The Ranger - Part 2

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Fantasy  |  House: Booksie Classic
Vordin returns to his Commander with news from his last mission, but things go awry when he and his order he forced to discontinue their investigation. But there is a conspiracy, one that could change the fate of the kingdom, and all the land.

Submitted: December 22, 2013

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Submitted: December 22, 2013

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The Ranger Part 2

"They are but a myth, a group of warriors from centuries ago, they do not exist anymore"
"With all due respect Commander, I know what I heard, the brigand specifically said 'Okai Warrior.'' Vordin pleaded, standing in the dim lantern light of the Commander's tent. It was filled with the smell of the leather and the lanterns oil. A mixture of smells Vordin was used to under his years of service for the Order, especially when he was allowed the privilege of not sleeping on the forest floor and instead his own cot and tent in the encampment.
"Vordin, I know you have a few years of field duty under you , but you are hardly a veteran. If I tell the royal officers, or even the king himself, that we are in danger from an ancient threat of master warriors who nearly swallowed the world under their rule and must immediately send all of our forces to the eastern borders, how will that look against the Order? You know better than I that you have a compelling story and strong belief behind it but I am hard pressed to run to the King with this information without solid evidence."
"But sir-"
"But nothing, I merely said I need proof, not that its impossible. Being the Commander of Order doesn't mean turning a  blind eye to fairy tails, it means merely finding the truth of the situation to truly assess the threat."
Vordin was surprised at the Commanders remarks, he truly thought he looked a fool, but was glad to see the Commander was at least giving him the benefit of the doubt. As the commander, Vordin too, believed in investigating a possible threat, no matter how outlandish. For if it was ignored and the threat came true, the only ones who would pay are the innocent lives that would be lost by his own ignorance .
"Now, Vordin, my assignment for you is to take a detachment of the royal army, they are to be armed, but dressed in a manner that will make them more.....common. See to it they -'
The Commander was cut off as a messenger clad in chainmail entered the tent without request.
"Sir Commander, the Lord Jarad, Royal Legion General requests-"
"Shut up and let the man in already, I don’t have time for introductions" The Commander snapped.
The messenger glared at the Commander but knew he was a just that, a royal messenger, or as the Commander saw him, an annoying little man of an announcer, who took to long.
Vordin glanced to the Commander in confusion, but all the Commander could do was shrug and looked back as a tall man with sleek black hair clad in shiny steel armor. The heavy metal plate armor covered the mans body, a large hand and a half sword at his hip as his crimson cape dragged behind him. Vordin knew this to be more a ceremonial armor to show the mans position more than anything, but the legion general was one of the deadliest in the realm with the sword at his hip.
"Ahh Mathias, its been far too long, still living in these walls of hanging animal skin I see?" the man grinned.
But Vordin sensed by the mans grin, that there was a touch of malevolence in his joke. Vordin didn’t like the man showing up, after he just reported back with his information? it seemed too much of a coincidence, but he was the Legion General, Vordin was merely an agent of the Order assisting the kingdom. He may not be completely bound under this mans authority, but he could be subject of his punishment if the man so wished. So Vordin kept quiet and stepped back into the shadows to listen and let the men talk.
"Ahh yes, Jarad, what brings me the pleasure of your presence on this evening?" said the Commander with a hint of sarcasm. Jarad eyed the man with another smile, one laced with what appeared to be a hint of danger.
"Well Mathias, I've heard reports of bandit attacks here in the east, and would like to let you know I have already put a stop to the attacks, that your assistance is no longer required in these matters and in fact, I have an assignment for you and the majority of your men in the Westridge Mountains."
"On what mission could possibly involve the majority of my men to completely move camp to the mountains? I've heard of no threats in any of our western cities, or their countryside's for that matter. So without news from my own men what could there possibly be for all but a few of my men?" Mathias asked as he raised his brow in suspicion.
