Keeper of the Sword By John William Rice Copyright: John Rice 2012 Canadian copyright: 1094682 Published at Smashwords E-book ISBN 978-0-9876958-2-6 For my wife Patty, an angel walked beside me and I knew it not. For my sons Matthew and Andy, you bring joyand happiness into my life every day, no man has better sons than you are. For my great niece Morgan, if it was notfor you I would not have had such a perfect heroine for my story. A special thanks to my beautiful niece Shannon for the English lessons and for her unwavering belief in me andmy book. A special thanks to my beautiful niece Debby Sullivan for the amazing cover art and to my frend Glenn Gaffneyfor the once in a life time picture of a sunset used in my book cover.Visit my Amazon author page http://www.amazon.com/John-Rice/e/B008U7Y2B8 andpurchase your copy now.Follow me on twitter @keeperofthswordRead and follow my blog http://www.keeperofthesword.wordpress.comVisit and like my facebook author page http://www.facebook.com/Keeper-of-the-Sword/421744927867687 Excerpt from Fire: Volume one of Dark Storm Rising: coming fall 2013 Ginny Anderson tossed; turned and tossed some more on here narrow bed. She sat up, pounded the featherpillow into a shape that suited her, plopped a tousled head back down. “This doesn’t help one bit. I should have toldNana about the Mounty and the Fibbi man. I should have told her what they said about Mr. Raphael De Luca. Thatbig backpack could be filled with explosives. Goodness he might be planning on blowing up the whole tourist campand us with it.” She turned onto her right side, closed her eyes, but the minute they closed the image of their new guest filled herhead. “He’s so cute,” she whispered to the pillow. “Would I ever love to go to the school dance with him. Wouldn’tthat be something?” Pictures of her in a slinky, sexy blue evening gown and Him, her Him in a tux danced into view. She could hear the gasps; hear all the questions her giggling friends would ask when they were alone in thebathroom, “He’s too gorgeous for words, a real dreamboat. Where in heavens name did you find him? Does he havebrother? Can I please have one dance with him, pretty, pretty please Ginny?” Better than all this, would be the envious looks from her archenemies, and rivals for every boy in the school.“Wont Vanessa and Gloria be green?” This picture sent her into a gale of giggles. She stuffed the pillowcase in hermouth. “Stop it girl, or Nana will think you’re nuts and book a bed beside mom.” The giggles dimmed, but still sleep eluded her. She turned onto her left side, closed her eyes once more and therelarger than life was Raphael smiling an enigmatic, almost seductive smile. A wink from his jade green eye heated upher face and neck. “Go away you naughty boy,” but the image stayed there and now he was laughing at her. Ginny’s eyes popped open, the image faded to a vague shadowy figure, “Thank goodness,” she murmured. “WellGinny girl since you can’t sleep you might as well do some of your homework.” Reluctantly she pushed the warm blankets aside, sat up and shoved feet into slippers. Arms slipped into the oldrobe. Five steps took her to the battered desk and a pile of books. The old wooden chair protested loudly when herbottom settled onto the seat. Ginny sighed, picked up the worn history book; cracked it open where the leather bookmark rested. The dates blurred one into another, ancient battles made no senses, “As a matter of fact, history doesn’t makeany sense at all.” She rubbed the sleep from tired eyes; fog, a little bit at least was pushed out of her mind to makeroom for unimportant things. She struggled to make some kind of sense of it all, read each line three times. “Youhave to know this by Monday,” she reminded herself. “You have to get at least seventy on the exam.”
A gust of wind swept through the half-open window, flipping the pages. Ginny groaned, eased out of the chairand across the room. The dust-streaked window squeaked closed. She was about to turn away when flickeringflames and a tendril of smoke near number two cabin caught her eye. “The cabin’s on fire. I better wake Nana. No Ibetter make sure that Raphael is out first.” She rushed across the bedroom, pulled the door open and ran to the living room door. Shaking hands fumbledwith the night-chain, fumbled with the screen-door hook. Ginny raced over the protesting porch boards, down thehalf dozen steps and across the lawn. She stopped the moment she realized that it wasn’t the cabin burning. “What on earth can he be burning at this time of night? He must be getting rid of the evidence. He must be aterrorist after all. I better wake Nana. I better call the police. No I better make certain of the facts first.” With hermind running faster than gazelle chased by a cheetah, Ginny crept towards number two. She eased along the side of the cabin towards the crackling flames, stopped at the corner and poked her headaround it, just enough to see. It felt like her heart stopped for a long moment. She couldn’t breathe, couldn’t believewhat she was seeing. It was Raphael and yet it wasn’t. It was like the creature from her nightmare, but not quite. Read the rest of this chapter at the end of Keeper of the Sword. Excerpt from chapter five of KOS: The voyage of the Uniaedean Old Mrs. Moon peeked out from behind distant clouds, and wondered what foolishness the men scramblingaround the Uniaedeans deck, or as it is called in the common tongue, The Dark Hunter were up too, before goingback to her work of lighting up the land and sea beneath a broad smile. The great black ship burdened by barrels of dry fish, casks of spring fresh water, salted oinker meat, bread,oranges, apples, sweet cakes, the best wine that money could buy, wood for the galley, and piles of round ballistastones, lay heavy in the water. Salty crewmen wiped sweat from dark tanned brows, drank deep of fresh salt air, leaned up against rails, upagainst tall masts, sprawled on the deck scuffed by leather shoes going back and forth for hours. Doubt, and fearshone in the eyes of the sailing master and the cook, the ballista captain and the ships cabin boy, and all the rest ofthe crew. They trembled inside, and tried to drown their misgivings with the thought of promised gold. There wasntenough gold in all the kingdoms of the Misty Lands to lure them on a voyage to this distant unknown sea, butCairicel, their captain of a hundred voyages command their loyalty and their devotion. To him, nothing could berefused, not even to sail in to the face of death if need be. The ebbing tide tugging on the hull of the ship whispered seductive words to the dark wood of its bottom, "Comewith me Dark Hunter. Come with me, and Ill show you wonders youve never dreamed in seeing. I ll take you todistant seas, to strange dangerous shores, and if you obey my, Ill bring you safe home again." The captain studied his men with care, noting the weariness of slumped bodies, the fear in their eyes, and madeup his mind to give them one more night on shore. He called, “Go ashore men. We’ll wait until the sun wakes before we unfurl our sails.” The crew of the blackship cheered their captain’s words. “I have some gold pieces for you,” the crew cheered again, louder this time. “There will be no waiting for the sun to wake,” Aonass back stiffened, clenched fists were waved beneathcaptain Cairicels nose. “You made your pledge, "he roared, "You made your pledge to Adelard that you would setsail when your ship was full. That’s why you will get so much gold. Is your oath of no meaning?” Venom drippedfrom words sharp enough to slice an oinker roast paper-thin. Cairicel stepped back, swallowed hard, and kept steady, anger filled eyes on Aonass reddening face. Hegrowled, “Hoist all sails, we must do our masters bidding.” The crew groaned and went unwilling to their task. Arm muscles bulged with great knots, hands calloused byyears at sea and salt water pulled hard on halyards, pulled men up masts that pierced the sky, unfurled midnightblack sails, and belayed them in swift certain movements. A toothless old sailor broke into an ancient song of the sea and ships, "Our great ship will fly before the wind, flylike a bird before the wind. Fly like a bird before the wind, fly to lands far away. Our great ship will fly like a birdbefore the wind, and come back to safe harbor again." One by one, the sailors dumped their grumpiness into waves splashing against the hull, waves beckoning them toadventure, put smiles to cracked lips and joined in. In spite of the anger still surging through the rangers guts, his grim visage softened, his left foot tapped out therhythm of the song, and a smile tugged at the corners of a stern mouth, until lips tilted upwards. In spite of the weight in her hold, and on her deck, the great ship tugged at two thick binding ropes fastened tothe large posts dockside like it was a childs toy out for an afternoon sail. The captain called to the waiting shore
men, “Unleash the bindings.” Two great wheels were turned, two tethering posts tilted, two binding ropes that heldthe Uniaedean fast, slipped and splashed into the sea. Cairicel shouted, “Bring in the ropes.” The ship shot through the water like an arrow shot from a giant bow. Water seethed at her prow, whitenedaround the stern, and waves from her wake splashed against the wooden dock. Aonas stumbled, caught a nearbyrope, and laughed into the wind. A wicked grin flashed across the captains broad face as he shouted at Aonas, “What course good master?” Aonas raised the seeing stone, clutched it tight in white knuckled hands, and followed the beam with calculatingeyes, “To the north and east for now.” “Not yet, we must first clear the shallow place or it will tear the bottom from my ship. Our voyage would be overbefore it truly starts,” Cairicel winked at the helmsman. “When we’re in safe waters Allador, obey this good man.” Aonas shouted, “Easy as she goes.” Allador turned the ship’s guiding wheel to his right. The strong off shore breeze billowed the dark sailsoutwards, tightened the halyards, until they threatened to break. Aonas called, “Now back a little.” Alladur sneered, let go with a string of curse words that would make anyone but a sailor hardened by many portscringe, glared at the ranger, glared at his captain and turned the wheel as bid. “Hold her steady,” Aonas turned his unrelenting gaze onto the captain. “Would you have some men build a safeplace for the seeing stone? It should be near to the steersman so he won’t sail wrong. Have a trustful guard keepwatch, because if this be lost or stolen there will be no journey and no more gold.” A tall thin man coiling ropes near the helm paused when he heard Aonas speak the last words. A gnarled handbrushed a lock of grey hair away from sunken dark eyes, sparking for a moment with evil. A grin full of hate andmischief tilted thin-scabbed lips upwards before he went back to his work. All the while thinking, “Ah my quick wayhome again.” He resented going on this voyage because he had become a father of three sons and his wife was stillsick. The only reason he had agreed to come was for the gold, but his desire to be home and his worry for his wifeand new children tugged at him, growing stronger with each wave that splashed onto the polished deck. The captain faced the sea, hiding the red of his face and the anger burning in his eyes. He mustered calmnessbefore turning to speak. “Goroth, get wood and tools. Make what this man bids you to. Ranger, there will be no needto set watch over your stone. I have long known these men, they are brothers to me and I trust my life to them. Thesteersman will be guard enough. We have a hammock slung with the men for you,” the captain clenched his teethand bit back the curse words forming on his tongue. Aonas kept his shoulders square, his back straight and his words sharp, “I’ll sleep on deck. I prefer the good darktime air to breathing that, which has been breathed by other men. If we lose the stone, Adelard will take your lifeand that of your crew. No one forced you to make this oath, but I’ll make certain you fill it or die in the trying. Youseem not to know how great the need is for Arragoth to have a King. The whole of the Misty Lands is arming forwar and reapers shears are being beaten into swords.” The captain shrugged, “Do as you will. His deep voice, filled with anger, softened a little, "When the stormscome, and they will before we see land again, the hammock with my men will seem a treasure to you. Anst, you’lltake the helm from Allador when the great North Star first wakes." He strode to the companionway and disappearedbelow deck. Aonass hands lingered on the resting place for the seeing stone, caressed each joint, each knotty strut andseemingly satisfied he crossed the deck to the stairs leading to the ships belly and went below. He reappeared in amoment, with a hammock thrown over his shoulder, and with swift, deft movements tied the binding ropes to therailing. He opened up his pack, removed two covering cloths and pulled them up to his chin. Aonas’s eyes drankdeep of the sky brimming with winking stars before he closed his eyes and surrendered to sleep. It seemed to Aonas that hed just closed his eyes when the bucking and thrashing of the great ship woke him up.White bonneted waves poured over the stern and washed across the tilting deck. He leapt from the hammock, raced through cold, ankle deep water to the helmsman, and filled the surroundingair with loud sighs when his eyes settled on the seeing stone, nestled safe in its nest. A white-faced Cairicel held the helm in steady hands, and busy grumbling men lowered the sails. The stars layburied within heavy folds of thick black veils. Aonas yelled, “What’s wrong? Are we sinking?” “The bindings between the wheel and the rudder have broken,” Cairicel turned away, keeping the naked awfullie to himself. "The Ranger must never know that some one has cut the bindings. There is no way of knowing bywhom. I should never have made that blood oath." Hands that held a helm without wavering, hands that in pasttimes thrust a blade into a mans belly, twisted it before pulling it out without a quiver, shook.
