Author: I know stories don't normally have pictures posted in them like this, but since forums allow such, why not avail myself to all my options? I like to mix things up and make them interesting.
James sat there for a time looking at the creature that was standing over him, eyes widening he tilted his head back a little more to see it holding a large wooden club. In the back of his mind the it occurred to him, due to the creature's chest build, it was female, but at the moment he was more concerned with trying to reconcile visual input with acceptable reality. This all came to a crashing halt following a small grunt, naturally James did what any seventh grader in his position would do, he screamed like a prepubescent girl and took off running as fast as his legs would carry him. In his panic he didn't even run down the path, he took off through the woods trying to get away by any and all means possible. Nearly hyperventilating as he ran he looked behind him to see, what he could only guess was a troll, not only running after him, she was gaining ground. About to push himself even harder James' flight came to an abrupt and painful halt as he collided with something in front of him, something he would have seen had he not been looking over his shoulder.
In a tangle of arms and legs he crashed to the ground hearing a metallic ring followed by loud cursing. It took a moment for his head to clear and when he looked up he was greeted by a human man standing over him. Dressed in a chain mail hauberk set over plain clothes, his head was adorned with a viking style horned helmet with blond hair sticking out from beneath, and he was wielding a plain short sword. The pudgy faced man didn't look at all pleased to have nearly been run over by James and raised his sword overhead as if to strike. Before he was able to bring the weapon to bear the sound of the troll's heavy footsteps rapidly approaching drew his attention, the warrior tried to turn to face this new threat but he was too slow. In a single smooth motion she spun around in a complete circle swinging the club like a baseball player at bat. With a tremendous crash the weapon struck the man in the chest lifting him up off his feet, hurled several feet back by the blow he crashed into a nearby tree and slumped to the ground... motionless. Again she turned her attention to James and this time he knew there was no getting away. He was lifted up off the ground by his shirt by one hand and brought much closer to the troll's face than he was comfortable being. “What are you doing here human, this is no place for a child.”
“Uuuuuuuuuh... screaming and running?” James said, surprised that she spoke English.
“Go home.” The troll snarled.
“I would if I knew which way home was, believe me!” After that James found himself tucked under the troll's arm as she looked around and began sniffing the air, glancing back at the soldier she had felled moments earlier mumbling something about a scout. Their attention was caught moments later by what sounded like the approach of a large number of people from the left. James could see the underbrush moving around in the distance and as the creature carrying him began to move away he got the feeling they weren't friends. Soon several soldiers in armor similar to the dead man appeared, when they saw their fallen comrade the soldier at the forefront of the group drew his sword. Pointing it at the troll he yelled, “ATTAAAACK!” Now instead of a few soldiers, they began surging out of the woods by the dozens, there were so many yells erupting that James couldn't tell how many there were, suffice it to say there were a lot. Given that trolls aren't the brightest of creatures to begin with, this one at least appeared to have a sense of self-preservation. Rather than mount a suicidal charge against impossible odds she took off running in the opposite direction. With the same speed that she had chased James down with the troll flew through the woods.
In short order the trees gave way to a small clearing where more soldiers gathered, some on horseback, most on foot, all clad in various forms of armor. When they saw James and the troll they drew their weapons, fearing the worse he tried his best to shield himself from the coming onslaught. Instead he eventually came to a stop, being dropped to the ground like a sack of potatoes. Still dazed and confused he looked around, and to his surprise they were behind the second line of soldiers. The troll had already started to move forward, making her way through the ranks of the soldiers taking a place at the front. James didn't even have time to react before his pursuers began to filter out of the woods, the second group of soldiers let out their own battle cry before surging forward. Like two opposing waves of steel and iron they slammed into one another with a thunderous crash. To the young man who was nearly caught in the middle it was absolute chaos, he would have taken off running again but there were soldiers everywhere, he had no idea what to do. It was starting to become more than he could handle, trolls, soldiers, battle, the reality was nothing like what he had imagined it would be.
Backed against a tree James watched the battle rage on in stunned disbelief, the differences between reading about a war and actually being in one were worlds apart. Soldiers clashed against one another in battle, men were cut down, bodies already littered the field, it was one of the worst sights he had ever seen. In James' mind this wasn't heroic, awe inspiring, or adventurous... it was an atrocity, an affront to life itself. He had always been raised to value life and to see it thrown away in such a manner horrified him. Thankfully no one had taken notice of him yet, the soldiers he was behind didn't seem to notice him, but they obviously had more pressing concerns at the moment. It was hard for him to even think with all the noise going on around him. When a solider crashed onto the ground next to him James about jumped out of his clothes, he quickly looked around to see where the man had come from and saw the troll from earlier. She was in the thick of the fight still swinging away like the mighty Casey at bat.
