Chapter 4:

Into the Woods (Part 1/2)

Tales Of The Chosen "Heroes"

Shawn was in a foul mood as he walked through the trees. They had backtracked for almost an hour, staying away from the path. Why me? Why couldn’t this be Blake? Why did I join the back? I could be in the city! Blake might have died! It would have been great! Shawn’s stream of thoughts were interrupted by Sara’s voice.Bookmark here

“What do we do now?” She asked Lawrence, while carrying Michael who had now fallen asleep in her arms.Bookmark here

“Not sure, too be honest.” Lawrence admitted then asked Shawn, “What do you think?”Bookmark here

Stopping he turned back towards them, “I thought you were the schemer.”Bookmark here

Lawrence gave a small chuckle, “Well, this sort of stuff is more of your area of expertise I would think. I just pretend to know everything, doesn’t me I actually have an idea.”Bookmark here

Rolling his eyes Shawn fished into his bag and pulled out a crinkled-up map. Trying to smooth it out as best he could he began to read it. Turning his head up to look at the sun before looking back down at the map.Bookmark here

“Well, we head north back to the rapids and follow them, keep heading east after, then go a couple different ways, then we’ll make it to Esterwood tomorrow. The four of us should be able to avoid anymore run-ins no problem.”Bookmark here

Sara interjected, “Four of us? What about the others?” Behind Sara a few meters away were the rest of the caravan troupe, grouped together, sitting, and trying to gather themselves.Bookmark here

“What about the others?” replied Shawn.Bookmark here

“We can’t just leave them.”Bookmark here

“Sure we can. We just leave them. Done.”Bookmark here

“We can’t just leave them!”Bookmark here

“Why can’t we?”Bookmark here

“Because we are stuck in the woods with chaos worshippers!” Sara exclaimed.Bookmark here

“Exactly why we leave them.”Bookmark here

“We can’t leave them to die.”Bookmark here

Shawn rolled his eyes, “Are you really trying to play hero when you can’t even take care of yourself?”Bookmark here

Lawrence interjected, “I’m with Sara on this. We are better than this Shawn, besides We’ve already risked our necks to help him this far, it’ll will be a waste for us to just stop.”Bookmark here

“And it will be a waste if we die.” Shawn shot back.Bookmark here

Lawrence sighed, “Shawn, please. You’ve mentioned yourself that you know the way to the city. What’s stopping us from going there?”Bookmark here

“Twenty-two additional passengers that’s what stopping us.” Shawn snapped back, before continuing, “Not mention half of them are currently to frail to move at full speed, it will take even longer to get to the city.”Bookmark here

“We can’t just let twenty-two people die.” Lawrence pressed.Bookmark here

Exasperated Shawn replied, “Look at me. Who do you think I am? You think I can keep twenty-two people safe? Do I look like I could do that?”Bookmark here

“Well, you can try Shawn.” Lawrence said simply.Bookmark here

Shawn opened his mouth to reply but then suddenly a small commotion from the main group attracted their attention. Shawn began to make his way back towards the group, Lawrence and Sara followed while leading Michael along with them.Bookmark here

“What’s happening?” Shawn asked.Bookmark here

The injured soldier, now wrapped in makeshift bandages explained, “A couple of the healthy travellers ran.” He cursed, “Those damned cowards leaving everyone.”Bookmark here

Shawn whispered back to the other two, “See, they had the right idea.”Bookmark here

“Shawn.” Sara said a judgemental look.Bookmark here

“What? If they new where to go, then that was the best play. If they didn’t well, actually would’ve been better if they stayed.”Bookmark here

Lawrence spoke, “So how do we organize everyone?”Bookmark here

“You really want to do this?” Shawn asked with a raised eyebrow. A voice directly behind him replied to his question.Bookmark here

“Well, now there are only twenty additional passengers. And you won’t have to keep everyone safe alone. So, you don’t need to worry about that.”Bookmark here

Shawn jolted forward, nearly slamming into Sara, who gave a shocked yelp. Turning sharply around, Shawn stared down at the intrusive speaker, the armoured figure.Bookmark here

