Extended Story

Nine more days passed before he heard anything from travelers or merchants from the various routes. One rumor caught his attention. The story of a princess unclaimed by a prince and still awaiting her own Prince Charming to rescue her from the clutches of evil. He wasted no time in charging towards the mountain fortress that was said to be holding the princess against her will. The same story he had heard over and over again on his travels, but he was hoping that he at least had a chance to obtain his own happiness.

Two days after he had heard something he arrived at a fortress that was more ominous that they had let on. The rock of the mountain and stone of the outter castle had been covered by a thick layer of gray ash from the lively volcano that the castle seemed to hover over. An old, rickety bridge was all that connected it to the mainland from what he could see at least. Cautiously he stepped across the bridge, wary that most of the planks had been worn away by time and heat. Several had snapped under his weight, but he had made it to the other side safely. He drew his sword from his back and stepped into the castle. The place reeked with death and natural gases that flowed in from every nook and cranny that Vledamir stepped over. Traces of large scratches and places that appeared to have been scrapped away using a great force riddled the inside of the castle with what had taken place within over the years.

Using knowledge of basic damsel placements, Vledamir ruled out the chance of this place having a dungeon or even a basement and began his search for the tallest tower. It was not as hard a task as he predicted it to be. The largest tower had a faint glow coming from him. The faint glow of hope as Vledamir felt it to be. He climbed the steps slowly, his heart racing more and more with each step he took closer to his future. He stopped at the top of the stairs and took a deep breath. A warm breeze blew up from the bottom of the stairs and pushed the door open to reveal a room with a single bed inside. Vledamir lowered his sword as he walked towards the bed with the large curtain over it. His hand trembled with anticipation as he pushed the curtain aside. He dropped his hand as he noticed that the only thing laying on the bed was a shriveling white flower. The fireplace behind the bed had been alive with the faint glow he had seen. As the embers cooled and the orange glow died away, so did Vledamir's hopes and dreams to find the one for him. Before leaving the room, the General took a glance out of one of the windows.

He watched the world pass by for a few moments as he mentally mapped out the path he had traveled to get here. The forests to the west, the plains to the southwest and the sands that covered the world to the south and east. Nothing else awaited him. His search was over and it was time to head back home, back to a life unchanged by the journey. He had to look away from the window before the aching feeling in his chest consumed what was left of his emotions. Replacing his sword back into the holster, he retraced his steps back to the main hall of the castle. As he made it through the front archway, he heard foot steps from in front of him. Vledamir raised his head to see man clad in armor, weapon at the ready and staring down. The General did not withdraw his weapon, instead he kept walking. He spoke to the knight in a grim tone as he passed by.

"No happiness awaits you here, my friend. It's best for you to go home before you witness as much disappointment as I have."

The knight only blinked from behind the helmet he wore. He dropped his guard and looked between the large castle and the man who had come from it. He let out a deep sigh and followed Vledamir's path back across the bridge.