Thursday, December 22, 2011

The Last Defence of the Bridge of Light

Fog settled over the battlefield, the air for now sucked dry of magic. The Debruans would surely strike again soon. Gors sheathed his blade for the moment. He would need it later but not now.
“Ready the men Bog. We have an hour at least before the next wave.”
Bog looked at Gors. The grizzled veteran shook his head. “There is no fight left in the men my Lord. We should retreat over the bridge to the keep.”
Bog had seen war since he was a small boy. He had not lived to be so old by making rash decisions. But Gors knew that the veteran’s advice would not help him today.
“We are already at the bridge. There is nowhere further to retreat.”
Bog shook his head. Gors knew what he would say. “We can go to the keep. Brave hearts will be defeated today, but stone can hold them off for days, or weeks.”
“And then what?” Gors replied. “In the keep we are trapped, our defeat there will be certain. Here we have the bridge, our one great advantage. We should hold as long as we can, help will come.”
In the distance pillars of fire burst from the ground. The fiends were summoning more imps. The imps would not stay in Rhyfell long. Just long enough for the battle, before their essence started to break down. Gors’ soldiers had captured imps in the past. After a day or two they would become completely mad, their mind back in Debrua, lost.
The fire was proof that the fiends had lost none of their strength. Gors could see his men’s shoulders slump at the sight. The defence had lasted days and it would need to last many more if help did not arrive.
Behind him lay the Bridge of Light. It used to be at the heart of his lands. Today it was their front line. The Keep of Serma lay beyond the Bridge. It was their home. Gors would never let war come to that place.
Next to Bog stood Glan, Gors’ twelve year old son. The boy held a blade just like the other men, but he was the future lord of this land. It was because of him that Gors could not abandon this Bridge.
The Bridge of Light was built by The Guardian. It provided a way over the ice lake from the mainland to the Isle of Serma. Even Debruans could not cross the ice lake without the Bridge. The Bridge of Light was the only way the Sermits could reach the rest of the world. If the Debruans took it they would all be trapped and eventually would die. Not even the Guardian could save them if the Bridge of Light were to fall.
The Bridge of Light always amazed Gors. It was more than just a pathway from Serma to the rest of Rhyfell. It was more even than a form of protection against the Debruans’ magic. It was also beautiful. Two white towers stood at each end and an enormous arch, the Heart of the Bridge, marked its middle. Shining like white fire it was a beacon of hope in the bleak landscape that surrounded it. It was the one ray of order in a time of chaos and Gors would die before abandoning it.
“There is no help coming,” Bog whispered. He did not want to destroy what courage the men had left. The old veteran knew that Gors would not back down.
“The Guardian will come,” Gors spoke confidently. “This will be the last time we face the tide.” The men nodded, trying to cheer in agreement. Yet Gors could see in each one of their eyes that they did not believe.
“We face our death then,” Bog spoke sombrely. “I will die today. As will you and your son.”
Gors looked at Glan. The boy showed courage to the end. Gors wished he could send his son back to the keep but that would break his men. And the keep would not save his son.
“Ready the men to form ranks. We hold our ground here,” Bog nodded at Gors’ order. The men drew their swords, loyal to the end.
Gors stopped at the sound of his son’s voice.
“There is another way.”
“Form ranks my son. This is the way I have chosen. Our hopes lie with The Guardian now.” But young Glan did not move.
“We destroy the Bridge,” was all that the boy said. Gors paused as all the men looked to him. For the first time in days they had hope in their eyes.
“No,” Gors couldn’t give up the bridge. It was madness.
“Listen to your son. He is wise beyond his years,” Bog whispered to his lord.
“Do you know what will happen if we destroy this bridge? The Guardian will abandon us. We will be alone, we will be helpless.”
“No,” Bog replied. “We will find a way. The young will find a way. Your son will lead the Sermit people to greatness. He will lead the Rhyfian people to greatness.”
Gors opened his mouth to order the men to take arms, to defend the Bridge of Light once more, but no words escaped his lips.
“The only way to destroy the Bridge of Light,” Gors began, his voice breaking up with anguish. “The only way is to set fire to its Heart, the central arch. Whoever is appointed this task will die in the purifying flames.”
“I am old,” Bog said respectfully. “I would be honoured to perform that task this day my lord.”
“No Bog, my son will need your wise hand on his shoulder if he is to become a great leader. My time is over. I was the protector of the Bridge of Light. I must be the one to destroy it.”
Bog nodded and withdrew. He informed the Sermit warriors that they would withdraw to the Keep of Serma.
Gors knelt down in front of his son. “You lead these people now Lord Glan. Rule them with integrity and bravery. Do not succumb to pride and sentimentality like your father. Good times will come for our people. I regret that I could not bring them for you.”
Glan simply nodded, tears forming in the youth’s eyes, though his face remained carved of stone. He turned and joined the men, crossing the Bridge of Light, one last time.
Gors wept as his son left. In the distance the Debruan horde was beginning to charge. He stood and grabbed a torch from the ground, and strode away from the carnage and onto the Bridge. As he reached the Heart he could see his son leading the last of the soldiers onto the Isle of Serma. Gors lit the Heart and watched it flare into a brightness that meant Gors could see nothing else.
The fire filled Gors’ lungs, but he did not feel pain. His body would be cleansed and he would depart for Kematia, the Afterlife, with his essence pure. And there he would be content to rest and wait until he was reborn.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Prologue: The Broken Shield

