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Author: Kavanna Debohawk
Age: 30
Posted: December 31, 1999

Forget Me Not!

I am growing old. I’m growing old and tired, as each passing year sees my demise edging all the more closer. The bitter cold of winter nights gnaw at my flesh, seep into the bones, icing my very marrow, numbing what little soul survives.

It’s hard to believe that I was young once…. A budding Creation from a fertile imagination. Words were meticulously placed together to form huge sweeping lands, and then I was molded to Care take that very land. So young was I, so eager to serve the Master whose hands guided me along my path of growth. How I remember the adventures that he and I unfolded together. The manipulations of Courts the cunning intrigue of the Druids Guild, and the raw power that I wielded to keep the Land free from evil. My Master claimed that I was ‘The most powerful Sorcerer in all of Trenayne’. Daily he and I would mindlessly pit my strength against the darkness, driving back the ever-encroaching forces of the Black Prince. With my Power and the Masters words, defeat could never be. We were so close.

Now I am abandoned. My beautiful land, once a rolling carpet of green, teaming with the most wondrous of sights, lies dying before me. Winter seems eternal now, the howl of the wind a sober reminder of the pain of death. The Black Prince is no more, his memory simply ashes. My Master has left me alone, forgotten, useful no more. From the Tower lookout I watch as oblivion sucks the very life out of the land he created. I can smell the neglect taste the offensive abandonment. Seems the Master has no need of an old, frail Sorcerer, or of a land that holds no more tales. He has moved on, a parade of younger Heroes and Heroines culminating beneath his fertile mind. Alas, this chapter has been signed shut, and I am left to watch the ink fade, to watch my world die, to feel myself grow old, whither, and eventually disappear.

Memories are all I have left now. Hope has passed me by so long ago.

Gone are the nights I would wish so hard that my Master would come across those first words he wrote, and with a renewed fervor, blast the winters cold from the Land. Bring back the sun to warm the earth, and re-store me to my rightful place as Sorcerer to equal none. The nights hang on longer though, the days a drab Grey, and I am beaten into accepting my fate. So falls the first love, the first Creation of a writers journey. Many have gone before me many more are yet to succumb. I am not alone in traveling the final events of a created life but it is so cold, so lonely, and I am afraid.

