Date Published: February 16, 2016
He Who Seeks Destruction, Wields Evil…
As the search for the legendary Dragonwand continues, Markus and his trio of travelers find themselves in unfamiliar territory traversing the countryside for clues to its whereabouts, while Hallond persists with his plans to rule the Kingdom. But the closer they get to obtaining it, evil lurks around every corner and even those creatures that seem the most unassuming are a threat to the group. Captain Morris persists in his effort to foil their plans of freeing Gallenor from imminent destruction, aligning himself with the Shlan. As a lighthearted romance between Markus and Crystal blossoms and Markus begins to understand his destiny, they soon learn that love may just be even more powerful than any magic ever foretold. But will their collective efforts be enough to vanquish the wicked for good?
Markus and Crystal sat in the middle of the town near a stone bridge overlooking the little crystal clear river. They felt like they were in a toy city – with everything being so small – but it was the perfect size for the inhabitants. Several Gnomes had arrived with a pair of the most exquisite shoes Markus had ever seen.
“Wow, these feel great,” Markus said, overlooking the shoes they had made for him with great interest. True, they were his old shoes – refurbished to the T – but he could not recognize them at all. Five old Gnome men fussed around his feet still shinning and dusting them off.
One old man smiled at his own reflection in the polished leather. “Yes, it was fun to work on. I can’t wait to make more.”
“Oh, I’m sure we’ll be leaving soon. But, if I can come back I’ll certainly make the trip for shoes of this quality,” Markus said with an appreciative grin. He turned his foot from side to side looking at the craftsmanship.
Crystal put on the shoes they brought her out of courtesy, then realized how great they were. “Markus, I’ve never worn shoes before.”
“Well, what do you think?” Markus asked, curious.
“Um, I find it very clever that they made allowances for my extra-long toe claws,” she replied.
“Interesting,” Markus said.
Crystal smiled at the old Gnome checking her shoes. “These are perfect. I do not know how we can thank you.”
Markus added, “I wish I could repay you, but all the money we had was left in the bags of our friends.”
The old Gnome craftsman gave Markus a rather sly grin. “We Gnomes do not use big people money, it would matter little to us. But, we do barter. Perhaps a trade.”
Markus wanted to say something about the fact that the King inferred that this was to be a gift, but since he did not wish to upset them – especially considering the quality of their work – he felt fine with the idea of paying. “Sure. What do you want?”
The old Gnome turned around and looked up at Crystal. “You.”
Crystal stopped admiring her shoes with a shocked expression. “Me?”
The Gnome walked over to her, as did several others including a few that had not been part of the shoe makers. Three woman formed a half circle behind Crystal, petting her tail. The old Gnome nodded. “It has been a long time since any gnome has worked with actual fur. To spin and weave it would be a gift like nothing we have had in generations.”
Crystal swallowed hard. “Uh, do you want to cut some off?”
Markus got up and closed the distance between him and Crystal, noticing that the women were combing through her tail with large toothed combs that he recognized from the spinners back in his village. “Wait, are you preparing her fur already!?”
The gnome smiled wickedly. “We want to cut the fur off and use it.”
Markus called his wand to his hand and raised it waist high. Crystal grabbed his wrist. “Don’t make a mess yet. I’m sure we can talk about this. After all, it is just fur and it will grow back. I have needed to get my tail trimmed for some time and this is a perfect opportunity.”
The Gnomes all got as excited as dogs getting to eat for the first time in days. Two women came out from another shop with large razors and eager eyes. The old Gnome continued to stare at Crystal. “The deal was we make shoes, we get fur. But, that isn’t enough.”
“What deal?” Markus asked, pulling free from Crystal and waving his wand at him.
“The King told us if we waited until sufficient time had passed and we made something important for you, then we could get the fur.” The old Gnome said this as though it was a signed contract.
Markus waved his wand over the women with the razors, “Hold off just a minute, we never agreed to anything like that. You can keep the shoes.”
Crystal stopped him again. “Markus, don’t worry. I’m fine with this.”
Markus shook his head. “I don’t know, there’s something strange about this.”
Crystal grinned. “My tail might look odd for a little while, but it will grow back. Besides, these are nice shoes.” She returned to the elder gnome, “I’ll trade.”
“Not enough,” the old Gnome said, shaking his head. “The more we talked about it we realized there would not be enough fur to go around. We don’t want just this one time, we want more. MORE!” He appeared to be getting more demented as the conversion proceeded.
Markus put his hand on her shoulder. “No deal! We don’t trade people for anything in Gallenor. Especially shoes.”
The Gnomes did not like that as evident by the crowd growing more restless and murmuring louder with each word Markus uttered. A rather large mob had now congregated around the couple.
The old Gnome clicked his tongue. “Tsk, tsk, tsk. I was afraid of this.” He pointed at Markus. “We want her… we will have her. You are in our way, so we will just have to kill you and take her.”
“WHAT!” Markus pointed his wand at the old Gnome.
The man seemed unfazed by the sight of the wand and snapped his fingers. “Get them!”
The Gnomes attacked unabandondedly, showing total disregard for their own safety. Crystal cried out as a razor lifted a chunk of the fur from her tail. Markus noticed, and pulled her to her feet before they could take another swipe. He pointed his wand at the two women Gnomes charging. “Hrinda!” A wave of simple force knocked a group of Gnomes over, including the two women. “Run!” Markus yelled and then grabbed Crystal with his free hand, heading for a distant part of the caves.
