Stories : After The Searing
The bright, golden sun hung in the cloudless sky, it's warm light raining down upon the citizens of the proud city known as Ascalon. Ascalon was a beautiful, fertile, kingdom, with rolling country sides and large, magnificent cities. It's people were proud to call it their home. But alas, this kingdom was at war. It seemed like the battle with the savage race of beasts known as the Charr, would never end. The only thing protecting them was the Great Northern Wall, and the vigilance the armies of Ascalon had that kept their nation safe. However, the time draws near... when everything is about to change. And not for the better.
Down by the Lakeside County river, a young girl, dressed in a pretty blue dress decorated with red patterns, played a small wooden instrument. She sat in the smooth, lushes green grass, her unfailing tune bringing birds to the nearest trees, their cries singing as she played. Her dark, shoulder-length hair whipped softly in the calm wind. For a girl of only twelve, she certainly was quite small for her age. The young girl continued to play her flute, attracting the attention of wild animals. She halted when a small, baby wolf nudged her elbow.
"Oh!" she cried in surprise, turning around to see the cuddly silver wolf. "Hello there," she picked up the baby wolf and began to stroke it behind the ears, and it moaned in satisfaction.
"Where's your mommy?" she asked, holding the baby wolf up so it was eye level with hers. "Is she off hunting some food for you?" the baby wolf just whimpered in reply. The girl smiled sweetly and put the baby back onto its four growing legs.
"My mommy's busy as well..." she said, still stroking the baby wolf. "she's the town herbalist, you know? She makes medicines for sick people so they are able to feel well again." she smiled again as the baby wolf nudged her leg, and began to sniff around the grass.
"Gwen!" a woman's voice called. "Gwen, are you here?"
"Yeah mom, I'm over here!" Gwen replied, getting to her feet and giving the baby wolf one last pat.
"Gwendolyn." a woman appeared over the river's bridge, her hands on her hips, with a look of disappointment. "How many times have I told you about going near wild animals? They're not safe."
"But mom look, they're harmless!" Gwen pleaded, reaching out to pat the baby wolf.
"Even so, if that baby's mother comes, what will she think? She certainly won't think you are merely 'patting' its child. It could attack you!"
"It's getting dark Gwen, let's get back home." her mother suggested. Gwen mumbled to herself and followed her mother back to their home in the Lakeside County, taking one last look at the beautiful animals she left behind.
x x x x
"Gwen! Are you up yet?" her mother called. Gwen roused from her sleepy state to see the golden morning sun peaking through her window.
"Yeah, I'm awake..." she yawned, getting out of bed. As she did, there was a knock on the door. She heard her mother go to answer it and she followed close behind. When her mother opened the door, she was shocked to see who was standing at their doorstep.
"Sarah, we need your help," it was Devona, a young, famous warrior that Gwen greatly admired. She was one of the members of the Heroes Of Ascalon, and fought alongside the Holy Monk Mhenlo of Serenity Temple. "quickly, he will not last long."
Gwen's mother, Sarah, just as surprised to see two figures in her doorway, one injured, one bearing the other's weight, that she hesitated, before helping hoist the man Devona was supporting inside the house, and onto a spare bed.
"What happened to him?" asked Sarah, going to a cupboard, to pull out jars full of liquids and herbs. "He looks terrible."
"One of the new recruits." Devona panted, sitting down next to the bed. "One of our trials went wrong."
"So I see..." Sarah muttered softly, hurrying back over with the medicine. She quickly applied it to the man's wounds. Gwen peeked through the doorway. He was a young man, no older than nineteen. His handsome face looked so... graceful as he lay there unconscious. His lengthy hair covered his ears, but did not go down to his shoulders.
"Is... is he going to be ok?" Gwen asked, trotting in ever so softly.
"He'll be fine dear." Sarah replied, not looking back, as she applied some ointment on the man's bloody wounds. "Why don't you go outside and play?"
"Ok..." Gwen muttered, and she turned, and headed out the door. Devona heard the front door shut a few seconds later.
"She's growing fast." she said to Sarah. "Soon she'll be old enough to-"
"No." Sarah cut in. "I don't want her going to the Academy. Not after..." she stopped. It seemed the words she was trying to say were clogged up in her throat.
"...after her father?" Devona finished tentatively. Sarah did not reply, but just nodded slightly.
"You know... I will look after her." Devona said, her eyes still fixed on Sarah's sad face.
"I... I know... but, I cannot risk losing the only person I have left." she said.
"I understand." Devona said, rising to her feet. "I have to get back to Mhenlo in Ashford Abbey to tell him this guy's going to be ok."
"Alright." Sarah said, finishing up the treatment. Devona turned to leave, but Sarah uttered one last question. "Wait... what's his name?"
"We don't know his full name." Devona replied. "He was brought over from Cantha as a baby. He's known as the lost child of Cantha. We named him Kyte."
"Kyte..." Sarah muttered softly.
