Castor was taken slowly up the hill to the local village. The village children pointed and stared as he walked passed. He was taken to a stone building that might have been the village centre since he was walked through a large hall and lead into the back room. Once in the back room he was cuffed with a pair of old rusted handcuffs. He was sure he could break out of them if he pulled hard enough. Castor did not want to make a scene to be obediently sat in the room with his arms behind his back and waited quietly like he was instructed to. The older man wordlessly confiscated Castor’s belongings and left the room. After probably twenty minutes a man wearing a bright blue uniform and light leather armour entered the room. He had a sword and an arrogant attitude so Castor guessed he might have been a solider sent by a nearby kingdom or aristocrat. The talked to the older man and the red-faced man in whispers that sounded like grunting farm pigs. Castor was annoyed but still did not want to make a fuss. Maybe if I cooperate they will let me go, it is probably a misunderstanding, assumed Castor.
The solider walked up to Castor; his steps were loud and heavy as if his boots were made of lead. He had Castor’s bag in his hand and a patronizing expression on his face.
“What is your name?” asked the solider. Considering that they had just met Castor already despised him but that was mainly due to the soldier’s condescending tone with which he spoke down to Castor.
“My name is Castor.”
“And what are you doing here?”
“I do not know. I was brought here by those two men.”
“No, I mean, what are you doing in this part of the country?” The solider was polite as a snake could be yet his words were still dripping with venom.
“I am travelling to the northern mountains.”
“And why are you traveling to the northern mountains?”
“I am looking for a plant found in the northern mountains.”
“Is it to take back to your own country?” Castor did not truly understand why that question felt so degrading. It may have been the way the solider talked down to him as if he were a child that had a speech impediment.
“No, I am just interested in studying plants and I was told that there was a rare species found on top of that mountain.” It was lie but Castor was growing increasingly impatient with solider and was unsure if this country were especially fussy about exporting plants.
“And is this important to your studies?” asked the solider taking out Castor’s knife from his bag.
“Well it is useful to have,” replied Castor. The solider laughed loudly which made Castor want to kick his face in.
“This is rather ornamental with all these jewels and fancy carving isn’t it?”
“I guess? But what does it matter how ornamental is it? It is still as useful as any knife is,” replied Castor.
“It seems far too expensive for someone like you be carrying,” said the solider in a loud accusing voice.
“Someone like me? What is that supposed to mean?” Castor was now furious and at the limit of his patience.
“Well for a foreigner like yourself to be carrying such an expensive-”
“What does being a foreigner have to do with anything?” shouted Castor. Even though he did not want to admit it to himself before he now knew the reason he was in this mess was because he was a foreigner.
“Did you steal it?”
“That is ridiculous!” shouted Castor, “why would you think that I could not own it because I am a foreigner? My knife is foreign just like me so it no way improbable that it belongs to me.”
“Well it does seem rather expensive.”
“So because I am a foreigner you assume I must be poor?”
“Did you steal other things as well?”
“I did not steal anything!”
“Then why were you in the swamp?” asked the solider. Castor was confused by his question.
“What does that swamp have to do with anything?” asked Castor, slowly and softly trying to regain his nerve.
“The swamp is too dangerous to go through. The only people who risk it are smugglers and criminals.”
“Which one are you accusing me of being?”
Suddenly there was a commotion outside; the screams of several people could be heard. The door of the small room was swung open. An out of breath woman in a long skirt shouted desperately, “Sir!” she said referring to the solider, “It is terrible! It is an emergency!”
“What’s happening?” asked the solider.
“There is a monster attacking the village!”