I sat in the bushes and waited. I sat, clutching my bow, my knuckles white with anticipation. Then heard a sound and looking up, I saw a deer come into my view. I pulled back my bow, took careful aim, but right before I shot, the deer’s ears flicked up, and it bolted across the meadow. My arrow whizzed past where the deer had just been.
“Blast it!” I muttered, and jumped out of the bushes. Suddenly a bright flash of light appeared at my left.
“I am afraid you have used your entire time master Killian,” a voice said, and Hadgen continued to open curtains around the room. Though I had been there many times, Archery range amazed me every time I set eyes on it. The view from where I stood, you could see a large wooden background of a meadow. If you looked behind it, you would see many ropes, gears, and wheels ready to send woodland creatures dancing though the background, ready to be shot at. When Hadgen let the lake water flow into the system, it would turn the gears, which in turn, would pull the ropes in such a way that wooden animals came out. It was an amazing contraption. Hadgen must have worked on the range for a lifetime and then some.
Hadgen himself was an interesting person. He had a short grey beard, and always wore a black cloak with the hood up. Now don’t judge him by his appearance; he was the most bizarre person you would ever meet. He danced around, always had a big smile, and was typically singing a song. I met him awhile back when I was looking for a job, and even though I was the young age of fifteen, he took me as his partner. I made arrows, bows, arm guards, anything to do with archery you could think of. I was eighteen that year, and my sister Coleen and I were living comfortably.
“Thank you Hadgen,” I said as he, like many times before, let me do the range for free.
“Oh! Any time Killian! Now hurry home! Colleen will be waiting for you!”
I grinned, unstringing my bow, and ran out of the door. It was about four o-clock in Win willow. People were rushing around everywhere, eager to get back to their homes after a long day’s work. The city was composed mostly farmers and traders. It was a beautiful place. The trees were tall, the grass was green, and the smell of flowers was in the air. It was a great place to live, even after Meldon came. About a year ago, Meldon the great kingdom in Adalia by the sea took over the Farm Lands, which were on the edge of their kingdom, and about three days later, they started a siege on Win willow. As I said, Win willow has farmers, merchants, nothing ready to take on the armies of Meldon, and in the end, after a hard, but brief struggle, the city fell. We couldn’t fight them, so they came to rule. They tried to take over the other kingdoms, Crimera and Fellon Ford. But Crimera has the best military force, and Fellon Ford had a massive wall surrounding its entrance, so they did not succeed. No one came in or out of Meldon after that, save the kings soldier’s. Anyone caught trying to do ether was put to death by guillotine, or hanging, or burning at the stake, or some other horrible torture that no one wants to go through. There was a rumor going around that two people got out of Meldon before it went in lock down, but no one knows where they went. And I’m not one to listen to rumors. After Meldon took over, they took little interest in it, save the wood that, which the city has in abundance, to use for their weapons of war. Thus, they left very few Guards in Win willow, and it being so far away from Meldon, if they sent more help, it would take three days’ time. If people avoided these guards, then they wouldn’t get into any trouble (unless, of course, they were accused of sticking farmer Jed’s chickens in a rice picker, then it gets messy), but that didn’t typically happen, so there was generally nothing to worry about.
I walked for a while until I got to my house, there was a wonderful smell coming from inside. I opened the door and walked into the kitchen. Colleen was there stewing a rabbit, and she was very concentrated on it. I snuck up behind her and went “Boo” in her ear. She jumped and turned around. “Killian!” she said hitting me with the spoon she was stirring with. “You scared me half to death!” I laughed and gave her a wink. Her strawberry blond hair was falling around her shoulders.
“Now go sit down, it’s time to eat.” She said, tasting the stew. We ate the rabbit and then after chatting by the fire, I decided to go to bed early.The house that we lived in was small, but it was home. It had four rooms, my bedroom, Colleen’s bedroom, a living room, and the kitchen. We used both of our rooms to store the possessions that we had, which was a very small number. I went to my room and lay down on my bed. I was happy, with the way we were living. Unknown to me, this was my last normal day I would have for a while in Win willow.
I woke up the next day, and started my normal routine. I got up, dressed, grabbed a bucket, and walked out the door. The river was about a three minute walk from the house, and we lived a bit outside of the city. It flowed from a spring, that then ran all the way out of Win willow and met Tentel River, which was in fact, not a river at all. If we were to get technical, the island of Adalia is two masses of land, joined by a large bridge, with Win willow, the Farmlands, and Fellon Ford on one side, and Meldon and Crimera on the other. The bridge that joined them was the great bridge of Nidle. This bridge was made by all of cities, when they still got along. It was on the lower half of the island, and now, typically guarded by Meldon. Crimera has started making their own bridge, closer to their city, but it will take quite a long time. None the less; I was walking down to the river. Upon arrival, I started to fill up my bucket. The river was beautiful, shimmering in the sunlight. I looked off into the distance, thinking about what I should do before I left for the archery range, when suddenly I heard someone crashing through the bushes. I turned instinctively, grabbing the wrists of the person. I came face to face with a girl. I was very good friends with most of our neighbors, But I could tell that she was not from Win Willow. She had blonde hair with green eyes, and a scared very complexion on her face. It was clear she was running from something. She struggled, but I held on tight, intent on finding out what was going on
“Let me go!” She screeched, trying to lose my grip “I need to escape, they are coming”
“Who are they?” I asked, “And who are you? I haven’t seen you around Win willow before.” She grew more frantic in her efforts to lose my grasp.
