Gender: Male Age: 53 Location: Las Vegas, Nv
|Introduction: The way of the forest|
The next two days were full of a lot of nobles visiting. I tried to slip away when I could and the kitten helped me. I was sitting beside a large flowering bush watching the kitten stalk a field mouse when Brianna sat beside me, “hiding again?”
I smiled, “watching my young friend hunt.”
She laughed and leaned against my shoulder, “we are your people Simon.”
I glanced at her and sighed, “perhaps but I was just getting used to not being a servant.”
She turned my face, “what are you speaking of?”
I looked at the kitten as she walked towards us with the mouse dangling by its tail, “you said you are not servants but that is not true.”
I reached out to take the frightened mouse and caress the kitten’s cheek before tossing the mouse into the bush. I looked at Brianna, “you serve your people and do it almost blindly.”
She looked at me before looking into the distance, “it isn’t like that.”
I picked up the kitten and the wizard’s staff before I stood, “no? You are willing to endure insults for this treaty.”
I walked back towards the tower and wasn’t surprised when I walked into my room to an earl speaking with my father and cousin. He looked at me and almost growled, “leave us.”
I lashed out and the staff slammed into his forehead. I moved towards him as my father and cousin moved forward. I ignored them and kicked out and into his groin. I pushed and twisted away from my father and cousin as he fell.
I put the glowing head of the staff against his throat, “you dare speak to me human? You think you are my equal? You are nothing and no one. Speak to me again and I will cut your tongue out before I neuter you so your arrogance and stupidity are not continued.”
Both my father and cousin moved back as the staff glowed brighter, “listen very close dog, we tire of excuses. If the treaty is not signed within one day and night we will leave. Since there is no treaty we will no longer protect the routes through and around the great forest. If your people trespass on our lands we will show you why we are the oldest people.”
I kicked him and moved back, “leave my house before I gut you.”
He slowly stood and glared before opening his mouth. I slapped him so hard he staggered and almost fell, “I warned you not to speak in my presence!”
The staff flared as his eyes widen and I stepped towards him, “perhaps I should neuter you to teach you.”
He spun and ran down the stairs. I watched and snorted before turning to walk towards the stairs up. It was a little while before my cousin slipped into the dance with his own staff, “you need patience cousin.”
I parried his thrust and slid my staff out to strike his shoulder, “I have patience. You are a prince and allow these arrogant people to insult you and our people.”
We moved around and I absently slipped his staff away and slapped his wrist. He shook it as we kept moving, “they do not know who I am.”
I snorted and blocked, spun my staff and struck his side, “I was a lowly servant and know you.”
He moved the other way, “lowly servant that easily strikes his lord.”
I grinned, “this is my practice.”
He laughed and his staff shot out. I slid to the side and struck down and his staff was knocked to the stones. I stepped back, “you would do better to stick with your sword.”
He snorted as he shook his hand, “maybe.”
I turned to look out at the city, “the people are just waking up and fighting back against the bullies.”
I looked at the kitten sitting calmly by the stairs, “perhaps it is time I left.”
My cousin chuckled, “after what you just did?”
I smiled as I bent to lift the kitten and start down the stairs, “they have their deadline now and they think I am someone I’m not.”
He followed and then laughed, “and you are just the one I need.”
I stopped to look at him and he smiled, “I know humans and they will sign and insist the lord of this tower sign.”
I tilted my head, “I would not.”
He nodded as my father walked to us, “no but your humble servant will.”
He bowed and my father laughed, “a perfect insult.”
I sighed and turned to Brianna as I shook my head, “I will leave tomorrow afternoon.”
She looked from me to my father and then at the prince, “my lord?”
He smiled as he crossed to the counter, “the deadline for the humans has been set.”
It was only hours before dozens of nobles came. The Watchers sent them away while ignoring their demands to see me. My father and cousin had decided to let my actions speak for them. I spent half the night on the tower roof watching the city. I woke to the kitten kneading on my chest and glanced at Brianna sitting in the chair.
I slipped out of bed and set the kitten down before crossing to the stone storage chest. I pulled out the small package of lamb chunks and knelt to feed the kitten. Brianna cleared her throat, “the Watchers would like to know how large of a pack you will need.”
I thought of the chests of money, “that depends on if I take the chests of money.”
She grinned, “show me?”
I watched the kitten as she finished and began cleaning herself. I stood and led Brianna down to the work room where I had placed the chests. She glanced inside before moving to the bench where I has a couple of dozen tiny glass figures, “did you do these or the mage?”
I blushed, “me. I carve wood for the street children too.”
