December 12, 2007
By Sara Hernandez, Doraville, GA

In a land not far away, the light has ceased to shine. The dragons have ceased their playing; the trees have ceased their swaying. Here evil has found its haven, and roaming around the land, a demonic leader instills fear into every being. Among the common cries of fear, however, a glimmer of hope is found; the hope of those who will come to bring the peace back to this land.
And so our story shall begin, in the Forest of Despair, where the first Caster of Light will come and fight the forces of evil.
~ ¤ ~
Gloom settled over the forest as night drew near. The old path that ran through the cluster of trees was barren except for one rider. A handsome man in his late twenties rode alone on this road. His dark eyes focused on the road ahead and strained to see in the thick fog. What kind of land have I stumbled upon? he thought to himself.
Suddenly, a faint glow appeared in the distance. Reigning in his horse, he squinted to see what it was. The trees began to howl around him, increasing by the minute. Suddenly, a large gust of wind emanating out of nowhere unseated him. Light surrounded him and out of the glow he heard a voice.
“Do not fear. I am the wizard of this land. I have come to tell you that you have been chosen to kill Terriguard.”
“Who’s Terriguard?” asked the man in a thick Scottish brogue.
“Your guide will explain. Even at this moment she awaits your arrival. Go now, and fulfill the prophecy!”
“Wait!” said the man as he sprang up, but the light disappeared vanished, almost as suddenly as it appeared. He blinked and looked around. “’Twas a dream,” he said to himself as he mounted his horse. “I’ll tell me self ‘twas all a dream.
~ ¤ ~
The next morning the stranger was awakened by droplets of rain on his face. Getting up with a grumble about the poor weather, he once again began his journey. After riding a good piece on the muddy road, he heard a gruff voice.
Looking up, he saw a black, strange looking figure standing in the road, spear in hand.
“Who are you and what’s your business?”
“Me name is Doshem, and me business is of no concern to you.”
The creature smiled a wicked grin. “We make sure that we know all of the people who pass through. It’s the king’s command.”
“That may be so, but I don’t know your king, and I do not wish to speak to you.” Doshem said angrily.
“No need,” replied the creature, “We know that you were sent here to kill Terriguard. We also know that we cannot let you do that.”
“We?” asked Doshem. As soon as the word had left his mouth, he felt his breath leave his body, then strong hands grabbed his arms, twisting them behind his back.
“It’s a good thing we caught you,” one said, pressing a spear to his neck, “Because we would’ve been in big trouble if we wouldn’t of.”
“Too bad you won’t get away with it,” a voice said. Suddenly another hooded figure landed on top of the first. Doshem watched in horror and awe as they grappled with each other. He struggled to be free of his captor, but stopped suddenly as he felt cold steel press against his neck.
“You’d be wise not to move sir!”
His eyes riveted toward the hooded figure once more. Surprise mixed with relief as he realized that the first creature was dead. The person turned towards them. Angry eyes took in the situation.
“Release him beast!”
“Hah!” cried the beast. “Drop your sword, or he dies.”
“Not a chance.”
The person shoved his sword into the ground. Laughter rumbled through the beast’s body sending chills down Doshem’s spine. “You challenge me to a duel?”
A single nod from the hooded figure.
The beast shoved Doshem to the ground and bound his hands. Then turning, he took his stance. “To the death then,” he growled.
The hooded figure struck first and the beast parried easily. Swords clanged together. Rain poured down mercilessly, and thunder roared across the sky. The beast with a frustrated gesture, jabbed angrily at his opponent. With a quick move, it ducked, and jammed its elbow into the beast’s stomach. The beast fell back as his sword flew out of his hands. His opponent placed its foot on the beast’s chest and raised its sword. The hood, having fallen off, revealed long, brown hair that was clinging to a smooth, fair face. Breathing hard, the damsel gazed at the beast for a moment; then, lowering her sword, stepped back.
“Go. Prepare your brother,” she whispered furiously.
The wide-eyed beast scurried away into the rain.
