The Caravan Camp and Thistle Hold
We slept the night in the beer hall which I think is called Margret’s Hall. Sounds fancy by it’s more of some huge tent with boarded floor than any grand hall though. In the morning we ate thin stew and dry bread to break our fast while we schemed. The night before we’d all agreed we would all work together to seek our fortune and whatever great deed we might pursue…I think someone in their cups had said we should find out where the corruption comes from, which we all drank to.
This morning though we needed some way to get into Thistlehold, none of us had coin enough to do it, none of us had reason to enter the city and so we’d have to find one or the other and rather than going off mob handed we split into our smaller groups to make best use of our own ways to see what we could manage.
I struck off towards the middle of the town, well at least the more important more permanent bit where the business was done and papers dealt with, maybe even if there was a notice board
After an hour or two I figured that if worst came to it, I’d be able to get some employment in the camp so I’d not go cold or hungry. There were plenty of men formerly of the Queen’s Guard and that’s while it’s not much, it’s a bond that will help a fellow soldier out if they can and I got some offers to keep an ear to the ground on my behalf.
For all that though I figured it might be a week or more afore I got anything like I wanted or needed for me and the rest of the band and so I took a chance. I was watching the line of folk looking to get their papers to get into Thistlehold as looked to see who was who in this mix and settled on one man.
Looked like a caravan leader, but carried himself like a soldier, and a leader to boot. So as he walked away from his business I took a chance and stopped him to talk, just simple and polite said who I was and that me and my band were looking for work, and work that might suit a canny band with a bit of cunning, a bit of strength and plenty of bones to get a job done…and the sort that might see us into Thistlehold.
Well seems my words swayed him as he told me to go to a place called Thistledoor and ask for someone called Eleanor. He also told me that it wasn’t so hard a place as it looked and to be gentle on the way in, which I took to mean this was to be a test as to our usefulness and I think it turned out to be right.
The band met back at the hall for mid-day to eat and find out what we’d done. Some had been hunting and at least made sure we would eat well and have a place to sleep again this night, others had found other leads that may be less honest and no less cheap.
All might be considered, but as it was my contact arranged to meet us this afternoon, and so after we ate, we gathered our gear to head off, a bit early so we could give the place a scout and such. Turns out we have a couple of cunning set of eyes with us, who said it was a bigger place than it made out but cunningly hidden, with secret ways in all round it and a maze of tents and pathways and screens.
We took a time to watch it, planning our way in. Rather than go in by the front and still thinking this was some kind of test, we all figured on one of the secret ways each and one at a time stole into Thistledoor.
Inside was more of this maze of canvas but in the middle was a large space, looking like it was a place deals got done and it was here we met my man from before. I think he was actually impressed with us and how we’d got in, so the meeting went well from there.
He told us he ran this Thistledoor and the organisation behind it, and that they didn’t like how entry into the forest was limited and how some few controlled all the knowledge and money that came from it, to me he made a good argument, but having seen what can happen I can also see the other side too.
In the end he came down to three options. He’d get us in and we’d owe a favour. We’d join and they’d get us in, but then we’d be part of their band and the last way was we could just pay a bribe…we took the middle course and we would owe them a favour, but not one that would leave us beholden to stay in place and not one we’d do against our own kind, and so that deal was struck and he’d get us way into Thistlehold
Sure enough, next morning we got our papers and copper rings to get us in, supposedly to make call on a man I knew when first I joined the Guard, who was the company’s book keeper but now had a school in Thistlehold. Getting in was easy enough as we had papers and token to show right of entry, once inside though we didn’t know so much about we were going or what to do, other than find lodgings then figure it out.
It was about this time thought that trouble found us. A girl, well a young woman of about 15 came running through the crowd, in distress and terrified as anyone would be chased by 5 armed men.
Now, I made to grab the girl but missed, though someone else did and the armed me pulled up and demanded we hand her over. A few words exchanged and they claim to be in the service of some witch hunter which may be, but for some reason there was no way I was handing some slip of a girl over to a band of armed men…all I could do was play with the little necklace around my wrist that my sister had given me, and think that I hoped someone would defend her in this situation.
Im sure the others had their reasons, but we told them in no uncertain terms that they’d be going home empty handed and blades were drawn…