Chronicles of Samaaria or the Tale of the Three Andrews Chapter 5


Well here is chapter 5 of the story I was asked to post. I haven’t edited it any, so this is how it is saved in my document. Enjoy. 🙂

 

It had been twenty-five long years since Andrew II had been born. In that time, Tarksee had died during another expedition to Samaaria, and his son had taken over ruling. Seania had collapsed under the heavy loss of its leader and its fine ships were lost to the world. Ever since her husband had died, Jamima had banned the word Samaaria to be spoken throughout Claydad. Tarksee’s son, whose name happened to be Lanathanial, did not believe the stories of Samaaria. So, when Andrew visited him, he did not hear of Samaaria either.

One day however, Andrew, Arie and Cespus, Andrew’s best friend, were visiting Lanathanial in his royal court.

Lanathanial was a fat man and sat plopped in his chair lazily as if he was a doll put there by some giant child who had grown tired of him and did not wish to play with him anymore.

“So, Andrew,” Lanathanial said after the four of them had chatted idly over numerous subjects. “Have you ever heard of the lost Kingdom of Samaaria?” Without waiting for an answer, Lanathanial continued. “I don’t believe in it. What about you?”

The three visitors looked at each other in bewilderment. “I have never heard of such a thing.” Andrew replied and though the four started on a different topic, the name stuck to Andrew’s mind. When the three friends finally left, Andrew walked ahead, while Cespus walked with Arie, whom he had developed a particular liking for.

Inside the castle’s citadel, Andrew determinedly walked to his mother’s bedchamber and knocked. “Come in,” a faint voice said, and Andrew entered.

“Mother,” Andrew said looking at her in distress. “I have just learned of something which nobody ever bothered to tell me and I have been very roused by it.”

Jamima gasped. Has he found out?

“Today as I was talking to Lanathanial, he revealed to me that there is a lost Kingdom called Samaaria. On the way back I pieced together certain events which have occurred and that I have learnt off.

“What I have finally come upon is that I think, father tried to find Samaaria but got killed doing so. I remember you got very restless when I asked you one day how father died. So after he got killed, you banned the word Samaaria to be spoken so that I wouldn’t know about it and wouldn’t try to go there.

“Another time, while searching for something in the cellar of the armory, I came across a few thick books. I thought naught of it that time but now, coming to think of it, one of them had the words ‘Chronicles of Samaaria’ printed on it in bright gold letters which were slightly dulled from age.

“Why haven’t I been told of this? You know I would listen to you if you bid me stay. But now, that I found out after not having been told for twenty-five years, I feel the spirit of adventure pushing me to go there and complete the mission my poor father died trying to do.”

Jamima sighed, “Yes, son,” she said. “You are right. It seems that the John the owner of the armory, whom I told to destroy the Chronicles of Samaaria, hid it carefully in the cellar of his armory.

“As for what you guessed, I have to tell you that you are correct. And, finally, if you want to leave, I will leave that up to you. You are old enough to rule Claydad and make your own choices, so you can decide for yourself. If you come upon the decision to go, I will have a new suit of armor and a fresh sword prepared for you. Also, take my advice, read the Chronicles of Samaaria before you leave.”

“I am not sure that I will go.” Andrew replied simply. But, when he left, he walked straight to where Cespus and Arie where sitting and pulled Cespus away. He told Cespus all that his mother had revealed to him and both of them snuck into the cellar of the armory and found that there were at least six books, each with one thousand and fifty pages, more or less.

“It’s going to take us years to read all this.” Cespus groaned.

“That’s why we won’t.” Andrew replied. “I want to get on this journey as fast as possible, so we will each take one of these to read on our way.

“I’m going to study the maps to plan the route which we will take. You help me tell John to make us two new suits of mail and two new swords.”

Cespus ran up the stairs with one of the books and Andrew called after him. “Don’t tell Arie or anybody else!”

Cespus didn’t reply but Andrew was sure he had heard. Putting one of the heavy books under his arm, Andrew ascended the stairs and walked to where all the maps where kept. Laying a map out flat on a table, Andrew took up a quill and drew an ‘X’ on where Samaaria supposedly was.

“The records say father was planning to go through Medisia and that he got caught in a terrible draught.” Andrew mused aloud.

“What if I go through Bandit Canyon and turn off at the end of Bandit Pass? Then I could cut through Charnia and go through the thinnest part of the Forest of Dangers, and I would skirt the place where father met that terrible draught.

“The only problem is I would meet with Glass Mountain Garrison. That would spoil the secrecy. Unless… Unless we disguised ourselves.” This ended his soliloquy, and he turned to leave. Had he not had his head stuck in the sky, he would have noticed a dark figure retreat before he opened the door. By night Andrew had their route planned and had packed his belongings. He had told Cespus to do so too.

In the morning, John had their new things ready. Cespus was all out to go but Andrew insisted they wait another day…

Suddenly, Andrew woke up covered with beads of perspiration. He had dreamt that on their journey, they had been followed. Suddenly, the three of them, including Arie, where walking along.

Strange faces had appeared throughout his mind. Suddenly, they were walking in a field. Then when they came out of it one of them was covered in sores. Then suddenly, they appeared in some swamps and enormous creatures leaped out from the ground!

The worse part was when they were laying down in this grove where there were some tall strange plants with smooth stalks extending five feet and more. At the top of it was two big wide leaves fringed by green colored thorns. While they were asleep, he had dreamt that they came alive and gobbled them up. He was inside one when he woke up.

After considering if the dream had a real meaning, he dismissed it as a nightmare and quickly pulled on proper clothing. Then he put on his mail, making a slight chinking sound as he did so. Quickly, he pulled a hunter’s jacket and pants on over his armor. Then he swung on his pack, girthed his sword and ran to Cespus’s room, not noticing the shadowy figure that ran lightly behind him.