Daigan Ur strode through the carnage. Everywhere there was fire and bloodshed, steel clashing against steel, magic and flesh battling for supremacy. It was supposed to be a massacre, but the magic that should have been flooding the battlefield was growing scarce, each gust of wind bringing less and less. The mortals of Rhyfell were winning somehow.
A Rhyfian swordsman stepped to block Daigan’s way and was run through by Kalador, Daigan’s sword. Daigan Ur was covered in arrows, scars and burns, but he was still strong. No mortal weapon could harm him. The Debruans that fell today were weak and deserved to fall.
Daigan Ur’s target was the Rhyfian fortress of Bacendon. A great amount of magic poured from that spot. It could only be Nattyr, no other could cause such chaos.
The fortress was in sight, and Daigan Ur pressed on through the slaughter.
As he approached the fortress, the desolation grew. Fire was everywhere, illuminating the blood of thousands. Magical remains of banished Debruans covered the dusty earth. Daigan stroked Kalador, he would see more work soon, that was certain.
The gates of Bacendon loomed ahead of him and Daigan Ur blasted them open with nothing but a point of his finger. He knew his final confrontation with Nattyr was not far away.
The dust cleared in the courtyard behind the walls and Daigan was faced with a mortal.
“You are not welcome here demon. I am Glan, champion of the free people. Turn back or be destroyed,” the Rhyfian champion spoke proudly and confidently.
Daigan Ur sniggered, “You will regret that tone mortal. You know nothing of my power or my purpose, yet you attack me. You may banish a few of my weaker brethren, but we are too strong and too numerous for you to ever overcome. Now you attack me and do not realize I am the only reason your race still exists.”
“We have allies now,” the mortal challenged back, “allies greater than you. They have shielded our world so no more of you will ever enter from Debrua. Once you are banished the fight will be ours. I will be the one to banish you.”
“You are mortal,” the demon boomed a response, “Your feeble weapons are no match for me. I am not a mere imp like those banished on the ground outside. I am Daigan Ur, greatest Debruan of Light.”
“No more shall you dominate my people.” The mortal drew his sword. Its blade was jet black and elaborately runed. Who would give a mortal such a gift?
“On guard foul beast, it is time for you to fall by my blade.”
“Very well mortal, you shall have your death!” Daigan Ur raised Kalador and advanced on the Champion of Rhyfell.
Enchanted steel met enchanted steel. The blade that the mortal wielded throbbed with power. It moved like lightening and struck like a hammer.
The shield, that the mortal opponent wore, repelled each blow back at Daigan Ur with a force that threatened to send Kalador flying from his hand.
The helm the mortal wore seemed to sense his every move before it happened. Daigan Ur found the mortal was waiting for each of his blows to fall, easily blocking them and counter attacking.
The gauntlets the mortal wore glowed red with power. As they got brighter the mortal’s blows fell harder. His feet moved faster and his defence became more solid.
His armour of metallic blue was impenetrable. Every hit seemed to strengthen it more.
These gifts were from a powerful Debruan. Only Nattyr could do this, but why would he after all this time? There was power enough for all. Why cut off the world and give it to the mortals?
The mortal’s black blade was a blur to Daigan Ur now. It smashed Kalador from his hand and buried itself in his chest.
Daigan Ur felt his essence burning out of him. He fell to his knees and dropped his shoulders a great rune of banishment began to appear on his forehead. “Well done mortal, your people may have their freedom for now, but if you ever have war find you again, do not seek me, for you have doomed me for eternity.”

