Camp Yellow Lake, which used to be a lake but its now dry, is not exactly the most popular place near the large bustling town of Trite. But in the end, it serves a vital purpose: to treat miscreant kids who sunder the town wrong. The form of treatment is odd, but rather simple: have the kids wake up early, hand them a shovel, and get them to dig in the blazing sun on a humid day. Despite the 15-year history of this camp being relevant, there has never been a particularly good reason as to why digging is the best punishment for the kids. The Warden of Camp Yellow Lake, a woman who claims she’s of mild importance, insists that this is the best way for them to learn values and also toughen them up. Some of her critics doubt her statements, though, and have been scrambling to find out what her motivations are. To this day the only reason she could possibly be advocating this as a good thing, they say, is because she’s looking for something valuable. Anyways, over the years there have been a number of occurrences that have frequently made its presence known all over camp, starting from the rather mundane to the extraordinary bizarre. But today was arguably the strangest event yet.
Stan was a commoner, a simple 12 year old boy who, in truth, has never committed a single sin. Well, at least not yet, but he hasn’t done anything seriously wrong at this point of his life, except it just so happened one day that he was at the wrong place at the wrong time. After a series of events, and in many cases the accusations were either false or just ridiculously comical, he was sent to Camp Yellow Lake. Now instead of going to school and just living a normal life, he’s been forced to wake up early, dig holes in unbearable heat, pray that he’s able to get a decent amount of water, showering in cold water with hardly any soap, and go to sleep in a messed up cot. It would be a stretch to say that he’s had a lot of enjoyable experiences in this camp. He did manage to make some friends, albeit strange friends, such as Ten, Octopus, Switch, Kneecaps, Force, and Crisscross. These aren’t their real names, but that’s what they use around here. While they probably deserve way more attention than plan old Stan, he happens to be the main focal point of this chapter.
Stan has dealt with countless events, other than digging, such as teaching Ten the alphabet, getting beat up by Crisscross, and letting Switch take whatever he digs up over the past month and a half; he sends his mom a letter every week telling her how he’s doing, so his kind attitude hasn’t changed dramatically, but he has had to toughen up over the last few weeks. Even so, he would, like everyone else, have never had the strength to deal with what they had to deal with today.
That day was a rarity: the early part of the morning was filled with cloudy skies, with the sun expected to show up later in the day and possible rain late into the afternoon. Morning seemed to end rather quickly, and with it those clouds ended as well as the sun blazed all over the diggers. Stan was, as usual, almost finished with his hole, but stopped for a few minutes to rest his sore body temporarily, as he was beat up from yesterday’s digging. Even though he’s been digging for a month, his body is still not adjusted to the physical toll of shoveling, and he’s been wondering if he was ever going to get used to it.
He resumed back to digging and, for a few minutes, thought about how he got in this situation: he had a really terrible day at school, finding out he flunked every subject possible for the first time all year and everyone making fun of him for getting beat up by a kid half his size. While nursing his face with an ice pack and feeling dejected as he walked back home, he ended up passing a nearby bridge. As soon as he finished putting the ice pack away, a pair of shoes fell on top of his head. Considering he was feeling miserable all day, he forgot all about the bridge and believed the shoes fell from the sky. Yep, he believed that the shoes fell from the sky. He planned on taking the shoes home and was going to tell his parents this strange phenomena, but as soon as he turned the nearby corner, a Trite official noticed him and asked him where he got those shoes.
“They fell from the sky,” Stan said.
The officer was writing it down. “All right, could you repeat that again?”
“I said they fell from the sky.”
“So…the…shoes…fell…from…the…-WHAT? Are you trying to fool around with me??!?”
