(COMEDY/FANTASY) – THE THREE-LEGGED KNIGHT returns for another adventure! After saving a young man named Stenly, the two join forces with a mysterious woman, Blair, to vanquish a dark witch who plagues the area. They must acquire three ancient artifacts to assemble a powerful magical staff, but along the way, the darkness finds them.
Stenly ran with all his might. He ran for his life. His legs were like pasta, hard and sturdy, but each step was another second in boiling water getting softer and softer. Stenly fought his way to the top of a hill, pulling himself up by the support of dewy grass, and then took a moment to look behind him.
There was no one riding against the backdrop of endless farmland and rolling green hills. No fiery torches, or bells of alarm. Yet, with painful heaving breaths, Stenly turned around to face the distant mountains and continued running.
It was sometime later, such that the risen sun had dried the grass under his muddy boots, that Stenly turned around to face the sound he’d been dreading to hear. A single rider atop his steed, with silver armor glinting in the light of the cloudless sky, was heading straight towards him. There wasn’t much strength left to run, and his stride resembled more of a shuffle now, but Stenly pushed forward. The mountains and forest were still many miles off, and there was no hope to reach it. The sound of the horse’s hooves grew louder, and Stenly’s hope faded as his legs gave out.
“My dear fellow!” came a voice from beside Stenly.
Stenly opened his eyes and squinted from the blinding sunlight above. He brought his hand up as a shield and saw a man squatting before him with a handsome face and a broad white smile. The man’s hair was golden and his eyes of the brightest blue. The rest of his body was in full armor—the armor of a knight.
“You are saved, my good man,” said the knight. “Whatever your perils, they are now over.”
“What?” Stenly said, not believing his ears.
“You are saved!” the knight’s voice was triumphant and playful.
Stenly sat up and looked around, still feeling confused. He expected a sword to the chest, not a cheerful knight expressing good tidings. Behind the knight, a single horse grazed a few feet away. Stenly looked back to the knight and then immediately back to the horse. He stared, then blinked and rubbed his eyes, but nothing changed the fact that this horse had only three legs.
Mom: I knew it! (claps)
Peter: Mom? What are you doing in here? How long have you been sitting on my bed?”
Mom: What…? I wanted to hear the new story! It’s that knight… sir, sir Morgan whatever, right?! The three-legged knight again?
Peter: Umm, yea, but… you blew the big reveal.
Mom: Oh! Oops… sorry.
Peter: if you’re going to listen, you can’t keep interrupting.
Mom: Ok… not another word from me, continue on my little author!
Peter: [breaths in annoyance] Ok… where was I?
He stared, then blinked and rubbed his eyes, but nothing changed the fact that this horse had only three legs. And it wasn’t missing a leg, instead, where there should be two legs in the front, this horse had one massive leg protruding from its chest. It was hard to look at, even grotesque.
“What’s wrong with your horse?” Stenly said.
The knight looked affronted and stood up straight. “There is nothing wrong with dear Turtle. He is a loyal steed, hardened in battle!”
“I’m sorry,” Stenly said quickly. “I didn’t mean to suggest anything, I just never saw a horse like—wait, his name is Turtle?”
“Aha! Quite alright, my young man. Turtle has thick skin indeed.” The knight slapped the horse’s backside, and Turtle didn’t move or budge from his grazing.
Stenly got to his feet, his legs still feeling shaky. “Sir,” he began, “where were you heading?”
“Towards my destiny, of course!”
“Which is where?”
“Wherever evil lurks, for I am to vanquish all evil, and save the world”—the knight moved closer to Stenly with urgency, placing his hands on Stenly’s shoulders—”Tell me, my fine fellow, do you know of such evil? Where my greatness is needed?”
Stenly thought to himself quickly. Yes, he actually did know of such evil—there were rumors—but he wanted to get away from such dangers not move towards them. Yet, to go there, would solve his first problem of getting out of the country. Away from anyone who might know his name.
“Yes, I have heard of an evil like that,” Stenly said. “There are rumors of a darkness that is spreading over the Saxon territory up north. Rumors of dark magic, and witches.”
The knight looked absolutely thrilled. “My friend! That is it! Turtle!”—the knight turned to his horse—”It is time for our next adventure!”
“I can show you the way,” Stenly called after him, desperation in his voice. “If you take me with you, I shall be in your debt and”—Stenly paused—”and I shall help you on your quest.”
“Then we ride!” said the knight, and he swiftly mounted Turtle, who continued to graze. With a little help from the knight, Stenly also mounted the steed.
“My name is Stenly, by the way. What shall I call you?”
The knight turned his head around, his golden hair sparkling in the sunlight. “I am Sir Morgandundunston!” He kicked the horse, and they began to ride toward the mountains.