She smiled as she caressed each before turning, “and your clothes?”
I blinked, “my pack is beside the bed.”
She nodded, “I will let the Watchers know.”
I picked the kitten up from the stairs before going down and out. I walked around the estate but listened to the city beyond before going back to the tower. My cousin was with the duke I had seen before as well as three others. I sat and pet the kitten before she jumped down and went exploring.
My cousin cleared his throat, “the humans have signed the treaty and wish to witness you signing it.”
I glanced at my father leaning against the wall, “their king has signed it?”
My cousin snorted, “no. The dukes council has signed on his behalf.”
I stood, “you sign it.”
I headed for the stairs as the nobles shifted and the duke spoke, “we want you to sign.”
I stopped with one foot on the stair and looked back, “you wish me but refuse to have your own ruler give his word? You will accept what we give or we will give none at all.”
I climbed up and several moments later my father appeared, “well done.”
I shrugged, “it is common knowledge that the regency council rules but this gives them food for thought.”
He nodded, “this treaty will only last until the king reaches his majority.”
I nodded and took a breath, “can we leave now?”
He grinned, “yes. My Watchers tire of the city.”
I headed for the stairs, “so do I.”
I folded my clothes and packed carefully before shouldering the pack. I reached for the wizard’s staff to put it where I had found it and the kitten patted my leg and shook her head. I smiled and bent to pick her up before turning, “time to leave.”
She purred as I walked down and out of the tower that had sheltered me and been a home. I stopped beside the grave of the mage as the sidhe mounted their horses. I knelt and put my hand on the grave, “thank you. I hope you rest in peace.”
I stood and shifted the kitten and the staff as I began walking towards the gate. One of the Watchers rode up leading a horse but I waved him away as I kept walking. I was surprised at the people watching and waving as I walked through the street. The others had slipped out of saddles to walk with me. We walked to the Forest Gate and then across the wide gap and into the forest.
The kitten squirmed and I set her down, “don’t get eaten.”
She flirted her tail as she walked beside me. I glanced at my uncle when he appeared and stepped onto the road, “I thought you were hiding uncle.”
He grinned and turned to walk beside me, “I was patrolling the forest.”
I bent to catch and lift the kitten before turning, “I think they are impatient.”
My uncle laughed as I caught the horse that was brought. I shifted before easily vaulting into the saddle and letting the kitten sit in front of me. My cousin rode up, “time to learn some thing of the forest and your people.”
I placed the staff across my lap, “walking would be better.”
He smiled as Brianna joined us, “you do not ride well.”
I blushed, “servants do not ride.”
She reached for my hand, “but you are not a servant now.”
I looked at her and smiled, “now I am a servant in training.”
She laughed, “I have thought on your words Simon. We all serve in our own way. Either we serve another or a cause. Those that rule should serve the people. Those that serve a cause find their own way to serve.”
I nodded as I shifted uneasily, “still I would rather walk.”
She laughed and we continued to talk as we rode. We led the horses every hour and I let the kitten down during those times. When we made camp that afternoon she vanished into the bushes. I slipped out as everyone was working and silently made my way through the forest. I slipped up behind a sidhe watching the camp from a distance and cleared my throat.
He leaped forward and spun as he yanked at his sword. The staff lashed out to knock his hand away, “no.”
He crouched and glared as he looked for a way out. I saw the others moving towards us and then down at the kitten as she wandered between the sidhe’s legs and towards me. I blinked and put the foot of my staff down before kneeling. I watched the sidhe and scooped up the kitten. I stood and waved the others back, “so...”
He glanced around as one hand held the hilt of his dagger still in his belt. I turn and gestured into the forest, “walk with me.”
The sidhe straightened and frowned as he stared at the kitten and then glanced at the others before nodding. He hesitated before walking up beside me as I started to walk, “I am new to your ways.”
He snorted, “not my ways.”
I looked at him as the kitten purred loudly, “No? Are you not a Sidhe?”
He looked at me carefully before smiling, “yes. They call those that do not follow their thinking as dark elves.”
I smiled, “darkness or evil is inside each of us I think.”
He nodded and looked around, “I do not follow the ways of chaos or evil and do not wish another to tell me what I may or may not do. I am not a sheep or dog.”
The kitten squirmed and I stopped to put her down, “not all people need a leader or someone to follow. I have been a servant most of my life. There was a bittersweet comfort in knowing what each day would bring.”
I turned us and sighed, “still... having another to walk with and keeping me company is nice.”
He glanced back, “you have many of those.”
I looked over my shoulder at the Watchers and smiled, “they follow blood without seeking companionship.”
