��������������������������������������������������� ����Chapter 1 - The raid
������������������������� As twilight seemed to reach it's peak, young Mark overheared his mom, Linda talking. She spoke lightly as if she wanted no one to hear her. Mark realized that she was talking to his father Roy. Linda whispered, "we need to find better jobs in this village or we'll have to start selling our weapons and clothes." Roy staggered, mumbling, "now don't be so sudden. We can still pay our debt." Linda knew their jobs wouldn't support their family, but she agreed with her husband and started to cook�dinner.
����������������������� When she was halfway done cooking dinner�Linda called Mark over. She asked him to obtain onions for the stew she was boiling. She gave him three coins and sent him on his way. They lived in the medieval times in small village. Mark left in a hurry so he could leave the gloomy feeling of his home. His village was shaped in a huge circle and had only one unique�event. It�occured directly in the middle of the village. It was an annual festival that had a competition.
��������������������� The competition had three main tests, which included the strength, speed, and intelligence test. To be a competitor you would have to be thirteen years of age. Mark was twelve and he always had a broad physique, but he was only mediocre at running and solving problems.
��������������������� When Mark reached the vegetable stand, he bought a carrot for himself, and three onions for his mom's stew. On the way back home, Mark saw the festival. The competition just began, so he started to run. He gave his mom the onions and headed back to observe the competition. On the way back to the festival he began to eat his carrot with caution. He wanted to ration it out so he wouldn't become too hungry during the competition. Mark sat on a tree to inspect the competition because the festival cost money, unless you were a competitor in the competition. Mark saw waves of contenders compete, but none were a match for Bruno. Bruno wasn't big, but he was strong, fast, and intelligent.
��������������������� The strength test was to first lift a boulder that weighed over one-hundered and fifty pounds. After you would lift the boulder, you would climb up a twenty foot to reach the top of a tower. The last thing you would have to do is play tug-of-war with another competitior on the opposing side. Whoever lost would fall into a ten foot mud pit. The speed test was a five mile race in the woods that was right next to the village. The intelligence test was when the contestant's make up their own riddles, while others try to solve them. The prize for that year was a year supply of food for the winner. Mark watched Bruno start the strength test. Bruno ran to the boulder, gripped it tightly and then tugged it into the air in one stride of motion. Bruno carried the boulder to the rope with no problems. He started to climb the rope swiftly but he started to slow down near the middle of the rope. The crowd gasped as soon as Bruno stopped, but he was just�drawing attention like he did every year. Bruno raced up the rope and made it to the top of the tower. Bruno� grabbed the rope to start the tug-of-war. He pulled agressively with all of his strength and then after a while he pulled his opponent into the mud pit. Bruno's oppponent teirled during the free fall from the tower and sunk into the mud pit.
������������������� Mark applauded from the tree. During Mark's clapping, a loud voice cut through. "Hey kid this is not a free show, get down from there!" Mark, startled, jumped from the tree and took off running. Mark sprinted as fast as he could. He ran until he realized the guard of the festival wasn't chasing him.
��������������������He walked home to find his front door locked.�Mark walked to the side window to peek in. He saw his mom asleep, but he couldn't see his father anywhere. Mark felt a hand reach over to his shoulder. He screamed in astonishment but he realized it was his father Roy. Roy said "I know you didn't eat dinner yet, but I want to show you something so meet me out back." Mark followed his dad in confusion. When they arrived at their backyard, Roy pulled out a sword from behind a haystack and handed it to Mark. "Handle this with caution," Roy said. "I think it's time for you to learn the skill of a swordsman." The sword was just a plain sword. It was nothing like Roy's other sword. His other sword weighed about thirty pounds and it was sharpened brillantily. Roy said,"Mark I want you to practice with me everyday but right now I just want you to practice on the haystacks. Don't worry, tomorrow the real training begins." Mark jabbed the sword into the haystacks a couple of times, ripping threads of it into the air. Roy said, "very nice but anyone can strike something that doesn't move.Well anyway, we'll start the more complicated swordplay tomorrow. Just get some rest.� You can keep the sword if you want it." Mark walked away with a sense of excitment.
������������������� He layed still in his bed, staring at the ceiling. He could not fall asleep, so he grabbed his new sword and rose out of bed. He walked into the moonlight, shining through his window. Mark waved the sword around, slashing and swaying. He fell asleep after an hour of swordplay.
��������������������He woke up before sunrise�and had some of his mom's leftover stew. He stretched and then walked out with his new sword. Mark went out to the back again where the haystacks were. He layed his sword against a tree right next to the haystacks. Mark tucked his hands under a stack of hay and tried to lift it up. To his surprise, Mark lifted it up halfway and then his arms blazed with a burning sensation so he dropped it. He picked up his sword and started to cut one-fourth of the haystack off. He tried again and pulled the haystack over his head.
�������������������� Mark did that for a�couple hours until his muscles were aching severely. Mark picked up his and he was excited to find out that his sword felt lighter than usual. He layed against the tree, thinking about�the competition and how he would ever be able to beat Bruno . Mark was thinking of what riddles he would make up for the competition. After a while Roy came out to find Mark sleeping against the tree. Roy tapped Mark's foot with sword. Mark woke up to see his father staring down at him with a cold stare. "Get up, there's�no time for naps." Mark's muscles were painfully sore. He replied , "sure, let's start training." Roy pulled out a blindfold and then wrapped it around Mark's eyes. Roy said, " today we're going to work on your senses. If you can strike blindfolded, then you should have no problem striking when you can't see"