Disclaimer: This is the first story of my character, Khaiden Knighton. I hope that you as reader will enjoy it and I plan to add more for him in the future as I did and am still doing for my other character, Brynwulf Mer-Bane. If you have any questions about the story, you're naturally free to sent me a PM or leave a comment. When you do, please leave a comment on his actual profile which can be found in the following spoiler. As it stands now, all the NPC's you'll encounter throughout the story are made up by me, the only exception being Laurent Rodier whom belongs to its respectful owner. If you come across an NPC that you think fits your character to the letter. Do not hesitate to contact me and perhaps we can form somesort of In-character contact or replace the NPC with your character.
I am aware that the length of this story may scare people off, and I can hardly blame them. Counting a total of 32 pages. As you read. I would like to remind you that I unfortunately suffer from Dyslexia. Hence why I would really appreciate feedback, even if it isn't the best of sorts. I'm all up for improving, both in writing as well as in character creation. Happy reading. - Brynwulf/Khaiden.
A fair wind breezed throughout the streets of the city of Shornhelm, the streets were nearly empty if it wasn't for the few chickens, bottles and the occasional cat or homeless dog, it wouldn't take long until these streets would return back to life at the dawn of the new morning, but naturally there were those who were unfortunate to be woken up from their slumber before appointed time.
Khaiden muttered a curse beneath his breath as the cock-a-doodle-do of the rooster which lived in the garden at the back of the inn woke him up from his peaceful dreams, and what a dream it was. Lately Khaiden found himself night after night in a green valley filled with blooming flowers and a bright blue sky, in the distance children played happily in the farm fields before the strong and thick walls that made up Shornhelm's defenses, banners were caught by the wind as the few guards patrolled across the city walls, stopping to wave at the handful of merchants that were making their way through the giant wooden gate that stood open for all. A smile and laugh marked the lips of each. A land of beauty and peace, eventually Khaiden would hear the voice of a woman as sweet as honey call out his name from behind, when he turned Khaiden looked to a small hill with a humble farm build right on top, smoke coming out of the chimney and the smell of a good meal raising through the air. At the door stood a beautiful woman holding the hand of a little girl. The girl's eyes became wider at the sight of Khaiden and the woman gently let go off her soft little hand and beckon her toward him. "Daddy!.. Come on and play!.." The girl would yell as the woman behind her stroked her long hair out of her face and smiled warmly at Khaiden, a slight smirk on her lips. When the girl reached him, Khaiden squatted and opened his arms so he could embrace her, however usually at this point is where he was forced to wake up again. As it is with any dream, eventually. You'll have to wake and face reality.
Khaiden sighed as he shook his head and rubbed the sleep out of his eyes, turning onto his back in the bed to look up at the fell lights of the burning candles of the chandelier which slowly dimmed as his eyes adjusted. He didn't find himself in a cozy room or warm bed alongside his wife and child. He wasn't even married yet. No this morning Khaiden woke up in an old rented room at the local inn, which wasn't even that well cleaned. After a few minutes had past, he finally managed to move his feet out from beneath the sheet and onto the cold wooden floor, which squeaked a little under his weight as he pushed himself up completely. While he rubbed the palms of his hands over his eyes once more in the hope to get rid of his sleep the best he can he nearly tripped over an old bottle that laid on the floor. Grumpy and annoyed Khaiden kicked the bottle out of his way before stumbling toward the small table near the door, a filled bowl of water stood on top with a mirror hanging above it. Khaiden reached his hands into the water and patted his wet fingers carefully over his face before dipping his hands again and stroking them through his long dirty blond hair. A bath was a luxury for the days to come so this would have to make due.
With the water still dripping down his face and hair Khaiden glimpsed into the mirror briefly to watch his reflection, in the back of the room he could see a piece of paper laying on an old and dusty desk. a letter he wrote the night before for his mother whom he promised to write occasionally, naturally it was meant for his father just the same but he never wrote back. He was too busy being a 'man' Khaiden told himself as he grinned at the thought of his father and him. While they love each other, the two rarely would speak about things that troubled them greatly, women, or other matters of the heart. This was mother's place. To the right of the desk, in the chamber's corner stood a small table, the candle on it was still lit, it would seem the small flame survived through the cold night as it waved gently by the soft breeze throughout the room. the fire reflecting of the steel surface of his shield, sword as well as pieces of armor that were laid upon the table.
Khaiden's tired expression turned into a gentle smile when he turned around, walking up to the desk, shoving the chair backwards before sitting down, shoving himself forward again to sit straight against the desk. He tilted the corner of the letter up with his hand in the direction of the nearby candle to shine some light onto the page.
"Dear mother.. I apologize that it’s been a few weeks since I last wrote to you or father, I hope everyone is alright and how is the business with the smithy? Is Lynna still hiding her crush for Olivir of the Evermore family? All these things I'm missing, and I might never receive an answer of. I've finally received another mission from Captain Greenford. It’s been approximately three months since the bandit incident.. Even though it still somehow feels like yesterday. Though the Captain is convinced that this mission should fall to me, thus I accepted it. Supposedly there is even a reward in it. Later this evening I shall leave Shornhelm by horse and make my way to the estate of the Locksley's. A family whom has received their wealth through horse breeding, military horses to be precise. Apparently Lord Locksley used to serve under the banner in his earlier days alongside Captain Greenford when he was still a recruit. I have no clue what my mission requires of me, but if I succeed. Lord Locksley promised me one of his horses. A real knight horse. those are worth a good three months payment.. I'll lit a candle at the chapel of brother Nathan for the family's safety. I have to pick up Bo there as well, he gave her shelter since dogs were not allowed within the inn.
Be safe and know I'll miss you and the family. Sincerely. Your son -..."
Khaiden read from the letter, reaching for the small ink bottle and quill when he noticed he forgot to add his own signature, doing so underneath the letter. folding the letter up afterwards and binding a ribbon around it to keep it from opening. Khaiden left the folded letter on the table for the time being as he rose up from the chair and walked up to the small table where he left his armor. He reached for the mail jerkin and pulled it over his head, the chain mail glide down his body, covering his chest and a large amount of his arms. From there he began to place and adjust the several iron plates that would make up his greaves and leg guards. With a silent grunt he tried to slip his feet into the plated boots. "Finally.." He thought when his foot finally slipped inside, fastening the wraps at the side before getting his other boot on. When that one was fastened as well he grabbed his cuirass, luckily for him the shoulder guards as well as cloth piece that would cover the majority of the chainmail skirt were attached to it already, Khaiden hated all the time he had previously spend on putting on a chest plate, back plate and the other parts separately so with some help from his father he had it all combined. He untied the two side straps at each side of the cuirass to open it, else his arms wouldn't be able to slip in, pulling it over his head afterwards and fastening the straps afterwards. Khaiden turned a little so he could see the mirror. He couldn't help but to grin a little when he saw himself in his armor once more. It gave him a feeling of pride. He knew too well that as a boy, wearing the armor was his greatest wish.
But that seemed to be a lifetime ago, just like in his dreams. Eventually. People have to wake up to reality. The stories of heroes fighting great battles and facing even greater armies had long slipped from Khaiden's mind. After years of service he knew too well the true nature of warfare and everything around it. Dreams of glorious battles got shattered in mere seconds at his first battle. Guts, blood and screams. Good men ripped to shreds and one thing bothered Khaiden endlessly, the single quote. "At least he died with honor.." A term often said by military leaders or nobility whom never had stepped a foot on a battlefield. Commanding men behind a wooden desk as pawns on their own play field. But despite all this. Khaiden knew what he fought for, thus geared up as a good, humble soldier.
After he put on and fastened his forearm guards, upper-arm guards and elbow guards, he slid his fingers into his gauntlets, reaching for his sword and carefully sliding it into its sheathe, grabbing his shield afterwards. It was time to leave he thought to himself as he grabbed the sealed letter from the desk and walked toward the door, grabbing a sack that stood nearby. filled with supplies, food and other tools for the journey. After he left his room he locked the door behind him and went to the end of the long corridor to take the stairs down into the inn's bottom floor. Ah, Khaiden. Leaving so soon? Well good luck and I'll be waiting for your stories, if you do return." The bartender said from behind the counter, cleaning a pile of empty tankards, causing Khaiden to look up with a soft grin as he tossed a small leather pouch and the key of his chamber to the bartender whom luckily catches it just in time. Afterwards he left the inn.
As soon as Khaiden walked outside, a young man was sitting on a barrel at the other side of the street, at his feet a bag filled with letters, documents and other papers. The young man had already noticed Khaiden and gave the soldier a cheeky smile before jumping off the barrel. "Good morning, I'm here as promised." the young man said as he walked up to Khaiden with his bag. "Not a minute too late. Here it is, I trust on it that it'll arrive in the right hands, my friend?" Khaiden handed the sealed letter over to the young man, whom inclined his head and nodded briefly at him to answer Khaiden. "How much will it cost me? Khaiden added as he reached into a satchel that was attached to his belt. The young man chuckled quietly before shaking his head firmly. "Nothing, Khaiden. After all. If it wasn't for you I would still be picking up my teeth from the tavern floor after my little disagreement with that sellsword." The young man said as he gave Khaiden a smack against his shoulder before tucking Khaiden's letter away in his bag and walking off to deliver it at once. Leaving Khaiden in the middle of the street, grinning at the memory of that night.
He couldn't help but to leave with mixed feeling, as much as he gladly accepted the chance to help his old comrades and Captain, he also developed a good relationship with a handful of people within Shornhelm these last three months. From the Rodane delivery boy, to Heranuel the baker and butcher and so many more. One of them was Mirelda, the tailor’s daughter and by Mara and Dibella alike. What was she kind and beautiful. Khaiden and her had shared several drinks and conversations these past three months and Khaiden eventually even fell for her kindness. Though he did not tell her this. " How I wish that I could exchange my medals and courage in duty, to gather the strength to pursue matters closer to heart.." Khaiden thought to himself time from time, at some point he even bought her some flowers though when he and Mirelda met up again, his experience as a soldier and courage couldn't help him from becoming frozen in his tracks, and shiver as a shy little boy. The things she did to him..
But he would have to face her once more before finally leaving Shornhelm, after all he asked her a small favor, stitching the holes in his old cloak. So Khaiden made his way through the empty street, although it wouldn’t take much longer till the majority of people within Shornhelm would wake up and tend their daily business. He stopped dead in his tracks before a small building in between two bigger houses, in front of the building was a small plateau with railing, which Merilda was already sweeping with her broom until she noticed Khaiden. ”Oh! Please don’t arrest me, sir! I’m just cleaning up. I swear!” Merilda yelled at him, followed by a laugh while she put away her broom against one of the columns that kept the roof above the plateau. ”I’m sorry, ma’am. But my orders are clear, in the name of the king, I hereby arrest you for not having your shop open yet.” Khaiden answered as he walked up the small stairs onto the plateau, keeping his hand on the pommel of his sword, smiling cheeky at Merilda. She shook her head briefly at him. ”You have some guts, Khaiden. Do you have any clue how early I had to wake up for you? Not to mention I had to work an hour longer than usual yesterday, to fix your darn cloak. Here it is though.” Merilda gave him a brief frown before smiling back at the man. Turning herself to the single bench that stood on the plateau and picked the folded blue cloak up, turning back while she unfolded it. ”Alright.. Stand still, soldier boy.” She said, walking around Khaiden so she could attach top corners of the cloak to the two shoulder pad buckles, in the meanwhile Khaiden made a knot in the two linen strings in front of his neck to make sure it wouldn’t slip off.
Merilda brushed the small amount of dust off the cloak before turning around Khaiden, crossing her arms and turning her head a little as if she was inspecting him from top to toe. Making sure the cloak fitted him. ”I’m sure you’ll make the right impression for this noble Lord or at least make some ladies swoon off their feet.” Merilda said, a smirk slipping through her lips. Khaiden returned the smirk as he gently stroked the cloak a bit over his right shoulder to make sure the cloak itself wasn’t dragged over the ground. He turned around to walk off the plateau and back onto the street, stopping dead in his tracks afterwards before turning around once more to Merilda whom already continued to clean the plateau further. A sigh escaped Khaiden as he tried to muster some additional courage. “Oh, Merilda..” He muttered just loud enough for her to hear, Merilda tilted her head and looked back at Khaiden, stroking a few locks of her hair out of her face as she looked at him, a light twinkle in her eyes as if she was hoping to hear something she had been waiting for. “ I.. I thank you for your company and help these past few months, it has been really appreciated. Please watch yourself in my absence alright?” Khaiden said, once more he was unable to say the words that laid on the tip of his tongue. Merilda smiled softly at him, nodding briefly. ”You too, Khaiden.. Be careful.” She answered before hanging her head and continue her work.