Wogan Bora Return's Home

The mountains continued to rise but Wogan was sure his journey neared its end. It had ben many years since he had left the mountains of the dwarfs but he still found the surroundings grow more familiar. The curves in the thin paved road became less violent and the ground surrounding it flattened out and the road widened, leading up to the great southern gate. Portal to the land of the dwarfs.
As Wogan approached the gates he saw the cliffs at either side rise up. They had been dg out centuries ago to better defend the already invulnerable city. Fortifications lined the cliff wall, complete with giant crossbows and catapults. The city gates were wide open in this time of relative peace, but the giant blue stone doors could be clsoed in seconds thanks to an elaborate system of gears, powered by the mighty river that flowed through the city.
Passing under the gates Wogan could look up and see the murder holes, manned by more armed soldiers. Ready with cross bows, hot oil and pikes, should the main gates be breached. Once through the great archway Wogan entered the outer wall. He walked on a road with high walls to each side, though not high enough for soldiers to walk from the outer wall to the inner wall. The outer wall district was made so that an enemy would need to breach two walls, not one, to enter the city. Besides teh road Wagan walked now the outer wall consisted of thin wooden walkways that could be burned in case of assault, and tar pits that are almost impossible to walk through and could also be burned to aid the city's defense. If set alight the tar would burn for nearly a day.
Two hundred paces further was the inner gate. The whole inner wall was made of the stunning blue stone that the city was famous for, just like the out wall, again the gates were open, welcoming Wogan to his home. The towers of the inner wall rose much higher than the outer wall, allowing the weapons on top to fire over the outer wall. Very few soldiers were on the wall. They were needed for the wars in the south.
Once through the gates the great dwarven capital was even more impressive than its defenses. The great waterfall of the River of Kings was the first thing you could see, out in the distance. The river was diverted ahead, he walked through what used to be the river bed.
Around the waterfall was Murindor's Promenade. A great square that surrounded the King's waterfall. Flanking the square were cliffs to every side. The city was built into those cliffs. The city shone blue in the afternoon sun. Every brick, every paving stone, every speck of rock was Bosk's blessed blue stone.
The King pretended to deny Bosk, as did most citizens, but Wogan knew his god created those stones. He had travelled the world to learn of gods and magic and had learnt, without room for disproval, that the gods were real and that there was magic in this world.
He kept walking up the eastern cliff face, now high above the promenade to a secret entrance to the temple of Bosk. The main entrance at the centre of the promenade had been closed by King Noridin. Wogan opened a door and walked down many hundreds of steps. At the bottom he was let through a door into the great temple of his god. Wogan Bora, High Priest of the Dwarven God Bosk, was home.

It started as a joke

Maurice sat in his basement. It was a strange place to sit, alone in his huge house. He could have been playing his viola in the music room or walking the dogs through hectares of perfectly manicured gardens, even roasting a duck in his brand newly renovated kitchen. But no. He was in the basement sitting on an upside down bucket, staring at a spider spinning its web in the doorway.

Twenty three years Maurice had lived in this house, in the first twenty two he barely came to this room, now he spent almost every minute here. It had started as a joke, a joke that grew into a project and spiralled into an obsession. Now his work was complete and he was afraid of how his life would change.

His life to this point had been one of luxury and success. He had been born into prestige, and built his empire so where he stood now made a mockery of his father’s pitiful fortune. But it had also been a life spent alone.

He looked at the spider, spinning its web, building its own empire, alone, just as he had. Would that spider be content with what it had, like he had never been able to be?

Maurice often felt like a spider, at once respected, feared, admired and abhorred by others. He had fed on their negative thoughts and words. When they scoffed at his wealth he built more, he made his life appear so great that no one could deny he had it better. He rubbed their face in the dirt then forced them to lick his boots clean. He had become the evil tyrant they accused him of being, even when he was an innocent boy.

