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Short Story
By Alex H.
age: 18
California

Andrew’s hand moved across the page as he wrote. He sat on a flat rock that was surrounded by brush. His hand stopped momentarily as he pondered what to write. He looked around, searching for inspiration in the surrounding clearing. After several minutes, he resigned and decided to return home.

He gathered his belongings and started walking. The quickest way home was the game trail, which twisted and turned and often doubled back on itself. Andrew walked through the brush, occasionally having to work his way through a rough patch where the trail had grown worn and faded and plants grew onto it, hiding it from view.

It was several hours later when Andrew arrived within sight of his home. His uncle wouldn’t be very happy with him. He had been gone for a long time and he was late coming home again. As Andrew walked towards the house, someone shouted at him.

“Hey, Andrew, where were you this time? Trying to skip out on chores again, eh!”

Andrew spun around just in time to see Peter running towards him. His cousin barreled into him and they both fell onto the itchy grass that covered the ground. They rolled over several times as they wrestled on the ground. They came to a stop with Peter sitting on top of Andrew, pinning him to the ground. Peter laughed as Andrew struggled to free himself, but to no avail. Finally, he managed to throw his cousin off of him and get up. The two of them were covered with dirt and grass. Andrew walked over to where he had dropped his stuff and bent over to pick it up.

“So, where were you? I was worried that I’d have to go and find you. Didn’t want Garrow to think that you were slacking. You know how he feels about you and your writing hobby. He’ll be pissed if he finds out that you skipped out on chores again.” Peter bent over to help Andrew gather his things. He looked at Andrew, trying to elicit a response.

“I know. I just…I needed to be alone for a while.”

Andrew looked at Peter with a look of pain and sadness. It was only there for a moment before he returned to his normal self, but Peter had noticed it.

“I know. I told Garrow that you were out doing errands for me. He didn’t question it. But you’re gonna owe me for this.” Peter smiled, bringing things back to normal.

Peter and Andrew had been close for as long as either could remember. They weren’t brothers, but the bond between them was just as strong. Andrew’s parents had died a long time ago. They had been murdered by bandits. His uncle Garrow had taken him in. Garrow was a stern but kind old widower.

Andrew picked up the last of his things and the pair went inside. Andrew went to his room and put his stuff on his desk and sat down. It had been almost seventeen years since Garrow had taken him in. In a little under a year he could leave this place and go somewhere else. He loved his uncle and his cousin and he would miss them deeply. But he had to leave. He was an outcast who didn’t belong here.

He had pondered how to go about leaving, for it would require a sum of money that he did not have and he had yet to figure out how to go about the task. He also had no idea where he would go.

Knock! Knock! The knock at the door shook Andrew from his thoughts. Who could be all the way out here at this time? It was a two hour walk to the nearest house and darkness was fast approaching. Andrew opened his door to see Garrow talking with someone that he had never seen before.

The stranger was tall and well built. His dark black hair was like a raven’s and it was tied in a ponytail. He carried a traveling pack on his back and at his hip was a long, ornate sheath that encased the blade of a sword. The sheath had the word Sidia inscribed vertically in ornate, golden runes. The man gave off a sense of authority, like an important leader. The atmosphere about him was calm and yet his eyes seemed to travel around, alert, taking in every detail of there surroundings. Garrow finished talking to the man and he came over to Andrew.

“The man claims that he is a knight in need of lodging. He has asked if he can spend the night and he is willing to compensate us for our trouble. I told him that he could stay in your room, so I need you to set up a place for him to sleep.”

Andrew nodded his assent and left to get some straw for a mattress and some extra blankets to use as sheets. He returned to his room to find the man reading one of his books.

“What are you doing?!” Andrew dropped the stuff that he was carrying and grabbed the book. “You should ask before taking things that don’t belong to you!”

He returned the book to its proper place before returning to pick up the bedding. He set the blankets on top of the make-shift mattress and walked over to his bed. He sat down, staring venomously at the stranger. The man, however, remained completely calm, ignoring him. Andrew finally grew bored and stopped.

“You write well for one of your age. I’m curious, who taught you?” The man gazed at Andrew, focusing on him as intently as he had ignored him only moments ago.

“No one taught me. I just learned on my own.”

“That’s quite an accomplishment. I’m impressed. I needed several years of hard tutelage before I came even remotely close to your level.”

“Yeah, well, it’s my only accomplishment. I’m no good at anything else,” Andrew said, gazing at the runes on the man’s sheath. The man followed his gaze.

“That’s Sidia, the holy sword of the North. A good number of people fear it and an equal number seek to possess it. I received it as a gift from my friend, who died shortly after forging it. You say that you’re not good at anything. I can teach you. I’ve been looking for an apprentice. You have great potential, you just don’t realize it. You’d make a fine knight once you were properly trained. I leave in the morning. I offer you a chance to travel with me and become a knight. A free knight. I expect your answer before I leave.” The man rolled over and went to sleep.

Andrew laid back and mulled it over. He would learn to be a knight and it would solve the issue of leaving. And best of all, he could search for the bandits that killed his parents. If only for that, he would go. However, before he left, he resolved to find a way to tell his uncle and his cousin. He rolled over and closed his eyes. His answer would be ''Yes!''
 

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