Aonas raged, “Broken, broken,” spit formed at the corner of taught thin lips, rolled unnoticed into a day oldbeard, large hands clenched and unclenched, fingers caressed the dagger on his belt. “Did you not see to them beforewe left?” “If you had not been in so much haste it would have been done.” Lying to anyone had always been an unknown,a hated thing to the captain. He muttered, "When I find who did this evil thing, Ill tell the ranger and begforgiveness from him," into the wind "Until then…No ranger, it will not be long until new bindings have been set.” A rough voice called from below, “The bindings have been set captain.” Cairicel gripped the helm, steadied his resolve to catch the guilty man, kept his eyes fixed on the seeing stone,and turned the wheel to correct the course. A gust of wind sang through the shrouds and top gallants, caught the side of the ship, rolling it to the right,spilling foamy water over the side. The captain held his breath until it righted, shouted “Furl half of the sails. Ansttake ten men to the pumps, make certain the lower belly of our ship gets dry.” Aonas yelled, “Anst just make it nine, I need to take my mind off of what might have happened." Cold chuckles followed him down the ladder, followed him to the belly of the ship, lingered in his mind as hebent to the task at hand. Bright beams dripping from a sun peeking over the bow, peeking through gaps in the sails brushed acrossAonass eyelids and pulled him out of a dreamless sleep. He lay still for a moment, enjoying the gentle winds breathcaressing his forehead and arms, playing with his hair. Dark eyes took in the billowing sails tight against theirbindings, swept upwards to the turquoise blanket, streaked with white feathery sails, soft above him, moved down toCairicel at the wheel. He breathed deep, hungering for a taste of meadows massed with red roses, pink star flowers, powder blueflowers of the moon, hungering for campfire smoke, roasting oinker, crisping fish, hungering for the laughter andjokes of his companions, but he only found the tang of salt, the crying of sea birds, and the cold curses of roughmen. Cairicels eyes darted from the seeing stone to the way ahead, back to the seeing stone. Steady hands mated tothe helm turned it starboard, back to port and starboard again. He called to the stretching, yawning ranger, “Yourawake, come and take the wheel, all men work on my ship. Food will soon be ready for you to break your fast.” Aonas stood up, rolled his night covers into a tight bundle, put them in his pack, untied his hammocks bindings,rolled it up and walked over to the wheel. “How liked you our little dark time adventure,” the captain grinned. “I would sooner have my feet set to the land then spend another night like this." The captains warm laughter melted the last of the tall rangers anger. He managed a smile as the man spoke. “That was only a mild wind, wait until a full storm blows and then last night will seem pleasant.” “I find no jest at nearly being food for the fish. May I see the rudders binding ropes?” “If I’d known you wished to see them I wouldn’t have had them thrown away. We don’t keep things of no use onthe Uniaedean,” a wide wicked grin flashed across Cairicels face. He faced the bow, kept his voice devoid ofemotion, kept the lie, his lie inside. "Come and take the wheel my good ranger. Ill have no slackers or lazy men onmy ship.” The sun woke for the second time of their voyage and Aonas had been out of his hammock long before it peeredinto the sky. He stood at the wheel guiding the ship in the direction the seeing stone pointed. The Uniaedean, or ashe preferred to call the ship, Dark Hunter, came alive at the touch of his hand on the great wheel. The water frothed and sang its mysterious song and the dark prow cleaved through the waves. Aonas felt the lifeof the sea flow into his hands through the wood. He breathed deep. The wind blew steady from the west and pushedstrong against his broad back. He enjoyed the power he felt and thought for a moment, “I could get use to this,” and then let this dream slipaway. He could not desert Adelard, not now, not ever. Though they were not brothers of blood, a brothers bond laybetween them. “Where’s Anst,” Cairicel’s tapped the ranger on his right shoulder. “I sent him below before the stars slept,” Aonas paused for a moment. “I now know why you have such love forthe sea and for this ship. It handles better than any horse that I’ve had the luck to own.” A broad chest puffed out. A deep voice filled with pride, “My Uniaedean takes its life from the sea and from theman that guides it. You have a master’s touch when it comes to guiding my ship. When our voyage ends I wouldhave you for my crew, and if you were to will it, you will be second in command to me.”
Joy filled laughter rang out in the clear morning air drowning out the song of the wind. “It would be a greatthing to walk at will on this deck and be free from land. Even when I am far from the sea, I will smell the freshnessof the salt air. My desire will be to feel the wind on my back, see sails full with its breath, but my oath lies withAdelard. It’s stronger than a blood oath. I live only to do his bidding, and give my life for him if need be.” Cairicel touched the ranger on the shoulder, “These be strong words and well spoken. I smell food beingprepared. Go and break your fast.” Reluctant, he surrendered the wheel to the captains strong sure hands, turned, walked the short distance to thenarrow ladder and disappeared below deck. After breaking fast, he returned to find a dozen men with small round stones in their hands polishing thegleaming deck. Others were lowering some of the dark sails. The wind, now from the North West, blew stronger andcolder, pushing the great black ship forward through the white-topped waves. Goroth occupying Cairicel’s place atthe wheel, leaned away from the wind, and kept brown eyes fixed where sea swallowed the sky. The Captain, standing at the stern between two of the four rear ballista, looked up into the sky, filling with dark,angry looking, thick veils, trying to bury the sun within their depths. Aonas, catching the rhythm of the ship, rolling as she rolled, swaying as she swayed, made his careful way to thestern. "Your ship is well armed. Are your men any good with the weapons?” Cairicel, kept his eyes fixed on the brewing storm. The ranger cleared his throat loud enough for the helmsman to hear, and raised his voice, "Are your men anygood with the ballista?" The furrows etched deep into the captains brow smoothed out a little. His eyes left the sky and centered onAonas, “I have sorrow, but my thoughts were on how mighty the coming storm will be. What were the words ofyour speaking?” “I asked if your men are any good with the ballista.” “None better. When we have a calmer day I will set out targets and let you see. I hope you will not mind a bit ofwind,” Cairicel laughed. “Were in for a storm then?” “We are. Worry not, this ship will show any storm its heels. I have sailed through waves forty ells and higher,came again safe to harbor.” Joy, pride and love for his ship, love for being at sea during a storm, filled his voice,melted away much of its roughness. “It will be a while yet. Perhaps not until after the sun sleeps.” Aonas turned and walked over to the men were taking down sails, helped fold and store them safe, until only halfof the dark sails tugged the ship forward. White peaked water splashing onto the deck, washed over polished oak, poured back into the boiling sea. Oncethe sails were stored, the ranger choose a stone, knelt on the deck beside the other men, and put his strong arms andback into the work. By the time, the sailors finished the mid-day meal, dark veils had swallowed the sun and the sky wept cold, largetears. Few tears fell at first but as the day grew older, they increased beyond counting, fell faster and harder. Two sailors pulled the wooden stairway covering tight, keeping all but a few drops from finding their way intothe ships belly. Cairicel shouted, “You may as well get out of the wet, send up Anst and Goroth. I will keep two at the watchuntil the storm grows weaker," drowning out the angry voice of the wind. Large cold tears stinging Aonass naked flesh, leaving welts behind, followed him across the slippery deck to theladder way, drenching his hair, soaking his clothing, hammering against him until he slid the cover away, wentdown a few steps, and pulled the cover back into place. The ranger shivered his way along a narrow passage, between the rows of slung hammocks, passed the captainscommand, to Anst and Goroth before putting on dry clothes. The two sailors pulled on clothes made from oiled oinker skin and left the warmth and dry of the ships belly. The captain, looking like a drowned oinker, shivering like there would never be an end to cold, appeared belowdeck and called, "Get what sleep you can," to the crew. "It will be double watch tonight, and short ones as well, youtoo Aonas. You’ll be taking the mid-dark watch with me. Join me on deck when the watch bell rings four times,” heturned and made his way forward. A shivering ranger toweled his hair dry, crawled into his hammock, pulled warm covers over him, closed hiseyes, and tried to ignore constant swaying and bouncing of his bed.
