The Young Knights & The Feast Part 2

silver wolf

“I think we should leave the castle” Cathy whispered as soon as the door closed behind Dale and the lock clicked into place again.
“We can’t” Gwen whispered. “You heard Dale”
A bang sounded on the door “Silence in there” an angry face appeared in the small opening, he scanned the room and checked the door.
“What can they do?” Another voice called from down the corridor “They are in a cell and the castle is closed shut”
“Just making sure” The guard said the face vanished and the sound of distancing footsteps were heard in the corridor.
“You’ve heard him we don’t any options anyway” Arthur shrugged.
“Even if we could have get out somehow we could never get our horses out” Gwen reminded them.
“I’m not leaving my horse here” Peter seconded Gwen, he was attached to his stallion and wasn’t going to part from him.
“So it…

View original post 3,349 more words

Advertisements

The Young Knights & The Feast Part 2

“I think we should leave the castle” Cathy whispered as soon as the door closed behind Dale and the lock clicked into place again.
“We can’t” Gwen whispered. “You heard Dale”
A bang sounded on the door “Silence in there” an angry face appeared in the small opening, he scanned the room and checked the door.
“What can they do?” Another voice called from down the corridor “They are in a cell and the castle is closed shut”
“Just making sure” The guard said the face vanished and the sound of distancing footsteps were heard in the corridor.
“You’ve heard him we don’t any options anyway” Arthur shrugged.
“Even if we could have get out somehow we could never get our horses out” Gwen reminded them.
“I’m not leaving my horse here” Peter seconded Gwen, he was attached to his stallion and wasn’t going to part from him.
“So it is settled, we will look for the killer” Arthur summarized their conversation.

It wasn’t long after that Cathy and Arthur were peeking behind a corner to check if it was clear to cross the main dining hall towards the stairs leading to the floors above located on the other side of the big hall.
A short discussion brought them to the conclusion that if they all left the cell their escape would be quickly discovered, the guards will be looking for them at that point and it would be even a greater problem running around the castle than they already had.
The decision was that two would stay behind at all times and they would rotate shifts looking for clues.
The big stone castle had already set into the night routines, the hour was late and most of the torches were already extinguished and it made it harder to walk around but it was harder for the guards to see them as well.
Arthur and Cathy have spotted a few maids and servants huddling in groups whispering in the corners, maids were sobbing while the servants were mumbling. It was easy to avoid them and to their obvious surprise no guards appeared in their path. The dining hall was already empty, they all had hoped some food will still be out to grab as they hadn’t eaten for a while except for some fruits a long while before the dinner which never happened.

Arthur ran across the hall keeping to the walls hiding in the shadows. He made it to the other side motioning for Cathy to go ahead. It took him a moment to realize she couldn’t see him and he whistled softly letting Cathy know it was okay to move and he could barely hear her running.
A tap on his shoulder made him jump in his place almost screaming out holding himself in the last moment. Turning quickly he found himself facing a young small maid. She was petite, almost like Gwen, though she seemed a bit older. Red long hair was framing her delicate face. She was dressed with ragged clothing and her face seemed like she had been crying.
“I’m sorry if I’ve frightened you” she quickly said seeing the fear slowly leaving his face.
“Don’t worry” Arthur said, trying to gain his courage again hoping this young maiden doesn’t hear his heart beats.
“Who is this?” Cathy asked immediately when she reached the two.
“My name is Sarah” the young maid said. “You must be Arthur and Cathy?” she asked smiling when the two nodded their heads. “The rumor of your arrival at the village was heard by everyone in the castle” she explained.
“Thank you Sarah, but we have to…“ Arthur started but Sarah immediately explained herself.
“I want to help” she said, “I heard stories of your deeds and I don’t believe you killed my mistress” she sighed and a tear appeared in the corner of her eye.

It was a moment later they were standing at the end of the corridor looking at their rooms. Sarah returned from a glance inside finding them empty although it was clear the rooms were searched.
Both Arthur and Cathy hurried into their rooms trying to find the weapons they hid earlier that day. The room was thoroughly searched and their prized weapons they valued so much were gone.
“What are you looking for?” Sarah asked when she saw the two running around, resting at last in the boy’s room settling on the bed.
“For our weapons” Cathy answered, the frustration obvious on her face.
“It is so exciting you have your own weapons” Sarah said with an astound look.
“Well… we used to” Cathy frowned.
“We’ll find them” Arthur calmed her down.
“I think…wait a moment” Cathy ran out of the room, coming back a moment later with Gwen’s dagger in her hand. “She hid it inside the mattress” Cathy smiled, “They must have missed it.”
“She thinks better than the rest of us” Arthur laughed.
Cathy settled back on the bed beside Sarah while Arthur started walking the room. Cathy noticed he was doing this lately when he was thinking.
“What can you tell us?” Arthur turned to Sarah, making her blush a little.
“Well, I…” Sarah started to stammer but regained herself when she saw Arthur’s calm and smiling face. “Well, the word around the castle is the lady was poisoned” she started and Arthur nodded her to go on as he was already assuming that part. “The interesting part is that the Lord and the lady sat in the wrong seats” she continued.
“So the poison was intended for Lord Grey” Cathy finished for her and Sarah nodded.
“Are there any whispers of who could have tried to kill him?” Arthur asked.
“Except for you?” Sarah asked completely serious.
“Yes, of course, except for us” Arthur smiled.
“Well you see, no one ever loved Dian and since Don came around things just got weird” Sarah tried to explain, “But no one really believes Dian could murder her own father” she concluded.
“I guess not” Cathy agreed.
Arthur didn’t seem as convinced but he continued to play along. “Do you know of someone outside the castle who would have wanted to kill him?” He asked.
“Like an enemy?” Sarah asked and continued when she saw Arthur nodded. “No, I can’t think of anyone, Lord Grey is a very kind man.”

Sarah lead them back down towards the dining hall and finally down the stairs towards their cell. She was looking out for guards but at this hour of the night the castle was completely silent.
“We can’t go back without bringing any food” Cathy said, “At least to Peter” she smiled.
Laughing, Arthur agreed and turned towards Sarah who led them into the kitchen, grabbing some food quickly and returning to their cell. They knocked softly to let their friend know they are coming in.
As Sarah was turning to leave, she backtracked and whispered through the window. “I’ll try and meet you here tomorrow night.”
“Thank you” Arthur whispered back.
“Tomorrow night?” Peter asked, “We are staying here another night?”
“Here in this cell?” Gwen joined in.
“”I hope we won’t” Arthur explained, “But it wouldn’t hurt if we had some help moving around at night.”
“Are we going to eat?” Peter pointed to the bread and cheese in their hands.
The four laughed and ate sitting down close to each other.
“We should get some rest” Arthur finally said when they were all done.
“I’ll take the first shift” Gwen volunteered as they agreed to keep a watchful eye during the night as well.

“Peter, get up” Arthur nudged him on the shoulder, walking over to wake up Gwen.
During their late dinner a decision was made that the next couple should leave the cell before dawn making it easier for them to wander in the castle and avoid the guards.
“Try snooping around for some more clues” Arthur whispered when they were up and ready to leave the cell.
“We can try the stables” Peter suggested in a hope to check their horses are okay as well.
“Try to locate Dian and Don’s room, if you can search it that would be even better” Arthur agreed.
Gwen nodded “We’ll see you soon,” closing the door silently behind them while Arthur turned the key slowly locking the door behind them.

“Wake up in there” A hand slammed on the door and laughter noises came from outside.
Jumping to her feet Cathy position herself in front of the small window, blocking the guard’s view inside the cell.
“Would you like some breakfast?” the guard asked.
“Yes please” Cathy answered immediately.
“Ha…Ha…Ha…” The guard started laughing. “Did you hear that?” he shouted to his friends. “Someone should bring them some wine and pastries” he laughed and closed the small window and from inside the cell they could hear him walk away. They were both happy with the fact they had some sense of bringing food over in their previous night roaming, but even more than that they were happy Gwen and Peter weren’t discovered.

Horses were his passion since he could remember himself. Being a stable boy only increased his love and now that he had one of his own he took care of this magnificent animal. Standing inside the stall beside his horse he was stroking it softly and whispering calming words to it.
They have tracked down the stable boy who remembered them from the day before. He seemed a bit surprised to see them running about but after reassuring him it was all a misunderstanding he was willing to talk.
No one had left the castle yet but the rumors are that the gates will be opened tomorrow, he told them. The funeral was supposed to be held the next morning and people were supposed to be coming from all around the area to pay their last respects. “She was very kind and loved” he concluded, looking over his shoulder he panicked and ran off.

“Where are we going next?” Gwen whispered when they were left alone.
Peter was still looking at his young stead wanting to jump on his back and head out of this castle, but the thought quickly left his mind as he remembered his friends and their promise.
“We should try and find Don and Dian’s rooms” Gwen continued and started to head away when Peter nodded his approval.

“Something is wrong” Cathy whispered to Arthur.
“They are probably fine” Arthur tried to reassure her.
“It is taking them too long” She continued.
“I’m pretty sure they felt the same last night” he tried.
Cathy looked at him for a moment and finally nodded, “I guess.”
Cathy slopped down beside Arthur on the cold stone floor.

It was the fifth floor they were searching since they managed to sneak back into the castle without being seen. They looked into the rooms they passed, slowly passing between them trying to avoid the servants and the maids.
“I think this is it” Gwen whispered to Peter.
“I hope so” Peter whispered, “I’m tired and…” he stopped when he saw Gwen looking at him and could imagine the look Cathy would have given him.
This room was much bigger than all the previous rooms. A huge bed stood on the far side, a pink canopy was covering the bed. The fabric seemed like something the two never seen before. A big stand with silver jewelry was standing beside a big corner table with a small chair at its feet. Two small vials were standing on the table and a big wooden box with a crescent on it.
“This is probably Dian’s room” Peter said, taking a look around. “This looks like a princess’s room.”
“What are we looking for?”  Gwen asked, trying to spot anything that could help.
“I don’t really know” Peter said and headed towards a large chest standing at the foot of the bed.
“I knew you were thieves” a voice sounded behind Gwen and before she could react a sharp kitchen knife was pressed to her throat. A strong arm was pinning Gwen to the spot.

“We should look for them” Cathy said again walking the stall back and forth.
Arthur sighed, he was also feeling they were out for a very long time and the two should have been back by now.
“What if something happened?” Cathy said again.
“SHUT UP IN THERE” a fist banged on the door and the small window opened. “Lunch is served.” The guard said throwing four slices of stale bread into Cathy’s face.
“Hey…” Cathy snapped at him.
“Don’t tempt me to come inside” the guard said, “we are all waiting to get our hands on you fellows.” With that he threw the window shut again and headed away.
“They could have been caught” Cathy whispered tilting her head towards the door.
“Let’s go” Arthur said and stood up.

The room was smaller and almost unfurnished in comparison to the Dian’s room. The two rooms shared a door which they passed and before Peter’s eyes could adjust a short rope was thrown at him. “Tie your hands to the bed” Dian’s maid said to Peter.
Slowly Peter created a noose. “Faster, I don’t care much for this girl. I will kill her.”
Peter complied and quickly finished tying himself and looked back to see the woman holding Gwen tighter than before and the knife seemed awfully close to her neck. Peter thought he could have tackled her but there wasn’t any outcome that wouldn’t result in Gwen’s death and he wasn’t going to let that happen.
“Now how about you tie yourself” she pushed Gwen who fell face down into the bed.
“We didn’t kill her” Gwen shouted at her.
“I don’t really care” she said, “I’ll kill the both of you just because you annoy me.”
A gasp made all of them turn only to see Sarah standing in the entrance to the room.
Sarah was holding large plate filled with food in her hand which fell to the ground as she realized what she saw. She immediately turned in her place and bolted from the room.
The maid looked from the door to Gwen who was sitting on the bed, her look went back and forth trying to assess the greater danger. Finally she sighed and ran after Sarah. “Sarah please stop” she yelled after her.
Gwen looked at Peter who nodded his head. “I’ll be fine”, and without waiting anymore Gwen left the room in a hurry looking for the two.

It took Cathy and Arthur a while before they managed to reach the stairs making their way up. The rooms and corridors were full of maids and servants going back and forth. They slowly made their way up the floors losing their way in the process until reaching a familiar room.
It was Lord Grey’s room again and it was guarded by four guards who fortunately enough haven’t noticed them yet.
There was no way of getting inside or passing through the corridor either. Hiding pressed together in a small recess in the wall, the two were contemplating how to leave the corridor when a scream came. “Help me” Sarah appeared running straight towards the guards who quickly returned to full alert.
A confused look passed between the two when they spotted Dian’s maid behind Sarah, she dropped a kitchen knife on the floor and before the two could react Gwen appeared panting.
“Where is Peter?” Arthur whispered stopping Gwen in place with surprise.
“Two floors down, tied in Dian’s room” She answered.
“Help Sarah” Arthur told Cathy, “tell the guards we want to give ourselves into lord Grey and we are in Dian’s room” he finished and bolted towards the stairs down.
Cathy joined Gwen when Dian’s maid started shouting. “She is trying to kill us like they killed the lady” pointing to Gwen and the knife beside her legs. She was a bit confused from the appearance of Cathy but it didn’t stop her long. “Her friend is here to help her. Please, you have to help us” she pleaded to the guards.

Quickly drawing their swords, two of the guards were standing a few steps from the girls. “Slowly come over” one of the guards said, looking for their quick obedience.
“I will not repeat myself” he continued when the two didn’t move.
“We want to see LORD GREY” Cathy shouted his name, praying with all her heart that Arthur knew what he was doing and Lord Grey was actually in his room.
“Girls, COME HERE NOW” the guard was irritated.
“WE WANT LORD GREY” the girls shouted at once.
One of the guards lunged forward trying to grab Gwen but he underestimated her. She easily side stepped and with a quick response the two threw him forward into the floor using his own momentum.
The remaining guards were shocked and before the one on the ground recovered the girls grabbed his sword and were standing above him.
“We want LORD GREY” Cathy yelled keeping the sword at the guard’s neck.
“Grab them” the one who was closest shouted and all of them hurried forward.
“STOP!” sounded a call from the entrance to the room. Lord Grey appeared with Dale a step behind him. “What is going on here?”
“My lord, please go inside” the same guard asked.
“I think two girls are getting the better of your men” Lord Grey said with a smile. “Maybe they should be my guards.” He turned to assess the situation, then turning his look back to the guard. “Bill, what is happening here?”
“My lord, the two were chasing the maids with a knife” Bill answered quickly.
“That one over there?” Lord Grey asked.
Bill’s cheeks flushed and he seemed to stammer, “Sir… I… Sir…”
“My lord, if I may…” Sarah started but a strong fist slammed into her back and she was silenced.
“Do not talk to Lord Grey” Dian’s maid snapped at Sarah.
“I…I…” Sarah quickly quieted and lowered her gaze.
“My lord, can we return them to the cell?” Bill asked.
“There is another one” Dian’s maid quickly added.
“My Lord, we will all happily give ourselves up. Arthur and Peter are waiting downstairs” Cathy offered immediately.
“Well than lead on” Lord Grey said, “But please return the sword to my guard, he lost enough dignity for the day” he smiled and Cathy didn’t hesitate in doing as he said.
“My lord, can we ask for the maids to accompany us?” Gwen asked suddenly.
“It seems odd, but I will allow it” Lord Grey said.
“My lord, we have work to do…”Dian’s maid said.
“You’ll do as ordered” Bill snapped at her, trying to regain his confidence.

