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This is my first attempt at a true fantasy story. Much inspiration was taken from Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, as well as several anime I’ve watched over the years.
The rising sun gradually woke me up and I opened my eyes. Like most days, there was a moment where I was blandly content, but then the reality of what the day held crashed into me.
Exhaling heavily, I rose from my bed and got ready for the day.
Jacqueline was already awake, tending to the horses. She heard me approach and looked at me somberly.
“Good morning, Gerard.”
I nodded in greeting.
Jacqueline was one of the few people I allowed to call me that. Everybody else in my battalion called me Captain. But she was my second in command, as well as my friend. Considering that, I allowed just a hint of worry to seep into my expression.
Being a pure human in a sea of various beasts and hybrids set me apart enough, I had to train night and day to keep up with the orcs and lycanthropes and merfolk in our society, but I was also the captain of a battalion of warriors. Over a few years I had proven my worth to the kingdom and they entrusted me with various battles and offensives. But despite my pedigree the prospect of today still scared me.
The day’s goal was to recapture Fort Antra, which long ago had been taken by the Southern Territory. It cut off a crucial bridge over a canyon in our land, choking up trade routes. Legions had tried and failed for decades to take it back, but were stopped mostly due to one enemy soldier: Lionel.
Lionel was a behemoth of a centaur. Stories told of his long, wild hair, his stone wall of a body, and his massive club that could render enemies to mush. He was their trump card. When armies fought, he would act as a berserker, racing around and wreaking havoc with his speed and power.
Our strategy was simple, but dangerous, so much so that many would find it insane. One knight was going to keep Lionel distracted, keeping him away from the rest of the battalion so they could take the fort in peace. If all of us attacked Lionel at once, the enemy would catch on and protect him. But they wouldn’t predict that one soldier could be suicidal enough to try to take on Lionel alone.
Unfortunately, that lone soldier would have to be me.
I was the best option out of all of us. Me and my horse Slate were so in-tune, we moved as one. We could keep up with a centaur, and I would be able to hold my own in a fight. I wouldn’t have to win, I just had to keep Lionel occupied as Jacqueline led the rest of our group to victory.
Jacqueline’s hand on my shoulder pushed me out of my thoughts.
“Calm yourself, Gerard. You can do this.”
My second in command was a valkyrie. Like most of my battalion, she towered over me. She was intimidating, with her sharp features, yellow eyes, and powerful body. She could jump over walls, run like the wind. I wouldn’t have to worry about the rest of our team. She would do her part, I just had to worry about doing mine.
“You’re right. It’s time to begin.”
Jacqueline moved to the center of camp and blew the horn, signaling everyone else to wake up. Over time the battalion got out of their tents and assembled, eating a quick breakfast and preparing their battle armor.
Once everything was ready, I climbed on Slate so I could address all my comrades.
“We have been training for this day for the better part of three moons now. We’ve made it through more difficult situations than this. Stay alert. Remember the plan. Trust in your fellow soldiers.”
I raised my arm and made my voice boom.
“PERIGRINE BATTALION, MOVE OUT!!”
After we began our journey to the battlefield, one of the squadron leaders, a lycanthrope named Quintus, walked up to keep pace with Slate and I.
“You don’t have to be nervous, sir. You can take on Lionel, no problem.”
I sighed. “I thought I was doing a better job hiding my worry.”
He chuckled deeply, his normally blank expression curling into a smile.
“Maybe from everyone else, but I’ve known you too long, Captain.”
I looked at my comrade. Quintus was intimidating, no doubt. His wolf head was fearsome, his body muscled and rugged. His heritage of the island nations from far away gave his skin a dark brown color uncommon in the Northern Kingdom.
However, it didn’t take long for me to learn that despite his exterior, he was a gentle soul. He used his strength only to protect and was just as skilled at diffusing conflict as he was fighting. He was one of our first recruits when Jacqueline and I started the Peregrine Battalion four years ago.
I gave him one of my rare smiles.
“I appreciate your concern, lieutenant. But right now your responsibility is to your squadron.”
In what felt like no time at all, we made it to the point of no return. Fort Antra was on a plateau, and we were in the forest at its border. When we crossed, the lookouts would spot us and the enemy would assemble İstanbul Escort at once.