Doshem watched as the creature disappeared from sight. He couldn’t believe what this woman had done. Rage began to build up within him. She walked over and cut his bonds loose.
“What were ye thinkin’?” he asked as he stood, but stopped when he turned towards her. “Lass?”
“I’m fine,” she said turning and pressing a hand to her upper arm, “It’s... just a scratch.”
“Let me take a look see,” he said, with a furrowed brow.
“It’s not necessary,” she insisted.
Gripping her shoulders, he turned her around, and felt her tense at his touch.
“Look at me,” he ordered.
Slowly her long, dark lashes raised revealing clear violet eyes that looked deep into his blue ones. A strand of hair stuck to her forehead. Cupping her hand, he raised it to inspect the gash. A small gash ran across the front of her upper arm. He touched it gently.
She ground her teeth as a wave of pain went up her arm.
“Tisn’t big.” he said raising his hand.
His eyes widened, and he gasped at what he saw. The part of the cut he had touched had disappeared. Reaching out he placed his hand over the entire cut. He felt her stiffen in pain beneath his touch.
“’Tis not possible,” he breathed as he removed his hand, and examined her arm.
“What?” she asked anxiously.
“The cut,” he said, “Tis gone.”
“What!?” she cried in disbelief. Jerking away she inspected her arm carefully. She looked up at him with wide eyes. “How did you do that?”
“I do not know, lass,” he said, still puzzled. “I merely touched it.”
Excitement flared in her eyes. “The one from the prophecy,” she whispered.
He narrowed his eyes. “Prophecy?”
“Didn’t the wizard tell you about it?” she asked uncertainly.
“Aye,” he said remembering the day before, “’Twas he real?”
“Very. He came to me two days ago.”
“Well, then ye must be me guide,” he responded.
“My name is Gaedamal,” she said extending her hand.
Enveloping her pale hand in his tan one, he smiled. “Doshem,” he replied. “If I may ask a question, lass. How did ye know that I was the one of the prophecy?”
“The prophecy says that the Guide and the Chosen One will have a special bond that will allow them to heal each other,” she replied.
“Ah,” he said, “That explains it.”
She shifted nervously. “We better get going,” she said quietly, “We need to make it to the Meadow of Promise by tomorrow afternoon.”
Retrieving his sword, he whistled to his horse. “I assume ye have a ride, lass.”
Grinning, she whistled as well, and out of the forest galloped the finest stallion he’d ever seen. “Yes,” she said mounting. “I do.”
Shaking his head, he mounted his steed and followed her. “Where to now?”
“We’ll go through the forest to reach the Meadow of Promise.”
With a nod, they set off.
~ ¤ ~
Darkness was enveloping the forest as the weary pair stopped to camp in the trees. Doshem dismounted and went over to Gaedamal’s horse.
“May I assist ye, lass?” he asked sheepishly.
“Yes,” she replied wearily, accepting his offered hand. “Thank you.”
Steadying her gently, he lowered her to the ground.
“Well,” he said suddenly, not sure of what to do, “I’ll start a fire.”
After gathering some sticks, he began to work on the fire, and in a few minutes the pile of sticks gave off a cheerful glow. Gaedamal expertly began to cook some type of meat Doshem didn’t recognize. However, at that particular moment, anything would taste good. As he lay down to rest and watch Gaedamal, the weariness of the day suddenly came upon him, and he felt his eyelids begin to droop.
Doshem woke with a start. “Aye,” he replied, “what is it?”
“Your food,” she replied with a grin, “You’ll need your nourishment as well as your rest to fight Terriguard, Sir Doshem.”
Receiving the plate in front of him, he bit into the meat eagerly. A delicious flavor erupted in his mouth and his eyes widened in surprise. Lifting his eyes, he found Gaedamal watching him.
“Well?” she asked.
Doshem swallowed, and licked his lips. “’Tis unlike anything I’ve ever had. What is it?”
“Tis a secret,” she replied mocking his accent, her eyes sparkling mischievously.
