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CHAPTER TWELVE
Frederick's Adventures

<<   Page 21   >>
      When the sun suddenly woke up the forest, I was lying on a green bed. I had been sleeping for quite a short while, and when I woke up, I felt tired. During the night, I knew that I lost contact with my allies. I knew why I did that, but I couldn't be happy with my decision. I stood up, and went back in my pocket to find some stuff. The pendant was gone. I didn't realize until a minute that I gave it to Sky. I started to walk around, looking for food, but there wasn't any. I was a little bit afraid of the lack of food, but I told my self I had to walk to find some. I started to walk around, and trying to find my way. I ended up around noon at a river. It was a pretty big one, who was calm, and of a greenish color. Around the river, some apple trees lied with some fruits attached to their branches. The fruits looked juicy and read to be eaten. I grabbed some, eaten them, sat for a minute on the border of the stream. It was so calm there. I could have there forever. When I got up, I realized something was on the beach. I went close to it, check out of it was a trap, but when I got near, there were no traps. It was a purse, lying there, innocently on the border of the stream. I took it, and opened it. It was full of shiny coins. Who could have left his purse here? I didn't know, but I couldn't see anyone, so I kept it. Again, the forest was calm, too calm at my humble opinion, so I shouted something. I don't remember the sentence, but it sounded strange. The next things that I heard were two voices, two small voices. They were coming from right behind me.

      "There he is!" said one.

      "Good thing we found him. We couldn't just leave him," said another.

      "Oh just..."

      "Keep my mouth shut?"

      "Yes, we don't want to scare him away."

      These voices weren't my allies' voices. The voices were way too high to be them. I didn't want to wait to see who or what it was, I had to get out of here, and fast. I had not much choice, since they were right in front of me. I had to go near the stream and follow it. Running near the stream was treacherous. There were rocks everywhere, and if it went like that, I couldn't really get away fast, and I would get caught in time. I decided to try to loose them. I saw some bushes right in front of me. I had an idea. I walked behind the bushes followed my steps backwards, and went into the river. I didn't realize how stupid was that move was. I just went in a river with a lot of current, and I couldn't fight it.

      Some short time after, I finally saw the gravity of the situation: there were some rapids, and the water was getting deeper and deeper. I started to concentrate, I knew I could pass this one if I was calm and concentrated, but I couldn't, I was just feeling terrible. I passed the first half of the rapids with no difficulty at all, but the second part was hard, and I had to struggle for my life. When I left the rapids, I grabbed the first rock I could, before I would see the slow world of death. I pulled myself on the rock, coughing. I realized that I was stuck in the middle of the river, and I had to do something really fast to get me out of that position. I tried focusing. I accidentally changed the wind's direction, but I found nothing that could help. I tried to focus my thoughts on the wind, but nothing happened. Sorrowful, I looked down at the river to see myself and I realized that I was in some kind of danger; my hair always turned black when danger comes. I didn't really listen to that signal, and I stayed there for sometime, at least until I caught my breath.

      Unfortunately, some green creatures came in the border of the river, and looked quite interested in seeing me dead. The little act that happened earlier on for the pendant was with one of their comrades. The green monsters picked up some small rocks on the border of the river, and began throwing them all my way. At first, their accuracy was poor, but it was getting better and better, and they almost always hit me with their stone. I knew I couldn't stay there any longer before being injured by a projectile, so I slowly got off the rock and into the water. The depths were great, and I couldn't touch the bottom at that place. Again, I had to face some rapids in a short while, since I was hearing them. I feared for the worst at that moment and I hoped I would survive.

      Just a little bit in front of me, I saw a little wooden stick floating around the river. I quickly swam to grab it. I didn't really know how it could help me in this ordeal, but I still managed to grab it and keep it in my hands. I finally got into the rapids. I did my best to get away from the rocks, but my little trick didn't work. I bumped into several rocks. I tried to push myself from the rocks with the stick, but it didn't work either. The current was pulling me at an atrocious speed, and I soon lost memories of my ups and downs in the water. Luckily, it was the last rapid, and I swam to the border of the river. Contrarily to what I initially though, I felt horrible. I drank a little bit too much of water on that marvelous trip in the water, and I felt awfully tired of fighting for my life against the current. I laid down on the beach and began to think about the incidents that happened the day before. The companions I had tried to help me, yes and they didn't know how I felt when I arrived here in the strange vortex. Unfortunately, they were the only persons I could count on before the accident, but now, could I trust them? Are they any different from the persons I knew a little while before I came here? A strange feeling overcame me, a feeling that I hated for so long, that was once torturing my soul and it was doing it again: loneliness. I felt terribly sorry for what I did in the last day, and quite frankly, I felt all right to have repaid what I had to. "Enough of thinking about that, I told myself, I should get some sleep somewhere safe, somewhere enemies won't get me." As fast as I could, I climbed a tree, installed myself on a branch and fell asleep on it.