Author: Kavanna Debohawk
Age: 30
Posted: December 31, 1999

Destiny Unknown

“It’s impossible!” the youth fumed, balling a piece of parchment up in a fury and throwing it. A small squatty man to his left bent down, and with short thick fingers, retrieved the parchment and unraveled it.
“So this is what the fuss is all about,” Bilbou said, perusing the written words. Caz paced back and forth, his boots resounding off the stone floor. The youth was more frustrated than angry. He stopped in front of his long-time friend and with hands on his hips in a defiant stance, announced, “I know I can do it, Bilbou! The Master of Mystic says I have the ability of a Knight twice my age!”
“The ability, yes my lad but the skills? What about the training?” Bilbou reread the notice and sighed. He looked at his young friend with sorrow in his eyes. A pudgy hand absent-mindedly brushed his long black beard. Caz looked downcast and resumed his pacing.
“It says here for you to enter the Mystic Knights’ Trial, you have to have your master sponsor you,” Bilbou read aloud. He looked up and grimaced. “I don’t think the Great Pain in the Neck will do that somehow.”
“Domni only does something if it profits him,” Caz said. He ran a hand through his blonde hair. “Why does the man hate me so?”
“He dislikes anything that could be of a threat to him,” Bilbou explained, lowering himself down onto the floor. “And you, my lad, have that potential of surpassing him in Powers.”
“So what am I going to do, Bilbou?” Caz asked again, squatting down in front of the Dwarf. Caz was beginning to fill out into a man. The years of laboring under The Domni had strengthened the boy’s body. “Without training, any Power I may have will evaporate, and I will be left the Domni’s slave until I die.” Even though such sadness squeezed the boy’s heart, his blue eyes remained alert and determined.
“Well, it also says here,” Bilbou pointed out, returning to the parchment, “that failing a sponsorship fifty gold pieces may be paid, with the future Knight supplying his own horse, armor and weapon.” Bilbou sat in silence for a few seconds, pondering over this new information. Finally he looked up and asked, “Have you thought of dress-making at all? It’s a great profession, I hear.”
“Now you’re impossible!” Caz exploded, jumping to his feet and snatching the notice out of Bilbou’s hands. “This is serious! I need to get away, Bilbou, and this is my only way!”
“Well,” Bilbou pondered, looking about him. The room they were in was virtually empty, save for a few gardening tools amid wooden boxes. “Nothing in here for armor, save for that keg. And I guess you could use a spade as a weapon. The horse died last week, so I don’t think he will be much good, and then there is the question of fifty gold pieces… I don’t see a problem at all my young friend.” His face blossomed into a huge cheesy grin. This infuriated the boy all the more.
“I need to do this! I have to do this!” Caz yelled, crumpling the paper up once again and hurling it. The paper stopped in midair, hovered for a moment in time, and then gently floated to the outstretched palm of a silent figure waiting by the door.
“You have a temper my pup,” the figure breathed. His voice was grating. He wore a long cloak, black, and a cowl adorning his thin, almost skeletal face. His eyes burned a piercing red. “Do I need to stamp that out of you as well?” Caz stood stock still, his heart racing. Bilbou sat where he was, retrieving a pipe from his waistcoat and prepared to load it with tobacco.
“I’m… sor… sorry, sir,” Caz stammered. He seethed inside. The gallant knight, afraid of no one, who could stare Death in the eyes, wanted so much to come out but the child was still the strongest, scared and wanting to hide.
“You want to be a Mystic Knight?” the Domni enquired, his ruddy red lips a thin line, a sneer. Caz nodded, afraid to speak.
“Hmmm!” The Domni glided over to Caz, his pitch-black cloak barely moving with the effort. With long, bony fingers he lifted Caz’s gaze to his. “Let me remind you boy: You are nothing around here. These people fill your mind with images of grandeur. It will lead only to disappointment.” He paused, and then smiled cruelly. “You have very little power in you, certainly not enough to make you a Mystic Knight.”
“Then sponsor the lad,” Bilbou interjected, blowing smoke rings. The aromatic smoke wafted around the trio. The Domni moved his attention and locked onto the dwarf.
“Unlike you, I’m only thinking of the boy’s welfare. It will be a great blow to his young heart when he fails in front of his peers.”
“Are you afraid that maybe he could contend for your position of Domni?” Bilbou took another drag on his pipe.
“Be warned!” The Domni spat. “I can still feed you to the Ankers.” He released Caz and stepped back. His words dripped with venom. “You belong to me, Caz. I can do with you what I see fit. You are only a slave.” With a flurry of black material, The Domni retreated, leaving behind a sinister coldness. Caz slumped his shoulders in defeat. It was over. The dream of being a Mystic Knight erased in one quick rebuke.
Bilbou got up, knocked the used ash from his pipe, replaced it back into the folds of his waistcoat and stood by his friend. “I think The Domni is getting soft in his old age.” Caz looked down at him enquiringly. “A year ago he wanted to bury me alive…”

