The torches started to get closer. Richard ran through bushes and past trees. In minutes, he reached a clearing and came into contact with the men. He didn’t run out into their midst, but stopped behind a large bush. He quickly observed the scene.
Men in shiny armor and red capes filled the clearing. They held brutal swords and axes. A large symbol of a snake was clothed on their capes.
“The Sandoran Army?” Richard whispered. The Sandorians were people to the North of their home land, Serdio, and their village, Sed. The Sandorians weren’t very brutal people, and Richard found it hard to imagine that they were the ones’ who had attacked his village. They had a truce with the Queen of Serdio.
He quickly scanned the men. A few were on horses, probably the men of rank. They all held a weapon of some kind, mostly swords. They glanced around, ill at ease at the dark forest around them. None held anything that might have been Katie. But then again, Richard probably wouldn’t be able to see them all from where he was.
He started walking around the edge of the clearing, looking at men who were further away from him. Their gruff faces turned to the forest around them, but none saw him. Richard stepped lightly in places, fearing to make a lot of noise. But, he was confident because he knew this forest quite well. Especially having spend the last few days and nights in it.
He examined all the men, but didn’t see anything suspicious. They obviously didn’t have Katie with them. Maybe she was still at the village, fighting to get away. Maybe her brother was fighting to free her. Richard decided that he would run back to the village and check when he heard the sound of footsteps behind him. He spun, quickly and quietly pulling his sword free of its scabbard.
Without the sun, it was difficult to see into the dark forest. He squinted at the noise, but didn’t see anything. His breath came out in small white puffs as he listen carefully. The steps were easier to hear as the rain stopped falling. The steps came close to him. He followed the sound until he saw someone step out into the clearing in front of him. A large man appeared in the hissing torchlight.
“Was the girl taken care of?” a man sitting on a horse asked the man who had just walked up to the group.
“Yes, she was taken to Hellio prison, Garan” the man said.
“Hellio prison,” Richard whispered to himself. Hellio prison was located not far north of his village. Probably a days ride, two days if you walked. He would have to pass through a swampy area and a forest that was inhabited by satyrs. Satyrs were one of the most dangerous creatures alive, especially if you gave them a cause. Part of the swamp and all of the forest were in the enemy’s territory.
“Hellio?” the man, Garan asked. “Does Lord Zarha have a reason for taking the girl there?”
“Yes, Lord Zarha is under order from Emperor Astroth. He wanted the girl brought there. You do not need to know the specifics,” the man on the ground said.
“What way did they take?” Garan asked.
“The Lake road,” the man said. Richard knew what the man meant. There was a road that took you straight to Hellio prison from the next village over. He would have to cut a corner through safe territory and into enemy territory in order to travel that road. But that also meant that if Richard were quick, he could overthrow the men holding Katie before they even get to the prison. He went to turn and run, but the men in the clearing continues to talk.
“So they won’t be able to get to Hellio until tomorrow afternoon?” the officer asked.
“Wrong, they will get there in about an hour,” the man said in a gruff voice that suggested that he thought the man was being stupid.
“I don’t understand,” Garan said. The moonlight shone through the trees to where Richard stood. He quickly moved into the shadows.
“They have taken her by dragon,” the man said. “Now, I must be off to tell Lord Zarha that she is on the way,” the man turned.
“How will you be able to tell Lord Zarha?”
“Same way the girl is being taken to the prison,” the man said. He placed his finger in his mouth and blew. A whistle pierced the night. Then it was silent.
A minute later, a faint flapping noise could be heard. A shadow in the sky grew darker as minutes past. A large dark dragon touched down in the clearing. Richard was enthralled by the amazing creature.
Its long silvery wing stretched out nearly twenty feet. A large spiked tail swayed behind its back in an arc like a scorpion’s stinger. Large claws scratched the hard ground, leaving large marks in the dirt. It had dark blue diamond skin that appeared to be unbreakable. Its glowing green eyes looked into the shadows where he stood.
The large man walked to the dragon. He gently set his hand on the dragon’s nose. He whispered something to the dragon, but Richard couldn’t hear. The dragon made a strange noise that sounded like a grunt.
“Zephyr, are you ready?” the man asked in a carrying voice. The dragon’s eyes gazed around in the darkness of the forest. For a moment, the dragon’s eyes came into contact with Richard’s.
“Yes,” the dragon responded in a booming voice. The man stood close, and the dragon reached out and lifted the man from the ground. The man was placed on the dragon’s back.
“I would pay close attention to those who seek to destroy what you have started,” the dragon said, looking at Richard. He knew that the dragon was talking to him. With a gush of wind, Zephyr, one of the wind, took flight. In moments, the beat of the dragon’s wings were fading away.
Richard stood pondering what the dragon had said. It had almost talked in a riddle. The men still in the clearing were looking confused.
“We move out!” Garan shouted. The men started to walk out of the clearing and into the dense forest. Their torch lights were fading fast. Richard turned and ran. He had to get to the village as quick as possible. He couldn’t believe that Katie had really been captured.
He decided that he would regroup and create a plan to infiltrate Hellio in order to rescue Katie. He knew it would be difficult, but he would do anything to save her. If only he had not went out into the forest that night. He had been planning on coming back that day. But his job got in the way of that.
Richard worked as a hunter for the butcherers. He went out and collected the meat for them and brought is back. He had fallen low this week, so he spend the last few days hunting to make up for it.
Now, he thought, it wasn’t worth it.
The forest around his was silent. He could see the red glare of the fires in his village. Some of the flames rose high above the treetops. Loud blast rang through the forest. Richard knew that they were going to keep attacking the village until it was demolished.
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