Journey of the Warrior Ch. 01byRoadbug©
A Time of Healing
This story is a work of fiction. All resemblance to people or places is purely coincidence.
Thanks to DesertPirate for his assistance.
I woke up in a strange room feeling dizzy and weak. I didn't know how I got here and I was rather disoriented. It was rather disconcerting since the last thing I remembered was a battle.
I remembered standing between two elves, one of whom I knew but not much else. I tried to sit up and groaned a bit with pain as the muscles in my chest tightened a bit. I heard a gasp and looked in the direction of that sound and saw the younger daughter of the elf lord who had helped me when I first came to this land.
She was sitting in a chair next to the the bed I was in. Standing up, she moved over to me and said, "How do you feel, my lord?"
Feeling surprised at the form of address, I said, "I feel weak and dizzy. I'm also thirsty and a bit hungry." I thought for a second and asked, "How did I come to be here? The last thing I remember clearly was a battle."
"You were badly wounded by an arrow during the battle in the pass while defending our lands, my lord," she said.
"That explains the pain. Now if you would, I'd like to know why you address me as lord. I am but a humble trapper and wanderer whom your people have allowed to sleep in the common room on occasion and you buy my furs now and then. I am no lord."
"Ah, but you are," she said. "After you warned us of the attack, you led our warriors to the pass and helped defeat the invaders. You did this while already wounded with a poisoned arrow in your side. As a result of your bravery, my cousin named you brother and my father ordered that your name be entered into our family list showing your bravery and our gratitude."
I gasped in shock at this. I didn't know much of the ways of the elves, but I knew that this meant that I was now considered part of the ruling family of this castle and the surrounding lands.
I started to get out of bed and realized that under the sheets, I was nude. I asked the lady before me if she could bring me clothing as I had none. I didn't see my pack or other clothing on the nearby table and I didn't know where any of my belongings might be.
She laughed and went to the door and told someone outside to summon her brother. Turning back, she said, "I will leave you to dress when my brother arrives. He, my sister and I have been waiting for you to awaken. Bowing formally she said, "My name is Eldranna. Remember my name and call if you have need of me."
After saying this, she stood waiting for her brother. He entered shortly after carrying finely made clothing and a pair of elven boots. After he had entered the room, she bowed to me again and left.
Bowing to me, the heir to the castle said, "My name is Dranco. I have brought you clothing as befits your rank. Let me aid you in dressing, and I will escort you to my father."
Stunned by having two elves give me their names, I could only nod. Dranco stepped up to the bed and aided me in standing. He assisted me with dressing, and held my arm to steady me as we went to see his father.
Leaving the room, I saw that I was in what was probably the castle I knew, but a part I had never been in before. I asked where we were and Dranco said, "We're in the family apartments of my fathers castle. You are now one of us and so you have your room here as well.
"I am honored my lord," I said.
"It is we who are honored by your presence Hawk. You are as much of my family as my father and sisters. I am no lord to you."
I nodded and accepted his words. I told him, "I have no memory of what has transpired. I only remember standing between to elves while watching a large army approach. I think one was your father, but I'm not certain."
He said, "My father will tell you. He and our cousin are in his library right now and that is where I'm taking you. My sisters should also be there."
Nodding, I allowed him to guide me. As I was a bit unsteady on my feet, he held my right arm and guided me down the hall we were in and turned at a corridor to the right.
We were now against one of the outer walls of the keep as it was slightly rounded. Continuing down this hall for a short way, we came to a room that was guarded by two elves with swords and chain armor. They bowed to Dranco and then to me. This was even more of a shock than having two elves give me their names!
Elves don't bow to humans that I have ever seen. This meant that whatever I had done, it must have been spectacular.
Dranco opened the door and gestured for me to enter first which was another surprise. He was the Heir to the lord of this castle, not a servant.
I walked through the door and saw that the castle lord and his two daughters were already there. With them was another elf that I seemed to know but couldn't place.
