The Watcher

Just a random story about a group of friends that go off on a quest to bring prosperity to the land after one of the boys has a strange dream about the quest.

              The sun had just barely risen over the horizon, illuminating the village of Grib in pale golden light. Grib was a small village nestled in between the Dorian mountain range and Widdlers Forest.  The quiet village was home to many families trying to live quiet, ordinary lives away from the bigger noisier cities in the middle of the kingdom of Halwarn.

                In an old cabin on the mountain nearest to Grib lived an old crone who also lived a quiet life, though it was far from ordinary. This crone was the Watcher, she had seen many kingdoms rise and fall in the land that was now Halwarn. She waited many long years for the one who would bring great prosperity and safety to the lands. She had Watched many young children; they had all looked promising in their youth but had grown into selfish adults, unworthy of the Watcher's plan.

                Now, as the sun rose higher in the sky, she watched her latest candidates. They were young, barely eight summers old, but the Watcher had a feeling that the two boys would be the ones she had been waiting for all these years. They snuck quietly from their homes and met at the start of the woods. The dark haired boy dug through a bush and came out with a wild grin and two swords in his hands, laughed and tossed one to his blonde friend. The Watcher focused so she could hear their conversation.

                "I don't know about this Maarken," said the blonde one, "Where did you get those swords from again?"

                Maarken laughed, dark eyes shining merrily, "Don't worry about it Rinhoel, Yaric won't miss them, he's a blacksmith, he'll just make some more. Now come on," he said, getting into a fighting stance, "Pick up your sword and fight me!"

The Watcher laughed at Rinhoel's little battle cry as he lifted his sword to spar with his friend. They went on laughing and swinging their swords at each other for a while when Maarken stopped suddenly.  "Do you hear that?" he asked, looking around.

Rinhoel looked confused, "Hear wha-" He stopped talking when he heard footsteps approaching.  After a few seconds of nervous waiting, a small red headed girl appeared between the trees.

"Sionell!" Maarken exclaimed, "What are you doing here?"

The girls green eyes flashed defiantly, "What are you doing here? With my father's swords?"

Rinhoel's ears turned red, "We were just playing, and we were going to give them back, right Maarken?"

"Um, of course we were! You... you won't tell on us will you Sionell?"

She pulled out a sword of her own from behind her back, "Not if you let me play too."

The boys laughed and began to fight the feisty little girl. The watcher laughed too. Yes, these children would be perfect for her plan.

***

Over the years, the children had grown up well under the Watcher's eye, though none of them sensed her Watching. And now, nine years after that day in the woods, the Watcher was ready to execute her plan.

            Maarken and Rinhoel sat by the lake on the edge of Grib fishing and laughing, basking in the summer sun. The two boys were as close as friends could be, brothers in all but blood was how Maarken described it. At seventeen summers old, the two boys were tall and lean, but that was where the physical similarities ended. Maarken's hair was black and messy while Rinhoel's was a sandy blonde. Their eyes were like night and day, Maarken's were dark and mischievous and Rinhoel's blue eyes were merry and charming.

            Through the years the two had been on many small adventures through the forest and up the mountains, but this summer their parents were determined to keep them out of trouble so they had been apprenticed to Yaric the blacksmith, who, true to Sionell's word, had never found out who took his swords.

            Both boys enjoyed their apprenticeship, but not for the same reasons. Maarken enjoyed the hard work and loved testing out the swords before they were shipped off to the cities to be used by soldiers. Rinhoel didn't much appreciate the gruelling work in the hot smithy, what he did appreciate was seeing Sionell all the time; she was there a lot because her father was the blacksmith.

Sionell had grown up to be a very pretty girl with a mass of red curls and intense green eyes. She had a temper to match her fiery red hair but she could also be very gentle, as she was training to be a physician and sick patients generally don't appreciate being yelled at. Sionell was also the only girl in Grib who didn't melt at the sight of Rinhoel's dancing blue eyes, which gave Rinhoel all the more reason to chase after her.

That particular day, Maarken had decided that he and Rinhoel deserved a break so, instead of going to work, they went to the lake.

"Are you sure about this Maarken?" Rinhoel asked worriedly.

 Maarken sighed, "Yes I'm sure. We've both worked hard lately and deserve a break... even if no one else thinks we do."

"I'm still not sure this is a good idea, we'll get in trouble. What if Yaric cancels our apprenticeship?"

‘Oh please Rinhoel, you don't care about blacksmithing, you just like seeing Sionell." Maarken teased.

Rinhoel's ears went red with embarrassment, "So? There's nothing wrong with me liking Sionell!"

"Except that she's Sionell." Maarken countered.

