Heart of Stone

February 9, 2017

“So Eryn I know you and my mom were close, back in the day. Like most brothers and sisters are” said Edward as we near the end of the wheat fields. I was very close to my sister when we were younger and that the only reason I’m taking Edward with me now, out of respect for my sister.

“You don’t like talking all that much do you?”  Edward asked as he kicked a rock out of the path and into field.
“I’ve always found when you speak less, your words carry more meaning.” I say. Edward has a funny scrunched up look on his face before he says,
“I guess that makes sense.”

As we pass the last windmill of the countryside I feel the warm evening sun on the back of my neck and start onto the trail that leads us into the thick woodlands. I began to wonder about the beast described in the contract, if Edward is really ready for the task ahead. My thoughts are rudely interrupted by his high pitched voice asking, “How long have you been a beast hunter?” I take a deep long sigh.

“Long enough to know what I’m doing.” Now will you please stop asking so many questions?” Edward has a hurt look on his face and goes silent for a little before asking,
“Have you ever been In love?” I stop suddenly and Edward bumps into my sword and crossbow hanging from my back. I turn and look him dead in the eyes.

“Edward I need you to focus, when we find this beast it's not going to be easy to take down, so I need you to concentrate and remember what I’ve taught you.” He looks at me, takes a deep breath, grabs his crossbow and says,
“Ok Eryn, let's do this.” I turn around and continue on the dirt path. Feeling the lush vegetation brushing against me on both sides as I listen to his footsteps behind me.

Even though it was late in the evening and the sun was still out, very little light could pierce through the thick canopy of trees and touch down to the forest floor. It was quite dim and even made the air a little thick and humid. Our path lead us south from the kingsland and into the deep, dense woods. Everything seemed very eerie the further we travelled, and everything looked very similar as if we have been going in circles. Edward says quite loudly,

“I think we’ve been here before. I remember that same mark in that tree.” He points to huge slash in the trunk of a thick tree. I wouldn't think to much of it because Edward is overly worrisome but I've been noticing the same slash marks. The thing is, it's been in different trees each time. As if something is marking its territory.
“We’re not lost, are we?” he asks.

“No,” I say,
“But we are getting closer.” Just then the wind begins to pick up in the tree tops and begins to pierce through to the lower levels of the woods. As the wind blows through our faces, there is a strong stench of decay and a foul odor of rotten meat.

“We should get moving.” I say with a disgusted look on my face. I think to myself we shouldn't have gone this far into the woods so late in the evening, it's starting to get dark. We get closer to the awful smells and I come to a halt at the base of a large tree trunk.

“Edward, you stay here and keep quiet. I’m going to climb this tree to get a better view of our surroundings.” I say.

“Alright,” he says, “just don't leave me down here too long.” and smiles. I climb the tree easy enough and look out into the distance with the little light that's left. There's a clearing with a old elven ruin in the middle of it and a river, with a boat, that runs through it all the way to back north, the way we came. Suddenly I hear a blood chilling roar not far off. I realize there's a light below me. Edward must have lit a torch! I get down the tree as fast as I can but it's too late, the beast is already upon him.

The beast is circling around the base of the tree and I am on the lowest branch above Edward. As the beast comes into the light of the torch, I see the huge antlers. The strong forearms with pulsating veins, and the middle eye on its forehead above the other two. It's a fiend.

“EDWARD! Get out of the way!” I yell at him. But it's too late, the fiend is preparing to charge and he is readying his crossbow, aiming at the third eye, just like I taught him. The torch now on the ground. It is the only light source and its getting dimmer. The beast charges! I pull out my sword and prepare to jump. Both hand on the hilt, the blade facing downwards. I hear the crossbow fire as the torch goes out and I jump, plunging my blade into whatever is below me. The next thing I know I’m on the ground with a warm liquid running down my face, and I hear Edward moan some distance off from where we were. I light my torch, the blood isn't mine, it's the dead fiend’s that is lying next to me on its side with an arrow dead in the eye and my sword still stuck in its back between the shoulder blades. I pull out my sword with some effort and run to Edward who had been knocked back a good distance with great force from those deadly antlers. He looks at me and says

“I think my leg is broken.” I take a look, luckily it's a clean break.

“Don't worry, it will heal. I saw a boat in a river that leads back north.” I swing his arm around my neck and support his weight as we limp towards the clearing.

“By the way, you did good today” and accidentally let out a small smile.

“Hey, I saw that!” He says with a big grin.

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