“How did you do that?” Shawn snarled.Bookmark here

“Do what?” An echoey voice came from the helmet, trying to sound innocent.Bookmark here

“You know what? How did you sneak up?” Shawn said annoyed.Bookmark here

“I guess I’m pretty silent.”Bookmark here

Shawn swore that he could hear her smile. Ready to brush her off, he suddenly processed what she had said.Bookmark here

“Were you listening in on us?”Bookmark here

“Maybe.”Bookmark here

“How? You were on the other side.”Bookmark here

“I guess I have good ears.” With that the armoured figure shrugged. Shawn in turn breathed out deeply, ready to turn away and leave. Lawrence began to speak, “You’re willing to help these folks ma’am?”Bookmark here

“Of course. We are all part of the same caravan. It’s only right.” She then tilted her helmet to Shawn, “I guess that means that we’re working together.”Bookmark here

Shawn glared at her, “What makes you think I’m going to work with you?”Bookmark here

“Because it would be easier having help then doing it yourself.”Bookmark here

“And you think I’m going to try to help?”Bookmark here

“Yes.”Bookmark here

“Why?”Bookmark here

“Because you helped them get away from the main road earlier and I don’t think you’re willing to let innocents die?”Bookmark here

“So you think, based on a spur of the moment thing I did, that tells you that I’m willing to play tour guide with a bunch of idiots.”Bookmark here

“Yes, besides your two friends seem to agree with my assessment of you.” She nudged her helmet to Sara and Lawrence. Who at this point were trying their best to keep a straight face. Lawrence who was trying and failing to hide his smile finally spoke, “Well she has a point. Are you going to leave us here and go off on your own?”Bookmark here

“Are you kidding me? What about your son?” He directed his question to Sara.Bookmark here

“Do you think that Michael could make it all the way to the city on foot with such a small group safely?” She replied. Bookmark here

The armoured figure directed her attention back to Shawn, “Well, your friends are staying, what about you?”Bookmark here

Shawn stared at the armoured figure, eyes narrowing a bit.Bookmark here

“What’s your name?”Bookmark here

“… My name is Rose.”Bookmark here

Shawn then looked over to the crowd that sat there waiting, a thick layer of despair could be felt emanating from them. He then turned his head back towards Rose. Pulling out his map he shoved it into Rose’s hands.Bookmark here

“You better have one hell of an inspiring speech.”Bookmark here

“Thank you.”Bookmark here

With that she walked into the middle of the crowd, everyone began to look at the armoured figure standing in the middle.Bookmark here

“Everyone! We can’t just stay here. Esterwood is roughly a day’s trip on foot from here. We start moving and we’ll make it there by tomorrow. But we must stay together if we want to get out of this.”Bookmark here

One of the older men asked spoke, “What about the injured? Some have trouble walking. How are we going to bring them along?”Bookmark here

“We’ll help carry them. The best plan is to stick as a group, the more there are of us the less likely that we’ll be attacked.”Bookmark here

“That didn’t stop them from attacking the caravans.” A dwarf with an eyepatch objected. “Now most of the guards are dead, the only one left can barely walk why wouldn’t they attack us?”Bookmark here

Rose began to speak before she was cut of by Lawrence.Bookmark here

“Because we’re not worth it.”Bookmark here

The one-eyed dwarf turned to Lawrence, “What was that?”Bookmark here

“I said we’re not worth the effort to kill, when they attacked the caravans, we had things. Food, money, jewelry, so on so forth.” He began to stroll around as he talked. “Now we don’t have that anymore, they do, and there’s a lot of it. At least three caravans’ worth.” Looking at the one-eyed dwarf he gestured with his empty hands, “They’re going to prioritize hauling that back home, not dealing with some stragglers with nothing of significant value.” Bookmark here

Lawrence began to direct his speech towards the rest of the crowd. “Right now, while they are busy pillaging, we can use to opportunity to gather our bearings and get out of here, into the city, into safety.”Bookmark here

The one-eyed dwarf nodded begrudgingly at this and quieted down. Rose nodded her thanks to Lawrence before addressing the group once more, “We’ll stay here and tend to the wounded and gather our things for an hour then we move. Keeping the wounded in the middle and the healthiest ones on the perimeter acting as lookout. Official government caravans have been attacked, patrol parties will be sent out, we encounter of those, or reach the city. That is our goal.”Bookmark here

