The Last Rebel

Written by Jimmy McCormick

Chapter 1

Percy’s eyes bulged as he felt the shock of pain ripple through his body. He gasped and collapsed on his side. The king wiped his sword on his cloak and sat back on his throne.

“My… my lord. Please.” Percy gasped in short breaths as the life in him slowly slipped out of the wound in his stomach. The king said nothing but only watched him. “Please,” Percy managed to get out before he was dead. His eyes blankly staring at the King.

“Bring in Frasik.” The king said to the guard in the large dome his throne was in. The guard quickly pulled his eyes off the now dead general and opened the door. Frasik sat in a small wooden chair outside the King’s throne room. He was carving into the small table in front of him with the knife. He had dark, thick hair and a dirty beard. His face seemed to always be dirty and he looked as though he was always about to do a bad thing.

“The King will see you now.” The guard said and Frasik looked up with a grin.

“I’m not done with my pretty picture.” Frasik said quietly and looked back at his carving.

“The King will not wait!” The guard said trying to sound powerful.

“He’ll wait for me!” Frasik said and threw back his chair and pressed his knife against the guard’s neck. “Maybe I’ll finish my pretty picture right here,” he smiled and raised the knife to the guards face. The guard gulped and Frasik stared into his eyes. “Maybe you’re lucky today,” Frasik said and slipped the knife back into its holster on his hip. He pushed the guard aside and opened the huge doors to the King’s throne room.

“My King,” Frasik said and knelt before the hooded man on the throne. Frasik had always thought it strange that the King never showed his face or told anyone his name. Everyone referred to him as the King or my lord. He always wore a long cloak which hid his body and a hood which darkened his face like a cave. The only thing anyone knew about the King was that his sword was stolen from the Hiteland king. People said it was forged by a great wizard a long time ago.

“Ah, Frasik.” The King spoke with a raspy voice that seemed to echo in Frasik’s head. “My good captain. I hear that the men in Gerunt are loyal to you.” The King said.

“Yes, some respect me my king.” Frasik answered.

“You are now very important to my reign,” the King said and fiddled with a small pebble resting on the arm of his throne. “General Percy’s incompetence could no longer be tolerated.”
He motioned to Percy’s motionless body on the ground.
Frasik turned and saw the opened eyes that seemed to still be begging even as he lay dead. Percy was tall and thin. He had no hair and a small beard that was well shaven. Frasik had gone to battle against the Hitelanders with him once and Percy had told their commander to retreat. The commander had not listened and of the original twenty men, only six returned. The commander was not among them.

Frasik looked away from the dead body and back to the cloaked king. “What would you have me do my king?”

“You are now promoted to general and I give you full command over the army of men. The army of fairies belongs to my only other general, general Reardon.” The King said and Frasik remembered that name. The name of the last wizard in existence.

“Yes my king,” Frasik said trying to wrap his mind around his promotion and what it would mean.

“You’re first assignment,” the King said, still fiddling with the pebble. “Is to go to the city of Feyut, the farthest city in my domain, and bring me the young man by the name of Cripheneas. He is the son of the Hiteland king. Bring him to the prison alive. He must be alive.” The king squeezed the pebble in his hand. “Gather a small group of three men and leave by nightfall.”

“Shall I expect resistance my King?” Frasik asked as he stood.

“His presence has just been made aware to Reardon and we know nothing of him. Only that his hometown is Feyut.”

“And if he is not there my King?” Frasik asked.

“You will find him. Even if my subjects need prompting.”
The King responded.

“It will be done.” And with that Frasik turned and left the throne room.

 The chilly air rushed to greet Frasik as he stepped outside.
He took the few steps from the King’s throne room to the gates at the edge of Kings hill. Frasik knocked on the wooden door where the guard was posted to guard the gate. A guard looked out of a small window on the side and nodded to Frasik. He disappeared again and slowly the gates creaked open for Frasik to pass.
He stepped through and looked down the long hill at the King’s huge city and military base called Gerunt. It had three military facilities each containing a training room, sleeping rooms, and a cafeteria to house 300 soldiers in each. Some in training and others off duty.

Frasik reached into the bag slung around his shoulder and took out the curved horn he always carried with him. He took a breath and blew into the small hole at one end of the horn sending a loud booming sound out of the large hole on the other end.
There was a moment of silence after he stopped and then a loud high pitched screech. A massive lizard ran toward him awkwardly and skidded to a halt just before him. Frasik slipped the horn back into his bag and stroked the lizard’s head. The lizard tilted his head back in pleasure and Frasik grabbed the reigns that hung round the lizard’s neck and hoisted himself into the saddle on the lizard’s back. He shook the reigns and the lizard leapt forward. Frasik pulled the reigns left and the lizard bounded down the hill straight into Gerunt. A few peasants whispered and pointed at it as Frasik pulled the reigns back to slow down. The lizard was completely green and had scaly bumps all over it body. It had a thick tail and a long forked tongue. It could spit acid and ran up to speeds of two hundred miles per hour. Frasik much preferred him to a horse.

The lizard walked through the narrow dirt roads of Gerunt that were lined with small houses that belonged to the peasants of the city. Mainly only women and children lived there because the men were drafted into the King’s army or ran into the forest to join the rebellion. Frasik pulled the reins back again and the lizard came to a complete stop in front of TRAINING facility 1.
Frasik hopped of the lizard and the lizard ran off screeching. Frasik went two the double wooden doors labeled in black as KING’S MILITARY FACILITY 1. He pulled one of the doors which swung open and he stepped inside. He was in a round room with three hallways that branched off of it. There was a desk in the middle on the room where a young man sat writing something. Frasik remembered training here and remembered being punished by writing the progress reports for each soldier at that desk. The young man looked up at him and nodded a greeting. Frasik walked past him and down the hallway labeled TRAINING.

The captain watched in disgust through the reinforced window as the men in the room in front of struggled to reach the end of the obstacle course.

“Hello,” Frasik said coming up behind him. The captain turned and smiled at Frasik nodding.

“My old pupil,” he laughed. “What can I do for you Captain Frasik?”         

“That’s general Frasik as of today.” Frasik said. “I need to see your best five in training.”

“My best five?” The captain smiled. “What would you have them do?”

“I can’t tell you that captain but I don’t know if they’ll be coming back.” Frasik said gravely.

“Ok your wish is my command, general.”
The captain smirked and left to get the men.

The door opened and Frasik stood up from his seat on the small couch. The captain walked in followed by five men. They each faced forward as they walked past Frasik toward the training rooms entrance. Frasik watched as they stepped through the opening and all walked into the training room. He then turned and sat back down on the couch and watched them out the huge window that protected him from them and was only one way.
The captain told them to all go to opposite sides off the circular room which was completely empty. When each man got to a spot the captain went up to the window.

“What exercise do you want them to do?”
He shouted through the heavily reinforced glass.

Frasik thought for a moment and said, “Give them the gloves.” The captain shrugged and opened a box just outside the room, pulling out five pair of gloves. He tossed a pair to each man and they put them on hastily. Frasik remembered when he had been so obedient like these men when he was at TRAINING.

“State your names.” The captain shouted at the men.

“Arian!” The first man said. He was very big and muscular.
He had very short hair and a small beard.

“Yuostence.” The man next to him said nervously. He was of medium build and height. He had long curly hair and Frasik noticed his eyes darted around constantly looking for any dangers.

“Foran!” Shouted the next man with a smile. He was muscular but very short and had a constant smile on his face as if combat was what he was meant for.

“Goran,” the next one said. He very much resembled Foran except he was slightly taller but still short.

“Thew,” the last man said and brushed his long black hair out of his eyes. He had a thick beard and cocky look on his face. He was tall and well-built but was missing his left hand.

“Three of you will be chosen to serve the King on a mission based on how you perform this exercise.” The captain said.
“The last three people standing are the victors. Begin when the door closes.” With that the captain turned and slowly shut the door to the room.

Frasik was right with only one of his predictions. Youstence swung at Foran right away looking for a quick knockout, but Foran twisted with incredible speed and countered with a jab into Youstence’s stomach. Youstence stumbled back and was about to swing at Foran again when Arian grabbed his shoulders, lifted him off his feet, and threw him down on his back. Youstence groaned and slowly rolled to the side, out of the competition. Frasik had predicted him to be the first out.

Frasik turned his attention to the other end of the room where Goran and Thew were engaged in a flurry of attacks and blocks. They were both expertly trained and even though Thew was missing a hand he was pressuring Goran back into the wall.
As the two continued attempting deadly blows on each other and defending themselves with the other hand, Frasik was astonished that Goran was being defeated. He knew when Thew pinned him against the wall that Goran would be done.

Arian swung his elbow out missing Foran’s head by an inch. Foran quickly countered with a jab to Arian’s stomach.
Arian didn’t move and Foran punched his stomach again with all his might causing Arian to take a little step back. Arian then smiled and reached to grab Foran who slid in between his legs, hitting the back of Arian’s knees as he went. Arian fell to his knees and Foran stood ready to deliver the final blow. He jumped and aimed his kick at Arian’s neck. Arian suddenly twisted around and caught Foran’s foot in mid-air, throwing Foran to the ground. He whipped Foran around and slung him into the wall. Foran slid down the wall and slowly stood back up to face Arian, still grinning through the blood covering his face.

