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Sitting with his back pressed hard against the trunk, Tobias cowered, his head in his hands, as the battle between the Section Guards and the Outlanders raged wildly below. The high pitched whine of steel against steel and Light cannons screaming overhead made him want to run and not stop until he was miles clear of this godforsaken place but he felt too scared to move. This war had been going on for at least three months now and had devoured almost all of his countrymen.

He levered himself up slightly with his feet delicately balanced on the periphery of the branch above to get a better look at the carnage going on below.

Sweat dripped from his thick black hair into his eyes as he peered through the crisp brown leaves, he wiped them clear. The midday sun blazed on, causing a blinding glare on the canopy which he could barely see through. However the noise of battle and smell of dead bodies were more than enough to make him recoil to the safety of the massive branch. Removing his broad sword he plunged it into the thick brown bark. Treacle like sap oozed slowly out stopping just shy of the edge, he removed his gloves to mop it up and put them into the side compartment of his satchel. Opening the satchels food compartment he stared into its dark void. It was empty. He hadn’t eaten for around three days now; he leaned against the sword as exhaustion took him into a deep slumber.

A strange rustling forced Tobias awake. The moonlight made strange silhouettes as he struggled to focus on where the noise was coming from. Standing on the branch looking out into the darkness, he listened for the sound but met only silence. Knowing he would surely have to stand before the Elders with the possibility of death for deserting the battle, he slid down the tree as swiftly as a primate and landed effortlessly on the Ner grass. Trying to find his bearings in the pitch darkness, he heard rustling again, this time louder. Weaving in and out of the trees trying to pinpoint the noise he saw flickers of light. He slowly fumbled his way towards the light, careful to stay as silent as possible.

Getting closer, he realised it was a small fire. Fear struck him hard and fast as he peered through the clearing to see two Outlanders throwing a corpse onto the fire. Edging closer and squinting hard to see who or what it was, the tales he had heard as a child from lord Marchment came flooding back to him. He had been told of the Outlanders’ strange rituals and practices and how they ceremoniously burn all of their fallen warriors to give them safe passage for their next life in the Kingdom of Versta.

Jingling filled the silent air; Tobias quickly glanced down to see his leg tangled in a long thin piece of wire. Quickly tracing the wire he could see it veered up into the trees where attached to the end, he reckoned must be a small bell. Instinctively he drew his sword and placed his back against one of the tall trees. Standing in the darkness he thought about running but knew the Outlanders would track him down within minutes. He stood his ground scanning for the slightest movement to lock on to.

A spear jammed, inches from his head deep into a tree. Tobias rapidly turned only to be met with the electric blue eyes and bright white teeth of an Outlander. It stood so close he felt its icy breath on the tip of his nose. His bones rattled as his sword bounced like rubber off the Shattle skull shield of the Outlander. Tobias frantically swung his sword again manically chopping nothing but the air as the Outlander easily dodged every swing.




Tobias’s mouth filled with the metallic taste of blood as it flowed like a burst tap from his nose. Fumbling on the ground for his sword he could see the soles of the Outlanders’ leather boots. Grabbing the sword and stabbing it so violently into the air his ears vibrated with the high pitch wine scream as the Outlander landed face first on top of him. Wriggling free from its massive bulk Tobias checked it was dead by kicking it in the stomach.




Tobias screamed as an axe skimmed past his right arm its ultra fine blade slashing him just above the elbow. A succession of blows from the shattle skull rained down on his face .Hitting the ground and curling up Tobias waited for the final blow to come, a few minutes passed. Nothing. Tobias spun round to see that he was completely alone. Still dazed he set off through the maze of trees to find what was left of his kinsmen.

Spending the best part of two days climbing to the highest point he could find, Hanfax hill, he looked out over the whole of Bunberg while struggling to keep his eyes open. Seeing the Harden River shining like a newly born star gave him the determination to carry on as it had been too long since he last felt its freshness on his skin. He would find his people and tell them that although he was in the wrong to flee the battle he single handily fought with two Outlanders and lived to tell the tale.

An Empire eagle glided silently through the air and dived bombed the Harden River reappearing with a massive fish in its beak. Looking west, watching the path of the eagle Tobias thought he could just about make out the trailing edge of the mobile camp of the Section Guards. He wasted no time and manoeuvred his way down Hanfax hill.

Travelling for three days straight through bog land and forest; ravaged by hunger with only four hours sleep Tobias reasoned he was only a few hours behind his kinsmen, The dark grey embers of the fire they had set were still warm to the touch.

Setting up camp for the night Tobias trapped, skinned and ate a wild Hare, each mouthful landed in the pit of his empty stomach. He picked the excess meat out of his teeth with a small bone while he stared into the fire. Through the dancing flames he saw a shadow weave in and out of the trees. Taking no chances he quickly leaned back and pulled his sword from its sheath. As he turned back round he caught a blow to the right hand side of his jaw which started to burn intensely. Rubbing his face to ease the pain he could see the Outlander waving a fiery log, like a deranged insect. Stumbling to his feet he ran straight through the fire, sword thrust straight out in front of him. The Outlander made a yelping sound like a small animal.

Tobias looked down at the injured Outlander, its eyes were fading out of existence. He lifted his sword high above his head to finish the Outlander. Tobias’s sword clunked to the ground as he stood staring in disbelief. What had he done? He was a monster. The Outlander was clearly pregnant.


Liam Campbell


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