The Knights of the Forest (And Then There Was One)

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  1. Johann arrived at the meeting point riding his favorite horse, a massive white and brown horse bred for war and without fear. As he sat on a hill, his squire came along side on a smaller horse, carrying his banner and supplies.

    To his east he saw the wide open plans of the Centaur people, widely regarded as ferocious warriors and uncanny hunters, but also shrewd diplomats. He had no issue with them, just the humans that also called the Eastern Plains home. To the west was the absolutely massive Oak Forest. Some called it the Forest of the Dead, because at night you could hear odd sounds coming from it, however Johann would have none of that. It was just a forest to him. At the base of the hill he could see the base camp, and meeting place he was headed for. Already he could identify over thirty separate banners indicating other knights who had already arrived. One particular banner struck a nerve with him.

    "Boy, do you see that banner there? The dragon spitting fire on the griffon?" Johann said to his page

    "...yes sire, I see it..." the page answered nervously

    "That is the crest of the Moiya family. The only thing you can trust about a Moiya is that they will stab you in the back."

    After this statement Johann rode his horse down the hill and dismounted on the edge of camp. He was not wearing his armor yet, so everyone could see his face, with the scar across his forehead and right cheek, his permanently out of shape nose due to being broken, his short black hair, and his left ear that was partially missing. His muscular frame was only augmented when his page stood next to him, and his large hands could easily enclose the boy's skull.

    He walked from his horse towards the largest tent, obviously where the commander of this operation would be. He noticed that none of the would dare to look at him for very long, out of fear, or respect he did not know. He pushed open the flap of the tent and walked in to be greeted by the face of at least fifteen other knights and a man almost as large as he was. "Ah, the Red Knight finally graces us with his appearance." said one knight "More like the Butcher of the Southern Isles." said another, which Johann noted was a member of the Moiya family.

    "Enough!" the larger man shouted. "You're all here of your own personal choice, we asked you to come because we need help. Just beyond the Oak Forest is a small town that is having trouble with raiders, and with the problems we're having with goblins and elves, we lack the military strength to take care of it ourselves. Each of you will be paid very well for finding the raiders and eliminating them." he finished. "We'll be going through the forest, so you have no need of horses once we get there, and we leave at dawn" he added.

    At this Johann turned and left the tent. These were simple orders, find the enemy, kill the enemy. What could possibly go wrong?
  2. Shade had arrived with some of the knights, since then she had been hiding in the forest until nightfall. She had no idea why all of the men were flocking here.

    She green eyes scanned the group, out in the distance she spotted one coming in. Curiosity got the best of her and she decided to head out into the group. She leapt down from the tree she was in, landing softly on the ground. She was wearing a black tanktop, sleeveless leather jacket, ripped tight fitting pants, and knee-high boots. Her sliver hair had dark crimson streaks and she had a scar running across her collarbone. She pulled the hood up on her jacket. Before continuing in her way.

    She walked to the edge of the trees before shifting into a small black kitten. She ran into the crowd, avoiding feet and diving into a tent where multiple of the knights had gathered. She sat down in a coroner while they spoke.

    She looked up suddenly as the knight she had seen earlier walked in. The others seemed slightly relieved that he had arrived. She scoffed slightly at them calling him a butcher. Her ears perked up slightly as the larger man started to speak, it seemed to her he was their leader. He finished and she padded out of the tent, she planned on having much fun with these men. She knew what most called the forest and planed to make the name stick forever.
  3. Johann looked around and noticed that several more men arrived, they weren't knights, just volunteers showing up to help. Most were setting up their tents or having conversations amongst themselves. Johann noticed that not many had brought food for what he estimated would be at least a three week campaign. He found his page, already working on their tent. "Go find people to hunt, we're going to need food for this journey" He said. "I'll finish the tent" the young page dropped the hammer he was using to nail in tent spikes and scampered to find help without a word. "Sometimes I think that boy is terrified of me." After assembling the rest of the tent, his page came back empty handed, and with no help. "T-they wouldn't help...sss-said I had no right to boss them around..." the boy said, clearly shaking and scared. "Oh, do they? Did you tell them that you serve the Red Knight, and that he will personally take their heads if they don't hunt for food?" After that statement, the page ran off again, more terrified of Johann than any simple fighter.

