Book 1: Birth Of A Kingdom • June 7-9, 2019


Gios finished tying his sack, and read the letter from Kalli and Orion one more time. Committing that note to memory, he threw it in the fire. He knew where they were and how long they would wait for him.

It was the eve of the darkest night of the year and rain had just started to fall. Gios laced up his boots, strapped his axe to his back and tied his bag to his sash. He would not need much; he had fasted before and knew the three day journey would be no problem. After that he would reach a small village, where he could get some food and purchase a horse. Then it was only another 6 day trip to the village of Drosell.

Gios was leaving the southern temple and his life as a monk devoted to the god of fire and wrath. But the fate of his world was more important. The War of Scavengers had already begun and would reach his temple someday soon. He knew they would fall to the Horde. It was time to leave and travel north.


Chapter 1, Enter Royalty

Gios sat around the fire talking with the Brothers of Caris, Suca and Batu-y. “Boys, we had a good day of training today. Make sure that you keep your energy up. Lysander has promised to teach the ways of the sword with the entire village in the morning.”

Suca and Batu-y nodded along trying to imagine how sparring with Lysander could be more strenuous than the day they had just experienced with Gios. Since arriving at the village 4 months ago, the brothers had dedicated a majority of their time to training with Gios in combat and learning about the land surrounding them.

Suca refilled his cup and started to tell another tale of battles the brothers shared against the land of Karess. He and Batu-y laughed and began to drink the night away.

Across the flames sat the healer, Mediscus with the Elf Arianna. Her son Eiriyn was watching admiringly as Lysander and Zahra were participating in a dagger dance. Lysander caught his stares and called him over to join in and to be shown a few moves. Arianna watched with trepidation but was comforted knowing Mediscus wouldn’t let any harm befall Eiriyn. He was just a boy of 75 years old; so still an adolescent in elfish terms.

The unlikely grouping of Ingmar, Gisa Linn, and Jatté put the finishing touches on the new hut. They had arrived together only a week ago and not without some hardships along the way:

Gisa Linn and Jatté crossed paths for the first time at a pub in Piedzari. Bonding over escape from their homelands, they both realized that they were in search of the same small village being created by The Three in the north. They decided to travel together and set off north the next morning. Three days into their voyage together they met a woman named Ingmar. Wielding her long-sword, she offered to keep the couple safe on their journey north, for a small fee of gold.

The obliged and were thankful they did. One night Gisa Linn awoke to find Ingmar with her hands around the throat of a bear. The bear threw her hard to the ground and let out a mighty roar that finally shook Jatté awake. Dusting herself off, Ingmar grabbed her sword and lunged at the beast, straight through the heart. Twisting and removing the sword, she then gave the creature a swift stomp to the chest and watched it keel over onto its back. The next morning, the group stumbled their way into the village and were greeted by Gios and Mediscus.

Back around the fire sat Mediscus’ apprentice Westwood. He was meditating to recharging his energy, but couldn’t help but look up to the sounds of Rowena and Katarina chuckling over Jatté walking blindly into the clothesline outside of his hut.

JJ walked over with some “delicacies” to be cooked over the fire as a late night snack. She proclaimed that roasted rat-guts on biscuits was one of her favorite treats as a kid and had brought plenty to go around. To everyone’s surprise the treat was actually quite tasty, as long as you didn’t get any fur stuck between your teeth.

JJ watched with glee as the folks munched away on her offering. Where she had come from she was a court jester and wanted nothing more than to make people feel warm on the inside, something more than just happiness, but a feeling of true connection to the people around them. For a moment, it seemed as though everyone had let their guard down, forgetting where they had come from, and the fear of what was still to come, and just enjoyed togetherness.

Suddenly, a soft voice proclaims, “Hello? Is anyone out there? Is this the new village we’ve been searching for?”

“Lekki, shut up!” said another voice. “We don’t know who, or what is out there and it’s late. Do you want to be robbed…again?”

“Who goes there?” Yelled Gios. “We are all friends here, come closer so we may see you in the light.”

Off of the road entered two women. “I am Princess Lekki of Pharos!” The younger of the two proclaimed. The princess wore a purple tunic with a bright gold belt and small crown upon her head. “And this one here is called Morso, she protects me.”

Morso just rolled her eyes as she walked next to Lekki. “We are here to see The Three.Is this where we can find them?”

Gios responded, “Yes you are in the right place. My name is Gios and I am one of the people you are searching for. Welcome to our village. How can I help?”

“I’m exhausted. It’s been such a long journey. I’m just glad we finally made it. Like I was saying, my name is Princess Lekki and I have been sent out to spread the light to new lands in these times of darkness.”

