"Right, who wants to give me some food? I'm starving!" Valenstar called, arrogantly as he stepped into the clearing where we had made our camp. I jumped to my feet and had my bow in hand with an arrow notched within the blink of an eye.
"Why do you follow us Valenstar?" Destran asked, while I bared my teeth in a snarl.
“Why not? It’s not as if I have anything better to do” he replied laughing and taking a step forward. This was a step to close for comfort for me and I fired an arrow at him, which implanted itself firmly in his shoulder.
“Oww! What was that for?! That bloody hurt you Idiot!” Valenstar yelled at me, taking another step forward. The rest of the group, who had been up until this point sitting dumfounded on the ground, all scrambled to their feet and prepared themselves to fight Valenstar if needed but he just laughed at us all.
“Look everyone, if I wanted to fight I would have beaten you all by now. I’m not here to fight, I'm here to eat! Now what's cooking?”
“You are not welcome here Valenstar, I thought I made that perfectly clear?” Destran said, pointing his sword at him. To his credit, Valenstar didn’t flinch away from the sword.
“Yeah you did, but guess what? I don’t care! This is a free world Prince Prick, I can go where I want! And if I want to follow you guys, well guess what? You can’t stop me! BAH HA!”. Valenstar’s laugh was cut short and turned into a yelp halfway through as I shot another arrow at him.
“Can you please stop that?! That is quite painful!” he said scowling at me with a look of annoyance. I realised that there was no imminent attack going to come from him so I lowered my bow, but kept an arrow notched.
“Guys, I'm not sure if my opinion is worth anything here, but I don’t think he’s dangerous and he has a point. If he wanted to attack us he would have done so by now” Brena cut in, breaking that awkward silence which had followed after I had shot Valenstar a second time.
After this an argument broke out between the group as to what Valenstar had done and if he should be allowed to stay. I tried to stay out of the argument but I was soon dragged into it.
“Liar” Zahkon snarled, after Destran tried to defend Valenstar by saying it had all been a test and that he didn’t really want to kill Lyra.
“Look, I don’t wanna fight right now. I just want to eat” Valenstar said very slowly as though we were all very stupid.
“Leave now Valenstar or we will force battle on you” Destran said, brandishing his sword slightly but Valenstar just chuckled at him.
“What good would that do? You guys can’t stop me! BAH HA!”.
Valenstar was just begging to be killed and I was in the mind to do it, but then something happened and Valenstar collapsed onto his knees. I thought this may be some trick of his but he didn’t seem to be able to hear us as Lyra and Yara shouted his name several times and his eyes were completely out of focus. Suddenly he jumped, unsteadily, back to his feet. There was a certain look in his eyes. As if he was haunted by something and this something made him very nervous or scared.
"What’s wrong?" Brena asked, looking slightly concerned.
“Nothing” He muttered, “I’m hungry, I need food NOW” he demanded.
His manner had returned to normal but there was still a trace of uncertainty in his eyes. He was hiding a dark secret, but then, don’t we all?
It took us two days to travel through the forest. I could have travelled it in less than a day but the group were very slow to move. They needed to stop often for food and rest but I did not complain because I did not want to put strain on Lyra or Yara as they were not used to the Earth yet.
I helped Lyra whenever I could during the two days. I helped her over trees which had fallen and carried her to a stream if her feet became too sore and weary. I also kept her warm at night as she slept. It felt good to be needed for once. I was not used to having the company of a woman at night but I soon found it much more preferable than sleeping alone.
I’m not sure what it was, but there was something different about Yara too. She didn’t seem to try to control me and Lyra as much. She still spoke to Lyra often but for the most part she left us alone and I even glanced around once or twice to find that she was smiling at us. I hoped this meant she didn’t hate me anymore, or at least accepted that she couldn’t change how Lyra felt about me and I her.