I stopped at looked back at my brothers and sisters in arms. I took a deep breath and nodded before rushing forward, leading my battalion out into the open.
We didn’t get far before I could hear the loud signal that the fort was under attack. Some enemy soldiers were ready for immediate action, but a majority would need a few moments to get ready. That was our opportunity to strike.
Our worst suspicions were confirmed when Lionel was one of the first to exit the fort. I couldn’t make out much over the distance, but he didn’t appear to be wearing any armor. All the preparation he needed, it seemed, was to grab his club.
I took another deep breath and focused all my attention on the task at hand. At that moment, I couldn’t afford to think about how the rest of the battalion was doing. I needed to trust that they could take the fort without me.
Once I got close enough I notched my crossbow and fired a bolt directly at Lionel’s chest. He dodged, but it was enough to get his attention.
“How foolish,” he taunted. “A mere human thinks he can shoot down me?”
Without hesitation I rode up as fast as I could, managing to jab him slightly with the tip of my spear before he swung his club.
That thing looked like it was made from the entire trunk of a tree. Up close, I could see various stains on it. The blood of his enemies. One instant after I got out of range, I felt the wind of that club flowing behind me.
I would be done for if he landed a good hit with it, but his weapon was so big and heavy that it took time for him to swing, and I couldn’t imagine he could use it very well while running. I could use that to my advantage.
Lionel grunted, noticing the small wound on his flank. He looked at me with fury burning in his eyes.
“You’ve dug your own grave.”
After a snap decision I made a horrified expression and had Slate run us away at full speed.
As expected, Lionel gave chase. I heard him roar behind me.
“NO YOU DON’T! GET BACK HERE, COWARD!!”
This was good. I could now lead him away from the battle.
I went up to a cliffside far enough from the fighting and turned around.
The beast grinned.
“Nowhere to run now.”
He ran up to me and brought down the club, and once again I was just barely able to escape the range of attack.
Lionel attacked me in earnest and the resulting brawl was intense. I had to use every move, every trick I had learned in my life to keep the centaur on edge. Over and over I escaped his blows by just a hair’s breadth. But I was buying my battalion time.
Even so, it couldn’t last. Slate and I were both sweating from the exertion. I was running out of ideas.
The original plan was to fight Lionel until the fort was won and then a large group would come to my rescue. But now it seemed like a better idea to end this fight once and for all.
Throughout our battle, I had been examining Lionel’s attack style. It was all offense, no defense, which was hardly surprising. He seemed to have two moves: swinging the club in a gigantic arc, or rearing up on just his hind legs and bringing the club down with all his might. The latter was enough to crack the stone we were standing on. But there was a brief moment, just the smallest sliver of an opening, where he was up in the air, supported by just two legs. He was so top-heavy. Just one push…
I looked down at the cliff near us. It wasn’t a sheer drop, but if Lionel was sent tumbling down it he would either be dead or very close to it by the time he got to the bottom.
I would have one chance, just one shot. If my timing was off in the slightest I’d be killed. But I had to try.
He charged up to swing his club, but this time I wasn’t able to get away quickly enough. The club hit my left arm and the entire limb exploded in pain.
Not only was my arm broken in several places, I had dropped my weapon. I had to act right now or I was dead.
As I urged Slate forward I shakily got to my feet, still on horseback. Lionel was already in motion, rearing up to strike me dead. I forced myself to wait a fraction of a second. If I jumped too early my attack wouldn’t work.
The instant before the cub was at the top of its arc, I jumped as high as I could towards my enemy, kicking the side of his head with all the remaining strength I could muster.
For a heartbeat, one horrifying moment, it felt like nothing happened, but then the beast started falling in the direction of the cliff.
Then I felt something that made my blood run cold.
Lionel’s strong, calloused hands were grabbing my leg. If he was going down, he decided to take me down with him.
I couldn’t stop it. There was nothing I could do.
I said a quick prayer, for my own life and the lives of my comrades, as we both fell off the edge.
Everything was fuzzy when I woke up. It took some time for the world around me to come into focus.
Groggily I sat up İstanbul Escort Bayan and looked around, trying to see where I was.
It looked like a small cottage. I was on a bed made of animal skins. There was a fire crackling in the corner.