 Thew’s elbow hit its target on the side of Goran’s head sending Goran stumbling backward into the wall. Goran looked dazed as Thew advanced the few steps to him and they engaged again with Goran pinned against the wall. Thew hit him again with a blow to Goran’s chest. Goran bent over, gasping for breath. Thew grabbed the back of Goran’s shirt and slammed him up against the wall. Goran gasped again and turned to face Thew. His nose was broken and his head throbbed, but it was worth it. Thew pulled back his fist, preparing for the finishing punch on the defeated Goran. Just as Thew swung his fist at Goran, Goran grabbed a small crack in the wall’s foundation and hoisted himself up.
Thew was too late to change his attack or stop it and his hand crashed into the hard wall. His eyes widened and he let out a loud cry of pain and he pulled his hand back to himself for refuge. Goran pushed off the wall and landed on Thew’s back sending him to the ground. He stood up; ready to fight someone else but he saw only Foran and Arian fighting. He looked over at Youstence who was sitting up against the wall watching the fight with a look of disappointment on his face. He saw Thew also against the wall grimacing and looking at his hand which was covered with blood along with his face.

“That’s enough,” the captain said to Arian and Foran. Foran was on Arian’s back and Arian had a hold on Foran’s head. They stopped and froze in this position making Frasik laugh at how ridiculous they looked. “God, you idiots.” The captain said provoking another laugh out of Frasik. Foran slid off Arian’s back and walked over to Goran.

“I think you got a little something on your face,” Foran whispered to Goran making fun of his broken nose.

“Shut up Foran, you little…” the captain said and Frasik walked into the room.

“Congratulations boys.” Frasik said and looked over them.
“I’m Frasik and I’ll be telling you what to do from here on out.” He smiled and winked at the captain. “We leave tonight. So go clean yourselves up and do whatever crapt you gotta do before we go. I’ll meet you at the main door in three hours.”

The doors to TRAINING slowly shut as Frasik, Goran, Foran,
and Arian began their walk out of the huge city of Gerunt.
They walked in silence for a while before Goran finally broke the mood, “what exactly is it we’re gonna do?” He said in a slight accent. Frasik turned from the front of the group and looked him up and down as if deciding if he was worth answering.

“The King,” he said licking his lips “has sent us on a little quest.”

“What the hell kinda quest?” Arian bellowed and stepped forward, but Frasik just snickered and kept walking.

“Well big fellow, it’s one that will certainly prove too much for you.” He said with a laugh. “We’re going to kidnap a young boy in the village Feyut.”

“Feyut? I’m not going to Feyut to get some runt! And I couldn’t care less what the King thinks!” Arian shouted and stormed back down the small alleyway toward TRAINING. He looked back and saw Frasik, Goran, and Foran all watching him. Goran looking serious but wise as usual. Frasik and Foran both grinning ear to ear, both amused by his outbreak. He turned away from them and kept walking. Suddenly a hooded figure stepped out of another alleyway and blocked Arian.

“Get out of the way.” Arian muttered but the figure didn’t move. He was tall but thin and held a wooden staff slightly taller than himself and was looking at the ground. “You move or I move you.” Arian said and waited a few seconds before shoving the figure roughly against the stone wall of a hut. He took a step and felt a thwack on his chest as the figure’s staff hit him. He doubled over and staggered backward before looking up into the face of Reardon the King’s only other general. Arian had heard epic stories of Reardon but had never seen him except in pictures and had actually thought he didn’t exist.

“Actually, you were in my way.” A snake-like voice said from under the hood.

“Reardon,” came Frasik’s voice from behind Arian who was knelling, and gasping for air. “Don’t you have fairy time to be getting to?”

“Ah, well if it isn’t the new general Frasik.” Reardon hissed and slipped the hood off his head revealing his thickly bearded face and ungroomed long hair. “And as a matter of fact your right. I do need to go congratulate my army who just invaded and captured a Hitite camp. I see you have a good army of your own now don’t you?” He said looking over the men. “I’m sure you are all going somewhere very perilous and danger filled. Most likely it’s very important to you that it gets done. Especially you.”
He said and poked Arian with his staff.

“It is.” Frasik said hotly and stared Reardon in the eyes. “Now why don’t you do what you do best during a fight and leave?”
Reardon locked eyes with him for a while before looking away.

“Very well Frasik I will leave you with your army. But don’t expect me to come save you when you fail.” Reardon said and turned on his heel and continued through the alleyway.

Frasik grabbed Arian’s shoulder and hoisted him to his feet.
“Are you coming or stayin?” He asked sternly, looking directly at Arian.

“I… I’ll go.” Arian struggled to say. Frasik released his shirt and looked at Goran and Foran who both had a hand on their weapons.

“At ease men.” He said and they relaxed their arms. “You would never want to fight Reardon unless it was a last resort.”
Frasik said. “Very powerful wizard he is. He’s well trained in the dark arts. But don’t worry boys, he’s all talk. His army is what wins the battles not him.”

“Does he really command an army of dark fairies?” Asked Arian who was still clutching his chest.

“Yeah. And they are very powerful. He only has control over about fifty or so though because those are the only ones dumb enough to obey him.” Frasik said. “Are you ready to leave now?”
Frasik suddenly said angrily at Arian.

“Mm-hmm.” Arian muttered angrily.

“From now on there will be no more whining from anyone.
You got that?” Frasik said and looked at the tree men who all nodded. “K. Let’s go.” And the three set off again to Feyut.

Chapter 2

Cripheneas shuddered as the twig under his foot snapped. The rabbit straightened up and looked in his direction. Its nose twitched and its ears were stiff and alert. Cripheneas didn’t dare breathe until it finally went back to eating berries on a small bush. Cripheneas took another cautious step closer to it. One more and he would grab it. He waited a second again before taking the final step. The rabbit’s head shot up but it was too late. Cripheneas leaped out and grabbed it. It squirmed violently before Cripheneas killed it with a swift twist of his wrist.
Cripheneas walked out of the forest and over to the two tents in the grassy plain. In the distance he could just make out smoke rising into the sky from his hometown, Feyut.
“It’s just too bad.” Said a deep voice above Cripheneas. He looked up and saw one of the men from his platoon sitting in a tree’s braches above him.
“What’s too bad Reger?” Cripheneas asked. “Does it make you sad to see a dead rabbit?”
“No, no, no. It makes me sad that you returned.” Reger said and slid down the tree’s trunk.
“I told you I’m not scared of the forest.” Cripheneas said and started walking toward the camp.
“Yes oh fearless leader. But that is no ordinary forest. Many a soul has been lost forever in the forest of Odds and Ends.” Regger said sarcastically and walked up next to Criphneas.
“Well, not mine,” Cripheneas said and Reger shrugged. “Are they all here?” Cripheneas asked when they approached the tents. “It’s beginning to get dark and they should’ve made a fire by now.”
“Oh they actually all died. A bear attacked and ate them all while you were gone. Of course I was in a tree and there was nothing I could do.” Reger said sarcastically again.
“Shut up.” Cripheneas said. “And bears can climb trees anyway.” Just then a fat and short man came out from a tent. His face was red and he had red curly hair.
“Hello Crip.” He said. “Rabbit stew tonight. I’ll get the others.” And he disappeared back into the tent. He returned again carrying some pots and a wooden spoon.
“Where are the others Pete?” Cripheneas asked and handed the rabbit to Pete’s outstretched hand.
“Captain is asleep as usual,” he answered while going over to the ring of stones where the fire would go. “And I don’t know where Huy is.”
“I’m just sittin back here letting loose last night’s rabbit stew. Actually this is definatly more than one stew here.” Huy said from behind one of the tents.
“Thanks for letting us all know Huy.” Cripheneas laughed. “And why are you and cap. Sleepin?”
“Well Crip the answer to that is very complicated you see.”Huy said and walked out from behind the tent, pulling his pants on. “We were actually sleeping because we had this little complication known as fatigue.” Huy had a stubby beard and solid black hair. He was muscular and he was like a brother to Cripheneas.
“Oh wow really? That’s terrible! Why don’t I get you and captain something then?” Cripheneas said acting shocked.
“Thank you kindly Crip. I’m sure the cap will like your gift but I’ll go ahead and pass.” Huy said smiling and walked over to Pete. “Mornin’ Pete.”          
“It’s the evening Huy.” Pete said. “And there’s no fire for me to cook dinner with.”
“Well then why don’t you make one?” Huy asked and poked Pete on the nose. “You are uneducated in the fire ways aren’t you piggy?” Pete looked down embarrassed and sniffled.
“Holy God!” Came a scream from inside one of the tents. “I’m gonna kill you!” Cripheneas emerged laughing and carrying a small bucket that the men kept water in.
“I swear it’s raining cap!” Cripheneas shouted back, laughing. The captain emerged from the tent in only a small cloth around his waist. He was tall and slightly fat. He had short brown hair and a thick mustache. He looked to be about fifty but would never tell anyone his age.
“I’m gonna kill you!” He bellowed again and ran at Cripheneas.
“Cap! Cap!” Huy called and grabbed the captain’s arm. “Look cap. Pete’s going to make us a hot stew of fresh rabbit.” The captain relaxed a bit and looked at Pete who was skinning the rabbit. “See cap. Now go put on some clothes and come back out to the fire.” Huy said smoothly and the captain looked back at Cripheneas,
“You’re lucky this time.” He said and pointed at him. He turned and went back into the tent. He and Pete both shared a tent while Cripheneas and Huy shared the other.
Cripheneas laughed again and Huy smiled at him. It was a kind of stupid smile that Huy had that Cripheneas liked. That and they both enjoyed messing with the captain.
“Huy didn’t make a fire Crip.” Pete tattled. “How can I cook for cap?”
“Yeah Huy where’s the fire?” Snapped Reger angrily from his seat on a log positioned next to the fire ring.
“You shut your mouth tree hugger!” Huy retorted back angrily. “Now go climb another tree and dream about having friends.” Reger shot up from his seat and a knife seemed to suddenly appear in his hand.
“Guys,” Cripheneas quickly interfered. “Settle down and Huy go make a fire.” Huy and Reger held each other’s stares for a moment before Huy looked away and walked over to the fire ring. He picked up a black colored rock and began chipping it against another rock causing a spark.
It wasn’t long before the water was boiling in the pot and Pete was dropping in rabbit meat and mixed herbs for the stew. Cripheneas, Huy, and the captain were all sitting in the dirt around the fire with their backs against the big log they had set up. Each man had a look of complete satisfaction on his face.