“What are you looking for?” Peter asked Arthur after he untied him and was now smelling each one of the bottles on Dian’s perfume table.
Smiling back Arthur pointed to a small bottle. “This.”
“Hello Arthur” Lord Grey said as he entered the room.
“My lord”
“Can we take them back to their cell?” Bill interfered.
“Wait Sir, can we hear them out?” Dale suggested and Lord Grey nodded.
“Cathy can you two please bring the maid” Bill turned and allowed the girls to enter the room with the two maids.
“Bill can you please close the door?” Arthur asked and Lord Grey nodded his head again as approval. Bill quickly complied, leaving the three guards outside.
Peter was eating a pastry from the plate which Sarah dropped earlier.
“Why are you eating?” Cathy asked Peter who only smiled at her.
“Would you like one?” Arthur offered the plate around the room. After Lord Grey took one the rest followed his lead.
After he saw the maid taking a bite from the pastry “My lord, I think I’ve found what killed the lady, I’ve put it on the pastries” he raised the small bottle from the table.
“We are going to die” the maid yelled and dropped to her knees trying to spit out what she ate.
“You know what it is?” Lord Grey asked calmly.
“Please Lord Grey, help me. This is the poison” she cried.
“Don’t worry my lord, you can eat the pastry, I never used it” Arthur smiled and Lord Grey took a large bite enjoying the flavors, nodding for Bill to grab the maid.

After the funeral the four paid their condolences and left the castle back home to their small village.
“How did you know this was the poison?” Peter asked.
“Well, it seemed odd for a perfume bottle to not have any smell” he smiled.
“Lord Grey knows she was just the assassin, why didn’t he do anything with her sender?” Gwen wondered.
“Would you have killed your only daughter?” Arthur asked.
“Besides we are the only ones except for him who knows that” Cathy added.
“I hope he keeps a watchful eye, he is a nice man” Arthur sighed.

Copyright © 2013 The Silver Wolf

The Young Knights & The Feast part 1

A single horseman was making his way through the morning mist.He expected to reach his destination very soon. It was a cold morning but the rider had decided to get an early start,he had to reach his destination on time.He was a good servant and he wouldn’t let his lord down even if it meant less sleep at night and pressing his horse to the limit. He set out on his journey almost two days ago and without that darned mist he would have seen the village by now, he thought to himself.

One house was towering over the rest when he finally reached his destination, entering a small village. He was told the inn was his destination and there was no doubt in his mind that this was his destination. He knew that in these small villages the inn was the biggest building around.
Leading his horse in the direction of the inn he easily spotted the stable standing next to it and led his horse inside looking for a stable boy, jumping off his horse in the process.
He spotted a tall skinny boy and a petite brunette girl brushing one of the horses inside a stall and coughed his throat to get their attention.
“Please take care of my horse and feed him properly” he said when they turned towards him.
“Sir, we aren’t…” Peter started.
“You” he pointed to Gwen, “Please let Arthur know I request to see him” the man interrupted Peter, not even hearing him.
Gwen looked at Peter and smiled.She shrugged and turned towards the inn.
The man turned back to his horse and fished out a small parchment from his saddle bag. Turning towards the inn he left his horse behind.

John greeted the traveler at the door. John was a big friendly man and compared to the small man standing at the door he looked huge. The inn was warm and cozy and many travelers were seated at their tables eating their breakfast before going out on the road again.
“Good morning” John warmly greeted the traveler.
The traveler nodded and followed John to a corner table at the other side of the inn.
“Would you like a breakfast?” John queried.
“Yes, please” he answered, “Could you please direct Arthur to my table once he arrives?” He asked.
“Of course, he will be with you soon” John said and turned towards the kitchen.
“Sir” The traveler stopped John “Could you please bring a meal for him as well?” he asked.
“Well…” John started.
“I will pay for it, no doubt” he said.
“Arthur doesn’t need to pay here” John smiled and headed towards the kitchen.

A plate was placed in front of him. “Did you want to see me?” asked the twelve years old boy who placed his plate.
“No” The traveler said.
Arthur shrugged and spun, holding his tray in his strong hands he turned towards a different table and placed their breakfast in front of them, heading back towards the kitchen when he was through.
“Sir” a tall blond thirteen years old girl had appeared above him carrying another plate and laid it opposite him.
“Thank you” he said “Where is Arthur?” he continued.
“I’ll send him to you” Cathy smiled and turned away.
“Sir, you’ve asked for me?” Arthur asked again, “I’m Arthur” He said and sat down in front of him, looking the traveler confidently in the eyes.
“But…I… you can’t…” he seemed bewildered, raising his hand to call for John.
Cathy was the first to reach their table before John even noticed his hand in the air. “I see Arthur found you” she said and smiled.
“This is Arthur?” he asked his jaw dropping. “I’m looking for HIM?”
Cathy nodded and lingered by behind Arthur.
He let out a sigh “My name is Dale, I’m a personal servant to Lord Grey” he stopped for a second, taking a breath, maybe still not believing this was the one Lord Grey had requested.
“My master is hosting a banquet to celebrate his daughter’s wedding in his castle three days from now. Lord Grey had requested for you and your friends to be his guests in this occasion” Dale paused letting the words sink in.

“Hey, there you are” Peter joined them with Gwen on his side.
“Dale, please meet my friends” Arthur introduced each one of them.
Dale reached to his belt producing a small parchment, handing it over to Arthur who took it cautiously from his hand.
Folded neatly and sealed with a wax stamp,the parchment seemed very official. Arthur looked a little unsure should he open this, until he saw Dale’s look waiting for him to do so. Breaking the seal he opened the parchment slowly, unfolding the parchment, holding it in his hands.
Out of the four, Arthur was the only one who could read well enough to understand what it said.
John booming voice sounded from a nearby table and he now was heading towards them.
“We were invited to Lord Grey’s castle” Arthur told John when he reached them handing him, the parchment although John didn’t know how to read.
“When are you leaving?” John asked.
“Will you be okay here if we go?” Arthur asked.
John smiled like he always did, “We’ll be okay, Alex can help us while you are away.”
“We could be gone a bit” Cathy said.
“Merry will be worried but we’ll do, when should we expect you back?” John asked and all heads turned towards Dale.
Dale scratched his head. “It could take almost a week” he finally said.
“A week?” John’s eyes opened wide but he caught himself. “You should go” he said.
“So…When are we… leaving?” Peter asked with his mouth full of hot potatoes from Arthur’s plate.
“Peter?” Cathy frowned at him.
“What…? No one else… was eating it” Peter answered.
“Will we be leaving soon?” Gwen interrupted the argument.
All heads turned towards Dale again who was already prepared with an answer. “As soon as you are ready, we have a long journey ahead of us”
Arthur nodded and stood up. “We will be ready soon” he said turning towards the kitchen door which held the path to their small cabin.

Although she wasn’t pleased to hear they were leaving, John’s wife Merry had provided them with enough food for their travel.She was hugging tight each one of them in turn when John came in. “They will be fine” John told her.
She continued to hug Gwen while John pulled Arthur who just came through the door aside. “Do you think this is a trap again?” he asked, reminding Arthur of the time when men tried to kill them.
“The parchment seems genuine” Arthur whispered.
John grabbed Arthur and the nearby Peter crashing them together in a bear hug. “We should let them go” he told Merry who was whimpering, “They are able to take care of themselves” he added.
The four left the kitchen, entering the inn’s main hall, each one of them was carrying a short sword on his belt except for Gwen who carried a dagger, while a quiver and bow hung on their backs. Dale stood up. Looking again at the four he realized they were more than what he had thought.
“Do you have horses?” Dale asked when they led him to the stable walking confidently inside.
Peter snorted and one by one brought out two brown mares for the girls, Arthur’s black stead and his own white spotted stead, which in comparison made Dale’s horse look like a simple work horse.
These horses were gifts from the mother queen herself in gratitude of their service to the crown and saving the kingdom during their adventure in London on the previous summer.
Easily mounting their horses, the four were waiting for Dale to join them. He had been looking at the four, slowly realizing they were looking like knights and not like thirteen and twelve years old lads.
Dale took a deep breath and mounted his horse. Maybe his master knew what he was doing, he thought to himself. He kicked with both legs and the group was off, passing by the inn door where Merry was waving them off.

Fortunate enough their travel was without strange occurrences and except for some travelers who passed them by looking at them suspiciously as they were a strange group.  A huge turret was the first thing they had seen when they came out of the forest. Into view came a huge castle, not as big as the one they had seen in London but almost as big.
The buildings were pearly white with a single turret in the middle, towering over the rest. Four more turrets were positioned in the four corners of the white strong stone built wall. Surrounding the castle was a village, bigger and as it seemed wealthier than their own village.
Farmers were working their fields surrounding the village and as they came closer they could see women walking and children playing between the houses.
Entering the village they reduced their trot to a slow walk. This gave them enough time to look around the village spotting a busy market and guards walking the streets slowly, keeping the order in the village.

The castle was surrounded with a big moat filled with water which separated the houses from the wall. A big gate was standing at the end of the road and a wooden draw bridge aloud travelers in and out of the castle. Two guards were standing at the sides of the entrance, fully armed and ready for battle. Arthur had seen four more guards armed with bows standing on top of the gate. The four followed Dale through the gate. Dale nodded to the guards and they had let the group pass without even looking at them twice.
Dale slowly headed around the castle, allowing the four to take in their surrounding and admire the castle. The main hall was standing at the center of the courtyard. It was a very large building and the big turret was standing above the main hall with windows at different levels around the round turret.
Two stable boys were already waiting for them at the entrance to the stable. They were not much younger than the four and were very surprised to see the guests Dale was escorting. Dismounting with a jump they handed over the reins to the boys. Dale had requested the boys to take good care of the horses, explaining these were Lord Grey’s special guests. The boys only nodded and ran to the stable. Arthur called one of the boys just before he disappeared into the stable and handed him two copper coins, remembering his friend Glen doing it previously on their journey.

“Follow me, please” Dale requested when they reached the main entrance. He passed between two guards who stood in attention, passing through a maze of corridors going up three flights of stairs and heading into two big rooms at the end of a corridor.
“This will be the girl’s room” he said entering one of the rooms, “and you boys will sleep in the room across the hall” he said to their amazement.
The rooms were huge. Each one held a big double bed, a large chest full of new clothes and a plate filled with fruit standing on a beautiful wooden table, a large window aloud them a view of the courtyard and the village outside the walls. This was one of the best places they have
slept in for a long while.
“These clothes are for you to wear in the ceremony and an additional set for the celebration before that” Dale explained.
“Thank you, but we have our own clothes” Arthur answered.
“No…Not acceptable” said a woman from the entrance of the room that surprised them all, even Peter who was in the midst of grabbing an apple from the fruit plate.
A small chubby short woman with a mole like face stood at the door. “This.. this things you call clothes are not acceptable for my mistress’s wedding” she gave Cathy a paralyzing look, “These were custom made, just put them on. I would start right now” she said and left the room.
Dale shrugged and left the room.
“Well, you heard her” Peter laughed, taking a bite from the apple.
“Lord Grey would like to see you all at dinner” Dale entered the room again and left in a hurry.

It didn’t take the four long to settle in their rooms as they did travel light. “What should we do?” Gwen wondered sitting in the boys room on the ledge of the window, looking down at the village.
“We explore the castle?” Peter suggested.
“Why not” Arthur smiled, “I figure we have some time till dinner.”
“So we should take something to eat” Peter laughed and grabbed another apple from the fruit plate.
Cathy frowned and turned away, leading the four to the hall. They were standing at the top of the flight of stairs looking down and then looking up to another flight of stairs. Gwen was the first to react and headed up the flight of stairs leading the rest of them to another maze of corridors and rooms.

Walking around the corridors they found it very confusing to understand where they were exactly and after running up and down a few flight of stairs they weren’t sure how to get back to their rooms. The corridors were starting to darken slowly as the sun was setting outside and the torches weren’t lit yet.
Peter was leading the group in their search with Arthur closing the pack from behind. “Arthur, there you are” he heard from a room he just passed and stopped short, slowly walking backwards to take a look in the room and figure if he heard right.
“How are you Arthur?” Arthur heard when he popped his head through the doorstep of a big room. Looking inside he saw a big table standing at the end of the room. It was made of fine wood and gave the room a sense of prestige. Four chairs were surrounding the table, two from one side and two from the other. The room was finely decorated with draped windows, carpets, footstools, armchairs and a fireplace. Every piece in the room radiated of wealth.
Both chairs on the far side of the room were occupied. Arthur recognized the man sitting in one of the chairs. Lord Grey was signaling for him to come over and take a sit in front of him. The woman in the second chair didn’t seem familiar to Arthur but he felt a need to comply with his host’s request.
Taking another look towards the corridor he noticed his friends have already left, probably haven’t noticed yet he was missing, so he turned and made his way towards the chair carefully taking in every detail of the room.

“Please sit” Lord Grey requested and Arthur quickly complied.
“Would you like to drink some tea?” Asked the woman, seeing Arthur still silent she got up and produced a cup from a cupboard and poured tea from a cattle into it, placing it in front of Arthur who quickly took a sip and burned his tongue.
“How are you?” Lord Grey asked politely, “have you found your rooms to your liking?”
“”Yes sir, these are better than we are used to” Arthur answered regaining himself.
“Good, I’m very happy you could join us in our celebration” Lord Grey smiled.
“Sir…I’m… I’m a bit confused…” Arthur started but was quickly cut off.
“I had full confidence you would find us here, I even told my wife I’m sure we will meet before dinner” his wife nodded as approval.
“We haven’t yet sat to talk but I believe I can trust you and in days like these this isn’t something I can say easily” Lord Grey continued.
Arthur nodded. “Thank you sir but…” he stopped seeing Lord Grey was continuing either way.
“You are a clever lad, probably you’ve been asking yourself why I’ve invited you to this wedding” Lord Grey took a deep breath. “I believe someone is trying to kill me” he said and Arthur eyes widened while Lord Grey’s wife wept silently, “I had this feeling for some time and the plot you have stopped in the archery competition signaled I was right. I also believe that someone tried to silence you a while ago.”
This had surprised Arthur as he didn’t know Lord Grey knew about the trap they had been led into and he wasn’t even sure he knew exactly who these men were and why did they attack them.
“I believe this wedding is a good opportunity for someone to try again. I would like you and your friends to try and find out who is behind this” Lord Grey looked at Arthur intensively. “I know I’m putting a lot of pressure on you but I believe I can trust you without a doubt.”
“Will you help us?” his wife pleaded.
Arthur nodded, “We will do our best.”
“That is all I ask” Lord Grey said.
“ARTHUR” A shout came from afar, “ARTHUR WHERE ARE YOU” he recognized the voice belonging to his friends.
“You are missed. Thank you, we will see you at the dinner table” he said.
“Sir, can I…?” Arthur pointed to a pastry plate on the table which he was eyeballing since he sat down.
“Of course” said his wife quickly. Arthur grabbed one and started for the door and then remembered Peter and grabbed another one with a sheepish smile and ran outside.