"A band of Augurians have been gathering. mustering their numbers from the northern mountains. My scouts report a large gathering of their tribes, an unheard of event that gives us cause for great concern. An who better to inform us than those that melt into the shadows?" he said in a sly manner as he glanced directly at Vordin.
"Augurians?" Vordin thought. "What could possibly make them hostile to us? they are warrior tribes but have always kept to themselves, even in there peacetimes they ignore us." He knew the Augurians as a tribal people that constantly warred and traded amongst themselves because they saw everyone else as outsiders, not worthy of their attention. Vordin became more and more concerned, but he was sure this man was up to something, and he knew the Commander knew it as well.
"Again, Jarad, I've heard nothing of these events so what proof do you bring? you know we are bound to guard the kingdom, but to forcibly remove all my men from the east, nearly leave our borders unguarded, for a what? To ride out and meet with a war band who for all I know could be having a giant party? I like facts Jarad, you know this even as Legion General. I can spare a  few men but-"
"So, Mathias, let me get this straight" Jarad snapped as he cut Mathias off. "The King's realm is under threat of attack, men are gathering in the north plotting against us and the man who is supposed to be Commander of the Order of Shadows is telling the Kings Royal Legion General that he is not willing to move his men for the protection of the Kingdom?" His voice starting to rise toward the end.
Jarad regained his composure as he ran his hand through his hair before turning to back to Mathias. "You know if you are not willing to protect the Kingdom I will have to charge you and your men with treason, unwillingness to protect the crown in its dire time of need is a crime punishable by death. Your not admitting you’re a traitor are you?" he said in a cold manner, but with a smile that made Mathias uneasy.
Vordin couldn't believe what he was witnessing, the Legion General accusing his Commander of treason? anyone who knew the Commander knew his heart was with the Kingdom.
"No Jarad, that is not what I'm saying." Mathias said in defeat. "My men will be up at first light, I will leave behind as many as necessary to report as usual."
"Good, see that you do, I will expect you and your men at our encampment here" he said as he to a section on the table map that was laid out in front of Mathias. "See to it that you and your men are there by the end of the week, I shall be expecting you."
Jarad turned and marched out the door, with his chainmail wearing lackey at his heels.
Vordin stepped from the shadows, watching the General leave until looking back at Mathias who leaned back in his chair in a confused and defeated manner. Something was truly wrong here and he wondered if Mathias knew it as well, never before was the Order of Shadows randomly sent somewhere on the whim of the Legion General. The man was up to something but didn’t seem to care if they knew it or not, either way he gave Mathias orders with no way to refuse them.
"Commander I-"
"Vordin, me must act quickly" Mathias said quickly as he sat up.
"What? what is it?" Vordin asked worried.
"Vordin I need you to listen carefully, you must follow the Legion General, follow him and learn of anyone he talks to, this is of the utmost importance. I don't need to tell you to go unnoticed."
"Why? what's going on? What is the Legion General up to?" he asked, growing more concerned.
"I have a theory" He looked around checking the tent entrance for any who might be listening. "I knew from the second he ordered me away there was reason for it, and with the threat of these new warriors, and their history I believe him to be in league with them, but we need to know for sure before any true action is taken. It could mean our lives if we cannot prove it."
"What of their history? who are these warriors and why is he helping them?" Vordin pleaded
"I do not have answers, only theories and we are out of time I must get the men ready if we are to play along. I will leave extra men and pull a few favors to try to keep the east safe until we can know things for sure. Return to me with what you find before sunrise and we will go from there, but you must leave now!"
Vordin knew the role the Commander was placing on him. To follow the Legion General, listen in on him if he were to be meeting with anyone tonight, if he were caught he would be executed under the act of treason. The Legion General would see to that he knew, but Vordin was more concerned with what was going on, what plans were in action, who are these warriors? and is the Legion General in league with them? To many questions, and not enough answers.
“But Commander, how do you know he is meeting with anyone instead of merely just heading back to the capitol?” Vordin asked in earnest.
