Oct 28, 2020




 The attack by the raiders came in the early morning hours when only a dozen men were guarding the castle’s outer wall.  The majority of people living on Lord Garrett’s land were craftsmen and indentured farmers.  They lived outside the castle.  In times of danger, these people sought protection inside the walls of Castle Kildeer. 
            Jax grew up living in the castle.  His father was one of two sword makers working with Scratch. As boys, Jax and Lord Garrett’s son Dragu played together.  Jax was even allowed to visit the third floor in the keep where the Garrett family lived.             
            At twelve, the two boys entered the training program for castle guard.   After two years of training, Jax was expected to enter castle service as a guard defending the outer walls.  Rather than serve as a guard on the wall, the plan was for Dragu to serve as an apprentice knight under Scratch’s direction.  Jax for his part continued his training but at night joined the men on the wall, dreaming that one day he would become a knight.
            Impressed by Jax’s natural ability with sword and shield, Jax was invited to attend the training sessions with Lord Dragu.  He and Dragu were the only apprentices being trained by Scratch the ancient swordmaster and armorer to Castle Kildeer and Lord Garrett. 
            At first, Dragu’s sister Willa attended her brother’s training, saying only that she was bored with her instruction.  Soon, Willa, another natural, was training to fight with a sword and dagger especially made for her by Jax’s father.   In their training sessions, the three gave no quarter.  They fought until one emerged as the winner.  The reward for winning, a word, or a smile from Scratch. 
            The first skirmish with the raiders from the sky was quick.  The raiders took food and women prisoners; they killed without hesitation.  Swords and lances proved ineffective against their military body armor, just as iron shields didn’t stop laser weapons.  Jax and several other guards raced to the Keep to protect the Lord and his family.  What they found was old Scratch with a bloody sword standing guard over the unconscious body of young Dragu.  Beside him was Lord Garrett with a bloody dagger in his right hand and a blackened hole in the center of his chest.  
            Scratch’s only words were, “They took her.”

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