Hello all, as a fellow fantasy enthusiast I am looking for test readers of a fantasy novel I am working on. Mainly for now I am looking to see if people like where my story is going. In this post, I have posted my first chapter in the book. The story is fantasy but based on historic period of late fourtheenth century, early fifteenth century Northern Germany. It follows the story of a mercenary swordsmen who encounters a powerful italian witch who is being prosecuted by the Catholic church along with her cult. Chapter 1 I looked at the blue fresh water stream as its path led right to the city. The river made a soft hissing sound as the water flowed along the stream. As I stared at the river, I looked into my cool watery reflection. My clothes looked ragged and my hair a mess. My dark black heavy cloth gambeson had become dirtied. Along the arms of my gambeson, I noticed my white cloth shirt underneath now had a more grayish color. As my eyes continued to travel along staring at my reflection; I noticed that at the least my black leather gloves still seemed to still fit well. My legs had grown uncomfortable as my braise had become soiled. My short black leather half calf boots crunched along on the sandy river bed as I continued to walking along the east edge of the Trave River. The river was rich with its luscious green grass and overgrowth. The plant life was plenty. The large oak trees along the river's bank shaded me from the mid day's sun. The sandy ground made a crunching noise as my boots walked along the beaten path. As my legs continued their gait, the roar of my stomach had approached as it began to knot. Perhaps I should not have had that trout for dinner! I knew I should have cooked the fish more but the campfire was hard to keep lit. As my stomach had growled, I looked at the small bushes along the river's edge full of red berries. Then my mind had remembered the last time I tried eating fresh berries. My bowels had experienced horrible diarrhea for days! Never again would I trust those foul things. As I continued to walk along the river's edge, I wondered what happened to the other students with I trained. I spent all those years of learning the arts of the long sword and wrestling. I started training very young using wooden wasters. After proving myself through years of hardship, I had moved onto using live steel blunts. In the system my master had taught, all strikes were done in either during, before, or after your opponent acted. Ox, plough, roof, and fool were the four wards that have saved my life more times than I could count. The system my master had taught was broken up into those four primary guards or wards. The ward of roof had placed the sword almost straight up high above your head. From there one could easily strike down at your opponents and defend. Fool’s had the wielder hold his sword above his hip with the long blade’s tip pointed outwards and towards the ground. It was a great point to plot a strike or thrust. It was also the ward that followed a strike from the roof. The plough held the sword at a forty five degree angle upwards above your hip. The ward was great for defense and for quick thrusts. Finally, the last ward, Ox held the point of the sword straight forward as the sword was held parallel to the wielder’s head. The Ox was great to wind and deflect as well as to thrust. However this ward was susceptible to venerable strikes as the sword from this position could easily be pushed aside. Out of the best students my master had taught, Hans or Lehman had always seemed better. Though for some odd reason, I was always the master's favorite. I alone carried the master's sword. Queensryche was the name of the old wide-bladed, two handed great sword. The long blade stretched a bit over four feet from its peen, on top its large wheel pommel, to tip. The sharp and straight double edged carbon steel blade had a deep wide fuller that ran two thirds of its length. The deep recess extended from the end of the wide boxy steel cross guard to six inches before its wide tip. The sword’s great wideness fooled a grand many into thinking it was a Neanderthal. An agile thruster this blade was not, yet its thin steel blade edges would slice through the toughest layers of cloth and muscle with ease. Its hefty weight did not make the wide steel blade at all cumbersome. I could easily swing the sword from ward to ward without great effort. Of course, feeling the great weight of the sword over my left leg did get tiresome sometimes. It generally rested above my left hip in its dark brown leather-covered wooden-core scabbard. It was attached to my body by means of a belt that was integrated into the sheath. Knowing how to fight was a matter of life or death. In my short life, reliance on skill and strength had proven necessary on a daily basis. I had known this since killing was my profession. However I was a less fortunate warrior as I had been without deep pockets. My horse had vomited and coughed up its last pints of blood as it came to a fateful end only a few days past. I had grown tiresome having to carry my own bags; the heavy leather sack grew unbearable as I progressed forward. At this point, I would have settled for a steady mule. It did not matter too much though as I was only one and a half days outside of Lubeck. The Queen of the Hanseatic League the city was. Many merchants traveled through its port and surely one of them needed dirty work to be done. I brushed past a few tree branches as the leaves scraped across my cloth covered arms. The journey was a long one and it would be another day or two before I would reach the Lubeck. I began to think of my life’s predicament. Being a mercenary was hard. I spent my life traveling from city to city looking for jobs, refusing to sign up in King's armies. No one ever trusted a mercenary! Half the time when you had completed a job you only received half the pay. The noblemen were nothing more than totally arrogant pricks of society! The Nobles and their 'royal' blue blood... I said to hell with them and the people would have been better off without them too! Screw them and the royal blood lines! Too much 'royal' inbreeding was known to breed stupidity and most of them probably were anyway. No one ever seems good enough for their ilk! I'll never forget that royal jerk in Bremen. The Duke's daughter was captured by a group of bandits that had with them a cockatrice! Real nasty buggers those things are! It nearly pecked out my eyes with its huge beak! Thing was an ugly beast too! Half chicken and half dragon with its yellow feathers and green scales! Thankfully its small wings couldn't carry itself far off the ground. My sword had reigned high from the ward of roof as it struck downward at a diagonal strike slicing its ugly head off with the strike of wrath. I even took the decapitated head with me back to the Duke after saving his daughter. The duke, Burchard Grelle, I'll never forget that bastard's name. He promised a thousand florins and his daughter's hand in marriage for proof of slaying the bandits and the safe return of his little girl. What a joke! He gave me one hundred and his daughter's hand in marriage was a lie. Ha! He told me if dared even bring it up, he'd have my head on every wanted poster in all of Rhineland! To keep my response brief, let’s just say I'm not allowed to be within two towns of that shit hole ever again! Ah hell with it... Why reminisce on bad times? I was just another tall strapping young lad with blue eyes, light brown hair, with a strong arm and a sword looking to make a living. Where there's a job, where there was a bandit to be slain, a ransom, or a dragon terrorizing the villagers, I would be there. That was me all right, Cidious Alexander, the not so 'noble' mercenary swordsman. Bright wild flowers grew randomly around the riverbed. The smell of their pollen was a freshening scent. The smell of the flowers reminded me that I knew the area well enough having traveled down this river bed before. I looked through the forest to the north east. I had passed that area before and knew of a large grassy clearing. Shadows moved among the woodlands. Possibly it was some wolves in the forest behind the trees nearby. It was nothing of great concern though. The sound of birds chirping carried on the wind. A whiff of manure was carried to me on the same wind and I noticed a fresh pile on the ground. It probably was an elk or a deer and it was