“Ah, umm… welcome… class…” Lorek‟s voice zapped Brek back to reality. No more strange memories he didn‟t… remember… making. He was seated on his pillow in class, eyes closed. It was customary to close your eyes in this class. The other students were quiet enough not to disturb his dozing. Because he sat up front, Brek had little idea who was there beside Lorek. Lorek chanted in his usual monotone. “In the year 503… the Great Wall of Ira crumbbulled... In the Summer of Par-don, the world beheld the Glory of Koh-la…” Brek sighed inside himself. This would be a long class. And it would continue like this, everyone with eyes closed, listening to mindless rants of ancient history. But today Brek would make it worthwhile. He ventured a peek. He opend a slit in one eye. He waited for his sight to adjust to the light. Slowly, the lid rose. Feigning perfect concentration, he glanced around. As far as he could see, the room was dull - just the way it was when he came. Lorek sat cross-legged, staring down the class… Staring… Lorek always taught that, to be in a „prophetic trance‟, a person had to have his eyes closed. After all, experiencing a prophetic vision or manifestation was one of the objectives of the class. But today, his glance hovered on the students, plumbing their motions. He swept from person to person, spending almost two minutes on each one. He searched them, as if one of them might explode at any moment.
Every other time Brek dared to look, Lorek‟s eyes were kept shut. Now he was either faking his chanting, or he lied about the need for closed eyes, or both. Brek always suspected he was a phony – and now he had proof. Brek laughed through his nose in noiseless victory. The Priest caught Brek‟s gaze. Brek froze. Lorek stopped chanting. Lorek stood, shuffling his robe. Disciplined as they were, the class neither looked nor moved. Lorek restarted his rant, standing, near-shouting, and glaring at Brek. “The Last Prophecy of the Forgotten-Ones… in the year 398… told of the Eternal Youth who would reclaim the World for the cause of Li-ght… The Child of Destin-y would come to bring Harmon-y… The Prophecy will be fulfilled…” He stopped chanting loudly and whispered in plain tones. “By one of you.” Lorek maintained his stare with Brek. Brek‟s eye glued to the Priest‟s, petrified in its discovery. “Open… mmm, mmm, your eyes… class.” The students lifted their eyelids, some quickly, in surprise, others slowly, in disbelief. “You may… go. Take an extra… half hour of… mmm, mmm… library study.” They obeyed immediately. The room erupted with students fluffing pillows, crinkling papers and scuffing their feet. Brek broke his gaze from Lorek and stood to leave. He nearly made the exit. “Brek, you stay.” The others disappeared through the door. Lorek motioned for Brek to come closer. Brek hesitated. He hung his head and felt his cheeks swell with heat. For the second time in one day, he failed.
Lorek‟s brown eyes blazed at him, unblinking. The monk swayed a little, his balding head leveling with Brek‟s. He pulled at his bushy white beard, the wrinkles at the corner of his mouth twitching. “Brek… let me give… some advice.” Brek looked him in the eye. “Yes teacher.” Lorek‟s head bobbed sporadically, sometimes left, often right. The Monk shoveled out moldy pages from a shelf behind him. He ran his hands along the dark brown, wooden side. Brek brought a hand to his face, massaging his eye, his mind clasping one thought: “He’s unhinged. He’s looking for something that’s not there. He’s crazy.” Lorek stopped, and turned around. He stared straight into Brek‟s eyes. Brek felt as if Lorek were probing his brain with his finger, scooping out his skull like a bowl of nakzar pudding. “Your intuition is… good, Master Brek.” Lorek mumbled. “Maybe… what I‟m looking for… is simply… unnoticed… by everyone else… hmm? Maybe I‟m not… crazy.” Brek stepped back. “He reads minds…” “Not minds… no.” Lorek chuckled to himself. “But close... you are… young one…” Lorek‟s hand returned to the shelf. His fingernails caught a knot on the side. His fingernail pulled at it, a lever, concealed flush in the woodwork, falling out. “Shut the… door.” Lorek said. Brek closed the door without turning around. He was too busy watching the shelf fold in on itself. Clanking noises pounded behind the wall, repeating the same mechanical melody. The top of the shelf crawled down the wall. When it hit the next row, those shelves fell mechanically as well. The back of the shelf board slid straight into the floor. The shelves stacked themselves on
