Rohl remembered very little of the events of the previous night. Did he know why he was half named and sprawled across the floor of the main hall, no. Did he want to know, also no. All he did know was that his head was killing and that it was extremely cold in the empty hall, the fire and candles had long died out, leaving very few sources of heat.
Fortunately, no one else was in the hall, which gave Rohl the chance to rush off back to his room without having to explain what he was doing there. It was a short walk as usual but it still gave Rohl the time to process what small glimmers of memory remained.
He could remember the instant regret that had followed his discovery about the Liber Bacchus and how Ell had mocked his mistake. She had very little to worry about given her resistance to alcohol and Rohl doubted she had even gotten past feeling slightly tipsy.
His other memories differed in their clarity, he half-remembered doing some kind of energetic dance with Tay as the pair attempted to get Rose involved. She had the good sense not to join them and had instead done her best to completely ignore them, not that they had made it easy for her to do so. Apart from the dancing, he was pretty sure he even let Tay look at his wounds again but that was still hazy.
After that debacle, he also unfortunately remembered returning to Ell and attempting to fiddle her ears. He couldn’t remember the outcome of that, but he was sure it was likely embarrassing.
There were some more drinking games, not that he needed any more help getting drunk, as well as some gentle mocking from Disko and Calco who had found his inebriated state particularly amusing. Especially his inability to walk in a straight line without collapsing onto the floor.
As he contemplated this, more embarrassing moments came back to him, dancing with Grey, trying to hug Reginald. The rest of that memory was blank, but he did remember seeing Freya and the captain as well at some point. It was all a jumbled mess and he wasn’t even sure of what order the events occurred. He remembered singing loudly in front of the bards and later returning to Ell for some reason. When he had ended up in the hall he didn’t know.
All he did know was that his head hurt and his throat was parched. He made a quick stop to fetch some water from the kitchen before returning to his room. Much to his relief his door was unlocked allowing him to enter quietly. Ell was asleep under his covers and didn’t stir as he entered.
Some of Rohl’s belonging were on the nightstand, whilst the rest were splattered around the room. With little chance of him returning to sleep, he quickly gathered a change of clothes before going for a wash. He had definitely spilled some drinks over him the previous night if the stickiness of his body was anything to go by.
After a quick wash and change, he decided he may as well return to the hall and get breakfast. Now his head had cleared a little, he could easily tell how starved he was. A few people hovered around the hall, seemingly here for their own breakfast. Tilson was among them, his face switching between laughter and pity as he noticed Rohl.
It was a face that worried Rohl. However, food was more important at this time and so he helped himself to a small sampling of beans on toast. His hunger was ravenous and he quickly devoured it before moving on to a small plate of scrambled eggs.
The hall became very busy as Rohl ate, more mercenaries arrived by the minute and most were already armoured up with their swords sheathed by their sides. It seemed they would be marching for Elmon soon.
The “Be ready in one hour,” from Tilson only confirmed this fact. Not wanting to hold the company up, Rohl quickly gathered some slices of toast for him and Ell before he returned to his room to pack.
Fortunately, he hadn’t brought many belongings in the first place, only his equipment, which he could easily wear whilst they marched and a few changes of clothes. It didn’t take long for him to pack them away silently into his knapsack.
Ell didn’t stir throughout his packing, and Rohl not wanting to be late for the march, finally decided to wake her. He didn’t want to startle her and so chose to quietly hum, increasing the volume until she finally awoke.
Once he could see her eyes open he added “We march in less than an hour, I've brought some breakfast.”
He could see her reach out for the plate he was holding before she stopped suddenly “What do you remember of last night, you drunk dumbass.”
“Ehh not much at all, why.”
His words caused a small smirk to appear before she added “Oh no reason.”
These words did little to bring Rohl comfort.
Once she had devoured the toast, she spoke again “Turn around perv, I need to get changed.”
Rohl did and once she gave the signal he turned back around. Ell had changed into her usual travelling gear, armour and cloak included. She had a different air about her than usual, and it unnerved him. He really wished he hadn’t drunk so much the previous night.
“I need to pack, you can wait in the hall if you can find it without getting lost.”
Rohl couldn’t help but flush slightly at that, it seemed she remembered his flimsy excuse from last night. Still, Rohl jumped on the offer, not wanting to be teased more. Besides depending on what Ell had to pack she would definitely call him a perv once again.
