Tales of Bravery: Koen
Ages ago, within the dewy forests of the blessed Brightvale
Kingdom, there existed a young red Techo by the name of Koen.
Koen lived in a simple hut upon the outskirts
of the Brightvale kingdom. It's straw-thatched roof flickered at the slightest
breeze, but it kept it's hold upon the wooden log walls. To it's back lay the
shadowy darkness of the forest, and the farthest branches of the farthest trees
barely grazed the edges of the faded roof. There weren't any windows, only wooden
shutters secured by a small, rectangular bolt every night. The furniture was
handmade, crafted out of the trees which grew luxuriously nearby, and the floor
was covered in exotic bamboo rugs specially made from the island of mystery.
The house was simple, and Koen was just as simple, if not more, as his home.
He had always lived near trees. As a child, he
was adopted by a kind-hearted Kacheek farmer who tended to the King's orchards.
The saplings were Koen's playmates as a child, and they soon became his secret
hideaway as he aged. Eventually, the trees soon became the sustenance in his
life, and he depended on them for everything. He harvested their lush fruit
every spring, and he used their sturdy, wooden branches as furniture and tools.
Koen was young, but when it came to trees, he was wise beyond his years. Whenever
he was around them, a small, golden light would erupt in his pale eyes, and
warmth would suddenly spring to life within him.
Even as a child, Koen had always been particularly
shy and incredibly timid. He did have acquaintances, and companions, but he
never confided in anyone except for the skin-like bark that covered every inch
of his tall, leafy friends. But as Koen aged, he realized that he would have
to interact with the outer world in order to survive in the prospering kingdom
of Brightvale. So every week, he would travel into the village and sell his
carefully crafted furniture and thick, juicy fruits to the townspeople. Soon,
Koen became known for his consistency in creating amazing, if not perfect, furnishings
and many considered him a mastermind when it came to tending fruit trees.
And so, it was in this way that Koen had existed
for many years. He was an outcast of society, choosing the company of wind-on-leaf
over real words, but he was a known outcast that did not have any enemies.
One particular day, Koen had returned from his
weekly trip to the main part of town. The faded and torn bag hanging on his
side jingled with coins, and a weak smile was planted on his sober face. This
trip had taken longer than he had expected, and the intoxicating smells of civilization
and lack of fresh, springlike aromas had taken it's toll on him. The heat was
at it's height, the wind was at it's low, and Koen yearned for the quiet shadows
of sunlight and leaves. As he waddled down the dusty, bronze road, his eyes
started to light up as he made it to the crest of the hill. The billowing, fluffy
tops of the trees amazed him each time, and Koen believed that he could never
tire of them. Their beauty, the simple elegance of nature and it's children...
it amazed him in many ways and made him speechless.
Yet, this sight could still not wipe away the
gossip he heard during his visit in town. Months ago, Meridell had started a
war, yet again, with it's other neighboring kingdom of Evonkell.
Since Brightvale exists upon it's borders, and had declared itself as Meridell's
most trusted ally, the kingdom had no choice but to enter this war as well.
It's been a half-year, and the battle still raged on upon the outskirts of Meridell.
Luckily, the boundaries were ages away from the edges of Brightvale, and the
war's ferocity has not yet reached the village. But... these rumors that Koen
had heard... some townspeople had received word that Evonkell's most deadly
soldiers were planning a kidnapping. Their target: Brightvale's princess Acara,
Lady Teryl, and the only heir to the throne.
Koen could already feel fear grip his heart as
he thought of the royal family. The King had always been generous and incredibly
kind, the best king Brightvale has had in years. Unfortunately, the King is
plagued by old age and diseases for which no cures could be found. He barely
even has strength to speak or command, let alone control a thriving kingdom.
So, for the past few months, Lady Teryl has taken control of the kingdom, and
she has been doing an amazing job as well. Her quick wit and clever plans had
aided both Brightvale and Meridell in the war, and has constantly pulled them
out of ambushes and ditches. Yet, her soft smile and stern countenance had made
her both formidable and merciful when it came to matters of her domain. Like
her father, she is the best Queen that Brightvale has had for many, many years.
Another gust of wind breezed by as Koen crossed
over the small hill's crest. He sighed as he rested his eyes upon the comforting
picture of his home bordered by still, green trees. It was so perfect. He had
somehow managed to bring his childhood dreams and fantasies into reality. A
calm, peaceful life that dwells upon the edge of Neopia's natural beauty, and
firm belief that this life shall continue on as he ages. Koen sighed once again
and pushed open the front door to his hut.
The windows were open inside and allowed the
warm sunlight to dance upon the wooden floors amidst clouds of dust particles.