It didn’t take long for the group to reunite and catch up quickly while they were walking down the stairs, eventually running into Dale who was looking for them in order to escort them to dinner. Dale didn’t seem happy they had run around the castle but except for letting them know this wasn’t acceptable, he couldn’t do much.
Practically ushering them into the main dining hall, Dale made sure the four won’t wander off again and disturb his master. Dale sent one of the servants to announce the guests were seated and waiting for him and his wife at the table.

Other than themselves Arthur saw four couples seated at the long table. The center plates were filled with hot steaming food and Gwen was doing her best to stop Peter from bouncing of his chair. At the head of the table were standing two large decorated seats still empty, and beside them stood two chairs which were also empty. At that moment two figures came into the room which the four quickly recognized. They were walking confidently towards the two empty chairs close to the head of the table. The two were Don and his wife to be Dian, Lord Grey’s daughter. The two sat down with a look of dismay at the others, their eyes finally landing on the four clearly recognizing them and remembering where they had previously met.
Dian leaned over towards Don to whisper something in his ear but this is when Lord Grey and his wife entered the room. They were walking lightly towards their seats at the head of the table, smiling politely to everyone who caught their eyes.
Without a second to waste wine glasses were produced in front of all the guests and Lord Grey stood up holding his cup in his hand, raising it up. All of his guests stood up raising their glass, waiting for Don who needed an elbow punch from Dian in order to share the same respect.
“I would like to raise a toast to my daughter and her husband to be, who in time will rule this castle” Lord Grey started, “I thank you all for coming to the celebration and I hope you enjoy your stay with us until the ceremony in two days’ time” he raised his glass higher.
“Cheers” came the call from around the table and they all drank up.
Lord Grey started to sit down slowly, but suddenly he looked to his wife who fell down to the ground dropping and breaking the glass on the floor.

Looking around the room Arthur managed to see the look of shock spreading on everyone’s face. From the corner of his eye he saw Dian looking at Don questioning. Don pointed towards the head of the table and then Arthur’s field of vision was blocked.
“Grab them!” he heard a shout coming from Don’s direction and four healthy guards grabbed him and his friends from behind, kicking them in the stomach, dropping them to the ground.
Arthur managed to spot Lord Grey being ushered outside of the dining hall by Dale and three guards.
“Everywhere they show up there is trouble” shouted Dian at the four who were painfully brought to their legs.
A maid reached the woman on the floor and started crying. Two of her friends pulled her back while they saw Dian’s maid checking if her mistress mother was still alive.

Everything happened fast they couldn’t defend themselves as their weapons were stored carefully in their rooms upstairs. They were now being dragged into a cell after going down a flight of stairs. “Please, we didn’t do anything” Gwen pleaded but the guards pretended they didn’t even hear her.
“It won’t work” Cathy frowned and kicked the wall.
“Why are you smiling?” Peter asked Arthur.
Arthur nodded towards the door where a face appeared in a small window in the door, Dale was looking at them. Quickly opening the door, he entered the small cell and closed the door behind him.
“Can I trust you?” Dale asked.
Arthur nodded.
“Well my master does, so…” Dale produced a key and handed it to Arthur. “Wait a while after I leave.”
“Thank you” Gwen whispered.
“Don’t thank me” Dale said and opened the door, “Find the man who killed my master’s wife” he sighed, “find him before he kills my master.” Dale closed the door and shuffled away.

To be continued….

Copyright © 2013 The Silver Wolf

Autumn Book Tour Blog From Paul Anthony Associates

fall in Minnesote

Welcome to the autumn book tour blog. Autumn in England signals the end of summer and a slow movement towards winter as the temperature drops and the nights get longer and darker. With less sunshine and a lost summer it’s also the time many authors get their heads down and historically write more than during any other season. But autumn in England is ‘fall’ in America and ‘spring’ in South Africa so you’re invited to discover how different authors approach this time of the year. Come and meet some of my friends who are writers who either have recently published works or are working on books that are likely to be available at the end of this wonderful season. Indeed, they’ve all been asked the same questions as they introduce themselves and their work. So, let’s hear what they have to say. First up is Silver Wolf

Q. Whereabouts do you live, Silver Wolf?

A. In a small den way in the north, just kidding 🙂 I live in a small town in Minnesota, USA.

Q. Are you a full time writer or do you have a regular day job?

A. I’m not a full time writer yet, working at a small high-tech company and studying for my CPA exams. My dream is to be able to live off my writing and I hope it comes sooner than later

Q. Do you tend to write more this time of the year or do you have a different writing schedule?

A. Thinking of it now it is usually around this time which I tend to write a bit more, it might be the fact that I tend to be home more J . But actually I do believe there is something in the air, maybe it is just me.

Q. When you’re not writing how do you spend your leisure time? Do you have any particular hobbies or interests?

A. On the weekends I coach a Juvenile baseball team, I can say it is so much fun seeing the boys improve their skills and win games is so fulfilling. During the week I take two hours off my schedule to teach an entrepreneur class to 8th graders, which is very nice (At least when the co- operate 🙂 ).
Other than that I love to play with my dog and I’ve got friends who I meet on a regular basis, we all know each other for almost twenty years and we practically grew up together. Last and defiantly not least spending time with my wife who puts up with me 🙂

chompy

A. One of my first strong memories is reading a book with some hot chocolate cup my mother made on the sofa in the living room, it wasn’t a novel at this age of course J but I sure did enjoy it.
Autumn for me is change and the beginning of new things, the leaves are falling to make way to new greener leaves. Finally my birthday is in this time of the year so it is always nice 🙂

fall

Q. What part of the world would you most like to live in if you couldn’t live where you are now?

A. I always thought about living down under in Australia it always seems like such a beautiful place and would be interesting to live in a place where the seasons are opposite and the winter isn’t so intense.

Q. If you won a million pounds / dollars on the lottery, what would you do with it?

A. Wohoo… I won a million dollars!!! 🙂
But after I finish jumping up and down, I would buy a small house for me and my wife instead of living in a rented house. After that I would probably quit my day job and focus on my writing. I probably would use part of the money to help my brother and sisters.

Q. With regards to your writing who would you say has inspired you most in your career to date?

A. Although he isn’t in my writing genre one of my favorite authors is the amazing Stephen King, I think I’ve read each one of his books and I keep buying his new ones.
Another one closer to home is J.K Rowling, she is a great author who had transformed millions of children around the world to book lovers, which in our day and age is without a doubt admirable at the least.

Q. What genre do you write in?

A. I finished my first middle grade novel, the first of a series. The main characters are at the age of thirteen, it is a detective adventure book which I think would be fun to read for all ages (I hope 🙂 ).

Q. Have you published anything yet or do you have a ‘work in progress’?

A. I haven’t published yet, I’m doing a third edit run on my novel, but at the same time I’m writing a short stories blog with the same characters. These are short adventures which happen between the books in the series. About nine stories were already posted and can be found here:
http://wp.me/p1UAys-8h

Q. Tell us about your work. Do you have a particular character that figures consistently in your work or are you in the stage of developing a lead character?

A. My novel has four lead characters, this are a group of friends who gathered together in the time of trouble. Of course there is the main character which is the young King Arthur, long before he becomes a king. This is his journey to greatness with his young knights as companions.

Q. What do you think is the most difficult obstacle to overcome in today’s writing world?

A. The most difficult obstacle as far as I can see it is getting noticed even before you publish, literary agents are swamped with query letters and publishing on your own is a scary process (At least for me) and you are practically all alone.

Q. Where can we find out more about your work?

A. Here you can keep track on my progress and my latest stories 🙂

WordPress blog: http://wp.me/p1UAys-9O
My Facebook fan page:  https://www.facebook.com/The.Silver.Wolf25
My twitter account: https://twitter.com/Silverwolf2500 or @Silverwolf2500

I always have some room for new friends as well https://www.facebook.com/silver.wolf.562

Thank you. Can I invite you to meet my friends in this wonderful world of writing? Just click on their names and you’ll find yourself reading a different set of answers to the same questions. Please support my friends and fellow authors by visiting their sites and checking out their contribution. Thank you for joining me on my blog tour.

  1. PAUL ANTHONY
  2. G.D. OGAN
  3. C.C. COLE
  4. C C CHAMPAGNE 
  5. EDDIE DE JONG http://www.dejong.co.za/index.php/the-autumn-book-tour-blog-eddie-de-jong/
  6. RUPERT DE CESARIS
  7. CLIFTON COETZEE
  8. CERI LONDON
  9. KEN BOEHS

The Young Knights & The Fortuneteller

“How many times will we have an opportunity like this Arthur?” Peter asked.
The four were walking through a traveling bazaar that had made camp just outside their village. It wasn’t as big as the one they had seen in London in the previous summer but indeed it was larger than the one they were used to in the villages in their approximate surrounding.
It was the fact that spring was starting to loom over the corner that had brought the bazaar to their region. After a week of nice warm weather the roads have dried and the wagons could make their way through without getting stuck in the mud.

Peter, the tall thirteen years old blond, was standing in front of a small dark tent. A symbol of a scary face above the entrance did more to repel people from entering than to draw them in, but the group had seen more than a few entering the tent.
The four got the afternoon off from their chores at the inn, helping John and Merry the inn owners to handle the growing flow of travelers who passed through their village. Alex, a beautiful maid they have saved from being killed a while ago by Lord Grey’s daughter, was waiting the tables while John handled the guests and Merry cooked in the kitchen.

Almost a head shorter than Peter, Arthur was looking at the tent suspiciously. He didn’t like fortunetellers. In fact he had some bad experience with one in the previous summer.
“It will be interesting” Peter said, “Don’t you want to know what would happen?”
Cathy was looking at the whole scene from a distance with Gwen. They were still talking to a merchant trying to buy a small herbal pouch for Gwen.
The merchant, a stocky bald chubby man, was starting to realize they weren’t going to cave to his prices and was about to sell them the pouch for half his asking price when a short cry sounded and a man came running out of the fortuneteller’s tent knocking Peter over, falling on top of him, quickly bouncing back to his feet. “The witch killed again” the merchant beside Cathy shouted. The man kept running towards the girls although it seemed he wasn’t seeing them at all. Cathy grabbed Gwen and swung her out of the way just in time for the man to hit the stand behind them at full speed, spreading the merchandise all over the ground.

A woman came out of the tent. She had long black hair and olive like skin, her face was delicate but now she was scared to death. “The witch killed again” the merchant shouted again pointing towards the woman standing beside Arthur and Peter.
Cathy tried to lift the man from the ground grabbing him by the shoulder, he wasn’t moving and when the merchant pulled his hand back it was covered with blood.
“SHE MUST BE PUNISHED” the merchant shouted again and looked around at his friends who started to gather around his messed up stand.
“Please help me, Arthur” The fortuneteller whispered, catching the boys off-guard.
“What?” Arthur mumbled.
“Please Arthur, I need your help” her whisper almost swallowed in the noise rising from the crowd.
“How can we help you?” Arthur asked, his eyes already scanning the surrounding.
“KILL THE WITCH! “Came a shout from the crowd and a stone flew in the air falling between the three.
“Please….” she pleaded, her brown almond eyes begging Arthur. “They will kill me, I haven’t killed that man.”
Peter raised his shoulders indicating he wasn’t sure what was going on, Arthur nodded towards the tent and Peter started walking slowly towards it.
The crowd was growing strong and the variety of objects thrown was increasing, a tomato hit Arthur’s shoulder and the fortuneteller was hit by an apple in her stomach.
“Meet us at the fort” Arthur shouted to the girls who were already overrun by the crowd and in no position to reach them.
Cathy grabbed Gwen by the hand and headed against the current of the crowd not before Gwen grabbed the herbal pouch, throwing a copper coin to the merchant and running away.

Grabbing her hand Arthur led the fortuneteller back into the tent, followed by Peter who kept looking at the crowd who slowly made their way towards them. The tent was warm and comfortable from the inside. It held a couple of chairs, a small table which seemed like they were mended lately and a few crates in one of the corners. The tent had a second opening from the other side which Arthur immediately ran to check out only to see the crowd heading towards it as well.
Arthur stopped for a moment. “Did you use this opening?” Arthur asked.
The fortuneteller only shook her head in response.
“We’re trapped” Peter said quickly unsheathing his sword quickly, ready to fight.
“We aren’t going to fight here” Arthur told him, they were both looking at him now. “Cut a small hole in the tent” he pointed to the far side of the tent.
Peter went to work while Arthur tied the flaps of the tent closing it shut. “Do you have anything you need to take with you?” Arthur asked.
The fortuneteller ran towards a crate returning quickly to the two which were already on their way out of the tent cutting a hole into the adjacent tent.

Remaining unnoticed the three managed to cut their way through three different tents before they were at the end of the line. Arthur peeked behind the tent towards the enraged crowd. Someone picked up a torch and threw it towards the fortuneteller’s tent which caught fire quickly. “It’s a good time to run” Arthur said, “Before the whole place catches fire. Aim for the trees.” the three took off not a moment later.
“HERE SHE IS” a shout came from behind them and the crowd started after them, and the three picked up the pace.
Arthur looked back just in time to see the fortuneteller slip and fall on the ground. He immediately ran to her, grabbing her by the arm. Her leg was hurt and she had trouble standing up. A teenage boy was running towards them. He was much faster than the crowd behind him and stood alone a few feet from them, holding a rock in his hand, still not sure what to do.
“Let us go” Arthur said to him calmly, “This will not end good for you if you throw it” he motioned to his sword and the lad backed down while Arthur supported the fortuneteller into the woods.

The crowd stopped at the woods and allowed the three to hide there, going deep into the woods until Arthur felt safe they weren’t seen anymore.
The fortuneteller sat down on a tree stomp panting and aching. She was looking at the boys who were resting although keeping alert at all times.
“My name is Peter, but you probably know that already” Peter introduced himself.
“My name is Ronda” she smiled, “Thank you” she continued. “Most people would have left me there.”
Arthur let out a short sigh “You still need to explain to us what happened” he said.
Ronda nodded. “Well… you see, someone is out to get me” she started.
“Who? ” Peter wondered.
“I don’t know” Ronda shook her head.
“How come? You are a fortuneteller” Peter insisted
“Peter… let her tell the story” Arthur said. “Please continue” he smiled at her.
Ronda nodded. “There are people who don’t like my people, I have seen this more than a few times before but this time someone wants me dead” she said.
“Your people?” Arthur asked.
“Yes, you see, I’m a Gypsy” she explained, “There are people who feel we don’t belong” she sighed. “This started a few weeks ago when we were up north. A man came to my tent a bit late and asked me to tell him his future. I’ve asked him to come over in the morning as I was very tired but I should have known it wouldn’t help. He insisted it had to be then. I looked at the cards and got scared, I was looking at a dead man walking. He didn’t have much time to live and I was supposed to tell him that” Ronda paused for a moment. “How can you tell a man he will die soon?” she asked them and continued without waiting for an answer. “I told him his future is vague and can’t see through the mist. He didn’t believe me, I sensed it. He got angry, broke my table and chairs leaving my tent in a total mess, not to mention my payment of course.
“Can you walk?” Arthur asked when Ronda paused for a moment, “we should leave before night falls” he explained.
Slowly getting up Ronda nodded her head. Putting her arms around the boys, they slowly lead her through the woods. Her left ankle had swollen into twice its original size and her face twisted in pain each time she stepped on it.