the ground, papers preserved in the hollowed troughs that held them. Chains appeared in the slits behind the shelves, nailed to the wood, dissembling the fixture. A doorway rolled into view. A flight of stairs led downward, into darkness. Brek gaped in awe. A basement in the monastery? “No one… knows… but few…” Brek stared at the Monk. “What are you doing?” Lorek grinned boyishly. “Giving… advice. Come.” Lorek beckoned Brek to follow. He did. Lorek led Brek down the spiraling stair through the dark. Brek rubbed his temples, his brow furrowing. Of course, confusion was to be expected from Lorek. A light flickered up ahead. The stairway paved into a huge chamber. Pillars braced the catacomb, lit by rows of square pyres burning oil or incense, and casting gangly shadows. Lorek glided into the hall. Brek fell behind, gazing at the towering room. “This must run under the entire monastery…” he whispered to himself. “Further.” Lorek spoke aloud, his voice booming across the expanse. Brek jogged to catch up. “Why is this here? Why does no one else know about it?” Lorek continued walking as he replied. “This was the… original… temple. The monks of Kohla… destroyed it. The Norbels… rebuilt it… that is… why… the monks own it… now. They gave it… to the Norbels… first…” “The monks destroyed a temple?” Brek breathed. “They wouldn‟t do that! They wouldn‟t kill a roaring dragon if it bit their arm off! Besides, I thought the Norbels built this place.”
The priest‟s shadows of inconsistency gnashed at Brek. Brek didn‟t particularly like the monastery, or its leaders. But he never imagined, in his most furious rebellion, that these quaint holy men held the malice to destroy a sacred site, let alone a templed sanctuary. “Yes… Brek. The monks… don‟t tell many… the entire… truth.” “The truth?” Brek asked. “About what?” Lorek stopped at the end of the room. He knelt before the wall. For a minute Brek thought the priest had really lost his mind. Then he noticed what Lorek was bowing to. A huge engraving of a man covered the stone. Carved anciently to highlight his features, it spread over the entire wall, hovering over the chamber. It stood as a sentinel, scarred, eroded, the paint accents cracked and grooves chipped by the centuries. The priest prayed aloud to the man in a foreign tongue. “That‟s no Lady Kohla...” Brek choked. Lorek continued praying. “How do the monks not know about this? How are you allowed to stay here? Aren‟t you a priest of Kohla? Who is that? What is that!?” Lorek stood and faced Brek. “No one… who comes… down… remembers… and neither… will… you…” A large hand clamped a wet rag over Brek‟s mouth. The silhouettes of hooded people imprinted on Brek‟s eyes. The stench of vinegar and other acids stung his eyes and throat. Brek‟s vision blurred, and he slumped to the floor.
Brek opened his eyes. His head ached and his tongue lay dry as sand. He tried to remember the last few minutes. “I was reminiscing in Ancient Lore.” He thought. “ I remember… the strange memory. I opened my eyes, the class left…” A voice sent Brek a jolt. He jumped to his feet. “Your destiny… is precious. Keep it… safe.” “Thank you teacher.” Brek turned to leave. Lorek stood as well. “What happened?” Brek whispered to himself, stroking his temples. “You fell…asleep…in class. Everyone… else… is gone.” Brek‟s cheeks turned red. He must have hit his head when he dozed off. “One more…lesson… Brek.” Brek halted and faced the priest. “The Child of… Destiny… is in your… destiny… It is… your destiny…” Brek stood speechless. The old man waved the boy out. “Go… mmm… mmm… study.” “Yes teacher.” Brek bolted for the stairs, never looking back.
