One minute the boys were standing in the kitchen but the next - they looked around and saw tall trees around them. It looked like they were in a forest. "Wow," Zach admitted. "Where are we?" His eyes went from the surroundings to his little brother.
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"This must be Ekolia," The younger boy was quite excited and curious. "The book transported us to Ekolia." He tried explaining again.
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"Alex, it's not funny," Unlike his little brother Zack didn't believe in fairy tales.
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"Then how do you explain this?" Alex held the book in his arms as he was curiously looking around and wondering further away from their 'crash landing' place. Zack sighted and followed. He didn't believe in magic books or wizards but this place could hold normal dangers for a little boy.
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The trees around were old and tall. They barely let any sunlight through. Alex's eyes were wide like carriage wheels as he was taking it all in. "Zach, do you think we could find the city where the wizard was from."
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"For the last time, Alex - there is no wizard." the elder brother was annoyed, "we should find someone to help us find the way home, though."
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"They would think we were crazy," Alex protested, "This book is the way between worlds."
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"Be reasonable," Zack robustly took the diary from his little brother and tore it open. "Nothing's happening," he said not surprised, looking over to his companion.
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"That's strange. I wonder why it won't let us through." Alex spoke still having faith in magic. "Let's go find some help." Zack stated taking the lead.
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They walked for a while until the sun started to set. They were still in the forest. Zack looked around searching for any signs of civilization, they hadn't seen anyone for hours. Through the trees he could see a dim light. "Look, Alex." He pointed the younger boy in the direction of the light. "There must be someone close by. Let's go." The brothers quickly sprinted through the woods. It took some time till they finally got to it.
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The light had come from what had been a camp fire. By now it was put out. Not too long ago though the boys understood from the blazing ashes. Beside the fireplace were lying a dark brown worn sactual and a long pitch black hood. It was very detailed. There were red patterns embroidered on the edges of it that resemble fighting figures. Making another one look exactly like it would have been impossible.
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"Is someone here!" Alex shouted in a loud voice. They waited for an answer but it never came. "Do you think they will be back soon?" Alex asked his brother while moving closer to the fireplace attempting to inspect the stuff lying on the ground. Zack came to look into the sactual while Alex put on the cape. It was a bit long for him.
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Zack revealed a small money bag from the bigger one. "Alex, doesn't this look a lot like gold and silver." He questioned the amazed younger sibling who's eyes were covered by the hood he was still wearing. If they weren't Zack could have easily read the answer from his expression.
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There came a noise from the near by bushes. The brothers both quickly stood up next to each other. Zack still holding the bag and Alex wearing the hood. From the darkness emerged five fully grown men. They were wearing pants and shirts made from all kinds of animal fur and hive. It probably looked fine in the beginning but now the clothes were dirty and ripped from several places.
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The clothes though weren't the only things alerting the brother and telling them that these men were going to be no help. They were drawing there swords as they all had a triumphant smile on their faces which revealed their ugly yellow teeth.
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The biggest of the men stood in the front middle. "Hello, Shadow," He said. His voice was low and the tone dangerous. "You can't even imagine how long I have dreamed of catching you."
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"There must have been a mistake." Zack nervously tried explaining. "We aren't called Shadow. My name's Zack and this is my brother Alex." He pointed at the boy standing next to him. "We were just looking for a way home."
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"Did you hear that, boys?" The man turned to his companions sneering. "They were just looking for a way home." He mockingly said. Laughter filled the air. Zack tried backing away with Alex but the man noticed and gave a signal to the others, who following the leader's orders stood around the teens blocking their way out.
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The leader reached into his pocket, pulled out a piece of paper and practically shoved it into the boys' faces. It was a wanted poster of a guy called The Shadow. The picture of him wasn't that good though as the black hood was covering most of his face.
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That's when Zack realized - it was the same one they found. The same one Alex was wearing. " This isn't ours. We just found it he.." He couldn't finish as a strong blow came from the back and everything went black for Zack.
