You reach a bend in the road where a shallow stream runs across the path. The skies above are darkening with the arrival of pregnant clouds threatening rain. You can see the roofs of the hamlet just beyond a magnificent ancient oak past the stream. As you approach the stream you see a trio of armed men sitting around a campfire laughing and passing around a clay jug. They see you and all three stand up, two taking up their polearms and the other resting a armored hand on the pommel of his sword.
The three are a lean, wary sort, wearing armor and helmets that appear both ill-fitting and uncared for. Holding a polearm, one is a ginger haired lad with a narrow sullen acne-scarred face. The other is a fat man with a muttonchop whiskers and beady eyes. The third one with the sword, an older man with a scruffy beard streaked with grey holds up a steel gauntleted hand. He’s wearing a dull breastplate marred by dents and nicks, which seems to give him an aura of authority.
“Hold there, you,” he states, his eyes hard under a pair of flinty brows. “You’re on a toll road, tax is one gold crown from each o’ you if you want to continue on into Wodbury. Times are hard, bandits are everywhere and other things at that. It’s the cost of keepin’ people ‘ere safe. You’ve got a problem wi’ that, then turn ‘round and sod off. You start trouble, well, there’s more of us yonder to come to my aid. Now, that’s a gold crown…each.”