The memoirs of Lord Percuni

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25th day of Winter’s Stirring, the Fourth Year of the Third Age

A cruel winter has seized Damryn. The day is bleak, the night is impregnable, and we are all of us road-weary and longing for home. We have come across many towns and villages, all of them devastated. The sight of it all has began to take its toll on the soldiers. Even the High King addresses us with something bleak in his tone.

I heard a man sing a song I had not heard for years, since the end of the Last Stand when the pyres of the dead burned for days on end. ‘There are no more heroes,’ it goes, ‘to lead us to our home.’ He had been moved by memory of his sister and thankfully did not speak of our Outriders, or harsher words than what I spoke would have been said.

I think of them often, the dozen brave that move ahead of our columns. Captain Ascher sends them out and we do not see them for hours, even days. It is fortunate when they return not having had seen battle, but often that is not the case. They find our route, clear it of beast and fiend, and find us to the next settlement on the road.

‘No survivors,’ they always report. No survivors.

Then they march out again. I wonder often what keeps their resolve. By all accounts they have witnessed the bleakest of iniquities of the post-Fall world. What is it they turn to the strengthen them, the first of us to ride out into the desolated world, the first to measure all we have lost? Is it faith renewed in the gods, or trust in the resolution of humanity? Do they think we could truly live again as we used to? Or is it that they seek the ones they left behind?

I wonder the measures they undergo to face the dark days. I wonder if they realise how much is lost from our march alone if we cannot reach Caer Brennan.

We will be there a month, though maybe two if this winter gets much harsher. Out they stride again to meet our barren old world.