The Aragon Chronicles: Part 1: The Man and the Fire

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Fantasy  |  House: Booksie Classic
A man named Noko is saved from a forest fire by a lonely farmer. Feeling he is forever in debt to the farmer, he pledges his allegiance to him. The farmer asks a favor of him that will send him on a spiraling adventure through the land of Eleese.

Submitted: November 24, 2016

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Submitted: November 24, 2016

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Part 1

 

 The wind whistled through the trees, carrying an aroma of smoke and ash in its wake. The leaves blew along a worn down path, seeming to flee from an unknown danger. The tracks of a fox and some unknown beast were strewn around the mud haphazardly hinting that some form of a great duel had taken place. Scratch marks covered the trees and rocks, peeling the bark in odd contorted ways. The wind started to die down to an unsettling breeze.

He lifted his staff up into the air and laid down a blow upon a gnarly old tree. The sound of the blow echoed through the expansive forest. Once again he laid down a blow upon the tree, quicker this time. Over and over he laid siege upon the trees’ crooked old frame. He let his rage seep from him down into his arms, putting power into each of his swings. He knew not of where his rage came from, only knowing of its existence. He focused all of his attention to the tree, hopping in and out of different stances and shifting his position. He eventually added a rhythm to it : 1-2-3-4, switch, 1-2-3-4, switch, rinse and repeat.

He focused so much on the tree, however, that he didn't notice the raging flames forming around him. It wasn't until he could feel the smoke burning his eyes that he knew something was wrong. He lowered his staff, sweat dripping down his brow. The air around him was quickly filling up with a thick layer of suffocating smoke. He took in a large breath of fresh air just as the smoke reached him. The smoke was getting thicker. He could tell the fire was getting closer, it was coming from down the road a ways. He had to run in the opposite direction. If there was a village nearby, he would have to warn them of the incoming forest fire, of course, but his main focus was on saving himself.  

The flames licked at his pant legs, hungrily clawing out to devour anything in its path. Its endless hunger and rage ate through the bramble and brush. Drips of sweat rolled down his legs as he crawled along the leaf covered ground. Trees started to fall, crashing into the ground and turning into piles of ash. He didn't know what could be making such a strong fire, but that just gave him all the more reason to speed up. It Thoughts ran through his head like rabbits fleeing from a fox.There were still so many things he wanted to do before he perished. He wanted to start a business, fight in an epic battle, go hang gliding in the Myonoki Mountains, he wanted to travel to the land of the elves, he wanted to travel the seas; so much he couldn't do and so little he did. 

 

 

The wind was at a suffocating standstill. All that could be seen was smoke in all directions. I lowered myself to the ground, bringing my staff with me, trying my hardest to get out of the smoke. Just my luck, I should've been paying attention to what was going on around me, I scolded myself. This isn't  the time to daydream or scold myself, I thought, I need to get out of here. My legs pumped back and forth, crawling over roots and rocks. I scrambled left and right, trying to avoid areas where burning trees had fallen down and blocked the path. I don't remember where, but I had dropped my staff somewhere.

My mind started to get cloudy, my eyelids feeling heavier by the second. My legs weakened, my arms felt frail, my head drooped, but still I soldiered on. The leaves crunched under my hands as I lifted myself into a standing position. The ground felt as if it was going to give way, dropping me into an abyss. I cleared my mind though and trekked forward at an alarmingly sluggish rate, not knowing if I’d make it or not, not knowing if I’d be able to find the one I was searching for. I can't give up, not now, I thought,not after all I’ve been through. I lifted myself off the ground and moved forward, dodging the growing flames. I grabbed a low hanging branch, then jumped back, a burn covering my palms and stretching along my fingers. I cursed myself, I should've known that was a burning branch! This whole place is on fire!

“Gah!!!!” I screamed in agony and burst forward, dashing towards the edge of the wood with all my energy, which wasn't that much. I didn't even make it 5 meters until I tripped over a burning log. “Oof!” My face slammed against the hard ground, my legs falling onto a burning tree and my body falling into a thorn bush. The fire spread up my pants, burning my legs. I screamed in pain, my vision getting cloudy, my head pounding , my lungs burning. As they started to tunnel, I thought I could see the silhouette of a pudgy man turning and walking towards me. Then my vision went dark and I passed out.

