Enrys was so sure he was doomed. He crouched and hugged his knees, and he squeezed his eyes shut tight. Silently, he willed the approaching monsters to finish him off quickly. The hisses and growls continued, loud enough to drown the death cries of his animals, but he felt no pain. Instead, the sounds began to quiet, as though fading in the distance. With uncertainty, he cracked one eye open.
The monsters were gone! He stood, shocked silly, and quickly looked around. What could have sent them off like that? Enrys was sure it was something horrible, until his eyes landed on an unkempt man in some half-rusted armor, wielding a dented hammer.
An uncertain laugh escaped the young farmer. “Thank,” he paused to calm his uneven voice, “Thank you.”
The scruffy man shot Enrys a tired, but warm smile. “Glad to help, son. If it isn’t a trouble, could I stay the night at your farm? I’ll be sure to repay you.”
“Oh, yes, sure!” Enrys nodded rapidly. “I’m Enrys.”
“Call me Saen. At your service, Enrys.”
“Likewise,” the farmboy managed before he looked around. Something was beginning to approach. “This way!” His voice broke with an undignified squawk as his legs broke into a darting run towards the stone farm house. He shoved his door open and waited for the limping man behind him to catch up and enter before he closed it, just in time for some creepy thing or another to ram into it. “Come on, come on. We have to get farther in.”
The man glanced back, then nodded. “Really has it out for you, doesn’t it?” He frowned slowly.
“They all do, sir.” He fidgetted as he backed away from the door and hid around a corner.
Saen followed, but didn’t hide. “Is that why you were curled up and ready to let them rip you apart when I found you?” He frowned, and the farm boy nodded.
“Yessir. Mom and Dad were tasty, so they want to try me out.” He frowned and bit his thumbnail.
The armored man slowly looked around the farm house. As if in testament to the boy’s terror, everything the boy could need, save firewood, was available inside the home. There was a large plot of growing plant life, two cows, two hens, a rooster, and several sheep, each in their own place. The home looked expanded recently, with some finishing touches neglected.
“This is how you live?” Saen frowned. “Do you even watch the sun set or rise?”
The boy looked up, then reddened and closed his eyes. “I have a pocket watch.”
The man’s large hand slowly came to rest on his face. “Well, may as well get some rest. Night is coming on fast, and I’m sure your animals will want to be fed nice and early.” Slowly, he lowered himself to the floor beside the bed and closed his eyes to rest.
Morning dawned rainy and miserable, and the two opted to stay inside, where they did repairs on the house and cared for crops and animals. Saen quickly took over the cooking, and the work that involved any danger. At night, before bed, he taught Enrys how to fight with a sword, while Enrys taught him the basics of mining ores from the earth, smelting them, and creating useful tools with them.
Fall and winter came and left, and Saen began to notice how long he’d stayed as he saw how the farm boy seemed to grow before his eyes. His eyes, more often than not, stared toward the window when he and Enrys weren’t busy.
Enrys paid no mind to the passing time, and felt as though he had known Saen for his entire life. He simply assumed the older man would stay.
Finally, the cold was gone, and Saen picked up his hammer and some food. “It’s probably time I go, Enrys.” He held in a wince as he stood up under his heavy armor for the first time in months. “You be good, and don’t forget about the traps I taught you.” As he began to turn for the door, Enrys felt his world collapse.
“No!” He dashed forward and gripped Saen’s arm. “Please don’t go!” Hot tears filled his eyes as he tried to stop the stronger male from leaving, but as Saen crossed the threshold, Enrys’ grip lessened, and the older man pulled away.
“I’m sorry, Enrys. I have to go.” With those seven words, he left the lonely farm boy to his indoor farm.
He didn’t look back.
Eventually, Enrys pulled himself to his feet and moved back to his boring life. He carried his shoddy iron sword with him every where, and he tried to look out his new windows more often, in hopes that he might glimpse Saen again, even just once more.
As he entered his twentieth year, he finally decided he would go look for Saen. He travelled through the local forests, sword gripped tightly in hand as he quaked with every step he took under the shady boughs. He travelled deep into the desert– he recalled watching Saen head in that direction, and he came to a pile of rusted armor. Hurriedly, he gathered it up and began to dig. “No, no!” He spat through flying sand he stirred up as he ventured down. The cracked ground below began to become more difficult, and he started to use his sword.
Suddenly, he felt the earth drop from under him, and he began to scream as he fell. With both hands, he gripped his sword, and both eyes refused to open, even after the falling sensation stopped. All around, hisses and growls began.
Enrys cracked an eye open in time to see several monsters beginning to approach in the dim torchlight. Each looked hungry, and several were armed. He couldn’t move, even as the creatures reached for him with hungry eyes.
A familiar voice spoke. “Just hold on tight and don’t move.”
The pair shot downwards, deeper into the earth.