Chapter 1: His First Step
Disclaimer: This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events, locales, and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.
This story is not affiliated with any institutions mentioned in the chapters.
Please be advised that this story contains mature themes such as violence and strong language that are not suitable for very young audiences. Read at your own risk.
This story is not edited. It may contain some typographical and grammatical errors in English language. Please bear with me. I’ll get back to this after I finish the whole story.
Coldness and warmth combined. It was midday and the skies were cloudy but little rays of sunlight passed through. The sound of the birds chirping blended harmoniously to the melody of the dancing leaves in the trees around Frostwood village.
Arth would miss this place. He was sitting on the wooden bench in front of the garden filled with heather and cyclamen flowers. The green grass everywhere was lightly covered by snow. He was taking his last glance at the beauty of the colorful field before he will take his leave from the village tomorrow. He closed his eyes and inhaled the aromatic scent of the environment. It was peaceful. The village was peaceful.
After a few moments, he stood up and took the log of woods beside him. He carried them and walked on the stone road with little snow. He passed in front of multiple wooden houses and went straight towards the chief’s den. It was a huge and elegant tent that was secured and patrolled by a couple of guards.
Arth nodded at the two guards standing on both sides of the entrance. The guards nodded back at him in response.
The den has a large space inside. The floor was made of stone and there was a brown carpet that was laid on the floor at the right side together with the round table and some chairs. The wooden bookshelves and cabinets were all placed on both opposite sides of the tent. At the center was the chief’s desk.
Arth walked inside the den and saw the chief writing something on the documents on his desk. He was a bit old-looking because of the small wrinkles on his face but his dark and muscular body boldly shows his activeness. He had his reading glasses on while reading a document on his desk.
After noticing Arth’s presence, the chief raised his head to look at him. He took his glasses off and blinked twice before rubbing his eyes.
“You got everything you need for tomorrow?” the chief asked in a dark voice.
Arth nodded. He placed the logs of woods on the side of the wooden cabinet and then sat on the chair in front of the chief’s desk.
“Robert will meet you there in Casterfall after your competition. Do your best to win so that they will let you join on their guild,” the chief gave Arth a supporting smile.
“Of course, chief. I won’t let my years of training here with you go to waste. I’ve worked hard for this and I’ll make sure I will win,” Arth replied.
Arth has to win the competition. It was his one and only shot to join Robert’s guild. He heard from the chief that the unique members of their guild were strong and talented warriors.
“Just be careful, Arth. Outside of this village is full of corruption and evil. Everything out there is the complete opposite of what’s in this harmonious village,” the chief warned him. “You will encounter strong opponents and enemies on your way. That’s why you shouldn’t be alone on your journey. Join Robert’s guild. They’ll take you in for sure.”
Arth’s eyebrows suddenly furrowed. “What makes you so sure?”
“You have something within you, Arth. And you should discover that by yourself on your journey,” the chief narrowed his eyes towards him.
Arth looked at the chief getting more curious but the chief already pursed his lips, preventing himself to speak more. Arth sighed and just nodded.
“I have to finish packing up,” he said as he stood up. The chief nodded and returned to his work on the desk.
Arth went out of the den and walked towards the two-story house next to the big tent. He stepped inside and went upstairs. His room was a small space. It was now clean and in order because he already packed his things, which made his room a lot messier before. He sat on his soft white bed and it made a creaky sound. He scratched his black hair trying to remember if he forgot something else. He looked around and saw his sword hanging at the back of the door.
Arth stood up and picked his heavy sword. He held the hilt of the sword and pulled it from the scabbard. He glanced at its sharp and strong blade.
“I’m eighteen now, Blackwinter,” he said. “Our journey will finally begin tomorrow.”
He looked at it for a few seconds and then returned it back to its sheath. He placed it beside his bag. He took his journal from the drawer and opened it. At the front page, it was written:
‘My Journey in Becoming a Divine Knight’
At the next page were list of the goals he wanted to achieve. It includes winning the competition in Casterfall, joining Robert’s guild, and so much more.
My first step towards my goals will start tomorrow. Arth thought. He closed the journal and placed it on his bag.
The next morning, even before the sun has risen, Arth was already on the stables and preparing his bag on his black horse. The horse neighed as Arth tapped it on the neck and rubbed its hair.
“Best of luck, Arth. I have high hopes for you,” the chief said as he held Arth’s shoulder.
“Thanks, Chief Gregor,” Arth smiled. Then he saw the chief’s wife coming towards him and gave him a hug.
“Please be careful,” the woman said as she rubbed Arth’s black hair. “Send our regards to our son when you’ll see each other in Casterfall.”
