Posted by: lordkyler | December 26, 2009

Kyler’s Tale – Chapter 4 (and 5!)

[Merry Non-Denominational Mid-December Holiday! Today, you get TWO chapters! At the same time! And one of them has a fight with a bear! Truly, the best holiday gifts are those that involve bear fights. Anyway…]

Chapter Four

After he sent her body down the stream, He turned to his dog.

His mind flashed back to the trial. His father had looked at him, like he would rather kill himself than do this. “Son, you have been accused of murdering your mothers brother, The Duke of Chervil. How do you plead?”

“Not guilty” Kyler said. His father nodded. Tears were forming in the corners of his eyes.

“He was found dead, with an arrow in his back. Peasants report you were practicing archery while visiting your uncle yesterday. Also, the guards checked your quiver. You are missing an arrow. Son, answer me truthfully, Did you kill him? Was it an accident?” He asked, almost pleadingly

“No, father, I did not.” he stated fervently

“Would you explain your missing arrow?”

“It accidentally went over the wall, I looked for it, but it must have landed in the moat.”

“Is it true that you had an argument with your uncle?”

“ Yes father, but it was nothing.” His father fought to keep his voice from cracking. “ The jury may now consult” As the seven chosen members of the jury went back to the discussion pavilion, his father looked at him. That look said many things . Kyler could tell exactly what it meant. The look said “I think you are innocent, but your uncle was popular, and, through the power which I have, will be forced to punish you for something I know you did not do. I’m sorry, son.” The look only lasted a few seconds, but it was enough. Kyler forgave him. He had already accepted his fate. The jury came out of their pavilion. the spokesman stepped forward. “We find him: Guilty. It is now up to the master of the court to decide his fate.” For this capital crime, there were only two punishments, execution, or exile. His father hesitated for a split second. He chose exile.

He snapped back to the future. In a few hours, they reached the pass. As he rode through the high rock cliffs, he remembered how much he hated to come through here. It looked to him like the cliffs would tumble down any second. But, once again, nothing happened. He entered the valley. On his left, there was a waterfall, coming from an underground spring. Kyler saw a flash, and recognized it as the golden edging of the chariot. He rode a little faster. In a few minutes, he reached the edge of the small lake where the water collected before rushing off into the bigger lake.

He looked around for Sophus. He couldn’t see him, even though the horses were there, taking a long drink. He and the dog joined them. What if Sophus had run off? No, if Sophus had run off, he would have taken the horse and chariot. Still, he should have been more cautious. If his father or his tutor could have seen him last night, he would have been in for a lecture.

As he looked up from his drink, he saw Gwyane in the reflection of the lake. He looked up. Sure enough, There was Gwyane. When he dived for his prey, he could find Sophus, who was undoubtedly hunting with him. He waited, and rested. Not many animals would be out in the heat of midday. so he watched Gwyane; thinking over Sophus and last nights events. Gwyane dived. Kyler stood up as best he could with his injured arm. and hurried over. The dog decided to stay and guard the camp. This time Gwyane was perched on a large squirrel, as he saw when he forced his way through the bushes. He waited for Sophus. He did not have to wait long. The bushes began to rustle. As Sophus burst through, Kyler sprang up, startled. Sophus had quite a few scars, on his face, his neck, his arms, and his legs. This caused a very different appearance than what he had expected. He didn’t see them earlier because of the dim fire light and the near pitch black of the side path they had used the other night. Kyler, still a little unsettled, forced himself to calm down. As he had previously noted, Sophus could have killed him already, and profited more than if he had waited. So Kyler walked with him back to the lake. Sophus gathered a few plants on the way. Kyler assumed they were for his wounds. When he got back to camp he found he was right. None of the plants were poisonous, as he had learned from his father when he taught him to survive. He began to trust Sophus a little more. As Sophus bound his arm, He began to tell of his past.

“ I was born in a country far south of here. When I was young, We left our home and farm. I have forgotten why. We traveled northward. Eventually, we reached Genar, which you know is a part of Carsac, is not so far from here. There, we resettled, and lived a somewhat hard, but wonderful life. Then, when I was nine or ten, our family was attacked by bandits. By some strange twist of fate, they spared me and took me as a robber apprentice. Calm down; you’re only making this harder,” he said sharply as Kyler began to reach for his sword. Kyler forced himself to stay calm and think logically again.

“That’s better. Of course, I did not not join them willingly, but after being starved and beaten, much like those wolves, I finally accepted. After being forced to do many horrible things to other people, which I will not burden you with, my defenses were lowered. I was; desensitized to it all. Eventually the mentality sunk in, and I became robber, thief and bandit. I became quite good with a throwing knife, and the long dagger, which I do not have anymore. It was a shoddy piece of blacksmithing. Anyway, to get back to the story, after having lived in the woods so long I became a good hunter and learned how to heal myself with the native plants.

“This continued until we robbed a settlement to the southeast of Embearn, and I found myself doing to someone else what had happened to me, many years ago. So I left, leaving my long knife in the heart of of the lead robber. I knew it did not make things right, but it helped. I had been living in the woods for about five years before I met you. The robbers were always after me, of course, but I managed to elude them. Until last night, that is. They almost got me that time. They were after you too, but that was just a bonus. I am indebted to you for saving my life.” Sophus had finished the bandaging by that time, and was sitting on a log, relating his story, and, as he finished, stood up and swept into a bow. Kyler was surprised, and pleased.