Captain Long was tall and slightly fat with a bushy mustache. He had brown hair and was easy going. He had just recently been promoted to captain in the rebel army.
Huy was Cripheneas’ best friend. Although Huy was only 19 and Cripheneas was 23, they had been in the same class in the rebellion training. They had been paired together in the first activity and had never partnered with anyone else since. Huy was exceptionally talented at shooting. He was also very immature and stupid. More than once he had caused Cripheneas a failing grade on a test. Cripheneas was a tall thin man. He had a small beard that was gray even though his hair was a solid brown. He was almost always happy and friendly and had instantly received the officers’ respect. He was annoyed the first time he had been paired with Huy was the youngest in the class and was thought to be inferior. However Huy proved himself with the gun and eventually advanced to be one of the best gunmen in the rebellion. Cripheneas was humble and didn’t talk about it much, but he was exceptional at hand to hand combat. In the tests he could take on almost five men together. Not because he was superior in strength, but because he was superior in speed and quickness and he knew all the enemies soft spots.
Pete was defiantly not a fully trained soldier, or at least that was what Huy said. Pete was fat with red curly hair. He was not very smart or good at fighting. He was mostly in the rebellion because he was a great cook. In fact, many people would’ve said that he was the best cook in the land. There were stories of fairies giving him his cooking ability and even one that he used to cook for the King and had been beaten until he could get the food to the King’s pleasure.
The fifth man of the platoon was Reger. He was very fast with excellent endurance. He was the Rebellion’s best knife thrower and had formerly been the Rebellion army’s assassin. He was on a mission when he was attacked by one of the King’s scouts. He killed the scout but the scout had shot him in the shoulder. He shouldn’t have allowed the scout to come so close but Reger was very arrogant of his abilities and it nearly cost him his life. To make things worse, the King had sent out a small band of troops when the scout didn’t return and the troops attacked the rebellion base. The rebellion killed the men easily, but they had to move location for the King now knew where they were. For that the rebellion leader, Flicker, stripped Reger of his position and made him back into a newly trained soldier status. Reger had expected to fly back up the ranks but his injured shoulder had limited him and he was still doing his time with the platoon under captain Long.

Captain Long slurped loudly as he at his stew. “Pete this is good.” He said happily and Pete smiled proudly. “I’ve had better.” Huy said trying to be sarcastic even though the stew was delicious. Pete smiled anyway, knowing that was the closest to a compliment he was going to get from Huy. “My, Pete how do you make it so good?” Captain Long said after another loud slurp.
“It is really good Pete.” Cripheneas agreed with everyone. Everyone that is except Reger who just sat quietly on a rock across the fire from the others. “You know, I think I’m going to get the wine.” Captain Long announced when his bowl was dry. “No cap I’m stuffed.” Cripheneas said. “But don’t hold out on my account. I’m sure Huy can’t wait.”
“Alright good.” Captain Long said and disappeared into his tent. A moment later he emerged with a bottle. He twisted the cork and it flew off the bottle into a weed nearby.
“I suppose we’ll drink to our victory? Oh that’s right, we don’t do anything!” Reger said scowling and annoyed. “Count me out.” And he got up and walked into his tent.
“Does he always have to use that language?” Pete asked peevishly.
“Oh don’t mind him Pete,” captain Long said and handed Pete the bottle of wine. “Have a swig.” Pete took a gulp and smiled. He wiped his mouth and handed the bottle to Huy.
“Why thanks a bunches piggy.” Huy laughed and he downed almost half the bottle before the captain reached over and yanked it from his hand.
“That’s enough! You know this stuff is strong enough to give you a headache for a year?” Captain Long said and almost immediately began drinking until it was gone.
“Wow cap. Your advice must be great because you don’t follow it.” Cripheneas joked while looking into the fire. The captain said something back but he wasn’t really listening. He was gazing intently into the orange dance of the flames. Looking into the fire drew up a lot of emotions in Cripheneas. Happiness at being here with friends and also a nostalgic feeling for home where he used to sit with his mother and just watch the fire.

After about half an hour or so of raving, captain Long fell asleep. Leaving only Huy and Cripheneas sitting alone.
“You know Crip I think Cap might have been right about some of the things he said.” Huy said solemnly. “Maybe we should join with the Hitites against the King. In just a temporary alliance.”
“The Hitites Huy?” Cripheneas asked as if the suggestion had made him sick. “The Hitites are barbarians. All they do is kill, no prisoners.”
“Neither does the King, Crip.” Huy said forlornly. Both his and Cripheneas’ parents had been killed by the King’s men. “Yeah well, I think it’s too late for us to make peace with the Hitites after all the battles with them. No we seem to be deeply rooted in the three way war.” Cripheneas reasoned and Huy just sighed. “Well I don’t know why they sent us on this dumb expedition anyway.” Huy said trying to change the subject. “Is it really necessary to scout out a path through the Height Mountains? If Flicker is really guna try to send some troops into Hiteland than they might as well die on the mountain instead of in Hiteland itself. Besides what makes us Flicker’s primary choice to scout the mountains.” Huy complained. “We should be on a much more important mission.”
“I don’t know either Huy,” Cripheneas shrugged. “I can only trust that Flicker knows what he’s doing. For now I’m just following orders. We’re just rookies anyway Huy. You can’t expect a great honorary mission on your first day. Our will time will come though don’t worry.” Cripheneas stood up as he spoke and Huy chuckled at the fire behind him making him appear more majestic.
“Ok Crip,” he said smiling. “That speech certainly could have rallied the troops to follow you to hell.”
“Oh shut up.” Cripheneas smiled back and stepped away from the fire. “I’m hittin the sack.”
“Yeah me too.” Huy said and sprang up from his seat.

There was a certain chill in the air that made the approaching troops feel hidden. The man that walked in front of them was tall and carried a long wooden staff. He suddenly motioned for them to stop and he peered into the night intently. He turned around to look at the three dark fairies following him. The dark fairies were all short and carried sticks that were wrapped in sharp thorn vines and each thorn was soaked with poison so that even a single cut from it could result in death. The sticks were known as thornies and were only made by fairies.

The man pointed his staff at the small tents a little way off and nodded. The three fairies began running, their feet barely skimming the ground. Fairies could run at an incredible speed for a short distance but they have almost no endurance.
The first fairy reached the first tent and tore open the canvas on the side with its thornie. The second behind rushed inside the rip and swung it’s thornie down and the unsuspecting sleeper.
“Help!” Came a scream from the tent next to Cripheneas. He jumped up beside Huy who handed him a knife and pistol, taking the rifle for himself. Cripheneas burst from the tent and ran directly into Captain Long who was screaming. The hit knocked Cripheneas to the ground but he back on his feet in a flash. He grabbed captain Long,
“Captain get a hold of yourself!” He shouted and shook the captain’s shoulders. Captain Long looked at him blankly for a moment before answering.
“Reardon and the dark fairies are attacking us! Get me a gun!” Huy threw another pistol from inside the tent to Captain Long who cocked the bullet into place. Suddenly Regger burst out of the same tent that was under attack. He had his back to Cripheneas, Huy, and Captain Long and was still facing the tent’s opening he had retreated from. Cripheneas saw he held a knife and watch his arm swing forward and the knife’s blade pierce a fairy’s chest.
“Regger here.” Called out Huy and took the last pistol from the bag he had pulled the others from. Regger caught it and quickly shot into the opening.
“Don’t just stand there!” He yelled and broke Cripheneas’ stillness. Cripheneas leapt forward to Regger’s side followed by Captain Long and Huy. He looked into the tent’s opening but everything was quiet. The four men stood with their weapons pointed at the opening for what seemed like an eternity before something moved. Cripheneas nearly pulled the trigger on his pistol before he saw that it was Pete who had exited the tent.
“Pete are you hurt?” Cripheneas called.
“Please help me!” Pete whimpered Pete, but it was too late. As Cripheneas stepped forward to offer Pete his hand, the leader of the fairies, Reardon, smashed his staff of hard wood into the side of Pete’s head. Pete fell onto his side and the man released a blade from the end of his staff and drove into Pete’s stomach.
Cripheneas filled with anger and was about to run at Reardon before Captain Long grabbed his arm and pulled him back to the other three men that all had their guns aimed at Reardon.          
“Hello,” Reardon said smiling at the men, clearly enjoying their anger at him. “What are you boys doing near the Hitite borders? You wouldn’t be scouting a pass through the mountains would you?” The three dark fairies strode up behind their leader, each brandishing his own thornie. One of them was bleeding from his chest where Regger had thrown the knife at it.
“Reardon the great dark fairy leader has nothing better to do than attack a small scouting party. I thought your master thought better of you than that.” Captain Long said back mockingly even though there was an edge of fear in his voice.
“Well I guess not. But you’ll never know whether or not he thinks higher of me after I kill you.” Reardon reasoned calmly, still smiling. He turned his head to the dark fairies, “Don’t kill them, I want to show them what happens to rebels before they die.” The fairies nodded and began moving toward the men.

Dark fairies were small about three feet tall and had skin that was very hard and not easily penetrated. The easiest way to kill a fairy was to decapitate one but also repeated wounds would do the job. Dark fairies did not have wings although most people believed they did. They were a nomadic species always traveling but some had been recruited by Reardon to join the King’s army. As legend went, dark fairies could travel through magical portals into the realm of the Heavens. Fairies were also believed to have some magical powers but they were very limited and were only used in dire need because using it could possibly kill the fairy.

