Short into:

This is a short chapter from the first book of a fantasy series I'm working on right now. I try to avoid writing, unnecessary filler text, or uninteresting connective chapters, and I fear I might be guilty of both in this chapter! However I do feel like it is necessary to tie the story together and establish certain characters, so I'm curious to hear from You, the people reading this text without any context: Is it engaging? Is it coherent? Is there any part of it that is particularly interesting, or uninteresting?

P.s. I apologise in advance for all the inworld name/place references in the text. I will make an effort to introduce this world bit by bit, to avoid overwhelming the reader.

Plenty of Rest

“Mail!” announced Piromir as he ran into the tavern with a stack of letters in his hands.

“Should we not be a little more discreet about business?” I asked, glancing nervously around the room. Aside from our table there were 12 people in the tavern, none of whom were from our company.

«I tried enforcing discretion once, Droga can tell you how that worked out!” Piromir laughed as he took a seat at the table and began sifting through the papers.

Droga looked up from his porridge and smiled widely, exposing seven teeth standing strong in his otherwise empty gums, “We tried. We failed. We said no speaking, men spoke. We tried to find out who spoke, we didn’t find out. We punished everyone, men complained and next time men spoke again. No discretion. Secret only secret if only 2 people know.”

“Hopefully 4 in our case!” Said Piromir without looking up from the letters.

“Yes,” nodded Droga, “hopefully four.”

I looked to the empty seat beside me, half expecting Nebomir to have materialised there mid-conversation. He had a habit of appearing and disappearing in different places without a hint or a trace. I could never figure out if there was an element of magic to this trick, or if it was a purely physical skill.

“Aha!” Cried Piromir looking up from one of the letters, “A village was burnt down in the Heartlands. Might be a dragon!”

“Does the letter say dragon?” Asked Droga.


“Then no dragon.” He concluded looking back to his porridge.

I glanced at Piromir, who winked back at me muttering, “You never know, dragons can be surprisingly discrete.”

Droga chuckled, but continued eating without looking up at anyone. Piromir picked up another letter, “This one tells of a haunted castle on the East Coast, sounds exciting!”

“Tarenia?” asked Nebomir, suddenly, yet predictably, appearing behind me.

“I’m not sure.” Piromir answered looking back at the letter. “It’s written by a Burgian noble. He says it's half a march south of Cita, so it should in Tarenian territory.”

“Burgians march like birds walk.” Droga interjected.

“You know Drogi…” Nebomir said thoughtfully, “someday I would like to record all your foreign expressions and spend my feeble days mining them with fellow academic for nuggets of truth and wisdom.”

Droga nodded, “Scholars chew stones to taste truth.”

“Considering that you aren't a scholar, could you please return to chewing your porridge and listening to what the letters have to say.” Piromir glanced impatiently around the table before returning his eyes to the letter, “So, the Burgian noble inherited this castle from his brides family, however when his parents tried to move in they disappeared together with they’re entire retinue.”

“While that does sound like an exciting mission, Piri, I would be very cautious with taking any jobs in that area lest we risk getting unintentionally embroiled in an active military conflict involving Tarenia. What do the other letters say?”

“Aside from the Heartland town that was burned to the ground, there’s a royal wedding in Faringstone that would like us to provide extra security, there’s a revolt in Eastern Eltoria that the king would like our help in quelling, and, also in Eltoria, there are some trees south of Dorstar that the locals would like us to chop down.”

“Why pay us to cut trees?” Asked Droga, finishing his porridge and setting the bowl aside.

“The Dor forest trees are known to actively resist being chopped.” Nebomir smirked, “It could be an interesting job and the Dorstar nobles are known to pay well. What of the other letters?”

Piromir glanced at the letters one last time, smiled and said “There are some Tarenian rebels hiding in the Shamelin hills, who are asking for our help. Is that something that might interest you?”

Nebomir smiled sorrowfully and looked down at his fingers. “I’m sure the Tarenian High Counsel would pay handsomely if we were to take that job and then expose the rebels to them...” Piromir continued.

“Pirom! That isn’t funny.” Nebomir said, any hints of a smile had left his face. He now gazed coldly into Piromirs eyes.

“I’m sorry.” Piromir answered looking away. “Never mind that,”

Nebomir looked back at the letters, “ What about the others?”

“Oh it’s nothing interesting.” Piromir said, beginning to fold them back up.

Nebomir watched him carefully until Piromir looked back up and exclaimed, “Well if you’d like we could get involved in Heartland political intrigues between the old aristocracy and the new military nobility.”

Nebomir raised his hands defensively, “I was just curious.”“Anyways, I say we go east to Eltoria to take care of the naughty rebels and then the naughty trees, however we take the long route, around Heartland, to investigate the burnt town on our way.”

Piromir looked around the table, “Does everyone agree?”

Nebomir frowned, “I’m not sure the burnt town is worth the time and effort. The rebellion seems time sensitive, I worry we might miss our opportunity if we spend time on such ambiguous quests.”

“He hopes to see another Dragon!” Laughed Droga.

Nebomir looked inquisitively at Piromir, who simply shrugged that comment off, “It’s on our way, and we’ll get 100 crowns for figuring out what transpired, 200 for dealing with the threat. Definitely worth it, even if we don’t get to see a dragon.”“And the other jobs?”

“One crown per soldier we bring, to fight the rebellion, plus loot, so at least 300. No price was given for the wood-chucking, but I’m sure they’ll make it worth our while.”

“Oh.” Nebomir frowned again, “So I assume we’re fighting the rebels as a part of a larger army. That would make it very time sensitive.”

“They’re rallying the men a couple weeks from now,” Piromir waved off the mage’s concerns, “so we’ll have plenty of time if we set off north in the afternoon.”

“Today?” The three other men asked in unison.

“Of course!” Piromir replied unfazed by his colleagues' surprise.

“We only arrived last night!” Droga protested. “The men need a break.”

“They’ll get plenty of rest onboard.” Piromir smiled. He shoved the neat stack of folded letters in his pouch and went over to the innkeeper to discuss something, as far as I understood, unknown to any of us.

Droga gave me a quick smile, got up, grabbed his bowl off the table, and walking over to the heath, where the innkeeper's mother was stirring another batch of porridge.

Nebomir, once again, was nowhere to be seen.

I considered going outside to see the town and its inhabitants in the daylight, or returning to my room to get some more rest. I did neither. I stayed sitting at the table, waiting for Droga to return with more food, or for Piromir to come over and give us some further instructions.It was warm and cosy in the tavern.

It was nice not to have to make any decisions. It meant that I was safe from making any mistakes. It meant that I could finally rest.