“No way. That’s the truth, sir.” Obviously the officer didn’t buy it then took him to the nearby station. When he found out about the report that those shoes belonged to a famous noble in Aurol and compared the description of the shoes towards what Stan had on him, he immediately jailed him and kept him there for a few days until trial began. In trial, despite Stan’s insistence that he was telling the truth, there was no way anybody was going to believe him, especially since he went with the “Shoes falling from the sky tactic” something no one was going to believe. Then he was in a no win situation when the noble whose shoes were stolen claimed it was him, which is a blatant lie because he’s never seen Stan in all his life. Probably did it because some nobles just can’t stand commoners. The final nail in the coffin was the evidence of Stan being at the scene of the crime, which they claimed was the same fingerprints as the culprit. Even though the judge believed that the kid was innocent as none of the facts made any sense, the people, for one reason or another that was mind-boggling, wanted him guilty, so he couldn’t speak out his feelings. So in the end, it was either jail for 60 days or Camp Yellow Lake, and his parents chose a three week camp instead of jail.
“Odd…” Stan said quietly to himself. “I really need to stop thinking back to that moment.” Stan finished the hole early again, and after a brief sit down, he began to climb out the hole and announce that he finished early again. But he noticed something was wrong. “…I’ve never heard it this quiet…” The only way it was as quiet as it is now is if you was in the deepest part of the dry lake, where rumors of green-spotted lizards, deadly creatures that supposedly leave a curse on you if you get bitten by it, live and there’s nothing but complete darkness at night. But there’s dozens upon dozens of kids supposed to be shoveling, and since he just heard the shoveling like a few seconds ago, plus the fact that not everyone should finish at the exact same time, Stan was wondering what in the world just happened. He walked out of the hole as quickly as his sore body would let him, and when he finally got out of the hole, a sight that would have made the shoes falling out of the sky story believable walked slowly past him as an odd apparition appeared out of nowhere. The grey like anomaly with four black wings showed up out of nowhere and paralyzed Stan with such fear that he joined the rest of the sore and tired group at just standing there, watching the creature descend to the ground. It was pure luck that the creature didn’t have to go too far as it stopped, put its left claw into the ground, lifted a part of the ground up, and threw it deep into a part of the lake. What the creature saw after he looked into the crater was a yellow, shining orb, which it went down to get, and with little effort, grabbed it and put the Yellow Orb of Bethumet away. As it jumped out of the cave, a middle aged women’s voice yelled,
“What’s going on around here? Why the hell isn’t anybody doing their jobs???” It was the Warden of Camp Yellow Lake and she was pretty upset of seeing everyone standing around doing nothing, at least in her eyes, and she demanded answers, and wanted them quickly. As soon as she saw a death like figure fly into the sky and pass her by with blinding speed, she quickly said while stammering, “A-l-l r-r-right, l-let’s h-h-have a day o-o-off!!!!” then ran off in the deepest part of the lake, reportedly never to be seen again.
It took the entire day for Stan to realize what the hell just happened. In fact, he’s still hard pressed to believe the events that just happened.
“The warden…ran…away….HA-AH-AA-AA!!!!” He said aloud as his parents decided to take him home after the report that the demon Fear was around the area, which meant pretty much no one was safe. Still, in Stan’s eyes, he thought it was one of the strangest days ever. Was it his strangest day? Let’s hope we never know…
Near the Vine Koren region, around a decimated forest area laid a girl with numerous scars on her body and damaged, crumbling armor, lying face first unconscious on the ground. The long yellow haired girl, blood covering her face, her eyes still closed, started to move without realizing that she seemed set to die.
“…The pain…” she muttered silently, coughing out more blood from her mouth. Then she heard a familiar voice.
“Courage! Get up! You’re better than this! Let’s get going already!”
“….M…mas...ter…S...ad….” she passed out. Then in a sudden instant she began to move around.
“You must be well rested,” sounded the voice of an old man, “If you are able to move around so much!”
“…I think so…” she gasped. Her mouth moved as it spoke but she didn’t hear her voice.
“So…you can’t speak right now… well, don’t worry about that. You might just need some rest.”
Tyrande heard him but could not see him.
“I…I can’t see!!!” she was near panic, but a gentle hand touched her forehead.
“Rest child…you must sleep if you want to feel better, all right?” considering she didn’t have any other option, she obliged and went to sleep.
