|The Legend of the Nightrunner
Author: Andramion PM
Aerlynn Nightcarrier might look like a frail young maiden, but she's not just a woman in a man's world: she's the sole survivor of the Raid of Hillsbloom six years ago and she can take care of herself just fine. R&R, please?Rated: Fiction T - English - Fantasy/Adventure - Chapters: 15 - Words: 23,243 - Reviews: 1 - Favs: 2 - Follows: 3 - Updated: 08-08-12 - Published: 07-21-12 - id: 3043837
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Prologue: Report to the King
Report 103 – Spirit's Fief Military Library
Hillsbloom Castle grounds
17 September, 623 years after the Great Count
I hereby officially declare baron Heldred Gottembuyrey, his wife Annabeth Gottembuyrey-Collins, their son Timothy and their daughters Illidia and Alyss deceased.
Not much is left of what once was the lively Hillsbloom Castle. The giant stone walls that I remember from the last time we visited, just several years ago, are all soaked in blood. This castle has become a place for ghosts.
We tried to look for survivors, but returned without any luck. Whoever did this has done his job well, not a single witness has been left alive. All farms are now just piles of ash; the culprits didn't even think to spare the animals: they too have been burned to death.
I have to correct the earlier entry. We found a young girl in the bushes, on her way to the castle. She won't tell us anything about herself, she is probably too traumatised.
After a short meet we decided that the girl must come with us. She can't stay in these destroyed lands. Maybe she'll remember something later, something that can help us capture the culprits. We'll just have to wait and see.
Hillsbloom itself isn't worth anything anymore. I suggest to leave the lands alone for a while, until the ground revives and can be worked on again.
My troops and me will soon make our way back home. We will stay for another two days to see if we might find other survivors, though we think those chances small.
Sir Brom Cromwell, Royal Knight of the King
Stationed in Everlands Keep
Chapter 1: Uncertain
"We'll drop you off at the nearest village." The man with the huge recurve bow dropped a blanket near my feet and I shied away. The man walked back to the small fire they had made on the dusty ground and started talking to someone who seemed important. The man himself was rather small, very skinny, but you could see his muscles were very well-trained. The other man was taller, more like a massive building, with big bundles of muscle on his arms and legs. I bet they were on his chest too. He wore chainmail armour with bright blue accents. His gauntlets and cape were of the same colour.
I was in a small camp, tents set up on the grounds of the castle. There must have been about eighty people there. All men, all carrying weapons. I saw someone cleaning his sword: the dried blood on it didn't leave my mind when I looked away.
I tried to tell myself that this was so much better than to undergo the same fate as my brothers and sisters, but I could only hope that these raiders weren't of the same kind.
I hadn't noticed the fires that had started on the other side of the village at first, but my elder sister, Mary, had. She had pulled my twin, Eloise, and me out of bed and taken us to the road leading to the castle as fast as she could. My brothers had kept shouting at us when we were waiting for them, telling us to move on, that they would keep the raiders off as long as they could. I remembered Liam holding on to one of the pitchforks, with a scared look on his face while my oldest brother made him stand in between the raiders and us. Mary pulled my twin and me harder, and eventually even we started moving.
I took the blanket and tried to shake off the bad and too fresh memories. Liam had screamed when the bandits killed him. I had been lucky enough to pull my hand out of Mary's and fall between the bushes. Mary and my twin were taken, my brothers murdered in the most savage way.
"We shouldn't leave the child alone," the man with the bright blue cape and gauntlets said. "She won't be able to survive. What if there's no room in the orphanage near Fort Featherlight?" He paused for a second to look my way. When he saw me looking at him, he smiled a soft and friendly smile and then turned to the archer. "She should be looked after properly. We shouldn't keep her in this neighbourhood anymore." The man lowered his voice. "It was a complete massacre in there," he said, pointing his head at the castle.
I saw the other man, the one who had passed me the blanket, look my way with a deadly serious face. His eyebrows furrowed and the dark eyes underneath them seemed to take in every detail.
"We could take her with us," the man said slowly, like he was still trying to convince himself. "She's from the farms, so she should be strong enough to do some work at Everlands Keep. We'll let the baron decide when we get there."
The man in blue grinned softly. "Now there's some good thinking. What do we have for dinner?"