Cripheneas pulled the trigger on his pistol at almost the same time as the others. The bullets sailed into the fairies who merely stumbled backward before beginning to advance again.
“Our bullets can’t penetrate their skin!” Shouted Captain Long, “retreat!” Cripheneas shot the pistol again at the nearest fairy and it faltered for a moment before advancing again. He felt Huy tug his shoulder and he turned and began sprinting toward the Forest of Odds and Ends. He glanced back and saw the fairies had begun running and wee gaining fast.
“We have to fight!” Cripheneas shouted and the others stopped. Cripheneas fired the pistol again then dropped it and took out the sword he wore at his belt. He saw Captain Long do the same and Regger reach for two knives, one for each hand. Huy was firing and reloading the rifle so fast Cripheneas could hardly see his hands moving at all.
Huy shot at least five bullets into the fairy closest to him before it dropped dead just at his feet. It was quickly replaced by another and then they were upon the men.
Cripheneas swung his sword up and blocked the fairy’s thornie from clobbering his head. The fairy pulled its thornie back and was about to swing again when Cripheneas jabbed his sword into its chest. It froze for a moment but then it’s face twitched into a grin and it continued its swing at Cripheneas. He ducked as the thornie whooshed over his head. He let go of the sword, leaving it in the fairy’s chest and pulled out a dagger. The fairy growled as Cripheneas stuck the dagger into the fairy near its heart. He quickly yanked it back out and barely dodged the thornie as the fairy swung it again at his head. He jabbed again toward the fairy, but this time at it’s face. It shrieked in pain and hit Cripheneas with it’s arm, sending him sprawling to the ground. He was up on his feet again in a flash and dodged the thornie again. He swung the dagger at the fairy’s face again, cutting it’s eye. It screeched again began swinging the thornie at Cripheneas furiously. It swung left to right and then right to left. Cripheneas was stepping back after each attack, but the fairy was swinging too fast for him to strike again. Finally Cripheneas saw his chance when the fairy slowed it’s swing from fatigue. He lashed out at it’s face again, stabbing the dagger into it’s forehead. He pulled it out and darted back, out of range from the thornie, but the fairy suddenly stopped swinging it’s weapon and stood still with a look of disbelief on it’s face. Then it collapsed to the side and the thornie fell from its grasp.
Huy swung the butt of the rifle with all his might at the approaching fairy and caught it on the side of the face. It snarled and began swinging it’s thornie at him. He jumped backward and lost his footing, falling to the ground. The fairy began advancing toward him and he quickly reloaded the rifle and fired at it again and again, but it continued to step toward toward him. He was reloading again when the fairy raised it’s thornie above him. He shot in desperation, but it only stopped a moment before bringing the thornie down.
Regger’s knife buried itself to the hilt in the fairy’s wrist that was about to kill Huy. He quickly drew another and buried that one into the fairy’s left eye. It shrieked and turned away from Huy. Regger threw another and it stuck into the fairy’s chin. It shrieked again before charging at him with it’s incredible short distance speed. Regger slashed his knife at it but it twisted away at the last moment. Regger screamed as the fairy crashed into him. He fell with the fairy on top of him, he could fell it’s thornie stabbing it’s thorns into his thigh. He pulled out a knife and began stabbing the fairy’s back blindly. The fairy began to rise but suddenly Huy shot it in the head and it collapsed on Regger again. Huy reloaded and fired again and again, all the while walking closer and closer to it. Regger continued stabbing it long after it was dead. Huy reached him and pushed the fairy off him. Regger gasped for air and sat up.
“Are you ok? Are you hurt?” Huy asked him as if he was in a hurry. Regger pointed to his leg where the thornie had stabbed him. Huy looked at the wound and shouted something at Regger but Regger was already feeling the effects of the poison and couldn’t hear him. He saw Huy run off to help Captain Long and Cripheneas with the last fairy and then he passed out.
Cripheneas ran as fast as he legs could carry him. He didn’t even know what was happening behind him, but he could hear feet thudding against the ground. He saw the Forest of Odds and Ends ahead of him and knew that if he could get there he would be safe. Well, he didn’t know, but he hoped that the dark fairy wouldn’t pursue him.
After he felt like he was going to collapse he made it into the trees of the forest. He slowed his pace and glanced behind him. Huy was sprinting toward him with Captain Long just at his heels. The fairy behind them was slowing down. As Huy and Captain Long entered the tree line the fairy stopped. It looked angrily at the men and then turned and ran back to the camp. A few moments later it returned with Reardon who was still carrying his staff. He smiled at Cripheneas as he walked up to the forest. He paused just before the tree line. Cripheneas readied his sword and saw Huy and Captain Long do the same. Reardon slowly stuck out his staff into the forest. He smiled again when nothing happened. Suddenly he was blown off his feet as a great wind whipped through the forest. He stood up quickly and looked at Cripheneas with complete hatred in his eyes.
“This is not the end!” Reardon shouted at the men. “The forest may reject my dark power and keep you safe! But the creatures in the forest will surely devour you before tomorrow! If you come out now I will not harm you! I merely want to question you!”
“We do not fear the forest and we would rather take our chances here than with you!” Cripheneas shouted back, speaking for all the men.
“Fine then, die in there!” Reardon shouted back angrily. Suddenly the dark fairy began whispering to Reardon. After a few moments Reardon smiled. “It seems as though you have forgotten someone!” He called to Cripheneas who quickly turned to look at the men. They all glanced around, confused before Cripheneas realized that Regger was missing. He gulped and thought about what had happened and where Regger could be.
“My soldier here has informed me that he was unconscious from the poison of the thornie.” Reardon said and Cripheneas turned back to face him. “He is still back at your camp. If you do not come out for him he will surely die painfully. The poison of the thornie tends to kill its prey slowly if you know what I mean.”
“Cripheneas,” Whispered Captain Long from behind him. Cripheneas turned around and Captain Long stepped up next to him. “We cannot leave the forest.”
Cripheneas shook his head, “Captain we cannot leave him to die like that. That is what we cannot do.”
“What can we do then? If you take a step out of the forest Reardon will kill you or take you prisoner.” Captain Long reasoned.
“No, I’m going to go for him.” Cripheneas said thinking of when he was young and he had seen his mother die slowly. He had seen the King’s soldier stab her and she had begged him to help her but Cripheneas could do nothing but watch her die.
“Cripheneas I won’t let you.” Captain Long said and reached for Cripheneas’ shoulder.
Cripheneas pulled away and took a step back, toward Reardon. “You don’t decide what I do.” He said and turned back to Reardon who was watching the argument attentively.
“No.” Captain Long said and stepped forward, grabbing Cripheneas firmly by the shoulder. “You are worth more to us than you know.” Cripheneas turned back to Captain Long, looking puzzled.
“What is that supposed to mean?” He asked sternly, expecting an answer.
“I…I…you…I beg you to stay.” Captain Long begged. “Please don’t.” Cripheneas looked at Captain Long’s pleading eyes and at Huy who was standing back looking very concerned. Then he thought again of the pain Regger would endure.
“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” He said to Captain Long. “He needs help and I will try to help him even if I die trying.” He was determined and shook off Captain Long’s hand.
 Well, well. Your man will certainly be feeling the effects of that poison by now.” Reardon said from outside the trees. He was staring at Cripheneas with a challenge in his eyes.
Cripheneas drew his sword and was about to leave the forest when suddenly he felt a sharp pain on his head and he fell over. He wasn’t unconscious, but his vision was blurred and he felt hands grab his arms and begin pulling him. He tried to resist and go back to help Regger, but he felt another thump on his head and everything went black.

Chapter 3

Frasik walked into the small village of Feyut with confidence. He loved to watch the people cower away from him in fear and he loved to see them give him angry glances that quickly changed to fear when he would give them a stare. Frasik was feared in all the villages of the King’s domain because of his severe ruthlessness. He was especially known to enjoy torturing those people whom he thought had information he needed. At his heels were Arian, Goran, and Foran who looked like his three dogs that were just looking to tear someone apart.

“Let’s choose a house and kindly ask it’s inhabitants where we can find our boy, Cripheneas.” Frasik said to Arian who smiled at the idea of finally doing something instead of just walking. He walked up to the nearest hut and sized up the wooden door before he kicked it down with a small grunt. He stepped aside as Frasik, Goran, and Foran stepped inside. There was a clatter from a back bedroom and then a baby began to cry from a bed under a window to Frasik’s right.
“Who’s there?” A man called fearfully from behind a curtain that leads farther into the back of the hut.
“The King’s army!” Frasik called out and reached into the bed and picked up the crying baby. It began screaming when Frasik held it by its foot and it was upside down. Almost immediately a woman appeared from behind the curtain, a fearful look on her face. She looked about thirty years old, still young, but she was wrinkled and looked like the baby had prevented her from a lot of sleep.
“Melissa get back!” The man shouted again from behind the curtain. But the woman, Melissa, completely ignored him and just continued to stare at the baby in Frasik’s hands. She seemed dumbfounded and looked like she was still piecing together what was happening.

Then she did something Frasik didn’t expect. She suddenly charged at him, screaming with an intense hate. Frasik barely moved to the left before she lashed out at him. Her long nails raked his cheek and he grunted and stepped back. She came again, hands outstretched to scratch him again, but Arian suddenly grabbed a bunch of the woman’s flowing brown hair. She was jerked back and then turned to attack Arian, but he was ready and simply yanked her hair hard. She let out a shriek and stopped. She hung her head and stared at the ground sobbing.
Frasik touched his face and felt blood from where Melissa had scratched him. Suddenly there was a gunshot and a man came out from behind the curtain. He was short and slightly fat and looked very scared, his hands trembled. He carried a rifle and his eyes were darting around at the intruders in his home.

