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It was a cold day out on the wild moorland, and the Wanderer, Dambor, watched the gorse and heather tussle in an icy wind that swept across the plain as he walked. He quite liked the cold. He found it refreshing, and it reminded him that he was alive and most importantly free.

    After a steady march uphill, he paused briefly to rest upon an outcropping of rocks that jutted along like the hilltop’s stony spine. He ate a hearty portion of bread, cheese, some minceberries he foraged for that morning, and washed it down with some ale he’d procured from a passing settlement a few days earlier. He stared for a moment at his palm that had long black scorch mark across it, lost in thought for a moment. He then surveyed mindfully the wide expanse that stretched out before him like an eagle on a clifftop; the undulated land like a frozen green sea, some parts of the landscape were like statuesque waves cresting and falling. There were many clusters of dense woodland, and Dambor couldn’t help but enjoy the secretive quality they seemed to posses. The monolithic Hemlock Mountains with their intricate hideaways lay to the east, just visible on the horizon. He, thankfully, had no reason of getting too near to that direction at this time; he needn’t encounter the unpredictable and wild inhabitants, the tusked ‘Gatekeepers’, of that region. In the opposite direction however lay the Great Ocean on the far western shores, and the Wanderer made a mental note as he took another long draught of his ale to visit there again on his return journey once his task was complete, as frivolities was for another time. 

    He first had to head due north to the boarders of where the real exploration would begin; Caë na Dwenen. He must reach that mysterious forested ground, or die trying. At that moment, he reached for a blue bottle in his satchel. He touched the cool glass and with his finger tips felt the intricate carvings. No, he reminded himself, not if you can help it. He pulled his hand away and grabbed his leather-bound book instead.

    Taking one more look around before diving into his book, it was then that he noticed on the other side of the hill down below was a small wooden house. Perhaps it might be prudent to stop by, he thought; it was always useful to trade for supplies where possible saving the need for foraging or hunting when on-the-move. And with making that note to himself, for a short while he lost himself in his book.

    He closed the cover after a time and dusted the crumbs off his teal-coloured tunic. Judging by the Sun’s position in the cool azure sky, Dambor speculated it was just after midday. He had more ground to cover and had to find a safe spot to make camp for the night, stopping at the wooden house would mean sacrificing a full afternoon and evening of travel which wouldn’t work, so he concluded that he best be on the move. He lugged his large pelt-made pack upon his back, shouldered his bow and fastened his quiver on his belt - seven, eight, nine arrows still, he counted to himself - checked his satchel upon his side, and, of course, straightened his black cloak that was drawn around his shoulders, placed his hood up, and began his descent downhill, and made sure to not to lose his footing amongst the grass still wet with dew. It was a cooler time of year and whilst he was thankful not to have to lug all of his equipment in the heat of summer anymore, he knew bitterly cold days were coming very soon.

    The closer Dambor got downhill making his way to the wooden house, he suddenly noticed that the building actually looked quite dilapidated. Abandoned? There goes the trading-for-supplies idea. 

    But it wasn’t abandoned as Dambor noticed edging his way closer down the steep hill; a figure came running out the entrance, then three more came shortly afterwards at full-speed towards Dambor’s direction. The first figure stopped in front of the house whilst the other three jumped over broken wooden fence encircling the building. They were carrying things in their hands, and Dambor’s heart sank instantly upon realisation. 

    Bandits. A flush of panic surged through the Wanderer and he began to scramble back uphill.

    ‘Oi!’ came the shouts from below suddenly ‘come ‘ere!’

    Vastly outnumbered, Dambor didn’t have time or the inclination to fix an arrow to his bow. The best he could do in a hurry was to draw an arrow to use as a knife, or indeed his actual knife if he was lucky.

    Or that which was forbidden, I could do that, came a thought. Was it still forbidden if his life depended on it though?

    An arrow went clanging off a rock dangerously close to him as he reached the top again, his legs burning from the climb. His scramble wasn’t fast enough however.

    ‘Come ‘ere, I’m gonna smash your skull,’ came a nasty voice from close proximity behind him. Dambor didn’t get the chance to glance behind him as suddenly he felt a violent tug on his pack that threw him to the ground. A hand grabbed his arrows and threw them aside. He rolled onto his front mid fall and tried to scramble up again, but felt a violent kick to his side knocking the wind out of him. As he lay on his side he got a better look at his assailant; a vicious behemoth of a man adorned with tribal tattoos and scars, clutching a club with what looked like broken sharp bits of metal jutting out - a gruesome weapon for tearing and smashing.

    No time for a knife, it was now or never as the bandit raised his weapon ready to smash Dambor like an eggshell.

    Dambor thrust out his hand and mustered a shout, ‘Hynara Quilm!’

