Category: Not Just Another Revolution

The wind howled as if in anger, bending the thick, lush grass of the valley. The sun beamed down, which made the grass warm and allowed the trees to cast shadows. In the shadows of the trees were the twins Trystan and Syam, on either side of the wood. They were scouts for Prince Merrick, peering into their spyglasses every so often. The face of Trystan read fear with each glance in his spyglass. He looked beside him, Syam held his ground and his face unreadable.

“How can you be so calm, brother?”

Syam looked over, “I’m not. But the prince is correct about liberty. He gives me hope.”

“Hope or not, look at them,” he motioned to across the valley.

Continue reading

Chapter Four:
The Lines Have Been Drawn

    “Good shot!” Yves exclaimed.

Ethelwulf grunted his approval as he lowered his bow. Yves and Ethewulf have been in an archery contest for the last hour, as the sun slowly rose into a full morning. Yves went to retrieve another arrow from her quiver and felt nothing. She cursed under her breath.

Prince Merrick arrived to the small archery range at the edge of the village; he held a quiver of freshly made arrows. The prince glanced at the target range, which was littered with arrows. His eyebrows raised and lowered in a spoiled surprised sort of way. He held the quiver out to Yves.

“What’s this?” she inquired.

The prince smiled, “Freshly made arrows, metal tipped.”

Yves’ jaw dropped, “For me?”

Continue reading

  Chapter Three
The Order of The Knights of The Last Days

   The sun hung over the horizon as the ship bobbed up and down over the waves. The crew of the ship were Order of the Knights of The Last Days, hurrying themselves to keep the ship in good shape as the port town grew larger with each bob. Gazing in the distance with his piercing green eyes, Captain Romulus listened half interested as a solider read from a torn and tattered atlas about the town they were racing towards. He pulled his shaggy red hair from his face as the wind blew hard against him. The salty smell invaded his nostrils, but he stood there, unaffected. His eyes remained on the port town.
  The solider squinted to read the handwritten print against the light glow of the setting sun. He spoke in a dull, monotone voice, “It says the town is called Korinthos, once a booming port town before the disasters.”

  “Anything else?”

  He nodded, “Yes, Captain. Korinthos was the heart of trade for the kingdom of Hazar-Shual, a now fallen kingdom. Since the disasters and the fall of its empire, it is now a den for thieves and black market sells.”

  As the sun finally set, Romulus smiled to himself, “I’m sure we’ll be welcomed with open arms.”

  The chill of the night was heavy tonight. After being weeks out on sea, the ship finally made port. The thieves lurked in the shadows as the beggars grew silent. The sight of the Knights making port was a new sight to the torn down town of Korinthos. One of the thieves in the shadows looked over at his friend. Beads of sweat formed above his brow, his breathing became heavy. His friend put his hand over his mouth, in fear that they could get caught by the legendary Knights.

  “I knew there was a Knight outpost outside of town,” he whispered to his friend, “But I thought I’d never see the day when it would be used.”

  His nervous friend nodded silently. Suddenly his eyes grew wide and he pointed franticly. His friend peered out onto the boat and his eyes widen.

  Coming off the ship was the tall officer, with shaggy red hair, and piercing green eyes. His fellow Knights stopped what they were doing to salute their captain. Ten years ago Captain Romulus promised himself he would never come back to his homeland. He sniffed the air; the salty smell of the sea filled his nostrils. He bent his toes to feel the steady and firm flat port and he relaxed.

  This isn’t home, he thought to himself, No this town is filled with scum worse than filthy mages.

  “Captain Romulus, sir,” inquired the young Knight from the ship. Being on land gave him a more ranged voice. He saluted his superior and Romulus acknowledged him. “All of the cargo and crew is accounted for. The outpost is holding information just for you, sir. We move out on your orders.”

  “Well then,” he spoke in the accent of the land, “Let’s not keep our fellow Knights waiting. We leave for the outpost now.”

  “As you wish, sir.”

