Insignia Part 1: Careful What You Wish For (revised)
Hundreds of men stood before me, but I didn't cower. Behind them sat a foggy field ravaged by battle and stained with blood. The ruins of a castle stood amongst the desolate land, serving only as a home for moss. The sky, hopeless and gray, arched above the clouds blocking out the sun. My men had fallen and I was all that remained. I was the lone survivor, poised between an army of pillaging murderers and my home. As I gazed out upon my foes the army split down the middle and two figures on black horses trotted to the front. When they came into my view I got a better look at them both. One was clearly their leader. He wore black plate armor trimmed in gold and an extravagant crown. The other wore all black plate mail with no helmet. He was an overly large man, he seemed to be well over six and a half feet tall, and was as muscular as a tiger. He must've been the general or commander under the leader because he had some sort of identifying patch on his chest. I couldn't quite make out what it was but none of the other soldiers bore the same crest. No matter how hard I focused I couldn't quite see their faces. They were just a blur and the harder I looked the blurrier they became. Then, the man in Black plate stepped off his magnificent warhorse and drew a great two handed axe. The one with the crown began to speak.
"You cannot hope to defeat our entire army". He had a haughty accent and spoke with his chin lifted high. It was obvious that he believed that victory was near. "You can't even hope to defeat their commander!" He then gestured to the man in Black plate. The man grunted in response. Before I could answer, the commander charged at me raising his battle axe high above his head. I could feel a wind of energy surge through me and time seemed to slow down. I drew both my swords and readied myself. Once close enough the commander began to bring down his axe in a powerful arc; if this swing hit, it would surely cut me in half. When it was inches from hitting I caught the attack with my short sword, sliding the momentum of the blow off to the side; sparks flew as the metal swept along the handle of the axe. Before the commander had time to regain his stance I drew back my longsword and with adrenaline surging through my veins I unleashed an explosive slash through his abdomen, shattering his armor and cleaving the man in two. Time continued at it's normal pace and I stepped forward. The commander fell over behind me, first the top half then the bottom.
"You were saying?" I said pointing my longsword at the leader.
"K...k...kill him!" Stuttered the leader racing toward the back of the army.
The men stared at me with fright not knowing if they should attack or run. Some threw down their arms and ran while others held their ground with trembling boots. Silence filled the battlefield for a moment, then something bolstered the army’s courage and in unison, they let out a savage war cry and began to charged. I met them with a ferocious barrage of attacks. I marched forward fighting all that stood in my way, and without realizing I soon ended up right in front of their leader. The man fumbled to unsheathe his sword and he shakily held the point toward me. I batted his sword away with my longsword and it flew across the field sticking into the blood soaked earth.
"Mercy!" The leader exclaimed.
I glanced around seeing the bodies of my brothers and sisters. Then I looked up at him and spoke.
"You deserve no mercy, and you'll have none from me."
He screamed out.
Then I opened my eyes to see my same old bedroom with the old window and the morning sun was pouring through. Another dream of being a hero. I only wish I could be a hero in the real world, nothing ever happened in Salaria, not like they did from the stories of the old age of dragons and monsters, magic and great wizards. I sat up from my bed and I could feel the warmth of the sun on my cheeks and the smell of the spring air accompanied by something else, I sniffed the air surveying the smell. Breakfast. I leapt out of bed and with a grumbling stomach I bolted out my door. As I left, my younger brother Dritre ran up to me. I put my arm around his shoulders and ruffled his hair and said "Morning Little brother" with a loving smile. He pushed away from me and said "Not the hair big brother!" I chuckled and continued on down the stairs as he fixed his hair. I found my mother and father in the kitchen cooking eggs and chicken on the stove for breakfast. It smelled delicious. "Is it almost done mother?"
"Almost Gael, you seem of high spirits this morning?" She replied.
"Yep, today's the day father starts teaching me in the forge!" Father laughed and said
"Well then you better eat all your breakfast. It's going to be a hard first day, and you'll need your strength!"
"What orders do we have today?"
"Oh, this and that you'll see once we get to it."
He finished saying as Dritre finally made it down stairs and to the table. He seemed to be in good spirits as well but I couldn't tell why. Finally mother put food on all our plates, and we ate but Dritre scarfed his food down especially fast and asked to be excused quickly.
"Alright," mother said, ", just be back before dark!"
"I will!" replied Dritre already making his way out the door..
As i ate a looked around our home.. It was the same kitchen father built with his own two hands, great cobblestone walls with a wooden frame and a shingled roof. Our house was two stories tall. my and Ditre’s rooms were upstairs while father and mother's room were on the ground floor. Along with the kitchen and sitting room. We had nice oak furniture and soft woolen rugs in every room. The house was really nice that was to be expected Father being the best blacksmith in town.
After father and I finished eating we went out to the forge that was attached to our house. It was hot for a spring day and the forges only seemed to multiply it.. By the time I was dressed in my apron I already had sweat dripping from my brow. The forge smelled of fresh molten iron when we began to work. My job was to watch Father today and gather things he needed for his work. I found the work soothing and it gave me time to day dream. I imagined a world not so different from the tales of old. Of dragons and magic. If all that was real what would I be? A knight of a great hold or a majestic wizard studying tomes alone in his tower or perhaps i’d be the greatest archer that ever lived. The passing thoughts made the time fly and before i knew it hours heating metal, moving materials, and writing orders in his business ledger had disappeared and then the sun began to creep down the sky that’s when Father said "That's enough for today son, you've done a lot of work and learned a lot. Go wash up and go into town with your friends."
