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This blog contains my progress on the Exshire Chronicles (a series I'm writing) and the evolution of my fictional world: Exshire!
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An unfinished book I wrote in 7th grade (Pt. 1)

Posted February 20th, 2018 at 02:29 PM by PoochieMoo
Updated February 20th, 2018 at 02:52 PM by PoochieMoo

Well... it's about 20,000 words, and that's as far as I got. I wrote this in 7th grade. It's not that bad actually. Here you go.

Spirit

Prologue(...ish?)
A long time ago, there was a raging war between humans and orcs. The war seemed as if it would never end. Then, one fateful day, the druids arrived. They had powerful magic derived from the forces of nature, and animal companions who fought alongside them in battle. The healer of the group had a deer, the warrior a bear, the archer, a phoenix, the strategist and assassin a fox, and the leader of the druids, a dragon. They helped the humans win the war against the orcs, and became the most celebrated war heroes ever to be seen. When they died, their companions departed their bodies, leaving their spirits to roam the Earth looking for new masters. But, many years later, an army of orcs is being raised once again, and the humans need the spirits to find new masters to have a hope of winning the war they don’t even know is coming.







The Prophecy

Havenford, Empire of Ferrin, Atoris, Exshire

Cedric’s eyes opened. They wandered around the small, dusty apartment. He owned a small shop, but it wasn’t doing very well as of right now. He slid out of bed and walked to the edge of the room, where his dresser was. He pulled out today’s outfit and walked out of the house without a breakfast. There were few people in the streets due to of the early hour, but Cedric paid them no heed. He was opening the shop early and closing it later; he needed the extra money and decided that extra hours was the best way to do it. He was only nineteen, but he had been providing for himself ever since he ran away from the orphanage that used to be his home. He kept running and running, until he found the city of Havenford, where he currently lived. The deserted streets wound and wound across countless corners and bends until he finally reached the small shop that he made a living off of. It sold a variety of goods, including leather, string, pots, glassware, and other everyday items. He walked into the shop and sat behind the counter, waiting for a customer. As he sat there, waiting, he heard footsteps coming nearer and nearer to the shop. Yes! I knew it would pay off! Cedric thought to himself as a man walked into the shop.

“Is this Cedric’s?” the man asked.

“Yes, it certainly is!” Cedric replied, happily.

“I’ve been told that I can find cheap leather here, am I not mistaken?”

“No sir, you are not! We offer a large variety of leather, ranging in quality and in price! Would you like me to show you around?”

“I can see it all for myself, thanks,” the man said back to Cedric. It was entirely true; the shop was small, and almost everything could be seen from the entrance.

The man walked around, examining some of the more inexpensive leather that Cedric sold. After browsing for a bit longer, he picked up a hide and threw it on the counter. “How much?” he asked, impolitely.

“That one? Well, that is a fine hide, see, so I’m offering it for about, well, is seventeen chronos and a vitnia a fair price?”

“Hardly. But since I need some leather fairly quickly, I’ll pay it,” the man said as he reluctantly laid the money on the table.

“Thanks for doing business!” Cedric cried after the man. Seventeen chronos! And a vitnia! I can’t believe he paid it! Cedric thought excitedly.

Unfortunately, the rest of the day was ill-fated. He only got one other person to enter the shop, despite the extra hours. They only bought a small glass cup for one vitnia.

Later that night, Cedric got up and started to close the shop. Just then, a strangled cry pierced the air. “What the-?” was all Cedric managed to say as he found himself walking towards the source of the sound. He found himself standing in the main street of the city, a woman strewn out on the ground before him. A crowd of people had gathered around her to see what was happening. Suddenly, she rose up into the air, and her eyes suddenly opened, but they were not as they should be. They were a bright, glowing, pupil less, blue. She opened her mouth, and blue light poured out of it, and she spoke:

The Druids will rise again, with animals alongside them

Phoenix, Fox, Bear, Deer, and Dragon

Phoenix, Bear, and Deer stand for good

Fox for evil

And Dragon will be ownerless until the time has come

For him to reveal himself

To confront the orcs in a final battle

To end all battles

“YOU!” she said loudly, pointing at Cedric. “AND YOU TWO!” she said as she pointed to a boy and girl about Cedric’s age. “THEY WILL CHOOSE YOU,” she said finally, and fell to the floor, silent.

Just then, there was another yell that came from the gates. Unlike the yell of the woman, this one was not a yell that came from pain or surprise. It was mischievous, malicious, and murderous. It sounded as if it was happy, but in a dark, evil way. It sent shivers down Cedric's spine. Then there were multiple more cries of the exact same sound, and war trumpets blew, loud and terrifying.