"Gee thanks Maarken," said a voice from behind the trees. Rinhoel straightened up when he saw it was Sionell talking. "What are guys doing here anyways?"

"Well we were enjoying ourselves..."Maarken said pointedly. Rinhoel punched him the shoulder and smiled at Sionell apologetically.

"Well I'm terribly sorry for spoiling your little holiday," she said, voice dripping with sarcasm.

"You weren't spoiling it Sionell, you were enhancing it with your beauty," said Rinhoel, his eyes dancing.

She rolled her eyes and said in a demanding tone, "My father sent me to look for you two and tell you to come back immediately because he has a job for you."

Maarken stood up and gave Sionell a mock bow, "Of course my lady."

She gave him a kick in the leg and started walking, "Just come, you morons."

When the trio got to the smithy, Yaric was waiting for them, eyes narrowed suspiciously at the boys, "Just where were you two?"

"We got lost, sir." Maarken said innocently. Rinhoel nodded earnestly, hoping that Yaric would believe his friend.

He didn't, "What do you take me for? An idiot? You're lucky that Sionell had convinced me that you were a smart, hardworking boy or I wouldn't have taken you as my apprentice Maarken."

Sionell's face turned nearly as red as her hair and quickly ran up the stairs to her room. Maarken looked confused; Sionell hated him, why would she have told her dad that about him?

"You boys have better start working harder or I'll have to release you from your apprenticeships," Yaric finished angrily. The two boys muttered a meek, "yes sir" and went to work.

That night Maarken had a strange dream. It had started off normally with Maarken in full battle armour fighting for his king, but it had suddenly changed. The dream became more realistic looking. It showed Maarken, Rinhoel and Sionell (Sionell?) walking through trees with swords at their sides. It changed again, there was a shining white crown sitting on an altar in a dark cave, dream Maarken picked it up. The scene changed once more, showing Maarken wearing the crown, sitting on a throne. Suddenly the dream showed Maarken the face of an old woman with stringy gray hair and eyes that looked as if she had lived thousands of years and had seen everything.

The woman opened her mouth to speak, "I am the Watcher. You will do as I say, Maarken of Grib. You will travel through the Dorian mountains and find the White Crown. When you find it, do not put it on. You must the travel to Tuan, the King's palace and show him the crown. From there, you will know what to do. I have Watched you for a long time and I know you are right for this. Go forth tomorrow night and do as I will you to."

Maarken woke with a start, his forehead was covered in a cold sweat and he was shaking. He stayed awake for the rest of the night thinking about his strange dream. What did it mean? Why was Sionell there? Should he tell Rinhoel about this? Who or what is the Watcher? But the question he thought the most about was if he would leave Grib tomorrow night.

In the morning Rinhoel and Maarken walked over to the blacksmith's shop like they usually did but Maarken was unusually quiet.

"Are you feeling okay?" Rinhoel asked, concerned, "You're a lot quieter than usual."

Maarken nodded, "Yeah, I'm fine, I just... didn't sleep well last night, that's all." Rinhoel raised an eyebrow at this but said nothing. Maarken was grateful for this because he did not feel like explaining his weird dream to anyone, not even to his best friend.

When they arrived at the smithy Sionell was sitting at the table reading a book about medicinal plants. She watched the boys walk in but looked down quickly when Maarken glanced at her. Rinhoel just shrugged when Maarken looked at him with a confused look on his face.

Yaric came down the stairs and announced that there were lots of swords that needed to be tested out before they were shipped to the King's soldiers. This cheered Maarken up considerably as testing swords was his favourite job, but his mood declined again when Yaric requested Sionell help the two boys because there were lots of swords to get through.

In the training yard just outside of the smithy was a giant crate of swords. Rinhoel let out a low whistle, there must have been over three hundred swords in that crate. Maarken walked up to the crate, grabbed three swords, tossed one to Rinhoel and the other to Sionell, "Well, let's get to work."

Normally Maarken loved to test swords, first inspecting the metal for chips and other flaws and then he got to spar with Rinhoel for a bit and then recheck for flaws. But today his heart wasn't in it, Rinhoel had beaten him in some of the little fights, Sionell had even beaten him a few times. No one ever beat Maarken at sword fighting, he was the best in all of Grib and everyone knew it.

After the third time Sionell beat him she looked at him with her concerned green eyes, "Are you okay Maarken?"

He was about to reply that he was fine but one look into her eyes told him she wouldn't believe him. "No actually, I'm feeling kind of off today Sionell."

"Didn't sleep well? You look tired."