Brek stumbled to the closest corner of the building. He climbed the winding staircase to the combined third and fourth levels – the library. “The Child of Destiny? My head hurts…”
Brek brooded over the weird encounter. First, the memory that was more like a nightmare, and now the “Child of Destiny” nonsense haunted him. All after losing today‟s battle to a girl… Brek yearned for some space. He landed at the top of the stairs. Directly facing him, two cherry doors bulged from floor to ceiling. The entrance engulfed Brek as he pulled the silver gilded wood ajar. The library stole the third and fourth levels of the citadel. A spacious chamber, lined with stone shelves, sucked the breath from Brek. White marble tile, grouted with silver, graced the floor. A veranda wrapped across the second floor of the room, railings halting the higher browsers from toppling to the ground. Rolling ladders perched on each shelf. Slight winding staircases joined the two levels, one in each corner. Two enormous, stained, oval windows depicted the history of the known world, and interrupted the shelving and the veranda on the east and west walls. Two massive cherry desks lay, like regal lions, in front of the north and south entrances. Purple couches with gold frills slumped in their venerated spots, lumped with guests. Attendants whisked by, loaded with books or leading students along. White robed priests combed the shelves, brushing up on the courses they taught, or searching for something new. Students huddled in groups, thumbing pages of large tomes, gesturing and whispering to one another. Some people sat on the ground, immersed in the pages of a book. Others stood feasting on the views through the windows, especially the west one. No good read was turned away by the monks, even if discussing subjects contained in some books was forbidden. The monks collected the best works of fiction: novels of fantasies unlived by mortals, exploits of epic romances, plays and sonnets and tales of the finest craftsmanship and human relevance. The library hoarded texts on science, excursions into the mind, charts of the stars, explanations of the reactions of chemicals, usefulness of plants, and laws of the universe.
Brek especially enjoyed the weapons manuals, adventuring guidebooks, and maps of the realms beyond. A good book always took Brek‟s mind off the little life he led. It was his only real escape from the monastery‟s drudgery. With a book, Brek could slay a dragon, cast magical spells, and travel foreign lands. He could also brush up on the latest dragon-slaying techniques, magical mysteries, and maps. After all, why dream when you could do those things? Not only was it a temporary escape – books afforded him the plan for his departure, and future life. Brek‟s plan had been growing in the back of his mind since a fiasco in town five years ago. Now the doubts that onced plagued him became his guide. He had chalked it up in his mind that morning. Become a good fighter, be awarded a personal set of armor and weapons, then leave to pursue his dreams. Though the library offered comfort, and the monastery, peace, he couldn‟t forget his squandered childhood. The memories of his loss lingered. As beautiful as it was, this was no sanctuary – it was a cage. The sooner he could get out of this stuffy stone box, the better. Brek sighed. He always thought he would leave a hero, off on a quest for the monastery. Now it seemed he would leave an outcast, forgotten by his peers, and stripped of the honor he could have attained. A looming grandfather clock on the north wall chimed four times. Books were shelved, chairs rearranged, and every patron made their way to an exit. Brek puttered somewhat, then exited through the south doors. Brek held the door for everyone. The word of his loss that morning must have spread, as few students acknowledged him. He watched the last attendant leave the library. The doors banged shut behind him, unlocked. He waited for the procession to fade down the stairs. Then Brek slipped back in.
His scheming had to intensify now. He was only two years away from graduating from the cleric program. His study increased by a year so he could „retry‟ the oath. But now, with the decision to leave early – and not under the monastery‟s blessing - it was important not to swear fealty to the monastery. If he played his cards well, Brek would make a break for it in a month or so, and have no legal bond to restrain him. His plan was simple: study up on combat technique as much as possible and graduate from the combat section early. This, he had almost accomplished. He‟d earn his armor and weapons, then escape. By skimping just enough on other studies, Brek had surpassed every other student in combat. He had set many monastery records for consecutive opponents defeated and number of weapons mastered. The monks had to present him his armor soon, even if they withheld his rank and Holy Symbol. So while everyone else scuttled to the afternoon worship service, Brek stowed away, reading, planning - preparing for the day that destiny called. Little did he know that day would never come. Destiny was coming at night – that night.
After dinner, the monastery retired to their chambers for a an hour of study and an hour of meditation. Afterwards, all lights were to be extinguished. Brek rounded a corner, and bumped into a girl. She fell backwards onto the floor. “Sorry!” Brek pleaded, lifting her up by the hand. “Oh that‟s ok.” The girl said, brushing off the front of her robes. “I was just -”
Brek and the girl froze as they recognized each other. She was Sasha, the girl from combat training that morning. “Oh, Brek, about today. I wanted to say -” “Forget it.” Brek cut her off. “I don‟t care what you have to say. Brag all you want, but not to my face.” Brek stormed up the stairs. Sasha stared at where he had been a moment ago. “- sorry.”
