Author: Firewerewolf PM
With nowhere to go Vyl joins the army. Things heat up when he meets a wizard who introduces him to a plot to save Vyl's own countrymen. Things get even worse when Vyl and his companions uncover a plot unknown to all but a few. Will Vyl try to unite and save the people or will he use this plot to his own advantage? Please R&R.Rated: Fiction T - English - Fantasy/Adventure - Words: 3,702 - Reviews: 1 - Favs: 1 - Follows: 1 - Published: 09-20-12 - id: 3059854
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
A/N: All characters are mine! Please R&R.
Chapter 1: Zable
"I'm looking for work," said a short, skinny and tanned boy.
"There ain't no work to be found here. If you're looking for some serious work try the mines on the outskirts of town," replied the brawny butcher.
This reply was rewarded with the laughs of the customers standing at the shop. Everyone knew that only prisoners of war were held there. The people of Derlia were a harsh people. Nobody from Derlia liked Aylenis.
It had only been seven years since the war ended. Aylen's rash attempt to take over the continent had ended in supreme failure and loss of most of its lands to the Derlians. The southern country of Aylen was currently a toy for the northern and more powerful Derlia. Along the border, many Aylenis had been enslaved and taken off to far away lands.
The tanned boy just looked down and walked away. Provoking Derlians was not on his agenda. Vyl, the Ayleni, was the youngest of five siblings. He'd only recently turned 16 years old, which is why he was out in the markets of the Derlian city of Zable. According to his eldest brother, he was old enough to embark on his own adventure.
The truth of the matter was that his family couldn't support him. His parents had once been wealthy landowners who cultivated crops on their lands. Seven years ago, when Derlia won the war, Derlian officials had confiscated a majority of their properties and had handed them out to other influential Derlians. Over the years his elder brothers and sisters had gotten married and had their own children. A time came when they were short on money; his eldest brother had stated that Vyl was the root of the problem. Of course he never actually said it out loud, but he'd alluded to it enough times that Vyl got the picture. They wanted him to leave.
Considering all that they'd been through, it seemed a very inhumane thing to do, but after Vyl thought about it a bit he'd understood that between his elder brother's children and him, the children were more important. So, against the wishes of his mother and father, he was forced out of his home and on to the streets with only a few pairs of clothes, some money and his trusty sword.
Vyl had been training with his sword ever since he could remember. He used a short sword though, nothing too fancy. It had gotten him out of some tight situations with bandits on the road, but he'd never actually had to use it to hurt someone. Other people usually got scared of him when he revealed his sword. That didn't mean that he didn't know how to use it. Very few people in his village could match his swordplay.
After Vyl had been kicked out of his home, he'd traveled to nearby cities in hopes of finding an apprenticeship. He had no luck though, because Derlians had virtually closed down all the Ayleni businesses. It was as if Derlia had actually conquered Aylen, which in a sense they had. They had even disbanded the Ayleni army. Vyl had no idea what had possessed him to travel to a land in which he wasn't wanted, but something pulled him there, something beneath the surface.
A problem that he'd encountered at the border of Aylen and Derlia was that Derlians felt uncomfortable when they saw an Ayleni with a sword. It had caused him a lot of problems, but he'd eventually bribed his way out. Thankfully, within Derlia there was a common and unspoken law that anyone was allowed to carry a sword wherever they went.
Vyl's supplies were running out fast. He only had seventy bronze left of the three gold he'd brought from home. One gold was equivalent to 100 silver and one silver to 100 bronze. If Vyl didn't find any work he'd starve to death.
He entered an inn called The Jolly Quack. It was the most ridiculous name he'd ever heard, but he'd also heard that the food was cheap there.
His entrance startled most of the occupants of the inn. The entrance of a tanned Ayleni boy into an inn where only the fairer and more superior Derlians sat made the bartender a bit nervous.
Plopping down into a stool at the counter, Vyl ordered a plate of cooked rabbit and spiced potatoes. He attacked his food as if he hadn't eaten any food in years. He didn't pay any attention to those who stared at him or those who whispered with each other while they pointed at him. After polishing his plate with his finger, Vyl leaned over the counter cradling a jug of water in his hand. He perked up his ears in hope of catching the other people's conversations.
