Chapter Fourteen: The Garden of Eden

The pair had been riding for little over half an hour when they were able to make out smoke in the distance.

Just a small plume rising slowly into the air, not from a fire currently burning, but from one recently put out.

It was early in the morning, around seven, and most residents of Litana would still be asleep. The sky glowed a soft orange, and the smoke was especially prominent against the background.

Coming to a halt, Jonrah was the first to dismount his steed, silently and gracefully landing on the floor, despite his heavy armour. Lorda remained on his horse, waiting patiently, and stringing a bolt into his crossbow, just in case.

Taking a few steps forward, Jonrah could not see anything in the distance, as the trees that filled the forest were blocking most of his view.

However, he did not get back onto his horse, and instead took it by the reins, leading and weaving with it through the trees, slowly, so as not to attract dangerous attention.

Lorda did the same, but stayed behind, several steps to the rear of Jonrah, and slightly to the left.

The forest was silent this early in the morning, and the likelihood was that the smoke was coming from a burnt-out fire where some rangers had been camping. However, the two did not want to risk a run-in with The Eden so early in their quest.

As the trees began to disperse, a clearing became visible. Only with a diameter of a few metres - maybe five - but in the centre lay the burnt-out cinders and ash of a recently distinguished fire.

Surrounding it lay three small tents, each big enough to hold two men, and scattered around lay weapons of varying shapes and sizes: a claymore, two shortswords similar to the one Jonrah was carrying, a bow and several arrows scattered on the floor.

A pot also lay messily strewn by the fire, and whatever it had contained, what appeared to be stew, lay splashed on the ground, and was now mixing with the blood that came from the four bodies.

Three men and a woman, all clad in the same uniform, except the woman who wore a similar outfit more appropriate for a lady.

Blood soaked the earth beneath the four of them, and Lorda and Jonrah stood stunned for a moment.

'What the hell happened here? I'll bet it was the damn Eden, attacking innocents again!' Jonrah bursted out with rage, but Lorda silenced him by raising a hand.

Letting go of his horse, Lorda edged closer, moving past Jonrah and examining the bodies.

The wounds were mainly confined to their torsos, and although there were several fatal wounds per body, the weapons that lay around them were free of blood.

Jonrah stayed where he was, now holding Lorda's horse in place.

As Lorda approached the first body, he felt no fear; bodies like this were a common sight for any member of the Guard. They had been trained not to feel remorse and not to fear the dead.

However, Lorda, the iron man of the Guard, could not help but feel his breath catch in his throat. What he saw shocked him.

Not the bodies themselves, but what lay upon them.

Upon the back of this first body, which lay face down - one of the men, medium-length brown hair, short, but quite well-built - written neatly upon the red cloth of his robes, Lorda recognised the symbol of The Eden.

The End

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