Many days followed riding through rocky terrain and through deep valleys thick with trees. The days and nights grew colder, yet the snows had not yet begun to fall. Fortunately, while passing through the first Saxon village, they were able to secure extra supplies and another horse for Stenly. Now, they blended in with the Saxon people, all clad in garments made of thick firs—coats, pants, boots, and gloves. Sir Morgandundunston wore a fir rug like a cape over his armor.
They followed the stories of villagers, and the directions of a few clan leaders to where the darkness was said to be residing. The darkness that killed warriors who went to face it, and left farmers missing their entire stockpile in a single night—a feat no petty robber could manage. With their intentions to go and meet this darkness, and Sir Morgandundunston’s assurance that he would save them all, the Saxon’s offered them no resistance.
Nearing their destination, the base of the tallest mountain in the area, Stenly noticed that Sir Morgandundunston was looking around utterly perplexed.
“What’s the matter?” Stenly asked.
“We don’t seem to be heading in the right direction,” he said.
“They told us the source is just there.” Stenly pointed to the mountain.
Sir Morgandundunston shook his head and smiled like an adult about to explain something to a naive child. “My dear fellow, we are in search of a darkness. It is absolutely beautiful and bright here!”
“The darkness is just a metaphor,” Stenly said.
Sir Morgandundunston’s face looked awed. “Aha! I almost fought a meteor once.”
“No. What?” Stenly said. “I said a met-a-phor. The darkness is just something evil that we don’t understand, not actual darkness.”
Sir Morgandundunston nodded his head but didn’t say anything else. At the base of the mountain was a path between two large boulders heading into a dense forest. Upon one of the boulders sat a woman dressed as a Saxon in all firs. Her hair was dark, long and braided, hanging over her shoulder. She sat casually like she’d been waiting there for their arrival. One leg dangling over the edge while leaning back on her elbow.
“Welcome, brave souls,” she said, her voice tired.
Stenly stopped his horse’s motion, but Sir Morgandundunston moved forward without hesitation.
“My lady, we are looking for an evil witch that must be vanquished!” Sir Morgandundunston said.
The woman sat up straight on her boulder, almost face to face with the knight. “You’ve come to the right place. There is indeed evil magic here, yet I warn you, all who have tried to face it have died.”
“Do we seem to be cowards?” Sir Morgandundunston laughed. “I am the savior of Nussex!”
The woman looked passed the knight to Stenly. “Well, he looks a little squeamish.”
Stenly opened his mouth, but no words came out in retort. The woman laughed, and he grew angry. Stenly kicked his horse forward beside Sir Morgandundunston, glaring at her fiercely.
“Why are you here?” Stenly said, and her laughter ceased.
“You can think of me as a guide,” she said. “I know what you’re after, and what you need to do it, but as I said… everyone who has attempted has died.”
“Do not fear my lady, I will protect you!” Sir Morgandundunston said, and the woman looked at him with uncertainty.
“My name is Blair,” she said. “What shall I call you?”
“I am Sir Morgandundunston, and this is Stenly.”
Blair looked at Stenly with a concentrated gaze, “Is Stenly your real name?”
“Yes, of course,” he said defensively.
Blair looked at him further, but then shrugged and turned back to face them both. “In order to defeat the dark magic, you’ll need magic of your own. This mountain holds the pieces to an ancient staff called the Pillar of Galbraith. If you can obtain the three artifacts, and assemble the Pillar, you will have a great power that can vanquish the dark magic here.”
“Sounds perilous!” Sir Morgandundunston grinned with excitement. “Lead on, my lady!”
“Wait,” Stenly said, and he lowered his voice, trying to whisper to Sir Morgandundunston. “Isn’t it possible that she’s the witch? I mean, why would she be helping us? She could be leading us to our deaths like all the others for some sort of fun.”
Sir Morgandundunston looked at Stenly with his bright blue eyes, and back to Blair, and then back to Stenly. “Nonsense, my fellow. Nonsense. I would know a witch if I saw one, and Blair here is no witch.” Sir Morgandundunston laughed, and she laughed with him.
Stenly’s eyes remained on Blair, and he spoke with a raised voice. “What are these three pieces we need to obtain?”
Blair’s laughter died, and she looked to Stenly seriously. “First you need The Blood Stone, which you’ll need to contain the second artifact: The Eternal Flame. Finally, The Golden Staff.”
“What are we waiting for?” Sir Morgandundunston said.
“I’ll ride with you,” Blair said, hopping off her boulder and moving towards Stenly. Without waiting for approval or protest, she mounted the horse behind Stenly and wrapped her arm around his waist. She pointed over his shoulder with her other hand. “The Blood Stone lies at the bottom of a lake a few miles up the mountain.”
