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Sunday, June 11, 2006

3.1.3.7. The Change of the Way


The Siege of Alceste. Sample picture from the art by Martin McKenna
http://www.fantasygallery.net/mckenna/art_0_siege.html
The uniforms and emblems are surprisingly accurate to Arcadia (attacking, red eagle) and Lore (defending, gold lion)

Robert sets out at once in full speed. Rael’charon’s last sentence keeps echoing in his mind.

‘You will have to change your course.’

A creepy feeling surges into him.

‘Duke Walthorn! I must find the old duke and save him!’ Robert thinks.

As he reaches a hundred miles from Alceste, he finds some troops running wearily – totally exhausted. Robert asks one of them about the current situation and the duke.

‘Excuse me, comrade. I’m Robert of Lore, the scout. How’s the situation of the battle now? How about Duke Walthorn, if you please?’

The soldier replies with terror on his face and a trembling voice.

‘As you can see, comrade, we are retreating to regroup in the capital. We retreated in time but alas! The duke challenged an enemy general in single combat and the duke was slain.’

Robert is horrorstruck. His benefactor is dead – The man who promised to make him strong. Walthorn didn’t fulfill his promise though, because the old duke didn’t ask Robert to be near him so Robert can avert this loss or even take revenge of the murderer – Oh, yes, about the murderer….

‘Who’s the general who slew the duke?’

‘Well, I can’t recall his name. But he obviously has a long red hair and wearing a fiery red armor.’

Alexis.

Robert will always remember this name. But Robert won’t take revenge because Alexis the Red Prince killed Walthorn in the eve of battle, so it’s natural that in a single combat, one will die and one will prevail. Robert just determines to fight Alexis sooner or later, just because Alexis is indeed a great danger for Lore.

Before Robert can thank the soldier, the solider has already run away. As Robert turns to the capital to report to Rael’charon, he finds Duke Walthorn’s steed, Paeldagrin running frantically, rampaging and crashing into everything and everyone nearby.

Paeldagrin! It is surely mad because it has lost its master, but something worse might’ve happened to him!’

Robert stops a fleeing soldier, dismounts from his horse and gives his horse to that soldier. He asks the soldier to go in full speed to Alceste and report immediately to Advisor Rael’charon about the current battle situation and Lord Walthorn’s fate. The soldier says yes and rides at once to Marlham Palace. Then Robert moves forward to try and calm Paeldagrin. He whistles a special tune that he and Duke Walthorn used to call Paeldagrin. Paeldagrin recognizes it at once and stops its rampage. Robert comes near Paeldagrin carefully to prepare himself from the horse’s sudden outburst, and successfully rubs Paeldagrin’s neck like he used to. Robert examines Paeldagrin and finds traces of powder on Paeldagrin’s watery eye. It seems that the powder – that is actually sand taken from Lorean shores - isn’t dangerous at all, but it was enough to blind a horse temporarily and made it panic and out of control. Robert pours water from the water bottle on Paeldagrin’s saddle on the horse’s eye, rubbing its neck to make it stay calm. Then Robert takes the armor from Paeldagrin’s body, reattaches its saddle and mounts it, saying.

‘Fly, Paeldagrin! Bear me to your master! Heeaaah!’

Paeldagrin raises his two front feet and runs, galloping in lightning speed. It sure can outrun all other horses without the horse armor. About a mile away, Robert sees some people in red uniforms with silver eagle crests are riding horses in high speed on the forest path in front of him. They wear chain armors and coifs and iron helmets like Robert, but don’t share Robert’s blue uniform with a gold lion crest on it.

Arcadian Light Cavalry! I must break through them to get to Walthorn!

Robert draws his father Emmerich’s kiliji and charges forward, yelling, ‘HEAAAAAAAHHH!!!!’

With Paeldagrin’s lightning speed, Robert slashes through the Arcadians before they know who hits them with what. The overly brave Lorean scout makes a deep gash on a soldier’s face, and lands a Rising Dragon Uppercut Slash, cutting through the chain armor with his iron-cutting and rigid kiliji. Then he parries a spear thrust and deflects it, and retaliates with Three-Point Chain Slash, cutting through three cavaliers on their respective vital points: throat, heart and diaphragm.

