Friedrick Von Routenheim stood on the winding pathway through the mountain pass, peering out into the thick cloud of mist that threatened to shroud any up and coming dangers on the road ahead. The journey was already long in it taken strides and there many more yet ahead of Friedrick, a fact his weary feet and legs were all too familiar. But this trek was his alone to toil, and his complaining joints and limb could not and would not dictate his actions; his pace and speech on the other hand, was all theirs to manipulate. “Damn this fog, curse this road, and a pox upon the rotten cobbler who has cheated me out of feet.” The exchange to the sullen atmosphere was an all too familiar occurrence within the last few miles, the village he had spent the night in three days ago was a little thing. But what it lacked in size and amenities, it made for in chicanery. The cobbler whom Friedrick was in mid curse, had not only made for him terrible shoes, but charged him three times the current market price.
It wasn’t as if Friedrick that much of a choice either, and he was now wishing he had purchased that extra pair of boots when he had the chance back in Werrnyl, the mountain region’s trading hub.
Complaints about feet aside, Friedrick Van Routenheim was the sort of man that appeared to be meek and humble at all times accept for when his cold fury was lit aflame. His hair was a shoulder length mass of dark brown, that all but hid a set of fiercely gentle eyes. They were the sort of eyes once has when many terrible things are continuously replayed behind the reflection, but owned by a mind that has accepted it’s past self. The container for the self forgiving intelligence was of a commonly noble sort, it bore a front of joviality, an all too convincing disguise in which it had even fooled it’s bearer. The face, eyes, and hair were mediocere by the selves, but in concert together made the man difficult to remember at best. A fortunate curse for a man in the long standing predicament Friedrick found himself in 15 years previous.
One final feature, however, marred his almost perfect forget-ability; a marking of injected ink on the lower right side of his neck. A small image of a bird rising to the sky with a dragon feasting on it’s own tail surrounding the bird. A phoenix circumstanced by an Ouroboros.
The fog had the ruminations of clearing, and Friedrick could now see at least a twenty feet in front of him, instead of the previous four feet with which he was forced to cope. As the mountain winds grew in intensity, the fog grew thinner and thinner. And the mountain pathway Friedrick was making his way upon climbed higher and higher. Until Friedrick was at a place on thee path where on his right was the mountain that was shielding in the valley below from the first morning light, on his left was the sun blocked plateau, that had one or two villages dotting it’s plain, flat landscape. He paused to reflect on this sight, and drank in the early scenery. ‘I simply must sketch this sight before it is changed by day light’s onward march.’
Friedrick immediately unburdened him self of his supplies and began digging through the various trinkets, coins, sleeping things, extra clothes and small weaponry until he found his query; his sketch kit. Within mere moments of his setting himself down on a slight rock out cropping above the mountain road with his legs crossed to capture the wondrous portrait nature had laid out in front of him, he felt the ever so faint rumblings of horsemen approaching his location from the direction of the village he had been swindled by that cobbler three weeks earlier. He considered hiding, but the momentary tender dawn-light was quickly being replaced with the light of a sun the promises no mercy of the poor mortal below. Today would be one of those hot and miserable pre-autumnal days that Friedrick loathed with a passion.
With skillful haste, he continued his artwork j as the subtle noises of far off riders transitioned to the louder sounds of trotting hooves echoing of the mountain side and softly reverberating into the valley below. Friedrick paid them no mind, however, his thought were solely entrenched in his new-found work. Just as he was putting in the finishing touches of this latest art piece, the phantom sounds of approaching riders changed from noises to sights. There was a party of what appeared to be twelve riders each with a shared pack horse for the provisions that wouldn’t fit on their saddles.
The incoming riders were a veritable assortment of characters, as diverse and varied as paint in a skilled artist’s arsenal. A representative of the races were each of these persons, one of each bloodline of the master race, although some were less represented than others.
Three humans, two female one male, were leading the procession up the path. Two elves, both of which were sickeningly exact copies of each other were next. A pair of Orcs, who were bickering back and forth like an old married couple were the procession’s flank guard. A trio of Drogons, the bipedal, slightly less intelligent cousins to dragons were surrounding a pack horse with a strange looking cargo. And bringing up the rearguard was the most foul mannered, foul mouthed dwarf Friedrick had ever laid eyes on. He could hear, no, feel the incessant swearing and cursing emanating from the half-man. The majority of the stronger language was in high dwarven, but Friedrick had been a linguistics scholar in a previous life and was able to perfectly under every single thing the dwarf said with his foul half sized lips. Many of these phrases have no translation in our tongue, but the self incriminating monologue sounded something like: “Kzrak an Sylths this trek, ruwething Elves and their prim little delythling faces! Always looking down on poor old me, as if I were to blame for them being with a stick up their ylinths…”
Friedrick hid himself as this inter racial procession made it’s way past his former position. He was able to make far better judgments up close and concealed than from a distance. He softly chuckled at the dwarf’s colorful musings about his companions as they made progress up the pathway. Just as the softest slightly forced exhalations escaped his nostrils, the party of twelve suddenly halted and Friedrick felt an immediate and powerful sense of dread that was all to familiar. Every muscle tensed, ready for any sudden movements from his new found opponent, but then, they started off down the road again, as if they simply were momentarily resting their horses. However the slight, yet unmistakable, pointed pressure that suddenly applied itself to in-between Friedrick’s shoulder blades told him otherwise.
“Laddie, if ye wish to keep yer ‘ed, it’ll be behoovin’ to yah if you were to slowly rise up and not so much as even think aboot rrruning off.” said a deep and warm voice from behind. Were it not for the immediate danger, Friedrick would’ve longed to give this voice one of his favorite books, and have the voice read it aloud.
However, the danger was very real and very present, so Friedrick slowly got to his feet and put his hands up above his head in a universal sign of surrender.