really hard to watch it to avoid steeping in it. I didn't need a reason to polish my boots just yet. Upon cresting the hill, the woods broke into a large grassy clearing. My eyes looked into the valley and I had saw movement at the base. Two horses stood resting in front of a large covered wagon. The cart itself was stationary at the moment. A band of armed hoodlums sat under a tree near the wooden cart. There were at least five of them. I quickly hid behind a tree to assess the situation. My heavy bag made a thud as it dropped onto the ground. I knelt behind a tall oak tree as I peered from behind its bark to look into the valley below. I then moved closer behind a large bush as I knelt down onto the grassy earth to take cover behind it. I lifted my head up out of the bush as my eyes looked into the festive valley below. All men of course, I have never met a female rogue before! My sharp eyes spotted about five men as my head scanned the valley from afar. A tall grizzly man had an ax in his muscular hand. There was an older unarmed man who I assumed was the wagon driver. Two young swordsmen wore tunics of a yellow griffin that was emblazoned on their dark green tunics. The strapping young lad’s long were armed with grosse messers. They were small single edged steel swords that had wooden knife hilts. I looked at those two further and I had determined they were not armored. One of the swordsmen raised his arms and I saw that he merely wore a heavy cloth gambeson underneath the dark green tunic. My coins had been severely lacking. I wore no more than a heavy black cloth buttoned down gambeson. The grizzly axmen just sat on the ground. He appeared nothing more than a hired hand. A tall knightly figure walked his way across the grassy field towards the two swordsmen. The tall overbearing figure had the same majestic yellow griffin on his tunic. However the color of his coat was different; it was that of royal purple. The tall knight appeared to be the elder of the group as he stood above, what I assumed, were his pupils. Underneath his large royal purple tunic he wore glistening metallic chain mail armor. In his right hand held a large pole axe. The large staff weapon sported an ax head near the top and was tipped with a very deadly spear head. At the bottom end of the wooden staff, was a metal cap that could be easily used as a blunt weapon. His tall imposing body towered over the two men, whom appeared to be his squires. I crawled along the ridge of the hill bristling through the bushes as I took cover to avoid detection. After all, why draw attention to myself? It was important to assess the situation first before going in blindly. I then positioned myself in front of the cart from where I was on the hill. I then quickly crouched down. I peaked my head over the bushes to get a better view of their band. Aside the large covered wagon was three individuals whom did not wear the tunics of the yellow griffin. Their arms and legs were bound by rope as I looked at the three beaten prisoners. I had noticed one of them to be an old gray haired wench. The bruises on the old woman's face were quiet dark blue. The two weary men in torn clothing aside her did not appear to be in much better shape. Their arms and legs were tied by rope behind their back. One of the swordsmen had walked by the three restrained beaten prisoners to look after them. The squire looked into the face of the old and beaten woman. His head lowered as it became level with the face of the fair old lady as he spit his toxic saliva into her wrinkly old face. I could not contain the anger in my body! What kind of man of honor spits in the face of a bound old woman? Why did they choose to stop here in the valley? Were they busy waiting for reinforcements? I waited to see what the bandits would do next. It didn't seem like long as the day's shadows had not grown too tall. The armed hoodlums stretched their tired arms out as if they were on break and had yawned. The small armed band had become too comfortable among the mid day’s warmth. I could have waited them out but that large covered horse drawn cart was there. What was so important to have it guarded by four armed men? Never mind that I needed a new horse and they had two! I’m sure I could have made them ‘spare’ at least one. It was worth the risk. After all, no men of good moral graces would treat their captures in such a poor fashion. I'm sure the by the grace of god, those 'royal' faux knights won't be missed at all. I decided I must rid the world of the troupe of bandits. My headed spun around as I searched for a way to distract them. I would need to do so, so I could leap over the grassy hill and fight them easily one on one. I looked around the rough grass that lay beneath my leather boots. I searched amongst the pebbles and small rocks on the grassy null. Surely there had to be a good chunk of limestone or quartz somewhere along the green grass and bushes on the ground. I continued to look around and I found a few small pebbles. It was nothing in particular, probably just regular gray limestone anyway. I looked hastily around the grassy floor and by a miracle I had found a good sized rock. The stone was nearly the size of my closed fist as I had found it buried under some rough patches of dirt. I grabbed the large rock as I prepared to take aim to avenge that poor old woman! My head raised above the large bushes as I judged my aim staring into the green valley below. I prepared to torque my right arm above my head for the throw. Some time had passed and the tall knightly man wearing his proud glistening chain mail armor no longer stood with the rest of the band. His henchmen however stood around picking their noses, flaunting their arms at the poor beaten prisoners. Their intimidation of their prisoners was far less than professional. They laughed and kicked dirt at the bound men and woman. I put it out of my mind as I raised my arm back as far as it would go as I readied my aim. At times I wish I had been an archer instead of a swordsman. From my position on the hill would be a perfect place for a longbow man to strike into the valley below. However I was not a man skilled at the bow and arrow. The rock raced through the air across the mid day's sun as I threw it with great force fullness into the valley below. My agile body knelt to the soft grassy ground as I didn't want to draw attention to the weary rock thrower that was I. The rocks crashed into the steel helm of one of the two swordsmen. His head spun around in circles as he was greatly startled. His ears must have rung wildly like a bell from being struck in such a manor. It had worked! I saw him twitch and spin around in all directions after he realized he had been struck. He had no idea where that rock had come from as he looked at the ground staring at the piece of stone I had thrown at him. The armed band of hoodlums stood there pointing their fingers at everyone but themselves. I saw their heads turn towards the abused prisoners as they could not blame them for throwing the pebble. The cruel bastards had already tied their hands and feet with rope. I couldn’t hear the words the three armed men spoke. I was too far back from where I sat on the hill. Though, their gestures and strong emotionalism pretty have given away to what was going on. The three of them stood ready as the prepared to patrol the area. I saw the three of them start running circles around the carts. I looked at the two squires and axmen as they circled the large canvas covered cart. Hum, I need to do something more drastic I had realized as I had succeeded in altering them but not breaking them up. I then sat around as I pondered what to do. I looked at the ground beside where I sat a long fallen branch rested on the ground. I looked upwards at the large oak tree from where the branch had fallen. I then looked back down as I had grasped the large wooden branch in my right leather gauntlet. I grasped it with my hand as I walked along the bushes. I then thrashed the large green bushes to make noise and leaves fall to make it sound as if someone, other than me, had been present. I ran alongside the row of bushes thrashing at their leaves for any kind of reaction. I then dropped the stick and ran a few feet forward. I looked up back into the green basin of the valley at the three armed men who stood around their prisoners. They all stopped for a moment as they entered a heated discussion. The