It took him several minutes to finally gather his wits about himself enough to think that it would be best to get the hell off the battlefield. This idea was further reinforced when the enemy broke through the ranks of the soldiers James was behind, seemingly without warning they began to flood through a gap that appeared within the center of the soldiers. They were coming far too close for James' liking and he was about to take off into the woods again when he locked eyes with one the soldiers. For a brief moment they stared at one another, James frozen in place not knowing what he was going to do, then the man charged forward sword overhead. Thrown into a panic yet again the younger man started to scramble backwards in an effort to get around the tree and to his feet. He had just barely managed to do so when the soldier stopped mid-charged, looking behind James he performed a quick about face and took off running. “Not again,” James thought to himself. When he looked over his shoulder what he saw wasn't another troll.
The heavily armored soldier was standing so close that James would have run into him had he tried to turn around. He wasn't the focus of the man's attention however, the battle taking place was. When another of the enemy soldiers finally did seem brave enough to attack it quickly became apparent why the first had fled. Armed with a longsword, kite shield, and clad in full plate armor with a half-helm over his coif the man attacked. He ran at the armored man, shield held in front of his body. His target didn't even move, he merely looked over at his would-be attacker. James couldn't understand what he was doing until the enemy soldier swung, by which time he was already hiding behind a nearby tree. The armored soldier brought his arm up blocking the strike with the forearm of his gauntler, then swung around with his other hand as if to punch. In mid swing a six inch blade shot out of the second gauntlet shortly before it was buried in the other man's throat. The blade was ripped free as the soldier collapsed to the ground. “Detain him,” the armored man said, pointing to James without even looking at him.
“Detain nothing!” James said. He started to turn around to run away when an arrow slammed into the tree next to him, upon seeing that he held his hands up thinking the better of attempting to flee. Clad in partial plate armor, a soldier holding a sword and shield walked in front of James and pointed behind him with his weapon. So caught up in watching the man in the heavy armor he hadn't noticed the two soldiers behind him, the second holding a bow, who were now detaining him. James wasn't too happy about being detained, but it was better than being dead. The three walked through the woods, silently and without incident for a short distance before arriving at the edge of the forest. The field before them opened up in all directions with only a small mountain range topping the horizon in the distance. In the middle of the field, from James' perspective, there was a small pavilion. There were a dozen smaller, plain looking tents pitched around a larger one in the middle, it was circular in design and deep green in color. Several people were tending to various duties, including one that was cooking in a large black pot over a campfire, a group of horses grazed nearby, and the calm atmosphere was a stark contrast to the battle taking place nearby. So close by in fact, it could still be heard in the distance.
James was lead into the main tent by the soldiers with one remaining outside while the other kept watch over him. There wasn't much to be seen on the inside, a table with some papers and scrolls spread out over the top in the center, a cot off to the left with a small chest at the foot, and what appeared to be some sort of mannequin to the right. There were three stools scattered around so he plopped down on one glancing over at the guard from time to time. Now that James wasn't faced with the possibility of imminent death he had time to think about what was going on. Needless to say his mind was racing, trolls, soldiers, a battle in the forest, and now a medieval style pavilion. Even his current location was a puzzle to him, the woods behind the school weren't this large and this field shouldn't be here. Right now he should be sitting slap in the middle of the road that lead through the center of town. Taking a breath to steady his nerves and focus his mind, James started to review the information available to him.
The troll was a little bit of a red flag that was hard to miss, then there were the soldiers. They were using swords, shields, and wearing armor, not shooting at one another, and the geography was wrong. Almost as an afterthought he noted that there shouldn't have been a mountain range in the distance either. His head would occasionally twitch to one side of the other as he put his mind into overdrive and he finally came to one inescapable conclusion. Slapping his hands down on his knees he looked up at the guard, “Well it's official, Toto, we're not in Kansas anymore.” The guard didn't even acknowledge the comment. With time on his hands he looked the soldier over carefully, the man was dressed similar to the others in that he was wearing a chain mail hauberk over normal clothing, but both looked to be of much higher quality. The rings in the mail were so fine that it was hard to tell where one started and the other stopped, and he pants, which were a deep forest green appeared to be made of high quality cloth, tucked into a pair of brown leather boots. The tabbard covering his chest was deep green in color like the tent bearing an ornate leaf style crest on the front, held in place by a brown leather belt.
