A serious fantasy series that doesn't take itself seriously.
An old man, a young armor-wearing girl, and a farm boy walk into a story, and this is what you get; a fantasy series of monsters and mayhem where each day leads them into new troubles and intrigue.
Fred is the farm boy, a serf bound to his lord by the debt of his deceased parents. He's thrown out into the world against his will and into the company of an armored young woman by the name of Pat and her cloaked, bearded companion, Ned. Together they make an unlikely group as they wind their way through troubles with perilous plant monsters, dangerous dog-beasts, and a good book that refuses to be put down. Literally.
The Unwilling Adventurer is a fantastical fantasy for lovers of sword and sorcery, action and adventure, panic and pandemonium, and a bunch of other epic adjectives.
Everything was normal for Fred until the old man showed up.
Fred was a fine lad with his dark brown hair, fair complexion and dark eyes. He was also a serf by occupation and title, and that left him with little other choice but to labor on Lord Damskov's estate. Fred hadn't been born a serf, though. He was a freedman until his parents died when he was ten, and they left their debt to the lord unpaid. By law he was forced into the servitude of the debt owner, and there he remained for several years. The first ten years of freedom had given him an independent streak, but he kept his mouth shut to keep the peace. Days slipped into weeks, and then months, and still he continued to live and work on his lord's manor. Now he was a young man of fifteen, and still chained to the estate. That is, until the old man came and wrecked his life.
The day started out as many others had before it. The sun rose and he along with it, and Fred had trudged out into the plots assigned for him to manage. There were several acres of crops to weed and water, and after that work was done he could manage his own little plot of dirt used to grow his own food. If Fred left the supply of food up to his lord then he would have died of starvation.
Beyond his fields stretched miles and miles of farmland that traveled over the rolling hills, interrupted only by sparse clumps of trees and bushes, and the occasional manor. A river ran close to the manor on which he lived and wound its way west toward a town he knew existed but had never seen. He didn't have any curiosity to see it, either; he was far too busy tending his small patches of rocks and weeds.
Fred was just setting to work when the old man came walking close by on the wide dirt path that led from the main road to the manor house. The boy was interested in this stranger, for strangers were a rare sight. Even more rare was such a stranger as this, what with his ragged brown cloak draped over his shoulders. The ends dragged along the ground behind him and covered any footprints he left in the dust. There was also the white, unkept hair which trailed down over the old man's shoulders and draped over the front and back of the cloak. He had wisps of white hair over his head, but his eyes were well-covered by a pair of bushy gray eyebrows and he had a long, white beard that stretched down to his waist. The old man carried a staff in his hand, but though his pace was slow and feeble he didn't lean his weight against it.
Fred was startled when the stranger lifted his head and turned those old eyes on him. They were a bright blue, brighter than the clear sky above them, and held an energy which wasn't seen in his step. The old man tottered over to Fred and looked the lad up and down. A small smile graced his mustached lips, and he nodded his head. "Can such a fine lad as yourself tell me where I might find the nearest town?" the old man asked him.
Fred shook his head. "I haven't been farther from this manor than a mile, and the town is somewhere beyond that to the west."
"Can you help me find it? I am old and haven't much strength to be wandering over all these winding roads," the stranger requested.
"I can't. I'm not allowed to leave the manor without permission from my lord." Fred dared not disobey his lord's laws.
The stranger pulled at his beard, and the smile remained on his lips. "I see. Well, I suppose you wouldn't want to disobey your lord for a short adventure."
Fred was ruffled by this challenging patronage. "It's not that, it's just that I'm not allowed to. I could get whipped for leaving the manor."
The old man held up a wrinkled old hand and nodded his head. "I see what you mean, young man. The risk certainly isn't worth it, not when you don't know what dangers lurk outside these peaceful fields." The stranger glanced out upon the plowed and fallow fields that were spotted with the pitiful huts for the workers. Fred's own home was a short distance from them. "But I thank you for the help and will leave you to your work."
The old man turned away back to the main road, and Fred had an urge to wander after the strange fellow. He shook off such a foolish idea, but he thought that perhaps he could give the man one small bit of advice. The boy wondered at such a stranger and why the feeble old man wandered the roads in such a condition. "What are you searching for, sir?" he called out to the man.
The stranger halted and half turned to the young man. Fred flinched back from those blue eyes so focused on him, and the stranger had a raised brow.
"What was that, boy?" the stranger asked Fred.
"I'm sorry if I've offended, but you seem lost. Were you searching for something in particular?"
The man softly chuckled and nodded his head. "Searching for something? Yes, I was searching for something. Perhaps I will find it in the next town."
"Well, if you were wanting better directions you might ask up at the manor house," Fred called out. The young man nodded to his right where lay the large house. "My Lord Damskov certainly knows the way, or any of the servants who go to the town."
The old man inclined his head in a short bow. "I am much obliged for the help, though I believe I have heard enough to know what to do." Fred thought the statement odd, but the man wasn't finished with speaking to him. "Perchance may I know the name of the serf who is so helpful so I may recommend a reward to your lord?"
"My name is Fred."
"Have you no other name?"
"None that I have been told," Fred replied, and the man nodded.
"I see. Well, Fred, it was a pleasure to meet you, and I hope our paths cross in the future."
The man moved up the road toward the manor, and when he passed Fred stepped out of the field onto the path. He watched the stranger far longer than he meant to, but the old man held such a strange fascination with him. He felt as though he had seen that face before, but a long while ago. Perhaps when he was younger and his father had taken him on his few short trips from the estate. The old man disappeared around the buildings which surrounded the manor, and Fred shook the thought from his mind. He had fields to hoe and bugs to fight.