(I couldn’t think of anything funny to write here - sorry)
The morning found them cold, uncomfortable, and damp. Dew had gathered on the foliage they were sheltering under, and was dripping slowly down, leaving dark circles of wet which slowly increased in size. The unpleasantness of this eventually caused them to stir, and stiffly crawl out of their hiding place. The Knight looked up at the sky through the trees, and saw it was a dark and unwelcoming sight. He shivered – but a shiver not only of coldness.
‘Let’s not risk the road today – we’ll keep amongst the foliage which will give us cover should anyone appear’ The Knight had a bad feeling already about the day ahead.
They didn’t bother with breakfast; instead they would rely on the forest to provide them with food. This turned out to be a mistake, as they discovered they were in a pine forest, and pine cones just aren’t edible.
Keeping the road about 100 yards to their right, the Knight and the Writer walked through the trees. They were half crouching, half stooping as they walked in an attempt to keep themselves concealed by the undergrowth as much as possible. From their position, they could see the road directly opposite, but couldn’t see up the road ahead of them as the trees merged into a solid wall of wood as their view altered.
Suddenly, they heard the sound of someone running down the road in their direction, and close behind, harsh voices shouting. Strangely, they also heard a frightened clucking noise. A few seconds later, a skinny man in tattered and muddy rags came into view. He was looking behind him every few steps with a terrified look on his face, and was holding a chicken under one arm. The chicken’s expression was not that different to the man’s, as its eyes bulged in its head as it squawked and clucked in terror.
The man was breathing hard, and was stumbling as he ran. Then, as he looked back again he lost his footing and went sprawling flat in the middle of the road. As he fell, he loosened his grip on the chicken which clucked loudly as it flapped its wings in an attempt to fly to freedom. Sadly for the chicken, its feathers had been clipped so it did that fly-straight-up-and-then-straight-back-down-again type of flight that only chickens can do, and landed about four feet from the man.
There was a harsh laugh, and then the man’s pursuers came into view.
One of them was huge – six foot tall at least, and about three feet wide, from where the Knight was crouched, looking on. The other was shorter, with long arms and a slightly bent back. They were dressed all in black, apart from their boots and their belts which were both brown, heavy looking, and studded. They both carried short handled axes, and had swords hanging down at their sides. Their faces were round, with squat noses, and dark menacing eyes. They had wild, tangled hair and both of them had beards. The smaller of the two let out a cruel laugh, and as he did so his set of rotted and missing teeth were shown.
Obviously his missing teeth were shown by their absence – he wasn’t carrying them around.
The larger of the two was standing over the still prone man, as he lay in the road. ‘So! Thought you could escape did you?!’ he said, looking down at the terrified man. ‘L-l-leave me alone! Let me go!’ cried the man, raising an arm as if to fend off a blow.
‘Did you hear that, Murlock?’ said the larger man speaking to the smaller, ‘he wants to be let go!’
Murlock laughed callously, ‘We can’t have that, can we Gnagwort?’
Gnagwort curled his top lip as he sneered at the man lying in the road. ‘Let you go? You ‘ain’t going nowhere mate! Now get up!’ with that, he lashed out at the man with his boot, catching him a vicious kick in the stomach.
The man cried out in pain, as Gnagwort bent down and pulled him up with one arm by his collar.
When the Knight saw the vicious attack on the man, he prepared himself to rush out to help. The Writer, sensing what the Knight was going to do, put an arm across his chest and whispered ‘Don’t! You’ll only get captured!’
The Knight wasn’t prepared to listen until his hand felt for his sword, and found nothing. He looked down at the empty space by his side. The writer looked too and said ‘If you had your sword, it would be different – but you don’t, so you can’t go rushing into battle or this adventure will be over before you can say “Oh no I’ve forgotten my sword and am now being beaten to a pulp by several large individuals who appear to dislike me”’.
The Knight looked at the Writer and said in an angry whisper ‘what would you have me do then? Sit here and watch innocent people be terrorised?’
‘No, whispered the Writer, ‘but in the absence of brawn, you must use your brain. They must have a camp nearby – let’s investigate it under the cover of nightfall, where’s there less chance of being discovered. We might even be able to free their prisoners without them knowing.’
