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The Young Explorer
Ludovoko Dukov had done it! He had officially claimed the land he would call Dylok as his own. The looks of pure joy on his team’s faces would last forever, in the vastly forested hills of the eastern world. First Dargon, and now at the age of just twenty-one years old, he had discovered another piece of land that he had staked the flag of his family name on. He would be the most famous of all men to ever walk the world.
“What will you do now?” His second in command asked him. A red-haired man with a blunt nose and square jaw, served with patience and loyalty. He was a good second in command to have.
“I have not the slightest clue, Ivan. Not at all.”
“Return home then. I will control this place for you, you have my word.”
“You are indeed a good friend, Ivan.”
Ivan nodded in thanks to the compliment.
“Levyard,” Ivan called to a passing solder. “Saddle up General Dukov’s horse. He is leaving shortly.”
The horse was brought to him, a soft, brown-haired mare, and Ivan handed Ludovoko the reins himself.
“Be safe, I will pray it so.”
Ludovoko looked around the established camp, and took in everything that it was. White tents had been set up, campfires were lit in freshly dug pits, and the hunting for food had begun. Already, the place was a functioning town. Then, taking in a deep breath, he kicked the horse into a run and was gone forever, as it would seem.
Endless celebrations, parades and honors were held for the young man who was in fact, world famous now. His family and friends could not believe that the sixteen year-old boy who had set off five years ago with ambitions higher than the heavens was alive and well, with two discovered lands under his belt. He was commissioned hundreds of golden coins for his work he had performed for his country. Ludovoko soon became the richest man alive. A year past and excitement had completely died out. Ludovoko had opened a small business that was to advertise Dargon’s latest and most vast estates; where only the wealthiest could afford to live. He made good money, and his assistant Clerin Dobs became his closest companion.
However, Sir Dukov—as he was called then after receiving a knighting ceremony— longed to return to Dylok, to see his friends again. To see his old company would bring back a feeling of familiarity that he so longed for after living in this world of new ideas and ways of thinking. Returning to a place after five years had passed was indeed strange and awkward. Mr. Dobs encouraged his return to Dylok, and even offered his companionship; which proved to be the final sign that Ludovoko would be doing such a thing.
His parents were saddened when he told them that he was leaving, and he gave them no promise as to when he should return. He would return to his friends whom he knew well. Ludovoko left the next morning with Mr. Dobs at his side.
“A fine day, Captain,” a young man said to Ivan. “What are the chores for this week?”
“I am keeping a list posted on the Town Hall, should you want to know what they are.”
The Town Hall was simply the biggest tent. A single meeting had been held there, and it turned up nothing of importance. However, the establishment gave a feeling of an actual town rather than a cluster of tents.
“Sir, do you hear that?”
Ivan’s smile dropped a little, but he heard nothing that worried him.
“Sounds like a gust of wind is all.”
“You’re right. Well I’m off to check the list then!”
“Good day, soldier.”
The small camp was made up of seventy or so men, and right then they were cutting wood, building structures and cooking food. The advancements that the town had made were enormous. That small gust of wind was still present but it seemed like it was far away, and there wasn’t a breeze anywhere. The young man was right next to the Town Hall, which sat up against the clearing’s edge, the roof of the tent brushed the outstretched limbs of the trees.
“Did you find it?”
“It’s right here, right?”
“I think I see—”
The trees behind the tent exploded with a fireball the size of a house. The boy’s body was hurdled through the air and landed a dozen feet away from Ivan. It was black and bloody, all around and the young man had died instantly.
“What the hell was that?” Ivan yelled.
Another batch of trees blew into flames, the trunks simply shattering and sending splinters the size of spears, and branches into the air. By now the camp was in chaos.
“Everybody stay together, form a line of defense!” Ivan commanded. “What in the name of God is causing that?”
And then it revealed itself. A dragon. Nay, three dragons, and an entire army of savages to accompany them.
“Grab up your weapons and fight for your life!”
