The Legend of David of Wolf
By: Dean Tersigni
A Story from "Legendworld"
© Copyright 2001-2004, Dean Tersigni. All rights reserved.
His first memory was how much he wanted to become a knight. The knights, he thought, were true men. They were what he hoped and dreamed to one day become. David was his name, David Durand. He was rather scrawny for a fifteen year-old boy, and a foot shorter than his friends. His brown hair was always wild and in need of cutting, and his face was usually covered with dirt and mud. His knees were often scraped, and his bare feet were always callused.
A knight was what he wanted to be, but a dreamer is what he was. With just a glance into his wild brown eyes any man could tell you. They seemed to flicker with wanderlust. Adventure ran through his blood as a stream courses its way through a valley.
His father was a wanderer, a dreamer as well. David never really knew his father. It seemed the wandering in his father's blood was stronger then the love for his own son, and one-day he left, never to be seen again. David's mother rarely spoke about his father, but when she did, she would only say that he was a caring man, just not very responsible. Every boy who loses his father at a young age knows what David knew. Someone else must be your father. In David's case, he had many fathers, for every knight he saw he viewed as his father. They were giants to him. Strong as a full grown ox, and just as big, with their polished full plate armor and their broad swords taller than he was. They rode well-trained war-horses of the best pedigree, and some even had their own castles. A knight was what many boys wanted to become, but David knew he wanted it more than anyone else did.
David was far from a knight though. The typical knight stood about six feet tall weighing close to two hundred pounds. David was just barely over five feet, topping out at one hundred and ten. It would not have been so bad a few years ago, but David had just turned fifteen and he was nearing the end of his growth. Still though, he was smaller than even his younger friends. He had been raised working on his mother's farm and tending their small complement of animals, so he was by no means weak, but he was still always the runt. David was full of energy though, and as curious as a boy comes. Never doing his chores on time, he was always being caught in places he wasn't supposed to be. Many times, he wouldn't come back home until the sun had been down for hours. David loved nature and running through the woods, but he loved the Knighthood more.
'Knights' was the name of the game, and David was good at it. Wooden swordplay and fighting off the make-believed night dragons was how he spent much of his free time. When he played Knights, he truely saw himself as a knight. Not a pretend knight, but a real Knight. David could never sit still and he was always doing something. He sneaked out of his house on more than one occasion, and he was not afraid of anything. Well, nothing that a normal boy is afraid of. Most boys his age fear night dragons or raids from the weasel-like fretmus, but David's only fear was rejection. David sought the acceptance of the Knighthood so much that he had no idea what he would do if they wouldn't accept him. They had to accept him he thought, because he was perfect for the Knighthood. Perhaps a little small, but he was very courageous, and he always did the right thing, just like a knight was supposed to do. He had honor even at such a young age, and he knew how to fight too. He always got into some scrapes because of his size, but he never backed down, even against the largest of bullies.
So, there he was at the age of fifteen, walking two-hundred miles to the Knight's recruiting center. He had chose to attempt to join the Order of the Lion, even though he preferred the Order of the Bear's fighting style more. However, he knew that because of his small size, he would have a better chance of getting into the Order of the Lion. You had to be a very large man to make it into the Order of the Bear. At this point it didn't matter to him really which Order he got into, just that he got into one. He was so happy that he was finally going to do what he had always dreamed of doing.
The sun was peeking out just over the horizon, and he squinted his eyes as he walked towards it. He had left earlier that morning, before the sun was even up. It was slowly getting warmer, but the new autumn winds kept a chill in the air. He thought back on that morning when he left. His mother was so proud of him. Going off to become a knight was showing that he was giving up his childlike ways, and becoming a man. Not everyone could become a knight however; in fact, most people are not even close to knight material. Yet his mother knew her son could do it. She had given him the typical kisses, and hugs, and wished him luck. David loved his mother very much and he wanted to make her happy, but he was becoming a knight for all his fathers who were knights. He sought their respect more than anyone else.
It took him several days of walking, but late one afternoon he finally saw the outskirts of the city of Fire Lake where he would live during his training for his squireship. He was amazed at the size of the place; it was nothing like his home village. Everywhere he looked were people, moving here and there, all doing something. Eventually, after several wrong turns, he found his way to the recruiting center. He looked up at it in awe. It was one of the largest buildings in the city. It had two enormous marble columns supporting its triangular roof. It was a wonder to look at, and he just stood there staring for a solid minute.
He eventually came to his bearings, slung his pack over his shoulder, and walked in. It was magnificent, just like he had imagined. The ceiling was very high, and there were large banners of the Knighthood on every wall. David looked through a large archway leading outside into a courtyard where he saw many people practicing combat techniques. He even saw a fully armored Knight of the Lion with the Lion Paw mark burned into his cheek. He was so stunned he didn't hear the recruiter calling to him. The last shout caught his attention and he hurried over to the man behind the counter.
"Are you a scribe?" the large man asked.
For a good twenty minutes David was answering questions, and signing forms. He was so anxious to start his first lesson that he began to annoy some of the recruiters there. Regardless, he eventually found himself out in the courtyard surrounded many other boys around his age. He stood in the middle of the group, and he turned and eyed each of them carefully. They were all bigger than he was. All of them. He wasn't too discouraged by this though, he could whip plenty of boys that were bigger than him. He knew that it wasn't how big you were, it was how good you could fight. He just hoped the recruiters knew that.
All the boys there were growing restless, but they all grew quiet when the Knight walked in. He was a Knight of the Lion; it was obvious from his polished armor, his clean-shaven face, and the mark of the Lion Paw burned on his cheek.
"Attention!" The Knight boomed.
The meal wasn't his mother's cooking, but David was famished, and he ate every gravy covered chunk of it. After supper, he went to the barracks, which was just a plain long room full of bunk beds. It was then that the bragging began. The loud mouths and the tough guys were showing off their muscles by picking fights with the smaller kids. David, knowing he would be one of their targets, tried to make himself disappear by lying quietly in bed. One boy named Serack, the loudest of them all, shoved him out of his bunk.
"Hey shorty, what are you doing here?" Serack taunted, "You look like a sissy magi's apprentice."
David just lied there, his breathing heavy, gasping from the kick. He had never felt pain like this before. At least Serack was pleased with his bullying and left him alone for the rest of the night. After awhile David picked himself up and fell into the hard mattress. How he managed to fall asleep in that rough scratchy bed, he didn't know, but eventually he did.
It wasn't even light out when Gregor shouted the wake up call. David could still feel the pain in his stomach and jaw, and he knew the bruise must be visible. Gregor told them not to bother dressing, as they were all going to bathe and get their uniforms. They marched wearing only their undergarments to the large Fire Lake.
The reason the lake was called Fire Lake, David learned, was that it was created out of the eruption of a volcano. Unfortunately, it was not called Fire Lake because of the temperature of the water. The morning was rather brisk, and with it being autumn, the water was frigid. Through the shivering and the goose bumps, all the boys cleaned themselves and were presented with a recruitís uniform. Light brown in color, long sleeved shirt, and slacks. It wasn't very comfortable as it was made of a rough material, and David had trouble with his as even the smallest size was too big. Gregor wasn't to distraught by it saying only, "You'll grow into it."
With their new uniforms on, they walked back to the Recruiter's Hall. There they did their morning exercises, and Gregor read aloud from the Order of the Lion's Handbook. It contained information on what it meant to be a Knight of the Lion. David had already read it and he was familiar with every page in the book. From what true honor was, to what official documents were needed to declare war, he had it practically memorized.
