The Chronicles of the Light Seekers // One

'Lo,

If you've been following my blog for a while, you may remember the (very) short story I posted over a year ago entitled The Peril of the Princess. Looking back on that now, I cringe at the typos and  mistakes I made. Needless to say I have deleted that story. :/
But, this is the "resurrected" story based off the original idea! It isn't perfect, but it's a considerable improvement to last year in my opinion. ;)
This is chapter one of the book. I'd like to make it into a series in the future, and I call this "book one", hehe, original. I'll title it when I'm done.
Let's get on with the story.

~

One.
The sun cast its satisfying and warm glow upon the quiet countryside, shining golden on the flavescent fields of wheat that undulated in the wind, dancing slowly to and fro. There was the soft rustling of leaves just starting to dry as Autumn’s jovial message sang through their veins. The ordinary country folk continued to lead their ordinary lives, doing their ordinary chores around their ordinary cottages. All was completely ordinary in this small, lesser-traversed part of the kingdom of Superia.
Everything except the stranger, that is.
The stranger was tall, lean, all dressed from head to foot in forest green and brown. Leather boots tramped resolutely in the dirty road, brown pack slung determinedly across the shoulders. The stranger continued to walk with head fixed straight ahead as the inquisitive little housewives looked wonderingly out their windows. Who was this strange figure that walked so boldly on their road?
A particularly harsh gust of wind, and the stranger’s green hood flew off. A brown ponytail was unveiled to the gasps of the housewives. It was Rose Elmtree, acclaimed adventurer and unofficial scout of the king (well, the housewives liked to discuss this fact among themselves, but in reality, Rose had only once given the King a small observance of hers, a small but vital detail that she had picked up on her wanderings.) Rose, to the simple folk of the countryside was as famous as any character out of the Old Tales (“Or famouser!”) as old Wulfric would say matter of factly as he stolidly puffed his ever smoking pipe. Rose preferred not to be noticed, however. She liked to remain as inconspicuous as she could, for she realized that with fame came jealously, and with jealousy came danger. She had learned that long ago.
As Rose walked briskly along, she breathed in the opulent smell of air that reeked of innocence. No evil dwelled here, in this peaceful little part of the world.
But was sin and evil the same? I’ve seen too much of both to tell a difference, if there is one at all. There is no difference…but then the villager can steal and the robber can murder. Rose thought, drawing her pronounced eyebrows together as she pondered this. She often had these sort of thinking sessions that left her mind spinning and her not any wiser.
Night was falling.
Rose sighed. Not knowing where you were to sleep was always an inconvenience and Rose did not like inconveniences. Luckily for her, there was a tree just up ahead with a perfect niche in its millions of massive arms. That would do.
Morning dawned dreary, threatening to storm at any moment. Rose clambered down from the tree, readjusting her pack. She looked all around her, thoughts once more jamming into her head. It was dull without anything to keep you on your toes, she thought. She might as well go into the City and restock on provisions. She was right on the outskirts, anyway. Besides, a glimpse of the splendid castle of King Nicholas was a sight that would thrill even the impassive Rose. The City loomed up ahead, tall and imposing. Rose walked up to the gates, guarded by four large guards armed with impressive longbows. “Rose Elmtree” Rose said in her low and serene voice, uncovering her head just a small amount. This was enough for the guards. They let her go inside without a word.
Rose did not like areas heavily populated, for there were always the obnoxious devotees to the “great Rose Elmtree” and as mentioned before, the shadier, furtive rivals who would love nothing better than to silently dispose of the surreptitious woman. These people posed a panoply of obstacles that were to be watched for, but not run from. The City’s marketplace was a great spectacle, a pastiche of all the glories brought from all corners of Superia and condensed into minuscule stands. Rich smells and sights greeted Rose’s nose and eyes as she moved from stall to stall, purchasing the necessities that were of use to the frequent traveler. Then came a small but firm tap on Rose’s cloaked shoulder. A red cloaked guard raised his eyebrows. “The King would like to see you, Rose Elmtree.” He said out of the corner of his mouth, eyeballs rolling from the sky to the ground watching for the hidden eye or ear. Rose fixed him with her calm gaze, then nodded. She slowly picked up her pack, moving to another stall, another purchase. Bread this time. She continued to move