Part Two – Survival And Proving Honor
Amherst was no fool when it came to the wilds, in fact, there wasn’t one thing he didn’t know how to do, as if each time he remember his father’s words on how to survive was sewn into his mind. He was out in the wilderness one day, catching fish, when a stranger, a fox who called himself Ordaius, requested he do something for easy pay. Around this time, Amherst was already 15, and already was built up like a house from mining, chopping wood, and hauling heavy materials around all day.
“Excuse me stranger, have you a moment of time to spare with me?” Asked Ordaius. Amherst reeled in a large bass and tossed it on the ground, and then turned around to speak to the fox. “What’s on your mind, friend?” Amherst asked. “Well, there are some large animals roaming around my farmland. I’ve passed by here multiple times before, and I’ve witnessed firsthand the way you take care of bears! I would gladly pay you about 100 gold pieces if you take care of the two bears roaming around my crops – if it isn’t too big a task for you, that is.” Ordaius explained. Amherst pondered on it for a moment and agreed to the task and shook the fox’s hand.
Amherst didn’t have any thick, metal armor, he only had fur clothing from the animals he hunted. He hadn’t much of an armory, just a trusty bow and some makeshift arrows, but they always managed to get the job done. Amherst knew how to handle himself when it came to fearsome animals like bears, or wild tigers or lions.
Amherst followed Ordaius to his farm, where two bears sat in front of the house in which he lived, it appeared as though they had decided the make the area their home. “There just the feral beasts, but when it comes to those like us, you’d best be on your guard. Here, take a few steps back and I’ll get the buggers between the eyes, huh?” Amherst said. He drew his bow and knelt down, and pulled back a sharp arrow with a finely pointed tip, then fired right at the head of a bear – through one ear and out the other. “Bastard’s down, we’ve got one more, though. Ooh, she looks angry, best you keep your distance, I’ll try and get this one down quickly.” Amherst ordered. He once again drew back his bow and fired at the bear, hitting it in the throat as it stood up and roared. Amherst grinned at his own kill and held out his hand, but not for a coin purse, but for a handshake.
Ordaius shook Amherst’s hand and handed him a leather bag of cold, but Amherst refused and told him he wasn’t in the job for the money, but rather to help those in need. “By Enami, the world needs more folk like you. Good luck in the wilds, my tiger friend!” Ordaius said as he waved Amherst off. Amherst was satisfied, but didn’t leave empty handed, he left with a few hides from the bears, and even pulled a few claws from its paws to make a necklace.
Amherst made a great deal of popularity helping citizens throughout his home continent, from small things, like getting rid of wild animals, or bigger things like finding lost family artifacts. He rarely took the gold offered to him, but when he did, it was always in fair, small amounts, only for simple things like buying bread, or cheese. He even sometimes kept gold to keep to give to beggars in the towns, or donate to temples. Everyone would question his kindness, but he always told them, “When you’re lead to believe you’ve been deprived of everything, you tend to lose hope. But when you lead yourself to believe that there’s always something left behind, your hope returns and your left with a good spirit and mind.” Many thought he was too merry, but he knew that was only trying to stay positive for his sake.
Throughout Denholm, there were many other cities aside from the major port city where the palace stood, and through each hold in the continent, Amherst Everstone became a name of only goodness and merriment – even hearing the name would bring a smile to someone’s face. He was so popular, that the new ruler of Denholm, who took Amherst’s place, became interested in his abilities.
One morning, when Amherst was sleeping in a local inn, two guardsmen from Denholm City came into Amherst’s room and woke him up on official business. Both of them were boars, as were most of the guards in the city, and they looked relatively mean, even if they weren’t made at anything. “Rise and shine, Mr. Everstone, we have a message for you. The new king of Denholm, Marco de La Nou, has requested you visit him at the palace in the major port city right away. If you’d please come with us, we already have set up a carriage for your travel.” One of the guards said. “Of course, give me a few minutes to gather my things and I’ll be ready to go.” Amherst replied, somewhat delirious. “Meet us right outside the gate of the city and we’ll be off.” The other guard said. They turned their backs and left the inn, and Amherst pulled himself out of bed.