  The young Knight blew his whistle to alert the Knights to follow their Captain. Romulus scanned the port one last time; the moon kissed the town in a romantic setting tonight. Doubtful, he thought. I can smell the sulfuric aftermath of magic.
Romulus was met at the end of the dock by a square jawed middle aged man with clean cut chestnut brown hair and beady brown eyes that seemed to be placed between a continuous row of crows’ feat.
  Lieutenant Aleron didn’t bother saluting Captain Romulus, instead kept his arms clasped behind his back and feet apart; and the Captain didn’t either. The two locked eyes and walked in sync with each other. A silent grudge was sensed by those whom they passed. Behind the two officers two small lines formed, one behind the Captain and one behind the Lieutenant. A total of sixteen soldiers marched behind two commanding officers.

  “How does it feel to return home, Captain?” whispered Aleron in his guttural voice.

  Romulus glared at him, “This is not my home.”

  “You know it is, Romulus. It haunts you more than any other secret,” Aleron chuckled to himself in a wheezy laugh.

  “If anyone should know about haunting secrets it’s you, Aleron.”

  “Yes, but no soul alive knows what they are.”

  “Except for you.”

  Aleron gave that eerie chuckle again, “As I said, Captain, no soul alive knows.”

  Captain Romulus kept his eyes away from the Lieutenant. There were whispers while on the ship that Aleron was trying to conduct magic, but Romulus ignored the accusations. Now that he was on land he could see how easy those accusations could come up, and how possible they might be right.

  Romulus headed his legion down the gravel road that was to lead the way to the nearest outpost where the Order of the Knights of the Last Days rallied information to one another and were able to spend the night if need be. Romulus himself was anxious to be able to take a bath and a change of armor.

  The Knights exited the port town and could see the villa that is the outpost in the near distance. Romulus thought to himself what noble family once lived in that villa before the disasters. It didn’t matter to him, the strongest were surviving and by far the strongest were the Order, especially the ones able enough to withstand his and Aleron’s training.

  The sound of waves crashing slowly subdued as the legion grew closer to the walled in villa. The air filled with the squeak of armor and heavy footsteps. In the distance, torches sparsely decorated the wall. The wind grew still on this road, making the silence near deafening. Aleron walked with his head slightly bowed and hands clasped together in front of him. Romulus occasionally stole glances at him to see if he was even awake or just sleep walking.

  They finally reached the iron barred gate, and were greeted by a fellow Knight. In the darkness he looked young, like a fresh recruit. The gatekeeper silently scanned their mass and gave a nod, without saying a word then called for the gate to be open. His voice was deeper, much deeper, than Romulus expected.

  The iron barred gate groaned as two other Knights slowly opened the heavy gate from the inside for Captain Romulus and his men. When the gate came to a silent halt, the legion marched forward inside the walls of the Knights outpost. The fresh scent of a rose garden rose thick in the air here, as a presence of tranquility washed over Romulus for the first time in weeks.

  Lanterns hung from the front of the villa and ran down the opposite sides of the wall, aiding the moonlight to give off a near colorless scene. Romulus and Aleron led the men, who held a controlled anxiousness to rest, closer to the outpost when the two front doors opened. The two officers stopped in midstride, causing their soldiers to nearly run into each other.

  From inside emerged a fellow commanding officer, as Romulus expected. However, this wasn’t some regional Captain or even a Lieutenant; it was someone of much higher rank and influence. Just by the poise of his strides and intimidating posture when he finally stopped a few meters from the group. His armor had a certain gleam to it, as if newly forged, which provided a light of radiance on his olive complexion. His hair was shaggy and lengthy, not too dissimilar to Captain Romulus, with the exception his hair was parted to one side. It was said that he parted his hair to cover up a gruesome scar that never healed. His cold eyes casted shivers down the young soldiers’ spine, even in the dark.

  Captain Romulus saluted his superior, “General Khan, we come from the mainland to receive information on the supposed uprising.”

  The General held his stance, yet his voice held icy venom, “The uprising is no threat, Captain Romulus.”

  Romulus tried not to shiver as the General spoke his name. The Captain remained silent as the General turned his back and spoke, without turning around, “You and your men need rest.”

 A soldier from behind Romulus spoke foolishly, “But you said the uprising was no threat.”

