Weeks went by and The Ranger buried his old crewmen out of respect of their body's return to the land. He decided it was perhaps, time to move on from his tree haven and further explore the land he had come to call his new home.
He also wanted to honor the quest he originally accepted by King Adric. The Ranger took an oath. That oath was his word. His oath was his life and he would honor it. After the wreck he had to recover his mind, body and spirit. After this betrayal, would he ever be able to fully trust anyone again? Did he have sound judgment too? Was that his weakness? The Ranger contemplated these thoughts while looking over the deep blue sea. It met with the sky with almost no distinction. The waves rolled in over the green marine layer giving way to the white sandy beach.
* * *
He took the dead men's clothes and rags. He was also able to find a cloak in the storage of his ship.
He gandered once more the skeletal remains of his old vessel. Ah, the ship, although it had just made it to the island, he couldn't deem it fit for the sea. He did have it back though. It had come home.
* * *
After walking for some time, the jungle mysteriously transformed into a forest like it always had.
After some significant time deep into the mystic woods, he came upon some rich and meaty smells, he followed them and they eventually led him to a small town. Incredibly shocked and much to his surprise it was populated with all sorts of life; villager's and merchants!
Was this mysterious land part of a much bigger one? Not a lone island like originally surmised?
The Ranger pulled the hood of his cloak over his face. Were they friendly folk or a fearful lot? Only by entering the town and observing them would he know. Aside from finding his next clue about the King's daughter, what he was absolutely dying to know was, how was their ale?
* * *
On the beach, the mast of The Ranger's small rowboat still stuck up out of the dirt. The worn, wooden dragonhead grinned in defiance of it's destroyed body. The Ranger's people had believed these fantastic and dangerous creatures were gods which helped them sail fast and plunder great riches. A hooded giant figure approached the wood sculpture.
It outstretched its muscular green, scaly, forearm and placed its hand on it. A slight hiss could be heard.
What moved me to write such a fantastic tale of survival? Well, part of it was out of an urge to tell a realistic tale set in a sort of enchanted world. The Ranger is modeled out of two characters. One is out of my many days of gaming; the character was an ex-pirate who struggled to turn from his old ways and take on the more enlightened ways of The Ranger. I had created a whole backstory for him while playing D&D. The character had a preference for battle axes and wouldn’t take much guff from anybody.
Many years passed since those imaginative gaming days but the passion for role playing and that particular character never died. As I would drive back and forth to work, sometimes for hours on end, I would contemplate his adventures. What really was his story? He would be running through the woods in pursuit of someone or in a rush to save that someone in time. As I passed numerous forests on the road, my imagination wouldn’t leave me alone! The urge to tell an honest to goodness realistic fantasy story was bubbling though.
The second character that inspired me was The Man with No Name from Sergio Leone’s The Good The Bad and The Ugly. I had heard that fantasy films and stories are just westerns set during the middle ages. I found that idea fascinating! I thought, what if I sort of combined the spaghetti western with a fantasy world and a little bit of Rambo thrown in. The result is what you just read. There’s a definite tip of the hat to Sergio Leone, with some of the long pauses and looks between characters and also with The Ranger being the less then perfect anti-hero.
This story is meant to stand alone, but I intend to write at least two more. These stories will be part of a ongoing tale dealing with The Ranger and a mysterious beastly character. This monstrous character was heavily influenced and created my late friend Wayne Boyce.