three men got into their heated debate as they each flaunted their arms, each claiming to be the superior. Then their disagreement stopped as they pondered how to resolve the issue. Obviously at this point they seemed to realize there was someone trespassing nearby. The axmen who was the least noble of the bunch, was the one who actually seemed to come up with the solution. He looked at the ground and pulled up a bunch of weeds, all varying in size. I looked at the three mischievous warriors as they stood there drawing for the shortest straw as they each took a strand of grass. I saw one of the two precarious swordsman mumble and flaunt his arms as he had headed north towards the hill completely opposite of where I had sat. My jaw opened wide as my bodily expression was in total bewilderment at the sight of the young squire striding forth in the completely opposite direction. The lofty axmen had drawn the tallest one, I assumed. He cheered as he started pacing around the cloth covered cart. The unlucky swordsman whom my rock had struck certainly must have drawn the shortest straw as he began his disappointed stride southward to the hill from where I was. The young squire started his awkward gait over the small hill to examine the heavily forested area. The man bearing the sign of the yellow Griffin on his ‘grand’ tunic came walking nearer towards where I hid. His short brown leather boots crunched loudly as he had gotten closer. The sun light shined on his small open faced steel helm had reflected strongly off his messer he held in his right hand. He waved his short curved blade through the air, in his right hand. He was just another youth tempting death indeed. I continued to sit there waiting as the sound of the squire’s small boots crunching along the soft earth greatened with intensity as his body had come closer. His feet walked across the soft grass as he crossed up the null towards the bushes but he did not see me. He walked through with his arms brushing against the trees long branches just about fifteen feet from where I sat. He walked up to just about where I was crouching then turned around and started to scratch his head as if he were lost. I looked at him as he remained oblivious as I sat there in amazement. He didn’t even notice I was there. My mammoth sword hissed as it left the scabbard as I drew it slowly. Drawing the huge blade in such a hidden fashion was no easy task. Just a few steps closer I said to myself as I had sneaked just behind his oblivious back. My boots barely crunched as I moved slowly to avoid alerting him. His tall back was now facing perfectly in front of me. Was he truly this dense? He's standing right there with his back to me and had no clue I'm there or much less of what I'm about to do! Well oh well I said as I quietly crawled my way up to where he was to get myself within striking distance. He still hadn’t noticed me. I sprung onto his body as I wrapped my left arm around his unarmored chest restraining him. He wiggled his body trying desperately to reverse my hold and thrust at me with his sword. With my right hand, I had slid the long, or top, edge of my sword along his bear skinned throat. It had slit without him making a great sound. He did croak a bit as he had let out a slow “Oh ah ugh....” before he met his fateful end. His death did not bother me in the least bit as it was merely his penance for spitting in the face of a poor old lady. I stepped away from his back and his body made great noise as it rubbed against the leaves of the green bushes. His corpse made a loud thud as it fell onto the dirt bellow. My head had ducked down quickly behind the bushes as I had heard loud voices and movement coming from where the band, marked by the yellow griffin, had laid their cart in the valley bellow. My face peaked through the green bushes as I saw the axmen had stopped at his post. His head spun around wondering what the fate of the swordsman was who headed south to the valley where I knelt. I saw the other squire returning from his leave from the hill to the north. He rushed back to the idle wooden wagon as the axmen sat there yawning in front of the cart. The other squire stopped in front of the axmen and from what I could tell he appeared to be talking down to the axmen. I saw both of the soldiers flail their arms up in the air. The Squire had drawn his sword and threatened the axmen with his life. Rather than start a fight, the grimy axmen got off his lazy ass and started to patrol the wagon and the prisoners as the Squire walked off into the distance. The man with the pole axe was still nowhere to be found as I searched the valley from end to end. The bushes rustled as I jumped up and ran into the clearing in the grassy valley below. It was now or nothing I thought to myself as I had ran down the hill to fight the bandits at the base of the valley. I had held my sword out in my right hand with my left arm free as I ran towards the wagon. My athletic legs sprinted across the wide grassy field towards the large covered wagon. I had to know what was inside the clothed wagon as I thought of its luscious riches. The axmen stopped short of his patrol and took notice of my fast approach. I heard his heavy body pounding against the smooth grassy valley as he panted running at full speed towards me. I had to stay off seeing what was inside that wagon for now, I said to myself. The axmen ran towards me and raised his weapon high into the air and struck downward at me straight at my skull. However it failed miserably as I quickly brushed to the side to avoid his blow. I could feel the strong wind produced from his strike grace along my heavy cloth clothing. He had put a lot of effort into the swing, too much. After he had so horribly missed, he raised his muscular arm for another strike high above his head. Axes, like all bruisers, were truly not effective weapons of war. This held true especially for hatchets like his. When it came time to chopping down trees the axe was the tool of choice. Their slow heavy nature and limited use in range made them terrible melee weapons of war. The favored axes of battle had smaller narrower cutting blades with spikes attached at the end of their wooden shaft but his was none other than a simple hatchet better suited for being a wood worker. His wide bladed rusty axe sat there as it had waited a century to strike as my long cutting blade thrust into his unprotected chest. Blood poured like a river from the brown cloth tunic he had worn. His hairy fat face’s mouth had opened wide as he gasped his last breath. After I released my stained sword from his open chest, his dead body had collapsed like a rag doll onto the soft ground. My ears tingled as I then heard angry footsteps behind me and the roar of mad man approaching with heavy gait of tall leather boots. “This is for Edwin,” the voice had screamed. As I had spun around, the swordsman swung his messer hunting sword at me from behind. His aim had flown over my right shoulder as I had spun my body around, in step with his strike. I had just avoided his near deadly blow. I quickly grabbed my sword with both of my large hands from the ward of plough with the hilt of my sword over my right hip and the tip point upward at forty five degree angle. The young lad was armed like a footsman with a messer sword and a small parrying dagger. He struck at me with his sword as I met his at the bind from plough. Our blades sung a metallic tune as they met at the bind. “I shall see to your death scoundrel,” the squire threatened. He spat as he spoke, his saliva rained from his mouth. “We’ll see how much meaning your words really have,” I had cleverly responded. The footsman pushed forward with his blade as he tried to slice into me, pushing against the bind. I let him follow through with his action as I side stepped to my right avoiding his swing. His body followed the natural path as he continued forward with hunting sword. My arms sprung forth as my blade sliced its way into his neck, slitting his throat. My squinting strike had worked as the young squire now began to cough up blood as his body made aloud thud as it crashed onto the ground. It was not a pleasant death in the least bit I thought. I had smiled staring at his lifeless corpse. The smell of fresh blood reeked everywhere from the two fallen bandits. My attention then turned to my original goal. My sharp face stared at the unarmed carriage driver who carried the