Bronus meets the magic using monk Crom.
|The Forest Refuge
An eerie cold gathered and swirled in midair before the monk. He focused his thoughts harder as a glowing blue orb took form. The wind blew as the orb expanded and slowly rose. He clapped his hands and the blue orb exploded. The eruption sent out a rain of silvery snowflakes that lighted upon the trees and ground circling 30 feet around his hut. He stopped briefly to admire his work in the Bronze Forest where he lived nearly his whole life. The old monk sat on a log and opened his sacred scrolls in blissful solitude as he stroked his beard.
Ah, the world is full of such beauty! If only everyone could stop chasing riches and just look at what is plainly before them. The world would be exceedingly better that way. He thought.
Close to his home throughout the peaceful forest were villages that bustled with trade and talk. The biggest and wealthiest was Barail. There, the streets were of polished stone having intricately fashioned buildings and finely cut oak doors.
A few yards from the monk, a rabbit chewed grass. On tree branches sparrows chirped joyfully. The monk closed his eyes and inhaled the scent of wet pines and leaves. He returned to his text then there was a ruffling in a bush. A small head with dark brown hair and fair face emerged.
“Now what is a young boy like you doing deep in the heart of the Bronze Forest?”
The child rose from his crouch and walked towards the monk. The boy dropped his head refusing to meet his eyes.
“Why are you so sad little one?”
The child observed the monk’s gaze silently.
“Don’t be shy,” said the monk as he kneeled. “My name is Crom. What is your name?”
The boy cried as he ran to Crom and hugged his chest. He buried his sobbing head into the old man’s cloak. The monk held out the child as he grasped his shoulders.
“What’s wrong?-have you lost your parents?” Crom asked.
The child used his arm to wipe his tears. “Everything is burning! My mother and father are gone!”
Crom’s eyes widened in shock. “Burning? You have to calm down and be brave alright?”
The boy nodded. Crom ran his hand down his face to his beard astonished. “If you want things to get better you have to listen to me. Where are you from?
“Barail.” The boy said sadly.
“I thought all in the forest was peaceful,” Crom said to himself.
Just as the monk was about to speak on, he heard hoof beats approaching.
“Quick!-behind that tree!” Crom commanded pointing at a large oak.
Soon he made out a dark brown horse carrying a man wearing a chain-linked armor and a sword at his side.
He dawned a crest on his chest; a dragon and a phoenix intertwined. The monk veered his eyes and realized something.
If this rider is truly hostile, fighting him would subvert my vow to do no harm. For the child I must use my magic as a weapon! He thought.
The birds and animals scattered as he barged through the thicket. Closer and closer the intruder came until at last he stopped in front of the monk. Then Crom witnessed something in the rider’s eyes; a kindness and honesty, not in the least bit malicious. There was also desperation in his face and an earnest resolve as well. Crom saw the crest and knew he was of Barail.
The rider addressed the monk.
“You live by yourself from the settlements in the forest.”
The boy stepped from behind the tree and the horsemen marveled at the child. “Did this young boy find his way here by himself?” The rider had Raven black hair down to his shoulders with fair skin as well as emerald green eyes that matched the color of the leaves in the sunlight. He also had a demeanor that was strong and brave yet a gentleness pervaded him and his speech.
His tone was light and firm as he questioned Crom.
“Do you know of raiders that plundered and burned many of the villages within the forest?”
“My word! I thought that the ruin of Barail was bad enough, but many villages!?”
“Yes, I and others from Barail have been dispatched to help them. We’re trying but the enemy is pillaging and burning villages faster than we can defend.”
The man peered down, clenched his fists, and fell to his knees. “If only I would have kept them in sight!” he exclaimed bitterly as he pounded on the forest floor. The man cried in agony and bitterness. “Now I don’t know whether my wife and son are alive or dead. Would to God that they had stayed with me! Why have I have been gone for so long!? I never should have left Barail!”
“I may be able to help.”