I was familiar with administering first aid for small scrapes and cuts but that was the limit of my medical capabilities. I wrapped the hurt soldier exuding confidence that wasn’t there. Hopefully my shoddy bandage would keep the man from bleeding to death.
“Who are you?” Asked the soldier who only stopped to occasionally cough up blood.
“That doesn’t matter.”
The hurt soldier just shrugged.
“Tell me about the soldiers. Why did some have claws while others like you had silver weapons?”
“There are no soldiers here. Only mercenaries and them.”
“So you don’t work for the King?” I asked.
“We don’t even look like the King’s men!” shouted the hurt guard followed by hysterical laughter.
His body convulsed, blood splattering out of his mouth. I tore a piece of leftover linen that I used to conceal his wounds and wiped off the blood on his lips.
“Tell me about them.” I calmly stated.
“They’re freaks. Their strength exceeds any wizards the king might have and their skin is as tough as iron. Only silver blades easily slice through their skin.”
“And why do they want the young men?”
“They aren’t very forthcoming with what they do with them. None of us have witnessed the act but the commander thinks he knows why they need the boys. As mercenaries, preparation pays more than anything else. Lives are lost when jobs are unclear and replacing good men is expensive.
The commander searched the King’s vast archives of books, trying to find anything he can about these creatures. The disappearance of boys varied drastically from book to book. Only two things were unanimously agreed upon. Silver weapons kill them and they feed off the fear of young men.”
“Do you have any idea where they keep them?”
“I do but I’m not going to show you. Unlike you, I don’t have a death wish.”
“That’s wishful thinking, coming from a guy who’s on death’s bed.”
“I’ve survived worse.” said the soldier. Blood slowly trickled from his mouth to his chin. I looked down at him. My disbelief evident on my face.
“Well how about you just tell me where I need to go.”
“I can do that. It’s your funeral.”
“This is as far as I’m willing to go.” said the soldier I kidnapped. Carrying the hurt soldier was a slow process so I had plenty of time to learn about the fallen mercenary. He grew up on the other side of the fallen sea, before the great surge, moving the King’s land with his mercenary crew.
Three years into his service the great surge struck trapping him on this foreign continent. Even though he missed his childhood home, he liked the cooler weather and the friendly demeanor people had in the King’s land. He’d grown accustomed to life here and didn’t know whether he wanted to go back even if he could.
I thought about growing old here, like the mercenary. I didn’t find the idea very appealing. There was a large world unseen, one that the mercenary probably didn’t know about.
The marked rock stood before me. The mercenary gave a lengthy description of it, its tall height, the peculiar jagged edge. I doubted any other rocks in the area matched his description.
I turned left and started walking. I was told that a large wooden structure would come into view, that this place would sometimes hold the prisoners I was looking for.
In the distance, I spotted what the mercenary had told me to look for. It was larger than I imagined and clearly would attract the attention of anyone wandering through the forest. It was far enough away from civilization that very few people ever came across this area in the forest. Most workers, lumberjacks being the majority who worked in the forest, only ever entered the outer edges of the vast forest. Danger lurked in the forest. Strong animals that could easily kill and poisonous plants were commonplace so it made sense why they rarely delved into its depths.
Long wood stakes formed the large imposing walls. The trees were nearly as tall as the wooden walls so I found a tree close to the wall and started climbing. My magic was suited for scaling walls but I didn’t want to draw attention. I had no clue what or who was on the other side of it.
I slowly crawled along the branch and peered over the barrier. A small grass patch covered some of the desolate dirt floor that covered the ground. The prison lacked any people in it, only an open hatch caught my eye.
I descended into the prison and entered the hatch that connected a dark cold tunnel. I slowly stumbled my way through the corridor. Eventually I came across a door slightly ajar. I peeked through the crack and saw lonely chairs scattered throughout the empty room. Deserted. Cobwebs had yet to form so I knew they hadn’t been gone long.
“Move it!” screamed the remaining beasts.
I didn’t know where the other two had gone but the fresh scars on the others suggested some sort of scuffle had happened. I wondered whether there was some sort of falling out.
My chains jingled with every step I took. We were lined in rows. My unnamed neighbor was three prisoners ahead of me. I desperately wanted to get my revenge but I knew I couldn’t do anything now. Not while the guards were watching and while I was chained up. Besides, I needed to figure out my escape soon since I was certain I would be eaten next.