Khaiden inclined his head briefly, turning around and making his way to the gate in order to leave the city, he pondered about his stupidity and lifted his gauntlet to his face to smack himself gently. “ Smooth.. Very smooth. ” He whispered, passing the handful of guards that stood guard around the opened gate, their pole-arms aimed high to the sky. When he passed the last two guards stationed outside Khaiden followed a sand road alongside the wall to the east until he came across a two small stables, walking into the first one that met the road. A stable boy just came outside of the stable when Khaiden walked up to it, in his hands the boy held the reins of a rather large Tobiano skinned horse, which probably had seen better days. The horse’s name was Brista, and she belonged to Khaiden’s family. Originally she pulled Baldwyn’s cart when they would make the journey from their small settlement to one of the cities or farmers at the foot of the mountains. “Here she is, all saddled and fed for your journey, Khaiden.” said the boy while handing the reins of Brista to Khaiden, whom took it and gently stroked his hand over the her mane. ”Thank you, she’ll have a long journey ahead of her, but hopefully the last, also.. What do we have here?..” Khaiden replied, reaching down with his hand behind the boy’s right ear, and with a grin he pulled his hand back, revealing a coin in the palm of his hand. With a chuckle and a sparkle in his eyes the boy eagerly grabbed the coin and thanked Khaiden before walking back into the stable to tend to the other horses.
Khaiden turned himself around, hooking his shield in place on the saddle, He pulled his cloak over his shoulder again to adjust it then with a pant he pulled himself up and into the saddle, but not without some difficulty. ”Either I’m getting older or I need to get used to this armor again.. Let’s just say it’s the armor.” he muttered with a grin, grabbing the reins tightly in his hands and tapping his heels onto the thighs of Brista, whom rose her head and whinnied before slowly starting to gallop down the sand path and then onto the road. Khaiden followed the road for roughly an hour, as the sun rose from behind the hills and city walls in the distance. The windows of the farm houses alongside the road opened one by one as the everyday people finally all woke up, eventually Khaiden took the right path when he reached a crossroad, the left path continuing over the fields, the right leading into a small forest in which a monastery was located. A giant iron fence going all around it. Khaiden passed through the gate which was left open for him, after all he was expected since he had to take care of one little thing before finally going forth onto his mission. Brista galloped around the fountain that stood as the center piece of the monastery square, eventually stopping In front of the main chapel. With some care Khaiden let himself slip out of the saddle, the pieces of plate and chainmail rattling at the landing. ”Here we are..” went through his mind as he walked up to the chapel doors and opened them with both hands until the opening was just wide enough for him to go through. The inside of the chapel itself was quite the sight to see, several stone columns stood at each side, making a path from the door to the altar at the end of the chapel. Candles were lit and flowers were twirled around these columns. Against the walls hung some paintings and other decorations. But despite all this, the chapel appeared to be empty beside Khaiden. ”Perhaps he’s occupied at the moment, this will grant me a chance of prayer.” He thought to himself as he followed the drape to the altar where he knelt down onto one knee, resting his right elbow onto it with lowered head.
”Almighty Eight, forgive me my plea, for I am confident that I am one of hundreds, if not thousand whom sit on bended knee, asking guidance and strength for their battles, to fight their ghosts and demons, big and small. And you can’t reach down and sweep the troubles off each of us at the same time. But yet, here I find myself praying to all of you, not for myself. For if I am to fall on the quest that fate as put me on. I’ll fall with my head held high and the names of those I hold dear in my mind, whispered into the wind with my last breath before taking my place in Arkay’s embrace. So I ask, in my absence of them. Watch over my family and friends as they’ve watched over me these past three months. Grant them the health and happiness they deserve and I wish them. Shield them from harm and the troubles of conflict and war for I willingly bare these for each of them, hence my sword, hence my armor. Please eight. Grant me victory, not for myself but for those who stay behind, those who’ll live on. When I would fall. This is my plea..”
The chapel hall turned quiet for a brief moment, until the sound of footsteps echoed through the building, Khaiden turned his head into the direction of the sound, from behind one of the columns a man dressed in a white robe stepped forth, the man seemed to be in his late fifty’s, the top of his head shaved, leaving a trail of brown with a mix of grey hair around his the bald spot. His face shaved clean. Alongside the man stood a dog which immediately ran toward Khaiden the moment she saw him. ”I could not help but to overhear your plea Khaiden, compassionate as always I see. Perhaps there hides a priest of the eight divines somewhere underneath those plates, or any of the eight in specific if that is your wish.” The priest smiled gently at the sight of the dog which stroked its head up against Khaiden’s leg, its tail waggling happily. ”It would seem she missed you, such a beautiful creature.. I am glad she’ll accompany you. Shall I bless your sword before you leave for this quest of yours?” Added the man, stepping forward and spreading both arms with open hands to accept the sword from Khaiden, whom smiled at the priest before nodded at him. Taking forth the sword out of its scabbard and carefully laying it in the priest’s hands. ”Perhaps when my hair turns grey, until then. It’s a soldier’s life for me. You have my thanks, Brother Nathan. I hope Bo wasn’t too much of a trouble? How long has she been here?” Khaiden said, turning his head to Bo whom sat next to Khaiden now, looking up at him with her tongue sticking out of her mouth, panting a bit. As if she was clearly aware that she was the topic of discussion.
”Two days now, your father left her here and your horse, I took the liberty to deliver your horse at the stables yesterday, I do think you would make an excellent man of the faith. Believe it or not, but your experience with the sword would be of great aid to the divines. Bandits and other misguided men for example..” Nathan walked up to altar and laid the sword down onto a white cloth. Khaiden followed him to study the progress from a distance, looking how Nathan rolled up his long sleeves and then grabbed the clay jug on the altar’s corner, carefully pouring drips of water over the sword’s blade before folding the cloth around it and closing his eyes, muttering a phrase. ”It is done, may it serve you well. Brother Nathan turned back to Khaiden after unfolding the cloth, giving Khaiden his sword back whom slid it away back into the scabbard. ”Once again, I thank you for your care. Be safe. Brother Nathan.” Khaiden replied, turning around to follow the drape back to the door, halfway he heard brother Nathan speak to him once more though. ”Oh, Old and foolish me.. Khaiden, My boy! Wait, wait. I had something else for you too. If I only knew where I left it..” Khaiden’s eyebrow raised, confused as to what Brother Nathan still had for him. He waited, looking at the man whom stood in front of the bookcases alongside the right side of the chapel, going through pots and moving aside books and other oddities.
”Here it is.. I knew I had left it around here somewhere.” Nathan walked up to Khaiden, in his hands a medallion in the shape of a horn. With the care, only elders possessed Nathan carefully laid the medallion in Khaiden’s hand, closing his own hand on top of the man’s, patting on the medallion briefly. ”Until we meet again, Son of Stendarr. He is your favorite is he not?” Nathan smiled up at Khaiden before letting go and walking back to the altar. Khaiden turned his head abit as he opened his palm to take a closer look at the medallion. He recognized the horn from the book covers of his book about Stendarr. He pulled the chain over his head and tucked the medallion away beneath the cuirass. Whispering thank you in Nathan’s direction before finally leaving the chapel. Bo following him with just a feet in between.
Outside, Khaiden immediately climbed back into the saddle, carefully Brista began to gallop once more. It would seem she kept Bo’s location in mind so she wouldn’t trample the dog. The two were used to each other’s company. Khaiden followed the road back to the crossroad he had previously been, this time he turned left, continuing the path that led through the fields. He stayed on it for a good two hours, stopping once to take a drink out of his goatskin, allowing Bo and Brista a sip as well, though the two quickly preferred drinking out of the nearby pond. Ungrateful bastards. Eventually Khaiden saw an estate in the distance, a stone wall surrounded the hill it stood upon, down below a handful of stables and farms. This was the place, no doubt about it. Khaiden figured as he rode up to it, greeting the few workers he came across on the road. When he reached the gate of the stone wall, Khaiden dismounted Brista and walked up to the oaken gate, knocking his gauntlet onto it several times until a panel in the gate itself slid open, one of the guards stood at the other side peeking through. ”Hail stranger, do you have business here?” The guard said, looking to Khaiden with a stern expression. Khaiden kept himself quiet while reaching for a folded note in his satchel, handing it through the opening to the Guard before answering. ”I’m here on request of my Captain and Lord Locksley to discuss and execute an assignment arranged by both parties. This is the estate of the Locksley’s is it not?”
The guard’s expression became softer, opening the folded note and taking a quick glimpse over it, muttering some of the phrases that were written. ”Ah, so you’re Khaiden Knighton. Yes, yes.. Lord Locksley is awaiting you in the dining area, second floor. As always.. When he isn’t doing business the man is eating. Either way. Let me open this gate for you and I’ll personally take you to him.” From behind the door Khaiden could hear the locks being opened until the guard pushed the left door of the gate open for Khaiden and his two four-legged companions to pass through. Welcome to the Locksley Estate. One of the many horse-breeders across Highrock. You can leave your horse here, I doubt it’ll take long and before I forget, please leave your dog outside as well.. The young Lord isn’t too keen on them. Bitten as a boy you see. ” Khaiden nodded in understanding, turning his hand to Bo to command her to stay behind before following the guard further and into the estate. As the two went up the stairway the guard turned his head to Khaiden briefly and spoke again. ” Honestly, I pity you.. Not many would volunteer to accompany that little brat. Leave alone watch over him but I take it you’ll be paid good for it or you just have more patience than most. Don’t let him know I said that though.. “ Khaiden looked at the man with surprise, he wasn’t informed about his mission in real depth so hearing this made him rather surprised and curious to his assignment. He answered with a simple ”Who?” ”You don’t know yet? Well, you’ll soon enough. Since here we are. I’ll see you outside in several minutes.” The guard added as the man stopped in front of a door, opening it for Khaiden and then stepped to the side so he could pass, closing it after him when Khaiden stepped inside.
It was a big dining area, with a long table going all the way from one side to the other in center. Drapes hanging down from the walls in the house’s colors. This was the first time that Khaiden was inside such a large estate and he was quite grabbed by It at first. At the table sat a man in a large oaken chair. His attire made from silk in vibrant colors. Adorned a silver belt buckle, a golden necklace and several rings around the man’s fat fingers, and big belly. The man burped for a moment before noticing that Khaiden entered the dining area, turning his head to him. ”Oh! You must be Khaiden Knighton, forgive me for my manners. Not born a noble man. I am the Lord of this house and friend of your Captain Greenford.” The Lord said as he stood up from the chair, holding his hands on his belly to take on a proud and confident pose, leaving a stain on his silk attire when he reaches one hand to Khaiden whom accepted it and shaked the Lord’s hand, when they both took their hand back. Khaiden carefully wiped his fingers at the back of his cloak making sure the Lord didn’t see it, such sticky fingers.. ”A pleasure, Lord Locksley. I can tell you still have your soldier’s hand and posture. I’m sure the ladies are lining up and the men cower.”” Khaiden said, putting up his best fake smile he possible could, slightly disgusted by the man. ”Ladies? Oh no no!.. I’m happily married. No I wouldn’t – couldn’t.. How about yourself, Khaiden? It is alright if I call you by your name I hope? It reminds me how I used to address my old comrades.. And please, sit down. Help yourself to something to eat and drink” Lord Locksley eagerly helped himself to another sweet roll from the pile that was on the plate, devouring it in less than five bites. Chums falling from his mouth onto his belly or were stuck in his gray beard. ”Thank you and no, I still have to find the ‘one’, until then I’m married to my duty. I take it you miss your life as a soldier?... …….?” Khaiden replied, shoving back one a chair to sit down, taking a single sweet roll from the pile and taking a small bite from it. Lord Locksley had taken another sweet roll in the meanwhile and already ate most of it, stopping for a moment to sigh. ” The name is Bedore and sometimes.. Though after I got married, my loving wife insisted I’d practice the art of business and horse-breeding over swordsmanship, her family been doing this for a while now. It’s safer than swinging a sword around and has.. other perks.” Lord Bedore patted onto his belly, food apparently being one of these perks. Khaiden grinned for a bit in reply. ”Where is Lady Locksley then if I may ask? Comrade Bedore.” Bedore looked up at Khaiden, a wide smile on his face. Sitting more straight into the chair as he tapped his greasy fingers against each other ”Comrade? How exciting!.. As for my wife, she’s on a trip to see her sister in Wayrest. The witch is getting married and thank the divines for that. Then she doesn’t visit us anymore so often and nag at me. Which takes me to our business and your assignment. Comrade Khaiden.” Bedore answered as he got up from his chair and instructed Khaiden to follow him to the nearby window. From through the window Khaiden could see a handful of horses that were kept behind the estate and inside the stone walls, beautiful one by one.