“What did I just agree too?” Amherst asked himself. “I never thought I’d be seeing Denholm again, but I guess I’d better see what this knew king is all about.” He said. Amherst got out of bed and donned a fine outfit which he traded for at the town’s market the night before. It was a red tunic, with a pattern of stitches, an amulet, black leggings and black, fine boots. He would have taken the circlet, too, but that would cost him the bear pelts, which he could sell for a higher price. “Well,” he said, “If I’m gonna meet a king, I’d better be dressed for it.”
His travel from the town he stayed at, known as Copper Field, to Denholm City would take less than half a day, about an 8 hour trip. It was around 7:40 AM when Amherst left on the carriage, so by about by 3:40 PM he arrived at Denholm City, the place he never thought he’d see again.
When he stepped inside the city walls, his breath was taken away by how beautiful the city looked – he didn’t have much memory of it, but it was certainly a sight to see. There was a large landform in the middle of the town, where a path on the right side of the entrance could take you up to a bridge that crossed it, that had a waterfall pouring into the center of the city. A large trench that was paved was where the water went, and it seemed like it was an infinite loop of pouring water, but never over filling.
Amherst was quickly taken to the palace where he grew up in – it didn’t change much, with its stone and wood exterior, and its stone interior. The entrance took you through the main hall, with a purple and gold lined carpet leading to the throne. The kitchen was too the left of the main hall, and the upstairs, where the king’s bedroom was, was towards the right of the room, with a staircase that lead upward. A large chandelier hung from the ceiling, and it held about 16 lit candles, each on different layers. The main hall had two rows of tables on the left and right side of the carpet. The tables were covered with table cloths the same color as the carpet, and each table was lined with a buffet of food.
When Amherst entered, he went straight to the throne, where there sate a lizard. The lizard was wearing a green tunic, with a row of necklaces overtop. He also wore white fur overtop, somewhat like a short cape, and like Amherst’s outfit, he wore black leggings and black fine boots. The lizard addressed himself in a proper accent, as if he were from modern-day France. “It is good to finally meet you, my boy! My name is Marco de La Nou, and you must be Amherst Everstone!” Marco said enthusiastically. Amherst bent his knee to the king before him. “It’s an honor, my lord.” Amherst said. “Ah, rise, my boy, rise! There is no need to be official towards me. I wish only to rule this land and treat its people fairly, not to be some ruler who demands the upmost respect.” Marco explained. “Then you and my brother wouldn’t have gotten along.” Amherst replied with a grin.
“Bah, he was awful. I was about twenty years of age when he ruled, and by the Gods, I wanted to rip his head off. You, Amherst, I see you have a kind heart. It’s hard to find such things in this land, and I could use someone like you who’s not in the job for the money, but rather, for the honor and satisfaction of helping those around you.” Marco stated. “I want you to be a part of my military force. You’ve got what it takes to be a soldier, and you’ve got the heart for it – all’s I ask is that you think about it.” Marco said.
Amherst thought for a moment and said he’d have an answer in the morning, but until then, he wished only to rest after the long journey. “Of course, come to me tomorrow. In the meantime, this feast was set up specifically for your arrival, enjoy what you may, and when you’re finished, your sleeping quarters are upstairs. You’ll find everything to your liking back home, my friend, I’m sure of it.” Marco said with a welcoming smile. Amherst nodded as a thank you and ate his food.
After Amherst finished his meal, he found his way to his room, it was medium sized and rather luxurious, like the most expensive rooms at the inns. The bed was nice, with soft furs lined on the insides, then wool to make up as the mattress itself, then white sheets to cover the wool, with a green blanket to lay overtop. Next to the bed sat a desk with a chair, a candle on a plate sat next to a paper already rolled out and a quill with a cup of ink next to it. In the back of the room, there was a wardrobe with nothing in it, possibly just for Amherst to store his things to settle down.
