|Series||His True Destiny by Azaelia Silmarwen|
|Next||His True Destiny: Chapter Two|
|← None||Chapter Chronology||His True Destiny: Chapter Two →|
Chapter One: Oakvale MassarceEdit
Long ago, deep in the forest of Albion, there was a small, simple, farming town called Oakvale. It was one of those rare places that was unchanged by time and untouched by sword, but this was all about to change…
Seven year old Rowan happily laid in the luscious green grass, taking in the morning sun, as he watched as the white, fluffy clouds slowly drifted in the sky. Now while most people would see fluffy bunnies, Rowan saw Heroes. More specifically, the clouds showed him as a Hero. That was until his father, Brom, appeared above him, interrupting his daydreams.
‘Hi, Dad,’ he greeted.
‘Morning, son,’ Brom replied, smiling down at Rowan. ‘Daydreaming again, were you?’
‘I saw myself as a mighty Hero again,’ Rowan confirmed as he got to his feet.
‘You’re just like your mother,’ Brom chuckled. ‘Her mind’s always wandering too.’
‘Is that a bad thing that it wanders?’
‘Not if you let it wander off to find your sister. She’s out playing by the Barrow Fields gate. Don’t forget to take your birthday present for her with you.’
‘Let me guess… you forgot to get her one again, didn’t you?’ Brom shook his head.
‘Well, I’m not bailing you out this time, Rowan.’
‘Then how am I supposed to get Theresa a present?’ Rowan whined at his father.
‘Okay, I’ll tell you what I’ll do,’ Brom sighed, taking pity on his son. ‘I’ll give you a gold piece for every good deed you do. That should be enough to buy her a present. Now get moving, and stay out of trouble.’
‘I will, Dad,’ Rowan replied, before heading down into the town square to see if there was something that would allow him to perform a good deed.
As he made his way down the path to Oakvale’s town square, Rowan found five year old Emily crying. He immediately went over to her.
‘Emily, what’s wrong?’ he asked the younger girl. ‘Did you fall over again?’
‘No, I’ve lost Rosie!’ she cried. Rosie was her teddy bear that she took pretty much everywhere. ‘I left her somewhere, and now I can’t remember where!’ She began to cry even harder.
‘If you’d like, I’ll look for her,’ Rowan replied softly.
‘Really? Thank you, Rowan!’
Smiling down at the little girl, Rowan went off in search for Rosie. He looked around Emily’s place, before looking around the house across from hers’. It was there he found a man and woman passionately kissing. Rowan recognised the pair; after all, Oakvale was a small town where everyone knew each other. However, he knew that the pair before him weren’t married to each other.
‘Mr Gown?’ Rowan said with a hint of disapproval in his young voice.
Orwin Gown jumped and moved away from the woman he was with.
‘What? Oh, hi, Rowan,’ he stammered. ‘I was just… I’m… I’ve never even met this woman. Who is she?’
Rowan looked up at the woman, who was slowly turning red. He looked back at Orwin.
‘I may be a kid, Mr Gown, but I’m not stupid,’ he stated.
‘Look, Rowan,’ said Orwin, looking desperate. ‘Keep your mouth shut about this, right? Corina’s at home with our little ones and I’m supposed to be working.’
‘Then shouldn’t you be working?’
‘Listen, Rowan, a man should be entitled to do what he likes.’ Rowan didn’t look convinced.
‘Tell you what,’ Orwin said with a sigh. ‘If you keep this little secret, I’ll give you a gold piece. You could put it towards a present for your older sister. I take it you forgot to get her something again.’ It wasn’t a question.
Rowan flushed and shook his head.
‘I don’t want your money,’ he declared, knowing that it was wrong. ‘Dad always says that bribes are wrong.’
‘Please, Rowan, just don’t tell my wife,’ Orwin pleaded. ‘I can’t let her find out about this.’
‘I’m not a dibber dobber,’ Rowan informed the adult before him, ‘but I’m not a liar, either.’
