It took Kane over a week to reach the village of Bush Mill on the other side of the Swooping Mountains, or Sylvanus’ Lower Jaw as the Terrasylvans liked to call them. The journey normally takes three days, but Kane chose to take the scenic route only stopping in Canton Village for supplies. He was on vacation after all and it was a great opportunity to explore uncharted sections of Terrasylvae that very few ever frequent.
Now Bush Mill wasn’t much of a village, but it suited Kane’s goal to travel with little effort. It got its name for the mill that ran with the steady stream. The rest of the buildings just cropped up overtime, filling in the necessities of those who lived there until it got its name on the map. It was quaint. Nice.
Kane couldn’t imagine living in Bush Mill.
Sure, it was quiet. But it was also boring. It was a farming town that saw little in the way of outsiders. From the looks of it, Kane assumed it a once-a-year festival kind of town, with barely enough room for a stray like himself. “Oh well.” he thought.”At least, I can get some food before getting to the Lime Sink. It shouldn’t be too far from here.”
The faint smell of food brought Kane to the village center to a small tavern named The White Hart. The sign was emblazoned with a white deer with a golden crow hanging off one antler. Inside there was only three people in the common room. The tavern keeper and two patrons sharing a drink at the end of the bar. Kane sat down in front of the man behind the bar, setting his pack beside him.
“What are you needin’ today, sir?”, the tavern keeper asked, subtly eyeing up the stranger sitting before him.
“Not much, honestly.” Kane replied. “I could do with some water and some food. Whatever you’ve got is fine by me.”
“You got money?” The man ask in a serious tone.
“Of course. I don’t have a mind for washing dishes.” Kane shot back with a smile.
With that, it was only a few minutes before he returned with a cold plate of chicken, some bread and butter, and a pitcher of water. It wasn’t much to look at, but it looked like it was cooked well enough.
“You wouldn’t happen to have some black pepper, would you?” Kane asked as he slathered a torn piece of bread with the butter.
With a look of surprise, he responded quizzically. “No. We haven’t had a spice trader come through here for quite sometime. All we’ve got is salt. Plus, that’d be too expensive for a place like this.”
“That’s okay.” Kane said waving his hand slightly. “I’ve got some in my pack. I just thought I’d ask before digging it out.”
Undoing one of the knots holding his pack shut, Kane reached down to rummage by touch through his pack until he pulled out a small brown wooden box. He unclasped the container on the counter to reveal a pile of black and brown specks. Pinching off the top, Kane sprinkled the dust over the cold chicken until it was evenly speckled.
Watching the whole process, the tavern keeper asked, “What did you say your name was again?”
“I didn’t give you my name, but it’s Kane since you’re asking.” Kane said, extending a hand. “What’s yours?”
“Mathias.” he said, returning the handshake.
“I’ve heard of a man called Kane.” said one of the men at the other end of the bar as he turned in his chair to face them.
“I have too.” The second, larger man added standing up from his chair. “I heard someone named Kane was leading a band of thieves and criminals on the other side of the mountains.”
Walking over, he towered over Kane in his seat. Extending a fat finger and bringing the smell of someone who hasn’t properly bathed, he continued by jabbing his finger into Kane’s chest. “That wouldn’t be you, now would it?”
Gently pushing the finger aside Kane stood up from his seat, still a head shorter than the other man. “If that were me, what would I be doing in a quaint little town like Bush Mill? Wouldn’t I be off causing trouble in places worth my time? You’ve got the wrong guy.” Kane picked up and shouldered his pack, turning to Mathias. “I think I’ll take my meal to go. Do you have sack or something?”
Placing a hand on Kane’s shoulder, the man said with obvious venom in his voice.”You’re not going anywhere. At least not until the sheriff can talk to you.” Calling over his shoulder, he yelled. “Hey Bern, go get the sheriff and the boys! Be quick about it.”
The smaller man, Bern, took one last look at his drink and then his companion before running off down the street to fetch the sheriff. It probably wouldn’t be long before they returned Kane thought to himself as he considered his options.
“I’d really rather not do this right now. I just wanted to eat my chicken.” Kane said exasperatedly, shaking his hand towards his barely touched plate of food. With a shrug, Kane pushed the man’s hand off his shoulder only to receive the other hand straight to the side of his jaw, sending him reeling.
Kane shook his head to clear his vision while trying to maintain his balance. When he finally collected himself he tensed and stretched the muscles in his back and neck, feeling them pull in various directions. Looking back at his opponent, he saw the larger man finish cracking his knuckles before beginning his approach. Kane said nothing, but inhaled a deep breath through his nose and exhaled slowly through his mouth.
When Bern and a few other men returned to The White Hart, the common room was a mess. A few of the tables and chairs were broken. The contents of bottles were slowly dripping off the counter, forming pools of amber liquid. In the corner was a large unconscious man with a broken nose, groaning with several large bruises already blossoming across his face. In the back room was Mathias, who swore he didn’t see what happened after hiding when the fighting started, all the while thinking of the newly acquired bag of coins hidden under his mattress.
A mile away Kane was walking along the riverbank, following the stream down river. As he plodded along, he picked out pieces of chicken from the sack in his hand before popping them into his mouth.