Edelweiss, The Warrior Druid
Chapter 1: Old Beginnings, New Friends
One thousand years later…
Guardian's Rest was a small town of what was left of the great city that surrounded the Kindred Tree, which was now a dim glowing stump in the middle of a barren wasteland of ash. The sun shined brightest here with every ray that touched the land, however there was nothing to gain from it. The town had a port where they gained supplies and fellow adventurers who wanted to seek glory in the ruins of the old city. The country itself was an island of beauty a thousand years ago, but now it became a desolate wasteland.
From the slums of the common folk was a frail woman and her brother. Their names were Annabel and Jeoffrey. Annabel had blonde hair and green eyes and was skinny to the point of malnourishment. Jeoffrey was also malnourished, but his hair was brown and his eyes blue. Their skin and hair were covered in ash like the rest of the town.
"Come on, Jeoffrey," She whispered while they snuck in an alleyway behind the port's market district. The market was filled with those who perfected their craft in wicker making, blacksmithing, or scouring. Annabel and Jeoffrey were orphans when they were but a few years old. No one wanted them, and so their crafts were never developed outside of roguish behavior. They were eying the fish that recently came from the sailors. They were at the edge of where they dock began and the stone ruined town ended.
"Remember the plan," Annabel told her brother, "I act like a peddling old lady, and you use your climbing to snatch that basket of fish. We're going to eat well tonight."
"Are you sure my teeth can hold onto the wicker? That's a lot of fish," Jeoffrey protested.
"That's why I had Saura make you this," Annabel told him, handing him a satchel back. It was more of an open sack with a sling on it.
"Annabel!" Jeoffrey exclaimed, "That's real linen! What did you do for Saura to let you have this?"
"I promised her the lion's share of the fish," Annabel told him, "So we truly must succeed, otherwise I would have to do one of her favors."
"That would be bad," He responded, "I won't fail you then."
The two headed out their separate ways. Annabel put on a ragged cowl she found in the ruins and began to peddle for coin. Jeoffrey moved to the edge and began to dangle from it with both his hands. He saw from the left of his shoulder the fish basket at the edge of the stone etched cliffside and began to shimmy to it. Annabel approached the fish salesman with a shaking hand, trying her best old woman's voice.
"Alms," she called in a cracked and withered voice, "Alms for the poor. Please, sir. Show some mercy to this poor old widow."
"Oh for Kindred's sake!" The fish salesman exclaimed, distracted by Annabel's disguise, "I don't need cretins around my stall! You'll veer off the customers! Shoo! Shoo! Begone you old hag!"
While Annabel continued to pester the fish salesman, Jeoffrey reached over the edge to begin shoveling the fish into his satchel bag. He took most of what was in the basket until his shift in weight made him lose balance and slip. With one hand keeping him hung over the edge, his yelp of surprise alerted his presence to the salesman, who turned to see the cliffhanging thief with a satchel back full of fish.
"You cur!" The salesman cried out, "I'll make sure the guards lock you up for good!"
Panicked, Annabel took a whole basket of fish from the front venue of the shop, and hurled it into the back of the salesman, making him fall over the edge. Before he could make his full descent, he grabbed onto Jeoffrey's leg, forcing him down with him. Luckily, canopies were down below, dampening their descent. Jeoffrey held onto the back with all his willpower while he tumbled down to the docks. There he laid upon the wooden waterfront with the salesman next to him. He stood up to recover, only to see a bunch of guards approach with their spears.
"Use the sewers! We know it better than them!" cried out Annabel to her brother.
"Get him!" the fish salesman cried out while he recovered from his fall.
Jeoffrey had no choice, but to turn around and sprint into the underground of the ruined town. The guards were close behind, but he and her sister knew the underground workings better than anyone else. He crawled into the smaller pipes in hopes the larger guards wouldn't follow, but he still saw one guard behind him. It was a Dwarf, one of the fabled people of the underground. This was not good. The pipe went to an incline and he tumbled out into a great cistern filled with the murky water of the town. Still the Dwarf was on his tail, and he swam with all his might, the fish were floating out of his satchel now, but he didn't want to get caught by the guard.