    When the page left, Johann sat down to examine his various weapons. His broadsword was a gift from his father, made by the best weaponsmith in the Southern Kingdom. It was steel, with a bronze inlaid hilt. The pommel had three rubies embedded in it, and the blade had the family motto "Nothing Shall Stop My Flight" his shield was a kite shield with the family crest, a griffon holding broken arrows. To go along with these, he had a short sword he had taken off the body of an Eastern Plains warrior, and a dagger that was given to him by an Elf. The dagger was very ornate with a curved wooden handle and a sharp straight blade. The short sword was nothing special, but had been a blessing to have were he ever disarmed of his broadsword.

    As the sun began to set, Johann walked to the center of camp, listening to the songs being sung, the blacksmith sharpening weapons, and the clangs of men practicing their swordsmanship. His page had been gone for quite a while. "Where has that boy gone..." Johann said aloud.
  4. Shade had been scampering around the camps, snagging small bits of food from those generous enough. She had gone around most of the tents, but had missed a few. She went by them quickly, not finding much of interest. She was bout to leave when she came upon a lone knight, she had spotted the crest and was wandering towards the man cautiously. She sat down at the edge of his camp and watched as he examined his weapons, she personally didn't care for anything but her twin daggers. Being much more accommodated for hand to hand combat than with a long sword.

    Slowly Shade edged closer, getting a better look at the man. She decided to take a big risk and padded along the assortment of weapons, weaving in and out of them carefully. She stopped at the dagger, sniffing it and taking in the handiwork. She continued to walk over to the knight and stopped right in front of him, her eyes filled with curiosity as he spoke out loud.

    Him speaking of his page reminded her that he hadn't come alone, she remembered seeing the boy as she was making her way around the camps, but that was a long while ago. She hadn't the slightest clue of where he could be now.
  5. Johann continued his trek around the camp and finally came back to his own tent. He had not seen any sign of his page, but this caused little distress to him. Nobody was foolish enough to attack the Red Knight's page in the same camp where they stayed. Johann then noticed a very peculiar sight. A cat had wandered it's way in to camp and was now staying near his weapons, almost as if examining the elven dagger. Maybe it liked it's reflection, he thought to himself.

    Johann grabbed a food bag and pulled out a piece of meat. "You know, little cat, they say that curiosity will be the death of you." he said to the animal as he tore off a piece and tossed it to her. "There, in case you were hungry, and so these people around here can stop calling me a heartless bastard."

    After saying this, Johann stood and worked on getting a fire started to cook himself a meal. After collecting enough sticks and other fire supplies, he was able to get a decent fire, at which point he set some of the deer meat over the fire and waited for it to cook, still watching the cat.
  6. Shade picked up the meat and ate it quickly. She was glad this knight wasn't like the select few who had chased her away. She padded towards the man slowly, sitting next to him and watching the flames closely. She stood back up and circled him once before stopping behind him. She tensed slightly then leapt up onto his back, climbing up until she was at his shoulder, where she sat a small purr forming in the back of her throat.

    Shade planned on following some if the knights on their trek through the forest. She knew that it would be tough for her since she was smaller in comparison. But she was more familiar with the tricks the shadows could play with ones mind. She had after all grown up there.

    Shade yawned and curled up on the knights shoulder, her eyes closing as se continued to purr. She figured the track would be much easier if she had a 'ride'. She knew if he decided that he didn't care for her she didn't have the time to try again. The sun was already down and she needed to make preparations.
  7. Johann chuckled to himself when the cat jumped on his shoulder. "You're a friendly little thing aren't you?" he said aloud as he reached over to pet the cat. After eating the food he had prepared Johann sat back to watch the fire, content to fall asleep here. The soft purring in his ear was a much nicer sound than some of the drunken songs and clash of metal he could still hear. The cat's fur seemed impossibly soft Johann noted to himself "You're lucky there aren't more of you and no one here is a clothes designer, they'd kill to be able to use your fur.." he whispered "talking to a cat...maybe I am going crazy." he finished.

