Post 21

Soldiers tied Ned’s hands together and he was forced to the ground. What felt like a long time passed while the soldiers whispered irritably amongst themselves. Ned was brought to his feet in the late summer sun with hands bound to his front. He looked at the rough soldiers around him and nervousness set in. The man who wanted him dead stepped forward and pulled out a dagger. Ned looked down and held his breath. The blade hacked at the rope, which fell to the ground. Another soldier kicked the rope aside. The dagger was sheathed and the soldier walked over to Kroll. Turning their backs, the two men spoke in whispers. Continue reading


Post 20

A chill shot down Ned’s spine as he hurtled away. But his legs seemed to be made of lead and he made slow work of the bank. The soldier pounded after him and soon made up the ground. As Ned was almost at the top, the soldier brought him heavily to the ground. The wind was knocked out of the boy and a gloved hand picked up the stolen sword. An iron grip enclosed around the boy’s leg. No words were exchanged. Continue reading


Post 19

Ned looked at the soldier barking orders. He was tall and broad shouldered, with a craggy face and creased forehead. His uniform was dark and chain-mail just visible. A large sword hung from a belt to one side and he stood with hands on hips. Ned did not know it, but this was a select band of warriors. The trained killers operated on the forefront of armies and were the best. The leader, Kroll, was the most decorated warrior in Malaxia. Continue reading


Post 18

Dropping his wooden sword, Ned ran. He made it through the main door from the clearing. Once on the other side of the thicket, he crawled over to his secret entrance where he kept some camouflaged clothing. He could hear his father’s angry voice beyond the foliage. Ned hurried to change his trousers and top. He would have to get away. But his father was not playing back there. He knew harm was intended. If only he did not live there, life would be so different. Ned smeared mud on his hands and face. Once fully kitted up, he wrapped a cloth around his face and moved out, careful to make no noise. Continue reading

Sword Lesson

Post 17

Ned spent days carving the blade and handle of a wooden sword until he was happy with its look. He was up early one morning, practising at the edge of the clearing around the cabin. Against a make-believe opponent, he swished the sword through the air. His footwork was improving. There were certain moves he had watched when Malaxian warriors attacked. He studied the way they went in for the kill and how the sword was held. And he had invented a few moves himself such as kicking a foot to unbalance an opponent and using the sword in defence while punching an adversary in the face. Continue reading


Post 16

Ned aimed his catapult at the bigger boy to Gobba’s left. Just as they were about to attack, he unleashed the stone, which hit the big kid in the ear. He hit the ground with a thump, holding his head and screaming. Gobba stared with horror. The other member of his gang stormed toward Ned. As he neared, Ned leant back and grabbed his shirt with both hands. Ned threw the boy over his shoulders. Twisting in mid-air, Ned landed on top and pummelled his face with both fists. The boy screamed and tried to cover up. As the tears streamed down his cheeks, there was no fight left. Ned jumped to his feet and faced Gobba. Continue reading


Post 15

Ned decided to leave the Foijen one bright morning and adventured toward the edge of Ragged Wood, close to the village. He heard noises and dropped to one knee. Boys were shouting. The commotion came from a meadow so Ned moved in silence to the tree line and watched. He was invisible to the outside world. Four boys were arguing and it was all kicking off. By the look of it, three boys were picking on one. Ned listened. Continue reading


Jorrin was irritable and shouted at Ned. The boy grabbed his gear, patted Skar on the head and darted out of the cabin. He had made his own secret entry and exit point to the bordering thicket and ran for it. Lifting a trapdoor made from branches and layered with moss, he slipped into a scraped-out passageway and crawled under the bushes. Ned was flat on his stomach and got traction using his elbows and knees as there was not much room down there. On the other side was another small trapdoor. He lifted it and exited to the thicket beyond. Continue reading


Ned was left to his own devices and learned about camouflage. He tied heather, fern and twigs to his clothing, and made a piece of cloth bound with foliage to wrap around his head. When he went to ground, it was almost impossible to see him. The boy had basic weaponry too. A catapult had been fashioned out of a Y-shaped stick and some stretchy string. With practice, his accuracy became quite good with a supply of pebbles carried in a pouch. Continue reading


As time went on, many attacks were thwarted by Jorrin and the cut-throats were angry their easy money had almost dried up. Some attacks were successful, but only when that man never showed up to halt the proceedings. The sporadic bands of lawless freebooters got together and decided the hooded figure must have something to do with the Snook, which was on the frontier of the King’s land. A sworn enemy of the Kingdom was the fortress town of Malaxia, which clung to high ground surrounded by swamps in lands afar. Behind its stone walls was an army training for war. Malaxia’s Empire of conquered territories spread all the way to a vast forest. On the other side lay the borders of the Realm. Continue reading