Morso chimed in, “when she heard about The Threeshe insisted we make our way north to meet them. So here we are. Gios you make one, but we were expecting all parties of The Three.” Her last comment coming off a bit condescending.

Gios answered, “Kalli Rein and Orion Tem are out on missions of their own right now to help further our progress. I’d be happy to share more with you two as time allows. Please sit a while and get to know us all a little better before we settle down for the night.”

Lekki and Morso gingerly walk over to the group and take a seat on a bench by themselves. Many of the inhabitants of this village left harsh rulers and didn’t care much for kings, queens and especially princesses. However, everyone tried to keep their skepticism to a minimum. As The Threehad been welcoming to them, they too felt it important to be welcoming to these new travelers.

Lysander strolled on over and made himself comfortable sitting next to the two new wanderers. The three of them begin to chat and people let out a small breath of relief. Lysander had promised to work with the village on sword techniques if they ever needed to defend themselves. For the warriors, they felt as though they could brush up against some good competition; while mages and younger warriors felt it to be a good opportunity to learn and grow confidence with a blade. The group trusts Lysander as a warrior of honor and someone that could keep this princess in check if she ever let her royalty compromise the village people.

Time passed, the fire became ash, and everyone retired for the night.

Chapter 2, Time To Train

The next day, all awoke to Sefkush, a local farmer and cook, preparing eggs and meat for all to feast upon. The small community joined together and began to plan out their day during the meal, all except for Princess Lekki and Morso who hadn’t been seen since last night.

Gios stood up exclaiming, “good morning everyone. I pray that everyone is well rested and ready for the day. I am aware that all of you are here in preparation because you had to leave your home due to the Horde and their War of Scavengers. Because of this, Lysander has agreed to train everyone this morning in sword fighting techniques.”

Lysander, while chewing on a dry piece of toast nodded in agreement.

“Please meet out in the training fields once you are finished with your meal,” Gios almost finished saying until interrupted by Katarina.

“And don’t forget to stock up on weapons and potions at my shop. We don’t want anyone getting injured during todays training. As always gold is preferred but I am always willing to barter.”

“Thanks Kat,” muttered Gios. “Please all finish up and we will see you out there.” Lysander and Gios stood up and left to go prepare for the morning. The two walked out into the forest together, speaking of wars past and battles to come. Once at the training site, Lysander began to stretch while Gios began his morning walk through on the outskirts of the village.

On his way by, Gios saw the entire community lining up outside Katarina’s tent to purchase potions and new weapons. He never dreamed that they would need all of this to help them that day. They were just training and getting in a good workout. Gios had not heard word from Orien or Kalli of any impending threat to their little village. He thought today would be a good day for everyone.

While hearing all the commotion, Lekki and Morso arose out of their cabin to see everyone hustling about in preparations. Not thinking much of it Lekki just waved her arms, wishing everyone a great morning, to a reply of ‘yea sure’ from some and some fairly loud eye rolls from others.

Rowena, Gisa Lynn and Jatte were the first to gather all of their necessary equipment and head out to find Lysander. Eiriyn, not wanting to be left behind ran after them while his mother paid for their gear. Arianna and Ingmar made their way out shortly after paying Katarina.

After the short hike into the forest, the six of them found Lysander already training with Zahra, Suca and Batu-y. The two young warriors had bypassed Katarina and brought their own steel to train with and Zahra had borrowed one of Lysander’s swords. Lysander welcomed all of the others to training.

Lysander then began to preach on his desires to be the strongest warrior in the world and that by training as many people as possible, he dreams of finding the best talent each village has to offer and defeating them in combat. He said, “If I can bring out something primal and strong out of any one of you, I pray that you are a strong warrior and that one day we may battle with honor together.”

With his courageous words inspiring the people, everyone was partnered off and they began working on basic strikes and flow drills. After some time a familiar voice once again echoed through the trees. “Where is everyone?” It was Princess Lekki, waving around a training sword like a magic wand. “Katarina told us we would find the strong warrior and he would teach me how to be fierce!” Morso walked by Lekki’s side as they marched into the training camp. Lysander just smirked and welcomed the two into the sparring session.

As the morning went on, the warriors in training began to feel more confident with their steel and Lysander ended their session saying, “go and be strong, fight with your heart and stand fearless in all situations.” He then began to walk back towards the heart of the village.

Feeling like an abrupt ending, many decided to follow Lysander back, seeing as they now had all of these healing potions and stabilizers that they had purchased and not needed for training. They all must admit though, that Katarina makes a very persuasive sales woman.

Suca and Batu-y stay behind and continue to train their techniques as Lysander had shown them. Zahra, feeling a bit anxious, retreated deeper in the woods to pray to the forest for answers from Quibla upon Kalli’s return.