look of death as he stared back into my deadly face. He looked as if he had just gotten back from taking a leak in the woods as he wobbled his way over. His mouth had opened so wide on his old wrinkly face that the jaw of it nearly crashed onto the floor. “Who are you?” The old wagon driver had asked out of fear as he stood there by the steeds pulling the idle cart. “Never mind that, just step away from the wagon!” I screamed as he turned tail and tried to jump into the large covered wooden cart. His age preceded him as his tired old legs could not keep pace with that of my own athletic body. “If you turn tail now, I’ll let you live!” I had given my last good warning. After all he had done anything seriously wrong as of now. He still had time to atone for his sins fore it had not been him whom had shown such great disrespect for the bound prisoners. “Just don’t kill me!” The old man said as he waved his arms sporadically against the warm wind. He ran as fast as his tired old legs could carry him away from the carriage and into the wooded hills from afar. Lucky for him, he was the smart one in the lot, as he knew better than the tempt fate as he ran away in fear. I pushed aside the cloth covering the interior of the cabin. As I looked onward into the contents of the wagon, I felt as though I was forgetting something. Of course, I had almost forgotten about them as my mind became full of all the possible riches and glory that were just sitting there in the dark wooden floor of the covered wagon. My own greed had gotten the best of me I had realized as I jumped out of the wagon. My strong legs carried me over to the prisoners whom were on the east side of the cart. One of them, the woman, looked up at me with her badly beaten face. She was older, gray haired, with wrinkled skin, and of Germanic origin. She had scars on her face and black and blue bruise marks over her body. I shoved my sword into the grass and used a belt dagger I had found off one of the fallen rogues as I rushed to undo the rope around her wrists. It only took a few seconds for me to free the first mistreated prisoner and I gave her the knife so she could undo her own legs and free the rest. The elder woman had looked up at me with a tear in her wise old eyes. “Thank you so much young lad for saving us! They were transporting us to Vorrade where they were going to burn us at the stake! They claimed we were heathens and traitors to the church!” She had cried out to me as she had gotten up as her torn brown cloth gown had wrinkled due to the strong breeze. The old woman had a soft tears of joy from being freed coming from her eyes. She took the knife and started to slice through the rope on the arms of one of the other prisoners. “Worry not! Just run! Get out here!” I had shouted at her. I only did them a favor because they were in the right place at the right time. Though I was happy I had freed them I still ultimately needed the horse and supplies in the large carriage. It was all that mattered to me in the grand scheme of things. “Before I leave noble sir, I must have your name!” She had asked me as she continued freeing the two beaten men. My body spun around as I was just about to hop back into the wagon. I turned my head and shouted. “Cidious Alexander, the mere mercenary swordsman!” I looked over at the old woman as she had finished freeing the two men whom were kept prisoner with her. Her body raced across the fields as she ran with her two friends as far away as she possibly could go. I never did see them ever again. My sword, Queensryche, did not remain long in the grassy earth as I had quickly picked it up and shoved it back into my scabbard. The wooden floor of the wagon rattled as I had jumped up into the idle cart. The floor creaked as I had rummaged through its contents. The wagon held bags for food, and several coats of arms. I suppose it wasn't too bad considering the group had not been armed with many men. I looked along further and I saw some wooden heater shields and daggers laid on the floor. My head then veered into a quiet corner of the wagon where a decorative brownish scabbard had rested. In the sheath had rested a small sword, not a big one. It was a single handed arming sword of small size. It was possibly for use as a concealed weapon for self defense at dangerous market districts or a child's sword. A curious weapon it was, round wheel pommel, quite wide at the base. I didn't bother to unsheath at it as I had noticed a small chest at the other side of the wagon. The top of the small chest creaked as I opened it. Inside the small chest glistened florins and silver coins, I had gotten lucky indeed. I could hardly see as I moved further back in the poorly lit wooden floored wagon as the light had poured in from the opening at the front. It was quite spacious inside even considering it was a rather large cart. As I rummaged around inspecting every last bag and small chest, there was an oddly shaped cloth bag I had noticed further back. My curiosity caught up with me as the rather large sack resembled one carrying potatoes but was much larger in dimensions. The dark woven cloth textile bag was in the shape of a human. I leaned over as I examined the large brownish cloth bag as there was rope tied around what appeared to be a head. I saw the bag jump as my heart had raced, the bag was twitching! Someone had to be alive in there indeed! I quickly knelt down onto the creaky wooden floor boards as I had rushed to break the rope bounding the head in the body bag. I grabbed a sharp knife hilted dagger lying in an open wooden chest next to the bag. I quickly cut through the rope bounding the head. I uncovered the top of the head as I pulled down on the bag. It revealed a beautiful light skinned young woman with long flowing red hair. She struggled to breathe as the cloth rag tied around her head gagged her mouth. I had rushed to undo the knot on the rag and removed it from her face so she could breath easily again. I had run my hand across her smooth lady like body to feel for any bumps or bruises, but there weren't any. It is amazing those bandits haven't done anything to harm her. The three old peasants whom were tied by their arms and legs to be tried as heathens were beaten with severe black and blue marks across their fragile bodies. However, this beautiful young woman had not a single black and blue mark on her fair skin. I looked up slowly at her face as she began to open her large eyes. They were dark brown, almost blackish. She coughed a bit as she tried to open her mouth to speak. I tried to undo the robe bound her arms but I did not have enough time to cut all the way through. Her eyes gazed curiously into that of mine as I had heard footsteps approach. It was the sound of mail clicking and clacking away. It was too late though for I knew I had the leader to deal with outside the wagon. I had heard the sound of his mail armor clacking away very loudly now. He was right next to the wagon. A shadow of a great warrior had grown larger against the canvas covering the large wagon. I had quickly jumped out the way towards the front of the cart. As I had thought, the spear head of his large pole axe had pierced straight through the cloth walls of the wagon. “Get out here filthy vagabond! I demand you to show yourself,” their fearless leader had shouted out at me. The wooden floor of the wagon creaked as I ran across it and jumped off the carriage in a hurry. My boots had made a loud thud as I crashed feet first onto the grassy field below me as I stood before the tall armed oaf. He was a tall man, hairy beast indeed and he had hair everywhere. Great long pitch black hair flowed from his large aged head. It was complemented by his grand long pitch black twirling mustache that had rested underneath his large pointed nose. On his broad chin had rested an overgrown black beard. Unlike his comrades at least seemed to know how to fight. His wrinkles showed great age on his head and he did not bear any scars. He might prove to be a challenge. He must have come from Eastern Europe, certainly not a native of Rhineland. Perhaps he's a Pollock? “If it's a fight you want,” I said as my great sword hissed as it was drawn from its sheath, “then you shall receive what you desire.” “I should have known better than to trust Edwin, Williams, and… that idiot axman to the task of guarding the cart. Their fates shall be avenged for you shall soon be dead.” “My death you