XXIII | Fire and Water

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KENNETH

"It is time, Sir Kenneth." Wynx gave a powerful handshake as a farewell gift to the young knight and the lord. "Lennin, please don't lose him. The King would not be fond of that if that happens. Also, Merlin would kill you."

Chuckles emerged from the back of the team. It was the Damask twins'. The younger one, Travis seemed to be laughing the loudest.

"I am well aware of that, goodman," with a whip landing on his horse, Lord Lennin followed Kenneth into the Redwood Forest. 

The cook of the team, Harroson was particularly sad to see them parting ways. Reaching into his sack, the smell of goodness escaped into thin air. "Here, take some pies with you. I baked them before dawn. It should last you a day, ya know!"

It was time for them to part their ways, for Kenneth to search for his answers from the village he once lived. Wynx, leading the rest of the team continue his way through the Long Way towards the neighbouring kingdom.

Trees were especially red in this area. The skies seemed to camouflaged the leaves of the trees as they rode their horses deep into the woods. Deathorse was particularly quiet and steady whereas Lennin's mount was very carefully with its steps.

"How far deep do we have to go?" The young knight questioned, as they ventured further.

"Just keep going. We'll reach by dusk definitely." Lennin, uninterested to even reply, gave a rather vague answer.

Thud!

A huge branch came crashing down the ground out of nowhere. Somebody's here. Pulling out their long swords from their scabbard, the swordsmen are ready for combat. 

With the sounds of leaves crushed by the foot of men, Lennin knew they were not alone. "Come out, whoever the Rog Hells are you!" Looking left and right with his keen eyes, the lord screamed like thunder, "Show yourself!"

Two hands slowly appeared from behind a tree, except... it wasn't a man. It was a dwarf-looking creature. "Don't hurt us, please." The creature seemed almost human-like - having the same composition of a human face, but with sharp ears instead.

"Who in the Rog Hells are you?!" Lennin surprised by the creature's height, pointed the tip of his shiny piece of steel towards him.

"Please, I mean no harm. My name's Qar and I'm a dwindle, from the Elven Forest." Both hands raised high up above his head, the creature begged.

"What do you want?" The young knight, Kenneth Venetian asked in a gentle tone.

Before the dwindle could say anything, a brutally injured dwindle behind the woods. He was bandaged but the men could still see his freshly wounded scars.

As the injured dwindle approached the three, Qar ran towards him and supported him, "I've told you to stay put, Kajar. Your wounds have not recovered yet."

Soon, Lennin and Kenneth came down from their horses and offered help to the dwindles. Unknowingly to them, the existence of dwindles were indeed true. They were inked in books, however none ever thought it was real.

"I guess the Alorians did not tell you Amorians about us," Qar spoke in grief. "We're the slaves there, captured to serve the king."

"What made you leave then?" Kenneth asked with concern.

"The Sword of Alora wants us dead," Kajar murmured with a weak voice. Adding on to his sentence, Qar spoke, "Also, something weird has happened to the Alorian knights."

Sharing information about the red-eyed possessed knights, the four soon realised they were facing a common enemy.

"The chief of my tribe said that it was the doing of a bloodcaster - having the power to transform living creatures into blood thirst killers."

"That's... nonsense..." Kenneth couldn't believe his words.

Lennin couldn't help himself but to remain silence. Deep in his heart, he knew that it was true. The tales to scare the children, was not made up. 

It was not dusk yet, but the four camped at a small cave nearby. Munching onto the pie that Harroson gave, the four were loaded with goodness. Kajar was too weak to walk. His injuries worsen as it was infected from the previous battle with the bloodcrawlers.

"We have to reunite with our tribe. They should be here soon," Qar spoke.

"We have to get to Redwood Village before dusk, we can't stay," Kenneth reminded Lennin.

"I'm afraid there's nothing left in that village..." Qar spoke in despair.

"What do you mean?" Kenneth asked with hopelessness in his eyes.

"It's gone. Nobody's there. Even the roofs of the huts were blown away," Qar replied.

"By what?" Insisting an answer, Kenneth was lost deep inside him.

"I'm not sure, but I was there a while ago to search for help, but no one was there," Qar, with his nimble feet, was definitely a great scout from his tribe. He was able to travel from one place to the other in just a matter of hours.

Lord Lennin, pushing his arms straight against his knees, stood up like a giant in front of the dwindles. With his deep and powerful voice, he said, "If the Alorian knights were controlled by a bloodcaster, there's no point in going to the Kingdom of Alora. We must warn Wynx and the team to quickly head back to Amor before endangering themselves."

"May the Rogs be with them."

"May the Rogs be with them." The voice echoed into the cave.

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