The assault on Rimmington, as it was known later on, provided a great strain on Grandfather Hadwin's memory. It was the first time death and destruction entered his short life then. No child, he told us, should ever go through something like that until they were old enough to hunt and understand what killing was. It was this event that provided him a reason to begin training for his first "hunt" in the later years of his life under the guidance of the White Knights of Falador.
But first he had to train. And it would be at least twelve years before he could become a full knight.
Hadwin struggled under the weight of the yolk as he carried two heavy buckets of water to the trough where the horses were waiting impatiently. Once, he didn't watch his step and found his boot buried deep in some manure that the peons had not gotten a chance to shovel up yet. He grimaced a little, lifting his foot away to examine the damage.
"You do well to focus on your task instead of your appearance." Hadwin looked up and found one of the squires, Liam, watching him. "Worry about your boot after the horses have been given water."
"Yes, Squire Liam." Hadwin lifted the yolk onto his shoulders once more, the water sloshing dangerously against the edge of the buckets.
"Use your knees, not your back, and it'll be easier to lift."
Hadwin gritted his teeth. He knew Liam meant well, but he felt that everyone was being much too protective of him ever since he started to live in the castle. For the first week, he clung to Theodore, unwilling to be separated from the knight. After some coaxing, he finally allowed himself to be led down to the peons quarters and was immediately educated on the everyday goings of the inhabitants of the castle.
He reached the trough finally and set the buckets down, wiping off the sweat from his forehead before pouring the water into the trough. The horses snorted at him loudly, startling him as he started pouring the second bucket. Hadwin dropped the bucket into the trough with a loud splash, staggering back a little.
"How long have you been around horses, young Hadwin?"
"N-not very long, Squire Liam. My father always went up the horses first before he called me over."
"Don't worry, they will not harm you. But they can read your emotions. You must learn to be calm around them. In times of battle, they will rely on you to keep them calm in the face of danger."
Hadwin nodded, taking the bucket out of the trough and shaking the water off before carrying it back to the shelves.
"Now you can see about your boot." Liam guided Hadwin over to a pump and motioned for him to place it under the steady stream of water. As he rinsed the muck off, Liam shook his head.
"How are you liking the training so far, Hadwin?"
"It is difficult, but it is what I expected, Squire Liam." Hadwin dried his boot off with a rag, thanking the squire before putting it back on. "I am eager to learn more."
"You're still too young to become a peon, but it is good of Sir Theodore to allow you to participate in the daily chores and get a head start."
Hadwin nodded in agreement. "If you will excuse me, Squire Liam, I must go see the matron to see if she needs any assistance after midday prayers."
"Very well, off you go then." Liam watched as the boy hurried off before heading to one of the horses, patting him on the nose. "Don't worry, he has nothing against you. He just has a lot on his mind, I'm afraid."
Hadwin sat down on one of the pews in the chapel, bowing his head slightly in prayer. It was strange at first for him to pray to Saradomin three times a day, but it gave him some relief after the day's tiring chores. Most would call it irreverent, but for a five-year-old boy it could be forgiven.
Today, however, he wasn't glad to be in the chapel now for the quick rest. The nightmares had been taking a toll on his sleep more than before, and he needed guidance on what they meant.
"Saradomin, hear this orphaned boy's plea. Help me find some peace in my life as I live to train to serve you," he prayed aloud, then silently continued his prayer, his eyes closed.
As soon as darkness filled his sight, images of fire came into his mind. His brow furrowed in frustration, not wanting his nightmares to haunt him during the day as well. But the flames continued, and with it the shadowy figures of the Kinshra charging through the remains of his home. No… He will not relive this moment here and now!
The sound of soft footsteps made him open his eyes. Hadwin looked up and found Theodore sitting down on the pew besides him. "Sir Theodore, I didn't hear you come in."
"I'm sorry, I didn't mean to disturb your prayer."
Hadwin shook his head. "I was searching for answers."
Theodore nodded, praying silently for a few moments. He then turned back to Hadwin. "You look tired. Have you been sleeping well?"
Hadwin shook his head. "The nightmares have been keeping me awake… I keep hearing them, sir…"
"My parents and their screaming… I'm scared, Sir Theodore. Will I be as good as you to avenge them?"
"Vengeance will not release you from your pain. Do you remember the story about Bhuler and the promise Kara-meir made to him?"
Hadwin nodded. "During the final moments of the Siege of Falador, he made her promise to let go of her anger before it destroyed her."
"And you should do the same, Hadwin." Theodore sighed softly as he stood. He grimaced as the pain returned in his back.
"Are you all right, Sir Theodore?"
Theodore nodded. "It's this old injury. It's become more bothersome over the years."
"Maybe you better have the matron have a look at it."
Theodore nodded. "Perhaps I should. Go see to your tasks for the day."
"Yes, Sir Theodore." Hadwin walked out of the chapel solemnly and made his way down the corridor towards the stairs to the ward, where the matron was impatiently waiting. After a small scolding, she gave him a list of items to purchase from the general store and apothecary.
It was the task he was ever given that would bring him outside of the castle, alone, for the first time.