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Knight of the Moon
Flames licked the sky, like demons from a nightmare, reaching up to blot out the sky. Screams filled the air and filled the hearts of the few hopeful with despair. Somewhere in the distance a house collapsed. The sound quickly drowned out by the hordes of people running about and shouting to loved ones. The moon disappeared behind a thick curtain of smoke.
Suddenly the boy awoke in a cold sweat. His breath came in short ragged gasps. Slowly he calmed himself. His heart rate slowed to normal pace.
He stood up and walked to the curtain at the side of the room. He pushed it aside and light flooded the room. He grimaced and closed his eyes in the sudden light.
There was a knock at the door and he made his way over to it. He opened the door and groaned. It was the landlady, the owner of the inn he was staying at. She was an unattractive woman who was large in height and girth. She wasn’t the cook, but she always carried around a wooden spoon, usually to hit tenants who were troublesome.
“Still abed at this hour?” She asked, waving the spoon menacingly. He mumbled something inaudible, which was rewarded with a smack from the spoon.
“Now, now sir. That is no way to behave. Breakfast is over in half an hour so I suggest you get yourself downstairs as soon as possible.” With that she spun away and walked back down the hallway. Rubbing his sore the boy closed the door. He quickly threw on a pair of pants. Then he put on a belt with a sheath Set in it. He fished under his pillow and pulled out a long knife, which he proceeded to slide into the sheath. Lastly he threw on a light jacket.
He made his way downstairs to the tavern where the food was being served. He grabbed a mug of steaming cider. With the fall in full swing the apples were ripe and the cider was delicious.
He looked around the room. There were quite a few wooden tables covered in long tablecloths that reached within an inch from the ground. The floor was a polished wood that was well cared for.
There were several familiar faces from nights before. He saw the landlady watching the crowd and servers working their way through the crowd. He also saw some new faces. Several people sat in groups talking while others sat alone.
That was how he noticed the girl. She sat alone in the corner of the tavern, opposite of the door, and looked out of place. She was too innocent looking to be sitting in a tavern like this alone. Her eyes were glued to the table, which was empty. Her bright orange hair fell around her and framed her face. Suddenly a group of people walked by, blocking his view of the girl. When they moved, he was surprised to find, she was looking at him. Her eyes were a rich green. They locked eyes for a moment, then she blushed and looked away.
A server finally came to him and he placed an order and patiently waited for the food to arrive.
A minute passed. He finally couldn’t help it; he looked back for the girl. She was gone, but then his eyes caught a flash of orange. She was standing a few feet away. He caught her eyes for a moment. She held his gaze for a moment, the looked down. She was wearing a white dress that almost hit the floor, decorated with black lace and a few bows of the same lace. Behind her sat a small bag, that didn’t look like it could hold more than two or three outfits.
“Are you waiting for something?” He asked. She was silent for a moment. He was almost sure she wasn’t going to say anything, then she spoke in a timid voice.
“I… I need you.” She said.
“Need me?” He asked amused. The girl turned bright red.
“No!” She said, “I meant…that I… need your help.”
“No thanks.” The boy said.
“Darin please!” She pleaded. She clapped her hands together, “You don’t understand!”
“How do you know my name?” He asked, his expression changing very little. The girl blushed again.
“I…” She started, but she didn’t get to finish.
A loud bang rang through the tavern. The doors were flung open and three strangely dressed people walked through. The girl gasped and ducked down under behind the table.
“Sun warriors.” She whispered. Darin didn’t move. The noise in the tavern died down to a low hum as everyone took in the new arrivals. They wore brightly colored robes, mostly orange and yellow, with hoods pulled low over their faces. They looked around, then made their way over to Darin’s table. As they came closer Darin could see that the robes were adorned with various markings that made little sense to him.
“We’re looking for a girl.” One said. Darin eyed them coldly.
“What do you want me to do about it?” he asked.
“Hand her over.” The one said. The tavern had become silent. Everyone was listening to the conversation. Suddenly the landlady approached them angrily.
“Honestly!” she complained, “What gives you the right to march in here and…” she didn’t get to finish the sentence, because one of the, “sun warriors” grabbed her and threw her to the side. She flew several feet and landed with a crash. A moment later the trio drew gleaming swords out from under their robes. Hilts of gold and blades a shining white. People screamed and some tried to run away.
One of the three suddenly reached down to grab at Darin, but his knife was suddenly in his hand, and a quick stroke later the warrior recoiled, blood oozing from a cut in his arm. The other two rushed forward. One slashed down at Darin while the other moved to the side to find an opening. Jason fell back in his chair, turning it into a roll as he hit the ground. The first attack thudded into the wood of the table. He caught a flash of orange and spun to face the next attack. The stroke came but not fast enough.
Darin easily sidestepped the stroke and moved in. He viscously slashed at the attacker. His knife bit into the warriors side. He fell to the ground. His sword clattering to the ground. The other two moved into an attack position, one going to each side of Darin. They moved fast and together, each slashing sideways and moving closer in unison. Darin ducked the slashes and rolled forward. His knife flew in a skyward arc and slashed into the second of the warriors. He landed on his feet as the warrior crashed to the ground. The third warrior eyed Darin, then looked to his downed companions, who were staggering to their feet. He looked back to Jason one last time and said:
“This isn’t over. We will have her!” Then he turned and ran. The other two got to their feet and ran off too. Jason walked back to the table and, ignoring the stares from the other patrons sat back down in his chair. He lifted his mug, which had been spilled during the fight, and eyed it carefully.