Knocking softly on the door, Andrew was quickly answered by Cespus who came out dressed similarly. As they passed the dining hall, Andrew left a note on it for his mother and ran out the door behind Cespus.

The two fleet footed figures ran silently across the stone cobblestones. At the gate they were hailed by the guard on the wall who demanded their business so early in the morning. “We are two hunters who came in this morning.” Andrew called out, trying hard to make his voice coarse and rough. “We are heading for the Forest of Dangers and wanted to get an early start.”

“You better be careful.” The guard warned. “It’s very dangerous out there. By the way, what did you say your name was?”

Andrew was taken aback. He had not expected to be asked this question. “Um… Well, my name is Daniel. People call me Dan of the Forest. My partner here is called– Spark.” Cespus glared at Andrew in the darkness while Andrew just smiled mischievously back.

“I don’t remember hearing of those names when you entered.”

“You’re the night watch aren’t you?” Andrew asked confidently.

“Well, yes.” The soldier said doubtfully still not understanding Andrew’s real meaning in asking this question.

“Well, then, the day watch must have seen us come in as we came early this morning. So you wouldn’t have heard our names.” Andrew finished triumphantly.

“Okay, let them through.” The guard ordered peering at the two figures carefully. The gate was pulled up and the two figures ran out into the dark road.

“Why did you have to choose such a stupid name for me?” Cespus hissed his entire face frowning, Andrew could just imagine the knives flying from his friend’s eyes.

“Sorry, I just couldn’t think of anything else.” Andrew replied grinning jocosely. “Anyhow, we cut off the road here. We don’t want to make too many curious friends.” The two young men walked off the road and started walking in the undergrowth.

As the sun rose, more and more people came streaming out of the city gates. The road that Andrew and Cespus were walking beside led to a small village.

“We go around this village.” Andrew whispered to Cespus. “Then we’ll come around the back of it and walk about five miles north. Finally, we’ll camp at the mouth of Bandit Canyon.”

“We’ll camp in such an open spot?” Cespus hissed sharply. “Or are you going to leave me in the middle of the night and hide somewhere so I get a big fright?” Cespus asked, still mean spirited and suspicious.

“No, I wasn’t.” Andrew grinned shamefacedly back at Cespus. “I just wanted to camp where my father camped. Listen Cespus, you have to forgive me. I really couldn’t think of anything else. If we don’t trust each other, we’ll never get to the end of this journey.”

“Okay, okay, I trust you.” Cespus admitted. “I just wanted to carry your joke on giving me that stupid name a little further.”

Andrew punched Cespus’s shoulder playfully and Cespus punched him back. “But wait,” Cespus said thoughtfully gazing up into the blue sky. “I sure would like one good hot meal and a place to rest these sore feet of mine.”

“Well, then,” Andrew said decidedly striking of in the direction where there was some red earth. “We will go into the village.”

“But are you sure?” Cespus questioned doubtfully. “That princely face of yours is well known – Hey! What are you doing?” Cespus asked Andrew who by now had tousled his hair and was busy rubbing red earth in his face and hands. When he came up, Cespus barely recognized him.

“Well on my word,” Cespus breathed in amazement. “You look every inch like a sunburned hunter who has just come back from a hunt. In fact, if I wasn’t disguised myself, I would be afraid to journey with such a dubious looking character.”

Andrew sprinted lightly up towards the road and Cespus followed. They soon arrived on it and surprised a peasant driving a mule cart. He leaped back while his cart ran into a ditch. He glared at the two strangers angrily as they walked along towards the village.

“Let’s try that restaurant yonder.” Cespus said trying to make his voice sound gruff and unpolished. Andrew nodded and they entered a small restaurant by the name of Gabe’s Deer Shanks.

Inside they were met by a wiry old man whose small black eyes flicked up and down as he scrutinized them carefully.

“I’d say you be outland hunters.” He said as his eyes flicked towards their swords. “Pardon me for saying, but you two don’t look very wholesome to me. I hope you ain’t here to cause troble.

“Ah,” he said his eyes resting on Cespus’s face. “Here’s a noble one. Give me your word you won’t cause troble and I’ll give yer and your friend a place to rest ‘em weary feet and some nice hot piping stew. How ’bout that?”

“That would suit us fine.” Cespus replied, trying to make his voice sound grave.

When they sat down, Andrew said indignantly to Cespus. “That old man better watch what he says. Unwholesome indeed!”

Just then the old man returned with their stew.

“By the way,” he said striking up a little conversation. “I’m Gilburd.”

“I thought your shop’s name is Gabe’s Deer Shanks.” Andrew said almost choking on his soup.

“Gabe was my grandaddy’s name. The store’s been passed down all the way to me.”

At that same moment, Gilburd was drawn into the kitchen by the sound of stew boiling over. When he returned, Andrew and Cespus where gone. For payment, Andrew had left one gold coin, which was worth many more small meals like that.

The two soon reached the edge of the village and turned from their westward direction too a northward direction. Suddenly Cespus whirled about. “What?” Andrew hissed.

“I heard footsteps– Light, shadowy ones.” Cespus replied.

“No peasant would be this far from the village.” Andrew said and the two men looked at each other with meaning in their eyes. Somebody was tailing them!

******End of Chapter 5******

Hope you enjoyed! 🙂

~Michael Hollingworth
Disce Ferenda Pati – Learn to endure what must be borne

 

Chronicles of Samaaria, or the tale of the three andrews: Chapter 4


Sorry this one is late, but I’ve been really really busy. 😦

“Come on,” Andrew urged his horse by lightly touching it’s side with his spur. His horse, used to the rolling plains and running brooks of Claydad was suffering terribly from the lack of water. In fact, everybody was. The scorching sun that day had dried up all the waterholes they had come upon.