“Very well,” he replied. “Ye may keep this a secret, but would it be too much to ask, if ye could explain the prophecy to me. I dinna even know what I’m getting me self into.”
She smiled and lay on her back to stare at the sky. “It’s simple really,” she replied. “This land used to be beautiful and flourished in abundance. It was a wonderful place.” He could see her eyes light up with the memory, but suddenly they darkened. “Then, the evil ruler came. He destroyed anything that was worthwhile in this place. He cast a spell over it and killed all the wizards. All that is, except for the one who visited you.” She sighed. “He is the only one left. He travels the land and tells of things that will be. He is the one who chooses the guides and keeps our spirits high.” She paused and stared into the darkness. She continued. “He told us, that you would be coming soon. That you would be the first to help rid this land of this dark ruler.” She inhaled deeply. “And now, you have come.”
Doshem lay still and thought of all the things she had told him. He became very quiet as he thought of being chosen to help these people. Why me? he asked himself. They do not even know me. I have no special powers . I’ll just spread misery. He turned on his side and looked intently at her. “Why me?” he asked a loud.
“I do not know,” she replied. “Agazim chose you. He must know something about you that we do not.”
“Who’s Agazim?”
“He is the Saviour of the world, Doshem. He died many years ago, and there is a prophecy that he will return soon to retrieve his followers.”
“I’ve never heard of such a thing,” he replied. “How does this man know so much? Where does he live?”
Now she turned to look at him, her violet eyes darkening with passion. “He is no man, Doshem. He is a great, powerful spirit who lives in the heavens. We cannot see him, but he can see all of us,” she paused, her eyes growing more excited by the minute. “Those who accept and follow him will have everlasting life and a mansion in heaven.”
His eyes were thoughtful for a moment. “Sounds too good to be true,” he finally replied.
“It is good,” she replied.
He felt tension creep up his neck. A sudden urge to change the subject overtook him. “Where did ye come from, lass?” he asked.
The light dimmed in her eyes as she lay back down. “I’m from a village not far from here.”
“Do ye have any family?” he asked.
She stiffened for a moment. Tears began to well up in her eyes, but she choked them back. “No,” she replied softly. “They are all dead.”
Doshem heard her voice change and slapped himself inwardly. “I’m sorry, lass,” he replied. “I dinna want to cause ye pain.”
“It’s alright,” she replied. “What about you? Do you have any family?”
“Alas,” he sighed, “me family died during a war, and me wife died giving birth to our first born who departed shortly thereafter.”
“Must be hard not to have them with you,” she replied sympathetically. She paused for several moments, and then continued uncertainly. “My husband was lost to the hands of the dark ruler two nights after we wed. He was stubborn and foolish, so he challenged him to a duel. I lost my first born in labor several months later.”
Doshem turned his heard towards her. Her pale face glowed in the firelight. “Ye’ve been through quite a lot, lass.”
“It hasn’t been so bad,” she replied quietly turning her head to look at him. “I’ve had Agazim to guide me.”
“Why did he allow such things to happen in the first place?” he asked annoyed that the subject had returned.
She smiled at him gently. “He tests us to see if we will still trust in him.”
“Do ye, lass?”
Doshem looked back up at the sky. Stars were just beginning to peek out.
“Sleep well Doshem,” he heard her gentle voice say. Her voice stirred his inner soul.
“Aye. Ye too, Gaedamal,” he replied in a deep voice.
Gaedamal heard these words and felt something stir inside her heart. Something akin to hope, but mostly affection that she had surprisingly acquired for this man in the short time she had known him.
~ ¤ ~
A gloomy darkness met Doshem as he opened his eyes. Nothing stirred around him as he woke. The eerie silence made him uneasy as he pushed himself up to a sitting position. Looking around, he realized he was alone.
“Gaedamal,” he whispered.
No answer.
He quickly rose to his feet, and whirled around. “Gaedamal! Where are ye lass?” He reached his horse, and mounted. Just, as he whirled around, he heard a voice.
“Up so early?”