Amherst took a seat on the bed and felt its softness, and spoke to himself, “I’ve never slept in a bed this soft in years! It’s gonna be a fine sleep after such a heavy meal!” He said. Amherst lay back to get a better sense of how comfortable the bed was, but before he knew it, he was out cold in a food coma!
The next morning, Amherst awoke and donned another outfit, similar to that of the one he wore yesterday, but a different colored tunic. He walked from his room and was stopped by a guard, who directed him into the kitchen, where Marco was preparing himself a drink. The guard led him into the kitchen, and Marco turned around with a flagon in his hand, “Ah, there you are! Care for a taste of wine?” Marco asked to Amherst. “That sounds delicious! Is it any specific brand, or just homemade?” Amherst asked. “It’s my own recipe! It’s made from the freshly picked grapes from outside of the palace, and a special herb I found on the continent of Quarsaw, and it’s extremely hard to come by – it gives the drink that extra kick!” Marco explained.
Amherst smiled and was handed the flagon; he took a swig and nodded in delight. “This is grand! You could sell this for 20 gold a bottle!” Amherst said. “Ah, you give me too much credit. It’s just wine, not anything special. But never you mind about the wine, have you made up your mind?” Marco asked. Marco thought for a moment and kneeled to Marco, showing how noble he could be to his king. “My Lord, I’ve made a decision to join your army in all of its endeavors. Through the harshest of war, through the thinnest of political disputes, I vow – I take an oath – to server you, and never dishonor you!” Amherst had said to him, showing he was a man of his word.
Marco examined the tiger closely, and finally said to him that he was now dubbed a private of his kingdom’s army. Amherst was taken down to the barracks where the other soldiers would sleep, get food and train with one another. There were no assigned beds, everyone would just pick a bed and fall in it when they were tired, so there tended to be arguments over whose bed was whose. Once Amherst found his way to the bedrooms, he was greeted by a few soldiers with a “Welcome to the army,” or a, “Private.”
Marco sat down on one of the beds and scanned the bedroom, there were about twenty beds, and in another room, there were even more, but the room itself was scarce of soldiers. Amherst was approached by one of the soldiers, a large grizzly bear, which had a scar across his short muzzle. His eyes were brown, his nose was black, and he was rather large. He was about 5’11, and he looked to weigh about 200 pounds, but mostly in muscle.
The grizzly took a seat next to Amherst and introduced himself. “Welcome to the family, soldier. My name’s Auvgustus, I’ve been in Marco’s army for about three years, and I’ve worked my way up to corporal, and I take it you’re just a private, huh?” The grizzly said. “Yes I am, but the thing is, I don’t even know why I agreed to join. I’ve never taken a real person’s life away before, not even the occasional bandits I’ve come across in my poaching days.” Amherst replied. “Some say it gets easier, but I still see those I’ve had to kill in my dreams. Is it normal?” Auvgustus asked. “Only a beast kills without feeling.” Amherst said as he shook his head.
Auvgustus nodded in agreement and stood up with a sigh, then held out his hand to pull up Amherst. Amherst grabbed his hand and sat up, and then Marco came down with one of the generals of the military, whom had specific orders for all of the soldiers. “I’ve received news recently of rebels against my rule have set up camps around Denholm, planning attacks on the major port city. I groups of soldiers to take out each camp – I’ve heard that there are five total camps, and I want 2 to 3 soldiers for each camp. Everstone, this is your first assignment, you and Auvgustus are going to a camp in the mountains to the south.” Marco said. “I understand, sir. But what will happen at these camps?” Amherst asked. “The captain will lend both of you a note with specific orders – don’t screw this up.” Marco explained.