“I… I don’t want trouble.” He stammered, pointing the gun at Frasik. “If you’ll just leave my family and me alone I won’t have to use this.” He tried to sound confident but he was terrified.
“Oh believe me sir,” Frasik said mockingly. “You won’t be using that and you will be getting trouble.” Frasik pulled out his knife from his belt and held the blade near the baby. At the same time, Arian retrieved his sword and held it against Melissa’s throat.
“Please.” The man stammered in complete terror, but he still clutched his rifle. “What do you want?”
“We can talk after you put down that gun.” Frasik said and lifted the baby into one arm so it was no longer upside down. The man looked wearily at the situation once more and then dropped the gun. It clattered on the ground and Goran bent down and picked it up. He immediately pointed it at the man.

The man’s eyes widened at the gun pointing at him. “What, what do you want?” He asked, his voice completely filled with fear.
“There is a boy in this village I came looking for.” Frasik said while looking at the man hard. “His name is Cripheneas.” Frasik saw the man’s eyes register the name.
“I… I don’t know him.” The man lied, his voice was quiet and he was looking at the ground as if he knew that everyone in the room knew he was lying.
“Ah I see.” Frasik said as if he was very saddened by the man’s answer. He flicked his wrist slightly and his knife cut the baby’s leg and it immediately began to scream again. Then the woman, Melissa, began to scream along with her baby. Melissa’s screams were loud and very high pitched.
“Shut up!” Frasik shouted at her but she only seemed to scream louder, spilling out her anguish. Frasik turned to the man. “You best shut her up now!”
“Melissa quiet please,” the man said timidly holding out his hands toward her. She ignored him too and kept crying loudly.
Frasik breathed deeply in frustration. The woman’s screaming was about to put him into a rage. “Get a hold of her!” He warned the man again who put his hands on his wife’s shoulders. He looked into her face and whispered to her, for a moment she sniffled quietly and Frasik thought she had finally stopped. To his dismay she suddenly began wailing again and he lost control.
“Where is the boy Cripheneas?” Frasik shouted at the man, shoving him roughly away from the woman. “I know you know!”
The man gulped and his eyes flicked from his still wailing wife to Frasik who held his child which was also crying. He wanted to just tell Frasik everything he knew about Cripheneas and his family. He wanted to have his family at peace and for the monsters in his house to leave. Still, Cripheneas’ father had once saved his life many years ago. That was before the King was in power, before he himself had become a coward and done nothing to help when Cripheneas’ father was killed. He could not betray Cripheneas like this; he would try to be brave now even he wasn’t before.
“I won’t tell you.” He said to Frasik, trying to sound defiant. He had expected Frasik to be enraged and hurt him, but what he did was far worse.

Frasik had tortured information out of many people in his many years serving the King, and it was something he enjoyed. The human instinct to survive was more powerful than the human emotion of faithfulness. Almost everyone he had questioned had broken, or died. So when the man in front of him denied him what he wanted, Frasik was glad. Now the torturing would begin. And it would most certainly end with a person of Frasik’s choosing dead.
“I see. I will ask you again in a few moments.” Frasik said calmly to the man, although he wasn’t sure if the man could hear him through his wife’s wailing. Frasik held the knife over the baby in his arm. He glanced at the man who was staring very fearfully at the knife, then he sliced the blade down the baby’s left arm, leaving a thin line of blood from the shoulder to the wrist.
Instantly the baby let out a shriek and began screaming which, combined with the woman’s wailing, filled the hut with noise.
“No please!” Shouted the man and he ran toward the crying baby to help it. Foran stepped in his path and, after giving him an elbow to the stomach, slammed him back into the wall. The man gasped for air and finally chocked out, “Please.”
“Don’t worry it wasn’t deep and probably won’t scar. However, the next cut will.” Frasik said and Sliced down the baby’s other arm, this time pushing the knife deeper into its tender skin.
The baby screamed in agony again and the woman suddenly began screaming at Frasik with pure hatred. “You heartless retch! You’re hurting him! My child is hurting because of you! Why are you so cruel?” She tried her hardest to break free of Arian’s grip on her hair, but he had a great deal of hair in his hand and she could hardly budge.
“Oh no, no, no,” Frasik said shaking his head mockingly. “Those are some naughty words in need of consequences.” He looked at the baby whom had stopped screaming and was now whimpering softly. He raked the tip of the knife across the baby’s right cheek which set off another scream from the baby and its mother.
“I beg of you, please stop!” The man shouted from his position on the ground slouched against the wall.
Frasik looked at him with satisfaction. “Would you like to answer me now?” He asked business-like.
“I… I…can… I can’t tell… No I can’t tell you,” The man said. He was thinking of how cowardly he had acted when Cripheneas’ father had died and he had done nothing to help. He wouldn’t tell Frasik anything; he just hoped Frasik wouldn’t kill his family.
“I’m afraid that was not the answer I wanted to hear. Your family will have to suffer more now because of your selfishness.” Frasik said solemnly as if he was truly displeased at the idea that the man’s family would suffer. Then he raised the knife over the baby again and held it there for a moment to let the man and his wife see. Then he sliced the blade down the baby’s other cheek. “That one will definitely scar!”  Frasik shouted to the man above the bay’s shrill shriek.
Then woman suddenly began to wail again and Frasik turned to face her. He thrust his knife into her face. “If you don’t shut up I’m going to kill this baby!” He snarled.
Instantly she stopped wailing and grunted from the effort of stifling her emotion. She sniffled and wiped her eyes, trying to control herself. Now that she had stopped, the only noise was the baby’s soft crying.
“Thank you,” Frasik said and sighed deeply. “Now let’s try to keep this kind of silence.” He said to the woman and turned back to the man to ask him again before he had an idea.
“I have an idea.” Frasik said aloud to the man. “It is obvious to me that you are stubborn and don’t want to tell me about this boy. So I will give you a chance to have your wish. Since your wife here has so much trouble keeping quiet, I will give her a test. If she can remain silent for just one minute, I will leave and take my men with me. But, if she cannot,” Frasik smiled and looked at the woman intently. “If she cannot then we kill the child and you tell me what I want to know.”
“No,” The man said defiantly. “I won’t tell you.” He was still trying his best to be courageous but he knew that if Frasik didn’t leave soon he would have to give in.
“Are you sure you want to reuse my generous challenge?” Frasik asked as if the man was making the worst decision of his life. “Because I could just keep giving your child scars.”
The man was silent for a moment as he looked at his wife. They seemed to be communicating silently, making a decision. “Alright, but you have to keep your end of the bargain.” The man finally said addressing Frasik.
“Of course I will.” Frasik said smiling triumphantly. “She can’t make a single peep though or you lose.” He warned. The man nodded in agreement and when Frasik announced that the challenge had begun, he almost called the whole thing off.
Frasik smiled happily. He loved watching the man in his plight, having no choice but to agree to Frasik’s sadistic challenge. He would keep his word if the woman somehow prevailed, but he felt certain that she would allow even a little gasp from her mouth.

He stepped up next to the woman and wasted none of his precious twenty seconds as he started by stabbing his knife into the ground next to the woman’s foot. He had hoped she would gasp in fright, but she remained stolid with her eyes facing straight ahead. Frasik grunted in displeasure but he still had time. He retrieved the knife and held it against her throat almost hard enough to draw blood.
Again the woman seemed unchanged and made no sound. Her eyes were now fixed on her husband who was watching in utter terror.
Frasik felt the time slipping by and he became frustrated. He had only a few seconds before the man would be done counting down the time. He swung the knife in front of her face, but she still had no reaction. Then her tightly pressed lips suddenly formed into a mocking smile. Frasik was now enraged. He knew he was losing and he hated losing. The man was just about to shout out that it had been a minute when Frasik threw his knife down. The blade when deep into the middle of the woman’s foot and she let out a small whimper. Immediately she closed her mouth tightly again and tried to act as if nothing had happened but Frasik had already heard her.
“You lose.” Frasik said and his face lite up with a grin. “Tell me where the boy is and I might decide not to kill your baby.”
“I… I… she,” the man gestured half-heartedly at his wife who had tears streaming down her face.
“She made a noise and lost.” Frasik said bluntly. “Now tell me where he is.” He demanded.
“I… please… have mercy.” The man stammered still looking at his wife desperately.
“Quit your stammering!” Frasik commanded. “The next thing out of your mouth better be directions or the child dies!” Frasik had grown angry and he reached down and yanked his knife out of the woman’s foot. He held the knife to the baby’s throat.
The man looked helplessly at his child and then back to his wife who was shuddering at trying to hold back her sobs.
“Answer me now!” Frasik shouted and raised the baby up in one hand and held the knife against its throat in the other.

