Mighty Heroes: The Banished Guard

“Heroes are made by the paths they choose, not the powers they are graced with.”
-Brodi Ashton.

There is a Kingdom named Ellin. I live in this Kingdom, and trust me when I say, that you wont find a more peaceful and friendly place in the world. Or that's how it used to be. I watched my Kingdom fall after the disappearance of our Queen, and the blamed one was me.
The citizens of Ellin gave me two choices: Execution or become banished.
I chose to become a banished one, as I refuse to die for a crime I didn't commit. Or did I?

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2. Chapter 1

I felt a dull pain in my right eye.

This was the first thing I noticed when waking up; or at least think I woke up. It didn't feel like I had been sleeping, I didn't feel well rested and was actually in quite a lot of pain, I noted as the rest of my body began waking up.

Slowly and hesitantly I opened my left eye, as my right eye wouldn't act to my commands. I had to blink a couple of times for my eye to adjust to the brightly lit ceiling.

When I tried to sit up, a pain ran through my sides as if someone was stabbing me repeatedly. Slight grunts escaped as I tried to move my legs, they felt as sore as if I had pulled a cart full of diamonds through the mines. They were both wrapped in bandages from my knee to my toe.

That's when I noticed that I was pretty much bandaged from head to toe, as far as I could see. Some places, a crimson line was blossoming and spreading even further as I moved. I stretched out my arms and hands as far as I could, without the pain becoming too overwhelming for me. I didn't seem to be missing any limbs out of the ordinary.

 

“You're awake? Good,” an old and fragile voice said, followed by heavy feet and what sounded like a cane hitting the floor moved closer to me.

When I looked up, an old man with no hair, bushy eyebrows and a very long and white beard walked slowly towards me, cane in hand.

“Where... where am I?” my head hurt and throat was dry when I spoke.

“In your house,” he said short and sat down on a stool next to the bed. I think he was smiling, yet it was difficult to see underneath that thick beard of his.

Did he groom it? It looked groomed and cared for; like the women would care for their hair.

“A-and you are?” it came out as a stutter, which was something I rarely did.

“An old friend. I'm not surprised you don't you remember me after what you went through.”

Yep, I could most definitely see a smile there.

“Oh...” I looked down myself again. “What did I go through? I-I'm sorry, I don't remember...”

There it was again! A stutter! I lifted a hand as to rub my brows, when my hands felt a few layers of fabric.

He didn't get to answer before I stood up a bit too quickly, and the blood rushed to my head, making it pound. The old man didn't offer assistance as I limped to a mirror on a wall that hang close by.

What I met in the mirror was a surprise; yet not that big of one, as I had figured something was up since my right eye wouldn't react.

Bandages went around the right side of my head and covered my eye and ear.

“Last night, something happened at the castle; details are still vague, but the Queen is gone. You are the only one to have survived what happened, and the people are anxious to hear what you remember.” He paused and I saw his reflection stand up and walk over to me.

“Do you remember your name?”

I turned to look at him and it took a while for me to react.

“My na-ame is... is... Cadell?” I spoke hesitantly and stuttered yet again, much to my dismay.

I think he smiled again as he rested both hands on his cane and looked up at me. Could he even see anything from under those eyebrows?

“Yes, good. I see you're not at a total loss.”

He grabbed me by my arm and gently pushed me towards the bed, where I sat down again, and he on the stool.

“You should rest. The healers did their best, and it looks like you made it with only a slight loss.”

A slight loss? Was he kidding me? My right ear and eye was in bandages and constant pain; I was probably going both blind and deaf in the same side!

I felt anger build up in me and had to clench my fists not to hit something; it would probably not benefit my current state.

“I should leave you be, so that you can rest some more,” the old man said. His body quivered when he stood up, and I almost jumped to help him, but he lifted a hand as to signal “no”.

“Wha-what's your name?” I stuttered as he walked out of my bedroom.

He didn't give me an answer; at least not one I heard and soon was the last sound a door opening and closing.

 

I sat in silence and felt the bandages surrounding my head, but flinched by the touch. What happened last night? My eyes darted around the room as if it would help me remember.

What did I remember?

My name is Cadell, I believe. I'm 28 and lives alone in a house close to the barracks. I'm a royal guard, which is a title I gained by many years in the army; although I've never been in a war, I have fended off many bandits, raiders and barbarians trying to attack the city.

This was all I remembered; it seemed like only last night had gone to the void, as I remembered mostly everything in my life. All except that old man.