Walking up to the table where they were seated, I started to kneel to the lord as etiquette required, but Eldranna prevented me and led me to a seat. This was the biggest surprise of all! They all stood and waited until I had been seated before resuming their seats.
"My Lord," I started to say.
The lord interrupted me and said, "My name is Artemus," he said. Be free to call me by my name."
"I am Deliand," said the one I thought I recognized. "Be free with my name."
The elder daughter said, "I am Mellany," she said. Be free with my name, my love."
I bowed my head and thanked them for this gift. I was shocked beyond comprehension at this point. Five elves, four of them members of the family ruling this castle and the other obviously related some how had given me their names.
"I am truly honored," I said. "I have no memory of the last few days beyond a few flashes but I remember waiting with two of you and watching a vast army approach. I don't recall anything else about it though. I only know that I recently woke up with my lady Eldranna watching me as I slept."
" I recall nothing else since I was leaving a tavern in a town beyond the pass," I continued. I don't know how I arrived here. I only know that I have some pain in my chest and side and that I am a bit hungry and thirsty."
Eldranna said, "Food and drink is on the way even now. I ordered a meal sent here for you when I left you with Dranco."
I thank you my lady," I said.
It isn't necessary to address your family so formally," said Lord Artemus. "You saved us from an invasion and almost died of it. Without you, we would all now be dead or worse. We are your kin."
I looked at him in confusion for a moment. As I sat there, some memories came to me of riding out of the pass to this castle. I felt a wound in my side and was a bit light headed. I also felt as if I had lost a lot of blood. There was also a burning in the wound and my chest as if I had been poisoned.
I said, "I rode out of the pass. I was injured somehow but don't recall how."
Lord Artemus said, "You came to us 4 nights ago with warning that we were to be attacked from the pass. You led what warriors I could spare back up a trail that we had no knowledge of and we managed to get there in time to meet them at the narrowing of the pass. There you fought their champion and were dishonorably struck down."
"You almost died of that wound." He continued. "We held long enough to be reinforced after you struck down the mage that was with them. After that, you fainted from the blood loss and poison from the second wound."
"For this service, I named you brother," said the final elf in the room. "I am a kings knight and as such I have the right to knight one who has earned the privilege," he said. " At that time I named you brother and I have sworn to stand by your side or guard your back at any time you have need."
"I am deeply honored," I said. "I don't recall the battle though."
"Do not fret, the memories will return in time," said Lord Artemus. "All of my people know you and you will always be welcomed to our lands and my hall as my brother. You have been entered into the Book of Names that lists all of my predecessors to this house and land. Be welcomed."
Another elf entered the room as he finished speaking and brought me a tray with a bowl of soup and some bread. He also placed a glass of wine or fruit juice before me then bowed and said, "I thank you for my life and for the lives of my family, my lord " After saying this, he left the room again.
"All who live here feel the same, Hawk," said Artemus. We all thank you for what you did."
"I wish I could remember it," I said. It gets frustrating to loose your memory like this. I knew that I wasn't from this land. I wasn't from this planet for that matter. I could remember a few things, but not much. I didn't even remember my own name. I used Hawk because they started calling me that for my keen eyesight.
"It matters not to me," said Deliand. "I remember what you did and that is enough for me. The only reason we are alive is because of your actions. You gave us warning and it almost cost you your life. You led us to a place where we could fight and have at least the chance to save our homeland and almost died of it. That is enough for me."
At his words, I had another flash of memory. This time I was attacking a line of warriors. The flash was brief, but I believed that it was a real memory. I wondered what would prompt me to do that.
The elves discussed minor matters as I ate the soup and bread. Drinking the beverage, I discovered it to be a very fine light wine which was better than I could normally afford.
When I was finished Dranco said, "Since you have no armor and only the poorest of weapons I will take you to the armory and outfit you as befits one of our house."
"I don't wear armor," I said. I'm a hunter, not a warrior. In hunting, you need stealth and speed not heavy protection.