”You see, My wife has the tendency of spoiling our son with everything his heart desires. I fear though that it has left him a little bit.. Arrogant.. Stubborn, ignorant, rude. And the list goes on. He desires to become a real Knight, I'd rather see him like us, soldiers, real men but with my wife insisted. So I have found him a proper mentor in Shornhelm but over my honor as soldier and father. I’ll not sent him an ignorant boy who'll even insult his mentor. My good name would be shamed. So Captain Greenford and I agreed that he is to travel with you to your encampment and assist the men there in the Reachmen problem the Captain is having. He promised me he and his men could get some sense in the boy. Since you were close at hand and seemed like a suitable candidate for the job. Here you are and as promised. When my son returns, changed and in one piece. There is your reward. As for my son, Be soldier rough on him, but don't harm the boy” Bedore explained, pointing to the white stallion among the horses. Khaiden looked at the horse and couldn’t help but to smile at the magnificent animal. ”I’ll do my up most best. I’ve dealt with my little sister during her bad days. I’m sure your son isn’t as-..” Khaiden was interrupted when a screeching shout echoed through the estate, for all to hear inside and outside. ”I said!.. I wanted my light blue cape!.. NOT my blue one! You bloody twat! Does this go with my eyes!? Does it!? Get me my light blue cape or I throw you in between the pigs for a month!” The voice declared. Khaiden looked around, shocked by the sudden outburst then looked at Bedore whom showed a sign of panic. “I fear you might be wrong.. Let’s go outside and send you two off. I’ll meet you at the gate with my son.”
Bedore patted Khaiden onto his shoulder pat as he passed the man, leaving through a back door at the other side of the dining area where Khaiden entered the room. For a moment longer, Khaiden looked through the window down at the white stallion, turning around to leave the room as well. When he walked outside there were a handful of servants waiting at Khaiden’s horse, next to Brista stood another horse, one of the servants was busy attaching a saddle and saddlebag. The guard which led Khaiden to Lord Locksley was also waiting with the other servants. ”I take it that you’ll accompany the young lord after all then? Honestly, I thought you would be gone like the wind after that outburst. We could hear it from here.” The guard smiled at Khaiden with a grin, leaving Khaiden to wonder if the man was being serious or teasing him. Either way, Khaiden stood next to him, awaiting the young lord’s arrival. ”I’ve survived some battles in my life, I’m sure I’ll survive this.”, “Well, we’ll see soon enough, there comes the little devil.” The guard replied to Khaiden’s statement.
Accompanied by his father, as well as one more servant whom held the young man’s cape up from behind him, the three approached the group of guards and servants gathered near Khaiden. The young man whom was half a head shorter than Khaiden walked with head held high, adorned in fine steel armor and his mid-length brunette hair kept behind his ears. ”He walks like a king, but acts like a boy.. Peacock.” Khaiden could hear the guard mutter quietly from his side, though Khaiden couldn’t help but to agree. The young man did seem to show off an aura of arrogance the way he walked. When the three got close, the servants and guards bowed for a brief moment to the young lord, the young man smiling as if he expected nothing less, he raised an eyebrow at Khaiden when he noticed that Khaiden did not grant him the same favor, ”Ahum..” the young man said, from behind him. Lord Locksley made a quick motion with his hands toward Khaiden, signifying him to take a bow as well, almost begging him to. With a quick roll of his eyes, Khaiden bowed briefly to the young man, turning the young man’s raised eyebrow in a smile once more.
“You must be Khaiden Knighton then, my father already praised your name.. But I’ll be the judge of you myself, a pleasure nonetheless. I am Jonathan Locksley.” Khaiden inclined his head to him, figuring that he better not rub the boy’s feathers too soon. ”A pleasure, shall we go on our journey then? Don’t want to keep Captain Greenford waiting.” Khaiden said, walking to Brista and climbing into the saddle, waiting for Jonathan to follow his lead. From underneath Brista’s legs however Bo sprinted forward to Jonathan whom quickly took a step back at the sight of the dog. ”By the eight!.. Keep that filthy animal away from me!.. Father!..” He shouted, trying to shoo Bo away from him, however Lord Locksley held himself quiet. ”Bo come here, Jonathan, May I introduce you to our companion, my dog Bo. She’ll be watching over you as well, perhaps even more than myself.”, Bo ran back to Khaiden after he called for her. ”Fine.. But if she bites me or licks me with that foul tongue!..” Jonathan proclaimed, walking a large circle around Bo, keeping a constant eye on the dog whom was wagging her tail excitedly while studying her new play mate. Khaiden chuckling quietly underneath his breath at the sight of the two. One of the guards helped Jonathan get onto his horse and after the young lord sent his farewells to his father and servants in an arrogant manner that came natural to him. They left the estate’s walls and rode out. Much to the relief of Lord Locksley and the rest.
The two began to follow the main road that would lead around the Wrothgarian mountains and then past Evermore. From there they would have to make their way to the Greenford’s camp at the mountain side, better known as the Reach. Khaiden figured that following the main road, while it would take them longer. Would be safer to travel. He didn’t want to take any chances with bandits or wild animals such as bears and wolves.
”So.. Where do you come from? Shornhelm?” Khaiden heard Jonathan ask as the young man rode closer to him. Briefly looking at Bo with some disgust and fear. The dog laid over the back of Khaiden’s saddle half asleep. Khaiden grinned at the question, or rather the assumption of him being born in Shornhelm. It was only on rare occasions people ever would include the Wrothgarian mountains in their assumptions, but then again. That is the birthplace of most orcs, not Bretons. So he pointed to the big mountains to the west. ”The Wrothgarian mountains?.. You were born and raised among orcs and beasts?..” Jonathan looked up at Khaiden, curious about it even more. ”Yes, though we didn’t live that far in, a small mining settlement of three families. The occasional bear or wolf but never did I encounter any orcs, perhaps if we don’t bother them, they won’t bother us.” Khaiden answered, looking over to Jonathan before concentrating back on the road ahead. Jonathan turned his head as well, keeping himself quiet for a moment before turning back with another question. ”So you’re not of nobility?” Khaiden shook his head. ”And neither am I beneath them, I hope you do not have an issue being accompanied by a commoner?” Khaiden turned his head to Jonathan, his eyes slightly narrowed, looking sternly at him. ” Actually, I asked for a real kni-.. Uhm.. No sir-.. Khaiden.” Jonathan said, quickly rephrasing his words when he stared at Khaiden’s stern impression, fearing the worst outcome. Khaiden’s stern face turned back to its usual calm expression, a gently smile on his lips. ”Good..” He whispered.
The two rode for two more hours, occasionally the two shared words but not extensively, Khaiden was too focused on the road and what happened around them, while Jonathan feared he would upset Khaiden, despite this he still occasionally tried to slip an arrogant remark through the silence but Khaiden kept him in line, eventually the sun began to disappear behind the mountains. So Khaiden decided it would be high time that they would make up camp, leading Jonathan closer to the Wrothgarian mountains until they reached a small opening in the thick tree line. ”We’ll make camp here, so I hope you brought your rug but before we do that, we’re going to hunt now we still have some sunlight left to see what is in front of us.” Khaiden got out of the saddle and unwrapped the binding that was holding a long bow and filled quiver in place. He tossed the quiver to Jonathan whom got out of the saddle as well. After they tied the horses to a tree the two went further into the mountain side, leaving Bo sleeping on the saddle. ”Hmph.. Usually I am the one carrying the bow and the servant the quiver.” Jonathan muttered as the two made their way. ”Funny don’t you think, standing in someone’s else boots for once?” Jonathan heard Khaiden chuckle in front of him before stopping dead in his tracks and raising his hand to instruct Jonathan to stop. Jonathan however took a few steps closer as careful as he could until he reached Khaiden’s side. Up ahead there was a single deer scouting in between the rocks and trees for something to eat. ”Alright.. An arrow please.” Khaiden asked Jonathan whom immediately gave him one. ”Here it goes..” Khaiden brought forth a sigh before standing up straight as he pulled the string of the bow back, releasing the arrow afterwards but Khaiden’s marksman skills were anything but great, or good for that matter and the arrow flew by the deer by several inches. This resulting in Jonathan being unable to hold in his laugh as the deer quickly made a run for it after the failed attempt. ”By the eight!.. That was.. Amusing. My turn. ‘Great ranger’” Jonathan proclaimed, a chuckle still escaping his lips as he grabbed the bow out of Khaiden’s hand. Leaving the quiver at Khaiden’s feet. ”I don’t want to brag but I’ve been hunting since the age of five. I have the eyes of an eagle and the ears of a fox. Give me a target and they’ll regret cross-..” Jonathan walked forward while he boasted his skill with the bow, turning around to Khaiden to show off some of his moves while still walking backwards, not seeing the rock behind him and with a gasp he tripped over, rolling down the small hill. Quickly Khaiden grabbed the quiver and ran forward though stopped at the rock when he looked down and saw Jonathan fell face first in the deer’s still fresh poo. Slowly Khaiden walked down to him, squatting down next to him Jonathan whom looked up with the most disgusting face Khaiden had yet to witness. ”I have to admit, you have some smooth footwork.” Khaiden said as he helped Jonathan back onto his feet. ”Shut up..” Jonathan cursed for a moment, in the meanwhile Khaiden had already ripped off the end of his cape, perhaps for the best since it had already become clear to him that Mirelda had kept the cape too long. So now he no longer had to adjust it. Jonathan accepted the piece of cape and wiped his face with it. ”Urgh that smell.. Thanks though..”
”Happens to the best, buckle up. We got a deer to catch.” Khaiden gave Jonathan a pat on his shoulder, then went into the direction the deer ran off to. Jonathan following. After ten minutes they once more found the deer, this time it actually was standing completely still. Quite gracefully Jonathan pulled back the string after receiving an arrow from Khaiden and released, this time the arrow hit the mark, impaling the deer right into the chest and killing it on impact. There was no way for Khaiden to deny it, but Jonathan beat him fair and square on this one. ”See, I told you I could do it.” He said proudly. ”I have to admit, that was a great shot.” Khaiden gave his quiver back to Jonathan, leaving the young man with both the bow and quiver as he himself went over to the deer and carefully lifted the animal over his shoulders, grabbing it at the legs. With their fresh kill the two made their way back to the horses and began to set up camp. ”I’ll go gather some twigs for the fire then.” Jonathan said and quickly tried to head back into the forest but Khaiden pulled him back and sat the young man down In front of the dead deer, pressing a knife into the man’s hand. ”Nice try, here we have a rule for hunting. You kill it, you skin it. Big beautiful pieces will you?” Khaiden wasn’t let the young man get away from it that easily. Clueless on how to skin the deer Jonathan swallowed in the back of his throat but pretended he wasn’t intimated by this at all and began to cut into the skin of the deer. Khaiden left him there for five – ten minutes while he gathered some branches and twigs, when he came back he noticed how much Jonathan was struggling. ”Need some help? There is no shame if you don’t know how to.” Jonathan looked up at Khaiden, sighing in his defeat. ”That would be appreciated, the servants usually do this for us.” Khaiden smiled and sat down on his knees next to Jonathan, taking the knife from his hand and began to skin the animal, cutting away a chunk of meat afterwards, then handed the knife back and allowed Jonathan to continue, guiding the young man during his learning progress.
