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Untold Tales of Ardania: Loyalty of the Knight

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 PostPosted: Sun May 04, 2003 9:38 pm    Post subject: Untold Tales of Ardania: Loyalty of the Knight Reply with quote Back to top

Arcus looked upon the boundary of his homeland. Tall pines reached to the blue sky, birds flew to and fro, a soft warm breeze glided over the dirt road in front of him, and his heart lifted with it all.
He had been away for months, wandering the lands, looking for adventure. Arcus could not remember why he had left in the first place, just that he needed to see what lay beyond the boundaries of his home. He did just that and now he was back.
Hitching his backpack and adjusting his sword belt, Arcus once again started his trek home. He was only a day's walk away now, and not even his heavy armor would slow him down.
As the trees passed on his sides, he smiled to himself. All the stories he had to tell, the things he had seen. Creatures beyond words, views beyond beauty, and treasure beyond all comprehension. Of course, he was a knight and he only took what he deemed necessary. New swords, armor, and a couple things for his friends and...
Ahlana. His grin broaden on his face. She must be a full fledge Ranger by now and how he missed her. She was the one constant thought in his mind, the one thing that made him want to come back home. He didn't want to admit it when he left, but now... now was different. After what he had seen in the world outside, the evil, the good, the everything, he knew that she was the purpose in his life. Arcus would not run away this time. He was here to stay.
Arcus looked around at his surroundings again. Everything looked so peaceful here. He was so used to having to look over his shoulder, sleep with one eye open, or just be on guard all the time... it was hard to relax and take everything in. He knew he was safe in his home. They had cleared out most of the monster's lairs before he had left. Another reason why he wanted to go explore. Look for answers, which he didn't find in his travels.
Arcus sighed a little. All of his adventuring led him only back here. He slew beasts and helped the helpless, but it did not give him answers to his questions. He was a knight, a knight with doubts as to who he is and why he was needed anywhere at all. There were so many heroes in the world that he knew of, if he hadn't saved some of those towns, someone else would have. ' Plenty of good to go around these days!' he remembered someone saying. So, how good was he then to this world? He wanted to help, but destroying giant rats and their nests was not too rewarding in the end. The only real threat he stopped was a stone golem, but that was only because he tricked it into falling over a cliff and into a lake. It was probably still alive, stuck in the mud at the bottom of the lake. Never did find the wizard that had released it, but the village thanked him anways and he gave them the treasure it hoarded.
Arcus did not notice the passage of time as he walked on the dusty road. The breeze had died down as he went deeper into the forested area. He never realized how many trees and brush actually dotted the landscape. He knew it would be awhile before he even saw the castle's towers. Arcus decided where he would have to stop in first. Maybe the bar? He was sure everyone would be there, drinking and laughing. Maybe he should just go find Ahlana first. There was so much to tell.
Then he noticed the sun had set. He guessed he had misjudged the distance. He didn't see any light in the horizon or hear any noise. Actually, he didn't hear anything at all.
Arcus stopped in his tracks, looking around. He was on a main roadway into town. There should be caravans and merchants traveling it. He should be able to see the castle towers over the tree tops. Suddenly, a feeling crawled up inside of him and spread across his entire being. Something was wrong.
Arcus started to walk faster, his heart quicking. Where was everyone? What was going on? Soon, he could hear footsteps... his own footsteps going faster and faster. His heart raced as the last rays fell behind the skyline and he didn't see the bump in the road.
His foot hit it, catching him completely off guard and he tumbled head over heels, losing his backpack and belongs. The world spun and blackness was everywhere. His sword belt snapped and he felt it fall from him. He was still rolling for some reason and he reached out trying to grasp anything to stop him.
His hand caught something and he stopped in his tracks, a dust cloud following his arrival.
Arcus coughed a little but got up and looked around. He couldn't see much in the dark, even with his trained eyes. Arcus reached into his shirt pocket and produced a stone. " shal and " he whispered and the light burst into brillance.
Arcus' sight adjusted quickly and he looked around him. What he saw almost made him drop the rock in his hand. A giant black crater stood before him, stretching across what seemed like a mile. Nothing grew or stood inside the crater, only blackness.
Arcus stood there, mouth agape. Suddenly, his knees gave way and he fell into the ground. He looked down to see that the ground was ash. He turned his head to see what he had grabbed onto and saw a skull grinning at him. Tears slowly formed at the rim of his eyes. His fists clenched the stone, almost extinguishing the light.
Arcus looked up at the sky and wanted to scream. His mouth opened but nothing came out. It was a scream that could not be heard by ears but only by the soul and the thundering silence was what he brought force from inside.