How did I get here?
I thought back and it hit me all at once what happened.
The battle. Lionel. The cliff.
I needed to get back to my battalion.
I was looking around when all of a sudden I noticed a person standing right next to my bed. One I couldn’t hear or sense that had been within arm’s length of me this whole time.
I cursed loudly and stumbled back in surprise.
The person in question was startled too, turning around and running away with surprising speed. As I got my bearings it occurred to me that I didn’t even hear the sound of their feet hitting the floor.
Now curious, I straightened up. I saw them run to hide under a table. Slowly, carefully, I stood up and walked over to it.
Getting down on my knees, I was able to get a good look.
It was a young male, very small and delicate in appearance. He was dressed in a simple tunic and sandals, both clearly hand made. His skin was shockingly pale in color, and his hair was as white as freshly fallen snow.
But the oddest part, the strangest thing about this person, was how even though he was trembling and breathing heavily in panic, he didn’t make a single sound. Aside from my breathing and heartbeat, the room was completely silent.
“Hello,” I greeted, feeling the need to speak quietly. “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to frighten you.”
Still shaking, the boy raised his head to look at me. I saw that his eyes were a clear shade of red. Coupled with his pale body and quivering, he reminded me of a white rabbit.
I took a step back so he could crawl out from under the table and get to his feet. Standing up, he was scarcely the size of a small human woman. He looked to be a young adult, perhaps twenty or twenty-one.
“My name is Gerard.”
He blinked a few times before he answered in a whisper.
“My name is Hush.”
I tilted my head a bit.
“Why are you speaking so quietly?”
Hush looked down.
“I…I can’t talk louder than this.”
His fists balled up slightly, like he was frustrated. I might have brought up a sensitive topic by accident. I considered whispering back at him, but decided that if he wasn’t purposely trying to be quiet, neither would I.
“Where are we?” I asked, my voice now sounding gigantic.
“My…my home. I was just about to make dinner.”
I looked over at the fire and saw that it was actually a stove.
“Oh. Would you like me to help?”
The boy shook his head, still silent.
“No, you should get some more rest. It’s okay.”
For the first time it occurred to me that I was in rather good shape considering I had tumbled down a cliff. How long had I been here?
Hush already began cooking and it felt rude of me to interrupt him with questions. Instead, I sat back down on the bed I woke up in.
I took in more of my situation while he cooked dinner. I was wearing only the shirt and pants I had on under my armor, which I saw on the ground against the wall nearby. It was dented and damaged, but not beyond repair.
I examined my body and found surprisingly little damage. My left arm was still stiff and in some pain, but I knew for sure Lionel had broken it in several places with his club. Now I was concerned. How long had I slept?
Hush was still cooking, and I marveled at the fact that he still never made a single noise. I heard sizzling, pots clanging, fire crackling, but the boy himself was able to move silently.
I guessed he was some kind of fae who found my body and was kind enough to aid in my recovery. The good thing was that if I was still alive, Lionel either died or was carried too far away. I had faith that Jacqueline was able to lead our men to victory. Now I just had to return to them so they knew I was alive.
I heard the table being set and saw that dinner was ready. Hush had prepared fish and a kind of flatbread. It smelled wonderful.
As we ate I tried to gently begin my questions.
“How did I get here, Hush?”
He noiselessly swallowed his food before answering.
“I found you not that far from here. You were up in a tree, but you were almost dead.”
My brow raised. “Really?”
“There was also a big centaur nearby, but he must have died before I got there. Were you two…fighting?”
I smiled wanly. “I guess you could call it that. Why did you choose to help me?”
Hush looked taken aback by such a direct question. His eyes widened.
“I mean…it just seemed like the right thing to do. I’ve healed injured birds in the past. It’s like that, isn’t it?”
I laughed a little. “I suppose. So you’re a healer?” I’d heard stories of fae that could use magic to mend wounds.
The boy nodded.
“How long have I been here?”
“I found you the day before yesterday.”
My Escort İstanbul jaw dropped. He was able to bring me back from death’s door that quickly?
He noticed my shock.
“Is something wrong?”
I shook my head. “No. Quite the opposite, in fact. That’s incredible. Thank you for helping me.”
