"I'm tired!" The princess said.
"And here I was thinking you were dumb!" Daniel exclaimed. "We've just entered the walking forest. We need to pass before night falls."
"We've just spent the whole night trying to sneak through the city and we've been walking ever since the sun stuck its nose over the horizon. Can we at least stop for some food?"
"You are on a horse Nadia. Look at Sir..." Daniel realized he had not caught the knight's name. He was getting a little too sloppy. "Sir, what is your name anyways?"
The man who'd been walking silently the whole time looked at Daniel. He had not spoken since they met the day before by the stables, only grunting commands and requesting a change in direction at random intervals.
"Sir Simon. Charles Simon. We will rest here for an hour." The man said.
Daniel didn't complain. They stopped and started eating.
"How early in the evening do the trees start moving?" The knight asked.
"I'm not certain. I have had no chance to find out." As funny as Daniel thought that was. None of his companions laughed. "As long as we follow the river, we ought to be fine. I just like being sure so the faster we leave this forest, the better."
"Aren't you the brave messenger of the North?" Nadia mocked.
"I am a messenger. I never claimed bravery or whatever else iss spoken of me. Anyway, I don't think brave men would much enjoy getting lost in there." Daniel answered flatly. "Eats up your mind and makes you crazy, it does."
The princess looked at the forest. The trees swayed calmly in the cool morning breeze.
"Doesn't look too scary to me." She said.
"SHHHH!" Sir Simon bent low in a practiced crouch. "Hide." He whispered.
Daniel motioned for the princess to follow suite. They squatted under the cover of the tall grass, not knowing what was going on.
"What is it?" Daniel asked.
"I think it's a feline." The knight said.
"You don't sound too sure." Nadia responded.
"He is too far to see clearly but I'm sure those are cat ears. He seems wounded."
Daniel crept to where the knight was so he could see better. It was a young boy, about his age. The boy was limping towards the river. Daniel had seen a few feline in the city, in places wiser folk would rather avoid.
"What's he doing here?" Daniel asked.
"I don't know, but I'd rather we not cross paths with him." The knight said.
Daniel realized that he'd not seen a feline dressed in that manner and had to agree.
"He is definitely a wild one." Said the knight as he reached for his sword.
The water looked clean. So without overthinking it, Matthew bent low and used his hands as cups to drink his fill. He was about to wash his burnt calf when his ears twitched. His head propped up and he started scanning his surroundings. It was hard to see anything. Next to the river, the mushrooms had stopped growing and a tall water grass littered the banks.
He was about to dismiss what he heard when a man rose up from the grass and pointed a sword at him. A human man.
The sword had a thin long blade and a short hilt. Matthew had seen this kind of sword before in one of his father's books. Only a knight could possess such a blade. He had read about the knights in the great human cities and if what the books had said about them was anywhere near the truth, then he knew he would be outmatched if this encounter turned into a fight.
So instead of trying to fight his way out, he raised his hands. He was not about to swim for it. Though the idea crossed his mind, the river was far too wide and feline weren't too fond of water.
"Where do you come from?" The knight asked threateningly.
Matthew didn't respond.
"Who are you?" This time the knight stepped forward with the question.
"Matthew." He said, taking a step back.
"Matthew who?" The knight insisted.
Matthew raised a brow.
"Just Matthew." He quickly said, remembering humans always went by two names. "I am looking for the human city."
The knight looked him over, uncertain of what to do. Then he lowered his sword.
"Just head straight down the river. You should get there before midday. I doubt you'll find anything to interest you there though. What business do you have with the city?" The knight was eyeing Matthew's wounded leg as he said this.
"I'm looking for someone... they should be able to help me." Matthew said. He wasn't about to explain how he was on a quest for vengeance on one of their kind. According to the books, the girl he was looking for should be under this man's protection. The knights were after all, protectors of the human realm.
"May Hope guide you on your way." The knight sheathed his sword and walked back.
Daniel saw the knight sheath his sword and start walking back.
The feline must've proven to be of no threat. He concluded.