At that time, it was complete chaos. Everybody was running around, unsure of what to do. There were small, dark figures with wild hair and pointed teeth, running through the crowd, attacking and stealing from anyone they could find. They were orcs. As orc archers fired into the crowd, Cedric thought things couldn’t go any worse. But he was wrong. The orcs had razor sharp, claw-like blade attached to their hands. They were as dark as night, and were almost impossible to spot until they were right in front of you. They must have used those claws to climb the walls, and since they blend in so well, weren't noticed by the guards until they started attacking people, Cedric thought. There really weren't that many of them; they just had camouflage and the element of surprise on their side. Cedric ran around in the crowd, and found the other two people that the floating woman had addressed.

“We need to get out of here! Now!” Cedric told them.

“Why should we listen to you?” the boy asked Cedric.

“Did you not hear that lady? We’re going to get chosen, whatever that means, and that lady didn’t seem like she was joking. We should just stay together,” Cedric told the boy.

The boy and girl seemed to have been convinced, and both nodded their heads in agreement. “Alright, I’m going to get a few things from my house. Get whatever you need, and meet me back here in ten minutes,” Cedric said to the pair.

They both ran off to their houses, and Cedric ran to his own. Once he entered the apartment, he grabbed his meager earnings; 324 chronos, 56 vitnia, and 14 grains.

Ten minutes later, the three of them met back at the very same spot they were standing minutes ago. “I know a way to get safely out of the city,” Cedric told them.

“How? Because all the entrances I’ve ever used are jammed with orcs,” The boy said to Cedric.

“I’m almost positive that this place isn’t going to have orcs in it,” Cedric said back to him.

Cedric led the two through various different alleyways and streets that most people haven’t been before, until they finally reached the spot that Cedric was leading them to. “Is this a sewer?” the boy asked Cedric.

“Yeah, actually. I found this place a long time ago, when I first came to the city. It should lead us to a small lake where the sewage is dumped,”. And with that, the three climbed into the musty old sewer. They walked for about ten minutes before Cedric said, “Here it is," and opened the hatch, revealing the small lake where the sewage was dumped. As they climbed out of the sewer, they looked back at the city and saw debris raining from the sky; a fire had started. All three of them stood, horror struck, watching the flaming city that they all had called their home.




The Temple of the Druids

Wrolt Woods, Empire of Ferrin, Atoris, Exshire

“Come on, let’s go,” Cedric said to the two people he had brought along with him. “I’m Cedric by the way. It looks like we’re going to be spending a lot of time together,” he told them.

“I feel weird. Almost like I know you two. Like… we’re related…” This was the first time Cedric had heard the girl speak. She spoke in a confident voice, like she was unphased by what was happening at the moment. “I’m Ariel. Nice to meet you,” she told Cedric and the other boy. Cedric was amazed by how calm she was in the situation.

“Now that you put it that way, I guess I kind of feel like that too!” the boy said to Cedric and Ariel.

“Who cares about us feeling related? We have to move! Orcs could find us any second!”. And then they all started to run off into the forest.

They had no idea where they were going; the only things that they knew for a fact were that they were part of some kind of prophecy, and that Havenford was destroyed and overrun by orcs.

“Who are these Druids?” Cedric managed to ask as they were walking, alone in the woods.

“I don’t know. My name’s Oliver, by the way,” the boy said to Cedric. The three had been running for about an hour, and were determined to find the next city, so that they could get to safety, and warn them of the orc’s return.

“The Druids? You haven’t heard of them?” Ariel asked Cedric and Oliver.

“No” the two boys said at the same time.

“What did your parents tell you as fairytales, then? Was my family the only one who told the story of the Druids?”

“I lived in an orphanage. I didn’t have a family,” Cedric told Ariel.

“And my parents died when I was two. If they told me something like that, I obviously don’t remember it,” Oliver said back to Ariel.

“Oh. I’m sorry to hear that, both of you,” she said sympathetically. “If you haven’t heard this story before, then I guess I’d better tell you. So, there was a constantly raging war between humans and orcs, and neither side had the upper hand. It seemed as if it could keep going on forever and ever, until something drastic happened. Well, that drastic thing came in the form of the Druids. They each had a different specialty, and fought alongside their animal companions. The owner of the phoenix was an archer, the deer a healer, the bear a warrior, fox a strategist and assassin, and the dragon, the leader of the group. The humans won the war, and eventually the druids died. But their animals did not. They merely passed on in spirit form, roaming the Earth for a new master. And were never seen again,” Ariel concluded. “That’s why I think it is a bit weird to think that that prophecy is acting as if the story were true. Yes, there was a war and most orcs died, but the Druid part was completely fictional. Or so we thought,” she added nervously. “What if we really are the ones who are going to find these animals?”

“How can the tale not be real, after what we just saw happen to that lady back in the city? We are obviously meant to do something special, and it obviously has something to do with orcs. They must be coming back to try to take over humans, again. They failed the first time, and were left without any real civilization, so who is commanding them now? Or are they acting of their own accord? I’m not sure which one is scarier,” Cedric told Ariel and Oliver.

