Introduction: The Message

Introduction: The Message

A Chapter by Kyle
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The introduction for the fantasy "A Journey North."

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A Journey North

Introduction

 

            The spring sun began to climb over the eastern horizon, bringing forth the blooming of wildflowers all over the meadows of Greenfield. Farmers all over the region looked up to feel the warmth emanating from the sun above, knowing it was time to sow their fields.

            The sun slowly edged its way over the tall outer wall of Castle Greenfield, spilling light onto the main courtyard within. Horses could be heard beginning to stir in the nearby stables, and slowly rustlings began to come from within the castle itself as the inhabitants arose to meet the day.

            Filip stood on the top of the Eastern Wall, staring at the sunrise. A slight cough from behind him broke his attention. Turning to see the source of the noise, Filip nodded his head in greeting to the newcomer. “Good morning Lord Theo.”

            Theo stepped up to the edge of the wall and turned toward the young guard, looking him over with his gray eyes. “Filip, we’ve known each other for years.” Theo sighed. “I am not ‘Lord Theo.’ My dad is the lord; I am just his son.”

            Filip could not help but take notice of the slight bitterness in Theo’s voice. Averting his eyes from Theo’s, he quietly apologized, “Sorry Theo… I always forget. Hey, you came at a good time though!” Filip swept his bow toward the sun. “Every day the morning sun has been getting warmer and warmer. Today’s the warmest yet! Spring is definitely upon us, for sure.”

            “I have noticed it,” Theo said, nodding, “This past winter was a mild one though, and I quite enjoyed it.” Shifting from one foot to the other, Theo looked out at the sunrise. After a short pause, he turned toward Filip. “I’m going to go head down to the yard and see if anything is happening. Take care Filip.”

            “You too my friend,” Filip replied with a nod of his head.

            Theo turned around, walked to the door, and began heading back down the spiral staircase made of worn stone. For hundreds and hundreds of years the Braccans called Castle Greenfield their home, and the wear was evident in many areas around the castle. It was not enough to be a danger, but simply made Theo stop and ponder the generations that have come before him. Currently, Emmont Braccan, Theo’s father, was the Lord of Greenfield.

            Lord Emmont crossing his thoughts made Theo only hurry down the winding staircase. Finally, stepping out of the tower and into the new dawn light, Theo swept his gaze across the Outer Yard. Already, the castle smith was stoking the furnace fires, the guards were changing posts, and other random men and women were scurrying about the bare ground doing whatever business they had that morning.

            “Hallo there! Theodan!” A soft, melodic voice called out from Theo’s left.

            I would recognize that voice anywhere, Theo thought with a smile crossing his face.

            “Lyra,” Theo answered, turning to meet the oncoming girl. “How goes it on this fine Spring morning?”

            The girl sauntered up to him. “Ah, you know, the usual. The swallows are calling out above, the horses are calling out for food, the smith’s hammer will be calling out for red-hot iron soon, and more, just like every morning.” Lyra was a small girl, short of stature and with short, roughly cut brown hair. On her back was her ever-present quiver, with her also ever-present bow slung over her shoulder. “And what about you, Theo?”

            “Well, I have no reason to complain yet. Hopefully it remains that way.” He shifted slowly, taking his eyes away from her deep blue eyes and once more looking over the yard.

            Lyra looked about nervously. “Hey Theo, is there somewhere we might be able to talk privately?”

            Quickly turning back to Lyra, Theo suspiciously eyed his friend. “Uh, yeah, is something wrong?”

            “I’ll tell you in a moment. Let’s go see if the Inner Yard is empty.”

            They began walking. The Inner Yard was exactly what it sounded like; a courtyard that resided toward the center of Castle Greenfield. It was directly behind the Old Keep, which was one of the remaining original parts of the stone castle, which had taken the place of a much older wooden fort that Chief Braeken Dier, the founder of the Braccan line, had built over a thousand years ago. The Inner Yard was, however, the oldest part of the Castle Greenfield. Chief Braeken Dier was many things, one of which was a fervent lover of nature. When he went to find a location to raise his stronghold, he fell in love with an anomaly in the normally meadow-covered lands from which Greenfield drew its name. Braeken decided to raise his wooden stronghold by a spring-fed pond. For whatever reason, the water of the spring allowed trees to grow by the pond, and not just the stunted junipers and hemlocks that one could normally find in the region. Instead, ancient, twisted, and tall pine trees surrounded the pond. It was said Braeken was reminded of the trees from his home in the Bald Mountains and decided to live there, forever holding the pond and trees as sacred ground.