And so Rohl took his belongings and returned to the hall to wait, enjoying a small glass of orange juice as he did so. Ell returned somewhat later and with her nod, they left the now near-empty hall. It was time to return to Elmon, this time with an army at his back.
An army of 400 elite mercenaries who were lined up in an orderly fashion, they had formed a thick column of troops that stretched from the town centre all the way to the main gate. Every one of them was dressed in full plate armour and equipped with either swords, maces or axes. With a small archery and cavalry contingent at the back. The Valhaldersons were mounted at the head of the column along with their lieutenants. All with their own plate armour. Freya stood out especially, given that she was the only one not currently wearing her helmet, instead choosing to let her hair flow. Rohl could understand that easy enough, they were likely boiling under all that armour.
With the Valhaldersons spotted, Rohl and Ell made their way over to them, fortunately, the visors on their helmets were open, making it a lot easier to tell who was who.
Before they could reach their destination, a glimmer of movement from the left caught Rohl’s attention. The other adventurers had gathered in a small huddle and with this being a good opportunity to give goodbyes, he soon went over to join them. As he approached Rose and Tay dressed in their gleaming white armour dispatched themselves from the huddle. Upon noticing Rohl, Tay gave an energetic wave whilst Rose had a small air of anticipation around her instead of her usual disinterest or grumpiness.
“We’ll talk on the march okay,” Tay spoke as she gave Rohl a quick hug before fully departing to join the gathering mercenaries. Rose followed suit after, her eyes barely even glancing at him or Ell as she passed.
A joking smile soon appeared on Disko, Calco and Falene’s faces upon noticing Rohl and Ell. A smile that only became more cheerful as Disko spoke “I surprised to see you, figured you’d be nursing a hangover.”
“Watching you last night was the funniest thing I have ever seen,” Calco added.
“It was not good,” Falene chirped in.
“Well I can barely remember it, so maybe don’t remind me please,” Rohl spoke with a pleading tone, he was really conflicted about remembering the previous night, he did want to know what he had done but not if it would only bring him more shame and embarrassment.
This only made them laugh more before the sound of a blown horn interrupted them, it was soon time for the march to begin.
“Anyhow, it was great to fight beside you both, should we ever meet again then I’d be honoured to fight together once again” Falene spoke slightly saddened by the goodbye. Her teammates soon made agreeing noises.
“You too, hopefully, we will all meet again” Rohl replied, his own mood somewhat lowered by the farewells.
“You should get going, I wish you luck with your journey, do what you can to prevent this war,” added Calco in surprising seriousness.
Rohl only nodded in return and after around of farewell handshakes and hugs, he departed with one last goodbye to his fellow adventurers and friends. Ell only gave them a respectful nod before she followed Rohl, giving him a reassuring nod once they were side by side. With that unfortunate farewell over with, they soon returned to the mercenaries. The Valhaldersons were waiting for them with spare horses now by their side. It seemed they would be riding together.
Freya was the first to notice their arrival, the mercenary gave Rohl a sly wink and smile upon catching his gaze. This, of course, sent him into a minor panic, he really hoped it wasn’t anything to do with the previous night. The other Valhalderson’s were just looking at him with suspicion which did nothing to calm his rapidly increasing breathing.
Fortunately, before anyone could question him on it Freya spoke up “Good morning, these two are yours,” she said as her hands pointed between two powerful looking war horses. The mounts were definitely strong and the heavy looking armour and saddles they wore only added to their fierce appearance.
Rohl was sure he wouldn’t want to be on the horse during a charge, and with that in mind, he took the friendlier looking brown horse whilst Ell took the spotted one. The horses made no reaction to their riders presence, it seemed they had been extremely well trained.
“Reginald, are all the men accounted for?” the captain asked sternly, the prospect of battle seeming to bring a new side out of the man.
“Yes father, we march on your command.”
“Excellent, have the scouts range ahead. Freya signal the war drums,” the captain ordered. At his words, Reginald rode to one side and began barking orders at a few mounted cavalrymen. Freya instead rose her arm high in the air before twisting her hand slightly to her left. A moment later the slow steady beating of drums began. A marching song to help keep the men in pace with each other, with the drummers positioned in equal increments down the line, they should have no trouble staying organised.
Once the beating picked, the Valhalderson’s along with all those at the head of the march began moving forward, the remaining soldiers soon followed them. The march to Elmon had officially begun.