  The General didn’t even break stride when he turned himself around and walked right up to the solider. The Captain barely had time to evade the General. The young soldier felt himself grow cold inside, out of pure fear when he saw the dark eyes of General Khan, “I said the uprising is no threat. This is not a simple uprising; this is a revolution.”

 Chapter Two:
Royal Rouges

   Her eyes widen as from one side a band of bandits ambushed them. They had on heavy fur, like mountain men; their skin had a pale, olive complexion and each of their eyes read terror to Yves. The archer dropped from the tree, with a sly grin on his face.
  Someone emerged from behind the large bandits, a lean man with a long goatee and menacing black eyes. Physically he wasn’t as impressive as his larger brethren, but his look was fierce and commanding. A faint scar was carved on his forehead, a single letter—‘M’.  It was the mark that the Order branded on mages.
  This rouge mage circled around the cowering trio, as the lanky archer held his arrow directly at Yves, the only one who was armed. The mage wasn’t in heavy furs like the others; he was in an elegant, purple robe. His long, slender fingers stroke his goatee as he watched them closely.
  He spoke in a strange dialect that Yves couldn’t figure out, “You know who we are?”
  Syam swallowed the lump in his throat, “B-Bandits.”
  The mere word made the group laugh. Their leader spoke with his sharp canines shown, “We are more than simple bandits, boy. We are raiders,” he reached for Yves’ short bow. She quickly retracted her hand. His menacing eyes narrowed, “That’s a nice bow, girl. What’s an innocent maiden doing with a weapon like that?”

  Yves looked him in the eyes; she tried to keep herself courageous. “It’s my bow. So, let us pass you thieving dogs.”
  The twins casted a questionable and uneasy look at Yves. The leader smacked Yves across her face, the sound echoing off in the air. Yves stumbled back into Trystan, who caught her. She looked up, an angry red imprint formed on her face. The sound of swords being pulled out of sheathes filled the air. The three huddled together, frightened. None of them could form a scream or a call for help, if there was any.
  The mage shook his head with a cocky grin, “To think I promised myself this morning I’d go the day without killing anyone.” He tilted his head and placed his hand on his chin, “Then again I could just have my band of brothers here do all the work and I wouldn’t break my promise. You boys don’t mind having all the fun, do you?”

  With their weapons raised, a cheer filled the air in unison. A call for cold blood. Fear gripped the young trio as they remained huddled. Yves kept her eyes on the mage, waiting for him to give the signal.
 However, his eyes betrayed him and he became focused on something behind the three. Yves was brave enough to look back and see the archer trying to gasp for air. An arrow was sticking out from his neck! After the blood spat out of his mouth, the lanky archer fell to his knees and then his body hit the ground.

  The mage’s jaw dropped open, “How in the—“

  He was cut off when Yves took the rope with the rocks that the twins made out of her robe and smashed one of the ends at his head, as hard as she could. Sadly that was only able to make the mage stumble back into the arms of one of his brethren. Before he could react, a new horde emerged from the dark forest.
 The twins and Yves were trapped; one on side is the runaway mage and his collection of bandits. On the other side is a small motley crew, led by two strange men. One was a bulky mountain of a man dressed in light armor, his chest plate shown a paw on the crest and held a long bow; the other was a lean, shorter handsome man. His short-medium length black hair was straight, and he wore no armor, except for two steel wrist bands that engulfed his forearms. Yves felt some sort of comfort as she gazed at his radiant gray eyes. The lean man stepped toward them and drew his sword.
  The entire sword gave a golden gleam, with a wolf’s head on either side of the blade handle. He took one last step as the bandits kept their eyes on them. Yves was the only one able to watch, as the twins cowered under her.
  The handsome stranger spoke with a commanding air in his voice, “Leave now, bandits. Or else.”

  The mage regained his stance and stepped closer to the stranger. Yves noticed that behind the stranger and the bulky knight the motley crew was not impressive in size or in weapons compared to the bandits. They had hoes and sickles; this group was nothing more than a bunch of villagers and farmers! 
  The mage replied, “Or else what? You lost the element of surprise. I can see you now.”
  A grin formed on the stranger’s face, “Did you just accept the ‘or else’ offer?”
  The mage pulled out a ritual dagger, jagged and stained with blood. The sharp canines of the mage gleamed as it was clear the bandits would fight.

