John Knox and the Fight for What's Right

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    The sun shone through the window and struck the pillow where John’s head should be, but John was already awake and out of bed for today was a big day. In the dimly light room John got dressed, pulling his shirt over his head he heard his mom yell, “John, are you up!”
    “Yeah mom, I’m awake!” John replied.
    “Breakfast is almost ready, come downstairs soon.”
    A sweet smell had made its way upstairs. It filled John’s room until all you could smell was the smell of honey. John knew that his mom wasn’t lying about breakfast being ready. Once he was dressed John ran down the stairs two at a time to make it there before his brother. The food was on the table, oatmeal with honey mixed in. As they sat down to eat the bowls on the table started to shake, but just slightly, not enough for anyone to notice. The family gathered around the table until John’s mother brought in the final piece to the meal, the bowl of fresh red strawberries, picked from the garden outside. As they sat down to eat John was getting excited, the hour of recognition was coming, he was going to get recognized as a member of the protectors.
    The hour of recognition is an ancient ceremony that is used to show that a child of the tribe is old enough to take on the task of protecting the people of Highland. This was a big ceremony for John’s family because it meant that they were all recognized protectors. This ceremony is held at noon when the sun is directly above the village center. It was ten o’clock as the family stopped eating and began to clean up and the ground shook once more. This time it was felt throughout the house with some of the family’s furniture shaking. The joy and bliss that the family felt because of the day were more than enough to keep the shaking out of the family’s minds. Once the table was cleaned up and the boys were outside playing the preparation for the ceremony began.
    It was eleven o’clock when the attack happened. John’s family was inside and unprepared when the hillside above them exploded and opened a giant hole. Dwellers came pouring out, the hillside looked like it was moving as they made their way towards the village. The dwellers went from house to house burning them down and taking the families to the village center to be executed. The dwellers came into John’s house through the front door and tore through it. Grabbing their mother from the kitchen and their father from his bedroom. Then grab the two boys from the living room and leading them all to the village center.
    John struggled and kicked but it was no use, the dwellers were strong, it felt like their paws were attached to the necks of the boys. Once they got to the village square the stopped at the outside of the ring and all the parents were brought in, but the boys held at the edge. There were two figures in the center of the ring, a tall figure with grey fur and a short figure with green fur, who looked no more than 2 years older than John, who was 15 at the time.
    John’s parents were forced to their knees as the taller figure, with grey fur, threw his arms up and started chanting something that John couldn’t make out. The dwellers that were all around John started chanting it too and raising their swords over their heads. The sound that was made was like nothing else John had experienced. It bashed against his eardrums and made them ring and made John wince from the pain. After minutes of this chanting, it stopped as the figure in the middle put his hands down. He looked down at John’s parents, still on their knees and spoke, “It is time for you to pay for your crimes.” “What crimes, what have I done.” John’s mom cried. “You assisted in your husband’s actions kept us underground, that forced us to live underneath society.” The figure said with a smile on his face. He raised his sword over his head and with one swift motion brought it down and ended the lives of John’s parents. The moment the sword when through and the floor was painted red John screamed. This scream was no ordinary scream, it was a powerful scream that shook the ground and created a monsoon above the village that dumped rain down on the town. As the ground shook the dweller that was holding onto John lost his grip as he fell backward into the mud. The moment that John felt the release on the back of his neck me ran as fast as he could, feet slipping in the mud, toward some bushes that would work as cover until the dwellers left.
    John’s brother was not as lucky, the dweller holding onto him didn’t fall or lose his grip on his neck. The dwellers started to run back to the hole that they came out of. They were making a mad dash for the hole which allowed John to stay hidden and unnoticed in the bush. As John watched through the leaves, dripping from the rain, he saw his brother being dragged toward the tunnel. He was kicking and screaming, “Let me go, Let me go! John! Help!” John couldn’t do anything to help. He knew that if he tried to help now and got captured then the hope of getting his brother back was lost. Instead, John clamped a hand over his mouth and dropped his gaze to the muddy ground in front of him to keep the dwellers from hearing his sobs.
