Sarlina had succeeded in finding a way to read the secrets of Haldur's Scroll. At Raven's Retreat, she had been given a special vial of liquid that once poured on the Scroll, would reveal its mysteries. Taryn had not really believed the legends and was still not sure of it all. He loved the idea of a peaceful Avalonia but believed it should and could be achieved by the doings of men, not some ancient magical nonsense. He knew Sarlina had always been keen to try and make a change to this land but he now began to see signs that perhaps things run a little deeper than he thought with Sarlina. Taryn wanted Avalonia restored with a new ruler and a united land of Historica where men of each kingdom marched alongside each other as brothers. Sarlina on the other hand, seemed as though she wanted just a restored powerful Avalonia that ruled all, hinting that it would come at the cost of other kingdom's lives if it had to.
And so a hint of conflict had appeared between these childhood friends, although neither really knew of it then. Taryn just assumed that Sarlina was just over excited after her recent discoveries and that she would soon come back to her senses.
So the two of them made their way back towards Grim Hollow where Sarlina led them to an old ruined cottage on a hill known as the Lonely Lodge.
The Lonely Lodge: Located on a small hill north of Grim Hollow village. The cottage had once been home to an elderly woman who had been struck down by an illness and so lived her life in solitude. One stormy night, the cottage was struck by lightning and burned to the ground, killing the old women inside. However, legend says that the women was really a witch who once lived in the village. She was cast out by the villagers and went to live in the cottage where she rained curses on the villagers below untill she was killed in the storm which had been an act of the gods. An interesting legend but the truth will never be known.
Sarlina and Taryn climbed the hill and approached the remains of the cottage. Sarlina stopped in front of the cottage and scanned the area with her eyes.
"This will do perfectly" she smiled, then ducked under the doorframe and into the ruin.
Taryn followed as Sarlina walked towards the fireplace then turned to face him.
"You know the legend of this place?" she asked Taryn.
Taryn nodded. "Yes, a powerful witch supposedly once lived and died here." he replied.
"Burnt alive she was" Sarlina spoke, "her ashes now lie entwined with the earth, her power still remains."
Taryn shivered and pulled his cloak tight about him. He could not help feeling they were being watched.
"Maybe we should do this somewhere else" he questioned, "something doesn't feel right."
"Nonsense Taryn" she laughed, "This is the perfect spot. Havn't I always told you to trust me?" she smirked and pulled Haldur's Scroll from her pouch. "Time to make a change Taryn, lets see what secrets this holds!"
She unrolled the scroll and placed it flat on the ground. She then grasped the vial and removed the lid, holding it just above the scroll.
Taryn watched as Sarlina stood motionlessly, poised and ready to spill the vial's contents on the scroll. She closed her eyes, took a deep breath and then emptied the contents over the scroll. The strange liquid had a reddish tinge to it and it soaked the scroll, coating it in a glossy finish that seemed to glow. Within seconds, as if by magic, writting began to appear on the scroll. Faint at first but growing ever bolder, more and more writting appeared. Sarlina had been right, this truely was Haldur's Scroll.
Sarlina laughed with happiness. "I knew it" she shouted, "this will change everything!" She raised her hands and shouted in triumph at the sky.
But, it was at that moment, the enemy charged.
Taryn had sensed something was wrong and he had been right. Two fearsome warriors came leaping over the wall with weapons drawn, shouting their battle cry as they ran to inflict slaughter. Taryn reached for an arrow and turned to shoot but it was too late. The first warrior was already upon him and knocked Taryn's bow aside with his shield then brought the pommel of his sword down hard upon Taryn's head. Taryn was stunned by the blow and fell backwards against the fireplace.
The two warriors were both battle scared veterans, fearsome looking with no remorse in their eyes. They stank of Ale and charged like a bull towards Sarlina. It seemed they were not concerned with Taryn.
Sarlina had a few seconds more warning than Taryn and she clumsily managed to turn and draw her sword just before the first warrior reached her. However, she was still caught off guard and was no match for the strength of the fearsome brute rushing towards her. He leapt at her, bringing his sword down from high in a crushing blow. Sarlina held up her sword and tryed to parry his strike but the sheer force of his attack sent her flying to the ground. She stared helplessly up at the warrior who stood grim faced above her. She twitched in fear and tears welled in her eyes, she knew she was dead. The second warrior stood over Taryn while the first glanced down at the Scroll and gave a sly smile. They then lifted their weapons as they prepared to strike the killer blow.
It would have surely been the end for Taryn and Sarlina if it had not been for another young warrior who had been secretly watching. Sarlina shut her eyes waiting for her end to come but it did not.
A third warrior sprung from behind the tree and with incredible agility, leaped over the wall at the brute standing over Sarlina. He turned towards the new attacker and went to raise his sword but the new warrior was just too fast and brought its sword down straight into the brutes neck, cutting deeply and letting loose a rush of blood. He grimaced in pain and sank to his knees as his sword fell from his nerveless fingers. The second enemy warrior rushed towards the new assailant, flailing his mighty war axe violently. However, any good warrior knows that an axe is useless and clumsy in battle. Once swung, it can't quickly be reversed and that small gap of time is all the new assailant needed. The second warrior swung his heavy axe down towards the new warrior who easily stepped aside and back swung their sword deep into the back of the enemies spine. He stumbled, then fell down, lifeless.
It had all happened so quick, within the space of a few minutes. Taryn and Sarlina were waiting for death but they had been saved by this new warrior. Sarlina stared at the warrior as Taryn began to stir and pull himself up. The two of them, in shock and relief, gazed at their saviour who stood with a triumphant look upon their face, a face full of confidence, a face of a young woman.
"Forgive me, but I did enjoy that." the new warrior said, then let out a triumphant shout. She bent down over the bodies of the two fallen warriors and gazed upon the markings on their shields. "Yes, I thought as much."
She turned and grinned at Taryn and Sarlina "Arn't you two lucky I turned up when I did." she laughed.
Sarlina pulled herself up. "Who are you?" she asked wearily.
The warrior smiled. "My name is Ariella but everyone just calls me Ella, so you may do the same."
Taryn stared at Ella in awe. She was a beauty, with a look of caring and kindness that warmed the heart. She was of average height with an athletic physique. She carried no shield, instead choosing to wield two swords with which she was as deadly and quick as a viper.
"We are in your debt" Taryn spoke in wonderment. "I cannot thank you enough."
Sarlina nodded in agreement. "Yes, we owe you our lives."
Ella sheathed her swords and smiled. "Thankyou, I'm just glad I got to you when I did." She looked around then turned back to Taryn and Sarlina. "Now we really must get going, as there will be more like these coming."
Taryn looked puzzled. "Why, what do they want us for?" he asked.
Ella looked down towards the scroll in Sarlina's hand. "Its that thing the're after, not you." A look of concern crossed her face. "They have been watching you two for a while now, waiting for you to unlock the scroll. Now they are coming for it and we must get you to safety."
"Who?" Sarlina demanded.
Ella frowned and walked out from the cottage. She turned back to face Taryn and Sarlina. "Lets just get moving and I will explain all in good time. We must get to Darkmire Mill, my brother is waiting their with a small group of men who can help protect us. Its a long walk but we can stop for a rest at Hangman's Watch, its on the way."
And so a weary and shaken Taryn & Sarlina followed Ella towards safety.
The remains of the lodge structure are so realistically created here! That crumbling fireplace is my favorite, as is your tree technique. Your story is engaging also. I will have to go back and play catch-up on the other chapters. :)