“Frasik that’s enough,” Goran said and put his hand on Frasik’s raised arm. “They have had enough.” Goran had been watching the whole time feeling sick and couldn’t take it anymore.
“Shut up!” Frasik shouted and shrugged his hand off angrily. “Answer me!” He shouted at the man again.
“He used to live at the end of the street.” The man blabbered; he couldn’t allow his family anymore suffering. “The hut next to the river. He lived there with his mother and brothers.”
Frasik nodded and lowered the baby back into his arm. “Now was that so hard?” Frasik asked and stepped toward the man to hand him the baby. Then, just as the man reached out for it, Frasik jabbed his knife into its stomach. The baby shrieked and its muscles tensed for a moment before it died.
“No! What have you done?” The man screamed and snatched his dead child from Frasik’s arms. “I told you what you wanted!”
“Yes and I thank you for that you have been helpful. However, we spent much more time than I intended here and well, I have a reputation to keep up.” Frasik said matter-of-factly. “You can release the woman now Arian.” Frasik commanded and Arian released his hold on the woman’s hair. She immediately ran over to her dead child.
“Okay lads,” Frasik said turning away from the family and toward his men. “Let’s go pay a visit to that house.” With that he walked out the broken front door and into the street which was completely deserted.
“I didn’t like that.” Goran whispered to Foran as they followed Frasik through Feyut. “That child didn’t need to die and it didn’t need to be tortured.”
“Yeah but we do what we’re told Goran,” Foran whispered back. “Besides we got what we wanted.”
“We didn’t have to get it like that.” Goran reasoned. “Look I don’t like this guy Frasik; he’s too cruel and full of himself. I didn’t sign up for this.”
Foran laughed out loud at that, causing Frasik and Arian, who were walking ahead of them, to look back.
“Listen to yourself Goran.” Foran said still chuckling softly. “We don’t sign up for anything and we never will. We have to serve the King or we’ll end up dead.” He stopped chuckling when he spoke the last sentence and looked seriously at Goran.
“Who says we’ll end up dead?” Goran asked, he was annoyed that Foran had laughed at him. Foran was his twin and he felt that he could always confide in him. But lately Foran had been acting strange and had been growing farther away from him.
“Father does.” Foran said. “Remember what he always wanted for us. To join the King’s army, to bring peace over the land.”
“That’s about all I remember about father.” Goran answered forlornly. “He was always too busy for us. So busy that we haven’t seen him in over five years. We don’t have to do what he wants.”
“What are you saying Goran?” Foran asked looking concerned. “Are you saying you’re going to run away?” Goran didn’t answer, but only looked at the ground. “What you do?”
“I don’t know Foran.” Goran said frustrated. “I don’t know what to do now.”
“Stay with me. That’s what you’ll do.” Foran commanded and put his hand on Goran’s shoulder reassuringly.
“Run away with me.” Goran said hopefully. “Maybe we could start new lives in a remote village where the army won’t reach us.”
“The army reaches every village.” Foran said. “And I will never run away. Not even for my own brother. I have a duty that I cannot abandon.” Foran was now speaking sternly as if he was warning Goran.
“You would rather abandon me than your duty.” Goran said sadly. “I see that you have changed so much in the few days we’ve spent with Frasik. I can’t stay with you much longer brother.”
“What does that mean Goran? That you’re going to leave?” Foran asked angrily, “If you do I will tell Frasik.” Foran warned, but Goran had already walked ahead of him where he couldn’t hear.
“The hut next to the river gentlemen,” Frasik announced and he pointed at the small hut in front of him. It looked old and it was built with a small tilt to the left as if it had an unstable base.
“Open up in the name of the King!” Frasik shouted as he rapped loudly on the wooden door. After a few moments of silence Frasik groaned. “Why do these people never listen?” He asked looking annoyed and he motioned Arian forward. Arian stepped up and kicked into the middle of the door. He grunted from the impact, but the door barely budged.
“Only thing solid about this junk pile seems to be the door.” Frasik said and he motioned for Arian to try again. With another grunt, Arian slammed his shoulder against it but it was unmoving again.
“Oh for the love of the Heavens!” Frasik shouted sounding exasperated. The overreaction made Goran smile in amusement. “If you can’t open a damn door then what good are you?” Frasik demanded at Arian who was rubbing his shoulder.
Arian’s face tightened in anger, but he stepped back and charged into the door. This time it fell with Arian falling with it.
“Now that’s more like it.” Frasik said and stepped over Arian on the floor. Arian quickly sprang to his feet and followed Frasik into a small room that was empty except for a few chairs and a small fireplace.
“Get out of my house.” A man said nervously from the corner of the room. Frasik turned to look at him and smiled when it was only a boy holding a gun in shaking hands.
“Ah I’m terribly sorry about the door there,” Frasik said friendly, pointing at the broken door. “But a gun isn’t necessary. I’m just here looking for someone.” The boy holding the gun glanced nervously at Goran and Foran who were standing outside blocking his escape.
“Who you lookin for?” He asked looking back at Frasik. “Ain’t no one here but me and my mother.”
“How old are you boy?” Frasik suddenly asked, ignoring the boy’s question.
“Don’t matter how old I am.” The boy said trying to sound defiant. “Now who are you lookin for?”
“You’re probably about eighteen right?” Frasik inquired calmly, still ignoring the question. He sat down on one of the chairs and stretched his legs out. The boy didn’t answer and looked nervously at Goran and Foran again. “Don’t wana answer me huh?” Frasik said staring at the boy. “Well then I guess I’ll just come right out with it.” Frasik motioned to Arian who darted at the boy and grabbed the barrel of the gun. There was a shot fired into the air and then Arian yanked the gun from the boy’s hands.
“Ok what? What?” The boy said looking very afraid without any defense. “I’m eighteen! That’s how old I am!”
“Aha, eighteen!” Frasik said and stood up smiling. “I knew it!”
“What do you want?” The boy suddenly cut Frasik off.
“Your name!” Frasik bellowed, suddenly angry. He ran up to the boy and grabbed his shirt collar roughly. “Are you Cripheneas?”
“No, no please I’m not!” The boy began crying in terror. “Please I’m not, I’m not.”
“Do you know who he is?” Frasik demanded and shook him.
“I… I… he’s my brother.” The boy choked out between sobs. “Please don’t hurt me.”
“Is he in this house right now?” Frasik shouted shaking him again. “Answer and don’t you dare lie to me!”
“Please!” The boy screamed. “Please sir he’s not here!”
“Where is he!” Frasik asked, growing impatient. He threw the boy down. “You better tell me everything right now or you’ll lose a finger, you understand?”
“I… I don’t know… he wasn’t here and… he left to fight.” The boy was barely able to speak, he was in complete hysteria. “Please sir, he went to fight… he rebellion… he went to rebellion sir.”
“Now shut up that’s enough!” Frasik shouted and kicked him. The room was silent for a moment except for the boy’s sniffling, and then Frasik turned to the men. “Let’s go.” He said and began setting off down the dirt road at a furious pace. Foran quickly trotted after him and Goran thought he looked like the faithful pet. Arian brushed past him and began following Frasik as well.

“They’re both Frasik’s pets.” Goran muttered to himself. He was still standing at the doorway of the hut. “Why should I follow him?” He thought as he watched the men continuing to walk away. “I could just walk the other way and they wouldn’t even notice.” He looked the opposite way of the men and saw the river. “I could cross the river and run away.” He thought and scanned the trees on the other bank. “I can’t leave,” he thought suddenly and he shook his head of his fantasy. “If I leave I would be considered a criminal. I would be hunted by the King, never able to live a real life.” He was just about to chase after the group when he remembered the small village near the Height Mountains. His mother had taken Foran and him there many years ago when their father had died. They stayed with their uncle there until the Hitites joined the war and it was no longer safe.
“I can go there,” he thought and felt a surge of hope for a new life. “I can go there and find work and try to live honestly, with no killing.” The idea sounded great to him, but there was only one thing holding him back. He had never done anything without his twin Foran. “Now Foran is different,” he thought, trying to justify his great idea. “He would never come with me.”
The sound of thudding footsteps interrupted his thoughts and he saw Foran running toward him. Goran could see Frasik and Arian were walking back too but were much further behind Foran.
“Goran, what do you think you’re doing?” Foran demanded as he slowed to a stop in front of Goran. He was breathing quietly although Goran could see his chest rising and falling rapidly as if he had run with a great effort.
“Foran leave with me.” Goran said pleadingly. “We can cross the river and escape into the trees.” Goran smiled and put his hand on Foran’s shoulder.
His smile disappeared when Foran shoved his hand away angrily. “What is wrong with you Goran? We can’t leave!” Foran spoke as if he was speaking to a small child who had trouble understanding what was being said. “Don’t you get it?”
“No Foran I don’t,” Goran said sadly. “I don’t get why we have to do this. Why we can’t live honestly.” He glanced over Foran’s shoulder and saw Frasik was shouting something at them. “Come with me please.” He begged again with more urgency.
“No,” Foran said and stepped back shaking his head in disgust. “I’ll never go anywhere with you.”
“I see,” Goran said as he felt like he was dying. “I realize now that you’re not the same.” He felt strained his jaw trying to harness his emotions. “I realize now that you’re not my brother.” He nodded and was about to run through the river when Foran pulled out his sword.
“Take one step and you die.” He said and pointed the blade at Goran’s chest.
“Are you already this absorbed into everything Frasik says that you would kill me now?” Goran asked. Foran opened his mouth to respond, but then Goran heard Frasik shouting.
“Foran kill him!” Frasik was shouting as he ran toward them, “Death to those who dishonor the King!”
Goran saw Foran’s eyes register the command and he pulled the sword back to stab Goran.
First Goran stepped to the side, dodging the sword. Next he grabbed a handful of dirt from the ground and threw it into Foran’s face. Then he stepped to the side again to dodge Foran’s next attack and he threw another handful of dirt at him. This time the dirt went into Foran’s eyes and he quickly covered them with his arm. Goran seized his chance and swung his fist into Foran’s stomach with all his might. Foran gasped as the air left his body and fell back ward.
“Stop traitor!” Frasik shouted and Goran turned to see him holding a pistol. “Foran was right about you.” Frasik continued and he walked closer to Goran who was frozen. “You were really trying to just leave.” Frasik was smiling triumphantly like he always did when he felt power over someone. “You know what the penalty for your attempted crime is don’t you?” Frasik pulled a rope from off his belt and gave it to Arian, never taking his eyes off Goran. “Bind his hands and we’ll bring him back to Gerunt for his execution.” He commanded and Arian and the huge man walked up to Goran.
The next thing Goran knew he was falling backwards into the river. Arian had bound his hands tightly with the rope and then there was a gunshot. At first Goran thought Frasik had shot, but then he heard the boy from the hut shouting. He saw Frasik slump over holding his leg and Arian charge at the boy.
The boy struggled and thrashed for a moment before Arian’s hands squeezed the breath out of his throat. Goran was about to dart away when Foran tackled him. Goran quickly rolled away from him and sprang back to his feet.
“I can’t let you leave!” Foran shouted and ran at him again, this time with his sword outstretched. Goran tried to dive out of the way, but the blade grazed across his arm.
Foran was now running at him again and Goran only had time to get back on his feet before Foran slashed the sword at him. Goran jumped back and the sword barely missed his chest.
His jump backward had cost him his footing however and he almost fell over again. After he righted himself again, he only looked up in time to see Foran’s face twisted with anger just before he was tackled again.
Goran breathed in deeply as his head emerged from the water. Foran had tackled him and they had fallen into the river.
“Stop Goran!” He heard Foran shout from farther down the current. He had been washed down with the current more than Goran had. Immediately Goran began trying to get to the other bank where the trees were. He had to leave or else he would be killed. He was making little progress because his hands were tied and he could only kick his legs. He looked back and saw Foran swimming furiously after him.
“Stop now!” Foran shouted again but it was too late, Goran had already reached the other side. “You’re a criminal now!” Foran shouted when he saw that Goran was looking back at him. “You’ll be hunted and killed now!” Goran looked away and stepped into the trees. “I will find you Goran!” Foran shouted as Goran disappeared. “I won’t stop until you’re dead! I can’t let you leave!” Foran lowered his voice quieter, “How can you leave me?”

