This is the sixth chapter of my book The Broken Tournament, to catch up with the story so far you can read the first installment, the prelude here.
What a load of fools these travellers were. Even for a man of the forest who could blend in well with their environment you’d normally expect them to be suspicious of the rumours, but no. They just walked through the forest all day, blissfully unaware that they were being watched. How stupid can you get? Well they would soon learn a painful lesson.
They were loud and used the common path through the forest, our easiest hunting spot. I had returned to Griffin several times and found them nearly straight away. It was difficult for them to travel far when the shortcuts we had made were so much faster. They often say don’t leave the path but this advice was always false with Griffin and his men who ruled the forest, not just the forest but the minds and actions of rich men with power.
Maybe they hadn’t heard the rumours of the forest bandits who resided in Glenmore forest, robbing people just to live well and subtly influencing the politics of the Sunflower kingdoms. It was basically fact that this rumour was correct, we never killed so many accounts would have travelled by word of mouth. One time on an expedition long ago the previous king of Sevren went into the forest and was kidnapped by Griffin, our leader. Ever since he’s had his foot in the door of the politics of the Sevren kingdoms controlling everything, including the tournament that was going to take place very soon.
It was a hopeful future for the bandits of Glenmore forest. With both political power and strangers almost begging to be robbed and taken, not a lot was going to stand in our way. Our tactics had made us stay in our wooded base for too long, we would soon no longer need to fear anyone and be able to branch out.
Listening to them talk had been quite interesting. One of them actually wanted to enter the kings tournament herself. She’s incredibly delusional if she thinks she has a chance of possibly winning at all. The way she took down that bear was poorly handled yet still better than most of the initial scum trying to enter the tournament. A group of our own men, vastly superior in strength to her had already joined the tournament ready to win, with tactics and methods so advanced that we would blow everyone out of the water in an instant, and not just through battle. Ideally we would want our own man to win but the kings son would actually be a fine replacement since we’d still have influence, if it was looking bad he would make a good compromise.
Most of the people there were on the same level as us, but our secret weapon was a genius trained by Griffin himself to be his replacement. He wasn’t quite on the same level but he would get there eventually. He was able to keep morale high and use trickery to get everything he wanted. He had talked me into staying behind, and it’s only now that I recall back on his words how well he manipulated me while I was unaware. Overlooking his manipulation of me I had complete trust that he would obtain the right result.
The travellers set up to sleep and I reluctantly joined them high on top of a tall tree nearby. I had to listen to the stupid ‘adventurers’ talk. Two of them were nutters who said they were from Withwood village, that dead ruin, and I can’t blame the other one for not believing them. Maybe I’m just too old and I’ve been doing this too long but this was ridiculous. Thankfully the skinny one kept quiet, the problem was the girl and big guy who kept on laughing together.
They started to eat the food they cooked yesterday. You never want to cook in Glenmore forest, because if the bandits haven’t already found you they will, it’s unavoidable, and they’ll stay following you until you can be captured easily. To the outsider this place feels massive but people like me can navigate blindfolded. I’ve never actually tried that though, maybe I should? It wasn’t just their cooking that was bad, once they killed the bear they rubbed its flesh on themselves which made following them even easier. Putting up with the smell I drifted off to sleep.
I woke up at the usual time and saw that they were still asleep, every ten minutes or so I would move around to warm up for the day ahead. I became bored of waiting, snapped a thick branch off a tree and dropped it near to where they were sleeping. The quiet one woke up and they spent the next 30 minutes packing up. It was remarkable how easily they were prepared to leave things like fires and shelters out, at least try to cover your tracks! These people deserved everything they were going to get. I was looking forward to giving them a scare later.
I didn’t feel bad about what we were going to do. The plight of our leader Griffin was far too great to worry about the lives of strangers like this. If we wanted to survive and influence the kingdom we relied on these people, and we would ultimately be able to help them anyway with the power we’d obtain with their resources. After saying that these two thought they were from Withwood village Griffin said that we need to question them in case. I personally didn’t see the advantage to doing this but Griffin might have some good plans for Withwood if for some miraculous reason it still existed, especially if it was still in its prior form.
Griffin is old and he’s not got much time left, maybe he wants to see Withwood before he dies. Griffin had been the pillar of the group for so long that I dreaded the day when he left the world, whoever followed him would have some huge shoes to fill.
I let them leave and inspected their campsite for a while; they seemed to know a little bit about what they were doing but there set up was still quite basic. It took me a few extra minutes than I first predicted but I eventually caught up to them, climbed a tree to see their journey and watched them like that for most of the day. The boy and the girl talked to each other very well but the skinny one was really out of place, it’s not often you see a dynamic like that and I wondered in my head if these guys had ever even met before.
A while ago I had changed all the signs in the forest; they were completely on the wrong path and walking more into the heart of Withwood, where the remaining bandits were. They seemed confused but weren’t ready to trace back their steps yet. One of them made an effort to climb a tree near to me but his attempt was futile, it was pointless. He just fell on the floor while the girl and scrawny guy laughed the terrible tree climber joined in too as if this was some kind of game. They had no idea how foolish they were being. I noticed a bear coming at them roughly a hundred meters from their location and went to down to kill it. I didn’t want them getting to the travellers before we could question them.
I took out my bow and shot it from a far distance so that it couldn’t get to me. Then for good measure I shot it again just to make sure. It was the kind of shot that could only be made after hundreds of thousands of practice shots, practiced and perfect. It was nearly time for them to be captured and one bear was not going to ruin our plans.
Sure enough half an hour later I found more of my men who were there as planned, we followed behind them for a few moments. We were better organised, better equipped and better men. Our time was coming very soon.
No spoilers but the next chapter is going to be tough. Please root for my characters as they take on their most violent and formidable foe yet!
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! I had excellent feedback last time so thank you! You’re continued support is what is going to make this project great! Grammar error are probably the most helpful at this point because you don’t know how the story is meant to fit together yet!