‘But what if there aren’t any prisoners left alive to free?’ the Knight said, with that grim look on his face.
The writer didn’t have an answer.
Meanwhile, the terrified man was on his feet, wincing under the vice like grip of his assailant.
‘Don’t forget his pet’ Said Gnagwort to Murlock.
A savage smile appeared on Murlock’s face as he went and grabbed the chicken, which had been so traumatised that it hadn’t bothered to run away. The chicken clucked in terror as the hairy palm of Murlock closed round its neck.
‘Don’t hurt him, please!’ begged the man.
‘Shaddup!’ snarled Gnagwort, and punched him in the face.
The chicken flapped its wings and squawked in an attempt to get away. ‘That goes for you too’ sneered Murlock, before poking the chicken in the eye.
With both captives subdued, the two men turned and headed back in the direction they had come from.
The Knight and the Writer waited a while before following. Although out of sight, the harsh laughter of Gnagwort and Murlock could still be heard, and it was this that they followed, still keeping within the cover of the trees and the foliage. As they walked, they noticed that the trees became packed closer together, so much so that they began to encroach on the road. Soon the road became a dirt track, and this in turn became a single trail weaving between the trees. The Knight and the Writer realised that they were now in the forest of the Evil ones. The voices they were following now echoed throughout out the trees, and the light coming through the canopy had been reduced to a faint haze, as the trees sought to shut out all light with their up thrust branches.
The Knight and the Writer carried onwards slowly, not daring to breathe too loudly. For the past few moments they had been aware of more harsh voices in the distance. It was clear that they were approaching the main camp of the Evil Ones. Suddenly, in the distance they saw a fence made out of tree trunks running across their path. They followed its length with their eyes until it bent out of view some distance to their left. They crept slowly forward until they were about 300 yards from the fence. The voices were much clearer now, and they heard sarcastic cheering and laughter coming from beyond the fence somewhere to their right.
‘So! Gnagwort! Caught you’re escaped prisoner at last! That’ll teach you for falling asleep on watch! Har har har!’
‘You watch your tongue Rinkstad – or I’ll rip it out!’
Another voice was heard, ‘Leave your squabbling for another time – how should we punish the prisoner?’
‘Drag him behind two horses!’ cried a voice, followed by a large cheer.
‘No, have him drag two horses!!’ cried another; an even louder cheer.
‘Put him down the mine and put his pet in the pot!’
Then Gnagwort’s voice was heard again, ‘I know – we’ll put his pet down the mine, and put him in the pot!’
This was obviously a most popular suggestion, as roars of laughter erupted from within the camp.
The Knight turned to the Writer and said ‘I’ve got to have a closer look at that camp – come on’
With that, they crawled through the undergrowth towards the fence.
About three hours later they finally reached the fence. Well, it’s not easy crawling through a forest – especially in a suit of armour. The knight found a gap between two pieces of fence that was just big enough to look through, and pressed his face up against the fence to get a better look.
The first thing he saw was a huge hairy backside squatting over a hole in the ground. He had inadvertently found a hole in the fence right next to the communal toilet area, and it was not a pretty sight. Eventually, after much straining and huffing and puffing the backside finished, and it was covered over and left the area. Even though his eyes were stinging from the smell, the Knight kept looking, trying to memorise all that he saw.
It was basically a huge clearing, littered with the stumps of trees that were cut to make the fence that enclosed it. Several fires were lit and large groups of men stood round these, laughing and swearing, and sometimes fighting amongst themselves. All the men had the same unpleasant appearance as Gnagwort and Murlock, but they came in a variety of shapes and sizes, and carried a variety of weapons. Crude wooden structures had been made in which, the Knight presumed, these men slept. As he watched them, he felt more and more revolted by them – not by their appearance necessarily, but by the way they behaved. They had absolutely no manners, and no idea of comradeship. On several occasions, one of the Evil ones would push another straight into the fire they were standing round and then watch in laughter as he would frantically run around trying to put out his burning hair or beard (or both). The Knight watched two others torturing innocent animals; one was giving a pig Chinese burns, while the other nonchalantly punched a sheep in the face over and over.
What the night couldn’t see was any evidence of prisoners. He knew they had to be there, somewhere, but he couldn’t see where they were being held.
