Chapter 1: Spielburg—Follow the Yellow Dirt Road
It would have happened to him. There was just no getting around it.
Cyrus stood at the clearing, huffing and breathing heavily as he looked at the expansive mass of snow now cutting off any chance he had of leaving Spielburg by this path. The avalanche had started about a kilometer back, and if he hadn't been in as good a shape as he was, he wasn't sure he would have cleared the mountains in time. As it was, he'd barely hit the forest in time to see the snow pile up and fill the mountains with an impassable deluge of it.
Running a hand through his blonde hair, he pulled himself up to his full height and looked skyward, his brown eyes searching for someone to blame. "Why?" he asked, spreading his arms to his sides so that they could be seen from underneath his red cape. "What did I do this time? I haven't picked any pockets for nearly a full week!"
He turned and made his way down the path, cursing in a steady stream of Dutch and English. There was no getting around it. He'd have to make do in this place now. This valley, he'd read, was pretty much only accessible through this road; it was surrounded by mountains on all sides. Now there was no backing out of the job he'd come here for.
And what job had he come here for? A heroing job, of all things!
He'd been having doubts about the whole thing since he'd first seen the ad. The posting had seemed almost too good to be true:
Town of Spielburg seeks hero. Defeat local brigands and restore prosperity to surrounding valley. Reward of 100 gold pieces and title of Hero of Spielburg to successful applicant. No experience necessary. Heroes from the East especially encouraged to apply.
It sounded great, especially the "no experience" part. Until recently, his only experience with heroing had been his completion of the Famous Adventurer's Hero Correspondence Course, and all that material had been to help him develop his stealth and lockpicking skills. Truth be told, heroing and thieving were often mutually exclusive, but thief skills were valued and often used by professional heroes, so when he saw the ad, he had figured why not try it out? It's not like there was a thieves' guild in his village, anyway.
Now, anyway, he had the first answer to why he shouldn't have tried heroing out. He was stuck in this valley for at least the next couple months; it was very early spring, and the weather up here was still cool, and could easily get colder. The snow wouldn't be melting anytime soon. And Cyrus knew he would need more money than he currently had to survive here that long.
He kept to the path, a dagger now dancing in his throwing hand as he attempted to twirl it, cursing his bad luck as he followed it through the forest. Hopefully the town wasn't too far away. Then he could start looking into this valley and find out more about these local brigands and how to become the town hero.
The forest wasn't bad, all things considered. The path from the mountains was obviously safest, but he could see from its confines that the forest was not as densely pack with trees as it might have been; navigation shouldn't be too big a problem. The lush greenness of the foliage and the occasional bloom from a tree or flower was quite refreshing after seeing so much snow over the last week, and impressed upon him that spring, however tenuous it may be staying around, was here at least for the moment.
Cyrus cursed, suddenly jumping back as the dagger he'd been twirling fell from his fingers to the ground. Its blade immediately pointed to the ground and went several centimeters into the soft yellow-brown dirt of the path. He wasn't sure, but he was pretty sure his foot had been in that spot a second before.
"Geez, it isn't enough you've cut me off in this… place!" he exclaimed to no one in particular. Sarcasm was kind of his 'thing,' as was talking unnecessarily. "You want a toe now, too? When are you gonna leave me alone? Maybe I should become a rutting paladin, is that it?"
Picking the dagger up and sheathing it, Cyrus decided he'd have to work on his knife twirling a little more before he tried doing that again. This wasn't the first… or even the fifth, time he'd nearly injured himself. No point in getting himself killed or hurt when there were probably lots of other things here that would gladly do the job for him.
A few moments later, the gates to the town came clearly into view. Breathing a sigh of relief, Cyrus praised the smallness of the area. If the valley really was as small as he'd read, he would know it well within a week. Seeing that the town was surrounded by a stone wall, he wondered what the denizens inside must have experienced to make them put up such a fortification.
Steeling himself for his now mandatory adventure, he made for the gated community, glad that in a community this small, there couldn't possibly be any thieves' guild to compete against.
Unless, of course, the brigands were union members. But he'd burn that bridge when he came to it.