Large, cold tears, powered by a wind threatening to tear the masts from their moorings pounded onto theUniaedean’s deck, drenching the two at watch. The wind howled like a thousand lost souls through the sails bindingropes and the sails, but its violence didnt bother Anst or Goroth. Goroth held a small candle-lantern in his right hand and another one hung near the seeing stone. The sailorthinking he should look around the ships railing and make certain everything was lashed tight, touched Anst on hisright shoulder. When the steersman looked at him, he made a circle motion and pointed at the rail. Anst nodded andwent back to watching the blue light on the seeing stone. Goroth circled the deck twice before stopping by the wheel. He tapped Anst’s shoulder, indicating that he wouldtake a turn at guiding the ship. Anst waited until the wheel was firm in Goroths right hand before taking the lantern from him. He circled thedeck twice. Again, they changed places. Four more times the exchange took place and once again, it was Anst’s turnto inspect the ship’s rail. The only sounds heard on the Uniaedean’s deck were the wind singing through the sails binding ropes and theheavy tears splashing onto the deck, bouncing high into the air and landing again. Anst thought he heard a different sound when he passed the wooden ladder cover on his way to the stern. Hepaused to look. Since everything appeared all right, the sailor continued to his destination, one careful footstep afteranother. The skies tears grew less, but now loud boomers rumbled among the heavy veils that hid old lady Moon.Streaks of bright light flashed across the dark time sky. A tall thin man hiding under the cover sighed, “That was close, too close,” and slid it closed. The sailor feltlarge goose bumps growing on his arms and little worms of fear gnawing at his belly. He wanted to give up his self-appointed task, but the desire to go home, the desire to be with his sick wife andhis newborn children overcame his fear. Once more he slid the cover open and looked around. A glowing candle-lantern, held fast in someone’s hand swung back and forth in the wind. He squeezed his rail thin body through the narrow opening, eased his bare feet onto the tear washed deck andclosed the opening behind him. He clutched a heavy wooden peg in his right hand and hurried after the disappearingglow. The tall thin man tried not to think of what would happen to him if he fell on the slippery wood. Anst paused when he reached the stern, swore under his breath and bent over to retie a loose ballista bindingcord. He got out, “Sloppy work, someone will..” For a moment, his world filled with a galaxy of stars, and aheadache that would make a mountain cry out. The bright lights in his head dimmed, the pain faded into neverending darkness. The man holding the heavy piece of wood tucked it into his belt, bent swiftly, picked up the lifeless body andheaved it over the stern. He turned and crept towards Goroth at the wheel. Goroth, didnt hear the footsteps, didnt see the heavy piece of wood being raised into the air, but he felt it crashonto the back of his head. The creeping man caught the unconscious form in thin arms, lowered it to the deck, puthis cheek close to the open mouth and sighed when he felt warm air touch his cold flesh. To find out what happens to the crew and the great black ship, read, "Keeper of the Sword." Now Avaliable Kingdom of Light Kingdom of Dark Orphaned as baby, raised by his grandmother on her farm, Burt Safford lives a safe idyllic life. But one warmsummer afternoon on his way home from a neighbour, a wounded old crow leds him through a strange shimmeringbarrier into land full of darkness and death. A land where storybook heroes come alive, where old women whisperstrange stories in the night, and where everything he thought he knew about his grandmother seems to be a lie. From Chapter twelve: An Unexpected Friend Burt Safford, standing on the wide wooden stoop of the Early Crow Inn, shifted his gaze from puffy whitestreaks dusting the sky overhead, to distant northern hills, where dark clouds piling deep promised a coming storm. "I hope theyll let me sleep by the fire," he mumbled, fingering his two copper coins."Maybe if I do their dishesand chores.." Toe-tapping music and the words of a nonsense song pouring out from underneath the wide inn door,and through a brass keyhole intruded into his reverie. “My best mates and me/was out upon the town/having a bit of fun. Much to my chagrin/I was busted on thechin/and that’s when the lights went out.” Stained trembling fingers grasped the wrought iron knob and pushed the carved oak portal open. The aroma of apork roast filled the room and reminded him that he was hungry. The bouquet of done to perfection crackling skinmade his mouth water. Burt counted the coins once again and wished he had a few more. “This isnt enough for porkroast and potatoes but it might be enough for a thin soup and a slice of bread.”
He pulled his dragging trousers up, took a deep breath and stepped into the large cheerful room. Wide, darkfloorboards squealed in protest. The music and song stopped mid-note. Two dozen guests looked up from theirmeals or their card games and frowned. Most of them gave him a brief glance and then went back to their business athand. An old grizzled looking man with long shaggy white hair stared at him. His right hand shot up into the air andwaved towards Burt. “Come here boy, I want to have a better look at you.” Burt ignored the forceful command and turned towards the tall beefy man behind the long bar. The old white haired man roared, “I said, come here boy. Now you best obey me or I’ll get up and crack yourhead open like an egg.” Torn between the desire to flee and the desire not to have a broken head he didn’t move. The man pushed back his chair and stood up. The desire not to have a cracked head won out. Burt stuck a hand into his pocket, fondled the bone handled knifeand on trembling legs walked towards the old man and his companion. The man grumbled, “That’s better,” in a rough cold voice. Burt pulled back the spare chair far enough for him to sit down. White hair glared, and shouted, “I never said you could sit down, did I? I’m farmer Triddle and this is my friendMr. Tom Wayert. Weve some questions for you. Before we get to them you best have some wine. You do like winedon’t you.” Burt shook too much to answer. Farmer Triddles grubby gnarled hand closed like a vice on Burt’s arm and almost yanked it out of the socket.“Well speak up. Don’t stand around like a frog that’s trying to catch flies. Do you want some wine or don’t you? He turned and looked at his companion. “Well Wayert, it seems we have one of them there dummies that can’tspeak.” He turned his angry gaze back to Burt, “Are you a dummy, boy?” Burt shook his head. “Well if you aint, then speak up. Do you want some wine? Why of course you do. All boys your age like wine.Why, when I was still wet behind the ears, I use to steal my pap’s wine jug. Me and Wayert here would go behind anold barn and get as drunk as a skunk. It were great fun.” He smacked his friend on the back, “Weren’t it, you oldporker you?” He turned dark stormy eyes back to the trembling boy. “Now answer my question, afore I beat it out of you.” Mr. Wayert’s voice boomed inside the room of the inn. “Why of course the lad don’t want no wine. It’s as plainas the nose on your face.” This sent the three men sitting at a close by table into a fit of laughter. Tears flowed out of their eyes, downruddy cheeks and into un-kept grey beards. Old Wyaret gained his composure at last, wiped the tears from his eyes and gave Triddle a dirty look. “If youhad half the sense you were born with you’d see its milk the lad needs, milk and a hot meal. Farmer Triddle snapped, “You best keep your big beak out of my business before you get it punched, Wayret”He slid his often repaired glasses to the tip of his bulbous red nose. Triddle glared at Burt with his dark, steel likeeyes. “Now do you want some wine or not? A tankard or two would like as not put a bit of hair on your chest.Ladies go for hair on the chest, the more the better. They loves to run their delicate hands through it.” Triddle stuck his big left mitt into the air, waived it at the bar keep and shouted. “Over here Harry. Bring usanother jug of your best wine and a clean flagon for the boy.” Burt mumbled, “I don’t want any wine sir.” He managed a weak smile for Mr. Wyaret. “I would like some milkand a bit of food, if you please sir. I don’t have any money, but I’m a good worker. Honest. I’ll chop wood orwhatever else you need doing.” Farmer Triddle shouted, “You’re going to have some wine and you’re going to like it. Now sit down boy, I havesome questions for you.” Harry placed a jug of wine and a clean flagon down on the table beside Burt’s left elbow. “That’ll be two dollarsand fifty cents Triddle.” The farmer glared at Harry and then at Burt, “Go ahead and pay him boy.” Burt Safford mumbled, “I don’t have that much money sir.” Triddle hammered his half empty wine mug on the table top, “You don’t have that much money. You don’t havethat much money. Then why in the blazes did you order wine in the first place?” “I didn’t order it sir, you did.” Mr. Wayert chortled, “He’s got you there Triddle you’re the one that ordered the wine.” The mug came down so hard that it left a gouge in the stained table top, “You best mind your business Wayert, ifyou want to continue being my friend. He glowered at Burt, “Just how much money do you have?”