“Because if I am right, and this is part of a plan, then he will be reporting with someone, to make sure this step is complete in whatever plan they may have, but if he meets with no one then it is not as we fear, but I do not think that will be the case. Now go!”
Vordin silently moved from shadow to shadow, acting as one himself, as he passed through the encampment being sure not to be spotted by any of the soldiers the Legion General had posted, most likely to enforce that they have until dawn to get moving. But they didn't concern Vordin, he had trained for years with the Order now in the art of stealth, it came as natural to him as breathing.  He reached the entrance to the camp, lurking in the forest just outside of the old game trail that lead to the camps clearing, watching as the Legion General ordered his messenger to do his round of commands to the soldiers as his personal guards mounted up along side him. He watched as the Legion General exchanged some commands with his men and climbed onto his horse and began with his two guards following on their horses as well.
As the general and his men followed the path Vordin followed closely, being sure to avoid the patches of moonlight as he passed of the forest floor unheard. It wasn't long before one of the guards spoke up.
"Sir, permission to speak?"
Vordin noticed Jarad rolling his eyes before speaking
"Permission granted officer, what is it?"
"Why not simply try to enlist the Order at our side? surely we could gain more from them being our ally than suspecting us as enemies. So why send them away instead of approaching Commander Mathias?”
This made Vordin curious, but at the same time very alarmed as this confirmed the Commander's theory of Jarad being up to something, but what? as the soldier had a point.
"Because, he never would join us. The man is too damn righteous for his own good, he would let his loyalty to the king blind him and prevent him from seeing the true future. I very well can’t kill the man, he is not only valuable but would be able to elude and counter any assassin I sent after him. So it is easier to simply use his blind obedience against him and force his hand."
The wind shift, Vordin noticed, but it was an unusual shift. The men he was following seemed to pick up on it as well as they all stopped mid stride and began to look up at the sky. Vordin couldn’t see the sky through the treetop canopy, but could tell of a massive shadow passing over the man as it blanketed them from the moonlit path. Vordin became more afraid as he realized when the moonlight shined down upon the men again that the two rear guards were exchanging nervous glances, and that Jarad was smirking.
"Right on time" Jarad said just before something large landed in the forest some distance on the opposite side of the forest. Vordin could feel whatever made that shadow must be massive as he felt the ground quake as whatever it was landed. All three men turned their backs to Vordin as they turned towards the direct of the large figure, awaiting whatever this creature could be to emerge from the forest.
It was several moments before two men emerged, one clad is sleek red and black armor with a sword at his hip, and a small man with an eerily broken nose. Vordin recognized the second man as the small whimpering bandit from the week before when he had come upon the bandits in the woods.
"He still lives?" Vordin thought to himself certain the bandit was dead as was the larger man that was pinned to the tree that day. But as he recalled he had left in a hurry, forgetting about the squabbling man after he had jumped behind the broken cart.
"What have you found out?" Jarad said plainly
"He knows nothing more" spoke the eerie cold voice from behind the mask, as he threw the little man into the dirt in front of the generals horse.
It was then, as the man was in the moonlit path, that Vordin noticed the vast amount of scars, cuts and bruises the man had.
"So there was no one else with Mathias's man that day in the woods?"
"No" the armored warrior replied coldly. "But there is something else you must know"
"Oh? and what could it be that I possibly don't already-"
Jarad didn't even finish his statement before the sleek armor clad warrior lunged forward, sword already drawn as he lunged with an overhand slice of his sword that, before Jarad could even recoil, cut an arrow in half mid flight. Vordin was stunned at the spectacle, but before he could act a woman with long blond hair in black leather armor landed from a tree twenty yards up the trail. She hit the ground running already released three arrows from a small wooden shortbow in her first few strides, one arrow glancing off one of the armored guards, with the next arrow striking the second guard in the face, knocking him to the ground as he lay unmoving. The third arrow was aimed for the Legion General, but again the armored man sliced the arrow causing it to miss him as the tail end smacked harmlessly against his armor. She threw the bow to the ground as she reached for the small swords at her back.