Although Robert has killed five cavaliers in one charge without sustaining any damage, he doesn’t look satisfied; instead he looks more serious and determined. His eyes open wide, reflecting the sun ray as though his eyes are sparkling. He thinks. What do you have next, filthy Arcadians? Just bring it, and I’ll smash it good.

A moment later Robert sees ranks of infantry troopers with some heavy-armored knights as their commanders. Oh, good! More of them!

Without considering the odds, Robert charges through the soldiers fiercely with a series of slashes and another Three-Point Chain Slash. The soldiers at the front row fall because they’re not ready, but the ones starting from the third row to the back are ready and attack this ‘one deranged trooper’ almost all at once. Before Robert is cornered and surrounded, he immediately presses Paeldagrin’s stomach with both his feet and Paeldagrin leaps so high above the troopers and lands behind them. It all happens so fast even the archers don’t have a chance at all to shoot any arrow on him.

Wonderful, Paeldagrin!

Robert and Paeldagrin shoot away from sight. The troops are now in panic and a bit disorganized, but a voice calms them immediately. ‘STOP! KEEP TO THE PURSUIT! FORM GROUPS AND SCATTER!’

They know that disobedience costs their heads, so they organize themselves into groups and scatters to find stray enemy soldiers and perhaps, a better place for encampment. The order came from no other but Prince Alexis the Red Prince himself, wearing his full red helm this time and looks as impressive as ever. Thoughts come into his mind.

Who’s that lone soldier who charged my 2,000 troops just now? I’ve watched him all the time from the start. He looked like an ordinary soldier by his uniform and armor, but he fought like a wounded lion and ‘flew’ like a griffin! And his eyes… his blue eyes… are the eyes of the lion. I’d like to meet him again one day, and find out who he really is – an ally or a wall of fire blocking my way. But wait… ah!

Alexis stops in shock to see the five dead cavaliers on the path, all having wounds from a curved sword.

This guy… he opens his visor… is getting more interesting.

Soon afterwards, Robert and his steed Paeldagrin reach the spot where Duke Walthorn fell, and Robert dismounts from the horse, looks here and there and finds the duke on the ground, dead with a broken neck. Robert rushes to the duke’s body, and kneels before the duke with tears on his eyes.

Farewell, my good lord. I’ll never forget your kindness.

Robert looks forward and sees more Arcadians erecting camps on a distance.

The king is right, Robert thinks. I must report to Rael’charon and the king at once!

Robert strips the old duke’s body from his armor, covering him with a banner and mounts him on the horse. Robert mounts Paeldagrin and rides at once, taking the duke’s body to Alceste. Luckily no Arcadians spot him there. Their generals are seem to be less disciplined when Alexis is going in pursuit.

Robert thinks, The Duke of Walthorn’s last ride. I’ll take care of Paeldagrin for you, milord.

Robert takes a longer route to avoid the Arcadian pursuers and rides Paeldagrin in top speed. He spots two enemies anyway and slays them in an instant, and after a long ride finally reaches the palace and reports to the king and Rael’charon. The king is greatly grieved of the loss of his best general and orders Robert to escort Duke Walthorn’s body to Varestine for funeral. Duke Adamar Walthorn will be buried with his fathers, and the ancestors of the Duchy of Walfront. And also bids Robert to deliver the king’s decree to promote Adamar’s eldest son, John as the new Duke of Walfront. Before he goes, Robert finds a chance to say farewell to Princess Eloise in secret.

‘Eloise, my love. You see my way has changed and my plans are foiled. Now only Vadis knows if we can be together again – in this life or the next.’

‘Robert, please come back here after the funeral! I’ll plead to father to employ you as my bodyguard! I’ll do anything to make your aspirations come true! Please, Robert! I don’t want to part from you!’

‘You know I can’t, Eloise. The king will suspect something wrong with us – And even Rael’charon can’t help me now. I must find my own way back to the track from now on.’

‘Robert… Please don’t go!’

‘Farewell, my fair princess. By God’s will, one day we will meet again.’

With that words Robert hugs and kisses Eloise. This time they don’t know when they can embrace each other again or whether this kiss is the last. They kiss with tears in their eyes, and they hug for several minutes as though they won’t let go forever. At last Robert turns, and instantly runs away. Eloise just stands there, crying, beating herself, pulling her hair, yelling, calling Robert’s name.

‘ROBERT! ROBBBBEEERT!!!’

