Peter and Jard trotted through the outskirts of the city of tears. It was the poorest area of all. Hardly anyone spoke and the facial expressions showed nothing but pain and longing; longing for a better life, for a redeemer.
"Why wont they stop staring at us?" whispered Peter as he nervously fidgeted with his hands.
"I don't now Peter, just keep moving." Replied Jard.
To their left, an old skinny dog meandered through the dusty roads, nibbling at the remains of a dead bird. Two of the Kings men patrolled the area, making sure no one dare protest. To their right hung the body of a protester, a waring to any who dare resist. Fear filled the eyes of the tiered civilians as the sun baked their skin, making even young men appear old and wrinkled. The placed seemed to have lost all the life it once possessed. Even the children were silent, and unable to find joy in anything. A small boy broke the silence as he ran out of an old hut.
"Watch out! Its a dragon! He's going to kill us!" Cried the boy. "Run! Whoa! Now its a giant fish!"
"Shut up you stupid boy." Said his older brother as he shoved him. "Wake up." The young boy shook his head in bewilderment before saying,
"But I saw it, there was a--"
"You didn't see anything, now go back to bed and stop making a fool of yourself." Interrupted the brother.
"I know there was a dragon, I saw it." Muttered the boy to himself while he headed back inside. The surrounding people were not surprised by the boys action. Such events were not uncommon and the citizens quickly returned to their work.
"Somethings not right Jard; that just wasn't normal." Said Peter quietly.
"I think you might be right Peter." Jard paused for a while. "The more I think about it, the more I'm starting think that some of Edwards words may have been true." Again he paused as tried to muster the words. "Its strange, I feel like there have been certain barriers to my thinking, but I can see past them now. Almost like I can understand things I never could even begin to comprehend before. Like I can almost sense and feel life, sorta not just see it as a fiscal form, but as a...umm, I don't know. I can't describe it." Said Jard.
"Jard, your not making any sense at all." Peter declared flatly.
"Perhaps, I'm sorry, maybe its just me. But it just seems that I'm starting to understand things that words just can't explain. You see, because you can only describe what you see, hear, feel, touch or smell. But I feel like I can kinda sense something else, well, not exactly. Right now I almost feel like were being followed by some—Oh, I don't know.
"Okay, you've totally lost me now." Said Peter, "But look over there." A middle aged lady was huddled by a house; her son sat beside her. "She looks as if she is about to burst." The lady Lady's face was red with rage. Tears flowed down her face. Then...she could hold her feelings back no longer; she lost control.
"Curse the King! Curse him!!! I want my husband back!!" Screamed the lady at the Kings men.
"Mom, stop! You will be killed!" Cried her son.
"I don't care!! Curse the King! I want my husband! Give him back!" Cried the lady.
"Shut up lady!" Said the soldiers.
"Not until you give him back!" shouted the women, and she threw her fists vainly into the men. The men said no more, and calmly stabbed her though the heart.
"MOM!!! No!!!" shouted her son. He ran to hold his mother, but she was already dead. For a little while he said nothing, too shocked to even cry. Then rage filled his mind. He ran for the soldiers and battered them with his fists. The soldiers showed no compassion and raised their swords to do the same to him as his mother. Before the they could stab the boy, though, a large axe suddenly cleaved both the soldiers heads off.
Jard did not know what to do, so he did the only thing he could think of, he through his arms around the boy. For a long time the boy cried in Jard's shoulder. Eventually Jard released the boy, knowing the danger of leaving two dead soldiers in the middle of the street.
"Quick, we must bury the bodies. More soldiers are bound to come soon." Said Jard. He turned to the boy, who was still weeping, and put a hand on his shoulder, "There will be time to mourn for your mother later, a short burial must suffice for now." Fortunately they had help, the surrounding civilians were more than willing to do whatever they could for the cause. They quickly buried the soldiers, saving their swords, shields and leather armer.
"Sir," Said the boy, wiping the tears from his eyes. "I am forever at your service for whatever you want of me. I will be your servant forever."
"Do you have any family?" Asked Jard.
"No, My mother was all I had left." A new flood of tears flowed from the boys eyes. "I am ruined. The only satisfaction left in my life is avenging my families death."
"Then you may come with us. We are on a quest to find Princess Edith, and after that, I hope to end the reign of the king." Said Jard. To his surprise, he was received by a loud applause by the small crowd.
"Shhh, boy, do you want to come with us? Its now or never." Said Jard.
"Yes, I do want to come with you, but..." he looked back at the shallow grave where his mother lay. Jard could sense a deep sadness in the young man's eyes.
"What is your name," asked Jard,
"James." Said the boy.
"Then know this James. I feel your pain. I too have lost a mother. If you decide to come with me, I swear by the shield of my forefathers," he indicated his embossed shield, "that we will return to this place and pay your mother the proper respects. We have more urgent matters to attend to now. Are you with me?"