Chapter 3, A Sudden Shift

While the others were off training, Westwood had been wandering the woods, learning as much as he could of his surroundings. He studied the habits of the animals and felt the energy of the trees and earth. He also stumbled upon a tattered flag with a foreign text. He decided it best to study and try his luck at cracking the mysterious language.

Lysander made his way back to the village where he began to heckle Gios about his warrior abilities after skipping out on practice. He then began to poke fun at Mediscus for needing more time with a sword than in his spell books. Both Gios and Mediscus just shrugged it off and let Lysander talk himself to boredom. Knowing that he wasn’t getting a rise out of Gios or Mediscus, Lysander went over to flirt with Katarina and offer his “personal protection” to her if she ever felt threatened in the dark scary woodlands.

“I’ll take protection,” proclaimed Princess Lekki. Much to Katarina’s chagrin, Lekki and Morso rushed their way over to the shop to try and build a stronger connection to Lysander…for protection of course. Lysander then convinced the Princess and Morso to escort him on a hunt in the woods. And off they went.

Gios decided to head back into the woods as well to connect with Suca and Batu-y. He knew that taking them away from their swordplay to do chore around the village would irritate the young warriors, but they all knew it had to be done. Off he went.

The rest of the villagers, Gisa Lynn, Jatte, Ingmar, Arianna, Eiriyn, and Rowena settled around the campfire and relaxed from their training session. Walked in Westwood with his tattered flag and he presented it to the group. Arianna said the she had seen a similar flag out in the woods. She went out to retrieve it, as did Eiriyn with another flag. So now they had three flags and were all very interested in what the text was. Gios was off so they couldn’t ask him. The team set up a table and started to interpret what they could understand of the flag. They also noticed that there were metal keys attached to the back of the flags.

Only guessing at a few of the words the team went back into the woods to look for more clues. That is when they saw Gios lying on the ground off to the side of a path. Rowena cast a basic healing spell to allow him to regain consciousness. He then told the team that two unknown creatures had ambushed him. But that he saw Lysander chasing after them. The team helped Gios to his feet and trekked back to camp.

Gios posted up with Mediscus to heal himself while Gisa Lynn, Jatte, Ingmar, Arianna, Eiriyn, and Rowena went out to find Lysander and hopefully the culprits behind Gios’ attack. The team found all of that and more. They had managed to find an old temple in the woods but the doors were padlocked shut and Lysander was standing in front of it. He demanded that the team hand over the keys that they had found. Morrso and Lekki stood behind him with swords at the ready.

Taken aback, Arianna asked why Lysander’s demeanor had changed and was acting so rude. He stated that he was protecting everyone from the evil inside of the temple. Lysander managed to procure two of the three keys but Rowena had hidden her key and lied to Lysander stating that the team only had 2 keys. She wasn’t sure if she could trust him, and feared for her life.

Then out of nowhere came two Kobolts (one male and one female) and a male Lizard Folk, all three with swords drawn. The team didn’t fear though because they had Lysander to fight. However, Lysander, Lekki and Morso walked forward towards the villagers and not the intruders with a fierce look in their eyes.

Lasander lunged at Eiriyn and the battle was on. Swords were swinging, mages cast their fire ball spells and everyone fought just to survive. Not knowing why Lysander had changed sides or who these stranger were.

Ingmar & Eiriyn went down with a near fatal injury, while the female Kobolt lost her life. The dust settled and Lysander sheathed his sword. He then proclaimed, “this is no longer worth my time and energy,” and retreated back into the woods. Lekki and Morso following suit.

This left the team huddling around their injured friends, but with a distinct numbers advantage over the Kobolt and Lizard folk. The reptilians realized their disadvantage and scattered back into the thick of the wilderness.

Ingmar and Eiriyn were healed up enough to be taken back to Mediscus for further medical treatment. The team then relayed what had happened to Gios. Gios knew that he had been attacked by the Kololts earlier but didn’t realize that the Lizard folk had been working with them. He had no answer as to why this was happening, but he feared that these creatures were scouts from the Scavenger Armies. He asked everyone to regroup, eat some lunch, and stay in the heart of the village until he had more information.

Suca and Batu-y had made their way back to camp and were mortified at the tales of battle and were disappointed that they couldn’t have helped protect the others.

Zahra also returned and stormed into her hut. Gios walked over and the villagers heard them arguing although they did not know over what. Zahra left her hut with a large sack and began to run into the woods. Gios yelled after her telling her it was too dangerous, but to no avail.

Gios walked over to the table where everyone was gathered and began to answer their questions.

Chapter 4, Time For Answers

Jatte asked, “What just happened with Zahra?”