That night, after a grueling day of stone breaking, mucking out the stables, and Laying the foundation for the Domni’s newest temple, Caz found himself alone atop Piazo, a large rocky outcrop that overlooked the city of Omrio. Torches burned in the city. The largest light, the castle itself, blazed for all to know its wealth and strength.
“Thought I’d find you here lad,” Bilbou’s voice erupted from the still night. It startled Caz. He had been in a place all his own.
“It’s a beautiful sight, Bilbou,” Caz commented, his words heavy with regret. A small fire fluttered nearby, more for light than any warmth it gave out.
“Aye, that it is, lad. That it is.” Bilbou stood to just one side, his pipe clenched between his teeth.
“I should be there,” Caz pointed to the Castle. “I have every right to be trained as the next man.”
“Hush, boy,” Bilbou suddenly whispered. Caz looked at his friend, and then followed his gaze. She was back.
The horse stood no more than 5 feet away, her stance proud. She was moonbeam white, her mane rippling even though the air betrayed no movement. Caz sighed inwardly. This was only the third time he had been close to her and it took his breath away.
“She would fetch a fair price,” Bilbou pointed out.
“A horse like that is never for sale, Bilbou,” Caz put in. “She will remain free. Her soul belongs to no one.”
“The Domni is determined to break her in, you know that. It’s only a matter of time,” Bilbou sadly reminded.
“Never, Bilbou!” Caz vehemently pronounced. “His taint could never touch her. She is far too wise.” The pair remained in silence, watching the splendor of the mare before them. She stayed where she was for a few minutes, her black eyes taking in the spectacle before her. Then she reared, and with a majestic whinny, galloped away down the side of the hill, her hoofs barely making a sound over the hard earth.
“Frightfully big girl, that one!”
The two spun around in surprise. Caz leapt to his feet, Bilbou almost toppling over his and losing his hold on the pipe. An apparition confronted them.
“Good evening, gentlemen.” She was a large woman, full bodied, wearing a very tight dress that clung to her ample frame. She had fuzzy silvery hair and an infectious smile. However, it was the simple fact she was glowing that stood her apart from any other stranger.
“Who the blazes are you?” Bilbou asked, recovering his composure. Caz still had not found his voice.
“Many names, some which aren’t too nice,” she chirped. “But you can call me Agnis.”
“And…?” Bilbou prompted. Agnis looked at the little man quizzically. Then the need for more information dawned like sunrise across her motherly features.
“Oh! Right … sorry,” she sang. “I’m sort of like this one’s guardian,” she explained, pointing to Caz, who still stood with his jaw agape. “Seems the gods have decided to intervene. Legally this time. Make a change that does. I think they learnt from the last bit of interference they took on wholly by themselves. Terrible law-suit there.” She appeared to go into a pondering like trance, a look of annoyance crossing her lined features. “But I digress,” she just as quickly jumped in. “Yes, I have to help this young man.”
“And in what way?” Bilbou asked. “I gather you haven’t been sent as a damn huge torch. By the way you are glowing there, Lady, all of Trenayne should be able to see us.” Agnis straightened her shoulders, smiled and walked towards Caz. She stumbled a few times, mumbling things about rabbit holes and high heels.
“Now, my boy,” she began, her presence overpowering. She smelled faintly of roses and garlic. A strange combination, Caz thought.
“Where do I begin? I know all about the dilemma you have,” she said, stopping Caz from explaining. “So with the Power our gods have granted me, I am here to kit you out for the Trials ahead.” She beamed at Caz, which melted his heart completely. Somehow he sensed her trustworthiness to be genuine. “So, what is it you need?” she asked, folding her arms.
“Armour,” Bilbou stated, noticing Caz was still speechless. He watched as Agnis searched around her and laid her eyes on a piece of discarded rusty metal. With a twist of her hands and a few voiced non-coherent spells, the metal suddenly gleaned into a shiny brass breastplate and helmet. It struck the moonlight, reflecting it back in straight shards of illumination.
“Next?” Agnis asked, mildly pleased with herself. Caz touched the armor. It was real.
“A weapon,” Bilbou announced again, eyes agog with wonder. Once more Agnis spotted a piece of wood and with the same ritual it was transformed into a mighty sword, its hilt polished brass, the edge keen. She clapped her hands together, excited.
“Um…” Caz began, “I also need a horse”. Agnis looked crest-fallen. She fidgeted a little.
“I’m not really good with things that are alive,” she confessed. “But I will give it a try.” Nearby, a goat slept peacefully, dreaming whatever goat’s dream of, oblivious of what the next few moments were to bring. Agnis launched into her spell and it wasn’t long before the goat was no more.
“Well, two out of three isn’t bad,” Bilbou mused, staring at the over-sized goat before him.
“Oh dear!” Agnis cried. “I am sorry.”
“No, don’t be, Caz reassured her. His eyes were afire now. The closeness of being able to go the trials was like a brush fire through him. “It looks … okay.”
“Looks like a goat,” Bilbou whispered. “Even with the saddle. Look,” he pointed, “it still has horns!”
“I don’t care,” Caz shouted. He turned to Agnis, who still looked uncomfortable about the goat-come-horse. “Thank you, for doing this. I don’t know how to repay you.”
“Repayment is not necessary, my boy,” she chirped. Bilbou mumbled something about dignity and pride and goats. She chose to ignore him. “Just win your place among the Mystic Knights!” She bent over and kissed Caz on his cheek. He swore he felt stubble. With that, she took a few steps back and began to fade.
“But wait…” she suddenly said, returning to full glow. Reaching into her side pocket, she fished out a leather bag and threw it to Caz. It jingled. “You will be needing this, I think.” She faded, leaving behind the lingering scent of roses and garlic. Caz gingerly opened the leather pouch and stopped breathing. Nestled within lay fifty gold pieces. Bilbou unceremoniously fainted.

