Maleus Part I - The forest


Can't get enough of FH
Dec 22, 2003
I wrote the first part whilst I was bored one night, it's my first ever story so go easy on me. :D

I hope for those at work, it at least helps the day go past that little faster for a few minutes :p

Maleus - The Forest

It’s a brisk autumn morning, only my footsteps break the gentle layer of morning mist covering the short grass in my forest.

My forest? You ask?

Yes it’s mine, given to me by the Lord Mayor of Tir Na Nog. Rumour has it for some great deed I did him, in fact it was to keep me occupied, out of town and away from his people. A punishment perhaps, but one I’d chose myself. In my forest there are no judging eyes or accusing stares, nobody whispers behind my back or tries to stick a dagger in it.

Not in my forest.

I’m a lumberjack these days, hardly a glorious career but one that puts food in my gut and wood on my fire. Everyday I count my blessings, only a great man’s mercy saved my life, something I’d never shown to my own enemies. Actually something I’d never shown to any man, woman, child or beast.

A rumble from my belly reminds me those days are past and I need more firewood before I can start cooking breakfast. I shake off the thoughts of the past and continue scouting my forest for a suitable tree.

I spot a good tree, one that’s been uprooted already. The bark looks dry, so the wood will split easily to my little woodsman’s axe. Excellent, this will only take a moment.

“Don’t even kill trees these days eh?” comes a voice from behind me. It’s tone chills me to the bone and I recognise it at once – a reaver. I turn to meet this intruder, trying to keep my face impartial.
“Good morrow to you sir! are you lost to be so far inside this forest?”
“Not lost, no. In fact I just found what I was looking for” he replies, a sharp nod to his left and I sense something I haven’t felt in many years. What was it I use to do? Oh yes, I duck.

*thunk* an arrow lands in a tree behind me. It’s only then I notice he’s not alone, damn either I’m getting old or his companion can move silently.

“Still fast for an old bastard.” Mutters the reaver. “Good we might get some sport out of you first.”
“What am I to you?” I ask, I should stay calm but the tone of his voice grates me.
He stares at me as no man ever has; cold covers me as if his eyes were draining me of any warmth. “You created me.” He whispers as he reaches up to his neck and slowly unbuttons his black shirt, revealing a horrific scar cared deep into his chest, even now it still seeps. Years after I inflicted it.

My grip on my axe loosens and it falls idly to the ground, shattering the mist like a pane of glass.
“Pick it up!” He screams, searing anger warming his icy voice.
“A moment ago your companion was going to kill me from a distance, now you expect me to fight you?” I reply, keeping my eyes locked on his.
“I expect you to give me the pleasure of killing you in a fair contest.” He replies. “One you never gave my family six years ago when you left me amongst their corpses and gave me this scar marking your kills!”
“I paid for my crimes, I was pardoned!” I yell. Angry that this bastard should come into my sanctuary and threaten me!
“Not by me old man, no Lord Mayor can forgive you for what you did to my family” he mutters. I can feel he’s having trouble containing his anger. Leather creaking as his hands angrily twists the reigns of his horse around.
“So under the reaver outfit you wear white I guess?” I ask. It seems to startle him.
“No under this reaver uniform I wear the scar that you inflicted on me over the heart you broke and the soul you desecrated the night you killed my world.” The chill is back in his voice once more, I can feel it shivering down my back.

Or perhaps it’s guilt I feel.

A thousand images come to mind. Night after night riding from town to town with my friends. We took whatever we wanted, gold, women, lives. It didn’t matter to us as long as we heard their screams and each night ended with fresh blood sheathed in our scabbards. We never maimed or injured although we’d sometimes play with the last victim of the last household. As leader I’d personally sign them before they’d be bled and left to die tied to a stake.

Some unholy force must have saved this young man, that wound on his chest should have ended him after a few minutes, never mind years. Perhaps the devil himself was in a rush to meet me, fearful that if he didn’t do so soon. I’d escape his grip forever.

I see many faces, twisted in mortal agony. Their screams are so real, mercy they ask, spare my child, please spare my children. They’ve never done any harm. Offering themselves, not realising I’d kill them and their children regardless of their pitiful begging. Only now they’d begged I’d let their children watch them die first.

“Do it” I whisper. Guilt buckling my resolve as I fall to my knees. “End it”.
“Why should I show you mercy that you never showed me?” Asks the reaver.

I raise my head and face him defiantly. “You came here to kill me. I could beg and plead for my life but we both know it’d be in vain. I could try and persuade you that living for me is a daily nightmare, but you know it’s better than death. I could tell you of the waking dreams I have of the mayhem and chaos I’ve left behind me but I doubt you’d feel pity and to be honest its pity I have no need for.”

“I’m a murderer, last of the Blackheart’s. My head still carries a hefty reward in many towns and no doubt there’s some private buyer out there that would want my body for some ritual. Regardless I don’t care, because young man when I have those nightmares, see those faces I feel guilt and remorse. But I also wish I was still doing it.” I roar, anger growling in my belly.

“I might have stopped killing, but that doesn’t make me any less of a killer. One day perhaps a young family will get lost in my forest, what I’d do I don’t know. That’s why I was pardoned. Not for forgiveness but because the Lord Mayor wanted me kept away from his people and it was the only way he could do it.”

“Now you have a choice young man. Take vengeance for the crimes I committed against you and countless others, or leave my forest and me to my blood lusting day dreams. But either way stop wasting my time!” I scream at him, my anger boiling over and my hand tightly gripping the axe that I dropped earlier. I’ll give him a moment, and then one of us will strike.

Surprise breaks over the young mans face, he’d not been expecting that. I see him fight with his emotions. After all these years he has me on my knees, his whole existence for six years has lead to this moment.
He sighs, heaves his sword from scabbard and calmly states, “So be it.”

I watch the flash of steel break the mid morning sunrise into eternal night.

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