Gios, “she left to go back to Quibla after I informed her that Kalli Rein had not found any survivors after her village was attacked by Orcs last month. I found Zahra, severely injured, while scouting the outer ridge of the forests. She had been told by her brother to run as fast as she could and find help. She had found me. I brought her back to meet Kalli and Orion and we learned of her tale. After she was stronger I went out but all that remained was smoke and ash. I couldn’t let her see that. But she wouldn’t believe it. So Kalli agreed to go back and spend some time looking for survivors. I got word from the crows this morning that Kalli’s search had come up empty.”

He continued, “Zahra believes that her family is in hiding and that is why Kalli cannot find them. But I know Kalli and her skills in finding people that don’t want to be found. If anyone else had survived, she would have found them. I believe that Zahra won’t be convinced until she sees it for herself. But with everything going on here, I’m very worried for her safety. She’s strong and resilient, but I still worry.”

“Speaking of strong, why the heck was Lysander attacking us earlier?” asked Ingmar.

Gios responded, “I am not sure. He had become a close confidant to me over the past few weeks and I know he was not involved with Scavengers. He was looking to hone his skills as a warrior and be the strongest swordsman to walk this realm. It is possible that he was poisoned or had a spell cast on him.”

“Probably by the princess!” claimed Eiriyn.

Gios, “we don’t know that. It is possible, but I never perceived her as much of a threat. She was too bubbly and open about herself.”

Eiriyn, “What about Morso? She never talked much.”

Gios, “anything is possible, but again I am not sure why Lysander turned. But his hut has been cleaned out so I am assuming that he is gone for good or at least for a while.”

Arianna, “do you know what this text is?” she then pulls out the flags and places them on the table.

Gios, “it is the language of the villagers that inhabited this place before Kalli, Orion and I called this home. They were mages and were working with dark magic. In don’t know much of the language but if you are looking into this further please be careful.”

Gisa Lynn, “what is our next course of action?”

Gios, “We continue to train. I have an old friend from the Archer’s Guild of Platja, who is currently setting up for you all to learn some basic archery techniques. Mediscus is out there with him now casting a protection spell on the range that will alert me to anyone trying to sneak in or cause any trouble. Now that we know there is a threat out there, we will be more prepared.”

Rowena, “so just go about our business as normal? Is that smart? Shouldn’t we be doing something more, I don’t know, proactive?”

Gios, “training is being proactive. The more skills you all have the safer we will all be. Please trust in me, but more importantly, trust in each other.”

Mediscus returned to camp and invited the villagers to follow him to the archery range.

Gios, “if you have any other questions you can ask me while at the range or at dinner tonight. Thank you all for being patient, I had believed that there was more time before the threat traveled this far north. Hopefully the scouts haven’t sent word of our location.”

The team followed Mediscus to the Archery Field, warily walking with their eyes open to all possible threats between there and home.

Chapter 5, Shooting Things to Relieve Some Stress

The villagers entered in to the archery field and were greeted by a tall, lengthy man wearing a brown, frog buttoned shirt and green cloak. Everyone sat down and listened as he spoke.

“Hello all,” he said. “I am known as the Black Sheep Archer and I am hear because of my good friend Gios to train each of you in the art of Archery.”

“What are you getting out of this?” asked Gisa Linn.

“I travel from village to village showing off my skills and putting on shows for the townsfolk. I compete and make a living doing these things. In my travels I have seen the War of Scavengers wreaking havoc and causing mass hysteria all over. That’s when I met Gios. He was traveling up to here and told me of his plan to start this small community to fight back. That’s why I am here now. Hard to make a living with shows and competitions when everyone is out there killing each other.”

“As you were friend.” Stated Gios, attempting to get everything back on track. “we are all safe for now and this will be a good time for us all to get some more training in a field that you may or may not have ever used before.”

“Thanks, right Gios. Ok so who’s shot before…” and from there each member of the village got time with a bow and arrow. Gisa Linn and Rowena had both come prepared with their own weapons while others used the ones fashioned by Gios and the Black Sheep.

Time went by and each member’s skills improved. Some went from missing the target completely to hitting it in consistent clusters. While others with past training worked on their distance shots and homing in on their craft.

At the end of the training Eiryin challenged the Archer to a competition, Katarina upped the challenge with a 20 gold reward for the winner. Being a world class archer, The Black Sheep accepted and even moved his target to the end of the range while Eiryin’s was only about 15 paces back.

The who group began to cheer and root on Eiryin. But were astounded at the Black Sheep’s skill. In the end Eiryin came close but was just short of beating the champion. It was fun and the entire village came together forgetting about their troubles for a short while.