“I’m so confused right now. First I am minding my own business, and then I see a strange lady float up in the air say this prophecy thing or whatever, and then orcs are attacking the city? And now I’m in the woods with two people I hardly know? What is even going on right now?” Oliver could not have said it better; this was exactly how Cedric felt.

“We should probably set up camp for the night. And see how we feel in the morning. I think we can all agree that it’s been a long day,”. The other two nodded their heads in agreement, and started to gather things for a fire. It was in the middle of winter; it was a miracle it wasn’t snowing. Cedric walked around the small area where they had put their stuff down to look for either firewood or logs to sit on. He saw a huge log that looked as if it was from a fallen tree, and started dragging it towards the campsite. He dropped it facing their small amount of supplies, and sat down on it, waiting for the others to return.

Finally, he saw the two emerge from the forest, and each of them were carrying a decent amount of firewood. Cedric scooped up some of the dry leaves surrounding the camp and placed them under the teepee of wood that Oliver was making. Ariel was rubbing the pointed end of a stick against a smaller wooden plank, hoping to create sparks. “Yes!” Ariel cried when she finally got a few embers (After about half an hour). She carefully placed the embers into the dry leaves that Cedric had collected, blowed on them, and waited for them to ignite. Finally, after what seemed like days of waiting, the leaves ignited, and soon the wood.

Oliver and Ariel plopped themselves down on either side of Cedric, arranged their belongings in a small circle around the fire, and gazed into it, enjoying the warmth. “If we are the ones that the animals will choose, then how do we, you know, get them?”

Something that Oliver said must have caused it, but the ground shook violently, and there seemed to be a crack forming in the ground directly in front of the trio. The fire fell through into it, and soon enough, the log that the three had been sitting on fell through as well. Suddenly, the whole thing stopped, and everything was still again. There was a gaping hole in the ground, and the three looked into it, suspiciously. “Should we… go in?” Ariel asked.

“I’m not sure that looks very safe,” Cedric replied. But at that very same moment, he felt a strange desire to enter the crack in the ground. As he looked around, the others seemed to have the same desire too. “Let’s go in…” Cedric said as he slid down the wall of the crevice.

It was not very deep, but the darkness made it impossible to know when it stopped. The three stood up, their clothes dirtied with the mud from the wall, when they felt another shake in the ground. They looked up, only to find that the rift had sealed itself; they were trapped. And then, out of nowhere, there was light. There was no visible source of the light in the room, except for five statues that seemed to glow. They were all of animals standing on pedestals, and the animals were the phoenix, fox, bear, deer, and dragon. “I feel like I should touch it…” Oliver said, looking at the bear statue. All three of them seemed to be walking, trancelike, towards the statues. Ariel to the deer, Cedric to the phoenix, and Oliver to the bear.

Cedric was standing mere inches away from the statue dropped his belongings on the floor, and reached his hand out. Right as his skin touched the cold stone, a series of memories flashed before his eyes.

A phoenix by the name of Flare was perched upon a man’s shoulder. The man was in battle, shooting arrows into a sea of orcs. They were not ordinary arrows, though. They were lit with a sort of fire, and occasionally the man’s phoenix would flap its wings and shoot bursts of fire into the crowd. The scene changed.

The man and his phoenix were walking along a trail in the woods, accompanied by a number of people and animals. The small group was intercepted by orcs who charged at them with short, serrated swords. The man shot four of the orcs dead, and seven of them were killed by the burst of fire from the phoenix’s outstretched wings. The rest of the orcs were killed by the dragon that was slashing its claws viciously through the crowd of orcs. The scene changed once again.

The man lay dying on a bed with the phoenix beside him. When the final breath of the man left his body, the phoenix departed, too. But the phoenix departed his body only, and lived on as a spirit.

Cedric’s eyes then snapped open. He was laying on the floor of the musty old room. And perched upon his chest, was the very same phoenix he had just seen.




Flare, Shade, and Claw

Wrolt Woods, Empire of Ferrin, Atoris, Exshire

“AHHH!” Cedric cried as he scrambled back and hit the wall. Flare floated gracefully down to the floor. The phoenix was quite different than how it had looked before. Instead of being red and gold, it was a wispy blue, and seemed to be made of a kind of fog, or mist. Cedric looked down and realized that he was garbed in light armor, with golden shoulder pads, and a red chestplate. As Cedric looked around, he saw two more of the wispy blue animals. They were the deer and bear, and they both seemed to be curiously sniffing Oliver and Ariel, pinning them against the wall.

Cedric was just sitting up when he realized that Flare was circling his head, and that he had a bow laying next to him on the floor. As he stood up, thoroughly confused, he heard a rattling on his back, and found a quiver with just one arrow in it.

“A little help here!” Oliver was yelling at Cedric. Ariel looked too scared to even say anything.