Alorha was waiting for Brek in his chamber - eyes closed, hands clasped, sitting cross-legged on a straw stuffed pillow in front of the window. As a priest, Alorha‟s main duties were to address the needs of the students and teach them. Although, just as the students, they were expected to follow every one of the Monk‟s rules, Alorha often „stretched‟ the boundaries in helping his pupils. Tonight was one of those times, when Alorha was someplace, at sometime, he probably shouldn‟t be - all for Brek‟s sake. Brek tried to sneak into his room, hoping Alorha was asleep. It was a poor hope indeed. “You‟re late.” said Alorha, barely moving his mouth. “Sorry.” Brek replied. “I ran into some trouble…” “If you keep running into trouble, maybe you should knock him out, and he won‟t bother you again.” Brek smiled wide. Alorha opened his eyes, not smiling back. “Let‟s talk about what‟s bothering you.”
Alorha‟s usual, cheery demeanor was gone. Long, thin lines branched from his eyes. His hands trembled lightly, and a vein pulsed in his neck. His lower jawbone flexed, tight against his flesh. Brek began, “I don‟t see what‟s so great about… faith. Maybe I just… don‟t believe in your whole… „religion‟ business.” “It is certainly your business, also.” replied Alorha curtly, staring down Brek. Alorha rarely appeared aggressive. Brek began to sweat lightly in the cool mountain air. “Who is sowing doubt in my pupil?” Alorha‟s keen perception pierced Brek‟s heart. It was staggering. How could he have known? “I met a mage in town the other day.” Alorha shifted his gaze downward. Mages, the most magical of all people in Ardana, had a knack for instilling curiosity and disdain for authority. They relied on intellect and their own intuition. Their guilds‟ beliefs ran exactly opposite of the religious sects‟, defying the existence of any greater power than magic. Faithless and haughty, mages despised what they termed „superstitious‟ people. That was the reason the Monks banned all information on the mysterious mages, even against their oaths of seeking all knowledge and wisdom. That was also why Brek somewhat admired them. The gentle breeze swatted Brek‟s bushy hair, taunting him to break the silence. “He laughed at our robes. He said we were fools to believe in a higher power. I tried to defend the monastery, but I was –” “Curious.” Alorha finished, eyes fixed on Brek. Brek nodded. “And he showed you some powerful magic.” Again, head hanging, Brek nodded.
“He was amazing. He turned the air around him into water.” muttered Brek softly, turning to face Alorha. “The robes he wore conducted lightning from the sky.” Alorha looked away again, staring. “And not just any sky! A cloudless one!” “Brek.” “He wielded more power in a second than I‟ve seen here all my life! And he didn‟t worship some stuffy „god‟! Kohla won‟t grant me any powers! She‟s only taken away my family from me! What kind of a god is that!?” Alorha‟s voice was calm again, but tinged with sorrow. “I don‟t fault you for your feelings. But your actions hold consequences. You know this.” Brek began shaking. Guilt, and anger, swept over him. For a moment he wished he had tried harder to be faithful. “But Alorha, every student with a family gets to visit Tersa! I am locked in here! I don‟t deserve to be treated like a child! I didn‟t choose to be given to this place!” The Priest spoke again. “I know you‟ve been visiting the graves of your parents every year. I never thought it would destroy your faith like this.” Brek‟s face ignited. His cheeks nearly lit the drapes on fire. “Alorha, why am I not allowed out? Why am I caged in here? I never chose this!” “Your parents swore you to us!” seethed Alorha, standing to his full height, level with Brek. “You belong to the monastery! We have given you life and shelter when you had none! And the volunteer students still may not leave the valley, and only three weeks of summer vacation are allowed them.” “I never took an oath! I was only eight!” Brek fought back. “I had a family! They were trying to pay their debt so they could eat. Why couldn‟t I visit them then!? And I couldn‟t see their
funeral!? Where‟s the „wisdom‟ in that, Alorha!?” Brek slumped to the floor and sobbed. “I never said goodbye.” Slime drizzled from Brek‟s nose. He wished he hadn‟t said those things. The Priest sighed calmly. “It‟s complicated Brek.” Alorha joined him on the floor. The pair sat in silence. The red drapes danced in the cool mountain breeze. A beetle scaled the stone bricks next to Brek‟s bed, his clicking echoing in the room. Alorha sighed, shoulders sagging. “Brek, I knew you weren‟t quite faithful material.” He began slowly. “When we took you in, I thought I could change that.” Brek squirmed against the wall, stammering. The betrayal on Alorha‟s face broke through. His best friend – the closest man to a father in his life – he had betrayed. What was worse, Brek didn‟t know whether to feel guilty or relieved. “Alorha –” “Ah ah…” continued the Teacher. “I tried to force my will on you. Tried to make you a saint.” Brek‟s mouth hung open. “You were never meant to be here. It is not your destiny.” Silence returned, any thought of meditation hour, forgotten. Brek breathed a reply. “What is my destiny, Teacher?”
