The closest way up the wall was about a quarter-mile passed the training area. It was one of the towers that dotted the wall every half mile or so. Inside the tower was a set of wooden stairs that ran up around the edge to the level with the top of the wall. At each corner was another floor in the tower, most of which stored items like arrows and signaling flags and the like.
Dad and I climbed to the fourth floor. At that level, there were two large doorways in the tower to the walls that flanked the tower. There was another stairway up one more floor to where the lookouts were stationed. I followed Dad out of the tower and onto one of the walls. The wall was wide enough so that two men could pass each other abrest in full combat gear while a third man stood behind the crenelations all while none of them would fear being knocked off.
I walked to the edge of the wall and held one of the merlons. The area near the wall was an open field about a mile wide with forest stretching out beyond it. Rolling hills broke the terrain up, gradually getting taller the farther to my left I looked. I could see mountains far in the distance in that direction.
A couple of roads ran across the field and into the forest, twisting along the way to keep the grade lower. A caravan of wagons was leaving the city, headed to trade somewhere else. Flanking the wagons were a line each of warriors or soldiers. It was hard to tell what their style of fighting was nor who they were affiliated with.
"Dad, who are those people with the wagons?"
"Those are adventurers. They get hired by merchants and travelers for protection between towns and cities."
"I want to do that!" I decided. The city was nice and all, but seeing the world outside was so much bigger than the land I was confined to.
"You can decide that when you're sixteen. It's a dangerous job and there are other ways of traveling outside. You could be a hunter instead."
"Ok," I said.
I stared longingly at the caravan in silence. It wouldn't be worth arguing over right now when I could make that decision once my schooling and training were done.
"Mornin', Harry," a guard said as she stopped next to us.
"Good morning, Eve."
"Hey, little guy, what's your name?"
"This is my youngest son, James."
"Nice to meet you!" She thrust her hand out and I took it in mine. She gripped my hand hard and gave it a good shake. "You've got a good grip, young man!"
She nodded to both of us and went back to her patrol.
"She's mostly harmless," Dad told me when she was far enough away.
"She's known to chase men around. You won't understand that until you're older, but when you do, it's best that you stay clear of her and her games."
"Ok, Dad." I gave a puzzled look as if I didn't understand, even though I fully did. While he wasn't saying she liked all her men young, he implied that being a minor was no obstacle. Disgusting.
People never change. I shook my head.
While I was deep in thought cursing humanity, a dull bell clanked and snapped me back to reality. The guards in the towers to my left and right exited onto the wall.
"What's going on?" I asked.
"A monster is coming. Look over there."
I followed Dad's finger to a patch of trees to the left of the road that was partially hidden by trees. I could make out some figures in the distance. I could tell that they weren't human, but other than that, I had no idea what they were.
"What kind of monster?"
"They are called giant boars. Think pigs with very big tusks... pigs that are four feet tall and about ten feet long. They're one of the most dangerous monsters in this area. Usually, a group of hunters will take care of them before they are even in sight of the walls, but, a few times a week, something gets by them and we have to fight it off. Most of the time, it's something a lot less deadly like a swarm of biters."
"Do you need to do anything?"
"Not today. I'm here with you and I'll keep you safe. The guards will have to concentrate near the gates and fight them off. There looks to be a small pack of them. If you hold on, you should be able to see most of the fight from here. it's only a half-mile to the gate they are most likely to attack."
I watched as the beasts approached. They were very large like Dad said. Even across the distance to the gate, I could tell that they were covered in black fur and had horns the size of longswords. The guards couldn't be directly seen, but I could see the flash of arrows and the occasional aura of a magic spell being cast.
Of the four beasts that I counted, three were set alight by the time they reached the gate. All of them looked fuzzier than normal, something I attributed to arrows being stuck in them. The burning beasts howled in pain and rammed against the gate. I could hear the yelling of the guards in response. A group of them flashed down from the wall and smashed into the wounded giant boars.
Two of the beasts stopped moving within a few moments and another was in its death throes. The final one--the one that hadn't been on fire--was still active. It knocked one of the guards down. Before it could stop the guard to death, another guard's aura flashed red. That guard lifted the beast and threw it back. Three of the other guards stepped up and hacked its head clean off.
"Wow," was all I could say.
"That was a closer fight than it should have been. Thankfully, it looks like no one got killed."
"Can I see them?"
"Not today. The guards will be busy cleaning them up and opening the gate again."
"I promise that I'll take you to the market when the hunters or some adventurers bring back a giant boar or something big like that."
"Ok. I can't wait."
"Alright, son, let's head back. Mom will want to know what the fuss was about and that we're both safe."
I followed Dad back home. Mom was waiting for us by the doorway, Mary in her arms. Dad explained what happened.
"I wish I could have seen them up close," I complained.
"Be glad you didn't," she said. "If you were any closer, I'd ban you from the training grounds. As it stands, I want you to think about the dangers that fighting has!"
"Good. Now, why don't you go clean up and give me a hand with dinner?"
I lay awake that night thinking about those monsters. My old self would have been scared out of his mind even at that distance. I was still afraid somewhat, but I was also curious. Not to mention that the me right now was a lot stronger than the past me, even though I was a child now and had been a fully-grown man just past his prime. This world was a strange one that got stranger by the day.
Dad promised to take me to the market to see a beast in person, and that was a promise that I intended to keep him to.