Oliver was wearing large, heavy, thick, black armor, and was holding a large broadsword in his hand. Ariel was wearing extremely light white and grey armor, and holding a staff that ended in a circle with spikes protruding from around the edges. The bear and deer each backed off and finally let the two relax, while Flare positioned himself firmly on Cedric’s shoulder.

“I think he’s called Shade…” Ariel said, pointing to the deer.

“His name is Claw, I think,” Oliver said.

“He’s Flare,” Cedric said, pointing to the phoenix on his shoulder.

“So, we have the animals now. What are we supposed to do with them? Fight the entire orc army? We didn’t even know there was an orc army until about an hour ago!” Oliver sounded troubled.

“How am I supposed to fight an orc army with this thing?” Ariel asked, pointing to her staff.

“At least all you guys have to do is swing that thing around! I have to shoot a bow! I’ve never even held a bow before!” Cedric yelled at the other two.

“Ok, let’s calm down. We should really be focusing on how to get out of this thing,” Ariel told the others.

Cedric just realized that the light coming from the statues had gone away; all of the light was coming from the animals now. The color of the animals’ light made the whole chamber appear to be blue. “How do we get out?” Ariel was saying to the deer, Shade.

“Ariel, it’s a deer. It can’t understand you” Oliver told her. But, the deer was moving towards the wall, and when it touched its head to it, the same rumbling noise that they had heard before was happening again. The ceiling above them split open revealing a pale blue sky, and almost no clouds. The only thing impairing the sky’s beauty was the puffs of smoke still wafting off of Havenford.

Stairs had somehow cut into the wall, making it possible for the three to climb out with ease. They picked up their things and ascended out of the chamber. “Oh no. If we’ve been in there all night, then don’t you think the orcs have moved? It’s not like they would just stay in the city for,” Cedric looked at the sun, which was near the east side of the sky, and realized that they must have been in there a long time. “We were in there twelve hours!?” Cedric said.

“Twelve hours? We must have been seeing those visions or whatever they were forever” Ariel said.

Cedric was relieved that she had that weird vision too; he was starting to get worried that he was the only one who had seen it. “That vision went by so fast! It seemed like a few minutes at most! How could it have been five hours?” Cedric said.

“Maybe it was like dreaming, how you only remember parts of the dream, but you know you’ve been sleeping for longer than the minute you remember,” Ariel suggested.

“Yeah, maybe…” Cedric said half-heartedly. He had his mind on the previous issue: Where were the orcs now?

“Should we go back into the city?” Oliver suggested.

“Oooh! Maybe we could look for survivors, and I could test out my healing skills!” Cedric had forgotten; Ariel was a healer. And Oliver was a warrior. And strangest of all, he was an archer.

“I really don’t think this is a good idea” Cedric told the two.

“I do. I could get some practice with this thing” Oliver said, swinging his sword around. He suddenly seemed to be feeling very confident in his swordsmanship.

“Oliver, be careful with that thing!” Cedric yelled at him as he almost nicked his arm.

“Alright. But I still think we should go into the city. Who votes we should go back to the city?” Oliver said as he and Ariel raised their hands.

“Ugh! Fine. But we can’t stay there for too long. There isn’t even a reason to go there in the first place” Cedric said. They picked up their things and set out towards Havenford.




The Ruins of Havenford

Havenford, Empire of Ferrin, Atoris, Exshire

The three of them walked back to the city, and finally reached the gates. They walked through them with ease, seeing as they had been blown apart by the orcs. The city was covered in ash from the bomb that had been set off the previous night. All of the buildings in the city were either nonexistent or covered in char marks. Most of the buildings seemed as if they would fall apart at the slightest touch.

“This is creepy. I'm used to seeing Havenford filled with people. Without them, it looks like some kind of ghost town,” Ariel said.

Ignoring what Ariel said, Cedric walked ahead of the two, hoping to find a pile of debris or a hill to climb on. He wanted to make sure they were not being watched, and that there weren’t any orcs still left in the city. A chilling thought occurred to him “Guys, we didn’t see any orcs in the forest on our way here, and it doesn’t seem like there are very many in the city, so where did they all go? It’s not like they could just disappear,” Cedric said, worried.

This thought seemed to register with the other two, and they suddenly looked worried. Just then, Cedric heard a scurrying behind a pile of rubble, and nocked an arrow with an instinct he didn’t know he had. “How did I know to do that?” Cedric said to himself with uncertainty. Where was he getting this knowledge of archery from?

“Look! Over there! It looks like a survivor!” Ariel said, excitedly. Cedric, distracted, followed Ariel over to the survivor that she had indicated. Sure enough, there was someone laying down, slightly propped up against a piece of fallen roof. His leg was pinned down by the debris, and it looked as though the roof had caved in on him. He looked petrified at the sight of the three, and their animals.

