Sir Gawain, Knight of the Round Table and the Knight of the Sun, thoroughly disliked the Deep Woods. It was humid, dark, smelled of rotting wood, and the marshy earth beneath him seeped into his boots. To make matters worse it was raining, making the forest leaves constantly drip water onto his nose.
But it will take more than unsavory weather to deter a royal knight!
He certainly wouldn't grin, but he would bear it.
Wallowing in his negative thoughts, Gawain chopped through the obscuring flora with his ax-like twin swords, patrolling the forest for bandits that tended to hide out in backwoods like this. He was also looking for one outlaw in particular, one whom he had seen before. It was the blue hedgehog he had seen that had allowed the traitorous Royal Wizard to escape.
The nerve of the scoundrel! Not only consorting with a criminal, but aligning himself with one as well!
He sliced through the next clump of brush with a bit more gusto.
If either of them dares to show their faces, I will make sure they pay for their treachery!
Sonic was kicking back and relaxing, enjoying the atypical experience of not traveling by foot. He had seen a horse-drawn wagon traveling in the direction of the Deep Woods and decided to hitch a ride along with the cargo. The hay he was laying on was itchy on his back at first, but after a little time moistening in the rain it was tame enough to be a comfortable mattress. The muddy track that Sonic had been so glad to avoid during his run to Camelot now sloshed hypnotically under the horse's hooves and the cart's wheels. The rainclouds blanketed the entirety of the visible sky, vitalizing the countryside in a refreshing shower.
Sonic was about to give in to temptation and fall asleep when a yell from the wagon driver and a bellow from Caliburn jolted him to attentiveness.
"On your guard you dolt! LOOK OUT!"
A black and blue suit of armor with four legs and very large front claws poised at his throat encompassed his vision.
"Whoa!" he gave a panicked uppercut slash at the monster, ripping it into purple smoke.
Now fully awake, he saw that the wagon was being chased by many of the quadrupedal Underworld creatures.
Sonic struggled to get a firm stance on the wet hay, "Caliburn, what the heck are these things?"
"Crawler-Ones, hunting dogs of the Underworld army! Avoid their claws!"
"I already figured that part out, thanks."
The driver was doing his best to keep the whinnying horse steady while Sonic was slashing at the Crawler-Ones leaping at him and trying to cut his throat with their knife-like appendages. By the time they had reached the outskirts of the Deep Woods, the Crawler-Ones had learned that trying to attack the spiky blue thing was suicide, so they tried a new tactic. Surrounding the wagon, they started attacking the cart itself. Sonic did his best to attack them, but with the jolting of the nervous horse he couldn't prevent them from hitting the cart.
When one of the wheels was struck, Caliburn spoke up, "This wagon isn't going to survive this battle. What matters is that we lead the Crawler-Ones away from the driver. Go into the forest!"
Sonic didn't waste another moment. He jumped from the cart just as a large section was cut from it and hay started spilling out. He deliberately waited for the Crawler-Ones to spot him and then ran into the woods, allowing them to be on his heels. When he was satisfied that the civilian was far enough away, he sped up and lost sight of the Underworld bloodhounds in the mass of trees.
"I think we lost'em," Sonic said, "Think that other guy's okay?"
"Yes, I heard him escape on his horse when the wagon fell apart," Caliburn replied.
Now that they were deep in the forest, the rainfall seemed to cease as the large, leafy boughs of the trees heavily obscured the sky. It might not have been raining at all except for the ground underneath that squelched and gave with every step.
"Hey," Sonic said after noticing that he was running along a pathless route, "Are we going the right way? I mean there's no road signs pointing to the Lake Lady are there?"
"Lady of the Lake," Caliburn corrected, "And don't worry, her home isn't difficult to find. She resides in a remote grotto near the forest lake. Reach the lake and finding the grotto will be an easy effort."
Two Soldier-Ones shot up out of the ground and immediately made to swing their weapons. Sonic held Caliburn outward to block.
"Ooof!" Sonic was thrown to the side as the force of the wallop reverberated across Caliburn's hilt.
Uhhg…that hurt a lot more than it should've.
As he jumped back into a ready position, he saw why. These Soldier-Ones were different than the ones he had encountered in Camelot, the most obvious features being their green armor and large battle axs.
"Lemme guess. Ax-Ones?" Sonic inquired as he ducked a swing and uppercut-slashed the hapless attacker.
"Yes, and I believe it would be wiser to evade their weapons instead of parrying them."
Sonic rolled his eyes, "Yeah, yeah."
Baiting the remaining Ax-One, he stayed in place long enough for it to make a heaving downward swing. Sonic dodged it with hardly any effort and the ax lodged into the ground.
"Hah! It's like they're movin' in slow motion." Sonic laughed. The Ax-One was subsequently destroyed while in a futile struggle to pull up its weapon.
"You try wielding a battle ax and see how you fare." Caliburn remarked.
The hedgehog stopped moving and brought his sword to eye-level, baring his teeth, "Okay look, why do you always hafta do that?"
Caliburn raised a quillion, "Correct you?"
"Knock me down every time I say or do ANYTHING. It's really annoying and I'm getting pretty sick of it!"
