You may not recognize us now, but we are the same King's Men that had been assigned the task of capturing the Wizard's Apprentice and bringing him back.
No doubt to have his death serve as some ghastly sort of mid-meal entertainment for you Nobles of the Courts.
And all of this for some small and secret thing beyond all our knowledge, some secret thing that the lad had seen or done that had earned the late Wizard's wrath.
Which, in turn, had earned the late King's wrath, seeing as how the King was under the Wizard's spell, and whatever was a threat to one was perceived as no less of a threat to the other.
And so we set off after the quiet and mistreated boy, deep into the hilly woods, with our dogs hot on his trail, and the prospect of the High Executioner's axe at our necks, for we could not return empty handed.
We thought we would've had the child by the end of the first night, but that was not to be, nor did we capture him the next day, or the day after, or any day that came after that, when the days began to go uncounted, and while water was plentiful, as practically every hill ended or began in a creek or a brook in those stormy woods, our pursuit seemed to be leading us deeper and deeper into an unknown wilderland where there was little of anything to hunt or fish to keep our stomachs from growling.
Whether that was by some sorcery of the child's working I know not, but seeing the way he stole all of our dogs away from us on the third night, and made them his protectors, I suspect that guiding us into bad hunting grounds or warning all the meal-worthy animals away from our approaching hunger was well within his capabilities.
And it wasn't long before we would have perished from starvation, having never even laid eyes on this sorcerous child of yours, lost without our dogs in the infernal quiet of those deep woods, had not the child began to bring us things to eat.
Our existence, completely at the mercy of this Wizard's Apprentice, this strange and sorcerous child who we had been sent to fetch for those who would be his murderers.
This lad who could have set our own dogs upon us, we who would not have hesitated to do the same to him.
This boy who could've simply left those who would've made a fine meal of him, for the sick and twisted appetites of the Nobles of the Courts, to waste away and starve.
And then this same child led those, who by all rights should've been lost beyond all knowledge and memory in the depths of those strange woods, home.
You can say we're under his sorcery, and perhaps we are, perhaps we are being wielded by him with the same ease with which he seemed to wield all the true natures of all things to his advantage.
But that is a far better thing than the sorcery you've had us under for all these years, this sorcery of fear and cruelty and pride and hate.
And the Wizard's Apprentice did try to teach us one final lesson before he returned us to this fouled land of your making.
But unfortunately for you, I have yet to completely master that which you have poisoned me with.
Perhaps, some day, I will.
But not today.
But all is not lost, for you.
For the Wizard's Apprentice would no doubt look upon what I am about to do to you as a failure of his magic.
So in a way, your sorcery has won some small victory against him.
Today your sorcery is the more powerful.