The man had nothing to guard his head or neck, leaving his long shoulder length black hair to flow freely, and James found his facial features to be odd, the were quite angular and his eyes were slanted as well. It put the young man to mind of someone of Asian descent, but his skin was slightly tanned instead of yellow. He also had a longsword at his side in a plain wooden scabbard, and a well crafted longbow over his shoulder. There wasn't much else for James to do after that, he couldn't get anymore information right now so he just had to sit there and wait. For what seemed like an eternity, which was closer to half an hour, he sat there trying to reason out his current situation without success. When the sounds of battle finally died down it was only a few minutes before he heard a small commotion outside followed by the voice of the same heavily armored man from earlier. “Sila i edainian.”
The guard motioned for James to follow as he exited the tent, which he did. Standing outside was the man who had ordered him detained, and a small distance behind him was the troll. The pristine armor from earlier was now covered in blood, and the man was being tended to by a number of the people from the pavilion, young men dressed in plain brown clothes, which told James that he was obviously someone of importance. For once James opted not to start a conversation by shooting his mouth off, instead he simply stood there. No words were exchanged at first, instead they simply sized one another up as the man's attendants began to unlatch and remove his armor piece by piece.
Down to his gauntlets and helmet the man removed those himself and handed them off. By now the wow factor for surprises was starting to wear off for James, as such he didn't freak out upon seeing that the man hand pointed ears. He was surprised to see that the man didn't look much older than him. “So, what now?” James asked.
“So now you wait here while I change,” the man said. Now dressed almost head to toe, in what looked like some sort of padding to James, the man walked into the tent. Several minutes later he returned.
He glanced back at the forest in the direction of the battle before finally turning his attention back to James. “Right, so what's your story? Spy, scout, grunt, hired assassin?”
“Uh... no, no, no, and no,” James said, folding his arms, “try wrong place wrong time.” The elf looked at James with a suspicious look on his face, then looked to one of the guards and motioned to him. Before he had time to ask, or wonder, the guard standing next to him began a very thorough frisk. “Hey pal take it easy there, I'm liable to take that personally if you keep it up.”
Soon after the solider stepped back shaking his head, as he did the other man began to slowly circle James looking him over. “No weapons, no armor, and quite young... what's your name boy?”
Coming to a stop in front of James, the other man stared down at him with an intensity that would have made other men avert their eyes, but he wasn't other men. James never looked away, staring back at the other man with the every bit as much intensity.
“Rinion, or Steven in your tongue. There are no human settlements around these parts, you have no weapons, armor, supplies, not even a horse, so what were you doing in the woods and how did you get there?”
James started to answer him when something clicked in his head and his mouth began to operate separate of his brain, “I don't see how that's any of your business. For that matter who are you to question me?”
Taking a step closer Steven reached behind his back drawing a dagger, the tip of which he placed under James' chin, “The one holding the dagger, now answer the question.”
Now James was in a hell of a position, he knew next to nothing about what was going on, but he had managed to piece enough together to figure out he wasn't in Georgia anymore. If he blurted everything out now it was likely Steven wouldn't believe him, and there was no telling what he was liable to do. “I was just traveling the land to see what was out there. I have nothing because I was robbed, I barely managed to get away with my life. Happy now?”
The dagger came away from James' chin as Steven took a step back, looking him over suspiciously, “So you not one of the raiders?”
“Do I 'LOOK' like a raider?” James said, holding his arms out, “now that you mention it, what the hell was all that back there about anyway?”
“I was contracted by King Haldorin to eliminate some raiders that had been harassing a number of settlements on the border of his kingdom. We tracked them here and dealt with the problem. I'll take you at your word that you were in the wrong place at the wrong time, but I do have one more question,” approaching James he tugged at the collar of his shirt, “where did you get these clothes, I've not seen any like this before.”
“They're custom made, they were a gift for my last birthday.” By now James was winging it for the most part on his explanations. He wasn't fond of lying, but under the circumstances he didn't know what do to, he just didn't know enough about his situation or surroundings.
“Very well, we'll take you to the nearest settlement, where you go or what you do beyond that is your business.” With that said Steven walked back into his tent. Now that he was no longer being detained James was a little peckish, so he decided to see what was being cooked in the pot over the campfire.