Up above, Annabel rushed through the alleyways with another basket full of fish she decided to grab last minute. She could still hear the rabble of the pursuing guards behind her. She finally reached the main street that once lead directly to the Kindred Tree, but now was only a road of ash and old memories. There, her brother emerged from a manhole with the Dwarven guard behind him who caught him by the nape of his shirt.
"Brother, no!" She cried out. She felt she had no choice and began to sprint toward her captured brother with the intention of tackling the guard, but a sudden towering figure stood in front of her, causing her to crash into him and get knocked into the ground.
Rubbing her head, she looked at the man in her daze. He was tall with a purple cloak covering his armored body. The breastplate, spaulders, shin guards, and boots shined like they were polished silver. His breastplate had the insignia of a luminescent tree as did his brown leather gloves. His skin was a light green, his eyes silver, and his hair an evergreen while tied back into a ponytail. His great sword stayed upon his back but was not fastened by a strap or sheath. It seemed to stick to him like it was attracted to him. The pommel was an amber orb, the handle seemed like it was made of a certain dark wood, and the blade was wide and long, but was made with a red metal-like material. Though the large strange man towered over her, his face had a calming expression like a kind man come out of a storm.
Annabel tried to say something, but before she could, she was grabbed by two guards. The man looked at her and her brother with perplex.
"My apologies, sir," The Dwarven guard answered, "Just a bunch of street rats trying to nab a bunch of fish."
"Is that so?" He spoke with elegance, "Do they not have hearth and home to fill their bellies?"
The guards seemed surprised at his question, and the way he spoke.
"They're street rats, sir," The Dwarven guard answered, "They never had a home to begin with."
The strange man looked upon the two children once again, their eyes veered away from his own as though shame overwhelmed them.
"Would they be a crime if some paid for the fish they stole?" the strange man asked.
"What?" all the guards said in unison.
"They stole two baskets full of fish!" The Dwarven guard exclaimed, "That's at least worth a thousand silver!"
"I will pay for it," The strange man confirmed, shocking all those around him.
"No, please!" Annabel begged, "Don't indebt yourself for our sakes!"
"Do not worry," He told her, "There will be no debt. I promise."
The guards and the two children led the strange man to the fish salesman, who was quite disgruntled at the situation. When he saw the guards with the children, his face was filled with triumph and delight.
"Finally," He said, "Some justice in this gods-forsaken city."
"This man is willing to pay for the fish you lost," The Dwarven guard told the salesman, "In exchange for no charges being pressed on the street ra-I mean children."
The salesman looked upon the green skinned man with a leery gaze.
"Really?" He responded, "You'll have to pay double for the damages done as well."
"That is fine," The strange man responded. Everyone around him was astounded. For anyone to say they had two thousand silver was a rarity. Very few people had that kind of wealth.
"Very well," Said the salesman, who held out his hand in expectation to be given bags of silver. Instead, the strange man pulled out a single sack and pulled out two single coins, of which he dropped into the salesman's hand.
"Are you deaf or dumb?" The salesman insulted, "It's two thousand silver, not two."
"I gave you the equivalent," The man said, "Look upon the coins once again. You will be quite surprised."
Everyone peered in to examine the two coins in the salesman's hand. To their amazement, they realized these were two pieces of gold stamped with the ancient engravings and images of the Kindred Tree.
"That should be more than enough for the loss and damages," The strange man spoke.
The salesman nearly fell off the edge a second time by the sight of gold in his hand. He felt the coins repeatedly just to make sure they were real, and real they were. A smile came to the man's face. He turned and patted the two children on the head and passed through the group of guards.
"The name's Grunwich," The Dwarven guard introduced himself, "Captain of the guard."
"I am Edelweiss of the Kindred Tree," He responded, shaking his hand, "I am possibly the Last Warrior Druid. I seek the Last Seed of the Kindred Tree in hopes that I can revive it to its former glory."
"The Druids have been gone for a thousand years," Grunwich explained, "But I'll believe you. Who else could have a sack full of old gold coins? You'll want to go see the mayor. I'll show you the way."
Jeoffrey and Annabel stood there looking upon the great warrior who seemed to have come back from the dead. Jeoffrey was mere fascinated by the ancient soldier, but Annabel felt her destiny aligned with him. She knew he was the only chance to get off this island of ash. She had her sights upon Edelweiss, for she knew he was going to make her free.