this is the continuation of the crimson blade. it is really rough and has lots of gaps
| Chapter 1
Haleth woke with a start. Beads of sweat rolled down his forehead, dampening his pillow. The small fire in the corner of the room shone out dimly, bathing the room in its warm glow. Something was wrong. Even as he lay there he could feel it. A shadow of darkness that loomed at the edge of his consciousness, some great evil. A cold chill ran down his spine, in spite of the heat of the room. The walls of the room seemed to shrink about him as he lay there. His growing claustrophobia increased almost to panic.
Flinging back his cover he sprang out of bed and began pulling on his clothes. Moonlight streamed in through the open window, setting everything in sharp contrast from the wall. Slipping into his soft leather boots, he made his way quietly toward the door, his feet gliding silently across the hardwood floor. The last thing he needed was to wake old Kizer. He would be quite put out to find Haleth sneaking out at such a late hour. A sudden gust of wind blew out the fire, plunging the room in darkness. Too late Haleth grabbed for the open door. Slam! The sound echoed loudly in the small room. Wincing, he held his breath and listened for noises from the room beyond. Nothing.
Sighing with relief, Haleth slipped out into the long hallway that lead to the outside, his thoughts returning to Kizer. His parents had died tragically when he was a young child, and the old man had offered to take him and raise him. From then on he had become Haleth’s mentor. Stern he was at times, and impatient, but still kind and forgiving. He was the closest thing Haleth had to a father and he loved him dearly. He spoke very little of his past, and so Haleth had no idea where he had come from or what he had done before he came to the small village of Tindrock. He had adamant that Haleth learn how to read and write, and here they had butted heads more than once. Many a warm summer day had he been kept inside, going through dusty old scrolls about people long dead and forgotten.
Haleth reached the end of his long walk and opened the door. The icy chill of the night air slapped him in the face, passing through his poorly made shirt as if it weren’t there. He swiftly shut the door and slipped into the shadows.
Moving swiftly, he walked a little way from the house and to the top of a small hillock. He sat down in the moist grass and gazed upwards. The stars, bright and remote, stared back down at him. They were the keepers of knowledge and history, and he was comforted at there presence. Haleth was in awe of natures beauty. The distance between him and these bright lights of the night shank in his mind. He joined them in there eternal dance across the heavens. Time ceased as Haleth dreamed of far off places and adventure.
Light began to appear in the east, faintly at first, but brightening swiftly. Morning was here. Rubbing life back into his cold limbs, Haleth rose and headed toward the small barn out behind the house. There was no reason why he couldn’t get an early start on his chores. He scattered a couple handfuls of corn out for the chickens, who squawked in excitement. He then tossed an armful of hay out for the milk cow, Dina. As she was eating he grabbed the milk pail and milked her swiftly. With the bucket sloshing over the edges, he walked carefully back to the house.
As he approached the doorway, he could smell bacon and eggs frying on the griddle. The delicious aroma’s wafted out through the cracks. Breathing deeply to capture as much of the smell as he could, he strode into the house and set the full milk pail down on the table.
“Decided you’d sleep all day did you?” Kizer growled as he took the bacon from the pan and set in front of him. Haleth grinned.
Haleth woke suddenly. Moonlight streamed into the room, bathing it in a ghostly color. Drifting in through the open window, he could hear angry voices. Sliding out of bed, he rubbed the sleep from his eyes and got dressed. He went in the den. All was dark and silent. He looked into Kizer’s room. The bed was made up and no candle burned at the desk. He must have gone outside.
Haleth slipped outside. He could now see the owners of the voices he had heard earlier. He moved closer in order to hear them.
“I assure you, it is as I have told you. What reason do I have to lie?”
Haleth could now make out their faces. Kizer was arguing with some of the villagers. A tall stranger was speaking earnestly to Aaron, the village swordsman. Haleth and Aaron had been friends ever since Haleth came to Tindrock. He was always telling him tales about the times when he was with the king’s army.