Gnomes came out of everything, spilling into the valley of the cave like a torrential flood, with all the madness of a stampeding horde of hogs. Their eyes were filled with rage, intent to kill anything in sight. Markus was wary of using any deadly spells on them, seeing as though for all he knew, he could easily set the entire cave on fire or flood it, killing innocent Gnome children in the process; and that would do them little good. So, all he could do was toss them around with shove spells.
“How are we going to get out of here if we can’t walk through stone?” Crystal cried out.
Markus thrust his wand at another group and then continued toward the exit. “I don’t know. I guess we’ll just have to blast through.”
“Stop him!” a sea of Gnomes shouted, gathering to block their way. Some wore little bows and arrows and sent a wave of arrows at Markus and Crystal.
“VEDR!” Crystal cried, and used her hand to send a blast of wind at the incoming arrows, deflecting most of them. One hit Markus in the shoulder and another simply dove into edge Crystals clothes. Markus smiled, surprised at her. She shrugged. “Hey, I grew up around arrows, I know how to handle that much.”
“That’s….INCOMING!” He looked back to see more approaching.
“VEDR STORR!” Crystal shouted again. This time, a hurricane appeared and not only deflected the arrows but sent most of the Gnomes sprawling across the ground. Even Markus and Crystal had to brace themselves against the cave walls to keep from being tossed about.
Once the wind died, Markus took Crystal’s hand again and started for a wall in the distance. “We will go out that way, I will make us an exit.”
But the Gnomes were still gathering themselves from the explosion of wind and making up ground quickly. Markus pointed his wand at the wall and was about to use the stone dust spell he used to get out of Stillwater when Crystal stopped him again. “What?”
She looked back to the Kings residence. “The bag, the Codex is in it. We still need that.”
Markus shook his head in disgust. “Seriously! We’ll manage without it. I’m not going back that way.” He attempted to cast the spell when she stopped him again.
“We can’t leave it,” Crystal stressed. “It is far too important.” She started to head back when he grabbed her arm and stopped her.
“No, if we go back, they’ll get you and I cannot allow that to happen.”
Crystal smiled. “I can handle these Gnomes. Don’t worry.”
Markus did not budge, maintaining a tight grip on her arm. “No, I’m not going to face Treb having to tell him I left you behind for some old book.”
Crystal’s smile had washed away. “But, I’m not worth it. Without that book there is no hope of saving all of Gallenor and that’s not an equal exchange. I can live here knowing you were equipped to save Gallenor.”
Markus looked down, ignoring the charging horde. “But, what is it worth saving the world when my world will be gone.”
“What?” Crystal’s eyes were wavering.
“You are my world now,” Markus admitted, a lump forming in his throat. “I wanted to find the Dragonwand and save Gallenor for selfish reasons until I found what I loved. Now, I have a new and just as important reason to save Gallenor, you. If I leave you behind, what will I do then?”
“Yes, what will you do?” Crystal asked.
Before he could answer, the Gnomes arrived, and it appeared that every resident of the cave city was present.
Markus blocked Crystal behind him and pointed his wand at them. “One step toward her and I will set this whole damned cave on fire.”
“No, you won’t. That would kill you and her as well,” the old Gnome said with the confidence of certainty.
Markus gnashed his teeth for a moment, then smiled and pointed his wand at the wall. “Fine, I’ll take down this wall and we’re going to keep running until we see light.”
“Go right ahead,” the old Gnome dared.
Markus was not sure what to make of that, but it was an opportunity and he had to take it. So he turned on the wall and shouted, “STEINN!” He cast the spell but it bounced off the wall. “STEINN!” he repeated, but it bounced off the wall once more. “What’s going on?”
“You do not think we wouldn’t have methods of stopping magic at the walls. We have been hunted by imps for a thousand years, these walls are built to resist all magic. You are trapped in here until we let you leave. Give us the girl, or we will kill you and take her anyway.”
Markus stood in front of Crystal again and pointed his wand at them. “I’ll take as many of you with me as I can.”
“Markus look!” Crystal put her hand on his shoulder.
He looked over to see the old King walking up to the wall. He put his hand on it and the surface rippled as if he had tossed a stone into water. “Go, now!”
Markus looked at Crystal and then at the King. Was this a trap, or was it their only chance? He had little time to think and it was the only opportunity left that did not end in a lot of death. So, taking Crystal by the hand, they ran through the wall and vanished from view.
Daniel Peyton is a fresh author whose talents includes, writing, sketching and dreaming out adventures in faraway places that he seeks to bring to paper. He lives in East Tennessee where he draws a great deal of inspiration from the unique landscape. He has been featured in short story e-zines as well as flash fiction blogs. Legacy of Dragonwand: Book I is the first book in the Dragonwand Trilogy. Outside of authoring books, Daniel is an award winning cook, artist, and embroiderer. He is a distinguished member of the Sigma Alpha Iota, and often can be found teaching classes at his church. Before he began seriously devoting himself to becoming a published author, he spent over ten years traveling the country as a member of the Miyagi Ryu Nosho Kai dance school, performing Okinawan classic and modern dances.