“Hello, my Queen Soria,” said a rather confident black haired man wearing the clothes of a common mercenary, a rough bearded face and two swords entrenched in his robe as he knelt before the Queen of Aurol.
The Queen sighed.
“Another mercenary?” snapped Queen Soria as she looked at one of the Aurol officials, who seemed rather scared that he somehow just made the queen angry.
“My Queen,” said the black haired man, “You sound as if you’re talking to a common criminal. I can assure you…that I am none of that, and that I’m one of the premier mercenaries in all of Bethumet. Surely you can place your bets on me?”
“Like the other 50 or so groups that I have hired since I’ve heard of that demon?”
The figure remained silent.
“Whatever. As long as this orb is protected from the vile mongrel, I will hire every mercenary in this world, and if you do your job, you will be handsomely rewarded. Now leave my sight!”
“I assure you, you won’t regret this decision…” he left with a confident smile on his face.
Sayrun is secretly the best “mercenary” on the entire continent of Bethumet, known by his famous name, “The Swords Demon.” He doesn’t get that name just because he wields two rather outstanding swords, crafted by himself, named Tonsgold and Furbolg, who both are the same in sharpness and bluish color: he has that name because of the many missions he’s undertaken, and how he has never been touched in any of the battles he’s been involved in. He’s undertaken over 100 missions in his ten year run as a “mercenary”. He was definitely a talented individual.
Unfortunately, as great as Sayrun is in battle, there isn’t a soul in the world that wants to work with him, for inexplicable reasons, as that prestigious title is heard in whispers. He hasn’t taken on any of the top missions in the world. He’s been capable of working by himself, but has been unable to work with anybody else. And, quite simply, some claim he’s untrustworthy and hard to be around, and the only people who trust him is his wife and his new born son Sigrin, who’s incapable of fully trusting anyone just yet. And even despite the many missions he has undertaken, he hasn’t been getting paid a lot, which made him think whether the mercenary life was the right thing to do. He started to become lackadaisical in his work, and his wife talked to him about looking for another job. Sayrun began to let this consume him.
One day after a half-hearted training regimen in the forest, Sayrun walked back dejected as he headed back home. He let out a loud sigh and looked at the sky. At that point, it seemed probable that he was close to ending his job. He took a look at his two swords, then was about to throw them away until he saw a strange sign at the end of the road home. He went and checked it out, and from there, a new fighting spirit was aroused. Just to catch one out of control demon that‘s been stealing certain orbs, he could get 200,000 gold, and with that much money in these times, you’d be good for life. There was no way Sayrun could turn that down, so after kissing his wife and newborn son goodbye, he headed up to Aurol, where the Grey Orb of Bethumet was supposed to be placed. The reason he went to Aurol is because there was no other known location of the orb, and even if there was, he knew that Queen Soria would hire him instantly, as she doesn’t have the best of military forces, and wouldn’t care one lick about whoever it is. As long as she’s protected, nothing else matters.
After being hired a few weeks ago, Sayrun has only ate and slept, as he was more inclined to train by himself for long hours, waiting for the chance to go and kill Fear when he arrives. It was a cool, sunny day as he felt positive about his training and decided to take a break. He got on the road towards Aurol, then stopped as he sensed a strange energy coming in his direction. He turned around and from far away, he saw,
“F-Fear!!!” Sayrun screamed internally as the red eyed figure ran in his direction. He couldn’t believe he’d show up now, but with him here, now was his best chance to earn the gold that would set him up for years. Believing that the creature, which was pretty far away from Sayrun by the way, couldn’t see him he hid amongst the bushes and waited patiently for him to arrive. Even though hiding isn’t necessarily his kind of style, he felt that he needed to get an advantage over a creature that’s reportedly destroyed lands just to get those orbs. “Closer…Closer…!” Sayrun thought continually as he grabbed the hilt of both his twin swords. Then the creature got in his sight. “Die, beast!!!” Sayrun yelled as he jumped out of the trees in blinding fashion, both swords in zigzag like position towards Fear’s head.