            Generations later, Lord Jonas Braccan decided to get rid of the old wood fort and build a stronger stone castle in its place. The patient Jonas oversaw the raising of an incredibly thick keep with an inner wall that surrounded the ancient pond and trees that became known as the Inner Yard, and a thick outer wall that surrounded the entire keep, Inner Yard, and everything else the castle needed. Over the years, many modifications were made, but the Old Keep and the Inner Yard remained essentially untouched.

            It was the ancient Inner Yard that Theo and Lyra made their way to. Upon opening a blackened-by-smoke wood door, the two were met with, what Theo thought, was a beautiful sight.

            Huge pine trees, with dripping boughs, stood sentinel over the centerpiece of the yard. The pond, edged in worn rocks, silently sat still as glass. Moss grew over most of the ground, with the odd rock breaking forth of the soil here and there. Lyra led Theo toward the pond and perched herself upon a round rock. Theo did the same with a nearby rock on the edge of the deep blue pond.

            “Theo,” Lyra began, “Sigurd and I have been worried about you lately. You’ve seemed…withdrawn. You stalk the castle at dusk and dawn, a silent ghost. What is wrong?”

            Theo sighed. The answer to that question was complicated.

            “Lyra…” He furrowed his brow and paused. Finally, he said calmly, “I am fine. I’ve just been a little stressed lately, that’s all.”

            Lyra let out a single incredulous snort. “I don’t believe that at all Theo. You never were a good liar.” She stood. “Regardless, I can’t get the answer out of you unless you tell me, so I guess we’re done here.” Lyra began walking toward the door, but stopped in her tracks. Without turning around, she stated quietly, “Theo, we care for you. Please, don’t be afraid to come to us, come to me, come to any one of the countless people who like you and care for you, and talk about whatever is plaguing you.” And with that, she walked into the keep.

            Theo sat by the pond, staring into the water. What could I have said, he thought. It’s the same thing as always. It’s just gotten worse lately…

            The rest of the day went by as usual. Theo hung around the practice area and watched guards and young boys alike training with swords and bows and other weapons. He joined in on a few matches, as always. Theo’s energetic swordsmanship was known around the castle. While he did lose occasionally, it was rare. Most of the guards he faced were “killed” within minutes.

            Dinner time came and all the usual crowd joined Lord Emmont Braccan in the Grand Hall. Theo entered the smoky hall and was met with the smells of roasted meats, freshly baked breads, sautéed vegetables, and more. He took his usual seat next to Sigurd at one of the three long tables that spanned the room. At the end of the room, seated on a chair facing the crowd, was his father, clad in a grey jacket and trousers. He was leaning forward, staring intently at the door. Theo saw his older brother John and his sister Alene seated toward the front of the room near their father, laughing at some story one of the people were telling.

            After everyone had arrived and began tearing apart the food, Lord Braccan arose.

            “My friends,” he boomed. He might not have been a large man, but his voice was known for the power it held. Silence fell over the room. “My friends,” he began again, a bit quieter, “Today a pigeon came, carrying news. It was from Commander Josef Berne of Barefort. He said he needs some supplies, but more importantly he said he has pressing matters that he did not trust to send by air. He begs me send someone to relay the message in person.” Emmont paused and allowed his eyes to sweep the hall. “He sounded distressed. This is something that needs to be taken care of quickly. Now, are there any volunteers who would wish to lead a small group of other volunteers to Barefort to carry the supplies and bring back the message from Commander Berne?”

            Theo’s eyes widened. This is my chance.

            “I will, Father.” Everyone turned toward the back of the hall and saw Theo standing, hands on the table and eyes locked onto Lord Braccan.

            Lord Braccan paused momentarily before clearing his throat. “You volunteer for this Theodan?” Theo nodded. He could not help but notice the coldness in his father’s voice. “Well Theodan, please pick two others to give you aid. Come to me before the night is over so you can depart quickly. We must not keep Commander Berne waiting.” Emmont sat back down, resting his chin on his hand as he stared at Theo.

            Sitting down, Theo stared into his food trying to avoid the glare from his father.

            “He’s staring at you,” Sigurd whispered.

            “I know that.”

            “What the hell was that all about?” Sigurd continued.

            He was met with silence.

            “Well,” Sigurd began matter-of-factly, “You know I’m coming with your little impetuous self.”

            Theo smiled. “Oh, that wasn’t spontaneous. That was the moment I was waiting for.”

            He went back to eating as Sigurd eyed him suspiciously.



© 2014 Kyle


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Added on February 4, 2014
Last Updated on February 4, 2014
Tags: kyle, a journey north, north, journey, journeys, adventure, medieval, middle ages, fantasy, action, mystery, cold, ancient, epic adventure


Author

Kyle
Kyle

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About
Hello! My name is Kyle, and I am but an amateur who dabbles in writing. I am mainly a landscape photographer, but have been interested in getting some feedback on my writing to hopefully grow in that .. more..

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A Journey North A Journey North

A Book by Kyle