The general who was with Marco approached Amherst and handed him the papers, they were informed to not read the note until they were out of the city, so as to be sure there weren’t any spies around to read the papers. They were ordered to leave past the city walls after getting their armor on, and so they did with no hesitation. Amherst put on a set of steel plated armor that kept everything covered – feet, legs, torso, hands, head and face with thick metal. Auvgustus’s armor was similar, but it wasn’t steel-plated, it was a set of armor made from an ancient metal that couldn’t be found by any terms, except from the rarest traders to carry it. The metal was called “Oicuss”, a strong metal, similar to that of gold, but ten times stronger.
Amherst looked at Auvgustus’s armor in astonishment, trying to piece together how he could have gotten such a rare set of armor, in almost brand new condition. “How did you manage to find armor like that in such good condition?” Amherst questioned. “My grandfather, he was a warrior who received it as a reward for taking out an entire bandit clan attacking one of the ancient cities that stood here in Denholm. The city now is only in ruins, and I’m not sure of how the armor was founded by the king who gave it as a reward, but I did some research on the very metal used to craft it. It comes from an ancient continent called Kesh, but it seems that continent has just been wiped off all of the maps of this world.” Auvgustus explained. Amherst was curious about how the metal itself survived, but he didn’t dig too deep into the situation.
Auvgustus and Amherst left the city, and as soon as they were out of the gates, they read the note. It explained to them that they were to haul two barrels of oil up the mountain from the stables where Marco had left them, and then pour them on the tents, all except for the largest tent, where the leader of the camp would be. After the oil is spilled onto the tents, they were to set fire with a torch, and then after setting fire, they would sneak into the leader’s tent and snatch some documents that contained plans of attacks.
Auvgustus and Amherst found the two barrels of oil, which even had leather straps attached to them to carry on their backs, and then picked them up. “We have to carry these to the center of the mountain?” Auvgustus asked, obviously knowing the answer to his own question. “We’d better get moving.” He said. Amherst grinned and agreed to move forward.
It was already 9:00 PM when they left, the sun was down and the only thing to show them where to go was the moonlight and the light from one of the few torches they brought with them. The two talked from time to time with each other as they walked to the camp, but the conversations weren’t long, but the two were slowly becoming friends.
It was almost 10:30 PM when they reached the camp in the mountains, and most of the rebels were sleeping, where as some were patrolling the area. “You take your barrel and I’ll take mine, we’ll hit each tent from behind, but pour the oil slowly – don’t want to wake anyone.” Amherst ordered. Auvgustus nodded and went in the opposite direction of Amherst, and doused a few tents in oil. Amherst did the same, and they both made a trail leading from the middle, to make a circle of fire, so as not to let any rebels escape.
After the oil was poured out, Amherst lit a torch and set fire to the camp, it took only a few moments for the patrolling rebels to realize what was going on, but by the time they did, Amherst and Auvgustus were already inside the leader’s tent. “I’ve got the documents, let’s get moving!” Amherst said as he rummaged through an old wooden chest.
Amherst and Auvgustus tried to make a run for it, but were cut off by three soldiers with their swords drawn. “Alright, Grizz, we’ve got this!” Amherst said. Auvgustus nodded and drew his double bladed battle axe. Auvgustus kept his battle axe sheathed with a sling on his back – it was long and had to be carried with both of his hands, but he was a heavyweight, and he could handle his weapon with ease.
Amherst drew his weapons, two swords that he had sheathed to both of his sides, and held them tightly as he gave a loud battle cry and charged at the rebels. Auvgustus swung his battle axe and sliced one of the rebels through the chest, almost chopping him in half. He fell instantly without even a grunt of noise. A rebel charged at Amherst, but Amherst kept his cool and threw one sword outward, sticking the rebel in the stomach, and then, with his other sword, stuck it in the rebel’s back.
Auvgustus took out the other rebel with his bare claws, sticking them right through his throat, killing him in less than a second. But before long, another soldier, dressed from head to toe in heavy armor made from a metal known as “Orcaline” came in with a shield and a large sword. “Allow me to introduce myself – Vasha the Warmonger, at your service!” The heavy soldier said. Auvgustus and Amherst struck each other looks of fear, but they shook it off and readied themselves for a fight.