slowly among the stalls until she reached the massive gate which was at least the height of a small giant. A silent guard nodded as he let her in, gesturing to a small anteroom before quickly returning to his guard. Rose paced the floor. If she had done something wrong, they would have taken her more forcefully, not taking the trouble to keep her summons secret. Still, if it was not that, was it a mission? A small light grew in Rose’s gray eyes as she nodded to herself. She lifted her head as she heard someone enter the room. “My lady, the King is ready to see you.” He said, meeting Rose’s gaze. He was a short little man, mousy haired and brown eyed. He did not look happy. Rose nodded her head to indicate that she would follow. The man turned around and walked quickly to the door of the throne room. He looked Rose up and down, and scowled at the dirt spots on her trousers. Rose scowled back. The man opened the door and with an impressive voice for so small a creature, bellowed “Rose Elmtree to see you, my liege.” Rose stepped boldly into the throne room, shoulders thrown back and head held high. She walked down the golden tapestry carpet, swiftly yet smoothly, stopping just in front of the throne. She knelt on one knee while bowing her head. “Your highness.”
“You may rise.” King Nicholas said hastily, gesturing for Rose to come back up. Rose slowly rose, never once dropping her gaze from the king. “I have a mission for you, Rose. A serious mission.” Rose said nothing. “My daughter, the Princess Lyra, has been kidnapped.” Rose, though inwardly shocked by this news, tried hard not to show it. The Princess Lyra, kidnapped? By whom? And why? Millions of questions bored into her brain. “No doubt you are familiar with the Lord Maliber?” The King asked anxiously. “Yes. Lord Maliber lives on the other side of Thunderon Woods. Up until now I had not heard much of him other than of his extravagant hunting parties on his private hunting grounds.” “Yes, all that is true.” replied the King, “but he has taken my daughter and until I give him the ransom, he will keep her! I have but four days to send him the money, and if I don’t, God only knows what the monster will do to the child. The ransom is for 10000 Ferots.” Rose could not help widening her eyes as the King stated this extraordinary sum, resting his head in his hands. “He knows I cannot pay all that in four days’ time. There is a limit to what a King owns, but I would give all I had if I could only get my daughter back.” The King’s voice broke here, sending an uncomfortable shiver down Rose’s back. “I will rescue her, Your Highness. Please, I’ll start tonight.” The King raised his head so that he was looking straight into Rose’s eyes. “You must have rest and refreshment first.” He said, ringing a bell. The small man appeared again. “Bring Lady Elmtree to a room and provide her with a hot meal, Vinceant.” The King waved the two away before sinking his head in his hands again. Rose did not like to see the just man suffer, and she hardened her heart against Lord Maliber and all who accompanied him in his malign deeds.
        Rose awoke early the next day, breathing in the cool morning air as she looked out the window. She always had this feeling before performing a particularly dangerous feat. It was like teetering on a wall, one side promising satisfaction and relief, like waking from a nightmare. The other side gave an air on irrepressible foreboding, the hot feeling that burns at your throat as you are trapped in the corner  with death at your side. Rose shook her head as if doing so would shake all nervous thoughts away, then went to the wash basin to clean. She splashed the cool water on her face, drying with a towel. She looked over at the hot bowl of gruel that was steaming on the small wooden table in the center of the room. She ate but did not taste as if in a dream, then walked slowly down the winding stairs, willing herself to get her head on. This tremor of uncertainty would pass, it always did. Rose walked quietly to the gate, nodding a farewell to the guards as she stole, like a shadow, through the quiet square, through the City that slept still in sweet untroubled sleep.
~
She walked for about an hour before she sat down to rest. She denied herself the pleasure of a thick slab of bread generously laden with rich yellow butter, for she had had breakfast but an hour and a half before and must save all food for necessity. Even for one trained to do this, anyone who has ever had in their possession particularly nice bread and butter will know the strain of having it call to your stomach, tantalizingly teasing. Rose instead took out the small log which she kept in her pocket and wrote in tiny lettering;
12th day of May in the Year of Brigham
Started from City on this day, clear skies and a fair wind.
