Season 1.0: Town Life

Episode 1: A wet hero appears

Isabelle Ming felt like a drowned rat. Torrential downpours have a tendency to do that to people. She sneezed, wondering why she didn't leave her job. Not the guarding-a-meaningless-merchant-who-happens-to-be-traveling-through-a-war-zone job, but the I'm-a-hero-let's-go-defeat-evil job. Had she known about the rain and the low pay and the scars and the injuries that still ached in cold weather she would have . . . well, she would have done the exact same thing, but damn it, that didn't make it fun.

She glared ahead through the trees lining the forest path, idly wondering if the merchant was lost or just doing a very good impression of it. They were over two and a half hours late arriving at the village that was their next destination. Some of that was due to a sick horse that was slowing them down; apparently it belonged to someone in the village and the merchant didn't want to abandon it. Isabelle sneezed and winced at the first hints of stress and sinus headaches. At least they would be staying in an inn overnight when—if—they reached the village.

It took another hour to get to the village. The onset of evening had rapidly sapped what light was left in the overcast sky, and only the appearance of a torch-bearing guide from the village had convinced the merchant to finish the journey. Isabelle was impressed; not many people had the bravery to travel much distance through the woods at night even under normal conditions, and conditions were most definitely not normal.

The so-called "Southern Rebellion"—that was a polite way of saying "the insane Black Jong and those misfits of his"—had pressed north into this area, and his press gangs were already out "recruiting" every stray traveler that they could find. Still, the merchants had managed to avoid them. So much for the first half of the journey. Isabelle let her mind drift away from thoughts of work and looked around at the village. The darkness had reduced everything to shades of black and grey, but a good deal could still be seen.