Gregor was in his late thirties, and he had become great at his job. Aside from teaching combat techniques, he also was in charge of weeding out the weaknesses of the recruits and pointing out their faults so that they may fix them before they were kicked out because of them.
"You!" Gregor said, pointing a forceful finger to his first victim. The boy was obviously startled and he trembled a little
under the forceful gaze of Gregor, "Why do you want to become a knight?"
The day went on for what seemed like an eternity, push-ups, sit-ups, sword drills, combat tactics, it seemed it would never end. Gregor's words of yesterday held true, everyone was in pain. Even Serack, who David found out was the son of a local Knight, walked with a limp by the end of the day. His prestigious father must have taught him how to fight, because he was very good at it, but Serack defiantly did not possess the honor of a knight, just a bully.
That night in the barracks it was quieter than yesterday. Everyone was too tired and hurt from the long day to show off. Even David slept fairly well, although his bed was wet with urine, probably from Serack.
Time went on for many days; each day was like the last. Rigorous training, ten-mile hikes through the brush and hills, and constant exercises. Yet no matter how difficult the task, David always tried harder than everyone else did. Even in exercises that were based solely on strength, which he was bad at, he still tried, even though he knew he would lose. The exercises for becoming a squire were extremely difficult. They ranged from endurance, running, and swimming to wrestling and sword play. David was usually good at these, but when it came to the exercises where the boys had to work as a team, he had problems. David had always been a loner, and trying to work with several people that hated him, made things very difficult. To make matters worse, Serack seemed to always be on his team, but never bothered to help him. In one training session both were met in the end with complete humiliation.
The exercise was fairly simple, it was meant to teach trust, and group combat. Ten boys stood in a line shoulder-to-shoulder. They were all tied together at the leg, in David's case, his leg was tied to Serack's, giving him a very bad feeling about the exercise. Each boy was given a training sword, and all they had to do was run to the other side of the field, still tied together. To make matters a little more complicated, they would have to fend off ten other boys who were not tied together in order to make it to their goal. Gergor told them that they must protect their comrad's backs in order to survive. He told them that if one man died, they would all suffer, just like in war. Gregor sounded the start of the exercise by bellowing gruffly into the air. All the boys made a similar cry as they charged, all tied together, towards the unhindered defenders. They made it only a few feet before Serack purposely tripped David, causing him to fall face first into the ground. Serack hadn't really thought through the full effect of his actions. If he had, he would have realized what Gregor said was true, and the rope caused Serack to fall right back on David. Then in a rather humorous motion for anyone watching, each boy fell down much like a dog who runs to the end of his leash.
Gregor was furious. His shouts were loud, and angry, and he proceeded to reprimand the group as a whole instead of each individual. "The team is only as strong as the weakest member!" Gregor said. This wasn't the first time the recruits had heard this, but Serack of course, blamed David regardless.
Every night about three or four boys would be called into Gregor's quarters for an unknown conversation. When they came out they would pack up their things and walk out of the barracks without saying a word. The number of boys died down, until only about twenty remained. How, he didn't know, but David was still there.
It had been two weeks since he first came to the Recruiter's Hall; he hated almost every day of it. Always being picked on because of his size, getting bruises from Serack, and even more from the training. However, it was that morning when Gregor walked into the barracks, shouted his normal wake up call, and proceeded to tack a list of names onto the wall, that David's pain would finally stop.
"If your name is on this list," Gregor's commanding voice spoke up, "Then you are selected to join the Order of the Lion's Knighthood training as a squire. If your name is not on this list, then you need to go home." Gregor then left the barracks without saying another word.
David was terrified. What if his name wasn't on it? What would he do? His name had to be on it, it just had to. He sat in his bed as several boys ran up to the list to find their names. Some shouted, "YES!" Others only hung their heads and started packing. David watched as Serack walked up to the list confidently and smiled. He looked back towards David and gave him an unsettling grin.
David thought to himself, "If only I had that confidence."
One by one the boys approached the list, but David just stared at it. It was too far for him to read the names, but there were several scribbled down it. He was so deathly afraid to get close enough to read it. He tried to stand, but his legs didn't respond. Again he sat still. Finally, when everyone else had finished looking, David slowly walked up to the list. He held his eyes shut and then, very slowly, he opened them starting with the top of the list. He began scanning down until... There was his name, David Durand. He blinked his eyes and looked again, hoping he had read it right. It was his name. He just stared at it, running his eyes over the curves and lines of each letter. He wanted to shout, but his lips seemed glued shut. Finally, he was able to choke out some sound.
"I made it," his voice cracked. Then again only slightly louder, "I made it."
He jumped in the air, and laughed aloud. His joy just beamed out of him, and he ran outside and threw himself to his knees and shouted into the air, "I MADE IT!"
It was a full week's march to the Order of the Lion's headquarters in the city of Tarrin. Before they left, David sent a letter to his mother through a courier. In the letter, he wrote that he had become a squire, and that he was going to live in Tarrin for the next couple of years. He knew his mother would be very proud of him.
That day Gregor led the fifteen new squires on a long march to Tarrin. It was a fairly simple march, as the roads were well patrolled by Knights. David met many Knights of both the Order of the Bear and the Order of the Lion on the course of the march. One of the Knights of the Bear was very talkative, and it seemed a small band of fretmus had been spotted by him a few days earlier, and he was tracking them.
On the fourth night of the march, while the new squires slept, something rather eventful happened. During the night David was awoken by screams, and loud shouts. He looked around the camp site, and through the light of the smoldering campfire, he saw several small shapes running about the site. He grabbed his knife from his pack and leaped to his feet. They were fretmus alright, the thieving vermin.
Fretmus stand only about three to four feet tall and are known to rob travelers in the night. They are for the most part cowards, but they have been known to organize groups where they can be quite deadly to the unprepared traveler.
David looked around, many of his fellow recruits were now awake, but still rather confused about what to do. The fretmus were running in all directions and most of them had stolen equipment from the recruits. From the flickering fire light, David saw the knight from the day before, standing tall on his war-horse he swung his sword cutting several of fretmus down. The battle cries were getting louder now, and Gregor was making use of his broadsword on a fretmus' shoulder. Through the shadows David saw a recruit running into the forest being chased by two fretmus. Each was armed with a crude, but still very lethal weapon. David chased after, hoping to save his fellow recruit. Several branches scraped his arms, face, and legs as he leaped into the pitch black woods. His feet were used to going barefoot, but still were getting cut from the fallen evergreen branches and rocks. Ahead of him he saw the dark shadows two fretmus standing above his fallen comrade. They were jumping up and down with glee.
Silently, but quite deadly, David shoved his knife into the back of one of the fretmus' neck, his club fell to the ground. He then grabbed the arm of the other, and using a technique taught to him by Gregor, disarmed the fretmus. When the rusty blade hit the ground, the fretmus was already safely hidden in the forest.
"Quick little buggers," David murmured. He then ran over to the fallen recruit.
Even though it was quite dark, the waxing moon gave enough light for David to recognize the other boy. It was Serack. He lay there quite still, unconscious, but still alive. David looked him over, blood was dripping from his head into the leaves of the forest floor. It looked like he had been bashed pretty hard. His leg carried a deep slit in it as well. David tapped his face and tried to rouse him. Serack gave only a low grunt, yet didn't move.