Sir Morgandundunston reared Turtle onto its hind legs and then took off into the forest. Stenly glanced back at Blair and then followed after the knight.
“What’s that?” Stenly said, pointing off into the shadows of the dense forest. They’d been riding in silence for the last half hour, and his voice seemed to not belong.
“Danger?” Sir Morgandundunston said, and he brandished his sword looking around. “Cowardly foe, show yourself!”
“It’s just a well,” Blair said simply, following Stenly’s eyes.
“That’s not like any well I’ve seen,” Stenly said, his eyes fixed on a black hole in the earth, in the thick of the trees, several yards off the trail. There were no stones around it–like he’d expect from a well–or a rope with a bucket, just a black hole.
“Keep your focus, Stenly,” Blair said. “We’re here.”
Stenly turned his head away from the well to see the trail open upon a great alpine lake surrounded by sandy shores. At the sight of it, both Sir Morgandundunston and Stenly immediately stopped their horses’ stride. Stenly gulped back a pang of fear. Around the lake were several abandoned boats, canoes, and ores—remnants of past attempts to achieve the stone. Yet, what caused them to pause, and Stenly’s fear to mount, was the color of the water.
“Is that…” Stenly began, but couldn’t find the words.
Blair spoke in his ear, “It’s not blood, just a product of the stone’s magic. If you hold the water in your hands, it will look quite normal.”
Stenly’s heart began to calm down a little, and Sir Morgandundunston began to move forward.
“Wait!” Blair called after him, and Sir Morgandundunston turned around. “You can’t just go after the stone. There are magical defenses.”
“Then, I shall conquer them!” Sir Morgandundunston said.
“Okay…” Blair said. “Well, the stone is placed at the bottom of the lake in the very center. But, all who get near the stone become entranced by it. They dive in after the stone, and they drown while simply staring at it.”
“Then how do we retrieve the stone?” Stenly said.
“I don’t know,” she said. “But there is more. We have to go to the eastern shore, over there.”
When they arrived where Blair had taken them, she dismounted from the horse. Stenly and Sir Morgandundunston followed. She walked them over to a large circular rock on the shoreline. Half of it was encircled by the lake, and the other half surrounded by the sandy shore. The three of them stood around the rock. There were carvings in the stone, words in a language Stenly didn’t understand.
“What does it say?” Stenly asked.
“It just says ‘Blood Stone,’” Blair said. “Just a marker, as if we needed proof this was the right location”—she pointed to the blood-colored lake—“but I’ve looked all around the lake for any other clues or carvings, and there’s nothing.”
Stenly studied the rock as Blair watched when the sound of something large sliding over the ground filled the air. Looking up, they saw Sir Morgandundunston dragging a small boat to the lake’s edge.
“What are you doing?” Stenly called after him.
Sir Morgandundunston looked back with a grin. “I’m going to get the stone, of course!”
Blair chimed in, “But, didn’t you hear what I said? You’ll become entranced by the magic, and you’ll drown!”
“I assure you,” Sir Morgandundunston said, “that no magical trance shall befall me. This stone has met its match!”
Before either of them could protest further, Sir Morgandundunston hopped into the boat and began to row away from the shore.
Together, Blair and Stenly poured over the rock with great fervor.
“It’s no use,” Blair said. “I’ve looked at this rock a hundred times. There’s nothing else but the words, ‘blood,’ and ‘stone.’”
“Is there any other translation of the language?” Stenly said.
They heard the sound of a splash, and they looked to the center of the lake where the small boat now floated alone with no passenger inside.
“Then, it has to be obvious,” Stenly said. “Blood-stone.” He had an idea and looked around. “Do you have a knife? Something sharp?”
Blair pulled a knife from her boot and handed it to Stenly. The ripples in the lake from the knight’s initial splash had subsided now. There was no time to delay, and so, with a racing heart, Stenly cut the palm of his hand and then smeared the blood onto the rock.
He looked up at the lake, his bleeding hand still resting on the stone. Just when he thought nothing would happen, something shot from the circular rock, under the water, to the center of the lake. It was like an underwater stream connected the two stones—the one under the water, and the one above the water. Stenly didn’t dare move his hand, and Blair placed her hand over his, locking it in place, surely having the same idea.
The water at the base of their stone began to part. Like a banana peel, the water split all the way to the center of the lake. Sir Morgandundunston emerged standing, drenched from head to toe, staring at a dark red ruby the size of a fist on the lake floor.
Sir Morgandundunston bent down, seemingly unaware of the wall of water around him, and picked up the stone. He turned back to the shore and held it up to the sky. When he returned, Blair removed her hand from Stenly’s, and Stenly removed his bloody hand from the stone. The water returned to its position with a splash, and the lake was now a brilliant turquoise color.