The sound of blood falling towards the ground was made. For a split second, Sayrun was certain it was Fear’s. After that split second passed, blood poured from the head of Sayrun to the ground. Then he fearfully stared at his two swords, Tonsgald and Furborg, as they were not only covered in blood, they was about to crack at any moment. Then at the moment he realized Fear was behind him, Sayrun could only say, “Forgive me-” As his body was sliced in one fourths vertically and landed disgustingly toward the ground. The creature from there continued his way towards Aurol.
Tyrande gasped as she suddenly opened her eyes. She sighed in relief as she was able to see again.
“Ah….!” she sighed again just for hearing her voice. She looked around to see where she managed to be at this time and find out that she was definitely not anywhere spectacular. Not to say that the house she was in was by no means in bad shape, but it paled in comparison to what she’s seen recently. Tyrande tried to rise from her bed but she struggled just to get up, and smartly lay back down.
“Are you finally well-rested?” walked in a rather gentle sounding old man from the door. “Hmm…obviously not so it seems…” despite how old he looked, he seemed rather fit for someone who lives in a dreary location.
“You…saved me,” said Tyrande, who extended a rather weak bow towards the old man, “I thank you for saving my life.”
“Well, I just happened to be in the right place at the right time.” he replied.
“Where was it that you found me?”
“I found you pretty damaged between the forests of Kose and Ken-”
As soon as the word “Kose” came up, Tyrande seemed to remember how she got in this predicament in the first place. She proceeded to get up despite the amount of pain she had to deal with, grabbed the old man by the shirt collar he happened to be wearing, and screamed in his face, “What happened?!? What happened?!?! Where’s Lute!?!? The Queen?!?!” and even shook the old man back and forth while speaking. It didn’t take long for Tyrande to realize her egregious mistake, and she repeatedly apologized to him, although she soon had to do the apology while in bed, as she felt her body shut down almost immediately.
“It’s…quite…alright…I’ve…dealt…with…worse…” said the old man while breathing heavily, but in a few seconds he was back to normal breathing.
“How…long have I been out?”
“You’ve been out for a good two weeks since I found you that day. I’m amazed… your ability to recover so quickly from such serious injuries….you must be someone special.”
Tyrande gave a not so confident laugh as she replied,
“I guess…I must be special…” she gasped once again. “Excuse me, this may seem strange, but do you know what the situation is between Syria and Kenion?” The old man gave a small chuckle.
“…Well, if you must know,” the old man looked out the nearby window, “It looks as if Syria is finished…” Tyrande had a look of disbelief on her face.
“No…no you’re…that can’t be…Syria has the better forces…”
“Kenion has the superior numbers,” The old man looked at Tyrande. “And unfortunately, they seem to have something else on their side, too…” That stuck in Tyrande’s mind as she was then told to rest for the day. In the morning she felt better as she was able to rise up without much pain. “I’d advise you to leave the next day. Definitely not today,” said the old man.
“…Why not today?” Replied Tyrande
“A good deal of rest can help you think more clearly and maybe help you think what you have to do in order to succeed. Considering you have a lot on your mind already, it might just help.”
“I understand. Thanks for the advice…um, I’m sorry, I have not introduced myself--”
“Oh! I forgot to do the same! I never said my name, have I? My name is Pathan, young lady.”
“My name is Tyrande. I wanted to ask you a question. You mentioned yesterday that ‘they seem to have something else on their side, too’. What did you mean by that?”
“Hmm…I said that? I must have forgotten…”
The old man seemed shocked, but recovered and said, “Surely, you don’t mean that.”
“You also mentioned yesterday that you’ve ‘dealt with far worse.’ How can you say that? If you know something about Kenion that I don’t know, then please tell me!”
“Why…” the old man seemed like he was going to continue to deny, but instead changed his mind, “Ah…it doesn’t matter. It wouldn’t really make a difference if I told you or not. So…I’ll tell you all you need to know.