Chapter I: A Beginning
"Hey Da', how much longer 'til tha next town?" the little boy looks up to the driver's seat of the Merchant's cart from where he trotted along beside it on the ground.
"Not much longer lad. We should reach it before Nightfall." came the reply. Talain Branloch was not always a Merchant. Long ago in his youth, he had been a Soldier in the old Queen's Guard. When the Queen passes away, Talain didn't care much for the new King. Their beliefs were too different. Talain, although well versed in the arts of War, was not a Warrior at heart. He disliked killing, no matter for what reason. He never taught his son the arts, because he did not want his own flesh and blood to endure what he had gone through.
"Da, what were those shopkeepers at the last town telling you 'bout?"
"Just news, lad. Nothing fer ya ta worry o'er." But, it was something for him to worry about or at least ponder over. The shopkeepers had told him news of war. He had hoped that he would never hear that word again in his lifetime. It seems that there are some creatures called Dubhaimid who have begun ravaging the lands east of here. The shopkeepers were certain that the war would never reach here, so there was nothing to worry about. But for him it was different, for he was a Merchant not a shopkeeper. His livelihood depended on traveling from town to town selling goods. He was almost done for this run and would soon go home so for now it was not that important. But it was something to ponder over and prepare for the next run. Back at the last town, while his son was eating at the tavern, Talain paid a visit to the local Blacksmith. There he made a purchase. Looking down at the bundle tucked underneath his seat, he frowned. He hopes that he will not have to take that bundle out anytime soon. But it was best to be prepared in any case. There are those who would take advantage of rumors and cause trouble. Once they got home and settled back in, he would take his son for a fishing trip. The lad didn't started traveling with him until late. He usually stayed at home with his mother. His thoughts drifted back in time...
"Talain," Shara called out, "a messenger has arrived with a letter."
He came out of the back store room where he was storing food from the last run. "Oh, what does it say love?"
Shara breaks the seal on the parchment and opens it. Her eyes widen, "Oh no Talain. My mother is deathly ill. My family is requesting that I come quickly." She looks to him, "What do we do?"
"Hmm... You go to yer mother, love. The lad can stay with me. I can take him with me on my runs until you return. I'm sure I can find something fer him ta help me with."
"Ok, I will leave as soon as I get packed."
Talain still has not heard from her in awhile. He hopes that when he gets back home she will be there waiting. If not, then at least let there be a letter saying all is well. Keeping his eyes on the horse and the road with a glance over to the side to see if the lad is ok every once in awhile. The boy was content hoping along and picking up this and that to inspect it before tossing it aside. He always did have an inquisitive mind. He would make a fine Merchant one day. Shopkeepers tend to try to outsmart a merchant. They try to haggle to get the lowest price possible. Having a mind that active means that he can learn his goods and know what the value of an item is whether he is buying or selling. Yes, he will make a good Merchant, Talain thought. Turning his eyes to the road once more.
Chapter II : Darkness Waiting
The creature hobbled up to his awaiting officer. "There is a Merchant wagon approaching from further down the road. It has no defenses, just a man and a harmless boy. It would be easy pickings."
The officer turned its one-eye toward the soldier. The other long since lost in another battle. "It seems we have arrived before they realized the threat in these lands. The news must have reached them, but they do not expect us so soon. Good. Order an ambush prepared, will attack the wagon. We need those goods."
The soldier creature rubs his hands anxiously, "Yes, commander as you order." There was a blood lust in its eyes, the officer noticed.
"Good this will satisfy them for awhile." the officer thinks, " I do not need top make examples. I must have all of my warriors. I can not afford to lose even one. We are too few in number as with any advance party. Best to be small and go unseen."
The wagon rolls along, Talain and the boy unknowing of what is about to happen.
As Talain was watching the road, he sees a flock of birds take flight further down the road. He tenses and looks to the boy. The boy was trotting along beside the cart with not a worry. Talain reaches down underneath him and unfastens the package. The hilt of a finely crafted sword peeks out. Talain adjusts the position of the sword for better access. He doesn't pull it out for worry of frightening the lad. The horse neighs in response of the tenseness in the reins. It can feel something amiss too. Now Talain knows it is not just him. The sixth sense that he developed in the army was still with him even after so many years of disuse. With his eyes constantly taking in his surroundings, he kept on hand on the reins and one on the hilt of the sword...