“I will,” Arth felt the warm embrace of the woman again. He was in comfort. She became the mother Arth needed when his parents were gone. And now it was painful for him to leave, but he has to.
He climbed on his horse and held the rope. His blue cloak spread on the horse’s back and he put on the hood to cover his black hair.
The horse began walking and slowly speeding up. He went through the northern entrance of the gate passing between two watch towers of the village. Beyond the road was the Frostwood forest where the villagers harvest wood and other resources. The trees still have green leaves and it was covered lightly by snow. Arth saw villagers he knew who were carrying baskets and wood. When the people saw Arth riding his horse, they waved their hands and smiled.
Arth felt the cold wind breezing to his hair that his hood was taken off because of it. The Casterfall city was in the far north of Frostwood and it will take about one and a half day to get there riding on a horse.
“Let’s go buddy,” he told his horse and they went full speed ahead.
As they traveled north, the wind became colder than before. Arth knew and expected this, now that he already left the village and is going to the depths of the Northrend region. The Frostwood village was located at the end border of Northrend so it has fair temperature. There was coldness and there was warmth which made the village a perfect place to live in.
After how many hours, they reached the snow plains and hills. Arth looked up and realized that the skies were getting darker the farther they go. The sun was almost setting so they had to stop on the big rocks they saw ahead.
Arth let his horse rest. They spent the whole day travelling so he gave his horse some apples to eat. The black horse neighed and then sat beside the big rock. Arth sighed and he could see the white mist coming out with his breath. He sat down and leaned on his horse.
“We’re almost there,” he rubbed the horse’s hair. He wrapped his arms around his legs and put his head on the warm, hairy body of the horse. He slowly closed his eyes and then slept for a few hours.
It was still dark when Arth woke up but he decided to continue riding. When they went up towards the hill, he finally saw the big city ahead. His eyes widened in excitement and the side of his lips rose.
As they went near, he saw the huge stone walls of the city. There was a moat or a body of cold water that surrounded the whole Casterfall city. He glanced at the silver armored knights marching and guarding behind the crenellations on top of the walls. There were also two high towers on both sides of the gatehouse.
“It’s bigger than I ever imagined!” Arth whispered to himself.
Arth went off his horse and dragged its rope as he walked on the wide wooden drawbridge across the cold body of moat. He saw two knights guarding the gatehouse and signaled him to stop. They were both wearing mail armor and had white capes at their back.
“Another warrior for the competition?” the knight asked as he raised one of his brows. He looked at Arth from head to toe, gazing at his blue cloak covering his whole body.
“Yes, sir,” Arth replied politely and bowed a little.
Wait… why am I bowing my head? He’s not a lord or a king. That’s embarrassing! He thought and then straightened his body.
“The registration is on the Standard Knight Academy,” the knight gestured his hand towards the left direction.
“Thank you, sir,”
The knights nodded and then let Arth pass. He walked through the gatehouse with his horse. At the sides of the tunnel were arrow loops and he saw some archers guarding behind those holes. The road was made of stone but was covered with dirt and snow. Arth heard some armors clanking and footsteps marching. Those were probably coming from the walkways above the walls.
When Arth went out of the big tunnel towards the inner gate, his eyes explored the high structures and towers on the city. There were already a lot of people seen even from the entrance. The smell was different from what Arth has been used to from his village. There were a combination of husk and thick smell. It wasn’t as fresh as Frostwood’s air, probably because of the population. He raised his head looking up to the sky and realized that the snow already stopped from falling.
He walked towards the left direction but his eye caught the upper ring at the center of the city. There stood the Keep where the lord of Casterfall was living. The huge structure was elevated and there were huge staircases as a way towards the Keep.
As Arth was walking, people were also watching him. He slowly looked down. He wondered why they were looking at him like he was wearing some kind of weird costume.
Arth arrived on the Standard Knight Academy. It was already filled with young warriors like him and there were some desks in front of the high building. He went near towards one desk where a woman about the age of fifties was writing something on it.
“Excuse me, ma’am, is this the registration for the competition?” Arth asked.
The old woman raised his head and looked at him. One of her brows rose as he surveyed Arth’s body covered with cloak.
Arth suddenly smiled nervously. Seriously, why are they all looking at my cloak? Is there a problem with it? The people here are creepy. He thought.
When the old lady looked at Arth’s face, her eyes widened. “Those blue eyes,” she said as she furrowed her eyebrows. “Where are you from, young man?”
“Frostwood village,” he answered as he tried to touch his eyes wondering what’s wrong with it.
“Oh, I thought you’re from the Ice Crown Citadel,” the lady now chuckled.