But it was too much now, he’d retreated, like CFK to Xanadu. Hid away so he would no longer be hated, just scorned from afar. But even that had failed to content him.

He was an old man now. The absence of hate was a poor substitute for love. So he had retreated further, to his basement, just like the spider in the doorway, to build something just for him.

It had started as a joke, but as his work took shape he found himself ordering more and more expensive parts, had more and more accessories installed till his original design had grown out of control.

And now it was finished, ready to be turned on. If it worked as he planned he would never need to leave his house again. He could be content in his isolation, happy and no longer alone.

Maurice looked at the spider one last time. He knew why he was hesitant to flick the switch. He wasn’t ready to go down this path.

He stood up and left the basement as it was. Maybe one day he would finish what he started here, but first he would have one last try at life. Til then, Louisa could wait.


I’ll apologise off the bat for this. I never meant for this to be a short story. It should have been a TV show I think. Not some primetime sitcom or anything, probably one of those obscure ones on SBS after Inspector Rex and Queer as folk. You know when you’re not sure whether you’re watching a porno or a work of art. Like any of those shows, this is neither. It’s a faker, just like me.

I met this girl at a party, Melinda. She was all exotic looking. I think I heard she’s Croatian, so hot. Her friend was talking to my friend and my friend was being all obnoxious and her friend was being a real bitch, se we started talking, mainly to apologise for the two losers we came with.

I was wearing a suit jacket over my David Bowie Tee shirt trying to fit in with all the indie kids. She was genuine though, not a faker like I was. She had an Ani Di Franco tattoo and fisherman pants and listened to The Smiths and Joy Division and all those other bands that I know like one song of. But I like The Strokes and old Greenday and so did she so we still got on well.

We mainly talked about music, or she talked and I listened, I was kind of out of my depth in the conversation. Then more people joined the group and I didn’t really get to talk to her again.

My night ended really shit because my mate Ray got real sick and I had to take him home, drunk bastard. The party wasn’t even really that good, and Melinda had lost interest in me but I still wanted to stay.

I went to facebook the next day and found her in the event guests. She accepted my add but I still wish I’d held off because I saw her two days later at uni and I couldn’t be all cool about not expecting to see her. She must think I’m a stalker by now. But at least she was friendly, even though I couldn’t tell if she was flirting with me or putting up with me. I even asked if she wanted to get a coffee later but she said she was busy. It’s Week 9 of semester, she probably was busy, or was she just blowing me off.

Where to go from here, the optimist in me says she likes me but I need to make a move, the pessimist obviously thinks otherwise. Dan’s having another party in a couple of weeks, I’ll probably hold off till then, I’m such a coward.


I met him at Dan’s party, he was a friend of that arsehole that Jenny was fucking, I only talked to him to escape their bullshit.

He was actually one of the boys there, not just some extended friend like me. He was into Bowie and The Smiths and stuff. I was just glad I was showing off my tat so I had at least some credibility. The party was full of wankers, those wannabee hippies that think they’re too cool to smoke actual cigarettes so they have to roll their own. Ben didn’t even smoke, it was refreshing.

He didn’t talk much, I guess I was keeping him from enjoying the party, my friend third wheels me and he is stuck looking after me. I was glad he added me on facebook though. I even saw him at uni a few days later. He asked me for a coffee but I had to go to class for a group presentation.

Dan’s having another party soon. Jenny doesn’t want to go. Ben will be there but I can’t just go with him. He probably doesn’t even like me that much anyway. He could get way cooler girls than me.


Dan’s party is two days away and Melinda is still on the awaiting reply list. I sent her a message asking her to come with me and then regretted it straight away. I should have just let it go, if she’s there and something happens then that’s all good but now I’ve been too eager I’ve ruined it.

The Birthday Party

Scooter looked up at Max from the hospital bed. Max had finally been allowed to visit. He wasn't nearly as badly hurt as his friend.

Scooter wore a brace round his neck, he was too weak to speak. Max should have been reassuring him. But he wasn't.