"Wait until the wagon is in the trap, then I will give the signal" the officer ordered, "He may know something is he because of those damnable birds. But he doesn't know what."
The wagon slowly approaches as the party eagerly awaits. Soon it was in position. The officer lets loose a howl as he charged the wagon. Other howls follow.
Talain suddenly hears a blood-curling howl that is soon followed by others. Immediately, he stands and hefts the sword. He unsheathes it with a hiss of steel. Looking to the boy, Talain notices that he has frozen in shock. Between the howls and seeing his Father bring out a sword, the boy was gripped in Fear and Confusion.
"Listen, lad. Get under the wagon and stay there until I say otherwise. Now quickly, MOVE!!"
The boy, blinks his eyes for a second and the swiftly dashes underneath the wagon. Talain leaps from the seat and lands softly on the ground. Testing the balance of the sword with a few quick moves, Talain was glad to see that he still remembered. Suddenly, the creatures burst from the underbrush. Seeing that they were not many, he notices that he was still out numbered. He turns and slices the reins of the horse and gives it a smack on the rump with the flat of his blade. The horse neighs and takes off at a full gallop. He can track it down later, better to have to track it down than to not have it at all. With the boy tucked underneath the wagon, Talain sets himself into a stance and meets the oncoming onslaught. Swinging his sword left and right, parrying the blows that are meant to slay him. Talain manages to hold them off. The creatures seem to be surprised to find out a mere Merchant turns out to be a well-seasoned Warrior.
The boy watches wide-eyed as the events unfold before him. Never had he seen his Father like this. He was never told about his Father being a Warrior. He thought that his Father had always been a Merchant. The boy was wrought with fascination and fear as his Father fended off these creatures.
Talain fought these creatures as he had fought in his youth. He fought on with the Passion he held long ago. He knew his path was the way of the Warrior, but he was never comfortable with it. He is still not at ease. But he knew that now he must embrace his path if the boy and him were to survive. So on he fought, slowly losing his Strength. He soon came to realize that this day he would not win. He would not survive to see the new Dawn. He yelled to the boy as he fought on...
"Run, lad. Run! Into tha Forest with ye. I can no' hold 'em off too much longer. Go, lad. Head fer tha next town. They will protect ya. Now RUN!!" he advanced the creatures and out of the corner of his eye he sees the boy crawl out from under the wagon. At the same time, one of the creatures broke off from the main group and started for the boy. With swift thrusts and parries, Talain reaches the creature and distract him from the boy. With no regret for the Life he led, Talain utters the war cry from his youth, "Son ny Benrein!" ("For the Queen!")
The boy ran as fast as his little legs could carry him. He never really noticed what he was doing. His legs ran all by themselves. He was in a state of shock. His mind was numb, he couldn't think. All he knew is that his Father was back there and he was running away. He didn't know how long he ran or which direction he was running in. His legs worked of their own accord. Until finally, the boy collapses from exhaustion.
Chapter III: The Awakening
Opening his eyes, the boy sees a blue sky smattered with fluffy clouds. Sitting up, he winces from the throbbing in his temples and holds it in his hands. After the pain subsides, the boy looks up and around. He is lying in the Forest, but it looks peaceful.
"Wha…? Whe… Where am I?" stutters forth from his lips. "Who… am… I?"
He stands on unsteady legs and sees a bridge nearby beside an old temple. Without thinking, he mindlessly walks across. As he reaches the other side, he notices that it is a village. Wandering around, as he was lost in thought, the sky begins to darken. As Night begins to fall, the boy manages to find an Inn. The pretty Lady inside decides to give him a place to rest and something to eat. Wolfing down the food, the boy finally eats his feel. The kind Lady takes him to his room and the boy undresses down to his bedclothes and lays down under the covers. With the hearth blazing, the boy soon falls asleep.
