Chapter 1A Beginning

Runewald. A bird, flying high, would have seen it as no more than a thin green fur covering the earth, stretching from the mountains to the plains. Cities, towns and villages no more than small patches of brown. Light and shadow played different roles from that perspective, as it accentuated hills and dips in the landscape. But, the height would lie. From down there, the green fur consisted of majestic trees, with the deep green leaves of the end of summer. The forest was old, filled with many dangers and even more beauty, hidden away from human eyes. It was strange, but even after so many years, nature still reigned the the forest. Like the deserts of the deep plains and the snowy slopes of the mountains, man stayed away unless he had no choice. It wasn't just the creatures either, the forests housed spirits and bandits, both of which could cause a careless traveller untold problems.

I, however, was excited to be here. The most important reason for my excitement, even though it shouldn't have been, was the horse beneath me. A very healthy and fast one at that. I truly cherished the feeling of every step as the horse cantered on the winding trails, it was definitely a good feeling. The rest of my excitement was aimed at the task I was given. Even though the task in itself was simple, it was rare that a young ambassador like me was entrusted to deliver messages to other cities this far out. An honor I did appreciate. The need of a good horse for such a venture was a welcome extra, of course.

The hooves thundered on the path, ripping moss and gravel from its peaceful slumber. The trees rushed by in glorious speed and despite all of this, I could still hear the sounds of the forest. The road ahead was still the same as the last half hour, slightly mossy and only lightly curving between the trees. It would probably be another half-hour until I reached the town of Bleakfield. Then ride to the local guild and get through their security. Bored people with little to do every day but hassle newcomers from other cities. Of course the seal on the papers I was carrying should help me avoid such annoyances.

As I rode, I wondered about how I would be received. Surely, I wasn't the first ambassador to have been sent from Dawnbridge as a messenger of Light, but I've heard it had been a while since any news was received from Bleakfield. All my information was outdated and, likely, very inaccurate as it was based on stories from random people. There had been - fortunately - better sources at my disposal. The library at the castle was informative as well, with plenty of maps and drawings. Maps always fascinated me, how they described so many things of a landscape without ever touching the earth. Delivering knowledge of country and land without a single visit. It was not enough, of course, as it only served to fuel my imagination and dreams. Which was one of the reasons why I chose to pursue the role of ambassador. Travelling, meeting people, being important.

Getting away...

Wait, what was that?

My thoughts were interrupted as my eyes spotted something white in the distance, contrasting sharply against the dark greens and browns. It was too far to distinguish yet, but it looked like cloth. I slowed the horse down to a trot but didn't stop yet. I knew the forest was dangerous and I had to be prepared to get back into full galloping as soon as something happened. Slowly though, as I got nearer, my initial suspicions of cloth were confirmed. However, there was something inside of it. Someone...

A girl...