The boy fished out the two copper pieces and dropped them into Harry’s outstretched hand. The old farmer snorted, “Is that all you have? Now you ain’t holding out on me, air you?” Burt shook his tousled head again. The gruff voice grated on Burt’s nerves, “Well you can come back to my place and work the rest off. I got a heapof wood that needs splitting and most of my fields need ploughing. Drink up then, drink up I say.” “I’d rather not sir.” Triddle bellowed, “I said drink up.” He looked up into Harry’s eyes and frowned. The old farmer hollered,“What do you want.” Harry steadied his hand, “I want the money for the wine.” “Put it on my bill.” Harry’s nervous laughter rang from the low ceiling beams, “Boss says, until you pay your bill you can’t beadding any more to it. Now you best pay up before I call the constabulary.” Triddle mumbled, “Oh all right,” and fished in his pocket for the money. “If this is the way you’re going to treatme, me and my friends will take our trade elsewhere.” Harry muttered, “Good riddance,” as he turned and walked away from the table. Farmer Triddle turned his full attention back to the trembling boy. “Pour your flagon to the brim. Mind you don’tspill any.” He lowered his voice and said, “That’s a good lad,” as Burt took great care in filling his clay flagon.“Drink up boy, tell us your name and where you come from.” Burt gritted his teeth, “How many times do I have to tell you that I don’t want any wine.” Triddle’s big calloused hand hammered down onto the table top. The jug of wine and Burt’s full flagon shatteredinto hundreds of pieces as they fell onto the brown flagstone floor. The farmer shouted, “Look what you’ve gone and done boy.” A hard, bunched up hand slammed into Burt’s jaw. A million stars danced inside his head as he went head over tea kettle across the floor. Triddle shouted, “That will learn you for being so clumsy and getting my trousers wet. I ought to make youwring the wine out of them and drink it.” He stomped over to the groggy boy, grabbed him by the shirt collar anddragged him back to the table. He roared, “Now clean this mess up.” The old farmer tore the wet mop out of the barkeep’s nut brown hands. “The lad will do the cleaning Harry. Youjust go on about the bartending business. While you’re at it bring another pitcher of wine and another mug for thelad.” A chill night wind swirling around Burt did nothing to sober him up. To the contrary, ever gust seemed todeepen his drunkenness. Every blast of freezing air made him dizzier. He staggered along in front of farmerTriddle’s old brown mule, Adolphous. Burt had begged to be allowed to ride behind the farmer when the left the inn but the old man refused. He hadroared his excuse and slugged Burt on his already sore shoulder. “My dear old mule is doing poorly,” he had shouted. “It’s all she can do to carry me home let alone a bag of lardlike you. Now you march on ahead of me and don’t think about running away.” Burt Safford stumbled along, one tired foot after another. He didn’t see the dip in the road and fell to the ground.A pair of indigo eyes closed and tried shut out the spinning treetops. This only made the buzzing and whirling of hishead worse. Without any warning, his long ago meal spewed out of his mouth and nose. The boy rolled over on hisside and started to cry. A loud, “I’ll have none of that,” and, “Get up you lazy, drunken sot,” intruded into his sobbing. A shouted, “Isaid get up,” was followed by a swift boot in the rear. Burt moaned, “I can’t,” and threw up again. A spray of vomit washed over the farmer’s manure covered bootsand onto his trouser legs. The boy received another hard kick for his indiscretion. Burt groaned as he was hauled off the dirt road and thrown over the mule’s broad back. Triddle yelled, “This ride is going to cost you three more dollars. Seeing as how you were foolish enough tospend your coin on wine, you’re just going to have to work it off.” He swung up on the mule behind the boy andkicked Adolphous hard in the sides. At first Burt wished the ride would end and he could lie down and rest. Every jogging step of the mule made hisheadache worse and added to the nausea of his tummy. His stomach rebelled once more but all that came up wasnoxious green bile that burned his nose and throat. He groaned and started to wish that he was dead. At long last the terrible ride ended. Burt was yanked off the mule and dragged over to a trough filled with scumtopped water. He fought the farmer as he was lifted up into the air. The old man laughed and heaved him in to the trough. Once, twice, three times his vomit dotted face was shovedinto filthy, reeking wetness. It was held under until he gasped for breath.
Farmer Triddle lifted Burt out and hurled him to the ground. “If there’s one thing I can’t abide,” the old manyelled, “It’s a drunken bum. If you can’t hold your wine, you shouldn’t touch it.” Burt wanted to scream, “You made me drink it you filthy bully,” but he bit off the words before they could besaid. A, “Now you drunken fool, there’s a matter of five dollars for the wine and three more for the ride home,” wasfollowed by another brutal kick to the side. “I’ve got a pile of wood that needs spitting. That should work off abouttwo dollars of your debt when that’s done. Come along and stop your lolly gagging.” He grabbed a hold of the boy’s shirt collar and dragged him around behind the ramshackle house. Triddle let goof Burt and let him fall to the ground. Farmer Triddle shouted, “Get up you lazy bum and get to work. Get up rightnow or I’ll teach you some manners.” Burt Safford struggled to his feet and gazed around the moonlight filled clearing with foggy vision. Farmer Triddle muttered, “That’s better,” and pointed at a large pile of un-split cord wood. “You’ll find an axeand a chopping block on the other side of that heap of wood. Now don’t be expecting any supper until its split.There are a couple dozen dry sticks in that there bunch of wood. I want you to make some fine kindling out of it. Ifyou want to eat sometime to night, you best be getting to work.” A soft female voice that sent thrills shooting through the boy called from the darkness. “Who’s that with you Albion?” The owner of the voice stepped out of the shadows and walked towards thefarmer. “How many times,” the old farmer’s voice was gruff and cold. “How many times have I told you not to waste oilin the lantern? It’s too expensive to burn for foolish reasons. I work my poor fingers to the bone to put a roof overyour head and food on the table. What do you go and do? You just burn it up, that’s what.” “I’m sorry Albion dear. I’m nothing but a foolish woman and should be punished for squandering your hardearned money.” Triddle groused, “What do you want out here anyway?” She answered in a low gentle, servile voice. “I wanted to let you know that I kept your supper warm for you, myhusband dear. Shall I put it on the table? Do you want me to set a plate for the boy as well?” “You can put my dinner out and then go to bed wife. Don’t think you’re going to get off for wasting my oil.Twelve hard lashes of the whip should remind you just who the boss is around here. As for the boy, I’ll feed him aplate of gruel when he’s worked off some of the eight dollars he owes.” “Eight dollars, that’s a heap of money,” the girl lifted the lantern up and took a closer look at Burt. “How can heowe you so much?” Triddle face grew dark and he snarled, “Never mind that.” His voice softened and the storm clouds faded. “Thishere rag a muffin spent five whole dollars on wine. Can you imagine that he would spend five whole dollars that hedidn’t have to spend in the first place? I tried to warn him but he wouldn’t heed my friendly words. Now run alonglike a good little girl wifey dear and go to bed. As soon as I put this miscreant to work, I’ll be in for my supper.” The mere mention of food caused Burt to throw up again. Green, slimy bile poured out his nose and mouth.” “Albion,” a sweet soprano voice filled with pity danced through the darkness. “Albion, you can’t make this poorboy work when he’s ill.” The old farmer roared, “I can and I will. Now if you don’t want me to peel your clothes off and whip you rightnow, shut up and get back into my house and leave the lantern.” The girl hung the lantern on a nearby branch, turned on her heels and slunk away. Burt inquired in a shaky voice, “Who’s that lovely woman?” The farmer’s grim scowl caused the boy’s heart to sink down into his churning stomach. Triddle sneered, “Thatold hag, she’s my wife. I took her in when she had no place to go and look how she rewards my kindness. Alwaysspeaking back to me and burning up my hard earned cash.” A note of suspicion crept into his voice. “Why do youwant to know?” Burt muttered, “She looks familiar, that’s all.” Read more at the end of, "Keeper of the Sword." Excerpt from, "Day of the Elf Stone," coming December 2012 Chapter fourteen: Dark deep and Cold the Dungeons be Dagmar, watching the shadows cast by his smoky sputtering torch flicker and dance down the narrow steep stepsleading to the bowels of the dungeon cursed Handor for waking him up, and making him part of this secret mission. "If we fail, if anyone should find out, it will mean our heads or worse." For a moment an image of his head on aspike overlooking the castle gates and crows pecking at his lidless eyes filled him with dread. He shrugged the fit offear off the best he could and hurried to catch up to his companions.