    Once John had heard nothing but silence for minutes he decided that it was okay to go out. The moment that he stepped out from the bush and his feet sunk into the mud, the rain stopped and the clouds cleared. It was as if someone was controlling the weather. John stood there, water running down his face and dripping off his nose, and fingertips, staring at the marks that his brother left in the mud as he was being dragged off. These marks went right up to the hole in the cliff face and then dipped over the edge and down into the darkness. John stood in silence for a while, just staring at the hole and wondering what he was supposed to do now. As he left he looked at the village square one last time to see the bodies of his parents but this brought him such grief that he ran, just ran until he was at the highest point in the village. This is where he would make his home.
    The area was shaded by trees and the floor of the forest was covered with ferns and a couple of feet from the edge of the forest is a cliff. The cliff face was covered in moss and the sun was bouncing off of it in all directions as water from the recent storm ran down the stone and into the moss. In one section of the cliff, the stone looked different, the water suddenly changed direction, flowing around a specific area that a high concentration of moss. John noticed that this was different and decided to go investigate. As he approached the unique part of the cliff face he heard a voice yell out, “Halt! Are you are a protector.”
    “Yes, I am” responded, John.
    “Then you may enter.” the voice exclaimed.
    John walked up to the wall and stood, waiting, not knowing what to do, he put his hands out and touched the wall. It shook, and the shape of a door sunk into the wall, causing dust and little pebbles to rain down on top of him. As the door opened all he could see was darkness, which gave him flashbacks to the events that just took place down at the village. Eventually, John welled up the courage to take a step into the darkness and the moment that his head passed through the doorway, it was no longer dark. It was like there was a barrier at the door that wouldn’t allow anyone to see into the room behind.
    John stood and looked around, taking in his surroundings. This newly discovered room was full of books, and targets and wooden figures with swords, as well as an old man in the corner sitting in the only chair in the room. This man spoke, “You are young for a protector aren’t you?”
    “The ceremony was today,” replied John.
    “Then why are you here, you shouldn’t have come until after your training.”
    “I had nowhere else to go, I am the last one, the others are dead!”
    “Dead?” questioned the old man.
    “You heard me. The ceremony was attacked by dwellers that came out of the ground and they killed everyone and took my brother, I am the last one alive.”
    “Well then, that is very bad news. But it seems to me that you have come at the right time and that it is time to start training you to harness the land and to fight the dwellers.” exclaimed the old man.
    John and the old man would go on to do some training, learning first how to create a connection with the land and then second how to use those powers in a combat situation. Each day John would have to go hunting and gathering food for the old man and himself, and this is where he would find Brock. Brock was a baby wolf covered in mud when John found him. John brought him back to the cave along with John’s favorite meat, venison. The moment John got back and brought Brock through the door, the old man knew about it.
    “What is that?” questioned the old man.
    “This? This is venison,” responded John, rather slyly.
    “No, not the venison, I’m not stupid. The animal, the wolf, why do you have it. Let me see it.”
    John handed over the baby wolf. “I found him while I was on my way back. He was covered in mud and looked like he needed help.”
    “What a kind soul you have,” the old man responded as he walked towards his bookshelf.
    They stood in silence for a second with the old man looking at one of his books, going from yellow, dirty page to yellow, dirty page until he shouted, “Ha, there it is. This wolf is very unique. He will grow very very large, large enough for you to ride in fact,” the old man said as he returned the wolf to John’s hands. John took Brock and put him on the ground. “So what’s next for my training?” asked John as he stood back up. “We gotta make you stronger, so strong that you could move a mountain,” exclaimed the old man, throwing his hands into the air.
    For the next two years, John was tested. He was tested mentally and physically, never getting a day off from his training. Each day when he woke up he stayed in bed, staring at the ceiling of the cave, thinking about whether he wanted to continue training or not. It was a struggle for John to get out of bed and get dressed and prepared for the day. There was a nagging voice in the back of his head that told him to stop, that what he was doing was pointless and that there was no way that a single kid could beat the dwellers.