I looked at him closely, “do you know the way of the forest?”
He smiled, “yes.”
I nodded and finally stopped and turned to face him, “even servants lead and rulers serve. I need a teacher who will look beyond my blood or what I am or will be.”
He looked surprised, “you wish me to teach you?”
I grinned, “I have some knowledge of the forest but not like the sidhe. I need someone to walk beside me and teach me.”
He looked around before letting a sigh escape, “very well. I will return with the dawn.”
I bowed slightly before turning to walk towards the Watchers, “do not follow him and let him pass when he returns.”
They looked at each other and I growled, “let me put it another way. Touch him and I will bury you beside him.”
I pushed through them and walked back to the camp. My cousin and Brianna turned from arguing when I walked in but my father walked towards me, “what did he want?”
I shrugged as I moved to my pack, “probably just watching. He will return in the morning to teach me the way of the forest.”
He stopped and I saw them looking at each other as I laid out my sleeping roll. I stood and turned, “labeling people does not make them what you want them to be. He will return and walk with me, perhaps he will learn from me or I from him but our way will be one of learning.”
My cousin laughed and strode to me and clapped my shoulder, “cousin you are a fresh wind against stubborn minds.”
He turned and gestured to the Watchers, “do as he says.”
After we ate I moved aside and began to move through my exercises. First Brianna and then my father and finally my uncle and cousin joined me. The flow shifted and moved smoothly as I continued to move. I slept with the kitten on my chest and woke to her kneading. I glanced around in the predawn light.
The sidhe was sitting beside me and smiled, “the little one seems to be your keeper.”
I looked at the purring kitten and pet her, “perhaps.”
He nodded as I sat up, “I am called Frost.”
I watched the kitten walk to him as I got up and rolled up my sleeping roll. I tied it to my pack and put it on before picking up the staff. He stood smoothly and I glanced at Brianna as she appeared to walk beside me. He didn’t say anything as we walked and the sun began to rise. I took a deep breath and he looked at me and then grinned.
The forest was almost silent for the first couple hours and then it seemed to wake. That was when Frost began to show me things and talk. I listened and I knew Brianna did too since she would sometimes nod. It was close to noon when Frost stopped and tilted his head as if listening. I listened and frowned at the distant sounds I heard.
He almost hissed as he began walking again, “follow quietly.”
The small clearing we came to had a huge snake with eyes that glowed as it swallowed a large deer. It was easily fifteen or twenty paces long and thicker than two men. I don’t know what made me move but I slipped out of the brush and silently stalked closer. It’s head was facing the other way as it worked at swallowing.
I was careful as I moved up beside it and lifted the staff. When I brought it down both Frost and Brianna yelled. There was a crackling sound when the staff struck and lightning sparkled around the basilisk while it spasmed and jerked. The huge head jerked and shook before it began to smoke and suddenly the staff was free and the head dropped to the ground.
Watchers rushed out and towards me as I lifted the glowing staff to look at the dragon eyes. They sparkled and I had the feeling they were satisfied. I shook my head and turned to Frost and Brianna as I walked away. He looked at me strangely, “why did you do that?”
I hook my head, “the staff needed something.”
I glanced back and called to the Watchers, “It might still be alive.”
They looked after me as I gestured to Frost who shook his head. It was awhile before the forest sounds returned to normal. We entered an open area in the forest and Frost paused to whisper, “look into the branches.”
I looked where he was looking to see a very large spotted cat laying on a branch. It was easily fifty or sixty pounds with long tuffs on the ears. I looked down and bent to pick up the kitten as she rubbed on my ankles. We went around the lynx but it continued to watch us until we were gone. We were moving through a light brush covered area when six sidhe stepped out.
I glanced at Frost as he moved in front of me and the Watchers started closing in. I turned and lifted an arm before looking at the other dark sidhe. Frost shook his head, “he is with me.”
One started forward, “we care not.”
I reached out to touch Frost as I started around him, “and if I face you?”
The sidhe pulled a sword and lunged without breaking stride. I moved to one side smoothly as the staff brushed the sword away and spun. I caught it with my other hand and turned as the sidhe shifted and jabbed. The staff slid straight out and into his chest and there was a crack before he flew back and crashed to the ground.
The others had began to move and froze as I moved in front of Frost, “now you may stay and die or leave and live.”
They looked at each other before turning away. They left the one crumpled up on the ground as they walked away. I walked to him and used the foot of the staff to push his hip and roll him onto his back. I glanced at the Watchers as they gathered around before kneeling and pulling the sidhe’s dagger.