“You have broken the rules. You will never be allowed in the monastery again. You must leave – tonight.” Brek winced. It was all over. Alorha knew everything. He would be promptly exiled. Normally, a ceremony would be held tomorrow, in front of the entire monastery. But Alorha was
trying to afford him a last shred of dignity by letting him slip out at night. No matter the time of his departure, Brek would be alone and helpless in the world. No armor would be given, nor money, nor weapons – only disgrace followed that ceremony. A vision of rags and a beggar‟s mug spun through his mind. “This is better than I expected.” Alorha muttered quietly. Brek blinked. His eyes, full of heat, met his mentor‟s. The rage and the question compelled him to speak. “Better!? How can this be better!? I‟ll have no weapons, no home, no money, no…” Alorha leaped up and strode to the closet. The curtains flew open. Brek crawled with his hand up the wall, bracing wobbling knees, forgetting to breathe. He leaned on a bedpost, eyes gleaming as his heart leapt. A sparkling suit of armor, complete with mace, dagger, and a gorgeous round shield, devoured the serenity of the room. Not just any armor draped there – the suit, arrayed in brilliant silver plating, glistened in the lamplight, wisps of color and smoke encircling it. Magic gilded the metal, fused into the sheen. Alorha lifted it with his pinky finger. The armor weighed next to nothing. Two warm lines of salty water carved through Brek‟s cheeks. “Wh… what?” Brek mumbled. “The question is this: What is a mage doing in Tersa valley?” Brek stared blankly at Alorha. Gears raced inside his head, but nothing turned up. Alorha pointed to the suit. “This is yours. I relieved the artifact from the Monk‟s private collection.” Brek blinked again, double checking his sanity and drowsiness. He pinched himself and shook his head violently, spittle flinging. No one was allowed on the sixth floor - not even Priests. The Monks, rulers of the citadel, were highly private people. Their word made law on the
Tersa frontier. Violating the sacred halls of the masters was a crime punishable by exile – stealing artifacts, by death. Alorha Mon, Brek‟s personal moral compass, had not only violated one of the strictest laws his own Teachers, but he did so without the slightest hint of care. Again, Alorha broke the silence. “You are the most skilled warrior I have ever seen train here. Even better than I was, before I lost my nerve and gave up my Monk training to become a Priest. The monastery still needs you. It will come under attack tonight.” Reality seeping in, Brek assailed his tainted Teacher. “You stole it? How? Who‟s attacking the monastery? What does a mage have to do with all of this?” Alorha flung the suit onto Brek. It landed like a pillow. “Put this on. I‟ll explain on the way.”
Sasha paced her room, red hair disheveled. “Boys! What good are they anyway!? Always storming around, knocking people over!” Sasha had forgotten meditation. More active than her usual reverent demeanor, she silently hacked Brek to pieces. What guy has the gall to throw you down and then blow you off? To top it off, her friends and many strangers had taunted her about how they were “destined for each other”. “Like that could ever happen.” She grumbled inside. Also, she longed to go home for the summer. Her parents, keepers of the only general store in town, were expecting her. Sasha salivated at the thought of home-stewed beef and fresh dumplings – a more than welcome change from the monastery pastes and gruels.
As her parents were well-off, they could easily afford to bring her home. Their zeal for the Enlightened burned in the hearts, minds, and coffers of the Monks. Because of this, the Priests were compelled to allow Sasha some leeway in the form of extra weeks‟ vacation - unbeknownst to her. This suited Sasha well. By working her parents‟ store in the summer, she could pick up street smarts that didn‟t come from books – a big bonus toward a road assignment. She had a personalized schedule and took extra classes to prepare her for a life of service. She had trained so extensively, cramming classes in her spare time and in summer night sessions, that she was a full two years ahead of her peers. Combat, faith, worldly wisdom, mental and physical harmony – Sasha was ready in every way for a road assignment now. After attaining the rank of Cleric last week, her dreams were realized. Now, it was just a matter of time. A knock thumped her out of her thoughts. Her cheeks flushed red. No doubt whoever it was could hear the shuffling inside. “Enter.” She said, rushing to the meditation pillow. A burly man in white robes entered. His head and face were clean shaven – the token of a Priest. “Teacher, I –” “Don‟t worry child,” said the wrinkled man, “I am not angry. It is good you are fresh and astir.” Sasha quickly stifled her embarrassment with a curt bow. “What brings you, Seki Mon? What is the trouble?” Seki, Sasha‟s teacher, pushed the door wider. He carried a standard suit of armor, a flail, and a shield - typical gifts for the graduating Cleric.