When the animal was completely skinned and the usable meat was cut away, Khaiden tossed the remains away further in the woods for the wild animals, making sure it wasn’t too close to their camp. That hopefully should keep the beasts busy for a night. When he returned. Jonathan had made the fire near the rocks, one flat rock laying on top that would shelter the two from awful weather if it decided to change. Piece by piece they cooked the deer, and ate most of what they gathered, giving the left overs to Bo whom couldn’t be happier with each piece she received. When they were finished it was already close to mind night, so they decided it would be high time for a well-deserved rest for tomorrow, they had a longer journey ahead of them.
During that night, Khaiden once more witnessed the same dream, over and over again. The farm, the mysterious woman and the girl. This time though the dream went a little further than the usual scenario where Khaiden would find himself waking up as soon as the little girl would run to him and reach for his arms. On this particular night. The dream became even more struggling, taking a unexpected turn at the moment Khaiden usually found himself with his eyes opened. This time when the girl was about to reach for Khaiden to embrace him, Khaiden could hear a familiar sound echoing through his head, changing his dream entirely. A sound he knew too well, and most soldiers for that matter. The blowing of a horn just before blood would be shed on fields of battle. In his dream, Khaiden looked into the distance behind the girl where an army of shadows, armed with swords and axes came sprinting from the hillside toward the farmhouse. The mysterious woman and girl screamed from the top of their lungs while they ran away from the house, seeking protection behind Khaiden whom stood alone in the fields against this threat.
In an instance Khaiden’s unsheathed his sword from the scabbard on his belt, spreading his feet on the ground and tilting up his oaken shield just high enough for him to look over it and to cover a good portion of his body, a single drip of sweat rolling down his cheek just at the sight of the several dozen shadows whom all seemed focused upon Khaiden. His fingers folded around the sword’s handle with the increased tension, bit by bit the army came closer, seconds which seemed like minutes and then without as much as a word. Khaiden charged forward, into the first dozen shadows. His sword clashing with that of the first shade that met him. The two struggling in a brief moment to unbalance the other though Khaiden succeeded, pushing the shadow back and impaling his sword through the middle of whatever stood before him, it was on this moment the shadow’s face began to show. The face of a man Khaiden could only recognize fadely, a soldier whom died on the third mission Khaiden was ever sent out to. He recalled how the man met his end, three arrows in the back. The man never saw it coming..The face quickly turned back before disappearing into thin air. Unaware of what happened Khaiden pursued the attack, though the more he fought the shadows, the more faces he began to recognize. Friends, comrades even foes. Many whom died, some who still lived then it happened, through the line of shadowy figures Khaiden saw a face that stood out the most, his own. A young boy with wooden sword in hand, his light blue eyes springing out of the dirty blond covered face. Suddenly a near silent gasp of air escaped Khaiden’s lips, losing the feeling in his fingers when his weaponry fell to the ground and he onto his knees. From through his back a spear tip had found its way, into his heart and out the other way. Life escaping his body. From out the shadows the young boy walked through, with some effort Khaiden looked up at his younger self and witnessed how he tilted the wooden sword and brought it down upon him, it was on this moment Khaiden finally got pulled back into the world of the living, breathing heavily as result of the dream.
Jonathan looked up startled by the sudden movement of Khaiden. Nearly jumping up himself with his sword which the young man had laying upon his lap, admiring the craftsmanship as well as giving it a quick cleaning due the dirt that got into the scabbard on his roll down the hill. In between the two laid a pile of ask and the remains of burnt wood, it would seem that unlike them, the campfire did not survive the night. ”Curses, you startled me there, I thought you were going to leap at me.” Jonathan the young man's face received back its color after leaving it white due the startle. In the meanwhile Khaiden sat straight up, stroking his dirty blond locks that were turned into a little mess out of his face before muttering a phrase underneath his breath. ”Already awake? Did you even sleep?” He asked Jonathan while he reached for a bread folded in a blue linen cloth. Opening it and ripping the bread in two. ”Honestly? I slept barely, all because of this armor. How you could sleep like a rose in it is beyond me.” Jonathan complained, taking the piece of bread out of Khaiden's hand and began to eat, crumbs of bread falling onto the ground and disappearing in the tall grass. Khaiden couldn't help but to laugh, standing up to stretch his arms, the chime of moving arm plates followed. ”Years of practice, boy. You’ll get used to it if you decide to stay on this path” He stated after his short laughter. ”You actually haven't told me where exactly we were going, or what was expected of me.” Jonathan asked from behind him, still eating.
”Well, I recon you’ve all right to know seeing how soon you’ll be pulled into it whether you would want to or not. You, just like me have been assigned to my old friend and Captain, Theodane Greenford. The exact details will be given when we arrive by the captain himself, until then. All I can speculate from what I’ve been told is that we’ve set up camp in between Evermore and Jehanna at the foot of the mountains, known territory of reach men whom call those mountains their home. Many soldiers and guards find themselves defending the border between the mountains and our cities against the occasional reach raid. So this is hardly a once in a life time mission, but shouldn’t be taken lightly or approached without conscious, else it’ll be your last.” Khaiden began to explain, he had taken a stick off the ground and began to draw the outline of the two cities and then a line that would represent the mountains behind them. Jonathan listening and observing the layout of the sketch. Before making an arrogant boast, or an attempt to cloak his fear. ”I’ve heard that these reach men are nothing more but uncivilized men and women, savages with no brain or leaders to guide them. Even a child could defeat one, you’d be a lesser than those savages if you would fall before them.” He stated, tilting his head chin a little and straighten his back to make himself bigger and broader, not that it really helped in his armor.
This statement however caused Khaiden to look up with narrowed eyes, a frown upon his face where a moment ago was still a gentle smile. Not many things immediately make Khaiden irritated or upset, but something like that definitely was among the few. A statement he took as a sign of arrogance and great disrespect to both enemy and ally. He decided not to argue the boy’s words with harsh words of equal stupidity, instead he stood up without saying another word, taking a few steps away from their quick made camp to pick up another large stick he saw laying on the ground from where he sat. “Good men have died defending you and your family from those raids, you’d be wise not to speak of them with such disrespect in the future. Get up now, and prove to me your boast held truth, or was a product of another boy’s arrogance and wild imagination. You’re not the first to speak highly of your capability, many boys whom receive knighthood or ranks within the army because of their birth have walked the same path, and regretted it greatly.” Jonathan sheathed his sword and got onto his feet, somewhat offended by the tone of Khaiden’s voice, as if he spoke to a young boy.
Jonathan grabbed the stick out of the air Khaiden had tossed toward him, a few feet stood in between them. Jonathan tilted the stick a bit, holding both hands around it as if he was wielding a claymore, his eyes focused on Khaiden whom just stood in front of him, staring back. His stick held down as if he was waiting for Jonathan to make the first move. Then with a loud scream Jonathan made the first attempt, charging blindly forward with the stick and tried to sweep it from the side to Khaiden’s cuirass. Leaving his defense right open, an opportunity Khaiden immediately took. He was by no means going to be easy with the young man. Before Jonathan would hit, Khaiden had already tapped the tip of his sword against Jonathan’s chest as he stepped forward with a sideway turn, pushing Jonathan’s stick out of his way as he stepped beside him and smacked his elbow guard against the back of Jonathan’s neck, pushing the young man forward before turning around to retake his stance. ”Rule one, a fight is won with more than strength alone, footwork and coordination are key. No amount of blind charges or arm thickness will reflect a sword into your belly. Boy.” He said, his tone holding a clear scent of mockery to Jonathan whom as well had already taken up his fighting position once more. ”Big words for a mere soldier!.. Just wait until I'm a Knight!” Jonathan shouted, the stick shaking a little in his hands, fearing the worst reaction from Khaiden. This time Khaiden stepped forward to bring down several quick blows with his sword to Jonathan. “Spare me the foolishness that are Knights. I know 'mere soldiers' who would bring your most precious Knights to their knees. Knighthood is nothing more than noble boys, thinking themselves above other men.” Khaiden replied during his blows, which Jonathan successfully managed to block as he kept being forced back, a step at each blow. This however made Jonathan quite tired, so before Khaiden could continue landing blows, he quickly put his hand forward during his panting.
”Just wait until you meet my mentor, I've heard he killed a dozen men with a single blow and let me catch my breath..” He said, resting his hands onto his knees for a moment. Khaiden lowered the stick and smiled gently at Jonathan, turning around to walk a small circle as he spoke. ”Such a heroic mentor you have, but of course, the young lord is tired, so he deserves a rest. Want a sweet roll with that too? Come on, Jonathan. Stand straight, I'll bring my weapon from the right side, keep your feet balanced and try to block it alright?” Khaiden said in a kind manner, standing back in front of Jonathan with the stick ready. Jonathan looked up to him, abit confused about what Khaiden said due the tone he was using, unsure if the man was serious or being sarcastic, though he got back into position in order to block Khaiden's upcoming blow, unaware that Khaiden had another plan, instead of swinging stick from the direction he mentioned. He swung it from the left, before Jonathan had the chance to adjust his position accordingly, Khaiden had already hit the side of Jonathan's arm, as Jonathan brought forth a painful groan Khaiden came forward with his shoulder to the boy and knocked Jonathan off his feet, causing the young man to fall onto his back. ”Rule two, never expect your opponent to do what you tell them or expect them to. Not in a tournament, especially not in battle. These are men out to kill you. Do not grant them a second of rest. Always focus, always adjust, and maybe, you'll always live through the fight and rule three, if you fall, you're dead.” Khaiden continued to instruct Jonathan whom still groaned for a moment on the ground due the smack he made. Bo had made her way to the fallen young man and licked Jonathan's face briefly but Jonathan quickly pushed her to the side.
”By the eight!.. You gave your word! You have no honor!.. How dare you to treat me like this! I am a noble's son! Just wait till my father hears of this! You're beneath me! I'll become a legend!” Jonathan shouted as he looked to Khaiden, shouting from the top of his lungs. This caused Khaiden's bucket to drip over, he dropped the stick out of his hand and brought his hand to the sword on his belt, unsheathing it rapidly and as he turned to face Jonathan he aimed it to down to the boy, stopping the tip an inch away from Jonathan's nose. ”And yet, here you lay on your back. 'Beneath' me.. Pick your following words with care. And no, I do not, neither do I fight to become a legend. Honor and glory is a lie, a myth. A fairytale among humanity, an excuse to make your death worth more than it is. Do you think your wife or child will mourn your death less, if you died with honor? Honor does not return you to your wife's arms, it won't help you see your children grow up. It'll leave them without a father. Children wishing nothing more but to see their dad, one more time. A wife struggling to move on, knowing that the one she loved perished and for what? A medal. To be remembered a hero instead of a simple man. You strive for honor and glory, yet are blind to those who'll be affected in your pursuit of it. Put your honor and glory aside, Jonathan, fight for something more than that.” Khaiden said, a harsh voice turning soft and gentle once more at the end of his speech. This sudden outburst apparently shocked Jonathan, whom just looked up in awe, letting Khaiden's words sink into his mind.
”I-.. I'm sorry, I didn't realize.. I know I am an arrogant brat at times..“ Jonathan muttered, with a sigh, embarrassed about his action. ”Recognizing your end of the issue, is the first path that leads to redemption. At least my father used to tell me that. Every time I got angry at him in my youth.” Khaiden said as he reached for Jonathan's hand, helping the young man back onto his feet, placing his sword back into its scabbard after. ”Sounds like a wise man, I wished my father had the time to grant me such wisdom.” Jonathan answered, dusting his armor off. The thought of his father being a wise man made Khaiden laugh, even quickly making him stroke away a tear. ”A wise man.. Perhaps he had his moments. From your words, it sounds as if your father and you have some issues to work out?” Khaiden walked back to the camp to roll up the rugs, preparing to leave within moments. Jonathan quickly began to help him as he continued to explain. ”Well, it is just that.. He always is busy with the horses, or away for his work. He says mother spoiled me. Which she may have but for once. I would just like it to have a day with my father.. But he never has time, so instead of asking. I've began to demand with my rudeness as result.” Khaiden felt some pity for Jonathan when he heard the young man's side of the story. He could imagine how that would feel. ”It seems you and him need to have to talk when you come back home. Be honest to each other. As difficult as that may be as men. I'll promise you though. If you listen to Captain Greenford and I. You'll return a man your father would be proud of.” Khaiden said while he tucked the rag back into one of the saddlebag satchel's on Brista's back.