Scooter looked helplessly back at Max. Max could see the liquid growing in his friends eyes. The pleading look asking why. Why was he in the hospital not safely home in his own bed? Why was he now in a world of morphine, blood doners, plaster and bandages. He should be back with his Star Wars posters and Simpsons DVDs. It wasn't fair, was it?

Max was trying not to think of the accident but looking at Scooter he couldn't avoid it. That rainy night, Scooter's birthday, stealing his dad's keys and taking the HSV for a ride. It was all Max's idea, Scooter's eyes were a reminder of that. It was Max behind the wheel, not used to the power of the V8.

The night had been dark, the roads around Scooter's house wet and windy. Max was in the middle of the road and had to swerve to miss the Volvo coming the other way. Max remembered the look on Scooter's face when they went off the road, it was the same one as now.

It asked why?

Why did we do it?

Max started sobbing uncontrollably. He'd nearly killed his best friend on his 11th birthday.


You see it there, in its perfect place in the box, its surface flawless, shimmering, almost liquid, like the unbroken surface of a mountain lake in winter.

The smell, intoxicating, memories of easter morning. The hunt for hidden treasures, for the prizes held in coloured foil, the smell you could smell right now.

But fingerprints, like at the scene of any other crime, betray. The surface not so pure but the smell all the more inviting. The touch firm but slowly giving way. Slowly surrendering to your touch.

The first bite, small, barely scrapes the sides. The perfect shape almost intact. The rich taste overpowering all else, no part of the body fails to notice its presence.

A larger bite can not be discreet. A crunch and the loud chewing could be heard by any who came too close. But more powerful, the taste. No longer restricted to the tongue, it fills the mouth, covers the teeth and gums, makes the first taste, which seemed so important before, almost meaningless.

The surface now is broken and jagged. Beauty being overcome like a national park cruelly mined by a company only interested in profit and progress. More bites only enhance the feeling that something wonderful is being destroyed.

When it is gone it cannot be forgotten. The fingertips, once marking the surface has their role reversed. The last remains cling and even the licking of the tongue cannot clean them completely. The mouth remembers still. Craves a second helping that will not come. Craves that which can be felt going down to the belly.

And when all has gone one piece of evidence always remains. The empty space, staring hopelessly from the box.

The Curse of the Village on the Cliff Face

The village on the cliff face was under a curse. None lived who truly remembered how it started but I woke up that morning with an idea. It concerned the moon, and the stars, but most of all it concerned the great mountain, who’s shadow we lived beneath, and a gift that was stolen long ago.

There was a diamond in my hand. I knew immediately it was a star, only I don’t know how I knew. The diamond had an engraving of the moon. It was old Master Algarth who told me that diamonds like that could be found in the caves beneath the great mountain.

What did it have to do with the curse? To explain that you need to know what the curse was. The people of the village on the cliff face were invisible. Anything we touched became invisible. We had been like that since we could remember. Or at least that was always what I had been told. When you are blind you didn’t notice that everyone around you is impossible to see.

So how did I know the diamond star with the engraved moon concerned the curse? Because when I felt it in my hand that morning, not only could I feel its cold hard surfaces on the tips of my fingers, I could see it. I could see it and the hand that clasped it.

But when I put it down my hand was gone, only the diamond remained in my otherwise absent sight. It worked for master Algarth too, but only if I held it against his skin, then I could see both of us.

His was the first face I ever saw. Now I know he was horribly ugly, with grime all over his wrinkled face, his beard scratchy and fuzzy, but at that moment he was beautiful.

Everyone went into a frenzy. I couldn’t escape, because they could see me, and I could not see them. But no matter how many stole the stone they would all give it back, for it was powerless without me. After everybody in the village on the cliff face had satisfied themselves that they could not steal my moonstar they began discussing things.

Being invisible may seem a great gift to some. We held no fear of attack from other villages, for one thing. Fighting an enemy you cannot see is nearly impossible. We can steal, we can cheat, but those acts do not lead to happiness. We could not see the faces of our loved ones or the tears on our children’s faces. We could not see a smile or a frown. To be invisible is to have the world blind to you, it is far worse than being blind, and for that the people of our village were in constant sorrow.

But never me. I am blind anyway, all my friends were as easy to feel, taste, smell and hear as the rest of the world. The moonstar was my curse, for it showed me the world I was missing, and taught me of my neighbours’ pain.

