Ardan Arkados gave the riding Kroark a spiteful kick in the guts as it stumbled off the path again.
The gray skinned reptilian lifted its long snout and let out rueful hoot, bucking its rider around.
High up in the saddle Ardan was forced to grab the saddle horn with both hands as he struggled to stay atop the riding beast, which was once more drifting into the path of the Bouphon-pulled wagon, trailing behind him.
He gave the lizard another kick and pulled the reigns hard to the right, obediently his mount moved out of the wagon's way.
With another hoot the creature settled back into a loping gait.
I left Tyr-Sog for this? Ardan thought, wrapping the reins firmly into his hands.
Six days on the road and he ached all over. Six days in the saddle, cold camps every night and only the company of the caravaners and the sell swords his father had hired.
Craning his neck Ardan could see the four large wagons trundling along behind him, a dozen caravan guards - all attired in the standard leather brigandine and heavy trail cloak - mounted on their own Kroarks.
All were armed with long spears and had small, round wooden shields slung over their shoulders.
No one could say that Ardan's father didn't equip his men with the best.
Suddenly there was the sound of pounding feet ahead, followed by the high pitched hoot of a Kroak.
Ardan's hand dropped down to where his own slim sword rested at his hip. The blade was more more costly than anything any of the caravan guards could ever afford but it had seen its share of blood in a series of duels back in the capital.
Onfra Rue's mount galloped around the corner, the head of the guards sat high in the saddle, his spear slung over his right shoulder.
The mercenary, considered his father's best fighter, reigned his Kroak in, falling into step with Ardan's mount.
"We've found a snug little dell just up ahead," he said, running his free hand through his dark hair.
"We can make camp there and call it a day a little early, if his lordship agrees?"
Ardan nodded curtly but he groaned inwardly. Another night of rough camp.
Scratching at his newly grown beard - he'd stopped shaving before leaving the city, partially as a signal that he'd finally grown up and partially to confuse assassins on his trail - he thought ruefully of his exile.
"This is the last toss of the dice, lad," his father had told him the week earlier when the pair were alone in the old man's study.
"The last chance."
Swordsmen working for the duChain family were searching the city for the scion of the Arkados family as the pair spoke. Probably trawling through the seedy collection of dockside taverns, high class brothels and wine-sodden salons Ardan frequented.
Only hours before Lord Edu duChain had entered his daughter's bedchamber only to discover her wrapped around an enthusiastic Ardan.
And this time the problem couldn't be cleared up with a purse of gold and a promise, like it did that time with the serving slave.
No, this time Ardan was in the deep end.
Kicking his Kroark once more the young noble spured to the front of the merchant convey.
"Come on you, lot!"
Ardan Arkados is heir to the vast fortunes of the Arkados trader family. The name Arkados has been synonmous with trade in Tyr-Sog for a century and his father, a master merchant, was rewarded with a patent of nobility by the Sark before Ardan was born.
The boy grew up in the lap of luxury with his every whim provided for, his comforts built on the back of the family's trading and shipping interests.
With a father frequently away on business and an easily manipulated mother Ardan quickly turned into a spoilt little shit.
As he got older his interest turned to girls, drink and dice and very quickly his vices caught up with him.
As fitting the son of a merchant prince Ardan was taught the art of the sword from a young age, which proved fortunate because he was frequently called into duels on account of his involvement with other men's wives, daughters, slaves and in one case grandmother.
He took little interest in the family business, occasionally joining trade negotiations or merchant ships bound for far off lands.
Finally he went to far and was found bedding the daughter of a powerful and malicious lord who quickly dispatched hired swords to find and kill him.
Frustrated with what his son has become, Ardan's father has sent him west with one of their trade caravans, hoping that getting him out of the city will keep him alive and maybe even make a man out of him.
Hero Points 5
Protection: Medium armour (1d6 -1) mail hauberk
Weapons: spear (d6), dueling sword (d6)
Boons: Great Wealth, Etiquette