“What are those!?” The man said, terrified, and pointing to the Flare, Shade, and Claw.

“Relax! We’re not here to hurt you. We are here to help,” Ariel told him. He did not seem entirely convinced, but still seemed to calm down a bit. Ariel walked over to him, and tried to lift the section of roof that had fallen on the man.

“There is no way I can lift that by myself, it's much too heavy...” Ariel said. Cedric walked over, attempting to help Ariel lift the roof. No matter how hard they tried, the couldn’t get it to move.

“We could use some help here, you know!” Cedric said angrily to Oliver.

“Move over and let me try,” Oliver said back to Cedric. He and Ariel moved out of the way and let Oliver try and lift it. As he positioned his arms, Claw walked up behind him. Some of the mist that was floating around him started to curl around Oliver's arms, and he lifted the roof in one effortless heave.

“See? That was like nothing. You guys just weren’t trying hard enough,” Oliver said to Cedric and Ariel. They both looked at Oliver with the same confused expression. "Why are you making that face? Is it that much of a surprise that I lifted the whole thing?” Oliver asked.

“Oliver, I think you had some help,” Cedric told him. “Claw came up behind you and wrapped some of his fog around your arms. I don’t know exactly what happened, but it seems to be like he gave you some of his power,” Cedric explained.

“I doubt it. You guys are just making excuses as to why you couldn’t lift it. Look, I’ll lift it again right now,” Oliver said, trying to lift the roof. He barely got it an inch off the ground before he dropped it again. “I see what you mean now,” Oliver said, defeated.

Ariel walked over to the injured man, and put her hand over his arm, which was clearly broken. “So, I know I’m supposed to be a healer, but I didn’t get any bandages or herbs or anything like that to heal with! Cedric got a bow, because he’s and archer, and Oliver got a sword, because he’s a warrior. I got a staff, because I’m a healer. How does that make any sense? What am I supposed to do? Just put my hand on the injury and magically heal it?" As she said it, she walked over to the man and placed her hand, again on the broken arm. As she did this, blue light spread to the man's arm, and then faded away. He flexed his arm, and moved it around, without any pain.

“I... I wasn't serious... I thought... what?!” Ariel said, thoroughly confused. The man sat up, and seemed to be at a loss for words. Ariel then placed her hand on his legs, saw the same light spread throughout the injury, and then the man was completely healed. He stood up, thanked her, and started to walk away, when they started to hear footsteps, and something talking in a strange tongue that none of them had ever heard before. The man ran back to where the three were, and hid behind Ariel. The voices were getting louder, and the footsteps closer. The three walked forward, cautiously, and readied their weapons. They had never fought with them before, so they were still not much safer than they would be without weapons, at least they had their animals to rely on if everything went wrong. Cedric, instinctively, ran up to a pile of rubble where he nocked an arrow again. He had no clue how he knew how to do this; it just came to him.

Suddenly, he saw an orc hiding behind a fallen wall. As he was pulling back the bowstring, the arrow lit with a spectral, blue fire. He released it, and It landed straight through the orc's chest, setting it alight with the same, unnatural fire. I didn’t even think I could shoot an arrow more than five feet! Much less hit a target more than sixty feet away! Cedric thought. The animals must have given him some kind of knowledge of the role he was forced to play. How else would he know how to shoot a bow?

Suddenly, he became aware of the many more orcs coming from behind the walls. Ariel and Oliver were unaware of the orcs, due to the wall between them. “Orcs! Behind the wall!” Cedric shouted down to them. The orcs on the other side of the wall were examining their flaming companion’s body, but turned to see where the voice came from. They immediately saw Cedric, who had no cover, and started running towards him. But, this exposed them from the wall's protection, and Oliver and Claw were soon chasing after them.

Oliver and Claw were all force on the battlefield. What they lacked in speed they made up for in strength. One swing of his sword and one of the orcs running to attack Cedric lay on the ground, with a huge gash in his chest. Claw just swiped his enormous hands, a storm of blue, shredding any orc stupid enough to get in his way.

Cedric was firing arrows, and noticed that every time he used the one arrow in his quiver, a new one would appear in its place. Cedric hit an orc almost every time, setting them alight. Flare, he noticed, had left his shoulder, and was flying around orc's heads and slashing them with his talons. Shade sat back with the man, not being a fighting animal, and Ariel stood in between Shade and Oliver, unsure whether to stay back with Shade or fight with Oliver. She decided to fight, and swung her staff with so much ease that it looked as if she had been doing it for years.

The orcs were no match for Claw, Flare, Oliver, Ariel, and Cedric. Their numbers quickly diminished against such powerful enemies. Cedric shot one last arrow into the last orc's arm, setting it on fire. The orc was waving his arm around frantically, when Ariel came and smashed the end of her staff into his chest. He fell to the floor and was still.

Oliver, breathing heavily, walked up the hill to meet Cedric. “Nice shooting. Do you have... flaming arrows?”