 

Ten minutes earlier

 

A farmer was tending to his crops, ripping weeds from the rows of flax and wheat. The light blue ends of the flax flowers waved in the wind, spreading their fragrance through the air. The golden fronds of the wheat waved from left to right in unison with the flax. As the farmer bent down to rip another weed from the ground, he breathed in through his nose, taking in the the air around him. But something wasn't right with the air, it smelled corrupted and smoky. He paused and lifted his body up, looking around him. There was nothing around him that could be emitting such a smell into the air. Out of the corner of his eye he saw a flicker of orange. He quickly shot his head to where he had seen the flicker of light, only to find nothing. Sighing, he bent down, taking another breath in through his nose. There it was again!

He looked around and saw nothing, then he looked towards the wood, and even there, he saw nothing-or at least that's what he thought. Slowly and nimbly, he made his way through the fields of flax and wheat, making his way to the edge of the wood. It took him at least five minutes to get to the edge of the wood, and what he saw there shocked him. Rising from the forest canopy was a thin layer of dark smoke. Looking deeper in, he saw a sight that scared him even more- large, growing, orange flames. He gulped down his fear. There was a time, years ago, in his glory days, when he could have dealt with this kind of problem. There was a time, when he was a hero, and he could have dealt with the fire himself, but that was long ago.

He whipped around and started nimbly, but quickly, making his way to the town, but then something caught him off guard. 

When he was at the edge of the wood, he had been sure he had seen a figure.It had been a faint  and quick humanoid shadow, sure, but it was still something.  There was a slow moving splotch of darkness against the orange glow of the incoming flames, he was sure of it. What was he thinking! Even if there was something, he couldn't deal with it. He needed to get to the village so the fire could be stopped and the crops could be saved. However, he didn't know if he could deal with the guilt if there WAS someone and they died in the flames to to his selfish thoughts. 

His hand slid down to his scabbard absentmindedly. The pommel of his blade felt cold against his palm as he rested his hand upon it.  If he was going to check what was out there, he needed to be ready. For all he knew, that could've been a bandit, it could've been the one who started the fire, he didn't know. Before he knew it, he stood before the flames once again. He looked deeper into the woods, taking one step forward, then another, and another, until he had walked a decent 5 meters in. His hands trembled along the hilt of the blade, beads of sweat dripping down his down the length of the scabbard and landing on the scarred ground. 

Flames surrounded him, filling the woods with a sinister orange glow. A deep groan echoed through the woods, interfering with the crackling of the fire. The farmer stopped in his tracks, his hands gripped around the hilt of the blade and unsheathed the weapon from its scabbard. The groaning got louder and was mixed with the sound of quick, uneven footsteps. Sweat dripped down his forehead, his mind getting cloudy from the thick smoke. If it came down to it,  he didn't know if he could survive a fight in this thick smoke.  Then again... those footsteps sounded tired and full of fear. 

Behind him, there was a rustle of leaves and the scream of a man in pain. He whipped around, facing the area from which the noise had come from. What he didn't expect, however, was an actual face. A red, scarred, and tattered man fell out of the bushes and onto his side. The farmer jumped back and screamed, startled by the man now lying on the ground. As he looked closer, he noticed burns, scrapes, and scars covering his arms, legs, and face.  

The farmer knew that if he messed this up, it could mean his certain death. He only had a certain frame of time to grab the man and drag him into the fields. After that he'd worry about calling the fire brigade, but he’d be surprised if they hadn't already showed up. 

These aren't the worst flames the farmer has faced, he has faced flames that not only burn the body, but also the soul. A forest fire shouldn't be too much for him. Quickly, he untied his belt and tied one end to the man's burned wrists, he did the same thing with the man's belt. He didn't want to touch the man's burned areas in fear of infection. He then hoisted him over his shoulder and started off. At first the man was cumbersome and heavy, almost to the point where he had to drop him. But the farmer soldiered on,  making his way through the burning underbrush. 

His vision started to tunnel, his breaths feeling heavier than lead. The edge of the forest was so close, he could make it. He had to, he wasn't going to let a man die. Especially when he was so close to saving him. Just a couple more meters. 

“Wait! Theres people coming out!”A voice yelled, “Come on! We need to help them!” The farmer recognized the voice as one of the four men from the Fire Brigade. Yes! Somebody was here!His body filled with adrenaline and he picked up his pace. Step over step, foot over foot, he was almost there. Then he could feel the sun in his eyes, blinding him. Yes! He made it. He dropped to the ground, the man falling with him.

“Darren, are you alright?” Said the man from the Fire Brigade.