It was agreed I would take the moonstar to Nortima, the wise old woman who lived at the foot of the mountain. My friend Barnabus would go with me, for I could still only see what the moonstar touched, but more people demanded to come, so by the time I left we were six. The twins, Garlena and Christian were chosen by the miners’ guild, who most people in the town worked for. Our mayor, Madame Jordane sent her own daughter, Lita. And finally the town guard captain, Master Bartram, sent his nephew Olgar. Others suggested many more but a small village makes decisions well when it knows who knows best. That was the guild leaders, the mayor, the captain, and today, me.

There was so much arguing, even among the members of the group, over who was in charge. In the village people were usually so careful with words, for you never knew who could be listening. Today they forgot that, and spoke like they didn’t care who would hear. It was only when I moved to leave that they quietened, for they could see me.

I told them Nortima would know what to do, and that Barnabus would lead me to her. After that the twins, Lita and Olgar followed us, and nobody else did.

As I walked I pressed the diamond into Barnabus’ face. I knew he had soft curly hair and was taller and more solid than me, but I didn’t know how bright his hair was, or how his ruddy cheeks encased a round, friendly face.

The other four stopped their arguing then, and one by one we saw for the first time what they looked like.

Garlena was tall and slim, her dark hair hung nearly to her waist and glowed in the sun’s light. Christian’s hair was dark as well, his face was locked in a scowl and he had a scar running from his left ear to his chin. Olgar was short and muscular with arms as thick as tree trunks, and a piercing stare from his eyes. Lita also had eyes like Olgar and her hair was like Barnabus’, except that it shone like silk. Her smile was warm and comforting and made my heart race, as it still does.

They told me my hair was brown and my eyes were green. But those words mean nothing to the blind. I knew what I was. I did not need sight like they did.

When we reached Nortima’s cottage we no longer argued. If Nortima was surprised to see me she made no reaction we could hear, and we could not see her for she never once asked to be touched by the moonstar.

Instead of surprised she was fascinated, for the moonstar was truly a fascinating thing. But Nortima was also worried. Her hut smelt foreign to me, of sulphur and ash, and blood. If she was wise she was also strange. She said the moonstar came to me to be returned. It was stolen by the moon goddess Dursa, she had left her mark on it, but the mountain had punished our people, not Dursa. Someone had returned the moonstar, perhaps Dursa, perhaps another. Nortima didn’t know if it was returned for our sake, or for the mountain, only that we must return it with haste. For a storm would soon come. The old woman did not describe the storm, but it was clear in her voice that it was a thing we should fear.

I thought I would find relief leaving that strange, cramped house but once outside we could all smell the storm. Christian commented on the black clouds on the horizon, as though seeing them was even necessary.

We set off for the mountain, to find the mountain’s spirit in the caves far beneath but it was clear that the mood amongst the group had changed. The meeting with Nortima had spooked them. Olgar grumbled that she was hiding something. Christian and Garlena argued that we should not be so quick to give up the moonstar. Even Barnabus worried over the dangers of the mountain. That the caves beneath were forbidden and even miners feared to go there. Only Lita stayed brave and silent, gripping my hand as we entered the cave. Her skin was soft but her grip was firm. With her there I felt safer. I desperately wanted to touch her with the moonstar, to see her face again. But it was not the time.

The cave was dry and dusty, the air thick and old. Nothing grew, no beasts lurked, it was all stone and earth, the mountain had expelled all else. Barnabus kept muttering about turning back, Christian started to agree. Somehow I knew though, that the moonstar was nearly home.

But the others could not feel it. Christian kept questioning why we moved so quickly. He did not believe in the storm, better to face the storm than to face the mountain he said. Garlena tugged on my sleeve and whispered to me that the mountain meant us no good will. It would take back the moonstar and would punish us further. I firmly said no to them all and kept going. Olgar and Lita kept supporting me, a fact that warmed my heart.

Olgar carried a burning torch to light the way for the others. I felt so helpless, Lita leading me. The others could see, they could see me, I could see nothing except the moonstar and my own hand, could feel nothing but the stone floor through my boots and Lita’s hand in mine.