He turned and felt a surge of relief to see Gaedamal standing there, a strange animal in her hand. Dismounting, he walked towards her.
“Where were ye?”
She smiled and held the animal up. “Catching our breakfast.”
He frowned. “I dinna recognize it. What be it?”
She smiled again, and moved past him to the dying fire. “It’s called an Ervark.” Placing more sticks on the fire, she looked at him. “They’re quite tasty. Have you ever skinned an animal?” she asked.
“Good,” she replied placing a knife next to the Ervark.
He knelt down beside her and picked up the knife and the strange looking creature. Slowly, he began to skin it. “Will we arrive today?”
“Yes,” she said quietly. She stared into the flames as they grew. So many emotions filled her as she thought of what lay ahead for her and Doshem. The prophecy had clearly stated that Doshem would be the one, and that she would guide him, but it said nothing of the outcome. Would he die? She couldn’t bear to see another person she cared for suffer.
“What then?”
She exhaled slowly through her lips. “Whatever Agazim wills.”
His face hardened and he sighed. “Why must ye keep bringing up that fairy tale?”
“He’s no fairy tale Doshem,” she replied. “He’s very real.”
He turned on her angrily. “If he’s so real, why did he let me wife and your husband die? And why dinna he save ye’r child and mine?” Tears came to his eyes as he stared at her compassionate expression. “Why did he let the king of this land rule to begin with? Why does he let so much pain to be dished out on us? Does he not care?” His voice broke on this last word.
Gaedamal felt moisture rise in her eyes as she looked at his anguished face. His beautiful blue eyes filled grief, and confusion. “Doshem,” she whispered.
Tears streamed down his face as sobs wracked his body. He turned away from her. “I’m sorry lass. I just do not understand.”
She touched his shoulder forcing him to look at her. “Doshem,” she whispered. “Agazim did none of those things, but He did allow them. He allowed them to strengthen us. To make us trust Him. Oh Doshem, He cares so much.”
He looked into her pleading eyes, eyes full of love and hope. His mouth opened as if he wanted to say something, then swallowing he looked down at the animal and began to work on it.
Gaedamal stood and walked to the horses. Grief filled her heart for Doshem. Make him understand Saviour. Show him your love. Breathing deeply, she turned to face him and once again knelt beside him. “We’ll head out after we eat,” she said softly.
~ ¤ ~
Wind whipped at their faces as they came to the edge of the Forest of Darkness. Thunder and lightning could be heard in the distance, and darkness began enveloping them.
“More rain?” asked Doshem.
“Yes,” she replied. “It’s very common.”
“Where are we?”
“The Meadow of Promise.”
He looked out over the large meadow. Emotions filled him as thought of what was about to occur. In the distance he spotted an object coming towards them. Looking over at Gaedamal, he saw her eyes were riveted on it as well.
She inhaled shakily. “Terriguard.” Turning towards him, she took out her sword. Tapping it to her forehead, she smiled. “Ready?”
Unsheathing his sword, he looked at her confidant face. “Aye lass,” he replied, “but I was not aware that ye were going to fight with me.”
“Would I be your guide if I didn’t?”
With a smile, he turned to look at the creature once more that seemed incredibly larger.
Gaedamal felt her heart pound as they guided their horses towards the creature that took her family from her. Agazim, she pleaded, Give me strength to conquer this beast. Thy will be done. She glanced at Doshem. And guide Doshem to you. He needs you.
A large growl echoed throughout the meadow. Doshem and Gaedamal reigned in their horses as they shied. “Steady,” whispered Doshem. He now had a full view of the creature.
Large yellow eyes stared at them with confidence, and large teeth protruded from an even larger mouth. Black hairs covered the beast, and claws emerged from the two hands and feet. It stopped not far from them and growled again.
They waited for a move. Suddenly the beast struck. His hand swiped for them. Gaedamal swerved her horse and avoided the beast’s claws. Doshem felt a pain erupt in his side as he fell to the slick ground. He looked up and saw the creature looming above him. Claws came at him again. He swiped his sword and struck the creature’s hand. A scream of anger and pain erupted from it, and it reared up. Swiping at him again, he threw him up and slammed him into the ground. Doshem felt pain and a dark film begin to envelop him.