“I told you no trance would take me!” Sir Morgandundunston said.
Stenly looked at him and held his arm out to the lake, but Sir Morgandundunston didn’t seem to understand. Blair stared at the Blood Stone with excitement, and then Stenly watched the excitement turn into fear as she looked around them.
“What are you looking for?” Stenly said.
Blair spoke in a hushed tone, “If this stone is to give us the power to vanquish a dark witch, then wouldn’t that dark witch be watching it?”
“I was thinking that… I mean, why hasn’t the witch taken the stone for herself?”
“Because the stone is protected,” Blair said, still looking around. “No one who possesses magic may overcome the magical protection upon the artifacts.”
“How do you know that?” Stenly said, but Blair had already moved away towards Sir Morgandundunston.
Blair got the stone from the knight, and she examined it. She held it up to the light, rubbed it, and then finally handed it back to him.
“I can’t believe you’ve done it,” Blair said, mostly speaking to Stenly.
“A promise of a knight,” said Sir Morgandundunston, “is a promise you can always count on! Now, we must not dawdle in our quest–get too proud. Quick, mount your steed Stenly—Blair. We move on to the next quest! To the Eternal Flame!”
Two cups rested on a stone column at chest height. Words, carved in the strange language Stenly could not read, went down the column in four lines. The column itself sat in the middle of an open and flat area like a natural stone terrace on the side of the mountain. Looking out from the terrace, suspended in the air between themselves and a distant mountain peak, a thousand feet or more above the valley floor, hung the Eternal Flame. It burned bright with a mix of violet and orange, impossibly out of reach.
“How does this work?” Stenly asked, looking to Blair, as Sir Morgandundunston stood on the edge of the cliff looking out to the Eternal Flame.
“The Blood-Stone can absorb the Eternal Flame,” Blair said, “but the question is how to reach it? That’s where these cups come into play.”
“What do the carvings say?” Stenly said, and with the sound of clunking armor, Sir Morgandundunston joined them by the column.
“It says,” Blair said, “Drain Cup, Sink or Float, Cup Refill, Drain Cup.”
“Have others tried this?” Stenly said, scratching his head.
“Yes,” Blair said. “Some have tried to figure this out before trying for the Blood-Stone, but nothing ever came of it. Every time someone drinks from one of the cups, the cups immediately refill themselves.”
“So,” Stenly began, hand on his chin in thought, “one makes the drinker sink if they go off the edge, and the other will make the drinker float over the valley?”
“I believe so,” Blair said. “The trick is that the liquid in the cups are both clear, and they have no smell, so there’s no discernible difference between them.”
“Then it is simple,” said Sir Morgandundunston. “It is a game of chance. I shall tie a rope around my waist, drain a cup, and leap for the Eternal Flame! If I sink, I try again.”
“Others have tried that,” Blair said. “They always fall, and then eventually give up.”
“Lesser men simply lack the will to continue on. I do not!” Sir Morgandundunston said. “No matter how many attempts, I will not falter from our mission. Turtle!” Sir Morgandundunston walked away from the cups and pulled a long rope from the supplies that Turtle was carrying.
“Have people tried drinking both cups at the same time?” Stenly asked, turning back to the column and Blair.
“Yes,” Blair said. “No luck there. They’ve also tried two different people, each drinking one of the cups at the same time. Also, nothing.”
Sir Morgandundunston stepped between Blair and Stenly and chose the cup on the left. He swallowed the contents in one gulp and placed the cup back on the column. It was already refilled with the clear liquid. Then, Sir Morgandundunston stepped towards the edge of the cliff. A rope meandered from his waist to the base of a tree trunk on the outskirt of the stone terrace.
“The Eternal Flame!” Sir Morgandundunston shouted, fist in the air as he leaped off.
He immediately plummeted straight down. Stenly heard his falling scream, and the clank of his armor echoed in the valley as he slammed into the side of the mountain. The rope now taught. A minute later, Sir Morgandundunston pulled himself up onto the terrace. Without any hesitation, he walked back over to the stone column.
“One step closer!” Sir Morgandundunston said, and drained the cup on the right.
Attempt after attempt filled the air with the yells of Sir Morgandundunston falling several feet before the rope held him back and slammed his body into the mountainside. Each time, the knight climbed back up and walked over to Stenly and Blair to try again. His armor was becoming dented and scraped, his hair darkening with sweat, but his demeanor remained unflinchingly optimistic.
“I believe I know the problem,” Sir Morgandundunston said, and he untied the rope from his waist as he walked over to the column.