"Will we continue tomorrow?" I asked him.
"Yes bright and early right after breakfast. Be back for dinner." He said and then i threw my apron onto the rack, I went got cleaned up and dressed in some clean clothes. I kissed mother on the cheek on my way out and left off towards town. New Parun. The biggest city this side of Fenris river. It was a goregeous cobblestone town filled with history, and stories. It spread out for miles in each direction and was surrounded by walls 50 feet tall made of solid bricks and had guard towers spread out down the great wall. All of that to guard the castle atop The hill in the center if our town.t's said amongst the guards to be nigh impregnable. Caught up in the beauty of my home i almost forgot What i was doing.I was looking for someone. Specifically my best friend Delilah. We had grown up together and for as long as i can remember she has always been there by my side. She to fantasized of being a hero from the old tales. Her favorite was Lesthla the Arrow. The story of Lesthla was one of the greatest ever told. It was said she single handedly held off legions of Crozad the Conqueror’s army with a single arrow from a single guard tower. It wasn’t until Crozad ordered his catapults to destroy the tower that she was overtaken, but her death was not in vain because she gave the old lords of Parun enough time to send for help from their greatest allies the sylvanths of Logrun forest. The sylvanths beat back Crozad and his forces and sent him into hiding. It was obviously a story of myth though changed and over exaggerated each time it was retold.Without realizing it i had walked halfway across town recounting the story of Lesthla in my head and just then i spotted Delilah, she hadn’t spotted me yet, so i just admired her. The sun caressed her golden skin and reflected off her long blonde hair that went straight down her back and her beautiful eyes the color of steel looked as if the absorbed every once of light and a perfect smile accompanied by the gentlest of facial features except for her cheek bones which were very prominent but despite all her beauty she and I were just friends although i’d be lying if i said i didn’t feel something for her. How could i not being friends for so long but,, our companionship is worth more to me than anything I would never do anything to jeopardize it, but just then she darted down an alleyand, a smile crept across my face. When she was far enough into the alley I snuck in from behind and began to stalk down the narrow passageway. I spotted her some ways down walking quickly and then all the sudden she cried out and fell into a side path. Worry gripped at my stomach and I took off in a sprint. Just as I came to where she had fallen. something jumped out and tackled me to the ground. After I regained myself i realized it was Delilah who tackled me and was now sitting on top of me pinning my arms down and grinning.
"You're as loud as an ox" she said laughing. I reversed our position and said "You don't need to be quiet when you're as strong as an ox as well." I said laughing with her.
I pulled her to her feet and we embraced as we always do and she stood on the tip of her toes to hug me around my neck because she only stood as tall as my chest. Her hair brushed against my face, it felt smooth as silk and smelled of honeysuckle. The touch of her soft warm skin on my arms gave me goosebumps, and she was wearing a red silk dress that contrasted with her skin perfectly. After savoring the moment I pulled away and spoke.
"What are we to do today?"
She just smiled, took my hand and led me through rows of buildings ducking in and out of crowds of people in the marketplace. It was always filled with people, and there was always something to be heard, people trying to sell their goods, others haggling for better prices. The market had a variety of smells jumping about it anywhere from fish to exotic spices to Dusty rugs. The marketplace in New Parun was one of the most diverse in all of the realm one of my favorite market vendors named Baudric would always tell me. As we exited the marketplace we arrived at the Eastern gate which faced Fenris River. The river was about a mile from the gate and it encircled the entire Eastern wall. The city itself was made up of eight walls each pointing to a direction on the compass north, north-east and so on.
"We have to leave the city, it’s just outside the walls" she explained.
Before I could question her she took my hand again and led us through the gate. On our way out the guard told us to be back before dark or we'd be locked out. We nodded and continued on. She lead us atop a tall hill with a cliffside facing the river and sprawled out on the cliff was a blanket. There was a fantastic spread of bread, cheese, and meats of all kinds including a lot of my favorites like ham and chicken with no bone.
"You didn't have to." I said staring at the picnic almost becoming overwhelmed with gratitude.
"Yes I did. it's in celebration of your first day in the forge. My father says it’s your first step into manhood and that it’s a very special day for you" She said, and then a smile gleamed across her face.
"It is a special day to be sure, but I had no idea we’d celebrate it" I said returning her smile, and kicking a rock "Can we eat?"
"Of course" she replied with a bit of laughter, then we sat on the blanket and began eating, talking and laughing. Of all the people in this world there was no one I thought that could be better company. We stayed like that for an hour or two just enjoying each other's company and once the bottom of the sun hit the horizon we packed everything up and made our way back to the gate. When we arrived at the gate the guard said
"Ah, just the two I was waiting on. See anyone else wandering this way?"
"No Sir we're the last I think." Delilah replied.
"Alright then hurry inside we’re shutting her down."
We did as he said and we heard the portcullis shut behind us. We made our way back through the streets and I walked Delilah to her house.
"Thanks, for everything Delilah it really meant a lot."
"You'd do the same for me" she said hugging me. " Be careful walking home." And with that she turned and walked into her house. Her big oak door closing behind her. She lived in a two story house but her's was one of the few wooden houses left in town, but only because her grandfather's father built it before the town even had walls. It was a piece of history. The walls were beautifully carved and each window was trimmed with artistic carvings of animals in the wilderness. Her family have always been amongst the richest in New Parun. Which is probably why my mother is so keen on us getting married. After studying her house for a moment i saw Delilah wave to me from one of the windows. I waved back and then I set off on my way