Tosach

 

A collection of Short Stories

 

 

Erle Clavet

Table of Contents

The Beginning   

Endings

We Knew

Books and Spells

Peaceable War Farers (2)

Elven Magic

Tyrant King

Crystal Sword:

-The Crystals

-The Sword

-Balance Restored

Untouchable Unreachable (1)

Compass {Part 2 to Untouchable Unreachable}

Wizard’s Staff

Fate (3)

Imagination

Three Wishes

(1), (2) and (3) These are my favorites of my short stories.  

The Beginning

      Writers seem to see blank pages as a bad thing, they really don’t like them. They seem to see the blank pages as a sort of barrier because they have not written anything on them. But I say that empty pages are good. They are mystery’s waiting to be found, adventures waiting to be discovered. Within these pages anything is possible; your best adventures will come to life. Dragons, swords, bows and arrows, knights in shining armour, ancient civilization, the west and cowboys, and yes romance and horrors become reality. Anything, I mean anything, is possible on those pages! You can be who you want, where and when; there are no limitations. When I see empty pages I see the potential for a great story of any genre. I see any and all adventures just waiting to be discovered!

 

 

Endings

 

      The ending to all things, good, bad, happy, sad; it must always happen and come to this. How the ending will turn out only you can tell; even if you can. Endings are a part of everything. You can hope that they will turn out good, but you will never know until the end comes around. Yet with every ending comes a new beginning.

 

 

We Knew

 

      We knew that it would happen, that it would come down to this, but when was always a complete mystery. Until now! We had been waiting for several years and with each passing moment we became more and more anxious. It seemed as though time stood still some days, yet here we are at this moment. Looking back it seems just like yesterday. No one wanted it to happen, however the inevitability of it was a shadow, a constant companion that haunted us and would not leave. Continually tracking us we ran from it and were unable to escape. And all I can say is that we knew. We knew!

 

Books and Spells

 

      The text was difficult to read. Hunter Brock had been looking at it for hours and still did not understand it. The words were all starting to jumble together and his eyes began to hurt. Setting the book down and rubbing his tired eyes he thought, ‘How am I going to ever finish reading this book before tomorrow?’ He did not know how of course, but he would keep on trying and maybe, if he was lucky, he would understand it.

      He would try one last time. He began to read again. Hunter was surprised to find that he could now read and understand the text perfectly.

      Life had been simple back then, Hunter thought, as the memory faded away. Ten years had since passed away from the time he had read that book. He was now in his thirties and on his way to do what he felt he should have done all those years earlier. He had decided that tonight would be the best time.

      The stars that were blanketing the sky winked down at him as he reached the top of the hill that overlooked the small village that he had grown up in.

      It took him a little time to remember the spell from the book, but when he did it was like he had just read it yesterday.

      The stars began to swirl in response to his spell and were gradually picking up speed. Everything was going as planned, exactly as the book had described.

      Then all of a sudden something happened that Hunter did not expect. A huge explosion came hurling out of the center of the spinning stars, shaking the earth with a title wave of great force. The explosion was so powerful that it made the night appear as though it were the middle of the day with its bright light.

      When it was all over everything was pitch black and no sounds could be heard.      

      ‘What have I done?’ Hunter Brock thought in horror. ‘This was not supposed to happen!’

Peaceable War Farers

 

      In the beginning there were four peoples, four races. All these races started out small with not many differences between them. That was thousands of years ago though. Then one day one of them suddenly had large numbers at their command; a huge, deadly armed armada. Three of them were small and peaceful, while this last one was massive and much more aggressive. However the three smaller ones outnumbered this one when put together. Much became different between the races from that time forward.

      It had been peaceful in the land for a long time, all four races living and interaction happily with one another for most of their history. This was very easy when they all were the same size. But when the one grew the three smaller races got along better with each other more so than with the large one.

      The small races were able to move extremely freely within each other’s territories. They had more in common with one another than with the large one. It wasn’t that the smaller races didn’t include the other, they tried, but anything they attempted did not change things. The tightness and bond of the smaller races made the people of the large race jealous. They began to fear that these three were going to band together, to one day wipe them out. This of course was not true, it wasn’t in their nature.    

      Beginning to fear the other races the large one started separating and isolating themselves, becoming more distant. Instead of trying to fix the situation they pushed themselves farther away. With the passing of time this separation only became worse and more defined. The other three races did not really know why this was occurring or what was truly going on. Any time they reached out all they got was hostility. The three continued on with their lives, attempted to include all and fix the puzzling situation. But them having “normal” lives only helped to fuel the anger of the large race further and they began to attack the three they feared would cause them great harm.

      After several years of unsuccessful attempts at fixing the problem and not knowing what else to do, these three separated themselves. They went their different ways, preferring peace to war. Any and all negotiations always failed, ending in a flight for their very lives. So they went into hiding, making the forests their new homes, hoping that they could survive in seclusion rather than having to fight.

      This plan though did not work; the attacks on their people continued and many of the peaceful races were dying, being murdered in the safety of their homes and country. For with the separation of the races the land had officially been divided. Prior to this no one truly occupied a set area that they could call their own. Each race had had one quarter of the land, an equal share, for their territory to which they looked after. However, that all changed when the larger race became aggressive and made a clearly defined separation of the land, easily seizing well over half of it for their control.

      In spite of all this the three small races recognized that something had to be done about these attacks. They had kept in contact and when they found out that each was suffering the same fate, the leaders of the three small races met secretly to decide what to do. Only this meeting was not as secret as they first thought. Their position became known to the ‘War Farers’, as the three ‘Peaceables’ called them, and they were attacked.

      The War Farers got their name due to their aggressive, warring nature and the Peaceables because they did not like fighting. The Peaceables would only go to battle as a last, desperate resort to defend themselves. To kill, even to save themselves, went against all they stood for. Sadly sometimes that had to be put aside in order to protect themselves and the land. The War Farers had been exactly like them once, now they were the complete opposite.

      Almost all the Peaceables at the meeting were killed as they fled. The War Farers had blocked off any way of retreat for them. That was except for the forests, which is what saved some of the Peaceables lives. The War Farers controlled most of the land by this time and had stopped the Peaceables, hemming them in, so any long distance escape across the land was virtually impossible. Afraid of the forests the War Farers would only go in them long enough to carry out their attacks; then they would hastily leave.

      Never before, in all the years since the beginning of this feud, had the War Farers attacked them while they were so deep in the safety of the forest though. The Peaceables had lived with their threat for many years, the first generation of this feud having long gone the way of the earth and so had many of the second. The life span for all four races was, on average, several hundred years long. Therefore the Peaceables knew it was due time to put a permanent end to this childish behaviour.

      Having no other options these three races of the Peacables came together to deal with the threat of the War Farers. They were hoping that their combined powers would be enough to save them. Coming out of the forests together they were going to settle things, for good! 

      A great battle raged on the planes just a few miles from where the War Farers made their homes on a scorched black, rocky hill top. All the land had once been lush and green, full of a great verity of plant and animal life that flourished. The only areas that remained this way were the forests where the War Farers had not yet poisoned the land. Having kept up their promise to look after the land, the Peaceables did all they could to prevent the War Farers from destroying the last green places of the earth.   

      The War Farers could not handle the onslaught of the superior numbers of the Peaceables. They were being attacked in the front and rear by two of the races while the third, which had divided into two groups, was flanking them, attacking their sides.   

      Soon the War Farers were completely surrounded on ever side by their mortal enemies with no signs of an escape. Nevertheless their blood thirsty leader was not willing to be destroyed by these three pathetic, low life races, as all War Farers saw the Peaceables. Surrendering was totally out of the question! The people of the War Farers considered themselves the highest of the four races and their pride consumed them, driving their hatred towards the others. Although in reality the races were all equal and no life was above the other. But the War Farers did not see it that way whatsoever. 

Lashing out vigorously, the War Farers fought very hard to win the battle and gain the victory they felt they deserved. They wanted to be the sole race alive on the land, as they in their eyes, were the only worthy ones and no one else.

      The entirety of the four races was nearly wiped out to extinction that day with the Peaceables not wanting to let the War Farers escape; to have their threat continue to ravage the entire land. They were not going to let such a great threat live if they could help it.

      The fighting was so bad that the battle merely stopped in order to keep some of the races alive. The War Farers would have kept on fighting, but they knew they were not going to be able to win the battle at this time and they did not want to all be killed. They wanted the chance to obliterate the Peaceables, to be victorious! Also none of the races had the strength to keep on fighting anyway, having used it all up.

      So the four races went their own ways, licking their wounds. The War Farers to their all black stone, dark, dreary fortresses and palaces to fume over their loss and hatred towards the Peaceables. Meanwhile the Peaceables went back into hiding, together this time for safety, deeper into the forests. There they would remain to regroup and figure out what to do next. For one race had grown far too large and extremely dangerous to be allowed to live like this any longer.

      A victory had been achieved this day for the better, but much work remained ahead. The Peaceables realized that it would be best if the War Farers were entirely eliminated. Nevertheless they had experienced enough of war and wished not to have to fight again even if it were hundreds of millions of years later. On the other hand they had put up with, for far too long, their people being slaughtered.

      Their numbers had not done the job like they had hoped; the War Farers were too strong for just that. A tough choice was needed to be made if they ever wanted to live in peace again. The three Peaceables races could fairly easily wipe the War Farers off the face of the land forever for they had the power, the magic to do so. They would use that power in order to save themselves. Although, it would be the last choice because that force was extremely powerful, and very destructive to a point that was nearly beyond even their own imaginations.

      None of the Peaceables liked the idea of what they more than likely would have to do, nevertheless they knew that the War Farers were not going to leave them be. Something more dramatic was going to be needed to be done and when that time came it sadly would be. They would be forced to use their magic in order to save themselves. But at the same time they feared that they would lose part of who and what they were.

Elven Magic

 

      Living all alone was an Elf; a magician who wielded great power. His house was in the mountains where he practiced magic in seclusion. Occasionally someone would appear on his doorstep wanting to learn the art of sorcery from him. This was the case of a boy, from the race of man, who appeared one quiet afternoon. Only the boy had been sent by the evil and corrupt magician’s council to spy on the Elf. He was to have no idea of the boy’s true intentions; only the Elf did.

      The boy’s cover was that he desperately wanted to learn magic. He did not however, want to learn it from the magician’s council or the way they taught. In fact he claimed that the council had actually refused to teach him anything. They had sent him away even though he had shown remarkable magical talent. Something that was not common from anyone his age, no matter what race they were from.

      So he sought out the Elf and wanted him to personally teach him, for the boy had heard that the Elven magician had great powers that even the council largely feared. And no one apposed the council in any way for fear of retribution and severe consequences. Also the Elf practiced things that other magicians would never even consider looking at. Willing to go beyond what most magicians would, the Elf had gained great knowledge and power that most only dreamed of wielding. In a way, the boy told the Elf slyly, him becoming his apprentice would be payback to the magician’s council for what they had done to the both of them. 

      Knowing fully well that the council was attempting to find a way to be rid of him in any way they could, the Elf took the boy in. This was not a concern of his right this moment. The magician’s council had been attempting for years to get rid of him with no success. Just seven years ago they were able to actually locate his mansion to which he had kept hidden and protected from them with his magic. It was quite a feat for them to finally accomplish.

      They were a very pathetic lot in the Elf’s mind, for they had searched for nearly fifty years for where he resides. If they could not do something as simple as finding a house, how could they do the ‘great’ things they claimed to have done? Or capture and put a stop to him for that matter? It made no sense to the Elf, however right this moment it was very amusing. So he did not worry about it and went to work with his new student.

      Over the next few months the Elf shared what he’d learnt about magic with the young boy. All the while he was careful not to give him anything too valuable, guarding those spells and teaching that were his and his alone to command. In the hands of the boy and most importantly the magician’s council, they would become corrupted and their great power twisted to excessive destructiveness. Keeping these more powerful incantations to himself the Elf worked cautiously with his apprentice.

      Some of what the Elven magician taught his newest apprentice was enough to make the entire council squirm in their seats and want to hide for a very long time. There was something though that would make the council even more afraid than what the Elf was teaching the boy. Something that they thought in their arrogance would – could - never happen.

      The Elf had actually infiltrated the magician’s council! Thus far he’d seceded in gaining - taking on - the abilities of about half the council members. It had taken him years to do this without them noticing; slowly stealing away bits of what they knew. But now he had the boy to use to easily gain the rest, when the time was right. 

      About a year into the boy's training the magician realized that he could no longer ignore the magician’s council. He was going to have to do something more direct in order to deal with them. He had known this for some time, yet did not have a clue how to go about doing it. However, with the boy’s arrival an idea had sparked fully to life. The last parts of a plan he had been toying with for a long time fell comfortable into place over this year.

      Revealing some secrets about magic that no one else possessed, that weren’t too dangerous, the Elf put his plan into action. The council would not be ignored any more. They could fully find out at any moment what he was doing and the Elven magician could not risk this. He did not worry that he would not be able to deal with them. Still he needed to exercise caution for nothing was certain, especially when dealing with the magician’s council. Plus the boy would one day be able to challenge him if he was not careful with his student. 

      With the secrets the Elf confided in his student, the boy would surely get in contact with the magician’s council; he had no doubt of this. What he told his apprentice could harm them greatly, if applied properly; just one of the many different ways the magician had come up with over the years. There would be a way for the boy to communicate with the council and once alone, even for a moment, he would for sure. In truth he had been since he began his first lesson.

