I woke in the morning to the warm autumn sun on my cheek and a secondary fleece blanket covering my body. The side of the bed that the man from last night had been taking up was empty, I had the bed to my self. I stretched out across the centre of the bed, arching my back feeling my muscles pull and my joints release. I don't even try to stifle my moan of comforting relief that comes with a good stretch like that, the ones that even stretch and curl your tows. A voice from the corner giggled a little.
"Sounds like a good one" She smiled, while she smokes a role of something.
"It was," I sighed before falling back into bed for a few short seconds. I rose to rest on my elbows and pull my self up against the head bored. I moved the blanket aside. It must have been from that man. I thought to myself. I pinned my cloak back to my tunic and draped the faded purple hood over my messy mop of orange hair. So that shadow covered my face when I turned to get a glance at the woman In the corner.
"What is your name ma'm" I asked her politely.
"Jenma, stable Protector Jenma of Prude to be exact. I saw your horse down there, Shes a good steed."
"Yes, and she's not for sale sorry."
"alright, your loss. Candidate" the emphasis this single word had ran a cold chill down my spine. She narrowed her eye's at me. As if judging me, writing me up or trying to guess my fate. She churned her lips up into a cruel smile. "Your horse may not survive. He's not made for the wild. Just a well bred farm horse."
"Konane made it this far, she will make much farther." But sadly I didn't believe my own words.
I turned and left. I stepped out side of the inn to be filled with the bright sights and sounds of the city streets. Autumn was bright and colourful, the leaves a bright array of fiery splendour, and I felt grey, and cold, and exited, and wonderful all at the same time. I was so confused about my feelings that I stopped walking and almost got ran over by a horse and cart. I waved apolitically at the man for being in his way a stupid smile smeared across my face as I did so. With a sigh I made my way down to the stables; I didn't know what I felt any more, at first I was just noticing peoples shoes, keeping my head down and trying to make it to the far gate without much haggling from street merchants. I noticing the armour that the warriors wore, shiny Metal with gold trims, or other fancy metals and jewels, the citizens of the city dressed in bright colours and intricately designed linen robes. I finally arrived at the stables and picked up Konane and my cart. There were meany different animals resting in the stable, Lions, wolves, horses, and creatures I did not recognize from far off lands. I continued on through the crowded city, I walked beside my steed and sold all of my goods, keeping my necessities, weapons, and my mothers flower. I planted a few saplings of the water hyacinth next to a small pond before the back entrance of the city came into view. I was stopped by the guard when I reached the gate.
I looked at the man who had stopped me. He was Uraithian Like me, he was tall and hansom like all Uraithian men. He had a chizzled jaw line, and a broad slender nose. His skin was a sort of tanned peach that was dark around his eyes. His eyes were narrow and a deep brown. Like the potting soil I used to plant my Hyacinth in. His eyes moved and he looked down at me. He was tall at lease 6'3 his ears like mine were pointed and his entire disposition was dazzling. Still, even with his charm and his good looks and his uniform, I was still a little intimidated.
"I am Jacinda of Uraith, I have been sent to this gate to start my venture." I said as proud as I could. I stood tall. Shoulders back knees together and my chin held high. My mop of curly red hair was bound up in a leather strap and it added a couple inches to my height. Still a bit more than a foot shorter than the man I tried to keep a strong disposition. I am Uraithian I can do this.
He smiled and placed a hand on my back and gently guided me to follow him. I followed a few paces behind him looking around at my surroundings. I had Konanes reins in hand and my steed in tow, together we walked. We stepped outside the gate and that's when I saw the forest.
A dense deep forest that Leeds to Jagot. A country ruled by a different race of humanoid, I don't know much about them other than they are fast. Father says the warriors of Jagot were the fastest warriors he had ever seen. They could win battles in seconds, just because they could not be stopped. The Jagodians are tall and dark skinned, they also have the same law as Uraith.
Every orphan who is orphans before they turn 15 have the right to receive a reading by a Decandrian soothsayer and choose to proceed with a month long venture to survive in a strange territory.