    Shortly following this Johann heard a noise that sounded like someone running. He grabbed the small cat, set it in his tent "you don't want to see this, little cat" he said, when he had set the cat in the tent he reached overand grabbed his short sword and dagger. "WHO'S THAT?!" he bellowed into the darkness. After a few seconds, the young page, missing most of the day, reappeared, out of breath. "You stupid boy! You almost got yourself killed!" Johann said "I'm sorry sir..." the page responded, taking heavy breaths between each sentence. "The hunt...We found...a boar..." after saying this the page opened the bag slung over his shoulder to reveal a massive boar's head and several other pieces. The page and the other hunters had split the boar when they killed it.

    "Ah, I knew you had the ability to hunt in your blood!" Johann said, genuinely impressed with the boy "However, it is time for bed. We'll be up early to break camp and make for the forest." with this, Johann opened his tent flap and stepped inside the tent. Inside was enough room for a pair of cots, along with the various bags of supplies, clothes, and of course in one corner, the deep red armor that had given Johann his nickname.
  8. Shade padded over to the edge of the tent, peaking out of it cautiously. Her ears perking up as she saw the page running towards the knight. She wandered out farther, walking over to the page and placing her front paws up on his leg, looking up into the bag. Her small nose twitching slightly as she smelled the dead boar.

    Shade looked back up to the page, letting out a small meow before getting down and walking back into the tent, exploring slightly. She stopped in front of the armor and pawed it softly before hopping up on one of the cots and curling up into a small ball.

    Shade watched as the knight walked in, her green eyes following his every move. She figured she better get some sleep if they were to leave at dawn the next morning. She dropped her head, closing her eyes and attempting to fall asleep.
  9. Johann noticed the cat on his cot and looked at his page "it seems I've adopted a cat..." he remarked "too bad cats aren't any good at fighting bandits." He sat down on the side of the cot and took off his leather boots. The cot was not the best surface he'd slept on, but it would do.

    He looked over at the page, who was preparing his cot for sleep. "Boy, did you put out the fire and leave food for the horses?" Johann said. The page looked up as if horrified that he forgot and scrambled outside. Johann chuckled to himself as he laid down and reached to pet the cat. "I don't know why the boy's so scared of me, it's not like I beat him. Some of the knights here would've killed him by now for some of the things he forgets." He said aloud.

    As Johann closed his eyes he heard the sounds outside of the page putting out the fire and coming back in to the tent "The fire's out and the horses have plenty of food, sir" the page said. "Good, now shut up and go to bed. We've got a long march ahead of us, and I'd rather not be cranky as we march. Might have to split someone's head open." Johann remarked, smirking to himself. After a few minutes Johann finally fell asleep for the night.
  10. Shade started to purr once again as she stood up and hopped up onto the knights chest, laying back down as she listened to him speak aloud. She closed her eyes once again, her purrs slowly softening until she was silent. She figured that she would need to start being much more cautious around this man, she didn't want him as an enemy. Soon after both the knight and page fell asleep, she soon joined them.

    Shade awoke only a few hours later, the moon still high in the sky. She leapt down from the cot and shifted back into her human form. She yawned as she stretched, loosening stiffened muscles. She looked over at the pair, making sure they were both still asleep. She sighed softly before starting to rummage through their belongings, trying to find out more about the pair.

    She reached the deep red armor and knelt down in front of it, a slight puzzled look coming over her face. "Now where have I seen this color before?" She whispered softly before standing up and looking back around the tent. She walked out of the tent, making a sharp turn and running into an object on the ground, it was too dark to tell what it looked like, but based on the sound it made, Shade assumed it was a bucket. She froze as the sound echoed around the surrounding area, only just loud enough to be noticed by those within a few yards of the bucket.
  11. Johann awoke suddenly due to a loud noise. He shot up out of his bed and looked around, and noted that the cat had gone. Over in the cot next to him the page was still asleep.

