Chapter 002: A Whole Lot Of Heart

Hello everyone! So to get everything caught up, I’ll be posting part 2 and 3 over the next couple days to get caught up with the story so far on reddit. If you can’t wait any longer, link is here: Part 2

Now without further ado…​

I tried asking him about the ‘meeting’ afterwards, but Gavin refused to speak of it. ‘A squire’s job is to listen,’ he claimed belligerently. I knew he was just trying to avoid the conversation, but I was in no position to push any further. Afterwards, I learned that the King had invited us to join him for a lavish dinner, as well as provide a proper bed to sleep in for the night. I was astounded by his generosity, curious if this was how he treated all of his Knights. 

We had an hour to prepare for the meal, and Gavin’s habit of cleanliness was absurd. Being raised on the farm, table manners were not a priority,  and as the youngest of four siblings, you had to fight for your food. Those more ‘animalistic’ tendencies, as Gavin liked to put it, embarrassed him on more than one occasion. This, however, was by far the most drastic case.

Once he was finished cleaning me up, a butler escorted us to the dining room, which was just as large as the audience chambers. The longest table I’d ever seen sat in the center of that room, with at least twenty chairs on either side. My jaw must have been hanging wide open, because Gavin’s elbow was buried in my side before I realized what I was doing myself. 

“Get a hold of yourself…” He whispered in a hushed, angry voice. Like a father scolding his child. I was tempted to argue, but I managed to hold my tongue as I reminded myself of where I was. Remember Fyn, you’re supposed to be respectful! 

The butler took us to our seats, strategically placed at the table’s center. When we finally sat down, I hadn’t noticed that the King and Queen were already seated at opposite ends of the table. I was unsure as to why, but Gavin didn’t seem to question it so I kept quiet. Although I was a tad anxious, things seemed to be going alright. That is, until the food arrived. 

To be fair, it had nearly been a day since we’d last eaten, in which I was scolded for my lack of table manners as well, but by that point I was completely famished. It was like I went into a gluttonous trance, all three of them watching in horror as I devoured the thick pork loin like it was still attached to the boar. It was the kind of thing you try to look away from, but find yourself glancing back constantly despite your best efforts to refrain. Even with their inadvertent staring, it was the best meal I’d tasted to this day. 

“What the hell is wrong with you…” Gavin sighed as we retired to our nightly quarters. The rest of the meal had carried on without incident, save for a few concerned looks from the King and Queen, and a parental-level death glare from Sir Gavin. Thankfully he didn’t bother shouting; after I came out of that trance, I was embarrassed enough without his ridicule. The rest of the night was filled with an awkward silence until sleep finally found us. 

Morning arrived much more quickly than I’d anticipated; I’d always dreamt of sleeping on a feather mattress, but never did I imagine how comfortable it really was. Unfortunately, Gavin couldn’t relate to my gratitude. He’d grown up in this kind of extravagance. I didn’t know at the time, but was the son of a noble lord, providing him with the wealth and power of his family’s estate. As much as his attitude bothered me, it was the type of thing you couldn’t hold against him; after all, he’d never known anything different. 

“Come on, Fyn. We’re burning daylight!” The knight was already clad in his steel armor, a long, leather cloak fastened to his pauldrons. He was even sporting his ornamental scabbard on his waist, decorated with colorful jewels and intricate etchings. The sword it housed was unfamiliar; not the old, bronze blade that he’d been wearing the day before. 

I was still dazed as I sat up, my vision blurry from sleep. “I’ve never seen that one before. Have you always carried it with you?” 

“I have…” Gavin pulled the scabbard free, releasing the gleaming steel from it’s home. “My father had it smithed when I was first knighted.” He replaced it on his waist, but his face was long. “I never thought I deserved such an ornate blade, but I must confess; I’m worried, Fyn.” 

“Worried?” 

“Yes.” The knight walked over to an east-facing window, the sunrise peaking just over the horizon. “His majesty obviously lacks faith in me if I was his third choice. Did you know he and I grew up together?” 

“You hadn’t mentioned it, sir.” 

“It’s not something I like to share. We’ve grown apart over the years, but we were close when we were boys.” The vacant look in Gavin’s eyes suggested his mind was elsewhere, reliving a distant memory. “He used to tell me that once he was inaugurated, that I would serve as his Commander General, and sit as his head advisor. That was nearly twenty years ago, now.” 