His sleep was filled with dreams. Strange dreams. Dreams of places he was sure he had seen but can't remember. Of people he was sure he knew be can't place names with faces. Dreams of him dressed in shiny battle armor leading a great army. Dreams of him dressed in colors he saw in the forest and a dark color cloak silently moving through the bushes. Dreams of him with the prettiest Lady he had ever seen. He dreamed of many people and many places. The dreams were similar yet different, why he did not know. So many dreams, so many things. But one thing was the same in all of them, no matter what dream he was in, It was always there. A dark figure cloaked in shadows. The boy or man could never see the figure clearly, but it was always there. In some dreams he fought this shadow-person, in some dreams it chased him endlessly.
The boy awoke to the sound of a morning-bird. He sat up in his bed and yawned widely as he stretched his arms and legs. Blinking as the sun peeked through the window, the boy got out of bed. Finding his ragged clothes, he puts them on and heads downstairs. The kind Lady was there with a warm smile to greet him and she says, "Good Morning, I hoped ya slept well?"…
"Umm… Aye, M'Lady. Thank ye fer yer kindness." Grabbing an apple he waves to the Lady and takes off out the door. She smiles and waves as he dashes through the door.
Once outside, the boy wanders around the town while munching on the apple. What he remembers from last night isn't much. The only thing he can think of was him being a Warrior. He does not know why that thought is there for he doesn't remember ever being a Warrior. As he walks around, he sees many people. Some dressed in armor. Some dressed in flowing robes of bright colors. He even saw someone dressed really strange and walking around barefoot. Wide-eyed, he walks across a bridge and nearly runs into someone as he watched a beautiful Lady walk by wearing a dress of pretty colors.
"Ho now, what ha' we here? Hello, there lad. Ya might wanna watch where yer going. If ya do no', ya might get hurt."
The boy backs up a step and looks in front of him. He sees a pair of finely-crafted boots and follows them upward. Taking in the sight of a figure dressed in shining armor. Ending with a kind face cropped with blonde hair grinning. "I… I am sorry, sir. I should ha' been watchin' where I was going. I don't wanna get inta trouble. I didn't mean ta do it. I really am sorry."
"Ah, now do no' be getting all upety about it. Yer no' gonna be in no trouble, lad. My name is Bentic. What might yer name be, lad?"
"I… I… I am… Kullan. Yeah that's it. I am Kullan." The boy looks up and smiles.
"Ah, nice ta meet ya Kullan. So what are ye up ta, eh?"
"I... I am gonna be a Warrior", the boy straightens with his back stiff trying to look mean and powerful. He doesn't know why he said that, he can't remember anything really. His mind is all cloudy. All that he can see is the figure of a Warrior fighting off creatures. The Knight couldn't help but grin at the eagerness of the young lad.
"Aye, I can tell lad."
Losing his stature, the boy looks to the Knight eagerly, "Will you teach me to be a Warrior, Sir? I don't know what to do… I don't remember anything... "
"Well, it seems that ya have the Heart of a Warrior. I might be able ta help ya. Question is, do ya really want to be a Warrior?" the Knight looks at the boy.
"Yes I do!! I mean,… Yes Sir, I want to be a Warrior." The boy corrects himself.
Grinning, the Knight speaks, "Aye, tha' ya do lad. Yes I will teach ya, come with me."
The boy trots off behind the Knight to soon learn the ways of the Warrior.
Chapter IV: Conclusion
The Messenger approaches the house. Knocking on the door several times, he gets no answer. He waits for a while to see if maybe the owner was out working. By afternoon, still no one had arrived. Shrugging his shoulders, he slips the package under the door and leaves. Inside the package is a letter written in an elegant hand. It reads:
Dear Talain Branloch,
We regret to inform you that your wife, Shara has left this world. While on her way back to you, the caravan she was traveling with was attacked by what appears to be brigands. Many in the caravan were killed, including your wife. We are sorry for your loss and if there is anything we can do, please just let us know.
Commander of the Guard Hargin Caravaans