“Yeah, I guess so. I just started shooting them, and they caught on fire. Flare probably did it. There is no other explanation. I guess it’s kind of like how Claw gave you that burst of strength to lift the roof off that man’s leg,” Cedric replied. “Why is your sword black?”

“It's orc blood, I guess,” Oliver told Cedric.

“When you were fighting, did you feel like you knew how to do it? Like you've been doing it forever?” Ariel's voice said from the bottom of the hill.

“That’s exactly how I felt. I felt like I had someone else inside my body, telling me what to do. I just nailed about fifteen orcs. I was never even able to shoot an arrow before!” Cedric said to her. “We all fought like that. If we fight like this every time, we might just have a chance at taking down the orcs,” Cedric told them.

“Taking down the orcs? What do you mean, taking down the orcs?” Ariel said, concerned.

"Don't you see? We have to fight them. They are raising an army. Havenford was just the start. It has to happen. The same thing happened in that story you told us. Except this time, the Druids are already here.”




The Woods

Wrolt Woods, Empire of Ferrin, Atoris, Exshire

Cedric had finished writing a note telling the nearest city that the Druids have returned, and that the orcs were raising an army. He tied it on to Flare's leg, and told him to fly to the nearest city, Providence. Shade, Claw, Ariel, Oliver, and Cedric were camping in a clearing in the woods, having decided that the ruins of Havenford were not safe. The man who they rescued from the ruins was staying with them until they reached Providence.

“I’ll go up in the trees and see if there are any birds I can hunt,” Cedric told the two, while climbing into a nearby tree. He hoisted himself up, and was gazing out over the sky, which had a dark grey streak from their fire. Cedric heard footsteps down below, and looked down at the road. They had decided to camp off the road, in case there were any more orcs. Luckily they did, because Cedric saw one running along the road, clearly heading to Havenford. Cedric nocked an arrow, took aim, and shot. The arrow landed straight through the orc's neck, and caught him on fire. The orc had been holding something that looked like a note, and Cedric slid down the tree to see what it was.

He bent over the orc’s flaming body, and quickly snatched the note from his grasp. Cedric ran back to camp to show the other two.

“Did you get a bird? I’m starving,” Cedric heard Oliver say.

“I got something better. An orc,” Cedric replied.

“How is an orc better? It probably means that we are unsafe, and we can’t eat it.”

“Because. It was carrying this,” Cedric said, showing him the note.

“What are you waiting for? Open it up!” Ariel said to the two.

Cedric carefully undid the string tying up the note, and unfolded the paper. Surprisingly, the note was in English. It read:

I take it Havenford has fallen? If so, congratulations. If the Druids have escaped, then block the road to the capital and to Providence. If you have not even received this letter, we can only hope for the best with plan C. I do hope we have not had to go that far, but we will do what is necessary. They are being herded like sheep to the slaughterhouse.

There was no signature, so it was impossible to know who had sent it. The handwriting looked as if it was from a human, being clean and neat, but why would a human be in contact with the orcs? How would someone even find them?

“This handwriting looks like a human’s. Why would a human be writing to the orcs?” Ariel asked.

“And what does ‘herded like sheep to the slaughterhouse’ mean? Doesn’t that sound a bit... Concerning?” Oliver said.

“I don’t know what any of this means. But, whoever wrote this, obviously has an important role in their military, the way he wrote this letter,” Cedric said back to her. “They must have sent the messenger just after the troops left, so he would be slightly behind them,” Cedric said. "Well, at least we took out the rest of the attacking force that wasn't already blown up. Their army was actually pretty small." The thought of where the rest of the orcs went had been troubling Cedric ever since they left Havenford. At least he didn't have to worry about that anymore.

It was more strange than dangerous that a human was living alongside the orcs. There hasn't been a sighting of one for almost one hundred years.

“If what you said was true, about the human having a high rank in their military, maybe he ordered the raid? It sure sounds like he did from the note,” Oliver suggested. This was true, the note made it sound as if the human was the one who ordered the raid.

Just then, they were distracted by the flying blue shape of Flare. He was soaring towards them, and the note was not visible on his leg, indicating it had been taken by the villagers of Providence.

“Flare! Providence must be closer than we thought. He wasn't very long” Ariel said.

“At least we won't have to stay in the woods for long, then. Let’s grab our stuff and head to Providence. Flare! Can you show us the way?” Cedric asked. Flare nodded his head in agreement, and flew ahead of the five. He was a light in the twilight, making the path clearer. They followed him, with the small number of belongings they had slung on their back, and ran into the night.

They had been running for a long time, and only just stopped when they couldn’t manage another step. “He made it look so easy!” Oliver said, pointing at Flare.

“He can fly. When you fly you go much farther, much faster, obviously,” Ariel said, breathing hard. “Let's settle down for the night. I don't think any of us can go much farther without collapsing.”