So he stood up from where he hid in the tall grass, and so did the princess. The feline looked his way and feeling conscious about himself, Daniel decided to wave. The feline boy waved back.
Nadia had never seen a wild feline before. Their thirst for blood and revenge had always been emphasized when stories of the war against them were told. But now, looking at the feline boy wave so innocently, she seemed uncertain of what she'd been told. She lifted her arm and waved at him.
And that's when he saw her.
He'd found her! His anger overruled all sense of reason and he ran. He paid no attention to the searing pain shooting up his calf. He cared not if the knight turned back and started fighting him. He just had to get to the girl.
The knight heard the boy pounce and turned with a kick that caught Matthew on the stomach and sent him splashing into the river. He instantly rose and glared at the knight, then past him at the girl.
"You killed her!" He yelled, before charging at the knight once more.
There was a flash of silver. Matthew's shoulder was bleeding but he'd made it past the knight and was now running headlong straight at the girl. There was nothing standing between him and his prize now. The boy who stood next to her was too dazed to do anything about what was going on and would not be a challenge. He had her.
"Don't kill him!" The girl screamed, and before Matthew knew what was happening everything went black.
Nadia had no idea what had just happened. One moment the feline had seemed friendly and the next he was attacking them. Had it been pretence? So as to attack when the knight's guard was down? Poor fellow, if only he'd known better.
"He's waking up." Daniel announced. He didn't seem very happy, having to carry the unconscious feline.
He stopped and placed him on the ground.
"He is not going to bite you." The knight said.
"I'm just tired. If the princess here could just let the horse carry the feline and walk for just a few hours." He complained.
"Princesses don't walk." Nadia replied.
"Well couriers don't carry prisoners and help princesses escape from their castles, yet here I am." Daniel rebutted.
"Well..." She fumbled, caught up in her words.
"What's that, cat got your tongue, princess?" Daniel mocked.
"Well, princesses don't have to argue with lowly messengers either." With that she looked forward and held onto the reins with her head held high like the royalty that she was.
The knight was by the feline's side. He took out his water skin and poured it out onto the boy's face.
Matthew was jolted up from limbo. The knight was looking straight down at him.
"So. Lets start this over. Who are you and where did you come from?"
Matthew tried to stand and fight but his hands were tied behind his back and his legs were also secured.
"Allow me." The girl said as she dismounted from her horse, a white stallion which under other circumstances, he'd be marveling at.
"Why did you want to attack me?" The girl asked.
"You know why." Matthew bit back at the anger that was filing him.
"As a matter of fact, I don't." She said.
"Then why did you run away? As soon as that mage attacked, you saw your chance and ran with the treasure. Why?"
"Ok. I think you hit him too hard Charles. He is not thinking properly."
Daniel laughed at that.
The knight walked forward.
"What did you say?" He asked Matthew.
"She lied to me," He said pointing at her. "I offered her shelter and she promised me gold. My mother got killed because of-"
Matthew cut himself short. The girl was looking directly at him. He had allowed anger to drive him this far, but as he explained himself, one of the things he had not noticed jumped at him and the rest followed like rain drops.
The girl that stood in front of him looked exactly like the one he'd been with. And yet it was not her. They had the same colored eyes, the same colored hair. They even wore the same white dress.
But the girl who stood next to him was different. She was shorter. Her eyes were clearer and her hair was lighter. She even had a jasmine scent that wafted into the air with every move she made. She felt... real. He didn't understand it. It was as if he had dreamt the other girl's entire existence.
"You are...You are not her." he finally said.
"Of cause I'm not her. We've never met before. My name's Nadia Solace. Princess of Solestia and heir to the throne. "
Shimza loved spending his time in inns. One inn in particular. The Dancing Troll. Whilst most mages spent their time trying to master higher aspects of magic and attaining higher ranks, he was fine with where he was. Once, he too had pursued power. It was one of the main reasons he'd become a mage. The power.