  The bandits rushed in as the farmers and villagers rushed right back at them. The bandits were caught off guard, thinking the unimpressive motley crew would disperse with a simple roar. Using the element of surprise, those with sickles cut the heads off the bandits with one fluid motion. The other bandits swung their long swords blindly into the thick. Only a few villagers were struck by the swords, their chest turned crimson.
  The bulky knight placed his longbow down and removed a heavy, spiked mace from his side. He swung the mace, landing a hit in the face of a random bandit.

  The two leaders were circling each other. The mage feinted a stab and the stranger wasn’t being fooled. It was clear this young man was properly trained. Yves was curious as to how. Only the Order of the Knights of the Last Days were trained in this sort of combat. But it was clear he wasn’t a Knight, he was with the commoners.
 When the mage tried to send another fake attack, the stranger sliced through the mage’s abdomen and quickly jerked back. The mage gasped and fell to his knees, trying to hold his entrails from falling out.
  The stranger looked at his own brethren, who were making the large bandits commit a hasty retreat. The mage bellowed in anger and pain. He was being left for dead by his own horde! He doubled over on the ground, the blood slowly pouring out onto the soil.
   The twins slowly looked up and realized they missed the whole scene! Yves kept her eyes on the stranger as he spoke something in a strange language over the body of the mage. He looked back up and walked over to the trio, being closely followed by the large knight. The rest of their group scattered around, relaxing after the skirmish. The stranger stopped right in front of them and gave a small bow.

  “Are you three uninjured?”

  Yves coughed, “Yes, we’re fine. Thank you. If you wouldn’t have shown up those bandits would have had our heads.”

  Syam found his voice, “Who exactly are you?”

  “I am Prince Merrick; this is my trusted companion and loyal bodyguard Ethelwulf.” 
  Yves pieced it together. He was trained in combat because he was royalty, not because he was a Knight! She let out a sigh of a relief. “Where is your kingdom? Are those your royal subjects?” she asked hastily.

  Trystan covered her mouth, “Please excuse her, your highness. We don’t normally have royal visitors, or any visitors.”

  Prince Merrick gave a smile, “It is fine. My kingdom was Hazar-Shual, clear on the other side of the island. My grandfather refused to pay tribute to those rats the Order of the Knights of the Last Days. So they spread rumors and terrorized our main traders on the main lands until my kingdom slowly died off. I was next to become king when the mages tried to come back into power. My father was sacrificed and the castle I grew up in was demolished by some unseen creature. Ethelwulf and I are the last remnants of our kingdom.”
The trio remained silent. So the Prince continued.  “I have a vision. I believe that there can be a world where the people can live in peace amongst each other. No more monarchies, no more mages using dark magic to oppress the masses, no more twisted inventors using war machines to kill slews of defenseless citizens. Let every village live in peace and liberty with one another. That is my vision.”
  Yves was left jaw dropped. The twins looked at each other and blinked. The bodyguard, Ethelwulf, remained silent, his arms crossed. Syam spoke up, “You should come with us to our village and speak to our families. I’m sure a few able men would be more than happy to join your quest.”
  “Yeah, sounds fun,” Trystan said; Syam nodded.
  Prince Merrick casted a playful smile to the twins. “More fun than becoming sloth-like in a large castle, I can assure you. Please, lead the way to your village.”


   The trio led the rest of the horde, headed by Prince Merrick and Ethelwulf, to the entrance of the village. The village wasn’t small, but it wasn’t big enough to be considered a town either. It ran and operated quite well for the limited resources they had.
 The border on the side the group came up to was walled with trees closely tied together. On the other side, Yves and the twins knew, was a platform in which the watchmen stood watch.

