Copyright© 2015 by Allan Kindred
When opportunity knocks you better open the door.
The word goes out that command is looking for a unit to volunteer to escort a wagon with some important intelligence information about the war in the North. The wagon is heading for the capital city of Revarde. The word around the camp is that the Ogres have joined the war, and the Wolveris, Mercenaries and Black Army, oh excuse me, Imperial Army, have been dealt a crushing blow and need reinforcements right away.
Of course Tracer immediately volunteers his unit. Unfortunately the lieutenant falls sick and can't go with them, so Tracer is given the command. It is the strangest thing about the lieutenant getting sick. Tracer wonders if it had something to do with the poison he put in his drink?
They are ordered to get underway immediately.
Now at first Tracer can't understand why a covered wooden panel wagon is needed to take information to the capital, when it will be a lot quicker for a single rider to make the journey. He doesn't understand it until he sees a young woman in chains being loaded into the back of the wagon.
When Tracer asks, "What's this about?"
The commanding general tells him, "Shut up and carry out your orders."
In the week Tracer has been back at the camp, Sergeant Bertro and he have become friends. Tracer turns around and sees him looking at him.
Sergeant Bertro walks up to Tracer and says, "The poor girl is meant to be sent back to the continent and city of Drearson, to be sacrificed to their gods."
Tracer has a lot of good qualities and a lot of horrible qualities, but he never considered himself a Seer. A Seer is a person who can see the future. But he can see with perfect clarity that the information or this girl isn't going to make it to Revarde.
When they pull out of the camp and start heading in a west southwesterly direction towards Revarde, Tracer thinks he is the happiest he has ever been in his life. Certainly, even if he can find a way to kill the twenty riders with him and stop the girl and information from getting to Revarde, they will learn of the news eventually. But just maybe it will give his people the extra time to crush the enemy forces in the Dandum Mountains, and set up their defenses so no amount of reinforcements will help the black forces.
It will take a week of straight riding with the wagon along to make it to Revarde. Tracer is under orders not to stop for more than an hour a day. They are to sleep and eat on horseback. Tracer is also under strict orders not to let the girl out of the back of the wagon the whole time. There is no way he is going to leave that poor girl back there in that wagon for a whole week. Tracer decides he will tell her of his plans, because he doesn't want her to go into such a deep despair that she will lose her mind. Believe me when I say Tracer knows what that is like, and he wouldn't wish it on his worse enemy.
They travel for a full day before Tracer orders the column to stop and rest.
Tracer barks out his order, "Let the girl out of the wagon and unchain her."
One of the veterans looks at him with fear in his eyes, "Sergeant, is that a good idea? If anything happens to this girl they will kill us all."
Tracer informs him, "It would be better to be later rather than sooner." he gets his meaning and releases the girl.
Tracer asks, "Milady, do you need to relieve herself?"
She looks at Tracer suspiciously and says, "I do, yes. Thank you." Tracer thinks he recognizes her accent.
One of the soldiers volunteers, "Hey, Sergeant, I'll escort her out into the thicket of trees." Half the soldiers laugh.
But Tracer sternly tells him, "Just go around the other side in case she tries to run. It is I who is putting us all in grave danger, so I will watch her."
The other soldier thinks about it for a second, "I wholeheartily agree, Sarge."
Tracer takes her left hand into his right hand tenderly, and guides her until they disappear into the thicket of trees and Tracer turns his back so she can relieve herself.
While Tracer is turned around he starts saying, "Milady, I know you have no reason to believe a word I say, but I tell you now I will allow no harm to befall you. I am from another country that is under attack by these dark forces, and I have come here to try and find a way to battle them. Because of our obvious situation here I cannot go into full detail, but I will find a way." He can't see her face to know if she can even understand him, but when she is finished and he turns around he can tell she understood him but is skeptical of him. Smart girl.
Tracer inquires, "Milady, might I ask your name?"
"My name is Katiely and I am twenty-four years old. Why?" She has the sweetest voice Tracer has ever heard. It is a southern belle accent similar to Tron's.
"As I told you, milady, I will let no harm befall you, and if I am to risk my life for you I would wish to know your name before I die. You are beautiful. I mean, uh, never mind?" She smiles a smile that endears her to Tracer's heart forever, as she turns away shyly.
She is a gorgeous creature. She has long brunette hair and endless green eyes. At the moment she is wearing only a simple brown peasant dress, but it is easy to tell she is immaculate. She is barely over five foot, and would be lucky to weigh ninety stonelings.
On the way out of the thicket heading back to the wagon, Tracer sees a red and white flower standing out alone and beautiful, so he bends down and picks it.
He turns to Katiely, takes her hand, and places the flower in it and says, "Katiely, keep this flower hidden and close to your heart so that you may come to believe I mean you no harm." She looks at him, very confused.
Every time they stop they talk. "I am from a little fishing village on the eastern coast of Escrotry, and my entire village and family were killed." Tracer sees the tears and hears the heartbreak in this poor girl's heart. "It was a beautiful village and I miss it very much."
