Unearthing the Past
Le Petite Chevalier
Once upon a time there was a small village named Coeur du Bois that sat at the base of a great mountain. The people of the village were normally a kind a gentle folk, but recently a great sorrow had overcome them. Each night, when all the villagers had gone to sleep, a great darkness blotted out the moon and the stars and crept into their homes. The next day the villagers would awake to find their children missing and no where to be found. Each night more and more children would disappear until but a handful remained.
The villagers sent envoy after envoy to their king, but they received no aid. Despondent over their lot and outraged at their king for ignoring them, the villagers cried out to the gods for help, but the gods sometimes answer prayers in strange ways.
One fateful night, as the darkness crept down from the mountain, a young girl, the daughter of a lowly blacksmith, decided to take action. Tired of being afraid and worried for the fate of her friends, she hatched a plan to trick whatever was taking away the children. Sneaking into her father’s workshop once everyone had gone to bed she donned a suit of armor and took the finest sword she could find. The young girl then crept into the kitchen and took a bag of flour and a small melon and went back to her room. Using the bag and melon, she hid them in her bed and covered them with a blanket, creating a decoy to throw off the kidnapper. Hiding under her bed she lay in wait. The hours passed and the young girl grew sleepier and sleepier. Furious that she may fall asleep before her kidnapper would show, the girl said a silent prayer to Heironeous. Just as she was about to fall asleep she heard her door creak open. Holding her breath to keep quiet she peered out from under the bed. Two dark red figures in leather scraps slowly crept toward the bed. The girl realized the creatures couldn’t have been much taller than she was, but were ugly as she had ever seen. The two creatures worked their way over to the bed, grunting to each other quietly. When they reached the bed and pulled the covers off, the creatures were surprised to find that they had been tricked. At that same time the girl struck. Swinging the sword with all her might she struck the creatures in the legs, bringing them both to the ground the girl scrambled out from under the bed. Caught surprised and in shock from the attack the first creature put up no fight as the girl slit its throat. The second creature had been able to recover somewhat however and was attempting to get to the door. Not wanting to let the creature escape she lept on its back and plunged the sword in.
With her foes slain, the girl ran to her parents room and attempted to rouse them, but was unable. Her parents seemed to be under some sort of a spell, and no matter how hard she try, she could not wake them. Returning to her room she realized she needed to identify the kidnappers. Pulling out one of her story books she quickly poured over the pages until she found a story her father had read to her years before about squat, red, and ugly creatures that were known for abducting small children and animals… goblins. The description of the creatures fit perfectly, though their behavior wasn’t quite the same. The story described them as being cowardly and made no mention of magic, but these creatures clearly had the use of some powerful magic.
Knowing what she faced the girl ran to the local guard house, but like her parents she found them under a spell that put them to sleep. It seemed that everyone in the town had fallen asleep except her, which meant that it was up to her to end the terror brought to her village.
Silently moving across the village, the girl spied a group of goblins dragging off one of her friends. Knowing that if she freed her friend, she was condemning all the other children to death, she chose to follow them back to their lair instead. Halfway up the mountain the goblins stopped at a large rock. Setting down their burden, the goblins moved up to the stone and traced their fingers across the stone. Minutes passed and nothing happened. The girl thought that perhaps the goblins knew she was there and were toying with her, but suddenly the ground shook and as she watched the stone before the goblins split open. The goblins quickly scurried into the fissure that had been opened and disappeared into the darkness. Fearful that the rock would close up and she wouldn’t be able to follow them in, the girl charged into the darkness.
Letting her eyes adjust, the girl found that she was in a small empty room. As she gathered her bearings she could hear cries from up the tunnel. Moving as quickly as stealth would allow the girl made her way deeper into the earth until the came to an intersection of tunnels. Finding the correct path wasn’t difficult as the cries of her friends would lead the way, but she knew she would need to find her way out later so she pulled out her sword and quickly drew a mark in the ground indicating where the exit lay. Continuing on she moved through several more intersections, at each marking the way she had come until finally she came across an intersection guarded by two goblin guards.
If she struck she might be able to surprise them, but they might be able to defeat her. Worse than that, if she failed then her friends’ lives were forfeit. No, she could not fail. She would not fail. Thinking quickly the girl noticed a small inset in the tunnel she had just come down. Grabbing a stone from the ground she ducked into the alcove and threw the stone down the opposite corridor, the one away from her friends. The goblins, hearing the stone, ran down the corridor giving the girl a chance to slip by. Moving as quickly and quietly as she could, she made her way down the corridor until spotted light ahead at the end of the passage. As she crept forward she realized she had found the room where her friends were being kept, and as luck would have it there was but a single guard. Throwing all the force into her charge as she could, the girl threw herself upon the goblin before it could make a peep. Driving the blade into the foul creature time and time again, she could feel its lifeblood pour out; a stick foul ichor that smelled as foul as the creatures looked.