Suddenly, the long awaited cry rang out. “Water! Water! We have found water!”

“Did you here that boy?” Andrew whispered into his horse’s ear through parched lips. “Water!” He said excitedly as blood broke out from his cracked lips and flowed down his chin. He wiped it away impatiently and, as if on impulse, his horse sped up.

“You understood didn’t you boy?” Andrew shouted, sitting up straight so as to feel the glorious feeling of the wind on his cheeks. “Water!”

Soon they arrived at the bank of an enormous lake. Andrew abandoned all dignity and tumbled off his horse and into the water, letting it cool his face. He gulped the fresh spring water eagerly.

Then, forgetting he was a King, Andrew leaped into the water. He splashed his horse who leaped back in shock and looked at him out of questioning brown eyes.

Laughing, Andrew walked out of the lake a little shamefacedly at his excitement over the water. But looking along the bank of the lake, he saw there was no need for his shame, as everybody else was soaking each other with the cool, refreshing, lake water. Finally, Andrew turned and filed his leather bottle. The others did so and soon they were ready to continue.

Word came to Andrew that a messenger had arrived with a message for him from his wife. Fearing the worse, Andrew hurried to the messenger and demanded the message he brought. “What is it?” Andrew asked. “Is my wife well?”

“Well?” The messenger asked curiously. “Of course she’s well. But what I came to tell you is.” The messenger said pausing so as to excite Andrew’s curiosity.

“Well, what is it?” Andrew demanded.

“Your wife has had child!” The messenger announced loudly and proudly. “Twins! A boy and a girl. She named the boy Andrew after you and the girl Arie after her mother. Isn’t this wonderful?”

“Yes!” Andrew shouted punching the air. For the second time, Andrew forgot the fact that he was a King and fairly danced around the messenger.

When he finally stopped, he panted. “Tell my wife that’s wonderful. That she chose excellent names. Tell her also that I’m doing fine and I’m almost there. I just have to go – ”

“Thank you.” Andrew called after the departing messenger, who, not having enough memory space, had leaped on his horse and rode away into the distance.

The party was ordered into formation and they continued their march. They marched for a few hours then suddenly the whole column came to a halt. Andrew, who was in the lead, was the one who had called the halt.

He had seen bushes at the side of the road move, and fearing the worst, had called a halt. Then, without warning, three lines of Charnians leaped out from the dense and closely packed undergrowth.

Without giving Andrew time to wonder what Charnians were doing in Medisian territory, more leaped out from the rear and sides so that the entire army was surrounded.

Each Charnian was grinning wickedly. Chains swung from their bare, bony arms and their skin was shriveled like that of a prune. Their hair was matted and pure white giving them the impression of old men. Their eyes were sunken in and their teeth yellow and cracked. They were bare footed and through holes in their baggy clothing, mail could be seen. Each one was four feet tall and young and old differed none.

“An ambush!” Kolan cried in dismay. There were at least two times as many Charnians as the men in Andrew’s party, and these little men were way more skilled in arms than the bandits that they had encountered.

One of them, apparently the leader, uttered one single word filled with hatred. “Die!”

Jamima peered out of the window pushing aside the velvet drape a little for that purpose. She sighed deeply. It had been a month since Andrew had left, and there was still no word of him. The messenger had come back weeks ago with Andrew’s message, but that was so long ago.

Letting the curtain fall back into place, Jamima turned away. She brushed away the unexpected tears that welled up in her eyes. She had been praying hard, no doubt about that, but sometimes, God seemed so far away. Suddenly, there was a loud knock on the door. “Come in.” Jamima said softly.

“Pardon me if I interrupted your thoughts milady.” Sahreel, Jamima’s handmaiden apologized. “It’s just that you haven’t been eating well ever since Master Andrew left. I know you said you miss him but that isn’t reason enough to neglect your health. At least I think so. So anyhow, I prepared a little dish for you. The apples are ripe and juicy so I took three of the best ones for you. I cut them up into bite-size pieces. Please do eat something.”

Jamima smiled shamefacedly. Her handmaiden was right. It was not reason enough to neglect her health just because she missed Andrew.

“I guess you’re right.” Jamima said. “I’ll have something to eat. But my experience with you tells me that is not the only thing on your mind.”

“I just wanted to add that I put Andrew to sleep but Arie wouldn’t go to bed. I think she is hungry. Sorry about it milady but I think you will have to feed her.” Sahreel replied as she brought the apples in. “There.” She said placing them on a table. “You can eat them whenever you like, just so long as you eat them.”

“I think I’ll feed Arie first. Then I will eat my apples.” Sahreel was about to protest but Jamima silenced her with a look that clearly said. ‘No exceptions!’ Jamima got up and went to feed Arie. Once Arie fell asleep, Jamima went back into her room.

However, she didn’t eat her apples as she had told Sahreel she would. For, just as she settled down, a guard from the castle wall came rushing into her room through the open door.

“I beg your pardon milady.” He panted looking up earnestly at Jamima from a bow. Jamima nodded and he continued. “But Lady Jamima, three men have returned from the expedition and are at the gate!” Jamima, hearing this got up and walked to the window where she could clearly see three men talking earnestly to the guard.

“I’ll go.” Jamima said decidedly as she rushed down flight after flight of stairs, her long dress trailing behind her. At the gate, she found much to her surprise that Andrew was not there, for he had told her personally before he left that he would return if the trip was successful. Only Tarksee, Kolan and a soldier stood there.

“Where’s Andrew and Peter?” Jamima demanded. “What has happened to them? Are they okay? Did you reach Samaaria? Is the news good or bad?”

