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Youth
Bluecollarheaven
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by Bluecollarheaven
I remember, not too long ago, we were traveling in the lands further west of Hectoraze just beyond the lands of Narminel, when a young girl came up to me and said that she wanted to follow me.

We happened to be passing through this farmstead, and were on our way after a generous meal and a night's stay. And here was this girl, who had just came of age - she chased after us and finally caught up with us just as we were almost nearing the forest of Arcnia.

"Take me with you," she said. She had this oversized sword, probably belonging to her father, hung up on her rope belt. And she was wearing this strange get-up. It was made of pieces of leather sewn together with some very rough twine.

I thought she reminded me of myself. After all, I ran away from home to join the army!

Adrian shook his head.

"Now why would you want to come with me? Aren't you happy with your mama and papa? You got a nice farm here, food and animals and your Kingdom is in peace. There is no need for you to pick up a sword." I said.

"I'm bored."
"You're bored? Don't you have chores to do?"
She looked back down the path. Then she turned back to me, "Yes I do. But I'm much better out there."

Adrian was gazing up at the sky and then down at the shadow extending from his staff. He was looking at the shadow lengths, a hint that we should be going.

"I'm afraid not. You should go home." I said.
"I won't." she stamped stubbornly, "If you don't want my company, I shall be off by myself!"

We watched as she walked briskly down the path.
"You were like that when you were young." Adrian stated.
"Something like that. " I agreed gritting my teeth. "Let's go. Wanna bet we'll see her again?"

Sure enough after someway, we heard a distressing call from the side of our path. We cut through some brushes and found her.
There she was, hanging from a tree in a beast hunter's net.

I unsheathed my sword and cut her free. She felt to the ground without dignity, landing hard on the ground.
"Thanks, " she said, "I might have gotten out anyway."
"Right."
And off she went. She stomped off and left us behind.

"That's you, Guardian Twoblade."
"Adrian, cut the crap."
Cleric Adrian
Ogre rogue
Twoblade and the young girl
Adrian giggled. You know something? I can't stand him and I never know why I always travel with that damn cleric. But then, I thought as I walked along, many times it was this cleric who had brought me back from the brink of death.

In those difficult years, when my soul was lost to me and I was healing, it was he who took care of me. He would laugh and mock me, insult me with the worst kind of words and sarcasm, but he had never given up on me no matter how close to death I was...

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By evening, we had reached another small village, and checked into the local tavern where they had rooms for travelers in the back. We were lucky, most of the time, there were no rooms. We just had to make camp outside of the village or town. There is no such thing as an inn in every village and town. Those realities are just in stories for the young.

We ate at the tavern. A storm began to blow from the outside, but judging from the look of the sky, it would not rain till the early dawn.

Just as we were about to begin, Adrian nudged at me and pointed to the other end of the room. I turned to look.

"So, she has made it this far by herself." I said, "I wonder where she is planning to go."
"To the city, where else?" he said, taking a bite out of his lamp chop.
"How do you know?"

"I was once a village boy myself. A farm boy. All of us country peasant children think about big cities and being heroes. And I noticed that you city children like to imagine yourselves hunting in the wilds and playing elves." he said with a twist of a grin creeping even as he ate.

"Funny."
"Usually we tend to do better. At least we know what not to put in our mouths."

I glared at him. You know, he never stopped laughing about how I came to Fort Light with a bad poisoning for eating those wild jungle berry things? I was hungry and I didn't know.

"What is she doing?" he asked, squinting his eyes in that girl's direction.

I turned.
She was up on her feet. A man was standing over her.

"You have no money?" asked the man angrily.
"Your food tastes terrible! Why should I pay?" she was fearless.

More argument, he grabbed her arm. Some of the men in the tavern began to make crude suggestions with what to do with her. In these villages, people who don't pay become serfs.

"Enough!" I slammed my fist on the table. "How much does she owe you?"
"I don't need anyone to..." she began.

"Shut up! You shut up and you come over here." I said. She rushed over to our table immediately. Adrian positioned himself in front of her.

"We will pay for what she owes." he said, then threw a silver coin onto the table.

The man stared at the money. Probably because he never saw so much before. He swallowed as he picked it up and weighed it in his hand before pocketing it quickly.

"That will do?"
"Yes, yes, my Lord." he said.
"Please, we are mere travelers." said Adrian.

Stupid fool! I thought. Didn't he have smaller change? Goddamn showoff.
"Sit down!" I whispered harshly to her.

She sat with a thump. Her sword slipped off her belt and dropped onto the floor with a loud clang. The room fell immediately silent again. Adrian made a sign of peace, and the room returned to usual chatting noisiness

I looked annoyingly at her. She pouted.
"You will stay with me tonight, tomorrow, we are bring you home."
Adrian sighed, but conceded.

"What is your name, child?"
"I am Wi.. Wenda."

Adrian glanced up at me and smiled.

"Fine, Wenda. Let's retire. Tomorrow, a day journey to take you home." I said.

The night went by uneventfully. I slept soundly on the floor on a mat while Wenda slept on the bed. The next morning, I awoke and found one of my swords missing. Didn't take long for me to guess who took it, since my room mate was coincidently missing as well!

"Stop your howling." said Adrian, "She can't have gone too far."