“When did you see this?” Aaron pressed urgently.
“Yesterday morning; and they moved swiftly. They may be at the base of the mountains even as we speak.”
“Thank you for your kindness in coming out of your way to warn us.” Aaron said gratefully.
“No problem,” the stranger said with a friendly smile. Then leaping on his he galloped off into the forest, raising his hand in farewell.
Haleth turned his attention back to Kizer and the villagers, who were still in heated argument.
“You would do well to listen to him,’ Kizer stated. But the villagers remained obstinate.
“Have it your own way, it’s your lives” he said exasperated. Disgusted, he walked away, back toward the home. Spotting Haleth, he called out to him. Haleth ran quickly to his side.
“Something unfortunate has happened.” he informed Haleth. Speaking in a softer voice he continued. “I must leave now. I did not foresee this, and therefore had made no preparations. You need to gather your things. You will stay with Aaron until I return. I will return as swiftly as I can.”
Haleth reached Aaron’s house just as the moon had reached its peak, he knocked on the door timidly. He heard the sound of movement coming from inside, then of bolts being drawn. A huge shadowy figure opened the door and blocked out all the light. It was Aaron.
He looked to Haleth, almost… worried, if that were possible. Seeing who his visitor was, he relaxed and quickly ushered Haleth inside.
“I had foreseen it, but it’s too late to escape now.”
Haleth looked at him questioningly. He shook his head, “I haven’t the time to explain.” He stood and moved to stand by the window. He let the silence streach out before speaking again.
“They are coming… they are almost here,” he said in a low voice.
Haleth’s eyes widened with fear. “Here? Warrior Goblins? You mean in the village?” The weight of what Aaron had just said began to sink in. Warrior goblins! The name raced through his head. Even in the small and remote village of Tindrock he had heard of them. Tales were told of their cruelity and hatred of mankind. It was said that they fought against the elves in the ancient battles.
“Yes,” said Aaron softly. He looked at Haleth as if to gauge his strength. After a moment of silence, he spoke again. “You didn’t bring your bow with you did you?” Haleth shook his head. He had not left his home with the intention of going to war. Nodding, Aaron walked into the next room and began rummaging through old boxes.
Haleth, who was still stunned at what Aaron had said, stared ahead in a daze, trying not to think. He knew well that Aaron was the only warrior in the village. Hesitantly he called to Aaron, “Is… is there any hope?” Aaron paused and looked hard at the wall, his grey eyes misting over, "very little... very little indeed." he ended, almost to himself. "But," he said, his eyes narrowing in resolve,"wether there is hope or not does not change the course we must take. Our path is set before us, and we must do the best with what we have."
Dark shadows began to move at the edge of the village, and the watchman paused in his rounds to look at the dark forest. Suddenly, an arrow whizzed out of nowhere and pierced his chest. He died with a scream of agony. In the village, lights appeared as people began to awake, wondering at the disturbance.
Aaron returned to the room where Haleth was waiting carrying a bundle of weaponry. Setting it down on the floor he selected a plain recurved bow and handed it to Haleth. As soon as his hand touched the polished wood, Haleth knew the bow was of excellent workmanship. Unadorned, it may have been, but no finer a bow had he seen in his entire life. He could feel its power as he bent it slightly. And yet, the draw poundage was not nearly as much as a longbow that the yeomen used. Seeing Haleth’s amazement, Aaron explained, “It is a Ranger’s bow, one I acquired in my travels, you may never see its like again.”
“It’s beautiful,” Haleth whispered. As he gazed in rapture, Aaron tossed a long thin package to him. It was a leather quiver full of fine goose fletched arrows. Haleth quickly strapped this to his back. He drew an arrow and looked down the perfectly straight shaft. Hearing the jingle of mail, he turned back to Aaron. The swordsman had put on a coat of bronze mail and was tying on a leather vest. Around this he belted a wide belt. Reaching over the fireplace, he deftly took down the massive sword from its pegs and strapped it to his back
Black figures moved steadily into the village, dodging patches of moonlight. They surrounded each house and waited. Four horsemen advanced to the village square. The foremost of them raised head and surveyed the village. Raising his hand in a silent signal, he ceased all activities. The two behind him raised silver horns to their lips and let fourth a long cold blast.