“You can go on” Arthur suggested trying to make Ronda forget of the pain for a moment.
Ronda took a deep breath. “This man died that same night” she said, “some of the merchants came to my tent, woke me up and wanted to kill me on the spot. Apparently before he died he told someone that if something happened to him I was to blame” she sighed. “I fled from my tent, barely escaping them. A couple of merchants helped me and stopped them.”
“So why did you stay with them?” Peter asked the same question Arthur had wanted to ask.
“This is my life” she said, “I thought it will be forgotten in time and I can keep living my life with as I always did.”
“What happened today?” Arthur asked.
“I don’t know, I went to take a cloak from my crate when I heard some whispers and a cry. When I turned I spotted a man leaving the tent from the second opening and by the time I ran outside after him he was already gone. When I returned to the tent it was already empty and that was when I came out and met you two.”
“Who do you think could have done this?” Arthur asked, “Could this have been a coincidence?” He tried although he knew it probably wasn’t.

The sun was already setting when they finally saw the inn. They were still keeping to the woods when they noticed that a crowd had formed in front of the inn. It appeared to them that someone had tipped the crowd where they lived. They could see John standing in front of the inn, trying to calm them down calling to them in his low, loud but calm voice.
“I’ll go contact the girls” Arthur said, “I’ll let them know we are okay.”
“I can go” Peter said, but Arthur shook his head and started towards the inn, trying to keep the inn between him and the crowd at all times.
Quickly reaching the back side of the inn he made his way towards the stable, trying to reach their cabin in the inn’s courtyard from a secret passageway. To his dismay the way into the stable was blocked as well.
Starting back, he stopped when he heard his name called from above him. He raised his look and Cathy was looking down at him from a window on the second floor.
“Is everyone okay?” she asked.
Arthur nodded. “More or less” he said, “Ronda can barely walk.”
“Can you meet us in the bazaar after the crowd dispersed?” Arthur asked.
Cathy nodded. “Should we bring anything?” she asked.
“Can you bring a long cloak with a hood?” Arthur requested.
“Of course” she said, “What for?”
“I’ll explain later” he said, already heading towards the woods.
Cathy pulled her shoulders and turned when Arthur called her again. “Can you try to identify who is leading the crowd?” he asked and Cathy nodded again, heading quickly down the stairs.

The way back in the woods was much slower this time, Ronda needed a lot of rest and her leg seemed to have swollen even more. The fact that the sun had already set and darkness filled the woods around them didn’t help at all.
Spotting the place where Ronda’s tent should have been they slowly made their way over, supporting Ronda, hoping that the darkness will help to conceal them.
They had passed a tent when a hand tapped on Peter’s shoulder. He swirled in his place, his hand instinctively reaching for his sword.
A man was standing in front of him but right behind him Gwen was smiling at him in the entrance to a tent.
“Arthur…” Peter whispered, making Arthur and Ronda stop and turn as well.
Ronda let out a loud sigh, falling on the man’s neck, weeping. “I didn’t kill him” she told him.
“I know” he said, leading her into the tent quickly, hoping no one had heard their encounter.
The tent looked similar to the one they had seen earlier that day, although this one seemed a little less mysterious and a bit more of a home. Cathy was smiling at the three although Arthur easily noticed she had been worried.

It was a long day and they were all tired. Ronda specifically looked exhausted and Arthur regretted he needed to ask her to put herself at risk again but they needed to find out what was happening and who was trying to hurt her.
“Ronda, I want you to tell me my future” Arthur said calmly, confusing all the people around him.
“I… I… I don’t have my cards here” she said, “they were probably burned in the fire” she was more confused than everyone else.
“So we shall look for them” Arthur replied.
Turning to Cathy he motioned for her to bring him the cloak she had brought.
“Is this the time?” Cathy whispered.
“It is the best time” he answered. “Keep an eye on us as close as you can, be ready to jump in.” He continued, letting her plan the rest.

Before leaving the tent Arthur covered himself, concealing his short sword under the cloak. He then followed Ronda outside and although it had seemed strange to her, they walked in the bazaar as if they weren’t hiding at all. Arthur looked like he wanted to be seen.
Where once stood a nice tent now was only darkness and emptiness. Ronda looked around in the darkness and then towards Arthur. “There is nothing left” she whispered.
“What about your cards?” Arthur asked in his regular calmness.
She shook her head. “No” she finally said after realizing he might not see her.
“Than try to do your best without them” he said and picked a spot on a burned chair.
Still confused Ronda took his lead and sat down in front of him. The table between them was burned to the ground so they were sitting very close.

“I got the sense you didn’t believe in fortunetellers” she said.
Arthur pulled his shoulders. “I have my issues” he said.
“What do you want to know?” she asked.
“Well, what do you usually do?” he asked.
Looking over her shoulder to where her crates once stood, “I bring my cards from the crate” She sighed.
“You should go look for them” Arthur said. He had spotted a movement from the corner of his eye, he was hoping his plan was working and distracting Ronda was the only way to find out.
Ronda seemed utterly confused but she did as she was told, getting up and heading towards the burned crates. She was moving things from side to side trying to find anything worth that had survived the fire.

All of the sudden a man was standing in front of Arthur, he was tall and a hood was covering his head obscuring his face. “I’m sorry” he whispered, a dagger appeared in his hand and he swung it with force towards Arthur.
As he was sitting down Arthur didn’t have much time to react and he tried to back off falling backwards in his chair, fortunate enough making the dagger miss him.
His attacker quickly changed his position and swung again this time straight into the ground, catching Arthur’s pants by its edge. “Stop moving, you’ll just make it worse”
He raised his dagger again, this time pointing it straight to Arthur’s heart. Arthur fumbled for his sword but he wasn’t fast enough to draw it. His attacker looked him in the eyes for the first time, holding the dagger straight. Arthur felt the tip of the dagger on his chest. “I’m sorry” he whispered again, pinning Arthur down with his body.
The man yelped in pain, looking down at his leg, distracted enough for Arthur to wiggle himself out. He rolled on the ground, jumping quickly to his feet, drawing his sword holding it towards his attacker who was struggling to his feet with an arrow sticking out from his thigh.

When Peter and Gwen appeared their bows were at the ready to shoot again. The man looked bewildered and not sure what to do once his plan was thrown out of course.
“Why are you doing this?” Arthur asked and the man started limping away. He didn’t get far when Cathy tackled him from behind the closest tent, slamming him to the ground.
Ronda couldn’t believe her eyes. These twelve years old were acting as grown up warriors would.
The four gathered around the man on the ground. A crowd started to gather around them slowly, but this time no one took a step closer, keeping themselves at a fair distance.
Kicking the dagger out of his reach, Peter ensured he was harmless. “Leave him alone”came a shout from the crowd. Arthur turned to see who it was but the crowd only murmured in disapproval.
“Slowly turn on your back” Arthur ordered him and the man complied, letting his hood fall back on his shoulders in the process.

Ronda gasped. “It is him” she cried, “The men who was supposed to be dead.”
The crowd mumbled their surprise and a chubby figure took off from the crowd, trying to run away.
“Peter, shall we?” Arthur asked and the two sprinted towards the running merchant while the crowd parted to let them pass.

“I can’t believe this was all for a small ring” Gwen said looking at the ring Ronda placed on the table in the inn.
They were all sitting around a large table full of all that Merry could conjure in a short notice to fill their hungry stomachs to Peter’s delight.
“It is a family heirloom” Ronda explained.
“So he must have seen it on you when he was in your tent?” John asked, mostly happy that his inn wasn’t surrounded anymore.
Ronda nodded. “Apparently he owed money to the merchant who thought of a good way of getting the payment back” Arthur offered his take after they questioned his attacker, “They tried to get rid of you and take the ring”.
“Thank you” Ronda said, “not many people would have helped me like this.”
“This is why we love them so much” Merry hugged the boys from behind, making them blush.

“Can you please escort me outside?” Ronda asked Arthur a short while later.
When they finally reached a quiet place outside Ronda turned to Arthur, “Do you want me to tell you what I see?” she asked.
Taking some time to think Arthur shook his head. “No” he finally answered confidently.
Ronda smiled. “I didn’t expect you to” she kissed him on the cheek and said: “If you ever need my advice, I will be honored to serve you”
Arthur smiled and turned back towards the door.
“What took you so long?” Cathy asked when he sat down.
“Ronda told you your future?” Peter asked, “she told my mine” he smiled.
Arthur smiled. “To a bright future!” he raised his glass.

Copyright © 2013 The Silver Wolf

The Young Knights & The Missing Farmer

Four horses were walking slowly on the road, their riders walking alongside them enjoying the warm afternoon sun. After a few days of rain the four friends had rode west on an errand for Merry the inn keeper. She was running out of spices and the market was empty for a couple of weeks as merchants were reluctant to travel at this weather to a small village like their own.

Arthur had offered to ride and find the spices in a nearby village and the four have decided they can all do with a day ride. Riding west, they couldn’t find the needed spices in the first couple of villages but the third was a much bigger village that had a roaming market where they browsed around the different booths, enjoying some fresh fruits.
Finally, a bit later than they had originally planned, the four returned to their horses and headed back with Merry’s spices. It didn’t seem they were going to make it back before sunset but they were carrying their weapons with them in the saddle bags, hoping they won’t need to use them.
Following the road, they were passing in the woods trying to make up some time when they got to the clear path.
“Had anyone felt we are being watched?” Cathy asked.
Arthur nodded though Peter, started to answer: “No, I haven’t seen…” He was cut short by shouts from behind them.
“HELP…. HELP…. PLEASE HELP….”
They couldn’t see who was shouting because of the turn in the road but the calls were getting closer.

A moment later two girls appeared running towards them, the four headed towards them readying themselves if they would need to draw out their swords while Gwen was already holding her bow at the ready.
“What is it?” Arthur called towards the girls who were heading towards them fast. “Is someone after you?” he added.
The two had stopped a few feet short of the four, panting breathless and holding their side. From up close the two looked very much alike, two sisters was probably the best definition. They were about the same age at fifteen years old, very slim and tall, a bit taller than Cathy but still shorter than Peter. One of the two had a bright red long hair while the other had a bright blond hair almost white.
“No…  Nothing like that…“ said the one with the blond hair.
“Are you Arthur?” the redhead asked Peter, looking at him with a love-struck look.
“No, he isn’t” Cathy smiled ignoring the look she got from Peter. “He is the one you are looking for” she pointed towards Arthur.
“Thank you” the redhead said, still keeping her eyes on Peter who couldn’t stop himself from blushing.
Arthur introduced the four quickly. “How can we help you?” he asked.
“This is Ann, and my name is Maggi. We need your help, please” the blond said.
“What is it?” Cathy asked.
“Her father, my uncle is missing” Maggi said, “We haven’t seen him for a couple of days” she continued.
“Where could he have gone?” Peter asked.
“He is a farmer. Usually he doesn’t stay out, but if he does he sleeps in a shed at the far side of our farm” Ann said, looking at Peter the whole time.
“Have you checked the shed?” Cathy tried.
“Of course, but it didn’t look like someone had slept there at all” Ann answered.
“He might be dead somewhere” Maggi intervened, and with that Ann began to cry.
Peter pleaded to Arthur with his eyes. They were all looking for him to make a decision.
“We’ll try and help you” Arthur said nodding his head, “Merry will manage without the spices a bit longer” he said to Cathy who looked inquiring at him.

The six of them started riding back the same road they just passed. Ann was riding behind Peter while Maggi was riding with Cathy. They were making good time but the sun was setting very fast. Maggi had pointed them into a fork in the road which they haven’t noticed on the way over. It was a small path leading deep into the woods. “This is the direction to their house” she said to Cathy and the rest have followed behind her.
They had stopped in front of an old wooden cabin in a small clearing. “We should rest for the night” Maggi said after jumping off Cathy’s Horse, “We can’t look for him at this late hour” she explained.
Peter quickly dismounted and helped Ann down. He followed her into the cabin followed by Gwen who quickly joined them, leaving Arthur and Cathy still on their horses looking around.
“Something is wrong” Cathy whispered to Arthur when she brought her horse next to his.
Arthur nodded slowly. “This isn’t their house” he whispered, “In fact no one has been here in a while.”
This time it was Cathy’s turn to nod. “I have seen the spider webs on the door as well” She said. “What do you…”
“Are you coming in?” Peter called from the door, “We are trying to find something to eat” he said, behind him Maggi appeared in the doorstep.
The two didn’t answer, but dismounted and tied their horses to a tree near Peter’s and Gwen’s, the horses looked happy with the break and grazed together in comfort.

From the inside the cabin didn’t look much better than from the outside. There were two rooms, a small fire place which looked like it hadn’t been lit in a while, and dust and spider webs every which way they looked. The inner room was small without any windows and the only furniture were a few blankets which were spread on the floor.
“Will have to bring some food from the saddle bags” Peter surprised Arthur from behind, interrupting his thoughts.
“Peter, are you sure…” Arthur stopped when he saw Ann looking at them.
“Sure of what?” Peter asked.
“Well… sure there isn’t anything to eat here, they must have something” Arthur tried.
“No there is nothing” Maggi came close and intervened. “My uncle was, I mean is very poor.”
Arthur nodded slowly. “I’ll get some food, can someone help me?” he asked.
Peter pleaded him with his eyes not to ask him, “Gwen, can you help me?”
Gwen was out the door before Arthur finished his question.

“This place frightens me” she said to Arthur, “Where are we going?” she asked when she saw he wasn’t heading for the horses.
“I need to check something” Arthur said. They walked a full circle around the cabin and Arthur headed back to their horses. Knowing Gwen was much faster than him, he asked her: “Can you take our weapons and put them at the back right corner of the house in the woods?”
“You got a bad feeling as well?” she asked, knowing his mind was always working.
“Just love-struck Peter isn’t seeing it” Arthur said.
“So why aren’t we leaving?” Gwen asked.
“We need to find out what it is” he explained and handed Gwen his sword, quiver and bow.
From the corner of his eye he could see her running with both their equipment. Though it was heavy on her small slender body she was managing it very well. In the meantime Arthur unpacked food that Merry had packed for their day journey. There wasn’t enough but it was as much as they were going to get.
“Is everything alright?” Maggi shouted from the doorstep.
Arthur turned around quickly, relieved to see Gwen already beside him smiling to indicate of a job well done.
“Yes, thank you. We were just taking care of the horses” Gwen answered to Maggi’s satisfaction and the three headed inside.