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 PostPosted: Sun May 11, 2003 1:05 pm    Post subject: Untold Tales of Ardania: Loyalty of the Knight Reply with quote Back to top

Reality had become a blur, everything blending into one thought... How? Why?...
Anger, rage, sorrow, hate, emptiness... all that was inside him now. His movements were slow and precise. The trees around him fell, one by one. He didn't know what he was truly doing. Chop, carve, and tie. What had happened? Ash shifts in the wind, shifts as he sticks the wood into the ground. Another one down, another branch to cut. Did anyone survive? Another cross done and in the ashen grave.
Wandering monsters stumbled upon the ruins, seeing a single knight hacking and chopping trees. Arcus saw them, a bluring soul on the horizon. They never stayed long, the glare of his eyes broke down even the bravest and mindless of monsters ability to attack. A man without hope, without faith, without anything was more trouble than they wanted to deal with. So they left him to his solitude, knowing he would probably end up burying himself there as well.
The sun rose and set, time had left his thoughts. No clues or signs of what had done this. No natural fire could have burned the town to leave such a crater. No meteors could have done this without leaving a blast crater. As he stuck another cross in the ashen ground his thoughts started to clear. Suddenly, the world appeared to him once again. He heard horses in the distance. Arcus looked around him, a giant pit of ash and wooden makeshift crosses. He walked to the center and placed his glowing stone in the ground. Taking out a knife, he sliced his hand open, letting the blood cover the glowing stone.
" I swear... I swear justice."
With that, he wrapped his hand up and walked out of the ash. He had to find those horses and start his quest. Arcus had no guidance, no clues, but he knew that this is what he had to do. He was a knight and justice would be sought out.

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 PostPosted: Tue May 13, 2003 5:56 pm    Post subject: Untold Tales of Ardania: Loyalty of the Knight Reply with quote Back to top

The rain came down hard from the heavens but Arcus did feel the solid drops on his armor. The water trailed through his tangled hair and his bushy beard. Weary eyes peered through the rain, wrinkles born from harsh weather crinkling as he squinted. A small light bounced ahead, probably in front of an inn. Arcus patted his wet horse and whispered in the horse's ear. It grunted and started off again towards the light. The sucking sound of the hooves traveling through the mud was almost as loud as the rain smacking the world around him.
The inn he came upon seemed quiet, but the as Arcus peered into the window, he saw warm light and lots of different kinds of people inside. He heard someone approach to his right.
A boy's voice spoke up. " Excuse me sir, shall I take..." Arcus turned and handed the boy three gold coins. The boy grinned and took the horse from his hands. " I will make sure he has the driest spot in stable!"
Arcus didn't nod but stepped inside through the front door. The inn was called the Lonely Traveler. He thought it was very fitting. Of course, the inside didn't seem so lonely as the sound of boustrious warriors, singing of a bard, and lots of talking asounded him. The smell of food floated into his senses and Arcus' stomach grumbled. He looked around and spotted an open table by the wall. Walking over, he quietly seated himself, laying his sword across his lap. Arcus tapped the table and a barmaid came over.
" Well, you look like pretty bad sir," she said with a lopsided grin. " What shall I get you?"
" Something strong," he said, dropping a handful of gold coins on the table. " And keep it coming."
She grinned and snatched them up quicker than the winds taking leaves. " Right away!"
Arcus watched her leave and then started to peer around the groups of people. It was your standard class of adventurers, mercenaries, and townsfolk. He then saw what he was looking for, a group of Rangers chatting among themselves in the middle of the room.
When the barmaid returned with his drink, he instructed her to call the men over. " Give them this," he said dropping more gold coins in her hand. She nodded and walked over. She talked to them, laughing at a joke they made, dropped the coins on the table and pointed over to him. The group of them looked at him, their expression changing from laughter to a solemn look. They got up, four of them, and walked over. They quietly took seats around and set the money on the table. The leader looked at Arcus, his tanned weathered face a cold stone of emotion.
" We have heard of you traveler, even here so far away from your home. I am sad to say that we have no information for you about your home of Raldorian." He pushed the money back to the knight. " We cannot accept this."
" Do you know of any other kingdoms that this has happened to?"
The ranger shook his head. " No, the puzzle lies with your kingdom alone. Have you found any information yourself traveler?"
Arcus looked at the coins blankly. " No. I have not even found any survivors."
The ranger nodded. " You are a true knight, my friend. I hope some kind of light shines upon your quest. If you ever need any help, my name is Likor the Wildforest. Rangers are here to assist." With that, the band of rangers got up and went back to their table.
Arcus picked up his drink and downed it in one sitting. There was nothing here for him, just like the many inns before him. He called the barmaid over again.
" I need a room for the night."
" Already set for you sir," she said with a smile. " A bath has been made and placed in the room also."
Arcus nodded and left the coins on the table for her. He walked to the stairs and walked to his room on the floor above. Each step felt like a hundred pounds, the weight of the world on each shoulder.
" I have failed..." he whispered as he slipped into his room. He had gotten no where in these past months. Everywhere he went no one knew what had happened. The heroes he sought out had never heard of this happening. In the end, he had no hope left.
Arcus stripped down and fell into the bathtub. It was warm and slightly comforting to him. His tensions eased a bit. A small bit of peace for his weary soul.
" Do not give up knight..." came a voice from behind him.
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