They wrapped up their training, only to find Gios had gone. Mediscus relayed the message that Gios had left because a trap was triggered on the outer ridge of the village. He had taken Suca and Batu-y with him to go check out the situation. So the villagers decided to trust Gios’ experience and walked cautiously back towards camp.

Chapter 6, Keeping Busy

After training with the Black Sheep, the villagers sat around the fire talking wondering again about todays trials and dangers. It was a gloomy scene, until JJ came up with the idea of making a village flags. She asked Katarina if she had any supplies and, after purchasing them for a “fair” amount of gold, she brought them over to the group.

Everyone sat down and got crafting. Many different colors were used as each family made a banner for their huts. It kept everyone’s spirits up for a little longer, but when Gios had yet to return, people began to get more and more anxious.

“Let’s go see what’s going on!” proclaimed Arianna. The villagers, feeling a need to do something more productive than an arts and craft project, all agreed and off they went.

Rowena still had one of the keys that Lysander had tried to take earlier. She said “lets go check out that chapel Lysander was guarding.” And they so they did. When they got there, the doors were unlocked and Gios was inside. However, he had been bloodied up and was tied to a chair, locked in a cage. Everyone rushed over to him and asked him what happened.

Just waking up himself, he said, “the two scouts were still in the woods. I was knocked unconscious during the battle. I’m not sure how I got here. Where are Suca and Batu-y? did they make it back to get you at the campsite?”

“We haven’t seen them,” Igmar proclaimed.

“Great. Well does anyone have a key to get me out of this cage?” Gios asked, now regaining some energy.

Rowena used her key on one of the locks, but it only unlocked one of the three key locks and there was still a number lock holding the cage door closed.

Out of nowhere, there was a cackle in the woods. Gios asked the villagers to stay together and see what was going on. He had already freed his restraints from the chair. “Go get those two!” he commanded.

They all looked at one another and nodded in agreement. JJ and Katarina stayed with Gios trying to find another way out.

Chapter 7, A True Test Of Courage

The villagers followed the sounds of evil laughter until they came to a small fire in the heart of the forest. That is where they saw the same Kobalt and Lizardfolk that they had encountered before. Once they were spotted, the scouts hid, hoping to gain an advantage on the villagers and throw off any plan they might have had.

It was no use though, the villagers took their lessons from Lysander and the Archer today and went into battle confident in their skills and with a renewed sense of togetherness. No matter what the scouts threw at them, the villagers were able to counter and eventually subdue them.

After the battle subsided, the Lizardfolk and Kobalt were chained up. The villagers demanded the keys and code to the lock to Gios’ cage. The scouts were not forthcoming with the information, actually pleading that they had no idea what was going on. Then Eiryin noticed three more ancient banners nailed to trees around the fire pit.

Ariana, Jatte and Gisa Linn removed the banners while Ingmar and Rowena held on to the captured scouts. Then the team marched back towards the chapel to attempt to free Gios from the cage inside.

Once back to the chapel, the team once again began to study all of the banners together in order to interpret the ancient text. Flags surrounded the interior of the chapel, with new symbols in the middle with more of the usual text underneath. The same singular symbols were on the back of the three banners found during the battle with the scouts.

Genius struck in Westwood as he blurted out, “I’ve got it!” He had interpreted the banners as they all read “Sphinx of black quartz, judge my vow”

With this new knowledge of the ancient letters, the team was then able to interpret the flags inside of the chapel as numbers. They unlocked the number lock on Gios’ prison but were still one key short of freeing him. It was only at this point that Katarina offered up a key that she had in her possession.

“You mean you had a key this whole time?!?!” scolded Rowena.

“No one asked and I had just purchased it from a wanderer before all this happened. I didn’t think it would even work,” stated Katarina.

“Well does it?” asked Eiryin.

“Who’s willing to pay to find out?”

“Really? Ugh here’s some gold, give me that!” Ingmar dropped the coins on the floor in front of Katarina and took the key out of her hand.

Low and behold, the key worked and Gios was able to step free. As soon as he was, he grabbed both scavenger scouts by their collars, threw them into the cage, locked it, and then walked out of the building.

“Well then,” stated Gisa Linn, as she and the other villagers slowly stood up and followed Gios back to the village.

Chapter 8, A Seat At The Table

Everyone made their way back towards the village and sat down to eat chicken and rice that Sefkush had prepared for them. No one spoke, just ate. Everyone was still on edge after their battle and were all wondering what Gios would do to the two scouts he had locked up.

To no one’s surprise, Katarina was the first to speak. “So, what does everyone think we should do with the beasts we have locked up?”

“That’s enough Kat,” muttered Gios. “We will all come together tonight to discuss this matter. For now, let us enjoy our food and reflect on our day.”

