The Westland summer. A perfect time for families to be out and about in the scenic stronghold of the Trefjalli framrekkers. Trefshire was home to some of Candanadium's most famous historic sites, like the Framrekker Monument in the historic Sunken Square, which was a great bronze sculpture of a moose, a likeness of the ones that bore the wandering Trefjalli on their backs across the Candanadian west, from the heart of Trefjall to the Akarean trading port of Leng'gangcheng, now Harschburg, and onwards to the frozen Cape. Many of the city's very inhabitants were descendants of those Trefjalli pioneers, who decided to carve a life for themselves in the green, unending fields that was the Westland.
Trefshire was born as a centre of commerce for the various homesteaders in the Westland, and the Sunken Square was where trade was conducted. Goods and ideas from all across the continent came to Trefshire, which was far more temperate and closer to the ports on Maple Bay than Leng'gangcheng, all the way up in northern Fischerstaat. Grain from the Westland was distributed to all corners of the continent from Trefshire, making the city one of the most prosperous in the region in the days of feudalism. Growing rich from trade, the Trefjalli went to work, building up their city into the metropolis it is today. The streets of the Shire were clean and well-maintained, and life in its sprawling suburbs was quiet, yet convenient. In the summer, the parks would be filled with children tossing around rugby balls and meat sizzling on grills, and the city's famous cobbled walking streets would draw visitors from coast to coast, coming to taste the famous Westland cuisine. This summer, however, proved to be different than the rest. Gone were the mouthwatering scents of grilled Trefjalli smoked fish from the city's many parks, and empty were the ancient mead and alehouses in the old city's winding narrow streets.
Fear. Fear hung over the city. Ever since the King's declaration of sovereignty over Karelograd, the city had been at war with itself. Young people took to the streets, waving flags and banners, chanting slogans in all the languages of the federation, and waging war against the forces of the Crown. Riot police could be seen on every almost street corner, even after a week of relative quiet in the city. The city's modern streetcars barely ran, and were often delayed due to the tracks being obstructed or damaged. In other words, it wasn't the right time for Johan de Klerk to be in town. After being discharged from the Royal Caskhomirian Regiment earlier in the year, Johan had made it his goal to visit every major city in every part of the country, hitchhiking across the network of federal highways and taking the occasional sleeper train. He had arrived in Trefshire late in the night, tagging along with a trucker headed down to Fort Trefton from WIlliamsburg. He knew the city for its renowned cuisine and heritage sights, but he hadn't expected the city to be on complete lockdown.
Standing on the steps of the Sunken Square, he saw none of the usual hustle and bustle. The Framrekker Monument stood tall, as always, but none of the various stalls and vendors in the square seemed to be present. Graffiti covered the square, some being painted over as a pair of soldiers in full gear looked on, glancing at him suspiciously through their tinted sunglasses. They relaxed a little when they saw the quartered lion and maple badge of the RCR on his left backpack strap, below the lion ensign of Caskhomir.
"What's a Caskhomirian doing all the way out west?" One of them asked in accented Caskaans. He sounded like a Belkhomirian from the way he pronounced his Rs, in the very back of the throat, and the eagles he wore on his sleeve confirmed that.
"I could ask the same of you. What's a Belkhi doing all the way out west?" He asked the Belkhomirian, and he chuckled.
"We're meant to be additional security. That mostly means we get to stand around. What about you?" The other one replied.
"They let me go from the Forces earlier this year, so you could say that I'm on vacation." Johan looked around. "Is there anywhere to go in this city that isn't closed?"
"Afraid not. The provincial museums are closed until further notice. Your best bet is the Fort, down south. Less Karelos over there."
"Lekker. Stay safe out there." And Johan meant it. He felt sorry for the two Belkhomirians. They couldn't be a year or two younger than him, just boys sucked into the politics of the federation, too young to understand any of it.
"You too, Kumpel."