“Look, I’ve got the fireplace working” Peter boasted when they appeared in the door to see a fire lit.
“At least we won’t freeze to death” Cathy murmured, rolling her eyes.
Splitting the food with Peter’s help Ann distributed it to all of them, leaving nothing for the morning.
“Where do you suppose we should look tomorrow?” Arthur asked, keeping his eye on Maggi all the while.
“We… we should head west” Maggi answered.
“Shouldn’t we search the fields first?” Arthur smiled.
“Yes, of course” Maggi quickly answered, “That was what I meant.”
“How did you hear of Arthur?” Cathy inquired, still looking very suspicious at the two.
“Well…, I…. We heard of him…” Ann stammered looking for an answer.
“We should all tuck in early, we have a long day tomorrow” Maggi caught her off. “You will sleep in the second room” she pointed towards the room, “We’ll sleep here” she added.
Ann started to escort the four to the inner room while Maggi cleared their remaining food. From the corner of his eye Arthur saw Maggi head for the window on the far corner. He knew he had to act now.
“We need to get some blankets from our saddles, I’ll be back in a moment” Arthur said to Ann who nodded politely.
“I’ll help you” Gwen quickly joined and the two hurried for the cabin’s door.
“But we don’t have…” Peter started to call after them, only to be interrupted by an elbow in his ribs. Cathy was looking at him with her eyes wide open. “Shut up” She whispered harshly, making Peter look at her wide eyed while rubbing his side.
Ann left the room and suddenly the door shut while something big slammed into the door. “Quickly, bring another chair to block the door” Maggi shouted from the other side of the door.
“Wait” Ann tried to speak but her voice turned squeaky “Two are missing, they went to bring blankets”
“What????”
On the other side of the door Cathy looked at Peter who was only now realizing what was happening. He ran and slammed his body against the big door, managing to move it slightly only to return to its place by the weight from the other side.
“Stay here, on the door” Maggi ordered Ann, “I’ll get the men. They need all four, maybe they can handle them” her voice was already fading as she retreated outside.

When they left the cabin, the first thing they noticed was their missing horses. Hearing the noise, from the cabin the two increased their pace although still aiming for stealth as well. They weren’t sure where will their attackers be.
Quickly grabbing their weapons the two settled into a position, hidden between the darkness of the trees but still in clear view of the cabin door. Maggi sprinted out of the cabin heading in the opposite direction. It didn’t take long before she returned with two big men carrying long swords and the three stood in front of the cabin looking around.

“Why are you doing this?” Peter shouted to Ann on the other side of the door after he slammed himself a few more times into the door, achieving nothing but an aching shoulder.
“I’m sorry” they barely heard Ann cry from the other side. “They told us you were bad people and promised us gold” she continued.
“Please, you can still let us go” Peter begged.
Ann shook her head only to realize they can’t see her. “I can’t, Maggie will kill me” she cried.
“Move over” they heard a shout from the other side.
Suddenly they could see smoke under the door. “That will bring the other two over” a man laughed from the other side. “Get out” he shouted to Ann.
“They are burning the cabin” Cathy’s eyes widened.

Seeing smoke starting to rise from the cabin Arthur whispered to Gwen, “Aim for the one on the left, I’ll take the one on the right.”
Breathing out the two released their arrows. Gwen’s arrow found its target hitting the man in his thigh, dropping him to the floor. Arthur’s arrow missed the man who moved and scraped Maggi’s arm, making her cry in pain and surprise.
“I’m going in” Arthur called to Gwen already holding his sword in hand, running towards the cabin door.
Gwen’s line of shot was blocked with Arthur’s figure in front of her. Arthur was shouting out loud trying to get their attention. Seeing him with his sword drawn Ann ran away screaming and Maggi was lying on the floor beside the injured man.

“Let’s try together” Cathy shouted as it got harder to breath inside the room.
Peter nodded and the both slammed their shoulders into the door, moving it a bit but something was still jamming the door on the other side.
“She jammed the door” Peter shouted and started to cough as the smoke entered the room.
The two tried again but the door didn’t move any more than it already have.

Arthur slammed his sword hard on the man’s sword, also managing to block and attack again to the sheer surprise of his opponent. He was well trained, starting from lessons from Glen the traveling blacksmith and continuing with a daily training in their small courtyard at the inn.
The two were exchanging blows fast and Arthur was feeling his hands. This man was very strong and Arthur’s hand grew weary.
Taking a step backwards he thought of faking a blow to his right when his leg was pulled from under him. Maggi was still on the ground but she was now holding his heel.
Arthur was on his back still shocked when he saw the man smiling. He raised his sword and was about to swing at Arthur. A short buzzing sound followed by a cry of pain and the man dropped to the ground. An arrow was sticking out of his buttocks.
Taking advantage of these turn of events, Arthur slammed the hilt of his sword into Maggi’s stomach, doubling her into a small twisted shape. Quickly heading for the cabin he found it almost impossible to see inside, the heat was unbearable. Arthur raised his blouse to his mouth and ran inside, covering himself with his cape.

Waiting anxiously for the three to come out, Gwen was holding herself not to run towards the cabin as well. It was taking too long but she needed to stay on the lookout.
Three figures stumbled out of the cabin coughing their lungs out and Gwen started to move happily out of her hiding place towards them.
“Here you are, you little trouble maker” an obnoxious voice said and grabbed her from behind. “That wasn’t nice what you did to my friends over there” he said and pinned her to him, holding a sharp sword to her throat.
The third man threw her bow to the ground and started leading her forward. “One wrong step and you die, is that understood?” he said, licking her ear with his tongue.
The only thing she managed was a short nod. “Good” he said.

“Drop your sword” Arthur heard from the direction where he left Gwen. They barely managed their way out of the cabin, their lungs screaming for air and their faces already black from the smoke.
Gwen was being led by a man pressing a sword to her throat. He didn’t have much chance but to throw his sword on the ground.
One of the men on the ground slowly got up holding his thigh. He grabbed a sword and threw a punch into Arthur’s chin sending him to the floor.
Cathy didn’t get to understand what was going on when the man started walking towards her. She couldn’t do anything as long as Gwen was threatened.
Suddenly everything changed. Gwen’s hand moved quickly grabbing a dagger on her captive’s belt and swiftly stabbing it backwards into his calves. The man screamed in pain but his surprise was enough for Gwen to move away from his reach. Seeing that Cathy roll on the ground coming up standing with Arthur’s sword in hand. Before her attacker could recover she swung fast, making a severe cut on his stomach. Peter rushed from the side and kicked him to the ground, grabbing his sword before he could react.

Arthur woke up almost half an hour later only to see his friends around him looking at him with worried looks.
“Are you okay?” Cathy asked.
Arthur nodded.
“You took quite a blow” Peter smiled.
“Where is everyone? Are you okay?” Arthur asked quickly.
“We are fine, nothing that some water wouldn’t clear” Cathy assured him. “A small group of guards saw the fire from the road and headed over. They took Maggi and her friends.”
“We aren’t sure where Ann is” Peter sighed and looked away from Cathy’s look.
“Did you learn something from them?” Arthur inquired.
“Gwen’s attacker kept yelling to stop shoving our noses where they don’t belong” Cathy shrugged.
“Do you think he meant Lord Grey?” Gwen asked referring to their previous adventures.
“Who knows” Peter smiled. “The good news is that I’ve found our horses. They were waiting for us not far from here.”
“What about Merry’s spices?” Arthur asked and they all laughed.

Copyright © 2013 The Silver Wolf

The Young Knights & The Archery Competition

Breathing in and out, he was trying to steady his hand keeping his target in front of him. At three hundred paces he could barely see the center but he could visualize it in his mind. This was his last arrow. He had to make the shot, everyone were looking. His friends were counting on him to make it.
Peter took another breath, letting out the air slowly, releasing the arrow when his lungs were empty. The arrow flew straight hitting the target dead center. The crowd cheered clapping their hands, Gwen, Cathy and Arthur jumped on Peter hugging him franticly. This was his last shot of the day. He had beaten all of his competitors today, over sixty archers including his best friends all using the same English longbow. This shot secured him a place in the semifinal round tomorrow.

Peter gave the three another moment before heading to his opponent to shake his hand, a well-deserved honor he had earned. The archer was a short skinny man wearing a brown traveling cape covering most of his body except for his black shoes, the hood of the cape was covering his head as well shadowing his face.
Peter offered his hand and the archer took it shaking it harder than expected. Peter looked at the man’s face only managing to see his eyes. Peter sensed sadness and acceptance but not the kind coming from losing a tournament. “There are two more” The archer said still shaking Peter’s hand.
“What?” Peter asked.
A loud swishing sound pierced the air and the archer fell forward on Peter who was fighting to keep him standing up.

The archer dropped to the ground lying on his side with an arrow sticking from his back. Peter dropped to his knees beside him unsure what to do.

“Please give this to my son. Thank you” The archer whispered softly, with his last strength he tore a necklace off and laid it in Peter’s palm.
“Please, you’ll be okay” Peter called to him.
Arthur laid a hand on his shoulder, “He’s gone Peter” He said softly.
“He can’t be” Peter screamed.
In the course of events he didn’t notice the place already emptied from spectators and the four of them were the only ones who saw the archer die.
“We have to help him” Peter called.
Arthur hugged him while Cathy and Gwen hugged him from behind turning him from the sight of the body on the ground.
Arthur motioned for Gwen to escort Peter away from them which she did willingly, slowly taking him towards a nearby inn almost four hundred yards away.

Finally seeing Peter head away he turned looking for Cathy only to find her hurling her lunch on her shoes a few paces away into a nearby bush. He hurried over towards her, glancing back towards the body only to find it drenched in its own pool of blood.
Arthur turned in place looking for something. His gaze went back and forth between the body on the ground and the woods in the distance.
“We need to find someone” Arthur said to her seeing she calmed down a bit. “We have to move the body, can’t leave him here” he continued only to be answered by a loud sound of Cathy hurling again.

Throwing a look back towards the inn he spotted a man passing by. He threw his hands up and shouted, trying to get the man’s attention. Acknowledging the noise the man started towards Arthur and Cathy who was calming herself down slowly.
“What is the matter?” The man asked. He was a chubby man with a big bold spot in the middle of his black hair. Arthur now recognized him as one of the official referees in the tournament.
“This man was murdered” Cathy spat at him pointing behind her.
The man shrugged “It happens a lot, you are looking for the sheriff” he continued, “defiantly not me.”
“Don’t you think someone should find out what happened?” Arthur asked calmly, seeing Cathy’s eye twitch with anger.
“I’m too busy with the tournament, I have enough as it is.” With that the man turned and bounced back towards the inn and back to his regular ordeal.
He turned his head. “He probably had a big debt and couldn’t repay” he yelled and kept walking.

When the man was at a safe distance Cathy looked at Arthur who sighed and headed back towards the dead archer on the ground. “We should bury him” Arthur said looking at Cathy, hoping she can help him.
Cathy nodded in agreement and the two went to work.

It took them a long while but they managed to bury the dead archer under a pile of rocks in the edge of the woods, finally returning to the inn where Peter and Gwen waited for them.
“It might have been me” Peter said after telling the two the whole event for the third time.
“I don’t think so” Arthur said.
Peter didn’t seem convinced. “Maybe the black lord is back trying to kill me” he tried, aiming for their adventure in the previous summer where they fought the black lord.
Cathy laughed. “No, it wasn’t.”
“It might have been Seth, his minion. No one saw any of them after the big battle” Peter continued.

“Don’t you think he would have aimed for Arthur instead?” Cathy inquired.
“Then who do you think it was?” Peter asked a little offended.

“I think we will need to find out who the archer was first” Arthur pondered out loud.
“Here you go, lad.” A big woman appeared holding a big plate full of hot potatoes and beef, placing it in front of Peter who ignored the look he got from Cathy.
“He is an excellent archer” the woman told the group. “Can I bring you anything?” she asked.
Cathy started to shake her head but Arthur had a different thought in mind. “We would like four cups of tea please” he asked politely, smiling at her.
“Coming right up” she said and turned towards the kitchen.
“Ma’am?” Arthur called after her making her turn back quickly surprisingly fast for her big rounded figure.
“Yes?” the woman asked politely, “how can I help?”
“Did you see the competition?” Arthur asked.
“Of course” the woman said.
“Did you see his last competitor?” Arthur asked pointing towards Peter.
Passing her hand through her brown curly hair she thought for a moment and then nodded. “I think so.”
“Do you know who he was?” Arthur tried his luck.
The woman shook her head. “He didn’t stay here” she broke their spirits.
“Have you seen him here?” Cathy tried.
She rubbed her chin with her open palm. “I think… I think I saw him with two more guys.” She shifted her weight from one leg to the other. “Well if there is nothing else” she looked annoyed for the waste of her time.
Without waiting for an answer she had turned and walked away.

“This is what he said” Peter said excitedly, “There are two more” he repeated.

They all nodded in agreement, knowing they had their first clue, but there was no knowing how they would find the next one.
Sitting in silence with the exception of some chewing noises coming from Peter’s direction, thinking of their next move. The four where a bit surprised when the waitress came back with their glasses, slamming them on the table trying to hurry away before they could ask her anything else.
She stopped for a moment and turned back to their table. “It’s your lucky day” she said, “the two guys leaving the inn are the two you were asking about.”

Their heads snapped simultaneously towards the door.

“Thank you” Arthur said, already getting up throwing a silver coin on the table and running towards the door with his friends on his heels.

When the four finally made it to the door through the crowd in the large and packed inn, they had to look both ways noticing that the couple had separated and were heading away in different directions.
Without a word Arthur nodded and the four separated into two couples.

Peter and Cathy managed to catch up with their man, first grabbing him by the tails of his cape.
“Sir” Cathy called.
The man looked completely different from the archer Peter had seen die before his eyes, He had turned in an instant with a dagger held in his right hand ready to stab his attacker, making Peter and Cathy to take a long step back.
“Leave me alone” he said once he realized the two weren’t a threat to him.

“Sir, we would like to ask you a question” Peter tried politely.

“I don’t have anything to say” he said and turned back.

“This is about your friend” Peter tried again.
“I don’t have any friends here” he said and started walking with big steps as he was tall and chubby. The two started after him having to run in order to catch up.
“Sir, this is about your dead friend” Peter insisted.
“I told you already, I don’t have any friends here” he said without even turning his head and without reducing his pace.
“A man is dead” Cathy snapped at him.
The man stopped in his place causing the two to stop to avoid hitting him, “Leave me alone” he said raising the dagger again. “I would leave it alone as well if I were you.” They both heard the stress in his voice. After saying that he turned, picking up the pace and left the two standing there.
“Sir, Sir…” Arthur called after the second man.
The man picked up the pace a little and didn’t make a sign he heard Arthur.
“Sir, I wanted to congratulate you for your shooting today” Arthur said remembering this man secured a place in the next day’s semifinals as well.
That did the trick and he stopped and turned allowing the two to catch up. “Thank you” he said, although Arthur and Gwen could hear sadness in his voice.
“You are a very good marksman” Arthur said
A short man with a full brown beard and big hands nodded his head in acceptance. “I’m Liam, I was a bowman in the army for ten years” he said. “I was shooting with a longbow before I could run.” He let himself smile a bit.
“It shows” Gwen said, “You were the best one out there.” She said though she didn’t remember him.
“How can I help you?” Liam asked.
“This is Gwen and I’m Arthur” Arthur introduced themselves. “You might have seen our friend in the competition as well.”
Liam nodded, “I’ve seen you as well” He said to Arthur.
“Well, we tried our luck as well but we aren’t that good with the longbow” Arthur explained.
Liam raised his eyebrow and Arthur understood he needed to get to the point.
“An archer was shot, and died in the arms of our friend” Arthur started. “We got the impression you knew him” He explained.