      With the possibility of this communication in mind, the Elf went off to another part of his house to get things for one of their lessons, leaving his apprentice alone.

      The lessons were going very well, almost too well in fact. They were getting to more advanced studies quicker than any other one of the Elf’s former students. His apprentice was truly gifted with magic. His abilities at mastering enchantments and spells were almost frightening. But he would not be teaching the boy any more about sorcery. Going off was not for more complex learning materials. It was time! Time to prepare. Time to do what was needed, what should have been done long ago.    

      Once his master was gone, the boy hastily got in contact with the council, telling them what he had just learnt. Surprised at what the Elf had told the boy, they agree that something had to be done about him immediately. The extent of his wisdom was great, greater than what they had first thought. They did not know what else the Elven magician knew or was capable of. The extent of his learning was great and they feared this immensely. They were starting to fear him even more.      

      When the Elf returned to the boy he found him practicing some of the things he’d learnt. Every last one of the enchantments that he was being taught was easily being mastered. Nothing appeared out of order, yet the Elf sensed that something was going on.

      Noting his mater's empty hands as he entered the room, the boy became curious and much more wary of the Elf than before. He had gained much experience in magic from his master; nevertheless there were things that he could tell the Elf was hiding from him. Things that if imparted to him, the boy knew that his ‘master’ would have a cause to be greatly worried. His apprentice with that held-back knowledge - if gained - would quickly become his equal.

      But the boy did not have that knowledge, no one save for the Elf did and that made him dangerous to the council and especially the boy. He could not tell if his teacher saw the real reason for why he had come here and that was unsettling. There were so many mysteries with the Elf.

      All this did not matter though, for the boy had been ordered by the council to kill his teacher! Or at least keep him there, occupied long enough for them to be able to do something about the situation. Tread wearily was the council’s advice; the things that his teacher kept to himself could undo the boy. He would have to act fast and be on his guard more than ever before.

      This pleased the boy greatly, by this time a fairly powerful magician himself. To kill the one who had taught him so much and was a highly powerful being would give him great joy and pleasure. The thorn in the magician’s council’s side that the Elf had long been would shortly be removed. However, the battle that the young magician started did not go at all in his favour.

      Winning the fight, the Elven magician gained access to the boy’s mind and thus the remainder of the council’s powers and skills. The council had to give the boy all their collective knowledge and powers in order to aid him in getting rid of the Elf; if it came down to it and they were unable to themselves. But the experiences of the Elf outweighed that of the entire magician’s council when his apprentice attempted to use this force against his master. Now the Elf possessed every last bit of those abilities on top of his, becoming far more powerful. Easily he was one of, if not the most, powerful being in the whole land.

      Tucking his foolish, former, apprentice safely away and stripping him of all his magical powers and abilities, the Elf waited. Soon some councillors would arrive at his mansion. They would try to finish what they had sent the little boy to do in their stead. But they would probably not be able to get the Elf nor rescue the boy, because the Elf was now far too strong for a group of them to handle.

      A team of councillors did arrive within the hour, breaking down the door to the mansion. Boldly they walked into the main chamber to face the waiting magician. They still did not realize what had occurred. Having received no word from the boy, this team had been sent to see what was going on and to bring the Elf before the council. A surprise was what they received. 

      As the Elf predicted they were unable to withstand his far superior abilities. The attitude they had when first entering his house quickly changed. Things were going to be much harder for them, more than they could ever have known.

      Suspecting that the magician’s council must have some kind of plan besides simply showing up and trying to capture him, the Elf’s senses were alert for things amiss. Even the smallest thing out of place he would be able to easily detect.

      Sending his magic out around him he was unable to pick up anything unusual. The magician’s council must have had something more going on, yet he could not figure out what. If there really was anything at all, for they weren’t too bright to begin with anyway. All the same even with his magic not picking anything up his instincts told him to proceed with caution.

      When nothing had been heard for the team on the retrieval of the Elf, the rest of the council showed up, appearing out of nowhere. Round the Elf in a half circle they stood; almost trapping him in his own home. His instinct had served him well. If he’d been caught by surprise by the entire council he would have been in trouble. Any unexpected magical assault from their numbers would not be good. Needing to be prepared magically - like he currently was - the Elf would have been extremely vulnerable.  

      “You brought the entire magicians council here, are you nuts? And with what you know I am fully capable of!” the Elf exclaimed in shock to the leader of the council. He could not believe that they could be so stupid to do such a thing. It was absolute madness!

      “What does it matter to you what we do? That is if it doesn’t involve you or anything you care about?” shot back the leader of the council. He knew very well though that the Elf did indeed care about everything the magician’s council was involved in. Though they thought that it was none of his business what they did, the Elf personally made it his to know all about their doings. 

      With those words from their leader, all the council members before the Elf attacked him at the same time. Every last one of the spells hit their intended target. Well... sort of. In fact you really could not call it that. They actually went directly into the Elf!

      As this happened, time froze.

      And yet, somehow they still fought on.

Tyrant King

 

      There once was an Elf that got thrown into prison with three others. A thief, whose victims did not realize their loss till many weeks later, an illusionist of magic and the step-son of the tyrant King of the land, who was a magician in training. The reason for the Elf’s imprisonment was simply that; because he was an Elf and Elves used magic. The others were in there because they had crossed the King. The thief tried to steal from him, while the illusionist miss performed in front of the tyrant leader causing an accident that greatly affected the King; to the happiness of all who opposed his rule. His step-son was there because he hated his step-father. He had ended up joining the resistance that had formed against the King and was caught. After being tortured personally by his step-father, he was thrown into a cell to rot the remainder of his days.

      Unable to gain any useful information from his pathetic step-son the King was furious. The resistance had been increasingly greatly, gaining in strength as time went on and he wanted to put a stop to it immediately. Plus they had something that the King did not - magic. Everyone in the resistance was trained to use magic as a tool to fight with, to protect those under the evil ruler who opposed him. Not to mention its main purpose, to finally have enough people trained so they could storm the palace and dethrone their hated leader. To aid them in one day freeing themselves from the King’s evil grasp.  

      That’s why the Prince had joined them. Hating his step-father greatly the Prince wanted nothing more than to see him removed from power. Seeing him as weak and pathetic the King pushed the Prince around whenever he had a chance. By joining the resistance and learning magic the Prince had hoped to change this, but...        

      With magic being band from the land by his orders, the King destroyed every last one of the Elves he could get his hands on. Elves were magical beings after all and the King mistrusted anyone practicing magic. He was also keeping a close eye on the resistances movements as much as was possible. Though they did not command magic when they were first formed they were still a great threat to his rule.

      The Elves fought back against the malice inflicted upon them, but that did not help them out much. Even with the aid of their magic they simple could not overpower the vast, deadly army the King had mobilized. Those fortunate enough to escape this fate were forced to hide, using their magic to disguise their appearances in order to move around freely. Yet while in hiding they fought back against this cruelty as much as they could. Striking out here and there on raids of the King’s villages and some strong holds, they would harass the loathsome ruler. Their magic helped them out greatly to cause several critical setbacks to the King.

      The Elves and resistance had fought separately at first, conducting individual raids of their own. Till they discovered that by joining together they would become stronger and achieve their goals quicker. This was done by accident when they one day had both selected the same village as their next target. Coordinating their efforts they were surprised at the results.

      Joining forces early on, to fight against the King and his empire, had yielded greater success than both the Elves and resistance had imagined. Quickly teaching everyone how to use magic to aid their cause the Elves helped transform the resistance. After this they became quite a force to contend with. Now their raids were ten times as effective.

      Being unaware of which place would be the resistances next target they were unprepared for the attacks. There was little the King or his well-trained men could do to prevent them or to minimize the damage incurred. They did not know where to place their men to defend against the resistance. 

      Always the resistance seemed to be able to escape his grasp with minimal casualties while he suffered greatly. This constantly enraged the King beyond anything else and the more they eluded him and his armies the more his hatred towards them grew. He had nothing but a pure, solid loathing towards the joint armies of the Elves and the resistance. He wanted to totally eliminate them. The King knew that he would have to be extremely cautious with all the magic they had at their disposal. Most importantly he would have to come up with a very good plan to outsmart them if he was to be rid of them for ever.

      Vowing to destroy all Elves, the resistance and those opposing his rule, once and for all, he set a vile trap. That’s how he was able to finally capture an Elf alive and throw him into prison. At last he was getting somewhere, he thought to himself and bravely boasted to everyone in the land; to show that he was in complete control.

      One thing still stood in his way though, something that he did not and more than likely could not understand; the ever elusive magic of the resistance. But in all do time the King planed on changing that. Everyone and everything was going to do or be what he wanted. His word and his word alone would rule!

      In that lonely cell deep beneath the palace something however was steering that would change the outcome of things forever. Not just for the King and his plans but for the entire kingdom. The four in the cell had decided to band together, as unlikely of partners as they appeared. With the Elf being high up in the resistance he knew how to get in contact with them, even while in prison. The Prince would come in handy as he also was part of the resistance and knew some magic. The illusionist and thief were the best at what they did and could be used as a great distraction or aid, without getting easily caught. In addition they now wanted absolutely nothing to do with the King. Seeing him dead was a cause they all pledged their very lives to.

      With a plan devised the four were ready to attempt a breakout and to deal a great blow to their evil King, the greatest one that the resistance would pull of yet.

      When darkness fell and night arrived the four made their miraculous escape. At the same time as they stole through the palace corridors huge masses of black bodies merged on the city, heading for the palace. Both these groups moved silently to their destinations. Death was in their walk - their every step - for that was what they were bring with them. But after that they hoped that they could also bring freedom, as that was their main, long term goal. No one in these two groups truly liked killing, however it unfortunately was a necessary tragedy that must occur in order to ensure their safety and finally their freedom.

      Wanting to interrogate and torture the Elf further, to see him suffer, the King sent for him an hour after the sun set. However, all that was found was unconscious guards and the cell, empty!

      The King put the palace on high alert. He needed the four prisoners caught and fast. They were all too dangerous, in his eyes, to be out roaming freely; especially in the palace. The fact that they were able to escape greatly concerned him. Once found, the King told his captains, they were to be killed immediately where they stood, save for his step-son. He still wanted him alive for questioning and to have the pleasure of torturing him repeatedly.

      Everyone in the palace was so occupied with trying to find the elusive foursome that no one noticed the thousands of black forms converging on the palaces defences. The attack from the resistance was underway! Their full force was brought to bear against the Kings greatest stronghold.

      Spells slammed into the palace gate, the walls and the few soldiers on watch duty. The alarm was raised of the attack and the many soldiers in the palace flooded to their defence positions, the search for the prisoners forgotten by many in the need to defence the palace. But by this time the spells were nearly through the gate that there was little the King’s army could do.

      Fighting back vigorously they slowed the resistances advance, but not for long. Swords, shields, spears and arrows were no match against this amount of magic. A large shielding spell protected everyone in the resistance army, which even the rocks that catapults threw were only bouncing off of. Many of the Kings soldiers died as various spells, curses and enchantments ploughed into their midst. Arrows and spires also pummelled the soldiers. Countless sword fights were breaking out all over the courtyard as the resistance broke off into smaller groups, beginning to spread throughout the palace. There wasn’t anything that the King’s army could do. All the while the palace defences were literally melting away, unable to withstand the magical assault. Suffering losses as well, but not on the scale that the King’s army was, the resistance was overrunning the palace.

      From on top of his balcony, the King watched as his entire army was quickly reduced to nothing by a far larger resistance than he thought possible. There wasn’t anything more that his army could do for him. He was now all on his own and for some reason that did not bother him the least bit. Watching all his men die somehow gave him a twisted hope and power to go on.

      He would have continued to watch but his door was suddenly blown off of its hinges and came soring into his private chambers and towards him. Looking just in time he jumped out of the way. The door barely missed hitting him as he fell to the balcony’s floor.

      In the doorway stood the Elf, Prince, thief and illusionist all in defensive positions; the first two with their magic and the last with their skills of their trades. All four had weapons drawn. They scanned the chamber for signs of anyone in it. Thus far they had met little resistance in the palace as their search for the King went on. Any soldiers they did meet were quickly dealt with, with little trouble. When they finally found the King they were expecting to have to fight some of his best men in order to get to him. But when their eyes fell upon him lying on the floor of his balcony they were greatly surprised. There had been no guards in the hallway, at the chambers door, or even in the room with the King; he was all alone, and extremely venerable.

      Bring up his magic, calling it forth, the Elf prepared to ensnare the King in a spell that he would be unable to escape from. Going before the Elf it soared towards the King preparing to rap around him; except it never had a chance. Even before it could fully reach the King the spell was somehow swept away. At the same time - without even the slightest warning - the King coming to life flew at the four. Pretending to be unconscious he had lured them into a false sense of security. 

      A curse flared to life in the Kings right hand and tore towards them, slammed into the shielding spell protecting the foursome, to their great astonishment. It went straight through the shield after resisting a bit. Once through, the shield died away, becoming destroyed by the surprised magical assault of the King. The curse having done its job simply vanished after that - no new shield would be allowed to be conjured up.