say? Surely you speak of your own!” I retorted. “You are fool to challenge the Order of the Noble Griffin! As retribution to atone for the death of my slaughtered comrades I Sir Siegfried Janawski, a knight of the Order, shall slay you where you stand.” He had said as he proudly held his pole axe over the sign of the grand yellow griffin that rested on his dark purple tunic. He cannot be serious as he was insulting the heritage of knightly hood with what he had said. “You fashion yourself and your order knights? I’ve seen drunkards armed with kitchen knives at bar fights with more wit and skill than your oblivious squires” I had scoffed at him. “I supposed you find yourself amusing vagabond. I can assure you that a man of my age and experience is far more than for your boisterous self to handle. Either stand aside and surrender yourself and you will be duly executed or fight me to the death!” He said as he thrust at me with his knightly pole axe but I quickly jumped to my side. Fighting him would be tough. Though the sword was the preferred weapon of war, a good man at arms with a pole axe was quite dangerous. Certainly he held the range advantage over me. His weapon was much longer than my own, at least by a good two feet or so. However he did not have full use over his weapon. Where I could cut and slice with any part of my blade, he could only attack me with the end cap, the spear head, or the ax. “We’ll see about that!” I had shouted. His pole axe elegantly stood tall bearing down at me as he held it high above his head from the roof ward. The ax head of it was poised to slice into my unarmored chest. The wooden staffed weapon swung with its powerful downward strike. My agile body leaped forward to close the gap ahead of his swing. My sword would not strike with its full truth as I had decided against the infamous strike of wrath. As I stride past the arch of his diagonal strike, I took my blade from the roof ward above my head, and struck down with the faster vertical strike of schaytler. The schaytler started from the ward of roof like the strike of wrath. However unlike the powerful diagonal strike of wrath, which required full movement of the sword, the schaytler strike did not. It was a simple and fast vertical strike. As I suspected he raised his pole axe to block with its wood shaft. My sword cut into the now splintered pole axe as I had planned. His eyes grew wider as he realized his weapon was destroyed and had dropped his staff. Over his left hip rested a long sword in its scabbard. The cross guard of his sword was straight and twisted like a rod. The scent stopper pommel, that adorned the top, had a round pear like shape. With his staff weapon broken, I now had the advantage over the situation. I took my sword from the ward of plough with the blade pointed at a forty five degree angle upwards above my right hip; I struck forward with the squinting strike. My blade pushed forward as the short, or bottom, edge of it sliced into his armored neck. His riveted chains of mail around the right side of his neck were too strong; for my blade did not cut all the way through to his gambeson underneath. I then moved my blade quickly forward as I attempted to slice through the rest of the layers of cloth. He was too smart and agile for my blade to slice through. Without even bothering to finish drawing his sword, his long leather boot had landed straight into my chest. The strong force of his foot pushed me backwards as I had lost some balance. I still did not fall. I held my sword in my right hand as I was pushed back, away from his neck. I leaped back a few feet to regain distance. I couldn’t let him close in on me after all. He then drew his sword from its scabbard as the long blade hissed as it left its sheath. The sword leaped into his hands, to the roof ward as he held it high above his right shoulder. The blade was that of a thrusting oriented sword as it was a diamond cross sectioned blade. The diamond sectioned blade had very heavy tapering across its length. The sword quickly lost width as its length traveled along towards its extremely thinly pointed tip. The sword from peen to tip appeared to be about four feet in total length. His mouth grunted an ugly war cry as his blade struck down high from his ward of roof. He tried to strike diagonally and downward at me with his strike of wrath, with all his might. I met his blade with the crosswise strike. I swung my sword horizontally from the ward of roof as my blade ended up high above my head. The point of my sword faced forward towards his neck, poised to strike into his body. His blade was intercepted at the center of my blade. His sword desperately pushed forward to knock mine out of the way. I was however too gifted. As his sword was stuck at the bind pushing against my weapon, I quickly swung it horizontally around above my head as I cut into his neck using the horizontal strike. My sword was now held forward high above my head from the ward of ox with my arms crossed, alongside my head, with my blade’s tip right over the right side of his neck. However the riveted chains of mail around his throat were too strong to be broken by a quick weak strike. I stepped forward with my right leg, as I forced the blades short, or bottom, edge into the right side of his neck yet again. Once again my sword slid against his chain mail covered throat. He too knew that this attack would be coming. He in response, before I could close in fast to slice off his head, responded in kind. His sword gave up trying to push my blade aside as the tip of his sword rested against the cross guard of my blade. Instead he drastically lowered his blades point and his back. In that same movement, he thrust his diamond cross sectioned sword into my chest. He missed a direct hit as his blade slid forward as it sliced into the right side of my body, though not deeply. The sharp pain still throbbed from the wound. In response to his slice, I flipped the direction of my sword punting him in the face with its pommel. My forward right leg kicked his bright ‘royal’ purple tunic back as he lost his balance. He however did not fall as he regained his orientation quickly. He then held his sword above his right hip from the ward of plough and stopped for a moment to scoff at his mere and minor ‘victory’. “See you lowly bandit. You are no match for the Order of the Noble Griffin. You lack the class and grace needed to fight a skilled warrior such as myself,” he continued to gloat. “Frak off, tall bastard! The next time I slice into your neck your mail will be too weak to protect you!” I had muttered back at him out of spite as the sharp pain in my chest had begun to grow The pain in my chest had become immense. The slice wound had opened well into my body. Thankfully, I could still stand and fight as it was not too deep. I looked into his armored body to spot weakness. As I examined his metallic chain mail armor from his chest to his boots, I realized that he could only afford a mail shirt. His cloth leggings were left widely exposed. I decided what I must do. My sword prepared to stand high in the ward of roof, but then I moved to plough over my right hip. I ignored the pain in my chest as I knew what had to be done. I put my sword above my hip as the tip was pointed upwards at a forty five degree angle, in the ward of plough. I needed him to think I would try for another squinting strike as I held my sword from plough as I did before. “And just want kind of strike do you plan on doing you sword welding serf?” He scoffed as he raised his pointy long sword. He raised his narrow agile blade high above his head from the ward of roof. His foolishness and overconfidence had greatly distracted him. I struck him quickly in before time as he hadn’t even begun to start his next strike “Hm, clever but it won’t work,” Sir Janawski had scoffed. He extended his right leg forward as it he was predominantly right handed. I then struck him with full force aimed squarely at his forward leg. My great sword cut through to his muscular calf as it cleaved into his leg. As the cut came to a stop, my body lurched forward as I sliced through the rest of his muscle. The tall bastard came crashing as his calf was nearly amputated from his right forward leg. Blood spilled everywhere onto the green grass as he fell over as his blood dripped like a waterfall from his once whole calf. The muscles of his leg had been shredded. Sir Janawski’s