With that said, Rowan walked off continuing his search for Rosie the teddy bear. His search took him down to the town square, where he accidentally came across Corina Gown, Orwin’s wife.
‘Hey there, young Rowan,’ she said, ‘off to buy Theresa a present, are you?’
‘Yeah, I forgot again,’ Rowan admitted.
‘Listen, Rowan, you haven’t seen that filthy, layabout husband of mine, have you?’
Rowan looked away awkwardly.
‘He’s with some woman, isn’t he?’
‘Yes,’ Rowan confessed, before telling her what he was.
‘Why that -!’ Corina growled. ‘I run his house, bring up his children, and what do I get in return? Absolutely nothing!’ Managing to calm herself down, she smiled at Rowan, who was watching her warily. ‘You did the right thing telling me, Rowan. I will be sure to inform your father of your honesty. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to turn my husband into balverine food!’
Rowan watched as Corina ran off. While Corina was a lovely woman, she sometimes frightened him when she was angry.
Shaking his head, Rowan continued to look for Rosie. His search took him just outside of the town square, away from prying eyes, where he found Emily’s brother. He was a few years older than Rowan and he was currently picking on a child Emily’s age.
‘What’s going on here?’ Rowan asked, even though he had a good inkling as to what was happening.
‘I’m just dealing with this brat,’ the bully informed Rowan. ‘He was irritating me, playing with my sister and her stupid teddy bear. Now he won’t give it to me, just because I said I’d rip its stupid head off. I told him that if he doesn't do what I say, I’m going to make his life a misery.’
‘Leave him alone!’ Rowan growled, sounding braver than he felt.
‘And who’s going to make me?’ the bully inquired. ‘A kid like you? Just run along home to Daddy, Rowan.’
Rowan stood his ground. The bully’s eyes narrowed.
‘Do as I say, otherwise I’ll make your life a misery too!’ he warned.
Still Rowan did not move, which infuriated Emily’s brother.
‘Right. I think it’s time I taught you a lesson!’
He went at Rowan who dodged with amazing speed. Blinking stupidly, the bully attacked again. Rowan dodged his blow easily, before attacking back. In the end, Emily’s brother was cowering before the younger boy.
‘I’m sorry!’ he said with a sob. ‘I’ll leave him alone. Just please don’t hit me again!’
Rowan back away from the bully and was shocked to see how much damage his punches had done. He didn't think he had hit him that hard.
‘Thank you,’ the younger boy said, coming up to Rowan. ‘You stopped him good!’
‘I had to do something,’ Rowan said with a shrug.
‘Here, I’ll let you look after Rosie,’ the boy continued. ‘She’ll be safe with you!’
‘Don’t worry, I’ll look after her,’ Rowan vowed, before heading back to Emily. He knew that she would be ecstatic to have Rosie back.
However, on his way back he ended up going passed the cul-de-sac area where a man grabbed his arm, scaring him.
‘Sorry about that, Rowan,’ the man said, ‘but I need you to do me a favour by watching my stock as I answer the call of nature.’
‘Sure,’ Rowan replied, not having the faintest idea what he meant by the “call of nature”.
‘Thanks, lad. I won’t be too long.’
Sighing, Rowan went and sat down by the man’s stock. It was then that he was approached by some kid, whose name he could never remember.
‘Hey, Rowan, how about we smash his stock up and see what’s inside his barrel’s,’ the kid suggested.
‘Why would I want to do something like that?’ Rowan inquired, sounding bored.
‘Besides, I don’t feel like having the guards after me or my father. So why don’t you go and annoy someone else?’
‘You’re no fun,’ the kid grumbled as he walked off.
Moments later, the man returned from answering the call of nature and Rowan was free to continue on his way back to Emily. Just like he suspected, she was thrilled to have her teddy back.
With his quest completed, Rowan hurried back to Brom to tell him about his good deed. He found his father working in the garden.
‘I did a good deed, Dad!’ he informed Brom self-importantly. ‘I helped Emily find her teddy bear, Rosie.’