"I am trying (without much success, I might add) to instill the values of a proper knight in you so the people will see you as the savior that you need to be! In this instance, you did not even consider the other point of view, even if it was just a demon from the Underworld. Do you see the ignobility of your actions? You need the people's support and respect in order to take back the kingdom in the name of righteous good. Otherwise, you are a mere vigilante, a renegade warrior slaying a king, one who throws the kingdom into even more chaos!"
Sonic stood with his jaw rigid, returning Caliburn's firm glare. He parted his lips as to say something, but apparently changed his mind, for he turned and started running again.
There was definitely a path now; the grass was thin and matted and the ground was pressed firm by wagon wheels and footsteps. Insects were fewer and forest critters no longer danced about the trees. It was strange really, to see evidence of civilization in an untamed, virgin forest. At least it was to Sonic, who was getting used to the general absence of people in this world.
"Hey uh, Caliburn. Any chance that anyone lives around here?"
"Mm? Oh, yes. Yes Sonic. There is a small community within the confines of the Deep Woods that should be close by. I have—yes, I believe it would be best to seek the village. It is absolutely vital that a knight develop a bond with his citizens, and you have yet to even meet one. Now, this will be your first real encounter with the general populace, so as such it will also provide your first impressions. Remember, you are a knight in training. Be polite, dignified (or at least as dignified as you can muster), and respectful. A knight is the servant of the people who need him."
Sonic slowed his speed down to a light jog, entering through the village gate.
Dignified. Okay, I can do dignified…I think. Aw, whatever. It'd be easier if I had Caliburn's accent, though.
Passing by the goat corrals, panicked cries of fear suddenly pierced through the thick forest air.
"Someone's in trouble! That first impression thing's gonna hafta wait Caliburn, we gotta move!"
Sonic blasted to the center of the town, looking for the source of the cry. Some Soldier-Ones brandishing daggers pinned some villagers to the side of a house, several people around pleading them to stop.
"An interloper is depleting our ranks," the Underworld knights said in unison, "the king has ordered you for military service."
In perfect tandem, the knights thrust their weapons directly into the poor villagers' hearts. Strangely enough, no blood escaped from their injuries. In fact, a purple mist emanating from the daggers seemed to be seeping in.
Caliburn's eyes widened in horror, "Sonic, stop them now!"
"Don't need to tell me twice!"
Sonic sprinted forward only for a wall of Soldier-Ones holding wooden shields to spring up from the ground and knock him back. Not bothering with them, he simply jumped over them and spun into a Windblade, fizzling the dagger-wielding Soldier-Ones into dust. The villagers were released from the monsters' grips and fell to the ground, the purple mist dissipating from their bodies. Except for one.
Violet armor solidified around his body, a dagger materializing in his hand. The former villager stood up, a new single eye glaring piercingly at the other citizens.
"Sonic, these civilians are in danger! Dispatch these Underworld knight immediately!"
"But what about—"
"He will revert to normal when he is struck down, now hurry!"
Gritting his teeth, the hedgehog Homing-Attacked the Soldier-Ones with shields, bowling them over and leaving them vulnerable to the quick slashes that followed. Focusing his attention on the transformed villager, he waited for him to jab with his dagger then used his longer-reaching blade to run him through from a safer distance. A small plume of purple smoke rose just like any other defeated knight of the Underworld, but this time a limp figure rested in its place.
Sonic stepped forward, "Is he...?"
"My power has exorcised the power of the Underworld from him, he is quite alright, but now he needs time to recover."
One of the villagers rushed forward, dropping down to the unconscious man's side, "How is my husband? Will he be alright?"
Sonic was silent for a moment before realizing she was talking to him, "Huh? Oh uh, yeah, he'll be fine. Just needs some rest. Is everyone else okay?"
The other villagers emerged from their hiding places and gathered around their new protector. Said protector felt awkward with all of their eyes on him.
"Uh...could I get a couple people to help Jack get home? Dude just got possessed, needs to sleep it off."
Two immediately stepped forward and hoisted the comatose Jack up, following his wife to their home.
One of the bolder villagers spoke up, "You're our hero!"
Agreeing mumbles rose from the crowd which led to excited chatter and eventually climaxed into a grand cheer.
Sonic grinned widely, "Thank you, thank you. Name's Sonic, Sonic the Hedgehog. I'm the newest knight around here, and I'm here to stop King Arthur's reign of evil."
A new cheer erupted from the crowd, "All hail Sir Sonic! All hail Sir Sonic!"
With a nod and a two finger salute, he dashed away, leaving a lasting first impression in his wake.
Fun Author's Note: Back to this story, I'm just pinballing with which stories I'm working on, aren't I? Oh well, balance I suppose.
We've made it to the Deep Woods, home to innocent villagers, the Lady of the Lake and...Gawain? Wait a minute, it was Lancelot that fought Sonic in the Deep Woods in the game, something's wrong! There's a glitch in the matrix! Well no, the matrix is just fine (ignore your cat) I just took some artist's liberty with the story here. Why would I do that? To be honest, I can't remember the original reason why (I haven't worked on this story in like six months) so now I'm just doing it for fun. Bwahaha!
Sonic learns a bit more about being a chivalrous soldier of the people, with some heated words between him and Caliburn of course. Love the banter between the two, I really do.