The Shadow in the Darkness
were naked from the harsh autumn winds and seamed to cringe from the immense cold. It was the kind of cold that seems
like no matter how much you try to warm up, you are still chilled to the bone. Although it was already almost noon,
the sun couldn't be seen. A few small rays seeped through the clouds, but were quickly swallowed up again by the menacing
clouds. The few birds that would normally still be perched in the trees had flown south to survive the long, harsh winter.
The shadows were long and full, perfect for those who didn't want to be seen. As he did not. He slowly made his
way through the forest. It was only by chance that the villager saw this dark shape dash into the shadow of a tree.
was chopping wood when he saw the dark figure out of the corner of his eye. A boar? It couldn't
be. Long ago had the game animals left in search of better, warmer lands. He took the axe he
had in hand, and left the wood he was chopping to go after the game. To be able to catch such prey would be a great
victory and would feed them for weeks. If was got this, his sister would not
be able to say anything about him not working or providing.
the woods cautiously. The forest was dark and the trees were close together.
There was a feeling of evil, like the trees didn't trust William or why he had wandered there. He tried to sneak through
in between the trees. SNAP!! A twig broke under his weight. Have to be more careful, he thought.
Don't won't to scare him. Now were could
he ... But before he could finish the thought, he felt his chin lifted and a blade put to his throat, pressing
hard against his skin.
move or I'll cut your throat. Tell me your name and make it quick," said a man’s voice with a growl.
William. William Caltiage."
are you William?"
what would you be doing out in the cold and the wind?" The man’s voice was to as threatening as he had originally
been, but the dagger was still sent the same message.
see…I was chopping wood and then I was hunting you.” At this the
man tensed and William quickly added, “I saw your shadow and thought that you were a animal.
the man chuckled and sheathed his dagger. William turned around and saw his attacker for the first time. The man
was very tall, about six and a half feet tall. He looked strong, but not huge. He was kind of skinny, yet not
in an unhealthy way. His clothes were dark and dirty, and his face was hidden underneath his hood.
ways William looked like the man. He too, was taller than most. He was six feet and skinny as well. His
hair was short and brown, his eyes were a dark blue, and was average in strength.
your name?" asked William.
Oslick. This is a pretty lonely place, how do you survive out here?"
a small farm that we grow food on and I hunt for food in this forest in the better hunting seasons. When I can, I smelt old junk and make it into to something new and sell it to buy food or materials that
we need. The rest of the time I’m farming, chopping wood, or working around
the rest of your family?"
"My sister, her husband, and their two sons live in the house, while I live in the
upper story. They usually don’t do much.
My sister cooks and cleans sometimes and her husband occasionally comes and helps me when he’s really bored. My mother became ill and died years ago. I never knew my father except through
some stories that my mother told me before she died."
your mother tell you about your father?"
not much. She said that his name was Richard Caltiage. That's were I got
my middle name, Richard. Once, a long time ago, she told be that he went to fight with some rouge named something like
Leomare. She said that he had a group of men with him and that they all went to some sort of battle. He took his armor and went with them. After that, he never
named Leomare? Hmm. Well, at least you know something about him. Many people don’t anything about their fathers. In these
times of war, many people have lost family members or their entire family. Well,
since it doesn't look like you got much going for you here, why don’t you come with me? "
my sister and her family? I can't just leave them. How would they be able
to live without me to farm and hunt?"
At this, Oslick took
out a sack of coins from his belt and tossed up to the house. "Let the man learn
to provide for his family. Either way, the choice is yours. Come if you
want, or you can stay." Then he turned and continued on his journey. That night, as the sun set over the frozen
land, two trails of footprints leading deeper and deeper into the trees.
of the Wars
As the sun began to fade, Oslick slowed his pace. Finally he stopped in a small clearing in the
forest. They set up camp, and he said, “We'll need a fire and some food. You go get some wood, while I get
us some food.” With that he withdrew a bow from his pack along with several arrows. He strung the bow and put the arrows in a quiver. Then, he
took one out, put it on the string, and went into the woods. He's not going
to get anything, William thought. He would have to hunt for hours just
to see anything. Despite his doubts about the food, William went out into the forest to find firewood. At
least we’ll have a fire during the night.