Even though the old man had told me to rest, I felt restless and didn't sit for long, before I stood up again. I walked with a slight limp, as there was a continuous pain in my legs.

My house was surprisingly clean; I didn't remember being this immaculate, but some of the villagers had probably come to clean up the place for me after the incident. Fresh flowers sat in a vase in the living room and filled the air with their lovely scents, the floors had obviously been swept, as I couldn't feel any dirt underneath my bare feet, and every surface was almost shining. Even the cobwebs in the corners of my ceilings had been removed!

It wasn't that big; my home. I was rarely ever here, due to my job. There was a bathroom, a bedroom and a combined kitchen and living room; none of the rooms kept much to furniture nor clutter.

 

After I had gotten dressed in loose clothing, I stepped outside and into the warming light of the sun and the happy sound of people enjoying their day.

Why was everyone so happy?

Weren't they aware of what had happened? How could they seem so calm; even I had to fight my urge to run to the castle. It was worrisome.

As I walked down a paved road that lead to the center of town from the big gates down south, people smiled and greeted me; none asked about my injuries. Was I truly awake? To walk amongst the people that slept through the incident and listen to their joyful voices and see the happy smiles and friendly touches. This was truly disturbing.

As I had walked a while, I came to the bridge that crossed the River of Ages, and on it sat one of my dearest friends. She sat on the railing of the bridge, with her legs hanging out over the water and she was kicking the air.

I stopped next to her and leaned against the railing, yet I couldn't stop looking around.

“Cadell! Good to see you up and walking, although I can imagine it must be a pain,” she said and took another bite off the red apple.

“I h-have a slight limp, not-nothing too serious I'd say.”

She gave me a look and chuckled. “Well you sure do look like one that just fought the Vulgan Barbarians, hah.”

“You wo-would know, wouldn't y-you, Rejah,” I laughed a bit too.

Rejah was a dear friend. She used to stalk the Vulgan Barbarians and take what was left from their raids. One day, after I had fended them off, Rejah came out from the shadows to take what was worth salvaging. Long story short, I spared her life and ever since then have she been a part of the scavenging teams, as she seemed to have a knack for it.

“I must ask... how come everyone is so-so calm?” the stutter didn't seem to go away at all, and I hoped she wouldn't mention it.

“Calm? You mean the act everyone have put on?” she asked and swung a leg over the railing and she looked me deeply into my eyes.

“Can't you see it? How disturbed and nervous everyone is?”

I followed her gaze, as she looked at two younger lasses talking together.

One of them held a woven basket with fish, and as she waved goodbye to her friend, she began walking away and her smile disappeared and she looked down at the ground with a wrinkled forehead.

When she had passed us, Rejah turned to me again.

“As you can see, it's an act. This is the first thing that have ever caused disturbance in years! At least all the time I've been around. Everyone just wants to be happy and live in peace and harmony, but last night really shook everyone...” she held a pause and I looked back at her.

Her mouth was open and I noticed the circles under her eyes, and how tired she looked.

“Rejah... have you even slept?” I asked and for the first time today, I didn't stutter.

“I was already up when it happened. I don't remember what time it was, but I was at home and looking at some of the latest scavenged items; you know how I am, when it happened...” she looked away from me and downwards at the water. “A loud blast came from the north; from the castle. Lights in the houses were turned on and all the Guards in the area ran towards the sound. Everyone outside began panicking and they all ran inside and all the doors were slammed closed. It was all so noisy.”

I noticed how she began shaking and she held a hard grip around herself, as her knuckles turned white.

“I thought that maybe the city was under attack; that our defenses and friendly attitude wasn't no longer enough. I... I don't know why I acted like I did. I just simply locked my door, closed the window hatches and went to bed, where I hid my head underneath the pillow... I couldn't sleep.”

I raised a hand and rested it on hers, where she gave a jump by the touch and her eyes looked into mine. Her eyes got wet but she blinked it away and took a deep breath.

“Are you okay?” I asked worriedly and she gave short nods.

“Yes I'm... I'm fine. Just a bit in shock,” she spoke quickly and jumped down from the railing.

“I'd best get going, I got a job to do,” she said and took a few steps, before stopping up and turning my way.

“Cadell... I'm glad to see that you're... alive.”

I shrugged slightly and gave a wry smile.

“Me too.”

I was worried about her; she had gone through a lot in her life and never had anyone to speak to. Even though she now have me, she still never tells me much.

 

She was right; walking down the paved road and between the citizens, with her words in mind I began noticing how people acted.

Can't you see it? How disturbed and nervous everyone is?”

