Arabian Knights
Author: Justin Carr

Chapter 9
Dead Man's forest


“ It’s bloody freezing out here!” said Olivious for the third time. We
were about twenty minutes into our march . Olivious had made a show of
being the first one to walk out of the tavern into the increasingly
severe blizzard, but soon regretted it after a couple of minutes. We
were walking through the forest now. We had left London about ten
minutes ago and I savored every minute of it. It wasn’t often I left
the city, and even under such circumstances it was still quite a treat.
“ How long do you figure until we arrive?” Olivious asked me.
“At this pace? Probably another twenty minutes”
Olivious murmured his disapproval. Just then the whole march came to a
stop. It appeared as though a man was missing.
“Leave him” Olivious called out “we’ll all die if we go looking for him
in this!”
Crispin’s second in command came running down the line of men, telling
the first half of us to go into the woods to look for the man, while
the others would stay on the path. Ironically , Olivious represented
the other half of men, so he got to stay while I had to venture into
the woods. My bow was just dead weight in such a condensed forest, so I
left It with Olivious and took the short-sword I had been issued out.
The forest was dark, and I was fearful venturing into it. I had never
been in a forest before. The darkness engulfed my group as we entered.
I had joined with a small group of three men, as there was no point in
walking through the forest alone. The men were named , Cuthbert,
Bernard and Philip.
“I think I hear something!” exclaimed Cuthbert
“What you hear” said Bernard “is the wind” . Cuthbert shook his head
sadly, while Phlilip remained silent. Suddenly a cry pierced the
darkness. It came from a different group.
“That sounded like Edward!” Cuthbert cried.
“Sounded like a bird” replied Bernard anxiously.
“I say we return to the rest of the men” piped Philip nervously.
“ And what if it was just a bird? Do you want the whole army to think
you got scared of a bird?” Bernard said.
“lets keep looking for five more minutes” I said. We continued walking
into the dark forest. We heard two more cries, which Bernard said were
wild boars. We stopped once we heard twigs snapping. Something was
approaching us.
“Do you see that!” cried Cuthbert. I turned and saw a black figure,
approaching us quickly.
“Ready yourselves” said Philip. Once the figure got closer we were able
to identify that it was one of our men. He had seen us and was now
running towards us as quickly as he could.
“Thomas!” Bernard exclaimed as the man reached us.
Thomas was a short man, he had two short swords in either hand and was
panting heavily.
“Arabs – attacking, get to Crispin” Thomas wheezed. Cuthbert wasted no
time. Immediately he took off sprinting into the night. I glanced at
the men around me. “good luck to you” I called and sprinted after
Cuthbert.

The forest was dead and alive at the same time. I soon realized I
didn’t know what direction the rest of the men were at. I should have
stayed with Bernard and Thomas and Philip. Too late for that now. I
was alone and for now, I was alive. The forest was thick and
entangling, and it wasn’t long before I found Cuthbert’s dead body
slumped against a tree, an arrow through his chest. I said a quick
prayer over his body and moved on. I looked around to make sure I
wasn’t being followed every couple steps. I knew that I was lost. What
a fool I had been, now I would die in the forest, like Cuthbert. It was
a fire that saved me. I had been walking in the wrong direction,
looking for signs of allies, when a large fired started. It wasn’t a
forest fire, just a brief large fire. It was either the enemy burning
my dead men or it was my allies trying to guide the men in the forest
back to the convoy. I prayed it was the latter and took off for the
fire.
Low hanging branches made it difficult to keep your eyes raised at all
times, but I tried my best to get to the fire as quickly as I could. I
could still hear screams in the forest, but they were less frequent and
sounded further away. Finally I broke from the forest and laid eyes on
the convoy. Dead men littered the ground, but they weren’t of Crispin’s
army. Cheers followed my exiting of the forest. I was the last to do
so. Bernard had exited with Thomas, they said that Philip was separated
form them when the fire started. About seven other men had made It out
, which meant our force of sixty was now a force of thirty-nine.
Crispin proposed that we stay where we were and waited for the enemy
to come to us, but everyone soon pointed out to him that not only were
we in no condition to fight, but we would surely freeze to death if we
didn’t get to the ship soon. In the end Crispin was swayed and we made
our way to the docks without incident. The woods were later named dead
mans forest.

 

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