News of the disastrous peace summit quickly found its way to William of Vandregon. Upon hearing the news from the surviving summit members of Pack Longfang, William left with his new recruits to assist settlements around New Hope for the coming storm of war and hopefully, to bolster the ranks of his Army.
Venator Oathkeeper, however, stayed behind to rest. His travels had found him at the Wayward Inn on the day it was attacked. It was there that he had encountered a gravely injured fugitive Greytide by the name of Rogar, with a hostile warband of Greytide warriors hot on his trail. Venator and the other patrons of the Wayward Inn had offered shelter to Rogar, and the Inn had come under attack by his pursuers. The Inn was ill prepared for the attack and suffered greatly for it. Many people were either injured or killed. After a second wave of Greytides attacked, Rogar risked his life to let the survivors escape. Following the harrowing flight into Nightriver territory, Venator approached Rogar with a proposition.
”So, the Graytides have burned down the wayward Inn have they?”
“Yes.” said Rogar, “I tried to hold them back and give you and the others time to escape, but they were hell bent on burning it to the ground.”
” I haven’t met many Greytides in my time,” said Venator, “but meeting a warrior of your stature confuses me greatly. You aren’t like the rest of them. You aren’t afraid.”
“Are you calling my people cowards?”
“No. And I mean no disrespect to you or your family, but the fact is that the Greytides fear us. That is why they hate us so. That is why they so blindly follow Khulgar. You are different. You find your own path, and you follow your own heart.”
Venator locked eyes with Rogar and removed his axe from its ring.
“Here,” he said, offering the axe to Rogar, “take this.”
The ax was sturdy, though it had clearly seen battle. Rogar took it warily.
“Why are you giving me this, Oathkeeper?”
”Because, Rogar, I think your heart is in it.”
Rogar seemed to be studying the axe intently, but in reality he was searching himself for an answer.
“By your actions today,” continued Venator Oathkeeper, “you have proven yourself to be what all Ulven should strive to be; an honorable warrior. Every warrior needs a reliable weapon. I have carried that axe for years, and it has served me well. Now, I give it to you, as a token of my appreciation, and as thanks from the people you’ve helped.”
“Thank you, Oathkeeper, you honor me with this gift.”
“Where will you go, Rogar, now that you are no longer a Greytide?”
Rogar looked off into the horizon to the West. He would never be allowed to set foot in his homeland again.
“I hadn’t really given it much thought yet.” he whispered.
”Come with me to New Hope, Rogar. Join me, and stand with Vandregon! You have already shown that you are willing to fight for those who cannot fight for themselves. Why not do it alongside those who share the same ideals of brotherhood and equality?”
“You speak as if you’ve been practicing this speech.” grumbled Rogar.
“I have not, but I have been told these same things by a wise man whom I admire. Believe what you want, but I wasn’t always like this. I used to be selfish, greedy, vengeful, and full of rage. I had nothing to fight for. I had nothing to believe in. Because of that, I tried to fight the world. I looked to only advance my own selfish wants. One day, I came across a very talented human by the name of William. I fought him out of spite and was humbled, but instead of making an enemy of me, he offered me friendship. He offered me a chance to be more than what I was; to fight for something bigger than myself. Ever since that day, I have fought beneath that banner. My days as a lone wolf are over.”
”So you think I should join Vandregon?”
“If your heart is in it,” Venator said, placing a hand upon Rogar’s shoulder, “I would be honored to have you fight at my side.”
”I can’t promise you all the glory that a lonelier road may earn,” he continued, “but I can promise you that if you join William and me, we will fight to ensure that the events that have transpired here today will never happen again. Enough talk, friend. I will give you some time to think about it.”
”Wait!” said Rogar, ”What you speak of sounds like the thing this world needs.”
Rogar ran his finger along the blade of the axe.
“I will follow you and William.”
“Well then, we don’t have time to lose!” exclaimed the veteran warrior, embracing Rogar.
Venator suddenly snarled in pain as he recoiled and clutched his injured chest.
“On second thought,” he grunted, “let’s find a healer, first. I’m afraid I’m in no condition to travel like this.”