“Yeah I think I'm alright, but I don't think this guy is.” The farmer pointed to the burnt man lying on the ground. Now that he could see him up close, the man seemed even more injured. The man was half naked, wearing no pants. That or his pants burned off. His legs were covered in second degree burns, blisters boiling out of the skin, fluid oozing from his burns. Some of the blisters were posed from the farmer dragging him along the bare dirt. He had brown hair the spilled halfway down his neck with strands falling in front of his ears. A scar ran across his forehead, splitting it open like an orange. His skin was light brown and his eyes were dark blue. He had a green shirt with tears, holes, and thorns sticking out of what was left.

“Oh god. If we don't get him to medical attention soon, we may not be able to recover him. He looks seriously injured.” The chief of the Fire Brigade yelled over the hissing of his colleges putting the fire out, “Quick, get him onto this stretcher over here and help me carry him to the Med Center.”

The farmer nodded and picked the man up by the waist, hoisting him over his shoulder. Now that he was out of the smoke, he had more energy and strength and could pick the man up. He laid the man down onto the stretcher and picked up one end. Darren and another member of the Fire Brigade carried the stretcher up the road towards the town.

It was a small town with an infirmary, general store, Fire Brigade, and at least twenty-five houses. People were milling about here and there walking down the streets and greeting each other. In a small town like this, everyone knows each other. You cant keep a secret in a town like this, theres always someone listening, always someone watching. 

As the Darren and the man from the Fire Brigade walked down the street to the infirmary, the man moaning and grumbling as they bumped along the road. They turned left towards the infirmary and burst through the doors. A nurse stood at the reception counter, and when she saw the man from the Fire Brigade, Darren, and the man on the stretcher, she went pale. 

“Who is this man?” The nurse rushed around the desk and to the stretcher.

“We don’t-“ The farmer started but was cut off.

“You know what, that doesn’t matter, follow me.” She rushed down a hallway to the right and entered a large open area. People lay on sheets on the wooden floor. There were at least a dozen patients and half a dozen nurses.  All of the patients had cuts and bruises, the cloths they lay on covered in blood. 

“The Broncos?” Darren turned to the nurse leading them.

“Yep, they came in earlier than normal,”She shivered, “You should've seen this room and hour ago. There were at least a couple dozen patients. Sadly, we weren't able to save some of them.” A shadow fell over her face, she looked down. Then she stopped and turned to a bed of cloths. The cloths were wet and tainted red. 

“Can you get us some clean clothes? This guy has second degree burns and they could get infected!” The man from the Fire Brigade yelled over the commotion of the infirmary.

“No can do Marcus, we used up all our clean cloths on other patients.” The nurse turned to them and smiled, “Here, help me lay your friend down here.”

“He’s not our-“ Marcus started, but was cut off buy the nurse again.

“We don't have time for talk, just action” They set the burnt man down on the cloths and she started to work, “So what happened to him.”

“Well, I found him in the middle of a forest fire. He looked like this and was passed out in the bushes.” Darren wiped his brow. 

“Oh boy, you mean the one by your farm?” The nurse said while she checked up on the man. Darren nodded and looked at the man lying on the cloths.

“Ok, all done, let me go get the doctor. He’ll be here shortly.” The nurse turned and walked away. 

Four nurse’s bustled around the room left and right, treating patients and switching places. Everyone in the room looked torn not only in body, but in spirit. Men and women were being treated for deep cuts and contusions. It hadn't always been this way, it had been different, in a different time. It wasn't that long ago when the infirmary was almost completely empty.

The nurse was back in no time, but with grave news, “The doctor isn't here, Im sorry.”

“What! This is an innocent man that is hurt!” Marcus yelled, “Your supposed to help the innocent huh! Aren't yah!”

“Well, you know what, this is a stranger from… god knows where!!” The nurse yelled at Marcus, “There is no reason you need help this guy! If you want to help him, do it at your station!” She stomped away to another patient.

“Come on Darren, help me pick this guy up.” Marcus growled. What was it with Marcus? This man lying down on the rags was a stranger, a nobody that had just happened to have gotten hurt by their village. Why should they care? They don't have an connections with him. Nevertheless, Marcus and Darren still picked up the stretcher and started off towards Darren’s home. Marcus had said that his home and the nation were too far away.

“Could you at least get some first aid supplies from the station?” Darren asked.

“Yeah I can, but you take care of him until I come back. Im gonna bring some salves to cool the burns down and keep away infection, I know you have bandaids?” Marcus absentmindedly replied. Darren nodded.

