Hello everyone, this is Asclepius, with the final chapter in a wonderful story by enderandrew. It is entitled
The Green Rogue Volume V
Told by Joorus the Scribe
Background music “Reunion”, by Smartsound
Sir Greggor did not move quite as fast as he did in his youth. The various wounds from countless battles took their toll on him to the point where he wasn’t sure if he could keep riding on top of horseback another year. If he did not take Lord Zolaas’ offered promotion, he might be forced to retire early. The thought of that was just slightly more unbearable than the pain of spending hour after hour in a saddle. But age did have its benefits.
Years of falconry had made him a better hunter, even if he moved slower. Tonight it paid off. His men blanketed much of the woods near trade roads and his falcon flew high enough to see the bandits hiding in trees. His falcon directed him and soon enough he stood at the base of a tree where he could make out a masked bandit hiding.
He lit a torch and approached the tree. “Come down peacefully and you may yet live. I have not killed a man, and I would prefer not to. But we will not have our lands divided by brigands who hide in trees. I will burn the trees with you among them if I have to. Do not test my will.”
One bandit anxiously screamed in response “to arms” before the Green Rogue countered in command “no, wait! I surrender, but let these men live.” He dropped down to the ground at Sir Greggor’s feet. He dropped again to his knees, and then pulled down his mask. “I thought you died because of me and it has haunted me for years. I can’t fight you now. But leave these men. They followed me and fought in my name. The Green Rogue is the face of rebellion in these lands. Let them retire quietly in the night to their homes and families and no one will be the wiser. Claim me as your prize.”
This time it was Sir Greggor who dropped his blade. He looked upon Alex’s face. Though there were burns from the fireball years ago, he recognized it immediately. “I thought you were dead as well because of me. How is it that you’re alive?”
Alex stumbled on his words, his shame of prior cowardice burning at him now. “I ran when I should have fought alongside you. I left you to die and I ran. When they saw me run, they did not give chase. How did you live? You were overrun by Kobolds!”
Sir Greggor recalled his prior torment but wept in tears of joy. “They wounded me gravely, but then left. They told me they wanted me to serve as a warning. They wanted me to crawl back home, half dead to scare off others from venturing into what they considered their lands. But why not return home? Why are you doing this, robbing innocent people?”
Alex looked up defiantly. He was no longer a frightened boy. “I liberate more than coin. I liberate these people who are tired of living every day in fear of constant war. We do not wish to see more and more loved ones die in a battle we do not understand. Every one of my men and women in the trees have lost someone, and they would rob a thousand merchants if it saved lives.”
Sir Greggor looked to the trees and saw others. “No, as commander of this expedition, I see only one bandit. I’m ordering my men to leave. And while I thank the stars you are alive, it is time to bring you home to your father, as I promised I would years ago.” He places shackles on Alex’s wrists and then placed him on his horse. He would walk behind them on the long journey home.
Between two brave men, many tears were shed that night before returning to Lord Zolaas. Upon seeing his son, he wept as well. They caught up on lost years. Lord Zolaas revealed the challenge from Lady Vash that prompted everything, and how their family has now permanently lost those hunting grounds because Alex was branded a coward.
“But I would give up all my lands and more, I am so grateful that you are alive,” Lord Zolaas declared.
“Fear not,” Alex declared. He reached down into his boot, pulled out a hidden dagger and fell on it. “I am a coward no longer.”