As she raced towards Jarad and the warrior, Vordin began to run in to help her, as she was outnumbered and, Vordin believed, outmatched. She lunged in with two small, slightly curved, blades, ones Vordin had never seen before, and used them in such a fluid motion she was able to handle both men herself, for the time being. As Vordin reached the path, clearing the trees, he caught the guard climbing down from his horse readying his weapon. Vordin released an arrow slamming into the man’s neck, catching him between his healm and the collar of his armor. The man lay dead as a pool of blood grew around him.
Vordin took aim at the blur of movement that was the Okai warrior, the Legion General and the girl clad in leather. He waited to time his shot, watching for a few seconds when he saw the Legion General raise his sword for an overhead attack, and he saw his chance and took it. He released the arrow and watched it fly as it slammed into the Legin General wrist, knocking the sword from his grip. The surprise of it caught him off guard as he screamed in agony, turning to find where the arrow had come from, spotting Vordin’s hooded silhouette emerging from the darkness of the forest. He grabbed the dagger from his belt and charged Vordin with his good hand, Vordin side stepped the attack deflecting the blow with his bow. But the Legion General foresaw his move, moving with the flow of the parry carrying it into his next attack that saw his elbow slamming into Vordin’s face. Vordin stumbled, he regained his composure just in time to avoid a slash from the Generals dagger, but he was much faster than Vordin expected as he swung back, Vordin dodged but not quick enough as he felt a sharp pain on his arm, and the presence of warm blood oozing from the wound. Vordin dropped his bow and drew his sword, readying himself as the General took his own stance preparing to attack, like a Lion watching before it pounces.
The Legion General stared to circle Vordin, holding his bloody hand to his side as both men circled waiting for the other to make the first move.
“So,” Jarad spat “Mathias’s lackey decided to eaves drop for him I see. So how does it feel to stand in the way of destiny?”
“You mean standing between you and whatever your schemes are with that warrior?”
“Do you really know so little?” Jarad barked in laughter. “You know for all of Mathias’s ‘spys’ you bunch really know nothing, no wonder Mathias is such a fool”.
Suddenly Vordin heard the girl cry out in pain, he turned to see her hit the ground as her weapons went flying. Jarad saw his chance, noticing Vordins concern for the girl. He rushed forward, Vordin was only partially aware as he turned to deflect the blow but Jarad was too skilled, he feigned his attack ducking under Vordin and lunging in as he plunged the dagger into Vordins abdomen, twisting it as it pierced his flesh. Vordin let out a cry of pure agony as he felt his blood beginning to drench his clothes.
Jarad leaned close to him; “and now you know what is to come to those that oppose what is to come.” He whispered as Vordin slid from his grip, falling to ground, his vision becoming dark and blurry. He turned towards the girl, seeing the sleek armored clad warrior standing over her in triumph. His vision swam into darkness, as he too saw Jarad standing over him, cleaning the blood from his blade.
This is it, the beginning of the end, he thought never knowing what all of this was about. When suddenly through his blurring vision, he noticed Jarad turn in shock. He had to fight to keep his eyes open, as images swirled of a great creature grabbing Jarad with what looked to be a massive claw, lifting him far into the sky. Straining to open his eyes again as they closed, he realized he was surrounded, by tall leather clad warriors, all staring down at him. Suddenly the girl he saw was arguing with another, something about saving someone. He didn’t want to think of the fighting anymore, he just wanted to rest, to let his eyes shut. He looked one last time as he drifted, he saw the girl with blonde hair, so beautiful he thought, the most beautiful girl he had ever seen with her intense blue eyes looking down at him.  He could swear he saw a radiating glow coming from her hands pressed to his side. But he could no longer pay attention as darkness took him and his eyes finally shut.


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