Maraside was a small village in northern Mar Haddon, sitting beneath the shadow of the Maraside Mountains to the north. It was the last stop before one entered the Jolvaine pass into Cairhien. It was a relatively quiet town that only ever saw merchants and the occasional travelers. It was claimed that Maraside stood on the very spot that, centuries ago, Artur Hawkwing defeated the false Dragon Guaire Amalasan.
This, however, was not what Garwin had in mind when he signed up for Mar Haddon's army. Instead of getting a cushiony station like in the capital, Mirk, he was instead stuck at a border checkpoint. Garwin and the seventy five other men who formed the Maraside Northern Border Corp were stationed at Fort Khodomar. The fort, if one could call it that, was little more than a reinforced barracks. With a lack of threat from Cairhien to the north, the majority of Mar Haddon's forces sat in the south, between Tear and Mar Haddon.
Garwin exited the fort through it's southern entrance and walked the hundred spans to Maraside. He was off duty and would be so for the next two days. As luck would have it a merchant carrying wine and ale from Cairhien arrived the night before, ensuring there would still be the good stuff at the tavern.
Garwin stood outside of the Posh Pot. This was the village's only tavern, ran by Mistress Baily, and served as a gathering place for off duty soldiers and merchant guards staying the night. He offered a nod and a smile to the proprietress and made his way to a table near the fire. A serving girl, one he never met before met him and took his order. He couldn't help but stare as she walked away, there weren't a lot of new faces appearing in Maraside, a part from the occasional merchant train. It was rare that anyone new showed up to stay.
"Pretty little lass, ain't she be?" Garie, the town's cobbler, took a seat across from Garwin, his own frothing mug of ale in hand. It was well established that Garie was the best, if only, cordwainer and handy-man around. It was equally well established that he was the local drunk. He did make a pretty penny off of making and repairing shoes for travelers, but he spent all of it at the Posh Pot. "Ol' Baily hired the girl just the night a'fore. Ain't knowin' too much 'bouts her, but I hear she's got a pretty voice and I guess I don't need to tells ye how pretty she looks. Not at all like Ol' Baily."
The same 'Ol' Baily' delivered a resounding blow to the top of Garie's head. "I thought I smelled a rat, but it looks to be just a drunk. From the sounds of it, you were talkin' about me behind my back, Garie. Perhaps if I stopped serving you ale it'd keep your tongue in your mouth." She glared at the cordwainer.
"Naw, Ol'...I mean Mistress Baily. You needn't be doing something like that. I'll behave, that I will, I'll behave. I was just havin' a chat with ol' Garwin here. Needn't ye be minding us, no ye needn't." He turned to his mug avoiding the Mistress' glare.
"And how are you Garwin? Doing alright?" The cheeriness in her voice was much different than the tone she offered Garie.
"I'm right as rain, Ma'am. Got the next two days off and I plan on spending it here alleviating my boredom with ale and, if the stories be true, mayhaps a song from that new girl."
"Ah, yes, she's a strange one that she is. Came in the other day asking for a job. I hadn't planned on hiring a stranger, thinking that maybe one of Haran's girls could use some work, but we've been underhanded since Jess left for the capital. She's pretty and has a better voice than most so I thought to try her out. Don't know much else about her."
Garwin nodded, wondering where his ale was. Mistress Baily took a seat at their table, much to the chagrin of Garie. "By the by, Garwin, have you heard the news?" He shook his head. "Well, apparently, King Gregorin of Illian has called for a Hunt for the Horn of Valere. I hear that all sorts of people, high and low, are making their way to Illian to swear the Hunter's Oath."
Garie guffawed, "A fool's errand. They ain't gonna be findin' no 'Horn of Valere'. 'Tis a waste of time for people to be prying their noses in places they ain't belonging." He drank down the rest of his mug and called for another. "It'll be the end of the world the day the Horn is found, if it even exists, and it sure don't seem like the end is nigh, do it be?"
Garwin nodded at Garie, "That's true, but who wouldn't care for a bit of adventure? Anything to relieve themselves of the bore of everyday life." At that the two at his table nodded in agreement.
What he would give, Garwin thought, if he could go adventuring around searching for the Horn, traveling to lands far and wide. That would be a life much more worth living than stuck here at Fort Khodomar. Mistress Baily left their table to prepare food and drink for other patrons and Garie began to talk in his drunken speech, mostly at himself than at Garwin. As Garwin daydreamed about being a Hunter another thought crossed his mind: Where was his blasted ale?!