Pathway

Post 45

She walked out of the farm building and Ned followed. Standing at the edge of the swamp, it looked ghostly under the light of a full moon. Wind rippled the waters so the moon’s reflection broke up. Krea gave Ned an object wrapped in cloth. He opened the material and looked at a metal and glass contraption. Moving it around in one hand, he was confused. Continue reading

Secret

Post 44

A biting wind rushed through the reeds as Ned stared out at the swamp and the pine trees beyond. The sun was setting over the forest to the South. His back and legs ached from harvesting vegetables all day. Ned did not want to leave the farm, but he was used to being in a forest all day long. He missed his time in the woodland. But he did not want to return to the cabin or his family. Continue reading

Realisation

Post 43

Kroll spread a map over the large rock. Continue reading

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