He sat there for ten minutes and was disappointed when he didn't hear anything. As he got up to leave, he heard a sudden voice roar out, "I tell you the minotaurs are up to something!"
With a smile Vyl sat back in his stool. The word in the city was that the minotaurs were preparing for a war against Derlia. It was certainly satisfying to hear such a thing. The Derlians deserved to be beaten.
It was well known that the minotaurs were a force to be reckoned with. They were vast in number and each individual was more powerful that any man. If minotaurs wanted to attack a country then they'd have a high chance of winning. The only problem was that it was said that minotaurs weren't the brightest of creatures. Still with an army that strong it would be difficult to lose.
"I hear the army has begun an open recruiting program. They want as many soldiers as possible in case the minotaurs decide to attack. They might even start a draft," said one man.
"They say the army gives a sizable salary too."
At this Vyl's ears perked up. He knew how to use a sword, he needed money and he didn't exactly have any obligations at the moment.
"Yeah I've heard that too, but I hear that the minotaurs are shipping in foreign creatures from a different continent! There's no telling what our men would be fighting against."
The conversation must have been going on for a long time because the innkeeper suddenly appeared and said, "That's enough talk about dreary things in my inn. You never know, rumors like these have been circulating the city ever since it was made. It's possible that this is just another rumor."
A woman seated the opposite corner of the inn snorted, "This 'rumor' as you call it, is the talk of all the military officials in Zable at the moment."
"You see! You're bothering my customers with such talk!" exclaimed the innkeeper to the other men seated at the table where the discussion had started.
One man with a bushy mustache pushed back his chair and stood up, "Don't come crying when it's announced." Then he and his other friends exited the establishment.
"I won't," said the innkeeper in a hurt voice.
Vyl rushed out after the men. He tapped the shoulder of one of them. "Excuse me."
"Huh, what is it?" said the man as he turned around.
"Do you have any idea of where I should go to sign up for the army?"
Every single one of them burst out laughing. Two clutched their stomachs bent down shaking with mirth.
"Haha, that's a good one. An Ayleni wants to join the army. Haha!"
"No I'm serious," said Vyl. "I'm in serious need of money and I was kicked out of my home about three months ago. I have no where to go."
"I suggest going to your brothers in the mines."
"I've heard that before."
"Oh, well if you really are set on joining the army then go to the mines. I'm sure you'll find plenty of minotaurs to fight there. Haha!" The other men broke into another wave of laughter. Sighing Vyl unsheathed his sword and pointed it at the men.
"I think now you'll be willing to talk."
"The northern gate," squeaked the man with the bushy mustache.
Vyl sheathed his sword. "Thank you." Even if a two year old child had held the same short sword, the men would have been as scared. Most of them were just empty shells, and as his mother had always said, empty shells make the most sound.
It took two hours to travel through the twisting paths of Zable. Vyl saw a few Aylenis as he passed by, but most people were Derlians. When he reached the northern gate he was sweating and panting. The walls of Zable were tall and strong. They'd held well against the several attacks against it by Aylens. Not once had the Aylenis ever conquered the city. The massive gate had a portcullis connected to a chain mechanism and large wooden doors with thin metal plates covering them. The gate looked quite impressive from up close, though Vyl had seen the same thing when he'd entered through the southern gate. Not one to shy away, Vyl walked straight up to one of the guards and proclaimed, "I wish to enlist in the army."
The reaction of the guards was mixed. A few were just part of the city guard and they fell over laughing. Three of the ten guards held straight faces, not giving away any hint of emotion. They were definitely from the army.
One of them opened his mouth to speak, "I'm Gere. It's my job to enlist people into the army. Come with me."
His answer seemed very cryptic to Vyl, but he supposed that the army had its own way of doing things. They entered the gatehouse and the soldier seated himself into a seat behind a desk sitting in the corner of the first room.
When the man was seated he poured himself a glass of water and reclined back in his chair. For several minutes they just stared at each other.
"Umm, what do I have to do now?" asked Vyl who was standing in front of the desk.
"Nothing," replied the soldier. "I'm just wondering why an Ayleni would want to join the army. I find only three possibilities. One, you're joining to act a spy for an Ayleni revolutionist group, two, you're in league with a Derlian noble and are spying for him, or three, you're trying to sabotage the armies movements in effort to get revenge for a relative who died in the war."
