This is part of Luke Callindor’s debut in Legends of Windemere: Beginning of a Hero available on Amazon Kindle for 99 cents.
Visindor Forest remains at peace as it has every morning for centuries. Birds sing and shimmering pixies play tag in the warm sunlight. Glistening droplets of dew cover the leaves and grass as animals venture from their homes. A low grunt echoes throughout the wilderness, causing all other sounds to stop for a few seconds. The grunt returns minutes later, but it is too far away to scare the timid forest creatures. It is a landscape of serenity that painters strive to capture.
No place is more peaceful than where a tumbling brook cascades into a deep lake. It is an isolated area where slender naiads bathe and a herd of red-hide deer drink. The only sound that does not fit with the rest of the morning stirrings comes from the lakeshore. This constant, steady grinding noise catches the attention of several pixies, who cautiously approach the lone swordsman. They soon realize they have nothing to fear as the youth smells like the forest and emits an aura of calm. Instinctually, the pixies know he is trained in the ways of the wild and would never hurt them. It is the adult noble shepherd curled by the smoking remains of a fire that makes the tiny creatures nervous. The pixies tiptoe through the air, trying to get a closer look at the youth without disturbing the dog. They are within a few feet of the swordsman when the dog stirs and barks, shattering the morning peace.
“You sleep through the call of a dread boar, but sneaking pixies wake you?” the young warrior asks, patting the beast on the rump. In response, the stubborn dog barks louder at the pixies. “Calm down, Stiletto. They don’t mean any harm. Grandpa said pixies never attack unless their soul tree is threatened. So be careful where you relieve yourself.”
The young warrior’s face and body show few signs of battle or harsh traveling. The pieces of leather armor on his forearms and torso are as smooth and pristine as the day they were crafted. The youth’s dirty face is handsome with none of the scars or stress lines one would expect to find on a wandering warrior. Even his dark blond hair is well groomed, which is incredibly rare among adventurers. Most people would think he was new to the road, but his boots tell a different tale. Once high-grade leather with silver embroidery, they are beaten shadows of their former glory. Dried mud covers much of the leather and only flecks of silver remain of what must have been an intricate pattern. To say these boots were well-used would be an understatement.
Getting tired of the noise, the young man puts down his twin sabers and tosses a piece of dried meat to the dog. A blue pixie lands on one of the youth’s pointy ears and walks around his cheek to inspect his face. It gently wipes at a smudge of dirt on his nose. With a giggle, the tiny creature returns to its friends, who are hiding behind the wide leaf of an oak. They rejoin the larger group of pixies that are playing a game of tag through the trees.
“Now, this is the freedom we were meant to have,” the young warrior happily declares. “Beats being stuck home and not seeing anything beyond Haven’s borders. Right, Stiletto?”
The swordsman goes back to sharpening his blades, taking some time to buff the smooth ruby embedded in the pommel of each weapon. Tucking the rag into his belt, the youth makes a final inspection of the beautiful blades. He stops abruptly and sheathes the sabers with a muttered curse.
“Who the hell am I kidding? This isn’t what I want at all!” he explodes in sudden frustration. “We left home six months ago and I haven’t done anything heroic yet. All of my ancestors were great heroes of Windemere, so why should I be any different? The bards make adventuring seem so glamorous and easy, but there is so much competition. All these mercenaries and experienced heroes keep beating me to the big jobs. They get to fight demons, Weapon Dragons, and trolls while I’m left with scraps. All I want is to go down in history as a great hero who saved some part of Windemere. Not some pathetic slayer of nuisances like skeletons and rabid goblins. Is it so wrong to want to be as great as your ancestors?”
The dog rolls its eyes as if it has heard this rant many times before.
“Don’t start! All I’ve done so far is stop goblin raids and minor undead from destroying nearby farms. Look at me! I haven’t even been touched, so people don’t believe I’ve even been in a fight. I know I’m helping people, but I need something bigger. The dangers around here are far too easy to defeat,” the half-elf complains, pacing between two maple trees. “Look, Stiletto, we both know I’m highly skilled and that nothing frightens me. At least, nothing I’ve seen so far. Still, I didn’t run when I faced my first zombie or my first orc, which has to count for something. When do I get to prove to all of Windemere that I have what it takes to be a great hero?” He stops pacing and stares at the morning sky. “I’m fed up doing small jobs. Today, I’m going to find an actual adventure and start on my path to being a hero. Are you with me, Stiletto?”
The young man bends down to pat the dog on the head while Stiletto chews on the piece of dried meat. “Lots of help you are. The least you can do is stop eating while I talk. It was a good rant too.”
The snap of a twig catches the young man’s attention and he whirls around with both sabers drawn.