Chapter Eleven – And so, we set – Part one

two weeks since the incident, Irivine was Annalot’s Particular maid and life was going on without much change, the pace was still slow, and Annalot was still working at the castle having little pratices and exercises, the hardest task she would get was going off to hunt. nothing abnormal, and no moves coming from the Cardinal.
her fear was that, this could be the calm before the storm. and in fact, silent was the actions of the old cunning cardinal. his aim was nothing related with the true identity of Russel, but a way to get rid of him, either by death or banishment. the former being his favorite option. and soon a chance showed up.
Annalot’s Kingdom is called Sigen, its a huge kingdom located in the east coast of a massive continent. isolated from the others by mountains, bathed by the sea. the mountains were a massive barrier of stone, with only seven spots who travelers could take. on those seven spots there were one fortress for each. with one being special this time.
the north frontier, a one-kind-of-place, there is a fortress there, a strong one, this fortress was important, through it passed the merchants who came from the north countries. it worked as a a kind of military checkpoint and a place were the merchants used to stop to rest a bit and proceed with the journey. about a month ago it has been taken by barbarians from the north, those who doesnt own a country in their possession. the kingdom was trying to take it back at all costs, destruction being not included. the fortress must be taken back unharmed.
that was the chance the cardinal was waiting for, sending the fresh blood into a hard battle, into cold and hard lands. a long travel to a cold and wild land, to fight mad demons in order to take a fortified building and economical checkpoint back; how do this chance could not be good? fast as he could he assigned the young man Russel and some others to the task.
morning, sun was rising above the forest, the air was soft and cold, the light was kind of orange-ish and the sky was purple with salmon colored clouds floating around. Annalot was awakened by the voice of her maid, Irivine.
” Annalot, wake up, you received a message. heey, wake up. dammit. ”
” waa-, its still too early vine, let me sleep ”
” no, you must read this, right now you hear, its something about a new order of going out ”
annalot jumps ” wait, its a out order? are they sending me out? geez makes a time already, where are they sending me? ”
” read yourself, this is just… too much for you, i guess… ”
” there is no task i can not accomplish you know? now now let me see this… hmm… ”

To Russel

we proudly are pointing you to assign the 22th squad at the take back mission, you have been chosen by your skills and experience, we are sure you and your comrades will bring us victory and glory. your mission is simple, take back the North Frontier Fort. you and 26 skilled knights were chosen to go out the fields to help our forces taking back our tactical point and ensure the safety back to our country, by driving the barbarian forces out. we are not sure about their strength, but we doubt that they can outnumber us.
the squad goes out today, if you feel that you’re ready and prepared to fight in our lines for what is ours then go before lunch to the front gates and present yourself.
we appreciate if you do.

” hmm, vine who exactly sent this? ”
” i dont know, there is no sender, maybe its a formal letter from the headquarters ”
” you dont get it, they wouldnt send me out without a good appointment. some important knight must have appointed me… otherwise… ”
” what? ”
” i dont know, its really just too much, sending  me out to the battlefront… the lines, who the hell they think i am? ”
” are you picking it ann? ”
” i should, after all im still a rookie right? ”
” isnt it reason to not pick it? ”
” no, i should get so i can make some status if i return alive ”
” … risking your life for some medals? ”
” i wish i would get some medals, no, only the heroes get’em ill at least score some points up with the forces and thats all ”
irivine remained silent
” but still there is something bugging me… ”
” what is it? ”
” im sure that no knight would point me, if it was no knight, who did it? ”
“… god lord ann… think a little. ”
” …. no, serious, i cant figure out, who? ”
” think a while back ”
” a while back… OH the Cardinal! ”
” yup. Still getting it? ”
” vine you dont get it… its even worse. ”
” why? ”
” although i know its a trap… there is not much i can do about it. its the cardinal! someone high. if i refuse his appointment it would probably send me disgrace. and if i return alive from it, im sure i can score lots of points, maybe even get a higher rank. ”
” is that so? ”
“yea… just that way. ”
” so you’re going? ”
” right now, i cant lose my time. i will be back, so dont worry. death is not im my plans. ”
Annalot made the preparations and left the knight tower and Irivine behind, about her decicion she could not think much, but she had plans. she packed some medicines and clothes and fast set out to the main gate.
” so you come Russel? i was waiting for you. ”
” … cut it out, it was you the one who pointed me out? oh Enrich you bastard! ”
” nope, it wasnt me, besides who fuckin cares about who pointed you? nobody here does, you should too. we are being sent to the death sight like dogs. ”
” whoa! is it this bad? ”
” man they’re barbarians, like, if they cant tear you off with a weapon, the will do with bare hands and teeth. ”
” … i think i’ve changed my mind. ”
” no, you did not, its too late Russel. ”
there were 3 squads assigned to go out this morning. lots of soldiers packing in front of the gates all of them ready to leave.
it was like the party before the tragedy, everyone was there having fun their own way, there were songs being sang, food at the lunch time, knights were playing random games, Annalot was enjoying, until the marshall spoke.
” mans of the castle, get on foot and ready. throw your packs at the wagons and set out to the north frontier. the tide of the battle depends on you! ”
Annalot noticed someone looking at her with a devilish smile, it was no other than the Cardinal, his smile almost talked ” yes, im sending you so i can get rid of you. i know a rookie like you would not stand a chance against the barbarians. ”
she was so pissed, so pissed that she started to shake, annalot was trembling of anger. any wrong move from anyone and she could throw the spear right at the cardinal. without chance of missing the target.
noon the wind was soft, the sun was light, and she was marching the fields in direction of the north frontier.
” enrich, have you been at the north frontier? ”
” yup, i have worked for two years at that frontier, the place is pretty creepy ”
” sure, why? ”
” its not like any place you would have seen, ever in your life. there is no light there, just no light. its complete darkness. ”
“… come again? ”
” let me explain. there is no day, during day the sun will not show up there, and there is no other source of light, its almost like a separate world. ”
” so its a cave? ”
” no, its a forest. ”
” so the trees grow high and block the sun? ”
” no, the trees are not tall, and are made of some kind of crystal. ”
Annalot remained silent
” those trees produce light once night hits the place, but during day, its complete darkness ”
” sounds like a cheap fairytale ”
” once you see it, you realize the thing. ”
” so are we going to fight in the dark? ”
” hell no! i said darkness, because actually its real dark. you cant see shit out there without a lantern. ”
” wait, we are going to fight with lanterns? ”
” no, again, at night the trees emanate some kind of light, and well use it as the light for the battle, using lanterns you would be a easy target to sharpshooters and such ”
again annalot remained silent
” did you realized now? ”
” seriously… ”
” hmm? ”
” no, not really ”
” arg… man, once we get there you’ll have your mind blew by it. ”
” other thing, is it cold? ”
” a lot, since there is no sunlight. ”
” … damn! ” said the young lady

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