Robert runs on, and tears still dropping from his eyes. He runs until he is out of sight. Eloise falls on her knees, covers her face with her two hands and cries in agony.

==oOo==

Robert arrives at Jeland Citadel in Varestine, and tells Duke Adamar Walthorn’s eldest son, Viscount – now Duke – John Walthorn about the battle, how Duke Adamar fell and the king’s reaction. And he also hands John the king’s decree. John has tears in his eyes, but he still tries to gather himself and talks to Robert.

‘Squire – Sergeant Robert, according to my father’s will, he has dismissed you from his service upon his death. And I don’t wish to take you into service from this moment henceforth. You’re free to go your own way. You may take along all your possessions and the compensations for your service here. And you may pledge your service to any lords other than the ones in the Duchy of Walfront. Please don’t take this as a punishment – as you didn’t do anything wrong. It’s just my decision as a duke, nothing else. And you can keep my late father’s steed, Paeldagrin, as a reward for your bravery: Charging through enemy ranks, taking my father’s body in front of our enemies’ eyes and bringing him all the way here. For that, I thank you.’

‘I thank you for your kindness, milord. May you live long and prosper.’

Robert salutes and takes his leave.

In his room at the barracks, Robert packs all his clothes, the money from his service, and all his possessions. Then he kisses the ring on his little finger on his right hand, sits on his bed and he’s deep in thought.

No wonder I was not reassigned into service. The new duke obviously envies me because the late duke spent more time with me than with his three sons. And he trained me harder than John, Harrison and Larson. They just glad to get rid of me at last. Where shall I go now? I can’t go back to the king. The king will find out about my relationship with Princess Eloise sooner or later, and Rael’charon told me to keep myself away from the upcoming battle, for Eloise’s sake.

Robert thinks hard, and he suddenly remembers something.

What I want to be in the first place? A hunter! Yes, that should do it. The orcs – I must hunt them to the bowels of the earth! And I’m sure I’ve heard a name of a master hunter once. Wait, wait.. Who is his name I remember that name – I was interested in him and kept track on him for five years. Oh yes! Hulferd! He resigned from The Order of The Lions five years ago to be back as a hunter! I heard he is in Rand now, a master hunter. I’ll find him there and beg him to be my teacher in the arts of monster-hunting. Yes! To Rand I go!

==oOo==

Robert then sets out to Rand with his horse, Paeldagrin – a memento from the late Duke Walthorn. On the way, he talks to a traveler from the capital and asks him about the war in progress.

‘The defense was a success. Rael’charon has amassed the hunters and volunteers in the city to defend the city wall. About a hundred wizards also joined in the battle too. The Arcadians’ battering rams and catapults are no match to the wizards; they killed the enemies in masses. The Arcadians only brought thirty wizards with them. It seems almost no wizard was interested in joining the army or being mercenaries. They prefer being hunters, and they only fight for their lives if they’re surrounded.’

‘So, is Alceste still in siege now?’

‘I think not. The reinforcement from Wardstone came in time, so the Loreans came out, engaged the Arcadians and forced them to retreat to their camps on the shore. The battle is in a stalemate now. I think sooner or later the Arcadians will propose a cease fire and then a truce with Lore.’

‘Well, thank you, sir. I hope Lore will prevail soon. And have a safe journey home!’

Then Robert arrives at Rand and finds Hulferd there. Hulferd recognizes Robert from his horse Paeldagrin, and offers to teach him the arts of monster-hunting. Robert becomes Hulferd’s assistant and disciple, and his adventures have begun.

The war between Arcadia and Lore ends two months later in a stalemate. The Arcadians sign a truce with Lore and retreat to their homeland by ships. But now a new threat re-occurs again – the monsters and bandits. Hulferd teaches Robert all of his sword mastery arts, including the Ten-Point Chain Slash (also known as the Dragonstrike Chain Slash) and the Dragon Wings Air Slash. Two years later, Robert rises to be a master hunter, and Hulferd retires to run his own Hunters’ Guild in Rand – A branch of the kingdom-wide network. And one year later, as time flies…

End of Chapter Three




NAVIGATION:
Previous Page: http://fireheart-vadis.blogspot.com/2006/06/3136-wheel-turns-again.html
Next Page: http://fireheart-vadis.blogspot.com/2007/01/3143-worst-hunter-in-world-part-1_03.html



Walthorn's Fall in Ingram Coast

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