The wind blew at Palderon's face as he approached
the port of A'zael. He slowed the horses pace to a trot, as the magnificent
stone walls grew higher above his head. The moon had begun its ascent
into the dark sky. He was glad he ran into that caravan when he did.
Being able to purchase the horse off them was the best luck he had
Horses were pretty scarce. In fact, usually only the most successful
of merchants had them. There were many left in the wild, but they
had become untamable, almost possessed with the demons that had appeared
around world. It was very hard to breed them also, sometimes the young
would die in the night or they would too be possessed and were killed.
The well-rested horse had taken the weeklong journey on foot and shortened
it to just under three days.
As he got closer, he could see the city gate tightly closed for the
night. As far as Palderon could hear, inside the walls all was silent.
Made sense, he thought, children were put to bed early and adults
usually never stayed up late themselves - except for the rare merchant
counting his earnings for the day. Turning around, he headed for a
tall, leafy tree a little bit away from the city. The moon's silky
glow glistened on the short meadow as his steps made quiet shuffling
sounds. Lashing the horse's reins around a low grown branch, he found
a soft spot of grass. He placed his pack at the base of the tree,
and lay down, resting his head upon it. Looking up at the night sky
on the horizon, he began to count the stars quietly in his head.
He remembered how he used to sit with his father on quiet nights
like this, gazing at the stars talking. His father had always wanted
him to grow up strong yet with a sense of caring. He remembered the
one night they tried to count all the stars in the sky, that was the
night before his father had died. It was a night that remained fresh
in his memory through all through the years. Palderon's mother had
died from complications when he was born, Palderon always felt that
it was his fault for her death. Soon, he felt the urge to sleep fall
over him as he continued to count. Slowly, his hand dropped to his
side as his eyelids slid over his eyes.
Palderon awoke to the feel of cold water hitting his face. Slowly
he opened his eyes to see the black sky above him, being lit up with
the glow of lightning. His clothes were wet from the water dripping
off the tree, the soft trickle of the rain falling on the leaves above
his head filled the air around him. Realizing his head was rest on
something hard and wet, reaching a hand behind his head, he felt the
base of the tree connected to the ground below it. Sitting up, he
looked where he had put his pack last night. The only thing there
was the semi-dry grass where his head was.
Looking to where he left the horse, on the ground was the freshly
sliced up carcass of what seemed to be a horse but was too mutilated
to be sure. Lowering his hand to his waist to grip his sword, he didn't
feel it. He grabbed the sheath still dangling at his waist but looking
at it, there was no sword. The rustle of leaves from above startled
him in his curious yet scared state as he heard a thump from behind
him and felt something sharp poke him in the back, as a low voice
scowled at him "Looking for this?"
"Who are you and what do you want?" Palderon sighed
"You have quite the bounty on your head" The stranger replied
in a somewhat cheery voice, "but don't you worry, I'm just in
it for the money, it's them guards who'll take your head itself in
front of everyone in the city."
Palderon could feel the smile of the man on his back, as the sword
prodded further into him, edging him on and leading him towards the
city. Halfway over the green fields, the man stopped him. Suddenly
the feel of cold metal raked over Palderon's skin as the man little
by little drew the blade across Palderon's right arm, going slow as
he could to inflict as much damage as possible, trying to torture
Palderon as much as he could. Crying out in pain, Palderon quickly
brought his other hand up. He could already feel the blood running
down his arm as he cupped his hand over the fresh wound, the blood
gushing in-between his fingers.
"Just incase you decide to try something," the man said,
almost in a polite voice "let that be a warning. And be a man,
just grin and bear it, we'll have none of that sissy screaming and
crying here, shall we?" He gave another slice to Palderon's arm,
this time fast and deep just above where his hand was holding the
first already swollen wound.