The Adventures of Kyran The Luckless Recruit - Episode 4
Author: Elyss Koh'inor
Help Kyran the Luckless Recruit navigate a path of danger and excitement! At the end of each episode, vote in the comments to set Kyran in the right direction. You can also catch up by reading the first episode, second episode, and the third episode.
Kyran slept easily the rest of the night, never waking and never dreaming. When he woke up Saiph was nowhere to be seen and the winter sun was straining weakly through one window.
He got up and dressed himself. Kyran still felt that his waist was too light without the weight of his sword hanging there.
When he was done he walked over to the window. His feet felt steady beneath him and there was no more dizziness. The world outside the farmhouse was covered with an unbroken blanket of snow that glittered in the sun.
The door opened behind him and Kyran turned to see Saiph come in. The farmer carried two long quarterstaffs, which he propped by the door.
“Good to see you up and about boy,” he said, coming closer to the fire and rubbing his hands. “You don’t want to tire yourself though.”
Kyran nodded. “I was thinking about your offer.”
Saiph raised an eyebrow.
“I’d be glad to help you.”
The farmer grinned and clapped a hand on Kyran’s shoulder. “Good boy. I’d hoped you’d see sense.”
Kyran nodded towards the quarterstaffs. “You weren’t kidding about the bandits and trollocs then?”
Saiph shrugged, settling into a chair by the fire. “Can you use a staff boy?”
The Recruits at the tower were taught to handle many different weapons. Kyran always preferred a sword to a quarterstaff, but he could defend himself with one if he needed to.
Saiph made him rest most of the day, and in the afternoon a wizened healer arrived to check Kyran over. A half hour of prodding later and she commended Saiph on his healing abilities. Kyran was given permission to walk about and build his strength back up before he and Saiph left to transport the goods.
Each hour seemed like a delay to Kyran. He could feel that something was different about himself. He couldn’t quite put his finger on it, but he supposed it was because he had channeled. Would he be able to do it again?
He remembered the bolts of lightning in the training obstacle course and the pillar of fire. Was that sort of power just beyond his fingertips?
Within a few days the snow had melted down enough for travel, so Kyran and Saiph loaded up a cart with barrels and crates and began to ride for a town Saiph called Easton.
“Easton port has the most river traffic near here,” Saiph explained as they rode. He was guiding the cart and its two horses while Kyran rode on his own horse beside him. “You’ll be more likely to find passage there, and I’m more likely to find higher prices.”
Kyran watched as heavy clouds moved over the sun. “More snow?”
Saiph squinted at the clouds, then shrugged. “Maybe. We’ll stop at a village that’s about halfway to Easton. I have a friend there that will give us shelter for the night.”
The two rode on in pleasant silence for a while. Kyran felt on edge. This long, winding road would be the perfect spot for an ambush by bandits. He wouldn’t allow himself to believe that trollocs had appeared out of the blue.
Even still, he checked that he could pull his quarterstaff out from his small bundle of belongings quickly.
When the sun had nearly reached its apex Saiph pulled some bread and dried meat from a satchel by his side.
“We’ll be able to cross the Lion’s Creek Bridge soon,” he said, breaking into Kyran’s thoughts. “From there it’s five miles to my friend’s house.”
Kyran nodded, taking his share of the midday meal. “We seem to be making good time.”
Saiph shrugged. “The road after the bridge will be muddy and hard going after all this snow. I’d be surprised if we reach his house before dark.”
Kyran’s horse suddenly began to dance beneath him, snorting and rolling its eyes. The cart horses stopped pulling steadily and reared with whinnies of fright.
Saiph and Kyran exchanged one look before they emerged from the bend in the road.
Hulking beasts that stood as tall as Kyran sitting on his horse. Some had the heads of goats, or hawks, or other strange creatures. A hard knot of fear formed in Kyran’s stomach.
The five beasts started to line up across the road.
They’ll block our way once they’re set in place, Kyran thought, remembering his training. He didn’t allow himself time to think much longer. He kicked his horse forward, getting his quarterstaff free from his other baggage.
He heard Saiph cursing as he mastered the cart horses from behind him. The farmer rode right on Kyran’s heels, ready to punch through the small line of trollocs.
The beasts seemed surprised by the charge, and Kyran swung the heavy quarterstaff into the nearest trolloc’s face.
The wood connected with a satisfying crack, and the trolloc stumbled back.
Ducking a sword’s swing from another trolloc, Kyran made it past the beasts. Glancing over his shoulder he saw Saiph hit two trollocs with the butt of his staff in a lightning combination before the cart was through.
The horses no longer needed spurring forward. They ran with all the speed they could muster.
Another look over his shoulder and Kyran could see that the trollocs were giving pursuit.
"Get in front!” He yelled to Saiph.
The farmer nodded and the two traded places. The cart thundered forward, rattling and bumping along the country road, and occasionally throwing puffs of snow up from the wheels.
The trollocs were gaining. The cart was too slow, and the horses weren’t meant to pull it this fast for this long.
“There’s the bridge ahead!” Saiph yelled “I can hold them there while you ride on.”
“What? No!” Kyran said.
“Boy these horses aren’t as young as they once were. Remember what I said about the soggy road? When we cross that bridge I’m getting off and sending the cart ahead.”
Kyran looked at the farmer’s face set with determination. If the fast strikes with the quarterstaff were any indication, Saiph could use a staff well.
Before Kyran had time to think any more the cart was rattling over the boards of an old bridge. A small brook, shrunk by winter ice, ran underneath. Didn’t trollocs hesitate to cross running water?
As soon as the cart was across Saiph slowed just enough so he could hop down, quarterstaff held easily in one hand. The horses and cart thundered down the road without him.
“Go on boy!” he yelled, standing at the end of the bridge. “I can hold them long enough to give you a head start.”
Kyran looked at the group of trollocs that were fast approaching, and the farmer’s determined lines.
What should Kyran do? Should he RUN from the trollocs, or FIGHT with Saiph?
Vote in the comments before April 25th to help determine Kyran's fate!