"Great, now I get to carry to sorry butt back to camp."
David took Serack's arm, and heaved the limp body over his shoulder.
"You've been eating too many rocks," David grunted as he strained to drag the body. The way back to camp was rather tiresome.
The next morning David slept late. The camp was still in an uproar about the attack, and they weren't going to do much traveling until they took an inventory on what had been stolen. The Knight who began the assault in the night was still there, he was waiting for reinforcements from his brothers, so to hunt the remaining fretmus down. When David did awake, it was from Gregor himself.
"Hey David," Gregor lightly kicked him in the side.
David smiled, and got up. He found his way over to Serack's bed and saw him there bandaged up quite nicely. Serack looked
up at him.
When they finally reached Tarrin, David was again in awe. The city was massive, and there were thousands of people all around him. The group made their way through the peasantís area into the heart of the city. The granite walls that surrounded it were at least twenty feet high and the area they guarded was larger than his entire hometown.
The troop walked up to one of the larger buildings. Two marble lions, ten feet tall, were on either side of the entrance. On the way in David saw a man that looked almost like a cat. He stood almost seven feet tall, and was covered in striped fur, David stopped marching and just gawked. The catman noticed his stares and bared his teeth as he passed by. David's fascination turned to fear. He was then pushed from behind by another squire to keep moving. As he continued walking up the steps to the door, he kept turning his head to look back at the cat beast. He had heard people speak of the catman race before, but it wasn't until now that he had actually seen one.
"If I ever have to fight one, they would destroy me," David shuddered.
They made their way inside the building and towards the back into a room. There, Gregor introduced a new Knight as the squire's leader. David looked at him and felt fear run through his blood. It was a catman.
The catman's name was Kalbin and he was a very intimidating man. His teeth were razor sharp, and his tan and black spotted fur made him even more dangerous looking. It was he who was going to teach David how to be a Knight.
David's fear for catmen was by no means unwarranted. The race of catmen were among the most ferocious and deadly in the art of combat then any other non-magical being. David watched in training exercises as a bare-handed catman would constantly defeat sword wielding squires. It was the way of catmen not to use weapons very often. Their hands were more like paws, and they didn't have very useful fingers. They did however, have two inch razor sharp claws which they wielded batter than many of a human's weapons.
It wasn't long though, when David stopped being afraid of catmen, and started respecting them. Although he found their fighting style was different and much more fierce than others, they were mortals just like he. It was when he saw one have his leg broken and his bone pierce through his fur, that he knew they weren't that scary after all.
Winter was well under way and the training of outdoors was now all done inside. The classroom teachings were much longer now and it seemed being a knight in the Order of the Lion included massive studying. David was never one for book learning, and he certainly didn't like sitting in a classroom for ten hours a day. When the squires were let out of the classroom at the end of the day, most went to the barracks where it was warm. David, however, would run outside into the snow and enjoy the last few minutes of daylight before having to report back to the barracks for the night. He hated it. He needed more freedom. He had to get outside and enjoy the wilderness, whether it was freezing or not, he loved the outdoors. This excessive studying was testing his discipline as a squire.
In the classrooms, David learned about large-scale assaults, and huge wars. David never really liked the killing side of battle. Even, when he killed the fretmus several weeks ago he felt remorse. He knew that if you wanted to live then you sometimes had to kill, but death on the levels that his teachers were talking about was practically evil. "Righteous Warfare" they called it. Massive assaults against the corrupted arcaniens, or radical human cults. Perhaps it was from his small town upbringing or maybe it was just his kind nature, but David didn't feel right when he learned about what he would have to endure."You will see thousands die in a day," Kalbin growled to the class, "your friends may die, your family may die, and you may die, but your honor will live on forever."
David was beginning to see that his honor was quite different from the Order of the Lion's honor.
That night, David lied awake in the barracks while all the other squires slept. He thought about the Knighthood, he thought about what it means to be a knight, and what it used to mean to him. David made a decision that night. He knew it in his heart, he knew that he could not remain a squire, at least not for the Order of the Lion. The next morning David woke up and spoke with Kalbin.
Intimidating would be an understatement. Kalbin was a very big man, a giant compared to David, and now David had to tell Kalbin that he did not want to be a knight like him. Kalbin was quite upset with the quitter's attitude he thought David possessed, but David told Kalbin he was going to try to be a squire for the Order of the Bear. Now normally, this would have infuriated a Knight from the Order of the Lion. You do not tell a Knight that you would rather be in another Order. Knights take too much pride in their Order to be told the other Order is better. As luck would have it though, Kalbin was originally a knight in the Order of the Bear. He had migrated into the Order of the Lion, when Paralon the Swift saved the Order of the Bear some decades ago. So, Kalbin helped David with his paper work and wished him luck. He didn't want to tell him that there was absolutely no way in the Underworld that David would make it into the Order of the Bear, but then David would soon find that out.
"Too small," were the only words David got. The knight was a very large man like all Knights of the Bear, and he had the
scar of the bear nose burned into his face like the others as well.
"Just remember," David spoke to the Knight with distain, "Even though your test is impossible, I still tried!" He positioned his feet, bent his knees, and got a firm grip. His muscles strained and he grunted as he put all his might into picking up the boulder. It didn't even move. Not an inch.
David didn't have any money, and it was too cold to try and travel home this time of year, but he wasn't about to give up yet.
Thanks to the size of the city, there was a Council of the Magi branch in Tarrin. The building, probably looked magnificent in the days before the Magi became corrupt with excessive power. Then, through self defense, the Knighthoods fought back and killed many Magi. It was known as The First and Second Humblings. Now the building was only a little more than ruins. David knew this wouldn't be very easy, but still, he walked up to the tall double doors, and knocked.
An attractive woman in her thirties wearing a long hooded blue robe opened the door and asked, "May I help you?" Her voice
was surprisingly soothing.
For well over an hour David participated in many tests of different natures. From the simple written tests of basic knowledge, to the more complicated tests composed of channeling mana from reagents and harnessing aether. Although David's schooling was more about farming than it was grammar he was still a very smart boy and did very well on the standard tests. It was the mana tests that he did poorly on. He knew very little about mana. He had heard talk of powerful magi using mana and aether to summon up strange forces and he had even seen a sorcerer at his hometown once, but he had never cast a spell before.
"Well David you seem to have the capacity to learn the ways of the magi," the woman finally said, "So I guess you will be
able to start your apprenticeship."
David thanked Bella as she quickly made her way down the hall. Perhaps she didn't like talking about her mother.
The room was very plain. A small bed, at least small for most people. For David it was just the right size. A dresser, a desk, and chair were the only occupants of the room. He dropped his pack on the foot of the bed. "Very inviting," David said sarcastically. There were no windows, only a small oil painting of a night sky. David took his few clothes from his pack and put them into the dresser. He then looked in the desk and found several sheets of blank paper, an ink well, and a quill. David sat down on the bed and noticed it was rather lumpy. He wondered what he was doing here, and how long he was going to stay.
After a few minutes, there was a knock on the door. David quickly opened it, and saw Bella standing there.
Bella started walking down a large hallway, David followed close behind. At the end of the hall, Bella opened another door into a large room with many shelves and cupboards. Each one carried thick tomes, or jars with indescribable contents. There was also a heavy scent of, something, in the air. David was not sure what it was, only that it had a thick musky smell to it. In the far corner, a large bat-like creature squatted on a perch. Its whole body was black as pitch, yet its eyes were bright pink in hue. David eyed the creature cautiously.