”I.. I would like that, thank you Khaiden. One more question though, you claim not to find for honor and glory but then what is it. You fight for?..” Jonathan asked him after he got into the saddle of horse, riding a bit closer to Khaiden whom just got into it as well and turned his head to Jonathan to answer after holding himself quiet for a few seconds. ”I fight for something so fragile, that even the softest whisper can shatter it into a thousand pieces, but yet something so strong. It can arm an army of men in seconds and willingly would make them march through the plains of oblivion itself.” Jonathan raised an eyebrow, his interesting being caught by Khaiden's description. “What?..” He quickly asked, Khaiden smiled when he noticed Jonathan's interest. ”Hope. Hope of peace, a dream of a bright future. The hope that one day our weapons of war will be monuments of a time long ago, being displayed on the walls and then when my children will look upon my sword. They'll be astonished that such a thing could ever have been and they'll ask me. 'Father, what was war?' Fight for those you love.“ Khaiden said, turning head head and began leading Brista back to the road. Jonathan followed immediately, inspired by the words.
Khaiden led Jonathan to the road they followed the day before, continuing to follow it into the direction of Evermore, according to Khaiden there should be a small inn a couple miles away from Evermore, that would be the perfect place to rest and eat for the upcoming night before arriving into Greenford's camp by morning. Along the way Jonathan remained close to Khaiden's side as they galloped and even occasionally instructed the horses to do a brief sprint to put more miles behind them. The two spoke from to time, it was mostly Jonathan though asking Khaiden several questions about his personal life, if he was actually married or had any children of his own and about his days as a young man in the military. ” I can't help to wonder though, Khaiden. If you're not a knight, how do you explain the willow tree crest upon your chest plate? I assumed it to be your sigil.”, ”Well, you could argue that it is. My father is a smith, like I said. At one point in time I returned home to take care of him when he became ill and to run the smith in his place. When he finally recovered, and thank the eight he had. He insisted on returning me a favor and there is no arguing with my father. So I asked him to trim the giant willow tree that stands right in front of our house. It reminds me of home, where I come from and why I choice this path. It gives me courage, when it is hard to find.” He answered Jonathan whom nodded briefly. ”I like it.” Making Khaiden briefly grin.
The two kept on riding, taking a break every two hours but never longer than fifteen minutes, enough to eat and drink for a little while before moving on, Khaiden had his mind set to arrive the next morning, and thus, he would.
When the day began to turn to night, Khaiden and Jonathan could finally see a single building alongside the road in between a few pine trees. This was the place. “The old traveler, inn.” The sign outside stated when the two rode up to the stable that was build against the right side of the inn. By the looks of the few horses inside, the inn probably wouldn’t be that filled with other travelers, this put Khaiden’s mind to ease, since he worried a little that a too big crowd would not only decrease their chances of a proper bed for the night, but also increased the chances of trouble. Inns like these are not your everyday noble dinner and sleeping places. It belonged to the common folk, and some may not be as fond of some of Jonathan’s remarks than others. They left their horses in the stables alongside Bo whom just made herself comfortable in a pile of hay.
The door of the inn squeaked when Khaiden opened it, behind the counter stood an old lady whom looked up at Khaiden and Jonathan when they stepped inside. “Clean your boots, please.” she asked them kindly. The two men did as told immediately and cleaned the dirt off their boots with a cloth that hung beside the door. Assuming it was meant for it due the amounts of dirt already on it. ”Take a seat, I’ll get us some food and water.” Khaiden shoved back a chair for Jonathan to sit in at the first free table they can across. Looking to several of the other travelers whom were minding their own business, some playing a card game, others just drinking and talking and a few women gossiping and giggling in the far corner. One of the women looked over to Khaiden and winked at him though Khaiden refused to act upon it, just smiling briefly and quickly moved on to the counter. By judging their clothes, they were the maids of this establishment. Perhaps the old woman’s daughters. ”Excuse me ma’am, but what will this get me? I would like two warm meals and some water, preferably a jug and two mugs.” Khaiden opened the satchel on his belt and took out a small leather pouch, loosing the string around it to take out a few coins, laying them open on the counter so he could count them easily. As well as the woman whom shoved them into her hand when Khaiden was done. ”Enough to see your belly filled, I hope you like cooked potatoes with beef. Carolyn!.. Get this man a jug of water and two mugs, dear.” The old lady yelled to the few women in the corner, one of them turned her head. A woman with long blond hair and the one whom winked at Khaiden a moment ago. While she walked up to the counter to get the jug of water, Khaiden had already taken his place next to Jonathan to await the arrival of their drinks and meal. It only took a few minutes until the blond woman walked up to the table with two plates, two mugs and a jug on a wooden platter. She leaned forward to lay the meal down in front of them, her eyes slipping from the plates occasionally to meet Khaiden’s whom once again, was doing his best not to move a muscle.
He quickly noticed something else other than the woman, Jonathan seemed to be staring quite clearly to the woman’s bosom which was easily revealed by the cleavage since she leaned forward. He rolled his eyes quickly at the sight of the boy. ”There you go, sir, if there is anything else. Let me know..” She said quietly, winking once more to Khaiden before walking back to the other women. Khaiden had smiled at her and nodded as he extended his arm pretending to stretch out but when the woman walked away, he rapidly smacked Jonathan against the back of head to the young man’s surprise. "I saw that. Boy, she's too old for you." Khaiden muttered. With a silent groan Jonathan rubbed the back of his head, looking over to Khaiden. ”What did I do!?..”, ”You stared right at her t-.. Bosom.” Khaiden quickly corrected his speech, ”I did not!.. Besides, she was trying to undress me with her eyes, no surprise though. Luckily for her and her friends, there is enough Jonathan Locksley to go around with.” Jonathan flexed his arms for a little after sweeping his hair back, not that the young man was really muscular for his age, he even kissed his right arm which he flexed to Khaiden in an attempt to show off. ”I'm a beast.. A proud lion, women line up to be in my pride. The predator.” He whispered in addition. ”A beast? More like a pup and I hate to burst your bubble, but she was clearly looking to me, not sure if you noticed her wink at me during your wild imagination.” Khaiden replied, he had filled himself a mug of water while Jonathan had his moment. ”Fine, fine.. She may have shown a little interest in you too but she definitely was checking me out first, no matter though. I do not mind older women and if you keep on insisting otherwise. You can have her, and I'll try my best at that one..” Jonathan said, pointing at the younger girl among the women in the corner, whom seemed to be his age or around that. The young woman noticed Jonathan staring at her and raised an eyebrow when Jonathan opened his mouth as he kept on pointing, bringing forth a very silent roar while making a purr motion with his hand. Khaiden turned his head a bit and brought his hand to his face. ”Unbelievable..” He thought to himself.
The girl however blushed and turned her head quickly, though this could quite easily be out of sheer embarrassment. ”Told you, they crave me..” Jonathan added, turning his head back to Khaiden, though Khaiden grabbed him at his shoulder and turned him toward the meal in front of him. ”Keep telling yourself that, prince charming. Come on, eat.” Khaiden interrupted Jonathan, he had already began to eat. Jonathan looked down at the plate, he actually just noticed what was upon it. ”Where is the pork?.. The glass of wine? What is this.. Farmer's meal” Jonathan turned the beef upside down with his knife, suspicious of it, fearing it wasn't well prepared. ”Its called, dinner. Don't expect wine and pork these days, Jonathan. And it does taste good. Try it. “ Khaiden hoped to convince Jonathan, still skeptical of the meal before him, he began to cut a piece off the beef and put it in his mouth though to his pleasant surprise, it didn't taste as bad as he expected. A 'Mhm..' Even escaped him. ”See, I told you.” Khaiden added with a grin. After the two had finished their plates and drank most of the water inside the jug, Khaiden noticed that Jonathan was once again staring to the young woman. ”You know, they've been staring at us quite often in case you failed to notice. You should introduce yourself.” Jonathan suggested, Khaiden quickly shook his head as soon as Jonathan said so. ”No no, We have a task ahead of us and you my friend, should turn your head toward its rather than.. A handful of women.” Khaiden answered, a brief stutter in his phrase. Jonathan turned around and then noticed that Khaiden was fiddling with the pommel of his sword and avoiding eye contact. ”By the eight!.. You're scared aren't you? The big soldier man, shy to women?” Jonathan asked eagerly, almost pushing Khaiden into answering, he finally found something to tease Khaiden with. ”I'm not shy to women.. I've had my share of relationships. I just.. Never was the first to approach. I pick duty above pleasantries. Why do you not approach them yourself? You're the one staring as if they're fine meat on a market.” Khaiden muttered, though as the awful liar that he is. Jonathan was quickly on to him. ”You so are!.. I have to admit, I didn't expect that of someone like you but you know what, I'll!.. Yes, I'll show you how its done. Watch and learn, soldier boy.”
Though despite his boast, Jonathan did make an attempt to stand up but quickly put himself back into the chair, a silent gulp followed. ”Well.. There are a good handful of them, perhaps I need a few drinks first, you know to loose the tongue and such.” Jonathan said, resting his hands onto the table. ”I watched and learned nothing, but sure. I'll get you your drinks just to see you make a fool out of yourself. Khaiden rose his hand into the air and waved to the old woman behind the bar, asking for two tankards of mead. After a short moment the old lady walked up to them and put the tankards in front of Jonathan whom quietly cursed. When Khaiden paid for the tankards Jonathan began to chuck the first one down as rapid as he could. After he drank the second one as well. He already seemed to be affected but drank another one just to be sure. When he was mentally prepared.
Jonathan sighed deeply and got out of his chair successfully, an aura of confidence around him. ”Alright.. Here it goes, I’m going to talk with her.” He said to convince himself of his courage, even though it was more due the alcohol in his veins than anything else. Khaiden looked over from his seat to the group of women Jonathan walked to. ”This will be interesting..” Khaiden thought and interesting it was, despite Khaiden’s thoughts that Jonathan would make both him, as well as himself look like a complete fool, the young man managed to get into a conversation with the group of women, a few laughs were shared from time to time, they even bought Jonathan another drink, another, and eventually a third tankard, making Jonathan’s total count to a six before the young man finally made his way back to Khaiden whom had killed his own time by studying the route to Captain Greenford’s camp on the map he was provided with, marking down the best route for them to follow the next morning. Jonathan nearly pushed over the small bottle of ink Khaiden had put down. Psst.. Psst, K-Khaiden. Yes, you. I think I’ve got it all settled for us my friend, those older women are all over you. Lik-Like.. Massively so. You rough handsome bastard. But.. Listen!.. I think the young woman has it in for me. So you need to back me up on this, you owe me. I may have told them a bit here and there.. So if they ask. I am Lord Locksley!.. One of the King Emeric’s finest knights and y-you’re!.. Ser Khaiden Knighton, better known as ‘Captain Highrock’ A title granted to you by the hundreds of soldiers that served under you on missions all over Highrock, from Daggerfall to Evermore. Saving hundreds of damsels in your carrier, you name it. Now, King Emeric has asked me personally to take care of a threat and I asked you. My royal companion to go with me, of course you accepted because you owed me after I heroically saved your life from two sabre cats.. We’re tasked to kill a dragon, a secret mission. Before you get mad at me, they promised not to tell anyone. So what do you think?..” Jonathan said, occasionally a hiccup coming through his drunk speech, he already seemed to be having issues standing up straight as well to go with it.