    "Who's out there? If you reveal yourself you won't be in trouble." Johann said as he stood up out of bed. He reached down for his short sword just in case it was a trouble maker. He couldn't quite tell in the low light if there was someone there, but there appeared to be a figure just outside the tent.

    "I'm not going to hurt you, I promise" he said out loud. Talking to who? You're a Damn fool Johann, he thought to himself as he sat back down on the cot. It was probably just a drunk soldier stumbling around he thought as he put his sword down on the ground again.
  12. Shade heard the man get up, but stayed in place her ears pressed flat against her head. "Dammit, stupid bucket." She muttered to herself angrily. She scoffed slightly at the mention of him not causing her any harm, if he were to see her more clearly he most likely wouldn't stick with that.

    Her ears perked slightly as she heard the knight release his weapon and sit back down. She smirked, deciding to have some fun with him. She walked around the tent to where the moonlight cast a shadow on the side of the tent. She crouched down, ears up and alert, her tail swishing lazily. To anyone looking she seemed to be a large wolf. She let out a soft growl, just loud enough for the knight to hear.

    She quickly slipped one of her daggers out of its sheath, gripping it tightly as to make sure she wasn't defenseless if he decided to come running out of the tent to attack her.
  13. Johann saw a shape appear. At first it looked human but then he saw a wolf, and along with that he heard a growl. "A wolf?" He said to himself. "How does a wolf sneak past our sentries? Those lazy bastards fall asleep again?"

    He picked up his sword again and unsheathed it. It would be foolish to go after this wolf at night, but if it came through the tent he would be ready. Then, a thought occurred to him. "Did you eat the cat? You bitch! I liked that cat!" He bellowed loud enough to wake his page, who stirred and jumped at the sight of Johann with his sword out.

    Johann pointed out the silhouette and said "I think that wolf ate the cat. I enjoyed the cat's company..." Johann trailed off thinking to himself. He was missing something here. He hadn't heard any sounds of struggle or the wolf howling. He sheathed his sword, deciding this was some other knight's trained dog or wolf. "I bet you're hungry eh? Here have some food" he said assuming the canine could understand him. He took a sizeable piece of boar and stepped out of his tent.
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  14. Shade smiled to herself as he became upset at her 'eating' the cat. She resisted the urge to laugh as the knight pointed her out to the page. Although she knew that if he came at her with the sword she would be in deep trouble. She continued her growling, slowly escalating to where it almost started to seem like she was snarling. She slowly started to pin her ears back and ruffled her tail a bit.

    She stepped back slightly, puzzled of why he sheathed his sword. "What in the world is he doing?" She mumbled softly to herself. She sighed and shook her head slightly as the knight went and grabbed some food. Her eyes widened as she realized he was coming out of the tent. No matter what she did she would either be caught or seen.

    Shade stood up, shattering the illusion of a wolf. She frowned as he walked out, and gripped her dagger tighter. "Is your answer for every animal you come across food?" She asked slightly sarcastic.
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  15. Johann resisted the urge to jump as the "wolf" turned out to be a woman. By far her most striking feature was her wolf ears. "Only the ones that aren't worth the struggle to kill. And judging by how you're holding your dagger, you'd be quite a struggle."

    He sat down on a stump me a where the fire pit was. "I'm unarmed, so diplomacy is my only option. Why don't you sit here and explain to me what a shape shifter is doing in the camp."

    With how much light the moon gave off he could see most of her features, however he couldn't tell if her face was anger or something else. "I only assume you were the cat as well?" He asked
  16. Shade looked down at her hand and smirked, returning it to its sheath. "Even if I didn't have a dagger, I would still be quite the struggle."she circled the man cautiously before sitting down across from him. "Why I'm here doesn't really matter. But why you and all of the other knights are here does matter, very greatly in fact."