    In an instant, a flash of wild sparks sprung from the Wanderer’s hand like a storm as a thunderous CRACK! split the air between the two men. Dambor squeezed his eyes shut in the process, but opened them upon hearing the attacker yowling in pain and noticed his club had been shattered like a bolt of lightning striking a tree.

    He wasted no time and scrambled to his feet once more, only to be thrown to the ground again by the other two bandits whom had reached the summit of the hill. The shorter and balder of the two stamped on Dambor’s chest pinning him to the ground. Dambor felt like an animal in a trap as the bandit bent over to him in study, frowning and sneering his dirty face as he did so.

    ‘What was…that then…eh?’ The man pinning Dambor to the ground said this between rasping breaths. He then called without taking his eyes of his victim under his foot, ’You alright, Coss?’

    Heavy thuds made their way to Dambor, and the vicious looking thug, known as Coss, loomed over him joining the other two. Dambor’s blood ran cold as the large man said quite measuredly, ‘I’m going to cut you up, piece by piece, bone by bone, starting from your foot and working my way upwards until your heart bursts from the pain for that.’ 

    ‘Get ‘im on his feet!’ shouted a bandit with long scraggily hair, and grabbed Dambor by the collar. The Wanderer was hoisted and held as Coss landed a fierce punch to his side, then to his face. He grabbed Dambor by the hair.

    ‘Wait!’ Dambor shouted painfully as blood began to run down his lip.

    ‘Maybe we shout cut off his hands first to make sure he doesn’t do that again,’ the short bandit said. The other two chuckled darkly.

    ‘I like that,’ replied Coss. He grabbed a knife from the scraggily haired man’s belt and flashed it in front of Dambor’s face, then said through gritted teeth, ‘or take out his eyes so he doesn’t know where to look!’ 

    ‘Wait! I’m sorry! Please, please let me go!’ Dambor shouted in a panic. It was at that moment a desperate idea came to him. ‘I am…but a trader! I have fine ales, or whatever you want on my person! Help yourselves but please let me go!’

    Coss, still holding Dambor’s hair, drew his face so close that Dambor could smell his foul breath.

    ‘Your life isn’t worth enough to replace what you’ve cost me, so we’ll be taking that first, then we’ll be looting your goods.’

    ‘There’s a fine, expensive and rare ale my satchel,’ Dambor replied swiftly, making sure to add weight to the words, ‘if I could have but one last drop I would die a content man.’ Dambor’s strategic was an enormous gamble.

    Coss bore into his eyes. ‘Hmm, which one?’ Coss opened Dambor’s satchel and upon seeing two different bottles knowingly pulled out the lesser one first. ‘This one? Or wait…’ he said as he flung it aside. He then pulled out the blue bottle with intricate carvings, which did intrigue him in spite of himself. 

    ‘This one?’ 

    ‘Yes!’ Dambor replied. ‘If I could but have one last drop…’

    ‘Hang on,’ said the scraggily-haired man, shaking and gripping Dambor’s arm tighter, ’it might be a trick. Poison perhaps.’

    ‘What? No, no, it is but a fine ale!’ 

    Coss grinned malevolently.

    ‘Fine. Have your “ale”.’

    Upon seeing Coss uncork the bottle, Dambor’s heart soared as his gamble had worked as there was a sudden explosion of flames. The bandits let go of Dambor to shield their eyes and in the opportunity Dambor flung himself down the hill rolling wildly as he did so. Coss dropped the flaming bottle, screamed in fury, and the bandits tore after him. 

    In their chase, they didn’t see the growing and raging pyre on the hilltop, and the full shape of a being emerging within the flames. Bright and vicious eyes opened and peered through the fire, like the Sun breaking through a screen of smoke, and looked at the scene below. She began to walk, scorching the earth. 

    Dambor reached the bottom of the hill and rose to his feet quickly, though sick with disorientation. As his surroundings wheeled around him, he knew he just had to keep running as best as he could; it was his only chance. He slung off his heavy pack and noticed his bow was gone, likely broken in a tangled heap on the hillside. He ran painfully, but in doing so heard shouting from the wooden house.

    ‘Oi! Behind you! Behind you!’ 

    It was the slender archer; he was waiving his arms wildly to the other bandits that were giving chase.

    Save me, thought Dambor, save me! Save me!


Coss ignored the archer’s vehement warnings from below and it was his undoing; as he raced down the hill after Dambor in a bloodthirsty rage, he suddenly was engulfed in a searing blast, knocking him off his feet and sending him toppling downwards like a child’s rag doll until he came crashing to the bottom, wreathed in flames, motionless. 

    ‘Run! Run away!’ Shouted the archer as he bolted back to the wooden house. 

    The fire-being stalked down the hill, measuredly, watching Dambor running a short distance away.

    The two remaining bandits, upon seeing the smouldering remains of Coss, wheeled around to look up at her at the base of the hill drawing ragged breaths, dumbstruck.

    ‘Let’s get away from here,’ said the shorter man.