The three threw their belongings on the floor and searched for firewood. Once they found a few small logs, they arranged them in a teepee, and had Cedric shoot an arrow into them. They were immediately set alight by the same spectral fire that had burned the orcs back in Havenford. The three laid down on piles of leaves that they had collected, and as soon as their heads touched the ground, fell asleep.

The next morning, they woke to the soft blue light of their animals. Cedric looked up and saw no sun, but the dark, star-flecked sky. He looked around and saw Ariel and Oliver in a deep slumber, Claw and Shade curled up next to them. Well, I’m not falling asleep now, Cedric thought to himself. He sat up, and started to take a walk around the surrounding woods. Flare woke at the noise of Cedric and perched himself upon his shoulder.

Cedric walked along the forest floor, and thought about the ever-present issue: Food. The three had assumed that once they got to Providence, they would have a place to stay and food. They were the druids, after all.

Cedric had never been to Providence, and did not know really anything about it, other than what Ariel had told him. She used to live there, and then moved to Havenford with her family. Havenford was a medium sized city; it wasn't too large, but it wasn’t a small village. I wonder how big Providence is? Havenford was all I ever knew, and it wasn’t very big compared to other cities I’ve heard about. Cedric returned to camp after the walk, and started to see the glowing yellow shape of the sun rising above the horizon. Oliver and Claw stirred, and then rose out of their pile of leaves. The fire had died overnight, and it was relatively cold in the small camp. Ariel and Shade woke not long after them.

“Good morning!” Ariel said to the two. Oliver merely acknowledged her by grunting.

“Good morning, Ariel,” Cedric replied. “I wonder how much longer until Providence? We’ve been traveling for quite a while...” Cedric asked.

“I’m not sure. The last time I went from Providence to Havenford, it took about a day, so maybe about five more hours?” Ariel said to Cedric.

“I just wish that we could sleep longer. We didn’t sleep at all last night,” Oliver siad.

“Are you used to sleeping in late? I’m not. My shop had to stay open extra early and extra late just to make a living. What did you do where you could get so much beauty sleep?” Cedric asked him.

“I was an apprentice in ironworking. The person who apprenticed me gave me weekends off, so I could ‘practice’,” Oliver told them.

“I wish working was that easy for me,” Cedric said. “Ariel, what did you do?”

“I worked in one of those shops on the main street. It paid decently, I wasn’t rich but I wasn't poor,” she told them.

“Alright, enough talk about jobs, let’s just get this trek to Providence over with,” Oliver said, irritable. Then a thought occurred to Cedric.

“Couldn’t we ride our animals there? They wouldn’t tire, so they could take us all the way there without delay. The only thing is... How can I ride a phoenix?” Cedric told them.

“I guess you can ride Claw with me,” Oliver said.

“Thanks. I assume they know how to get there? If not, I'll have Flare fly in front like he did when we were walking,” Cedric said to Oliver.

The three mounted their animals and followed Flare’s glowing shape.




Providence

Providence, Empire of Ferrin, Atoris, Exshire

About twelve hours later, the six saw their destination in the distance, Providence. About three fourths through the trip, the trees had cleared away, leaving only tall grass in their place.

“Finally! We're here!” Oliver shouted with glee. All three humans could agree that the past few days had been anything but pleasant. They had gone without any food and minimal water, and had been traveling most of the time. They were exhausted from the past few days, and needed some rest and nourishment badly.

The guards upon the wall gazed down at them with astonishment. They knew that they would be coming, but were not entirely prepared to see them in person. The gate was let down for them to enter, and they walked in upon their animals. The people in the streets froze. They looked at them with amazement, and stared at the glowing animals that were accompanying them. They walked through the city in silence, and the man that they had rescued from Havenford broke off into the crowd. They walked along the main street, until they finally reached the castle where they were to meet Lord Thane.

“Ah! The Druids. Lord Thane, at your service,” he said merrily.

“Cedric and Flare, at yours.”

“Ariel and Shade, at yours.”

“Oliver and Claw, at yours.”

"Well! Now that we have introduced, let us feast! This is cause for a great celebration, is it not? Come in, come in!" he said to them, beckoning them into the main hall of the castle. The four of them took their seats in the main hall and waited for the food to be brought out.

There was turkey, gravy, potatoes, bread, butter, cheese, mushrooms, fish, fruit, vegetables, shellfish, and every other food you could imagine. Oliver stared at his full plate like a ravenous dog, and Ariel gazed at it as if it were solid gold. Cedric ate so much that he felt as if he would burst open. "Do they need anything?" Lord Thane asked, pointing to Claw, Shade, and Flare.

“I don't think they eat... But I’ve only known Flare for a few days, so I might be mistaken,” Cedric told him.

“Alright, well, it’s getting late, so it’s probably best if you three get some rest. You've been through a lot these past few days,” Lord Thane told them.