Tarksee could only shake his head sadly. It would be hard to break the news to this distraught woman. “We were ambushed by Charnians. Peter was strangled by one.

“I hope you will be proud of your husband Jamima, for he died a man of honor. If not for him, I would not stand here. A Charnian had broken my sword in half and wrenched my longbow away from me.”

Tarksee paused to see how Jamima was taking it. Her eyes welled up with tears and she was very white.

“I had no time to draw my whip, but Andrew helped me kill the Charnian from behind.

“One of them then struck Andrew’s back with his chain using the full force of his arm. The metal tore Andrew’s back open and after another successive blow, Andrew fell to the ground dead.

“I’m very sorry Lady Jamima, but that’s how matters turned out.”

Jamima sank to her knees and just wept. How she regretted the day she had let Andrew go.

******End of Chapter 4******

Hope you enjoyed! 🙂

~Michael Hollingworth
Disce Ferenda Pati – Learn to endure what must be borne

Chronicles of Samaaria, or the Tale of the Three Andrews: Chapter 3


Second chapter of the book I was asked to post. Chapter 1 is going down next week, so read it if you haven’t!

Ding! Clong! Clash! Bang! The sound of five hundred soldiers packing was definitely not silent. In fact, it could be said to be deafening. The five hundred soldiers consisted of three hundred Crackernians, one hundred Seanians and one hundred Claydadanians.

Andrew was busy himself. He had wanted to pack his things by himself as, he said: ‘Whenever those unreliable soldiers pack my things, one thing or another is always missing.’

He strapped a helmet to his saddle and wrapped his sword up in his cloak before attaching it to his horse. Then he added some food and utensils.

A Crackernian soldier came up and stood there watching Andrew pack. His eyes traveled over all the things Andrew had strapped to his horse. Already the horse was sweating under the scorching noonday sun.

The soldier looked disgusted and he spoke out in a loud voice saying, “You bring much too many things.” Andrew gave a puzzled look in the soldier’s direction. The soldier had spoken in Gillish, which was the national langue of Crackernia. Though Andrew recognized the language, understanding it was another matter. He had not spoken Gillish ever since he finished his schooling and had forgotten most of it. Andrew puzzled over the words in his head then looking appealingly at Kolan who had just come up.

“Please do not feel offended,” Kolan began in Darese which was mainly used in Claydad. “But he said you bring too many things.”

“Well, what did he bring?” Andrew asked sharply. “I need these things to live. I would be insane to bring less.”

Kolan translated what Andrew had said, omitting Andrew’s tone of voice. The soldier then gladly led Andrew to a quiet intersection in the road where there was naught but a little bundle. Andrew looked around for a horse but saw none.

Kolan had not followed them so the soldier lifted the bundle on his back to demonstrate. Andrew nodded assent and the soldier pointed to it and put his hands together and rested his head on them. Then he pointed to it again and pretended to put food into his mouth. Andrew nodded again and the soldier walked off to attend to some other business.

As Andrew made his way back, he thought of what he had just seen. The man had wrapped his food up in the cloak he used to sleep on and that was his bundle. His weapons were a light coat of mail, a short sword sheathed on his left, a quiver of arrows on his right, a knife tucked in his belt, a bullwhip was attached to his belt as well and that completed his outfit!

Suddenly, Andrew came to the realization that all the Crackernians, including Tarksee, were armed like this. They moved about swiftly and easily while here was he, Peter, and their people, strapped in burning armor plates and moving about stiffly. No wonder the people of Crackernia were so successful.

Suddenly all was silent. Then as one, the men all mounted their horses or shouldered their packs. Then they were off! Off to the lost Kingdom of Samaaria!

Andrew rode up beside Tarksee and the fell into idle conversation. Tarksee was talking about his need for horses and Andrew was given the uncomfortable impression that Tarksee was begging him for some of Claydad’s fine stallions. When Tarksee paused for awhile, Andrew asked. “Can you teach me Gillish?” Tarksee nodded assent and the rest of the day was spent riding, walking, and learning Gillish.

At night, a tent was set up and in it, Tarksee, Kolan, Peter and Andrew housed a military conference Tarksee had called.

Tarksee spread a large map before them and planted his finger on a spot in it. “This is where we are.” He said. “At the mouth of Bandit Canyon.” Moving his finger along the map he continued. “Then we’ll come to Bandit Pass. After that, we will pass through these deserted lands here. Then, we’ll have to fight our way through Medisia. The forest of dangers is our last obstacle. Then we’re in Samaaria.”

“Why does Bandit Canyon and Bandit Pass both have the word ‘bandit’ in them?” Andrew asked, even though in his heart, he knew the answer.

“Because,” Peter said slowly stroking his beard. “Travelers going through it are attacked by the bandits. Nobody knows how many there are, but I doubt they’ll attack such a big party. Will they?” Peter asked.

“Over the years, the bandits have built up strength and confidence.” Kolan replied. “We may be a big party. But doubtlessly they have more men than us. It will take caution and clever planning to pass through Bandit Canyon. I hear their leader is very clever in military tactics.”

“I have a strategy,” Tarksee put in. “I’m not sure it’s a good one but I figure it’s worth a try. The Seanians with the horses, will be on the inside with several Crackernian archers who will only use their longbows. The rest of the soldiers form a sort of ring around them. They should double it to make harder to penetrate.” The others all agreed and they went to bed satisfied.

The next morning, the plan was set into motion. The Seanians were a little put out at having to go in the middle, where there was less action, but they obeyed commands. The soldiers unexpectedly managed to triple the ring, which made their formation even stronger.

However, Tarksee had missed out a vital disadvantage. In Bandit Canyon, the walls of rock towered fifty feet above the ground. The longbow men in the middle, despite their renowned shooting, could hardly get a fair shot at the enemies archers above, who were definitely going to rain storm after storm of arrows on them.