”I think you’re a fool, I’ve bought us two rooms during your.. deceit. I recommend you go sleep before you do more damage while being drunk, neither do I think they could’ve ever bought that story.” Khaiden replied, tucking the map away where it belonged. ”Well, too late for that, here she comes.” As soon as Jonathan stopped talking Khaiden could see the blond woman who served their meal come up toward him and was named Caloryn, she even pushed Jonathan a bit to the side so she could get up close to Khaiden, leaning onto the table again and reaching out her finger to tilt Khaiden’s chin, gently stroking it. ”So you must be Captain Highrock? Your reputation precedes you.. I’ve heard much about your heroic deeds all over Highrock, would you please honor me with having a drink with us?..” Caloryn asked him, she already had two mugs in her hands, one for Khaiden would she accept her offer, she turned her head a bit and pouted her lips. ”I probably shouldn’t, with everything ahead of us. My’lady.” Khaiden replied, trying his best to keep his posture and be respectful. A ”Please.. For me.” followed by Caloryn which forced Khaiden to give in to her request and he grabbed the mug out of her hands. ”Alright, alright.. But only one. For you.” Khaiden replied to her with a smile on his lips, bringing the tankard closer to his lips, taping small sips at first though it quickly began to chuck within several less than a minute the tankard stood empty on the table but as one could guess and with Jonathan pushing him, more followed, resulting in Khaiden becoming drunk as well. After all, he never was a real drinker. Khaiden, Jonathan and their newly found company stayed up through most of the time, having a small feast until Khaiden fell asleep in his drunk state in a chair.
He woke up the next morning later than usual, a headache immediately struck him where he sat, he wanted to reach for his head to rub but was unable too, just realizing that on his lap sat Caloryn, resting her head onto his shoulder, quietly snoring. ”I'll get that kid-.. Urgh..” He muttered, looking around the room. Some other drunk patrons laid around and about, he was unable to spot the young man anywhere, not on any on the tables, neither on the floor. As carefully as he could, Khaiden tried to move Caloryn abit to the side until he could eventually move her over to another nearby chair and get up himself, when he managed to do so he made his way to the stairway at the back of the room, figuring to check the inn first before moving on to search outside. As he walked through the corridor with the several rooms, from behind his chestplate he took forth the Stendarr medallion, whispering a soft prayer of forgiveness for his stupidity of the past night before tucking it away. he got to a grinding halt when he reached a door which was standing halfway open, through the gap he could see Jonathan's armor laying on a table thus he went inside, Inside of the room Khaiden found Jonathan alongside the girl he was so overly interested in the night before sharing a bed, both asleep. To young woman however woke up as soon as Khaiden put in a few steps, the clanking of his armor giving him away. Quickly Khaiden tilted his hand and put his finger onto his lips as he beckoned the girl to the door. With some hesitation the girl nodded at him and got out of the bed, luckily she was still dressed mostly so after putting her clothes fully on quickly she disappeared through the door. Khaiden had made his way to Jonathan's side of the bed in the meanwhile and was now standing next to the sleeping young man, reaching out a hand to poke Jonathan's shoulder. When he did though Jonathan rolled over and in his sleep, grabbed the hand of Khaiden. Muttering something vaguely. ”Mhm.. Good morning beautiful ready for round two?..” Jonathan even tried to kiss Khaiden's hand. Disgusted and amazed by the young man's stupidity Khaiden carefully withdrew his hand, then reached for the sheet where Jonathan had completely rolled himself in to keep him warm and after taking a large breath. Khaiden pulled the sheet as quick as he could, causing Jonathan to roll over the side and fall onto the ground. ”Wake up soldier!.. We're losing daylight!..” Khaiden shouted a bit annoyed since they were indeed, getting behind the schedule Khaiden made.
”Aw!.. Bastard!..” Jonathan yelled back from the ground, rolling over to look up. ”Get up and see yourself dressed, I want to be in Greenford's camp within two hours and we won't make it if stay around.” Khaiden said, shutting Jonathan up immediately, with a curse from beneath his breath. Jonathan got from the floor and began to get himself dressed. Khaiden walked out of his room to go outside and fetch the horses and Bo so they could leave as soon as Jonathan was done. Eventually after a good ten minutes. Jonathan finally walked out of the inn's door. Khaiden already sitting in the saddle waiting with Bo, laying over the back. Still abit affected by all the ale he drank last night. Jonathan had some issues getting up into his own saddle, falling off a single time before succeeding. Then followed Khaiden to continue their path with more haste than the day's before. It seemed Khaiden truly was getting into a hurry.
After an hour, Khaiden led them from the road and into the forest, following a thin dirt path, or more specifically. Cart tracks within the dirt, Jonathan could see sheets of white and blue come through the trees up ahead, not much later they got into an clearing when they reached the foot of the mountain, around them were a couple dozen of covenant soldiers busy setting up or repairing tents, as well as taking out supplies and additional weaponry out of the carts. As Khaiden and Jonathan rode further into the camp's center. Some of the soldiers looked around to them, a few whispers quietly to one another while the other few greeted them warmly and saluted. Eventually a voice broke through the whispers. A soldier was waiting for them in the center of the camp which was marked with a Covenant banner. ”Well, well! Look what the morning brought us. Sergeant Knighton. You've been missed comrade, and I can see you managed to take the young man with you.” The soldier said, clearly happy to see Khaiden's arrival. Khaiden climbed out of the saddle and walked up to the soldier with arms extended, the two briefly embraced each other. ”It is good to be back, but this place looks like it survived an attack.. Many grim faces and a lot of new faces with that. New recruits?” Khaiden asked his fellow soldier, looking around to the young men which were probably the same age as Jonathan. ”Unfortunately you're right, these reach men are getting bold Khaiden. Attacking our camp already twice, we're wasting lives here if we do not push on the attack into the lion's den, we've found their camp within an old ruin a few miles up the mountain. Captain Greenford is planning as we speak, he fears we may need more men to attack at this point after losing some of the veterans. Which reminds me, he asked me to sent you to him when you would arrive. Big tent on top of the small hill, can't miss it as always as for the recruits, they arrived with the new shipment a few hours before you did, straight from Evermore's sign up office if you'd ask me.. I worry that none of them knows how to hold a sword properly.” The soldier answered, a worried expression on his face as he pointed to some of the nearby recruits, Khaiden was looking at. ”Don't be too harsh on them, I recall we too once stood where they stand now. Our peers shaped us into men, and so will we shape them.” Khaiden added in addition to his comrade with a confident smile. His comrade nodded briefly at him. ”You're right, Just a lot has happened lately. Once again, I'm glad to serve alongside you once more.”, ”As am I, please watch over Jonathan for a moment while I speak with the Captain. Bo. You stick with Jonathan, where-ever he goes.” Khaiden locked his gauntlet in that of his comrade before, commanding Bo to stick near Jonathan. Bo quickly obeyed. ”Good girl.” He said, making his way to the large tent on the hill.
As Khaiden walked up to the tent he recognized a familiar face, a soldier of roughly the same age as him was standing guard In front of the tent, sipping from a flask. A short black beard and his hair to medium length behind his ears just like Jonathan. ”There is only one man who would drink at this ungodly hour. Laurent Rodier.” Khaiden said, laughing at the sight of his friend. There was just one man he knew in the army that would do such a thing. Laurent turned his head a bit and lowered the flask, his jaw nearly dropping. ”Reachman's balls! Khaiden! Ha, I thought I heard the Captain say that you would arrive today. How are you friend?” Laurent asked as he walked up to Khaiden, giving him a punch against his shoulder in a playful manner. ”I am well, been worse at least. Yourself? Still chucking that whiskey from Wayrest?” Laurent looked to his flask after Khaiden's question and grinned widely. Its among the best!.. Here, have a chuck! Warms you belly like a ladies touch!” Laurent said, Khaiden shook his head but Laurent had already put the flask to Khaiden's lips, nearly forcing him to take a chuck. Khaiden coughed for abit after he drank the whiskey. ”Ha!.. Good right!?”. ”The best.. I'll see you soon enough friend to catch up, Greenford needs me apparently.” Khaiden said, pushing away the drape of the tent and entered. Inside stood a large wooden desk, a few piles of papers as well as a map of the area. Captain Greenford was leaning over it as he muttered some phrases Khaiden failed to hear, he then looked up. ”Ah, Khaiden, the divines are generous. How is the boy? I hope he wasn't too much of an issue to handle?” Theodane asked while moving a few wooden pieces over the map around a big circle somewhere in the mountain area. ”He was controllable but in the future, more information on my assignment would be appreciated.” Khaiden replied with his arms crossed firmly over eachother, showing some disagreement in the approach of Theodane. ”Forgive me, my friend but my time was short, you may have heard that we've been having issues with the reach men in this area. They're bold, so bold they've attacked us twice already. We captured a few but none of them have given us any answers on there where-abouts.. Rats.. So I got a handful of scouts searching the area day and night, when we found it. We'll have our revenge and who knows, perhaps the eight will grant me retirement afterwards.. I'm getting too old for these things. So old my son is signing up to be a soldier too and I tell you. That boy can nearly beat me with a sword.” Theodane said, a grin on his lips. The man was proud of this though and it showed through and through. ”You deserve it more than most, Theodane and hopefully your son will serve his King as well as you have. I fear however though, that if they are bold enough to attack twice, they surely are bold enough for a third. Meaning we have to attack before they do.” Khaiden stated, he leaned over the table to have a closer look at the map and the area Theodane marked. ”You're right, I've requested more men though just to make sure we'll not be outnumbered, especially with these recruits. I want you to take them under your wing alongside Laurent and the other veterans as Sergeant again to see them through this.” Khaiden looked up after Theodane spoke and sighed quietly. ”You know how I feel about leading, Theodane.. But if that is your wish. I shall obey as commanded.” Khaiden replied.
”I need my veterans to bring most of these boys home, before you leave and get settled. There is something I've been holding onto for you, you left it after, you know what.” Theodane pointed to a small table in the corner of his tent, on top of the table rested a steel helmet on a stand, three big plums ran over the top to the back, falling a few inches over the helmet. Across the right eye section ran a deep scar and the helmet seemed as if it had received quite the battering with minor dents here and there. Khaiden walked up to the helmet and stared at it for a moment, stroking a finger over the scar, thinking about the accident of several months ago where he lost the helmet. He grabbed the helmet off the stand and put it in between his arm and chest, inclining his head respectfully to Theodane before walking out of the tent, he noticed that Jonathan and the rest of the veterans were all sitting around a single campfire with a large chunk of meat being roasted above the dancing flames. Time for breakfast. Khaiden approached the group and sat himself down alongside Jonathan whom apparently held a free spot for him, passing Khaiden a piece of the meat. ”How come you didn't tell me you were a sergeant?” Jonathan asked, Khaiden took a moment to reply, taking a bite out of the piece of meat first and eating it slowly till he swallowed. ”It was no importance, In the end I am still a soldier than a sergeant. I serve my King and people, that's all that matters.” Khaiden answered, keeping a rather stoic posture as he answered, not immediately wishing to reveal his emotions behind the question. This however caused Laurent to raise his voice in disagreement.
”While I agree as to why, Khaiden. You're a sergeant if you want it or not. This man, carried two of his comrades for an entire mile on his back after escaping a bandit hideout, reaching the nearest town and then alongside the local authorities launched an attack without the captain's orders, rescuing a handful of citizens in the act. If it wasn't for him, they may have all died eventually. Hardly just a soldier.” Laurent spoke out loud, most of the veterans around him nodded in agreement to what was said, Jonathan looked to Khaiden quite impressed. ”We all have done our share of deeds, I recall that you Laurent, once rescued a little girl out of a burning farmhouse and Delrond here once infiltrated a pirate ship, dragging out the captain in the thick of night as if it was nobody's business. If it was up to me. You all would've been knighted by the King himself for your acts and years of service. Besides.. I should've saved more.” Khaiden answered, slipping into a vague muttering at the end of his sentence. ”Could you tell what happened?” Jonathan shoved abit closer, now other recruits seemed to be gathering around the campfire as well, quite eager to listen to the stories of the more veteran soldiers, out of pure interest and curiosity or in the hopes to learn something. Khaiden grinned a little at Jonathan's question, he was expecting it anyway. ”Very well, if you insist.” Khaiden answered as he stared to his helmet that laid in front of him, the flames reflecting onto the helmet's surface as Khaiden thought about his mission of several months ago, the helmet itself providing him with flashbacks of what happened.