      How the King had the ability to perform magic was totally beyond any of them, especially the Elf. There should have been no way for him to have any kind of magic. And even if he did the Elf should have sensed it. Yet there he was with one even stronger than the Elf’s and Prince’s combined powers. This was not possible! How could this be? The King hated any kind of magic.

      Noting their shocked looks the King smirked evilly, happy and content that the resistance did not know about him being able to wielded magic and in such strength. He had wanted to be the only one with any kind of magic in the kingdom, so he had decided to seek out and destroy all Elves and magicians, stealing their powers. By banning magic he hoped that he could eventually become the most powerful being alive. His plan had worked pretty well. After tonight it would be completely fulfilled as he personally eliminated every last member of the resistance. And to start off he would kill the Prince and his pathetic excuse of companions!

      Getting ready to finish them off, after landing before them, the King taunted them on. In response the Prince and Elf stepped forward to fight, while the other two guarded the doorway, blocking the King’s escape and stopping any sort of help from coming, though they knew none would.

      Hexes, spells, curses and enchantments flew all around the chamber. Slamming into the various contents of the room with eruptions and such force that nearly everything was in pieces, on fire or turned to dust in a matter of minutes. Neither side was able to gain any advantage. The room was a mess, but the ones controlling the magic were unharmed.

      Out of breath they paused for a quick rest. That’s when the King got the Elf! The hex hit him square in the chest, sending him spinning backwards; flying horizontally into the wall the door was set in. Slumping to the floor the Elf did not move or even make a single sound.

      Looking at the Elf’s motionless body, the illusionist and thief could not believe what just happened. Just in time they turned their gaze back to the King to see him preparing to attack them. Stepping into action the illusionist made them disappear. Suddenly the Kings target was nowhere to be found!

      He looked all around his chamber to locate them again, but could not. The simple trick had done its job in two ways. The King was unable to kill the illusionist and the thief but, most importantly momentarily he had forgotten the presence of the Prince!

      Knowing that with the Elf out of the way he could easily dispose of is unworthy step-son, he turned to face him once again. But something collided extremely painfully into his face as he did so.

      Stumbling backwards, stars began to swirl in front of him. He looked the Prince straight in the eyes; the Kings face told everything. He was not expecting the Prince to be able to do what he had just done. He did not expect his step-son to actually have the courage and stamina to stand up to him in such a way. And now, as he sank agonisingly to his knees, he was paying the price for his lack of judgment; he was dying!               

      As he lay in an awkward position on the cold floor of his private chambers, the final thing the King saw was the Prince. Drawing his last, struggled breathe the cruel, tyrant King died taking along with him his evil and the threat he had posed.

      By this time the illusionist had undone his ‘spell’ and he and the thief were knelling beside the Elf, worry painted on their faces. Rushing to them the Prince used his magic on the Elf. In a couple of minutes, to their great relief, he was breathing again. Shortly after that he was able to get up and walk. Thanks to the Prince and what he had been taught by the resistance, the Elf was alive and could tell the tale of how the four of them together destroyed the King.

      Walking into the palace courtyard these four were cheered at, for the elimination of the King, by the whole resistance. Bodies of the entire army that was once the greatest of the Kings littered everywhere. No one living in the palace that had been loyal to the King was left alive. Throughout the whole palace death had been brought in just one fateful night. All that resided here now were bad memories and misery. There was only one thing that could be done. The palace was going to needed to be destroyed.

      Coming out of the palace the resistance surrounded it. At the signal of the Prince, who looked at the Elf for reassurance, everyone battered the palace with their magic, conjuring up various incantations. Explosions and blasts rocked the earth as spell after spell ripped into the palace, turning it to rubble. Fires blazed red and white hot, melting everything that their flames touched. With an enormous cloud of thick, black smoke the final parts of the palace fell to the earth. The threat and greatest standing memory of the tyrant King was totally eliminated.

      As the remainder of the fires died away hours later something wondrous happened - plants began to grow over the rubble! Grass and various flowers sprung up. Trees and bushes could be seen fully growing in a matter of minutes, as all over other plants came to life, popping up from the charred ground. Amazing smells and brilliant colors filled the air, replacing the remains of a dark past. The land was completely transformed, springing forth with new life. From that day forward this garden became a symbol and a reminder of freedom and of what it sometimes costs for that freedom.               

      After that day the Prince was set up as the proper ruler where he reigned in peace for the rest of his life. The Elf, thief and illusionist became good friends and advisers to the Prince. The Elves and the resistance ended up forming into the Princes personal guard, ensuring his safety as their King. Once again the Elves were safe and free along with all magicians and the resistance. To show their gratitude they made a grand fortress for the Prince to live and rule in; bringing peace to all those in the kingdom who sought it. 

Crystal Sword 

 

The Crystals

 

      Crystals; nice, shiny gems and a prized position for any rock collector. The ones I am going to tell you about are, above all, the most prized and valuable and - most importantly - extremely destructive.

      I was a young king, the ruler over a small number of people. We were constantly at war with the other neighbouring kingdoms, one in particular. Wars would come and go, but more than not they would come and stay it seemed. We would usually win the battles, but there would be many casualties; something that I and my people did not like in the least.    

      The reason we would end up winning was because of the crystals. It sounds strange, I know, however these were not ordinary crystals. They were - are - magical. They have kept me and my people safe for so long I can’t even count all the times they saved us anymore.

      There are eight of these crystals yet now only seven are in my position. Our arch enemy, in the latest battle we fought, stole one for his small fortress. I should note that the leader of this enemy is a wizard of great dark power. In my court I have a wizard and a magician, as well. The difference between the two is that wizards are more powerful than magicians. Therefore magic in our battles is common and that is exactly how the one crystal was lost.

      My people did not see the significance of the loss so I had to explain it to them...

 

      It all started years ago. I was a wizard at the time.

      - My people’s reaction to this news was of surprise for they knew that I did not fully trust magic. It was far too unpredictable. The magic that I did use these days and somewhat trusted, was simple and fairly safe. I only used it when necessary and that magic was the crystals; and the wizard and magician of course, who practiced their magic with great care. -

      I in fact had been the most powerful wizard of all thus far. My magic gave me long life which will always live on within me. I used my magic for various tasks, healing, fighting, protecting, and learning; for everything in life to help benefit others. Then one day my magic was challenged!

      Another wizard, claiming the ‘Title’ of ‘The most powerful being alive,’ sought to duel with me. Naturally, for my character, I declined for I knew this to be very unwise. I trusted magic back then but knew that it always needed respect. Putting magic of any kind to a test like this would only end in disaster. Yet this wizard insisted and was enraged by my refusal. In his anger he attempted to make me fight, sending spells and curses at me. My defences though were always in place and his magic did me no harm. I suppose that was why he started attacking the innocent people of the village we were in at the time.

      Of course now I could not simply walk away as I had intended to in order to avert the situation. I was, am, a protector of life, not a destroyer. That is unless destroying the few or the one saves many. This was currently the case at the time. The wizard was slaughtering the people in order to merely get me to fight him so he could actually clam his ‘Title.’        

      Thus we fought; it could not be helped if I was going to save the villagers. I was not going to let him do them any more harm due to his foolishness.

It was a terrible battle. He was indeed a great wizard, almost my equal, yet not quite. In the end I destroyed him and with a horrid price; nearly the entire population of the innocent people I sought to protect!

      I left the village hastily before too many people realized what I had caused to transpire by accident. The damage was done though. It had not been my fault entirely, but the villagers would not see it that way, they would want justice for what had happened to them. They had not been kept safe and from that moment I did not trust myself and especially not my magic with all that power. Power that could easily destroy life just as effectively as it could create or heal it.   

      Therefore to ensure that this would never happen again I transferred all my powers into eight ordinary stones. This caused them to transform into crystals of extraordinary beauty and power beyond anything.

      With them I traveled far away and built a palace, embedding the crystals in the stonework throughout it, to protect my small kingdom that I would build. That is all but one of the stones. I could not find a place to put it, so it remained on my person at all times for safe keeping.

      With this I had ensured that my magical powers would never again destroy innocent people. Rather they would guard and protect me and my subjects and all who sought peace. When they were employed the crystals could stop anything, from the smallest or largest incantation, to arrows and spears. Even huge boulders being catapulted could not penetrate the power of the crystals.

      All of this they did well, however, there was something that I had overlooked. My magic in the crystals still needed physical contact with someone. Therefore, on their own, they formed a sword, a sword that any and all magic - from our enemies - would be drawn to in battles, with no harm befalling the bearer. It did not matter if there was a wizard trying to counteract an enemy’s spell right in front of whoever had the sword. Any attacking magic would regard only the sword, always seeking it out. It was the most powerful sword of all that nothing could beat or even hope to stand against for long.

      Shocked that this had happened, I hid the sword and the one crystal safely away. They were both far too powerful on their own for simply anyone to wield their powers. And together... Together they would be a hundred times that. The seven other crystals were safe, being directly fused into the stone of my palace. None but I would be able remove them. Although even I don’t truly know if I could, for I knew that they could kill – destroy - anyone who attempted to. It was a safety measure I had put in place to prevent someone from steeling those crystals and I was not going to test its effectiveness whatsoever.

 

      Once I finished relating my story, the importance of the situation was fully reviled to my people. They understood why everything was occurring and in the way it was. Yet all this was the least of our worries for in the latest battle, as I stated earlier, the eighth crystal was stolen. I had been forced to take it out of hiding, use it, and therefore lost it. At this moment it resides with the dark wizard in his fortress. Enough power in the one to encompass his entire stronghold and adequately protect all he greedily owns.   

      One crystal against seven; the one could easily be a match with the dark wizard in charge, the prospects were not good. And the sword, the hunt was on for it. For with the one crystal back in use and by the dark wizard, the balance of magic has been shifted.

      The sword has come to aid in the restoring of that balance, but where it is I don’t know. The dark wizard knows about the sword now, something I had wished to keep a secret, but could not.

     If he were to ever get his hands on it! Let’s just say that it would not be good, especially for me and my people. The reason is that he is a descendant from the village I once nearly wiped out. His hatred and drive for revenge runs deep and he knows exactly who I am, after a thousand years from that fateful day. He will do anything, stopping at nothing to have his revenge on me and my people, having searched long and hard for us. So from that moment the race was on!

The Sword

 

      A pure heart; that is what is needed of the person who wields the sword. For anyone else to would be disastrous. Even with a pure heart and good intentions things can go dangerously wrong if one is not extremely careful.

      The sword has so much power that finding the right person could take many life times, if you ever manage to find that person that is. And only that right person can restore the balance of magic back in favour of what I first intended it to be used for - the greater good.

      However, there was also the daunting task of finding the sword along with the one to use it. When the eighth crystal was taken so much magic was being employed at the time that it sent the sword rocketing out of my palace and out of sight. The dark wizard had already stolen the one crystal, used it against me, causing the sword to come out of the place I had safely hidden it. Had it remained hidden the sword would still be in my possession.

      To add to the situation the dark wizard found out about the swords existence at this time. He is hunting it down for his own dark, evil purpose. If he were ever to get his hands on it he would corrupt all the good I have achieved with the crystals. He would ruin both the sword and all eight stones in one foul swoop, with just one of his enchantments. Of course I and my people could not let this happen, thus the long task of searching for the sword was underway.

      It was not us that found the sword though, nor the dark wizard, thank goodness. It was found by a wandering swordsman. No one really knew anything about him and what was known most people didn’t really trust. He was an extremely mysterious person, travelling throughout the different kingdoms. It was said that he was the foremost expert on swords, both in making and wielding them. We did not know what to think or do but we had little choice. He was brought to the palace.

      Luck was on our side the day he found the sword. First the swordsman thought that the sword was just an ordinary one. He could tell that it was of better quality compared to all other swords he had handled, which had been many. In fact he had never seen nor heard of any sword that was as good as this one. It appeared to be made of the finest available metal, one he wasn’t sure he had even come in contact with yet. So, it was only natural that he kept the sword because of its qualities.

      Second, we found him only hours after he picked up the sword, nearly a week from the time we had begun our search. And as far as we could tell the dark wizard knew nothing about the sword being found. Hoping against hope we prayed that it would stay that way.

      The last thing that went in our favour was the greatest of shocks to us all, me the most. This simple man was the one for the sword. Once he was in the palace the seven crystals and the sword began to shine brightly. This was the sign of who was to wield the sword!

      Strapped to the swordsman’s back he wondered what the bright light behind him was, in addition to the shocked looks on all our faces. His surprise matched everyone else’s upon finding that it was the sword fastened to him causing all the fuss.

      Still shining, he presented it to us; not knowing what else to do. We after all appeared to have a better knowledge and understanding of the sword and the entire situation than he did. This also surprised him greatly for not too many people knew any kind of sword better than he did. Also he had never heard of a sword giving off light before. He had studied swords extensively and knew about all the different kinds used by the various kingdoms of the land. Even if he had not made or used one personally he still knew about it. But this one was a puzzle he could not figure out.    

      You might be wondering presently why I would not be the one for this task; to bear the swords power against our enemies. After all it was my magic in the sword and crystals, it would only be logical that I would be the one. I would know better than anyone how my magic worked and be able to put it to great use with the sword. Well I have that answer for you. Because it was my magic that had created the crystals and therefore, indirectly the sword, I could not. If I were to the magic would go back into me more powerful than before. For with each use in the battles we had fought, the crystals had grown just like my magic and knowledge would have over the years. Once in me again the power would never leave and it would end up consuming me because it was so great. Therefore in order for my magic, and myself to live on another was needed - somebody who did not have a single drop of magic within them.  