It was a habit of the methodical and precise adventurer to log weather, starting point, and date. Never destination, as that was a sure map that would aid whoever might gain the log in finding Rose.  It helped with keeping track of days, for when one has no place to anchor oneself down to, the days blend together in an incomprehensible whir, a very inconvenient thing for when you came back to civilized country. Rose never liked to ask for anything, even something as trivial as a date. Tucking the small book back in her pocket, along with the dwindling piece of charcoal which served as her writing utensil, Rose looked ahead, taking in the long way ahead and the short time she had to travel it. She picked up her pack, adjusting her bow across her shoulder. 
She walked for a half an hour more sweat streaming down her face, eyes straining against the sunlight.
“Hold up a minute.”
Rose immediately swung around, instinctively clutching her bow, ready to shoot if need be. There were robbers and bandits on these roads, waiting for the unsuspecting traveler to pass by and take anything they took a fancy to, whether it be money or lives.
A tall man appeared into view. He was blonde haired, blue eyed, and had a general air of disarming insouciance. Rose eyed him skeptically before replying.
“What do you want?”
She put on a stern glare, arching her eyebrows and raising her bow not so much as a subtle hint than a reassurance to herself.
“I want to know what a girl in trousers like you is doing out all alone on the road carrying a rather dangerous looking weapon as she walks along like she owns the world. You could hurt somebody with that you know.” The man smirked, taking a step closer.
“I know I could hurt somebody with it, if they got too close.” Rose replied meaningfully, never letting her attitude relax. The man was irritatingly imperturbable, it seemed, and he simply let loose a roaring laugh. “Guy Oakleaf, at your service.” Rose glared. The man blinked. “As you just appeared from the side of the road and seem to be unnaturally interested in me, I highly doubt that you are “at my service.” Therefore, I advise you to be on your way.” Rose waited for Guy to move, not wanting to turn her back on him for fear of an attack. “Look here, all I want is a good adventure. I promise I mean you no harm.” Guy looked pleadingly into Rose’s eyes, crossing his arms in a subconscious denial of refusal. Rose grew even more suspicious. The fact that the man was so eager to go on an “adventure” he knew nothing of and his na├»ve and childish attitude was a sign of lunacy. Yet, as Rose looked into this man’s eyes, she could not believe an ill will. They were too pure in their blue skies, looking imploringly at her waiting for an answer. She’d humor him, with a cautious guard, for a while, and accidently lose him forever when she reached the forest, or if he proved too slow, even sooner. “Alright. You may accompany me. I am off to explore in the deeper parts close to the forest.” Rose quickly made up a lie, a believable lie for so simple a fool as this. She gestured for Guy to walk in front of her, then resumed her heavy tread.
“So, where are you from?” Guy queried, resuming his inquisitive conversation. He turned around, facing Rose as he walked backwards. “That is none of your business.” Rose replied coldly, looking ahead. “I was born in Corcyra, but I was raised around here. I’ve always been here, so you can see why I’ll go absolutely mad if I stay here any longer.” Rose didn’t reply. A short silence passed before Guy began again. “So, have you been in this exploring business long?” he asked curiously. Rose did not like her occupation spoken of in such a frivolous manner, but better for the man not to know who she really was, if he truly did not know. “Guy Oakleaf, did your parents ever teach you the art of silence? Or perhaps not to cling to strangers as if you were a water rat clinging to a log? I’m rather curious as you seem so very proficient in these skills.” she said sarcastically, turning her mouth up into a mocking sneer. Guy looked hurt, and turned away. Rose could not believe what a pathetic act this was. Nonetheless, she could not lose him just yet, for he would follow her.
        The two walked for two hours more, only taking brief rests. Night was approaching. Rose started to worry. How was she to lose him now? She had neglected to think these details out as she was occupied with constantly watching the suspicious man. The cogs turned in her head as she thought. Then an idea hit her.
“Guy. Why don’t I take the first watch in this tree, you can sleep in that one. I’ll wake you when I’m tired.” Guy nodded, not wasting a moment scampering up the tree. He was asleep in less than two minutes. Rose waited another ten minutes before quietly sneaking down. She would walk for an hour, then find a hidden spot to rest. She would be off before the big buffoon woke up. Rose smiled to herself as she walked, relieved that she had finally gotten rid of the annoying Guy.
Then the wargs began to howl.