Worse yet, the bows might not be powerful enough to carry their projectiles up, and their own arrows might come speeding back down, killing some of their own men. The soldiers grew very restless at hearing the news of these enormous odds they faced.

The four leaders then decided to hold another council in which they finally decided that one hundred Crackernians and twenty-five Claydadanians would climb up one side of the canyon. Another party of equal number would climb up the other side. The remaining army would rush into the canyon after the army on top had defeated the archers above who, not expecting an attack, would most likely be defeated without much trouble. Then the archers above, having defeated the enemy archers, would give the army fighting below reinforcements by firing down with their bows.

The soldiers were very much relieved after hearing this plan and quickly got to work. It had been decided that Tarksee would lead one part, Kolan the other. It was amazing to see the soldiers ascend what looked like a smooth wall of rock. Now and then, warnings were shouted out as loose shale tumbled down.

Upon the walls of rock, a bustle of confusion was heard. The clanging of metal against metal and the death cries of men came raining down. Dust rose up from the tops of the walls as the battle continued, and, now and then, a body or arrow would come falling down. Suddenly, all was silent and Peter and Andrew commanded the army to charge into the canyon. They were met by an army of bandits two times their size. But Andrew, confident of the archers above, continued to press forward.

A fierce onslaught ensued, each soldier battling for his life. Bandits fell thick and heavy while the solders, covered in metal, only were taken down now and then. Suddenly, a hail of two hundred arrows came raining down, and one hundred and fifty bandits fell, some with several arrows protruding from their corpses.

Andrew, assured now that his reinforcements were ready, charged in, and swung his sword with even more vigor. Andrew soon found himself caught in the middle of the enemy ranks, while Peter was careful to stay at the edge of the enemy ranks.

Andrew now faced an enormous bandit; about two times his size. The bandit raised his wooden bludgeon and struck at Andrew. Andrew quickly parried the blow with his claymore.

Before Andrew could return the blow, the bludgeon came whistling down again. This time, the tip of the bludgeon struck Andrew’s sword near the wrist so that he felt like his wrist was broken in two.

He opened his hand reflexively, and his sword clattered to the floor. The bandit gave an evil laugh and raised his hand for a final deadly strike. Just then, an arrow came whistling down and as it pierced the bandit’s side, Andrew saw him grimace in pain. He fell heavily upon the floor and Andrew quickly retrieved his sword. Looking up to see who had saved him, Andrew saw Tarksee wave down at him.

Raising is sword into the air, Andrew shouted out in a strong clear voice. “Charge! Let’s push them out of the canyon. Charge!” Andrew urged his army along as he would urge his horse, and when they finally subdued the number of bandits to about one hundred, the bandits retreated quickly, leaving Andrew and his army victorious.

As Peter called the army together to count them, he whispered to Andrew. “I never knew bandits could put up such a big fight.”

Altogether, after the counting had been done, they found twenty Seanians were dead and two wounded. Nine Claydadanians were killed also, reducing their number to four hundred and seventy-one. They held a vote to see if they should wait for reinforcements or not. The vote turned out four hundred and thirty-seven to continue, and to fifty-five to stay. Obviously the soldiers were in good spirits.

They set camp for the night, and posted guards, in case the bandit decided to make a sneak attack in the night. But in the morning, it appeared that the bandits thought it wiser to stay away from them, as they found the night uneventful. So, though not so spry as the first time, but still with energy, the men packed their belongings and were on their way again.

On the road, Andrew thought he saw bandits skulking around in the underbrush but he said naught of them. Doubtlessly they would reveal themselves soon enough.

Suddenly, a hail of thirty arrows flew out from the underbrush and rained upon their party. Ten Crackernians fell of their horses stone dead, each with three arrows stuck in him. There was absolutely no doubt the bandits believed the legend that it took three arrows to kill one Crackernian.

The big army made quick work of the threescore and ten army of bandits, with the loss of nine more of their men; which was quite heavy, considering their loss from the other battle. Andrew’s party had shrunken down to four hundred and fifty-two, it being two hundred and eighty-seven Crackernians, eighty-five Claydadanians, and eighty Seanians. They held votes again but it was eventually decided that they would continue.

But they faced a greater threat. The noonday sun was scorching hot, and the men began taking of their armor; piece by piece.

“Put your mail back on!” Tarksee ordered, his face covered with beads of perspiration. He had his chainmail still on and was evidently struggling with the heat.

The Seanians, used to the cold water of the sea, started falling to the ground, each burning with a terrible fever. Each surviving man was now carrying his armor; refusing to put it back on, no matter how the leaders urged them or shouted at them.

Now and then, a man would collapse to the ground, utterly exhausted, and burning with a high fever. When night finally came, it was no relief to those who had been taken by the day’s burning sun. In its bitter coldness, each man who was had been burning with fever, was freezing to death.

No matter how many blankets were wrapped around them, they still cried out, their pitiful voices embroidered with pain and suffering. The surviving men did their best to keep the sick warm, but in the morning, ever single sick man was dead.

Some of them who were not sick had also died that terrible night. In the morning, they counted the men in their unfortunate expedition only to find that every single Seanian except for Peter, who, used to both sides, hot and cold, had died. There was forty-seven Claydadanians and two hundred and seven Crackernians left.

They rested the next day. Not because they wanted to, but because they had too. The men could not keep up with the fast pace of their leaders, so they had become very tired. The day after that, they gathered the dead and buried them in an enormous hole; dug in the sand by hand and by sword. After completing that, they hid the weapons in some undergrowth. Finally, they gathered up their belongings, not knowing that this perilous journey would end soon.