“What are you doing?” Stenly and Blair said at the same time.
“It must be a question of faith and belief!” Sir Morgandundunston said. “I must swallow the contents and take a leap of faith.”
“You’ll die,” Blair said.
“If I die, then the other cup will be the one to drink, and then you, dear Stenly, can take your own leap of faith!”
“No, that doesn’t make any sense!” Stenly said, but Sir Morgandundunston had already taken a cup from the column and drained it.
“Now or never, Stenly,” Blair said.
“Drain cup, drain cup, drain cup,” Stenly repeated to himself, thinking fast. Another wild idea occurred, and he acted on his instinct.
Stenly grabbed both cups and tipped them over, pouring their contents to the ground, draining the cups in a different way. Clear liquid splashed to their feet from the one cup, but the other liquid was now suspended in the air and turned into the violet color of the Eternal Flame. Blair and Stenly looked at each other in awe, and then he remembered.
“Stop him!” Stenly said, and Blair flew into action.
Blair reached the knight and grasped his shoulders just as he made to jump. Stenly breathed a sigh of relief, then took the empty cup in his hands and collected the violet liquid from the air. It went back into the cup and remained its new color.
“What is the meaning of this?” Sir Morgandundunston said as he and Blair walked over.
“Here,” Stenly said, holding out the cup with the newly transformed potion. “This is the one you need to drink.”
“That’s the spirit, Stenly!” Sir Morgandundunston said. “You’re finally learning what it means to be a knight! Never give up!” Sir Morgandundunston drained the new cup, and as he walked back towards the ledge, he began to float. “Aha!” he cried.
“Wait!” Blair said, and she pulled the Blood Stone from their supplies and handed it up to Sir Morgandundunston, who was now floating several feet from the ground. “The Blood-Stone will absorb the Eternal Flame. Don’t try to touch the flame with your hands. It will destroy you.”
“Not to fear, my lady!” Sir Morgandundunston took the stone.
Together, Blair and Stenly watched in awe as the knight floated over the valley towards the suspended fire, Blood Stone in hand, outstretched to capture it.
“You do well under pressure, Stenly,” Blair said. “That’s the mark of a leader.” Blair looked at him as she had when they first met, with a knowing glare, like she saw more than his physical presence.
“I just got lucky,” he said, looking away. “I was just a farmer.”
“Was, being the keyword,” she said, and when he looked back to her, she winked.
Stenly went to retort, to question her, but the sky suddenly grew dark as if there were an eclipse, and a cold wind filled the air.
The darkness of the sky grew to the point where Stenly could no longer see Sir Morgandundunston in the distance. All he could see was the faint glow of fire ensconced in the Blood-Stone floating steadily towards him.
“What’s happening?” Stenly called over the blowing wind. Even Blair, who was right next to him, was barely visible.
She grabbed his hand and moved close to him so he could make out the grim expression on her face. “Get Sir Morgandun-whatever, and get out of here.” Blair went to step away, but Stenly pulled her hand and her face back to him.
“What’s happening?” he repeated.
“Nicolas,” she said, and this time she pulled her hand from his.
Light began to emanate from Blair, pushing the darkness away from her, like she were the eye of a storm. Then, her hand shot out to the side, and she was suddenly clutching a bright white rope. It pierced through the darkness and encircled the knight about the waste. In the same way she was an eye in the storm, bathed in light, a similar light now engulfed Sir Morgandundunston. Blair pulled, and Sir Morgandundunston shot towards her, landing in front of Stenly in a heap of dust.
Blair turned to face Stenly, her eyes glowing white. “Run!” she said.
Not knowing what to think, Stenly helped Sir Morgandundunston to his feet and moved to find their horses. With a great quake of the ground, a tall, dark figure slammed into the earth directly in their path. His eyes were holes of blackness, with long dark hair and beard to match. The light that encircled Stenly and Sir Morgandundunston seemed to be pulled away into the man’s presence, dimming the world around them again.
A wall of pure light sliced through the air, like a barricade between themselves and the dark figure. Stenly didn’t wait for Blair’s calls to run and pushed on toward the horses. The light wall burst apart into tiny pieces, and from the horses, Stenly saw the dark figure turn his sights on Blair.
“We must battle the darkness!” Sir Morgandundunston said, pulling his sword from the sheath.
“No!” Stenly said, grabbing the knight by the shoulders. “Let’s just get out of here.”
“We do not cower from danger, we face it!”
“What can we do against that?” Stenly pointed to the warlock.
Sir Morgandundunston looked him in the eyes. “A knight does what he can, conquers when he can, and dies when he must.”
With that, Sir Morgandundunston was off, running at the warlock, sword held high in one hand, the Blood-Stone in the other.