I could. It was even more disturbing, to know that people would ignore such a threat, that people would carry on like nothing had happened. That people would play pretend.

Just like all the other days, the merchants would announce their usual sales and people would buy it. Even the kids appeared untouched by last nights ruckus, or maybe they didn't know.

“Cadell!” A voice spoke loudly and I turned to look after its owner.

A pair of guards came walking towards me, and everyone cleared from them as they passed by. I can't honestly say why, but figures it would be because that everyone knew what had happened, and my interference.

“Jeremore, Alzo,” I greeted my fellow guardsmen.

“Oh Ages! Are you okay, Cadell? Your eye, uh...” his eyes widened as he got a proper look to my damages.

Alzo lifted a hand to cover her filled lips that let out a gasp. “Cadell...”

I rubbed the back of my neck and looked away shortly, but met their questioning gazes again. “Heh, yeah. I've seen bett-ter days...”

“Can we, uh, ask what happened?” Jeremore looked at me from head to toe with a furrowed brow.

“If it's not confidential, of course!” Alzo quickly said and gave a light push to her friend.

Air filled my lungs in a deep sigh and my shoulders dropped down a bit.

“I-I'm sorry, but I don't kn-n-now if I should tell you... I'm on my-my way to speak with the R-Right H-Hand...”

Just the thought of speaking with the Right Hand made me nervous; that man was quite a dreadful old man. Don't get me wrong, I respect the man, he's doing a splendid job and are truly loyal to the Throne and very knowledgeable about the Ages. He was just not a very social person and took distance to other people outside of Royalty, by being one of the few people in Ellin not being the friendliest type.

“Oh well-” Jeremore started with, but Alzo seemed quick to interrupt him.

“Good luck with that, Cadell... truly.”

With no other words, Alzo and Jeremore walked off again, probably to continue their work. It felt so strange, so wrong, to not wear my armor at this time of the day. I couldn't remember when I last had a day off from work, not counting holidays.

Several other guards greeted me as I made my way through the crowded and busy streets and market-place. Although all the civilians seemed to avoid even looking my way, they all turned their backs at me. Everyone usually smiled and greeted me. I know everyone in town, so when no one paid me any attention, I knew something was really wrong.

 

When I came to the stairs that lead to the castle, two tall guards stood and wore identical armors, and I felt an uncomfortable tingling in my chest and a certain nudity without the heavy weight covering me.

“Cadell... you're already up and walking?” one of them asked, his voice was low and gruff. He was a friend, but his name had slipped my mind.

“Y-yes, I am... the, uh, the healers d-did a good... job.” It was annoyingly difficult for me to speak and I clenched my fists slightly, but winced a bit from the pain in my hands.

“Can we help you?” the other guard asked. Both of them had a rigid posture.

“The R-Right H-Hand...” I stuttered and felt a black hole in my stomach and my palms began sweating.

Since when did I get so nervous all the time? I used to be one of the toughest Royal guards, and now...

The two of them looked at each other, and nodded once at the same time. Without further adieu, they both stepped aside and I gave a relieved sigh as I walked to the stairs.

Looking up, I began regretting slightly. So many stairs, and my body was in so much pain and it felt heavier than usual.

It felt like hours had passed when I finally reached the top of the stairs. I was bathed in sweat and out of breath, and very close to collapse to the floor. But I had to keep at least some of my dignity in front of the other guards, since they already sent me glares as I panted, exhausted.

I took one deep breath, straightened my back, and with shoulders raised and a my chest pushed forward, I began walking to the large doors to the Castle. It was painful, but it helped my pride a bit, I believe.

No one asked any questions. The doors were opened and I walked in, with the same painful posture.

The foyer looked like itself. White flags with a stag head on hang from the ceilings. The floor shone as if they had just right been cleaned and polished. The flowers bloomed and filled the air with their fresh and lovely scents. Everything appeared perfectly normal.

But the residents. The maids seemed to rush a bit more, with their quick feet over the shining floor. The guards seemed extra observant, with their gazes locked at me when I passed them by.

I didn't know what was worse, the civilians not looking at me or the way the guards did, with pinning stares and no hints of joy. They seemed to be the only ones not acting like nothing had happened. They were all very much aware, I bet.

The way around the Castle was a very known route for me, as I had been walking it for almost 10 years.

Smaller flashbacks went before my eye as I walked down the halls.

I remember my first day, and the pride that filled my entire being. That feeling often came back when reminiscing.

I remember several holidays, celebrations and parties being held here, and all of us guards clad in the finer, and more formal, armors. Luckily nothing ever happened, as those were just for show.