Liam nodded slowly again, without a smile this time. “Only for a short while, we met a couple of days ago” he said softly.
“Can you tell us who he was?” Arthur asked.
“Well, I think he was a farmer, and I guess he was in debts as we all were” he sighed.
“Why do you think he got killed?” Arthur tried.
“I think this is out of your reach, lads” he smiled again.

“Please” Gwen pleaded, “This man died in our friends arms.”
“Not here” Liam said looking around at the people walking around in the village. “Let’s go to a place we can talk” he said and turned towards a small inn in the other edge of the village.

Unlike their own village, this one was much bigger. The four came here for the archery competition which was held once a year close to the end of the winter, holding a big prize money to the first three places. Arthur and his friends mainly went for the fun and to support Peter who was the best archer in the group. The competition was held by Lord Grey which they met a few weeks earlier and he had extended an invite to the group.
They haven’t seen the lord yet but rumors said he was supposed to be at the final competition the next day.

Liam led the two into a small inn. Looking for a table he spotted one in the far corner and hurried towards it, waiving the inn keeper away. The inn was almost full like the one they left a short while ago.
“We can talk here” Liam said, his look scanning the room. His voice almost absorbed in the noise conversations around them.
“What happened?” Arthur asked.
“I can tell you only what I know” Liam started. “I was in large debts when someone came and told me I have to enter this competition, and if I do what I was told my debt would be cleared”
“What was it they wanted you to do?” Arthur asked.
“Kill Lord Grey” Liam whispered. Gwen and Arthur gasped.
“Why didn’t you say no?” Gwen asked a little too loud, she immediately noticed and looked a bit sheepishly at the two.
Liam shook his head. “They took an insurance with them” he explained, “My wife and son.”
“What about the other two?” Arthur asked.
“Same deal, only one would be able to take the final shot when lord Grey will be in shooting distance. I guess they just spread their bets” he shrugged.
“So why did he die?” Arthur asked.
“He was useless for them” Liam said.
“They would probably kill you when all this is over” Arthur said and Liam nodded his head.

The four met back in front of the inn, everyone looked at Arthur for guidance. He was looking around at the open field where the archery competition was held. The sun was already at the horizon, there wasn’t a lot of light left.
“We should look for the place he took the shot” Arthur said finally.
“How would we find it?” Peter asked.
“We know what is a shooting distance for a longbow. We also know roughly where it came from” Arthur explained. “So let’s look for a clue where the archer was.”
The four headed towards the woods which were bordering the archery field. The forest was thick and muddy and the four had a difficult time moving between the trees let alone finding any clue.
The sun had already set and the red color had almost completely disappeared from the sky when Gwen shouted in surprise.
Quickly gathering around her to see her hold a small piece of fabric in her hand raising it high in victory, they were now looking at the ground and could barely see footprints and even small remains of food.
“Could you have made the shot from here?” Arthur asked Peter, who was looking at the archery field.

“It’s a bit far” Peter shook his head, “But I think that a marksman can make it.”

Heading back to their room in the inn the four were trying to think what to do next.

Gwen and Cathy were sleeping on a small double bed while the boys were sleeping on the wooden floor with two blankets each as bedding.
“We should kill the archer” Peter exclaimed.
“We need him alive” Arthur answered, “We need him to show us where are the prisoners held” he explained.
“We will grab him first thing in the morning” Peter said.
“You will participate in the competition” Arthur said.
“Why? We need to catch him” Cathy wondered.
“We need you to be there if we fail” Arthur explained, “I don’t believe it will be only one archer.”
Peter nodded he understood the reasoning.

“If something happens you have to stop them from shooting Lord Grey” Arthur continued.
“Tell us the plan” Cathy asked what they all wanted to ask.

Walking slowly towards the field Peter felt far worse than the previous morning when he was confident in his skill. It wasn’t only that he was facing the best archers out of almost two hundred which started the competition. It was mainly the knowledge that he had to win this competition as a lot more than the honor held in the balance.

The first phase of the day held the semifinals. Three rounds of six archers trying to reach the final round at noon while only six would make it.

He wondered what have happened to his friends. He haven’t heard of them for so long. It was very hard for him not knowing what was going on and at the same time being separated from all of them for so long. He tried to recall when was the last time such a thing had happened and came to a conclusion it was more than half a year earlier, the night before Arthur first came to the village.

Something was wrong they thought. There was no sign of an archer or anyone else for that matter. They woke up very early before day break and headed for the woods in the cover of darkness carrying their swords bows and quivers with them. No one was out there when they reached their destination. They had maintained a shift routine staying close by keeping an eye on the edge of the woods.
A short while after daybreak the three rose from their places stretching their arms and legs. The village was coming to life before their eyes. People were leaving their houses and starting their daily routines. There was still time till the archery competition would start and the three were using the time to look for the vantage points in the area.
“What is the plan?” Cathy asked Arthur.
Arthur looked around, he pointed for Gwen to head up one of the trees. “Keep an eye around” he told her, knowing she was a better use for them with the bow from above than with a sword on the ground.
Arthur and Cathy placed themselves in the bushes between the trees side by side head to toe, ready with their swords drawn beside them.

Peter was ready to shoot his final shot in the semifinals and there was still no sign of his friends. He kept looking towards the woods between shots. Thankfully his competitors were a far more out of focus than he was and he managed to secure his place in the final with another archer. He had kept an eye on Liam and the second archer which made it to the finals as well.
From the corner of his eye Peter saw a convoy arriving with almost two dozens of guards, he assumed Lord Grey was out there.
His final shot missed the center circle by a bit but Peter didn’t really care. He walked around looking at the woods. How it could be they hadn’t contacted him yet he thought. He was thinking the worst had already happened, they were all already dead.

It was almost noon when the three saw Lord Grey’s convoy reaching the village, it only after the final had started when Arthur heard Gwen whistling from above. She signaled two men were heading their way with bows and long swords.
The two didn’t notice Arthur and Gwen hiding only a few feet away from them. They were so confident everyone were at the competition they didn’t even bother to check the surrounding.
The two were talking between themselves, both of them were dressed like a personal guard of one of the Lords. They were both tall and broad shouldered with short beards and looked older than the average guard.
Arthur caught a glimpse of Gwen nodding at the two. He shook his head. They had to wait and see.
They could see Lord Grey sitting in the crowd now, waiting for the final three competitors to take their shots. Peter was one of the three while Liam looked like he was about to win. Peter was trailing behind but no one could have blamed him at that point.

The three were shifting their look between the tournament and the archers on their side. After a short while the three archers on the field have bowed to the crowd and lined up to greet Lord Grey who walked towards them.
Peter was looking at Liam who was standing in front of him, he was holding the bow in his hand and his right hand was twitching, something was happening in his mind. “Please don’t do it” Peter whispered. Liam didn’t answer, only took long breath in and out. “Please” Peter pleaded again.
Lord Grey was now twenty steps away. It was now or never Arthur realized. He could see that Liam wasn’t going to shoot Lord Grey but suddenly the archers beside them started to talk.
“The fool isn’t shooting” One of them said.
“What are we going to do?” The other asked.
“We’ll have to handle it ourselves” the first said, “I can hit him from here.”
“This isn’t what they asked for” he insisted, but the first raised his bow and started to pull an arrow.
Arthur nodded to Gwen, now was the time.
The archer started aiming when Arthur and Cathy rose suddenly from the bush. Gwen yelled from above and the archer released an arrow a bit low.
Someone in the field fell on the ground and a big commotion had started,
The second archer was standing in shock when both Arthur and Cathy rushed towards him he barely managed to draw his sword and hold of blow from Cathy’s sword.
The first archer was already holding a second arrow in his hand and quickly aimed for Gwen on the high tree above them.
Gwen was trying to aim a shot towards the one who Cathy was attacking, when Arthur rolled on the ground swinging his sword in a circle making a deep cut in the archer’s leg. He released the arrow high passing over Gwen’s head who in return shot down hitting the second archer in the leg.

The two archers were now on the ground moaning in pain. A large group of guards was heading their way with swords drawn.

“This is the second time we meet in these circumstances” Said Lord Grey back in the inn.

“Yes my lord” Arthur nodded.
“This time I owe you my life” Lord Grey smiled.
“Do you know why would someone want to kill you?” Peter interrupted a bit unmannered though the lord didn’t seem to mind.
He shook his head, “To think those were two of my personal guards”
“We hope they tell you something to go on” Arthur said.
“”I doubt they’ll reveal their employers” Lord Grey shook his head again, “I will take care of Liam and his family”

“His wife said he would be alright, the arrow hit him in the shoulder, it was only a flesh wound” Gwen added.
Lord Grey nodded to her, he started getting up, “I almost forgot” He took out a small pouch and threw it to Peter, “You won this fair at the third place” He told him and Peter blushed a bit.
The lord started walking away “I hope we will meet again in better circumstances” He said.
They all nodded “Yes Sir” Arthur answered.

Copyright © 2013 The Silver Wolf

The Young Knights & The Trinket

He willed the pounding on the door to stop, but after the third time John the inn owner opened his eyes and swung his legs over the edge of the bed.
The room where he and his wife Merry slept was on the ground floor, very close to the inn’s main door. John opened the small door leading to the main hall which was full of tables and chairs spread all across the room.

John stepped to the big oak door opening it just before the big young man on the other side banged his fist on the door again. The man quickly moved to the side in order to let a pretty young maiden to pass. Seeing her all soaked from the rain John moved aside letting her and her companion to enter the inn.
Quickly leading the two towards the table closest to the fireplace, John hurried and threw a couple of logs into the dying fire.
He turned back towards the couple, “How can I help you? “ He asked.
Instead of getting an answer the maiden started crying. Although being a very big man, John always had a big heart and a soft spot for a crying woman. Hurrying away to the kitchen he left the two near the fire place.

Returning with two steaming cups of tea, he found the young man consoling the maiden who rested her head on his shoulder. She still had a few tears on her cheeks but seemed calmer now. “Thank you” the maiden said slowly. “This is Don and I’m Alexandra, but my friends call me Alex” she continued.
“My name is John” he said with a smile. “Now, do you want a room for the night, or maybe something to eat?” John asked.
Don shook his head, “No, we are looking for Arthur” Alex completed him.
“Well….” John tried to think quickly. “It’s the middle of the night and he is sleeping” he finally said.
“Is everything all right?” Asked Merry, a short rounded woman with brown hair coming from behind John.
“We really need to find Arthur, could you please help us find him?” Alex asked again.
“I…well….” John mumbled again.

“Please it is a matter of life or death” Alex interrupted John looking at him with a pleading look. “Go wake him up” Merry said to John, “I’ll stay with them.”

John returned a moment later with Arthur by his side, rubbing his eyes trying to focus while keeping pace with his friend John. Arthur was wearing a white cotton night gown which was very warm but not so practical when walking outside.
“Alex and Don, please meet Arthur” John introduced them, looking at Arthur like a proud father although no one in the group was his child.
“I’m sorry, you must have misunderstood us” Don said, looking at Arthur with a look of disdain. “We are looking for Arthur and his friends who help people” Alex said quickly.
“Yes” John smiled, “I woke the rest, they will be here soon.”
“No… but… you don’t understand” Alex stammered. “He is a child” Alex looked shocked.
“This is Arthur” Merry agreed with John.
“Can you tell me what is the problem?” Arthur asked calmly.
“We should go” Don said starting to get up. “We made a mistake by coming here.”
Alex started to cry again. Don tried to grab her by the hand but she pulled her hand back covering her face.
Walking to the door, Don looked ready to leave, “We should go” he said.
“Can you tell me what is the problem?” Arthur asked again softly, trying to get Alex’s attention. “Maybe we can help” he continued, seeing Alex looking up at him.

The kitchen door opened. Cathy the thirteen years old blond walked in with Gwen the twelve years old small brunette followed by Peter who although being at the same age was almost a head taller than the rest.
Alex looked at the group and nodded her head slowly.
“Are you coming Alex?” Don called holding the big oak door open.
Alex shook her head and turned towards the group who already took seats around the table facing her. “I’m a maid for the lord’s grey daughter” she said, looking at them searching for an acknowledgement. Arthur nodded. They have heard about him, lord Grey had a keep a day and a half ride to the west.
“Don is a guard at the keep and we are about to be wed” Alex explained
“Alex!…” Don shouted “I’m leaving, you can stay if you want to” with that Don closed the door behind him.
“Don, please” Alex called. She looked at the group “I…. I have to…” They all nodded and she hurried after him.

Without much time to get up and leave Alex stepped back into the inn “he left…” she cried, “he left.”
“Are you sure?” Cathy asked “Maybe you just didn’t see him, it’s raining” she tried.
“I saw him on our horse” Alex said still shocked.
Peter rolled his eyes, he was about to say something when Cathy elbowed him. He looked at her but didn’t react.
“Poor girl” Merry called “I’ll bring you some tea” she said and ran towards the kitchen.
Alex sat back down still trying to understand what just happened.

The four left her alone until Merry returned with a tray filled with cups of tea and a plate with cheese and bread she placed in front of Alex.
After she took a long sip from her cup, Arthur hoped she was ready to start talking again.
“What happened?” Arthur asked “What brought you here?”
Alex took a deep breath. “The Lord’s daughter Dian who I serve is riding with her father the lord, they are sleeping at an inn not so far from here.” She stopped to take another sip and continued. “I was called to her room this afternoon…” Alex turned to Peter “What?”
“Are you eating this?” Peter asked, Cathy’s eyes widened and Arthur smiled when Alex pushed the plate towards Peter.
“Please continue” Arthur requested.
“Where was I…? Ohhh… Dian called me to her room to tell me she knows I stole her golden trinket and I have till day break to return it, else she will have me killed” Alex started pulling he nose, “ I never stole anything I swear, I heard about Arthur and asked Don to help me find you. He didn’t want to come but he finally agreed. Now he is gone and Dian will have me killed” with that Alex started crying again.

It took Alex a bit longer to come down this time, it seemed that she finally realized her situation. “I’m willing to pay you if you could help me find the trinket, I don’t have much but I have a few silver coins” she said to the group.
Arthur was thinking what to do when Merry jumped in “Please help her” she pleaded.
Arthur nodded. “We can’t take your coins” Cathy said immediately.
“Thank you, thank you, thank you….” Alex looked a bit relieved.
“We should change and leave at once” Arthur said, suddenly aware of his night outfit. “We don’t have much time to waste” he said and the four took off to their cabin behind the kitchen

.