The warlock had a black lasso around Blair, and the light around her dimmed. Sir Morgandundunston was feet from Nicolas, and the act must have surprised him as the lasso around Blair shattered like black glass to the ground. Sir Morgandundunston was blown backward by a cloud of smoke with a lazy flick of the warlock’s hand, but when Nicolas turned back to Blair, a wall of light, taller than the trees, pushed forward from her like a tsunami. Suddenly the darkened sky was back to bright blue, and the air was still.
“Quick!” Blair called, out of breath, eyes still glowing white. “That was lucky. He’ll be back soon.”
They all mounted their horses, Blair behind Stenly, Sir Morgandundunston atop Turtle, and they rode away, following Blair’s instructions, back down the mountain as fast as they could on the narrow trail.
. . .
Blair stopped glowing once they were back by the alpine lake of the Blood-Stone. No one spoke the entire way, but Sir Morgandundunston whistled cheerfully. Blair hopped off of Stenly’s horse without a word and walked away from the lake. Stenly thought he knew where she was going.
He followed her off the trail, into the forest, to the mysterious dark well. Blair sat down before it, and all was quiet except for the clanking metal of Sir Morgandundunston’s armor as he tagged along.
“So, you are the witch,” Stenly said, unable to hold back a little accusation from his voice.
“I’m a witch, yes,” Blair said.
“You lied to us,” Stenly said, continuing his assault, unsure why he was even angry.
“I never pretended to be anything else. I told you a dark magic was here, and I told you that I knew how to vanquish it. I never said I was or wasn’t a witch. Unlike yourself, Sten-ly.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?”
“Oh, come on… do you not know, or are you playing dumb?” Blair glared at him with that focused gaze. “No-you know. That’s why you ran away. They found out.”
“What are you…” Stenly said flustered. “How do you know I ran away?”
“Witch,” she said as her proof.
“But I didn’t even know until a few weeks ago that I’m a…” Stenly couldn’t say it.
“That you are a Corvis,” Blair said. “The son of the Frankish King.”
“There is no Frankish King or Frankish Kingdom anymore,” Stenly said.
“But there could be again. If the rightful heir takes back his throne.”
“I am no leader,” Stenly said. “I am no king. And that name doesn’t suddenly make me into one. All it brings me are enemies.”
“So, you see, we’re the same.”
“We both concealed our identity, out of the fear of being persecuted. What would you have done if I told you I was a witch from the beginning?”
Stenly didn’t say anything. He knew she was right, that his anger was unfounded. That it really had to do with himself, with his cowardice, and his fear.
“So, what’s the whole story?” Stenly said. “You seem to know mine. Descendent of the murdered king, now hunted by his enemies. What’s with this well?”
“My sister and I,” Blair began, “came to this mountain to seek the Pillar of Galbraith. We heard of the staff from ancient texts, and it became an obsession of ours. We were eager when we arrived, only to find that the objects could not be obtained by one who possesses magic. I can hold the Blood-Stone now, but we could never be the ones to first grasp it. Part of the protections upon the artifacts.”
“This warlock was also after it then?” Stenly said.
“Nicolas is his name. Yes, he’s been after it for many years, unable to find a way to obtain the pieces, but we didn’t know this. We were ambushed, caught by surprise. If it were my sister and I against him, we could have defeated him, but before we could defend ourselves…” Blair dropped her head low, trailing off.
“What happened?” Stenly said, and yet again, Stenly felt he knew the answer that was coming.
“This”—Blair gestured to the well—“is a power well. Nicolas created it, and Tara was sucked inside. It drains her powers, and leaves her suspended below, frozen in time.”
“How did you escape?” Stenly said.
“I didn’t have to,” Blair said. “That was his plan. The only way I can free her from the well, to overcome that spell, is with The Pillar. He knows I’ll do the work to lead others to try and obtain the artifacts for myself, and in his mind, for him. I wasn’t expecting him to show until we got to where the Golden Staff rests.”
“Were we just pawns?” Stenly said, but in his heart, his anger was gone. All he felt was a determination.
“I never wanted any harm to befall anyone,” Blair said. “I merely need the staff to free my sister. If I could have saved the other men who tried, I would have. I warned them all, yet most ceased to listen and drowned in the lake.”
“It seems plain,” Sir Morgandundunston said, and Blair and Stenly looked across the well to where he stood, unaware that he’d been listening.
“What’s plain?” Stenly said.
“We are here to vanquish darkness,” Sir Morgandundunston said. “This lady here is lightness. Therefore, we are allies in this grand quest. We shall unite our forces, obtain the Golden Staff, unite the Pillar, and destroy the warlock, Nicolas!”