Dranco said, "I see you have never worn elven armor. That can be easily remedied. You also need a decent sword and a few other things."
"I don't know how to use a sword," I said. "Never used one or had any training with one."
Deliand said, "That is easily remedied. I will instruct you and I will also train you to use an elven long bow if you wish to learn."
I said, "That would be a useful skill for a hunter and trapper. As to weapons, though, I have a good crossbow made by the northern dwarfs and I have my staff. That is a very good weapon that I got in trade from your southern neighbors. They had a bit of a problem with some dire wolves and I took care of it."
"They gave me the staff and a horse and saddle for the job," I finished.
"I'd wondered where that fine staff and the horse came from," said Artemus. "It is of a very rare wood and the horse is no common mount. The lord must have been very pleased to give you a mount from his own stables."
"His own?" I asked. "I didn't know it was of his own herd. I only asked for the staff as it looked well made and I broke my last one. I asked for a horse as it gave me a bit more mobility in my travels. I can walk further in a week than a mounted man usually, but with a horse I can carry more. They gave me the horse and equipment for the job."
"How many of them were there?" asked Deliand.
I said, "Only twelve. It was a small pack you see. I didn't have much problem with them and it only took me three days to track them all down and kill them. I took their tails as proof of the job and a few hides to cure for trade."
"Twelve dire wolves?" exclaimed Eldranna. "You killed twelve by yourself?"
"Yes," I said. "If you know them, they aren't that hard to kill. I used my crossbow for most and a spear for one of the last two. I broke my staff on the skull of the last, but killed it. They like open ground mostly and are too big to chase a man in the forest if he knows the land. I had hunted the area before and knew it well."
"Still, twelve is incredible," said Mellany. "Few indeed are those who would willingly face even one."
"Even a dragon may be killed if you know it's ways and it's weaknesses," I said. "I would rather face the dire wolves though. A dragon is much smarter and more cunning."
"Interesting," said Artemus. "We have here a true hero and we never knew it of him." Turning to me, he said, "Now I understand how you could get such a fine horse and well made saddle. It also explains how you came by your staff. If you had asked it, they would have given you much more."
"I didn't need anything else at the time," I said. "I wanted a horse and I had need of a new staff and a few supplies. They gave them willingly and I took my leave of them the next day. I haven't been back since as I went east for a time."
Feeling tired now, I said, "I need to go and rest again. I don't seem to have all my strength back yet. With your permission?"
Artemus granted me leave so I slowly stood and went to the door. Mellany followed me and said, "I will guide you back to your room. It is my turn to sit by your side anyway."
"Your turn?" I asked. "I don't understand."
"We take turns, Eldranna and I," she said. "It is our duty set by the Lady of the Forest. It was she that healed you in answer to our prayers. Twice you almost died for our people and two lives you are owed. From this day to the day either you or Eldranna or I die, we are your companions. We will go wherever you do.
"I don't wish servants," I said. "I also don't want you to leave your homes for my sake. I remember little of the events you've told me about but I do remember a band of elven warriors who found me sick and dying. They brought me here and you people taught me the ways of this land. You owe me no debt of service. I repaid my debt to you."
"You owe us no debt for what is given to any traveler who is lost in our lands," said Mellany. "You needed aid and it was freely given under the laws of our land. Four days ago in the middle of the night you rode in here to give us warning even though you were wounded. Knowing that you were dying, you still led our warriors to battle."
"There, after being healed of the first wound you were again shot with a poisoned arrow,"She continued. "Both times were in aid to my people. It is we who owe you a great debt. Many would have died had you not brought warning.
Then, badly wounded, you killed a mage who might have defeated us anyway." She said. "You gave us our lives and saved our homes. The army that was attacking us would have easily overwhelmed our defenses here and would have killed or enslaved us all. We owe you for the lives of all our people and we will pay that debt."
"I want no servants," I said. I turned to Lord Artemus and said, "I have no need of servants in my travels. When I leave, your daughters will be where they belong at your side. I love them as daughters and I won't take them away from their home."