      Like anything else our luck ended there, the dark wizard had come. It appeared that his crystal also shown, like the others, when the sword was reunited with its place of birth. Our time had finally run out!

      We had successfully gotten two nearly impossible tasks completed by a miracle. As hard as they may have been an even harder one was before us. The dark wizard had come to do battle! He had used the crystal’s magic to transport his entire fortress to the grasslands in front of my palace. The dark wizard had come to gain control of my palace, the seven crystals in my position and, most importantly the sword. He would stop at nothing to be victorious and that’s what worried me the most. Why? Because even with me having seven crystals and him only the one, a battle fought with them against each other could be disastrous beyond anything imaginable.

      However there was hope. We had the sword and its bearer. The crystal sword that would restore the balance of magic and bring peace to the entire land once again...

Balance Restored

      Before peace - war. Before balance - total upheaval. Before things would return to what they had been there was something standing in our way. It was one thing - a person - that would not move; the dark wizard. We could not escape or outrun him no matter how hard we tried. We would hide only to be found. The crystals gave us, and therefore the dark wizard, the power to actually move - fly - our fortress around.

      There weren’t many options left for us to choose from. In fact there was really only one, two if you count the dark wizard wanting us to join him. This was not an option though. My subjects and I had vowed to fight for what was good and right, not unite with such evil. Therefore our only choice was to stand against our arch enemy and fight, to the death if that was needed. No other way had presented itself and none would.

      Fate was not being very kind to us. It was not being kind to the dark wizard either. He had thought that he would easily be able to overtake us. However this did not happen. The crystals were brothers after all, not in the human manner were they easily disagree and fight with one eventually winning. No, the crystals were truer than that, they could not really ‘fight’ against each other; it was not in their nature.

      Yet at this time that was exactly what they were being forced to do. My seven had to defend themselves against the one the dark wizard had and sought to gain full control of. This he could not do for the crystal was not truly his, plus each of the crystals was a life force all on their own. The ones in my palace I could easily use to defend and attack with because that is what I designed them for. They should have easily overpowered the dark wizard. However, he had twisted his crystal making it stronger, harder to overcome. Nor could I regain the one by summoning it with the seven. Normally this could be done, but the dark wizard had a great hold on it. Only by infiltrating and breaking down his defence, both physical and magical, could we get the crystal back. Someone had to actually physically go and remove it from his fortress. That someone would have to be the wandering swordsman if we were to have any chance of succeeding.

      Fierce was the battle between the two of us. No other battle could be compared. We could not gain an advantage over the dark wizard nor him us. My wizard and magician tried everything they could think of to turn the tide, but to no avail. Our resources were nearly spent.   

      Up to this point both the dark wizard and I had been conducting our assaults from the protection of our fortified palaces. It was clear that this would not ensure one a victory over the other. Only a direct attack and breakdown to the others stronghold would suffice. But in order to do that one would have to leave their stronghold and therefore the area that the crystals were able to easily protect. That area could be expanded, but at a cost; it would weaken its powers and ability to protect and repel spells and the power of the enemy’s crystal(s).

      Both I and the dark wizard knew this and would not risk it, could not. Extending the crystals reach was something that I would not do.

      That left me with no other choice then to launch an attack on the dark wizard out of the safety of my palace. We had not used the wandering swordsman yet and now we had to see if the sword and he could truly do what was needed.

      He along with the magician and two of my best soldiers were selected. I could spear no more men. Plus a small assault team would probably have better success compared to one of a greater size. They would be able to move swiftly with very little hindrances.

      As night fell, three and a half weeks after this great war began, the four slipped silently out the back gate. Stealth was what we would rely mainly on. The element of surprise would hopefully catch the dark wizard off guard.

      Halfway to his fortress though they were discovered! It appeared that I had been wrong about the dark wizard not extending the crystals reach of protection.

      The four I sent came upon an invisible wall that they could not pass through. Only seconds after coming upon it, they watched as this transparent wall, currently visible, quickly reduced back to its normal defensive size. The dark wizard had used the crystal’s shielding powers as a warning system.

      Our plan was ruined! The wizard had tricked us. Using his own magic he blocked off any escape for my men, he virtually had the sword in his possession. My men had no choice; they were forced to go on with their task. A task that would, more than likely bring an end to their lives, and the lives of everyone in my castle, if they failed.      

      As they drew closer to the fortress the dark wizard attacked them with his crystal. Death would come quickly now as the deadly curse hurled towards my soldiers.

      Without any hesitation the swordsman brought up the crystal sword and stepped into the midst of the curse, blocking the attack. He was able to not only shield himself but also the three with him. No harm came to them. This enraged the dark wizard beyond anything that ever had as his curse died away. He had hoped the sword was only a myth; however it was proving to be otherwise.

      He had ended up searching for the sword because if it did indeed turned out to be real it would greatly increase his powers. If it had ended up being just another sword he would have lost nothing save a little time and would have gained greater reassurances that our defeat would be swift and sure. But if we found the sword and it did have powers, as was rumoured, it would be a tremendous blow to him...

      The sword for the moment was working as it had been made and intended to. Everyone in my palace held their breaths as we watched the battle unfold. We dared not hope.

      Calling forth as much of his power and the crystal’s as he could, the dark wizard attacked again, sending the magic before him directly down to my men. This black magic took the form of a terrible, dark cloud, thicker than any naturally made one and much more deadly. It consumed everything in its path, leaving the land barren. Strange, terrifying noises were coming out of the cloud as well. Sounds that sent horrifying images swimming in anyone’s head that heard them as they penetrated ones ears. And they were reaching easily all the way to my palace. 

      How my men were to withstand this even with the crystal sword, I did not know. It seemed like so much power that would cripple anything. The crystal swords abilities after all had never been tested in any way, let alone against such power and evil; an evil that was going beyond maddens.

      Lifting the sword above his head the swordsman did not give it a second thought as he swung it down into the cloud just as it reached him. With a great shudder it stopped and could go no further. The wandering swordsman brought the sword down a second time - it was glowing brightly in his hands. The cloud shuddered again and this time a crack appeared. Spreading out, like wild lightning across the night’s sky, it grew to a considerable size, branching off.  

      Again and again the sword steadily fell and with each blow the fortress of the dark wizard shook violently. The cloud could gain no advantage even though the dark wizard was doing all he could to overpower the sword. In fact the cloud was slowly diminishing. One of these blows rocked the wizard’s fortress so much that the front gate gave way and crumbled uselessly to the ground.

      Raising the crystal sword one last time the swordsman buried it deep into the cloud which was, at this moment, no more than a very thick mist. The lightning cracks by this time nearly covered the entire surface of the cloud, their brightness unrelenting, growing stronger. 

      Light erupted from the sword anew and went all throughout the mist with this final blow. It sped towards the dark wizard’s fortress, slamming into it. A combination of the swords power and the shock wave of the dark wizards cloud exploding, under the force of the sword, were so strong that they turned his fortress to rubble. The dark wizard and his followers were crushed to death in its wake; swift and sure was their end. And on top of what remained of them and their fortress rested the one crystal!

      Slowly, very cautiously, my four men moved towards the runes, my magician checking with his magic to ensure their safety. Climbing to the top of the rubble the swordsman gently picked up the crystal. They all walked back to my palace somewhat in awe at what had just happened.

      Once in the palace the swordsman came up to me and gave the sword and crystal back to me, safe in my possession at last. Again I put them securely away where none could find them, not even the wizard, magician or my most trusted friend. Of course that could not have been done without the seven other crystals...

      My people and I celebrated our good fortune long into the night, grateful for our victory, to be alive and safe once more. The party was one to remember beyond all others. My palace had been returned to its original location with the return of the sword and final crystal.

      Needing a few moments of quite time alone to myself, after everything I and my people had been through, I went for a walk along the front wall of my palace. I was going to return to the festivities when something caught my eye. The movement caused me to stop, everyone was at the party enjoying the celebrations, or so I had thought.

      Slipping silently out the front gate, away from the celebrations and off into the darkness of early morning was the swordsman. He was leaving; leaving just as he had come, quietly and mysteriously. We still knew little about him even after having him around for a while and under such circumstances. All we knew was we were indebted to him for what he’d done by saving all our lives. He had done so much, more than he probably knew - then again maybe not.

      There was something I did see in him though – me.

      Another thing was for sure, balance had finally been restored!

 

Untouchable Unreachable

 

      Behind high fenced in walls is where I live, it is where I feel safe; untouchable. In a fortress built entirely of solid stone, where the walls tower over anyone below, is where I reside. I’ve forged myself directly into this fortress where I am unreachable.

      A wide mote separates me and my fortress from the mainland. Backing and wrapping around the sides of my fortress are impassable mountains, a natural, strong and safe defence like the mote.

      In that mote there resides dozens of alligators, crocodiles and sharks, all hungrily awaiting their next meal. They feed off each other when none comes or on weary animals when they unknowingly venture too near. But their favourite food is trespassers!

      Only one way, a draw bridge, allows access to my fortress over the mote. A wise person would do well to remember that the animals in the mote have a tendency to jump up and out, onto the bridge if one ventures too close to its edge. We keep them hungry for a very good reason!

      The bridge ends on a small piece of land where, at the most, several dozen men can stand at once before my fortress. There is barely enough room to fight and definitely not a spot you want to be trying to protect yourself on with no cover available.

      A large gate opens outward onto this bit of land. It is made of thick, solid oak and mahogany, bound tightly together with heavy iron hardware. A lock system that goes throughout the entire door and the surrounding wall it is set in holds the gate firmly shut. This is just the first man made obstacle for any trying to enter my dominion, once across the bridge. If you do manage a breach, you enter a short, tall hallway like entrance that ends with a portcullis - drop gate. Just behind that another thick, strongly built gate, exactly like the first, awaits. Then you enter my fortress; my world!    

      However, before anyone can gain access to the first gate or even cross the bridge for that matter, they have to get past the watch. One thousand men strong, it guards against any attack night and day. All the soldiers in my army are highly trained and can wield any weapon, sword, spear, bow and arrow, even axes, with deadly skill and accuracy.

      As soon as the watch is under siege they summon reinforcements. A thousand swords men, a thousand spear men, a thousand archers and one thousand cavalry; four thousand strong, five counting the watch. I should note that the men in the watch are the elite of all my men, hand-picked and trained by me personally and therefore are not easily defeated or scared. None of my soldiers are.

      And if, just if, these five thousand soldiers feel like the army laying siege to my grand fortress might be too much, they still have one more thing to call to their aid - me!

      Anybody attacking my dominion has great reason to worry if they see me along the walls amongst my soldiers. The mote and its guards, the man made defences, even all my soldiers are nothing compared to my wrath. Very little can get past all these defences and touch me. When the strength of my men and my fortress gets challenged watch out, for I am the one to truly fear!

      In my anger I am unstoppable. As the leader and owner of the fortress I have powers; magic. If anyone enrages me I use that magic against them relentlessly. It is more deadly than anything you could ever imagine. I will cast cures, spells, hexes, and enchantments down on those who seek to touch and destroy me. In a blink of an eye or the wave of my hand people can die. They can simply cease to exist altogether.

      I can control nature; the plants, even the animals. The weather obeys my ever command, creating storms of unimaginable proportion and destruction. The earth shakes, moves and heaves up beyond its original shape and boundaries. All this and much, much more, can come to pass with just one simple word or thought. I can also magical heal my injured soldiers in no time and create shielding charms to protect my entire fortress and all those within.

      Anybody who comes up against me, my fortress and its guards better be afraid. They would be wiser to turn around and never return. Better not to come at all if they value their life. But where’s the fun for me in that!

      I give one more bit of advice; a word of caution to all those who are not friends but would be foes. If you find my bridge down and the gates open and you venture in, you are taking chances - you just might not come out again.

     And for all those that are foolish enough to think to try their strength against mine, I say go ahead, see if you can. Try to break down all my defences. Try to gain access to my fortress. I only ask one thing, remember - simply remember - I am untouchable and unreachable!

 

 

Compass

 

      In a small village that keeps mostly to themselves is where I grew up. We did things differently and the other nearby villages looked down upon us because of this. The peaceful, quiet and helpful people that my village is quickly became known as a place that most would go out of their way to avoid. We were a strange people, not to be fully trusted because we keep mostly to ourselves and ways. Don’t get me wrong it was nice growing up there; it is a good place for the most part. We would do anything for anyone; take people in no matter who they are. The people from my village are not very judgemental. But we still aren’t like everyone else. And even my village had its limits of what it will accept...      

      Pain, anguish, sorrow; this is what I felt as a child and what I continue to feel as an adult. Growing up in this village I and everyone else living here were (are) always segregated; not accepted by others who aren’t like us. I was isolated because of this way I was raised. Anytime I left my village I was bullied because of where I came from. Most of the people from my village rarely leave because of this, but I knew that I did not want to remain in the village forever. It did not matter how nice it could be here or how cruel the outside world was, I wanted to leave one day. I wanted something more.

      Often, when I was younger, I would dream of what it was like outside the village. I envisioned a better world than the one I came to know when I did finally leave.

