A young man’s joyful laughter can be heard as the beating of hoofs tear down the beaten path along the calm river. His joy reflected in nature around him as he rides a beautiful brown mare through the brush. A kind and soft face can be seen under a wide leather hat, his gentle eyes sparkle with such carefree pleasure.
As the young man rounds the bend of the next river bend, he heads further inland away from the water to where he knows an old merchant’s trail lies. As he barrels past the last trees before the path, his exuberant attitude dies out from him as his eyes land on a group of seven rough and shady men coming down the path. He forcefully stops himself from reaching towards the saber on his left hip.
“Good morrow lad!” Calls out the gruff looking man in the front.
“Beautiful day m’lords, what brings you down this old path today?” The now nervous young man asks.
“No worries there lad,” returns the gruff man in the front. He was a large man with graying hair and old eyes. A black traveling cloak covers his body, but the mace attached to his side spoke volumes. “We are knights in service of our Lord Tyserion, no need to fear us,” he finished with a disarming chuckle.
“A pleased morning to you then m’lords!” Called out the young man.
A bald-headed man behind the first with more teeth missing then held in his mouth gripes out towards the leader, “Me word Sir Kassin, damn near made the lad piss his self, musta seen that ugly mug yer mum calls a face.”
“Shut yer trap,” fired back Sir Kassin before looking at the youth, “what brings you this far out boy? This is nearing the edge of Lord Tyserion’s land in the direction of the occultists’ kingdom.”
The group with Sir Kassin began to tense and watch the boy closely. Too many different attacks have happened in the area. A lot of bodies have been found near the borders. Each of the men slowly began to move towards their weapons while watching the kid and area around them. A tense atmosphere settling around them.
“Ah,” began the young man, “I am riding out to Menincia to get some blankets for our animals before winter gets settled.”
“Menincia, that’s in the occultists’ lands, why would you trade with them instead of here?” Asked one of the men with Sir Kassin with an aura of hatred floating from him.
“Been trading with the same family for nearly two hundred years, since before the land was lost during the Purity War,” spoke the young man with a somber look.
Sir Kassin shuddered a bit before straightening up, “what’s your name boy?” He asked as an almost after thought.
“My apologies m’lords, I am Telias, from Bamonia,” came the quick response.
The tension that had begun to build slowly eased down. Though each of the men riding with Sir Kassin slowly began to relax, each of them held a very guarded posture. Their actions painting a belief that they no longer truly saw the boy a threat. With minds and eyes wandering back to the tree line around them in search of threats.
“Explains the connection to Menincia, your villages used to intermarry a lot,” Sir Kassin responded before continuing, “Travel along with us, we will leave you at the Crossrealm Inn at the border. We are headed that way”
“I would be honored,” replied Telias.
Telias slowly rode up next to Sir Kassin. His posture taut in the man’s presence. He slowly reached towards his hip under the watchful eyes of the men around him. Under their gaze he smiled as he pulled out an old water skin. Taking a drink and relaxing in his saddle Telias prepared to head on.
“What leads you out to such a broken location m’lord?” Telias asked after a drink.
“Lord Tyserion is sending us and some others to meet up in the area, talk of a raid from some bandits building,” Responded Sir Kassin.
“Bandits? This far from anything?” questioned Telias.
“You’d be shocked out your purty min’ if you saw dem. No car’ fer udders a’all,” spoke an older man riding with Sir Kassim, “Sergeant Maxi, lad.”
“So just you being sent? Granted, a livin’ legend bandit hunting comes off overdone,” chirped Telias.
“Hah, ya heard that boyos? A real live legend, ain’t dat righ’ Sir. . .” Began the bald man riding with Sir Kassin before catching his eye. “Righ’, ferget I spoke sir! Names Torkid, boy!”
A growl from Sir Kassin was heard by all as a snicker slowly escaped from Torkid.
“Torkid Boy? Odd name fits the face though!” came the snarky reply from Telias.
A snort of laughter broke the moment of silence as the men, including Torkid, began to chuckle. The group continued down the winding path making small talk as they traveled. Questions were traded between all as the band slowly got used to each other over the day.
Around midday, one of the scouts sent ahead on the path came rushing back. His horse speeding swiftly towards the group. As their eyes caught sight of the scout, the large group tensed up as he approached them. Their hands found a resting spot on their sheathed weapons as they waited.