He gasped, "Well at least I dont have to carry the boy or the girl," and made a desperate attempt to brush sweatoff his brow before it stung his eyes, without much success. The sour, sick odor of fear mixing with the perfume ofsweat pouring down pasty chubby cheeks, rolling through stiff bristles that reminded one of a shaven porcupine, anddripping off a double chin, added to his misery. "Id give a months pay," he muttered, sucking air into his heaving chest, and playing with the tarnished brassbuttons of his uniform with his free hand, "If Handor would only call for a brief halt." He stopped, leaned up against the damp, green slime covered wall and thought of his bed, his nice warm bed, andthe bottle of brandy safe and secure beneath his pillow. But the shadows disappearing around a turn in the stairspulled him out of the reverie. Dagmar filled his lungs once more with stale fetid air, and keeping tight to the wall hurried after his companions,and tried to push the images of his body on the rack out of his mind. His squeaky, "How much farther," rushed downthe stairs, past Kerwin, past Amdal, past Handor their self-appointed leader, and came echoing back, hollow andempty. He called, "How much farther," again, and picked up his pace, ever mindful of the broken railing and the rockswaiting for any misstep. "Two more levels," came floating back to him as he rounded a sharp bend and bumped into Kerwin, crouchingbeside a pale faced girl, looking more dead than alive. Kerwin growled, "What are you trying to do, kill me? Youve always had it in for me, ever since the queenpromoted me. Well, better be careful or youll be the one.." "Shut up the pair of you." A pair of black red-rimmed eyes and a pair of watery brown ones shifting from each other settled on Handor atthe end of the short narrow landing. "I have half a mind to report you to the queen." The air seemed to thicken and grow darker as the name swirled around them. "You wouldnt, would you," Dagmar cried, falling to his knees. "I..I just wanted to know how much farther wehave to go." "Two more levels, and if you dont want me to report you, then.." Handor grinned, showing off a set of yellowteeth. "Th..the fifth level, "Kerwin gasped. "What have these innocent children done to deserve the fifth level? Whyonly the old man is kept there, the one that killed his family, and ate them with jam and toast, after making soupfrom their bones." Handor snarled, "These two," a fat finger capped by a long dirty nail pointed at the girl, before moving to the boysprawled beside her. "These two are far from innocent. Do you know.. Of course you dont. How could you? Welllet me tell you about the innocent ones. Theyve knowledge about an ancient magic artifact, an artifact that willdestroy the kingdom if it falls into the wrong hands." "These children..why..why, I dont believe it." Kerwin thought of his twins lying here on this cold stone floor,looking all dirty and dead. "You should be concerned about your own children, instead of theses enemies of the state. Youd better keep thisnights work to yourself, or itll be them and your wife I bring down here next." Handor fished a tattered grey pieceof cloth from his tunic, swiped it across his forehead twice, smearing sweat and dirt together, wrung it out andreturned it to its home. "Now if youre quite done with your rest, I suggest we get on with it." Thick lips twisted into his version of a smile, "I wouldnt want the three of you to miss out on your beauty sleep."Cold sounding chuckles pouring out of his mouth rushed down the stairs and after a half a dozen heartbeats echoedback. "Now, pick them up and follow me." Learn more about fate of the innocent children, at the end of, "Keeper of the Sword." Subscribe today to http://quillandblood.wordpress.com for updatesTable of contentsPrologChapter one: A Fight after SchoolChapter two: Prophecy and LegendChapter three: Two councilsChapter four: I Am Going to Run AwayChapter five: Voyage of the UniaedeanChapter six: At Sword PointChapter seven: A Moment of Courage
Chapter eight: Battle at SeaChapter nine: Carnival GroundsChapter ten: The Story of the TurtleChapter eleven: A Warning in the DarkChapter twelve: KidnappedChapter thirteen: The Darkling PlainChapter fourteen: Safe RefugeChapter fifteen: Mave’s StoryChapter sixteen: Ship WreckChapter seventeen: Gift from a RangerChapter eighteen: In the Village of the KaidilsChapter nineteen: Beroend’s ChoiceChapter twenty: A Daring RescueChapter twenty-one: Journey of DeathChapter twenty-two: Arrows in the AfternoonChapter twenty-three: Breandan’s KeepChapter twenty-four: Perilous PassageChapter twenty-five: Keeper of the SwordChapter twenty-six: The Last BattleEpilogThe AppendixThe Making of the Great Sword ArrandLullabies Sung in the Misty LandsThe Making of the CitadelThe Lost Prince AlleThe Races of the Misty LandsSong of the UniaedeanNames Places and Other Things In the Beginning Morgan Connelly, stunned, unable to move for the moment, feeling a warm wetness dripping down her skin,fluttered violet eyes open and stared at the growing red stains on her blouse, the amber feathers attached to a longslender egg yolk colored piece of wood jutting out from under her collarbone, and whimpered, "Josh. Josh. Josh.Help meeee." Something crashed to her right, and screams sounding like a cat in pain filled the air around her. Chapter four: Im going to run away Loraine Campbell knocked on her son’s bedroom and called, “Josh, it’s time to get up. Morgan’s had hershower, and breakfast is ready," through the keyhole. "I made French toast, bacon and poached eggs. Josh, are youawake?” When there was no answer, she turned the knob and opened the door. One look at her son’s face and hermaternal instincts kicked into overdrive, “Oh Josh, your poor, poor eye, I think I should take you to the emergencyroom.” Josh, groaned, stretched and struggled to open his eyes. His mother appeared as if she were miles away andsurrounded by a thick fog. He reached up to rub out the eye goobers and uttered a loud, “Ouch,” when he tried to pryhis swollen right eye open. Josh pushed sweaty blankets onto the floor, got out of bed and walked over to his dresser. “What an ugly mug.”A face with a large red nose, and and a puffed up eye, surrounded by splotches of black, a sick looking green, deeppurple looked back at him. “Too bad it isn’t Halloween, I wouldn’t even need a mask,” he giggled. Loraine Campbell smiled, “At least your little adventure hasn’t gotten your spirits down. Hurry up and have yourshower, Morgan and I are hungry. If you don’t hurry, we’ll eat it all. I made fresh squeezed orange juice. Oh, MissHansen stopped off with your book.” Josh showered, dressed, took the steps two at a time, rushed into a kitchen smelling like oranges, maple syrup,fresh cooked bacon, and plopped down beside Morgan. “That was quick,” Morgan and his mother said. Morgans forehead wrinkled as she examined his right eye, “Oh Josh that must hurt terribly, I’m so sorry.” “It’s ok, it looks worse than it feels. Where’s my book mom?”
“It’s on the counter, but it can wait until after breakfast. Come, sit down, and eat before everything gets cold. Ireally think we should go to the emergency room after breakfast.” “Oh mom it doesn’t hurt that bad, but if it’s not any better by Monday I’ll go, promise.” Josh piled French toastonto his plate, drowned the stack in maple syrup and then added four soft poached eggs, and five slices of crispbacon. Josh poured three glasses of orange juice. “Did Miss Hansen have any news about Billy?” Loraine finished chewing before she answered, “The police found him hiding on Anderson’s point last night.They took him to Victoria on the first ferry this morning.” Josh groaned, “Oh no, I’m so sorry Morgan. If I hadn’t been such a jerk yesterday, this wouldn’t have happened.What’s going to become of him mom?" “Miss Hansen went to Victoria too. She has a lawyer friend living there that will handle Billy’s case. I don’tintend to press charges, that poor boy has enough troubles as it is.” A few tears formed in Loraine Campbell’s eyes.“Have you two decided what you want to do for your birthday party on Saturday?” Josh shouted, “Saturday, oh no, I forgot all about it. Well it doesn’t matter to me as long as there are no clownsor balloons. What do you want to do Morgan?” “I don’t know, maybe bowling,” Morgan played with a strand of golden locks. “Whatever you want Josh, it’syour birthday too.” “Bowling it is.” Thursday was really their birthday but they always celebrated it on the weekend if it was on aschool day. Josh knew that his mom would do something for him Thursday and that Mrs. Connelly would dosomething for Morgan. After breakfast, Morgan and Josh helped clean up. Josh picked up his book from the counter and the two of themraced up to his room. “Are you going to show me the three D ship pictures?” As hard as she tried to, Morgan couldn’t keep the doubtshe felt out of her voice. “Right away mam,” Josh placed the leather-clad volume on his computer desk and flipped it open to the firstpicture. “See.” “It just looks like a normal picture to me,” Morgan sniffed, scrunching up her nose, and narrowing sapphire eyes. Josh couldn’t believe that she couldnt see the three-dimensional ship. Even with one eye swollen shut, he sawthe little craft floating above the page. “Come and stand where I am,” he moved to his left. Her mouth dropped open and her big sapphire eyes turned into saucers. She blurted out, “I don’t believe it,” andrubbed her eyes. “I just don’t believe it.” “Cool isn’t it? Think about what you want the ship to do,” Josh moved closer to Morgan. “That is so cool and amazing,” Morgan slowly turned the pages in the large book. Every picture came to life.Biremes, Triremes, war galleys and dragon headed ships sailed around their little white capped sea as the two teenswilled them. Yet no matter how hard they tried neither one of them could make them sail off the page. Josh left Morgan to explore the book’s wonder. He sat down at the desk and started to put the rest of the tornsheet of paper back together. Morgan soon grew tired of moving the little ships around and sat beside him. Shesorted through the remaining pieces. At last, their puzzle was complete and it looked like there were only three small pieces missing. Josh read thewords aloud, “We, the chiefs of the land of Arragoth agree full well to this manner of choosing King. We’ll serveloyally and surrender our power to the one chosen by the sword. This is scribed in the common tongue so all landswill know of this thing.” Underneath this oath, fifteen names were written. Beside each name was a bloody thumbprint and beside eachthumbprint were fifteen different seals set in a waxy looking substance. Josh tapped Morgan’s right shoulder, “Do you still think it is some silly old legend? What if we really are thetwo?” “Oh Josh, are you trying to say that our ancestors came from another world? That’s the silliest thing I’ve everheard you say.” Morgan, now tired of Josh’s make believe, let her worry for Billy Bob fill her mind, and tried tocome up with a way to get to Victoria and see him, without getting grounded. “Why not,” he said, scowling. “Mine could have. You, well sometimes I think you descended from monkeys,ooh, ooh, ooh,” he laughed, jumped up and down, waving his arms like an angry gorilla. “You’re so funny Joshy boy,” she replied, her mind miles away. “Why couldn’t our ancestors have come from a different world? It’s obvious this book must have.” Josh crossedhis arms and glared. “Really, now you’re just being ridiculous,” Morgan returned the angry look with one of her own. She had thingsthat are more important on her mind, like how to see Billy Bob. She didn’t have time for childish things. Josh growled, “You’re the one that’s being ridiculous.”