Rose was only slightly put off by this-she had heard this sound countless times before. Yet, it had been from high up in a tree that she had heard this sound, and somehow it sounded louder. Rose did not like to admit fear, but this did not stop the old tales from creeping into her head, not the focal point of her thoughts, but still flooding the sideshows of her mind, sending uncomfortable tingles up and down her spine. She stopped, listening intently. She had better make for a tree. She looked around quickly, scanning for a tree with strong limbs as well as one that still had a sufficient amount of leaves. Ah, there was the perfect one, right at the edge of that thicket. Stealthily, Rose made her way to the tree, then stopped. Two yellow eyes glowed at her from the bush just ahead.  Rose’s heart jumped. Rose, you are going soft. She sneered inwardly at herself. Yet this did not make the yellow eyes disappear. Rose continued to stare at the eyes. Then they began to glow even brighter, pupils turning a shade of vermillion. Rose knew these eyes. Sylvanian Goblins. Only venturing out at night, these grotesque beasts would feed on anything, from small birds to human flesh. Luckily they were not very fast. Rose turned and ran-if only she could get back to another tree! The goblin could not climb a tree, for it was too stupid for that. Yet the faster Rose ran, the louder feet behind her rang. She dared a look back, and almost fell as she realized that she was pursued by not one, but three goblins, all astride the terrible wargs which they had snatched from their dark dens. The wargs were maddened by the kicking of the goblins’ heels, and their eyes burning with an intense vehemence, only recognizing that something was running…and they were to chase it, to wreak vengeance on it. Almost to the tree, Rose picked up her pace. But the wargs were experienced at chasing prey, and their endurance and speed was not to be contested with. If only she could reach that tree…almost there. Rose put her hands to the bark, hoisting herself upwards. Slivers dug into her hardened palms as she dragged herself upwards, hoisting herself out of danger.
Almost.
She would have to wait until morning, for the goblins and wargs would not stray away from such a delicious meal until daylight frightened them away. Rose leaned her head against the tree in exasperation. This mission was not going according to plan.
Thump! A squeal from down below aroused her attention. A warg and goblin had been slaughtered. A dark figure stood below, two sharp and glistening knives in hand, double fisting deaths as finally, after much noise, six corpses lay dead at the foot of the tree.
Rose looked down. The clouds shifted, revealing the moon pale and albicant, shedding light on the woodland floor and the figure below.
It was Guy.
Rose growled inwardly. This was getting more ridiculous by the second. “Hullo up there, won’t you come down now? They won’t get you now.” Guy gestured, grinning, to the carnage that surrounded him. Rose quickly scampered down. “I didn’t ask you to do that, I could have dealt with them plenty fine on my own.” She snapped. “And where did you get those knives? Well now you’re discovered, and I’d think twice about trying anything funny, because I’ve got both my eyes on you. You do not know who I am, is that right?” A stupid person such as him would fear me if he knew who I truly was. She thought. Then she started. She felt at her belt for the two throwing knives that were always there. They were in her belt still. “I brought them.” Guy replied stiffly, looking offended. Rose pursed her lips. “Right then. And why do you have two knives on your person, so prodigious in throwing as if you had been doing it your whole life?” Rose took a step back, putting a hand on the hilt of one of her daggers. Guy looked into her eyes with his deep blue ones, seemingly imploring for trust. His voice became low, almost a whisper. “Listen to me. I lied. And I can feel that I can trust you now.” Guy paused, looking at Rose. Rose glanced skeptically at him. “Go on.” Guy nodded. “I know where you’re really going. You’re going to the castle of Lord Maliber, are you not?”  Rose immediately tightened her muscles. “How-do you know that?” She questioned, trying to keep her voice steady. Thoughts raced through her mind as she tried to recall-had she slipped anything? What did this man know? If the Princess’ captors found out that deliverance for the girl was heading their way, death would certainly befall the Princess.

~

I hope you enjoyed reading!
Please leave any contructive criticism that you might have below.

~ K A T H R Y N




4 comments:

  1. AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!
    Okay, *sniff* had to get that out there because I just love these characters, ever since the beginning. This is fantastic, Kathryn! I love it, I love it, I love it!:D
    -Emma-

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Haha, thank you for your kind words, Emma!
      ~Kathryn

      Delete
  2. Replies
    1. Thank you, m'dear.
      ~Kathryn

      Delete

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~Kathryn

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