Suddenly a person was seen walking in the distance.

“Who’s that over there?” asked Eiryin

Gios gripped his axe tightly by his chair but then released his hand and stood up. “Hello three stranger, may I ask who are you?”

A wanderer in a brown tunic with a green hood walked up to the group. “Name is Rovert, and I am looking for the village overseen by The Three.“ Katarina slunk down in her chair, seemingly unenthusiastic about this man’s arrival.

“Well you found us, my name is Gios. What can we do for you?”

“Hello Gios, and everyone. I am just looking for a safe place to rest and escape the wrath of the Scavengers. They have completely ravaged my village and I barely escaped with my life.”

“Come and eat then,” stated Mediscus. As Mediscus welcomed him in, the other villagers felt more at ease, as they trusted his judgment and wisdom.

Rovert sat down next to Gios and began telling him his tale. As they conversed, everyone else opened up, enjoyed the food, and let the prisoners escape to the back of their minds.

Chapter 9, A Matter of Life & Death

Abruptly, Gios rose from his seat and began to speak, “I understand that this may be out of the ordinary for most of you. But I’ve seen too many kingdoms and families fall because the members of them weren’t honest with each other. So I intend to interrogate those two prisoners with all of you present.”

Everyone finished their meals and then followed Gios back to the temple to hear out what the scouts had to say.

Gios stood before the members of his small community. “I want there to be no mistaking what has been done or heard. Together we will stand strong and take action. We will not let this break us apart!” Everyone waited in anticipation of what the scouts may reveal about who they are, who they work for, and why they attacked Gios and the other townsfolk.

Unfortunately, They didn’t have much to say. The spoke in multiple broken languages, slurred their words, and made a mockery of the entire ordeal.

Rowena stood up and asked her peers to recall of the day’s happenings. She truly rallied up the troops, and lit a fire in everyone’s bellies. In a matter of moments, the villagers allowed a mob mentality to take over. They now were angrier than ever before and knew that if they weren’t going to get answers then they were going to see blood.

Gios bellowed, “quiet everyone! If these two refuse to give us information now, maybe they will change their tune after going hungry for a few days.”

“That’s not good enough!” multiple people yelled in reply.

“What would you have me do?” asked Gios. The crowd mumbled and murmured to themselves for a few moments. “Rovert, you have seen how angry everyone has become. As someone who was not here when everything went down, given what you now know of us and seeing scavengers invade your own home town, what would you suggest?”

Rovert sat silently for a moment, and then stated, “they can’t tell us anything if they are dead. However, I believe that they both hold the same information as each other. No need to feed and watch out for two of them. Together they may be able to work together, take that away and one of them will break. I would propose a trial by combat, so to speak. Let’s really make them work to live while being forced to kill their partner. May break the winner’s spirit enough for him to give up information we can use to protect ourselves. If scouts are here now, more will be coming.”

A hush fell over the room. Rovert made a sound argument and everyone seemed to agree. Gios asked everyone to take a moment and reflect, “Do we really have it in us to let one of these men die? If so we will have a battle at dusk. Unless one of you would like to share your story to us now.”

The Kobalt and the Lizardfolk looked at each other, nodded and said nothing else.

Gios, “okay show of hands; raise them up if you want to see these two wage in a battle to the death. Winner lives and is our prisoner, to be continually monitored and questioned.”

All voted in favor of the battle except for Mediscus and Westwood who both vowed to keep life sacred over anything else.

Chapter 10, Let Them Fight

The prisoners chains were taken off, the doors of the cell and chapel opened, and they were escorted out to the field, surrounded by each member of the village armed and ready to defend themselves should the scavengers try anything funny.

Gios separated the two scouts and explained how the battle will work. “You both had an opportunity to speak and stop this from happening. Your silence has proven you both to be guilty of havoc and conspiracy against our fine village. This battle ends with one of you dead. Try to escape or attack one of us and you will not like the results.”

With that Gios went over to the Kobalt and handed him a staff.

Katarina walked over and said something to the Lizardfolk. No one knows what she said, but she then walked over and exchanged some gold coins with the Black Sheep.

Gios then handed the Lizardfolk a sword and once again warned him not to try anything stupid.

Just as Gios stepped to the side, the Kobalt went in to attack, flowering his staff and aiming for the Lizardfolk’s head.

The Lizardfolk rolled out of harms way, stood to his feet and landed a kick to the Kobalts chest.

The Kobalt dropped his staff and threw his hands up to catch the blade of the Lizardfolks sword.

The Lizardfolk slammed his sword to the ground and jumped on to the Kobalts back.

The two fell to the ground and scuffled with one another to get back to a vertical base.

