Arden was woken by a growling noise, reverberating around him. He looked at the moon to tell him the time. It was at its highest point. Midnight. Always Midnight. Arden thought to himself as he got out of his tent to investigate. As he fumbled to get out he heard the tearing canvas, followed by his master crying out. He rushed out, grabbed his bow and instinctively, knocked, drew and aimed. Arden’s keen eyes spotted the dark figure carrying a limp Voeren in-between the monsters hairy arms, but he also saw the figure lying in wait on the side-lines. They were getting away with his friend. Prioritising targets, Arden began slamming arrow after arrow into the creature carrying Voeren. Arden managed to fire six projectiles, and 8 seconds, before the other monster was on him. With his hunting knife drawn, he prepared for the . . .
“THUMP!” The beast leapt at the small boy with the needle, sending him flying and tumbling across the ground. Arden coughed as all the air in his lungs escaped him, and he now realised this battle would be more perilous than he first imagined. Getting up, he gripped his dagger and thrust it towards the oncoming monster, he could feel it pushing against the beast’s stomach, the enemy had stopped moving. Arden released his weapon and took a cautious step back. It wasn’t dead. The monster looked up, almost grinning. Arden studied his knife, it had become jagged and thick, tar-hardened hair was looped around his weapon.
“We will meet again, you and I. Destiny has already bound that.” the creature spat. Arden was shocked, they were obviously intelligent. But why would they leave? The creature had a deep, growling unworldly voice, and it unnerved the young boy. It turned away slowly, then scampered off to help its friend. Arden was kicking himself inside for letting his master go so easily. Another friend, almost family member Arden had lost in his life. He felt a wave of depression fall over him, but he held it back, just. Arden knew he must rescue Voeren, and avenge his parents. The depression was replaced by fierce, grief-founded determination. He would find those murderers, monsters and slay them! As the young apprentice set off to gather supplies from the camp, he noticed something. Something purple was shimmering in the moonlight. Like an ocean at night. Arden shuffled closer. There was thick pile of it. Then Arden noticed smaller puddles of the strange substance dotted in a trail-like fashion off into the distance. Arden poked the liquid. It was sticky. Blood. Arden realised one of his shots got lucky and wounded the beast carrying Voeren. He would catch them up in no time! The young man decided to get some sleep; he would hate to hunt the creatures at night, let alone fight them, it would be too eerie.
Arden had not slept. He was haunted by the possibility of losing another key person, and what the creatures would do to Voeren. But also of the daunting task of doing the mission alone. Arden would be thirteen in a month’s time, so realistically in two year’s time he would only just be allowed to even join the Rangers and begin training, let alone go on a mission without supervision! Arden knew there was a reason for this and felt unready: he still had so much to learn, years of practice. But he knew his only options were to go it alone or give up, and Arden refused to take one of them. He hadn’t even met with the rest of the CORPs yet, as the meeting ground was sacred and only apprentices two years into their training was allowed to even know the location of it, it was then up to their masters to decide if they were ready. (Voeren had told Arden this several days after the Gists incident) So basically there could be a Ranger posted in the nearest village and he’d never know it, or help could be miles away. The troubled young boy got up and looked at the sun. It was 5 o’clock. Arden was up early, and he knew he’d have to be to catch up with those creatures and his master. Up and dressed, Arden stepped outside, inhaled the fresh air and magical orange rainbow of dawn, and began packing up the tents and gear. Halfway through the job he realised he couldn’t carry on with both horses, consequently, neither could his horse carry all the gear. Then he had a brilliant idea! Arden could use the wooden plank they had used to support one of the tents when it became unstable like a seat. If he pierced two holes either side (and held on really tight when riding!) he could then loop some string through the holes and saddles to create a make-shift chair! perfect. Beginning to look around for the equipment he needed, Arden spotted a lead piled up against the bags. Or I could use that. He thought to himself. Sighing he started to load the provisions onto the horses. Once finished, the determined half-a-Ranger noticed something glinting in the daylight. On closer inspection Arden could make out the shape of a large tooth. The tooth! He’d forgotten all about that! It must’ve fallen out of Voeren’s pocket when he was taken. Arden was glad that he had found it, as an apprentice, his tracking skills were certainly not as good as Voeren’s, so the magical tooth was probably Arden’s only hope of rescuing his master. An hour it took for Arden to finish preparing, and finally, at 6:00 in the morning, he was ready.
It had been a day much like the previous, a lot of ground covered but no progress made. Arden had noticed one difference, though, and that was he felt lonely, but also a sense of déjà vu, as the feelings were similar to those he experienced when he lost his mother and father. Concentrating on the task ahead, he pushed aside bad memories and set up camp again, but this time only one tent was needed, only one mouth to feed. Voeren had made them dinner the last two nights, and Arden felt something was missing from the food he had cooked himself when he ate it. Conversation, he realised. Arden paused from eating to think of what might happen, what might have already happened to his master. Arden assured himself he would successfully rescue Voeren and avenge his parents, then carried on eating. Before settling down for some sleep, Arden anxiously patrolled the perimeter to check for another attack, even though he knew the tooth had told him that his enemies were straight ahead. Eventually, he climbed into his tent and got some shut-eye.