The day of the trials finally arrived. It wasn’t hard for Caz to slip away from the Domni’s’ lands, for on a day such as this he was close by the king, keeping an eye on those who passed through the trials.
At the Castle’s gates Caz, perched heroically on his goat-horse, handed over the fifty gold pieces to an ugly administrator who in turn placed Caz’s name in a huge leather bound book. He gave the boy a once over, smirked at the horse and waved them on. Bilbou tried to remain out of eyesight. The looks the other hopefuls were giving Caz uneased him.
The day progressed normally. It was long, very hot, and very boring. Caz watched from his musty holding cell as the competition was slowly eliminated. There was a capacity crowd, from the High Lords right down to the peasants from outlying villages.
“They are good,” Bilbou interrupted, shuffling into the cell, a non-descript pie in his hand. Sauce ran down his beard. “But seems only the best this year are being picked. Is the goat ready?”
“Hush!” Caz chastised. “It’s a horse, right? He will get me through this.” Caz looked nervous. He paced the small straw strewn floor, his sword gripped tightly in his right hand. His armor caught the light diffusing through the barred window. Then he heard his name announced,
“Calling Caz of Denware,” the guard boomed out. Bilbou raised an eyebrow in surprise.
“Where is Denware?” he asked.
“I have no idea, it just sounded better than ‘Caz, the Domni slave’. Come on!” He grabbed the reigns of his horse and led it out of the cell, down an enclosed corridor and finally out into the Arena. The crowd stopped. There was dead silence. Caz turned and eyed the faces of the spectators. Many were mocking him. Some were simply stunned. They had not seen a boy of his age face the trials before.
“Best you acknowledge the King, Caz,” Bilbou whispered.
The king sat on an elaborately adorned dais, his chair high backed plush red. To his left sat his daughter, the beautiful but aloof, Princess Maryna. She wore silver and diamond studded tiara in her long dark hair. To his right, wide-eyed and fuming, stood the Domni. He leaned on the rail his knuckles white with rage. Caz could see beneath the Domni cowl, eyes of blood crimson. The Domni composed himself and then bent to the king’s ear, whispering. The king nodded, and then raised himself off his chair. Those that had started to laugh or were snickering among themselves stopped when the king made his move.
“There appears to be a problem,” he boomed, his voice carrying across the arena. Caz could see why he commanded his kingdom well. “Seems magic is afoot here. Although the art of Mysticism is a major part of my Knights, using it to enhance the possibility of entering the circle is against the law.” His piercing glare shot through Caz. Bilbou cursed and stepped away, in the hope of making a quick retreat. Caz remained astride his horse. The king motioned for the Domni to intervene. A cruel smile touched his lips. With a gesture that cracked the air with energy, he released an incantation.
“There is your little fraud,” The Domni announced. Caz looked down, and realized he was sitting astride the goat. It continued chewing, not realizing how far away it was from the resting place he had found a few nights back. A clatter of metal told him his armor now lay at his feet, rusting metal sheet instead of the fine breastplate and helmet. and in his hand a worm eaten piece of wood. Caz felt humiliated. The crowd reveled in this turn of events. A comedy, they all thought, to break the continuous onslaught of the contestants.
“Guess I will be off then,” Bilbou chipped in, backing away. “Nice knowing you and all Caz. Do look me up sometime.”
Bilbou stopped in his tracks. The voice was familiar. Too familiar. He slowly spun round to face the owner.
“Arrgh!” Bilbou exclaimed, recognizing instantly the figure before him. “Didn’t expect to see you out and about, Your Eminence!”
“You haven’t changed at all, ferret,” the old man pointed out. He stroked his long beard.
“And you are still a cranky old man, so I’ve heard, Fabyn!”
