Bridge Club

Every so often, the guards that live in the fortifications around the Bridge are rotated out. When they rotate in new guards, they also take merchants along to bring whatever goods had been requested to restock. The merchants are brought along because they already have the carts, horses, etc. This is one of the best-defended merchant caravans ever because it has a whole group of soldiers travelling with it both ways, but it's also a very wealthy caravan because of the amount of stuff sold. The goods that were ordered are already paid for, but the merchants also usually bring along extra things to sell to the soldiers both going on and coming off duty.

Since this is such a safe,w ell-defended caravan, your father decides to send you along with it on your own. You're to watch what the spellcasting escorts do, learn from them, and try to make some contacts - y'know, schmooze a bit to learn how he can sell more to the soldiers.

Nice! So this is like a big deal for the family business.

Very big deal. Potentially a big moneymaker. You're talking about a bunch of soldiers who just got paid _and_ are just getting to go home.

The trip is both eventful and uneventful. Eventful because you have a lot to watch and learn, but uneventful because you're travelling through well-travelled areas under heavy guard.

Reminder: You definitely get to schmooze and make some contacts, so keep that in mind - you can make notes of a few soldiers and merchant guards that you'd gain some friendliness with.

When you get there, you camp out for a couple of days as everything is transitioned over to the new guard. You set up your tent, do some selling, make a little money, learn a little bit. You head for bed, and about 2 AM, you wake up in a cold sweat. You feel the need to get out of your tent.

The camp is sort of a ring setup. On the east (Bridge side) and west are soldiers; the merchants are in the center. There are always guards on watch in the soldiers' camps, but the merchants' camp is still and quiet. After all, they're safely in the center.

Maleos slowly gets up, dresses, and steps out of his tent. His gaze is immediately drawn to the Bridge. There's a thick mist curled up through and around the campsites, and the glow from the watchfires makes the Bridge appear to be wreathed in a flickering orange aura. You suddenly realize you've taken a dozen or so steps toward the Bridge. Shocked and a bit scared, Maleos immediately sits down on the ground.

I am going to close my eyes, take a deep breath, perhaps mentally observe that wellspring of magical energy inside myself that I can touch, and then I think the phrase "Why?"

You think that, and out of instinct, you open your eyes again. Your gaze is locked to the Bridge, and your vision suddenly unnaturally clears. You think you see a shape on the Bridge, a humanoid shape, moving across the Bridge toward the Isle. Somehow you can see that the shape is holding a shield in front of its head and seems to be struggling against a tremendous gale. The shape blinks back and forth along the Bridge, first appearing nearly at the near side, then in the middle, then far into the mists, then close again. You can't make out any features other than the silhouette of the figure struggling against the gale. Just as suddenly as it appeared, the vision clears, and you once again feel normal, albeit slightly moist and definitely scared.

I make a show of stretching out my hamstrings. Then I walk back to my tent and close the entrance.

You do this in a daze. The next morning, you're not 100% sure that wasn't just a dream, but it feels almost like something halfway between a dream and real.

Not 100% sure. Okay. I sit in my tent, close my eyes, observe the magical wellspring within me, and think of the man with the Shield.

You can see everything incredibly clearly and remember the dream - was it a dream? - extremely vividly.

I think the phrase "Who are you?"

You concentrate, focusing on the identity of the shieldbearer, but you don't hear anything… or… or do you faintly hear the roar of a gale…?

For the rest of your time time at the camp, you can go about your business normally, and that feeling never comes back. A few weeks later, you have the same dream again, but you're at home, you know it's a dream. This dream is something you continue to have to this day. Not every night, but every once in a while, and unpredictably. And it's always exactly the same.

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