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The Tell of Cheff

The view from the top of the tree was excellent, but Cheff was beginning to regret his decision to climb the spindly Fir, it had begun to swing and sway alarmingly as he reached the higher branches. However, as he rested he found that the sway abated if he didn't move too much. Cheff exhaled hard and scanned the horizon. At first he saw nothing of note, but after a few minutes he caught the wisp of thin smoke from over a rise. At last!

Cheff had been travelling for weeks, living off the land, and quite frankly he was sick of it. He liked people, he needed bustle, he needed a bar. Ah, a good beer, Cheff mentally drooled. How he wished he had a beer. Still, the smoke plume in the distance offered hope and he resolved that if he could climb down without killing himself he would head straight for it.

Hitting the ground with a sickening thump Cheff lay winded for a while. "I gotta stop climbing trees.", he thought wryly, "Every time I go up, I fall out." Pulling himself out of the dirt Cheff brushed himself off and headed off in the direction of the smoke.

. . .

After a couple of minutes Cheff stopped throwing up and took a deep breath. The smoke he had spotted was still pouring from the wrecked cart on the forest track. About were strewn a number of bodies, but Cheff could not tell how many because they were in a number of very messy bits. But he could tell that a number of them had been children.

Finishing up the simple stone graves to protect the remains from scavengers, Cheff moved quickly on down the track, hoping that the extra speed offered by using the track would offset the danger of travelling in the open. After a few hours his gamble paid off when, in the distance he made out the unmistakable signs of civilisation. On either side of the road the forest gave way to fields that looked well tended, although they were empty at the moment. Cheff shrugged mentally, "Maybe they got scared when they saw me coming.", he said quietly to himself.

A few more hours of slogging along the track brought Cheff to the gates of a huge stockade surrounded by a deep ditch. Guard towers adorned the stockade wall at 20m intervals and the crossbow armed guards in the towers looked like they meant business. Still, the guards on the gate did not stop him as passed through the gate and he immediately started looking for a tavern. It didn't take long, obviously the town catered for a lot of travellers as there were a number of drinking holes to choose from.

Cheff was not fussy, he entered the first tavern he could find and headed straight for the bar.