Kenju looked down into the throne room. Paladaias seemed to be resting upon his royal seat, sipping away at a silver chalice filled with what seemed to be red wine. The room was quiet, and the sun shone in through the stained glass window, exposing thousands of specks of dust slowly floating down to the floor. There was only two guards, each with their backs turned on the king, as they stood at the door of the room. Kenju grinned beneath his black scarf that covered up most of his face. The king was exposed. Kenju was a Trollk assassin, known infamously for escaping the confines of Fort. Barbarian. He was right hand man to General Deregol, one of the most powerful Trollk there was. Kenju fingered his ragged dagger, awaiting the right moment to strike. He was positioned on the roof of the fortress of Campion, looking in through an unfinished window. He slipped into the hall, unnoticed, and slowly made his way down the stone wall, clinging to any grip his clawed hands could find. He licked the sharp side of his knife, for good luck, and landed down onto a soft red carpet behind Paladaias’ throne. Suddenly, Paladaias rose from his throne and started walking towards the window. Kenju quickly dived behind the throne, so he was not spotted. Paladaias stood at the window for a few minutes, looking out into the city.
Paladaias’ mind was full of worries about the recent happenings of his kingdom. Nowadays, most of his subjects thought him a coward for not helping out the neighboring city of Kinwood in their war against the Trollk of the Kin mountains. Paladaias stared on as carts stocked with goods and livestock wheeled around the marketsquare, and as soldiers speared at dummies in the training yard. Paladaias’ job was to lead all of his people to prosperity, but at the minute, he was failing. Suddenly, Paladaias heard a shuffling from behind his throne. When he turned around, he swore he saw a black floot swiftly being pulled out of view. He called for the guards to investigate, so, pointing their spears in front of them, the guards approached the throne.
Kenju cursed under his breath. He unsheathed his longsword. ‘Can’t let any of ‘em get away now,’ he thought, before leaping out of his hiding place and onto one of the guards. Kenju had the guard pinned to ground, with his sword at his throat. He used the hilt of his sword to knock the guard unconscious, and he then quickly got up to face the other guard. As he clashed swords with his opponent, he could see Paladaias making a run for it in the corner of his eye. He kneed the guard in the gut, winding him, and darted at the king. The king stumbled, allowing Kenju to tackle him to the ground. Paladaias tries to struggle out of his grip, but Kenju is too strong. Paladaias yells for help, but is silenced when kenju ties his arms, legs and mouth. As Kenju was carrying him across the room toward the window, about five more guards came running into the room. one was holding a greatsword, probably the royal guard captain, while the others held crossbow. Kenju drops Paladaias and draws his sword once again, but suddenly, he feels a great thud in the back of his head, and all fades into blackness.
Judice, the captain of the Royal Guards, looks down at the unconscious trollk. He spits down on him and drops his shield which he had used to knock him out, and then turns to Paladaias. He unties him and helps him to his feet, ‘That was a close one, my king.’ Paladaias looks at him, ‘You think I don’t know that,’ He marches forward. ‘I need you to double-No, TRIPLE, my guards this instant!’ Two of the five guards sprinted off to carry out their kings order. Judice stepped forward. ‘My king, we need not triple anything. Look, no-one was hurt, and we took care of the threat.’ Paladaias paced the room. He was becoming more and more paranoid as the days went on...’ You know what!’ he yelled, ‘I say it’s about time we joined this war!’
As the battle raged on, Quare could see that his men were dropping like leaves on an autumn day. Suddenly, a Trollk jumped on his back, and was attempting to bite at his neck. He elbowed the fiend in his gut, causing him to let go. Quare then turned around, and stuck his blade into the Trollk’s shoulder. The beastly foe fell to the ground. Quare looked across the battlefield again, and spotted his right hand man, Sear, in a fight with three Trollk at a time. He darted over to aid him, but was tackled by another Trollk. When will these hordes end! The sun was still high, but the Trollk did not care. Once Quare got up and was free of the Trollk, he had lost sight of Sear. He raised his sword and yelled, ‘RETREAT!’ His men fled back into Kinwood Forest, as the Trollk tailed them relentlessly.
All was dark and cold. As Sear slowly opened his eyes, he realised he was being dragged away. He felt the blood-stained dirt parting beneath him, as he was being pulled off by the chilling hands of an unknown host. Sear could see Quare, his old comrade, in the distance, but he didn’t seem to have a voice when he tried to yell. Sear was thirsty and his skin was dry. The sun felt scorching as it taunted him. Home was getting further and further away as this person dragged him away. He tried to look up to see who this person was, but all he could see was the back of a browning cloak. Suddenly, Sear realised that he was not being held by hands, but some sort of shimmering, frosty light wrapped around his wrists, forcing him to be dragged along with this man or woman or thing. This was a thing of no hands, at least as far as Sear could tell. Suddenly, Sear saw an arrow flying towards him. Not directed at him, but towards the man of no hands. The arrow seemed as though it was of the sun. It lodged itself into the thing’s back, causing it to let out a shriek and drop to the ground. As the shimmering lights disappeared, Sear was filled with life once again. The shimmering lights must have been sucking the energy out of him. It had been shot from the forest, but Sear could not see anyone.
Quare spotted Sear lying on the ground a few minutes after the trollk had left. He darted over and helped his comrade up from the dirt. ‘Sear!’ He exclaimed, ‘You’re alive!’ Quare put Sear’s arm over his shoulder. ‘What happened?’ Sear was now unconscious. Quare threw Sear over his shoulders and carried him towards the city of Kinwood in the east.