The Kobalt got to his feet first, and grabbed the sword lying on the ground. He then charged at the Lizardfolk.

The Lizardfolk ran to get the staff and swung it at the feet of the Kobalt.

The Kobalt evaded the strike and in one fell swoop, stole the staff out of the Lizardfolks hands while throwing him to the ground.

With one final swing of his blade, the Kobalt finished the Lizaerdfolks life.

Gios waked over to examine the body, while Gisa Lynn held the Kobalt still.

Gios stated, “What’s done is done. This takes me back to a darker time in my life at the Southern Temple where battles like this seemed to happen far too often. May this be a sign of peace to come, and serve to help strengthen our bonds together and hopefully we can retrieve some answers from the one left standing. Gisa Lynn, please escort the victor to his holding cell.”

Gios walked back towards the village as Gisa Lynn and Ingmar chained up the Kobalt and locked him back into his cell.

Chapter 11, Is There Time To Rest?

Once back to the main village, everyone gathered around the fire to relax from the day’s ordeals. Mediscus made everyone a round of rejuvenating juice to help heal and calm their nerves.

Suddenly Suca and Batu-y came running back into the village. They were out of breath and looked a little dirty, but other than that seemed healthy.

Gios embraced the two boys and asked them where they had been.

Suca retorts with, “what happened to your face?!?!” Gios just laughed, seeing as he had yet to clean up the blood and wounds from his attack earlier. It was the first time Gios smiled since the trial of the two scavengers.

Gios, “So tell me, where have you been?” Suca and Batu-y looked at each other and nodded.

Suca, “we found Lekki and Morso with Lysander on the outer banks of the woods.”

Batu-y, “after we saw you go down Gios, another trap was triggered and we figured it might be more of those beasts coming to attack. We knew the village could handle those two but wanted to make sure that there wasn’t something greater coming our way.”

Suca, “so we ran off to find out what set off the trap.

Batu-y, “come to find out, it was Lysander, Lekki and Morso. They were mugging another lizardfolk.”

Suca, “Pretty sure if she was a scavenger, but not sure they took her out to save us or anything.”

Batu-y, “as Lysander struck the final blow, that’s when I saw Morso staring us down! She had, like, a crooked smile that made my blood flow cold.”

Suca, “so we had a choice, run or fight.”

Batu-y, “we grabbed our swords and stood ready to go.”

Suca, “Lysander marched towards us saying ‘come to join me, or fight?’ to which I asked for a third option”

Batu-y, “safe to say that wasn’t the answer he was looking for.”

Suca, “that’s when he charged me!”

Batu-y, “meanwhile I saw Princess Lekki and Morso standing off to the side. I just knew they were up to something. So I left Suca to fight Lysander and ran over towards Lekki and Morso.”

Suca, “yea great plan Batu-y. Leave me alone with the man that taught both of us how to swing a sword; I’ll be fine.”

Batu-y, “well you’re alive right now aren’t you?!?!”

Gios, “Boys! Quit fighting. Batu-y, get off his back! What else happened out there?”

Suca, “right, sorry. As I was saying, I was stuck fending for my life while Lysander is trying to kill me, but then all of a sudden, I get a chance to strike. I swing and somehow end up hitting this gold belt he had around his waist. It came off and all of a sudden he stopped attacking. He and I just both stopped and looked at the belt, just lying on the ground.”

Batu-y, “the belt had gone flying and landed right next to me. So naturally I picked it up and started yelling to Lekki, ‘what the heck is this thing!’ she just laughed and then Morso began chanting something under her breath.”

Suca, “that’s when you decided to put the stupid thing on around your own waist.”

Batu-y, “well I didn’t want to lose it. It looked cool and was probably valuable!”

Suca just stood there, shaking his head to Batu-y’s last comment.

Batu-y, “ to be fair, I do not remember that. But then again that is where my memories from the day end until we started walking into the village.”

Suca, “next thing I notice, Lysander goes and walks away south-east while the two ladies laugh and start walking south-west. I found it funny that they were going different directions. But then out of nowhere, Batu-y over here starts swinging his sword at me. His eyes got all intense and I could tell something was wrong with his head.”

Gios, “Batu-y, are you ok now?”

Batu-y, “yeah yeah I’m ok now. Apparently we fought for a good bit.”

Suca, “a good bit? You were trying to kill me, and I was just trying not to hurt you. I was not having a good time, do not laugh this off.”

Batu-y, “well eventually he knocked me out, and when I woke up Suca was there next to me, just sitting and waiting for me I guess.”

Suca, “my goal was to get that belt off of him. Must have been enchanted or something to control Batu-y’s and I’m guessing Lysander’s minds. Anyway, after I got the belt off of his limb body, I tried looking around for Lysander or Lekki & Morso, but couldn’t find them. So after that I went back to watch over Batu-y until he stirred himself awake.”