******End of Chapter 3******

Hope you enjoyed! 🙂

~Michael Hollingworth
Disce Ferenda Pati – Learn to endure what must be borne

Chronicles of Samaaria, or the Tale of the Three Andrews: Chapter 2


Second chapter of the book I was asked to post.

When Peter arrived in the stables, he found Andrew mounting his horse. Andrew wore an open faced helmet, a light mail suit and an ankle length cape that covered his left shoulder. He also wore leathern riding boots laced up to the knee in Claydad fashion. His sword swung by his side and a pair of mail gauntlets were tucked into his belt next to his money pouch. It was clear at one glance that Andrew didn’t trust the Crackernians.

As Andrew passed Peter, he raised his hand in brief salute, then rode out of the royal stables on his precious horse. He rode for a long time on the dusty sand roads and, by the time he arrived at the Crackernian’s capital and main fortress, Shagadag, he and his horse were covered in dust and barely recognizable. Perhaps that was why the gatekeeper let him in without question.

The people of Claydad and the people of Crackernia used to be very good friends. Until the day that the King of Crackernia and the King of Claydad courted the same woman: Jamima. But Jamima had chosen Andrew, naturally preferring him as he was the more handsome of the two and not as old. This made Tarksee, King of Crackernia forever angry against Andrew.

The feud did not end there. Several times, the Crackernians allied with the Claydadanians only to desert them when the battle began to get tough. Tarksee did this as a form of vengeance, and his soldiers, thinking it a big joke, never questioned him. This made Andrew hate Crackernia. That was why he was so reluctant to trust them.

But, Crackernia was a very powerful country. It contained over two hundred thousand able-bodied soldiers. Each one was master of the longbow, hitting the bullseye at four hundred paces every single time they shot. They also were masters of the eighteen-foot bullwhip and the short sword.

However, Crackernia did have one serious problem. It, like the Strangenians, had hardly any horses, and the few light knights they had could hardly even stay on the horse. Still, this represented little trouble in battle except when in pursuit of the enemies’ mounted units. So, as on can clearly see, this was the very reason why Peter wanted Andrew to work with Tarksee, despite the old feud.

After brushing himself off and washing his smooth face in a bucket of cool water from the castle well, Andrew walked towards a few soldiers and asked them where he might find the King.

“Hey aren’t you Andrew, King of the Claydadanians and the guy who had an argument with our King?” A soldier asked rudely, spitting at the ground upon which Andrew stood.

Andrew instantly drew his sword and placed the point at the soldier’s neck. The soldier retreated hastily, but more drew their own weapons or fiddled with their bows, and though Andrew’s pride burned to be accosted so rudely, he sheathed his sword. For here, the rules of his country did not apply and if he killed any of the soldiers, he would have done so against the law. So he replied as coolly as he could manage, “That is what they call me. And may I see the King? It’s on some very important business. I want to make an alliance with your country.”

The soldiers gave him a look that burned the words that they did not say right into his chest. Then they whispered with each other for a while, and a hysterical laugh burst from a few of them.

Finally, they broke up their little ring and one of them, apparently a Captain, said, “You will have to give us your sword first.” This hit Andrew like a blow. Of course, now he realized it. They are going to send me into a trap. Then maybe they will torture me and hang me for their own pleasure.

“So?” The Captain’s voice smashed Andrew’s thoughts to a billion pieces. “Will you? Or will you not?”

“What about my hunting knife?” Andrew counter questioned a little sharply as he motioned to where it was sheathed.

“You can keep that.” The Captain said. “And, by the way, my name is Kolan, and I am Captain of the royal bodyguard of the King.” The Captain added raising himself to his full height and puffing out his chest a little.

Oh, how Andrew wanted to punch that proud Captain’s stomach. He thought for just a moment then asked roughly. “Will you return it to me afterwards?”   The Captain barely nodded. Andrew thinking for a moment finally drew his sword out, pointing it towards the sky. Its blade flashed brightly in the sun as he passed it to the Captain.

“It’s an honor to be the one chosen to look after such a weapon.” Kolan said almost reverently. The hilt was coated with pure gold from the snowcapped mountains of Zylurus in Claydad, and the steel of the blade was of the finest temper, refined in the most advanced furnaces and worked by the best steelworkers. This were one of the many reasons why Peter had called Claydad a ‘country of luxuries,’ though perhaps ‘riches’ would have been more suitable.

“I will now lead you to my King.” Kolan declared. “But, be forewarned, he has already received a letter from a messenger who arrived this morning just a few hours before you. I think it’s something about making an alliance with somebody.” The Captain said, as he thought of what had just happened. His previous impression of Andrew led him to deduce that Andrew would not give up his sword, but here he was, walking with Andrew’s sword in his hand; and such a fine one too.

Meanwhile, Andrew’s heart sank to his feet. Tarksee certainly was not going to make an alliance with him now. The person who had just sent this letter has the feud on his side. Worse yet, if this was from Vakerahl, leader of the whole dark alliance and King of Strangen, then the Dark Alliance would crush Claydad and Seania at its feet, and who knows what they might do with the riches they would find in Claydad, and the fine ships they would find in Seania?

The Captain turned and led Andrew to some stairs mounted onto the castle wall then stated firmly. “This is as far as I go. Up there you will find my King. He is very agitated over that letter he received this morning so be careful.” Andrew glanced at the flight of stairs following it with his eyes. He noted it ended at a box-like projection on the wall. Then he began walking up the stairs. It felt like a million steps and Andrew decided to count them. One, two, three… The numbers flew threw Andrew’s mind as he ascended the stairs. Two hundred and fifty-two, two hundred and fifty-three, two hundred and fifty-four, two hundred and fifty-five. He now stood on the main platform and before the door.