They made there way down the a hill towards the back of the town and took a left. There they turned onto a long road that eventually came into a small field. At the edge of the field was a house and a barn. Both of them were painted light blue with a white trim. Beside the barn was pasture, that seemed to extend behind the structure as well. A few horses milled around in the pasture eating hay off the ground. A wagon sat between the barn and the house in a large shed like structure. To the left of the house was farm land, all the way to the edge of the forest. Plants all sorts lined the fields, filling it with colors of all kinds.

The large house next to the barn didn't feel very welcoming. Everything about the house was victorian. From the arches, to the colors, to the walls, and to the peaks. It was a nice house and probably the largest in the village. A lonely aura surrounded the lonely building, seeming to push away all who wished to enter. The door mat was worn and muddy, the porch was chipped and worn. The paint on the house was fading and chipping. The door was creaked with pain and sorrow as they entered. The inside of the house was just as- maybe even more- lonely than the exterior. The house seemed to have gone through a lot, just like its owner. The house was larger than it needed to be for one person. There were three bedrooms and a decent sized sitting room. 

They lied the body on the dinning room table and Marcus quickly ran from the household, making his way to the fire station. Meanwhile, Darren grabbed a first aid kit and started to treat burns on his upper body. He washed the wounds and rubbed salves on the burns carefully. He started to replace the mans clothes and set up a small meal on the tea table in the sitting room. Once the table is set, he stats eating the meal. 

It wasn't too long before Marcus showed up again with a kit to treat burns, then he starts to his work.

“You already seamed to have done most of the work.” Marcus praised Darren. 

Darren looked down intensely, “You think Id know a little about wounds.” Marcus stopped what he was doing and turns his head towards the stairs at the back of the sitting room. He stared at the worn carpet with splotches red up and down it, leading to a now forbidden place.

The carpet hadn't always been red.

3,323

Suddenly a large cough echoed through the house, startling Marcus out of his trance. He quickly darted towards Darren with a questioning look. Darren answered  with an uncaring look and a shrug. Darren turned back towards his meal and started eating again. Marcus, however, wasn't so dismissing of the noise. He turned around towards the body lying on the dining room table and notice his arm twitching, his throat convulsing, and his head moving left and right. The man started to cough again, this time more violently. Marcus gained more concern with every cough, but he was too scared to move. He had never dealt with something like this before, he had dealt with small burns, but never a man covered with so many burns that he looked like a walking tumor. 

The man was coughing up blood in small spurts now. His eyes were open, but they weren't conscious, weren't understanding. His hands gripped the sides of the table hard. The blisters on his hands started popping, spraying a creamy translucent liquid. Darren shot up and ran over to the man who was coughing up blood on his table. He pushed Marcus out of the way and grabbed the man, pulling him up into a sitting position.

“Hold him up!!!” Darren screamed at Marcus. Marcus obeyed, holding the mans back up. He couldn't see him, but he suspected Darren was making some sort of concoction to combat the coughing. The man on the table was calming down now, which scared Marcus. The reason why he was calming down could be because he was close to death, but Marcus didn't know. His hands started quivering, sweat dripping down his brow. 

It seemed like forever until Darren yelled for Marcus that he was done. Marcus breathed a sigh of relief, and set the man back down onto the table. He looked at the mans closed eyes. Peaceful and relaxed, feelings he hadn't felt in a while. He started to feel tired. He blinked slowly, yawned, and stretched, “Hey, Darren, can I sleep on your couch?”

Darren muttered and nodded his head, “Yeah, there’s a blanket over by the fireplace.” Darren stared and the man on the table. Marcus couldn't see his face, but he knew what Darren was thinking. He knew what his face looked like without looking at it. Marcus sighed and threw the blanket Darren let him borrow over him. The couch sucked him in and lead him into a deep rest. He closed his eyes, a yawn escaping from him, his arms stretching out. The warmth of the blanket drew him closer and closer to sleep. 

 

A void surrounded him at all sides. He opened his eyes only to see nothingness. He held his hands up to his face and waved them in front of him. He couldn't see them. There was a flat wooden surface underneath him, he could feel it. Where could he be though? Was he dead? Was the wooden surface his coffin? Was he blind? His breaths started to get more frantic and fearful. The last thing he remembers was a man walking towards him while he lay in the woods. 