“Peace be yours, Sir’s,” Called the scout as he rode up to Sir Kassin.
“What did ya see to get yur britches in a tussle?” asked Torkid before anyone else had a chance to respond.
“Along the Border com’in from the Northeast saw about a hun’erd calvary baring Queen Tiala’s mark” the rider spat out roughly.
“Good,” spoke a man in the back. His dark long hair obscuring his face.
“Much as I share Nomak’s enthusiasm for the news,” Began Sir Kassin, “Where about they headed?”
“Saws som’o head over here, short behinds Sir,” came the response.
“Why would another kingdom come this way m’lord?” asked Telias with confusion clear on his face “King Boarer and Lord Tyserion hold this land well.”
“Bandit be raiding too many boy, lots o’land they took, kinds want it back” Sergeant Maxi told him.
“We will meet up with them, and some others, before we make Crossrealm Inn.” Began Sir Kassin, “They will be joining us in crushing some old hatreds. No need to worry boy, you will be mor’n safe ta get yur blankets.”
“Appreciate that m’lord,” responded Telias.
As the small force moved forward, Telias watched a large cavalry force ride down to join them. Sir Kassim and Sergeant Maxi rode out to meet them before they reached them fully.
A few minutes after they rode out, both groups joined up and continued at a slower pace towards the Crossrealms Inn. They were not the only group to join up. Slowly as the day began to press into night, their group had grown close to five hundred strong. Close to three hundred infantry, a spattering of archers, and some serfs fell into line with Sir Kassin at the head.
Sir Kassin himself kept Telias up towards the front with him. His mind wandered about the feeling he got around the boy. A tickle of presence seemed to surround him. Sir Kassin spent most of the ride giving out orders or asking random questions to Telias. A confrontation was close at hand from the interrogation that had been occurring.
“Send word, we will camp here tonight,” ordered Kassin, his orders being passed swiftly.
“No tent m’lord, just a bedroll, where would you like I and Milara to sleep?” questioned Telias.
“Barracks tent will be set up, yur horse can rest by it, you in it. Come though, sit with me for supper,” came the rough command from Sir Kassin.
“As it pleases you m’lord,” Telias replied.
As the tents were being set up, Telias watched as his horse was led towards the barracks. His mind slowly wandered as he thought about the rapid changes. Even a country boy could see this was no bandit hunt, but a vanguard. The only place in this direction was the kingdom of Recoria. The kingdom of the occultists. War was coming, and from more than just the Kingdom of Susscrofa.
Queen Tiala. A great warrior Queen. Her reputation as a brutal and efficient leader is taught almost as much as Sir Kassin’s legend was. The monstrous Bardiche she is said to carry was enough to break the courage of men. Her Kingdom lost much in the last Purity War, almost half its land fell to the control of Recoria. To see the colors of the Kingdom of Melinae on the march, war was inevitable.
“Tomorrow will be even more interesting,” spoke Sir Kassin, pulling Telias from his thoughts. “Food has arrived, come and eat.”
As Telias followed him towards the tent, a thousand thoughts ran through his mind. What more could possibly be coming he wondered.
Out loud Telias asked another question, “Why invite me m’lord”
“You have a spark boy.” Came the sharp retort as dread filled Telias’s heart.
“A. . a.. . uh spark m’lord” he choked out.
“Aye lad, a spark, a divine spark,” Stated Sir Kassin with a grin, “A divine spark that gives the feeling of Lord Balthran.”
Shock struck into the core of Telias. A spark of Lord Balthran, the spark of a Paladin.
“Wha. . what do you mean m’lord? Those are, well they usually, yanno see that when young. . .” stuttered Telias.
“Not always lad. You came from Bamonia. That place is filled with Clerics. Them healers have a shit habit of either hidin’ or ignorin’ sparks. Prissy pricks dun like their cushy lives disturbed,” Sir Kassin rumbled to him.
“You sure that’s all, sir?” Asked Telias, confusion plain on his face.
A laugh came from Sir Kassin as he began to eat. He simply pointed at Telias’s food and waved in a get to it fashion. Silence filled the tent as the two ate their meal. Each man lost in their own minds as their bellies filled.
After the meal, Sir Kassin directed Telias to join him at a chest next to the table. As it was opened, Telias saw clothes, coins, a couple weapons, and a white stone. Sir Kassin reached in and pulled out the stone before offering it to Telias.
