The Deathly Woods in Winter - A Short Story
Seamus turned his hooded head as he tread quickly, glancing through the trees behind him. The snow had been heavy this winter, causing the branches on so many of the trees to fall. Yet most had held fast, losing only short, wispy branches. The wisps of wood and thick logs lay scattered through the snow, making it hard to navigate between the trees in the darkness of night. Each tree stood tall and proud, telling a tale of its own. He had only crossed the border a moment ago, when already he was worried about the enemy soldiers. If war was coming then he had to be prepared.
A faint sound rang out in the distance. A scream, maybe a laugh? He paused, his ears perked up, the silence of the woods was eerie. A light flickered in the distance, only a few hundred feet to his north. He began to second guess himself. Maybe he should have taken the Turlough trail? It would have been a more secure route until he had reached the border. "No, he convinced himself, "I put enough of a plan together, he thought as he jolted forward, his pace increasing now. He hadn't seen the princess before, and he had no idea as to why he had been chosen for the job. Surviving as a lowly thief months before, holding up carriages and emptying cargo ships while the crew slept, Seamus had come a long way. This was his chance for redemption. He approached the edge of the woods, the trees now just heavy enough to provide cover, as the light in the distance grew ever closer, brighter.
He gripped his weapons, a curved blade for each hand. The blades were short, but he still kept them low to prevent them reflecting the light. As he reached the edge of the Deathly wood, he could see clearly from the trees. There was a large clearing right to his north, and a number of Tents stood there. They flew the banner of his enemy, an orange cat on a red silken crest. Seamus wondered why they were so close to the border. Although rumors spread across the land, of a coming war, nothing had been set in stone.
By the size of their encampment their numbers were small. Maybe seventeen at most. He needed to take them out. This was no time to wait, nor was it a time to run. Time was of the essence, and nothing would stand in his way. A heavy weight had been placed upon his shoulders and failure was not an option. This journey was the start of the rest of his life. It was time to stand up to tyranny and oppression and not just by stealing from the pompous. The king had given him a way forward, a new life and he would thank him for that.
- The Wretched Castle Walls - A Short Story
The ground underfoot was solid from the cold. It barely hurt the skin on their feet though. Such toughness came from years of labor and a lifeless existence. The soil had not produced nourishment in months, yet only a day had passed since the enemy h