      It was the middle of the night, in a small city. All was calm, lonely and quiet. Suddenly, from the border of the forest, catapults, as well as balistas and other war machines, started appearing from the dark depths. Then, armed footmen came around the city, and circled it. The troops waited for a signal and it didn't take much time until they got it. Several seconds later, the war machines were raging against the city, destroying and burning almost everything in their path. The attacking army entered the city and began attacking villagers, killing without mercy. The defending troops tried to protect the city, but they were unable. A little bit away, I could see a red-eyed general, laughing at the misfortune of the town, laughing and telling his minions to have no mercy.

      I suddenly woke up, startled, and horrified of my dream. Never, I would have thought of someone so treacherous to attack a village by night. Yes, it was wartime for both the parties, but why attack at night? Another question popped into my head: How can someone have red eyes? I gave a silly answer at first, saying the general at red lenses, but it made no sense at all. That puzzle was passing through my mind, and no questions could be resolved. I got down of my tree, looking around for a source of food, but nothing could be found. I began thinking about the general, and I began telling myself: "Maybe he's a vampire. No, it can't be, it's too silly to be true. Besides, it's only a dream and none of my dreams were related to my life." I pushed the puzzle out of my head, and I started walking away, trying to find a food source.

      I walked during the rest of the day, and a part of the night. During that walk, I had to find again a tree to sit on and get some rest, which wasn't really easy because of the concentration of pine trees in the region. Since the beginning of the morning, it was raining a light rain through the tree's needless. The little rain couldn't stop me, but the hunger could, since I didn't eat for some time. I continued walking south and, in time, the trees became a little bit distant to each other. This little sign gave me a little of encouragement to find something, so I began accelerating the pace. Finally, I got out of the forest, and I arrived close to a small town. From where I was, it seemed calmed and a nice place to rest. Around the buildings, there were some gray walls, probably to defend the city. I was surprised to see that kind of habitation, for I never thought a city like that could be found in my region. I soon realized that I was really far from what I knew. I also realized that the time I took to know that was too long. I started to walk at the city door, to go visit the city. The guard at the gate didn't even ask a question, he let me in the town. I found that strange at first, but it was only for a short period: houses were destroyed, roads had some blood. Some battles seemed to have happened lately. Was my dream that I mean about a town premonitory? I continued walking in the town to look what the battles had caused, but I soon found out that only a part of town had been affected. The other part, containing shops, a pub, houses and a cemetery, had been completely saved from destruction. I walked to the closest shop, a weapon shop, and I got in. The shopkeeper was sitting in a corner of the room, and he looked pretty strange. By his look, I could see that something horrible had happened.

      When he saw me looking around his empty shop, he began talking with a low tone. "We're out of business. If you want to buy something, just go to another shop, but then again. I'm not sure they have anything."

      "Why is your shop empty?"

      "In the last couple of days, we've been attacked several times. We don't know who or why did that, but they just started, without any reason. Then, the military came in and literally took everything that was inside my shop."

      "I'm sure you kept something to defend yourself, they couldn't leave you unprotected."

      "You're right, but the only left my hammer and a small wooden staff."

      "Can I buy it? I have some money that you might want."

      When I said 'money', his eyes began glimmering. He made me a small sign to come closer. He gave me the staff, and I paid him with four coins, without even looking at the value of each coin. As I was walked out, I felt horrible. My hunger was gaining strength and I had to do something soon. I thanked the merchant, and I headed hastily towards the pub.

      When I entered in the pub, the atmosphere surprised me. People were arguing each other in almost every corner of the pub. I looked around to find an empty table. The only one that was left was just beside me close to the door. The pub's atmosphere was so explosive that it would be better that I keep myself close to the door in case a fight started. A person saw me enter, and came to talk to me.

      "Is there a inn in this town?" I asked.

      "Well, we are the closest thing to an inn since the dark army started attacking."

      "The dark army?"

      "It's the nickname everyone calls the invading army, since they attack only by night. You're new here, right?"