Aaron handed Haleth a long curved knife. Drawing it from its sheath Haleth stared at it in wonder. It was a beautiful blade, from its elegantly curved blade to its rosewood handle. The bluish grey metal shone brightly in the fire light, and yet it seemed to glow on its own accord. The handle was inlaid with silver and gold in a winding leaf pattern.
“It was Kizer’s old blade,” Aaron said thoughtfully, his grey eyes held a faraway look. “He gave it to me for safe keeping after our last adventure. Yes,” he said seeing the surprised in Haleth’s eyes. “We fought together many a time. He was a brave warrior, a loyal companion, and the finest bowman I have ever seen. It was an elven blade, he told me. I never learned how he came by it, but nevertheless, I do not doubt him.”
Looking at the magnificent blade, Haleth did not doubt his mentor’s word eather. Reluctantly he slid it back into its sheath and strapped it to his side.
“Come,” Aaron said abruptly, “It is time.” Pulling his hood up to cover his face, he strode out the doorway. Grabbing his bow, Haleth hurried after him. With long strides Aaron made his way to the village square.
The silver moon outlined four mounted soldiers engaged in earnest conversation with the village elders. They wore black Amarion armor and tall helmets. The foremost wore no helmet, but a red velvet cape was attached to his shoulders, obviously a symbol of leadership. His face was cruel and sneering, and he spoke in the tone of one who was accustomed to getting his way.
Striding quickly through the village elders Aaron came to a stop in front of the captain.
“Your king has no authority here,” he said, staring coldly up at the mounted soldier.
“I assure you, we only…”
“Be quiet cur!”
Scowling, the captain rode his horse right up to Aaron.
“You will find that our master’s authority extends farther than many know, and those foolish enough to speak against him do not live long.”
“And you will find that cowards and fools meet a quick end when they are taken to haughty words.” Aaron retorted.
Livid with rage, the captain reached for his sword. Haleth, who had been standing unobserved, swiftly drew an arrow to his bow and aimed steadily at the horseman. The captain, staring down the shaft of a long arrow froze.
“How dare you interfere with the king’s business,” he said angrily, but still eyeing Haleth warily.
“Oh, I dare,” Aaron said, “but tell me, why needs the king two legions of goblin warriors hiding in yonder forest?”
“You fool,” the captain replied, “when I return, you will die.”
“You shall return to no one after this day my friend.” Aaron said in an icy tone, crossing his arms.
The captain swiftly put his fingers to his mouth and let out a piercing whistle. Scarcely had the sound reached Haleth’s ears when Aaron reached behind his back and pulled a huge battle sword seemingly out of nothing. He lunged forward and sank his blade deeply into the captain’s horse. Haleth thought he saw Aaron smirk as he ripped his blade upward through the horse and slicing thought the captain’s leg. Haleth winced as he heard bones splintering as the blade passed directly along the bone line.
The horse toppled and the captain was flung from the saddle, clutching his ruined leg. The other horsemen, seeing their captain lying on the ground and writhing in agony, wheeled their horses around and galloped off. A volley of arrows hissed toward them as soon as the soldiers were safely out of the way. Haleth dropped to the ground and drew his small elven dagger. The battle had begun!
“Stay low and behind me,” Aaron barked as he moved further into the village. A horde of goblins was pouring in and setting buildings aflame. Aaron rushed to the nearest goblin and plunged his sword deep into his chest. An arrow hissed past his ear. He looked up and saw Haleth was making use of his b0w. With a sweep and reverse, Aaron cut down two more warriors and advanced to the square.