Bella looked at David, and saw his uncertainty. She assured him, "Oh don't worry about him. He is my familiar."
She walked over to a shelf and pulled down an unlabeled glass jar. Inside was what looked like a root of some sort. It was
short and brown and it branched off in four sprigs.
David began to think about the root, he felt it in his hand. It was there plain as day, he knew it was there. He could feel its cool fibers, but he could not feel anything special about it.
Bella knew what was wrong and she said, "Do not feel the energy with your hand, for it is not your hand that can cast
spells. You must feel it with your mind, with your soul. The mana is there, feel with your soul."
With a huge gasp, he quickly opened his eyes and saw Bella smiling back at him. He didn't want to look at his hand, for it
must be horribly burnt now, but he did anyway. Nothing. Not a burn, nor a scar, not even a mark. Also, there was no longer a root.
David closed his door, and lied down on his bed. What an amazing day it had been. He still felt the after effects from the exercise with the Mandrake. It was buzzing in the back of his head like the sound of a bumble-bee in the summer. He was fascinated by this new world he was stepping into. Surely this was where he belonged.
David awoke the next morning feeling fairly refreshed for how hard it was to sleep in the poorly made bed. He got up, and got ready for a new day. The day would end up being quite long, as the first six hours of it included cleaning and tedious manual labor. After lunch, he and Bella began more of his magic training. She made him read the same three pages of a book over and over again, until he had it totally memorized. She made him do breathing and concentrating exercises for another hour. She said it was to help his manaless body escape the damages that mana can cause when not used properly. Finally, after four more hours of boredom, he was ready to try the spell. It was suppose to create a small spark and puff of smoke. Very simple for a magi to do, and Bella showed him how she was able to cast it. The spark was a bright flash, and the smoke was a brilliant shade of purple. It formed shapes as it dissipated into the air. She, being a fay, did not need a reagent to perform this feat, her body was naturally part of aether, but David, being only human would require one. It was a piece of white ash, that carried with it a bad odor.
It was a long and tedious night until he finally did actually get the smoke to appear. It wasn't purple like Bella's, it was just plain white. There was hardly any smoke either, just a tiny puff. Still, none the less, creating smoke out of thin air, using the mana from a reagent was something that wasn't all that simple for the untrained. David was quite proud of himself, and Bella was pleased with his learning. So the teaching continued.
It was late winter, and the snow was getting thinner. David wasn't as much the outcast here, because physical appearance meant little to the magi. Still, being such a quiet boy, he remained rather solitary. David had become a rather amazing apprentice, learning at a faster pace than even those apprentices who were smarter than he. It was his unending desire that allowed him to succeed where the others would only give up.
By now he was casting quite a few different spells, some of even rather difficult degree. Bella was proud of his ability to learn and saw his joyful smiles when he completed a daunting task, yet deep down she knew he was unhappy. She could feel the loneliness of his heart when he looked out a window into the vast forest at the edge of the city. She knew he longed to leave the confines of the Council and to wander out in the woods. He was like the fain in that way. It is a fact in Legendworld that fain cannot be caged for too long or they will die from lack of contact with nature, she could see that same trait within David. She wanted to tell him to go and leave, but each time she saw him, he was so determined to make her happy. He told her he would put fourth the effort, and like any knight he was true to his word. All winter long she held in her feelings about him. She had grown rather attached to her young apprentice, so part of wanting him to stay was for her. She told herself, on one unusually warm morning, that it was David's life and she had no right to take control of it. So later that day after lunch she took him to her office and spoke with him.
"David," she began, "There comes a time in a young man's life when he must..." She choked on her words. Although she had
practiced this conversation many times, she now found it difficult to say. "That is, a person must seek their destiny."
Spring had just begun when David started out. Saying good-bye was harder than both David and Bella thought it would be. David never respected another person as much as Bella. She taught him many things, including a new way to view life. He sent a letter to his mother all the way back in his hometown. He would be far into the woods by the time she would get it. David knew it was for the best, and he knew his mother would understand. So off he went, into the forest, into his destiny. This is how it must be.
Letting go of the Knighthood, and The Council of the Magi was very difficult for David. Six days had passed since he left the Council to be in the forest. It was then when he realized how much he had missed the forest. Almost a full year away from the woods had opened his eyes to just how much he belonged here. This was his true home; not the Council of the Magi, not the barracks of the Knighthood, not even his hometown house, none of those were his true home. This was home, this is where he belonged.
So there he was, walking aimlessly in the woods, searching for his destiny. He thought, while he was here he might as well collect some plants and funguses that he could use for reagents if he needed to cast a spell or two. He was pulling some red berries off a fire bush when he heard a soft whimpering noise. It came from behind the bush, and he couldn't see what it was. The whimper sounded like a hurt dog, so he walked around to get a better view. Cautiously, he peeked around the bush and saw a small wolf pup. Seeing a human near by, the pup tried to bark a little, only to give a sharp yelp. The pup was mostly gray with a spot of black around his left eye. He looked terrified, instead of hostile. Then David saw why, and his heart dropped. There was a steel trap clamped onto the poor pup's leg.
"That is not the way to hunt," David thought to himself, "Whoever laid this trap should be ashamed of themselves."
The pup wouldn't trust this man any more than the person who placed this trap, so David had to try things from a different approach. He took off his tunic, and placed it over the pup's head. The pup shook a bit, but the tunic was too big for him to back out of. David then took the stick and opened the trap, while still keeping a good grip on the pup. The pup feeling that his leg was out, struggled to get free, but David held him fast. He took the wounded paw of the animal into his hand. It was bleeding still as the cut from the trap had hit bone. He took out sprig of ginseng from his pack and placed it on the wound. The wolf pup still shook and David held him tight. Concentrating on the ginseng he took the mana from the root, and channeled it through his body and into the wolf pupís paw. The healing was almost instantaneous. Although there was a nasty scar, and missing fur, the wound was now closed. David took his tunic off the pup's head and watched it as it darted off into the underbrush.
David took the trap and placed it on a rock. He found another rock and proceeded to bend and mangle the steel trap so that it could never be used again.
"That takes care of that," David said, rather proud of himself. He then continued his journey through the forest.
David was not aware of it, but the whole time saved the wolf, and destroyed the trap, he had been watched. It was not a human that watched him, nor a fay; in fact, it wasn't a mortal at all. The eyes of an angel saw the good deed of the mortal. Daine, The Keeper of the Beasts, saw what David had done, and she was pleased. She knew this particular mortal quite well. She kept a watchful eye on him when he was a child, and saw how he bonded with her children. She was saddened when he left to become a knight, but greatly pleased since he returned to the forest once more. His true home. Daine decided it was now time for this mortal to know his destiny to its full amount.
That night while he slept in a large tree, David had strange dream. This dream was so intense and so vivid, he thought, it must have been a vision. There he was in his dream, walking through the forest much like the previous day. As he walked, he came across a clearing. He stood near the center of the clearing and watched in horror as a huge brown grizzly bear, and a large wild lion both began to surround him. They closed in on him and he could not do anything. He was paralyzed with fear, and he could feel the heat from the animals' breath. He then saw a beautiful woman walk into the clearing. She was very tall and she wore the skin of a leopard. Behind her following closely was an entire pack of wolves. She motioned for the wolves to go near David. They surrounded him, but did not attack him. Instead they protected him from the bear and the lion. The woman smiled and faded away into the forest. So then the bear, the lion, and the wolves all stood in the clearing together. It was at this point that David awoke to the sound of a wolf's howl off in the distance. He had beads of sweat on his forehead, and he looked around in the night. He felt very uneasy, but in the tree he was safe.
