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Jason Pere

Sir Liam continued to replay the passing meeting with Sir Eric Greyhand over and over in his mind’s eye. The Helm Breaker knew that someone would have had to succeed him as Master of Arms in Raywayd but he never would have expected it to have been that man. Sir Liam could readily recall at least a score of knights who would have been a better selection for the position. The Rayward man did not want to admit it to himself but seeing Sir Eric adoring the crest that that had once been his filled him with envy. At first Sir Liam attributed the feeling to nothing more than nostalgia but as the envy stayed with him it became a growing concern, like a small cut that had gone unattended long enough to threaten gangrene. Jealousy was eating away at The Helm Breaker on the road to Rayward’s Gate. The affront to Sir Liam was doubly so, first for the Rayward King’s decision to succeed The Helm Breaker with a man who was less than, and second the wound to Sir Liam was deepened by his inability to let the matter of pride pass for the trivial thing that it was. The Rayward man was beginning to become furious at himself for discovering the hidden stock of vanity within his core that had now been tapped.

“Are we going to eat soon? I am hungry,” said Tinaca as she rooted through one of the empty sacks in the wagon’s bed.

Sir Liam was grateful for the girl’s interruption of his brooding. Something to get his mind off the miserable images of Sir Eric’s smug face and pompous voice that were running away with his imagination was most welcome. The Helm Breaker looked at the food stores secured in the back of the wagon and made some fast mental allotments. “Open that bag,” he said while nodding at a sack of fruit.

Tinaca scrambled into the rear of the wagon and delved into the burlap bag. She came out with a ripe green apple in her hand. “Are these all we have to eat?” she asked before biting into the tart flesh of the produce.

“Aye, we will have to make do with them until we can stop and next supply the wagon. It should not be more than a day before we see the nearest town,” Sir Liam said in his gruff commanding voice.

Tinaca noisily chomped away on the apple. The fruit was in its prime but the girl wore a sour look on her face. Sir Liam could tell that it was not the taste of the girl’s meal that put her off so much as the scarcity of any accompanying fair.

“Not good enough for you is it?” The Helm Breaker said to the child as he flicked his bushy bearded chin towards the apple in her hands.

Tinaca shrugged her slight shoulders. “It is fine,” sighed the girl.

“Then I guess you will not care if I have this,” Sir Liam said with a crafty grin as he pulled as piece of salted dried meat from a leather pouch on his waist. Tinaca’s eyes were drawn to the savory morsel and The Helm Breaker could have sworn that her heard the girls belly grumble with ravenous desire. Sir Liam held the dried meat for Tinaca to see and only allowed the teasing to last a moment more. “Go on then,” Sir Liam said to the girl at his side as he offered the delectable snack to her.

“Thank you,” Tinaca said as she snatched the dried meat from the Rayward man’s grasp and began to feast with enhanced gusto.

The Helm Breaker gave a paternal smile that he was able to conceal behind his bushy whiskers. After some rumbling in his belly, brought on by she sounds of Tinaca decimating mouthful after mouthful of food beside him, Sir Liam reached back into the fruit bag and procured an apple for himself. The Rayward man began chewing away at the modest fair. “When we stop to resupply, is there something that you have a taste for?” he asked Tinaca while whipping some of the apple’s juices from his beard.

“Some more of this,” Tinca said while shaking the last bite of the dried meat at Sir Liam. She held out the little scrap for a moment, offering it back to her protector. Sir Liam shook his head and indicated that the meat was hers to finish.

“You are a girl after my own way. That is fine eating. Better than these in any case,” Sir Liam said while motioning at the piece of fruit in his bearlike hand.

“It tastes really good,” Tinaca said excitedly. “I never got to have meat much before,” she continued before scarfing down the reminder of her meal.

“That is a shame. I will see that you get some real food once we get you settled into Rayward. A diet of good meat will help get some proper size on you,” Sir Liam said in a voice that was gritty yet endearing.

Despite the meager rations Tinaca and Sir Liam continued on the road towards Rayward in good spirits. The conversation with his companion had been precisely what The Helm Breaker needed to get his mind off the image of Sir Eric Greyhand wearing the Rayward Master of Arms crest. The disgraced knight allowed the warmth of the sun overhead to rain down on his bare upper arms. He allowed his ears to become entranced by the whistle of the wind across open ground. Sir Liam was surprised to find himself actually enjoying something for a change, what was more, enjoying something without the aid of strong drink. It was a pleasant thing to find stillness and calm in the simplicity of the travelers path.

After a great length of time spent leisurely making their way down the road Sir Liam was pulled back to his complete wits by the sound of horses approaching the wagon. He did not see the riders but he could tell that they were coming from one of his blind spots. The Helm Breaker craned his neck around the side of the covered wagon and was able to make out the shape of four men quickly closing in on the wagon.