"Thanks Sarah, take care." Devona waved and exited the house. Sarah smiled and looked back down at the man's face. He reminded her so much of her late husband, who died in battle fighting the Charr. Gwen was only seven. It hit Gwen just as hard as it did herself. But years have passed, and they were beginning to move on. As she began to head out, the man stirred. Sarah walked back over. His eyes were beginning to open.
"Who... are you?" the man known as Kyte, asked her.
"My name is Sarah, you're in my house. You've been seriously injured, Devona took you here to get fixed up. You're going to be ok." she said calmly.
"I... I don't remember... anything..."
"It's ok. All you have to remember now is that you need all the rest you can get." Sarah replied slowly. "You're welcome to stay here as long as you need."
"T-thank you... um..."
"Sarah. My name is Sarah."
"Thank you, Sarah..." Kyte muttered, before his eyes drooped closed again.
x x x x
Kyte's eyes opened wearily. It took him a few moments to remember where he was. He still had no memory of what happened to him. All he remembered was a kind face treating to him. He rubbed his eyes and winced. The pain on his right should intensified as he raised it. He looked down to see the upper half of his torso wrapped in white bandages. He touched his wounds cautiously just as he hear small footsteps enter the room. A girl was standing in the doorway holding a handful of flowers.
"Oh..." he muttered, looking up, his eyes meeting hers. "h-hello!" he managed to smile.
"Hi..." the young girl blushed, her eyes instantly darting to her feet. "I-I brought some flowers for your bedside... I-I didn't know you were awake!" she said hurriedly, clearly afraid that she had disturbed him or something.
"No, not at all," Kyte smiled. "you're...?"
"G-Gwen." the young girl stuttered nervously.
"Ah. Gwen. That's a very pretty name." he said, before chuckling slightly. "Don't be scared, I don't bite." she grinned sheepishly and swaddled her way over to his side, and sat on the edge of the bed.
"How are you feeling?" she asked. "You weren't in very good shape when I saw Devona carry you in."
"I feel a great deal of pain," Kyte said, still managing that smile, "but I also feel a lot better, thanks to your mother's herbs and medicines."
"I'm glad." Gwen replied, blushing more. "I-I got these for you," she thrust a handful of red flowers into his hands. He took them and examined them.
"These are very nice flowers," he said, after a pause. "thank you."
"They're Red Iris Flowers," she said. "I picked them down at the lake."
"That was very thoughtful of you." Kyte said, sticking the flowers into a small jar of water next to his bed.
"Seeing as you'll be staying with us for a while..." Gwen started. "I-I thought that... that when you recover enough to walk, we can go on a walk or something?" Kyte gave her a questionable look, and she quickly hid her face. "Of course, if you don't want to then-"
"I'll be glad to." he cut in.
"It's just... mom is hardly ever around... and she doesn't like me going too far from home alone... I thought... if you came with me then-"
"Gwen, relax." Kyte said, touching her shoulder gently. "I'll go with you wherever you want to go."
The young girl's face brightened up slightly as he spoke those words, and she gave a wide smile toward him.
"Well... when you get better..." she giggled, before rushing out of the room.
x x x x
"And I can play the flute as well," Gwen said, bringing the wooden instrument to her mouth and starting playing a tune. Kyte grinned. It was a warm, sunny day, and he and Gwen had moved down to the Lakeside County river for the afternoon for some relaxation. After all, it was Gwen's favourite spot.
"What are you going to do when you recover?" Gwen asked, halting her tune. Kyte paused. He hadn't really thought about that since he arrived. He had no memory of what happened to him or his time in the Academy, though he still remembered how to wield a sword, and fight. Devona had made daily visits to make sure he was recovering well. She also attempted to help bring back some memories, but nothing would work. All he knew was that he had come from the Academy, and had ended up unconscious due to a freak accident. But was that what really happened?
"I... I don't really know." Kyte said, looking into the young girl's eyes. "We'll see, hey?" Gwen smiled sweetly before continuing to play her flute. Suddenly, they heard a cry from a distance. Kyte and Gwen's ears turned to the scream.
"You hear that?" Kyte asked, turning to Gwen. She nodded noiselessly. "I'd better check it out..."
"I'm coming with you!" Gwen said, jumping to her feet.
"It could be dangerous, stay here." Kyte said, getting to his feet and jogging across the cobblestone path to where the cry originated. Gwen stood still and watched as the young man disappeared from sight. She couldn't do nothing, the suspense was killing her. After a moment of thought, she dropped her things and ran after Kyte.
Kyte skidded down the stone path in a hurry. He could hear more screams as he drew nearer. He knew this road. It was heading to the Lakeside village. There was a small market going on today. Sarah had told him so. She was going to be there, selling her medicinal herbs. As he bounded down the steps, a nearby cart burst in the flames. People were scattered everywhere, it was hysterical. As Kyte covered his face to prevent the hot ash from burning him, he got a glimpse of the culprit. Or rather, culprits. A group of seven or eight leather clad people were carrying out some sort of bandit raid. Some of them were wielding long staffs with flames engulfing each end, and some were just wielding plain swords. Kyte hid silently as the bandits began to tear apart villager's carts and stealing fruit and food. He had to do something. And fast. But before he revealed himself, the bandit nearest to him grabbed a young man by his collar held the sword to his throat.