  The watchmen, equipped with metal-tipped arrows and long bows, closely watched the unknown group led by the familiar trio. The village of Huldefolk grew silent as the strangers walked to the center of their midst, led by daring maiden Yves.
  From the blacksmith forge the blacksmith emerged, followed by a bald, aged, darkly tanned man in a white robe. Chief Satu was a humble man; the position of leader of the village was bestowed to him when the previous chief died in his sleep. Since then Satu has guided the village of Huldefolk to a degree of prosperity. 
   Satu spoke with great care, “Young Yves, why did you bring outsiders into our village?”
  “Chief Satu,” replied Yves, after rising up. “If it wasn’t for these outsiders Trystan, Syam and I would have been killed by a murderous band of bandits. They saved our lives.”

  A whisper washed over the spectating crowd. Chief Satu looked up at Prince Merrick, their eyes locking. Yves turned to see her father fighting through the crowd to find her. She recognized him with his thick and burly beard. Other than his beard, he was a forgettable character in the throng of villagers, at least to Yves. He embraced her when he finally got through. The twins’ mother, a large woman, broke free and embraced the twins as well.
  Chief Satu broke the silence, “Thank you stranger. You are welcome to stay in our village.”
  Prince Merrick nodded, “Thank you for your hospitality. But I’m afraid my revolutionaries and I must continue our crusade.”
  The Chief’s thin eyebrows raised, “Crusade?”

  “I am Prince Merrick of the fallen kingdom Hazar-Shual. I am leading a crusade against the tyranny of the Order. These men behind me are mere villagers, farmers, fishermen; they are the commoners of the commoners. They believe, with me, that they could be more, that if they stand up to the imperial tyrants and even the dangerous mages and misguided inventors; that their children can live in a land of liberty.”

  Yves’ father motioned to the Prince’s bodyguard, “And what of him? Surely he’s more than just a fisherman.”

  Prince Merrick flashed a coy smile, while the large Ethelwulf remained silent, his arms folded. “A very good observation, sir. No, I’ll have to admit Ethelwulf is not a common man. He comes from a long line of knights in my kingdom, a specific bloodline that almost resembles my own,” Merrick looked up at the towering Ethelwulf, “So close that some might even venture to the conclusion that we are kin.”

  Ethelwulf gave a slight huff of amusement. Prince Merrick looked up at the sky; the sun had lowered greatly since he saved the three young friends. Merrick then looked back at the Chief, “On second thought, Chief Satu, I think my men and I would take you up on the hospitality.”

Chapter One

       Yves slowly emerged from the lake with her arms outstretched. Her lungs expanded with fresh air as she whipped her golden hair free of the water. She walked onto the edge of the lake; her naked, lightly toned skin kissed by the soft breeze. After stealing a glance around, to ensure she’s alone, she ambled to a thick, leafy tree. A single, low hanging branch held a fleece robe. She took the robe and wrapped it around her, it was soft and warm to her body. Yves enjoyed bathing on the outskirts of her simple village, daring to be kidnapped or some other sort of trouble.
  Unlike the other maidens of her village, who worked their charm to get the men to wait on their beck and call, she was drastically different. Yves’s great-grandfather was a leading inventor before the Order of the Knights of The Last Days took over. He was lucky to escape to the island and hide in its lush wilderness; he later came across the village that Yves called home. Coming from that kind of bloodline, she was more adventurous and curious than the others.
  After the fleece robe was firmly tied against her body she grabbed what else was at the base of the tree: her hand strung short bow and sharp, wooden arrows.

  The village had learned the art of metal craft for arrowheads thanks to her grandfather, but no craftsman dared to sell Yves one. She never knew why, maybe they thought a woman with ammunition would be dangerous. She didn’t mind it; there was no real reason to have metal-tip arrows. She always told herself that the Order had no reason to visit the island, and surely not her innocent village of Huldefolk. She and her village were safe, just like her great-grandfather wanted.