My territory is the Jagot and Uraith border, during the fall, temperatures are bellow freezing at night and the forest is full of dangerous creatures. I took a deep breath and continued to follow the knight away from the city gate and along the high city wall. We finally stopped walking and waiting for us was the Decii woman and a couple of younger children; also Decii. The young girl had white hair and a soft ocean blue complection Her eyes were Violet and she had narrow white eyebrows. She was wearing a dress robe like the soothsayer but it wasn't as long as the sooth Sayers. The girls' hooves were visible. All Decii had hooves instead of feet and toes. They had the back legs of a horse from the knee down. The girl had a veil that crosser the bridge of her nose and covered her mouth. She was holding a parcel wrapped in linen. The boy who didn't look much older than the girl had black hair and grey skin. His face was hard and set. He had piercing green eyes and his horns were starting to grow. He was dressed in a uniform like outfit that seemed to match the girls. The same deep indigo dyes, with gold trim. The same crest inlaid on the left of the uniforms chest. She wore a dress robe he wore dress pants. With shined hooves. He was also holding a parcel.
"These are for you to take with you forever. An Enchanted Bag" the Decii Woman motioned to the girl who stepped towards me and bowed offering me her parcel. "and also these training guides, one will teach you how to control basic magic, the other how to tame wild animals." the boy stepped forwards, bowed and offered me the parcel. I took them both and was then escorted by 4 new men. They were Uraithian, Tall tanned, athletic and dazzling. The other races sometimes call us Elves because of our resemblance to the miniature conglomeration of humanoid that live in the Jagot and Uraith bordering forests.
We continued walking and after about on hour I yawned.
"Getting Tired all ready love. Not a good sign." announced one of the knights solemnly.
"I'm not tired, I am bored. I spent 6 years preparing for this day. I'm so exited and scared, and anxious that I am bored. It's hard to explain...sorry." I looked away from the man feeling a little stupid at my explanation of my yawn.
"That's a good way to feel, I was a candidate. I survived. Not many do tho."
"What do you mean?
"Well, when I was where you are now the Guard Who lead me told me the statistics." He closed his eyes before looking off into the distance taking a deep breath. He looked peacefully aware in his little memory time, but he snapped out of it quickly.
"What are the statistics?"
"What are the percentages, how many people of died?" I was never told of candidates dying before, never. Mind you it doesn't surprise me either. All the candidates are orphans, slaves.
"I know that 20% choose not to have the reading, 80% of orphans get the reading, 25% are sent back. And 10%-15% chicken out so what happens to the other 45%-50%?" I asked the Knight with curiosity.
The guard stared at me blankly for a moment before he decided to speak. He cleared his throat, "20% die of dehydration, 10% of infection to minor wounds. Others die of falls, drowning, being attacked by animals, or poisoned by food. So only 30% of the orphans who take the challenge actually survive."
I didn't speak I just looked at the forest that was nearing us now. It was vast and dense and dark, It lined the ocean and I knew if I could get near the water I would have plenty of food to eat. But I also needed to find shelter near a fresh water resource. I was plotting out my plan of survival when I was stopped. We all dismounted and then each knight pulled out a small parcel. The one I had be speaking with gave me a first aid kit and guide, the other 3 men gave me an assortment of things, one gave me a wrapped parcel and told me not to open it yet. The other an enchanted bag specificity for my herbalism and alchemy supplies. The enchantment wont hold anything else. He told me. The last man gave me an egg. He told me to take care of it! And he kissed the egg and handed it to me. The men mounted their horses said farewell and left.
Why the man gave me an egg i did not know, I wrapped it in Furs to keep it warm and placed it nestled in the Enchanted bag so it was safe. And then arranged everything around my egg and my flower. The bag itself was quite small. And weighed very little. Maybe 10 -15 ilbs. But it was good. It clipped onto my hips and It was easy to manoeuvre with. I am happy to have it. I walked slowly into the forest, The autumn making it glow like a blazing fire. I continued to walk, making my way west towards the ocean.
I walked for a good 3 hours, and was starting to get cold and irritated with my armour, It was not mine it wasn't made for me. It fit awkwardly and limited my movement. Hand me down armour is great but now I need stuff I can use. As soon as I find a shelter I will make new armour I thought to myself Pulling my mother cloak tight around me, Breathing in the crisp autumn evening air.
I found a small stream and refilled my water supply, and decided to call it a day. It was almost dusk now and I was just finishing some supper before bed. I climbed up a near by tree and found a thick branch to lay on. I used my fur cloak as a blanket and wrapped my mothers cloak around my body. I used some rope I had to tie my legs to the tree. Securing myself so I didn't fall. It was time to go to sleep. I let out a yawn and closed my eyes, drifting off to the sound of the crickets, the wind through the tree leaves, and...
Whoooo, whoo whoooo...