He opened his mouth to speak, but nothing came out. He tried slamming his hand against the flat surface, but felt nothing. The void seemed to be closing in all around him. It felt suffocating. He didn't know what to do, or what he could do. Then he felt a shaking on his shoulders. Suddenly, the whole world around him jerked forward. A whirlpool of darkness sucked him down. He tried to scream, yet nothing came out. He could feel a thousand little hands grabbing him all over, pulling him down into the vortex. He punched at the hands, struggling, writhing, but the more he struggled, the more they seemed to gain control, the more they seemed to pull at him. What could he do? It was useless to resist at this point. He was probably dead, his burnt corpse lying in a clearing in the forest. There was no man walking towards him, it was all just an illusion of the smoke.

He let go, relaxing his muscles and letting the groping hands pull him down.  

Open your eyes…

Suddenly, a bright flash of light filled his vision. The hands stopped groping at him and receded into the void. All around him, the blackness morphed into a scene of fire and death. Flames engulfed houses, slowly burning them to ash. Men and woman clad, in leather armor, lay scattered around the ground, covered in wounds. Pools of wet and fresh blood were scattered around the road, some pools looking older than others. In the middle of all this, one man stood standing in front of an army. All the man held was a pair of two, slender, one handed blades.

He stared at the man facing the army. The man looked familiar, yet he was like a stranger.  

Suddenly the world shifted quickly into a house, chipped paint covering the walls. A wave of nausea hitting him like a charging buffalo. He doubled over, falling off of the dining room table he was sitting on, falling onto a hard wood floor. He screamed, clutching his stomach.  He looked up in his vertigo induced nausea to see a portly farmer smiling down at him. He saw the farmer laughing, walking away from him. He convulsed, violently vomiting all over the wooden floor.

His vision blurred, darkening. He struggled to stay awake, kneeling on all fours. He looked at his vomit, noticing streaks of red. The vomit spread over the floor, leaking into the cracks in the floor boards. Red and beige rivers flowed through the floor boards, flowing under his hands. He started to feel his grip on both the ground and consciousness start to slip. 

As he fell towards the ground, burnt hands drowning in vomit, a pair of strong hands grabbed his shoulders, grunting and pulling him up. A voice echoed through his ears, sounding like gibberish. He groaned and took a deep breath in, swallowing the vomit that sat in his mouth, and exhaled deeply. The hands that had helped him up sat him in a chair. He started to add a rhythm to his breathing; breathe in, 1-2-3-4-5, breathe out, breath in, 1-2-3-4-5, breath out. He sat in the chair, holding his burnt hands at his side and repeated the rhythm over and over, his eyes closed. 

His thoughts wandered about his mind, mostly focusing on his dream. What was that dream all about? Did it mean something? He didn't have the time to think about this though. As he breathed in for the tenth time, he started coughing, then hacking, then coughing again, and then nothing. Nothing but deep breaths. He opened his eyes and looked around the kitchen. His vision was still a little blurry, and his eyes burned, but he could make out most of what  was around him.

To his right was a large counter with sets of cabinets hanging above. In front of him was a sink and what seemed to be an icebox, and to his left was a portly man. He couldn't see the mans facial features well, but he seemed familiar. As if he had seen the man from somewhere before…

 

The fields of grain swayed lightly in the calm breeze. The sun shone down through light fluffy clouds that travelled around the sky. The distant chirping of a bird calmed Darren as he sat on his porch, gazing at the endless fields of grain. Darren’s mind wasn't wondering about the well being of his crops, nor was it the forest fire. No, what Darren couldn't shake from his mind was the man he had saved from the forest fire. Who was this guy and why was he in the forest when the fires started? What puzzled Daren most of all, however, was himself. Why had Darren risked his life for someone he barley knew? Why did it matter to him whether one random individual died or not? He had witnessed death before, why couldn't he witness it again?

He didn't know, and he didn't care, all he knew was that he had a burnt and bloody man lying on his dinning table. As he looked across the fields at the Fire Brigade, the porch door opened. Darren sighed, “Marcus, I know it was dumb to save this random guy when we have our own problems but-“

Marcus cut him off, “He’s awake.”

“What?!” Darren jumped up, turning towards Marcus.

“Yeah, when you left the room to come out here, he finished vomiting,” Marcus stretched his hand out to the dining room, “and then sat up on the chair, breathing and coughing.”

“Geez. I didn't think he'd survive,” Darren walked into the house, standing in the dinning room door.

“Yep, Im pretty sure he developed bronchitis,” Marcus looked back at Darren, “but if we keep him in care here, and get a healer, we could heal his burns and his bronchitis.”

“Hmph. Sure, for now, get him away from where I eat.” Darren grunted and walked back outside.

 


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