When the four got back Alex was already waiting for them beside the big oak door. They were carrying their short swords wrapped in small blankets and the bows and arrows tied on their backs making them look like real warriors, all this gear was a present from their friend Glen the travelling blacksmith.
Leading the way towards the inn Peter hurried and already started untying their horses making them ready for travel. The rain didn’t stop but at least it settled to a bare able drip. Alex joined Peter on the back of his horse. Peter was happy to be joined by a pretty maiden and always happy to show off his riding skills.

It didn’t take them long to spot the lights of the inn from a distance, reaching it was a bit more difficult as they moved slowly on the road hoping there are no guards on the road.
They stopped at a safe distance, “Where is Dian’s room?” Arthur asked.
“I’m not sure” Alex replied “It’s on the second floor, it’s a corner room but I can’t tell which corner” She explained.
“Do you have a plan?” Cathy asked, knowing Arthur was always coming up with plans.
Arthur nodded, “I hope it works” he smiled.
Peter and Gwen were going to try and talk to the stable boy who was probably inside the stable on the far side of the inn. Alex wanted to join Arthur and Cathy who were heading into the inn but Arthur refused, he explained to her that if she would probably be recognized and that wouldn’t end well.

Standing beside the huge doors, Arthur and Cathy realized this inn was much bigger than the one in their village where they lived. Arthur assumed they will have to knock on the door for a while as it was a late hour in the night but as it was he pushed the door and it opened with ease.
The inn was alive, no one paid attention to the two travelers coming inside from the rain. The hall was almost twice the size they knew so well from their village, there were a lot of tables and chairs all around and a big fire place was keeping everyone warm. A small chubby bold man came up quick to the two and introduced himself as the inn owner, he was a bit surprised when they told him they were travelling alone, but after he made sure they had money to pay he escorted them to one of the tables near the door. Arthur tried to point towards a table at the far end but the inn owner insisted so they finally sat down.

The stable was fairly big from Peter’s point of view, but as they approached he noted the place was a bit neglected. As a former stable boy he could easily spot the signs, the heavy smell was a major one. After tying their horses to a tree they entered the stable to find it packed full, two horses were even tied outside the stalls. “This is Don’s horse” Alex pointed to a nearby stall. The horse was very strong and fit, didn’t seem fit for a low ranked guard.
“Don got the horse from Dian a few weeks ago” Alex said when Peter looked at her quizzically. Peter nodded. “You should stay outside” he said to Alex, she turned and walked outside right in time when a sleepy stable boy came out of a stall yawning.

“What do we do now?” Cathy whispered after the inn owner walked away.
“We need to chat the inn owner, maybe he heard or seen anything” Arthur explained.
“That’s the plan?” Cathy asked.
“For now” Arthur nodded. “We need information” he explained.
“What will you have?” the inn owner asked a moment later, after returning from a round between the tables.
“We would like two cups of tea and some bread and eggs please” Arthur ordered for both of them.
“Peter’s ears are burning” Cathy laughed, making Arthur smile.
“Very well” The inn owner said, “That will be two silver coins”
Although he was a bit surprised as the payment was usually in the end of the meal, Arthur took out two coins and laid it on the table.
“Sir, would you mind if I asked you a question?” Arthur asked.
He only nodded whilst picking up the coins.
“Did you have any theft problems here?” Arthur asked cautiously.
“Thieves?” he looked shocked “No, we don’t have that here.” Then his eyes widened. “Well we had a problem today, but let me reassure you, the maid that stole the trinket from one our guests was caught and she will be taken care of”
“Was the trinket found?” Arthur asked.
The inn owner shook his bald head. “But we will find it soon”
“Are you sure the maid stole it?” Cathy jumped in.
“Do you suggest that one of my maids took it?” his face turned to anger.
“No, no this is not our intentions” Arthur quickly said.
“Well, if that will be all, I will get your order” he said and didn’t really wait for an answer and walked away.

“Can I help you?” The stable boy asked when he saw Peter and Gwen. He was a little older than the two, shorter than Peter with red hair and freckles all over his face.
“We would like to ask you some questions” Peter said, producing a silver coin and throwing it towards him.
The boy caught it in the air and nodded his head.
Taking it as an approval Peter took a step closer. “Did you hear about the trinket?” Peter asked. The boy nodded. “The maid stole it” he added.
“Did you hear if someone found it? Or maybe trying to sell it?” Peter tried.
“No” he shook his head, “I doubt if we would see her here….” He was cut short by a cry from outside.
The stable boy ran outside quickly leaving the two alone inside.
Knowing something was wrong the two turned away and hid.
A few moments later the voices of a couple of men and the stable boy were followed by close by footsteps. “They were here a moment ago.” Peter heard him from his hiding place, frowning at the lack of loyalty.
“You two search the stable with the boy” he heard a bass voice say “I’m going to take the maid upstairs”
Stall doors were opening fast from either side of the path. His stall was next, Peter realized. He was already pulling his sword slowly. He won’t be caught easily, he thought.
“They might have gone out the back” The boy called. Peter let out a breath he didn’t notice he was holding when the men ran out.

The two weren’t waiting long when two guards came from behind them. “Please come with us” the two said to Arthur and Cathy.
Arthur turned, seeing the two resting their hands on the hilt of their swords. Behind them he could see the inn keeper standing, talking to a man who he realized was Don. A woman was sitting with Don and the two were getting up.
Don walked towards them. “Look here, it’s the little heroes” he laughed.
“Take them upstairs” The woman said loudly “Put them in my room, and wait outside.”
The two got up and walked towards the stairs with the two guards on their heels.
“How is the plan working?” Cathy whispered.
“Pretty well” Arthur answered in a whisper.
Cathy raised her shoulders, she still didn’t understand.
The two reached the room where the guards quickly disarmed them. One of the guards opened the door and the other nodded his head towards it while Arthur and Cathy quickly shuffled inside hearing the door slam shut behind them.
The room was huge from the inside, a big bed stood at their right side, clearly someone slept there not long ago. A few large cases stood around the room, in front of them stood a big table with the remains of a dinner and two plates.
“What do we do now?” Cathy asked.
“Now we search for the trinket” Arthur said.

Their search was fruitless until the point they heard steps outside turning around just inside to see the woman they assumed was Dian stepping inside followed by Don.
“Well, what do we have here?” Dian asked walking towards the two standing by the window.
“What do you want from us?” Cathy asked, turning the attention of the two towards her.
“You should be minding your own business” Don said quickly, but he was silenced with a look from Dian.
“We didn’t do anything wrong” Cathy continued.
The door opened and Alex stumbled through.
“Well…” Dian started but stopped when a crash came from outside their window from below.
“I’m sorry” Arthur mumbled “I didn’t see it”
Don & Dian hurried to the window to see a broken chest on the ground below them.
“GUARDS!!!!” Dian shouted.
Standing outside the door the two guards didn’t take long. A moment later they were inside with drawn swords.
“I didn’t want to do this” Dian said, “but you shouldn’t have come here.” She turned to the guards, “Kill them.”
“My lady, they are children” one of the guards tried.
“DO YOU WANT TO BE NEXT?” Dian shouted. The guard shook his head and already took a step closer, when the door flew open.

Peter and Gwen were standing at the door, bows at hand and an arrow set aimed forward towards the guards.
“GET OUT OF HERE!” Dian kept shouting.
“Please call your guard down” Arthur requested calmly.
“ARE YOU CRAZY?” Dian’s voice seemed to be coming from all over, “DO YOU KNOW WHO MY FATHER IS?”
“I know” said a man from the doorstep, a tall thin grey haired man with a well-kept beard. “Mind I ask? What is going on?” While he was talking three guards showed up from behind.
“Sir, I’m sorry to disturb your….” Arthur started, but was cut short.
“THEY ARE AIMING ARROWS AT ME…” Dian shouted.
Arthur signaled for the two and they took a few steps into the room lowering their bows and putting the arrows in their quivers.
“Dian, please keep quiet” Lord Grey said giving her a harsh look. “Please continue lad” he turned to Arthur.
“Sir, we are trying to help find the missing trinket. Our friend here is accused of stealing” Arthur pointed to Alex who was still on the ground. “We are only trying to return it to your daughter’s position”
“Yes, it’s a pity about the maid. She was a good maid” he sighed. “Very well, where do you think it is?”
“Sir, may I say something” Gwen’s soft voice was heard from the corner of the room.
“Yes”
“Sir, We think it is still in the room.”
“It can’t be” Dian puffed a breath of air. “Are you calling me a liar?” She called to Gwen.
“Calm down” Lord Grey turned to Arthur. “Because I like you lads, I’m willing to let the guards look for it.”
“FATHER…” Dain cried but quickly kept quiet.
“But, if the trinket is still missing the maid died and all of you will be beaten for threatening my daughter” Lord Grey finished. “Do we have a deal?”
Arthur nodded his head “Thank you sir.”

Six guards were crawling on their hands and knees a moment later and a cry of surprise rose from one of them not long after pulling the Trinket from under the bed.
“How can it be?” Dian cried, turning to Don “You said you took it with you.”
“Well, I think you all should go now” said lord Grey calmly to the four and Alex.
The group didn’t wait any longer and headed to their horses. Arthur turned back when he was on the steps. He saw Lord Grey who nodded his head with a smile towards him.

“How did you know the trinket is under the bed?” Alex asked when the group was safely in their inn heating themselves by the fireplace, waiting for a steaming cup of tea.
“I put it there” Gwen laughed. “I’ve found it in the saddle bag when we hid in the stable.”
“You should be thankful you aren’t marrying Don” Merry called. “A girl like you deserves better.”
“I can’t believe he would have seen me dead only so he could marry lord Grey’s daughter” Alex sighed.
“We will get you a suitor in no time” Merry promised.
“To Alex’s wedding” Jon called and they all raised their cups, making Alex blush bright red.

Copyright © 2013 The Silver Wolf

The Young Knights & The Puppy

“Do you think we’d find him?” The small boy asked, looking at his big brother.
“We will” He promised “We’d better” He mumbled to himself. They were walking on foot from sunrise and small snowflakes started to fall on them a few moments ago. His little brother wasn’t complaining yet, but he wouldn’t blame him if he would.
He was a bit small for his age but was built for a fight as he often did defending his younger brother merely eight years old Andy got into a lot of trouble in their village.
To their relief they finally spotted the big inn standing tall over the rest of the village, it didn’t take them long to close the distance through the empty village.

Although it was a little after midday the large inn was half empty when the two brothers walked in quickly greeted by John the inn owner.
“How can I help you lads?” He asked with a smile, realizing he never saw the two before.
The young boy whispered something in the big one’s ear, “We are looking for Arthur” Finally answered the Dave the older brother.
“Well Arthur…” John pondered for a moment and then turned towards a twelve years old blond who passed behind him, “Cathy, can you please come here for a moment?” John called.
Cathy came over carrying a tray full of empty plates, though her ragged clothing she was pretty.
“How can I help you?” Cathy asked the brothers.
“I….I…we….” Dave mumbled staring at Cathy.
“The lads are looking for Arthur” John helped seeing the boys look.
“I believe they are tending to the horses, they are supposed to come replace us later on” Cathy answered.
“What is this about?” Gwen the small brunette girl joined them.
“We are looking for Arthur” Said Andy the little brother.
“What is it?” Gwen asked him patiently.
“My puppy got lost” He said on the verge of tears.
“A puppy?” John wondered.
The boy only nodded his head, tears streaming down his red cheeks.
“We heard he solves problems” Dave explained.
“I’ll get the boys” Gwen said with a sympathetic look, quickly leaving outside while Cathy lead the brothers towards an empty table close to the fire.

By the time Gwen returned with Peter and Arthur the two brothers were warming by the large fire place. The two were drinking tea in silence from large mugs, that Cathy who was sitting with them had brought.
“Hey boys, here they are” Reaching their table Gwen said introduced them.
“This is Arthur?” Dave asked skeptically.
“We can go…”Peter answered a little offended for his friend, giving a hard look at the older brother who was a couple of years older than them.
“No, please” Andy plead.
“What is the problem?” Gwen asked patiently.
“Our puppy is lost… ”  Andy Explained again a little calmer.
Not giving him a chance to finish his older brother intervened explaining it is missing for two days already, the pup had never left Andy’s side, following him like a shadow. It was a large wolf like pup.
“A puppy?” Peter rolled his eyes.
“Let’s go” Dave stood up “They can’t help us” He said to his brother who immediately started to cry.
“Sit down, Let’s all calm down” Arthur said.

“I still can’t understand why do we need to look for a puppy?” Peter whispered to Cathy.
The four where already making their way towards the boy’s house, riding their horses a present from the queen they got during their adventure in the previous summer after they had prevented the black lord from taking over the country.
Dave was riding behind Arthur and Andy one rode with Gwen who looked at him like he was her own little brother.
“You heard the two” Cathy whispered back “Arthur thinks we should try to help, they made such an effort to reach us”
Moaning his disapproval Peter continued to stare forward into the white horizon. The snow had stopped but the ground was still covered with a small white blanket.
It wasn’t such a short ride and the thought alone of the two making their way on foot from their house at the adjacent village was surprised the group.

Reaching the house the group dismounted tying their horses inside a small barn behind the house.
“Where are your parents?” Cathy asked.
“Our dad is a shepherd, he probably got stuck in the snow with his herd in the valley” Dave answered, blushing when Cathy looked at him “We have an older brother who is a shoemaker apprentice in a small town”.
“What about your mother?” Gwen tried.
“She died a few month ago” He paused for a moment and then continued “”The pup was a gift she gave my brother”
Peter nodded his head slowly realizing they made the right decision by coming there.

The sun was almost gone and even when it was visible between the clouds it didn’t help much, the cold bit through their clothes and it wasn’t getting any better than that. Standing in front of the house the group was standing outside the house trying to figure out where to start.
“Where did you see him last?” Arthur asked Andy.
“We were coming back from behind the barn” He started “He suddenly raised his ears and bolted towards the woods” Pointing towards a point almost a hundred feet away behind the house, where a thick forest started.
“Well… We know where to start” Arthur said. The four turned to their horses unpacking their short swords and bows they received the previous summer from their friend Glen the traveling blacksmith.

The group split into pairs walking within a shouting distance from the other pairs.. Arthur wanted Cathy to join him but the looks on Peter’s face made him change his mind. Gwen took Andy with her and headed first into the forest
“Did you hear anything before he disappeared?” Gwen asked when they were already deep into the forest, walking at a very fast pace.
“Uhmmm, I think I heard a distant cry, like a little boy you know?” Andy answered after a short moment.
“Did you see anything?” Gwen tried, she only got a head shake in response.

