Leaning back in his chair, Aldric held the unrolled scroll higher in his hands, as if that would help him see the letter better. Squinting helped some, but a soft film seemed to cover his aging eyes that no amount of light could filter.
It did not matter that that he could not make out every word. The meaning of its contents were clear.
Danger. All inactive guards had been reassigned to various duties. No longer relied on for the safety of towns, their knowledge and experience could lend towards training the younger lads signing up for duty. It came from the young woman in charge of Aldric now. Of use to no one the last decade, she brought him his correspondence, weekly supplies, and on occasion a wrapped basket of bread and honey from Mildred, the town baker.
From the Captain of the Guard’s 3rd division:
Old friend Aldric,
It has been many years since I have sent word to you or heard from you. I hope this letter finds you in good health. Good enough at least to hear my words. You taught me well in the pits of Jhelom. I remember the looks of every young man around me taking in your Ornate Axe and listening to it cut through the wind as you brought it round the training dummy, the hay flying around us like snow.
It is due to your patience and tutelage that I find myself a Captain among the Guards. I have seen us through many battles, fought with the courage and determination you instilled in us all. I seek your guidance once again.
Every town has been disrupted. Maybe you have experienced this yourself in the outskirts of Cove. We have been fighting to keep the peace, trying to listen to the protests and sometimes arresting our own neighbors who have taken to lighting fires and tossing their rubbish into the town squares. The criers are hoarse in their warnings and a leader of raiders, Dan, has taunted many as they go from town to town, taking what they want.
Danger is everywhere. We now require all inactive guards to serve where assigned to assist with training.
My request from you old friend, is to take on a task that I trust to no one else. It does not require your axe, instead it requires you to journey on my behalf. I would send with you members of my guard but no one can be spared. Perhaps you could recruit some trusted towns folk to journey with you. Send word that you are up to this task, trust no one besides Alicia who brings you this letter. Yes Aldric, all these years I have cared for you through my niece, Alicia.
Your faithful student,
Captain Joseph of the 3rd division
Aldric felt all at once proud, thankful and frustrated at his age. His days of captaining the Jhelom pits were long over. Walking over to the fireplace, he reached up with his weary bones and brought down the Ornate Axe that hung on the mantlepiece. His bony fingers traced the metal design and felt the weight of a well crafted weapon. He may not need his trusty axe, but by the gods if he could not wield it he would not go.
Holding the axe in both hands now, he took an unsteady step back, then with one swift move that belied his aging profile, he heard the familiar ‘whoosh’ as it cut through the air and brought the candlestick down in two pieces with a crash.
He would send word with Alicia, go under the cover of a few trusted town folk on a simple journey. He would make sure Joseph heard all he needed to hear.