"You don't mind if I take your lovely wife, do you?" the bandit grinned. Beside him, his fellow companion had grasped a woman around the throat. This was obviously his wife. A young child was watching from a distance next to some barrels, crying. Their son. Kyte felt a great amount of rage fill his body. He was just about ready to kill them both. The bandit's evil grin faded as he threw the man to the floor. Kyte thought the bandit was letting the man go, but he was mistaken. The bandit firmly grasped the handle of his sword and drove it straight through the man's back. The man's eyes were wide and shocked. His arm was reaching for his son. Kyte's eyes widened also, but in surprise. This heartless bandit had just murdered a man right in front of his child. Kyte jumped out from his hidden spot with a look of contorted rage in his eyes. Gwen had come down the stairs and was looking at the scene. Kyte managed to spot her.
"Gwen, get that little boy out of here." he said, before turning himself on the bandits. "Let the woman go."
"Come and get her." the bandit provoked, walking up to Kyte, his sword hanging by his side. In an instant, the bandit thrust his sword forward, and like instinct, Kyte dodged to the side and grasped the weapon arm, and bent. He heard a crack as the bandit's arm broke. He kneed the enemy in the gut before throwing him into a pile of burning barrels. He could hear the screams as the bandit was set alight. Kyte picked up the blade and approached his companion, who was still holding the woman.
"Let her go." he said again. This bandit looked afraid. He edged backward, his blade still at the woman's neck. She winced in pain, her face still full of fear. Kyte continued to draw nearer, and the bandit cried out.
"Don't come any closer!" he whimpered, holding out the blade, so that the sharp tip met Kyte's eyes. The young Warrior reached out and grasped the blade, and bent it. The bandit looked in horror as his weapon was deformed. He screamed and released the woman, who dropped to her knees. The bandit ran in the opposite direction, but Kyte threw the sword he had in he had, and it pinned the enemy square in the back. The bandit stopped, and fell flat on his front, blood staining the back of his clothes. Kyte sighed dully and knelt down next to the woman.
"Are you alright?" he asked. She nodded in a silent reply. At that same moment, Devona and about six or seven Ascalonian Guards came into view.
"Kyte!" Devona cried. "Captain, circle the village, make sure no other bandits escape."
"Yes ma'am." the Captain nodded, and commanding his men in different directions.
"What happened?" asked Devona, walking up to him.
"I-I dunno..." he replied. It was true. It was instinct. He didn't know he could fight so well.
"Well, even though your memory has gone, it does not seem like your knowledge of fighting has."
"K-Kyte?" a small voice sounded. Gwen had appeared from behind a stone pillar, clutching the hand of the young boy who had watched his father die. The boy let go of Gwen's hand and ran toward his shaken mother. Gwen grasped Kyte around the waste and hugged him tight.
"I'm proud of you Gwen." Kyte said, putting his hand gently on her small head. "You did well."
"And I can say the same for you, soldier." Devona said, clapping him over the back. "I'm not sure how many would have been killed if you had no stepped in."
"If I had stepped in sooner no one would have."
"It isn't your fault," assured Devona. "don't hold it against yourself." she then unbuckled the strap around her torso and unhooked the scabbard that held a sword. She thrust it into Kyte's hands.
"I'm guessing you might need that weapon." she smiled. Kyte just looked oddly from the blade to Devona herself.
"I... uh..." he stammered. What was he supposed to say? Devona just laughed.
"You take that, and if any bandits raid Lakeside County again, you put them in their place." she grinned. "Take care." she pinched Gwen's cheeks and gave a small wink, before running off to join the Captain in the search. Gwen looked at Kyte as Devona disappeared from view.
"Ready to go home?" he asked. She nodded with a slight smile.
x x x x
Morning dawned over the beautiful plains that was Ascalon. Kyte found himself waking up to a chilling, but sunny first light. As he dressed and clipped on the very same sword that Devona had given to him, he exited the room with a small yawn. He checked Gwen's room. Her bed was empty. She was already awake. Kyte left the house and headed up to the river, where he was bound to find Gwen, picking Red Iris Flowers, or playing her flute. But when he crossed the cobblestone bridge, he saw no one at the riverside. This was odd. Where was the young girl? All of a sudden, he heard his name being cried out from behind. Sarah was running toward him, her face full of fear. In her hand she was brandishing a piece of parchment.
"Kyte!" she cried. "They've got her! They've-"
"Woah... Sarah, calm down, what's the matter?" he asked. Sarah stopping in front of him, clearly out of breath. Kyte had to support her with his arms.
"They've got Gwen..." she managed to say.
"What? Who?" he asked.
"The group of bandits from yesterday's raid... they left this at my stall..." she showed him the rushed note. He read it over quickly. There was no mistaking it. Bandits had taken Gwen, and he could bet anything it was the same leather clad group from the day before.
"Stay in the house, Sarah." Kyte said firmly. "I'll get Gwen back."