At dawn, David awoke. It was a morning like every other morning he had in this forest, but little did he know the day was going to be completely different.
He had traveled a couple of miles in the course of the morning, and still had no real idea where he was going. He didn't care though, this entire place was his home, and he loved being in the woods.
Sometime around noon, David noticed something odd about the forest. He stopped for a moment and looked around. Something was wrong. He gazed back and forth again and saw nothing out of the ordinary, but still, something was indeed wrong. He thought for a moment, and it hit him. The birds, they're all gone. He had heard the songs of birds everyday through these woods, and he enjoyed their company, but now all was silent. Nothing. Like a deep black crypt, nothing stirred. Even the leaves on the trees were silent. A cold chill swept down his spine. He felt that something evil was going to happen. He started walking again, but more cautiously now. After only two steps he spotted a clearing in the woods, it looked very familiar, but he knew he had never been in this part of the forest before. He walked up to it, gave it another look, and froze. It was like in his dream, the clearing was small, not more then one hundred feet in a circle, but it was the exact same as his dream, in every minor detail. Although he was terrified, his body needed to move towards the center of it. He didn't want to move, but it was as if his mind made his legs move. The walk was stiff, as each step he tried to fight, but he continued moving towards it none-the-less. When he made it to the center, he stopped. There he stood, looking around the clearing. Except for some tall grass, and a few wild flowers it was totally empty.
Then on the edge of the clearing he saw movement in the trees. At first it was only one shape moving around, then it was two, then five. He couldn't make out what they were, but there were several creatures moving around the edge of the clearing. Then he saw what it was. His heart skipped a beat, and he stood in shock. It was a massive timber wolf. Six feet long, and probably two hundred pounds, it growled as it approached, bearing his grizzly teeth. David looked and saw other wolves encircling him as well. Smaller, but just as deadly, as the one in front of him. He counted seven in all, each one with its own unique fur markings, each one bearing its teeth. David felt different; he wasn't scared for some reason. He knew these wolves would not harm him unless he forced them to.
David looked into the eyes of the largest one, who must be the alpha wolf. Stripes of gray in his fur came down from his ears to the peak of his hollow eyes. The eyes were deep and black, like the deepest recesses of the night. The wolf stopped growling and just stood there looking directly back at him. David could feel something from the leader, the wolf didn't snap at him or growl, it seemed David could actually feel the wolf's intentions. He felt the leadership of the wolf; he felt the pride of his position, and the love for his pack. David's feelings werenít hidden to the wolf. The wolf knew why David was here, and he knew that David, was not afraid. The wolf also knew that David regarded him as kin, not just another animal.
"We are the same, you and I," David said to the wolf, "We are brothers."
The wolf gave David another look and then started to leave back into the forest. All the other wolves followed, in the respectful pecking order that they had developed through the course of their lives; from alpha to omega. David watched as they left, confused about what to do. At the edge of the forest, the alpha wolf looked back at him. The look was almost a question, as if to ask, "Are you coming?"
David followed them, and soon they were traveling through the woods together.
It was a sight that was very strange indeed. A pack of wolves, followed shortly after by a scrawny fifteen-year-old boy. David traveled with them, but never actually spoke with the wolves. Although he would occasionally speak out loud, it was his feelings and emotions that the wolves understood, and theirs that he understood. David began to understand them very well, so he wasn't really upset when he was bitten by one of them. David had over stepped his boundaries; he knew that. The pack travels in a certain order; David being the last to join was also the lowest in the order, the omega wolf. The striped face leader and his mate were the alpha wolves. David once began walking in front of one of the lower wolves, and the wolf bit his leg, and forced him back. This humbled David, because he knew he had challenged the wolf's position, and he was not yet ready to challenge a wolf. David was now beginning to understand what Bella said when she told him about her familiar. These wolves were not just animals, or pets. They were his family now, his brothers and sisters. It was something that an ignorant man would not realilize. Wolves are very social animals. They help each other, they raise thier young together, they hunt for the pack, not for themselves individualy. They were a group, a team, a family. It was more of a familiy then most humans ever have. And now, David was part of their family; the family he belonged to.
He did live with them. For a long time they were his family. Spring turned to summer, and summer into autumn, until he was sixteen years old. He had learned so many things. He now communicated with the wolves very easily. He hunted in the pack the same way they did. He fought them over food, and ate raw meat. He had become skilled at living in the forest, and he was very good at being a wolf. There were now wolves that followed him in the pack. He had learned to fight with an extreme amount of ferocity. David no longer wanted to be a human. He abandoned his birthright name of Durand, and from now on would be called David of Wolf. He was going back to his instincts. He was becoming an animal... almost.
Winter was coming. Snow had fallen one morning, and David realized that he was not equipped to handle winter the way the wolves do. His body did not have the thick covering of fur to keep him warm, and although his hunting skills were good, his sense of smell was still that of a human. If he were to live, he would have to create a dwelling of his own. The wolves would continue their hunting throughout the winter, but he could not go with them. He must stay in a den that he still needed to make.
The good-bye was very simple. Through his feelings, and emotions he told the wolves that he had to stay. They understood, and continued without him. That was it. David felt sad; again, he had to leave a home to go to another one. One wolf was trailing behind, and felt David's sorrow, and looked at him wondering why he was sad.
David answered, speaking out loud for the first time in months, "You wouldn't understand."
The wolf noticed that he spoke out loud, but didn't understand the words. He understood the feeling though. The wolf gave him a look, David was surprised at it, then the wolf turned and left. The look, it was almost as if the wolf wanted to say, "I understand more than you think."
David watched the wolves until they were out of sight. He wanted to run after them, he wanted to say he had changed his mind, but he knew he couldn't. The wolf understood better than he did. You can't change it, you must stay, so why be upset about it? Yet still, David was upset.
The place he has chosen for his den was well thought out. He was close to a stream, and in a nicely wooded area. Hunting wouldn't be too hard, because the area was well populated with animals.
Building a home was more difficult than he had thought. He had no axe to chop trees, no hammer or nails, and no saw. He relied on fallen trees, and smaller branches taken from trees, to build his den. At least he was good at hunting, and food was still easily found at this point in the year. He did eventually get a fairly sturdy home set up before the heavy snows came, and he had collected enough food for the winter. Even after the snows began to come down hard, David still hunted. Although game was scarce, he could get a meal or two on occasion. His den, which was partly underground, was getting stronger, and stronger each time he found a flaw, he increased its strength twice as much as when he first built it.
The winter wasn't too rough, and David made it through with enough food to last him even into spring. David's skills were increasing as well. He was becoming better at hunting, walking stealthily, and tracking. He was also very inventive, creating devices to help him, and using magic where he needed it.
Spring passed on to summer, and one day while he was out hunting he came across a pack of wolves hunting as well. He looked and saw the alpha wolf with gray stripes on his head from the ears to the eyes. It was a bittersweet reunion. The pack remembered him, but they knew he was no longer one of them. David knew this as well, but was glad to see his old family once again. David realized he could still read their emotions, and knew their feelings. He sensed that they were also happy to see him, but both the wolves and David knew, life had to go on. So the wolves went their way and David went his way. One wolf, a younger one, stayed behind. David looked at him in wonder. He didn't remember this wolf, and he was sure he would remember the fur on him. He had gray fur, but a black circle around one eye. He thought back, none of the wolves in his pack had fur like this, but then he saw the wolf's front paw and remembered. The fur was still missing from where the steel trap had hit.
