~ Chapter 2: The Soldier ~
Late one night, a soldier was returning home after a long terrible war between the Ascomanni Kingdom and the Thulmahn Empire. After what seemed like endless years of conflict, battle after battle the Ascomannis were victorious against the Thulmahns who wanted to expand their empire…and this soldier was more then joyful to see the end of this war, at first he was full of appetite and will for the fight….glory and fame to be had in the battlefield, but that was before he had seen the true face of war…now he didn’t knew what to feel, his officers would constantly say to him and others like him “feel proud that you fight for you country and your King” but he found no comfort in those words…he never did…the waste, the destruction, the bloodshed…. but now at least he has survived the war and he was finally returning home…he had decided he would save some gold and decided to cross the pine forest on foot instead of hiring a carriage or buying a horse.
The first day of his journey was rather uneventful…the soldier stuck to the main path and kept a brisk pace. When it started getting dark he set up his bed roll, built a small fire and cooked up some rabbit he had caught. “A fine day indeed” he thought to himself as he fell asleep. Partway through the evening the soldier was woken up by soft sobbing in the distance….He swiftly grabbed his sword assuming it to be a bandit trick, but pretended to sleep so he could get the jump on them. After a few minutes, the sobbing started moving away from his camp until he could no longer hear it. For the rest of the night, he slept with one eye open. Day two, the soldier awoken with what rotten sleep he could catch and started off through the forest at a quicker pace, intending to put distance between himself and what ever he had heard last night. As the day went on it began to rain heavy, so the soldier built himself a small shelter for the evening so he could remain dry as he slept…..it took him a little longer to fall asleep with thoughts of the previous night in mind, but eventually he slept, This time he awoke to sobbing that sounded like it was right outside his shelter. The soldier grabbed his sword, and crawled out of the shelter. In front of the fire….he saw the back of a ghostly woman sobbing into her hands. Feeling intense chills throughout his entire body from what he was witnessing…the soldier mustered his courage and asked her what was wrong.
He began to slowly approach….but before he could reach her she turned and screamed at him! The ghostly woman raised an axe and ran at the soldier, disappearing before she made contact. The soldier terrified out of his senses took off into the night with just his sword in his hand. He ran until the first light of dawn where he started down the road again, as fast as he could move. The third day was bright and sunny, but the soldier…rattled and sleepless didn’t even notice. He moved as fast as he could trying to get through the forest before night fall. As darkness began to fall, he saw a cabin just off the road and thought to himself it would be a good place to bunker down for the night. But as he approached the cabin he begun to feel a strange sensation… an otherworldly aura surrounding the cabin…though as night was falling and with such a sturdy hut at his disposal protecting him from the cold he wasn’t going to sleep outside. He spent some time blocking the doors and the windows with planks he found on the back of the cabin,,, nothing could get in now he thought. Despite his fortifications though he still could not sleep. He sat in what used to be the cabin’s bedroom, staring at the barricaded door…shaking. Eventually he could keep his eyes open no longer and fell asleep…
This time he awoke to sinister laughing right outside the front door. It sounded like the woman before but he refused to believe it was her! The chills returning more crippling then before….this man had fought countless battles….witnessed indescribable bloodshed and fellow soldiers being killed and butchered before his very eyes, faced overwhelming odds again and again…but never before had he felt so terrified….curse it he thought! He bursted through the door to find that same ghostly woman staring at the ground, laughing hysterically with an axe in her hand. He began to recklessly attack the ghostly woman…slashing her with his sword…but his strikes had no effect whatsoever. He retreated into the cabin and closed the door shut…he could still hear her laughing…fear was taking over him, he has been through so much but he has never faced anything like this before, as he was standing in the cabin wondering how to defeat this evil entity he noticed…a scroll on a cupboard, he recognized it…the kind that mages use, he had never been interested in the ways of magic but at this moment (and since his sword was of no use) he was willing to try anything…he untied the ribbon with which the scroll was tied with, opened the door and read out loud the words written on the scroll which drew a scream from the ghostly woman and she vanished….disappeared. With a sigh the soldier felt a wonderful euphoria of bliss and relief…The ordeal was over he thought, the ghost was gone.
The soldier slept well that night, and the next day made excellent distance through the woods. As the sun began to set he came out the other side of the forest and looked back, remembering the days before….he couldn’t help but think of what had happened…that ghostly woman…who was she? What evil had she done which had doomed her spirit to wonder these woods forever? Why was she yielding an axe?….As he turned and started walking away from the woods, he could swear he could hear the sobbing again.