I remember 10 years of this place, all but last night.

A huff escaped my clenched teeth and feeling of uselessness rushed through me, as I neared the throne room, from where a loud humming came from.

The doors were opened for me yet again, as it was obvious to everyone that I could barely walk.

Ages! What happened here last night? I stood with open mouth and wide eyes as I took in everything I saw.

The ceiling had a huge hole in it, and large chunks of it lay spread across the room. Some guards had been caught underneath the falling roof. Blood was splattered on the walls, columns, ceiling and floor. Scattered around the room were torn body parts and intestines. Never before had I seen so much blood and gore, and I would never admit it if asked, but it made me feel a bit nauseous.

The only sound in the room was that of a Monk humming some ancient rite with raised hands. The Right Hand stood with his hands folded behind his back and was turned towards the Throne. It wasn't until then I noticed, that the Throne was the only thing in the room untouched. Not a single drop of blood or the smallest of cracks. It was in a perfect condition.

“S-Sir...” I stuttered when I walked up next to the Right Hand, and he didn't even face me when he spoke.

“Cadell... you are the only survivor from last nights incident, yes?” his voice was hard and cold as his face.

I caught myself staring at him for a while. Did he even blink?

“Y-Yes, that's right, sir.” My body relaxed as I looked from him to the Throne.

“And you don't remember a thing?”

“N-no, sir...”

“Hm...” He didn't sound convinced, and a heatwave went through my entire being.

Didn't he believe me? Would I now get thrown in jail? I could imagine he would do such a thing, just for not believing in me.

An uncomfortable silence fell over us and I cleared my throat before I spoke.

“S-Sir, what is the, uh.” I looked down at the ground as I had forgotten the name of the man in the robes. The female equivalent of him was a Nun, so he was a …

“Monk!” I suddenly burst out and the Right Hand sent me a confused look with a wrinkled forehead.

“What-t is the M-Monk doing?” I asked, and avoided eye-contact and swallowed hard.

“It is confidential, but...” He looked around the room, then at the Monk, the Throne, and at last at me. “He is using his Magi to read the history of the room. So far he haven't gotten anything for us, and we've been here for several hours. Blasted Adric, I said they should send someone wiser.”

He spat at the mention of the Monk's name. I was looking at said Monk as the Right Hand spoke, when I felt like someone was looking at me.

“Say, Cadell...” The Right Hand started off with, and I took a step to the side when I saw how close he suddenly was.

“How are you feeling? You seem pretty badly wounded...”

I wasn't aware that you're so observant, sir! I thought to myself and sank hard to resist actually saying it.

“I-I'm good,” I lied.

“You're not feeling dizzy or something? How about your eye?” he leaned in closer, and I, at the same time, leaned away from him. He had such a foul breath.

To tell the truth, the pain was the same when I woke up this morning. Horrible, irritating, new. I was a bit dizzy and nauseous, my entire body was sore, yet the pain in my right eye was the most noticeable one. Could be because I had never felt pain in that area before, or that it was a pinning and constant feeling, like the sting of a needle.

“I-I'm good, all things concider-red. The, uh, the Healers did an a-amazing job!” I gave a slight smile, yet his frown stayed the same and when he again gave a “hm”, I got the feeling of him not believing me.

“Well, Guardsman Cadell, I am expecting you to report for duty within the coming week.” He turned to look at the Throne again. “I will send a Healer to your home, where they will come by on a daily basis, until they decide that you're fit again.”

Honestly, I was happy to hear that. Even though it was just yesterday that the shining armor last sat on me, I already missed the feeling. I was very devoted to my job, and didn't even enjoy my days off. Work was the only thing I knew how to do.

“Yes Sir,” I said and managed to not stutter, although it was only two words.

 

When I walked back home, no one greeted me and everyone kept their backs turned at me, so I simply kept my gaze at the ground.

And just like the Right Hand had promised, a Healer did come to my house the same day. We didn't speak casually like we used to, she simply asked about my pains and how I was feeling. She told me to not look underneath the bandages covering my eye—that it would slow down the healing process, and I didn't question her. She also told me that my right ear was a loss, and that I'd go deaf, yet that had been obvious to me the whole day, really.

That was pretty much how most of my days passed by, for about five or six days. Rejah did come by as the only person, other than the Healers. Since nothing really happened in my life during those days, we mostly just talked about her latest scavenges. Even so, I was truly grateful for her keeping me company.

With how everyone reacted to me, or more like, gave me no reaction at all, this was going to turn out interesting, and maybe horrible, to say the least.

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