      "Yes, I just arrived today."

      "During the nights we get bombarded and we try to rebuild, but we don't have enough time."

      "Do you know who controls the dark army?"

      "I wish I knew who does."

      I nodded, listening to my stomach. "What do you serve for dinner?" I asked.

      "Well, we have some soup and some bread."

      "Let me guess, the military came and requested to have the rest of the food?"

      "Yes, and between you and me, the military take what they want, when they want."

      "I know. I just went to the weapon shop."

      "I hope you got a weapon."

      "Just like at that stick. It was the last thing that was left in the shop."

      "It's better than nothing. Where were we? Ah, yes, one dinner coming right up."

      "Make that two, I haven't eaten in some time."

      "Alright, two dinners coming right up."

      I looked around in the people that were present. Everyone was getting a little bit calm, except two persons that were beginning to fight against each other. I couldn't stand them fighting against each either, so I shouted from my seat to stop it all before they destroy the last pub in town. I didn't really know if it was the only one, but I still said that it was the last one. The two stopped fighting. One of them, a man who seemed pretty strong, came to me and asked me to try to repeat what I said. I repeated the sentence adding a little part where I expressed that the threat was nothing compared to the peace that I wanted.

      My statement surprised him, but he didn't seem to end the discussion just at that moment. In his eyes, I also saw that he was preparing to do something. I looked in my enemy's eyes, and he looked in mine. The wait was intolerable. Suddenly, he tried to hit me with his hand but I stopped his with mine. His eyes softened a bit.

      He turned his back and said, "I see the kid knows how to defend himself, but I would bet that he couldn't defeat me."

      I got up, announced that I accepted the challenge, and returned to my seat. He wasn't surprised by my reaction. We fixed the time when we would do the challenge, at sunset, and he walked away, leaving me alone. My dinner arrived shortly after the little discussion. I ate with great appetite, thinking about the little fight. I couldn't do it in these conditions; I had to practice my moves. I got up, paid my dinner, without knowing how much I paid and I walked to the border of the forest to practice my moves.

      I practiced my moves all that afternoon. I never knew I could put so much energy in my practice. I just went on, until the end of the afternoon. At that moment, I stopped everything, went back into the village, went to the pub, asked for a small dinner, ate it, paid it, and waited for time to come. People all around were looking at me, whispering between each other and some of them even came to talk to me. Everybody was sure that I would loose that duel, they told me so. I relaxed in my seat until one person came to say that it was time. I got up and I followed the person who told me to come. We arrived in the middle of the town, near a fountain. It was the center of the town.

      Everybody was starting to gather around the fighting ring. All these people waiting to watch me fight was starting to make me nervous. I knew the battle would be tougher from this moment on. My opponent finally appeared. He showed me his staff.

      "Prepare to be defeated by the best of this town." He stated.

      The battle started at that moment. The first two minutes were only trying to get closer without getting hit by the opponent, after that, it was the part that the public wanted. I was less prepared than I realized. I received some hits that I could have blocked. Unfortunately for me, he continued his strategy by attacking and not stopping, and I was stuck on defense, which was going great in the circumstances. The battle continued on for a long time. The sun had completely disappeared some time ago, but we could continue under the lights of the villagers. I found this new way of battling difficult, since I had almost no place to dodge in case of problems. My opponent was getting weaker in his hits. I took the opportunity to return my attack on him, but I was blocked. He didn't appreciate the attack, so he came charging towards me. I blocked him, but he began giving some serious blows. This time, there was nothing I could have done to block them all, since he was in such a fury.

      I fell on the ground. My opponent wanted to finish me off in front of the public, by they didn't want to. All of them were surprised on how long I stayed on the battlefield before falling. My opponent, seeing the villagers talking to each other about my performance, decided to go on with his plan, but I quickly dodged by rolling over on the ground. Two persons rushed to my belligerent to stop him, but they weren't able, he was out of control. I got up and told my opponent that he won. He started to cool down, at the pleasure of the public. We shook hands and I congratulated him for his great battle, but he didn't do the same for me. He seemed a little bit disturbed by the time he took to get rid of me. After all the villagers were scattered around the town, I went to the pub. I went to the counter, asked if they had a room for me so that I could sleep. They gave me a key, told me where the room was, and I went in. It wasn't the best of the rooms, but it was all right. The room was small, had a small bed, and almost nothing else. I lay on the bed, and finally, falling asleep.

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