the large rock that supplied a blind spot from which he could view the approaching trail without being seen. What he saw brought the bile to his mouth.
There in front of him, not more than fifteen yards down the trail; a hulking Charr scout had his claws buried in a young boy's gut. As the large beast twisted its clawed hands the boy would twitch and gurgle in agony as his blood seeped out onto the ground. Garath was halted by the gore, the sight was something he never realized, never postulated could possibly be a part of the tales told him. Never in his nightmare induced fears could he imagine a sight so disgusting and terrible as the Charr toying with the boy's entrails, watching the life trickle out of the child, with a deep gruff chortle issuing from the depths of the beasts chest.
.... There is more of this story ...