Embers of a leftover fire still flickered in his hearth, begging for more wood
in order to fly and grow once more. Instinctively, Koen glanced towards the
end of his bed, and his eyes fell upon the empty, open wooden cage at it's foot.
"Dirk must be out," Koen chuckled softly to himself
as he walked towards the window and stared into the infinite blue sky. Dirk
was Koen's petpet; a Brown Ganuthor with wings twice as large as it's body and
a brain as tiny as a Moach. Of course, like Koen, Dirk had a love for nature,
and constantly flew out of his cage to frolic in the soft shadows of the forests.
Although Dirk was colored brown, the sun had burned his fur into a deeper, darker
brown until it started to resemble the dark hue of the oak tree bark in the
Koen lowered his eyes from the sky and turned
his attention to the forest. The wind and trees, like always, once again beckoned
to him, but Koen refused their call with a smile. For him, time did not exist
under the green boughs, and, like always, he would lose track of days, thus
wasting precious time to earn a life.
But, as Koen stared at the trees, they reminded
him of another rumor which he heard during one of his trips to town. The news
of the possible kidnapping had reached the Lady Teryl's ears, and, in order
to protect herself and her royal family's line, she went into hiding. Now, her
chief-maidens and trusted advisors communicate for her, and she hasn't been
seen since. Rumor has it that she now resides in the forests that lie between
Meridell and Brightvale... or, in other words, she lives in the forests which
Koen love and live by. Of course, these words might be fake, but still...
"It shall be quite fortunate to chance upon a
meeting with Lady Teryl in the woods," Koen muttered to himself softly and chuckled
once more. He knew that Lady Teryl has heard of him, though she does not know
his name. Instead, she knows him by the alias "Provider", for Koen's fruits
are the ones which decor the royal tables and hallways every dinner, and his
furniture are the ones which grace the bedrooms of the castle. He has, in fact,
been summoned to attend a Royal Dinner numerous times in the past, but Koen
has always politely refused these invitations. He preferred sunlight over limelight,
and green ceilings over golden ones.
As Koen stood there, daydreaming, his mind was
suddenly interrupted by a sound from the forest. His eyes instantly focused
itself upon the direction which the noise came from, and he held his breath
in anticipation. Perhaps it was Dirk... but Dirk usually did not come back until
late at night, and the sun had barely left it's place atop Neopia's rolling,
green plains. As he continued to gaze intently in that direction, shadows and
silhouettes of unknown forms started to appear between the branches of the trees.
These shadowy figures were a few yards in the
forest, but Koen was able to see them quite clearly. Their movements were quiet,
and stealthlike... barely detectable unless one knew what they were looking,
or listening, for. Koen continued to listen and watch these forms prance about
in the forest's shadows... and, just as suddenly as they had appeared, they
Koen, obviously, was quite startled by this quick
entrance and abrupt leave, so he continued to stand and stare at the exact same
spot. Koen was completely transfixed by it, and as he gazed, his ears started
to pick up an odd noise.
It was a song... a soft melody that sifted through
the trees on wings of air. It was a breathless sort of song... one that would
numb your insides and captivate your senses. The moment Koen heard this, though,
he wasn't captivated. Instead, he was terrified. He had recognized that voice.
It was no secret that Lady Teryl had one of the most amazing voices in Brightvale...
"Lady Teryl!" Koen cried out in warning. "RUN!"
He didn't see her. No. Koen didn't even catch
a glimpse of Lady Teryl. Instead, he heard loud shouts and screams that erupted
from within the depths of the forest. Koen knew that the shadowy silhouettes
had come back, and he knew that they were kidnapping Lady Teryl. He could hear
her screams for help coming from within the forest.
"Help! Help! Untie me right this moment you scoundrels!
Instantly, Koen knew that he should do something
about this. He knew that he should help his Queen, his Lady. She was the future
of Brightvale... but Koen did not know what to do. He was the Caretaker of Orchards,
and that was his specialty. He did not know how to fight, or even swing a heavy,
metal sword. Besides, he had heard that the kidnappers were the best warriors
of the kingdom of Evonkell. Compared to them, Koen wouldn't stand a chance.
All he could do now, though, was to stand and listen to Lady Teryl scream for
help... help that he believed he couldn't give.
At that precise moment, when hope had faded,
the embers within Koen's fireplace burst into flames once more. Koen gasped
in shock when that happened, and stared at it in surprise. Embers do not do
that. They do not revive themselves after nearly dying out. That was impossible.
Yet... Koen had witnessed it. The embers, so close to oblivion, had sparkled
once more, and now they were burning through the ashen logs as if nothing had
happened. A blazing inferno that had been produced from what had once seemed
so innocent and cold....