Thoughts flashed through his mind. Was I a fool to give the Captain my sword? How would I defend himself if I am attacked? Perhaps there is a noose hanging at the door waiting for me to walk right into it. Or maybe there is a group of Tarksee’s men waiting to slaughter me. What would Peter do? Finally, Andrew decided on the most obvious solution; to enter and be cautious.

He knocked on the door gently at first then louder. “Come in, and please close the door behind you,” a deep voice boomed. Andrew pushed open the door hesitatingly and walked in, making sure to close the door behind him. Inside he found a well built figure pacing the floor agitatedly. Back and forth, back and forth he went.

Tarksee was cleanly shaved and he had coal black hair combed neatly to one side. He had a crimson colored cape that went down to his heels, almost dragging on the floor. It was decorated with gold and silver threads crisscrossing, forming an elaborate pattern.

However, though his cape was elaborate, Tarksee’s suit was a plain brown, probably due to lack of materials.  Tarksee’s weather beaten face seasoned in the fire of two score battles completed his looks.

Tarksee stopped pacing and looked at Andrew keenly through his gray eyes. “Ah, Andrew,” he said warmly. “I’ve been expecting you. I have been thinking the situation over, and at first I was inclined not to join your alliance because of the old feud. But then, after thinking it over some more, I have decided I want to join you. For real this time.” He added hastily at Andrew’s questioning look and sarcastically uplifted eyebrow.

“Of course you may be wondering how I know all this.” Tarksee continued at Andrew’s puzzled look. “Well, it is because I received a letter from your very dear friend Sir Peter of Seania. Andrew, I have forgiven you. That Jamima made the right choice is certain. She always did have a clear head, and she is so happy with you.”

Andrew was extremely shocked to find that that was the letter that had arrived today. At first he was quite upset that Peter thought he could not have handled the situation himself. Then he saw, after thinking for a while, that it had been a wise thing to do, and Peter had made the right choice.

“I thank you for your kindness.” Andrew said gratefully. “But I beg your pardon; from past experience with Crakernia and it’s King, how is it that you will have such an interest in the problems of Claydad without some gain of your own? For the Dark Alliance is only after Claydad and Seania. If it is some thing private I’d much rather you didn’t answer.” Andrew hastened to add at the shocked look on Tarksee’s face.

“Oh that,” Tarksee replied. “Never you mind. I am quite willing to tell you my reasons. You see, the Charnians are mutual enemies of the Crackernians. Markeelah, King of Charnia boasts that his country is much too powerful for my country to defeat. Therefore as a proud King, I want to show Markeelah that Crackernia is more powerful than his country. By the way,” the King dropped his voice to a low whisper so that Andrew had a hard time hearing him. “I got news from one of my scouts that a huge Medisian party is moving down towards your country.

“Before you go.” Tarksee said as Andrew hastened to leave. “Allow me to ask you a question which I am sure you will not bother to answer me. You have a scabbard but no sword, how is that?”

“One of your Captains who introduced himself as Kolan, said that I had to give up my sword before I could see your highness. And I beg your pardon for saying so but I think you should ban that rule. I half thought that I was going to walk into a trap.”

“Kolan!” The King laughed as leaned against the wall to support himself. “He must have…HaHaHa…Been playing a…HaHaHa…one of his tricks…HaHaHa…His best one yet.” So mirthful was the laughter of the King that Andrew had no choice but to join in, though he did not know what it was about.

“That was a good one.” Tarksee said as he regained his composure. “I’m sorry for my outburst. I will explain. Kolan is well known among his ranks for his practical jokes. I have been thinking.” The King continued, at a slower pace now. “I think that I will send Kolan and five hundred soldiers to aid you in battle.

“Here is a treaty that your friend was kind enough to draw up. I have already signed it, and it only remains for you to do so.”

Andrew took the quill offered to him and signed his name in bold flourishes. Then he bowed deeply and thanked Tarksee for his kindness by saying: “I am gratified that you have helped my country so much. If you continue to help me faithfully, I pledge my honor that I will give you a share in the Kingdom of Samaaria.”

“Samaaria!” Tarksee exclaimed, hardly able to control his excitement. “You really believe there is such a place?”

“Peter believes it, so I do.” Andrew replied simply. “Do you believe in it?”

“I’ve believed in it all my life!” Tarksee replied, not bothering to conceal his delight and excitement. “I have searched high and low, left and right and long and hard for someone who would believe it with me. I knew the ruler. Sakras his name was. Yes, Sakras,” Tarksee murmured as if in a trance. “Greatest ruler ever known. His kingdom spread far and wide. Across the far sea to the lost island. All throughout the woodland of dangers, and the entire northern border.”

Andrew was quite shocked. He had known that the lost kingdom was big, but he had had no idea that it was that big.

“Are you going to look for it? If you are can I join you with some of my men? I’d really appreciate it if you let me come along. To be precise, it would be reward enough.”

Andrew had to smile at the older man’s enthusiasm for the expedition. “Yes, I’m going –”

He was cut short by a volley of knocks followed by another volley and another and another. Tarksee walked over to the door and opened it brusquely. He was met by a white faced messenger covered in a coat of the road’s dust.

“Sir, Sir.” The messenger panted, facing Andrew and ignoring Tarksee completely. “King Peter would like you to return immediately. A Medisian army has marched into Granadon. Two thousand three hundred strong.”

“Quick,” Tarksee ordered. “Return to your people. I will send Kolan over with one thousand men as soon as possible. Meanwhile, do you think you can hold out?” Andrew nodded and rushed down the stairs followed by the fleet footed messenger, who seemed none the worse for his exertions.

At the foot of the stairs, Andrew was met by Kolan and demanded his sword. Kolan returned it immediately and Andrew leaped upon his horse and galloped off, the messenger following.