    ‘Don’t be a coward!’ Snapped the scraggily haired man, then shouted to the fire-being as he drew a club from his belt and brandished it in his palms, ’Come on! Come on then!’ 

    The fire-being stopped short of them on the hill, flames flickering like torch in the wind, and stared.

    The bandit taunted her, ’what are you then? I’m not afraid of you! Come on then!’ The shorter bandit backed away. 

    As the scraggily-haired bandit began to take his chances and advanced, she slowly raised a hand to him and outstretched her fingers.

    ‘Fara, no!!’ shouted the shorter bandit, and began to sprint away as a pillar of flame shot from the being’s hand, incinerating his comrade who screamed amongst the flames. Sweeping her palm across, she brought the shooting flames upon him also mercilessly.

    The pillar of flame ceased from her and she continued her walk down the hill to the base, walking past the three bodies that lay burning away amongst the scorched grass, black smoke rising in the air. She saw Dambor in the limping his way back to her.


Upon his return, Dambor slumped to the ground in front of her painfully, like a disciple praying at an alter. The adrenaline had worn off; the beatings and the fall downhill stung him terribly.

    He looked up to her.

    ‘Thank you,’ he rasped. 

     She stood indifferently, glowing eyes peering out of the flames. 

    Dambor looked at the bodies and placed his head in his hands. He felt sick. The reality of the situation began to weigh on him agonisingly slowly.

    He opened his eyes and suddenly found fire-being kneeling in front of him, the inferno of her eyes staring what felt like through him. He was amazed to see the flames that emanated off of her touching him, but to his astonishment found he was not burned by it.


    The question did not receive an answer. 

    Instead, the fire-being took his hand and turned over so that his palm faced upwards. He suddenly remembered and cursed himself; how could he forget?

    ‘No, wait!’

    The being grasped his wrist in like an unbreakable vice as a searing hot burn sprang from his palm. He yowled in pain as a crimson red line appeared next to his black one, and upon completion, faded to the same colour. Two dark lines now sat embedded in his shaking hand. She released him, and he shrivelled into himself on the ground clutching his burn.

    ‘I had to! They were going to kill me,’ he cried, ‘I had to!’

    She stood tall, impossible to read, and only stared. 

    Dambor looked from her to his marks, and the truth dawned on him. ‘I understand,’ he said. 

    Whereas the last time he had released her from the bottle he thought she merely had brandished him as something like her guardian or keeper with the painful mark, he now realised that he was gravely mistaken; for he realised in this moment that the burns were a tally for her being released. In sleepless nights thereafter, he found himself asking why.

    The fire-being stretched out her hand to the sky and the blue bottle from the hilltop came flying into it from afar, where she grasped it unflinchingly. Suddenly, she and her cloak of flames began to swirl away inside the aloft bottle like a strange implosion. After she and fire disappeared, the bottle corked itself and fell to the ground with a soft thump; she was gone and Dambor sat alone. 

    The Wanderer slowly picked up the cool bottle and rose to his feet with pain and wincing. He looked the blue bottle over once more, complete with it’s intricate carvings, and the Lyri text etched in exquisite lettering. Those unversed in the Long Language wouldn’t have been able to read it, but Dambor knew what it said; it read ‘Ardelliatht’, though he was unsure what that truly meant.

    He limped over to his pack on the ground, picked it up and shouldered it with difficulty. It felt heavier than before somehow.

    As much as he wanted to rest, he had to shake off the mortality of what transpired only moments before and what lay burning near him, he knew he had to press on. He would have to ponder the weight of his undertaking another time. There was more ground to cover, much more. He drew a deep breath and looked over to the wooden house. Anger bubbled inside him. 

    ‘I will tear this house asunder with my mighty powers if you do not give me your bow and provisions!’

    It was a lie, an extremely fool-hardy one in the current circumstances, but in a moment of weakness Dambor reasoned he already had two lines on his hand, what’s a third if it meant he could get something to aid the journey ahead.

    A bald head appeared in the window, and a hand threw out a bow, a clatter of arrows that fell apart like matchsticks from a leather quiver, and a cloth bag moments later.

    ‘Take it,’ came a feeble reply, ‘take it and leave, Sir! I am old, please begone, do not curse me!’

    Dambor, now with the opportunity, withdrew his knife from his satchel and walked over to the house cautiously. He went unchallenged; the head did not reappear. He picked up the bow and the cloth bag (which he later found contained bread, cheese and berries no doubt stolen recently), carefully scooped up six arrows from the ground and departed swiftly but not turning his back on the house for a good way. 


The Wanderer continued northwards as the wind continued to caress the moorland. As he walked on he looked at his palm once more. 

    Two, he thought to himself, now there’s two.

    He then checked the blue bottle in his satchel which sat quite happily between his bread and his book.

    ‘Endïl ŵe, Hu’ara’, he then thought, and really meant it. 

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