mouth bellowed a deafening roar from the pain of his leg being sliced nearly in half. I looked at him as I scoffed at him as he lay there in pain. My blood stained sword was lowered to the ground as I let it rest in my right hand with my left hand hanging free of its hilt. My tired boots crunched along the grassy valley as I had walked closer to him to mock his fall. “As much as a fool as I am, at least I have both of my legs.” I smirked at him. “…frak you!” He screamed at me as he lay on the floor in a puddle of his own blood. I scoffed at him and his hypocrisy. “So noble you are Sir Jawanski, a Knight of order of the Noble Griffin. Before you pass out from the loss of blood, which I'm sure you will, I must ask you a question. Did your band specialize in human trafficking? Like the young maiden in the wagon you tied up.” I asked of him with a stern look on my face remembering the poor young woman I found tied up in his band's wagon. He looked up at me and coughed up blood as he struggled to respond. “Frack off vagabond.... ugh...you don't know what that witch had done...argh...” he had begun to cough cutting off the rest of his sentence. What did he mean by witch? Surely he couldn't be referring to that poor helpless woman he had a hand in kidnapping. “Normally I'd finish you quickly but for noble hypocrites such as yourself... Well I intend to see that your death is as slow and as painful as possible. Have fun bleeding to death scoundrel!” I scoffed at him as he continued to lay there dying. He began to mumble incoherent junk as I limped away as he continued to cough up blood. I then felt the intense pain of my slice wound which that bloody bastard had inflicted upon me. It forced my back to nearly collapse. I got down on my knees for a moment as I shoved the point of my sword into the soft earth. I rested my hands on its long hilt to keep me from falling onto the ground. I then had given in as my body came crashing onto the soft ground. I needed a moment to breathe before I had gotten up. Thankfully I still had my purse attached to my sword belt. My main bag was still behind the bushes past the clearing. The small purse I owned rested on my belt I had some bandages left in it to apply pressure to my wound. I suppose now was as good of a time as any. It was not like the tall beaten Pollock was going to get up any time soon. I took my black blood stained leather gloves off and they floated onto the soft grass below. I undid the knot in my belt and the buckle as I took off my sword belt. It then crashed to the ground along with my scabbard, and purse. I then started to undo the buttons on my gambeson. I felt fine until I raised my arms to take it off. I had felt as a sharp pain from my chest. I ignored it though. The life of a warrior was a dangerous one indeed. The better you were, the less scratches you would incur. Though I supposed I cannot be too bad as I am still can count myself among the living. I had taken off my gambeson, as I let the heavy cloth coat gently fall onto the soft grass. My ribs hurt with an unbearable pain as I had hoped the wound was not too deep. I looked down at my white cotton shirt as I examined the damage. There was a huge blood stain from where the slice wound had originated. I rushed to take the blood stained shirt off. I undid the leather lace around my neck and raised my arms high up into the air. Despite the sharp pain, I had to rise up to take the ruined shirt off my battered self. Another stain of battle I had thought. My weary eyes no longer saw the sight of the open wound as I struggled to pull my shirt off. I had some trouble getting the sleeves off as my sweaty body had gotten stuck on my shirt. It was a mildly hot day after all. I then heard the fallen Pollock grumbling something off in the distance. I ignored it except I had heard the sound of soft approaching footsteps. A third party present, could it be? I rushed to take off my shirt as it gotten stuck over my head. Before I could take it off, I heard the sound of thunder. A loud booming sound originated from where the tall Pollock was. Strange it was as I had not noticed a sour cloud in the sky all day. When I looked up, after taking off my shirt, I looked over at the charred remains of Sir Jawanski. Now I know I did a number on him but I sure don't remember burning him. His body was blackened, burned to a crisp. I forgot all about my injury and stood up and walked one or two steps closer. His body was fried, like he had been burned or well... struck by lightning. But what could have caused it? I walked over and examined his body as I reached down to touch him with the edge of my curious index finger. Sure enough he was burned alive. It was as if someone had electrocuted him but how could this be possible? I've never seen an actual magician or sorceress before and there certainly weren't any rain clouds around to produce lightening or thunder. I heard that mages exist but most of them were phonies performing fake parlor tricks. I felt a strange healing sensation come across my beaten self as the pain of my sword wound had dissipated. I felt comforted as I felt the warmth of someone else’s body rubbing against my tired self. I looked down at my wound and there was a hand there and no that of my own. It was a black leather glove. On it was a five pointed star inscribed on the back. The odd symbol was not a typical Christian star mind as its origins resembled a pagan presence. Around the star was a circle inscribed with various symbols. The runes were not that of French or German lettering. The soft leather hand carried an odd green paste on it as it brushed the odd cool paste onto my sliced chest. As the smelly paste covered my chest, my slice wound started to quickly heal. The scent of the medicine was strong as my eyes became teary from the strong odor. The hand of the unknown then started to wrap cloth bandages around my chest. My worried head looked all around as I knelt on the grassy floor. My strong shoulders then felt the head of another person resting on my strained body. It was none other than the soft touch of a woman. It had to be a woman as the light touch of her soft face was too sensual to be that of a man’s. Then I had remembered, the young captured lady in the covered cart. The last thing that bumbling hairy giant mentioned was something about a witch. He surely couldn't be serious, or was he? “Worry not my dear knight, I reward those who help look after the friends of the children of Diana,” the soft hearted voice had spoken into my ear as my heart had raced. I was startled and nearly jumped out of my own skin. I quickly spun around and there she was. It was the same redhead that was in the wagon. I know I had undone the rope holding the bag around her head and the rag around her mouth. I still remembered her feet being bound. At least I think they where, where they? I had spun around so fast that in the process of trying to track my belongings, mainly my sword, I had lost my balance. I had fallen with my chest right side up onto the soft grassy field bellow. My head thumped a numbing headache as it had crashed onto the soft grass. Thankfully my noggin didn't land on a rock. Well if it did, then I'd at least know if I was dreaming or not. Slaughtering four bandits in a day and encountering a sorceress was a lot. Who was she? She didn't have a staff like they do in the scriptures that the priest and ministers had warned me about when I was young. No, her skin was pale but overall she did not look much different than me. She was actually well, dressed kind of like that of a footman. Her face had a small pointed nose with fairly large dark brown eyes. On the top of her scalp was long flowing red hair. The young red head wore a red cloth buttoned down gambeson. Covering her legs she wore tight cloth matching red hosen that emphasized her curved nubile figure. Over her small feet adorned black leather half calf boots with two little straps on the sides to tighten them to her narrow ankles. Underneath her heavy red cloth gambeson, she wore a white cloth shirt and black leather gloves covering her small hands. Around her neck the elegant black cape she had worn was royal red on the inside. Above her left hip laid a small arming sword with a shiny steel wheel pommel with a heavily curved shiny steel cross guard. Her sword was the same short blade I had found in the wagon. The blade rested in her dark maroon leather covered wooden