Chapter 4

 “Well, well, well.” Captain Long said aloud to no one in particular. “The Forest of Odds and Ends.” He smiled nervously as he kept stride with Cripheneas and Huy. They were walking along the edge of the tree line despite the threat that Reardon had made by casting a spell on the outside of the forest. He had done it only a few hours ago. He had muttered something that the men couldn’t make out and then he waved his staff around in an arc. After a few moments he smiled at them and waved farewell before he began walking away.

The men had tested the spell by throwing sticks and rocks, but each object was sent hurdling back at them like it was bouncing off rubber. It seemed that Reardon had trapped them inside just like he had been trapped outside. The men had stayed in the same place for a long time after Reardon left before Cripheneas finally convinced them to move.
“I can’t believe I’m stuck in here with two men.” Huy said, trying to lighten the mood.
“I mean couldn’t we have just had a woman here? Is it too much to ask?”
He threw his hands up as if in complete disgust.
“Yea well, maybe we’ll find one.” Cripheneas said smiling.
“Hah maybe we’ll find one.” Captain Long mocked Cripheneas. “There’s no one in here! Don’t you realize this is the land that hell spat out?”
“I like that Cap,” Huy said laughing.
“The land that hell spat out, that’s some real creative stuff there.”
“Oh shut up Huy.” Captain Long said gruffly. “I still don’t think that going to the swamps is going to get us out of here.”
“What else are we guna do Cap?” Cripheneas asked annoyed. “We already have to walk around the edge of the forest because you’re too scared to just go through the forest.”
“No Crip I agree with Cap,” Huy interjected. “It’s probably safer out here on the edge than in the actual thing. I believe whoever named this place the Forest of Odds and Ends knew what they were talking about.”
“Look guys,” Cripheneas said obviously agitated that they didn’t agree. “Whenever I was a kid I would always play in the forest with my brother. We would dare each other to do stuff like go farther inside than each other until eventually we went deep inside.”
“What are you trying to say Crip?” Captain Long interrupted suddenly.
“We get that you were a brave kid.”
“Anyway,” Cripheneas said shooting Captain Long a glare. “The point is that when we would play on the outside it felt dangerous like there was some kind of predator watching us, but when we were inside it felt much safer. Like the predator was gone.”
“What does that have to do with anything?” Captain Long bellowed challengingly. “Maybe it is safer deep within, but I don’t feel safe anywhere in here.”
“Cap that doesn’t make any sense,” Cripheneas said with a hint of mockery. “Look if we stay on the edge like this it’s going to take us longer to get to the swamp than if we just cut through. So wouldn’t it be better if we went through the middle in less time that skirt the edge and be in here longer?” Cripheneas looked longingly from Huy to Captain Long hoping they would see his reason.
“I don’t know,” Huy said at last when Captain Long wouldn’t respond. “I mean we don’t even know if the spell ends at the swamps.” Huy looked uncertainly at Captain Long who was scratching at his beard. “I know you have a hunch about it, but…” he trailed off.
“But what Huy?” Cripheneas said still sounding frustrated in their stubbornness. “Huy you should know that my hunches are usually right.”
“Crip that was in our training, this is for real and I don’t know if I have that much faith in your hunch. I’m sorry.” Huy looked down meekly, afraid he had offended Cripheneas.
Cripheneas was about to say something again when Captain Long spoke up, “I agree with Cripheneas.” He said it plainly and Cripheneas smiled satisfied with his reason.
“Cap look we can’t just go blundering through…” Huy was cut off.
“He says he’s been in here before so he should know some things about it.” Captain Long said. “It’s just better if we spend as little time as possible in here also. Who knows if there’s even any food or water to be found?” Huy looked from Huy to Captain Long and then shook his head in disbelief. “Alright, you’re the captain.” He looked at Cripheneas, “lead on oh fearless leader.” Cripheneas smiled at Huy’s sarcasm and began leading the men into the trees.
Things were looking good for the group as they moved deep into the forest. Cripheneas and Huy were walking ahead of Captain Long who was looking at everything suspiciously. Huy didn’t seem afraid to Cripheneas and he was talking jokingly. That was when disaster struck.
“Hey Crip, when you used to come here with your brother would you ever see anything weird?” Huy asked making conversation.
“We never actually did. That’s why I don’t see what the big deal about this place was.” Cripheneas answered. “My father did used to say that there were people in here, but my mother would always scold him and he would just laugh.”
“Your father thought there were people in here?” Huy asked curiously.
“Yeah but it was just a joke.” Cripheneas said looking forward and trying to again to remember what his father looked like. His father had died four years ago, and Cripheneas had never really seen him when he was alive since he was always on duty. “I remember he used to always talk about the war in the Heavens. He would say that was the place for a true soldier to see.” Cripheneas mimicked his father’s deep, gruff voice. “Hah he used to talk about angels and the light fighting the dark and stories like that.” Huy was listening intently and Cripheneas smiled when he saw Huy staring at him. “They were just stories Huy.”
“Oh yeah well,” Huy looked away quickly. “You don’t know maybe they’re real.” Huy looked back uncertainly at Cripheneas like a dog looks at its master when it did something wrong. Cripheneas only laughed and shook his head.
“Well believe what you want Huy, I guess nobody knows who’s right until we die.” Cripheneas said.
“Getting a little deep there aren’t you Crip?” Huy joked after a moment of silence. “Nobody knows until they die.” He mocked. Cripheneas smiled and shoved him playfully.
“I think that you’re both idiots if anyone was wondering.” Muttered captain Long from behind the two.
“Oh cap we certainly do care.” Huy said making fun of him.
“Oh yes Cap, you’re our trusty leader.” Cripheneas said mockingly as well.
“Shut up both of you.” Captain Long snapped trying to look angry. “Besides you’re the leader now Cripheneas.”
 “Right you are Cap.” Cripheneas said with a malicious smile on his face. “As leader I say we stop for the night and make camp here.”
  “What?” Huy and Captain Long both shouted at almost the same time.
“Make camp?” Huy asked looking shocked.
“We aren’t stopping.” Captain Long said angrily. “Stopping means dying.”
“Cap listen we won’t survive if we are out in the dark.” Cripheneas reasoned. “There are a lot of dangers in the forest, especially at night.”
“Then we need to get out quicker.” Captain Long said.
“Well then you keep goin Cap.” Cripheneas said and he walked to the base of a tall tree with a lot of branches. “I’m sleeping here and I’ll travel by light.”
“Well I guess I’m sleeping here too.” Huy said and pushed past Cripheneas and began to climb up the tree.
“Oh I thought we were tryin to get outa here.” Captain Long said but he stepped up behind Cripheneas to climb the tree.
“Oh I wasn’t going to sleep in the tree.” Cripheneas said suddenly with a smile. “I was going to get some wood for a fire, but now that you’re up there Huy,” He threw up his knife to Huy.
“Go ahead and cut some branches down for me will you?” Huy caught it and grinned back.
“Well played Crip.” He said and started cutting away on the nearest branch.
The night was very dark and there was no moon. At least the men couldn’t see a moon through the heavy foliage of the tree tops. Cripheneas fell asleep relatively easy despite how hot it was, but Huy and Captain Long tossed and turned for a while before closing their eyes.
Cripheneas slowly raised his sleepy eyelids slowly. He sat up and rubbed his hands together. With a start, he realized that he was freezing. He had been practically sweating earlier. He stood up and took a deep breath of the chill. He was about to lie back down after stretching his legs when he heard a growl.

Instantly he was alert. His eyes glazed around wildly, searching for something they could make out, but he could hardly see a few paces in front of himself. There was another growl and he became scared. How could he hope to fend off a possible attack without seeing? His heart was pounding as adrenaline rushed through him. Then suddenly there was a whoosh and something slammed into him, knocking him onto his side. He felt around desperately where he fell for his sword. At last he felt the hilt and he pulled it from its sheath and stood up again.
He waited for what seemed like forever, but he didn’t hear anything else. He finally calmed himself down and he put his sword away again. It was still pitch black outside, but for a moment Cripheneas thought he could make out the shape of a huge wolf towering over him before he fell asleep.
“Good morning!” Captain Long shouted and Cripheneas lurched awake. Captain Long started laughing when he saw his reaction. “Told you I’d get you back!” Cripheneas laid his head back down when he saw Captain Long.
“Aw Cap come on you woke me too.” Huy whined as he stood up. Cripheneas rolled over to get up but froze when he saw his sword unsheathed.
“Something happened last night.” Cripheneas said aloud to the men.
“What?” Captain Long asked suspiciously.
“I was awake and something…” He stopped when he realized that he probably shouldn’t tell them. It would only make them more leery to follow him.
“What’d you see Crip?” Huy asked curiously as he and Captain Long stared at him.
“I, uh… I just noticed that it got cold.” He hadn’t lied completely, it really had gotten cold.
“I noticed that too.” Captain Long agreed. “I can live with sudden temperature changes though. So let’s hope that’s the best this forest has to offer.” He said the last part like a challenge.
“Yeah well don’t get your hopes up.” Cripheneas muttered and he stepped around him to take the lead. “Let’s get a move on.”
“A move on to where exactly Crip?” Huy asked uncertainly as he fell in stride behind Captain Long.
“The swamps of course,” Cripheneas answered trying to sound confident. “Where else?”
“I don’t know I’ve just got a bad feeling about today.” Huy said as he pushed some hanging moss out of the way. “I don’t know about the swamps either. I guess that’s our best hope though, so let’s get a move on.” Cripheneas smiled to himself ahead of the group, feeling confident that he could lead them out safely.

