Jerod sighed and lay back on the soft grass by the lake. Once again he had been chased away from the market place by those rough kids from Humberton Keep, beaten up and had the grocery money taken from his purse. What was he supposed to tell his mother this time? She never listened to him, always telling him to stand on his own two feet. "You are better than those ruffians, Jerod!", she would say. "You don't want people walking all over you for the rest of your life, do you?" "Yes, mother. No mother.", he replied sullenly. Frustrated, Jerod kicked out at a branch that lay near his foot. How was he supposed to stand up against five or more peasents who were almost twice his size? He had once taken his mother's so-called 'good advice' and received two black eyes and a fractured arm for his troubles. He had quickly come to the decision that he was not going to stand toe to toe with people twice his size and trade blows. It would be a futile endeavour. Sighing deeply again, he looked around at his surroundings and smiled to himself. Forest Sauvage was the only place he felt any form of safety. He knew that the Humberton children were always too scared to follow him into the forest. Bedtime tales of giants and soldiers from distant lands had obviously had an effect on these gormless peasents and none of them would dare give chase to Jerod after he had run past the massive Sauvage gates. Of course, Jerod knew that the tales of giants and other wicked beasties were true; he had just sneaked past ten Forest Giants with no trouble at all. These creatures were generally too slow and ponderous to notice a young man sneaking from shadow to shadow beneath the massive trees. However, if they did happen to see him, Jerod had no illusions of what they would do to him. A year or so back Jerod had been passing through the shadows on his way to the lake when he heard a loud commotion coming from a dense clump of trees. He crept closer to see what was going on and was alarmed to see a lone norseman engaged in battle with a group of giants. The battle was short lived and after only a few seconds the norseman was ripped asunder and the trees were covered in gore. This sight was too much for Jerod and he raced back to the relative safety of Castle Sauvage as fast as his legs could carry him. It was a few months before he was able to sleep soundly again. As he grew older he became more and more adept at hiding in the shadows and wandering unseen through the forest. He had once sat in the branches of a large and ancient oak tree, watching a huge Troll raiding party storm past. He was amazed at their strength and speed. The large axes that the trolls of the north carried were larger than him and he pitied any poor bastard that came into conflict with this raiding party. Even more amazing was their stench. When they were at their closest to his position he felt sure that the smell would overpower him and he would fall out of the tree, right into their hands. One time, after spending an entire day asleep in the very same oak tree, he was woken by a strange tinkling noise, as if someone was ringing a crystal bell. Instantly awake and fully alert he peered through the branches to try and find the source of the noise. Several metres below him was...was...what Jerod could only describe as an angel. He had never seen any creature as beautiful as the female elf that was standing underneath him, completely oblivious to his presence. He stared at her for what seemed like an eternity, drinking in her beauty as if it were the most delicious nectar that money could buy. Her hair was a light shade of purple which almost glowed in the setting sun and her skin seemed to be made of alabaster, yet it was soft at the same time. Jerod was smitten in an instant. Compared to this angelic visage the women in his village seemed about as attractive as the trolls he had seen the previous year. He had made up his mind to go down and talk to this elf maiden until, by chance, he saw her eyes; cold, hard rubies set in marble. Jerod was by no means the most savvy man in all of Albion but he knew a cold blooded killer when he saw one. For all her beauty and apparent charm, this elf would strike him dead as soon as she saw him. With his heart crushed Jerod climbed higher up the tree, careful not to make any noise, and waited until the elf had left. As Jerod stretched out on the lakeside he mused to himself that Forest Sauvage probably wasn't the safest place to be...but at least he didn't have to worry about those commoners stealing his family's grocery money. A cool breeze swept across the lake, making small ripples. Jerod felt himself nodding off to sleep when a piercing scream jolted him out of his reverie. In a flash, Jerod had concealed himself in the shadows of the surrounding trees and was straining to locate the origin of the noise. It wasn't long before he could hear sounds of clashing steel and blood curdling roars. His sense of curiosity overode his normally prevalent sense of caution and he followed the noises to their source. He was not prepared for the sight that awaited him as he peered through the branches and he hadn't the slightest notion of what fate had in store for him.