Blair stood up. “I can hold Nicolas off for a time. He’s powerful, but I believe we are an even match, or near it.”
“Then we,” Stenly said, standing up with them, gesturing to the knight. “We will free the Golden Staff, and unite the pieces of the Pillar.”
“Aha!” Sir Morgandundunston sounded.
Blair smiled brightly, and she seemed to glow. Stenly wasn’t sure if this was her magic or not.
“The Golden Staff,” Blair began, “is located at the top of the mountain, encased in stone…”
None of them expected to be ambushed as they climbed back up the mountain trail, but the tension in the air was palpable. The sun was hanging lower in the sky, and the ground and trees were now covered in snow.
“We’re here,” Blair said in a whisper.
It was as she had described to them by the well. A large boulder, a perfect sphere, resting in the middle of a clearing of trees. It would be taller than Stenly when he dismounted from the horse. Inside the spherical stone, visible as if the rock were semi-transparent, the Golden Staff stood emitting a faint glow.
As expected, the sky darkened, and a cold wind swept through the air. They dismounted their horses, and Blair was now a glowing figure. Beautiful as she was, the only way Stenly could describe her now was an indomitable force. Blair stepped towards Nicolas, who stood between them and the Golden Staff, her hands alight. Stenly and Sir Morgandundunston turned away back into the forest at a run. They would slip around to the other side, avoiding Nicolas as much as possible.
Stenly held out the Blood-Stone, which held the Eternal Flame, to light their way through the darkness. Flashes of light and sounds like cracking thunder filled the air. Stenly felt a pang of worry for Blair. Yet, they had their missions, and he pressed on with a determination he’d never felt before.
The spherical stone that held the Golden Staff was rough to the touch and somehow warm. Words in an ancient language were carved into the side, illuminated by the Blood-Stone’s red light. He wanted to see and check on Blair, but he forced himself to focus. Blair had told them what the words said: All You Know.
Sir Morgandundunston didn’t bother with the words, or the riddle, and pulled out his sword. He swung at the side of the stone, and his sword shattered at the middle.
“Devil stone!” he shouted and proceeded to kick and punch the surface with little effect.
Stenly focused on the words, he thought of Blair, and then back to the words. He stole a glance around the stone, and Blair and Nicolas were in a fierce battle. Whips of light and blades of black stone collided. The ground beneath their feet shook and rippled. Suddenly, Blair and Nicolas were both engaged in their fight with their feet off the ground.
“Focus, Stenly!” Sir Morgandundunston shouted at him, grabbing him by the shoulders. “I may be the greatest knight the world has ever seen, but there’s no time for me to do everything on my own!
Stenly returned to the carvings. The answer was in those words, “All You Know.” Sounds of Blair and Nicolas’s magic crashing into each other and the flashes of bright light filled the air, just as lightning surged through Stenly’s mind.
All I know must refer to the other two artifacts—he thought. The Blood-Stone clue was obvious, put blood on the stone. And the potions had to be dumped into the air to transform into the flying potion. What was common between them?
“Air!” Stenly yelled aloud. “The Blood-Stone’s enchantment didn’t stop until the water was pulled away, until it was exposed to air! And the potion transformed in the air!”
Stenly turned back to the words. He looked closely and felt with his hands. Then, he saw it, and with his finger, confirmed it. A small hole, disguised inside the words carved. He immediately put his mouth to the stone and blew through the hole as hard as he could.
An odd sensation filled him, and within the space of a blink, Stenly was inside a domed room. He’d been transported somewhere else, but Stenly didn’t bother to figure out where. In the center of the room was the Golden Staff, glinting, the only source of light. Stenly walked along a small stone path and, without fear, grabbed the staff.
The walls around him began to shake and crumble. They didn’t fall to the ground but instead disintegrated. Soon, the walls were gone, and he was standing in the snowy forest clearing. Blair was once again wrapped with a black cord around her, the light dimming from her presence.
Horse hooves sounded next to him, and looking up, Sir Morgandundunston was beside him, atop Turtle.
“Quickly!” Sir Morgandundunston said, holding out his hand.
Stenly grabbed the Blood-Stone and slammed it atop the Golden Staff. The stone and flame melted into the staff, bleeding down the sides like snaking veins of violet and red blood. Stenly handed the Pillar of Galbraith to Sir Morgandundunston, surprised to feel a sense of trust in doing so.
The knight rode atop his three-legged horse towards Nicolas, the Pillar held low, out of sight from the warlock. In his other hand, Sir Morgandundunston held his broken sword aloft, letting loose a barely audible war cry.
Nicolas clearly noticed the knight but didn’t blast him aside like he did last time. Blair remained bound, as a dark swirling hole appeared in the ground below her floating body—a power well.