"You're all grown up now aren't you?" The wolf wasn't fully grown, but he was still quite big.
It seemed where ever David went, the wolf wasn't too far behind. The two hunted together, lived together, and ate together. The wolf wasn't David's pet, it was his friend, his companion. David talked more now, even if it was to the wolf, but the wolf understood. Not the words that he spoke, but why he spoke. He was a human, and that is what humans do. They were different even if they were so much the same. The wolf didn't like being called wolf though, and David understood why. David had a name, and because of that, he must think he was better than the wolf. But David did not feel that way, so it was nessessary to name his brother. He dicided on to name the wolf Solvang, which is the word that fain call the human's steel trap.
Now David and Solvang lived in that deep forest for a long time. Two more winters passed until it was again spring, and David was now eighteen years old. Had he been living back in the city, he should have started a family by now, but his family included only one member, Solvang. David didn't mind this, and found his rather simple life very invigorating. David would never want to change it, nor would Solvang, who was more like a brother to him, than any human had ever been. David had grown a little more as well, and his old frail frame had blossomed into a much more muscled body. David was still much smaller than the typical Knight of the Bear, but his small size was now very deceiving.
Yes, David saw no need for change, and had no real desire for change either. That is until a very eventful day late in the spring.
David was hunting for food with Solvang, when he heard the distant thunder of hooves treading the ground at a very fast pace. With the agility of a rabbit, David darted through the familiar woods towards the sound. He wondered why a horse was this far out in the woods, and why it was traveling so fast. He could see the movement through the trees and a person riding a horse, but he could not see much else. Solvang running quickly past David approached the horse from behind, and sensed the emotions of the rider. Then, running back to David, he shared his knowledge.
Fear. Extreme fear. Fear of death and the unknown. The rider was terrified at something. Solvang growled an alert. He could hear something else. David listened; he heard more hooves in the distance, many more. They were coming from the same place the first rider came from. Without straining a muscle, David quickly climbed a tree, and looked down at the figures. There were several men riding horses following the same path as the original rider. They looked like a band of thieves or brigands. They wore dirty ragged clothes, and each carried a deadly weapon of some sort, which they waved menacingly. They shouted to each other, but their cries were muffled by the thunderous sound of the horses. It was plain to see though; they were going to kill the first rider.
David and Solvang quickly pursued the bandits, and even though they were on horses, David and Solvang still gained on them. Through the trees and brush, David heard the hooves stop and the shouting begin. He kept his distance, but got close enough to see. There was the first rider, fallen to the ground, his horse some yards away. The bandits were encircling him, some on horseback others on foot. One approached the fallen rider, and the rider screamed. David was stunned; the voice was very high pitched, almost as if it were... female. The bandit laughed and toyed with the rider, getting close, and then backing off, as she struck out at them. There was no way for her to win, but she wouldn't give up. David and Solvang sensed the evil desires of these bandits, and decided that they must do something about it.
The bandits were still toying with their prey, when a loud growl was heard. They stopped taunting the poor woman and looked towards a very menacing, very large wolf. Solvang, even though he was not human, knew what was happening, and was not about to let it occur. Each bandit drew his weapon, and got ready for a fight.
"Get ready boys," said the leader to his men. Hearing several loud thuds behind him, the leader turned his head. Four of his men were on the forest floor, each had his share of assorted painful injuries. Three other bandits thoughtlessly charged the savage looking young man. David's moves were swift and true. A broken nose, a bruised spine, the crack of a collarbone, cries of pain. That is what the leader saw. It was as if his men had never even touched the other man.
Aside from the leader there was one other man still standing. Obviously more intelligent than the others, he had watched the boy fight, and decided close range combat was out of the question. While David had been crippling the others, he had pulled a crossbow from its holster on his back and aimed it towards David. David having sensed this had his spell already prepared. He looked back at the man, the crossbow aimed and ready to shoot. The man pulled the trigger, but instead of the bolt speeding toward its target, it erupted into flames. A ball of intense fire exploded in the man's face, and he ran into the woods, his hair ablaze. The leader saw only one man left standing, and that man was David of Wolf. David turned his attention towards the leader, and gave him a grizzly look that made the leader's hair stand on end. The leader was an ugly man, unshaven and dirty, he held a short sword and it shook in his trembling hand.
"I don't think I like you here," David said to the man, in a mocking voice, "And Solvang doesn't like you either." David faced in the direction of the large timber wolf.
The leader just stood there, mouth gaping.
David made a short jump at the man and he took off running through the woods on foot. Solvang chased close behind making sure he was going to run for a long time.
David grinned. It was quite a pleasurable experience to him, helping someone in need. It made him think of the Knighthood,
only briefly though, as he walked up to the fallen woman.
David could feel that the woman was pulling herself back together, and becoming more comfortable around him. Her small delicate hands reached for the cloak and pulled it back off her head. She was looking down and all David could see were the brown curls in her hair. Then she looked up at him.
Since he was born, and for the rest of his life, David never saw anything that could compare to the beauty he saw in this girl's face. His breathing stopped, and his heart raced. Her hair was perfect, curled and clean, smelling of raspberries. Her skin was white like milk, and her lips were full and pink. He stared into her brown eyes and found himself lost in a tangle of emotions that he had never felt before. Love. Love from just a glimpse of her face, Love. She looked to be around fifteen years old, and her cheeks were slightly red from crying. David couldn't move, he was frozen straight to the bone, he didn't know what to do.
"Are you okay?" Mara eventually asked.
David tried to read her emotions the way he would an animal, but found that he could get hardly anything from her. The fear
was slowly going away, but there was nothing else. So he had to try the formal way of actually talking. "Can you tell me why those men were
Mara stood up and walked towards the trees. David watched her as she walked. Actually, floated would be a better term for it, her moves were graceful and effortless, even on the rugged forest ground. She saw her white horse, and reached into one of the saddlebags. She pulled out a small pouch, and gave it to David.
"Here," She offering David the pouch, "It's not much, but it's the least I can do for you."
David again tried to read Mara's soul, but still he read nothing, he was determined to figure out why she was actually here
though. "You know," David said skeptically, "Your horse is purebred, your cloak is lined with silk, and carry around bags of gems with you. I'm
beginning to think you're not an ordinary peasant."
David didn't want this beautiful girl to leave. He wanted her to stay with him forever, but he had to let her know, without
sounding completely weird.
By the time they reached David's Den the sun was nearing the horizon. David showed Mara around his small corner of the forest, the place where he called home. It wasn't very impressive, and to a princess it would be even less, but David was proud of it regardless.
David and Mara found that they had an awful lot in common, considerably strange for a peasant and a princess. By the time they realized how long they had been talking, the sun was well hidden behind the forest trees. David being a well-mannered young man, allowed Mara to sleep in his bed of furs, and waited outside keeping watch for the bandits.
Morning came rather abruptly, as David's sleep wasn't very long. He was relieved from his watch by Solvang halfway through the night, so he was able to get some sleep. Mara wasn't in too much of a hurry to leave, and David made her a breakfast of rabbit meat, wild carrots, and fresh honey. Mara was used to expensive delicacies, but found this meal to be rather exotic, even for a princess. They talked to each other all morning.