      To add to my problems the fact was then, and still is now, that I am different, even within my own village. I have never felt like I have been fully accepted. It’s sad really – that people can’t seem to accept others differences and value them or to at the very least not judge people because of them. Everyone is not supposed to be the same. The world would not grow and everything would be boring if this were the case. We should simply learn to all get along. After all each of us is lost in one form or another and trying to find our own way.

      All of my difficulties can be traced back to one thing through my entire life. You see I have magic; it is a part of me, I was born with it. Over the years with what I went through as I grew up I learnt to develop my magic, honing its skills, making it as strong and powerful as I possibly could. At the same time I learnt that not everyone likes or even trusts magic, even amongst the people that I was raised around. People are extremely afraid of magic and most especially of the person who has it. My magic is what makes me different.

      My parents tried to help me fit into the village when I was younger, but it did not work out, my fellow villagers never really trusted me. I really didn’t want to do what my parents made me do, but I had little choice back then as their child. Their attempts to help me out further made me isolated amongst my own people I felt. I wish that they had of realized this when I was growing up, seen that I wanted to do things differently. They were forcing me to do stuff I did not like to do at all.

      I often ask myself why. Why was I born this way, with magic, different? It’s a question that I don’t have any answers for. And I am not sure that I ever will. Maybe I have magic so I can understand things from a different point of view and to be able to help others out with it, others like me, to help bring peace to a divided world.

      It hurts being one thing, one way and at the same time feeling that you should be different; just like everyone else. Am I the only one in the world who feels this way? Maybe I am just destined to be alone.      

      I don’t expect people to understand me, the way I am. I just hope that they can accept me for who I am. For that is what I try to do, not judge others because of their differences. After all I know what it feels like to be all alone and different. There are very few others who have magic or that even see it the way I do. The people that I have encountered who have magic aren’t like me either though. These individuals use their magic in a way that I never could.

      As I got older I became further separated when events unfolded differently than I planned with my magic - people’s mistrust of it. The people in my village tried to hide this when I was younger, but as I grew I noticed that they were uneasy around me. They tried to act like everything was fine, that I was just like everybody else, yet I knew better. As a young child I thought that having magic was normal and common, but I quickly learnt that it was not. However, I saw then, and see now, my magic as a good thing for the most part, if I use it properly and wisely that is.  

      Outside of my village this uneasiness in others is far worse. On the few occasions when I did leave my village as a child I was not welcomed at all once people discovered that I possessed magic. The other villages could tolerate the people from my village for a time, but magic, this was where they drew the line. The people from the other villages hated me. As a child I did not fully understand this, even now I still don’t.

      The societies of the other villages did not and still do not really support the way I was raised – it simply is not the most popular choice. So what? It really shouldn’t matter.

      The way I was raised and the way society looks at things don't get the way I am now. I don't know how to deal with the situation that I now find myself in, twice over segregated. Lost and alone, searching, I need just one person to help me along my way. A person to make me smile and laugh; someone I can talk to about anything, anytime, without fear of judgement; someone who will not fear my magic. I need a person who will stand by me no matter what, to be there always for me and I for them. Somebody that will understand me and that I understand in return.

      There is a catch there though – I have trust issues. Those I thought were my friends from my village ended up turning on me; they ended up becoming my enemies while we all still lived in the village. I have never had a best friend because of my magic. Within my very own village I was an outsider. To top that off, people seem to go more than they come into my life. Near any time I would get something or someone they would (and still do) get ripped away from me in one form or another.

      So, when I was old enough, I left my village because I no longer felt welcomed. All those years ago I created a fortress for myself making myself virtually untouchable and unreachable through the process. At the same time I began to transform myself even further with my magic. I could not get rid of it, nor did I want to, therefore the only other thing I could do was embrace it. To keep myself safe was why I did this. I had nowhere to go; creating my own safe haven was my only option. There are some aspects of my life back at the village that I miss to this day and liked. On the other hand others I hate and still don’t understand at all.   

      I surrounded myself with armour and magical protections that I hold strong to, to this very day. Eventually I even got well trained soldiers that guard my fortress loyally day and night. They help to keep me safe from the outside world. I take care of them and they take care of me. But my soldiers do not count as the friend that I need, they follow my orders because that is what they are there for. A friend is there because they want to be and feel that they are needed, and wanted in return.

      Nobody should ever be alone no matter what! Whatever makes people different, magic or something else, should not warrant being alone. Everyone should have at least one good friend that they can always rely on. The problem with me is that I don’t feel like I really fit in anywhere and the truth is I don’t know how to. I don’t know whom I can trust, even amongst my own family sometimes. I want to cry because of the pain that I feel due to being totally alone, but can't. This type of pain that I am having is one of the worst things that I have ever felt. I desperately want to fit in somewhere, to feel normal, but the sad reality is that I will never be ‘normal’.

      I have for most of my life been singled out, and not always for the reasons I want to be and I’m tired of it. There are some times when being singled out is ok, that I like it, but for the most part I have been left standing alone for reasons that I don’t want to be. I want to be proud when I am out there by myself, not feeling that I am being picked on, made fun of, or bullied. I want to stand out, not stick out. I want to develop into someone that I can be proud of.

      I am use to being different and alone because of my magic, but that does not mean that I fully like it. Or that the pain and hurt I feel get easier over time; a lot of the time it is the opposite in fact, they get worse. Also I am fed up with having to put on a front - acts - in order to please others. I want to be me not somebody else, to say and do what I want to, and without any kind of backlash.

      It’s said that what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. But what about the things that slowly kill you each day? Do they make you stronger or are they just making you die slowly, painfully, one little piece at a time? I doubt it that anyone has really thought of it this way; that anybody realizes that both statements are equally true... I know that I do.

      People don’t get what I am going through, they don’t understand my struggles. Because of being judged I do not tell people about my magic - if they don’t know about it. When wandering to other villages and lands I now try to keep my identity hidden so I can have even one day, one small moment, of normality to myself without any fear or ridicule.

      My world seems to be constantly falling apart. Every time I pick up the pieces and begin to put them back together again something else comes along to turn my world upside-down, shattering my life. Some things are easier to handle than others but I would like to have my world not in pieces all the time. I constantly have to fight for the things I want and that others take for granted. I am running out of the fight in me, but fight I must if I ever want to get more out of life and have the things that I desire.

      Because of what I have gone through in my past I am not an easy person to get close to. This is something I dearly want to change. Don’t get me wrong, I am a friendly, likeable person, it’s just I am stuck between two worlds and don’t know who I can rely on to be there for me. To make matters worse my already low trust gets shaken when I open up to others and I get hurt. At these times I withdraw into myself as a defence to keep safe. I go to my fortress and lock it down tight when I am really shaken and I remain there for as long as I see fit, shutting the outside world and everything in it away.   

      Those who hurt me I want to make them pay for what they have done! I want them to feel the pain that they have caused me. With the full fury of my magic and a rage that cannot be quenched I want to make them suffer just like they made me. I will use all of my powers in order for the people who have wronged me to know exactly how I feel! I want to destroy them. Yes, I realise that this is probably not the best answer to my situation, but it sure would make me feel good. 

      If ever I get or feel threatened, within or without my fortress, I can and will strike with deadly force in order to keep myself safe and avoid any kind of pain. My magic is extremely powerful but within my fortress is where my powers are at their strongest. Mark my words though, even away from my safe haven you do not want to cross me! I will only take so much before I will use my magic to defend myself and those in need, especially those like me. Yet a big question remains; are my fortress and all my protections and defences that I have built up a strength or a weakness?    

      I had to learn to protect myself quickly and basically be totally independent once I realized that the people from the other villages did not like my village. Everyone in my village was like this; we only really relied on each other. The looking after and taking care of myself speed up further once I found out that my own village was leery of me and my magic.

      I also learnt through time to do things by myself in order to get them done right. Other people simply cannot seem to get things done correctly, they don’t meet my standards. Therefore I would rather do everything myself than to have someone else do it wrong and then I have to come along and redo it. Why can’t people get it right the first time? It is so frustrating that I can only seem to rely on myself.

      This is one of the reasons why I turned to others ways, magic and imagination as I began reinventing myself. Magic could do what I wanted and quite efficiently too. Soon my former life began to fade as my magic grew and I changed, becoming strong. In the beginning it was just me as I struggled to learn my new roles and to stay safe, unhurt. Wondering through the lands I grew stronger each day. Then came my fortress, once my magic had grown powerful enough. With my magic I built it, a near impenetrable stronghold, where little can touch me and those within. Soon I filled my fortress with the best soldiers that I could find.

      Together my soldiers and I are next to no match for anyone threatening us. Yes, now I am not totally independent. I have and rely on my soldiers guarding me, but they know that if they incur my wrath they will be – eliminated – just like anyone else who crosses me. Besides I hand-picked them and know that not one of them will turn on me. After all they are like me, feeling unwanted and needing a purpose in life. Anyway, I don’t have to rely on my men solely, my magic alone is far more powerful and potent than anything they can all do when I get backed into a corner and am threatened.

      I am my own master! I go where I want, do what I chose, all when I want to. I decide what I do no one else! Nothing, no one, will touch or even get close me unless I allow it.

      Even with all these defences and magic at my disposal any time I open myself up I get hurt. I have yet to find that one person that I can trust anything with. I’m lost but trying to find my way. In order to keep myself safe at these times I shut myself up even tighter than when I tried to reach out and speak my mind, to connect to someone. The reason I do this is so that I may avoid further pain. My defences go up and I don’t care if people get hurt by them in the process, even the ones closes to me, if it can spare me pain in the end. My magic has sharp teeth, I like it that way. I know that it will help keep me safe when I need it. In the end all that matters is that I am kept somewhat safe and secure, at near any cost.

      The people closes to me I get annoyed by. Just like my former friends they feel more distant than actually close. They are like a threat that if I am not careful will ensnare me. My parents try to help me and it ends up irritating me more than anything. They don’t understand me either. Just like everyone else they misunderstand magic. They say that they want to help and that I should talk, but my parents don’t want to hear what I have to say. In the past they have told me that I can always talk to them, yet I don’t feel that I could on this one matter. My magic makes me different and they don’t understand it.

      I feel that my parents won’t be able to handle what I have to say. Neither will the rest of my family fully get it and be supportive. My parents feel that I should be like them, that what I chose is destroying myself. I am walking a dangerous path with magic is how they see things. They are there for me, yet they are not. In their eyes their way of life is the only way, choosing any other path is only going to lead to trouble and disaster, they don’t see my magic as I do. They want me to return to the village and live with them once more; I don’t know if I want to though. We have grown apart I feel.

      I feel like such a disappointment to my parents because I’m not doing what they want. When they are around it’s like I can't have anything to myself; nothing is just mine, not even time.

      All of this only further separates me, making me feel even more different than before. As a result I search even harder and further for new forms of magic and ways to protect myself; now from those that are closes to me in addition to the rest of the world around me.   

      It does not help that whenever I visit my parents and try to talk to them my foot always seems to go into my mouth with harmless statements; at least that is how I see it. Before I know it we are fighting as what I have said gets blow out of proportion. They don’t except me saying ‘It does not matter’ when they see that I am upset and they ask what is bothering me. I know how things will turn out. They do not like it when I go off back to my fortress and basically cut myself off from the rest of the world.

      At these points I just want to be left alone. I hate being around my parents all the time, but they are basically the only people that I have that I can go to. I want to be free, away from them, yet I still have obligations that I have to them that I cannot ignore. I would rather be alone than with them, or around anybody else for that matter. I get annoyed around my parents easily sometimes. We end up fighting because we don’t see eye to eye. Why can't people understand me even in the smallest of ways? Why?

      I am not my parents little child any more. I am an adult wanting to be free and have my own life, but sometimes it feels like I’m not allowed to do what I want, even when I tell my parents what I want! I am sick of people telling me what to do. A lot of times they feel like a weight that is holding me down from moving forward with my life even though I no longer live in the village. I don’t know how much they realize this, that I need to do what I want to and not what they want. I have to make my mistakes and learn from them. My parents can tick me off so badly some days! Yet on the other hand they are there for me if I need them.

      Everyone in my family knows what it is like to have someone; except me. I am the only one who is single – alone with no one to truly be able to talk to that will get me. They don’t know how to compare to me, or I to them, the way I would like. There is a great divide here, being alone and unattached to one’s family in this way. The heartache that this brings is near too much to handle. The solitude that I get is nice, but...

      I cannot even classify my soldiers in a group of understanding me fully. Yes, they are like me, looking for a purpose in life, however, they are there to do what I say, to follow my orders. My own family can’t truly understand me, neither will they like my chose if I decide on my way of life instead of theirs. My magic is a part of me and my family and others need to somehow learn that.

      No matter which lifestyle I chose I will always be judged and isolated and I am tired of this. It seems like I will never fully feel like I belong. There will always be a divide and conflict within me that I don’t know if I will find an answer or solution for. I will probable always feel detached from everyone else in the world. I certainly hope not though.

      A battle is being waged inside of me and I don’t know which side will win. Or will the battle consume me till there is nothing left of me? Will I simply cease to be?

     I’m told that I always have the choice of what I do, but on this matter do I? I feel that I don’t. If I go one way I have to put on an act, make others happy when I don’t think I will be. I could have to lie for the rest of my life to ‘save’ myself. Where if I chose the other path I will be true to myself (at least I think I would be) but may get ‘lost’. I could end up losing the people closest to me because they do not agree with what I do. One day I will somehow figure it out - I hope. In the end I’m just trying to find inner peace.

