I had ridden for days, but at last my work had been rewarded, this was it, Withwood village. I never thought it would or could exist, to most people it was simply a myth, and for good reason. The once prosperous and heaven like image of Withwood had vanished. Now it was a small shell of its former self. I knew that once I had arrived at the fields I was going to find something; where theirs farming theirs people, but I had expected something much better than this if I were to ever of found it.
Withwood was a very simple place and was very strange looking, almost post-apocalyptic if not for the well looked after fields, and obvious signs of noisy and uncivilised people. Surrounding it was a deep forest to the east and many, many abandoned fields. It would seem that Withwood was unsustainable and they lacked the resources to farm as much as they used too. The location was very flat except for the mess of buildings in the centre. With grand, dusty houses scattered around it just looked like a deserted ruin. Was this even the right place? It had to be, surely? No other village could possibly be like this.
Traveling bards and story tellers would recount vivid images of exotic and ornate buildings so expensive that even kings would need to save to live there. I didn’t doubt that I saw brilliant houses, they were just long past their prime. No, I had to be wrong. I was in Withwood village and the feeling thrilled me.
They say that obscure rural villages have a natural fear of outsiders like me, especially on horseback so approaching would be a risk that probably wasn’t worth taking. I dismounted and took a roll of parchment out of my saddle bag, it was the map I was working on. I kept a draft copy for minor notes. Once I had completed my travels, precisely adding every detail I would copy it up onto the real thing. When the map was finished it was going to be distributed for the whole of Sevren to see. Of course my draft had many scribbles on it already, from exploring the small town of Candan and visiting many minor villages in the process of avoiding Glenmore forest at all possible costs. I drew a little number 16 at my location and added Withwood village to the key on the side. This wasn’t going to be good enough and I would need to take a few trips back and forth checking and writing everything. This discovery could quite possibly make me a knight. I saw this becoming a pilgrimage spot in the future, it had that dead, saintly aurora too it.
It’s sad really, some legends might be true in some vague way but the remains of them might often be sad, like this place. It was both well built up yet devoid of anything, what an absolute wreck of a place. As words, myths and legends travelled from person to person across the ages and naturally it had gotten out of hand, to the extent that discovering the legend would only disappoint and ruin the story for everyone else.
I decided to ride around and see if I could find someone who was alone, if they made a dash to run I’d leave but ideally I’d like to talk to at least one of them so that I could discover as much information as possible, I’m sure I wasn’t the only one who was curious. There were very well defined paths between the fields that were clearly looked after and many routes around them. At one point I came across a path that was so worn out that it was clear it was regularly used. A road had once been here but it was now a withered melancholic grey with weeds and grass growing through it, and so many cracks that I was worried if my horse would be ok walking through it. It was good that I had found this route because paths meant that I would find people eventually.
Remarkably though I could see three more paths like this across several smaller empty fields that would put any farmer to shame, what was the benefit to having paths in such close proximity? One of the fields was completely empty so I crossed the muddy gap through the field boundary to enter. It was nerve-racking being in a location full of so many people who could potentially want to murder me but it would be worth the effort if I could only get some extra information.
As I forced my horse (Charlie) along I noticed hoof marks being left behind me, great! Brilliant! Now they will know that someone’s been here! So basically I had to find someone really quickly today or I would forever feel nervous about going back, not that I couldn’t go back but returning would be so difficult. You hear things about ancient villages worshiping outsiders to their village as gods but at the same time you also hear of them sacrificing their gods as well. The risk was massively not worth it and I’m not sure I want that kind of attention anyway.
Reaching the end of the field I could see the paths spiralling outwards and just vanishing into dirt, it seemed that people might have lived on those paths, there was slight evidence that houses had once been there, I wonder what happened. The day was still young but I wanted to find someone and promptly get out, spending the rest of the evening drawing the map up. As soon as I had my questions I would be able to relax, return to the council, or even the king if they had finally got around to deciding who he would be.
Before the previous king of Sevren died he put special measures in to ensure that the next king wasn’t his son but someone else, I suppose he hated him. He had the noble and rather foolish ambition that the king after him and every other king following would be decided by a fighting tournament, he was so strange and was probably very paranoid in the last stages of his life. The tournament seemed fairly prone to foul play but hopefully they’d have protective measures in place to stop everyone murdering their next opponent before their battle! This competition doesn’t concern me anyway; all I need is to get that map back to the council and I would be in a life of luxury. The council would have to be the ones to do this and I was still being paid a lot of money, if they forgot about me I would be able to take it else ware to others who would pay fortunes for the knowledge. But would anyone believe me? Probably not but I didn’t want to think about it.
I continued through the fields looking for people, hopeful that I would be able to find at least someone.
Thank you for reading the first of many installments of my book. Our adventure is just beginning and our characters still have a long way to go! Stay tuned to find out more of the mysterious secrets surrounding Withwood Village!
All feedback is appreciated but criticism more so, if you have any suggestions or things you thought could have been improved you are actively helping me create a better work by pointing things out to me! So thank you!