Around noon, Mara was getting ready to leave, and it was obvious that David did not want her to go.
The two began the walk to Hiddon, which is about a ten-day journey from where they were. Solvang was seen around, every so often, running through the trees along side the two. David walked on foot, talking to Mara who rode her pale white horse. They spoke to one another, and flirted with each other as they went. The days passed, and David and Mara became very close to each other. David gazed at Mara one night as she slept. The dying firelight flickered, casting shadows onto her face. She was beautiful, truly magnificent. He loved the brown curls in her hair, her pouting pink lips, and the curvatures of her face. David thought she was the most beautiful lady in the world. Truth be told, Mara was pretty, but not too much more than average. In David's mind however, there would never be a woman that could even come close to her beauty. David held her in such high regard that it was obviously noticeable. "The angels defiantly gifted her," David thought. She was perfect.
When David saw the first building still five miles from the city of Hiddon, his heart sank. Their journey was almost over, and he would have to leave. He would have to make that ten-day hike back alone, without the company of Mara.
"All good things must come to an end," he thought, but he didn't want them to. He wanted Mara to run back to the forest
with him, he wanted her to say she would always be there with him, but most of all, he just wanted to be near her.
The journey through the city was a little awkward for David. Hiddon was a rather rich city, and David wasn't exactly dressed in the manner that many of the villagers were. Several looks were given, but then when they noticed that he was holding the hand of the Princess Mara Bendar, they backed off. David also noticed that he could read the souls and emotions of these people. He had thought because he couldn't read Mara, that it wasn't possible to read humans, but now he knew it was. There was just something about her, something blocking his way of reading into her soul.
They approached the castle, and the guard immediately ran out to the princess.
She opened the door to the throne room and there was her father, King Darius Bendar, perched on his throne lecturing several guards. He turned his head and there he saw his daughter, holding the hand of some odd looking stranger. His voice trailed off as he stared at her with a look in his eyes Mara had never seen before. She expected a terrible reprimand or some sort of punishment for her running away. Instead, in a very unroyal manor, the King leaped from his throne, and ran to her giving her a great big bear hug and sobbed on her shoulder.
"I thought I'd lost you girl," He cried, squeezing her so tightly.
David wasn't about to rot in a dungeon, so he grabbed the tip of one of the halberd's and pulled it towards him. The guard was caught off balance and David pushed him into several other guards. David took a punch to the side, from a fallen guard, but was unphased. He leapt over a table and kicked a guard in the head, causing him to topple over on the guard behind him. Mara was yelling for the fighting to stop, but her cries were drowned out by the commotion of the fray. David was obviously too skilled a fighter for these guards, and amazingly their numbers began to decrease as they fell unconscious to the stone floor. When only four other guard's remained, Mara's yelling was finally heard.
"STOP FIGHTING!" She screamed. David looked over at her, as did the guards.
David, along with several of the guards, was taken to the royal healers to be stitched up, and bandaged. Mara was taken to her quarters to be bathed and cleaned. A dinner feast was held that night because of Mara's return, and King Darius gave a toast to the bravery and great fighting skill of David. During the meal, Mara retold the tale of David's heroism as he bravely fought off the bandits with his wolf friend Solvang. David blushed each time Mara went into detail about how strong and agile David was when he fended off the bandits. She also told about his magical skill, and how intelligent he was. She even spoke about his original plans to become a knight. Darius made a crack at the Order of the Lion when he heard about David, but David told Daruis that his original goal was to become a Knight of the Bear. Darius grinned. He was, for a long time, a Knight in the Order of the Bear. He was a great warrior, and many knew his name. When his father the King of the Western Realms died, Darius had to be true to his promise and rule in his father's place. Daruis longed to return to the Knighthood, but now he was too old. Dinner went along great, and Darius was beginning to take a liking to David, but he wouldn't let it show.
The next morning David made it clear that he was going to leave that day. So later on Darius summoned him to the throne room. Darius sat there, and in a smaller throne next to him, sat Mara. It was difficult for David to take his eyes off her. She was dressed in a beautiful long flowing white gown. Darius started to talk and David's attention was redirected to him.
"Mister David of Wolf," Darius began, "You have saved the life of my daughter, and for that I am eternally in your debt. Because you have not asked for a reward of any kind I have taken it upon myself to prepare one for you." Darius snapped his fingers and one of his guards came fourth holding a golden plate with many different kinds of jewels and gemstones on it. A Kingís ransom, or a Princessís as the case was. "My daughterís life is priceless, and this gift should keep you happy for the rest of your life. It's all for you, David."
David looked at it, and seemed displeased. "I admire your gifts, your majesty, but I have no use for these things. I saved
your daughter not for reward, but because it was the right thing to do. I know you are a man of honor, and it would be rude of me not to
accept your gifts. So if I may, in exchange, take several things from your store house instead?"
Now David wasn't too thrilled about staying around teaching the guards how to better inflict pain against other people, but
it was Mara who ended up convincing him.
As the training progressed, David found that teaching his techniques was much harder than he thought. His style of combat wasn't based around strength, nor was it based on tactics. His fighting was more spiritual; he took the characteristics of animals, and used them to fight with. From a bear he took the abilty to grapple and wrestle, from a wolf he took organized attacks, from a hawk he used total surprise. David saw his own soul, and harnessed his own aether for strength. He had done it for so long it came natural to him. Eventually, he decided that if his students were to learn, they would have to live in the woods for awhile. They didn't go too deep, and only a few could go at a time, because the castle needed its protection, but they did learn better because of it. David soon realized that he liked teaching. It was very enjoyable showing others what it meant to be one with your own soul, and with the creatures of the forest.
Mara and David's relationship grew. One day while they were walking back to the castle after the training session had
ended, Mara seemed uneasy as she walked next to David.
David stopped dead in his tracks, his face was ghost white, and heart stopped beating.
Mara blushed deep red, she felt so embarrassed. "Why is he just standing there?" She thought. "David..." She said, almost
at the point of tears, "Please say something."
The rest of the walk home was a truly memorable one. David and Mara walked hand in hand, and for the next week, they couldn't be caught apart. David was turning the guards into very powerful men, able to search the innermost portions of their soul and harnessing their own aether. Darius was watching demonstrations of their skill. They were breaking logs with their bare hands, lifting rocks that weighed as much as several men, and jumping and running farther than it seemed humanly possible. Being a former knight, Darius had seen many displays of great strength, but even he was impressed by how good they were. In fact, Darius was so pleased with the skill of his new guards that he declared a games. The games were to pit the strength of the Order of the Bear, and the tactics of the Order of the Lion, against the intelligence of this new group of fighters. David was put under quite a bit of pressure to keep training at a faster pace now. Everything was still going pretty good. It wasn't until Mara said the word 'marriage' that there was turmoil.
"Why not David?" Mara was very upset with such a blatant refusal.
There was silence as David glared at Mara. Mara saw in him a fury that was almost animalistic. David took a deep breath and
began talking. Mara could feel him straining not to yell. "Is that what you think I did? You think I ran away?"
Mara was hurt by his speech. She and David, two lovers of the highest degree, separated by simple location. It was too much for Mara, and she ran from the castle room in tears.
David stood there alone; he had just hurt Mara, not physically, but emotionally. "What have I done..." He said with a whisper. He was sorry about what he said, but he knew he couldn't stay. He didn't belong in a city. He belonged in his home.