Nods of agreement came from the crowd, and Rose continued, “Alright who here has medical experience?”Bookmark here

A couple hands were raised, and Rose continued to give instructions. As she was delegating tasks and people began to move around Shawn was prowling around the perimeter. So in total there are twenty-four of us. There are chaos around, somewhere. But it’s unlikely we’ll run into a large group. Main issue is supplies. His thoughts were interrupted by Lawrence.Bookmark here

“Shawn! I could use your help.”Bookmark here

“What?”Bookmark here

“Help me with the wounded.”Bookmark here

Wandering over Shawn approached Lawrence who was tending the injured caravan guard a lady and a little girl hovered next to them in concern. Shawn presumes that these were the guard’s family. Bookmark here

“Alright, I’m here.”Bookmark here

“Surprised your still here.” The guard wheezed.Bookmark here

“I can leave if you want.”Bookmark here

“Lukas! Please stop.” The lady snapped at him.Bookmark here

“I need help with stopping the bleeding. The wounds deep.” Lawrence interjected.Bookmark here

“I’m not exactly a doctor.”Bookmark here

Lawrence gave him a sharp look and gestured towards the family. Shawn fought to not roll his eyes, “Let me see.” Before kneeling over the guard with his hands clasped behind his back.Bookmark here

Lawrence had stripped the guard of his chest piece and wrapped some bandages around the guard’s side and was pressing some more cloth on the wound, trying to stem the bleeding. Shawn looked over to Lawrence,Bookmark here

“Let me see the wound.” Bookmark here

Lawrence shifted to the side a bit, letting him to get a better look. The cloth Lawrence had pressed wasn’t doing the greatest job. Blood had seeped through the cloth was now completely damp.Bookmark here

“Did it reach bone?” asked Shawn.Bookmark here

“No, flesh only fortunately.”Bookmark here

“Doesn’t feel fortunate.” Said Lukas the guard.Bookmark here

“Well… we’ll need to stop the bleeding, then stitch the wound or something.” Said Shawn before heaving himself back onto his feet. “I’ll go grab a leaf.”Bookmark here

Lukas looked at Shawn in confusion, “What?”Bookmark here

“He, he’s going to find some medical herbs.” Lawrence explained.Bookmark here

“You know about medical herbs?” Lukas said in surprise.Bookmark here

“Yeah, it’s easy.” Shawn turned his attention to Lawrence. “Anyways, I’m going to go foraging. Try not kill him.”Bookmark here

Shawn began to head into the forest before older little girl spoke.Bookmark here

“I want to come!”Bookmark here

A collective, “Huh?” came from everyone.Bookmark here

“Absolutely not.” The lady said.Bookmark here

“Mama please. I want to help!”Bookmark here

“No. It’s too dangerous.”Bookmark here

“I want to know what can help papa. So that this won’t happen again.”Bookmark here

A small smile appeared on Lukas’s face, “My girl sure is brave.”Bookmark here

The lady looked at Lucas in horror, “Lukas, you can’t be serious.”Bookmark here

“We can’t stop her right now. Besides, it would be useful to know about medicine.”Bookmark here

“And to be fair, Shawn right now is probably one of the safest places to be near.” Lawrence offered.Bookmark here

“Don’t include me in this.”Bookmark here

“The little lady wants to follow you; you already are apart of this.” Lawrence said with a shrug. “He might have an attitude, but he is trustworthy.” He told the ladyBookmark here

“Hmph.” Was all Shawn offered.Bookmark here

Pursing her lips, the lady reluctantly nodded. “Please, keep my daughter safe. And Bonnie, please stay safe.”Bookmark here

The little girl, Bonnie, nodded. “Of course, mother.” Before approaching Shawn, who turned toward Lawrence eyebrows raised. Lawrence simply shrugged back.Bookmark here

“Humor her. We’re pressed on time.”Bookmark here

“… Fine.” Shawn grumbled. Turning around he began to walk into the woods, Bonnie tailing behind.Bookmark here

You can resume reading from this paragraph.