“You’be gob dat ride!” Oliver said back, his mouth filled to the brim with food. Ariel yawned, and started to look very drowsy.

“Thank you for the feast, Lord Thane. I think they both liked it,” Cedric said to him, shaking his hand.

“You are very much welcome!”

Ariel, Cedric, and Oliver each walked to their rooms, and opened the door. Flare was on Cedric's shoulder, because of his size, but Shade and Claw each went to the stables (Much to the horses' dismay). The room was lavishly decorated, a four-poster bed against the wall, with gold sheets, and a lacquered wooden floor. The bathroom had a white marble bath, and a toilet next to it. On the bed, Cedric noticed, were white linen clothes, which he threw on, thankful to rid himself of the armor. Cedric jumped into the bed and immediately fell asleep.

When Cedric awoke, he grabbed his money bag and headed out of the room with Flare. He was euphoric. He was in a free house, he was practically worshipped by people, and he had everything handed to him. Cedric has never lived this way before. His previous life had been all hard work for little pay off. But now, he was on top of the world.

Cedric walked throughout the castle, trying to find the entrance into the city. He saw the hall and walked through it and into the city. It was still moderately early, so he was waiting for most of the shops to open, but the tavern Cedric wanted to visit was open, and surprisingly busy. Cedric found a seat and walked up to the employee. Everyone stopped what they were doing and looked at him and Flare.

“Can I please get an order of pancakes?”

“One vitnia,” the man said back, with an open mouth, staring at Flare.

“Here you go!” Cedric said to him. He handed him a vitnia from his bag and walked back to the table with his food. As he sat down and started eating his food, everyone was staring at him eating. It was incredibly awkward, having everyone in the tavern stare at him while he ate. He finished his meal with a full stomach and walked out of the tavern, satisfied.

Later that morning, Cedric was walking along the docks, looking at the boats and the ocean. He dangled his feet off the edge of the dock, and looked out at the Abyssal Expanse; one of the biggest oceans in Exshire, when he heard someone speak right behind him, almost making him fall into the water.

“Hey, Cedric!” Ariel said from behind him.

“AH!” Cedric yelled, startled. He looked behind him, and saw Ariel, Shade, Oliver, and Claw standing there.

“We knocked on your door so many times, but you didn’t answer. We thought you must have been in the city, and here you were,” Oliver said.

“I've never seen the ocean. It’s so... big. I know you’ve seen it, Ariel, but have you, Oliver?” Cedric asked him.

“No, I haven’t. This is my first time out of Havenford, really,” Oliver told him.

“Cedric, have you already eaten? There was someone bringing food up to us earlier. The food's probably still in your room if you want it,” Ariel asked him.

“I got pancakes at the tavern,” Cedric told her.

“Great. So I can have the food that was brought to you?” Oliver asked.

“Er... Sure, I guess so," Cedric told him. The six of them walked off of the docks and into the city. They were the center of attention wherever they went, not only because of Flare, Shade, and Claw, but because they were the Druids. They were supposed to take down the orcs again. They were supposed to save the human race.

As nighttime was approaching, Cedric noticed that there was an increased military presence in the city. He was heading back to the castle, and saw Lord Thane, having dinner in the hall.

“Cedric! Ariel! Oliver! How pleasant to see you three!” He said, in his usual, mirthful tone.

“Greetings, Lord Thane,” all three of them said.

“Lord Thane, I have been meaning to ask you something,” Cedric said to him.

“What is it, m’boy? Anything for the Druids!” he replied.

“Why are there so many troops in the city? I just noticed that they are around every corner... Why is that?” Cedric asked curiously.

“Isn’t it obvious, Cedric? An entire city was caught off guard and overrun with orcs! And right after that, the Druids returned! The two events have to be linked; the Druids would not have returned if there wasn't a threat, and the orcs attacked a city not long before that happened? I’ve sent word out to the kingdom of this happening, and they seem to think I’ve lost my wits! When I told them the Druids have returned, they thought I should be sent to an asylum! There is serious trouble in Exshire, Cedric, and you six are here to fix it,” he concluded.

“I see. After the orcs attacked Havenford, there were only a few left to receive the...” Cedric broke off. He forgot to tell Lord Thane about the note he had stolen from the orc messenger. “Lord Thane, I almost forgot! When I was hunting for food, I found an orc running towards the ruins of Havenford carrying this,” he told Lord Thane, holding out the note.

“Thank you for showing me this, Cedric. I’ll discuss this with my nobles immediately,” he said, taking the note from Cedric.

Cedric, Ariel, Oliver, and Flare each headed into their rooms, with Shade and Claw going to the stables. Cedric put on the linen clothes he had been given, and lay down in the bed, Flare sitting on a perch on the nightstand. Cedric did not fall right to sleep this night, but lay there thinking of the daunting tasks ahead of him.
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