“The kingdom capital?” Arth asked.
The lady nodded. “I never saw someone with blue eyes before, it’s probably my lucky day!” she laughed out of the blue.
Arth’s eyebrows were now furrowed. Okay, now I believe she’s a creep. The people here are so weird! he thought.
“What’s your name?” the lady asked him as she took one paper on her desk.
“Can’t you just put only my first name?”
The lady raised her brow, “Why? Where are your parents?”
“They’re dead,” Arth shrugged.
The old woman’s mouth formed an ‘O’. “So who raised you?”
“Chief Gregor Doran and Sarah Doran from Frostwood,”
She nodded and wrote something on the paper. “Okay, your number is… thirteen,” she gave Arth a number tag with a sling to put on his neck.
“The competition will start later at one o’clock in the afternoon. There’s a warriors’ lounge on the third door of this building. You can rest there and get ready for later. We’ll just call all of you about thirty minutes before the time,” the lady explained.
Arth nodded and then left his black horse on the stables at the right side of the building. He went inside the academy and saw many young men like him. The hallway was warmer than he thought since it was filled with people. The place was noisy. He walked towards the third door and there he saw more warriors inside. They were probably his competitors for the competition. There were about twenty beds on the big area and some were sleeping while others were stretching up.
They all looked at Arth when a loud creaking sound was heard as he closed the doors. Arth looked down shyly and slowly walked towards the vacant bed on the far end of the room. He sat down and lied down on the soft bed. He let out a heavy breath before closing his eyes.
He needed to rest a little. He had a long travel and good thing he got here early.
“Attention to all competitors!” a loud voice woke Arth up from his sleep. He slowly sat up on the bed and rubbed his eyes.
“You have thirty minutes to prepare and gather to the eastern entrance of the gatehouse!” the man said and then he closed the doors.
Arth immediately took off his cloak. He was wearing a short-sleeved blue coat that revealed his muscled arms and fair skin. He took a belt from his bag where he will put his sword. He tightened the strings of his black shoes that reached his limbs.
Arth stood up and stretched up his body as he saw the others already walking out of the room. He took his sword and locked the scabbard on his belt at the left side of his waist. His mouth formed an ‘o’ and exhaled heavily.
When he went out of the building, he saw a lot of young warriors walking towards the gate entrance of the city. He looked around hoping that he would find his friend, Robert, but he couldn’t.
A loud cheer thundered around the wide area of the road towards the eastern gatehouse. Arth’s eyes widened as he saw so many crowds of people who came to watch. The knights standing on both sides of the road served as fences so that people won’t cross over.
Arth saw that the warriors are already lining up on the gates facing the dark forest up ahead. He hurried to go to his line number which was thirteen. He glanced at his fellow competitors. Some were tall but most of them are actually at the same height as his. Others were stretching their bodies and jogging in place.
Suddenly, four knights with white cape marched in front of the warriors. Behind the four was an elegant knight wearing a blue cape. Arth saw the knight’s ruby badge placed at the center of his silver chest armor.
A Grand Knight? It’s my first time to see one. That red badge is so cool! Arth thought excitedly.
The knights stopped in front of the competitors lined up and the elegant knight stepped forward. He was a middle-aged man with black hair and brown eyes. He was tall and has a full-blooded body. His eyes were calm as he looked at each of the warriors’ faces.
“I am Tera and I’m one of the Grand Knights of Casterfall. Today is the day your trainings and experiences will be tested,” the grand knight said in a loud voice. “Warriors, prepare yourselves!”
All of the warriors, including Arth, stood at attention while listening to the knight.
“Ahead of this road is the Dark Woods,” Tera pointed at the direction towards the tall and compressed trees. “You have to reach the end of the Dark Woods and climb to the mountain arena ahead.”
Another group of knights came to the warriors and gave one brown sling bag with only one strap to each warrior. Arth looked at what was inside and there he saw an empty jar container.
“Your goal is to hunt and kill as many beasts as possible in the forest!” Tera announced. “When you kill beasts, collect their cores and store it on your jars inside your bags. But let me remind you, encountering beasts in the woods is your challenge, but encountering your fellow competitors is your battle!”
“If you reach the mountain arena, the cores that you collected will be evaluated. The higher the class of the beast that you kill, the greater will be its weight on your result! You have until sunset to reach the arena,” Tera turned around.
“Oh and one last thing, using magic is allowed. Get ready!”
Arth let out a heavy breath and shook himself up to prepare. “I got this,” he whispered. Hunting beasts was not that hard for him because he was well-trained by the chief.
The knights including Tera moved to the side of the path to give way for the warriors. He raised his hand as signal.