Morgan thought she better stop this before it got too far. “Please Josh, let’s not fight,” there were tears formingin her eyes. “I don’t want to spoil our friendship.” “Ok I don’t feel like fighting either, truce,” Josh held out his right hand. Morgan took it, squeezed gently then she hugged him, “Truce.” “You do have to admit one thing though.” Morgan groaned, “What’s that Joshy?” “This book couldn’t have been written any place here on our world,” Morgan just had to see that this was true. Once he could get her to admit this, it should be easier to have her believe that they could be the two from theprophecy. “Wow maybe I am a King, or supposed to be one,” he thought and made a mental picture of him-self witha gold crown on his head. “That would be cool, way cool.” “And why couldn’t it have been written here?” Morgan used her stubborn voice. “Have you ever seen a book where pictures floated off the page? Not only floated but you could move themaround just by thinking about it?” Josh sighed, “This may take a while,” his sexy mind voice said. He knew Morgancould be stubborn at times, very stubborn. “No but that doesn’t prove anything. There are lots of books I have never seen.” She had no intention of givingin, not right away at least. “Morgan,” Josh growled. They could make a fortune. Besides, it’s easy to tell these pictures were drawn byhand. If there were an artist that could draw holographic pictures he would be famous.” “Maybe the artist is a woman,” she flashed a quick full of mischief grin. Josh groaned again, “She would be famous then.” It didn’t look like Morgan was ever going to give up. “Maybe she doesn’t want to be famous.” Josh shouted, “Morgan,” between clenched teeth. “Ok, ok, ok,” Morgan thought it was time to give in, a little anyway. “The odds are against this book beingwritten here. Perhaps it’s from the future.” “The future, sailing ships in the future,” Josh groaned and gritted his teeth. “Why not,” Morgan was having too much fun to quit now, she would apologize later. “It’s just a matter of timebefore we run out of oil.” “Aargh,” Josh got up off his chair, walked over to his unmade bed and flung him-self onto it. “What’s the use, Ibetter quit before we start fighting.” He sighed, “You could be right about it coming from the future, or better yet,maybe Martians brought it here.” “Your eye must be really hurting you, otherwise you wouldn’t give up so easily.” Josh looked over at Morgan. Violet eyes twinkled, “I was just teasing you, honest Josh. I don’t really think this was written by Martians oreven by anyone from the future. Just because the book came from a strange world doesn’t mean that our ancestorsdid, not mine any way. Yours could have though,” Morgan didn’t feel like apologizing yet. Mrs. Campbell’s voice drifted up from the bottom of the stairs, “Morgan, your mom’s here.” Morgan ran to the guest bedroom and picked up her backpack. She stopped at Josh’s room to tell him goodbye,“Take care of that eye buster.” Morgan hugged him and with a loud, “See you Monday,” raced down the stairs. A gentle mist began soon after Morgan left, but as the day grew older, it turned into a downpour. Josh watchedthe large raindrops dance off his window for a little while before sitting down at his computer desk. While he waited for his computer to boot up he turned on the printer-scanner and placed the piece of paper thathe and Morgan put together on the scanner bed. Josh hoped gramps would be online. He clicked on his IM icon.Josh sighed and opened up his printer-scanner control program, clicked copy, clicked save. In the save box he typedmystery 2. He opened up his email and clicked on new message. “Copy has been saved” the sexy computer voice said. Joshtyped in gramps email address, added mystery 2 in the subject line. In the body of the email he typed, “Dear Gramps, this is the other piece of paper that was in my book.Fortunately, there are only a few pieces missing. I wonder what you will make of it.” Josh went on to explain why it had been torn in the first place. He added love Josh and then clicked on attach. Heclicked on file, selected mystery 2. When he attached the file, he returned to the message, clicked on send and turnedoff all the equipment. His right eye hurt. He stared at his mirror image with his one good eye. The other eye was blacker than ever andlooked more puffed up. He couldn’t see anything from it at all, his nose hurt too. Josh picked up his precious bookand piled two pillows on the end of his bed. He lay down and tried to read but it was difficult with just one eye so he
thumbed through the pages and looked at the different ships and war machines. Josh closed his eyes, “Just for aminute,” he drifted off to sleep. “Josh, Josh dear, it’s time for supper.” Josh struggled to sit up, looked around for his book, and found it lying half-open on the floor. He picked it upand placed it on the bed, “I’m not very hungry mom.” “You need to eat something,” green eyes misted over. “I made a chocolate pudding for desert. Do you want meto fix you a tray and bring it to your room?” “No thanks,” he flashed a grin. “As soon as I wash, I’ll come down and have supper with you. Having companywhile I eat will be nice.” She smiled the worried smile that only a mother can, hugged him, kissed his forehead, “See you downstairs.” After drying the supper dishes, Josh watched TV with his mom until nine, returned to his room and booted upthe computer. Gramps wasn’t online. No email from him either. He took a shower, brushed his teeth went to bed, placed his head on a pillowcase, smelling faintly of lilacs, andclosed his eyes. He looked down through gaps in a canopy of carrot orange, palm like leaves, streaked with thick daffodil veinsat a boy about ten years old, lying beneath the tree on his back, cradling his knees against his chest and crying.Flowers the size and color of the brass bell in the United Church bell tower, filling the air with a pungent muskyperfume, dangled down from the spreading branches. Resting in branches high above the weeping child, four big birds, black wings folded, cyan heads flashingiridescent reds, purples and greens in the moonlight pouring through rents in the heavy clouds, kept sharp eyes ontheir charge. The largest of the birds spoke in a hushed voice, “Poor young princeling, first his mother was poisoned, and nowhis father the king has been brutally murdered.” Another one grumbled, “We can’t take proper care of him. He needs to be with his own kind.” “Besides,” growled a third, it was as close to a growl as a bird can come, “We have our own younglings to tendto.” The fourth one asked, “What are we then to do?” If no one tends to him he’ll die, and we can’t let that happen,because he’s king now.” The large bird answered, “He’s far too young for us to take him back to the castle, because his enemies will killhim.” “I know, I know, I know what to do,” shouted the fourth one. The other three spoke at once, “Well, tell us.” “We can take him deep into the forest where the old man and old woman live. They don’t have younglings oftheir own. They’ll tend to him and give him their love.” “That’s a good plan,” the others said, “We’ll guide him on his journey when the sun wakes, but we cant tellthem who he is.” The boy raised his right foot, trying to scratch it, reveling the image of a red flower, starting at the ball andending half way down the arch. Josh’s dream changed, and now he looked down through cracks in the roof of a moss covered, cedar-shingledhut. Four men, two with long, curling grey beards, looking old enough to be his great-grandfather, a third, dressed inmottled grey and green, and a forth, sporting a shamrock-green hat, adorned with a long blue feather, sat around atable looking like it would crumple beneath the lightest sneeze. The man with the hat asked, “How am I to find my way?” One of the old ones reached under the table and lifted up a leather bag. He took out a black stone with a lasersharp cyan light lancing out of one side. He spoke in a reverent quiet voice, “This is the seeing stone of kings.Sometimes it is called the finding stone, and it will guide you to where the two who are spoken of in the prophecywait.” Away in the distance, carried by the breath of the wind came the wail of a single bagpipe, skirling a mournfuldirge, reminding Josh of his great-grandfather, Donald McDonald. For a moment he saw the old man standing on arocky promontory, silhouetted against the ruins of a castle, a kilt, bearing the tartan of the clan McDonald flappingaround skinny legs, his dark eyes, eyes that always flashed when bonny Prince Charlie was mentioned, fixedtowards a sun painting feathery clouds with vermillion, crimson and deep purple streaks.