‘Well done, son, but I heard that you did more than one good deed,’ Brom replied proudly.
‘Mrs Gown told me that you were honest to her when she asked you about her husband,’ said Brom. ‘I also heard that you agreed to look after someone’s stock. So here you go. Here’s three gold pieces as a reward for those good deeds. Now why don’t you run along and buy Theresa a present. I hear there’s a trader in town. Why don’t you try him?’
‘Okay, Dad,’ Rowan replied, before running off to find the trader.
The trader wasn't too hard to find. He was standing outside the tavern. Rowan nervously approached the stranger.
‘Hello, lad,’ the trader greeted Rowan with a smile. ‘What can I do for you?’
‘I need to buy my older sister a birthday present,’ replied Rowan. ‘It’s her birthday today.’
‘I have the perfect gift for you,’ said the trader. Out of his wares, he pulled a neatly wrapped parcel. ‘It just so happens that I have a rather nice box of sweets here. It’s guaranteed to put a smile on your sister’s face.’
‘How much is it?’
‘For you, only three gold pieces.’
‘I’ll take it!’ Rowan said cheerfully, handing over all the money his father had given him as a reward for all good deeds.
‘Then, young sir, they’re yours,’ the trader said, accepting the money and handing over the neatly wrapped parcel. ‘Wish your sister a happy birthday from me now, won’t you?’
‘Will do! Thanks!’
With Theresa’s present in hand, Rowan made his way to Barrow Fields gate. As he went looking for his sister, many Oakvale citizens called out to him, telling him to wish Theresa a happy birthday for them.
When Rowan found his sister, he yelled, ‘Theresa!’ and ran towards her.
‘Hello, little brother,’ Theresa greeted when he was standing before her. ‘I hope you haven’t forgotten what day it is, like you did last year.’
‘I did at first,’ Rowan admitted, handing her the present he bought her. ‘Happy birthday!’
‘Thank you, Rowan!’ she said, hugging her brother. ‘Let me guess, its chocolates.’
‘How did you know that?’ Rowan asked, looking amazed.
‘I knew you would give me chocolates because it’s just like my dream,’ replied Theresa. ‘And speaking of dreams, I hope I didn't wake you up last night.’
‘Why would you have woken me up?’ asked Rowan. He slept like a log last night.
‘I had another one of those dreams,’ Theresa explained. Lately she had been getting strange dreams, most of which came true.
‘What was the dream about?’
‘Well, I was standing in this field when something happened. Only now I can’t remember what.’
‘It couldn't have been important, then.’
‘You’re probably right,’ said Theresa. ‘Anyway, let’s go home. Mother will be back for my party any minute now!’
‘I can’t wait to see Mum again,’ Rowan informed his sister cheerfully as they headed for the fields exit. ‘I've missed her.’
‘I've missed her – wait!’ Theresa suddenly grabbed his arm, looking very worried.
‘There’s something wrong…’
Rowan looked up at her, before they both jumped as a man entered the village, through the Barrow Fields’ gate, screaming, ‘Bandits!’ before an arrow went straight through his head.
Eyes wide, Rowan moved closer to Theresa, who was holding him tightly. She now remembered her dream.
‘It’s really happening!’ she gasped fearfully. ‘They’re here! You’ve got to hide!’
Theresa looked anxiously around before pushing her little brother into some bushes.
‘Stay here and whatever you do, don’t move!’ she said firmly.
‘What about you?’ Rowan asked fearfully.
‘I’ll be fine. I’m going to get Father. Remember, stay here!’
Rowan watched as Theresa ran off and moments later bandits ran passed his hiding spot, slaughtering everyone they saw.
Rowan closed his eyes and remained absolutely still, apart from his shaking limbs. He did not want to see what was happening, but he could still hear it. He could hear the screams of the people from the village crying out for loved ones and plead for their lives to be spared. He could also hear the building being looted and set alight.