  Yves began to walk back to her village when she heard a rustle in the bushes. She shrugged at the noise, thinking to herself it might just be some woodland creature. She kept a slow and steady pace, breathing in the swift and crisp air. A smile came to her face as the clouds parted to allow the sun to break free and shine down on her, the lush grass and to sparkle on the clear lake. 
  To Yves the air was cleaner outside the village, for there weren’t any nightly fire pits that caused clouds of smoke to fill the air. No one else thought of the air was more smoke filled; more reasons for her to think she was different. 
  Just as she went to take a step, she tripped over something she didn’t see. A rope tied at both ends by two small and smooth rocks sprung from the bushes, ran around her ankles and caught her up in a trap. Yves winced as she hit the ground hard. She was stunned for a moment after the fall; when she realized what happened, her eyes shot open.

  Her eyes went to scan the direction the rope came from and stopped right above her, her vision was fuzzy for the moment but she made out two humanesque figures, “And you were such a good hunter.”

  The familiar voice rang into her ears in a teasing manner. Yves forced herself to focus and she slowly made out the smirking faces of her two best friends, the twins Trystan and Syam! She narrowed her eyes while the two squat up and down in front of her, trying to give her motion sickness.

  “Are you going to help me up?” she hissed.

  Trystan or maybe it was Syam, shrugged. She couldn’t tell the two apart while she was on the ground. Or even if she was standing up as the twins were so identical to the point even their mannerisms were the same.

  “Help her up, Syam,” nudged Trystan.

  “After you, my brother.”

  “Oh no, you’re the knight in shiny armor to all the maidens in distress.”

  “But Trystan, you are the distress,” laughed Syam.

  “So Trystan threw the damned thing?” Yves snapped as she began to untie the rope.

  “Yeah, he wanted to see the fairest treasure in all the land,” giggled Syam.

  “Bite it, brother. You did too.”

  “Good thinking, tripping her,” both the twins beamed.

  Yves shook her head and stood up, closely looking at the rope. “You boys did a fine job making this. I’m impressed.”

  “We have no idea how we made it.” Trystan stated.

  “Just like getting dressed?” Yves smirked.

  “Just about,” nodded Syam.

  Yves’ face darkened, “You weren’t watching me, were you?”

  The twins looked at each other, with shocked faces. “We should have done that!” they exclaimed in unison.

  Yves had to chuckle to herself. They were too innocent for their own good. After picking up her bow and quiver of arrows, she smoothed out her robe and motioned the two to follow her back to the village. The trio began to walk the beaten pathway to the village side entrance.
  Yves turned to Trystan, “So you just wanted to hide in the bushes to wait and trip me? And here I thought the brightest minds of our village were solving the complex problems of the realm.”

  He shook his head, his face held no playful joy he did just a few moments ago, “No, your father sent us for you. He wanted you back in the village as soon as possible. A band of bandits were spotted on the outskirts.”

  “You’d think they would stay in hiding from the Order,” Syam croaked.

  Yves sighed, “The Island is a perfect way to hide. It’s disconnected from the main lands with leagues of ocean water with who knows what swimming underneath the surface.”

  Trystan’s eyes widen, “How do we know the Order aren’t the Bandits?” he gulped. “They have weapons and tactics that could rival them. Maybe the Bandits are just the Order of the Knights of the Last Days stationed on the island!”

  “Keep your voice down, brother. If they are the Order, or just simply blood crazed thieves, I surely don’t want to meet them in… a…” Syam trailed off. He looked up at the thick trees, “Anyone else feel uneasy?”

  “Shut up, Syam,” ordered Yves.
  A shiver ran down her spine as her breathing became sporadic. Uneasiness washed over her as she raised her hand to grab an arrow from her quiver. The twins stumbled over uprooted tree roots and their own feet while scanning their surroundings. After a few moments of near silence, with the only sound being the trio’s heavy breathing and faint footsteps filling the air, they slowly relaxed. Yves lowered her hand.

  “I think the village should expand to the lake,” Syam said with a renewed voice of courage.

  “Why? Hudlefolk is fine the way it is,” retorted Yves.

  “It’s a good village,” agreed Syam, “But you love bathing in it and with the waterfall it’s great for drinking, cooking, anything really. That way when the Order decide to let trade come back, we’d be in direct route with all the good traders.”

  “You surely are optimistic,” Yves smiled and then frowned. “But the Order will never let trade come back.”

   Without warning, a swish snapped through the air.