Over the tune, so familiar yet so strange came a voice, sweet, poignant, brushed with an Irish lilt, whispering atfirst, growing louder, filling him with an aching, a longing to go on board the great black ship she sang about. Heheld his breath in the depths of his dream, trying to burn each word, each haunting trill of the voice into his memory. "In the moonlight gleaming/the Uniaedean rests, dreaming. Sails furled, captain sleeping/no one is watch guardkeeping. Anchor set, gentle wind blowing, the great black ship dreams of going/to a mysterious, distant land/guidedtrue by her captains hand. Awake, awake, loud voice calling/war drums beat/flaming arrows falling. In fearUniaedean awakens, shudders from deep wounds taken/looks long at moonlight gleaming/then returns to herdreaming." The men faded, the hut, and the words the men spoke faded , all the words of the song, except Uniaedean faded,but the aching caused by the voice lingered on, filling his dream with sadness, and he wept for the loss of thesweetness of the moment. He stirred in his sleep, tossed, turned, and found himself hovering over phosphorescent, midnight blue, andbathed in a river of moonbeams shimmering across the water. Josh struggled to wake up, but before he could, a shipsailed into view. How proud and bold she looked, with her black prow cleaving through tall white topped waves likea scimitar slicing through a pirates neck. Her black sails filled with wind, struggling to free themselves from the ropes binding them, and a fiery-eyedblack stallion figurehead, pawing the air with silver shod hooves glinting in the moonlight, seemed to urge the shipforward. Closer, ever closer came horse and ship, closer until he made out the name Uniaedean on the ships side. Theraised silver and turquoise letters glowed in the light of an unearthly green and silver flame surrounding them. For a moment he stood on the prow, looking over rippling muscled flanks, over the broad back, out between theblack stallions pointed ears, and heard a gruff loud voice shout, "Trim the sails, hard to starboard," over the crackingof sails, the rushing of the wind. Salt spray stinging his eyes, cooled his brow. His heart thudded as if hed just finished a ten-mile race, his throattightened, he held his breath. Ahead of him, a mist gathering up from the sea, spread out over the distant shore,swirling through strange looking trees, sweeping up towards far off snow covered mountains, not hiding the land,but adding a mystic fairy like quality to it. He blinked seawater from his eyes, and stood on a jagged dolomite tooth, banded by tourmaline and malachite,jutting out of the sea, surrounded by breakers pounding against his perch, soaking him, filling him with fear for thegreat black ship driving towards destruction. At the last moment, she turned sharp, heeling hard to starboard, heelingover until he thought she was doomed. He willed her to right herself before she foundered. The wind changed, catching her side, billowing out headsail, mizzen and main sails, righting her, and pushingher towards the east. He watched until the tip of the main mast dipped below the horizon, and just before he wokethe voice, the sweet voice whispered, "Come with me. Come with me." He sat up, sweat soaked, shivering, wiped tears from his eyes and tried to remember the voice, the words to thesong, but the only thing remaining of his dream was the great black ship, and the fear and excitement of seeing herflying before the wind. Morgan dreamed of lying on a soft sandy beach with warm gentle waves lapping at her bare feet. A strangelooking boy, a boy with large purple eyes and shoulder length green hair stood over her. He kept poking her with asharp pointed wooden stick. Soft, gentle raindrops dancing on his windowpane woke Josh up Sunday morning. He still couldnt see from hisright eye. He looked at his image in the dresser mirror, if anything it was worse. When he entered the kitchen, theperfume of waffles and bacon filled his nose, making his mouth water. Loraine said, “At least your wounds haven’t affected your appetite,” as the two of them did the dishes. Theyplayed cribbage until lunch and it was his mom’s lucky day. She won every game, skunking him twice. “Open thedoor please and let some fresh air in, something smells bad in here,” she laughed. Josh grunted, “Very funny, you must be using a marked deck.” She grinned,” I’m just a better crib player.” Josh helped make lunch. After eating, he went to his room and booted up his computer. Gramps still wasn’tonline and neither was Morgan or any of his other friends. Josh’s face lit up when he opened up his email to find one from his grandfather. “Dear Josh: here are a few more lines and another verse that I have translated. “On a finger of land stretchinginto the sea/on the festival of their birthing the two must be. When they circle a fire, twice left, thrice right/a shipwill appear from out of the night. Let it be known to all that have a deep understanding that when the two complete
their passage around the flames two great things will occur. The misty veil that hides our world from the world ofthe two will become less dense and the great hand that divides the two worlds will relent. When these things takeplace, a ship will once more be able to sail on both seas.” “I find all of this interesting and it could turn out to be a very important archeological discovery. I am moreanxious than ever to examine your book. I think that the two mentioned could be you and Morgan. I want you theboth of you to be careful and not go to any point of land on your birthday. It could be very dangerous. Love: Gramps.” “Wow, this is way cool.” Morgan still wasn’t online. He forwarded gramps email to her and then phoned. Morgan picked it up on the third ring, grumbled, “Oh it’s just you.” “What’s wrong?” Josh said. “Just the usual, I had another fight with mom. Sorry I can’t come over because I’m grounded again. Please don’task what the fight was about.” A loud sigh came out of the earpiece, “What do you want?” “I had another email from gramps. I forwarded it to you, but I can read it if you want me to.” “If you like,” Morgan wished that Josh would leave her alone and let her wallow in her misery. Josh spoke in the deepest voice he could muster, “On a finger of land stretching into the sea/on the festival oftheir birthing the two must be. When they circle a fire, twice left, thrice right/a ship will appear from out of thenight.” Morgan replied, “Weird,” after Josh told her about his grandfather’s warning. “The only finger of land I know ofis Andersons Point. Maybe we should go there Thursday night and try, it could be fun.” “Morgan I think we should take Gramps warning seriously.” Morgan’s taunting voice came out of the phone loud and clear. “Come on Joshy boy, where’s your sense ofadventure? Likely nothing will happen anyway.” “I’ll think about it.” He was answered by a burst of mocking laughter and a voice full of skepticism. “You don’t really believe in allthis nonsense do you? Your gramps is just pulling your leg. Remember last summer when he showed us that fakepirate map? Remember the big laugh he got out of it when we got back to his house all covered in sand and tiredfrom digging all day? Then he made us go back the next day and fill the hole in. I think we should go on Thursdaynight and this time when nothing happens we can laugh at him.” Josh told Morgan about his weird dream. “Cool, I had a weird dream too,” she told him about the strange boy. “So let’s go to Anderson’s Point Thursdayand see if anything will happen.” Goose bumps covered his arms, “I don’t know. Let me think about it. See you at school tomorrow. Good night,sleep tight and don’t let the ghosties bite,” he laughed. Josh jumped out of bed Monday morning the minute his alarm clock rang, raced over to the mirror smiled at hisreflection, and laughed at the purple and green ring surrounding his right eye. He groaned, "Ill be in for a ribbingtoday from all the jerks at school. Maybe mom will let me stay home." More groans filled his room, "Fat chance ofthat happening. Besides if I miss too much school, I wont get the marks I need for high school." After a quick shower, he raced down the stairs, gulped his breakfast and kissed his mom goodbye. He shoulderedhis backpack, hurried out the back door, ran through the gate and cut across his neighbor’s yard. Josh wanted to getto Morgan’s house before she left and walk her to school. He rang the doorbell three times before Morgan opened it.“Ready yet.” She replied, “Almost, wait until I get my backpack.” Josh braced himself for a day full of teasing, but when he reached school, his classmates gathered around himand treated him like a hero. Even Sally came up and said a shy hello. At lunchtime, the girls begged Josh to sit with them, and ignored Morgan, calling her nasty names. Josh didntpay any attention to their pleading, but sat with Morgan. “You don’t have to sit with me,” a smile lit up her face, “You have lots of choices.” “Those,” he pointed at the giggling girls. “I’m just the flavor of the day to them. Tomorrow they’ll be makingfun of me again, if not tomorrow before the end of the week. I’m going to build one of the ballista from my book,not a full size one though. Will you come over Sunday and help?” “A ballista,” eyebrows arched, “Are you going to start a war?” “No,” Josh grinned, “Well perhaps a small one. I’m going to use water balloons as my ammunition.” He begged,“Come on, it’ll be real cool.” “Ok, if I’m not grounded.”
“Mom’s booked the bowling alley for Saturday, but I think she still plans on getting a clown and blowing upballoons.” They groaned, “Mothers,” and burst into laughter. Wednesday after school Morgan went straight to her room, booted up her computer, opened her IM and waited.She hoped to have some word from Billy. She missed him, and cried herself to sleep every night. Again there wasno word. She left her computer on, lay down on the bed and started to cry. Her computer said, “Incoming message.” Morgan struggled off her bed, blew her nose and wiped the half-drytears off her face. “Likely just Josh, well he’s better than nothing.” It wasn’t Josh, it was Billy. She typed as fast as she could, “WHERE ARE YOU?” “Victoria.” “I could have guessed that. Where in Victoria are you?” “Just give me a chance woman; I’m at my brother’s place.” “Are you coming home soon?” “Can’t, I have court next week. Why don’t you come down here?” “I’d like to, but I don’t think my mom would let me.” “So don’t tell her.” “I’m already grounded and I don’t want to get into anymore trouble. Besides Josh and I are having our birthdayparty on Saturday.” A lone tear welled out of her right eye and rolled unnoticed down her tanned cheek. “So you would sooner spend time with nerdy Josh than to be with your man. I thought you loved me.” Her fingers flew across the keyboard, “I do love you.” “Prove it. Come to Victoria, you can stay here at my brothers.” Morgan typed, “When’s your court date?” “Next Tuesday, doesn’t matter though I won’t be here.” “Where will you be?” she started to worry. “Vancouver.” “Vancouver, what for?” “My brother says it’s easy to make money in that city. There are lots of drunks and most of the homeless beg.Once they get the money me and my brother will just take it away from them.” “But that’s stealing.” “So?” “You’ll be in worse trouble than ever.” “Only if I get caught and I won’t do that. As soon as we have enough money were going to Toronto, or even theStates. Good money to be made there and it’s warmer. If you don’t come to Victoria, we’ll likely never see eachother again. If you really love me you will come.” “I don’t know, running away is pretty serious.” “Don’t worry, you’re my woman and I’ll look after you real good.” “It would hurt my mom too much." “Well at least come to Victoria and spend a couple of days with me. If you love me you will.” “All right,” and then she added, “I’ll come and stay with my dad for my birthday.” “Promise?” “I promise. I’ll let you know when and what ferry I catch so you can meet me.” “Ok, got to go, remember you promised.” He hadn’t even said he loved her. Morgan turned face down on her pillow and let her tears wash away thehurting that filled every pour of her body. When Josh woke up Thursday morning, he found a large, neatly wrapped parcel at the foot of his bed. Anenvelope, with happy birthday printed on the back was taped to his gift. He tore the parcel open, new roller blades,just what he wanted. “What a cool mom.” Josh opened up the envelope, besides a funny card there were two crispfifty-dollar bills. Still in his pajamas he ran down to the kitchen, his mom was making breakfast. French toast and bacon, his favorite, Josh gave her a big hug and kissed her on the cheek. “You’re the best momin the whole world,” he gave her another hug and rushed back upstairs to shower and dress. On their way to school, Josh and Morgan made plans to meet at Anderson’s Point when it got dark. The school day passed in a blur but it wasn’t quick enough for Morgan. She still hadn’t asked her mom if shecould catch the Saturday morning ferry to Victoria and spend her birthday with her dad. She hadn’t even told Josh of