    John’s internal struggle was almost as tough as his external struggle. He was fighting day in and day out with the old man, just sparring, trying to improve his weapon skills. In between training sessions, John would go and hang out with Brock and feed him. Brock was a lot of work to take care of. The amount of meat that he ate was immense. The pile of dripping slices of meat stacked four high would be placed in from the Brock and once the smell woke Brock up, it was about three seconds before Brock was completely engrossed in eating. The little wolf would tear through the meat like the wind through the trees on that fateful day when the dwellers attacked.
    John’s training would go on for ten more years. For ten more years John would wake up and question what he was doing and some night he would try and harm himself. During these ten years, John was at his lowest but it was the wisdom and encouragement of the old man that kept him fighting for what was right. John became a master in one-handed weaponry, beating the old man many times in their sparring sessions. As well as one-handed weaponry, John also became a master in his ability to control the land. He would meditate and connect with the land every day, strengthening the bond between the land and himself.
    John was able to create such a strong connection that all he needed to do was think about what he wanted and then it would happen. If he thought of a wall of rock in front of him, a wall of rock would appear from the ground and stand towering over him. Throughout this training, John would feel the tremors of the dwellers coming up to attack the people of Highland in faraway places, but the old man would not let him go. John kept trying to convince the old man that he was ready but his mentor would not let him go. Until one day it happened, the land shook and John knew what was happening, he grabbed his gear and ran to where the old man was sitting.
    “Did you fell that,” John asked excitedly.
    “Yes I did, this is going to be a fight where the people of Highland are going to need their protector,” responded the old man, “Are you ready to answer the call.”
    “You know I’ve been ready, it’s you that thinks I am not.”
    “Well then go and prove me wrong,” exclaimed the old man.
    The moment that the last word came out of his mouth John was off. Running full tilt through the ferns and back down to the village that had been converted to Brocks pen. John ran up to Brock and stood in front of him. “Are you ready boy?” John asked. The cold, hard look in Brocks’ eyes told John that he was ready. John jumped onto Brocks back and away they went. John searching for the place that the dwellers were going to surface. They ran and ran until they heard yelling and the clashing of steel on steel. John knew that this was going to be fun, He scanned the battlefield, looking for the grey-furred wolf that had killed his parents, but to his dismay, he was not there. John plunged into the fighting, sword flying through the air, cutting down the enemy one by one until they had all fallen and the remaining troops decided to desert the fight and run back to the hole from where they had come. Before they could John closed the hole with his powers, but one dweller got through. This dweller would run back to their city and announce that Highland still had a protector and that he was the strongest one that he had seen.
    John returned to the old man in triumph but only to be told that it was not going to be that easy when the leader of the dwellers comes up to fight him. “So I need to train more?” asked John.
    “Yes, that is exactly what I am saying,” replied the old man.
    “Well, let’s get to it, I am motivated now.”
    The training went on like usual for another week before John felt the biggest rumble yet and knew that it was time to fight. He grabbed his gear and turned to the old man who was standing outside, he had felt it too. “It is time for you to go, and fulfill your destiny.” stated the old man, head down, looking at his feet. “I know, I will finally get the truth about what has been happening to my brother and make them pay for what they did to my family and the other protectors,” John replied, talking to the back of the old man. The sun was out on this day and there was a gentle breeze that was coming in from their right. As the old man turned John saw a tear fall down his cheek and into the grass. “Be safe,” the old man said with a frown. “I will,” replied John as he went to hug the old man.
    After the embrace, John ran his normal path down through the ferns and to the village to pick up Brock. Brock was already waiting for John when he got there. John hopped onto Brocks back and Brock took off, running so fast it looked like they were gliding over the hills. As they traveled the armies of Highland took notice and began to travel behind them. John’s white hair was blowing in the wind as they sped across the plains and the fields. Soon all of Highlands best armies were following swiftly behind John and Brock as they raced to the area where the dwellers were going to appear.