I touched it to his throat and his eyes snapped to mine. I smiled, “life or death?”
It was a few moments before he croaked, “life.”
I nodded and stood, “you will have one season to prove your life means something.”
He came to his feet but I saw the way he held himself and knew his chest must hurt. I tossed his dagger and stepped back, “find me when you have my answer.”
He looked at me and then at the Watchers and Frost before turning to walk away. Frost looked at me and snorted but I saw his lips quiver as I gestured, “where would I find eatable roots or greens?”
He turned and gestured and we began to walk once more. Brianna was nodding each time he described a plant we were collecting. He always told me how to leave part of the plant so it would continue to grow. We used slings to kill a couple of rabbits in the afternoon and then made camp beside a clear stream.
I was the one to put everything together into a thick stew for dinner. The Watchers came in and made camp around us but I saw the respect they showed to Frost. Brianna smiled when I sat while the stew cooked and cut small pieces of meat for the kitten. She growled while eating and I smiled and pet her until she was done.
The Watchers had done their own hunting and cooked their own dinner. As we waited for ours to finish cooking I asked Frost questions about some of the animals I had seen. I was wiping and polishing the staff as we spoke and it seemed to sooth me. I woke in the middle of the night to the feel of the staff vibrating.
I looked around and moved the kitten off me before picking up the staff and standing. I could hear a faint sound to the south and slipped into the forest to follow it. It was several minutes before I was standing in the shadows looking into a camp with a large fire. The men were soldiers but wore no crest or insignia to show allegiance.
I glanced to the side at a Watcher but he didn’t see me and I used the staff to reach out and touch him. He shifted as one hand went to a dagger and then relaxed before moving closer. I gestured and he whispered, “rogues.”
I nodded and hesitated before walking forward into the camp. It was several minutes before they noticed me and by then I was beside the fire. One hissed and the others turned and stopped what they were doing. One dressed in chain mail walked towards me, “what do we have here?”
I smiled as I leaned on the staff, “that was my thought.”
He shook his head, “we have no need for your like.”
I glanced at the others as they moved closer, “and yet you are in our domain.”
The man snorted, “for now.”
I laughed and shook my head, “you have no idea what you are doing or what is around you. You think those that enter here are not known or watched?”
He growled and reached for the staff I was leaning on and screamed as lightning struck his hand. He jerked and spasmed before falling to the ground smoking. I straightened and looked around, “touch a weapon and you will die.”
I gestured towards the road, “since you do not wish to tell me what you are doing, leave. You have one day to reach the edge of the forest before we begin killing you.”
I looked at the man on the ground as he groaned before turning to walk into the forest. Two Watchers stood at the edge of the camp with their bows ready. I walked through them as I headed back to camp. Frost fell in beside me a second later, “you should have killed them.”
I smiled, “but this way they leave and spread fear to others that may come and see us in every shadow.”
He chuckled, “I did not think of that.”
I nodded, “if they fear us they fight two enemies.”
When I walked into camp my uncle crossed to me, “you should not leave on your own.”
I bent to pick up the kitten as she rubbed against me ankle, “I wasn’t alone.”
I headed to my bed and laid back as the others slowly relaxed and the camp quieted. I slept and dreamed of rainbow shadows moving around me. My eyes snapped open and I looked at the kitten purring on my chest, I pet her as I looked around me. I shifted and let her lay on the bedroll as I stood and stretched.
I bent to pick up the staff and moved to one side as the Watchers woke. I began to stretch and then move through my exercises and a few moments later others began to join me. I continued to shift and move, flowing from one movement to another as if I were made of water. When I finished and stretched Frost grinned, “you move strangely but I can see how it would be effective.”
I nodded and moved towards the stream and stripped before walking in. I washed and walked out to dress before going to roll up my bedroll. I shouldered my pack and picked up the kitten before looking at Frost. He smiled and turned to walk into the forest with me following. For three weeks we wandered through the forest and talked.
There were a few encounters with animals but mostly it was peaceful. Many of the Watchers had returned to their posts and so had my uncle. My cousin and father had left to return to the sidhe forest city of Tallisen. Brianna stayed and listened or talked when she had an opinion. The kitten was growing and getting bigger with each day.
We stopped beside another small stream and Frost sighed, “Tallisen is just beyond the stream.”
I looked that way as I cooked our dinner with Brianna silently helping, “So?”
He smiled, “So it is time for you to serve and me to think on my path.”
I nodded, “if you decide to join me I would welcome you.”
He smiled again as he pet the kitten, “I know.”
After we ate he shouldered his pack and walked into the forest.
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