core scabbard. It was held around her hips with a red belt integrated into the sheath. A tiny parrying dagger resting in a small scabbard rested over her right hip. Over her chest she had another belt traveling diagonally over her left bosom, to her right hip. On her belt where holsters for various bottles, possibly potions. That was not the strangest thing though. Besides the fact that she was dressed like a man, she also had the strangest jewelry. The necklace was a five pointed Silver Star with a circle around it. It had the same sort of symbols that was placed on the back of her glove. The star she had worn was not of Christian star, but one bearing a strong pagan resemblance. She reached her gentle hand out to help me with a caring smile on her face. Those adoring eyes were truly deceiving for I knew better. No normal woman had the ability to burn men to a crisp at free will. I pushed out my legs aside and shoved myself away from the evil witch. What have I done today? Am I fighting for God? What, what if... I don't know what to think any more. I closed my eyes quickly, as I counted to ten. I didn't think anything of it. I didn't just murder four men in cold blood to save an evil sorceresses wench, nor have I? “By the Lord, Jesus Christ, please forgive my soul for what I have done here today.” I said as I had begun to atone for my murderous sins. I then opened up my eyes and looked up as she knelt her warn sensual body right on top of mine. She sat right over my crotch. My head on the floor, forced my face to look up into her curious brown eyes. I looked at her face as she had a look of interest I had not seen before in that of a woman. Was I some sort of an experiment? She bent her head forward with the strangest smile I had ever seen on her pale skinned red haired face. She began to chuckle lightly in a girlish style of manor. Perhaps, I don't know what was going on. “Who are you heathen and how did you escape your bonds?” I accused her out of fear as her girlish body was positioned above my private parts. I couldn't imagine the look on my face as I couldn't out right accuse her of being something more evil. She could easily slit my through or burn me alive as knelt beside my body. She leaned her body closer right over mine with her hands on the ground at the sides of my shoulders. I didn't know what to do. Her face was maybe a foot away from mine, she merely smiled. She was not even insulted by what I had accused her of. “You freed my hands and I grabbed the dagger lying on the floor to undo the rope around my feet. Though I suppose I should be used to being misunderstood by now,” She had spoken. “Most of my covenant generally is,” She said as she leaned her head closer to mine. I could feel the warm breath of her pinkish cheeks right over my head. I looked down at her body, as I had tried to see if she had concealed any weapons in either of her hands, “You still take it better than the rest,” she said turning her head over to look at the fried Polock. I had almost forgotten about the fired knight as she had spoken. “I could use a man like you.” I was embarrassed, I could feel my face turning red as I had no idea what she meant by that. Her slender body presented itself above my innocent body in a warm sexual manner. Surely she wouldn’t dare be so open when first meeting a man. Was she? No she surely couldn’t be that lowly of a wench. “No dear, not in that way, hehe,” she chuckled to erase all doubts of any sexually oriented intentions. I could feel the cheeks on my body quickly returning to normal skin color as my heart had slowed to a more normal, less sporadic, beat. “No, I could use a good body guard, a partner. I live from day to day as a mercenary, or bandit you could say. Things have been getting kind of tough lately and of course being a witch I always have far more enemies than friends. It's hard to get a job when most 'other' humans would rather stab you with a pitchfork and burn you at the stake just for having... different beliefs you might say. I know you don't know who I am and I'm not sure what those bandits who tried helplessly to kidnap me have told you. I can assure of one thing though. I am not a creature of evil!” She had spoken as she ran her hand through her long flowing hair as she had knelt over my body. “How do I...,” I gulped as I was afraid to speak. She had a startled look on her face then smiled gently. I guess she wanted to put me at ease. “how do I... how do I know if...” “You can trust me,” she spoke finishing my question and answering at the same time. “I wouldn't have healed you otherwise.” She had finished speaking. Her body then sprung off the ground as she stood tall over my chest. Upon further examination, as I looked at her as she stood right over me. I had determined she was actually rather quiet short. Perhaps she was only a little over five and a quarter foot tall. Her body still loomed over mine. A powerful little woman she was indeed. She then reached out with her right arm with an open hand as she offered to help me up. She moved her body aside so I could stand up. I waited a few moments. She seemed honest enough, I suppose. I reached out with my right hand to take her generous offering. As she had inclined, she had helped me up. I looked around and raised my arm to look at my skin as I had grabbed onto her hand. No burn marks were present on my body and I didn't feel my sword wound any longer. The pain was gone! Maybe she was really being sincere. I then looked at her and she had a stern look on her face. It was not one of anger but one of disappointment. “Do you not trust my word? If I truly wanted to harm you, wouldn't I have done so by now?” She had asked me. I answered her with only one word, “right.” I said looking at her. I felt kind of drafty as a sharp breeze had blown by as my chest had grown cold. I looked down at my chest as I just remembered it had been bear! Right, I had taken off my shirt and gambeson earlier. I had forgotten all about my sword wound. I looked all around and ran towards my shirt and quickly put it back on. Damn, I still had to wash it, it reeked of dried blood. I put it on anyway and then rushed to tie the laces on it. I then put on my regular black gambeson, carefully making sure to button every button and then finally put my sword belt back on. I looked up at her; she held her hand underneath her chin, staring at me. She was examining me as if I were some sort of simpleton. Did she not think me intelligent? I looked up at her, after putting my plain black gloves on. Hm, perhaps I was foolish. How silly I looked with my torn clothing, my messy hair. I hadn't washed in days. It was silly that I had not done so, being right next to a river. “What was it?” I had asked her. She then laughed and said. “Oh, nothing much really...” She spoke. She looked up at me and then turned her head downward looking at my chest. Did I really look that bad? I then asked her, “you said you could use my help but for what?” She then looked at me with amazement, as if the answer should be that glaringly obvious. “Well I am being chased by the Order of the 'Noble' Griffin. They wish to crucify me for something well... something that I didn't do,” she rolled her eyes a bit as she finished her sentence. I sensed that she may be lying about her true ambitions. “Well I don't know anything about any bands of knights. If I help you go after this order, the repercussion could be enormous. I don't know how powerful they are or whom they are aligned with. For all I know they might put my head on every wanted poster in all of Europe!” I finished out of worry. She looked distraught, even a bit saddened by what I had said. She took a moment and then took a deep breath to think about what she wanted to say next. “I know you haven't yet had reason to have complete faith in me but trust me when I say the repercussions of doing nothing about them are worse than helping me fight this injustice.” I looked at her, sure they were slimy men but I didn't think that much of them. “What do you mean by that? Just how big is there band and what have they done? I've seen many bands abuse prisoners and send them to the stakes. What makes them any different?” I had asked her most curiously. She took another deep breath and put an even more serious look her face before she had answered me. There was a drastic tone of seriousness in her voice. “There was a dark cloud forming over Rhineland, if we don't