her plans because she knew he would be disappointed. They had celebrated every birthday together since Josh hadmoved here. “He won’t mind,” she thought, “After all birthday parties are for kids and.." Morgan and her mom laughed, joked and teased each other on the drive back home from Morgan’s favoriterestaurant, The Lobster Pot. Morgan steeled herself, turned to look out the side window and mumbled, “Mom,” Morgan hesitated for amoment, “Mom I have something I want to talk to you about. Please don’t be angry.” “You can talk to me about anything dear. What is it?” “I want to take the early ferry Saturday morning to Victoria and spend my birthday with Dad,” there it was out. She sighed and waited for her mom’s reaction. Ann took her eyes off the road and shouted, "What?” Morgan put her hands behind her back and clenched her fists. “I knew you would be like this. I don’t know whyI bother trying.” “I’m sorry. I am just surprised, that’s all,” Ann Connelly tried to regain her composure. She didn’t want to getangry, not after the wonderful night they had. “Why now? You haven’t spent a birthday with him since you were seven. You haven’t even wanted to talk tohim since he got remarried and had a new baby girl.” “I know,” Morgan hoped she sounded confident. “I was wrong and I was behaving like a spoiled brat. I’m moregrown up now and I want to get to know my dad again,” she paused for a moment to collect her thoughts. “Besides Ithink it’s cool to be a big sister. So may I go, please?” “What about Josh,” Ann Connelly did not want to tell Morgan that her ex-husband no longer wanted anything todo with them. She always bought extra gifts, forged her husband’s signature on the gift tag and hoped against hopethat Morgan would not catch on and be upset. “This is really sudden and your dad might not be prepared to haveyou. Then there is always his new wife, she may not want you to stay there.” “Of course he’ll want me. He is my dad and I can get along with his new wife,” a few tears squeezed out ofMorgan’s eyes and rolled down her cheeks. “Please can I call him at least, just to ask? I know he’ll want me tocome.” “What about Josh?” her mom asked again, pushing back the anger that threatened to spill over into her voice. Morgan raised her voice, “Birthday parties are for kids and neither Josh nor I am a kid anymore. I know he’llunderstand.” “I don’t think it’s a good idea to call him,” Ann Connelly pressed her lips tight together. Morgan demanded, “Why not? What aren’t you telling me?” Ann felt the twinges of anger building inside her stomach. “I didn’t want to tell you this before, but I don’t haveany choice now. Your father wrote a letter to me four years ago. He gave strict orders for us to keep away becausehe no longer wanted anything to do with either one of us. He just wants to focus all his attention and time on his newfamily.” Morgan shouted, “You’re lying,” and burst into tears. “Dad loves me, he would never say that.” “Morgan I won’t have you talk to me this way. I kept the letter and I’ll show it to you as soon as we get into thehouse,” Ann turned the three-year-old grass green car into the driveway. Morgan roared, “Even if that’s true I still want to go to Victoria.” Ann gritted her teeth and struggled to keep from shouting, “Does this have anything to do with that Williamsboy? Morgan shouted and slammed the front door so hard that the glass pane rattled, “What if it does?” “Well you can’t go, there is no place for you to stay,” Ann Connelly felt the rage building inside. Morgan spoke in a low, calm voice, “I can stay at Billy’s brother’s place, he asked me to, so there.” Her calmbefore the storm voice faded. She yelled, “Now I want to see that letter” “You’re not going and that’s final,” Ann handed Morgan the letter. “It looks like dad’s hand writing,” Morgan started to sob when she came to the part about her dad not wanting tosee her anymore. She sniffed and brushed tears out of her eyes, “I’m going and you can’t stop me.” Ann Connelly shouted, “You’re grounded,” tears formed in her eyes, and rolled down her cheeks. “Your just jealous that I know how to keep a man and you don’t.” As soon the words left her mouth Morganknew she had gone too far but it was too late. “I’ll apologize tomorrow, after mom calms down.” Ann, now overcome with rage did something she had never done before. Something she never thought she wouldever do. She slapped Morgan hard across the face.
Morgan stood still and for what seemed like an eternity, not knowing what to do or say. Rage filled her entirebody and she slapped her mother as hard as she could. She turned and ran up stairs to her bedroom, slamming thedoor behind her. Ann Connelly stood at the bottom of the stairs crying. She felt angry and a sense of loss filled her heart. Annwanted to race after her daughter and hold her close. She wanted to tell Morgan that she was so sorry and that shewould take her to Victoria to see Billy. Instead of doing this, she turned away and walked into the kitchen, filled thekettle and plugged it in. Morgan lay face down on the bed and surrendered to her anger. She knew that there was only one option left.Morgan dried her eyes on a pillowcase and stomped over to the closet, removed her sleeping bag, rolled it up, andtied it into a tight bundle. She opened up her backpack and dumped the contents onto the floor, selected underwear,socks, her two favorite blouses, and a couple of T-shirts and stuffed them in. Three pairs of clean, pressed jeansfollowed. Morgan changed into clean jeans and T-shirt. Tears streamed down her face as she booted up her computer and opened up her email. Morgan clicked on newmessage, typed in Billy’s email address and “Meet me,” in the subject line. The message was brief, “I’ll be on thefirst ferry in the morning, please be there. Love, Morgan.” Morgan went to her bedroom door and listened. It seemedquiet, so she unlocked the door and opened it. The teen tiptoed to the bathroom and paused for a moment, the door squeaked on rusty hinges. Sounds from theblaring television drifted up the stairs. For a moment she wanted to run down and tell her mom how sorry she felt,but that moment passed without fulfillment. She picked up her toothbrush and a spare unused one, “You never know.” Besides taking her own half-filled tubeof toothpaste, she took two new ones. Morgan picked up five new soap bars, underarm deodorant, shampoo andmouthwash. She tiptoed back to her bedroom and relocked the door. Everything went into her backpack. She walked across her bedroom and opened the window. The sleeping bagand backpack made a slight thump when they hit the ground. Before she climbed out the window, Morgan paused to take one last look around her room. She walked over toher dresser and opened the top drawer. Morgan shoved a small flashlight and spare batteries into her right front jeanspocket. Back to the window, one more look. Morgan grabbed the eaves-trough drainpipe firmly in both hands and wentout the window. It took only a few seconds for her to climb to the ground. A small fire crackled, danced and sent smoke swirling into the air above the sandy beach on the south side ofAnderson’s Point. Good memories of picnics, of learning to swim, of water fights flooded Morgan’s mind as sheapproached Josh. Anderson’s point stretched almost a quarter of a mile into the quite ocean waters. About half way out into thePacific, it curved to the north and formed a large bay. Only a few overgrown paths led through the thick tall trees tothe bay. Josh raised his eyebrows, “Wow, you really are expecting a ship to come for us,” Morgan replied, “Not really, I’m going to run away.” She bent over, weeping. “What?” Josh yelled, not wanting to believe her. Morgan shouted, “You heard me, I’m going to run away.” “Why?” Josh felt his whole world ending, “What about our birthday party?” She growled, "Grow up Josh. Birthday parties are for kids. I’m not a kid anymore, and I didn’t think you wereone either.” Josh insisted, “You still didn’t tell me why.” “I had another big fight with Mom. I wanted to go to Victoria and see Billy before he leaves. He and his brotherare going to Vancouver and then to Toronto as soon as they get enough money.” Morgan sobbed. Josh put his arm around her and patted her right shoulder. “You’re not planning on going with them, are you?” Morgan replied through her tears, “I wasn’t at first. I just wanted to see him, but now I don’t have any choice, Ican’t live with Mom anymore and Dad doesn’t want me either.” She wailed, “I’m taking the early ferry. Billy isgoing to meet me.” “Where are you going to spend the night?” “Here,” Morgan blew her nose on a well-used piece of Kleenex.
“I have a better idea.” He pleaded, “Come and spend the night in my tree house. I already asked Mom if I could.It’ll be fun. I have my portable DVD player there and we can watch movies. Please? Who knows how long it will bebefore we see each other again, if we ever do. I am going to miss you,” he hugged her. “That will be cool, real cool,” Morgan hugged him back. “I’ll walk you to the ferry in the morning and cover for you as long as I can.” She cried, “Oh Josh, I’m going to miss you, but I’ll keep in touch, I promise.” Josh went to where the fire was and kicked sand onto it. “Don’t do that Josh, not until we do the ritual that you’re gramps sent us. At least you’ll be here to tease himabout it.” “Oh alright,” Josh hesitated for a moment before he stopped kicking sand on to the blaze. He remembered thewarning gramps had sent him. Morgan joined Josh at the small fire. They marched around it twice to the left, changed directions and circled itthree times to the right. Neither of them was surprised when a ship didn’t appear. Josh started to kick sand on thefire again. Morgan begged, “Please Josh, put some more wood on the fire, I’d like to sit here for awhile and thin about allthe good times we’ve had.” Josh put a few more dry branches on the smoldering embers. The finger’s of the flame grew larger and reachedup towards the full moon that floated above them. He dragged a big log close to the warmth. The two of them satclose together and put their arms around each other. Morgan rested her head on Josh’s shoulder and they sat insilence, overwhelmed by sadness. The moon sank lower in the dark sky and Morgan broke the silence at last, “We should go Josh,” Josh stood up and kicked sand onto the dying embers, making certain to extinguish the last tiny glow. Morgan stood up, turned around, and screamed. Josh whirled around, his mouth dropped open. Right behind them and less than twenty feet away stood fouroddly dressed men. Three of them had arrows pointing at them and the fourth held a long gleaming sword. Josh screamed, his kneesbuckled and he fell to the sandy beach.