Flickering Flames

Five of them sat huddled in blankets and tunics in the dark night. The moons rose high into the sky casting their multitude of light through the trees. A fire flared between them, its light whipping the trees and their faces. A man with a large bushy beard flung his hands into the air.

“He moved among the brush, their eyes as wide as cilean bread. “Step by step, he held his breath. As if any sound would alert the beast.”

A little boy and girl clutched their tunics closer to their face. They both held strong, but the tempt to cover their eyes and ears remained close. A women elegantly dressed in silk rested her head on her arms with eyes closed and listened as the story continued. Next to her was a brawny fellow. Dressed in leather and flowy fell fibers he listened with a grin and laughed as the kids shifted nervously and screamed through out the story.

“And just then” The storyteller stopped and looked at each of them “The Shelog burst through the wooden door. Teeth a plenty, snarling and three sets of arms swinging wildly at our hero” The children scream and covered their faces and the man laughed, but ushered them to uncover

“Unshield your selves, listen” he said.

“Our hero unsheathed his magic sword. It glowed with the everlasting blue light of the sea of klay where it came from. He fought the Shelog. One day, two days, three days, they fought for a week straight. The hero did not tire, did not waver. Through slashes and blood spilled they remained steadfast and on the thirteenth day. The Shelog fell to the hero’s blade”

The boy emerged from his blanket and tunic and gave a cheer while striking a heroic pose.
“I knew he would win” he said swinging an imaginary sword.

“Yeah, right, you hid too, I saw you” the girl peaked out from her tunic.

“Settle down” The women opened her eyes “Now you have had your story, time for bed. We have a long journey tomorrow”

They groaned, but obeyed. Each one bundled up once again in their tunics and blankets. They lay resting their heads on a bundle of thickets that they had collected. In no time both children were off to dreamland.

“Thank you Master Ulrich, your stories are always entertaining” the women said laying out her own bed. Her movements were graceful, like she was made out silken water.

Master Ulrich gave a smirk and lit his pipe. “Well, thank you mademe. Just doing my many talents I have been given. It also helps that we have such inspiration with us” he nodded at the man. “One that lives through such” he cleared his throat “events”

The man held a small smile with hazy eyes. His hair was a mix of blond and black that fell to his shoulders. “I am not sure what you are talking about Master Ulrich. Just a simple traveling bodyguard”

The women laid down and her eyes stared at him. “That’s what you say”

“That’s what I am” he gave a quick glance to her and then to Master Ulrich. “What makes you think other wise?”

Master Ulrich blew smoke from his mouth over flames “While it wasn’t thirteen days, it was two. While it wasn’t alone in a cabin in the woods, it was on the coast of Merril. Near the Shelog lair on the northeast coast. The hero was not alone when slaying the beast” He took full inhale of his pipe and let it leak out of his mouth as he talked “And our hero was seriously injured.” Master Ulrichs eyes shifted only slightly, but the man knew he was looking down at his left hand “Thankfully magic was able to restore, but not perfectly”

“Hero of Sildor, Master of Shadow and Murder of the High king of Melroe” The women’s eyes slowly opened “The ender of the world. It looks like I hired an interesting bodyguard”

“What of it?” The man said.

Master Ulrich rustled through his large sack and pulled out an object. He then tossed it across the fire at the man.

“I had to make sure” Master Ulrich stared.

The man reached towards the object and picked it up with shaky hands. It was a hilt of a sword. Ornate in nature holding blue and red gems around the guard. The bottom of the hilt looked like serpent. He clutched it and closed his eyes.

“I thought I would return it to you, even if it is not in one piece. The Shelog did more damage to you then we all thought.”

The fire crackled and the woods filled the silence with it’s concert of nature. The man after a long while opened his eyes and set the hilt to the side.

“That’s all in the past now. The sword is no more, the kingdoms have risen and the monsters have fallen back. There is no need for me. No need for more destruction. No need for more loss.” The man laid back into his makeshift bed “Thank you for returning an old treasure, Master Ulrich, but who you have found is not the man you saw back then.”

A puff of smoke lifted into the air and Master Ulrich tapped out his pipe.

“No man is the same as they were. Only now can it begin” Master Ulrich whispered. He cleaned off his pipe and returned it to his bag then joined everyone else and laid back into his bed. The fire flickered and burned bright, giving warmth and hope for the future.

I have started to re-listen to The Eye of the World by Robert Jordan. The scenes of travel and adventure make me remember my grand dreams of traveling around and seeing th world. While just like the book, adventure is a bit less fantastical then it is in the mind, it is still wonderful to experience. To take in a vast wonderland.