do something...” she spoke. Great, now she's leading me on, “the powers might change and the wrong people will be put in charge. Many will suffer during the bloodshed and many lives will be lost.” I looked into her innocent eyes, so adorable they were yet no matter how sensual or beautiful she was I could sense deep down she was lying. Surely she had other motives. I've never met an idealist that actually meant what they spoke. Somewhere, behind all the formalities and smoke and mirrors there's always the 'real' motive. “I understand,” I said looking at her. I suppose going along with her for now wouldn't be bad. I no longer had my horse and I could use a companion. Speaking of horses, what had happened to the carriage? I looked around for a moment and the horse drawn cart was gone, vanished! If there were another group of bandits that had come by surely they would have engaged us. Where could it have gone? Did the horses just run off on their own? Damn, I was hoping to make use of it! Why Lord could I not just have one favorable thing happen to me that would ease me life? Was this your way of punishing me? I then felt a hand over my shoulder and turned around. There she was. “Are you okay?” She had asked me. I had a square look on my face. “The carriage, it’s gone and the gold and weapons it was carrying! Never mind that, I could have had a horse take me to Lubeck which was where I originally planned on going.” She blushed as her face turned red. “Oh that! By the Mother of all Goddesses those poor creatures were unfairly being used by the likes of men! I did only the natural thing in giving them the freedom that they deserve!” My mouth opened so wide in amazement that I couldn't believe what she just blurted out her mouth. “Are you mad? We could have used them to take ourselves to their camp and storm them! And the cart, where was that?” I had asked her. She was truly a nut job. “Bah, animals were not created to be enslaved by humanity! We were meant to coexist in peace! Trapping a poor helpless creature and using it to do our tasks is just wrong!” “And I suppose your leather boots, your belt, and your scabbard, are made from pixe dust?” “Oh, well sometimes we do have to use parts of animals for clothing, for food, and for medicine but in doing so we must also give back to nature by sacrificing ourselves!” “WHAT?... Never mind that, what happened to the cart?” A long pause ensued before she responded. Her face turned red and she started to stutter in her speech pattern. “...I set it ablaze after the horses were freed while you were fighting that murder. We didn't need what was in there anyway. I merely took what was mine and set the horses free and burned the cart!” “You BURNED THE CART? There were at least three hundred florins in there! Where did all that money go?” “Well I took about fifty florin...” she meekly said. What goes on in her deranged head anyway? “Only fifty? That's not nearly enough to get us by! Why didn't you take the whole thing?” I had asked her out of haste. I thought her to be smarter than that. My neck nearly snapped as I turned my head around as I looked eastward. She indeed was not lying as I saw the orange blaze of the burning wreckage of the destroyed cart. I was surprised I had not noticed it earlier. The heat produced from the bonfire was actually quite intense. My eyes were getting a bit teary just looking at it. Just what kind of nut job was she anyway? Oh right, she's a witch. This was why I was always warned about pagans. A loony devil worshiping bunch they are, nature loving ha! The young woman strode in front of me as I continued to stare at the burning cart as all hope of riches faded away. She was flustered and had an angry look on her face. The young redhead carried an angry look as she started into my eyes as she spoke. “Oh how could you be so materialistic? What we own is not what matters but it is what we are that truly counts and that will be what we will take with us into the next life!” She had finished stating with her hands up in the air with a big smile on her face. Her cute speech did not sway my stern anger and scorn I had on my face. She was smiling but then looked sad and she had put her head down in shame. Perhaps I was being... Well maybe I was a bit too harsh on her. “I'm sorry, you obviously have a drastically different belief system than I do and I was rude to insult you for it. I believe everyone should be entitled to believe what they want but I must get going. I left my bags over the hill there and I have important things to be doing. I must continue my travel north to the port city. I do have a living to make,” I said walking away from her towards the hill. I tried to put her, the cart, the bandits, and my soiled clothing aside. I continued to walk away but she ran up to me and put her hand on my shoulder. “Please don't go!” She had shouted at me. I turned around to give her one more plea to change my mind. “...the truth was, well besides the fact that Order was working with powerful a Nobleman from Nuremberg, they stole something from me... A gem, one of great power and in the wrong hands, it could cause a lot of damage.” I let her pause for a few moments. She seemed honest as tears started to pour from her eyes. She was either very truthful or just very convincing in general. Besides I've always had a strong need for adventure. “...well I suppose,” I said as I reached out with my right hand. She reached out with her hand as if she were going to shake. Instead, she put both of her hands onto mine and nodded. Maybe that was her custom, I really did not know. I then put my left hand onto of both of ours. I suppose if one cart of the order had held a few thousand florins, who knew what a whole camp full of riches held? I could certainly take a large share of gold from their riches. I looked up at her as I held my hands forth in acceptance. She smiled gracefully accepting my help. “I still do need to get my bags though, really.” I said remembering I had left them over the hill. They had much needed supplies in there that I would need for our journey. She had a startled look on her face. My statement must have thrown her off balance. “Oh of course, you need help carrying that?” “No, not at the moment…” “...well okay then, let me go with you!” “Oh, sure,” I had lovingly responded to her. She seemed nice, I still don't know if I trust her or not. She had an 'odd' sense of justice, hm. Where I come from, God created us as men to rule of this earth and to care for one another as human beings above all else. I'm not sure about her naturist religion. However I won't question it, at least for now. She was entitled to her differences after all. I then realized something. I had not caught her name. “I never did catch your name by the way.” I had politely asked her. I then stopped as I noticed she had quit walking. I turned around and looked into her adorable eyes. She then spoke, “Tarren... Tarren Lionsword... hehe. My second name is my sorceress name. It's a bit unusual for a witch to have a part Christian name. However, I was not always what I am now. And what was yours?” I took a deep breath before respond, “that would be Cidious Alexander, fair and beautiful Sorceress Lionsword. It was an honor to meet you,” I had graced her with my respect. “It was a pleasure to meet you too brave and honorable Sir Alexander,” she did a curtsey in respect holding up the ends of her gambeson with her fingers and bowed her body in reverence. I wasn’t sure what she would do considering she was not Christian. Yet she still seemed to know how a fair lady should act. I looked at her and her respect gave me a smile on my face. I had never been referred to as ‘sir’ before. “And thank you for rescuing me from those terrible bandits,” she had finished. “It was an honor as any brave man of arms would do but I am afraid I’m not a Knight, just another hired hand.” “Oh, I didn’t mean too…” “Oh, I’m actually quite flattered. It’s not often someone uses my name with honor.” “I am honored to travel with you! Shall we be going?” She asked. I looked at her kind of funny then I remembered my bags. “Right my bags! How silly of me! Off we shall go!” I stated as we began to walk towards the hill. She followed me by my side. I had my doubts about going with her and I don't really believe her line about the fate of the world depending on it. However considering it all her journey she requested may yet prove to be fruitful.