"It's not like that I tell you," replied Vyl a little too hastily. "I'm genuinely interested in fighting for Derlia. I've heard that the minotaurs might attack. It would affect all of us if they attacked, not just Derlia."
The man made a rude noise. "Doesn't make a difference. No one in the right mind would accept an Ayleni into the army. Your kind are the most despicable and worthless people on the continent, no wait, the world. Now, I'm going to call the sheriff to put you under arrest so that we can interrogate you later on."
Something in Vyl cracked. He slammed his hand on the table starting the soldier. "I've been kicked out of my house, denied a job, forced to travel marshes barefoot, captured by bandits, forced to escape them by traveling in the sewers of some foreign city, pushed around by the people of Derlia and now this! I won't take no for an answer. I'm going to join the army whether you like it or not!"
At the end of this outburst there was silence. All that could be heard was the Vyl's panting. Suddenly the door burst open. A figure stood against the bright light. Vyl squinted to see who it was, but the light was shining too brightly.
The figure stepped into the room, "What's all the commotion Gere?" the person asked.
Gere stood to attention. He snapped his hand up in a salute. "L-Lieutenant," he stammered. "This here Ayleni boy wants to join the army. I've told him he can't but he's insisting."
"I'm disappointed, Gere. I thought you'd be able to handle one small boy yourself." Finally Vyl was able to see who the man was. Wearing a bright blue uniform and a hat, the lieutenant didn't strike as imposing a figure as Gere was making him seem. The saber at his side did send small chills up Vyl's spine, but nothing else did. The man was Derlian. His pointy chin jutted out like a cliff by the shore. His eyebrows were arched in the largest arch Vyl had ever seen. Both the man's ears stuck out like an elephants. His nose was long and curved, even more curved than his saber. The lieutenant made Vyl remember how his mother used to tell him about witches so that he'd go to sleep. The lieutenant looked every inch a witch.
"Well lad, what do you have to say for yourself?"
Vyl was caught off guard. "W-what do you mean?" He hadn't meant to stammer, it just came out of its own accord.
"You come to Derlia looking for employment, then you try joining the army and you throw a temper tantrum in my gatehouse."
"I'm just trying to join the army."
"Well you can't."
"You're Ayleni, that's why."
"So if Aylen won the war that would've meant that Derlians couldn't join the army?" Vyl heard a small gasp from Gere, but he was past caring.
For a few moments the lieutenant just looked at him. The he laughed, "Haha, surprising what young children think these days, eh?"
"I'll remove this child immediately, sir," said Gere. He grabbed onto both of Vyl's shoulders and led him to the door.
"Wait a moment, I didn't say anything about getting rid of him." Gere stopped in his tracks. The lieutenant smiled and said, "He's got a lot of guts coming here and trying to join the army on top of that he fights with me." The lieutenant chuckled. He stroked his chin and said, "I'm gonna give you an offer."
At this Vyl brightened.
The lieutenant looked at him disapprovingly. "I never said I'd let you in, but if you pass a few tests, two to be exact, I just might let you join." The man looked Vyl up and down. "My name is Lieutenant Yorp. I'm the best swordsman in town, and I know of only two people who can beat me. So, seeing as you have no chance to defeat me, I want you to at least impress me." Vyl looked at him blankly. Yorp sighed in exasperation. "I want you to show me, that the sword you carry at your side isn't just for show."
"Ohh," said Vyl. "Well that's an easy one."
Gere laughed behind him. "No one in this town has ever impressed him with their swordsmanship. What chance do you have?"
"Come now, I don't have all the time in the world," said Yorp.
"Well, where do you want to spar?" asked Vyl.
"First, I don't want to spar. I want to fight. Show me the best swordsman in you. If we spar, you would be playing around. Second, please step outside."
Vyl loosened his sword as he stepped out the door. He heard a metallic ring and turned around. Yorp had his sword out and was lunging straight at Vyl. He jumped back and attempted to unsheathe his sword. It was stuck. Twisting and dodging he struggled to pull out his sword.
The guards who were watching jeered at him. They called out insults to Aylenis and tried to break Vyl's concentration. Finally, his short sword came loose. Vyl swung wildly in attempt to throw Yorp off, but Yorp calmly dodged the attack and kept advancing. Now that his sword was out Vyl tried to hold his ground. He dodged most attacks and blocked as few as possible. After only a few parries Vyl's arms hurt. The elder man was obviously more stronger. Vyl was loosing ground very fast and almost slipped at one point. The guards teased him about his worthless sword skills. They were soon quieted.
