Sorry for this late post. I had an appointment this morning that wore me out. Also I will be seeing my nephrologist tomorrow. Here is Chapter 3a:
The craggy mountains sliced the sky as the sun painted the forest in red, gold, and finally black. In the darkness small animals scratched in the underbrush near Silas Forster’s feet. He huffed as he walked up a small incline. If it had been daylight, he would have seen the valley spread before him as he descended.
He scrapped his feet in the path’s loose dirt and stopped as the small mule bumped into his back. He held the mule’s bridle, brushing its face, pulled small piece of carrot out of his pocket, and fed it to the mule. The mule bumped his chest in thanks.
It was the last piece of carrot he had. He needed to get back to the village with a load of firewood for his master. His master was the village blacksmith and he needed a large amount of wood to turn into charcoal. He mended the pots, pans, knives and plows.
Not every village had a blacksmith. Badendorf was richer than most.
It was the first time that Silas’ master had allowed him to gather wood in the deep forest.
Usually his master spent a small amount of his valuable coin to hire the woodcutter. He even sent Silas with the woodcutter to choose the right wood for the fire.
Silas had asked once why the blacksmith hadn’t apprenticed him to the woodcutter. The blacksmith just got a little cagey and put him on the bellows. Silas was too scrawny and slim to pound the iron. He had tried once and couldn’t even pick up the hammer that the blacksmith used.
The only his master let slip was that he had promised Silas’ mother to care for him until… The master shut his mouth and didn’t say anything more about Silas’s mother or his family.
Silas gave the mule a quick pat then led the mule down the path. Tree limbs slashed at him as he strained to see the path. An owl hooted, which made Silas jump just a little. He snorted at his small panic. The mule nudged him again.
Next time he would leave sooner. The woodcutter was always nervous when they left too late. He would look at their back trail and search the trees. Now Silas was alone and he stopped himself from looking back. His shoulder blades twitched and he could feel eyes on the back of his neck.
His stomach growled. He needed to get back soon or there wouldn’t be any supper left. His stomach growled again.
Silas was tall, taller than the other villagers. The boys his age had grown stout and muscular. Although he was the same brown color with the same brown eyes, he was lean and a several inches taller than the others.
This was the latest he had been in the forest. As he held the mule’s lead, he remembered the last villager who had been caught in the dark. It was just a mile from here.
The villager had been found on the outskirts of a farm with his throat ripped out. The men in the village had buried the remains before the children saw it. The women told the children that it wasn’t safe to be out after dark. There was a savage animal waiting to eat them.
The younger men were not deterred by monster stories. Silas had thought it was just a large mountain cat that had wandered to civilization. It would go back into the mountains. Except now in the dark of the forest, he remembered the blood and flesh on the ground. He wanted to touch his own throat.
He picked up speed as they reached the bottom of the mountain and started towards the rolling hills that opened to the valley.
When the leaves rustled behind him, his stomach sunk to his toes. Silas wished for a weapon… a stick or a sword… something so that he wouldn’t be defenseless. If an animal was stalking him, then he should face it.
He could hear the breaths of the mule as it started to pant. He stepped into the mule to calm it down. He wouldn’t be able to handle a panicked mule and danger.
He turned to face the rustling bushes. The panic drained from him as he focused towards the fear and pulled his energy too him. Before he could defend himself a net of pure energy fell from the trees and captured him. The mule screamed and ran away towards safety.
The energy ate into his body and he screamed in pain.
A dark figure approached and watched him writhing on the ground.
“Well, well,” it said. “I caught a prince.”