The men had walked for nearly three hours. Most of the time they had been silent, but occasionally they would make fun of Captain Long or Captain Long would bring up the subject of the three way war. Whenever they were silent Cripheneas would reminisce on his childhood. He had grown up as the man of the house since his father was always on duty for the King. His mother had to work and he would stay home and care for his younger brother. When he was fourteen he answered the door for a tall man wearing shiny armor. He could remember the man so distinctly still. The man told him of his father’s death in a hurry and left briskly.
His family did not take the news well at all. His mother went into a deep depression and his brother became angry. After weeks of begging his mother to come around he had focused on his brother who was starting fights and stealing things. He had a new hate for everyone except Cripheneas. When they were together seemed to be the only time things were happy for him.
Then, about a year after his father’s death, Cripheneas’ brother fell in love. Cripheneas never knew how, but somehow he stopped his hating and it was replaced with love for the woman. They were going to be married soon and one night, she was suddenly killed by a common thief.
Cripheneas’ brother had gone crazy and nearly killed himself. He had locked himself in his room for two days before Cripheneas finally broke down the door and found him trying to perform dark magic to talk to her. Cripheneas had all the books on dark magic burned and that was when Cripheneas had an idea. If he could make his brother be in charge of the mother and get him a job, he might be able to save him. So the next day Cripheneas told his brother all the things that their mother enjoyed and he went out looking for a job. In the end, his brother had begun working for a blacksmith and he also took care of his mother. Cripheneas left to join the rebellion eight months later, hoping beyond hope that his plan for his brother’s turn around would work.
He was shocked at first to see his plan was actually going as planned and that all his brother needed was some responsibility. He had been suspicious so he had often taken vacations from the rebellion training to go check on him, but his brother seemed to be back to the happy person he was before his father had died. When Cripheneas graduated from training he was confident that his brother would be alright.
Cripheneas stepped heavily on the grass in the forest. He was tired from walking and he could hear, the much less fit Captain Long, huffing and puffing behind him. He was about to announce that they should stop and rest for a moment when he noticed something to his right. There was a small tree that probably came to his waist with a few branches sticking out of the trunk. The peculiar thing about the tree was that there was a ring of rocks placed around it in a circle. The rocks were placed three rows on top of each other in a perfect way so that they looked impenetrable. There was also a ray of sunlight streaming through the trees directly onto the rocks which made the rocks seem to glow.
“Hey look at that.” Huy said disrupting Cripheneas’ fascination. “Ever seen that before Crip?” Huy asked and Cripheneas saw he was staring at the rocks as well.
“I, uh, no I haven’t.” Cripheneas spurted out. He cleared his throat, “Yeah no I don’t know what it is.” He looked back at it. It seemed beautiful somehow to him, he felt like it was drawing him to it.
“Let’s check it out.” Huy said and bounded over to it. Cripheneas wanted to try to say something to stop him, but all he could do was continue to look at it. “Wow,” he heard Huy say, but his voice seemed very far away even though he was only a few paces away. “There are little flowers on the branch. I couldn’t see them from back there.”
“Hey.” Cripheneas croaked softly, he was now beginning to panic. His mind had regained control, but he couldn’t move. He tried shouting for Huy to stop again, but only a quiet cough came out. It was then that Huy began stretching out his hand to touch the circle of stones. Cripheneas was straining with all his might now just to move, but he couldn’t. It was like trying so hard to move a boulder and it barely budges an inch.
“Huy.” He whispered the word slithering through his clenched teeth like water through the dirt. He could feel veins straining on his neck and forehead with all the effort he was using.
“Oh it’s melting.” Huy said snatching his hand back quickly away from the melting flower he had just touched. Cripheneas suddenly became aware that it had become very cold. He tried again to call out to Huy but he only managed a croak again.
“Hey, what’s happening?” Huy shouted sounding worried and Cripheneas saw that the whole tree was beginning to disappear and there was a void appearing in the circle of rocks. The void was black and had little dots that were white sprinkled into the blackness.
“Hey!” Huy shouted again as the void continued growing until it filled the whole circle of rocks. Cripheneas was now freezing. He flicked his eyes down to his fingers and saw ice forming on his skin. “Help!” Huy shouted and then Cripheneas heard a loud sucking sound and he was yanked forward onto his stomach.
Instantly Cripheneas leapt to his feet and looked at the circle of rocks. It had changed back into the tree and the flowers were now shriveled and looking dead unlike before. The void which had filled the circle had disappeared. Suddenly Cripheneas realized that Huy was gone.
“Huy!” He shouted frantically in shock at what had happened. He staggered forward toward the circle of rocks like a drunk. “Huy where are you?” He shouted and a quiet voice groaned from behind him. He spun around hoping to see Huy, but he saw captain Long lying on his side groaning.
“Cap Huy’s gone!” Cripheneas shouted frantically. He could feel an overwhelming sense of panic welling up inside him and he began shaking.
“Cripheneas calm down.” Captain Long said when he saw him shaking and looking around frantically. “That black hole probably just blasted him away somewhere.” He felt a small pang of guilt at lying. He knew that Huy had most likely been sucked into the black hole and would never be seen again.
“Yeah, yeah, ok, I’m alright.” Cripheneas said trying to breathe deeply. As a child he had often had panic attacks but over the years that had occurred more rarely until they had stopped altogether.
After a few deep breathes Cripheneas felt better and was able to think straight again. That was when he realized that captain Long was still lying on his side. “Are you alright Cap?” He asked worriedly.
“I think I broke my arm.” Captain Long said and Cripheneas saw that he was clutching his left wrist.
“Let me see it Cap.” Cripheneas said and knelt beside him to look. The sight was revolting. Captain Long’s hand was very puffy. Cripheneas could see that the skin had been hit by an incredible impact and the palm of his hand had two deep, black gashes crossing each other. They were intersecting each other like a +. The gashes were so deep that Cripheneas could see Captain Long’s wrist bone.
“It’s bad isn’t it Crip?” Captain Long said when he saw Cripheneas’ reaction. “It actually has stopped hurting already.” He added to lessen Cripheneas’ worries. To prove his point he pushed himself up to his feet with his free hand.
“What happened to you?” Cripheneas asked as he straightened up, his eyes not leaving the injury.
“I… I, I can’t really remember.” Captain Long said as he struggled to remember what did happen. “I remember it got cold and I couldn’t move. There was a blinding light and I couldn’t see, then I heard a sucking noise and I fell.”
“I couldn’t move either.” Cripheneas said and finally moved his gaze away from the gashes. “And I was so cold icicles started forming on my fingertips.” He added and then examined his hand. It didn’t hurt anymore and there was no sign of any damage.
“Could you see Huy?” Captain Long asked suddenly. “I could see him moving toward the tree and then I saw the tree beginning to melt and then the light blinded me.”
“What light are you talking about?” Cripheneas asked, thinking about the black void he had seen.
“You weren’t blinded by the light from the tree?” Captain Long asked surprised.
“No, all I saw was a black void and I could hear Huy screaming and then I was thrown down.” Cripheneas said and his voice began rising as he thought of what had happened to Huy. “Huy got sucked into the black void!” He said accusingly at Captain Long. “He got sucked away into the cold and he’s probably already dead!”
“Crip wait.” Captain Long said, trying to calm him down. “It isn’t my fault that he’s gone. We have to try to think of what this thing could be.” He pointed at the tree which was sitting pleasantly in the ray of sun as if nothing had happened. “Have you ever seen anything like this before?” He asked and turned to face Cripheneas who was crying quietly.
“I don’t think so.” Cripheneas said softly and sniffled. He felt like he was drowning and he was being choked.
“Are you sure Crip?” Captain Long pressed. “I know it’s hard, but maybe if we know what we are dealing with then we can have a better chance of finding him.”
“I don’t remember ok!” Cripheneas snapped and the tears began falling down his face harder. “I couldn’t even do a thing to save him!” He shouted angrily and began running toward the circle of stones. “Give Huy back!” He screamed and he kicked the stones with all him might.
“No Cripheneas we don’t know what will happen!” Captain Long tried to warn, but he was too late. When Cripheneas’ foot touched the stones, there was a sudden shock wave and Captain Long nearly lost his footing before he steadied himself. Then there was an ear splitting crack that made Captain Long’s head begin to pound and he lost his balance and collapsed onto his side. Then he felt the intense cold before he blacked out.

This story has received 4 comments

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Reihaneh – 2 June 2020

That was really amazing and wonderful. I love it

BookHugger – 25 May 2020

I. Love. This!!! The way it starts out is amazing, and it is such a cool story!! Thanks for sharing!!

Alice – 23 May 2020

I love your story! It sounds amazing!

olivia warsop – 22 August 2013

I loved your story. Is there any more of the story I would love to here more of it. Jimmy, it is as good as Cornelia Funke. I hope you write even more!!