After a few hours of carrying Sear through the wilds, Quare finally came upon the adamantine gates of his home city, Kinwood. Trees of bright green surrounded the city, granting camouflage from the sides. Quare knocked three loud knocks on the door, when suddenly a small and thin slit opened up in the center of the gate. Two eyes glared at them. There then came a yell from the other side of the gate. ‘Password!?!’ Quare thought for a swift moment, ‘Warmtree?’. The slit in the gate shut, and they slowly opened, allowing Quare and Sear enter Kinwood. Warmtree was an important part of Woodklan culture. The Warmtree is a hollowed out oak tree in Kinwood forest that is as old as Sprite herself. Within its walls are stories carved in the ancient symbols of the first Woodklan. The word Warmtree usually relates to family or kinship.
A lot of wounded soldiers had been returning as of late. Tucky hopped down off his stool, which he used to peer at visitors through the slit, and greeted Quare. ‘What ‘appened to this w’one?’ Tucky asked, pointing to Sear. ‘You probly want to get ‘im to the ‘ealers right away!’ He led them through the once lively and green town, now murky and gloomy green. Villagers wandered the streets, sometimes letting out a cough. They were filled with sorrows. The Trollk were winning, and it was clear to see. Tucky still had hope though. The taverns seemed almost empty, and the normally chirpy children all sat by their houses in silence, looking at the ground. Everyone had lost someone in this damned fight. Sons without fathers, and fathers without sons. Tucky pushed open a dark oak door with yellow and green stained glass covering the upper half. An overhanging sign read ‘The Treesap Hostel of Health. Quare and Sear stumbled in and were greeted by a young woman a white apron over a dark blue dress.
Wendy had been a nurse for at least three years now, and had spent three weeks learning from the Woodklan in the forest, so she was decent at what she did. However, her skill has dwindled as of late, due to her losing her husband in the war. She was still in grief, which put her off nursing, but she needed the money, so she worked into the night most days. She welcomed Quare and Sear with a forced smile and led them into a room, where a table was located in the center of the room, and to the side of the room were a few basins full of herbs and medicines. She told Quare to lie Sear down on the table so that she could examine his injuries more closely. As she looked down on Sear, she noticed a cut in his side, so she hurried over to a box to get bandages. As she was rooting through the box, she remembered how her husband had come crawling to the gate, inches from death. She had ran as fast as she could to get the medicine and bandages, but by the time she had returned it was too late. She suddenly broke down crying, her knees hitting the floor. Quare rushed over to see what was wrong.
Sear suddenly awoke. He was in his childhood home. He could hear his father chopping wood outside, and he could smell his mother baking something delicious. He looked down at his hands to find them considerably smaller than they should have been. He got up out of bed and walked into the main room of the cabin. It was snowing outside. It was beautiful. ‘Look who’s finally up,’ his mother looked down at him. She was in a brown dress and held a jug of what smelled like herbal tea. ‘You had one heck of a lie in! It’s now the afternoon! Come, your father wants to talk to you.’ She took him by the hand and led him outside. Suddenly, Sear realised what was happening. He was reliving his father’s death.
Quare helped Wendy up to her feet and asked what had happened. She told him that she was having flashbacks of her dead husband, and that the flashbacks had been haunting her mind for over a week now. Quare nodded and picked up a roll of bandage. Tears were still trickling down Wendy’s cheeks. Quare slowly walked over to Sear, and carefully patched him. Wendy picked up some leaves from a nearby bucket, crushed them with a mortar and pestle, and used them to cleanse Sear’s wounds.
Sear longed to be away from this old memory of a nightmare. In front of him, he saw his father, with the same hair covered face he had always had. He had an axe over his shoulder, and a crossbow in his hand. ‘We’re goin’ huntin’, my lad!’ His face beamed as he awaited Sear’s reaction. Back when Sear was a child, he had always wanted to go hunting, but today, something felt wrong. Even Sear’s young self felt it. Sear remained silent. His father seemed confused. He walked over to Sear and knelt down to his level. ‘I thought you always wanted to go huntin’,’. Sear looked into the distance. The hills and mountains in front of him were completely white, and everything seemed to blend to together. ‘O-okay, I’ll come...’ Sear spoke, anxiously. He went back into the house and donned his fur clothes and boots. When he was back outside, he saw his father waiting for him, with a woolen hat and a dark brown overcoat. As the two of them marched out into the frost-glazed wilds, Sear’s feet felt leaden as he plodded on through this old and horrific memory. After about an hour of walking through the foothills of the Twiggend Mountains, Sear’s father commanded that Sear stop with a hand gesture, he was looking up to the top of a very steep mountainside, where a white welldonian moose stood, looking over the Stretches of Valor. He lifted up his crossbow carefully, as Sear watched. Suddenly, the snow beneath their feet began to slide downwards. It was harmless at first, but then Sear’s father got his foot stuck in a foxhole. He didn’t seem to be able to dislodge it. He called over Sear to help, but as Sear moved, a great rumbling came from above. The moose was gone, and all the birds flew up in panic. Sear’s father looked up to the mountain in a face of fear and realisation. ‘Run, Sear!’ He yelled. When Sear did not move, he yelled again, this time in horror,’RUN!’ Suddenly, an oncoming wave of ravaging snow and ice was hurtling down the mountainside towards them. Sear ran, tears flying from his eyes, his father unable to move. When Sear was out of danger, he did not look back, and to this day, he does not regret that decision. He heard a great thud and wail as his father was taken by the wintrous fury of the mountain. In the corner of his eye, he saw a hooded figure covered by a browning cloak. He had no hands. All went to black, and Sear awoke sweating.