These are a series of novel chapter drafts. They are a work in progress and the primary goal of the current work is to get the ideas on paper - not nessicarily for them to be well written
Natyr, Harrus - 4th Age Anno 311
“Argh. Ye bollix!” Natyr groaned as his grip on the wooden crate slipped and the box crashed down on the ground, rupturing into shards. He kicked the cart in frustration. Usually he had two pairs of hand for this.
But that wasn’t all of it. It had increasingly dawned on Natyr that this was the first time in twenty years he had been alone - and he didn’t like it. The road was quiet and the horses were irritable because of the biting cold.
It was nice to enjoy a tavern room all to himself though, and once the crates were finally reorganized, he headed there for the night.
The Second Chance tavern was busy and had a welcoming buzz on the air, but Natyr walked through the crowd and straight to his room. Almost no-one from Harrus was there of their own volition. It was the first town on a long peninsula of exile and escape. Kartas was one of only two original settlements and they both suffered from the Riddean Empire’s decision to let criminals freeze to death out here. Did would go missing, and sometimes even people - but that was mostly an issue in the summer months, when the mountains’ sharp trails seemed to soothe as the snow melted away - often revealing several failed winter travellers.
Nevertheless, there were still a few who scraped together a living in the town and could be trusted - at least when gold was on the line. Natyr rested easy knowing his horse was well stabled and his door bolts were solid.
In the morning, the same patrons were still active, though clearly heading for collapse through either exhaustion or alcohol consumption. Natyr grabbed a stool in an empty corner and ordered a meal of oats and berries.
“Mornin’ to ye Natyr. Hitting the road now?” The owner delivered the meal himself. “Might want to take the West road - new shipment of vagrants coming in from the East” Natyr nodded his thanks and focused on his breakfast. The berries were sour and the porridge too cold, but it did the job.
The attention of the bartender had alerted others to his presence. A tall woman wearing a padded leather jacket slipped into his stall as the man left with an empty tray. “You seem different than the rest of these louts” She pressed “Very business-like”. Natyr wasn’t in the mood for whatever this woman wanted. “I’m just here to eat my breakfast and leave” He shrugged and spooned a large helping into his mouth to accentuate the point. “Not the type for parties or chattering”. The woman smiled thinly. “Oh dear” she said dramatically. “Perhaps you might be in a better mood if you got rid of some of that tension?” She slid her hand over to his, gently grazing it. His eyebrows ruffled and he looked at his hand. His fingers bore no rings, but on one there was a permanent indent and reminder. “Look lass, I just want to eat my breakfast and leave this place.” He shifted his bowl away from her. “I’m sure there are others here more willing to talk with you than I”.
Some thought twinkled in her eye. There were generally only two directions one would leave Harrus and the soldiers maintaining the peninsula’s border to the rest of the continent would not dare to drink amongst locals. The only other way was further in. “Leave? Are you one of those religious types? Off to absolute solitude, away from all the forbidden pleasures of the world?” Each sentence was thick with dramatic mockery. “How very noble, but wouldn’t you like one last taste before the doors are closed off to you forever?” She leaned further in, less subtle now, her chest peering out at him.
“Put those away” Natyr coughed on some of his porridge. “I ain’t one of those nuts, I’m just selling cloth and I’ve a daughter as young as you, so clear off and let me enjoy my food. I’m not interested.”
Show, don't tell
The woman threw her hands on the table and kicked out the stool from under her with a swift foot. “Sure hon. Maybe you’ll come find me when you’re not busy being up your own arse.” She gave a final theatrical smile, threw a gesture to the bartender for a new drink and moved onto the next solitary character.
Natyr sighed and finished the rest of his porridge quickly, having already gathered more attention than he desired. The sooner he was out of this dead-end place, the better.
ad-todo make the place sound even more dodgy. Add some glints of daggers, etc.