He had the axe
he was using before he left the day before that he took with him to get wood. He
had made two trips to camp with his arms full of wood. He was on his way back from his third and final trip when he
noticed Oslick sitting over the stack of wood. He crept up to the edge of the
clearing and heard him mutter “brisingr” and at the wood burst into flames.
He stood awestruck for several minutes.
How could he
have done that? He had heard before about magic and that it was very powerful,
but everyone who spoke of it feared it. He continued to the campsite where he
found the fire burning and over it two rabbits slowly cooking.
“It’s about time! I was about to go looking
for you. Come on. Put the wood down
in the pile, the rabbits are almost done.” Oslick was sitting by the fire,
ready to eat his meal.
“How did you do that?” William asked as he stood before the fire.
“You know. That, with the fire.”
“Now is not the time to talk about that,” the look in his eyes said not to pursue this
question any farther. They sat in awkward silence for several minutes.
William finally broke the silence when he asked, “How did you get those? I would be happy if I got those after hunting all day.”
“Rabbits don’t ever travel very far, even under these conditions. If you can fire a bow and know how to track, then you’ll be fine.”
They finished their food, and William was about to lie down when Oslick threw him a sturdy stick.
“What’s this for?” William asked.
As if to answer, Oslick hit him on the side with his stick. After
a few seconds and a puzzled look from William, Oslick struck again.
“Hey! Knock it off already! It’s not funny!” yelled William.
Oslick struck once again, but this time William blocked the attacked with his stick. He felt the vibrations from the blow in his hands. Before
his hands returned to normal, Oslick struck his other side. This time he was
too slow and only managed to make the stick hit his foot. It hit one of his toes
and he gave out a small cry.
He was starting to understand. They were practicing for
a sword duel. Oslick would continue to make blows and William would try to block
them. Slowly he sped up the pace of the blows.
Once William thought that he was doing well and could block almost anything that Oslick did, he started with different
types of attacks. Diagonals, double strikes, and jabs all made it far more difficult
This training served several purposes. First, William
was learning how to block blows and to keep his balance. He soon knew the most
effective ways to block different types of strikes. The second was that he learned
the attacks would look like. He could tell the motion that went with each kind
of strike. It also taught him how to make these attacks. He quickly learned an arsenal of potential moves and strikes.
After many different attacks and blows, he had it down. Then,
when Oslick made a blow, he sidestepped. Oslick stick hit the ground at the same
time Williams stick hit his side him. Not expecting William to go on the offensive,
Oslick was taken aback by the swift blow. As was William. He did not even think about the actions that he had just made. They
merely flowed, almost as instincts.
“That’s enough for tonight,” said Oslick, clearly still not fully recovered from
the strike. We will continue the training tomorrow. Though I must say, you are better then I might have originally thought.”
William slowly lay down on his bed, trying not to hurt himself anymore than he has already. He went to sleep bruised and beaten. He only got a sore
side. Not a very fare trade, he thought as he slipped to sleep.
where are we going?" asked William as they left the previous night's camp.
replied the other.
is in the north-east?"
we are going."
going to refuse to tell me anything?"
know, it's not too late for you to go back.” He stopped walking and looked
at the younger man. “Here, take this, you might need it." He reached into his pack and pulled out something
rapped in rages and handed the bundle to him.
"What is it?"
“Open it and you’ll
see,” he replied as he began walking again.
As he opened the sun’s
reflection off the steel shined brightly in his eyes. It was one-handed sword
that was clearly well used. The blade had many gashes and scrapes, though it
shined like it was just taken from the forge. The end of the hilt was a diamond
shape and the hand guard had a round gem in placed in the center of it. The sword
looked rather regal in the sunlight and felt old, yet steady. Even William, who
had no experience with swords, could see that it was a good blade.
