The boy listened through the cracks in the wall. A stranger had come to speak to his parents. He wore the armor of a knight, painted black and with a shield baring an emblem that the youth did not recognize. It was some kind of outlandish creature on a field of red. He had marched into the city and sought this family specifically, though the boy could not venture to guess why. Was it because of what he'd done before, when he had hurt the other boys he'd been training with? He hadn't meant to hurt anyone, really. It was just something that happened sometimes.

The figures of his parents could barely be made out from beyond the crevasses. Their guest had removed his armor, but remained cloaked in obscurity. Even sitting at the table he was an imposing figure. Tall and broad, the knight looked every bit of the warrior his title implied. There was an air of power about him that was unmistakable. The child had never seen a knight before and he suspected that it would be the last he encountered. Such men didn't visit this side of the kingdom often.

Awe had subdued the fear the boy originally had for this newcomer and as the conversation continued the mind of the youth began to drift into fantasies of war and battle. This was likely his future, of course. He'd shown great promise in his early training and it could be assured that he would see battle when he grew of age. Altonians do not waste talent like his on frivolous pursuits.

A door opened into the room, stirring the boy just before his grown avatar secured victory for forces that had served him.

"Tredias?" a voice beckoned him. Not the stern but caring voice of his father or the smooth and gentle voice of his mother. This was a harsh tone, even if it wasn't intended to be. The boy stiffened at the sound of his name and offered only an unpracticed salute in response. The knight smiled, though only faintly. "Relax, boy," He lowered himself to a crouching stance, making him eye level with the boy. "I've heard great things about you. Stronger than most grown men. Faster, too. And with instincts to put a seasoned warrior to shame. These are impressive qualities and they deserve an impressive reward." The big man's beard turned with his own smile. "How old are you?" Tredias stared at him for a moment, almost forgetting to answer.

"Twelve," He said with a slight stammer. "Twelve," he repeated, this time hoping to sound older than the number made him. Twelve seasons in this world had not prepared him for such an encounter.

"Twelve. Very young," the knight nodded. "Well, I came here expecting such." He extended his hand to Tredias in a welcoming gesture. "I am Aias, Black Knight of Altonia. And you are my new squire."

All that remained were the goodbyes. Little preparation was needed, as the young Tredias possessed nothing that would aid him in his new path. Time was made, however, for goodbyes. Tredias gazed upward at his parents, not sure of what he should say. It was his father spoke who first.

"Go and become a great warrior, my son."

"I will do so, father, if only to make you proud," Tredias replied, with all the seriousness a boy his age could muster.

"Be sure to remember us when you are off performing great deeds, Tredias," his mother said, making a weak attempt at humor but revealing her own great fear at the same moment.

"I will, mother. I promise to honor you both, always," the boy smiled. It was a grin that a youth can only give to his mother. With those final words, he set off down the path with Aias as his guide.