But now, all he cared about was his next mug of ale. When other mages asked him why he'd lost interest, he'd tell them that he hated what the power did to most people, and how he did not wish for it to turn him into a monster. Though this was not the real reason why, it had often worked on getting people off his case. Everyone knew what had happened to Diablo of Bravaldor. In his hunger for power, he had torn the very earth and almost destroyed the city.
Mages had since then been more cautious, and refrained from going too far. Some had given up completely whilst others, like Zengruid, simply looked at what happened as lack of wisdom and skill.
"Hear ye Hear ye!" A man jumped onto a table with a mug of ale in his hand. He made sure that he had everyone's attention before half singing and half shouting at the top of his lungs.
"FROM THE DRAGON TOOTH TOP TO FORLON'S GRAVE."
The men and women lifted their mugs and horns and chorused.
"TOLUMUN THE GREAT! TOLUMUN THE GREAT!"
"HE'S WALKED IT ALL HE'S SEEN IT ALL." The man led.
"TOLUMUN THE GREAT! TOLUMUN THE GREAT."
"CLIMBED UP THE DRAGON'S SPINE AND MET A TROLL
FOUGHT IT BARE HANDED
A DAMN GOOD BRAWL."
"IT WAS A DAMN GOOD BRAWL!" Shimza echoed. This was it. This was the life. Who needs power when one has good ale and a song.
"BUT THE TROLL WAS STRONG
AND THE MAN WAS A MAN..."
But the good life never lasted long. Before the song could get to his favorite part, another mage walked in and tapped Shimza on the shoulder.
"A message, from the First mage." The man had to almost shout to be heard over the singing.
"Can I at least finish this song?" Shimza replied.
"It's urgent. Can we talk outside?"
Shimza reluctantly followed the mage out of the inn and onto the streets of Solestia.
The city was normally filed with people. It was nothing surprising when one got pick pocketed by two people at the same time, who would then turn and fight each other for the loot. But when Shimza saw just how many people were out that day, he was surprised.
"You haven't been out of that inn in a while have you? Since the moon showed itself last night people have been out preparing for something big to happen. They are calling it the moon-servant celebrations."
"The moon was out? Last night?" Shimza asked.
"It was. Are you telling me you didn't hear the people singing?"
"No. I was too exhausted from my last mission to stay up." He said.
"I'm sure the ale helped too."
"Ah yes. That too. So anyways. What was the message?"
"The First mage is sending you on another mission. He says not to fail this one. He didn't seem happy with your last results." he handed Shimza a letter. It was sealed with the mage's seal, a cupped flame.
"Zengruid's not been happy with a damn thing in his life." Shimza accepted the letter, half of his attention on a little girl who was picking an oblivious city guard's pocket. He turned back and opened the letter. He read its contents and sighed.
"I guess I will be missing these moon celebrations too." Shimza said before casting a flame into his hand and burning the letter.
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*Published Author: English Alive 50, a National Magazine. Phuluso-My story (A little token from when I was in high-school, good were those days.)
*Editor of The Lost Redeemer by @DavidMusk (Currently editing this. Check it out, it is Epic!)
Maxwell Dark is a pretty great fella. If he is not writing wholesome fantasy novels or poems, then he can be found reading wholesome fantasy novels and poems. Not that he does not have a life mind you. He does occasionally do the socializing and has a few he calls friends.
Now, back to the writing. Here are some of the stories that he'll be sharing on here. He would really appreciate you checking them out and perhaps chatting with him through comments or personal messages. He will make it well worth your time.
Some books to watch out for by Maxwell Dark.
*The Blades Of Fate Trilogy
- King of Solace (ongoing, also available on Wattpad)
-King of War (Coming soon)
*Dark Reviews (Only on Wattpad)
*Lillian and the Seeds Of Hope (A Blades of Fate prequel)
*Beauty In Darkness
*Mascara Tears (A Romance, Crime Thriller)
*A dreamer's Journey (A Short story Collection, featuring: Phuluso- my story)
*A Broken Man's Ballads (A poetry collection)
Do consider donating to my Patreon to keep my works free! Link can be found on my fiction.