Carly made her way into the dark interior. She was incredibly apprehensive of what might follow. Her mother had only left her a faded twenty-five-year-old photo of her father, and now she was going to meet him for the first time. It had taken her two years to track him down, but now was the day of reckoning. This had to be the place, it was the only opium den in the town.
Garn was said to be a man without equal. He was tall and muscular, as well as ruggedly handsome. He was in most every way a symbol of his nation. He, himself, saw such talk as worthless, however, for Garn was a man of action and not words.
As he strode down the corridors of the palace, the various guards and attendants smarted themselves in his presence. Reaching the throne room he waited for not introduction or summons, but walked right in. He stopped and gave a courteous nod to the king; no bow or bent knee, for such was not in Garn’s character.
“Ah, Captain Garn,” the king said. “It is good of you to come on such short notice.”
“Always at your disposal, Majesty,” the hero replied.
“I have a matter of the utmost sensitivity for you. There seems to have been an incursion on the northwest border.”
“What is sensitive in that, I can deal with it straight away, and make an example of the Helians.”
“”Well, that’s just the thing,” the king said clearing his throat. “It seems it is we who have crossed the border, and now the officer who crossed over is trapped alongside thirty of his men. I am afraid that I will need your special skill-set to find them and lead them back to this side of the frontier without alerting the Helians to your, or their presence beyond the border.”
“Can we not deal with this diplomatically, and state is was a foolish act of a minor officer?”
“Well, here again it’s a bit tricky,” the king said. “The officer in question is Prince Talbo.”
“I see,” the hero said with no attempt to disguise his distaste for the situation. “I will leave immediately.”
“I knew I could count on you,” the monarch said with a weak smile.
Hugh Carter stood at the door of the tavern. He was thirsty and road-weary and scanned the packed room for any sign of a seat. It was then that he spied a small table in a far corner. He maneuvered himself through the throng and slid into one of the three vacant seats and set his travelling bag in one of the others. He then slung his cloak on the back of the chair he was sitting in before making his way to the bar and ordering a pint and a pie.
When he returned to the table he saw a neatly folded piece of paper tucked into the wicker back of the chair opposite. He leaned over and retrieved it and opened it to see what it might be.
It read, My friend, if you are reading this, you are in grave danger. As I would would not wish any misfortune to befall you, please move to the far side of the tavern. I trust you will be thankful for this warning.
Hugh looked around but no one seemed to be taking any particular notice of him, but he did get an uneasy feeling from a large cloaked man two tables over. Taking a wide berth of the man he gathered his drink and belongings and went and stood near the bar. As soon as he made the move, three rather weedy-looking youths sped to the now vacant table. A particularly spotty lad with bad teeth gave him a wave and shouted, “Thanks mate.”
The eerie glow could be seen from the path, but none dared in the dark of night to investigate. The wood had long been said to hold terrifying secrets.
It was by the light of day that William and Connor decided to leave the trail to see what the source of the night before’s glow had been.
“It’s just pumpkins,” Connor said with a tone of disappointment.
“Well someone or something had to have brought them here,” William said giving the “something” a sinister tone. “We all know that nobody would dare come into these woods to light them even if they put them here in the daytime.”
Connor’s eyes showed he had been spooked. His older brother took delight in the success of his prank.
It wasn’t the most comfortable camp, but it seemed secure. Fallen timber framed the space on three sides and there was considerable concealment by a pinewood thicket on the fourth. A fire, however, was out of the question as it would negate the tree cover.
The day had started well with light-hearted chatter as the companions took to the road. Noon found them having a light meal by a brook side and it looked as if the journey was going to be an easy one.
It wasn’t long after lunch, however, that they found the road blocked my an inexplicably fallen tree. As they tried to work their way around it they were beset by bandits. The party gave as well as they took, but were in the end forced to make a fighting withdrawal into the surrounding woodland. That is how they came to be in this small enclosure.
“That’s the last time I ever let you talk me into a side quest,” Theos the Cleric said to Balwyn.
“How could I have known bandits would be after the artefact we were asked to deliver?”
“What is it that we are carrying anyway?” Tristen the Archer asked.
“Let me take a peek,” Balwyn said, opening the cloth sack.
“Well?” Theos prompted.
“It’s just an old hammer.”
“Hammer? Is it a war-hammer or magic?”
“No, just a worn-out old hammer. Oh, wait a minute. Ah, the hammer is wrapped in a wadge of wanted posters of guess who.”
“So do you think they just want to stop people from finding out about the reward?” Tristen asked.
“I imagine so,” Balwyn said. “Let’s give this a miss,” he suggested tossing the fabled Hammer of All Creativity into the underbrush.
Art sat on the ledge and tried to ponder the meaning of it all. What actually is the point? he wondered. After all, all I ever do is sit around a studio all day.The boredom is starting to do my head in. I know that some people say I’m vital to the enterprise, but how can that be? It’s not like I’m OOAK. Now, he’s cool, but me I’m just plain old Art.
He glanced down at the workbench beneath him and then remembered the words of the administrator who said, and I quote, “Having art in this college is vital in defining who we are.” That memory alone made Art decide that jumping wasn’t worth it. He would just have to suck it up and hope that he really did make a difference.
Danshe went to her usual spot the next morning and was surprised to find a large rowboat had washed up into her tidepool in the night. Though it was largely submerged it still had become a receptacle of a large amount of seawater and yet had enough freeboard remaining to trap over thirty meal-sized fish inside. There was no way the little girl could pull the boat to the ledge by herself, nor was it practical to extract the fish in its present position so she ran off to get the lighthouse men to help her.
A short while later the boat had been retrieved and there was enough food to see all of the islanders through for several days.
Danshe then ran to tell the redhead about the windfall. When she arrived on the porch however she found a note attached to the door. Dear Danshe, Thank you for restoring my faith in people again. You are a very special lady.Please accept this small gift to remember me by.All the best, Cealia. Next to the note was a silver chain with a starfish on it.
Danshe then noticed the redhead, that she now knew was called Cealia on the beach with four seals. The girl immediately started to run to see her. Her path led her over a couple of dunes, and while she was climbing the larger of these she momentarily lost sight of the lady. When she creased the dune the beach was empty, but she could see five seals swimming out into the open sea. As she watched she could swear that one of them turned back to her and waved a flipper before diving out of sight.
Danshe never saw Cealia again, and three days later the weather broke and a relief boat arrived on the island.