“They’re gone now.” He said, “You can come out now. “There was a rustle as the girl pulled back the table cloth and stood up.
“I…” She started, “I’m…sorry. I didn’t know…” Her voice trailed off. Darin stood up.
“I think you need to come with me.” Darin said without looking at her. She was confused, and a little concerned.
“Why?” she asked. Darin started to walk to the door.
“You seem to have a lot to say and some explaining to do.” He said, “Plus, you owe me a new breakfast.” He reached the door and continued walking. The girl hesitated a moment longer, then ran after him.
She finally caught up to him as he walked into a small tavern. Inside was dark and mostly empty. There was the smell of burnt food in the air. The man behind the bar was big and muscular. His gut nearly fell over the bar and he almost knocked over some glasses every time he walked by.
Darin picked a table in the back and sat down. The girl was soon with him. She sat down across from him at the circular table. A server came over to the table, Darin ordered another hot cider, the girl passed on the offer.
“What should I…?” The girl started.
“Let’s start with your name.” Darin cut in. The girl shrank back a little in her chair.
“I…I’m… Leah.” She said.
“Leah.” Darin said, “Interesting name.” He paused as his drink came, “So how did you know mine?”
“I…I… was told.” She said in a small voice. Her eyes dropped to the table.
“By who?” Darin pressed.
“Them.” She squeaked out. She seemed to be on the verge of crying.
“Who’s them?” He asked even harder.
“The priests.” She said. Her voice was barely auditable. A tear rolled down her cheek. Darin let up a little.
“Let’s start at the beginning.” He said, “Why do you need my help?” She seemed to calm down a bit.
“I… Do you…know what a…sun being is?” she asked.
“The things from the stories?” Darin replied, “The people who are said to have been born from the sun’s will?” Leah nodded.
“But those are just stories. Right?” Darin continued. This time Leah was still. She was quiet for a moment.
“You need to talk.” Darin said. He was beginning to lose patience, “I can’t help you if you don’t tell me what anything.” Leah looked up. She was…scared.
“They aren’t stories.” She said, “They were all true.”
“So you’re telling me that the stories of the god who ruled the sky and his army of super powered soldiers are real?” Darin asked almost sarcastically. Leah nodded solemnly, her eyes dropping back to the table.
“Yes.” She said, “They’re real…and…they looking for…for…”
“For what?” Darin asked impatiently. There was a pause. The server came back to the table. Darin put in an order for some food, Leah hesitated, then declined any offer. The server left, then, Layla finally answered;
“For…you.” She said. Darin was silent for a moment.
“Why me?” He asked.
“Because you’re…the…the one.” She said timidly.
“Stop talking in riddles!” Darin said, “What are you talking about?”
“You’re the Knight of the Moon.” She said finally looking up, “You’re the warrior who will bring balance back to nature and defeat the sun god.” Darin was silent for a while. Leah waited, scared and hopeful all at once.
“I’m a what? I can say I’ve never heard of that. To be honest this all sounds very…” he paused as he searched for the right word.
“Please.”She begged, “You have to believe me. You have to.” She was shaking, “I can’t go on alone.”
“Why did those soldiers want you?” Darin finally asked.
“They… they knew I was, looking… for you. They wanted… to stop me.”
“You called them sun warriors.” Darin said, “What does that mean?”
“Disciples of the sun.” she said.
“They’re soldiers.” Darin shook his head.
“You’re going to have to give me more than that.”
“They have powers beyond humans. They fight for their god.” Darin gave up, realizing he wasn’t going to get any more out of her.
“What could I do against these, ‘gods’?” He asked.
“You are the Night of the Moon. You are the only human child of the moon…Only you…can fight them…can defeat them.”
“Why do I need to defeat them?” Leah was quiet. Then, a tear rolled down her cheek.
“There will be a…a war.” She said softly, “the soldiers… will destroy all of the children of the moon.”
“You have to stop stammering.” Darin said, “It’s hard to understand.” Leah blushed. Suddenly food appeared. There was quite a bit and Leah looked surprised.
“This is a lot of food.” She said. There was a strange look in her eyes.
“Then eat some.” Darin said before reaching in to grab some bread. The meal was of bread with cheese and some hot soup. He poured a bowl of soup and pushed it over to her. She accepted it.
“Why are you..?”
“Because you look starving and I doubt you have any money.” Darin cut in. The meal was eaten in silence. After it was gone Darin spoke again;
“How do you know I’m this Knight of the Moon?” Leah set down the spoon she was fiddling with. A faint smile appeared on her lips.
“You ask a lot of questions.” She said, almost giggling, “I know because I can sense it in you. You give me a feeling, unlike the other sun children. A kind of… freedom, in you.”
“Does that make you a sun child as well?” Leah’s smile vanished.
“I…am.” The server returned one final time, Darin paid for the meal and stood up.
“And what do you plan on doing now that you found me.” He started to walk away.
“I want to help you learn. Learn to use your abilities and… how to find the sun god.” She said following him. They walked through the mostly empty streets.
“One more thing,” Darin began, “If you are a child of the sun, why would you want to find a child of the moon and fight against your own people?” She was quiet for a moment.
“They’re not my people.” She finally said, “And I don’t want them to fight.”
“Who are the children of the moon, if not humans?”
“I thought you said only one more question.” She complained in a small voice, though Darin was beginning to realize that it was just her voice was naturally quiet.
“Creatures of the night.” She said, “Wolves, panthers, ravens…”
“Sounds like this is going to be fun.” Darin said, excited for what was to come, for the first time in a long time.