Gavin turned from the window, with his old bronze sword in hand. It must have been sitting on the sill, waiting for him.“What he’s done for us over the past day- that’s not something he would do for an ordinary knight. That’s something you do when you’re send somebody on a hopeless errand.” 

“I know that you’ve only been my squire a month or so, but I want you to take this. The path ahead will be dangerous, and you need to be able to defend yourself.” He passed me the old blade, but I was hesitant. “Come, now. This was once my father’s blade, the blade that won him the favor of the last King. Take it.” 

“Hold on one minute.” Even I was surprised by the volume of my voice, but I could no longer hold my silence. “If this sword has so much sentimental value, why would you give it to a fledgling squire? I haven’t earned that honor, Sir.” I was expecting Gavin to become angry with me, but he just smiled, laughing quietly. 

“Fyn, I could have taken on any boy in this kingdom as my apprentice. I’ve been apart of the Knighthood for many years, and have taken on many squires. Each of them has been from some royal clan, only ever in it for the glory. They never cared about our kingdom, about the people who make Sevestia what it is. But you- you may be a lazy, pigheaded boy, but you have more heart than any knight I’ve ever squired.” Gavin was smiling widely now. It was a side of him I’d never witnessed. He was prideful, but not in an arrogant way. 

“I know that all you’re after is a post with the Castle Guard, and that’s a respectable position. But hear me when I say this- you’re destined for so much more than guard duty. And that, Fyn, is why I squired a peasant boy from the farms. So, in my eyes, you deserve this sword.” There was so much passion in his voice, that it was impossible to mistake his words for lies.

My life has never been easy, and it was true; I was lazy, and pigheaded. Not to mention naive to how the world truly worked. But Gavin – he gave me a chance to prove that I was more than a lazy farmhand. He gave me a chance to prove that I had more worth than what my father told him when he took me. And with him putting that much stock in me, that much faith, I wasn’t about to let him down. For the first time in my life, I was hopeful. Hopeful to become something more than a Castle Guard. I accepted that sword, and fastened it to my belt promptly. 

“Now that that’s all sorted, don’t we have a princess to save?”

A Subtle Introduction

Welcome to my Web Serial page! I go by my handle, SevereDifficulty, but you can call me Sev for all intensive purposes.

A little bit about me:

  • I’ve been writing on and off for a little under a decade, and figured it’s time to give things a real shot. I’m starting with a web serial entitled ‘Chronicles of Sevestia’.
  • Be sure to check out my reddit: https://www.reddit.com/user/SevereDifficulty for things I don’t post here.
  • I’m from Canada and work sporadic shift work, so I’ll do my best to update weekly, but that is subject to change depending on circumstances.

So to wrap things up, hopefully you enjoy my writings and encourage your friends to check it out as well! If you can leave my page entertained, then I’ve done my job!

Chapter 001: Awkward Introductions

The first installment of my web serial, Chronicles of Sevestia. I will be updating weekly, so please be sure to subscribe!

For more of my writings, be sure to check out my reddit: https://www.reddit.com/user/SevereDifficulty

The summer sun was high above the coastal city of Traug, tirelessly beating down on it’s residents as the hours slowly went by. A handsome knight found himself excitedly skipping down the city’s main street, through the famous marketplace and towards the gates of the Marble Keep. Heads turned as he passed, scolding him as he forced his way through the crowds. But how could he not, especially after a summons from the King himself? It didn’t excuse his ridiculous bravado, but at the very least it made his elated state understandable. At least, that’s how I tried to justify Sir Gavin’s peculiar personality. 

Now I know it might not seem like it, but Gavin meant well. Even with his nose stuck high in the sky, his heart was in the right place. He cared about Sevestia, and the people who called our noble kingdom home. He just had a funny way of showing it. 

Not far behind, a skinny teenager frantically chased after the knight, receiving the majority of  the public’s flak. He didn’t mind though. He looked up to Gavin as a hero, and was honored to even have the opportunity to serve him as his squire. That young man was none other than myself, Fynieas Zef. Bright-eyed and full of wonder, I was like any other 16-year-old kid, unwitting to the true nature of the world. And let me tell you, it made dealing with Gavin’s ‘angry entourage’ a hell of a lot easier. I was bombarded with a flood of spit and garbage that day, but not even that could keep Gavin’s excitement from infecting me. 

