Chapter 1: Jekier

There is a storm coming.

Jekier knew it was coming, even though the sky was clear blue. There was barely a cloud covering up the endless sea of light blue above him, but he knew it was coming. The air was too thick, the wind too strong, for there to be anything less than a mild hurricane. The horses knew this as well. They reared up their heads and neighed nervously, as their massive eyes looked up at the clear sky as if there was something up there to be feared. A storm must be coming, Jekier told himself. As he worked on the farm, tending to the animals, he waited for something, anything, to happen. He could feel it, deep down in is gut, that something was not right.

He had been going through all of his chores that day. At that moment, he was feeding the pigs there odd assortment of gross-looking gloop. It had been an uneventful day, and had been completley calm, despite the doom and gloom that seemed to hang over their small farm. Jekier, in fact, had been ready to brush the thought that something bad would happen off his well-stressed shoulders. But, as he turned towards the chicken coup, to fetch their layed eggs, he caught sight of a majestic green robe coming out of the forest. He immedealty knew there was trouble. He knew this was not natural.

Just as Jekier ran into his house, he saw his father, Owen, looking out the window. He quickly scooted in beside his father and to watch the man walking slowly toward the barn.

“Father, why is one of the Green Men here?” Jekier asked, with a look of disbelief on his face

“I don’t know.” Owen said, with equal surprise. Jekier saw him reach for the sword he always wore on his belt. Many times Jekier had asked him why he would need a sword, but would Owen laugh every time he asked and say, ‘You will know why when I have to save you from wolves.’

It had happened. Once, when Jekier had been chasing a colt that had run into the forest, a group of mangy wolves, looking starved to the bone, came out of the bushes in front of him. They had quickly surrounded him, circiling hungrily as he froze in fear. Their gums pulled back into an offensive snarl, as if to dare Jekier to try and escape.. Just as the largest wolf lunged toward him, a sword sunk into his skull. In his shock, Jekier didn’t notice the person holding the sword. Only later did he realize it was Owen. As the wolves lunged at Owen, he faught with them, teeth striking skin and sword slicing fur. The matted fur flew through the air as he cut the wolves down. Jekier stood there for a second, dazed, and then went to grab a large stick, wanting to help in the battle against these creatures. He had grown to have large muscles from long days of grooming the horses and working on adding to the house, though he had never used them for fighting. As Jekier took down one wolf, he noticed his father taking on a dozen at once, winning with a skill Jekier longed for. Finally, he gave a skull crushing blow to the wolves head, and found his father had already killed his wolves, and had been watching him. As Jekier felt the embarrassment start rising up his face, he walked over to his father, trying to make himself look proud. But he could not keep his shame away, and his father said that his face looked like it was replaced with a tomato. Jekier decided that it was worse than the beating and lecture he got about why he shouldn’t have gone so far into the woods alone.

Jekier was suddenly cut off from that memory, as he noticed his father pulling him up from his crouched position, hiding from the window's view.

“Come on”, Owen said, his voice as hard as stone, “We will not learn why he is here if we are hiding like sheep waiting to be slaughtered. Let’s go to meet him.”

Though he sounded confident and sure, Jekier couldn't help but notice how his father gripped his sword, like it was the only thing keeping him alive.

As they walked over to meet the green man, Jekier tried to recall what he knew about the green men’s culture. He knew that they did not like being called green men, but the word they preferred was so long and complicated that everyone called them green men anyway. To their face, people called them Taj, which the green men accepted as close enough to the name they wanted to be called. They lived a secretive culture, and they were often thought to bring bad omens like earthquakes and hail. Just another clue to Jekier that something was not going to bid well. The Green Men never showed their faces, which, under the hoods, were covered in a light black cloth that only the wearer could see through.

“Hello”, the Green man said. His powerful voice was only slightly muffled by the cloth. “I am Nime, and I am in desperate need of your help. We have an… issue, and you need to come to our Tower, where we can discuss certain things."

“Are you joking?” Owen said, though he knew green men didn’t joke. “You come to our house, and you immedeatly, not to mention rudely, ask for me to come to the Tower? That's on the other side of the continent! I will not be leaving my home on such an unplanned invitation. In the middle of crop season at that!”

Nime said quickly and carefully, “I realize that you may be confused, but we must go. There is danger coming, and we must not warn him that you are leaving. If we do, he will be quick on our trail, and we need as much time as possible.”

“Who?” Jekier said, careful to make sure he would not offend Nime, “Who is following you, and why?”

"There is no time to explain.” Nime said, starting to sound slightly irritated and angry, “But I will tell you again, we must leave. Now.” He commanded, striking cords of fear in Jekier. He had heard stories of what happened if you made a green man angry. They had never ended very happily.

Just as Jekier was about to tell the Nime that he wasn’t going anywhere until he was told why they had to leave, he saw Nime look warily into the forest behind the house and quickly get out his staff. As Jekier started to turn around, he began to wish he and his father had listened to Nime earlier.

There was a man walking slowly past the house. Or, Jekier thought he was a man. He was at least 10 feet tall, and his arms.... He had 4 arms, each 90 degrees from the other. They were hanging down, limp as if they were long and skinny sacks lied to the top of his torso. The arms were razor sharp, and each had a blade that could both stab and cut. It wore a nobleman’s clothes, which seemed normal enough, but when Jekier saw his face, he wished that he could have fought those wolves, a thousand times over. It's face was plain white, like paper, flat and emotionless. No nose, no ears, no eyes, and no mouth. Just the white shape of what was assumed to be it's face, on top of  it’s neck.

As it started to get closer, the arms started to pick up and stick straight out, as if it were getting ready to attack. It moved leisurely, as if it were not attacking them, but rather going to a dinner with other nobles. It looked at Nime, or at least turned its blank face towards him, and dismissed him immediately as if he were no more than a household fly. Then it looked Jekier in the face and gave a start, as if he did not expect to find him here. It started to quicken its pace and walk strait toward Jekier. Jekier started to walk back, but it was too fast. As Jekier was just about to begin to run, he heard a familiar cry and saw Owen diving through the air to attack the thing. But just when his blade was going to hit the flesh of the being, one of those demonic arms blocked his blade as if it were nothing. As Owen struck at it again and again, it blocked him like it was swatting at a mosquito. Jekier glanced to his side, and saw Nime, trying to cast a powerful spell on the thing. Or, at least, that was what he thought Nime was doing, for his hands were glowing and he looked as if he were straining. But when Jekier looked back at it, he knew no spell could be cast fast enough.

The thing had gotten Owen off guard with one of the blocks of the sword, leaving an opening for the monster to strike. As fast as a coiled up snake lunging, its arm came in, and stabbed Owen straight in the chest.

Jekier did not notice the thing implode into fire, and did not notice that Nime was shooting something that looked like lightning out of his hands at the monster. All he cared about was his father. His father, dead on the ground as if he had been gone for an hour. Staring up into the sky with an empty look in his eyes, the red scarlet stain, blossoming from his chest.  The fire of the warrior was gone, taking Owen with it.

Jekier felt numb as they cremated Owens body. He felt empty as he spread the ashes over the farm, as Owen asked him to, when he was still alive. He knew now. He knew that he had to follow Nime, for what else would he do? Before leaving his farm for the last time, Jekier went to the area where his father had kept his belongings. He took two things. The sword, which his father was holding when he died, and a stone necklace, which had a strange symbol that he had always questioned Owen about, but had never been given a straight answer. It had been the most prized item Owen had, and it only felt right to carry it along with him. With these two items, he followed Nime, into the unknown.


The End

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