He looked confused, but then he smiled. He looked so much better smiling.
Once the meal was over I knew what I wanted to do. At first light tomorrow I would begin my journey back up the mountain to Fort Antra. My battalion would still be there, keeping the fort occupied.
But there were a few things I wanted to know first. I spoke Hush when he was done cleaning up
“Is it okay if I ask you about yourself? What species are you?”
He sat down in a chair next to my bed. I followed his lead and sat as well.
“I’m a mix. My mother is a nymph and my father is a will-o’-the-wisp.”
My eyebrows raised. I had only heard rumors of will-o’-the-wisps. They were supposedly forest spirits made of fire and light. Seeing one was so rare it was touted as an omen of good fortune. From what I remembered, nymphs were a type of fae that was exclusively female, so it made sense that she would have to go outside her own species to be a mother.
“I’ve never heard of wisp hybrids.”
He nodded. “I’m the only one I know of. I met my father a few times, but it’s in his nature to be a free spirit.”
“Your mother raised you by herself?”
“She told me that she wanted to raise her child on her own. She doesn’t begrudge my father for not staying.”
“Did she teach you to heal the way you can?”
Hush shrugged. “No, it’s just always been something I could do.”
I waited a little bit more before I asked my next question.
“Are you lonely on your own like this?”
The boy didn’t answer right away, but I saw something in his expression.
“I mean…it just is what it is. I can support myself now. And I’m not alone, I write my mother letters.”
“Well, if you’re interested, I know a way you can be among friends, travel the world, and help people of all stripes.”
Hush looked dumbfounded. “What do you mean?”
“Come with me. You can work in my battalion as a healer.”
I explained my situation to him. He seemed interested, excited almost. Except there was still some apprehension.
“I don’t know, Gerard. I’m so small and weak. I don’t know how much use I’d be to you.”
“If you can do what you did with me you’ll more than prove your worth.”
He looked down again.
“What if…what if they don’t like me? I’ve heard the stories about how other species treat fae.”
He had a point there. Fairies and spirits tended to live out of society because other species would treat them poorly. Their magic, as well as their general physical weakness made them easy targets.
I made a bolder move and put my hand on his shoulder.
“You don’t have to worry, Hush. The Peregrine Battalion welcomes those of all creeds. I’m a human, second in command is a valkyrie. We have lycanthropes, elves, orcs, what have you, and we all work together. We’re a family.”
He fidgeted in his chair.
“I’m not going to force you, but I sincerely want you in my battalion. I’m leaving at first light. You can make your decision then.”
Hush nodded and got up. As he tended to the fire some more I hoped he was considering my offer.
A little bit later Hush told me he wanted to go to bed. It was earlier than when I normally retired, but I didn’t want to impose.
As I drifted off, I thought about the little wisp that saved my life. And I felt happy.
I awoke very early and was surprised to see Hush already out of bed and dressed.
I didn’t want to linger any further. If he made his decision, I’d respect it and make my leave, with or without him.
“So, Hush, will you join my battalion?”
He took a deep breath before looking me in the eye and nodding.
“If you’ll have me.”
I walked up to the boy and hugged him warmly. Normally I’m not so quick to touch, but something about him was compelling me to.
“Then let’s move out.”
We were about to head to the trail that would lead up the mountain, but I realized I’d forgotten something.
“Wait, where did you find the body of the centaur?”
Confused, Hush led me to a nearby river. The smell hit me before I could see the corpse. I motioned for the wisp to stay back as I walked up to Lionel’s body.
On my knees, I clasped my hands together.
“Fallen warrior, you have graced the world with your strength. Rest in peace.”
I returned to Hush and we began our journey.
Hush spoke a few minutes later. I had to stop walking because the sound of leaves crunching drowned out his faint whisper.
“Why did you do that back there? Didn’t the centaur try to kill you?”
“Yes, but I was trying to kill him as well. Both of us were doing our jobs under opposing countries. It was never personal.”
He didn’t say anything and we continued.
As we walked, I couldn’t help but marvel at how quietly Hush could traverse. Leaves rustled under his feet, but didn’t crunch like they did beneath mine. He was so near silent we decided it was best he walked in front, because if he fell behind he couldn’t call for help.
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