Knowing now what they did of their heritage, Melody found herself full of unanswered questions about her mother. Why hadn’t their mother told them of her lineage? If the Grimward could be trusted, and she saw no reason why the old spirit would lie, Mase Storms End descended from a long line of magic users. Sure, her mother would’ve been discreet with that knowledge. Had she been found out, she would’ve been hunted and killed by the ignorant, idol worshipping, peasantry.
Melody sniffled, wiping her wet cheeks on her robe. In the end, what difference did it make? Death at the hands of the people, or being murdered by Helleden’s minions? Either way, her parents were dead. They had lived a lonely life in exile from their own people.
“It’s not fair.”
Silurian stopped clearing the unmarked graves and looked her in the eyes. “No, it’s not, but I’m damn well going to make someone answer for their deaths. Mom and dad were quiet, unassuming, caring people who never did anybody wrong. Mom’s only crime was being born a Storms End. Dad’s only fault was loving her.”
Melody put her arm around his shoulders and pulled him in close. His words sparked a feeling deep inside her she hadn’t known herself capable of. Revenge.
A storm was imminent. It promised to be a bad one. It would rain hard, and with the rain would come death.
Within a grotto, high atop an active volcano, a wizard hunkered over a vision within the flames of a modest campfire, holding back long wisps of golden hair.
Something strange was occurring hundreds of leagues south of the cave. Something catastrophic. Tears dripped from the tip of the wizard’s nose. The omens foretold the return of a devastating power. A power that had annihilated the unspoiled tracts of the Innerworld a few moon cycles earlier. The same power that had besieged Quarrnaine Svelte and her expedition four years ago, but this time it was different. This time, the signs pointed to an absolute apocalypse—a total annihilation of Zephyr, and there was nothing the wizard could do to prevent it.
A cold wind swirled ash into the wizard’s face, burning small holes in the silken robes fluttering about the magic user’s slight frame.
Ignoring the acrid smoke, the wizard leaned closer to the flames, willing the vision to reveal a deeper understanding. Helleden Misenthorpe was at the root of this storm, of that there was little doubt, but there were other participants involved this time. One bigger than the malign sorcerer himself. If this magical storm of doom wasn’t strange enough, there was also something familiar about it. Something that shook the wizard to the core.
Scene: Pictured above: Treacher's Gorge.
The rain had found them, waiting until they stepped onto the goat path, and proceeded to assault them mercilessly for the remainder of that first day away from Redfire.
It took them four days to reach Treacher’s Gorge, a deep divide between several abutting mountains where the Spine intersected the Land’s End of the Undying Wall. The crumbling ledge they traversed, curved around the latter’s windswept peak, circling its southwest face, where the trail fell away fourteen thousand feet into the gorge.
If not for the bridge, Silurian would have believed they were the only people ever to witness this sight, so desolate was the area. He had stood upon this brink twice before, but the sheer depth of the yawning abyss still rendered him breathless.
Before them, a rickety wood and rope bridge stretched away to the center of the gap between four jagged peaks where it was bisected by a platform. From the platform, the bridge had originally split off in three directions, but they could see that the segment on the left had collapsed and a large piece of it was still attached, swirling about below the platform. Hopefully no one was on it when it fell.
OF TROLLS AND EVIL THINGS is a stand-alone prequel to the SOUL FORGE saga trilogy. OF TROLLS AND EVIL THINGS depicts the main characters, Melody and Silurian when they were young teenagers.
Pictured below is Mount Gloom in the daytime. Imagine running through here in the dark, trying to escape from a maniac bent on killing you...or worse! Ask Silurian and Melody what that's like.
Scene: Silurian sits dejected in the marketplace
Silurian hung his head between his knees in despair, his arms slumped between his legs. How long he sat there he didn’t know, but the squeak of a young girl’s voice broke through his melancholy. A grimy-faced girl, no more than eight, clad in a simple, tattered, brown tunic cinched about her tiny waist with a frayed length of filthy twine stood before the farmer’s table. He smiled at her pretty face hidden with dirt as she shyly placed her order.
The merchant gave her a skeptical look.
The girl produced a tiny burlap pouch bound by another piece of twine. Plunking it proudly upon the table, her face beaming, she proclaimed, “I have money.”
The merchant grunted, turning to his cart to assemble her order.
While the farmer’s back was to the table, a huge man approached. He bumped into the girl, almost knocking her to the ground. The girl shrank away from the malodorous man. Silurian could smell the putrid stench of sweat from where he sat.
The farmer glanced over his shoulder, surprised to find the large man where the girl had been. Raising his eyebrows at the large man, the farmer placed part of the girl’s order on the table, gave the newcomer a slight nod, and turned back to assemble the rest of the order.
While the farmer worked away, Silurian watched the man sneak the girl’s order into his pockets, and walk away.
Scene: Jebadiah Milford, and his son, Javen, return to their homestead after a busy day at the tournament.
On the way back to the homestead that night, Javen was unusually quiet. Jebadiah tried many times to draw his son out of the shell he had retreated into, asking him questions about the tournament, and commenting in general upon other tilts he had observed from the vantage point of the crowd. To all of his remarks, he received only distracted grunts. He frowned. Javen’s silence was out of character.
It wasn’t until they had tended the horses and were closing the barn doors that Javen spoke, his question catching Jebadiah off guard.
“Papa, why do people hate black men?”