As we neared our first destination, a small town with a name in the Human Language I could smell smoke in the air. We were still at least a mile away so unless there was a very strong wind I had a felling there was something wrong and as we reached the top of a hill that looked over the town, I was proven right. There was too much smoke for tis to be a controlled fire and I saw the realisation dawn on everyone’s face as there was a loud bang and a small object flew in to one of the house, causing it to break and catch on fire. Destran looked furious while Lyra and Yara looked terrified. What was that beast on the water? How could it spit objects with such force to shatter a house and cause it to catch fire? I turned to Lyra and asked her what the beast was.
“It’s no beast Zahkon. That’s a boat. There are people on it with “machines” and these machines throw out balls of metal which is what you just saw” She whispered furiously to me.
As I tried to understand what was happening I noticed Destran had drawn his sword. He was angry, very angry. He was gripping his sword so hard that his fingers had turned white. Destran started off down the hill and soon started running towards the small town with his sword raised above his head. Yara was quick to follow and she drew out her blade as she strode to catch up with Destran.
I grabbed my bow in one hand and Lyra’s hand in the other as I saw that she was about to run off after Destran and Yara. I ran alongside her, not wanting to leave her on her own and unprotected. I could hear boots thumping the ground behind us but swiftly noticed it was only one pair of boots. I glanced behind to see the new girl with a fancy axe in her hand running after us, but Valenstar was nowhere to be seen.
“Coward” I growled furiously. He dared take our food and shelter yet he would do nothing to help when he was needed? He would feel my wrath if we got out of this.
Even as we were running to the town we met people running in the opposite direction, running for safety. I could hear Destran shouting at them.
“I am your Prince! Turn and fight these scum of the sea! Fight for your homes!” He roared at the passing men and women. Some stopped in their flight and turned to join our charge down into the village while many more just fled to the hills.
We reached the town just as the men from the boats entered the town. They charged up the streets towards us. Lyra and I veered off to the right to avoid getting trampled. The street we had turned down was a dead end. I turned to go back but found the way blocked by the men. Keeping Lyra behind me, I dropped my bow to the floor, lifted my arms to the sky and closed my eyes. I don’t know why I did this. It just felt right at the time. I could feel my body start to tingle and then, a whisper. It was so faint as to nearly miss it.
The whisper continued to speak to me in the Ancient Language. I did not know the Ancient Language as I had not been taught it before I had been banished, yet I understood everything I was being told. Close off your mind Young One. Enter the Darkness, only then can you harness your power.
“How?” I asked aloud. Build a fire in your mind. And into this fire feed all your fears, your worries, your hopes and your dreams. Empty your mind of all emotions and feelings. I imagined a fire in my mind, as silly as it seemed. I imagined all my hopes and dreams for me and Lyra and our future together fly into the fire and burn to ash. Next were my fears and worries. I found these difficult to burn because as I recognised them they started to take over my body. I burned my fear of betraying The People. Next I fed in my fear of leaving Lyra unprotected and what might happen to her, but still I could not feel my power. There was something I was missing.
Be true to yourself Young One. Reveal your fears to yourself and you will be stronger for it. I dug deep into my being searching for whatever fear eluded me. Rooted deep in my soul I found my fear. It appeared to me as a seething black mass. I could feel the fear exuding from it. I approached it and touched it with my mind. As I touched it, it flowed into my mind. Fear filled every part of my being. I was terrified. It was overwhelming, it was the fear of not being good enough for Lyra and that she would grow bored of me and leave. I struggled with this fear for what seemed like hours but eventually I overcame it and fed it into the fire. As soon as it had burned I could feel a flood of power pour into me.
I opened my eyes to see that the men had only taken one step since I had closed my eyes, also my bow was still moving on the ground, it had not settled in place yet. I lowered my arms and found that the tattoos were aglow again, but brighter this time.
Don’t fret Young One, we are here to guide you. The whisper seemed stronger now, more solidly rooted in my mind than before. The advancing men faltered as they saw my entire upper body glow pure white light. They started trying to go back the way they had come but there were too many men trying to push in. I smirked at them and started walking towards them slowly, growing brighter with every step until soon they were shielding their eyes.