He had seen enough. Silently, he returned to where the Writer was waiting, and said to him, ‘We’ve got to get in there tonight. I know there are prisoners here – but if we don’t free them son, they might not be here for much longer, if you know what I mean’
The Writer didn’t know what he meant. ‘Are they going to move them or something?’ he asked innocently.
‘No, they’re going to kill them.’ The Knight said through gritted teeth. ‘Oh, that’s what you meant’ said the Writer as understanding wandered into his brain.
The Knight waited until nightfall. The camp was very noisy that night, and they were having some kind of celebration. There was lots of shouting and singing, and laughing going on long into the night. Eventually the celebrations died away, and the noise of laughter was gradually replaced by the sound of many people snoring. One of these people was the Writer, who was “Just resting my eyes” for the past two hours. The Knight waited another
hour or so (he didn’t know exactly how long he waited because he didn’t have a watch – see page 6), before waking the Writer by slapping him in the face, and creeping along the fence perimeter until they came to the main entrance to the gate.
The main entrance was just a normal every day type of wooden gate, tied to the man part of the fence with string. There was a guard – but he was snoring loudly with a goblet dropped in his lap. The Knight leant close to the guard – and then recoiled quickly as the smell of alcohol from the guard’s breath invaded his nostrils. The Knight motioned to the writer to follow him, and they slipped silently into camp.
It was almost dawn, and the pale sun was just enough light for them to see. The camp was vast, and the Knight estimated that there was enough room for a thousand men at least. There were snoring evil ones all around, so they picked their way carefully between them. The Knight instructed the Writer to go and investigate some buildings over to the left he did this silently to avoid being heard - like you see people do in the movies. He pointed two fingers at his own eyes, then pointed to the Writer and then pointed to the buildings. The Writer confused by these strange hand movements said ‘What?’
The Knight clamped his hand over the Writer’s mouth and looked around to see if he had been heard – it appeared that they had got away with it. The Knight leaned in to his ear and hissed ‘go and check out those buildings.’
The Writer whispered ‘Righty-ho’ through the Knights hand, which came out as ‘hmmpty –hmm’, and went over to the buildings. The Knight watched him go, and headed over to his right to investigate that way.
As the Writer approached the first building, he noticed a large man asleep in a chair outside the door. His head was bowed, so that his face was hidden from view – which made the Writer quite glad, as they were an ugly bunch. His feet were up on another chair, and the writer realised that he was going to have to step over the man to get to the door of the building. He took a deep breath, farted quietly and stepped forward.
The Knight, meanwhile, had opened the door of the closest building. He immediately realised it was a sort of dormitory, as rows of men lay sleeping on the wooden boards. The smell in the room was unbearable – a mixture of dirt, sweat, blood, and beer. The Knight stepped backwards out of the room, and closed the door behind him. He proceeded to move on to the next building, where he opened the door, recognised the smell, and then closed it again. Soon, he discovered that he didn’t even have to open the doors to know whether it was safe to investigate – all he had to do was get close enough, and sniff.
Way over the other side of the camp, the Writer was approaching the sleeping man. He was taking his time, mainly being careful not to make too much noise, but also because he was clenching really hard in order to prevent himself from messing himself in sheer terror. Step by step he approached the man.The man stank of drink, and of general non-washing. As the Writer got up really close, he noticed there were various creatures crawling through his hair and beard, and a shiver of revulsion travelled up his spine. He very nearly lost it there and then, and it took all his effort not to turn tail and run screaming out of the camp. Trying to compose himself, he gingerly lifted his left leg up and over the sleeping man’s legs. For a moment, he wobbled with one leg in the air, like a flamingo after too many cocktails. He fought with his centre of gravity which at one point seemed to be just behind his ear, before he managed put it down silently on the other side. There he was, stood there astride the man like some sort of hideous lap dancer in the worst type of strip club imaginable. He quickly shook his head to get rid off the image, and lifted his right leg up to bring it over. His breath was coming in short bursts, and sweat trickled down the side of his face. As he brought his other leg up and over, he adjusted the position of his left foot on the floor so as not to overbalance. His leg was exactly at the mid-way point when suddenly the man looked up, grabbed the Writers leg and said in a deep, menacing voice, ‘Hello my lovely!’