More than ever, Tracer is going to make whoever is responsible for bringing this suffering into the world pay for what they have done.
In those same days she starts to believe what he is telling her. "Katiely, I am so sorry for your pain. If there is one thing I have learned from this journey I am on, it is I cannot change the past no matter how much I may wish to, but I promise to you on my life that I will escort you to a better future." It isn't Tracer's words that make her believe him; it is the truth and tenderness in his voice when he says those beautiful words to her.
"I'm from a quaint little village in the Valley of the Sleepy Dragon."
"Oh, that is a wonderful name. It brings to mind such beauty and wonder. Have you ever seen a dragon?" she asks hopefully.
Tracer laughs, "No, and I looked everywhere."
Katiely is beginning to like this man very much, but she isn't sure how honest she should be with him, yet.
Through her mask of torment and pain Tracer can see a light of hope dawning. Most likely because in those first few days Tracer lets her ride in the wagon unchained, and finally he lets her ride behind him on Ram. Her brown calf length peasant dress rides up on her, and after he continuously catches the other soldiers leering, Katiely and Tracer figure a way to have a blanket around her. It also makes it more comfortable for her, for which she is grateful beyond words.
Tracer's unit is getting more scared the closer they get to Revarde, and finally that fear is turning to suspicion. On the fourth day out Tracer knows he has to make his move soon. How is he going to kill twenty soldiers by himself?
Tracer tells Katie, as he starts calling her, "Milady, you need to go back into the wagon because it is time." he has to kill the veterans first.
At their next stop he follows two of the veterans into the brush as they go to relieve themselves. He slits their throats. There is no turning back now. Tracer strings his bow and notches his first arrow.
Tracer screams, "Watch out! Rebels!" and then he lets loose with his first arrow.
By the time Tracer is done the other three veterans are dead, along with four of the recruits. That still leaves eleven soldiers.
Tracer stumbles out of the thicket and yells, "This way, men, I have them on the run. Well, come on! Charge!" They hesitate for only a moment and then rush towards the brush.
When they pass Tracer he tells them, "Spread out into groups of three." and then he follows them in.
The three Tracer takes with him he kills as quickly and quietly as he can.
Tracer goes towards the next group of three, and one of the recruits turns to him and says, "I don't understand, sir." and then his eyes go big as Tracer runs him through.
The other two are dumbfounded and are easy kills. Tracer goes through the brush and continues killing. Finally there are only two remaining, but they have seen what he is doing and they run back to their horses and the wagon and they ride off at top speed towards Revarde.
Tracer can tell they are taking the wagon to a very dangerous speed. He can just imagine Katiely getting thrown around and getting hurt. Tracer does a running jump onto Ram and they go into hot pursuit. It only takes them slightly over a minute to catch up to the wagon. Ram maneuvers himself alongside the wagon, and all in one motion Tracer grabs the soldier leading the wagon and pulls him off while pulling himself up onto the wagon. The soldier breaks his neck from the fall, and the other soldier, seeing what is happening, keeps on riding.
Tracer stops the wagon and runs around to the back and gets Katiely out.
Tracer holds out his arms and grabs Katiely around the waist and helps her out of the wagon. She is looking at him with her beautiful green eyes. "Are you all right, sweetheart?"
"I'm shaken, but uninjured." she says in her sweet southern belle accent and a smile.
Ram comes up to them and Tracer mounts. Then Tracer pulls Katiely up in front of him, because they are going to have to ride hard back to the original battle site. Tracer wraps his sword arm tightly around Katiely and they take off.
When they get there, Tracer tells Katiely, "Grab a horse for yourself and all the supplies you can find." She doesn't even hesitate.
Tracer grabs an extra sword and several daggers, giving one to Katiely, and another bow with lots of arrows. Plus they take any money and gold the fallen soldiers have on them. It turns out to be a lot, and Tracer then knows that the soldiers have been robbing and shaking down the population. It will take the recruit less than two days to reach Revarde at the speed he is traveling. Tracer just hopes he doesn't run into another patrol before that.
Tracer decides that this huge thicket is a good sign that the woodlands aren't too far away. He points them south, and they ride hard and straight through for a whole day before they reach the woodlands. Once inside, Tracer allows them to stop and rest for a few minutes. So far everything has been going well. They haven't seen any patrols in front of them and they can't see any pursuit behind them.
While they are resting, Tracer starts thinking about what he did back there. Those boys trusted him and he led them to slaughter. The memory comes back to him that he promised to do whatever he had to do to fulfill his journey. He can't even call it his Life Quest anymore. This is war, and there are no rules. Tracer sighs.
Tracer looks over and sees Katiely looking at him. She tries to give him a reassuring smile, but he can tell she doesn't feel it.
"Let's get moving, Katiely."
They have to dodge several patrols, but they don't seem like they are looking for anything specific, only doing their routine patrol.
Finally they come to a creek running through the woodlands. The underbrush is very thick and it is high enough for the horses and them to safely hide in for the night.