All is well until a kingdom dignitary speaks of an old superstition in a forest.
| Chicken...................sewing machine......................................storm...................................................garage
feather string lightning dust
food cloth clouds heat
spit needle rain junk
John awoke with the heat of the sunshine coming through his lattice as clouds floated in the sky with the sun. He jumped off his feather bed and ran down the stone steps to find apples, cherries, cooked eggs, sausage and other kinds of food on a wooden table.
“John, how are you today?” said his mother. “I hope you’re hungry. The ambassador from the Northern Kingdom will be joining us.”
“What is he like?”
“I’ve never met him. But I have visited his country. It is beautiful.”
“Your majesty, ambassador Khrine is coming,” said a servant.
“Good, I will meet him. John, get ready to be introduced.”
A middle aged man wearing a blue silk cape with gold seams smiled brightly.
“Queen Thena, it is a pleasure. Where is your husband?”
“He is trying to establish a peace treaty with Evereth. It is a kingdom we have been at war with for ages. I am sorry you will not be able to meet him.” Thena said solemnly.
There was a short silence and Khrine clapped his hands to dismiss the mood.
“Enough of that! Let us talk about our wonderful future relations. I would suggest we discuss our trade affairs first,” said Khrine.
“I think it would be proper to create trade route through the Bronze Forest. It’s not explored. The biggest problem would be a few indigenous barbarians I imagine.”
Khrine’s eyes glazed slightly. “I do not think that is wise your majesty. Strange forces at work in those woods. I would not trifle with.”
“Surely you are jesting. I have never heard of such superstition.”
Then Thena noticed his son’s sudden interest in the conversation after forgetting he was in the hall.”
“You mean like ghosts or magic?” John asked enthusiastically.
The ambassador looked flush.
“Forgive me; I have not introduced my son prince John.”
“I would not get too curious about the mater lad.”
Queen Thena broke the dreary atmosphere.
“Come, let us enjoy our breakfast.”
The three sat down and started to eat and the conversation began.
“I am glad that this meeting has finally occurred. It is much past due. How are your crops doing?”
“Very good. This year’s yield is quite exceptional; It also the time of the Cherot bird’s migration to our land. It is quite a sight to see them fly in formation. Sometime this summer I will give you a tour of our castle.”
Thena smiled briefly and nodded. “That would be wonderful.”
“Tell more about the woods,” asked John enthralled.
“Son Please. Not now.”
“It is alright your majesty; it is a subject that must be dealt with.”
The queen frowned and contorted her face. “What do you speak of then?”
“A while ago seven of the royal masons went to gather timber from the woods. It is not known what happened exactly, but two returned saying evil souls of dead knights attacked them and killed the other five.”
“This is uncanny. Do you truly believe their words?”
“These were honorable, and loyal individuals that would have nothing to gain from tall tales. After a time we stumbled across a small, dust covered book bound in a cloth ribbon in the record archives. It spoke of a sorcerer with the power to steal and control souls of humans in the Bronze Forest.”
“My word! What shall we do?” said Thena.
“We stay away.”
“No, we will face this force with bravery. Is there any way to defeat this wizard?”
“It is said that a sword called the Ivory Thorn can subdue him. But…”
“Ivory sword…that sounds familiar. What does it look like?” interrupted the queen.
“The only description is in an aged drawing. The handle has a dragon’s or a tiger’s face sculpted onto it. It is hard to tell. The tip of the blade has a thin needle -like protrusion.”
Thena thought momentarily. “Ambassador, might I escort you to our armory?”
“Of course your majesty.”
“John, stay here.”
The two exited the hall and went to the castle chamber corridor. At the very end was the armory. They went through the torch lit stone path and entered. Inside were golden spears, silver shields, spiked mazes and suits of armor and weapons of every sort.
Khrine scanned it amazed. He saw a sword wrapped in burlap that was bound by string. Only the handle was showing.
“Your majesty, I’ve found it!” he exclaimed as he took off the wrapping. “This is it!”
“Let us waste no time.” She turned to a servant. “Niesson, inform the captain he is to go into the Bronze Forest.” she said as she gave the servant the sword.
The queen explained everything to Captain Ryste who departed at once. The Bronze Forest was not far away with a prairie being the only thing between it and the kingdom. As he entered, an evil presence was sensed. He got out a torch. The forest became darker as he continued. Then he met man in a scarlet robe with a devious grin.
“Who goes through my woods?”
“And who are you?” asked Ryste.
“My name is Anthious, the dreaded sorcerer.” Evil was in his eyes that showed in a dark hue. Bags were under them.
Ryste dismounted. “If you truly be he, than I will show you this!” He brandished the weapon and his foe reeled back.
“It was under our very noses.”
Then in a display of his power he caused lighting to pass between his hands.
A black flame erupted from his palms and Ryste repelled it with his sword.
“Is summon you souls of men, come to my aid!”
Small spheres of light with human faces surrounded the knight. One of them flew to his chest knocking him down. He jumped to his feet and lunged at the sorcerer who continued to disperse dark flames. The knight parried each of them and when he came close enough, he impaled the sinister man. The forest was freed.