"Yeah, I had a strange dream and I just couldn't back to sleep." When Maarken said ‘strange dream' Sionell had stopped fidgeting and went still, her green eyes widened. "What?" he asked her.

"Oh nothing, I had a weird dream too, that's all."

"I did too," Rinhoel said while inspecting a sword, "It was so weird, some old hag told me I needed to help you, Maarken, though I'm not sure what to help you with."

"I'm sure it's nothing, just a coincidence," Maarken said quickly, mind whirring, "Let's just finish up with these swords so we can all go home." So the three of them took Maarken's advice and began inspecting weapons again, though their minds were clearly all elsewhere.

That night Maarken quietly slipped out of his house with a bag of provisions, a map of the mountains and some extra clothes. He had left a note to his family vaguely explaining what he had gone to do. He doubted anyone would be surprised at his disappearance because in the past he had left often to go on small quests and adventures.

He quietly stalked through the village towards Yaric's house; he would need a sword for this adventure. As he passed Rinhoel's house he heard a loud noise, like someone had run into a wall. Turns out someone had, Rinhoel walked towards Maarken, rubbing his head.

"Would it kill you to be a little quieter?" Maarken whispered angrily.  

"Would it kill you to let me in on what you're doing?"

Maarken sighed, he should've just told Rinhoel earlier so all of this noise could've been avoided. He leaned closer to Rinhoel and quickly explained his dream, "I feel like I have to go, like this is what I'm supposed to be doing."

Rinhoel looked hurt, "Why didn't you ask me to come? You said I was in your dream!"

"I, um, I don't know. But if you hurry and grab some food you can come."

Rinhoel grinned excitedly, "Be right back."

Maarken sighed exasperatedly as he heard drawers opening and closing loudly from inside Rinhoel's house. It was a good thing the people of Grib were heavy sleepers or they'd be in trouble.  When Rinhoel emerged from his home with a pack on his shoulders Maarken grabbed his arm and started pulling him towards the smithy, explaining the plan.

When they arrived at Yaric's shop Maarken told Rinhoel to stand guard, remembering the racket he had made earlier, while he snuck into the shop to get the swords. The smithy was dark and intimidating at night and every little noise made Maarken go as still as board. He quietly felt his way through the room, wishing he had the good sense to have brought a candle, when suddenly a light appeared by the stairway. Maarken quickly crouched down behind a box, praying it wasn't Yaric.

 "Who's there?" A female voice said quietly. Sionell was tip toeing around the room illuminating it with candlelight, peeking around corners nervously.

Maarken was almost in panic mode when Rinhoel walked in through the side door, "Maarken are you almost done?" His jaw dropped when he saw Sionell standing in the middle of the room in her nightgown.

"What," she whispered, green eyes flashing dangerously, "are you two doing?"

By this point Maarken had stood up, looking nearly as mad as Sionell he whispered angrily, "Rinhoel you idiot! I told you to stay outside! You're ruining the plan!"

Rinhoel's mouth opened to defend himself, but it was Sionell who spoke, "Plan? What are you doing that requires you to break into my house in the middle of the night?"

Maarken wanted to hit something, preferably Rinhoel, but instead spoke calmly to Sionell, "You know how I told you I had a weird dream with an old lady in it?" She nodded, "Well she told me that I had to go on some kind of quest to find this white crown and take it to the king at Tuan. When I was walking over here to get a sword Rinhoel saw me and I invited him along." Maarken glanced nervously at Sionell, "You won't tell will you?"

Sionell looked at him, green eyes dancing, and said nearly exactly what she had said nine years ago, "Not if you let me come with you."

Rinhoel nodded with enthusiasm, but Maarken's eyes widened in disbelief, "You want to come?"

"Of course I do, it's boring here in Grib and this sounds like an exciting adventure."

"No. You can't come; I barely even let Rinhoel come. We have to sleep outdoors, catch our own meals and trek through the mountains. That's no place for a girl."

Sionell's eyes lit up with anger, "No? Then where is my place?" Maarken realized his mistake and started to apologize but Sionell wasn't done, "Your place is certainly not walking through the mountains on some quest, but that hasn't stopped you! Besides, I'm a physician and you'll need one of those when you're being stupid and hurt yourself. I'm coming and that's final."

She stormed up the stairs as quietly as an angry person could and returned with a bag full of supplies. Maarken looked at Rinhoel helplessly, wondering how he could make this stubborn girl think sensibly. But Rinhoel only shrugged, obviously happy that Sionell would be accompanying them.

Maarken sighed in defeat, "Fine let's go, but please try to be quieter." He grabbed three swords and handed them out, keeping one for himself, and headed out the door.

The End

1 comment about this story Feed