Little did Rowan know this massacre had a purpose. Its purpose was to get to his family. From the safety of the bushes, Rowan did not see his father desperately fighting to protect his kin, nor did he see him fall. He did not see his mother and Theresa being tortured for his whereabouts, when the bandits saw that he was missing. Nor did he see them being taken away.
Eventually, when the sound of screaming and triumphant yells had dwindled, Rowan slowly opened his eyes and ran for home. All around him he saw the dead bodies of most of his friends and the familiar faces he saw every day.
Horrified, Rowan ran even faster to his home only to find it a lit with his father’s still body lying outside. Rowan sat down next to Brom’s body before he started crying hysterically on Brom’s chest. He assumed that Theresa’s and his mother’s bodies were perishing in the house fire.
However, little did Rowan know, not all the bandits were gone, as he soon discovered as one ran towards him with his bloody sword raised. Rowan was too scared to move, but before his eyes, the bandit fell to the ground dead. Rowan stared at the body before looking up at the new figure approaching him. The figure didn't look like a bandit. The man was in blue robes with blue lines and markings on his skin.
At first the man merely stared down at the terrified child as though he was trying figure something out.
‘We must leave,’ the stranger told Rowan firmly, yet gently. ‘It’s not safe here.’
‘I’m not going anywhere!’ Rowan cried.
‘They’re all dead, son, and if you stay here you will join them. You don’t want that, do you?’
‘No,’ Rowan replied in a small voice.
‘Then give me your hand.’
Rowan hesitantly did as the mysterious man asked. The moment he did, they disappeared in blue light, before reappearing in an unfamiliar field. The moment they arrived at their destination, Rowan keeled over and vomited up his breakfast.
‘Hm… I thought you’d have a stronger stomach than that,’ the man commented, reaching out and touching Rowan’s shoulder.
The moment he touched the boy’s shoulder, Rowan turned around and attacked him. The man was able to hold him off easily. He was not impressed with the child’s actions.
‘Save your energy, boy!’ he said impatiently as he tried to calm the distraught seven year old down. ‘It’s not me you want to fight. You might not realise it, but I just saved your life. There’s nothing left for you in Oakvale and if you’d stayed, you’d be dead with the rest of them.’
He then stared down at the boy as he started to cry again.
‘Come with me,’ the stranger said gently, before walking off.
Seeing that he had no other choice, Rowan absently followed him.
‘Who are you?’ Rowan managed to ask in the end.
‘My name is Maze,’ the man replied. ‘I’m the head of the Guild of Heroes. I’m sure you've heard of it. You’ll find nowhere safer in all of Albion, nor a better place to call home.’
‘Oakvale is my home!’ Rowan sniffled. ‘Those bandits will pay for what they did.’ Maze looked at the boy thoughtfully.
‘If you want vengeance, you’ll need the training only we can offer,’ he said eventually. ‘Here we are,’ he added as they arrived at the entrance to the Heroes’ Guild. ‘I will introduce you the Guildmaster. He will be your guide from now on.’
Rowan merely nodded his understand and followed Maze through the corridors.
‘I have a new student for you,’ Maze informed a bald man with a white moustache, when they enter a room with a large map of Albion in the middle. Rowan assumed this was the Guildmaster. ‘Put him upstairs in the dorm with the girl.’
The Guildmaster looked down at the red-eyes, shaken farm boy.
‘You don’t look much like Hero material to me,’ the Guildmaster informed Rowan, ‘but Maze knows what he’s doing, I suppose. Well, follow me then.’
Rowan glanced up at Maze before following the Guildmaster upstairs to a two bed dormitory.
‘You’ll be sharing this room with Whisper, one of our brightest young pupils,’ the Guildmaster informed Rowan as the boy looked around his new room. ‘She’s playing in the Woods right now, but you’ll meet her in the morning. For now you should get some sleep. Your training starts tomorrow.’
‘Yes, sir,’ Rowan replied, taking off his shoes and grubby peasant shirt, before jumping into bed.
Rowan ended up crying himself to sleep, wishing that Theresa had remembered her dream. If she had, none of this would have happened.
Written: 25 January 2013