”Me alongside some of the other soldiers were assigned to patrol in between Shornhelm and Northpoint, making sure that the trade caravans and merchants would reach their destination safely, Eventually we came across a broken cart and a man doing his best to get the wheel that fell up from the ground. So we stopped our patrol to help him out, I was a fool not to suspicious.. Some of us didn't even have the chance to reach for their weapons. Out of the bushes and surrounding tree line came a dozen of bandits, armed to the teeth. It was a massacre.. Only myself and three others were left more wounded than alive and captured, they thought we would have more knowledge on weapon or gold transports. Unfortunately for us, we didn't.. One by one my comrades got tortured for information we simply did not possess, some even lied just to make it easier. When it was finally my turn for negotiating and the torture. The eight showed mercy but in a poor form. The bandits had raided and captured a trading caravan, dragging the men and women into their hide-out. The men and boys.. Were killed or killed each other for the bandit's entertainment right where they were dragged. When life is at stake, people truly turn to animals.” Khaiden story was suddenly interrupted when Jonathan spoke up. ”What of the women?” He asked Khaiden whom turned his head to the young man, his expression saddened. ”Sometimes Jonathan, Ignorance is bliss.” Khaiden answered briefly, Jonathan realized why Khaiden did, immediately figuring what the fate of these women would've been among dozen of men. ”Eventually the bandits were going to divide the loot, this ended in two of them getting into a fist fight because they accused each other of holding more back than their share. During this fight, one of them lost the key to our handcuffs. I quickly put my feet over it to keep it hidden. When the two were pulled off each other and the loot was divided among the bandits. They went to their beds. So I took the key and unchained myself and my comrades and made an attempt to escape the cave the bandits called home. Everything went well, a bit too well if you'd ask me but just when we reached the cave entrance. One of the patrolling bandit archers noticed us. So with the bit of strength that we had left. We began to ran as fast as we would, one of my wounded comrades who had been tortured the most leaned upon my shoulder for most of the run and then it happened. Uthard Wooding was struck by an arrow in the back of his leg, As a deer in the hunt. We tried to get him back onto his feet but he refused to go on any further, telling us go ahead without him, he would cover our retreat. At first we refused but there is no arguing with a man who's mind is set. I still can hear the clashing of swords in my head as we left him, He died a hero's death and forever has my dying gratitude. After a mile we reached a settlement which was a few miles from Shornhelm. Thus alongside some brave guards, I made my way back, leaving my wounded friends in the inn where they would be taken care of. At dawn. We had infiltrated the bandit's hide-out and killed any of them in our wake. Leaving none for the prison and rescuing the handful of women still breathing. At the end of the fight I was not without wounds, and if it wasn't for my helmet I probably wouldn't even be sitting here. So when Captain Greenford heard the news, he put me alongside the two wounded comrades on inactive. Giving me a few months to recover from my wounds until a new assignment could be given. Bringing me here.” Khaiden finished his story with a brief nod, followed by another bite of the piece of meat in his hands. ”Well, we'll show these Reach men scum their mistake in raid-.. Urgh!..” A soldier said from the back when suddenly an arrow flew past the group and right into the soldier's chest, catching everyone off caught. Quickly they looked up to the mountain as the soldiers reached for their weaponry, it appeared that their fear had come true, the Reach men truly were bold enough to attempt a third attack. From behind the big rocks arrows were sent into the sky, striking down into the soldier's camp. Killing panicked veterans and recruits where they stood. The screams of the men were silenced under the loud echo of one of the alarm horns. ”The reach men are upon us!.. Get into position!.. Slaughter these savages where they stand!.. Laurent, Khaiden!.. Take half of the men and form a shield wall! The others, follow my lead!..” Theodane's yelled as the captain ran into the center of the camp with his sword, beckoning a few of the veteran soldiers with him. Khaiden and the rest immediately followed the orders and ran in a large group to the foot of the mountain, there was only one passage down and up due a wide opening in between two gigantic rocks or the reach men had to make their way through the thick tree lines, cliffs and other obstacles like the barricades the men had already put around the camp as result of the last attack. As quickly as they could the soldiers began to lock their shields into each other, forming a thick line in front of the passage. Jonathan had placed himself beside Khaiden whom stood with Laurent in the middle. He was easily noticeable due the plum on his helmet that sticked out of the heads of his comrades. Jonathan gasped when he roughly thirty reach men make their way down the mountain and into the passage to execute a direct assault upon the soldier group down below.
”Stand fast men and fear no death!.. This is what you've signed up! Whatever these savages will throw at you, remember that lovely girl back home for whom you stand here today, to impress her! To prove you're more than normal men! Each of us is ten times one of them! Make your king proud!” Khaiden shouted to the men around him, he could see the legs of the new recruits and some veterans alike shake with panicked faces, for what was about to come. ”Jonathan.. Stay close to me and do whatever I tell you to. When this line breaks within a few seconds. There'll be mayhem, there'll be screams and blood. There will certainly be death but you'll not be among them but whatever you do. Do not slip from my side or retreat.” Khaiden whispered to Jonathan whom was shaking next to him. ”Of course.. Kha-.. Sergeant.” Jonathan answered with a stutter. He could hear something drip and moisten the ground beneath him, noticing the recruit next to him could not help but to wet himself and who could blame him. It was as if time itself was slowed and everyone turned silent for a moment, only the sound of panting and breathing could be heard within the group of soldier's as well as a silent prayer here and there while they wanted for the charging group of Reach men to draw closer. ”On my mark men!.. Tilt your shield and crush them underneath your feet. We'll batter them into the ground under a line of steel. “ Theodane yelled, he and the other veterans had formed a shield wall alongside Khaiden's, completely closing the passage entrance off. ”Now!.. Forward!..” Theodane yelled as he was the first to charge with shield up, the men following his example one by one as Khaiden and the other veterans pointed their swords forward through the gaps of the shield wall. Spreading the signal to all. Surprised by the sudden change of tactics of the soldiers, the Reach men stopped their charge in the hope to catch the now charging soldiers up but their first line got battered by the sea of shields which eventually broke the further they went, the battle now turned into a close quarter friend, man against man. Both on top of the rocks as well as in every corner of the pass leading into the mountain. You could see Covenant soldiers battling the Reach men. Blood being shed on both sides as good men were struck by the savages weapons. Khaiden pushed through with Laurent, Jonathan right behind them though eventually Laurent and Khaiden were forced to split when they met blades with four other reach men. One of them charging past Khaiden to Jonathan, Jonathan screamed when the reach man in front of him sliced his sword through the stomach of a soldier that tried to get in between. The soldier's guts slipping out of the wound and onto the ground. ”Die!..” Jonathan shouted, attacking the reach man.
Jonathan managed to slice his sword over the reach man's right shoulder but this left his defense right open. His opponent tilted his heavy gauntlet and punched Jonathan right underneath his jaw. Jonathan flew at least a feet back just by the heavy impact and landed on his chest, his sword falling onto the ground in front of him. Quickly he tried to crawl towards it but was stopped when the Reach man grabbed Jonathan at his feet and began dragging the young man back. Other reach men covering them off. As best as he could through the screams and clashing of weaponry Jonathan yelled for Khaiden whom was fighting a reach man just a few feet away. After killing the reach man by jabbing his sword multiple times into his chest Khaiden turned his head quickly toward the direction of the scream and noticed Jonathan being pulled over the blood stained ground. ”Laurent!.. Keep them off me!” Khaiden yelled to his friend whom just finished off another one. Together they tried to make their way to Jonathan whom got dragged further up the passage bit by bit. Though despite their effort. They couldn't get through the remaining crowd of reach men which apparently were retreating. Fending off the soldiers the best they could for the majority to flee in the mountains. From in between Khaiden and Laurent, Bo sprinted forward with revealed teeth after Jonathan. Jumping to the reach man and bitting in his leg in an attempt to free Jonathan but was shook off by the big man. Once more she tried but this time bit into Jonathan's cape and began to pull. This time though another reach man kicked Bo into her stomach and against the rocks. Forcing the poor dog to let go off Jonathan as his cloak ripped.
After a few more minutes of fighting, the majority of the reach men successfully managed to retreat within the mountains, leaving those that were left to be cut down by the remaining soldiers, silencing the clashing of steel. Covered in blood and exhausted by the fight Khaiden fell on his knees to take some rest. ”They took him.. ” he whispered, hope slowly sinking in his shoes. ”Don't declare him dead just yet Khaiden, and he is not the only one whom is taken. We're still missing five more among us and the dead.” Laurent said while walking up to his friend, patting Khaiden onto his shoulder, reaching out his flask as well, but Khaiden shook his head briefly and got up from the ground. ”Look.” Laurent added, pointing to Bo whom came running up to them with the ripped piece of Jonathan's cloak in her mouth, she got on two legs when she reached Khaiden, holding her front paws against Khaiden's legs as she poked up her head with the clothe. ”Jonathan's cloak.. Good girl, very good girl.” Khaiden said immediately, this would grant them the chance to actually track the reach men down to their camp within the mountains and take care of them, once and for all. Hopefully freeing their captured companions as result. Khaiden and Laurent made their way to Theodane whom was counting their losses as the remaining soldiers were dragging their fallen comrades into the camp, loading their bodies into the carts with care. ”I knew it.. So much death. This can't continue much longer!..” Theodane yelled out of frustration just by the sight of what was left of the battle. ”It doesn't have to continue. We found a piece of Jonathan's cloak. We can track them down, rescue our men and strike them in their heart. Captain.” Theodane looked over to the piece of cloth in Khaiden's hand and pulled it out from in between his fingers. ”Bloody curses, so they have my men and the boy.. We've lost a dozen men and many of us are tired. Luck is not on our side today.. Rally men. I'll stab my sword through their heart once and for all. I refuse to retire with such an ending on my last mission.” Theodane said, passing the cloth back to Khaiden whom nodded firmly. Within a few minutes the men were gathered, following Bo whom was trying her best to follow Jonathan's scent, using the piece of cloth to help her.
Bo's nose proved to be reliable, within an hour Theodane brought their march to a halt, up ahead there were two reach men archers patrolling the entrance of a ruined tower which was build into the mountain. The men took shelter behind the various boulders that laid scattered all over the mountain surface or behind formed cliffs. On Theodane's signal, four soldiers armed with crossbows stepped out of their cover and fired two arrows to each of the reach men archers. Killing them off quick and silently. One by one the soldiers marched up to the tower in the hope not to be spotted. The sun shimmering onto their armors. After entering the ruined tower they noticed it contained a passage through the mountain and eventually led into a old dusty hall with a big door at the end. ”Alright men, take a moment to rest.” Theodane said as he looked around until he was beckoned over by Khaiden whom stood on top of a crate in order to look out a small gap in the wall where sunshine shone through. ”You probably want to see this yourself, Sir.” Khaiden said, stepping off the crate to make room for Theodane. ”No wonder we failed to find these bastards..” Theodane muttered as he looked through the gap, apparently they found themselves in an old keep entrance that led into a small canyon within the mountain itself. The reach men had turned the ruin into a village with huts, animal stocks and even a shrine made out of animal bones. ”This'll not be easy, where there is a shrine there is probably one of those Hagraven witches or two as well..” Theodane stepped off the crate and unsheathed his sword from its scabbard, standing in front of the door that would lead into the canyon's valley. ”Look alive men, I know we're tired, exhausted even. These past few days we've lost exactly thirty-seven men due to the reach men raids. Thirty-seven men whom defended their post to the last breath because they knew that if the reach men would get through. It would be at the cost of innocent citizens. Your families and friends. Men, I'll spare you a speech, because you're the bravest men I've served with. If I fall or live today, it'll be my last mission but I can sleep well at night, knowing I'll be defended from these savages by you, my comrades, my friends. So without further interruption. Lets avenge the brave thirty-seven and rescue our men! We'll go now, to our bloody business!..” Theodane said, his voice becoming louder with each word he spoke and when he reached the end, he tilted his helmet on top of his head. Shouting a battle cry and kicked against the oaken door behind him, breaching into the valley. Joined by the Khaiden, Laurent and the steel and shouts of his men. ”Khaiden!.. Find Jonathan and our men!.. We'll sent these rats into oblivion! For the king, lads!.. Charge!..” Theodane shouted from the front of the charging millitary group, their armors shimmering in the sun as the ground shook underneath their feet. From the back the Gryphon flag of the covenant waved triumphantly. Khaiden nodded to Theodane when he heard his orders and as soon as Theodane and the first line of men collapsed with the reach men whom turned to defend their village, Khaiden broke formation and ran further into the village from the side, the majority of the reach men's attention was caught by the soldiers whom were cutting their way through the middle.
