He dismounted his horse, hid booted feet touching the ground, damp with the rainfall of the previous night. Tall, looming figures of trees fell upon him as he looked around the clearing that he had found himself in, patting his horse’s nose absentmindedly. He was wearing his light chainmail, not fully dressed for battle but prepared for conflict nonetheless. The birds chirped, their noises forcing the way through the fog that had engulfed the small gulley where he was now standing. Although the only sounds were ones of nature, the armored man placed his hand on the hilt of his short sword, eyes darting around the clearing, waiting for something to emerge out of the mist. Nothing came. The armored man muttered a few low words to his horse, to which he got a whinny in response, the horse stamping their right hoof on the ground, and nudging his arm, waiting for another pat. The armored man pushed the head of his horse away, taking off a brown leather sack that he had been carrying on his back. He reached in, producing a map, to which he held his arms apart to look past the creases of use. He exhaled slowly, trying to pinpoint his location in one of the forests on the map. He could not. The armored man glanced around the clearing again, the trees stirring in the wind. Behind him, in the mist, a dark figure stood, eyes narrowed and breathing even. The figure watched the lost, armored man, and knew that he would soon continue his legacy. The figure moved. One step after the other, silent in the sounds of the forest. The figure drew closer. The horse whinnied, and the armored man stopped as the horse pawed his left hoof on the forest floor. The armored man spun around, but by that time it was too late. The figure was upon him. The armored man and the figure disappeared. The horse stood, waiting for the armored man to return.

Hours passed. The horse continued to graze and then stopped abruptly. The armored man had still not returned. The horse, still in their saddle took a final look around the misty clearing before turning, and trotting away into the forest.


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