“Please! Meldon’s guards are going to be here any second” I stopped short. I suddenly had a protective feeling for this girl. Not sure why, but none the less, I felt obligated to help her. I heard something crashing through the branches to my left.
“Alright, come on” I said, grabbing her hand. We ran towards the city and darting through the houses, and booking it into the town square. It was fairly early, so not many people were out. We ran into the Tavern, where the town meetings and other community events took place. I shoved the doors open and we dashed behind the ale kegs. I grabbed a sack and threw it over our heads, holding my finger to my lips. Seconds later, I heard the doors burst open and someone come into room. My breath slowed. I just hoped that we were not moving the sack too much. The footsteps continued around the room, with lots of crashing and shattering that followed. The man grunted, and I heard the door close. We waited for what seemed like an eternity until I lifted the edge of the sack. I crawled out and made sure the coast was clear. I helped the girl to her feet. She brushed off her pants, blouse, as they were now covered in dust.
“Sorry about that, it was the best place I could think of.” As soon as I had uttered those words, I felt stupid. But I was not sure what to say, and even though I lived with Colleen, I still had yet to figure out the mind of a woman and her clothes.
“What? This, oh don’t worry about it.” She said continuing to brush herself off, “You don’t look the fanciest yourself” I glanced down at my own tunic, which was now
a dark brown as opposed to green.
a dark brown as opposed to green.
“Yeah, I guess you are right” I said smirking. We both burst out laughing, letting the tension of the situation out. The laughter faded, and we stood facing each other. “So, where are you trying to get too?” I asked, wiping a tear from my eye, “You need to get out of the city I assume”
“Yes, I need to get back to the south wall” she replied.
“Well then, we are off!” I said enthusiastically. I cracked the door open, and I signaled her to the left. We dashed through houses and behind bushes, trying to avoid sight, well, everyone. I reached the southern wall, and she took the lead. We ran along it until we got to a rope, hanging down from the side. It was an oddly shaded rope; it seemed to flash green brown and blue all at once. As we approached it, I could tell more clearly what the make of it was. It was a tightly woven fabric, in a pattern which I was quite unfamiliar with. I decided that it was indeed green, but had other fabrics woven into it. I did lots with ropes and knots, due to having to fix woodland so often, so I was quite interested when her hand grabbed the rope, bringing me back to reality.
“Well, I guess this is it” I stated awkwardly, “I’m Killian, by the way.” I stuck out my hand. She hesitated and then shook it.
“I’m Elizabeth” she released my hand and in turn grabbed the rope.
“Good to meet you Elizabeth” I replied, glancing behind me as if to see if anyone was there, “So, why are you here in Win willow?” I turned, but Elizabeth had disappeared, along with the rope. “Alrighty then.” I muttered to myself and started walking back to the town. It was about noon when I walked into the archery shop. I apologized to Hadgen for being late and quickly set to my work. As I punched holes in leather, sanded down bows, and fletched arrows, I couldn’t help but think about Elizabeth. Where had she come from? Outside the city obviously, but why was she here? I couldn’t answer. I finished my work, and headed home. Colleen had cooked a brilliantly tasting fish that I had caught a few days ago. I haven’t eaten a thing all day, but I didn’t still have an appetite. I turned early, laying on my side thinking about the mystery of “the girl with the green rope“ (the name I had decided the incident should be called) and drifted off to sleep with the image of her face in my mind.
I awoke the next morning after a pleasant dream about muffins. I once again dressed and headed down to the river. I had forgotten to grab the bucket the previous day, and I hoped that no one had taken it. I came to the same spot that I was yesterday, and found the bucket a bit down the stream. This confirmed that I had not been dreaming. I sighed and looked around to see if Elizabeth was around. But naturally she was not there. I tried to push the mystery out of my head and filled the bucket and carried it back to the house. My appetite had returned, due to the fact that I had nothing to eat yesterday, and I scarfed down my eggs and dashed to work.
I arrived at the shop, and the door was still shut, so I used the secret entrance in the back. Hadgen hadn’t told me about it, but then one day I saw him go through it, and he confessed and explained it to me. I went behind the counter and started to make sure everything was in order, when I heard Hadgen walk in the door. I stood up and was about to alert him of my presence when I noticed his case. It was a big black case, with golden vines stretching across the top, hanging off of the sides. He stood with his back to me, fumbling with its lock. I crouched behind the counter again and peeked over the edge. He opened the case and purple light came flowing out. Tendrils of light that looked like the vines on the outside stretched across the room. Then from out of the case, a woman rose adorned in purple robes. I quickly dropped behind the counter and listened to the conversation that followed.