The tunnel wound deeper, and with every step my companions grew more worried, but at the same time I grew more determined. The moonstar needed me, it was so close but the others could never take it all the way to its home. Only I could. I felt like telling the rest to turn back, that I could complete the quest on my own. I no longer needed to be led. The moonstar could lead me the rest of the way. I stopped, ready to address the group, but just then I was struck by Christian and he grabbed the moonstar from me.

From then it was chaos, Barnabus fled to the surface, Olgar leapt towards Christian, who fled down the tunnel further, Lita and me joining the pursuit. Garlena could have been anywhere.

Round the corner and there was the moonstar on the ground, but no sign of Christian, till Olgar was floored by a tackle. Christian kept screaming the mountain was evil, that we shouldn’t help it.

The others fought, fought in anger and desperation, but with their torch gone they were as blind as me. Blinder than me, for I could see the moonstar still, I did not need light to see it like they did. Then I followed the tunnel walls deeper and deeper.

By the time my boots touched water the voice of the mountain spoke to me. It thanked me for returning its star, and said it would restore the villagers once more, that the pain was at an end. All I said was thank you, and dropped the star into the water, and like that it was gone.

I returned to the surface finding Lita, then Olgar and Christian, who had stopped their fighting when they realised I had left with the moonstar. I even found Garlena and Barnabus, both lost in the dark, helpless without sight, unlike me.

Once we reached the surface the others marvelled at their bodies, they could see each other perfectly, but I still could not. At first I was disappointed. Somehow I thought that the curse applied to my sight as well as to all of our appearances, but it was not the case. The others didn’t know how to respond to me, they tried to comfort me, and to describe my appearance again but I told them to stop. I may not have been able to see the curse but I still had been cursed. To be blind to the world can be a gift, but to have the world blind to you is a truly great curse.

The village rejoiced when we returned, all except Nortima who had disappeared completely. Madame Jordane declared the village be renamed Fairface, for all the fair faces they could now see. My companions never spoke of the troubles underground, they didn’t boast of heroism, nor did they share their shame.

Meanwhile I just enjoyed the moment. Even though the blind cannot share in the joy they felt. Yet thanks to the moonstar I did see her, and I’ll never forget her face. And I’ll always have her hand to hold.

The Search for Ravenblade

Letian was a curious boy but his curiosity was often more of a curse than a blessing. His house, in a building high above the Market of Mages was usually so easy to find, next to the monolithic Mage Guild. But today, since the skies had opened up he could no longer see the way home. Instead, all he could see was the mist and rain. Majestic buildings, like cliffs of diamond, were hidden behind a blanket of mystery.

He had been following his hero, Ravenblade. The mighty slayer of monsters had marched powerfully through the streets below Letian’s house, black sword strapped to his back. Letian had chased Ravenblade through the crowd like a fox after a rabbit but could not catch him. He chased too far, and when Letian next looked around could find no landmark he recognised. He was far away from his usual places of play. With nothing familiar and night approaching fast Letian felt a great fear, like he was hunted by the beasts Ravenblade fought.

He tried to think of what his hero would do. Ravenblade never felt fear in his heart. He would make a plan or do something amazing to solve his problem. He would face his fears, sword in hand with a smile. He would be the hero to the end with nothing to aid him but the blessing of the gods. But Letian was not a hero, he needed help. Nobody stopped for him though. Street urchins were common and were likely to pretend to be lost just to find a free meal or even a wallet to steal. Letian was not a street urchin, his father was a successful candlestick maker, but none would believe such a story.

What would his father think now? Countless bad thoughts, his father hated that Letian read all those hero’s stories. He said it was a waste of Letian’s time. That a boy his age should be learning his father’s trade, not dreaming of adventures abroad. Letian stumbled through the mist, helpless as a blind cow, tears combining with rain in his eyes. His father didn’t understand how important Ravenblade was to the city. He gave them all hope and he defended them selflessly. His father was no hero and could never be one.

Looking round the streets were deserted, except for men too fearsome for a small boy to approach, so he slumped onto the ground. The towering buildings glared at him like he was a murderer on trial. Where was Ravenblade? Why did he never stop to speak with his people? Why wasn’t he saving Letian now? As he thought those thoughts a strong hand rested on his shoulder. The boy turned to see a huge man with jet black hair. He had come to the rescue after all. His father, what a hero.