True enough, it wasn't too hard to track her at all. People saw a girl in a foolish looking costume holding a shiny blue sheen blade making her way down the south dirt road. The blade she took was my lightning blade. Thank goodness she didn't take the other, which was a slayer's blade, a life stealer.

Adrian said nothing more. He knew what the Lightning Blade meant to me. I would kill to get it back. Oh! I could strangle that stupid girl!

We followed her tracks. The lands around us were hilly and surely tiring for any young and inexperienced hiker.

Her tracks left the road. Way down a darker denser part of the forest around us. We followed the broken twigs and branches, she left a noisy trail indeed.

Finally, we came to a cave with laughing noises.
Adrian went off to aside while I approached the entrance with care. There was a group of three men inside, and beyond two struggling shadows, figures of two who had been tied up perhaps...

I signaled to Adrian asking him to stay low behind the fallen log where he was standing. He ducked down and began weaving a spell. I peeked into the cave again and then backed out.

Then I picked up a dry fallen branch on the ground and snapped it.
The nest of rogues was stirred.

"I'll check it out." Said one of them.
"Yeah, we are having such luck. Master Dunn's daughter and a new shiny blade for me."
Mine!!! I snarled internally.
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A clumsy slop of a half ogre appeared at the entrance. He sniffed the air and stepped out, looking all around.

Adrian stretched out his hand and threw a fine dust toward him.

"What...?" and the huge rogue fell noisily to the ground fast asleep. It would not last long.
"Hardy! What's going on?"

Another appeared, a tall and muscular unshaven male with sword in hand. My sword! My blade! I waited quietly in the brushes. He saw his friend on the ground, went down on one knee to take a closer look and became panicky immediately.
"Reffie! There's someone out here!" I charged from the brush and elbowed him across the face as he was getting up from examining his friend.
"What the...?"

Reffie, a man who seemed rather disproportioned, a small head but large shouldered appeared with a club. Adrian immediately encountered him. He would not be able to keep him occupied for long with just a staff.

My opponent grinned at me. I snarled back. Angrily he took a swing at me. I blocked it and stepped away. He came at me again and again. I blocked and continued to move back. His strength was incredible; I would soon succumb. But his swings were growing more careless as he grew too confident.

He swung and missed, glazed me on the arm, but I rolled to the side and slashed out at his leg, making a deep gash. He grunted in pain. He limped as he straightened up. I guessed I had cut a tendon somehow.

Meanwhile Adrian was ducking the blows of the club while making good hits with his staff. I was sure the man was feeling sore surprised. Nerve points were always the key.

My muscular opponent made careless charges, each time I could block it easily. I escaped by mere quickness the fatal blows he dealt. Until he became weak from the bleeding and I finally knocked the sword out of his hand.

"I give. I give!" he cried, as I pointed the blade at his throat.

An end of a staff came down on his head and put him out. I looked over at Reffie, he was on the ground not moving.

"This time I am faster than you." Adrian said proudly.

I rolled my eyes at him and proceed into the cave. We had to hurry. That sleeping Hardy will be up soon enough and I am too tired to take on another.

Two girls were tied in the darkness, far in the back of the cave. One of them was Wenda. The other thanked us as we untied her and told us to take to her father in a small river town just half a day from here. Her father was a rich miner who had settled in that town after striking gold in the mountains further north and these rogues thought to force him to share some of that gold with them by taking his daughter, Dina

Wenda did as she was told this time and followed us the whole way to the town of Froydan, she said not a word the entire journey.

Dina's father was beyond joy to see his daughter alive and well. He was about to gather some hired swords together to find her.

We would take no reward. (I was a Guardian to a city.)

He said we looked familiar but we merely said our goodbyes and left quickly. We bought horses to hasten our way back to Wenda's home.
"Are you Twoblade of Thurigenesis?" she asked, just as the farmhouse came to view.
"Yes," I answered rather reluctantly. These answers inevitably lead to ridiculous talk which I would rather avoid.

"The real Twoblade?"
"Yes, why?"

She fell silent and we continued to ride at a slow pace towards the farm.
We were at the gate again when she asked if she could ask me another question.

"What does it take to be like you?"
I looked at her. Adrian was shaking with laughter and pulled his horse back behind us.
"Follow me." I said and then shouted over to Adrian, "Get back to the farmhouse and tell her father we found her. And she will be home shortly."

We came to a stop near a clearing and we sat down on the grass.
"Child, there are things I've seen, that I hope you will never see. There are things I've known I wish I knew not."

"Stop calling me that." she said, standing up to leave.
"I will stop calling you one when you stop acting like one!"

"I just wanted to be free of this. I hate my life. I don't like the chores I do. I want to be like you. I want to travel and fight for right."
"Fight for right."
"Yes!"
I didn't know what to say to her. I had the very same thoughts when I was younger. I had causes to fight for. I made stands I believed in.

"You do not know what fighting for right is.' I said. "You will go home, you will live your life proper. Get a husband, do your chores, raise a family. And you will do right more than you ever have to fight for it."

Wenda looked at me as if I was speaking insanity.

"Pray that you never have to pick up a sword, Wenda." I said gravely looking deep into her eyes, "Because if... and when you do, you will almost never be able to put it down again."

She shivered at those words.
"Let's go."
She nodded her head and I returned her to her parents.
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