Agathilea (prime)/Disturbing News

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As she rode Xanthus up the well-traveled road home, the quiet morning breeze gently kissed the back of her neck, reminding her of many peaceful rides in her younger years. The old stable hand smiled as she dismounted and handed the reins to him. "He's a fine-looking one, Legionnaire," he said with a knowing grin. Agathilea replied, "Looks can be deceiving; best you not let your guard down with this one, Cal." She gave the charger a warning glance and whispered, "Behave yourself" into his ear as she headed to the house.

As she entered the study, her Father stood and, in one stride, met her, gathering her into his arms. He whispered, "Welcome home, daughter. It has been too long". Teasingly, she replied with a grin, "Or not long enough ." As they both chuckled, she studied him closely, noting the lines of worry, the stern set of his jaw, and the fading twinkle in his eyes. Catching her appraisal, he quickly noted, "Do not concern yourself. It is an old man before you now, tasked with all the mundane things of old age." She countered, "What mundane things, Father?" He drew away from her and returned to his massive oak desk, tracing the edges of the sturdy wood as he made his way to the chair. He regarded her quietly for a moment before evenly replying, "We have had some difficulty with transport and the reluctance of buyers to commit to orders." She listened as he told her of the reluctance of port traders to place larger orders due to the unbridled violence surrounding the port, and how neighboring farms had suffered many losses as well. Her Father added that he had made arrangements to sell to the West, as he had plenty of contractors there, but they both knew the profit margin would be substantially less.

Agathilea related the encounter with the cobalt-masked bandits by the Legion and fellow defenders of the Fortress, the disturbing letter from the Eastern Seaboard Collective Traders to King Qalinor, and the pending defense proposal written by Captain Tyavasinne's Father. Her Father leaned forward as she finished her summary and whispered, "Take care, my child. These bandits are not the usual scourge you deal with. Their organized effort tells a seasoned soldier that more is at play here than the usual greed for silver. Outward appearances must not deceive you but rather look at actions, areas targeted, and the ones most affected, both adversely or not." Just as Agathilea began her carefully worded reply, her Mother's shrill voice pierced the air. "Agathilea, are you not going to come to greet your loving Mother?" Agathilea tried not to groan before calling, "Coming, Mother!" She quickly ran through the study door, leaving her Father with a bemused look. As mid-day approached, Agathilea left her family with a warning to avoid travel to the Fortress for a short time and a promise to write with updates as soon as possible. She hurried to the stable and caught Cal, the stable hand, just as he was about to nap. Quickly reviewing her concerns for the farm's safety, he nodded as she urged the addition of a few trusted companions to look after the crops and the transports and left him enough silver to pay wages for a few months. With a grin, Cal brought Xanthus out of his stall and handed her the reins. She settled in, adjusting her saddle, and quietly urged the charger toward the Fortress, mulling her Father's advice as she rode.