    She smiled at the memory of her trek through the camp. "Yes, I am the cat. It was rather pleasant time I must admit." She stretched her upper body before standing back up.

    "Now if you excuse me, I must be going. I had a very nice time though, pleasure meeting you." With that Shade bowed slightly and started to walk away, blending into the shadows.
  17. Johann watched as the strange woman walked away. He had an inner feeling that this would not be the last time he would see her. He could tell by the way she held her dagger that she had used them before, but she was not a stand up fighter. She would use stealth and cunning. That was very dangerous against knights in their armor in the heavily wooded forest.

    Her words caught him by surprise. What did she mean by them being here mattered. Was she following them into the forest? The only reason they were going to stop raiders from harming a town. Maybe the knights were encroaching on this woman's territory? He hoped they hadn't, legends had told that shapeshifters were trespassers. He half thought of following the woman to see where she went, but she disappeared into the shadows. "Well, shit." he said to himself.

    As Johann walked back in to the tent he suddenly had a very uneasy feeling about his equipment. He checked his armor, swords, and cot for any poisons or traps. After feeling content with how they were he sat back down and began wondering. Was this woman responsible for the raids? Impossible...all the reports had mention large groups of armored men with swords. She was armed with daggers.... and was just one woman. "This is going to cause complications..." he said to himself as he drifted to sleep.
  18. She laughed silently as she heard his frustration of not being able to follow her. She left circling around the camp before returning to the knight's tent. She sat waiting for him to return to the Trent before walking to the front once again. Her ears perked up on high alert, she waited until he was asleep before entering the tent once again. She looked over the pair once more, memorizing both their features and scents, before leaving.

    She walked back to the forest, taking her time. She found a tree by the edge and scaled it. She laid back against the trunk and looked up to the sky. "Why would he think of me as a complication." She wondered aloud, puzzled at what he thought of her. She soon fell back asleep, her ears twitching slightly at the sounds of the forest.

    Shade woke up the next morning right before sunrise. She leapt down from the tree and shifted into a grey wolf, preparing to go hunt. Before doing so she checked to see that the knights hadn't left, for if they did she would have to hurry to catch up. Sighing in relief that they hadn't, she went deeper into the forest hunting for her next meal.
  19. Johann woke up just as the sun was rising still pondering the previous night. Maybe it was a dream. He knew for a fact that several of these knights would kill any shapeshifter for being a witch or a magic user. He woke up his page and they quickly began to pack up camp.

    He wasn't sure if the page knew anything about the previous knight, And he thought it better the young boy didn't. Then out of nowhere "who was that woman you were talking to?" The page asked. Johann looked at him with a serious look and said "do not mention her, ever." And with that they set back to the camp.

    As the sun continued to rise, Johann watched more and more knights and soldiers break camp. Finally the command to move was made, and a little over two hundred men began marching or riding towards the massive forest. Atop his horse in full armor, Johann was a sight to behold, although he chose not to wear his helmet, partially from the heat, mostly because he wanted someone, in whatever form she had chosen today, to see him coming.
  20. Shade finished her hunt and sat at the edge if the forest waiting for the men to start their trek through the forest. In the distance she heard a high pitched screech. She know most of the creatures in the forest, but couldn't tell what that particular one was. She shook her head and continued to watche the knights pack up their belongings.

    She stood back up as they started to enter the forest, standing up she shifted back to her human form and walked towards where the first few knights were entering. She looked back to where more of the group was and spotted a knight wearing deep red armor. She smirked and waited for him to pass her hiding spot before standing up and walking along with the group silently, hidden from view in the shadows.

    Shade shifted back into the small kitten as before and ran, leaping up onto the page's horse. She landed right between him and the horses neck. She looked up at the page a moment before curling up into a small ball. Suddenly she heard a slight rustle in the bushes, then the same screech as before. Her head popping up and scanning the surrounding area closely.
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