Gaedamal whirled her horse around and saw Doshem hit the ground. Jamming her feet into her horse’s side, she raced towards the beast. Pulling up short of it, she swallowed. “This way beast!”
The beast turned and spotted her. It angrily lumbered towards her and let out a full-scale roar. She raised her sword and swiped at the beast as she galloped past him. The sword caught the beast on the chest, filling it with anger. With one angry swing, the beast unseated her. She fell hard to the ground. The breath left her body and she struggled to get up. Before she had a chance to even think she saw the beast above her. Pain exploded through her body as the beast brought down his claws, and pinned her to the ground. She gasped as her world became fuzzy.
Doshem shoved himself up to his knees and looked around as he heard the beast roar. Horror filled him as he spotted Gaedamal pinned to the ground. Snatching up his sword, he heaved himself upward and ran towards the beast. The beast turned his head, met his eyes, and grinned.
“Your life or hers,” it said growling. “Who’s will it be?”
His eyes riveted to Gaedamal’s face. Her eyes were shut tight against the pain. Her face was beginning to get pale. Anger swept through him as he walked closer to the beast. Throwing down his sword he opened his arms wide for a moment then went down to his side. “I’m yours,” he said.
The beast cackled as his hand came up releasing Gaedamal. She struggled for air and attempted to roll over. Her eyes opened and found his. Eyes filled with pain and horror stared at him. The beast opened its jaws and began to lower his head. Doshem gripped the hilt of his hidden dagger, and plunged it into the monster’s eye. The monster roared in pain and clutched his head. Doshem raced towards the beast and found its heart. With a mighty shove he drove the dagger deep into the monster’s heart. The beast let out a roar and stumbled backwards. With a mighty pound, he fell to the ground, lifeless.
Breathing hard, Doshem ran to Gaedamal, and fell to his knees. Gently placing his arm behind her shoulders, he drew her head up against his chest.
“Gaedamal,” he whispered. She looked up at him. “I’ll heal ye.”
She shook her head. “No,” she whispered. “Agazim… the bond has ended.” She paused and drew a shaky breath. “Only He can save me.” Her voice trailed off as her eyes shut. “Trust him,” she whispered. “Trust him.”
“Gaedamal,” he said. “Do not go. Please lass.” Her chest rose and fell slowly. He drew her to him and closed his eyes. “Agazim,” he whispered. “Please, if ye are up there. Save her. Heal her. Only ye can do that.”
Trust him. Gaedamal’s words burned into his mind. He looked up into the rain. I trust ye. Save me, and cleanse me. Give me a chance. Give her a chance. Laying her down on the ground, he hung his head and fought to control the tears that threatened to spill.
The wind began to pick up around him, and light began to surround them. He opened his eyes, and looked up. His eyes shut on instinct as they came in contact with the bright light. He struggled to get up, but was pushed back by the wind. “Gaedamal!” he screamed.
Suddenly, the light was gone, and he fell to the ground. Shaking his head, he forced himself up, and looked around. He spotted Gaedamal next to him. Shaking, he reached out towards her. “Gaedamal?”
She shifted and groaned as she tried to open her eyes. Exhaustion filled her body. Breathing deeply, she opened her eyes slowly. A familiar face loomed above her. “Doshem?” she whispered.
Relief swept through him. “Aye lass. ‘Tis me.”
“You did it,” she said. “You conquered Terriguard.”
“Nay lass,” he replied. “We did it. Together. And with Agazim.”
She smiled wanly. “Aye. We did, didn’t we.”
“Och lass, ye scared me. Do not ever do that again.”
She smiled again. “I won’t”
He stared at her and extended his hand. She accepted it and stood steadying herself. Turning, they walked slowly to their horses and mounted. Once done they rode away into the forest. To their future.

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