An Arduous Quest – Chapter Seven

Unexpected Attack

 

“Ahhhhrrr!” Arden sighed; frustrated as the rabbit he was currently hunting heard the leaves crinkle beneath his feet. He had got up as early as possible so he could to practice stalking and impress the senior Ranger. So far he had tracked and followed several other creatures, but had not caught one. As the rabbit sprung away Arden wished he could chase after it, but there was no point. It could easily outrun him and Voeren had strictly told him not to stray too far from the hut without him. Upset and annoyed with himself, the half-a-Ranger trampled back inside.
“I see you’ve been practicing.” said Voeren, sitting at the table and now gesturing to the seat opposite him. Arden sat down and Voeren continued,”Just keep trying, you’ll get it eventually.”
“You think so!?” Arden said, looking up hopefully.
“Eventually.” Voeren whispered, smiling as the little apprentice lowered his head and glared at him. After breakfast Arden and Voeren went back out. Closing his eyes Voeren calmed the waves and ripples in his mind and listened. He could hear the birds singing, the trees whistling and the faint sound of a bee floating in front of his face.
“CRUNCH!” The experienced Ranger identified the sound as something stepping on some leaves, to his left, between two or three feet away. Realistically the sound was minute, but the noise bounced around Voeren’s brain like an over-excited porcupine. Voeren lunged forward, opened his eyes and faced the young trainee.
“Better, but you threw it all at the last second because you were concentrating on me, not you and your own movements. Am I correct?” Arden nodded, dismayed. They spent several more hours of this, but Arden still could not get the hang of it. Just as they were about to go in for lunch, the two Rangers heard the gallop of hooves. Faint at first, it soon got louder, until a royal messenger materialised through the trees and thickets surrounding the cottage and the area around it.
“Sir! The baron has been attacked and severely injured!” the messenger shouted, “Come quickly!” Voeren nodded as his face lost all colour, and then he and Arden rushed to the stables, hopped onto their steeds and followed the herald to Mount Garly, riding as fast as the wind would carry them.

“Open the door. Voeren’s come.” the herald said after leading the Rangers to the hospital ward, where the Baron was being kept.
“Come in!” a nurse replied from behind the door, dragging the heavy, oak slab door open as she spoke. As the Rangers came in, another nurse told them that:
“He’s unconscious, and his right leg has been ripped off.”
“Wha . . . wha . . . what did this?” Voeren whispered, his voice wavering.
“We do not know . . .” Voeren turned around to see who was there; it was one of Caspian’s advisers, Charles.
“Perhaps you would like to inspect his room?” the adviser continued.
“Yes.” Voeren said, becoming calmer. So they headed towards the Baron’s personal quarters. Determined to find a lead, Voeren thoroughly searched every nook and cranny of the room, until he found a small, glowing, jagged tooth clinging to the wall prodding out from behind the curtains. He went pick it up but the second his bare, fleshy fingers touched the edge of the curved sabre-like tooth, Voeren yelped and recoiled.
“AHHHHRRRRR!” he exclaimed, nurturing his wounded hand as a thick line of blood began seeping through his skin. He wrapped the cut in his camouflage-cloak, turning the colour of it a deep purple.
“Would you like me to get a healer?” Charles asked.
“No, no. It’s fine, just go and get some water please.” Voeren replied. While this was happening, Arden crept over to the tooth, and gently tapped it with his right, index finger on its smooth side.  Precipitously a rainbow of colours exploded in Arden’s face, sending him crashing against the wall opposite him. While Arden was flung around the room, he cried out as he saw his dad, struggling to stay alive as a monstrous beast clawed at him and bit him. Arden screamed, he screamed so loud that the residents of the whole castle heard it. It was a noise Voeren had never listened to before, a cry of pain, anguish, sorrow and suffering. It was a sound that wanted to end its life, but could not. Arden was the one physically screaming, but it was cry from all his lost family, using him as a link to the real world.
“Damn magic!” Voeren shouted as his young apprentice collapsed on the floor. Running to aid his apprentice, Voeren noticed that the tooth had fallen onto the floor, and the glow that was now diminishing. After helping Arden up, the senior Ranger crept up to the sharp object, and carefully wrapped it into his cloak.
“We need to take this to the Rulavar caves.” he said to himself. The Rulavar cave system was west of the capital, just over a week’s ride from Mount Garly. Helping the traumatised boy to his feet, he whispered gently,
“Are you all right?” No reply.”I’ll take that as a no then. Arden you need to tell me what happened.”
“I …I saw my d…d… Dad!” Again Arden burst out with tears onto his master’s shoulder.
“What was happening?” Voeren asked, his tone of voice becoming more edgy/curious.
“He was a … a … attacked! By a… a… well, I don’t know!” He finished, letting out another wave of tears. It was all clear to Voeren now. The same creature that killed Arden’s parents must also be responsible for the attack on the Baron. Oh, and apparently it’s also magical, according to the tooth it left behind. After saying farewell to Charles, Voeren soothed Arden back to the petite cottage. It was midday, but Arden wasn’t hungry. After calming down from the past few hours, the young apprentice mulled over what had happened. Every time he re-watched his father’s death, it was like receiving a fresh set of wounds. And every time he saw the murderous beast, his anger grew. His determination grew. He wanted revenge.

 

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