The two arrived at the scene and found that the battle had already begun. A fierce fight was ensuing between the two sides, the defendants fighting desperately against the enemies’ bigger army. Andrew drew his double-edged claymore and leaping off his weary horse, joined the fray.

He soon found Peter engaged by two strong Medisian warriors. Andrew came around the back of them and brought one down with a slash in the back. His partner turned to slay Andrew but Peter leapt forward and severed his head.

“I thought that was my last day.” Peter panted as they ran up to help a group of five soldiers engaged by nine. The two armies were terribly mismatched; the defendants being one thousand while the offenders had two thousand three hundred soldiers.

Andrew was wondering what happened to the rest of the army when he came into contact with a soldier about two times his size. The latter swung his heavy pollaxe at Andrew. Andrew was too fast though, and ducked before the blow whilst cutting at his enemy’s bare legs. But, as fast as Andrew was, his enemy was faster, and he parried the blow without flinching. Then he raised his axe and cut at Andrew’s side with a sweeping blow. Andrew swung his sword down to block the blow but the shock felt like it had broken his hand in half and he let his sword fly away. Now he was without weapon, and would have died had not a soldier snuck up from behind and stabbed his enemy.

An hour later, Andrew was still struggling against his powerful foes and wondering when the Crackernians would arrive. Just then, a hail of one thousand arrows flew through the air, each one hitting it’s target: the heart of the enemy.

Andrew knew that the Crackernians had arrived, for nobody else in the land could shoot like them. Each one of their children seemed to be born with the skill of shooting with the bow. Though Andrew knew his reinforcements had arrived, still, he turned to look.

When he finally turned back around, the broad sword of an enemy was coming down upon his head. He raised his sword reflexively, though he knew he would be to slow. Just as he thought it was his last day, a bullwhip came lashing out. It grabbed the wrist of the Medisian and the owner of the whip tugged on it, breaking the man’s wrist and giving Andrew the chance he needed. But before Andrew could slay his enemy, an arrow whistled out of nowhere and killed the enemy.

Andrew turned to thank his rescuer just as Kolan came running up to him. “Sorry,” Kolan grinned mischievously. “I could have rescued you earlier but I wanted you to think you were dead. Still there was a risk that I would miss so I’m sorry.”

“It this another one of your practical jokes?” Andrew demanded angrily, then burst into laughter.

After laughing for a few seconds, Kolan became serious and said. “Come now, a battlefield isn’t the place for wild mirth. I was hoping we would defeat them before dark, but it looks like we won’t. Even so, my master has a plan prepared. At night we will light flares and signal the other camps to light their flares. The flares will be seen by a watchman and reinforcements will be sent out. The only hitch is lions.” Kolan told Andrew gravely.

“Lions!” Andrew exclaimed half disbelievingly and half wondrously.

“Yes, mountain lions. Medisian families each have one for pets. They can see in the dark whereas we can’t. A very formidable weapon in the night. Especially since they are trained to go for humans that are unknown to them. Didn’t you know?”

Suddenly, Kolan’s voice changed. “Just like I thought. They are retreating to regroup with their friends who have probably brought them their ‘pets.’ They won’t fight till tomorrow I reckon.” At this, Kolan blew his retreat horn, Andrew and Peter following his lead and the two armies pulled away from each other.

The sun was going down and several campfires were lit, each one several miles away from it’s neighbors. “What happened to the rest of our army?” Andrew asked the soldiers around the campfire but mainly directing his question towards Peter. “We started with ten thousand strong men.”

“I sent one thousand of my people forward to prepare some ships to cross Clear Lake in Medisian territory, hoping to catch their army on the other side of it. But, they were swift in their actions, and before the rest of the army could reach the ships, they swept down with twelve thousand men and killed all the men with the ships, then attacked our party. They cut us down till we had naught but a thousand men. They had one thousand two hundred men. Then they retreated to join one thousand light horses and knights.”

They continued talking about numerous subjects as the sun sank slowly below the horizon. Suddenly, a low rumbling was heard. It was soft at first but grew louder. Faint footsteps could be heard when the men stopped talking.

“Lion,” exclaimed Kolan softly as he leapt to his feet lightly. “I thought they would send them later in the night when the sun was lower. But it is only about the twelfth hour. It seems to me that they were impatient. Light the flare.” He ordered tersely and as silently as possible. A soldier scurried to obey while the rest armed themselves.

“Ahhhrgg!” A soldier screamed as he was pounced on from behind by a lion. A few more cries echoed from the other camps just as the flare burst into light. The soldiers from the next campfire saw it fly into the sky as the soldier who was holding it threw it up. This process continued until a watchman at the edge of the Crackernian border caught sight of the last campfire’s flare. Then he whirled around and blew a long monotonous blast on his hunting horn. The cry echoed far and wide throughout the Crackernian border. Suddenly, as if on impulse, soldiers started appearing from everywhere looking like little ants.

Meanwhile, back at Andrew’s camp, he and the soldiers where working to subdue the lions that kept sneaking into their camp as silent as mice. The soldiers in the other camps were also having trouble with the lions, but had managed to arm themselves, and were waiting for the signal.

Suddenly, the signal was sounded. Two short blasts of the hunting horn and one fiery arrow shot high in the sky completed it. Kolan fired an arrow killing the last lion. Then he lighted a torch and a few other soldiers in their camp followed his example. Soon, each camp location was marked by dots of light.

Then Andrew shouted a drawn out cry into the dark night. “Chaaaarge!” The cry was echoed by the voices of the others, and the soldiers streamed towards the enemy camps posted on top of the hill. The enormous army of twenty thousand made short work of the enemies who numbered but four thousand. Andrew’s last great battle was won.

******End of Chapter 2******

Hope you enjoyed! 🙂

~Michael Hollingworth
Disce Ferenda Pati – Learn to endure what must be borne