      I am stuck with an un-climbable mountain to my back. Rapping around me its gorge keeps me from running away as a huge boulder bears down on me. It scrapes the sides of the gorge, breaking off large chunks of rock, just fitting. I have no escape, my magic cannot help me. It will not destroy or even stop the boulder. My magic won’t allow me to burrow into the side of the mountain, making an escape tunnel. I can't even use my magic to help me climb or to transport myself to safety; I am trapped! I feel so utterly helpless...

      I hate how some of the things have turned out in my life. I am stuck - torn between - two totally different worlds and don’t know what to do. I feel like I do not truly belong in either. My former life and the way I live now I get judged for and I’m tired of it! They are both minorities, not highly thought of. I don’t know what to do, where to turn. I am so confused! And the worst part is that I can't talk it out fully with anyone because I don’t have someone to talk to. Even if I did I don’t know who to trust. I would like somebody close to my age that I can talk with, who can help me out and be there for me. Yet at the same time I don’t feel that I can be friends with anybody. Peoples views of magic have gotten me worried that I might accidently hurt someone with it who tries to get close to me. Also fear of what people will think, say and do hold me back from opening up. Fear is so powerful!  

      I simply want to be free; from pain and suffering, free even from myself who some days can be my own worst enemy. I have to be not so hard on myself though because it does not help when I beat myself up over things that I do, especially when they are out of my control. I need to not over think things either and to be more patient. I’m not perfect; no one is.

      Betrayal and broken promises are basically all I know; being totally alone with no one but myself to count on. It’s a lonely life this way, but circumstances that were out of my control made it that way. I wish deeply that things will change and soon.

      I do know that I am scared, really scared; alone and lost. I desperately try to figure things out, but the harder I try the more confused and lost I get. I write my feelings down to get them out of my head, to help elevate some of what I am going through and to figure things out. It does not work as much as I would like, but it does enough to help me move on just a little.

      I’m not sure what life to choose. My former, quiet village one I have trouble believing in, but that was how I was raised. Meanwhile, my new one I have not fully explored for it kind of scares me. A combination of both these two worlds is more than likely how my life is going to be.

      I am sick to my stomach with all that is swimming around in my head some days. I am stuck and want to get unstuck. I simply want to find where I belong, where I will fit in with others and be accepted for me, to not be ashamed of who I am. I am angry and frustrated a lot and I hate it. I want things to change.    

      It feels like everyone is normal except for me. I am different. I feel unwanted. I don't know what to do; don't know where to turn. I have been let down too many times to know what to do. I tried to hold to the way I was raised, but that did me little good; when I needed help the most it let me down. That was why I reinvented myself and followed my magic, hoping to find peace at last, others like me and something to believe in. But I did not go all the way I could with my transformation...

      There is one more step that I could take to further shed my former life, but I don’t know if I want to. It is a part of me that I am afraid to fully face, that I can admit to myself if to nobody else. If I go that far I don’t know exactly how I will turn out. Will I be able to live with myself if things don’t unfold the way I hoped or will it finally set me free? Will I be able to step back into my old life if things don’t turn out the way I plan?

     This way of life has done me some good, I feel a little free. But all the magic, books and scrolls with their spells and enchantments, my new way of living still does not appear to have fixed all my problems either. Maybe I have misjudged the way I was raised and the people in my village, who knows.  

      I often find myself running to, just as much as I run from, my problems and I don’t know why. Why do certain things hold us captive, even when we don’t want them to, when we would rather be free? Having said that I have to learn to grow from and work with my shortcomings, weaknesses and down falls. They are only a small part of who I am. There is more, much more, to me than my problems, they don’t define me as a person. I have much more to me than simply them, everyone does.    

      As strong as I have made myself and appear to others, that I am near impossible to defeat or get close to, I still have weakness. A big one in fact. Inside me is rage and envy that borders on jealousy whenever I see things that remind me just how different and alone I am. I notice them whether I stay in my fortress looking out on the different lands and villages with my magic or if I decide to venture out and wonder around alone. Either way the pain is still the same. My rage feels like a hurricane inside of me. Nothing appears to be able to calm it even for the smallest of moments or in the slightest way. All I want and hope for is a measure of peace. Loneliness, emptiness fills me, they feel like they cannot and will not be filled.

      I feel trapped within my way of life, I always have, and every time I try to break free, or think about taking that last transformation step, the walls close in on me. The chains holding me get stronger; the cage I have inadvertently made for myself makes itself even tighter. I just want to push back exploding my prison with all the force and power in the world. However, my own magic is useless against my greatest yet most dangerous creation so far – my own isolation. A true friend is the only one who can help set me free.

      I want – need – someone to talk to that will understand me. My walls and defences are up, but I want to tear them down, let them fall away and let someone in. It would seem that my reinventing myself has ended up doing just as much harm to me as it has good. In order to keep myself safe and unhurt I may have ended up doing more damage than anything – how ironic.

      The only way to break this is to let one person in. I want this so badly, yet cannot seem to let it happen no matter how hard I try as I stand on top of my fortress walls, locked tightly away, the wind swirling around me, my only companion, save for the soldiers guarding me. I desperately want to reach out, yet there is something very strong holding me back that I do not understand and I don’t know how to counteract it, with or without my magic. It feels like I’m spinning in circles, out of control. Sometimes I struggle to sleep at nights because of all that I am going through. 

      There is one place though where I get some measure of peace, in nature. I have, in a very large courtyard within my fortress, a vast and elegant garden which I tend to using both my magic and my hands to help it grow and thrive. Animals come and visit here. It is a safe haven for them, just as much as it is for me, from the cruelties of the world. When I am in my garden all my worries and problems fade away, I can forget everything that bothers me and for a time I am normal and at peace. With my talents here I can connect to the outside world without any judgement on my character. Here I am safe.     

      On the other hand hope fades and it feels like a little piece of me dies whenever I’m reminded of the ways I am different – having no friends, being segregated, not living up to my parents expectations and so on. There are times when I feel that I am missing out on things being stuck in between two totally different worlds and I wonder if I should go back to the way I was raised. However, I simply cannot ignore the way I am now and what I feel, that where I am is somehow the way I always have been and will always be. Even if all it is, is simply a small part of my life, for that is all it has to be, it does not have to control or define me.

      I cannot simply forget all I have done and learnt; the years spent finding new forms of magic, spells and enchantments to help me out. I have made myself a lone wonderer and now I have to decide how far I will go. Time and experiences have changed me and made me who I am today. Isolated, I don't know what I should do as I try to find my way. All my learning appears to be for not. However, I have to take those experiences and grow from them.

      Everything that I have gone through thus far in my life adds fuel to the already intense, blazing fire inside of me. People telling me what I can and can’t do, people pushing me around and not believing in me, makes me push harder to learn new spells and enchantments. It makes me want to prove everybody wrong. I find better weapons and armour and learn new ways to make them stronger. I increase my defences as well as train my men harder.

      Despite the odds against me, both the ones society creates and the ones that I have built up myself, deep within me I feel that somehow there is still hope. I want to reach out, yet I feel untouchable, unreachable, like no one understands me or that anyone ever will. I just need a compass – a friend – to help point me in the right direction or to just be there to help me along the way. Simply the thought of one day actually finding that one friend gives me hope. It gives me something to believe in when it feels like all else is for not.

      There are so many questions in my head, I will simply have to do what I feel is best. Maybe I should just follow my heart and forget what others might think or say, no matter how close to me they may be or if it will hurt and upset them. Once I figure out what my heart wants that is. It may take me some time and I will more than likely get hurt and stumble along the way but that is just a part of living. I should do what makes me happy, for not making a decision is tearing me apart as surly as finally deciding where I will go might. I just want the courage to make a choice.

      No matter which way I go I don’t feel that I am winning. I hate not knowing what to do; I hate feeling lost and not in control. Perhaps choosing neither way is my winning. I am a good person and in the end that should be all that matters.

      Will somebody – anybody - ever understand me? Will I ever find my compass, the direction that I should go? Will I ever be able to find a friend? Some day – some day. That’s a promise.

      If I want anything I have to seize it, go for it and not wait around. Things won’t simply come to me if I stand by idly. I have got to take action! I want more out of life than what I am getting and I am going to have to take control if I want to move on with my life. One day, with time, patience and determination that does not drain me, I will get my wishes.

      When the time is right things will happen. Life will work itself out. I just have to keep trying at a steady pace, not full steam ahead, in order to not burn out and be disappointed and get hurt, especially to the point where I withdraw into myself and become secluded again, or even more than before. Doing this is only going to drive people away from me instead of getting friends. Getting a friend will happen when it does. Even though I have always wanted this so badly and really want it now, when the time is right a true friend will come. I do need to keep my guard up, but not as much as I have in the past. At the same time I need not open up so easily and set myself up to be disappointed. I need to move forward with caution.

      Even though I may feel like a complete fool for things I have done in the past I have to learn from my mistakes and move forward. I have to pick myself up off the ground, gather my shattered life up once more and move on - for me!

      Recently I have been slowly learning that getting hurt and stumbling, making mistakes, are all a part of living, everyone goes through these things, whether we like it or not. I have also learnt that I don’t have to do things all by myself, I can, and should, rely on others and not just myself and my magic. Even when the pain I feel when I open up and get hurt seems worse than being alone with no friends, having nothing to do and basically nowhere to go. This does not have to be blindly or with total trust. I still have to judge how far someone will be there for me, especially where magic is concerned.

      Things, even other people, all of the experiences that I go through don’t define me as a whole. I get to choose who I am, what I want to be, where I want to go and how much things will influence me. I am in control, even when I may not feel that I am, or that I don’t want to be. I have to face my problems and difficulties, my shortcomings, one at a time. And if I am lucky enough I will have a friend by my side to help me along the way.  

      I can open myself up. I need to let some of my defences drop away (magical, physical and mental), to live and have fun, to not care what others will think all of the time. I need to do what makes me happy; everyone does. I cannot let the past paralyze me, I have to move on for I can’t keep living my life the way I have been. I have to keep on fighting and push forward, learning from the things I have gone through and be myself.

      Now is my time to shine! It’s my time to fly and sore high.

      Everyone is not going to like what I do, or agree with it for that matter, and that is ok. And I am not going to agree with what others do either. I know this better than most because of my village’s separation from nearly everybody and further more through having magic. Being different is ok. We are all different and yet we are all the same and normal in our ever own ways.

      Everyone has their own lives and ways of doing things; that is simply how life works. We all go through hard times. Everyone has a bad day, we are all human. All of us just need to try to get along and work together, to meet in the middle and accept people for who they are. After all everyone in the world is searching for something. Everybody has their very own Compass that they are trying to find, and follow. Most importantly you have to be true to yourself.

      I did not ask for any of the things that I have gone through they just happened. That’s the way life seems to work. I am afraid to open up and get hurt but no more will I put my life on hold because of what others negativity think or say, or because of my insecurities. I’m ready to take on the world and fallow my dreams! Who will join me?

      There is one more question though that I have and to me it makes perfect sense. What if fairy-tales, stories and dreams are how life really is supposed to be and we have all simply stopped working for our happy endings, fallowing our dreams? What if life in fact is the fairy-tale; the complete opposite of what we all think it is? I’m not going to stop dreaming and believing that there is something better out there for me. I am not going to settle for the status quo.  

      It’s time that I use my magic and originality to get what and where I want to be. No matter how hopeless things might seem I just have to remember that something really special waits for me. Someone close to me told me that because of all I have gone through, because of my struggling, something, someone important, that is worth my time and effort is waiting – for me. When that time comes I will finally feel safe, happy and secure. I will finally have let my magic find My Compass and no longer will I be alone or afraid.

 

Wizard’s Staff

 

      The castle came under siege around midnight. No one had seen it coming. The gigantic army melted out of the darkness and the trees of the nearby forest. Thousands strong they came, wave after wave. They overtook the watch, seizing control of the gate, before the alarm could even be raised. The watch had been alert and sufficient, yet not for an army of this size and skill. It was after all a time of peace not war. If it had been a time of war the guard would have been doubled and not easily over run. 

      Many men tried to stop the invaders, but they were unorganized. Scattered throughout the castle they had been only able to gather in small groups in these attempts. Plenty of soldiers were available, but most had been asleep in the castles various rooms. Every man would have stood and fought in the defence of their home if they had been given the chance; most were not.  

      Gaining control of the court yard there was no way the invading army was now going to be stopped. All that was left was to try to escape. That too though was near impossible. Round the entire perimeter of the castle parts of the enemy’s army lay in wait for anyone attempting to flee. The King was captured almost immediately. Even with the protection of his personal guards he could not get away. Nothing could be done to stop this or to even rescue him. Everyone was a target for the attackers; all those loyal to the King.

      The wizard to the King, along with the magician of the court, were together able to evade the soldiers searching for them, but not for long. They knew the castle better than anyone, except the King, yet there had been simply too many soldiers of the invading army to avoid forever.  

      Finally they were seen. Naturally the wizard and magician fought back, but it was no use. Being greatly outnumbered they could not handle the large group of soldiers that found them, even with their magic.

