The Heidel Chronicles Chapter I. The Struggle for Greatness I stood on top of the great circled wall. Others were up here too, new like me. As I looked around, I noticed the apprehension in their faces and wondered, If perhaps, I too, had such a frightened appearance. I surely hoped not, for I had made a vast journey to impress this guild. I could not,…would not let down these warriors that had so warmly invited me. I was thankful for the offer for I was only the third to be ever be invited from my small town of Behr. I smiled, to myself, for the other two were of my own blood. A brother, tall and fierce, was somewhere in the vast eastern lands, making his fortune. My older sister, drawn by glamor and intrigue, fought under the flags of Calpheon. Personally, I had no tastes for that city. I found Calpheon pompous and loud. Nor were they impressed with me,...at least until the stories began to circulate of my feats… They began when I was but a young girl of 16 seasons. One cool evening I had decided to venture into the dark forests in search of supper for my mother. I had sought out my late father’s sword and then stumbled across his heavy shield as I exited the shed. I had taken it as well. It was getting cool in the lateness of the day. The shadows of the many tall pines were like dark voids stretching across the un-even grounds and blending to create a surreal and eerie landscape. I stood and shivered from the chill of dropping temperatures and the dreariness of the fading light. Perhaps I should return tomorrow when the sun was high and the song birds would lift my spirits. I had all but convinced myself of this when I heard the rumbles of wild pigs. They were close. I stood wavering, un-decided on what to do next. Finally, the thought of presenting my weary mother with such a fine prize swayed me to remain. I lifted up the heavy shield and bent low, moving silently forward. I stopped to listen to the rumbles and grunts of the wild creatures, then moved ahead slowly. I was all but upon the very brush that held my quarry when all hell broke loose. The ground shook and the bushes exploded in front of me. There were the high pitched screams of a dying sow as the piglets scattered in a stampede before me. I dropped down to one knee, shivering behind my father’s shield as I peeked out at the great red bear. I watched as it bit and shook the dying sow, the great jaws dwarfing the 100 pound pig. Finally the squeals stopped and the beast released the dying sow . The ground shook as the huge bear flopped down to all fours and turned a great shaggy head to look back at me. It whirled to face me and roared. I could feel the metals vibrate in the shield before me. Some madness within took me then, for to this day, I have not an explanation for what I did next. I roared back and slapped the fore-face of the shield with the blunt side of my heavy sword. There was no doubt as to the outcome now. The mighty beast lowered its head and started forward… My father had been a warrior in the great battles of Valencia. What little time he had at home was spent training us in the ways of war. He had taught us the use of sword and shield. By 9 seasons I knew well the proper stance to receive a powerful first siege. My left knee was into ground, my long right leg was stretched out behind me, my foot turned to the side, firmly gathered into earth. My left shoulder was supporting the top of the shield, as the ground firmly held the bottom. I peeked one last time at the running beast and then lowered my head, my eyes squeezed tight. The impact was more than I could ever have imagined. I saw stars and strangely dreamed of my family on the calm lake as the mighty bruin hit my shield. I remember sliding backward, my foot and knee leaving a trench across the earth. Still I held. Soon my head cleared and my body screamed under the weight of the massive bear. There were claws raking the air around me, each swipe producing a loud and scary whoosh. Still, I held. My knee felt like it might shatter, but instead sank even deeper into the soft earth. The viscous sounds were alarming, stealing at my senses, drawing my thoughts into the downward spirals of panic. Instead of giving into fear, I struck upward, driving the sword point deep between ribs. There was a deeper roar now, a roar of pain and anger. The bear reared up and flopped hard onto me a second time. It was then that my leg snapped. I heard it , but could not feel it. I did not matter, for I was surely dead. I could not last long now,…but still,… I held. Soon it became quite. A redness covered my head and shoulders as the great beast slid off my shield. It came as a surprise to feel so much weight leave my wrecked body. I stood with new pain as I realized my right shin had been shattered. Leaning against my shield, I finally rose to full height and looked around. Standing on the road, merely watching, was detail of mounted soldiers. They rode up without a word, every eye on me, the tall slender girl, freshly covered in bear blood. “Quite a feat for a young Lasse I must offer.” Said one of the Royal soldiers. I probably should have had better manners, most probably even bowed my head. I shall perhaps always blame the shock of after-battle for my few words that were to follow. “You may keep the bear. If you value your life you will move your steeds that I may retrieve the pig. It belongs to my family now.” This was followed by a quite stillness and then robust laughter filled the air. The Royal soldiers then backed their steeds away. Weeks later a Sergeant of Arms came from Calpheon to talk with me. He said that, although I was certainly brave, I did not yet have the build and bulk to be of the Council’s service as a soldier. I was fine with that, for I had not sought out the encounter with him. Little did we both know that was the first of 4 trips to Behr he would make to lure me into Calpheon. But it was too late now, for I had given Calpheon but that one chance in my mind. Now It was by mutual indifference that I found myself far to the east of that city of costume and corruption. I looked down now, into the arena to watch my new officers train. I was immediately in awe. It made me doubt my own abilities to witness such greatness. Our leader was a huge man,…a great, yet refined barbarian dressed in bright colors. He wore furs of yellow and red and orange soaked in only the most rare and expensive dyes. Some say He favored these colors to attract the enemy to himself, sparing others from that first great onslaught of viscous battle. Certainly a noble gesture from a noble savage. Or perhaps he was just that good. He sparred with another officer of the guild, a nimble archer. She was fast and light of foot in the arena. As her gentle and infectious laugh filtered up to me and I could not help but smile. It was said she laughed even in the most desperate of battles. As I watched her fight in mirth below I knew she was stricken by a strange and wondrous craziness. There were others below as well. Two swordsman crashed and banged one another. There were grunts of labor as brilliant sparks sprayed from the long swords smashing into dark armors. There were sorceresses and wizards practicing spells. My mouth was open in disbelief as I witnessed their feats, for I was new to the ways of magic. I was but a country girl, clad in iron,.. straight-forward and naive in my ways. There were so many below,…all so worthy. How could I be a part of this clan? There must be a mistake. “Andra, you’re up.” Said the huge two-axed leader. “Get down here and train, or I’ll come up and kill you where you stand.” He was smiling.