The Final Battle

Chapter 01

Year 1608

The medieval land was a vast and rugged landscape, with tall and imposing mountains, deep and dark forests, and crystal coasts. Rivers flowed through, feeding the farms and villages that dotted the land, and castles and forts stood guard over the landscape. There were countless castles and villages scattered throughout the land, each with its unique architecture and design. Some were made of stone and others of wood, with moats and drawbridges protecting their entrances. The forests were home to wild animals and hunters and foresters made their living from the forest's bounty. The mountains in the north were the most imposing feature of the land. They stood tall and proud, their summits covered in snow and their slopes covered in verdant forests.

"The war is over! The war is over!"

Two full years had passed since this conflict first began between their home country of Lockridge and their neighbouring country of Mortimus. The day the news was delivered to the villages where most men were away mobilized for the past several months of conflict, was met with cheers and celebrations from the townspeople while they now awaited their husbands and fathers to return home in the coming days.

In the quiet village of Myla, a small township in Lockridge—felt like just an ordinary autumn night. Two boys, ages eleven and thirteen, wearing roughspun clothes and armed with simple wooden swords, danced around each other in their hut. They are well-versed in the art of play fighting, their wooden swords clacking together as they move around the small space, occasionally landing a hit on each other and then laughing at their misfortune.

As they continued their game, the sun had set that evening, casting long shadows across the village. The sky outside turned from a bright blue to a deep, vibrant orange, and the sounds of the forest filled the air, the calls of birds, and the rustle of leaves in the wind.

Although the boys were only playing, their movements are so smooth and well-coordinated that it's easy to see how they might easily be repurposed into real fighting skills. They are enjoying themselves, lost in the world of their own making, and the joy that shines through their play feels like a precious moment to be cherished.

As they made their way to the bedroom, their mother stood at their doorway with her hands on her hips, shaking her head with a smile. "Boys, it is getting late," she said, her voice gentle but firm. "It is time for bed."

The two young boys laughed as their wooden swords hit each other with a powerful thud. The older boy was bigger and stronger than the younger boy, but the younger one was quicker and more agile. They fought with all their hearts, and even though they were just playing, it was clear that they were both very competitive. "Yes, mother." The older boy spoke, fighting off his younger brother. "As soon as I defeat Ty and claim victory!"

Their mother shrugged and left the boys to quickly finish their game. The older boy was always trying to outsmart the younger boy, using his strength and size to his advantage. But the younger boy was always one step ahead, using his speed and agility to duck and dodge the older boy's attacks. As they caught their breath, they looked at each other with respect and admiration, never truly knowing that this was just the beginning.

"You have been practicing, Ty." The older brother spoke, taking the two wooden swords and putting them away nearby in the room.

"Every day. Qualen and I usually go down by the river where we all used to play." Ty replied as he sat down on his bed. "You will go out hunting tomorrow? Perhaps one day soon I can go with you to learn."

"I will teach you. You can trust my word on that. You and I will be the best hunters in the village!"

Moments before the two boys climbed into their beds, Ty noticed a sense of movement from outside the window; galloping horses neighing while approaching the quiet village.

Suddenly, bright lights began to emerge beyond their window; screams began to cry for help. Both boys looked up from their beds and heard the sound of metal against metal, weapons being swung, and swords clashing. The sounds of battle filled their ears, and they couldn't help but feel a sense of dread and foreboding. Ty's older brother then bravely ran over to the window to peek outside and felt his heart heavy with worry. Several horseback riders emerged, charging the village. Their armor was gleaming in the moonlight, and their weapons were raised as they charged their way inside and began to burn the huts, one by one. He watched in horror as they began to slaughter the villagers who tried to flee.

"What is happening, brother!?" Came Ty's worried voice as his brother quickly closed the cloth curtain and looked back at him just as their mother came running into the room.

"Make haste, boys! We need to run!" She led the two young boys out of the hut and looked around to be completely horror-struck with fear. Everyone was scattered. Those two tried fleeing and were met with swords and arrows, being brutally slaughtered. Women and children were being captured and hauled into cages on the carriages.

"Do not let anyone escape! Kill the men and anyone who flees! Capture the rest!" One of the higher in command officers shouted, instructing his soldiers to leave no survivors. But why? Why attack the village? The war was supposed to be over and yet here was a group of enemy soldiers raiding their village to the ground. The riders' movements were too precise, their strikes too calculated, and their armor too gleaming for them to be ordinary bandits or raiders. It was as if they were trained soldiers, sent on a mission to destroy the village, with a precision and accuracy that was almost inhuman.

"Run, boys!" Their mother instructed, leading them around their hut and towards the forest.

"After those escapees!" They were spotted.

Running with her two young children slowed down their pace, which allowed the archers to quickly catch up, steadily aim, and release their arrows, one of them easily striking the mother through her leg, causing her to fall roughly on the dirt ground.

"No! Mother!" Ty shouted, halting their escape and running back to her, as his older brother did.

"No, you must flee before they catch you too." Their mother forced her words out, trying to push them away so that they'd run.

Ty's older brother kneeled beside his mother, removed the arrow from her leg, and ripped a piece of his shirt to wrap around the wound. "We are not leaving without you!"

"Get those peasants! Do not let any escape!" They heard the soldiers in the near distance, galloping closer to them on their horses.

"My sweet boys, please, run. Your lives are too important." Their mother told them. "Leave now!" She then reached her her pocket and held out a pendant of a lion with two swords. "Take this to a man named Marx in Alexandria. He will take care of you. He will protect you.

As scared as Ty was, he accepted the pendant and listened to his mother, tears escaping his worried eyes as he stood up and began to run through the forest.

With the entire village completely up in flames, the soldiers finished up, lifting all the peasants into cage wagons. Ty, who was hiding in some nearby bushes, watched as the captured were thrown into the cages, his mother and brother included. And just when the frightened boy had seen enough, another came into his sight. He was a young adult, a few years older than himself. The knight sat on his horse, his armor glistening in the light of the crackling fire that enveloped the village. The screams of the villagers filled the air as he watched with a sense of satisfaction. The sounds of burning buildings, the flames climbing ever higher, the smell of smoke and ash - they were all signs of success to him. He smiled to himself, content with the mayhem and destruction he had caused. The villagers were powerless to stop him, and he relished the sense of superiority and power. He was a knight, but he was not a protector of the weak and the innocent - he was a destroyer, and he was proud of it.

Ty lowered his head down but while doing so, caused some ruckus within the bushes, which caught the Knight's attention. He then looked over to where Ty was hiding and smiled… his smile, was frightening, and of pure evil. He raised his sword in the air, its blade glinting in the moonlight, and let out a loud, fierce howl. It was a call to arms, a warning to all who dared to challenge him, and a promise of destruction to those who crossed him. He was a knight, but he was not a hero - he was a villain, and he reveled in it.