My Dear Readers,
As a quick aside, you may note that this is not like my usual content. This is my first attempt in at least eleven years at fiction. This project draws a lot of inspiration from the Inklings, namely Tolkien and Lewis, as well as countless other authors and great tales from centuries past. I know no better place than to publish it here. Each week, I’ll publish a new chapter, most likely on Mondays, while my usual nonfiction articles will take place on Thursdays. In these articles, I won’t give my typical “letter” greeting, I will simply introduce it with the chapter number. I hope you enjoy the story as much as I have dreaming it up.
I remain yours most respectfully,
He awoke to the warm feeling of golden sunshine glowing upon his face. Back aching as sticks and sweet gums poked into him, he let out a yelp when he realized his head was on a rock. He sat up with effort as a great pain seared through his body. The steady, swift stream of a river could be heard to his left. In a daze, he surveyed his surroundings: he was in a forest. What forest or how he had gotten there he did not know.
To his right was an arming sword. The hilt was jeweled, with the pommel of a dragon’s head. The sword of a king, he thought. On the blade was a single word: PEN-DRAIG. Examining himself more closely, the evidence of his pain showed itself: he was clothed in mail, plated armor covering chest and limbs. What had evidently been a white tunic was now singed and in tatters, a great crimson stain from a gash in his side
He stood up and began to breathe heavily. Confusion overtook him, and fear. He knew nothing of where or who he was. He was alone. Were there others? Even a thief or a poacher would be a welcome friend. Were there even animals? Looking at his arms, he attempted to strip off the iron vambraces. Augh-uh. No! The young man searched desperately for a sidearm to cut the laces. Finding none, he resorted to biting and tearing through the leather.
Removing his gloves, the wounded warrior ran his hands over his face, through his hair—it was greasy-wet. He was sweating profusely. Frantically, he removed the rest of his armor—the mail, the chest plate, the AIGH!!!! Pain shot through his side. It threatened to reopen, and he dared not move anymore. Breathing slowly, he bent down, resting his hands on his knees.
He was sick. Nauseous. Water. I need water. Freshwater was probably nowhere nearby. He attempted not to panic, but reality set in that he might succumb to his wounds or dehydration, and a scream built up inside him. It was about to be released when—
“STOP!” And the man was silenced. It was sudden, and yet he did not jump. Stern is perhaps a better description. It was gentle, not loud, not like a spoken word, but more like a breeze or an echo. And yet, the word was the clearer than anything he had ever heard. Nothing was quite like it. It was a command he dared not disobey. He simply knew that he must stop.
Recomposing himself, he assumed another command would follow. He waited. Nothing. The silence continued. Sarcastically, he chided himself for obeying the wind. This is all tomfoolery, it’s all a dream. He stomped on the ground. The leaves crunched between his foot and the hard forest soil. Would a dream feel this real? Annoyed, he resolved to explore the woodland, stepping forward when—
“STOP!” It was the same “Stop!” as before, with a slight variance: it sounded vaguely annoyed. The wind sounded annoyed. Indignant, the he thought to himself that he was the only one who held that right. He had no knowledge of his whereabouts or what to do!
“Well?” He said aloud, sharply. “What do you want?” A condemning silence followed. It was long and glaring; the forest was punishing his irreverence. Several hours must have passed before anything happened again. The forest would not help him, and in his wounded pride, his refused to yield.
Finally, he spoke, and more humbly this time. “Please,” he began, “I do not know this place. I am lost and without shelter. If you would, I ask that you help me now.” Leaves fluttered as tree branches shook, and the old trees around him seemed to awaken. Even the river was excited now. The trees twisted, and a great knocking sound escaped their branches. Now all living parts of the wood pointed eastward, then the fauna finally showed itself, running in the same way! Badgers, foxes, deer, birds, but what was tha—
Suddenly a strong east wind pushed his entire body.
“Go east,” said the Forest.
With this instruction, he took up the sword, and went eastward.
I’m looking forward to the next chapter. I really like fantasy stories.
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