Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Don't Go Past the Skulls or Hillfolk of Spoke Top Hill

"Hidden on Spoke Top Hill is a tribe of hillfolk. Corrons, is what they call themselves. They pay no fealty to a lord, never have. Some say they were born of the hills themselves. Lords and ladies leave them be. Probably best. They've got bad magic." Janon looked to over his young drinking companion, a fairly intelligent boy, maybe man, but that has yet to be determined, shiny armor, shiny shield, with the inevitable old sword that probably his father or uncle gave him.

"I hope you have more information for me." The would-be adventure said. Impatient and quick to anger.

Janon shook his finger at the boy. "This won't do. You lead with your stupid and your arrogance. If you go up on that hill demanding answers you won't come back. No matter how strong you are, that bad magic puts even a wise old man, like myself, to my knees. Why would you want to leave a warm tavern and frothy ale to disturb hillfolk that would rather put you in a stew than talk to you?"

"They eat people?" His horrified expression escaped before he had a chance to cover it.

Janon waved his cup around. "That's one of the things they say. Eat the meat, use the skins." He leaned in to whisper and for effect. "They skin ya while you're still breathing, easier to do I hear." Leaning back, "I didn't catch your name the first time, once you said ale I didn't hear word after."

"Gavin. Gavin of Pelumbra. Son of..."

"Gavin is good enough. The rest don't mean much here. So Gavin, what brings you and your shiny armor and shiny shield to our quiet town. You seriously thinking of climbing Spoke Top and stirring up the Corrons?"

Gavin's large adam's apple slid down and he nervously swallowed. "I've need of their augur."

"Do you now? I don't need an augur to tell me if you go past the skulls you'll make a fine meal."

"What skulls?"

"They nest skulls of their victims in the trees that border what is considered their land. It's easy. If the skull's eyes watch you, you're safe. See the back of the skull and you'll be dead before sunrise." Janon finished the last sip of ale. He looked tired and still coated from the day's work on the fields.

Gavin stood. "Thank you."

"Don't thank me. I did everything but stick a knife in your back." Janon put his hand in his satchel and pulled out a dead bird and offered it to Gavin. "Find a basket. I can't tell you where it'll  be, but find it. Put the bird in it and wait. Don't go past the skulls." He looked at Gavin the boy and shook his head. "I'm not fooling when I say they have bad magic. Offer the bird and wait. One of them may come talk to you. One may not."

A searing pain struck Gavin in his right arm. He grabbed his muscle with his left hand and checked if he was bleeding. He found nothing and as quickly as the pain struck, it vanished.

Janon shook his head as he stood to leave. He point a dirt covered finger at Gavin's arm. "That's a warning. They know you're coming."