James looked up at Jard with a new sense of resoluteness and courage, one that he hadn't felt in a long time. "There is nothing left for me here Jard; besides, you saved my life. I am with you to whatever end."
Jard gripped James' hand, "Very well James, quickly gather your things and bring them out. Peter, grab the soldiers' horses, bring them over. Everyone else, please, return to what you were doing." Stated Jard authoritatively.
"We will die before we tell them what happened." Said a man in the crowd. The others nodded their heads in agreement and dispersed.
"Here are the horses." Said Peter as he handed the horses to Jard.
"Thank you. Now help James pack his things. After that, load the other horse with the weapons and armor of the soldiers. But leave room for a rider, we just may need it."
"Right away Jard." Said Peter. Sadly, though, he didn't need to help James pack his stuff because James could easily carry all his belongings in one arm. He only had a couple of small blankets, a little food, some water and a small knife his father gave him. They quickly packed the horses of the dead soldiers and said a last goodbye to the city's people.
The three companions were quickly out of the city of tears and heading down a long and dusty road leading from the city. James was still emotional about his mother, who's death would leave a scar forever. Even so, there was a part of James that was excited about the journey ahead of him. He had never left the city of tears and the quest before him was something he always dreamed of. James was ready to give everything he had for Jard, the man who saved his life.
Jard tried to recall the road networks of the Desert of Dreams, but it had been many years since he left the city of tears and his memory was vague. There was one place he remember though, a small stream his father used to use to replenish the horses. His father always claimed the stream gave the horses extra energy, but Jard, understandably, never really believed him.
As Jard trotted on the old road, which was desperately in need of repair, he couldn't forget a strange feeling that something unknown was following him. The feeling was never strong enough for Jard to take action though, and a cloaked man followed them unnoticed; it was almost dark.
"Alright, lets stop here for the night." Announced Jard, "tomorrow we will search for the stream."
"Huh, about time. That bloody saddle's been warring my backside raw, I can barely sit!" Said Peter. He awkwardly tried to dismount from his horse, but his foot got caught in the saddle and he thudded rear-first into the ground.
"Ouuuuch! Ohhhhh! Just kill me now!" Cried Peter. James covered his face as he couldn't help but chuckle at Peters hilarious lack of coordination. It had been a long time sense James laughed; it felt good.
"Oh, real funny. Go ahead, just sit and laugh while I'm dieing over here!" Said Peter, only half serious. Peter tried to stand...He failed.
"Gahhh! It hurts...Jard, help me up." Jard easily lifted Peter to his feet, who slowly walked his injury off. The companions quickly had a cold dinner and made their beds for the night. It was the cloaked figure's time to strike.
Jard was in the middle of a peaceful dream when it was interrupted. He saw a blur of bright colors before his eyes focused and he saw an old man standing in the middle of a lake. To Jard's surprise, he found that he could walk on the water too. He walked towards the man.
"Who are you?" Asked Jard.
"I have gone by many names, but you may call me Farran." Said the man.
"You seem familiar, have I seen you before?" Said Jard.
"I wouldn't be surprised, I've seen many people in my time."
"No, I know who you are, your the man of the house burned down a few days ago. You're dead." Said Jard slightly confused.
"Yes, that is me. Now Jard, you must listen to me." Farran's voice became serious. "You were given your strength for a purpose.
"What? How do you know about my strength?" Said Jard.
"Just listen. You must find Edith quick. Go to the stream and head follow it north till you find a massive tree with a hidden door. There you will find a women named Sara and hopefully Edith. Sara will give you advise on what to do next. When you find Edith, open the book. Do not loose the book." Said Farran quickly. Jard was confused by the words of the man.
"What book? What are you talking about. Slow down."
"The book." Farran paused for a while, then fear s truck his eyes. "Wake up! You are in terrible danger!!"
"What do you mean? I am awake, and no one is even near me." Said Jard totally confused. the man disappeared. Farran frantically searched Jard's mind, trying to gain control of his body. He couldn't. Even In Jard's sleep, his mind was too guarded to to control completely. Farran went back to Jard's thoughts and again cried,
"I'm awake!" shouted Jard, still clueless that he was actually asleep. Farran desperately searched for a way to wake Jard. A horrible thought came to him. Jard instantly found himself in a massive castle with a dark cloud covering the sky. Then he heard the sound of millions of voices crying out in pain. Jard was overwhelmed by the sound, and opened his eyes to see a cloaked man leaning over his face, dagger in hand. Jard screamed and lunged to the side, barely dodging the the man's dagger. As he prepared to thrust again, a small knife struck the man in the heart. The man gave a loud cry and fell the the ground, never to rise again. Jard looked to his left and saw James, a small sheath was in his hand. Peter was fast asleep.