Quickly she moved to the cage doors, releasing the children held within. Fearful at first, the children thought another goblin had attacked the first; cannibalism was not unknown to these beasts. It was not until another child stepped forward, a pig faced little child that was known as the village bully, and embraced the girl that the children realized they had been saved. They all rushed to her, thanking her and crying, wishing to be returned to their parents. Subduing them as best she could she asked if there were any other children as many familiar faces were missing. Again the pig face child stepped forward and told the girl what had happened. The goblins would sweep into the town under the cover of night at the behest of “the big big scary scary,” drag away the children and bring them back to the cages. At first the children just languished in the cages, until suddenly the goblins came in and took away several at a time, dragging them off down the halls. Only a handful had been taken away from the others, but they didn’t know what had happened to them.
The girl told the boy to lead the other children out, informing him of her markings directing them to the exit. She bade him to take the children home, while she stayed behind to find the others. Many protested, saying they would never make it without out, others proclaiming she would die at the hands of the “big big scary scary,” but she wouldn’t listen. Striking off in the direction the boy had pointed, the girl went in search of the others as the children ran off toward their escape. It wasn’t long before she found her self in some sort of altar room with several of her friends chained around some sort of circle on the floor. Knowing the goblins would soon be stirred by the sounds of the freed children she worked fast, breaking the chains that held the children and setting them free. Just as they were to make their exit a great shadow was cast over the room and a booming voice cried out “Who dare invade my sanctum?!?” “I do,” cried the girl, motioning for the other children to flee. “A youngling? And a female at that? Surely you jest! You must know you are but an insect to one as myself! Surrender now, and I will show mercy and grant you a quick death. Defy me and your torment shall last an eternity,” boomed the voice. “I will never submit, you steal into our homes, take what is not yours and expect us to fall before you. I will see that justice is done this day!” And with that she struck out with her sword at the shadow. In turn the shadow only laughed, then quickly went on the offensive. Dark bolts of energy flew forth from its form and knocked the girl off her feet. A shadowy hand pulled the girl up into the air by her leg and threw her against the wall. Winded, the girl realized she could not win this fight on her own. She cried out to the heavens, “Heironeous, Lord of Justice, God of Honor, Valorous One, grant me your favor so I may defeat this evil in your name! Let me be your sword, your instrument of divine will!” And as the words fell from her tongue, the sword she held began to glow with a bright silver light, so much so that the shadowy form cried out in pain and released the girl. Quickly she clamored across the ground, slashing at the shadow as she ran.
The girl ran for exit, following winding corridor one after the next until she made her way to the entrance. The children were surrounded by a gang of goblins, unable to get outside. Full of rage the girl threw herself upon the nearest goblin and made quick work of him, and the next, but before long she was overpowered and pinned to the ground. Just then the ground shook and dirt fell from the ceiling as a great cry of anger poured forth from deeper within the tunnels. Terrified the goblins released the girl and jumped back as the shadow poured into the room. Screaming at the children to escape while they could she stood between them and the shadow, determined not to let it touch a single hair on any of their heads. The shadow, enraged that one so insignificant could harm it lashed out at her, but each blow was deflected by the girl with her silver sword. Again and again it attacked, growing angrier with each missed blow and as its prize, the village children, managed to open the passage outside and start to escape. Bellowing with rage it shook the cavern, threatening to bring the entire mountain down on their heads, yet the girl held fast, ensuring that each child would be able to make it out of the tunnels. Several minutes passed, the girl growing weak from the strain of the shadows attacks, but finally the last child made it through the passage to the surface. Howling with rage, the shadow attacked with all its might, throwing the girl from her feet. She knew that if she didn’t act soon the fight would be lost and the shadow would send its minions to the town once again to reclaim its prize. The child, unsure of how she knew the words, knelt with sword before her and began chanting. The shadow struck at this opening and enveloped the girl, swirling around her in a maelstrom of hate and fury. It found each open wound on her body, sustained from their battle and began to seep in, attempting to attack the girl from within. Throughout it all the girl kept chanting as the shadow poured into her body, until there was nothing more to pour into her and her eyes turned black as the darkest pits of the hells. The goblins, hiding around the corner began to peer out to see who had won and seeing the girl, pale as the moon with eyes of obsidian, they realized their master was triumphant that day and began to hoot and cheer. But they joy would last only an instant.
From the base of the mountain the villagers had woken from their unnatural slumber, and hearing their children running down the slopes they hurried outside to greet them. Just as the two groups met a blinding flash and deafening boom erupted from the mountain top. Light poured over the land, brightening it as if it were day, then quickly subsided. Unsure of what happened the strongest and bravest of the town folk made their way to the cave, led by the boy, but they could not find the cave not matter how hard they tried. After many hours of searching the townsfolk gave in, vowing to return in the morning. As they began to make their way down the hill the boy spied something out of the corner of his eye. Half buried in rubble, a silver sword faintly glowed in the night.
Vowing to do her honor, the villagers erected a monument in her honor and placed the silver sword in its hand. At the base of the statue reads a plaque, “For honor and virtue may come in the heart of a child. May all remember and hold reverence in their heart for Sandrine, first chevalier of Coeur du Bois.”