A personal summons was a huge deal, the kind of thing a knight dreamt of as a boy. It was almost a sure-fire way to get assigned to the Castle Guard, the ideal job of any knight who valued his life. Our kingdom was formidable, so working guard duty was pretty much a guaranteed cake walk, safe from any real danger. I mean sure, there were some that sought after the ‘glory of battle’ or whatever, and maybe Gavin did too. Either way, I had my eyes set on making the Castle Guard one day. 

It wasn’t much longer before we arrived at the gates of the Marble Keep, and it was just as magnificent as I’d imagined. It was the first time I’d ever been inside the city’s walls, having grown up in a small farming community twenty-some miles east of the city. It was sheer luck that I even nabbed the attention of Sir Gavin, saving me from the gruelling life of a farmhand. In short, the fact that I was anywhere near a Royal Keep had me thrilled. 

The guards posted at the entrance waved us through swiftly, expecting Gavin’s arrival. I stuck to him like glue, becoming aware of just how different I was from royalty. Everything inside the Keep’s outer walls were clean and pristine, polished and kept in perfect condition. I’d never encountered anything like it in my life, but Gavin didn’t seem at all fazed by it. He carried on like he owned the place, as I gawked at every nook and cranny. The luxury they lived in, I longed for. It was the first seed of resentment that planted itself in my soul.

Gavin navigated the winding corridors expertly, taking us straight to the King’s audience chambers within minutes. He stopped in front of the great doors, beckoning me to come stand beside him. I listened promptly, as a squire should, and he leaned close to me whispered, 

“Whatever you do, do not speak unless the King speaks to you. Understood?” His tone was quite serious, which was strange. At least, strange for the short time I’d known the man. 

“Of course, Sir Knight.” He removed his cloak, draping it over my arms. 

“Very good. Now shall we?” He smiled faintly, pushing open the heavy oak doors. 

The audience chamber was a spectacle to behold, easily fitting hundreds of people between its walls. The marble was polished to a shine, a red carpet decorated in gold trim leading to the platform where the King’s throne was placed. Braziers lined the ornate walkway, illuminating the narrow path. I followed quietly, a little intimidated by the grand display. 

The King was seated in front of us, with two guards on either side. He was younger than I imagined, his auburn hair only beginning to gray. His smile was bright and friendly as he greeted us, Gavin giving me a prompt kick when I forgot to bow. 

“Oh, Sir Knight. Take it easy on the boy.” 

“I will not, Your Highness,” Gavin argued. “ I apologize for his unfavourable behaviour.” 

“Nonsense. I’ve been told he’s only been travelling with you for a month or so. Please, try and relax.” 

“My apologies, sir.” Gavin bowed once more, and I wasn’t making the same mistake twice. 

“Anyways, onto the business at hand.” The King sat forward in his chair, resting his elbows on his knees and chin in his hands. “Sir Knight, I must admit that you weren’t my first choice for this quest. I’ve sent three of my best, and all have yet to return.” He was good at hiding it, but I saw the fear flash in Gavin’s eyes. I was worse at hiding my cowardice. 

“My… My daughter has gone missing, and I fear for the worst.” I could see the tears welling as he looked down to his feet. “The Last Knight I sent almost a month ago. They should have returned by now.” The King stood from his throne, hoping down from the platform. He placed his hands on Gavin’s shoulders, making unsettling eye contact. 

“Sir Gavin, I beg of you, please find my daughter.” 

I wasn’t sure what I was expecting of a summons from the King, but it certainly wasn’t this. I mean sure, in fairy tales this kind of thing happens all the time. But this, this wasn’t a fairy tale. I could feel the sweat dripping off my face, and the dread pooling in the pit of my stomach. 

“Of course, Your highness.” Upon hearing Gavin’s response, the King’s smile stretched from ear to ear. 

“Now please, come with me. We will discuss things further in the war room.” 

“Of course.” Gavin replied promptly. “Boy, you wait here.” I nodded, weary to speak in the presence of the King. 

To this day, I’m still not sure exactly what was said behind those doors. I often wonder if the King claimed she was kidnapped, or if she fled of her own accord. Either way, neither of us expected what awaited us in the Eldergrove.