Cloaked under the mayhem of the battle, Khaiden searched through the huts he came across, striking down the occasional reach man that sought to stop him. Eventually he heard a familiar voice shouting. ”I'll have your head you big oaf!..” Jonathan yelled from a few huts further. As quickly as he could Khaiden made his way to the hunt he assumed the shout came from and carefully peeked inside where he saw Jonathan and the other soldiers tied up in a row, the large reach man whom captured Jonathan in front of them. Leaning closer to Jonathan and gave the young man a punch against his cheek. As Jonathan spitted out some blood from his mouth onto the ground he noticed Khaiden peering into the tent and saw how Khaiden made a motion with his hand, then pointed to the big reach man. Instructing Jonathan to distract the man. ”Is that all you got?.. You hit like a old lady!..” Jonathan said to the reach man, once more he spat, but this time in the reach man's face. Angered the reach man wiped his face and reached for the club on his belt, raising it to give Jonathan's face a overhaul. He was stopped when Khaiden drove his sword from the reach man's back, right into the heart and out from the chest when the weapon was raised. ”Take someone of your own size..” Khaiden muttered, pushing the reach man to the side as his sword slipped out the corpse. Quickly Khaiden cut his comrades loose, starting with Jonathan and then the five other soldiers. ”By the eight, I thought we were done for.” Jonathan said as Khaiden untied him and helped him up, giving Jonathan his sword and scabbard which Khaiden had attached to his own. ”Not yet, boy, not yet. Though there is no time to lose. Theodane may need some extra swords.” Khaiden answered rapidly before leaving the hut with Jonathan and the soldiers, as they made their way to the majority of their men the five soldiers armed themselves with weaponry of fallen comrades or reach men. Joining their comrades.
The battle waged for half an hour or more, all of a sudden through the thick of battle Khaiden could hear Laurent shout for him as Laurent slit the throat of his opponent, pointing the blood stained sword into the direction of a Hagraven whom appeared from behind the remaining reach men, within her hands a fiery red glow appeared. ”Fireball!.. Seek cover!..” Khaiden yelled as hard as he possible could, running toward Jonathan and grabbing the young man, immediately dragging him behind a stone pillar. While doing so Khaiden saw how Theodane grabbed the spear of a fallen soldier from the ground and threw it in between the fighting men while the others sought cover as well. Striking the Hagraven in her stomach though before she would collapse to the ground she unleashed the fireball from her grasp, launching it into a random direction which happened to be right into the canyon's cliff, causing forth a explosion as the boulders and rock surface it smashed into shattered on impact, hurling rocks down into the reach men camp. Khaiden tilted his shield, reflecting a few pieces of the rocks that flew around when the big rocks fell into the valley, Eventually everything turned quiet and the dirty smoke that was created by the rock fall cleared. Khaiden carefully looked over the edge of his shield before standing back up with Jonathan to witness what was left of the fray. Rocks were scattered all over the valley, huts and men crushed underneath them or struck by smaller stones. It appeared however that only a few of the soldiers were injured during the rain of boulders, roughly between the thirty and twenty comrades still standing. ”Look for any survivors!.. We'll leave no men behind!” Khaiden shouted as he and Jonathan began to assist the others by checking the fallen soldiers and helping up the wounded. ”The captain is struck!..” One of the men shouted, this immediately grabbed the attention of the remaining soldiers, making a way to the shouting soldier to witness the Captain laying on a pile of crushed wood, a wooden spike sticking out of his chest on which he apparently fell on during the explosion. Blood pouring forth from the wound, it truly did look dire.
Khaiden pushed himself through the men in order to get close to Theodane and knelt down in front of the man, reaching for him in order to help. ”You'll be alright, Captain. We'll bring you home..” Khaiden said quietly as he tried to get Theodane off the pike with the help of another soldier but was stopped when Theodane groaned heavily and put his hand against Khaiden's shoulder, shaking his head. ”Don't you start lying to me now, Khaiden. We both know I won't.. Did you see the face of that Hagraven witch when I struck her down?” Theodane muttered with a chuckle, though began to cough up more blood when he tried. Khaiden smiled at the man though his words struck like lightning, a tear rolling over Khaiden's cheek, quickly stroking it away while he nodded firmly. ”I still had it in me, after all these years.. Please, Get me the banner..” Theodane added, reaching out his hand as the banner man ran up to him and struck the banner into the ground for Theodane to grab. The dying man looked to the waving flag briefly before turning his attention to his men whom all seemed to be struck by what they witnessed. ”Promise me, that you'll tell me wife I love her and tell my son.. Nn.. That he has made me proud, give him my sword.. And tell them, I'm sorry for leaving them..”, ”I'll, captain.. I promise.” Khaiden replied quickly to his words, carefully taking Theodane's sword from the ground alongside its scabbard, passing it to Laurent. ”Spare me the formalities, We're soldiers, damnit.. Men, before I go.. It was an honor to serve with every and single one of you, not as your Captain, not as your comrade. But as your friend.. You all deserve long and happy lives in peace..” Theodane said with his last breath before passing from this world, his hand slipping down from the banner's pole.
”Get him off that damn pike and take his body to the camp.. Each of them!..” Khaiden shouted to the men, his eyes turned a bit red as he struggled to keep his emotions inside. He walked up to Jonathan whom stood had made his way back and was now sitting at the gate they breached. Looking how some of the soldiers began picking up their fallen friends, blood and guts decorated the fray with the fallen rocks. Proud and strong men, laid like broken husks as the sun slowly began disappear. The entire valley smelled of death and despair. Some of the soldiers even stood or sat around crying as they realized their friends or even brothers had fallen by enemies hand. Such in the nature of battle. Men's best to do men's worst. ”Now you can tell me, Jonathan.. Do the tales and songs you hear at the noble courts, live up to what you've witnessed today.. Or are they nothing in comparison what these men deserve for their sacrifice.” Khaiden said, looking over to Jonathan whom just stared out in front of him. ”They're nothing, Khaiden. You were right. Forgive me for my ignorance.” Jonathan said as he got up, his armor stained on blood. Khaiden placed his hand briefly onto Jonathan's shoulder, taking off his own helmet with his remaining hand. ”Don't ask for forgiveness, but use what you've learned. To become to man you need to be. Make us proud, boy.” Khaiden replied as he smiled to Jonathan before he began to help his comrades with the fallen, Jonathan joining him too. After all, he was part of them now.
When the night settled, they managed to bring all of their fallen back to the camp and load them in the empty carts, covering the bodies with their cloaks. So they could be taken to Evermore for proper burial. That night the men sat around a big campfire, collecting their memories and sharing stories, mostly of missions or moments they had with comrades whom where no longer among them to celebrate their memory. One of the soldier's took forth a lute from underneath his cloak and began to play a tune as the others kept on drinking, eventually breaking into a song dedicated to Theodane.
”Captain Greenford took the field.
With his men as hard as steel,
And we forced the cursed reach men to flee.
Before the swords were stilled.
There were many dozen killed.
There will be many girls sad tonight.
When the smoke had cleared.
It was just as we had feared.
Captain Greenford laid wounded on the ground.
With his head upon my knee.
There he met eternity.
I proudly closed his eyes and then I cried.
Its whiskey in the mornin', whiskey in the night.
Another Breton soldier, has fought his final fight
We'll toast him till were drunk Boys, and dowse the candle light
Tell them Captain Greenford, is comin' home tonight.”
He began to sang, one by one the others joined in on the chorus.
”We'll take his body home.
And the drums and pipes shall drone.
As we pull a fine white casket through the streets.
And tell his grievin' wife.
That he loved her more than life.
And give to his young son his father's sword.
Now the people, they all dream.
Of an Highrock free and green.
Where nowhere can be heard the battle-cry.
The fighting's gone too long.
And it just drags on and on.
I'd like to know some peace before I die.
Its whiskey in the mornin', whiskey in the night.
Another Breton soldier, has fought his final fight.
We'll toast him till were drunk Boys, and dowse the candle light.
Tell them Captain Greenford, is comin' home tonight..”
They sang till deep into the night until their flasks ran empty and each of them fell asleep next to the campfire. The next morning the soldiers prepared to leave, Laurent and the rest would head toward Evermore with the remains of the soldiers while Khaiden and Jonathan would make their way back to the Locksley's estate to inform them of what happened to bring Jonathan home safely as was the deal the Captain and Lord Bedore made. Within two days Jonathan and Khaiden finally reached the estate and were warmly welcomed with surprise when Jonathan greeted the guards in a polite and respectful manner as they rode through the gate. Bedore ran out of the big estate when Jonathan climbed out of his saddle. ”By the eight!.. You're back. I hope that Greenford kept him to his word?” Bedore asked the two excited about his son's safe return from their adventure. ”That he did, father. Though it with great pain, that I have to inform you that Captain Greenford is no longer among us. He fell in battle, a heroic death worthy of the man himself.” Jonathan informed his father as he inclined his head to his father before turning to smile at Khaiden, whom nodded at him rather proudly. ”I've learned a lot during my company with these men, father and I promise. I'll make you and them proud when I shall begin my journey to Knighthood.” Jonathan added. ”Oh my.. You sure have, as for my dear friend Theodane. I shall write his family a letter immediately with my sincere condolences and lit a candle in the chapel in his loving memory.. As for you, Khaiden. You held yourself to your end of our agreement and brought my son back home safely and as a changed man I may add. Allow me to hold myself to mine.: Belore answered, taking the news of his friend quite heavy though at the same time was happy to witness his son's behavior toward it. He raised his hand and beckoned to one of the servants. A moment later the stable hand came running up to them from behind the Estate, holding the reins of the white stallion, a white cloth with blue stripes covering the magnificent animal's body.
”She is yours, I took the liberty to add one of our own saddles, as well as the covenant colors. Worthy of a soldier like yourself. Please, do me the honors.” Belore said while Khaiden got off Brista's back and walked up to the white stallion, gently stroking over its mane before carefully climbing onto its back. ”Do you have a name for her yet, Khaiden?” Jonathan asked excitedly. For a moment Khaiden pondered before answering him. ”Fate.. That'll be her name.”, ”Oh!.. That does suit her! What will you do now though, Khaiden? You're free to stay with Jonathan until he starts his lessons as a squire. Perhaps you could teach him more till then.” Belore asked Khaiden, tilting his hand to cover his eyes from the sun since he had to look up to the man on the horse. ”Ha, As much as I would enjoy that. Good Belore. I plan to ride for Shornhelm to attend the Captain's funeral and to take care of some unfinished matters. If you do not mind, of course.” Khaiden rode up to Brista whom had Bo still on her back and grabbed the reins to guide her. ”Of course not, my boy. Our doors will always be open to you and your dog! May the eight guide you!” Belore yelled as he and Jonathan waved Khaiden farewell, watching him ride out of the gate.
”Khaiden!.. Wait up!” Khaiden could hear Jonathan yell from behind him when he was about to ride off, turning his head he saw Jonathan running through the gate. ”Hm?.. What is it Jonathan? Left something?” He asked the young man, turning the horse. ”No no, I just wanted to give you one more thing before you go.” Jonathan said, taking off a ring from his finger and tossed it up to Khaiden whom managed to catch it just in time, holding the ring in between two fingers. The ring itself had a silver coating over it, at the top a horse head was carved. ”Thank you, its beautiful. Unfortunately I have nothing to return as for now.” Khaiden replied as he carefully slid the ring around his right hand's ring finger, fitting it over the gauntlet. ”Just promise me you'll be there at my knighting ceremony!” Jonathan yelled with a grin. Khaiden nodded immediately. ”You have my word, be well and make us proud boy!” And that were his final words to Jonathan before Khaiden rode off into the direction of Shornhelm, to attend the funeral of his friend and Captain and continue his journey in service of Highrock and its people.
The end. Chapter 1.