An exploration of Fantasy and Science Fiction Worlds in literature and multimedia entertainment The official blog and novelblog for Evernade Saga and FireHeart Saga by Andry Chang
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Explore Worlds in Clicks
Wednesday, May 24, 2006
188.8.131.52. The Old Duke and the Silver-Haired Boy
Arkvale Village is no more. Ruins, smoke and ashes are everywhere around that area. Then a troop of light cavaliers come into the ruins. They stand there in terror. ‘We’re too late.’ ‘Yes, they attacked here so suddenly. The villagers didn’t even have time to call for reinforcements.’ ‘Damn monsters!’ ‘At least we hunted down those blasted orcs.’ ‘Ah, but there were some who fled, right? And we chase ‘em here and kill an orc or two.’ The captain interrupts, ‘Enough talking. Now go into the village, bury the victims and salvage anything you can find. We can’t expect any survivor there.’ The troops spread and begin to look for casualties. Then they collect the dead and cover them with anything they can find before burying them on the village outskirts. One of the soldiers sees something out of ordinary in the village. ‘Hey, guys! Look here!’ ‘What, Rosso?’ ‘See that? A boy stabbed an orc with a heavy sword! Poor soul! What a waste, such a brave kid!’ ‘And his hair – it’s all white! Was he born like that… or…?’ ‘I heard a sudden, terrible trauma or catastrophe can turn your hair white in an instant.’ ‘Lemme check…’ Rosso the soldier checks the boy – Robert by holding his arms to feel the pulse. ‘This is INCREDIBLE! He’s ALIVE! He’s still warm, and he still has the pulse too!’ The others are struck with awe, and one even comes forward and puts a finger in front of Robert’s nose. ‘Rosso’s right! He’s still breathing!’ Then they hear the sound of galloping horses and they turn around to see a man dresses like a noble and what looks like his personal guards dismounting from their horses. The man is indeed a noble – He is Duke Adamar Walthorn, lord of the Walfront region (including Arkvale Village) and one of the king’s generals, leader of the Order of the Lions. He’s one of the king’s trusted counsellors of war, and he serves as the vice commander-in-chief in the war against Arcadia. He is 53, and not wearing his full armor, he looks like an ordinary middle-aged well-built man with beard and moustache, traces of white hair and a face which shows that he is well-experienced in many wars and very wise. The Walthorns have inherited the Walfront Duchy for generations, and Duke Walthorn didn’t neglect to provide himself with an heir and two more sons. The captain does a half-kneeling salute, and the soldiers nearby follow suit. ‘Captain James Hickram, reporting on duty, Sire.’ ‘Captain, how’s the situation?’ ‘The village is totally destroyed, sire. Burnt to ashes. And nearly no survivors. We were too late, but at least we had hunted down and annihilated the orcs.’ ‘Did you receive any request of reinforcements from the village?’ ‘Yes, sire, but the messenger arrived when the orcs already attacked. The messenger himself died from his wounds. Then we sent our cavaliers for a full pursuit and intercepted the orcs at the riverbank.’ ‘Very well then. Continue your work.’ Then Walthorn can’t contain his grief anymore, and he himself falls on his knees. Tears rolling from his eyes as he says…
‘This village… I had fond memories from my visits here. They were nice and friendly people. No one stole from another. No crime here. This village was always clean and beautiful. What a dreadful end… my worst blunder…’ Then suddenly he realizes something, and he calls the captain. ‘Captain James!’ ‘Yes, sire?’ ‘Did you say “nearly” no survivors?’ ‘Yes, milord. There is a survivor here. A boy.’ ‘Is that true? Show him to me then!’ And Walthorn sees Robert, still lying unconscious near a dead orc. As Walthorn comes closer, Captain James Hickram explains. ‘We found him lying on top of this orc, still clutching his sword. We think he has slain the orc.’ ‘What? A boy slew an orc? That’s impossible! This creature was ten times stronger than he is!’ ‘That’s what we saw, milord. Let’s just wait for him to regain his consciousness and…’ ‘Captain! Sir Captain! The boy’s awake!’ Walthorn and the captain rush towards Robert, and Walthorn hold him on to help him awake. ‘Wake up, boy! You’re alive!’ Robert murmurs, ‘… uggnnnhh…’ And he slowly opens his eyes, reaching up, murmuring, ‘… Ti… shaa…’ ‘Brace yourself, boy! You’re safe now.’ Then Robert sees around him, still weak and exhausted from his fight with the orc. Tisha’s body is not around – the soldiers have moved her. He cries, but no tears come out from his eyes – as he has cried too much already and the tears were as though dried out. ‘Tishaaa…! Where’s Tisha?’ ‘I think she’s passed away, my child. You’re the only survivor.’ ‘Only?’ Robert thinks. He tries to recall, and flashes of the past events comes from his memory: Laetitia was slain in front of him, the ugly orc and his fight with the orc – how he killed the orc with only one blow from his kiliji… ‘My sword…’ Robert tries to get up and reach for his kiliji – but he’s too weak to do it. Walthorn understands at once. The sword on the orc’s body is indeed Robert’s, so Robert really killed the orc. Walthorn braces Robert and stares at him admiringly. What a brave little hero, he thinks. Then he calls Captain James. ‘Captain, fetch that sword, clean it and bring it to me. As for the boy, put him in the cart and take him to the citadel. Let him rest, he’s still too weak.’ ‘Your biddings will be done, milord.’ Walthorn speaks to Robert again. ‘What’s your name, my child?’ ‘Ro… Robert, mi… lord…’ ‘Oho… you’re so polite, aren’t you? And you’re very brave too. I like you. Now we’ll take you to the citadel and I’ll take care of you. I’ll train you and make you stronger. I think you can be a fine soldier someday.’ ‘B… but…’ ‘No buts, my child. Just take this as a token of my apology because I failed to protect your village. I know you’re sad about your family, and your friend… Tisha, I presume. And don’t worry. I’ll return your sword later, as good as new. And I will bury the villagers, one grave for one, with something to recognize them on each tomb.’ ‘Oh… kaay…’ Robert faints again. Walthorn doubts whether Robert listened to his words clearly – but if he asks again, Walthorn is ready with the right answers. Walthorn thinks. He even tried to argue with me in that state. Hmmm, he’s brave, but he’s too reckless. Maybe he should learn to control his strength – if he DOES have it. He cannot depend on luck alone.