“Troops,” King Robert said. Ten thousand of his finest men eagerly awaited his report. “I bring sad tidings. Our outpost in Owing was attacked by the Nickites. Though our forces fought valiantly, they were defeated. Before the last of them fell, information was stored on 5 inch memory hexagons, some of which tell the tale of the battle.” He took out a white hexagon, activated it, and held it to the microphone. A masculine voice emitted from the hexagon.
“Sire,” it said, “ we are being overrun by the Nickites. Our swordsmen are dying off and our archers are out of arrows. We’re outnumbered four to one, but the men refuse to retreat. We must fight until we have finished this archive. I can hear the Nickites talking about an attack on the capital. Prince Taylor will be leading it.” A whistling sound came from the hexagon, followed by a loud gasp from the speaker. He continued in a weakening voice. “Prepare for the attack. We’ll send someone to you with the archive. With it, avenge our deaths.” The voice ceased.
“The messenger which he spoke of was never found,” King Robert reported, “but we did find this lone hexagon five miles west of Owing. From there, our scouts saw a large Nickite encampment with the hexagons in their possession. If Prince Taylor has the rest of the hexagons, he may know that we have been informed of his upcoming attack and may increase the size of his army accordingly. I need not to recount the Nickite's attack on Mooreville, where Prince Taylor killed every living thing in the city and burned it down to ashes. If the report on this hexagon is true, we will need the aid of a legendary warrior in order to help repell their forces. Therefore, we must send someone to bring Sam the Great to us. His swordsmanship and leadership will be a great asset to our cause. He lives in Luedkedia, between the Pintonion and Alexian rivers, where many perils await the unwary traveler. Many wolves, snakes, and bears live along the dark jungle path. There are also rumors that the Nickites have planned to invade this area to kill Sam the Great, but this is unconfirmed. Now, who will go?” All of the men raised their hands. “I expected this.” The hands fell. “The path is too narrow for all of you to go, and a large force would move too slowly. I will select but one of you and a messenger to report if you have fallen. For this task I need someone reliable and with experience. On these guidelines I believe that the best choice would be Brigadier General Jacob. Do you accept the quest?”
“Yes my liege.” Jacob yelled in the midst of the crowd.
“Then go.” Jacob went to his dwelling and prepared armor.
“Daddy?” Danny asked. “Where ya goin’? The tiny toddler stood in awe at the speed and efficiency in which Jacob dressed in his war regalia.
“I’m going to Luedkedia,” he answered, “to see Sam the Great.”
“He’s a famous warrior who can help us to find peace. The King wants him to help us defeat the Nickites.”
“But Daddy, isn’t that a oximon?”
“You mean an oxymoron?”
“Yeah, how does someone who kills peoples bring peace?” The memory of Prince Taylor slaughtering his mother came into his mind.
She was visiting some relatives in Mooreville. The trumpets blazed, signaling the arrival of an invading army. She took shelter in an abandoned shack as the war was waged around her. She sought a relief from the bloodshed, so she took out the memory hexagon which she had purchased during her stay. She talked about mudane topics at first, to gain a detachment from the events around her, but as the groanings of the fallen grew louder and more frequent, she couldn't avoid talking about the battle and how grim of a situation she was in. Then the door to the shack creaked and the hexagon was put on pause. When it was resumed, Prince Taylor's heckling plagued the hexagon's recording. An unsheathing sword could be heard above the laughter, followed by a deathly scream. The hexagon was later found by scouts on the top of the town's remains, along with other hexagons from other victims, each bearing the same ending.
Danny thought about how many more people have shared a similar fate; the reminder day by day of the wretched event being the absence of their parents. Danny’s eyes began to water. “Daddy, why do you always have to kill people?”
“I don’t kill people!” Jacob took a long pause, long enough for Danny’s eyes to dry, thinking of what to say next.
“You don‘t?” Danny asked.
“No, I just… make them sleepy and give them some fruit punch.”
“The red stuff is fruit punch!” Danny exclaimed. “I wanna go get some.” Danny darted towards the door, but Jacob blocked his path.
“Danny, that’s their fruit punch. You can’t take other people’s stuff. Besides, it’s all dirty from being on the ground.”
“Fine.” he said reluctantly. “But can I come with you?”
“No. The path is too dangerous.”
“No, Danny.” Someone knocked on the door. Jacob put the finishing touches on his armor and opened the door. A short and slender fair maiden greeted him.
