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23 February 2010 @ 03:38 pm
Original - Fear & Fortitude Chapter 1  
Title: Fear & Fortitude
Author: telturwen
Chapter: Intro and 1
Genre(s): Fantasy, Friendship, Family
Rating: T
Disclaimer: All the following content belongs to the author. It may not be redistributed without the author's consent.
Summary: A monarchy needs a king to rule it and a war needs a leader, but it won't be the kings who are remembered here. The people of their realms who they thought would be forgotten, they will be the ones that change the timeline forever.
Notes: I'll be posting this over a looong period of time, since I only have maybe 7 chapters completed and I've been working on it for five years.



Introduction


Waves crashed on the sandy beach as white foam was carried in the shape of a snake’s back along its shoreline. Waves continued their pattern from high to low tide. Throughout the day, indents could be seen in the sand where feet had fallen. Every night, the waves came up and the markings were washed away, the beach made clean as if it had never been touched.

Age upon enduring age, there are people whose names are heard in tales which seem surreal to the rest of the world. Awe-inspiring champions and the adventures they underwent seem so fantasized that their lives and deeds are spoken as myths.

Perhaps some things are destined to be forgotten. Litanies heard as fairy tales children might be told before they fall asleep each night, with no real tribute but wonder. A fact may be built upon, but is the legend genuine once passed from bard to bard? There is only a small chance one of those stories truly occurred, but a chance is a chance, even if a small one. Heroes we remember were ordinary people with extraordinary courage and heart; selfless persons who gave themselves fully to a cause, putting others before them in the hope that their sacrifice would save another. So how must we judge a hero? How can we pick one out from the horde of the ordinary?

Footprints will be seen on the shore once again and the sea foam will reform its shape, for though fear is anxiety at its height, fortitude is the strength and will to ignore it.


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Yuen Forest


Commander Morvian’s main concerns were his ankles, which were receiving an unfair beating by two of his following guardsmen. He was not as frightened by the forest as much as the possibility of the skin on his heels peeling off, and that at the time was quite probable. Fortunately, Morvian had built up a fair amount of patience with his soldiers.

Exhausted and famished, the commander had only recently assessed his mission. His liege lord, King Eusol of Hyglen, had ordered him to gather a host of cavalry to seek out the barbarians of the Yuen Forest and offer an alliance based on a threat while entrapped within their dominion. A brilliant plan.

The horses put up such a fight he had been forced to leave more than half his train behind to fend for the stupid animals and enter the forest on foot. The men accompanying him were so panic-stricken he was certain they would have stayed behind had they been given the choice.

Reaching an agreement with the people of the forest was difficult enough, but King Eusol was bent on the creation of a pact, using their ‘divine abilities’ to win over the fast approaching war with Creet. ‘Divine’ was a pleasant term for the foresters; they were known to be ruthless devils when it came to weaponry and war. It was said these coldblooded beings were blessed by the death god, Jandros. Their lives were extended because the cruelty they inflicted on so many innocents pleasured the warmongering demigod. With the barbarians’ aid, they were sure to defeat the enemy, not that it would be much of a chore.

Creet’s military command was split off into seven ill-organized sections. Instead of one competent commander in charge of the entire army, there were appointed seven. Fourteen generals were in charge of one thousand men each instead of six commanding four. The captain position was kept the same, but the two lieutenants were promoted to higher ranks when clearly they were not prepared for them. For this reason they had stayed home to command the Layabout Troops—four thousand men much needed by the Creetian troops occupying the borders of Hyglen. They should have been fighting with the rest of their army, but instead were given listless orders from premature officers.

This only made Morvian’s job easier.

Times had changed and so had the enemy’s army. Due to the Creetian king’s mistake of branching the command too far out, it was less difficult to discover the torn kingdom’s secrets. From a dependent and evasive ally, Hyglen was able to obtain information on the king’s personal grudges, which had its advantages.

Why the army had been reorganized so poorly was due mainly to the appointment of Commander Brudais, a skilled young leader, vigorous in battle. He was also of distant line-age of Creet’s royal line and the son of a hero of the Crescent Moon War. This was the reason for King Tarison’s hatred of the man. He received far more attention than the newly crowned king, but there was also a great fear that his rising popularity would cause Creetian citizens to strategize a coup with Brudais at its head. The rumors were groundless, but the very shadow of the thought ate away at the young king and he would not allow even the idea of a coup in his new kingdom.

There was an elaborate stratagem that the arrogant King Tarison planned to destroy his regent uncle’s reputation. He was set on disabling the strong points of Regent Cavison’s rule. He saw his opening in the new commander’s promotion, because the army had rarely been stronger. In order to make his uncle look like a fool, the young king reorganized the entire army with the aid of his advisers and created a hopeless disaster of Creet’s military command.

It was laughable how ineffective the mess was and the neighboring countries had since desperately tried to probe and stab at the weak army. It was interesting to watch how they fared in each scrabble, and even their allies often joked of it over diplomatic affairs.

One of the most insulting of Creet’s neighbors was Hyglen. The two countries had never been on friendly terms before the war, and had no desire to sign contracts of aliment. After many years of pointed dislike, Tarison decided he did not approve of Hyglenian values. The unrevealed truth of the matter was that Eusol had been slighting the tyrant’s fruitless rule and Tarison’s agitation was ripening. So they did what kings in conflict do: they started a war.

Morvian heard a twig snap. It couldn’t have been more than twenty feet off. His five guardsmen were too busy drawing quivering breath to hear the quiet noise, something he planned to reprimand them for later. The commander raised a hand, gesturing the party to a halt. The soldiers searched the trees above and peered into the darkness, seeing nothing. Morvian took three careful steps forward and an arrow flew past his head, hitting the nearest tree trunk with a twack!

Seven shadowed figures appeared, surrounding the Hyglenian soldiers and cutting them off from their commander. Four more had jumped down from the branches above the party to encircle the leader. Their faces were pale when they stepped into the sunlight shining through the forest canopy and their eyes were unnaturally blue as Commander Morvian gazed in awe at the figures. Barbarians they surely were not, they more resembled faeries.

“Your purpose, trespasser?” said the man holding his next arrow inches from Morvian’s temple. He had a voice as smooth as stream water drifting over stones. “I assume your search party is for us. No man would be foolish enough to pass through the forest unarmed.”

“Then I must be in search of you, for I am no fool,” Morvian replied sternly, his tone sounding gruff in comparison.

The barbarian’s mouth curved upward. “That is mine to decide.”

Two others acted upon some hidden signal to grab the commander’s jerkin by the shoulders and drag him forward. Morvian did not struggle in their firm grasp, but wondered faintly about what they would do to his guardsmen. The leader spoke to his foresters surrounding his lads with orders, but the unfamiliar tongue was so beautiful the tone could hardly have been taken as anything but gentle.

He took the rear of the group that led the commander deeper into the forest and no one spoke the rest of the journey.


© Amy Kubica
All Rights Reserved 2010