      The wizard was captured and the magician was able to hide during the remainder of the siege. Thanks to the wizard that is. You see a wizard’s magic is far more powerful than any magicians. A magician’s magic consists mainly of tricks and miner spells and enchantments. These are effective, however, against any wizard a magician would not be able to win in a battle of any kind.

      Anyway, the majority of the soldiers who found the duo converged on the wizard because they realized he was the bigger threat of the two. The wizard therefore was able to create a diversion which bought the magician the time he needed to disappear once more. Breaking free from his lone captor’s grasp he escaped. This time he went to ground.

      Taken to the dungeons, deep within the earth below the castle, the wizard was thrown into the very cell occupied by the King. Both the wizard and the King were glad to see each other, to know that the other was alright and safe, as much as the current situation would allow that is. Yet this was all the good fortune the King and his men had. The wizard’s staff had been taken from him, virtually stripping him of his powers. Any attempt to escape with magic was now lost. All they could do was wait. And hope that a miracle would happen; that the magician would be able to do something, anything, in order to come to their rescue.

      It was a while before the magician came out of hiding, four days to be exact. There was a network of secret tunnels and passageways under and throughout the castle which were extensive. Within this network resided many rooms that had been well supplied with provisions. Therefore it was easy for anyone, a large group in fact, to live in hiding for a long time. But doing so at this time was near pointless. The castle was in enemy hands - something needed to be done! The King and everyone else needed rescuing and the castle fully retaken.

      For those of you that are thinking, ‘Well, don’t these tunnels and passageways led to the dungeons? That would be logical and the easiest way to save the day,’ the answer is a simple one. If the tunnels did and an enemy prisoner found them that would lead to their escaping. Not to mention that that person would then know about the tunnels, where they were and where they went to. Thus for security reasons the tunnels stayed safely away from gaining access to the cells.  

      So the magician spent the four days coming up with a plan of action to mount a rescue of some sorts. He was one person, almost no match for the entire invading army that currently had full occupation of the castle. Having rounded everyone up, they were roaming freely.

      And with no cares in the world!

      That was the answer that the magician needed! By this time any search for him or anybody else on the Kings side would have surely ended. The invaders would think that everyone had been caught or the few that were missing had been lucky enough to slip past their perimeter guard. They would not be expecting someone to still be wandering unrestricted in the castle. They had known the magician had escaped the patrol party; however they thought that no one could survive in the tunnels for that long.

      Yes, that’s right, they knew about the tunnels, but not where they could be found or how to gain access to them. Or that there were many rooms with food and plenty of supplies stocked up. An assault from within was the best chance anybody had to retake the castle, if at all. 

      The time to act was now! Waiting any longer would accomplish nothing. Being just one man the magician was indeed at a great disadvantage. However, he would not be expected and he had his magic to aid him with the seemingly impossible task before him. It had done little to aid him last time, with the wizard’s help not to mention, but surprise and over confidence on the enemy’s part would be great tools to employ to gain an advantage. The magician planned to use all of these to their fullest potential.

      Slipping silently through the secret passageways and the heavily guarded upper halls, when it was necessary, the magician went to work. His first task was to figure out where the King and everyone else were being held. It was also vital that he knew what the invaders were planning.

      Finding out the first was the easier part; he simply used his magic and got in contact with the wizard. Yet not for long, neither of them knew if the invaders had anyone with magic amongst them that could sense their powers in use. Using magic for the time being would have to be kept to a minimum. Their powers could pinpoint their locations and any communications would easily be intercepted by anyone possessing magic, if they were keeping watch.

      As for finding out what was going on, there was no way to. Try as hard as he could the magician found out nothing, and in the brief contact with the wizard they concluded that more than likely no one but their enemy knew what they were up to. The King and his men truly were going blindly into the unknown.

      There was only one thing to do; the magician was going to have to free everyone. There was no other way.  Then - and only then - could their enemy be driven from the castle. But first the magician needed to even out the odds a little for a rescue to be attempted. He would need to find the wizard’s staff. With it he would be able to return it to the wizard and greatly improve their odds of success.

      Unable to stop being captured the wizard was now angry – furious - and wanted to vent on something, this made him very dangerous. He would be ready for the next fight, believe it. You do not want to mess with a wizard on a good day, when one’s mad you had better watch out.

      Knowing that he would only have one chance at this, the magician carefully prepared. If he ended up failing he would be captured or, more likely, killed. No other rescue attempts would be made; the kingdom would fall.

      Hunting for the staff took less time than expected. After all the enemy did not bother to hid it; a very stupid move on their part. Thinking it safe they placed it in the throne room, with not many guards. The magician easily overtook them. The staff was then safely in his possession with almost no trouble. Or so he thought.

      A large, heavily armed procession had been lying in wait for something just like this to happen. They filed into the room with the thudding of their boots and the clang of their weapons against their armour. Quickly looking around the magician realized that there were far too many of them for him to handle all by himself!

      Without thinking he used the staff clutched protectively in his hands, pressed close to his body. To his great astonishment the wizard’s staff responded with considerable ease as he held it before him. A shielding charm came up to ward off the arrows and spears that had been targeted at him. Every last one was sent hurling back at their owners. Many bore deep into some of the enemy soldiers, killing them. The remainder bounced harmlessly off the walls and floor. The soldiers scattered but they quickly regrouped, tightly circling the magician.   

      Now that he saw that the staff’s magic would respond to him, the magician did not hesitate. He quickly used his newfound power to gain an advantage over those still alive that presently opposed him. He sent some of the men flying into the walls so hard the impact rendered them unconscious and in the case of several shattering their bodies into lifelessness. Turning on others, he transformed them to stone columns of themselves. Plenty of men still remained in the room to deal with.

      The rest of the enemy soldiers dropped their weapons and tried to flee, but they found the door leading out to safety closed, firmly shut and locked. It was magically barred by the magician. They were trapped and could not stand against their adversary. It was their end! Using the staff again the magician found himself the only one alive in the room. All who had opposed him were out of the way. 

      Heading out of the room, off down the hall before more men arrived and discovered what had taken place, the magician gloried in his victory. He was alive and some of the enemy dead, more than he thought he could get rid of. And most importantly he had the staff. Once the wizard had it again they would be a match with their army against the invaders! Who did not have anyone with magic amongst them; if they did that person would have been with the staff, but none was. Their fortune was changing greatly! The magician thought with excitement.  

      Reaching the hall leading to the dungeons the magician used the staff to dispose of more of the enemy, down its entire length. The soldiers turned to ashes before they even knew he was there.

      Stealing noiselessly down the stairs and into the dungeons he met no resistance. Clearly the invaders did not expect to have a jail break attempt take place. More guards should have been patrolling the lower halls and passageways; they appeared to be truly overconfident.

      Only four soldiers guarded the cells. All were unconscious before they reached the cold, damp floor of the dungeons. None of the enemy’s soldiers, from the throne room all the way to the cells, had given off a warning cry. The rescue was going on as planned and undetected.   

      The King, wizard and everyone else were extremely happy to see the magician. Once freed from their imprisonment the magician handed over the staff to the wizard and the talk turned to how to retake the castle.

      Most of their army had been taken prisoner; therefore they remained a force to be reckoned with. Having all been housed together in the dungeons, the whole of the army was now in one place, at its full strength. It would have been wiser if their enemy had not placed them all in the dungeons. Yes, the cells were the best, securest place to hold prisoners. However, scattering the King’s army throughout the castles many rooms would have kept the impact of a break out in the cells at a minimum. Having sufficient guards would have helped out greatly too.

      Suiting up with weapons and armour from a nearby armoury in the secret tunnels, the Kings men prepared for a great battle. In no time they came up with a well-conceived plan. There were several advantages that the King and his subjects were able to put to use. The first was the wizard had his staff once more and would not easily be separated from it again. Second the entire army was together and unified, not scattered throughout the castle unprepared. That strength would be a tidal wave to their enemy. Plus all of the servants were willing to join in on the fight, to help out as much as they could without getting in the way. Lastly they knew the castle and all its secrets better than the enemy did. They could appear or disappear at will, be everywhere at once and yet nowhere at all. With the entire army being fully armed - this time - their enemy would suffer their full wrath and vengeance before the next night was through.

      Striking out fiercely they bombarded those unwanted guests that had taken over their home. The fighting was extremely brutal. Casualties mounted on both sides as the enemy was slowly driven back the way they had come. Both the wizard and the magician were unstoppable, till they reached the leader of the invaders in the main corridor. That is when the unthinkable happened. 

      Stepping forward to confront the leader and the men guarding him, the wizard prepared to use his full powers against them. But when the moment came he was unable to. Nothing happened! He could not figure it out. Then the only explanation flashed in his mind, he looked at the magician who simply stared back wondering what was wrong - why the wizard was hesitating. Wondering the same thing the King was not sure what to do, so everyone simply stood there, frozen in their defensive positions.

      However, there was no time to dwell on the matter; the wizard and everyone else were in trouble! Their enemy was taking advantage of the current stall in the King’s attacking and something needed to be done to prevent this from happening.

       It was the magician who saved them, surprising not only himself at the power he now wielded and the strength of it, but all in the room. None was more startled than the wizard, whose fears were practically confirmed.

      Expecting that his powers would go back to their normal abilities since he’d returned the staff to the wizard, the magician was completely baffled. His magic now had razor sharp teeth that he could put to great use.

      A hail storm of arrows was let loose from the enemy’s bows at the wizard and all those nearby. Halfway through their flight though the deadly missiles were turned to dust. The leader of the enemy and the men with him exploded into dust mere seconds after that and the retaking of the castle went on. None but the wizard and magician dwelt on what had just occurred - one in sheer horror, the other in a euphoria shock - as they continued to hammer the enemy. The King and his other men were just happy that they had been saved from the arrows.

      Coming and going at will and seemingly within seconds, the King and his men were like ghosts to their enemy. There was nothing the invaders could do to gain an advantage. It appeared to them that they could cause the King and his men no harm. In addition their leader was dead. No one had come forward to take over his role as commander of their forces, they were all disorganized.

      Nearly the entire army of the enemy was destroyed in the span of several hours from the beginning of the retaking. The remainder were driven out of the castle and pursued all the way to the borders of the land. Few had been able to escape. None were taken alive as prisoners!

      Back at the castle it was time for the wizard to turn his attention to his powers, and the magician’s mysterious new found abilities. He needed answers and he would get them! However, he was afraid that he already had them.

      And he did. It was as the wizard had feared; the magician had indeed used his staff. With that using the magician had permanently take on some of the staff’s powers unknowingly into himself, making his magic stronger. Meanwhile the wizard’s powers became less, thus minimizing the gap of magical abilities between the two of them. The magician was now one small step closer to being the wizards equal, but in a very twisted sort of way.

      If another wizard had used the staff this would not have occurred, all wizards being near equals in what they can do with magic. But a magician is below a wizard and cannot for they do not know how to. They cannot control the flow of power between a staff and themselves, therefore the powers leak into them.

      The wizard’s staff did this because it sensed that the magician was weak, magically, and needed to balance things out in order for him to use the staff properly. Any wizards’ staff would do this with any magician. Most magicians don’t even realize this change till much latter, if they do at all. More than not though it is when the wizard, who always will know almost immediately after contact with their staff, tells them. However, these kinds of occurrences are extremely rare. Most wizards never even let their staff out of their sight, if they have anything to say about it. 

      All this was a great tragedy to the wizard. He was no longer the same as he once had been. After that day he became change forever in a way he could not describe. He was grateful to be alive and thankful that the magician had freed the entire castle, and the kingdom, from a horrendous fate, but at a terrible price. There was no way that the wizard could ever regain those lost powers. They now reside permanently in the magician. And as bad as losing some powers is something much worse came out of it, out of the gaining of those powers.   

      You see with his new strength and abilities the magician change. He became an enemy to the King and especially to the wizard. The powers corrupted, transformed him. There was nothing the wizard or anyone could do in order to prevent this for coming to past. The only thing they could do was hope. Hope that if their new enemy ever came to do battle that the wizard would be able to stand against him and fight, and win.

      And hope that the magician did not get his hands on another staff for even a short while. If he did he would gain more powers and transform again. The wizard especially worried about the possibility of the magician gaining full, permanent, possession of a staff. The changes to him that would fallow, in either case, would be disastrous, of great proportion. The latter would be beyond anything that the wizard could not even hope to withstand. The magician’s razor sharp teethed magic would become honed even further. And he would still and always be unable to control any wizards’ staff no matter what.

Magician (lesser magic): Mainly tricks, miner spells and enchantments. A magician is good to have around in a fight though, to have on your side and not against. In their own way they are powerful beings and can be dangerous to cross. Magicians, however, cannot use wizards’ staffs in any way without unforeseen effects occurring that they cannot control. They don’t have an understanding of magic with staffs. Using a staff, without things going wrong, simply is not within their magical power range.

                  

Wizard (very powerful magic): Easily bests magicians. Uses a staff to cast incantations. They can use just their hands or words when using magic, however with a staff they are far more powerful and less likely to be overtaken, beaten.  A wizards’ staff helps them to channel their magic. Without a staff they basically become like a magician in what they can do. Any wizard can use another wizard’s staff - all wizards being close in magical skills - with no ill effects to anyone’s abilities or that of the staffs.