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"Zack, oh, you awake?" Alex asked quietly as he saw his brother start to move. The first thing Zack noticed after gaining consciousness again was that his head hurt and he couldn't freely move his arms or legs. They were strongly tied down with a thick rope. The second thing he noticed were the men sitting around the campfire they had re lit loudly voicing their opinions on what to do with the money they would receive for turning in the Shadow. They seemed pleased and mellow. Zack suspected the drink going from man to man had also played its part. After a few seconds the past events came back to Zack. "Alex are you okay?" He asked a bit panicky and a bit too loudly seeing as the men turned to them and yelled for him to be quiet.
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"I am fine but ,Zack, they have the book." Alex nervously said in a low voice. "Without it we can't get back home."
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"Again with the magical book. Right now we have to worry about escaping. We don't have time for fairy tales."
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"How can we do that." Alex asked not wanting to argue anymore. Sometimes you have to wonder who really is the older sibling.
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Alex thought he heard something move in the near by bushes. Turning that way he didn't see anything though. Another loud cheer from the adults got the boys attention. It didn't seem like something important though and as Alex took another look around he noticed the hood which had been lying close by them was somehow gone. "Zack," he nudged his brother. "Zack, there's someone else here." After the run in the bounty hunters Alex wasn't thrilled knowing some stranger was lurking near by.
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"Duh, Alex. If we were alone we wouldn't be discussing how to escape." Zack replied not paying attention to how scared his brother looked telling him bout it.
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"I didn't mean them." Alex was blushing slightly. He had been kinda made a fool of. "Someone took the hood."
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Zack finally seemed to grasp it as shock appeared in his expression after looking the ground carefully for the hood.
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Yet again there was a noise in the bushes. This time near the camp fire and the men. But the boys were the only ones that payed attention to it. "What do you think it is?" They got the answer to that question momentarily.
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A person wearing the hood jumped out from the shadows behind the merry men. You couldn't make out his features because of the cloak. He slipped right behind the man sitting furthest from the others and with a strong punch to the back of his head knocked him out. That got the others attention. "What do we have here. Another person as the Shadow." The men got up and armed. Their weapons consisted from swords, axes and knives.
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From what the boys understood the Shadow did the same. He pulled out a fine blade. In his hands it became a deadliest of weapons.
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"Is he going to take on all of them by himself?" Zack was doubting he's fighting skills. The hooded figure was slimmer and shorter than the others. If he lost ,which was a possibility than another change at escaping was unlikely for the brothers.
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Shadow was only defending himself from the men's strikes. And occasionally throwing in a punch or two. He was also backing away from the fire and towards the brothers.
"You're the real Shadow. Aren't you." The chief sneered attacking the opponent from behind and with a strong strike throwing him to the ground. The Shadow quickly gathered himself and blocked a sword strike. While in the ground he cut loose the money bag hanging from the man's belt. "Thanks." With that he sprinted towards the brothers ducking attacks from all four sides. He cut loose the ropes holding the brothers and seeing an opening directed them towards the forest with a strong hand.
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Zack and Alex ran like never before. Knowing that right behind them was a dangerous thief and behind him pissed of bounty hunters.
It was dark among the big old trees. Some might even say it was peaceful if it weren't for the loud footsteps caused by multiple people running. For someone who happened to see it the sight would have been quite strange.
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Two young boys running for their lives, followed by a hooded figure running from a herd of swearing men.
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Zack, Alex and the Shadow were faster than the little on the fat side men. So the distance between the grew but the boys knew they won't be able to keep up this tempo for long.
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Shadow must have been thinking the same thing because at one point he pushed the boys down a little landslide and behind some bushes.
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It wasn't nice. There were dirt and bugs. Alex saw a great big spider. It was giant compared to the ones in our world. He almost let out a scream but thankfully Shadow noticed and put his hand over the kid's mouth.
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They stayed hidden for some time until the men left the area in search of them and it was safe to come out.
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Shadow stood up and prepared to leave the boys at once. "Do you know where the nearest city is." Zack quickly asked worried that the thief would disappear before they found out anything and ran into the bounty hunters again while wondering aimlessly through the forest.
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"Estrel is about 5 kilometers that way. Good luck." Shadow answered shortly, pointing right. "You're gonna need it." He added taking off in another direction.
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"We better get going to before those men come back." Alex said nudging Zack. The last agreed with that and on they went.