Two horns sounded with high and low pitched tones. A high pitched cornet sounded from atop the tower. This meant visitors - good and bad. Lights around the yard came quickly on. The metallic jangle of armor sounded and soon figures were at the entrances to the court yard. The yard itself contained several houses, all surrounding a large two-level cottage house. This cottage manor had an entrance to it only from the yard. Light emanated from its windows on all sides. Its second level jutted beyond the floors below on its north side.
The sun had set not an hour before. Two figures emerged from the darkness.
"Halt! Who goes there?!"
"We seek help and to help," spoke the male stranger in a calm, conserved tone.
"Disarm yourselves and be judged of the king," replied the guard. On closer inspection, the guard appeared injured on one side.
The two visitors threw down their weapons and put up their hands. At that moment, the visitors quickly had their hands bound behind their backs after quickly being surrounded by several others. The visitors were marched to the court yard and were forced to kneel. The high pitched cornet trumpeted three short times. Brrt! Brrt! Brrt!
"You shall now be judged of the king!" yelled a maiden dressed in brown trousers and a vest. She held the small horn and had a dagger bound to her hip.
The well-lit cottage to the east of the court yard had a balcony covered in lights and plants. Despite the lights, there was one portion that was dark, matching the centre of the yard where the visitors were held kneeling. The shut door contradicting the surroundings.
As if by magic, the door opened. Light not only emanated from within but its walls lit up at that moment, only to behold a shadowy figure surrounded by light at the doorway. Out came a young, bearded individual with two small scars - one across his nose and another across his chin. The serious expression across his face as he stepped out onto his balcony quickly changed to a wild grin.
"My friends! Everyone, these are two heroes of Albion! Release them at once!" The man on the balcony quickly went down as the bindings of the two captives were cut. He went and gave them a hug. "How are you? Do you need anything to eat? Come, come, I have much to explain. I was waiting for you."
Soon the two guests were brought inside to a makeshift war room, which room had plenty of light and windows. This was not the tallest part of the makeshift fortress created from this yard, intended as little more than a farm and manor. But this room was the most easily seen from a distance.
"You must tell me your story, and then I can tell you mine," said the bearded one.
"We were so scared for you! We didn't know that you would be alive. Everything has been in chaos since you disappeared," said the woman.
"I had no choice. I didn't expect the treason that was happening right under my nose. Those little sounds at night that I shrugged off were not just little sounds. Certainly you must have heard them too? This was planned. I only survived because I was moments ahead of them, and after that, from sheer luck."
"Daniel, we are here to protect you if you need it," said the man who was bound alongside the woman.
"A good king lives not for himself, but for others. I am not the one in need of protection. Neither are you, nor anyone who is part of this yard. They are all under my care. But I have quests for you. I need your help." After Daniel had said these words, his eyes stopped locking with those of the two friends. Daniel paced around the room, stroking his beard, thinking as he became lost in thought.
"We will serve you."
"Monsieur Hood," began Daniel, "You must know that the risks involved are no less than death, but much more, your reputation, liveliehood, even torture. The treachory will stop at nothing, and at this moment, I standing in their way with little more than this.. home to the few you've seen here. Our safety is no longer guaranteed, especially if you stay here."
"There isn't food out there. Bandits roam the streets. There are few safe places. Surely we must be more safe here than at any other place."
"This is true Valanthe. The stories of your heritage where you have received your name gives me courage. Very well then. I have a mission for you. Oh! The festivities shall soon begin!"
"Festivities?" asked Hood.
"Yes! Every night!" Daniel had barely finished the sentence before a piccolo played a spritely tune from the yard. "Excellent! Hurry!" The three soon joined the people in the yard. No longer dark, the lights were joined by the aromas of food, dancing, lively tunes, and cheeriness from the inhabitants of the yard.
All seemed right in the world, at least at this moment, to those within this yard where light gave hope to all who could see this hill.