Homecoming

During the night, as he tried to sleep at the edge of a clearing, Ned looked at the silver and blue pendant he had received. He thought about the troubled past which led him to this moment. He sighed at the thought of killing Big Nose and Kroll in combat. Ned had avenged the death of his family, but it would not bring them back. At least the long-lived anger was beginning to lessen. He had the blood of many Malaxian soldiers on his hands and his demons were being laid to rest. Krea was his one regret. There was no going back to her in Malaxian territory. He reflected as the fire crackled, its flames dancing in the light breeze.

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Call to Arms

While good times continued for many on the manor, tragedy struck Lord Snookington. He grew ill and was bed-ridden. With a hacking cough, his lungs grew worse until he took his last breath. A grand funeral was held in the local church. The wealthy and titled crammed into the pews to hear the service. Lord Snookington had always been loyal to the King and a contingent from the royal family attended. Villagers swarmed around the church grounds. As day drew into night and the morning beyond, young Harry became Lord Snookington. Notwithstanding his lack of worldly experience, he was determined to serve the King with honour and govern his manor in an equitable way.

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Ned Nobody

The villagers gossiped about Ned. Some called him wolf boy. Having spent much of his life in the depths of the forest, they guessed there was no need for a family name. Not a single person knew who his family were. When the boy was feeling better, Lord Snookington summoned him to the manor house. Ned left the lodge and walked across some meadows. As the imposing house loomed in the distance, he walked over a moat and stood before a massive oak door. He rang a brass bell and the door creaked open. A butler ushered him inside. The hallway was dark, with an oaken floor and cladding on the walls. He had never before been in such grand surroundings and looked at his own dirty, torn clothing.

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Recovery

In open land, the soldiers relaxed and hurried toward the village. The jolting was almost unbearable for Ned. The solemn parade made it to the Snook and village folk gathered around to witness the amount of dead bodies being brought back. On an open area of grass at the foot of the High Street, the bodies were laid out and funerals hastily arranged. The soldiers would be buried with full military honours. The merchants would organise a ceremony for their men. But, for Ned and his dead family, there was a problem. Funerals were not free of charge. Lord Snookington stepped forward and announced he would pay for the burial of the unknown swordsman’s family. His tales of bravery were legendary. And folk in the Snook owed him a great debt.

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