Weighing Up

Post 42

Kroll sat on a rock in a small clearing. Sunlight pierced the canopy above as he waited for an outlaw leader. His men were spread out, hiding in the undergrowth. Movement came from Kroll’s left. No noise, but some unnatural stirring from a large fern. A Malaxian warrior sprung through some foliage whilst another dropped from a tree. They were there in an instant with swords drawn. The brigand leader was brought to Kroll. Continue reading

Skirmishes

Post 41

Kroll continued to hunt for Jorrin. He had been on this quest for almost a year now, spending two months at a time in the Foijen before brief returns to Malaxia. The King’s soldiers often accompanied merchants and Kroll was unimpressed with how easily they succumbed to the semi-trained raiders. The King’s army was large in numbers, but it could be no match for the Malaxian hordes. Kroll was a senior leader in the best Malaxian regiment, but he wished the rulers of Malaxia would stop dithering and declare war when it was so obvious they would win. Continue reading

No Regrets

Post 40

Back at the cabin, Jorrin thought life was much better without Ned. His wife and other sons all got along together well. Jorrin was proud of the way Merek and Fauder were growing up. Ned was an irritant. It was difficult to pinpoint why he found interaction with the boy so difficult but it had to be Ned’s fault. Jorrin was sure Ned would never amount to anything. When he considered the talents of Merek and Fauder, it was obvious to Jorrin that Ned was heading nowhere. And the boy’s remaining dog whimpered and howled, which Jorrin found annoying. But it was a small price to pay to have Ned out from under his feet. Ned was thirteen, maybe fourteen by now. He was not sure. Anyway as far as Jorrin was concerned, Ned was old enough to make his own way in life. Continue reading

Friends

Post 39

As leaves scattered from the trees in mid-Autumn, the air chilled. After work, when the darkness came earlier, the farmer allowed Krea to bring food and a hot drink to Ned in the outhouse beneath the dark walls of Malaxia. In front of the roaring fire, Ned ate, drank and talked with Krea. He told her about his time in jail and the march with Kroll’s men. But he talked most about living in the Foijen, a land far away. The woodland on the other side of the swamp was similar to the Foijen, but it was warmer in the forests further South. Krea was fascinated with his tales of afar because all she had ever known was Malaxia where everything was cold and damp. Mist hovered above the swap and moss grew everywhere. Krea told Ned the only people allowed beyond the border swap were soldiers and merchants. Continue reading

Labourer

Post 38

Winter was approaching and Ned’s main duties consisted of looking after the animals. He got up before the sun rose and finished work after dusk every day. At night-time, he shivered under a blanket until Gundred built him a small fireplace. From then on, Ned was allowed a fire to keep himself warm at night. The farmer worked with Ned every day and the boy respected him. Through the freezing weather, Ned toiled day after day. Come the spring, he began working the land. Continue reading

On The Farm

Post 37

The man who bought Ned owned a farm just outside the large gates to Malaxia. His name was Gundred and he lived in a small farmhouse with his daughter Krea. He was a kind but mournful man as he lost his wife to a harsh winter the year before. Gundred’s farm had a few outbuildings which hugged the fortress walls, some grazing land, livestock and crops. He was not rich, but had saved his money for the right farm worker. The farmer needed someone strong and Ned sounded just right. Gundred could not afford to make a mistake. He knew more than any that one winter with failed crops meant death. Continue reading

Slave

Post 36

Word got out something special was for sale in the market. Rumour had it a captured boy outran Kroll’s troops back to Malaxia. It was well known Kroll and his men were soldiers without equal. The selection process was harsh. All Malaxians were trained in the military from a young age and, even then, only one in a hundred passed to serve with Kroll’s battalion. The final selection took a whole year. Recruits had to endure physical and mental hardships in order to make the cut. Many died on the programme, but it all added to the mystique. Once serving soldiers, they ran the fastest and fought the hardest. If a boy could physically prove himself to such a tough band of warriors, he was worth buying. Contine reading

Time To Go

Post 35

Numbskull scurried away. Kroll turned and scraped his boots on the stone floor. Ned felt elated. Some hope at last. The boy watched him leave and wondered how the jailors would react. Without a word, Numbskull and Side-Kick began to tidy up the broken table and chairs. The wooden panel was placed back over the hole. It closed with a loud clunk. Then Ned was led back to an empty cell and the clamp around his neck was unlocked. Before long, Numbskull returned with some food. Not the slop prisoners usually received, but some meat and potatoes. Spare clothes and Ned’s boots were dropped on the floor. A wooden bucket of water was placed down. The iron bars were locked shut. Continue reading

Confrontation

Post 34

There was no time like the present. Kroll marched purposefully through grey streets and into the courtyard. He was in possession of a skeleton key. A lock clunked and he swung the door open. Striding quickly along a corridor, he went through another door and down a spiral staircase. He stood in front of the last door. The key would not turn. His fist smashed against it, causing a thundering noise on the other side. Continue reading

Market

Post 33

It was market day. A bustling crowd gathered to buy livestock and slaves. After the chickens, horses and cows had been sold, the dealers waited for the slaves. Kroll walked into the market, but stayed toward the back. He was interested to see the price paid for the boy. He may be small, but the kid was strong. Kroll had primed the auctioneer to make it clear the boy had run with Malaxia’s finest troops and held his own. He was confident of a high price. Continue reading