This was a challenge given to me to write a small short. The criteria was a minimum of 500 words and it must include the following list of words.
The life of the retired adventurer was anything but exciting. These days, Kroi Westerfang was no longer in the habit of chasing monsters with his friends. Rather, he often kept inside his home, curled up with a good book and a bottle of fine, bitter wine. A few well-earned comforts after a career of defending villages, defeating villains and saving damsels.
Kroi's home was found just on the outskirts of a rural town whose name even the mapmakers often forgot, chosen for it's solitude. The locals generally left him alone - even his neighbors knew him simply as a gray old man who preferred the company of his dogs over other people. But Kroi was once a very social person. The very nature of an adventurer brought him far and wide across the known world, where he had been exposed to a plethora of cultures and even learned a numble of languages.
He put down his book, some romance novel he found in a dusty chest under his bed. He didn't know from where it came, but assumed it once belonged to an old comrade. Most of his adventuring buddies were dead, but Kroi kept a number of mementos to keep their memory alive. It was sometimes tough, living alone at the edge of town, but all in all Kroi preferred the quiet.
Sitting in a worn, comfortable chair, the ex-adventurer craned his neck to peer out one of the windows of the den. His house was made of rustic brickwork, sturdy and solid as his reputation before retirement. But he'd nearly lost it all once, on his final quest that ended up costing him a leg and three friends. The loss of a limb was enough for Kroi to decid he'd had enough, and for nearly thirty years he lived independent and free. Peaceful.
Like all things, peace came and went. On occasion Kroi was bothered by the villagers, usually young children on a mission of mischiviousness. But he was usually able to ward them off with one of his creations. He saw one now, just out the window - a shambling, magically enchanted scarecrow. They were harmless, and never left the front lawn, but sufficed to scare off would-be curious villagers. The addition of a cow skull for a head was a nice touch.
There was one occasion, not long after Kroi had settled here, when a tax collector came by unannounced. That was the one time that the ex-adventurer had to disclose his identity, and henceforth no law officials bothered him again. As it turned out, Kroi had partaken in the rescue of tax collector's father, about forty years ago. The father, back then, was a child, and Kroi had no difficulty seeing the family resemblence.
Staring at the darkening sky, Kroi sensed that rain was coming. He'd reached an age where the aching of his bones could foretell the coming of storms, but Kroi rather enjoyed the rain. It reminded him of good times with his friends. Back in the days when they had first gathered together to track down an old dragon that lived up in the foothills. There was a wicked storm that day, and were it not for the rain, the dragon's fire would likely have proven much more dangerous. In fact Kroi and his friends might not have been successful without the rain. That day's victory had propelled them into the profession of monster hunters.
He still had the teeth of that ancient beast - they were fashioned into a necklace that the old man wore to this day.
A rumble of thunder in the distance. Kroi felt the vibrations in the chair and smiled. It was getting dark out already, but due to the storm the light was fading quickly. He casually reached over his armrest to strike a match and light a candle, readying himself for some night reading.
With another sip of wine, Kroi came to decide that as much as he missed his friends, their taste in books was awful.