Fate

 

      Stirring silently in the east it came to life. Slowly, meticulously careful about each and every little detail, it took its time. Not wanting to rush things and make a mistake it would work for as long as was needed. If that took only a matter of hours, or many days, even several weeks, there was no difference. Time after all was of no concern to it – it had all the time in the world. What did truly matter though was that it completed the task that it had come into being for.

      - West -

      It would head west. That was the direction it must go in order for its task to be accomplished. But first it knew that it must prepare itself precisely with no deviations. If it did not it for sure would fail in its endeavour. And failure was not an option! Failure was not something it was us to. Its task would be fully completed!

      For that to happen though, it would need a plan. Not just any plan, it would have to be the best, the most cunning and precise plan possible.

      It had the perfect one pick out in no time.

      Layer by layer its form, and its plan, gradually took shape and grew. It was always moving one step closer to its finished state.

      It sensed all of these things as it waited for the moment when it could finally begin its much needed search.

      - Come –

      It wished that its prey was already there even though it was not quite ready for that. Patience was deeply rooted within it, yet its thoughts were focused on why it was there. Those thoughts would drive it till the very end.  

      Once ready it moved out leaving behind, on the land, clear evidence of what it had set out to do...  

      It did not move quickly. A steady pace, yet not in haste, was set. Soon enough it would find what it was looking for and reach its target. Once in its grasp there would be no escape for what it searched earnestly for. But if it acted rashly or too quickly, mistakes would cripple the plans it had made. It had to be careful and take its time no matter what, especially in the final stages of its carefully devised plan. However, its target would be swiftly disposed of once found; that was part of the strategy it had chosen. And nothing would cause it to become distracted or to deviate too far from what it intended on doing.

      Its plan though would evolve in order to adapt to new, different, situations that it did not first anticipate, if any popped up that is. Improvisations would amuse it immensely and greatly add new ‘life’ to its task.

      Though it did not take on a specific form or way of thinking – for it did not have the need to – it was gleeful about the prospects of what was shortly enough going to happen. In order for it to get the job done it would take on whatever form was necessary. It after all knew only how to prepare itself, to come up with a plan and to see that plan through to the finish in whatever way it could. The whole situation was very exciting for it.

      As it searched it continued to grow and strengthen. Very soon it would be so strong it would be unstoppable to anyone or anything opposing it in any way. That was what was needed, anything less was downright pathetic and useless to it and its cause. It would always be growing, even when it engaged its target in battle. In fact that was when it would do the most of its growing.

      Dawn was just breaking peacefully, several weeks since its formation, when it finally sensed something.

      Day and night it had kept on searching, for it did not need to rest. This day was full of many possibilities; possibilities that would greatly please it. The other days had had many possibilities too, but it could feel that this day would be much, much different!

      Cresting a large, high hill that overlooked a great, lush valley, it finally found what it was looking for. It made its decent...   

   

      The panicked soldier burst into the room in a flurry of motion. He allowed the double doors to slam loudly against the stone walls, not bothering to stop them. He did not bother to close them either. The noise they made in the near silence of early morning reverberated throughout the entire room, causing the head of its only occupant to turn.

      “Something is coming out of the high country!”

      The General turned fully to face his man as he, out of breath, skidded to a halt before his commanding officer's large desk.  

      “Our patrol parties and outpost guards are being brutally attacked. Word is that all are being pushed back by an unknown enemy. Messengers have been bringing in the various reports for several hours now. We have no idea what this thing is. I have sent reinforcements to aid in holding our ground, but according to what the men are saying I don’t know what good that will do. This enemy is everywhere along our borders, across the entire land! Our resources are going to be spread dangerously thin.” You could hear in his voice and see on the soldiers face the great concern he had for the current situation.

      “And it is not just our soldiers that have brought news. Civilians are also arriving at the city with whisperings of something about a powerful force driving them from their lands. Everyone, everywhere, is being attacked; mercy is shown to none. This thing is far more powerful than anything I have ever encountered before or even heard of!”

      If it were possible the soldier’s voice became filled even more with fear than when he first started talking to the General. “It is moving in towards the city. As it does it appears to be gathering itself, to come together as one after attacking our borders. It seems to be drawing its full strength in anticipation of a tremendous battle.”

      They were referring to this new enemy as ‘it’ and ‘thing’ for they did not truly know what they were dealing with. The sudden appearance of this enemy and its unknown origin was extremely baffling. It was beyond anything they had ever come across before. The whole situation was putting everyone on edge. 

      “Then, Commander,” the General addressed his soldier calmly, “have all available parts of our armies – sword, bow and spear men, and the entire cavalry - intercept whatever this thing is at one location before it reaches the city. The river should be a good spot; it’s not too far away and, at the same time, not that close to the city to cause a security concern. It divides the land providing a strong, natural defence. Have the patrol parties and outpost guards all join them as well. With that much of our armies we should be able to stop and destroy whatever this thing is that dares to attack and challenge us in our own lands.”

      The order was given and the entire city was abuzz with activity as all the available soldiers of the armies prepared to head off in the defence of their land. Mobilized they would counterattack until their new enemy was vanquished.

 

      It spread out everywhere at once, knowing that that was what was needed. Attacking all over it began its bombardment of its target at its fringes. Once it had sufficiently made its presence known and caused its victims to know its true potential and purpose - that more, much worse would shortly fallow - it would quickly end this.

      The thought of an end made it wonder what it would do next. It became sad at the prospect of a finish. What would it do after that? This was all it knew. But just as it thought this it already knew that another target would be ‘selected’ for it to deal with. Other targets would always be there for it. A quick flash passed through its mind and it saw the first glimpse of the second of its many future victims. If it was possible it smiled. Its mood picked up after that.

      As this image faded away it fully refocused its mind on its present task. Not that it was worried of not being able to split its concentration and still be successful. That it could easily enough do and still complete its task and eliminate its target, even with everything they were currently throwing at it. It was able to repel and withstand, with no trouble, these pathetic assaults. And with it being spread out across the entire borders of its target’s lands; doing multiple battles. Its target was nothing more than little bugs that it was squashing beneath its large, powerful form as it rolled towards neutralizing every last one of them.

      Coming together to its full strength and power it continued to converge on its victim’s, picking up momentum as it moved along. Very soon now it felt that it would be nearing the end of its first mission. Its excitement and anticipation grew. Its fighting intensified.

      With its full force gathered it move swiftly towards the very heart - core - of its target. Most of its victims appeared to be staying together in one place.

      - Fools! – It thought to itself.

      The few it had already engaged that had been lucky enough to escape had run to this very spot, taking others with them as they went along. Soon their place of refuge would turn from one of safety for them into one of no escape.

      Without realizing it they had trapped themselves and made it easier for their new enemy to eliminate them all in one quick swoop. It would wage a war that would leave no doubt in anybody’s mind of what it was and what it had come to do!

 

      Watching his armies move out of the city, the General was confident that they would be able to defeat this mysterious enemy. By the end of next week his soldiers would be returning victorious. His confidence was short lived though. Under normal situations and circumstances it was not misplaced, this time, however, no one knew what they were fully up against. No one could have predicted that things would turn out the way they did.

      His Commander was the one to bring the terrible news only hours after the last parts of their armies departed, fading off into the horizon.

      Opening them quietly this time, the doors to the General’s chamber made very little noise as the Commander entered and moved over to his commanding officer. The soft click of the latch catching, as the Commander closed the doors, sounded quite loud in the silence as the General waited for his right hand man to approach. 

      “General, our armies have been pushed back from the river. They are being forced to strategically withdrawal. They could not withstand the thing any more than our patrols and border guards were able to. We are losing ground quickly, and the fight, despite all our best efforts and the resources we have at our disposal. We have already lost a significant number of our best trained men.”

      Furious that his armies were of no use in stopping this puzzling enemy the General was desperate for something to go their way. Twice now his soldiers had been beaten. Never before had an enemy been able to out match his armies so quickly and with seemingly little effort.

      “Get all of our troops behind the city’s walls, every last man you possibly can. Have them retreat slowly and with care. We must show whoever – whatever - this enemy is that we are not afraid of it!”

      Giving a slight bow the Commander turned to leave.

      “And Commander, I don’t want to be made a fool of over this situation do to any kind of failure!”

      Nodding he understood his orders - that if anything further were to go wrong, when this was all over he would be properly dealt with - he left the General. Of course if things did not soon change in their favour that would be the least of the Commander’s or anyone else’s worries.

      ‘Surely this thing would not dare to attack us here in our stronghold with our armies defending the city,’ the General thought to himself, once alone, as he paced his quiet chambers. ‘If it does we will be ready for it! It will get what it deserves!’

      No one had ever been that bold in all the history of their great fortress city to even come this close as to laying siege to it. Most of their enemies feared them too much to venture that deep into their kingdom. Their armies after all were the best known around for many hundreds of miles, past and present.

      Beaten many times and having suffered great losses in past battles, their enemies stayed safely away from even the borders of their lands most of the time. When one neighbouring kingdoms ruler got the idea to attack them, to try to remove them from the land, they were quickly reminded of who had the true power in all the lands.

      But this new one...! It did not care about any of that. In fact it had actually been able to do what no one else had; it had turned the tables on the General and his people! Already half the kingdom was on the verge of totally collapsing and it had not even been a full day in this battle. Surly there was something that could be done in order to not succumb to this adversary, to be able to drive it from their lands and keep it from them permanently. The General did not want to hear any more bad news, nor did any of his people, especially his soldiers.

      His wish though would never be granted. Not long after his Commander had gone off he again returned. The report he gave had both good and bad news; mainly of the latter. 

      “Our men are nearly all in the city.” The good news. “But they are being forced to retreat much faster than they should. As it is they are not moving quick enough. The thing attacking us is relentlessly strike at will and with extraordinary speed and precision. The accuracy of the attack makes me wonder how long it has been planning for this moment. Civilians are also swarming in; the soldiers have been gathering them as they retreat.” The bad news.

      Stepping forward a couple of paces the Commander’s face was white with terror. “General, we are losing more ground and men even as we speak. It will be here shortly!”

      Having no other options left the General gave the only order he could. “Then we have no choice. We have to seal off the gates. Ready the city for battle!”

      Many of his people, soldiers and civilians, were still outside the safety of the city’s walls. There was nothing the General could do about that though; he had to think of saving as many lives now as he possible could. He would have to come up with a way for that to happen. His thoughts however were suddenly interrupted. 

      - Come –

      Everyone in the great stone city heard the single word echo hollowly off the walls of the fortress’s buildings. Six more words fallowed it in a hiss, like wicked stem singeing. They appeared to be projected loudly into everybody’s minds as well.

      - I am here! I have arrived! -

      Somewhere not far away, outside on one of the high, thick walls, someone yelled ear piercingly, “Watch out!” A mad rush to reach the safety of the city was made by all without; the gates were never able to be closed.  

      The General knew that he, and his people, had officially run out of time. Racing from his chambers he went to the outer walls to see what they were up against. His Commander was one step behind him all the way.

      A large, thick black cloud rose menacingly before the city’s walls for all to clearly see. Every last bit of light was being absorbed by the darkness. It blotted out the entire sky and the whole of the land that the people had so dearly called home for thousands of years and countless generations.

      Everyone in the city froze with fear as the only thing they could concentrate on was the cloud. It became deathly quiet for several long minutes. After that the only thing that could be heard was shrilled cries. And the thundering of thousands of feet as everyone ran, in desperation, for their very lives.

That is all but the General. So surprised at what was happening he simply stood where he was in sheer horror. Even his Commander left him all alone as he went screaming frantically, like a little girl, down a hallway.

      Frozen firmly in place the General was the first person, in the ‘safety’ of the vast city, to fall victim to this extremely powerful enemy.

      The entire fortress city was enveloped at once. The cloud swooped over and down, and into the streets and all of the buildings and homes, destroying them all with vast explosions. It went into every last one of its helpless victims as well, going for their life forces. It was erasing every bit of its target from off the face of the land, from its people and their animals to every last one of their buildings. Not a single trace of them would be left for anyone to find!    

      Everything was plunged into total, blinding darkness. The city disappeared completely into the cloud which had doubled in size and was still growing rapidly, as it continued its destructiveness. Nothing could be done to stop it - this thing - from completing its mission, its task. 

      It – this thing, the cloud - was fate!

Imagination

 

      Magic is where I live. In my imagination is where I am safe, it is my sanctuary. Through writing I can escape. Within my imagining anything is possible, anything can happen. Wrongs can be righted, time turned back, once more things can be the way you want them to be. I can escape to a safe place where no hurt is too strong or too big to overcome. Then I remember that it must end and yet somehow I still have hope for I will always have my imagination with me as long as I am me.

 

 

Three Wishes

 

      Three wishes I have for all the world, for a better world. The first is that everyone would have a best friend along with a small group of friends to be with. The best friend would be there all the time, any time and through anything. Second, everyone would had a job and a purpose in life that would sustain them - food on the table, clothing to wear, a house to live in and a little extra money for some fun or for a rainy day. Lastly, my third wish is that no one would have to suffer any major illness, physical, mental or emotional. Because of these three wishes peace and prosperity would be around the entire world. No one would ever be alone, feeling unwanted or even useless. Nobody would be homeless, hungry, unemployed or in distress because of their health. Everyone would get along and respect one another despite any differences, big or small, easy or hard to see. Here the world would be a better place.