“Hello.” she said, “ My name is Sarah. The King has assigned me to be your messenger. He has also wished that you should receive these food pods.” Sarah dislodged two food pods from their harness. Both pods, which were big enough to hold a small man, were halfway full with bread and bottled water.
“Why should I need all of this?” Jacob asked. “It’s only five miles to Luedkedia.”
“He wants you to be prepared.”
“Alright. I’ll be ready to go once I find my sword. Set the food pods on the sofa then wait for me at the start of the path.” Jacob began searching for his weapon. Sarah set the food pods and their harness down and was flabbergasted at the massive disorganized living room. The place was so cluttered that she couldn’t see her feet under the sea of papers that covered the floor. Casting the thought aside, she started for the path. Meanwhile, Danny emptied the contents of one food pod into the other and climbed into the empty one, leaving the lid open slightly so that he may see the excitement. Finally, Jacob found his sword. He put on the harness and slipped the food pods into it, unbeknown to him that his son was part of the cargo.
He met Sarah at the path. Cautiously they advanced towards Luedkedia. From the city of Dean, which they came, the path to Luedkedia grew denser and increasingly inhabited by wild animals the closer that they got to their destination. A mile down the path, a boar charged at Sarah. She dove away, letting Jacob’s waiting sword fall upon it. Danny was astonished to see that Jacob did not give the boar fruit punch, but that it was in fact blood. Danny struggled with himself to keep from crying out on the behalf of the boar, for fear of alerting Jacob of his presence.
The Nickites were informed by a spy about the expedition, and set up an ambush four miles up the path. Two dozen archers readied their bows and took aim. Sarah suffered a painless death for she was shot in the head five times. Jacob, however did not have that luxury. The food pods shielded most of the arrows with its metal, and in turn shielded Danny. Sadly, three arrows lay embedded between Jacob’s broad pecs. He fell, letting the arrows pierce through his heart. Victorious, the Nickites scurried away. Danny got out of the food pod and went to Jacob’s aid.
“Danny.” he said softly. “How did you get here?”
“I hid in one of the food pods.”
“Danny, I’m getting very tired. I’m going to go asleep and I’m not going to wake up for a long time.” Blood started to pool in Jacob’s mouth. “I’d tell you to go home, but it’s too far away. Go find Sam the Great.” His eyelids began to slip. “He will bring you home, Danny… and protect you from anything …else that might … attack you. Goodnight.” The blanket of death finally drew him to resting.
“Goodnight… Daddy.” Danny wept openly, which drew the attention of a hungry black bear. His sorrow was shattered by its fierce roar. Danny shrunk back, awaiting the inevitable, but a flash of light gave him new hope. The bear’s head slid off of its body. The animal fell, revealing a warrior behind him.
“Hello,” the man said, “ are you OK?” Danny looked down at his father.
“No.” A flood of tears erupted from his eyes.
“What’s the matter?” Danny pointed downwards with his finger.
“That was my dad.” The warrior followed his finger.
“The bear?” Danny cleared his eyes long enough to see his mistake. He pointed further down the path. “Oh, I see. So what are you going to do?” Danny struggled to find his voice.
“My dad… he… he said… to find…S-Sam… the G-Great.”
“Well, you just did.”
“Yes, I am. What do you need?” This discovery slightly eased his pain. He spoke with more confidence.
“King Robert needs you to come protect his kingdom from the Nickites.”
“Alright, I’ll go with you.” Sam picked up the bodies of Sarah and Jacob, one in each arm, and carried them to Dean. No other animal was bold enough to attack for fear of Sam‘s massive physique. When they arrived at Dean there was no civilian in sight, but soldiers ran to and fro. Sam stopped one of these soldiers.
“Good day, sir.” Sam began. “Can you please explain to me about the state of the city?”
“It’s the Nickites!” the soldier frantically proclaimed. “They’re coming this way. The citizens have been evacuated to a hideout in the mountains while us soldiers defend the city.”
“Where is this hideout?”
“Take the path to Owing for about fifty feet and turn left. It’s the little hole in Mt. Tarakian that leads to the mines.”
“Thank you.” The soldier left. In the distance the Nickite army, with Prince Taylor's armor bolding shining in front of his men, advanced towards Dean. They came from the south and Owing was to the west, where there was the threat of reinforcements.
“Danny,” Sam stated. “Go to the hideout.”
“What about you?” he questioned.