Amherst charged, but was bashed with Vasha’s shield, and it made him stagger and fall, but he had no intentions of giving up, so he stood and charged again, with his sword pointed outward. Amherst hit Vasha in the chest, but the sword didn’t pierce through the armor enough to reach Vasha himself. Vasha grinned when he got hit and swung his sword, slicing Amherst in the stomach. Amherst fell to the ground and lay there still, in complete shock.
Auvgustus swung his battle axe and knocked Vasha’s shield of his hand, then next swung at his hands, knocking his sword to the ground. Vasha put up his fists and said, “Let’s fight like men, huh?” Auvgustus threw down his axe and readied his claws, then, before Vasha could react, Auvgustus knocked him to the ground. He ripped off Vasha’s mask and started hitting him in the face, bloodying his nose and knocking out his vision. Auvgustus readied his claws and stuck them into Vasha’s eyes, then into his throat, leaving his body completely still.
Amherst attempted to get himself up, but he was in too great of pain to do so, so he just lay still on the ground, panting heavily. Auvgustus ran over to him and knelt down to take a look at his wound – it was deep, and blood was spewing, then they both grew worried. “Don’t worry, I’m gonna get us back to the barracks, we’ll have you better in no time.” Auvgustus said, as he lifted Amherst to his feet. “Just wrap your arm around me, and I’ll carry you back. Keep your hand over your wound, or else the blood will spill even more.” Auvgustus told his wounded friend.
The trip down the mountain was long, and it seemed they would never reach the city, but finally, they came to the gates, and there waited Marco for their return. “We’ve got wounded, sir!” Auvgustus shouted as they approached. “By the Gods, get him to the barracks!” Marco ordered. Auvgustus rushed and took Amherst down to a bed, where he’d lay and wait for proper medical attention.
Once they got downstairs, the other soldiers spread out to find medical materials, and Auvgustus sat Amherst down in a bed. Amherst’s bleeding had slowed down, but it was still draining from him, when then one of the healers from a temple in the town came in. “We’ve brought a few potions of which the alchemist brewed – give him this one here, and we’ll see about getting him stitched up.” The healer said. “Thank you, alright friend, take a drink of this…easy, nice and slow.” Auvgustus said as he handed Amherst the potion. Amherst took a quick drink of the potion and let out a sigh of relief; it worked as a paralytic potion, so it would numb his body and he wouldn’t move to make any unnecessary pains where he was hit.
Marco walked into the barracks and up to the bed where Amherst was lying, and started speaking to him. “You did a fine job out there, Amherst. We’ll have the cook make you a stew with some healing herbs in it, and then the healer will stitch your wound up. That potion should stop the bleeding as well, but if it resumes, call for somebody.” He said. “T-Thank you, Marco, r-reach into my knapsack, the documents are there.” Amherst said. “Even after all of this, you still bring me the papers I requested – you are a reliable soldier, Amherst, I’m glad to have you as a soldier. As for you, Auvgustus, your pay will be doubled for your help.” Marco said.
Marco left the room with the documents from Amherst’s knapsack, leaving him to wait for the healer. Auvgustus sat on the foot of Amherst’s bed and sat for a while in silence, twiddling his thumbs, when finally, he spoke. “I’m sorry, Amherst, that you were injured like this.” Auvgustus said softly, with a bit of guilt in his voice. “I should have been paying attention, instead I let you get hurt-“ Amherst shushed Auvgustus. “I-It’s not your fault. I tried to t-take on that behemoth myself, and I paid the price for it. You handled him like it w-was your day job.” Amherst grinned at the grizzly and he smiled back.
The cook for the soldiers came into the room with a wooden bowl filled with vegetable stew, mixed with crushed up herb. “This should make you feel better; it’ll stop any infections and so on. Drink up, you’ll need it.” The cook said as he tilted the bowl into Amherst’s mouth. Amherst took a sip of the stew and laid his head back to rest, Auvgustus gave him a pat on the leg and left the room.