The Loss

by Joe Zamil

Woods, as far as the eye can see, tall trees in a dry forest that block even afternoon sun and yet right in the middle lives a village that can be found only by those who already know where it is. Some of the people came from other villages that was burned to the ground, some were farmers that feared for their lives of their vonribility to attack by even the smallest group of bandits, and others were runaway soldiers that feared death and had no interest to their king's endless battles.

Grunvald village as they called it, from far away it looks like a darker part of the forest. Some rumours say the woods there are inhabited by cannibals others even say that there lives demonic spirits, but some of the stories may have been exagirated by tresspsers but some, maybe not.

Just outside the village two children, a girl and her little brother sitting on a log eating their last two pieces of dry bread their parents left them, before joining the caravan sent outside for food suplies. Leena and Mondor are waiting for the return of the caravan so they can rejoin with their elders. the boy ate his peice of bread quickly, at the site of which his sister broke her dry peice in half and shared with Mondor

"You said they'll be here by now" said Mondor chewing his half of bread

"they will, just you wait" said leena soothingly.

"iam still hungry" complained the boy

"dont you worry Mondor, mom and dad will us bring lots of food, i promise"

"i know, but... hey i know a place where we can find berries" says the boy and runs towards the woods.

"wait, the sun is about to set, it is not safe in the woods"

"come on, it is not far" argues Mondor, and Leena older she may be, is not nearly as fast as her brother, so strugling to keep up she follows the boy further and further away from home.

"we are almost there" says the boy, through the trees and around the bushes they went and to a sudden stop, Leena finally cathing up "it is getting dark Mondor we have to go back" she complains, Mondor puts his hand in the air "shhhhh, there is someone over there" he whispers as he point farword. There it was, a savage man looking for food, holding a rat in his hand which he puts in his mouth and bites the head off splashing blood over his face. Seeing that Leena screem just for a second which attracts the wild-man's attention where he stares for a few seconds, then spits the rat's head and charges towards them "aahhh" goes the hungry savage taking out his rusted dagger from his old tared rag. The children jump to run for their lives, as they do the girl slowly falls back "hurry Lenna" yells Mondor "dont look back, just go" she shouts back and so her little brother is slowly out of site leaving Leena to her tragic fait.

Mondor still running and reciting the last words Leena in his mind over and over by the evey single beating of his heart, finnaly disobeys them and looks back seeing his sister not behind him anymore, knowing what happened to her with shock and guilt in his mind and tears droping from his eyes he keeps looking deeper and deeper back for what he will never see again "what have i done" he whispers.

Not far away a small group of twenty six well armoured soldiers riding to the village slowly as there are no roads outside Grunvald. They are leaded by a young man in tough black armour on a charger horse named Richard. They are not normal soldiers, they do not fight for a king, the are Manhunters, they track dawn criminals such as bandits, theifs and pirates and sell them as slaves for punishment or send them to a jail if a town is near, or if they refuse, fight them till they surrender and if not kill most of them and take the wounded, but rarely in some cases they all die. The only reason sir Richard knows where to find Grunvald is because he was raised there. As they were marching along the woods one of the soldiers call out "sir look there, a child, he must lost" as the master heard he himself rode to the direction of the boy. Mondor was moving slowly and carelessly in any direction with his head down. The galloping sounds he was haring got louder and louder then a horse stood right infront of him but the boy dose not look up, "are you lost young one?" but he dose not answer. Sir Richard dismouts his horse, gets on his knees and raises Mondor's chin. He sees the boys eyes are red entirely as he cannot tollerate light and can barely keep them open. No question were needed there, the leader lifted the young boy up on his horse and they continued their heading to the village.

Less than an hour they reach Grunvald and find a wounded caravan seeking aid. Sir Richard went closer next to an old man part of the group "you there, what is going on, who are you?" the master asks "we were sent to bring food, but on our return an army of bandits chased after us, we were carrying too much weight, we had to dispose of all our supplies" answered the old man "where are they now?" asks sir Richard "we lost them when entered the woods but, they fired their arrows before we can get there and some didnt make it"

"they brought us nothing" screems a woman in sorrow

"we no choice, we had to..."

"we gave you all our money and you throw it all away?" yells a man in anger

"Quit!!, arguing about it isnt going to fix anything" shouts sir Richard, then rides back to his soldiers "Bronff" he calls out

a short but muscular appraoches "your orders sir" he answers

"quicky assemble a team from our own to search the perimiter and another from the villagers to keep watch" ordered the master

"i'll see to it right away sir" he says picking up his heavy axe and running to the soldiers.

Mondor sees the caravan is the one his parents were in, at the cause of which he jumps off sir Richard's horse and runs towards them. He searched between every last one, looking closely at their faces then finally comes to a stop in seeing the ones he searched for lying unconcius on a tared old blanket.

the boy repeatedly pockes an old man sitting next to them till finally drawing his attention.

"what is it?" yells the old man at seeing the little boy

the child pionting at the couple "are they dead?" he sruggles

"ahh, erh, no they...ahh, they lost a lot of blood and need to rest, ahh here sit next to them, keep them company" said the old man soothingly

Outside the woods, the bandits wait as there leader decides what they will do.

One of them come up to him "sir, we all the supplies, they will pay handsomely, and, we have nothing else to wait for, that may be where they live sir" he suggests

"you fool, there are no towns in the woods, there hiding" he yell to the soldier's face.

"we will burn it down, ready fire from now, we set tourch as we move around to cover more area"

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