Vyl knew from experience that people tended to use their longer reach when possible against him because it put them in the least risk. So, Vyl just had to duck under a wild swing and move in closer to at least make the other person nervous. That's exactly what he did. A slightly out of place swing was all Vyl needed to move in and lock blades with Yorp. Now, Vyl could use his sword easily where as Yorp had more trouble adjusting. Blocking with the base of his sword Yorp tried to move back and create some room, but Vyl kept advancing swiping high and low and occasionally stabbing at any weakness he saw.
Vyl's little streak ended soon after when Yorp increased the power of his attacks. Vyl was forced to block a small little flick, but it felt stronger than any other attack Yorp had thrown at him so far. Jumping back Yorp created enough distance to use his sword effectively. Vyl wasn't thrown off by this though. He knew more than one trick to get closer to the enemy.
He feinted to the right and feinted again to the right then actually dove into Yorp's right side. Their swords clashed, locking together. Disengaging quickly, Vyl stabbed ferociously straight at Yorp's head. This time, it was Yorp's speed that increased. With a swift flick of his wrist, Yorp pushed away the stab and nearly disarmed Vyl. Clutching onto his sword, Vyl hit the dust. Rolling over he got up into a crouch.
For nearly fifteen more minutes they fought, the battle going in one person's favor then into the others. It ended when Yorp slashed viciously at Vyl. Vyl was able to block the attack, but he was so tired and his hand so numb that his sword went twisting into the air and sank into the ground behind him, blade first. Vyl plopped down to the ground.
Both combatants were panting and sweating as if they'd run a hundred mile marathon. A smile crept onto Yorp's lips. "For a moment I thought you had me there. But we all know that I can't be beat, right guys," said Yorp. The guards only murmured back.
Yorp looked at the guards in disbelief. "You actually think this squirt did good? I was going easy on him." He go no answer. Sheathing his sword, Lieutenant Yorp stuck out his hand to Vyl.
Vyl accepted it and stood.
"It seems that I have no other choice. My guards are impressed by your swordplay. I'd say you passed the test."
Now it was Vyl's turn to smile. "I'd say you're impressed too."
"Nah," replied Yorp. "Still, don't be too happy. You have to pass another test as well." At this point Yorp snapped his fingers. "Gere!"
"Take this boy to Kimishu." Then Yorp turned to Vyl. "It'll take two days to get there and you'll have to live there for one week. If you can survive that one week, I'll send word to the general of an Ayleni who's joining the army. If not, well you'll be dead so we won't have to worry." Yorp turned around and spoke to the guards, "Back to your posts, we have to watch for any signs of an invasion."
"Excuse me," said Vyl.
Yorp spun around, "What is it?"
"Will the minotaurs really attack?"
Yorp sighed, "Yes. Our intelligence states that the minotaurs are preparing for war. They will definitely attack. But you won't need that information seeing as where you're going."
Then Yorp stomped off to wherever he was meant to be. Gere grabbed his shoulder. In the other hand he held three horses.
"You know how to ride?"
"To some extent."
"Good then get on."
Vyl got on the horse and immediately they left through the gates. Gere urged the horses to a swift trot.
"Where am I going?" asked Vyl.
"I'm to take you to Kimishu, a mountainous region where there are many wild animals. While you stay on the mountain for a week, I will be in the nearest city. After one week I will come to see if you're still alive. If not, which I'm sure you won't be, I go home alone, and if you are then you get to join the army."
"Why do you say I won't live through it?" asked Vyl.
"That's because grown men die in that place. You might last a day or two but then you'd die."
"Why what's there that's so dangerous?"
"You'll find out. Now enough questions. You will have no supplies to start out with except for these." Gere handed him a spear, a shield, a bow and a quiver full of arrows.
"That's it? I don't get any flint to start a fire or anything?"
"No, now hand over any supplies you have from before."
Gere was a thorough checker. He even checked Vyl's boots. When his supplies were confiscated, Vyl's hopes were pretty much dashed. He shook his head and thought, "What have I gotten myself into?"