Blair was whipped down towards the hole by the black ropes around her, and Sir Morgandundunston suddenly jerked Turtle directly towards her, away from Nicolas. The knight threw his broken sword like a dagger at the warlock’s head. Blair’s body reached the edge of the power well as Nicolas turned to deflect the blade. Sir Morgandundunston leaped off of Turtle’s back, Pillar in hand, diving towards Blair and the power well.
Blair and Sir Morgandundunston disappeared into the black hole, and Nicolas turned his sites on Stenly. A blinding light suddenly filled the forest, blasting Nicolas and Stenly to the ground. It filled the air and rose from the ground all around them. Not a flash, but a lingering brightness.
Through it, Stenly saw, standing tall and furious, Blair with The Pillar of Galbraith in her hand. Another woman, also aglow in brilliant light, stepped beside her. Then, Sir Morgandundunston, somehow back atop Turtle, trotted forward on Blair’s other side and reared the horse back onto its hind legs, the single front leg kicking outwards to the air.
Nicolas gained his footing and stepped forward with his hands open. He threw his hands forward, and a jet of black substance shot forward a foot and then back into his hands. Again, he made the same motion, but the black magic barely left his palms. Blair raised the Pillar of Galbraith and slammed it into the earth. Directly in front of the warlock grew a black hole in the otherwise pure white scene around them. His screams couldn’t be heard as Nicolas was pulled, sucked in like a tornado, disappearing into the power well.
The brilliant light that filled the forest subsided, although Blair and her sister remained with their bright eyes and glowing skin. Blair’s sister stepped forward, raised her palms, and a giant slab of stone enclosed the power well.
The sun was now set, and the stars speckled the night sky, no moon to dim their shine. Blair held out the Pillar of Galbraith, and with a tap on the earth, they were transported in a flash of golden light to the base of the mountain. They were back where Stenly and Sir Morgandundunston had first met her. Blair and her sister hugged each other, whispering words Stenly did not dare overhear. Stenly felt light as air, a weight he didn’t realize he’d been carrying was gone.
“My, what an adventure!” Sir Morgandundunston said, striding over, pulling Stenly and the two sisters into an embrace. “Stenly”—the knight faced him and placed a hand on his shoulder—“you have grown, my fellow! You are no longer in need of a savior. You are welcome.”— Sir Morgandundunston turned and rested his other hand on Blair’s shoulder—“Blair… you brought me a great challenge, and proved I am destined for much greater threats.” He ignored Blair’s sister and stepped away to mount Turtle.
“Where are you going?” Stenly said.
“My friend, I am off to save the world, of course! Each adventure leads me closer to my destiny. I shall not rest until I find it, for the evil of the world is not resting.”
Blair stepped forward. “You’ll find what you’re looking for to the west.”
Sir Morgandundunston reared Turtle back and rode off into the night.
“He’s heading east,” Stenly said.
Blair smiled knowingly. “This is my sister, Tara.” Stenly shook her hand and bowed to her.
“Thank you for all you’ve done,” Tara said.
“You know,” Blair said, looking to Stenly. “He was right in the end, Sir Morgandun…dun… he was right.”
“You’re no longer in need of saving. It is time for you to reclaim your name, your throne.”
Stenly felt at peace, as he’d already come to this realization himself. “I am ready.”
“Your journey back to the throne begins where you sought supplies for this journey. Go there, and your path will be clear.”
“Thank you,” he said. “What will you do?”
Blair turned to Tara. “The Pillar must be dismantled again, and hidden with deeper protections, far from myths and legends. We don’t need the power, and no one else should have it.”
Suddenly, Tara stepped away, with a small nod to Stenly, walking back into the forest. Blair stepped forward to Stenly and brought his lips to hers. White fire burned through him.
“All that, though,” Blair said, “can wait until tomorrow.”
Mom: Peter… my, my. What a lovely story, but I think…
Mom: Hold on… [hear her walking/opening door… calls out] Ted! Ted come here
Peter: What are you calling dad for?
Ted: Ok, ok.
Mom: It really was a great story, honey. Bye
Peter: What’s going on?
Ted: Mom thinks it’s time for us to have a little chat.
Peter: Oh no… no, no…
Ted: It’s totally fine, son. Now, the birds and the bees…
Peter: Ok, stopping recording–
What do you think?
Thank you all for listening/reading!!
Check out the takeaway idea, “What’s Your Power Well?” for a cool thought for making changes in our life.
If you enjoyed this story, I take it you’ve already listened to the first tale of Sir Morgandundunston? If not, check it out here.
I’d love to make this brave knight a recurring character maybe once a year or so. Let me know in the comments, or on social media what you think!
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