“There is trouble, Sasha. Pack only what you need. Hurry.” Sasha stood, confused. “Seki, I don‟t understand. Where are we going?” “There is no time, child!” spouted Seki. “Put on this armor, and pack for a long journey!” Frowning at the suit laid on her bed, Sasha attempted optimism. “Am I being instated?” begged Sasha. “Is this a road assignment?” “No.” The Priest shook his head. “You are now exiled.” Sasha‟s eyes bulged, her face twisted. “Exiled! Seki, what did I do!? I have a year of training left! I haven‟t even received a road assignment yet!” Tears streamed down Seki‟s face. Sasha had never seen him cry. The Priest hugged her. Like a father holding his daughter, Seki whispered to her ear.“You are the best student I‟ve ever had. If there was ever a person worthy of the title Monk, it is you.” Sasha embraced the Priest, stabilizing his shaking frame. “What does this mean?” Seki broke away. “You are to take your provisions, don your armor, and leave. Exit down the southwestern staircase. Take the doors to the village. Someone will be waiting for you.” Sasha shook her head. “I don‟t understand.” “It is time for your faith to serve us well. You are needed to rescue this place, but you cannot do it from the inside. Consider this an unofficial call to duty.” Seki retreated to the door. Sasha shot one last query. “Why so secretive?” Seki paused. His eyes zeroed in on Sasha‟s. “You will learn, in good time. Follow your heart. That is your destiny.” Seki turned to leave, but stopped. “Oh, and take this.”
Seki tossed an object, bound in cloth, onto Sasha‟s bed. She unraveled it, revealing a blue, flat, circular pendant. A circlular hole in the middle, larger than the rest of the jewel, revealed sparks spewing from one side to another, dancing on studs of green and white gems. A Holy Symbol - the key to the power of the faithful. The door clicked softly behind Seki. Sasha threw on her armor, stuffed her satchel, and bolted for the southwestern stairs.
The empty hallways shocked Sasha. Normally Priests roamed them in the dim, checking for rogue lights. She arrived at the double doors of the west entrance, and, heaving with all her might, cracked them open. A man stood by the doors, out of sight from the floors above. His silhouette jostled her. He wore a Cleric‟s armor, but this suit was different. Its reflective sheen absorbed the moonlight and… played with it. Sasha ran to the figure and tapped him on the shoulder. “Are you who I‟m supposed to meet?” She asked. The man turned around, talking. “I thought I was supposed to meet -” He cut himself off mid-sentence. “You!” Gasped Sasha. “…You?” Glared Brek. “I don‟t get it.” Moaned Sasha. She spun around, head in hands. “Have you seen any Clerics?” asked Brek. “I was supposed to meet one here.”
Sasha wheeled around, her index finger jabbing Brek‟s chest. “And what do I look like to you!? Saurus liver!?” Brek stared for a moment in shock. “No, no, no!” He pouted, kicking the dirt. “This is not what I signed up for! Where‟s my map, my money?” Brek reeled around. “Do you have my map or money?” “Signed up for?” Sasha choked. “Map? Money? I was… forced to leave! You volunteered!?” “Anything to get me out of that rat hole!” Shouted Brek, pointing to the tower. Sasha began pounding his chest with her fists. “Rat hole! I‟ll give you a rat hole!” The two locked onto each other, cramped by their armors‟ slick metal. They fell to the earth, wrestling, pounding, punching, and shouting. Brek rolled on top, pinning her knees down with his, and, holding her down by the strength of his arm, sneered at her. “Give me one good reason why I should let go.” He growled. A shrieking wail split the night air. Both duelers turned their head in the direction of the noise. The blast bounced off mountain, stretching across the valley. There existed only one possible source. “Tersa village!” whispered Sasha. Brek stood up, grim faced. “The War Horn!”