Making their way slowly between the trees the two could feel the cold, barely thinking of the task at hand. There was almost no light coming through the trees, both Arthur and Peter knew they would all have to go back soon.
“My hands are freezing” Peter said looking down at his hands rubbing them against each other.
“I hope we would find something soon, else we’ll give it another try tomorrow morning” Arthur said.
Snaps of wood under their weight and the whistle of the wind all they could hear, the thought of retreating to the sheltered house seemed more and more appealing with every moment that passed. Arthur wanted to continue just a bit more. He could see a hill not far away, they’ll reach it and look around.

Reaching the top of the hill the boys were already out of breath and the look down didn’t reveal much more than trees and snow.
“Look” Peter called pointing towards to figures almost running in the distance below them, it was obvious they were Gwen and Andy.
“They are running towards something” Peter continued and Arthur only nodded.
“We should stop them and go back” Peter said, hoping to go back as fast as he could.
The two started down and they now could see something they’ve missed from the peak, a cabin was standing at a far point below them, on the far right was a big clearing leading into the cabin. This was where Gwen was headed, as they drew closer they thought they heard a dog barking, and for a moment it sounded like more than one.

The cabin disappeared from their view and so did the pair below, Peter and Arthur hurried making their way through between the trees. Arthur tried to spot Gwen between the branches and for a moment saw her, a man was towering over her with a sword in his hand. Arthur lost his footing and rolled on the snow, bumping into bushes on the way down.

Running towards the cabin after seeing Gwen been carried inside by a stranger followed by her Dave’s little brother, Cathy spotted two figures sliding involuntary down the slope on the far side of the cabin between the trees. It was a harder approach from there but they were concealed from view for a longer time this way. Cathy couldn’t persuade her partner to try a safer approach once he saw his brother taken as well and they were now following the same route as Gwen took.

After finally standing up Arthur saw Cathy, he waved to her trying to get her to change her route towards them but nothing was changing, Dave was headed straight to the cabin.
The already breathless boys two picked up the pace trying to reach the cabin at the same time as Cathy. Arthur thought a two fronts attack will be at least better than one at a time.
Almost twenty feet from the cabin they heard the dogs barking again and the boys hid behind a tree, glimpsing around it managing to spot Cathy approaching fast.
The dogs were barking and Arthur could see a movement inside the cabin.

Two men appeared each turning in a different direction towards the Cathy and the older brother. The one closest to Arthur waited near the corner hiding out of Cathy’s sight. There was no sign of Gwen and Arthur slowly approached the cabin stepping from one tree to another with Peter on his heels.
When they looked down a big dog was blocking their path towards the cabin, growling silently ready to bark. He was tied around his neck with a long rope to a tree.
“Give him some food” Arthur whispered.
Peter frowned and went through his pockets producing a small piece of bread, throwing it away from them the two managed to reach the entrance of the cabin.

Gwen and the Andy were lying on the floor of the cabin, but aside them were three more children in small cages at the corners of the cabin.
“What is this place?” Peter asked.
“They are selling us” One of the boys whispered with tears in his eyes.
Arthur looked outside the window seeing one of the men approaching the two outside, while Cathy was aiming her bow at him. The older brother was yelling and Arthur could see this wasn’t going to be solved peacefully. They edged around the door coming behind the second man. He was holding a club in his hand ready to swing.
They saw Dave take another step forward towards the man who in turn raised his sword and swung his hilt into his face dropping him to the ground. Taking another step forward while bending the string on her arrow Cathy aimed at the attacker, she was ready to shoot when a loud noise was heard and Cathy disappeared into the ground.

Letting out a loud gasp Arthur and Peter lost the element of surprise and the man turned and swung his club, barely missing Arthur’s head who jumped out of the way.
The boys worked together preparing to attack. Peter took a step forward, faking an attack. The man took the bait and sent a blow towards Peter leaving himself exposed to a hard blow with the dull side of Arthur’s sword to the back of his head sending him down almost taking Peter on the way down.
Arthur turned to look the second man, but he wasn’t ready for the attack and the man jumped on him from behind sending a hard blow to his shin.
Looking around Peter saw he was the only one standing, furiously charging at Arthur’s attacker, raining easily blocked blows on him. The man took a few steps back, standing only a few steps from the cabin entrance, he readied himself for an attack his sword was raised high. He started forward when a club hit his legs and he dropped raising his head only to see Peter pointing his sword at his throat while Gwen was ready to swing her club at him again.

Quickly after knocking him unconscious Peter and Gwen turned to look for Cathy, who was being pulled out of the freezing water by Dave. The clearing next to the cabin was a frozen lake in this weather.

Warming up in the boy’s cabin the four were happy to be alive, all of the boys were with them.
“We will go out tomorrow morning and find your parents” Arthur said to the grateful kids.
They were all busy eating a hefty dinner but the smile returned to their faces.
Andy kept playing with the pup, but now there were five more who needed a home.
“We should all get a good night sleep” Cathy said getting up, she turned to Dave “Thank you for rescuing me” She said and kissed him on the cheek making his face go red.
Cathy headed to the adjacent room with Gwen closing the door behind them, as the door closed Peter burst into laughter.

Copyright © 2013 The Silver Wolf

The Young Knights & The Mill

Two hooded figures were sneaking from the back of a house. At this late hour the darkness covered swallowed them quickly allowing them to disappear into the night.

“It’s pouring” Peter murmured half to himself and half as an accusation to Arthur. “It’s pouring” he mumbled again thinking Arthur didn’t him.
The two were covered with their only travel cape covering most of their bodies. It didn’t help much as their cloth were already soaked and the two already fantasized about the moment they returned to the inn to dry out by the fire.
“I can’t believe you volunteered us to go” Peter continued.
Knowing he had to let out some steam Arthur didn’t answer. Both of them knew they were the obvious choice for this task but Peter liked to have someone to blame for his misery.
“Why can’t we wait for the rain to stop in order to bring the flour?” Peter continued.
“Because it hadn’t stopped for three days” Arthur finally answered. “We are waiting on it to stop since lunch” he continued.

The door of the building connected to the watermill was slightly ajar which seemed odd with this weather, but the watermill owner was known as a little odd.
Arthur knocked softly on the door, waiting for a response.
“He can’t hear you” Peter banged on the door, partially opening it with his knocks.
“Jack…” Arthur called inside, trying to overcome the noise of the rain and the mill as well.
“Jack…Jack….” The two called when there was no response from inside.

Stepping inside, the place looked empty and dark. They could make out the mill turning at the far side, still producing flour. At the other corner stood a large pile of flour filled sacks but this was more their knowledge of the place and less their eyes seeing it.
“Great, we’ve come all this way and he isn’t here?” Peter grumped, although he was glad to be finally out of the rain.
“Don’t worry, he must be near by” Arthur assured him after wandering the room.
“How do you know?” Peter asked
“This sack is new” Arthur pointed to the one near the mill, he didn’t go far.

Arthur turned when he heard Peter stumble to the ground. “Be careful, don’t break anything.”
“The old man keeps forgetting stuff on the ground” Peter said, trying to get up. “I think his roof is leaking, the floor is wet over here, it can’t be good for the wheat or flour.”
Arthur extended his hand to help him up.
“What’s down there? It’s the second time I’ve stumbled into it” Peter asked, trying to clean his hands on his cloth.
The two bent down reaching around on the floor. Realizing quickly what they were grabbing, the two jumped back up.
Jack’s body was on the floor. Arthur looked at his now blood covered hands. “We have to call for help” he said to Peter heading quickly towards the door.

Peter, the tall skinny blond boy was shivering. He couldn’t tell if it was from the rain and cold outside or the encounter with a corpse.
“Over there” Peter motioned to a group heading their way.
Arthur couldn’t identify the incoming group, but he could see a few men and women holding pitchforks and axes. Twenty feet away a loud shout came from the crowd: “Get them, they’ve murdered Jack.”
Still stunned, the boys looked at each other. “Run?” Peter mumbled, while Arthur nodded and they sprinted away.

“We didn’t kill him” Peter shouted back to the raging crowd behind them which seemed to get bigger by the moment.
“I’m not sure it would help” Arthur called over the pouring rain.
They were just passing a small cabin when a man came out.” Grab them” he quickly ran towards the two and grabbed Arthur by his cape, making him turn on the spot. “Let me go!” Arthur called, seeing their lead shrink. The man threw a punch sending Arthur to the ground into a puddle.
Looking for Peter, the man turned just in time to get hit by a board in the face. Peter grabbed Arthur by the hand helping him up. “Can you run?” he asked.
Arthur nodded and the two continued with only a small lead on their pursuers.

“We need to split up” Arthur said, knowing Peter could outrun them easily without him. “Meet me at the far side of the village on the edge of the woods.” A nod of agreement sent them both in different directions in the village.

Looking over his shoulder he could see half of the crowd stayed behind him and he had to try and loose them. A few quick turns didn’t help and Arthur could feel the fatigue, hoping his chasers are feeling it as well. On his right stood a small barn which he knew had a hidden door in the back. He ran straight inside, disappearing from his chasers view. In his rush he nearly missed the door but a short back step and he was again running outside in the rain, leaving the crowd to search for him in the barn.
After another sharp turn he slipped on a puddle. Getting up slowly he realized he wasn’t sure where he was. Although he knew the village like the back of his hand, the cold, rain and rush of being chased confused him.

After another turn the familiar inn stood in front of him. John and Merry, the inn owners and the ones who treated them like their children for a while, were standing at the door. “What’s happening?” Merry cried when Arthur stopped breathless in front of her.
“Jack…. Was…. murdered” Arthur exclaimed still hyperventilating.
“By who?” John asked.
“They… think… it’s us.”
“Why would you kill him?” Merry asked bewildered.
“We… didn’t of course… Are the girls here?” Arthur asked.
“They went out when they heard the commotion outside” John said.
“Come inside” John said pointing towards the inn. “We’ll keep you safe.”
“I can’t” Arthur said after a short thought, “They’ll expect us to come back here. If you see the girls tell them we’ll be in the woods.”
John nodded, and Merry sobbed softly.

Running between the houses, keeping to the shadows, the already drenched Arthur was exhausted. He managed to make his way to the edge of the village unspotted and had only a short run towards the woods when a strong hand grabbed his shoulder from behind.
“Here’s the little murderer” said a familiar voice.
When Arthur turned, there stood Sam –  the thief they stopped a couple of month earlier.
“We didn’t kill him” Arthur pleaded.
“I know…ha ha ha” Sam laughed out loud.
He grabbed Arthur and punched him straight in the chin dropping him to the ground unconscious.
Sam grabbed Arthur by the arms and started pulling him towards the nearest house. “Stop right there” Cathy called coming from behind a corner. She came out holding a bow and arrow aimed at Sam. The small figure of Gwen appeared on Cathy’s side “Let’s tie him up” she said.

A few moments later, leaving Sam tied inside the house they were carrying Arthur towards the woods, one under each arm. “Over here” they heard a whisper from behind a tree and before they could react a wolf came to greet them.
The old man they helped a while ago was leading them towards his cabin. The girls were struggling to carry Arthur and avoiding stepping on the She wolf which was running around between them.

The cabin was warm and cozy. When they stepped inside they immediately spotted Peter warming himself by the fire, eating a piece of bread.
“Peter…?” the girls called and he jumped to help them carry Arthur inside, placing him near the fire place.
Warming themselves by the fire while Peter explained what happened, they waited for Arthur to regain consciousness.
“Are you okay?” Cathy asked, caressing his brown hair from his forehead.
“I think so” Arthur said, trying to focus his eyes.
Gwen took a piece of cloth and wiped a few drops of blood from his mouth.
“We need to hurry” Arthur said still trying to sit up.
“What’s the rush?” Peter asked.
It was a short explanation, but the plan seemed a bit more problematic. It seemed that the boys had been framed by the vengeful Sam.

“You should take this” the old man handed them a dagger.
“I think we shouldn’t be carrying weapons” Arthur said. “Thank you for your help.”
The four left the cabin in different directions. “Try to bring them fast” Arthur called after the girls who nodded and ran away.
“Will it work?” Peter asked hopefully.
Arthur nodded. “I hope so” he whispered, “I really hope so” he continued more to himself.

The sounds of the crowd searching for them could easily be heard from afar. The rain was dropping in what looked like a fury. Arthur couldn’t spot where their pursuers exactly were but he hoped they could hide in the shadows long enough.
It didn’t take them long to spot Sam’s house. A group of men were standing with their back to the house. They were lurking around as if they were expecting the boys to come. Standing there frustrated, the two were not sure what to do. Suddenly a shout came from a distance. “THEY ARE HERE!!” And before the two could react the group had disappeared into the shadows between the houses. So far the plan was working, Arthur thought.

When the two ascended the few stairs in front of the house they thought every man in the village could hear the sounds the wood boards made under their feet. Slowly opening the door Arthur peeked inside, not sure what was he expecting to see. After a few steps inside, Arthur was about to turn and call Peter when the door shut close behind him and a silhouette was blocking his way. Sam’s son was standing in front of him. “You should have minded your own business” he spat at Arthur.

Peter was banging on the door from the outside but it looked like the door was locked. Realizing he was alone, Arthur faked a right and ran left seeing Sam’s son taking the bait. He was much bigger than Arthur but he looked a bit clumsy and angry, he was bound to make a mistake.
Sam’s son ran towards Arthur who dodged him again in the last moment, running out of room to run to. Arthur looked to a corner seeing a bloody axe. Quickly realizing what this was he knew he had the evidence he needed. Now he hoped he would have some luck.

The door was still shut closed but the window was slightly open. Arthur readied himself and smashed his shoulder into the boy, throwing him backwards, hitting the window with his hand and throwing it open. Now Arthur had to pick his moment to leave.

Peter heard the squeak of the opening window and the sounds of a struggle from inside. He ran towards the closest house for help but it was empty. He cursed his luck and ran a bit further when a thought came to his head which he hoped will not cost them their lives.
“I’m here” he called to a few men not far away and the chase began.
“GET HIM!!” The crowd shouted and now they were coming from two directions. Peter just hoped he will be able to reach Sam’s house before they catch him.
Peter couldn’t see Cathy and Gwen when he glanced over his shoulder.
The crowd was closing on him but he managed to reach the window, seeing Sam’s son holding Arthur by the collar of his blouse.
A man caught Peter from behind and was about to hit him when an arrow flew between them, hitting the house wall just beside the window silencing the crowd.
“Now you’ll die” called Sam’s son from inside the house to Arthur unaware of the crowd outside.
Facing the window, Arthur seized the opportunity. “At least tell me why did you kill Jack?” He Tried.
“He was an old fool, we wanted to frame and then kill you” The boy laughed. “Dad will be so jealous. He wanted to be the one who killed you.”
“But Jack didn’t do a thing” Arthur continued.
“You should have seen him beg” The boy laughed. He was now lifting the axe in his right arm ready to swing.
Another arrow pierced the night and the boy fell, dropping the axe and Arthur to the ground.

“I can’t believe you hit him right in the arse” John said when the four were seated around the fire place in the big inn.
The recount of the story would be told a lot in that night but the four needed a little rest.
Sam was never caught and his boy was taken by a few local guards who headed to the nearest keep to escort him.
“You know we never got the flour?” Peter said.
The crowd around them laughed.

Copyright © 2013 The Silver Wolf