"Mara?" Darius called to his daughter. He had heard her crying from outside her quarters.
Mara smiled. As always, her father was there to comfort her when she was down. She decided that she would compromise with David, and live with him in the forest.
Just then, David walked into Mara's room.
Darius looked over at him and gave him the look of a protective father. "I guess I'll leave you two alone," Darius said, and gave a smile to Mara as he left.
When the King was gone, David ran to Mara's side.
Both were willing to give up their lives for each other, so both decided that they would exchange time, of where they would live. The journey wasn't too far, only about 10 days, so they could make it every season. The one important thing was that their love would always keep them together.
It was the day of the games, and David was very nervous. He knew he had trained his men very well and he knew they could win at least one of the games, but he wasn't too sure. The royal guards were good, but they still couldn't use their soul to its full advantages. David knew there was much more potential they hadnít yet discovered. Because David was the teacher, he was not allowed to enter the games, but Mara, after over an hour of convincing her father, was going to participate.
David paced up and down one of the castle halls. Each step he took echoed down the chamber walls. The Order of the Lion, and the Order of the Bear. They were up against the two most powerful fighting forces in history. He wiped his palms on his shirt. He was too nervous to think clearly, but still he stepped out into the main courtyard where the games were going to take place. It was crowded with people from all around. Conversations mixed with conversations and everything was a blur. Vendors and tourists littered the whole area. The only empty spot was the middle of the courtyard where the games were to be held. He saw some very big men in full armor. They were obviously Knights of the Bear. He hadn't seen one in years, and forgotten just how intimidating they were.
David also saw something that made him very happy. His mother was there in the crowds. Word of the games had traveled all the way back to David's home town. He spoke with her for awhile, and told her how much he loved her. She was very understanding, as she knew long ago that he would never be caged in a city. She was very grateful to know he was still alive, and she proved it by embarrassing him in front of many guards with hugs and kisses. The love of a mother, would always prevail over the manly look of her son. Many of the people in the crowd cheered as he walked away beet red.
The Royal guards were feeling rather nervous which was to be expected. So David wasn't at all disappointed with the results of the first couple games. The first game of wrestling was taken by The Order of the Bear, the second was a joust won by The Order of the Lion. The third game was a tournament style one-on-one anything goes combat. There were three people from each group, each person would fight each other, and team with the highest winnings would take the victory. When it was almost over, there was just Mara, and a knight from the Order of the Bear to decide the tie. The Knight towered over Mara. He was two feet taller and probably three times her weight. He gave a low laugh and said a rather insulting comment about hurting women. This typical insult didn't effect Mara in the slightest. She just let the Knight think himself to his own defeat.
When the battle started Mara quickly gave the Knight a shot to the knee. The Knight laughed like it didn't hurt, but his limp proved otherwise. Mara darted from one side of the Knight to the other, ducking away from his attacks, and counter-attacking at key areas, causing extreme pain to the Knight. It was obvious who was winning, but the battle was far from over. The Knight began to get very mad at being beaten by a girl, and decided it would be best to put an end to this battle. He got a full swing in, knocking Mara to the ground. Her head rang a bit, and she saw a few stars, but she was defiantly not about to be defeated. She got up, and attacked again. This time using much more debilitating attacks. Neck shots, and kidney shots. The Knight soon fell, face first to the ground. Mara had won. Cheers sounded all around the city. One of their own was victorious.
The other soldiers grew greatly in morale from watching the Princess defeat a Knight who was supposed to be better then anyone else. They began to overcome their fears, and began to win. They won so greatly, in fact, that by the time the games were over, the other two Knighthoods lost every remaining game.
The defeat was embarrassing to many of the Knights, as not only had they been physically hurt, but also their pride was in much more pain. Some stormed off the playing fields, others shouted and yelled, some even picked fights with the guards. It was plain for everyone to see however, David's style and techniques were amazing.
Near the end of the day, when all the games had wound down, King Darius summoned David. David walked into the Kings conference room, and saw three men sitting at the large stone table. King Darius Bendar sat in the middle. To the left of Darius was a very large, and incredibly well built ogre, and to the Kingís right sat a tall well poised catman with all black fur.
"Come in David," the King motioned, "Please sit down."
These two men, were the founders of their Knighthoods. Both men were legends even in their own time.
David didn't realize how truly impressed the two Head Knight's were. Many of the Knights that participated were the best
fighters in their Knighthood, and yet they still lost.
It was truly an enticing proposition, but David needed to be sure about something first before he agreed.
David knocked on the heavy oaken door.
David paused for a moment to gather his thoughts and then spoke, "Your father and the Head Knights want to form a new Order
of Knights." David looked into Mara's eyes and continued, "And they want me to be the leader."
David started thinking. He thought about how badly he had always wanted to become a Knight. He thought about how much he liked teaching, and all the other people out there that must be like him. Those people have no place to fit in. He would do it for them. Mara, oh precious Mara, she too did not fit in, but with his Knighthood she would. He would do it for her as well. Solvang, how he missed that mangy wolf. With Knights to help protect nature and animals, the forests would be much safer. He would do it for Solvang. For all the Knights he looked up to as a father he would do it for them, but most importantly of all: For himself. For what he wanted to be, for what he loved, for who he was, and for his destiny. He would do it for himself.
"Alright, I'll do it," David finally said. His words were solid and true, and Mara knew he meant what he said.
Although he didn't like being proud, David had to be proud of himself that day. For it was he the scrawny boy who was told he could never do anything right, who would now lead his own Knighthood.
The Order of the Wolf was the name of his Knighthood. It was different from the other two, in the fact that not only did it allow women to join, which caused quite a stir in the other two Knighthoods, but it also allowed magic. The magic was small, and thus the Magi need not control it, but they would always keep a watchful eye on the Order of the Wolf, just to make sure that they don't overstep their boundaries with spell casting. The Order of the Wolf was also different in the fact that physical strength is one of the less important aspects of their skills. David also selected the mark at which the knights in the Order of the Wolf would be known by. Three lines that resembled wolf claw marks were to be branded into every member's cheek. In time, the Order of the Wolf became a very important Knighthood to the history of The World.
The three Head Knights walked up to each other in the main square of the city. Each one put his right arm onto the left
shoulder of the man next to him. A large crowd was gathered for the ceremony.
David and Mara were wed soon after. The wedding was huge because Mara was a Princess, but the couple knew very few of the people who actually came. After the reception they quickly left for the forest. As they were setting out, Mara casting her memory back spoke to David, "Lead on, my handsome Knight."
David looked at her, thought for a moment, then remembered. He smiled and said, "I love you now, and I will love you always." and kissed her on the forehead.
They left that night into the woods, to be one with not just the animals and the trees, but now they were one with each other as well. Their souls were joined and they would never be separated. When they reached the point where David had made his home, David began to cry. Not from sorrow, not from grief, but from love.
David looked at his wife Mara, who still looked just as beautiful, even with the scarred flesh on her face. The mark of a Knight, the mark of the wolf paw.
He had his wife, he had his home, and he finally spoke saying, "Everything that is important is here with me now." For there, sitting near his old den was his friend, his companion, his brother. There was Solvang. The black fur around his eye that David loved so much was still there. "Hello my old friend," David said to him. Solvang being true to his instincts just left to go hunt. However, if you were to ask David, even to this day, he swears he saw Solvang give the faintest smile as he walked away.
© Copyright 2001-2004, Dean Tersigni