The dragon spit a blast of fire that completely destroyed a tent, the canvas actually bubbling on the ground; perhaps bubbling and boiling the men inside. How many men were in there? The savages who were hardly dressed came screaming out, and a barrage of spears led their attack, as they came whistling through the air.
The few that had enough sense left in their shell-shocked minds were able to take up bows, but their arrows did nothing noticeable. A few men fell, but the dragons ended the holders of the bows’ lives instantly. Ivan knew those men, and now they were gone. His senses hurt, and his head was pounding. Everything they had accomplished, everything he had set his life on was being completely taken from them.
He grabbed up a sword and charged in. He had no idea what he was doing but it felt right.
“Get the hell out of our camp, you bastards!” He screamed.
Fire scorched the land around him, and other men picked up the charge next to his side.
A scream filled his right ear as a man’s face was split in two by a spear. His name was John, but the name would never reach his ear again, for the dead cannot hear. All of this was in Ivan’s head, and he was turning numb. The tree line was nearing, and that meant that he was going to collide with these men any minute. Within that time of ‘any minute’ he was going to die. This was the place. Another scream as fire wiped the skin off the man’s face. His name was unknown to him, but his smile was familiar. He was a kind man.
“You can’t do this! You can’t do this damn it!”
Ivan hit the line and all was black; the ground, the tents, the men, and Ivan’s vision. All of it.
Ludovoko had a grin on his face that exceeded all other’s he could ever remember. He was nearing the last hill, and he could see the smoke no doubt from the campfires billowing thick in the air. And something was cooking, and it sure smelt good.
“I can’t wait to get a huge bite of that, I’m starved.”
Mr. Dobs laughed heartily, and he closed his eyes and took in the smell too, however his nostrils flared at something quite disagreeable.
They came to the top of the last hill, and Ludovoko’s heart seemed to cease, and Mr. Dobs let out a loud gasp. Ludovoko’s muscles seemed to tense and paralyze, his eyes bulged out of their sockets, and his mouth went as dry as the sand in a desert, as he saw a mass of blackened ground. No tents, no campfires, and the food that had been cooking were his old friends. Vomiting came without expectation, and he could hardly stop. Shaking and barely able to stand up, Ludovoko looked down into the place that was once familiar to him. Now that was gone as well.
“Please Lord, say that this isn’t so. Show me something that will soothe my aching heart, my homesick mind! I am homesick and yet no home I return to is a home to me at all!” He screamed as he tore his shirt down the middle, and cried in the agony of being lost in such a vast world.
So lost, he sought comfort in Mr. Dobs, who helped him up and did what he could to comfort him; though nothing amounted to anything soothing.
He just barely caught it with his eye. Among the trees. He crouched down, hoping he hadn’t been seen. As hard as he could, Ludovoko peered into the forest, and saw that it was full of his old companions. He rushed down the hill, and fell at the tree line. There, ten yards away was Ivan. He was breathing.
“Ivan! Ivan, please say you’re alright!”
Ivan turned his head, and his face was barely recognizable. It was horribly burned, and cut. A spear had been run through his midsection, and a pool of his own lost blood blanketed him.
“Dukov,” Ivan said in a raspy whisper, and a grin appeared at his face, though the pain he was in was surely unbearable. Mr. Dobs stood back a ways, and let Ludovoko be alone with his old friend.
Tears flooded to Ludovoko’s eyes as his friend tried to get up but could not. Next thing he knew he was at Ivan’s side helping him up.
“No, don’t waste your time. Run. Get out of here before they come back.”
A scream off in the distance burst forth. It was crying for help.
“That…that sounds like Charlie!”
“Those who survived were the least fortunate of all. They took prisoners for the simple pleasure of torture,” Ivan said, as blood oozed out of the corner of his mouth.
“I’m taking you with me and you will recover. I will save the others too!”
“Don’t be a fool.”
“I have no intentions of being one.”
Ludovoko scooped Ivan up into his arms, and with the adrenaline pumping through his veins, he sprinted full speed up the hill, and was back on his horse in an instant.
The events that Ludovoko experienced that day, were two thousand years prior, to the day that General Lezdain would lead his forces against those that had killed Dukov’s.