    As John approached the top of a hill he stopped and looked out across the field. The sun was bouncing off of his armor and the grass was blowing in the wind around Brocks’ legs as they stood at the top of the hill. The armies slowly made their way to the top of the hill to see what John was looking at. About 30 feet from the bottom of the hill there was a giant hole in the field. At the mouth of this hole stood a singular figure. From the top of the hill, you could see green fur sprouting through the armor. It was HC Wells, the leader of the dwellers.
    Wells stood there at the edge of the hole, still as a statue, the wind blowing his cape behind him and the sun bouncing off his armor. Wells and John stared at each other trying to figure out who was going to make the first move and finally it was John that did.
    “HC Wells!” John yelled across the field. All both of them could see was each other. Their armies were still below the ridgeline of the hill and the top of the hole.
    “John Knox!” yelled Wells, “If you are as strong as I have been told, then you are a worthy opponent, and our battle will be legendary!”
    “I am stronger than you think, but if you don’t believe me then start the charge and let’s get this fight over with.”
    “Charge!” yelled Wells as he started running forward. The mass of dwellers that came out of the hole was the largest that John had ever seen. From the top of the hill, it looked like the ground was moving as the dwellers ran toward them.
    “Charge!” screamed John as he and Brock bellowed down the hill, ready for battle.
    The armies of Highland charged fearlessly over the ridge but it wasn’t all of the armies that had come to the fight that went over, it was only half. The battle began as the two armies clashed with dwellers being cut down and Highland soldiers being wounded. Before the dwellers could regain battle formations John called upon the land and formed giant walls of rock that penned in the dwellers and held them. Once this happened the second half of the Highland armies attacked and whipped out the dwellers that were stuck inside of the ring. John brought the walls down so that Wells could see that he had no troops left. It was just him against the people of Highland and John, the protector. The armies began to march toward Wells but John yelled, “Halt! This one’s mine, he has to pay for what he did to my family, and the other protectors!”
    John and Wells were locked in a battle, trading blows left and right. The battle seemed like it was going on forever. John would wound Wells and knock him down but them Wells would get up and in turn, wound John and knock him down. Finally after what felt like a lifetime of fighting John landed a clean slice through Well’s leg which caused him to fall down in anguish. As Wells laid there on the ground John walked up to him and put his sword to Wells’s neck. Well’s hands moved slowly from the ground to the sides of his head and then he began to push his hands up like he was removing a helmet. Slowly the fur around his neck began to part like his head was coming off of his chest. A small bit of pale white skin started to show under the fur.
    “Your human?” John asked.
    “Yes, all of the dwellers are human,” replied Wells.
    “Then why are you dressed like animals?”
    “It was a way to scare you. We aren’t good fighters but we thought that if we could surprise you or frighten you by looking like animals then it would help us.”
    “That didn’t work to well did it.”
    With that comment, Wells got angry and smacked the sword out of the hands of John and they began to fight again. Trading blows right and left. Both were bloody when John landed an uppercut and sent Wells flying backward. “Are you done fighting?” John asked, blood dripping from his mouth. “You have bested me.” Wells replied, fading in and out of consciousness.
    “I have one more question,” John stated as he slowly walked toward Wells, who was sprawled out on the ground, “Where is my brother, you took him when I was young, I want him back.”
    “We figured you’d ask about that, you’ll have to kill me to get him back though,” Wells responded. “Well, that’s easy,” John stated with a cold look on his face. John called upon the land and the ground around where Wells lay slowly started to rise. It wrapped him up and then squeezed him until he breathed his last breath.
    At that moment you John heard a yell from the hole. “John!” When he heard this he ran so fast to the hole. Standing on the edge he looked down the slant and saw his brother slowly walking up the slant. John used his powers to take the ground that was under his brother’s feet and used it to lift him up to the top of the hole, plugging it. John took his brother and carried him over to Brock and told then jumped on so that they could all go home. John would teach his brother the ways of being a protector and return the land to the way that it was. The people of Highland were able to live as they were and the protectors, John, and his brother would join them and live happily ever after.

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