Batu-y, “and now we’re back here. That was our day. What did we miss here?”

Gios, “let’s go get some rest by the fire and I’ll tell you all about it.”

Chapter 12: Katarina’s Embellishment

Once back around the fire, Gios filled in the boys about the day’s events on his end. While that was going on, Gisa Linn asked Katarina, “so where did you get all of those intricate items for your shop?”

Katarina chuckled, “I come from a family of merchants. My nephew, Bratva, currently travels and trades for me.”

Ingmar chimed in, “wait; isn’t that the nephew you were telling me about that got punched in the face for stealing a horse?”

Katarina replied, “Bratva wasn’t stealing anything! The stable owner mistook him for a thief and took out some unnecessary aggression on him. It was totally unwarranted!”

Ingmar, “but I thought you said…”

Katarina cut her off, “Bratva is a skilled trader and has gone through so much to get these wonderful items for our village. Let me explain.”

By this point in the evening, everyone began to fixate on Katarina’s story. A few members of the community had briefly met Bratva, and knew Katarina had a soft spot for him and his mischief.

Katarina continued, “so after Bratva explained that he was a merchant and was interested in procuring a horse he then took a trip to see the ocean.

Batu-y chuckled, “yea after the concussion wore off.”

Katarina glared at Batu-y, “he wasn’t knocked out, he just took a nap at sunset and woke up the next day. After that he met with a local trader and purchased a lovely leather handbag. He got it for an excellent price from an old Umanea Warrior.”

Suca: “great price, also known as a five finger discount.”

Katarina scoffed, “Bratva is an honest man and great negotiator.”

Batu-y laughed, “what does he negotiate with? Trading hit points for merchandise?”

Katarina, “ok, yea, sure he’s gotten in over his head once or twice. But he’s maturing and has become a vital part of my trade. Bratva is continuing to push the envelope, reinvent himself, and always gets the job done, no matter what is asked of him.”

Suca leans over to Batu-y and asks, “how many near death experiences has Bratva gone through for Katarina?”

Batu-y responds, “I think he’s lost count at this point. The real question is: how many people still want to kill him?”

Suca commented, “I bet that Parbuadian Soldier still wants a piece of Bratva after he stole weapons off of him.”

As the two brothers laughed together, Katarina chimed back in, “He didn’t steal anything. Ugh. He simply exploited the situation like I’ve taught him to. See the lazy soldier was supposed to be on guard, but instead thought it would be best to catch up on his sleep. Bratva woke him up and demanded a fair trade with him or else news of all this would make its way back to King Damien of Parbuadia. Bratva was quite slick, however, the soldier was less than pleased. But he still took the trade and Bratva walked away with a new helmet and sword.”

Batu-y chimed in saying, “walked away with, ran for his life, same thing!”

Suca added, “It’s a good thing he’s a fast runner because he’s a bit clumsy and his sword work needs some improvement.”

Katarina jumps back into the conversation, “Bratva can more than handle himself with a sword in his hands.”

Batu-y added in, “yea I heard he sticks to the pirate code...”

Suca blurted out, “we run away!”

Batu-y pondered, “its amazing how often Bratva got into trouble like this. And even more amazing that he doesn’t get caught as often as he should.”

Katarina, “that’s because there is nothing for him to ‘get caught’ doing. He goes out and trades, why can’t you two get that through your thick skulls? You boys are just jealous of his quick wit and skills in trading! Why, even after his encounter went sour with the Parbuadian soldier, Bratva was still able to bring in one last haul before he shipped everything up here to me.”

Batu-y, “are you talking about the merchant that Bratva stole from outside of TamTuala?”

Katarina, “why do you insist on making my nephew out to be a crook and a thief?”

Suca, “well if the stolen shoe fits?

Katarina sighed, “Bratva just caught the shop keeper by surprise. He simply startled him, but that did put Bratva in a better position to trade in his own favor. You see boys, when your mind wanders to other thoughts besides being a shopkeeper you make bad business decisions. Bratva knows that and takes every advantage he can to procure exotic items for the best price. Believe me boys, he knows exactly what he’s doing, most of the time anyway.”

Suca, “I guess he has his moments."

Batu-y, “yea, but that list of people that want to punch him in the face keeps growing."

Katarina, “seller’s remorse will do that to a person. People just love to hate people who outwit and outsmart them.”

Gios waked over to where Katarina, Suca and Batu-y were sitting and said, “I’m not sure if you all realize this but while you three were, let’s say, discussing Kat’s nephew, the entire village has gone to bed. How about we wrap this up and get some sleep.”