“I came here to defend the city, and that’s what I’m gong to do.” Danny ran as fast as his five-year old legs could carry him, about two miles per hour, towards the hideout. He slid through the hole and entered the cramped mass of people. Sam placed the bodies of Jacob and Sarah in a nearby house (most of the residents had left their doors open in their haste), unsheathed his mighty sword and joined King Robert’s army.
“My king,” Sam said while bowing.
“Sam the Great!” King Robert remarked. “Thank goodness, I thought that Jacob and Sarah had failed. Where are they?”
“They lay dead in one of the houses. I found the man’s son by the bodies and saved him from a bear. He told me that you needed me.”
“Indeed, we do.” The Nickite army was close enough that the army of Dean could see the white in their eyes.
“Attention!” King Robert commanded. “Archers at the ready… fire.” The Nickites put up their shields in the turtle formation. The arrows bounced off harmlessly. “Swordsmen., forward march!” Taylor, riding on horseback, arrived at the frontline first. He indiscriminately loped off his enemy’s heads on his path to King Robert. The rest of the Nickites followed shortly thereafter, crushing Dean’s resistance. At the rear of the Nickite army was King Cox. He watched joyously as Dean fell to his better trained troops. They needed no further direction other than to kill. Taylor broke through the last line of Dean’s soldiers and headed for King Robert. Sam swung his sword and sliced off Taylor’s horse’s legs. Taylor fell to the ground, barely dodging his own sword. Quickly he got up and charged at Sam. He aimed for Sam’s head, but Sam blocked the blow and kicked Taylor away. Taylor took out a knife and hurled it at him. Sam could not evade the knife because it would hit King Robert if he did. He batted down the knife with his sword, but as he did so Taylor took advantage of Sam’s vulnerability and stabbed him in the side. Sam went to the fetal position, only to have Taylor’s sword go through his head. The path to Owing was beginning to get noisy with the sound of chanting. Danny tried to calm his nerves as the soldiers marched by, but he couldn’t help to think that he would be found. When the last of the soldiers went by Danny let out a sigh of relief, which was scorned by the inhabitants of the mountain.
“They can still hear you.” one of them whispered.
“Retreat!” King Robert bawled, drawing his sword to block Taylor’s blows, but it was too late. Nickite forces came into Dean from Owing, blocking off all exits along the way. Taylor sliced at Robert’s feet and cut off his toes. Robert bent over in pain, grabbing at the stubs. Taylor hit him in the temple with the handle of his sword, rendering him unconscious. With their king fallen, the soldiers surrendered Dean. King Cox came to one of the soldiers.
“Where’s the rest of you?” He asked angrily.
“The rest of who?” he asked. Cox took out his sword and put it against the soldier’s chin.
“Don’t play dumb with me. Now tell me, where are they?!”
“They’re in the hole in Mt. Tarakian, please don’t hurt them. My kid is there and my wife too and-”
“Don’t worry about them. You should be more worried about you.” Cox walked away.
Danny’s relief was suddenly quenched by the returning sound of marching. The buzz of escaping the Nickites became as the silence of a memorial. It wasn’t of any help, however, and the Nickites went into the hole. There were mixed reactions from the citizens of Dean, with sobbing predominating. Cox entered the hideout.
“Citizens of Dean,” he began, “I have decided your future. You shall all become slaves in my kingdom.” A gasp overtook the citizens. “And as for your soldiers,” he turned to face the remnants of the defeated army, “your experience and strength set you apart from the citizens. Sadly, this is not an asset for you, but rather a liability. You have had war experience and would be instrumental if a revolt would start. Therefore, you shall die.” Swords began to clash outside of the mountain. “And for your King Robert, he will be my prisoner until the day he dies.” The noise from outside the mountain was quieted. The Nickite soldiers entered the hideout and put shackles on the citizens. Danny tried to resist.
“Lemme go!” Danny yelled as a Nickite soldier attempted to shackle him.
“Hold still, kid.” He rebutted. Finally, Danny’s feet were bound by the metal chains. He tested the strength of the metal by planting one foot while moving the other forward. This resulted in Danny tripping, knocking down some others in the process.
“Sorry.” He said after he collected his bearings. Some soldiers were conversing with King Cox. Once finished, they went to the slaves.
“Let’s get moving!” one of the soldiers ordered. The line began to slowly progress towards the kingdom of Nickotine. Danny looked back at his home, supposing that it would be the last time that he would see it. A sharp pain went through his back. A soldier on horseback was riding beside him carrying a whip.
“Keep your head looking forward!” he barked. Danny looked ahead at the horizon, letting the setting sun represent his former life fading away.