Caz balked. The name struck a memory cord within, unlocking the stories he had heard about the Great Mage of Trenayne. This was Fabyn? Caz asked himself.
“How do you know the great mage?” he whispered to Bilbou.
“Long story my friend. We go back almost as far as time itself, although he claims to be much younger”, Bilbou explained. “Nice enough fellow, just terribly irritable”.
“If your majesty would allow the guards to remove the offending offal”, the Domni said, indicating to the motley trio taking center arena. “We can resume in choosing His Majesty’s’ finest”.
“I say we give the urchin a chance”, Fabyn put in, adjusting his bright blue cloak. He dared The Domni to defy him. No love was lost between their glances.
“He has failed Old man!” the Domni breathed. “He has nothing the trials stipulates, therefore he is disqualified”.
Caz wanted to crawl away. He was finished. The Domni had been right all along. Humiliation had cloaked him, and it weighed heavy on his heart.
“If my memory still serves correctly your Highness”, Fabyn addressed the King. “A contestant, if he has the support of the spectators, is allowed to locate the necessary items by the last falling of a grain of sand”.
The King mulled this over and after a short time, agreed. The tension seeping from The Domni reeked. The King stood and put the vote to his people.
“All in favor of the boy continuing, please stand”, he bellowed.” Those opposing, remain seated.”
The noise of over a thousand people scrambling to their feet over-whelmed the Arena. Almost three quarters of the spectators took to standing. The King acknowledged the vote and with swift movement, up turned an hourglass before him. The grains of sand began to tumble through and collect at the base of the glass tube. Caz stayed where he was, confused. A hush had fallen on those around.
“Go boy!” Fabyn yelled. “You have until the hour glass runs out to gather your items.”
Caz swiveled on the spot. He needed Armour, a weapon as well as a horse, but from where? In the silence he swore he could hear the sand sliding against its glass enclosure.
“Please take this”, a voice offered. It was a woman who had come out to the center of the arena. She was middle aged, and looked drawn. In her arms lay a plain breastplate, a helmet with dark blue plumage in her hand. Lying across this, a short sword, its hilt bound leather.
“It was my sons. He was killed before making it here. I come every year”, she explained.” In honor of his name. Now I can honor it all the more by allowing someone to wear it. Maybe it can appease his soul somehow.” Her eyes glistened with tears.
“I thank you my Lady”, Caz whispered. “I hope I can live up to the Honor you bestow upon me”.
She handed it over, gently brushed his cheek, and the melded back into the throng. He quickly slipped into the armor, tested the weight of the sword, and then spied the hourglass. It was almost over. A horse? I need a horse! But none were available. None without ownership at any rate. He turned to Fabyn.
“I have still failed Sire”, he weakly confessed. “ Fine armor and a keen sword do not produce a horse. I am sorry”.
“You give up quickly child”, Fabyn chastised, annoyance passing his brow. “Maybe you aren’t the material I have been told”.
This infuriated Caz.
“I’ve no idea what you have been told Sire, but giving up? Never! Yet I stand here with the odds of finding a free horse at its lowest. I have been beaten even before I started.”
“You think so?” Fabyn asked. “Look!”
Bilbou let out a cry, and a collective sigh of awe rippled throughout the throng. Caz followed where all eyes were locked.
“By the Gods!” he exclaimed. She trottered through the gates, lead by the breeze itself, her mane flowing like a brush fire. The midday sunlight struck her coat. Not a blemish shadowed back. She trottered straight to Caz and reared. Bilbou fell heavily onto his backside, for once speechless.
“No!” The cry erupted from The Domni’s lips, spittle ballooning in rage. “This is an outrage!”
Caz watched as the last grain of sand slid through to join the rest.