He did not feel he had to worry about Sophus anymore, His story sounded plausible, and it fit the events, so far as he knew. There had been a raid on a village in that direction, and the leader had been killed, but they didn’t know who had done it. And additionally, the bandits had been less active the past few years, Searching for Sophus, as he now knew. He believed Sophus’ story. He stood up. “And, unless you have forgotten, You saved my life from that thief last night” and with that, Kyler also swept into a bow.

“So we’re even?” asked Sophus.

“Yes, I guess so.” Kyler replied.

“So be it” Sophus said, swinging into the saddle of Swift. “ with that arm, you should probably ride in the chariot.”

Kyler did. They rode until evening.

[How about all that background exposition, huh? So apparently I noticed the problem with Kyler trusting Sophus when I was still writing this, and decided to just keep going with it instead of re-writing the last chapter. Whatever, here comes the bear fight. ]

Chapter Five

They camped not more than a stones throw from the lake. Kyler chose to use some supplies for dinner, and smoke the squirrels meat, instead. He ate ravenously. After the previous days ordeals, he was famished. After they had finished their meal, they outlined the next days plans.

“We should be out of the kingdom of Carsac in a few more days,” Sophus noted.

“I’m not sure we have supplies for the next couple of days, even with Gwyane”

“Who’s Gwyane?”

“The falcon.”

“Oh. Anyway, you’re right, Our food won’t last that long.”

“Do we dare stop to hunt? There will be soldiers following us soon to make sure we left the country.”

“What choice do we have?”

“You’re right, any good with a bow and arrow?”

“No.”

“I guess I’ll have to hunt with the bow, and you can hunt with Gwyane. I’ll take first watch.”

Sophus laid down. Kyler stared into the darkness. They traded posts through the night, but nothing happened. The next morning Sophus took Gwyane to hunt by the lake. Kyler got a bow and arrow and started going through the woods. These woods, he knew, were not owned by anyone. Almost everyone in the valley had to do some hunting or cut some wood to survive. If the government tried to take over the forest, there was automatically a revolt. It had happened before. It would probably happen again. He stalked silently through the forest. He found a game trail, made by a large animal in the hard packed earth and roots that abounded all across the ground, in complex and intricate patterns. Because of this type of ground, he could not tell what type of animal had made this trail, only that it was fairly large. He followed it. This was the part he was good at. Making no noise, he seemed to glide across the forest floor. Up ahead, he saw an animal.  It rose. It was a bear! Kyler tried frantically to hide, but it was too late. It had already seen or heard him. He did his best to keep from screaming. All of the trees had no low-lying branches. It wouldn’t do him any good anyway. even though his arm was much better, he wouldn’t be able to climb a tree. The bear could probably climb, anyway. He whistled, not a high shrill whistle like he had used to call Swift, But a long, strong whistle, used to call William. Fortunately, the spaces between the trees were wide enough to get a chariot through. If he could survive that long.

He pulled an arrow out of his quiver and nocked it. The bear, having heard the whistle, charged. Kyler pulled, and fired. It took it through the eye. The bear slowed, but even after that, did not stop. Kyler waited, and when the bear was no more than six inches away, He jumped to the blind side of the bear. The bear, surprised, and going to fast to stop in time, ran into a tree. Roaring his anger, he searched for his future victim. Kyler was  downwind of the bear. The bear shouldn’t be able to smell him. It couldn’t. Circling around, It realized it couldn’t see him either. “That,” whispered Kyler to himself, “was far too close” He peered anxiously towards the camp, searching for William. He could sort of see him through the trees, but it would be about five more minutes until he got there. The bear, having learned he could not see or smell his elusive quarry, listened for him. His small  triangular ears detected heavy breathing. He snuck up as good as he could. Kyler heard him coming. He took a very risky chance. Whirling out from behind the tree, he plunged his skinning knife into the beast’s back. While it did not kill him, it did injure it. The bear was confused. What had happened? None of his other prey retaliated. What was this strange hurting thing in his back? He tried to roll over, to rub it off, but it pressed in even deeper. He growled his frustration. Then he saw his prey. It was standing next to something that looked to him, like a deer without horns. A very large deer without horns. It looked like it tasted good. He charged. Kyler leaped into the chariot, grabbed a spear, and charged at the bear. They would meet somewhere in a small clearing.

At the last few seconds before they collided, Kyler swerved the chariot. The bear, in its simplicity, did not comprehend what happened, and kept going straight ahead. Then a vicious spear pierced the thick folds of his skin. It missed the heart, but caused a tremendous amount of pain. The beast was thinking things like, “I can’t lose, I’ll get him this time. That hurts. I won’t give up.’ Through his one remaining eye, he saw the human dismount. Kyler selected a spear. It was a long spear with a hooked end. The bear charged. By this time, the tactic of moving just before colliding had sunk in. The brute charged, not roaring or even attacking, his strategy was: Charge until the the human moves, then turn and attack. He stuck to his strategy, even when the human did nothing, even when the spear went straight through him, and even when he ran into a tree again after the human let go of the spear. He even stuck to his strategy when he died. He was still sticking to his strategy wherever he went after that.  Any moment now he would eat, thought the bear, any moment…

[A-yup. First person Bear visualization, right there. So anyway, this could definitely use a re-write, but it was pretty good for my age, I must say. Still more chapters to come]

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