He had to run to catch
up with Oslick as he tied the sword to the belt around his waist. He suddenly
realized the walking with a sword made things a little difficult.
“What am I going
to need this for?”
“You’re just full of questions. Well, you will soon see.”
Shortly after that they reached the top of a small hill. From it they could see a large forest
stretching for miles in either direction. Going strait through the forest was a narrow path that was blocked by a wall.
The wall blocked the gap so that that no one could get through. It was about fifteen feet tall and five feet wide.
The wall was well constructed so that there were no cracks to gain a foot or hand hold in. In the middle of the wall
was a large, iron gate. There was no way to get through because of bars that blocked it. Just to the right of
the gate, built into the wall, there was a tower. As they drew nearer, William saw that it was three of four stories
Seeing William looking around, Oslick said, "To the west is the Dark Forest, and the east is the Forest of Sobra.
Supposedly, this is the only pass through the two forests. The only other way would be to go around, which could take
days. Maybe even a week."
"Are we going to be able to get through?"
"It depends on who is guarding it…and what is going on up north.
If we are lucky, we will get through. If we are not, well..."
They continued on until they were about half a mile away from the gate. The sun was beginning
its decent and Oslick decided to make camp and try to pass the gate the next day.
They continued their training that they had done the night before, but this time they stopped early
and sat down by the fire.
"Why did you come with me?" Oslick asked.
"I am not really sure that I know. I guess I just thought it was the right thing to do.
There was something that drew me to follow you on your quest." Here he paused for a moment, then continued, "Maybe I
just wanted to get away from my sister. She still treats me like I am her childish brother. She always has me
do all the work her lazy husband refuses to. Perhaps I wanted to follow my father.
Maybe I came for a lot of reasons. But one things for sure. I am not going back."
is good that you are willing to stay with me. Now I that I know that you are willing to stay, I want to teach you something
that you may need later. Magic. Magic is the simplest, most complicated, thing. There are four basic magical
"elements". Fire, water, stone, and air are the most common. Of course, there are other elements, but these
are more complicated and harder used. Some people devote their entire lives to the learning and use of magic.
They are called wizards and are not very common, especially now days. As I was saying though, the hardest of the
four elements to use is stone. The easiest are air and water. We will start with air."
Here he picked up a small pebble and proceeded to teach William how to use magic. He held the
stone in his hand, closed his eyes and said, in a clam, steady voice, ‘Stenr reisa.” The pebble lifted
off of his hand and floated exactly one foot above his hand. A gust of wind blew
in while he was maintaining this, but the rock did not move.
After a few more seconds, he let William try. He handed him the pebble and said, “Remember,
focus on the rock. Think about what you want to happen. Put your mind to it. Then say the words clearly and do not
William tried to do exactly as Oslick had. At first, nothing
happened, but after the first few tries, William was able to make the pebble quiver. By the time they went to bed almost
an hour later, William had managed to lift the pebble three inches off his hand.
His last attempt had been the most successful. He wobbled
the stone up and up. It moved very slowly and jerkily. When another gust of wind came, the stone was blown off balance and fell to the ground.
“Why did it fall?” asked William.
“Because you lack the necessary power, concentration, and ability. After more practice you will be able to hold it steadily.
The last thing that Oslick said before they went to bed were words of warnings. He said, "Remember.
Magic trains your energy. The more complicated the spell, the more energy it takes.
But, the more you practice, the more stamina you build up and the more that you can do before you run out of energy. If you do something to hard or try to do too much magic, you could use up all of your
energy and die.
“The other thing you need to consider is the effect that magic will
have on other people. Some people are afraid of magic and may try to kill you. Other people will be in awe and take a great interest in your abilities. In either case, people may take drastic actions. Some might
recognize your power and try to recruit you. Others will try to harm you because
they are afraid of something that they cannot explain. So, as much as possible,
stay away from using magic around large groups of people. If you ever go
to a more civilized city, then you can use magic more freely. Yet until then,