A single campfire was burning and the only source of light in the dark forest. It gave Bart the creeps. The silence was deafening. Except for the gentle running stream nearby and the cackling of the camp fire, Bart couldn't hear anything else. No animals, not even crickets.
He wasn't surprised, given where he was.
'The Dark Lands are usually deprived of life.'
The bard sat near the fire. He had finished eating his rations and was now trying to rest. However, he found that hard to do given their location, and the impressive structure that was not that far away.
A large wall, many stories high and built crudely, loomed in the distance. Known as the Wall to the countryside peasants, it stretched from the North Seat to the South Sea, a distance of over eight hundred miles. it was the only thing that kept them safe from the monstrosities and dangers that lurked beyond it. It had been the only saving grace humanity had from certain destruction. No one with a sound mind had ever thought to traverse it for fear of their own lives.
Come tomorrow, he would count himself and his companions as those fools. Yet as crazy as it sounded Bart looked forward to it. 'More material to share with the people back home,' he thought with a degree of excitement. The young red headed man had always lived for excitement and telling stories to people.
His fellow travelers were in their space and mindset as the night dragged on. Sitting on the other side of the fire opposite Bart was a woman with long silver white hair tied in two intricate tails going down the front of her shoulders. Though she looked to be no older than twenty the woman known as Unica gave off a mature vibe when she spoke, which had been rarely since Bart had been with her. Of course he'd never forget the moment he met her. Walking along the road outside the village of Paris, a tall silver staff in her left hand, the bell that dangled from it had been ringing softly and that was the first clue he had gotten to her presence. Of course Bart had thought to charm the woman when he approached her, but she had told him off in the most distinct manner he had ever been told.
'Speak not of affection for me, for I have none for your kind.'
Her tone had been cold and somewhat off-putting, like she didn't have time for him and his shenanigans.
'My kind? She mean me as a human or as a man with my tastes?'
That had been one of the reasons the man had decided to tag along with her and her friend two days ago. Nothing like a good mystery to solve especially when a beautiful woman was involved. And Unica was no doubt the most beautiful woman he had ever seen in his life. Dressed in a set of revealing grey robes that exposed her mid drift and most of her shapely legs, she wasn't ashamed of how revealed she was in her robes. Even as the underside of her chest was revealed as well as the center, where one could make out the curves of her ample chest, didn't seem to affect her and instead seemed to show off her maturity. Unica easily and without trying outdid any other woman Bart had seen on his travels. Her silver irises shined even in the dark and that also had a level of appeal that the bard couldn't describe with justice.
However, the bard quickly found out that Unica wasn't as mysterious as her companion.
He turned off to the side when he heard the distinct sound of armor approaching the fire. The light of the blaze soon shined on the darkened grey armor of what appeared to be a knight coming from the dark forest. Standing over seven feet tall the armor made the man look bigger than that even. The armor was of crude design but it covered most of the man's body, yet it wasn't bulky to where he strained to breathe in it as he sat down near the fire. While the armor was crude and had intricate markings all over it what got Bart was the helmet. It covered the man's whole head and two long vertical horns came from the temples. It looked distinctly like that of the fearsome dragons of ages past. Then there was the yellow eyes that could be seen past the visor. An unnatural, if not inhuman color that was the same as the dirty cape that flowed from his shoulders, the end of which was in tatters.
Bart had seen the man carrying a weapon of some sorts. A javelin or spear that was golden yellow, just like the gem on his chest plate. He hoped the man was as good with that weapon as he seemed to be, otherwise the monsters on the other side of the wall would make short work of the three.
"Master Lukas. What news does thou bring?"
Unica had addressed the knight with dignity and respect, something that she had not shown to Bart. That didn't bother him though, as he knew he hadn't yet earned respect from either of them. He was just a traveler looking for adventure and Unica's hand in marriage. That last one was a fantasy, yet he still chased it with glee.
Yet even as the bard knew nothing about the knight he couldn't help but notice something about him. Like Unica having a veil of mysteriousness hidden under her beauty, Bart couldn't help but respect Lukas whenever he was in his presence. He was intimidating for sure in his fearsome dark grey armor, but under that there had to be more.
Yet as long as he had been travelling with them (two days to be exact) Bart had never heard either of them make small talk with each other or even to Bart himself. Though they had allowed him to come along with them they never told him why and as curious as the bard was his fear won out and he never asked why.
That mysteriousness is what made good stories, and Bart made a mental note of it.
Lukas continued to stare at the fire. It was hard to tell if he was looking at anything else due to the way his helmet prevented his face from being seen. His voice was heavy, almost a growl. "The wall is down the road, past the village of Nice. We move at daybreak, and we will reach it by noon."
Feeling the tension in the air going up Bart decided to snap it like a branch. He put his arms up over his head and groaned, "Okay then. Sun up it is. So, who will play night watch?"
Bart had asked out of curiosity but he had a distinct feeling he knew what the answer would be.
"I will take watch for the night."
That answer had come not from Lukas but from Unica.
So the bard had been proven wrong. Again.
"You sure Lady Unica? I can do it if you wish to rest."
The woman took hold of her staff in her left hand, the bell gently rang just above her head from the curve of the staff. She didn't respond to his offer.
"Fear not, Bart. She can handle herself," said Lukas as he continued to stare at the fire, his tone unchanged.
"If you say so, sir knight," replied Bart as he went to lie down in his sleeping bag near the fire. As far as he knew he was the only one who had blankets to sleep with. The knight went to a nearby tree and sat against it. Being in that armor was no doubt uncomfortable to lie down in so sitting up was probably the best way to sleep.
That left the bard with being in his own sleeping bag near the fire. Still he had company as he heard Unica's bell ringing lightly behind him. To help with his drifting the young man turned to have his back to the fire and his eyes forward to see the woman watching into the darkness of the forest. A comforting sight for sure.
In a way it was what finally helped him relax before drifting off to sleep.