“Are you alone?” A female voice asked Hadgen, her voice flooding the room.
“Yes” Hadgen replied, “His general has arrived and three of the five cities have already been taken over, and the others are soon to follow.”
“He cannot be allowed to continue unchecked” She said grimly.
“There is a small organization that is fighting against Meldon, but they are small.”
“You must go and advise them” The woman said, “Help them take back the island”
“Yes, of course.” Replied Hadgen “I shall leave fairly soon” I decided I need to get out, or else Hadgen would notice that I was there and had been listening. I crawled to the back and went out through the secret entrance and around to the front door. The purple light was shining under the door crack and I could still hear their voices, speaking in whispers. I shook off the shock of what I had seen and knocked on the door.
“Hadgen?” I called trying to sound surprised, “Are you in there” The sounds ceased and the light disappeared.
“Um, yes Killian! I’ll be right there!” He replied. There was some shuffling around the room inside and the door opened. “Hello Killian! You are early!”
“Yeah, I turned in early last night” I replied.
“Oh yes, of course, of course” Even if I hadn’t had the conversation inside, I would have been able to tell Hadgen was shaken up. He normally greeted me with a cheerful “Top of the morning to you” or something to that effect.
“Um, my I come in?”
“Wha? Oh yes! I’m sorry” He muttered and swung the door open. I walked in and started up my work. The rest of the day pretty normal as compared to the morning, it was a bit busy, but for the most part nothing special happened. The time came for me to leave, and I put all the supplies away. I started to walk out the door. “Good night Hadgen” I called back into the shop. “I’ll see you Monday”
Hadgen had been behind the counter smoking his pipe with a glazed look in his eyes. “Huh? Oh yes, Monday…” he replied and then resumed being captain depressing. I sighed and shut the door behind me. I walked home in the dark, and cursed myself for not having a lantern. I thought about the morning, and shuttered. I could still hear the woman’s voice in my head. “He cannot be allowed to continue unchecked” I shivered and pulled my jerkin closer to my body. I walked into the house and lit a lantern. Colleen had gone to bed, and there was a bowl of cold soup on the table. I sighed and dumped it out the window. I clambered into bed and, blew out the lantern, and dozed off to sleep.
I woke up the next morning and smiled. It was Saturday, and I could get some much needed thinking time. I threw my covers of and dressed myself. I walked into the kitchen and found a note on the table.
“Killian, I am going out to the west side of the city to picking berries, be back at about noon”
“Alright then. Guess I’m on my own” I waited in the house for a while, doing random chores. Unfortunately, I was not very good at waiting. I grew bored, and decided to go for a walk. I meandered around the town, looking at shops and nodding to people as they passed. Suddenly, a scream pierced the air. It had come in the direction of the town square. I got a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach and bolted towards the noise. It was Colleen, and she was struggling to get away from a drunken soldier. His two friends were laughing, not caring about what their companion was doing.
I ran towards them, yelling at the soldier to let her go. Shoved him over and made sure Colleen was behind me. “Stay away from her” I said glaring at the guard. The soldier got up and growled
“I can do whatever I want!” he said, his words slightly slurred, and drew his sword. My mind screamed sword! To me and I flinched at the weapon. The man saw this, and turned to his friends and laugh. Now I was really mad, I rushed forward, grabbed the man’s arms, and kneed him in the stomach. I smashed him on the side of a building. His friends were dumbstruck for a moment, but gathering their wits they started coming towards me. I turned to Colleen.
“Go to the house, and pack.”
“What about you?” she asked looking at the soldiers “What will you do?”
“I’ll be fine, now go!” and she took off for the house. I turned to the men and got myself ready. As they approached, I plotted out what I was going to do. I ran towards the man on the right, rolled under his sword, kicked off a building and knocked him in the head. He crumpled to the ground and the other guard turned around shocked at his partner. I grabbed a broom and broke the head off. I faced my opponent, and he swung his sword at my head. It was clear that he hadn’t fought for a while, and I easily dodged his strike. I spun around and knocked the sword out of his hand, then smashed the stick into the side of his head. He fell to the ground and lay beside the other guards. The other people nearby stared, trying to process what had just happened. Some stared shocked, some were shaking their heads, and some looked at me as if they were saying “Why didn’t you do that three years ago?” They got over their shock, and rushed to tie the guards up. After they had done this, they tossed the soldiers in a barn. I looked around, trying to take in the situation. A man came up to me and looked at the swords that lay on the ground.
“Why did you use the broom?” He asked “There was a sword right there!” Swords! My mind screamed. I quickly looked away,
“I don’t use those…. things” I said in a bitter tone. The man looked at me strangely, and walked over to help with the soldiers. I glared at the weapons on the ground, and a shiver went up my back. Then I thought of Colleen, and I ran for home.