Lord Artemus said, "They are no servants. They were bonded to you by our Lady. She said that we owed you for two lives as you almost died twice and both times it took very powerful magic to save you. The second time was by her own hand. The price she gave was for my two daughters to accompany you on your travels."
"They will travel with you and share your adventures as long as either of them or you live," He continued, "This was her word and I accepted it. Know that I love them, but it was their choice to offer in payment to the Lady. She said that even the gods have laws and this was demanded of her for the healing you needed. My daughters excepted."
"I did not except this," I said. "I would not have them leave their home for any price. I gave freely to those who gave to me five years ago when I was lost and dieing. You owe me nothing for what was given freely as you gave to me."
"This isn't a matter of debt between you and I," Artemus said. "This is by the word of the Lady. She stated her price and my daughters agreed. I except this and though I will miss them, I am proud of them too. It was their choice freely made and so it shall be."
"Then I would speak with this Lady," I said. "I should have some say in this. I will not take these women away from their home or family."
After I had spoken, I saw a strange glow. It was green and growing brighter as I watched. All the elves knelt and bowed their heads as it grew and showed the form of a woman.
When she was fully visible, the woman turned to me and spoke. She said," You said you would have words with me. Very well, I am here."
"Who are you?" I asked.
She said, "I am the Lady of the Forest as I am called here. I have no name that you would be able to understand or pronounce, but that is sufficient. What words would you speak I will hear."
Stunned, I stood there for a moment. The woman had appeared from nowhere. Though beautiful, she had a strange shape to her face and eyes. I had never seen someone like her before that I could recall.
I said, "I understand that you have laid upon Eldranna and Mellany the task of traveling with me for however long they or I should live. I wish them to remain here in their homes with their family. They should be with those who love them and they should have the chance to raise families in time. I travel lands where there is great danger at times."
The woman said, "They shall travel with you or die. That is the price I was required to ask and they accepted freely. I know where you travel when you are in my lands and I know how dangerous some of the other places you go can be. I also know the good you do for those in need. You will have need of your companions in time."
"You have a task," she said. "I don't know what it is or when you will be required to do it, but you will have need of those who will gladly follow you. I have no other knowledge but I do know that this is necessary. I also know that they love you and will go with you willingly even without the geas I have placed upon them."
"What is a geas?" I asked.
"It is a compulsion placed upon a person that requires them to do a task," she explained, "Sometimes the task is easily completed and sometimes it is life long. In this case, it is life long"
"I don't want them leaving here," I said. "I love them as daughters and would see them happy."
"Don't you think that leaving them would cause them more pain?" she asked. "You will be many years away from here and they love you as women, not as daughters. This would cause them more pain than if you take them with you."
Mellany said, "I go with you willingly I am not your servant but your companion and I will go where ever you go even if I have to track you and follow. You cannot leave me behind. This is my choice to make and not yours. I would rather you took me with you willingly but I will go with you none the less. I love you and I wish to be with you."
Eldranna said, "I too will go where ever you go. I love you and will not be left behind. I accept this and you cannot deny me this choice. I make it willingly geas or not."
I bowed my head and said, "If this is your choice then I accept." I knelt at Mellany's feet and said, "If this is your wish, my lady, I will not deny you."
She grabbed my arm and pulled me up and said, "Never kneel before me again. I am your companion, not your leader. I come with you freely."
Raising my head to look in her eyes, I said," Very well. You are my equal and no less will I accept from you."
I turned back to the Lady in the middle of the room and said, "I still don't want this, but since this is their choice I will grant their wish. They may come."
"I have a price though," I continued. "No more will you bind others to me. I do not like the thought of this as it is too much like slavery and I had a grandfather who fought a war to stop such things. I have no need of servants either."
"Agreed," said the Lady. "I only did this because even gods and goddesses must have law. I would have healed you freely for your actions without payment of any sort, but this was required of me by our own laws."