“I see no tricks Domni”, the King announced. “The young man has earned his right to stand the trials”. The Domni made hard fists. Droplets of blood ran between his taut fingers from the wounds his nails had made. He seethed at them, his normal ability to control emotions wavering. Fabyn left his advantage point and confronted Caz.
“She is a fine specimen”, he said, admiring the mare. Her eyes though pit black, read intelligence beyond normal. “Seems everything I have seen and was told is true, though I still have doubts”.
“It would please me sire”, Caz began, uncertain as to address the Greatest Mage written in history. “To know who told and of what”.
“You have a long way to go boy. Your destiny has been written for you. It is out of your hands”.
“I am simply a slave Sire, trying to…”
“Not anymore”, Fabyn cut in. His tone ran an edge of regret. “In the next few years, I am certain you will wish you were that simple slave again”.
“You speak in riddles Your Eminence”, Bilbou pointed out. “ Always in riddles. Confused the hell out of me. Never a true answer in sight as long as I have been your dogs body…err…loyal servant”.
“I really do not understand Sire”, Caz whispered, ashamed of looking a fool, feeling humble, unworthy of such attention from a man like Fabyn.
“In time boy”, Fabyn responded. “In time. But, we have made a very powerful enemy here today”. He indicated at The Domni, who remained in the background now, hidden by his cloak and cowl. “But I sense you have struck a cord with someone whose future is as perilous as your own”.
Princess Myrana looked straight at Caz. She gave him a discreet wink, then blossomed into a grin. Caz grew hot in his armor, and blushed.
“You will be seeing more of me boy”, Fabyn continued. “Seems I too have a role to play. Why this has come about eludes even my prescience, but I would not be here if I thought little of it”. He fell silent. “ I had hoped to live my last years in virtual peace and comfort…alone! Seems the Gods have decided otherwise”.
“You! With last years?” Bilbou asked. “Last centuries more like it”.
“Now Caz of Denware”. A sly grin escaped Fabyns lips. “ You have a task to perform. Put all thought of your future aside and concentrate on what’s ahead”.
Caz nodded his acknowledgement. He was still a ball of writhing confusion, but the elation of being able to pit his skill for the Mystic Knights over-shadowed everything. He mounted the mare, which flinched not once. With Caz beaming with pride, she bore him to the center of the Arena. Sword held high, he glanced quickly back at the Princess, then readied himself for the trials.
“Well, that’s it then”, Bilbou overly stated. “ The boy is moving on, and so must I. Nice seeing you again Your Eminence, but I….”
“Not so fast ferret!” Fabyn jumped in, roughly grabbing the back of Bilbou’s thick neck. The dwarf yelped with mock pain. “You left in an almighty hurry the last time”.
“Arr…. Family problems. Yes, that’s it. Had to go and see my sister”, Bilbou tried to explain.
“ Taking with you a certain bound book of great importance, or did that just happen to fall into your knapsack on the way out?”
Bilbou gulped and stopped struggling.
“I think we need to talk”, Fabyn mused. “ You have at least…oh! Let me see…thirty to forty decades of servitude owing to me? Plenty of time”. Fabyn gripped Bilbou tightly, and lead him from the arena.
“ Who snitched anyway? “ Bilbou asked. “I covered my tracks too well. You’d have never found out by yourself”.
“Never mind Bilbou. Lets just say a rather large bird whispered in my ear. Said you would be pleased to hang around for a while. Racked with guilt, and ready to work off the debt”.
Bilbou grumbled and swore under his breath as he was dragged to Fabyns seat. He defiantly sat down and crossed his arms. Next to him, a burly man, at least six foot in height and girth, chomping on a savory stick, smiled and winked. Bilbou thought him to be familiar. A strange scent of Roses and garlic wafted along the breeze.

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