Koen stared at the burning flames, and he looked
out the window once more. He could still hear the sounds of the struggle from
within the forest... it was obvious that Lady Teryl was a fighter, and that
she did not want to be taken so easily. Koen glanced at the flames once more,
and then he stared out into the forest. The branches reached upwards, and the
new, soft-green leaves looked so vulnerable...
Koen knew what he must do, and he did not dwell
on this decision for long. Quickly, Koen rushed towards the fire and grabbed
a dozen burning twigs with his outstretched hands. He rushed towards the door
as quickly as possible and burst through it. The moment he came outside, the
sounds of Lady Teryl's cries for help were even louder, and Koen was as determined
as ever. He rushed towards the forest and threw the twigs into the nearest bush.
In seconds, the bush erupted in flames, and the
fire started to fly and lick at the nearest leaves and bark. Nearby trees erupted
in flames as well, and the ground instantly became dotted with fallen burnt
twigs and leaves. Like falling dominoes, each tree and bush ignited, and this
burning effect quickly spread throughout the forest until the entire thing was
filled with ash, smog, and embers. Koen did not stand idly by to watch, though.
Instead, he rushed into the forest, his arms wrapped protectively around his
head. He rushed towards the direction of Lady Teryl's screams... which had died
Smoke quickly enveloped Koen's senses, and his
eyes started to water in irritation. Still, he continued to run forward, for
he had a purpose that was firmly implanted in his mind, and he did not plan
on abandoning it. Surprisingly, Koen reached Lady Teryl quite soon.
She was lying upon the floor, her velvet, green
cloak was draped across her body as if she was trying to protect herself. She
was nearly invisible, and Koen would've missed her if he hadn't been looking
down at that exact moment. Koen immediately bent down and gathered the young
Acara in his arms. Her hood was tied about her face, so her features were hidden
in darkness and smoke. Still, Koen was absolutely sure that this was Lady Teryl.
The moment he had gathered her in his arms, he rushed out of the forest as quickly
Now, the flames were higher than ever, and the
air was completely saturated in ash and smog. It was hard to breathe, for each
breath was like inhaling the fire itself. Still, Koen continued to rush forward,
and he made sure that Lady Teryl was not touched by any flames. This time, though,
it took longer to get out of the forest, for the usual paths were now blocked
by fallen, burnt branches... it was a burning inferno, and it was slowly growing
larger with each passing second.
Finally, Koen found a clear pathway towards the
edge of the forest, and he quickened his pace towards that destination. The
moment he ran out of the forest, Koen dropped Lady Teryl upon the green ground,
and he fell upon the floor and started to gasp for breath. His face was covered
in ash, and his legs and arms felt weak and shaky. He could still smell the
horrible scent of burning, and his eyes were red and filled with water.
Slowly, Koen lifted himself off the floor and
approached Lady Teryl. She was still upon the ground, and he could hear her
faint breathing over the roaring of the flames...
It was then that Koen had realized what he had
done to his life.
Quickly, Koen pivoted and stared at the forest
in shock. Now, though... it wasn't a forest anymore. Instead, it was a burning
pile of dead logs and flames. All that he had loved... it was gone. It had erupted
into embers and charcoal and cinders... blackness and grayness. No more leaves,
no more trunks, or branches, or limbs, or grass...
It was all gone. Koen did not cry, though, for
his eyes were already brimming in tears from the ash. He felt weak now, and
his head felt dizzy. What had he done...
With a cry, Koen rushed towards the forest...
Lady Teryl awoke slowly, but her eyes still felt
heavy, and she found it odd that each breath was like inhaling smoke. Around
her, she could hear murmurs and whispers, and once her vision had regained itself,
she looked up and saw dozens of multicolored eyes staring down at her. Their
faces were filled with concern, and their eyes were drowned in worry. Lady Teryl
slowly pushed herself off the ground and stared around her.
"What happened?" she asked softly.
"The forest burned down, my lady," one villager
said softly and pointed towards the ruins of the once, majestic woods.
Lady Teryl nodded slowly to indicate that she
had heard, but her mind was still buzzing with questions. The last thing she
remembered was staring into the face of a Techo, a kind, young Techo. He must
have saved her, she thought, as she recalled her faint memories of being carried
through the burning forest...
"What happened?" she asked again once more. "Who
saved me? Where is that Techo? He saved me..."
At these words, all the villagers stopped talking,
and they all stared down at the ground morosely. One villager, though, a Gelert,
continued to stare at the forest.
"The forest burned down, my lady," the Gelert
said sadly, "and so did the Techo."
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