“Do you know what this is, boy?” Sir Kassin asked.
“No Sir, never seen one,” was the quick response.
“This lad is a ‘Bead of Balthan’, an item used to see Holy magic in a person. This is how we test those with possibilities.” Explained Sir Kassin.
Slowly Telias took the bead and watched in shock as it began to glow. It felt protective in his hands.
“Knew it lad,” laughed Sir Kassin. “Tomorrow the Kingdom of Alantha will be meeting us at the Inn. From there we will begin a foothold into Recoria. Once we have one held, the main forces of each will begin a full assault.”
Sir Kassin shows Telias the map that lays on the other side of the table. His fingers pointing to their location, and the attack points of the main forces. Slowly tracing a large chunk of area of Recoria.
“Once the attack begins, the bloody occultists will have no option but to fight a full retreating battle if they even get the opportunity. A full-scale invasion and they have no idea. We will push through their lines and put every last damn magical to death. Granted the kids will go easy, poison, they won’t even feel it. Just sleep and end. The adults who don’t fight will be executed quickly, but the fighters . . . they will die slow and painfully, crushed under heel!” laughed Sir Kassin fanaticism burning in his eyes.
For a moment fear and terror filled Telias’s heart. He slowly stood up and looked at Sir Kassin. His mind, lost, unfocused, settled into acceptance and understanding.
“Sir Kassin, WE have magic.” stated Telias.
The smile slowly faded from his face as Sir Kassin looked at Telias with a disappointed frown. A sigh escaped his lips.
“One day you will understand young man. Ride along tomorrow. Many can tell you the tales of suffering at the hands of the occultists, spend the night talking to the Melinae cavalry.” ordered Sir Kassin slowly.
“Aye m’lord, I’ll talk with those around camp.” responded Telias as he set the bead on the table and wandered out slowly.
His legs led him around the camp before slowly making his way outside of the camp into the trees. His mind lost as he wandered about the woods. In a clearing a little way into the trees Telias found his path before him solidified. His mind made up, Telias slowly wrote into an old journal with an odd green pen. Closing the book, Telias nodded to himself before heading back to the camp.
Early in the morning, before the sun began to even began to rise, the first screams tore open the peaceful evening. The earth beneath the camp erupted into spikes randomly; the moisture in the air seemed to find a home in the throats of the unlucky. The air itself seemed to rip from the chest of others. Fires spread all over the camp burning tents and men.
From the shadows of the trees came hundreds of shapes. Their faces hidden inside of armored helms as they charged into the disarrayed men. Arrows falling all over the area striking down man and animal alike without hesitation.
Telias rushed with his saber in hand towards Sir Kassin’s tent. Right outside the tent, he could make out Sir Kassin battling against a group of enemies, with more dead at his feet. Slowly Telias made his way behind him. He watched as Sir Kassin’s mace rose into the air glowing with a bright golden light. His plate armor bare to be seen with the symbol of the Paladins over his heart.
“By Balthan! Repent and Fall!” he roared, a visible shield rippled outwards from his position, knocking men and magic away from him. His steps heavy and dangerous as he moved forward.
The sound of wind building up took his eyes from his enemies in front. Time slowed before him as his head slowly turned towards the buildup of magic. A magi pistol aimed at him, in the hands of the boy they’re picked up, the one he wanted as an apprentice, charged and ready.
“Forgive me m’lord, but we can no longer allow you to kill those who have magic simply due to your own hypocrisy.” spoke Telias firmly as he released the magic from his weapon.
Sir Kassin snarled knowing their planned assault was discovered. He brought up his mace far too slowly, as the magic released from Telias.
His death was swift.
His men fallen around him.
With the attack and knowledge of the enemies plan,
The spark the second war needed.
And so, it began.
Biography: I am at Aims for the Aviation program and the English program. I have been playing with writing for twenty years, including creating many different characters and worlds. Writing is an escape from reality and a world of “What if’s,” that is fun to delve into. Creating an entire realm of possibilities has always been an amazing experience. There are so many rules yet, only those that we allow ourselves to follow have an impact. I have always had a passion for reading. With all the times I have spent with my face in a book, I desired the ability to write my own stories. I am a writer of fantasy. I have been heavily inspired by R. A. Salvatore, Christopher Paolini, William Shakespeare, Edgar Allen Poe, and K. A. Applegate.