BARD is an epic fantasy-adventure novel

BARD

Bran finds out he has been accepted to the Bard campus his father once apprenticed at.  

As he says good-bye to his mother she places her hand on his shirt where a gemstone rests against his chest.  She hugs him and tells him he must return the gemstone to its rightful owner. 

Inside his father’s blacksmith shop he stares at a broken sword on a ledge above the entrance and realizes he is about to journey alone into unfamiliar lands.  His father gives him a dagger made from a strange metal and warns him that traveling is more dangerous now.

This is an epic tale about music and magic; of meeting a giant, a demon, and traveling through a land ruled by an immortal emperor gone mad.  There are castles and battles, and most importantly, the quest to return the gemstone to its rightful owner. 

 

 Excerpt:

“When the wind plays in the pouring rain and the sea rolls its high breakers over your naked body, then you will know what the Earth is, and who you are."

 

    -  Song of the Prescient Sphinx, Vires

 

 

I

 

THE GEMSTONE

 

Bran leans over to wipe the grime off the anvil in his father’s blacksmith shop with a cloth coated in linseed oil.  As he does a chrysophrase gemstone attached to a silver necklace dangles out of his shirt.   He sees the last of the sunlight reflect off the stone and it reminds him of two years ago when he met the girl who gave it to him.

 

Working in his father’s blacksmith shop, the heat of the summer equinox made him dizzy, so his father told him to cool off in Silvan’s stream.  As he bathed in the stream he heard a girl crying out.  Forgetting his clothes he grabbed the nearest stick and ran towards the screams.

In the distance he could see two boys throwing stones at a kneeling figure.  As he got closer the boys ran away all the while shouting over and over again, "Royal Bitch!  Royal Bitch!"

He knew the voices.  The two boys were old school comrades of his, Larry and Jespo.  He stopped running and rubbed his eyes in disbelief for Larry and Jespo had died in a boating accident a year prior.  As they continued to run away he saw that their bodies were sickly pale and dead skin hung from the bones of their arms. 

The kneeling figure was a girl bleeding from her upper lip.  Her long brunette hair hung past her waist covering a torn yellow blouse and emerald green skirt. 

He remembers kneeling beside the girl, only to blush as her evergreen eyes examined his uncovered body.  He tried to turn his gaze from her but he couldn’t stop staring at the oval face with its narrow nose and quivering lips. 

"Are you alright?" he had asked, his voice cracking with puberty.  She had stared at him in silence.  He remembers looking at the ground fearful he would otherwise disappear into those eyes.  She undid the top two buttons of her blouse, confusing him of her intentions. 

Against her chest rested a turquoise green gemstone with a vein of white and grey.  In the fading light he could just make out a silver dragon’s claw bail that connected the gemstone to a plain silver necklace. 

She lifted the necklace over her head and placed it around his neck.  His eyes had closed with the feel of her fingers against his skin.  Never had he felt so close to someone.  Even in that short time, in the silence that she kept him in, he felt as though he were divided in two.  He opened his eyes staring into hers.  It was as if he was looking into a pond with a reflection of one half of himself staring back. 

Her moist lips pressed against his.  Blood from the cut on her upper lip slowly trickled into his mouth as she touched the gemstone were it lay against his chest. 

“When we are older it will lead you to me,” she said with a mezzo-soprano voice full of determination.  She stood up and straightened out her skirt and blouse.  “It would have burned you if our destinies were not as one.” 

“When will we meet again?” he had asked.

Once more she stared into his eyes and he remembers feeling frozen in time.  “I don’t know when, I just feel it throughout my soul."  She had smiled, "I thought I would be safe here from my father’s minions so I slipped away from my protector to be alone for awhile.  He will be searching for me so I must return.  Always wear the gemstone by your heart!"  

He remembers standing still as he watched her lithe body disappear into the distance. 

 

As the memory fades Bran steps outside of the blacksmith shop and locks it.  His brown eyes wander over the mirage of green foilage to the grey sky above.  Then he remembers his father is waiting for him and dashes towards the forest path.  Pineneedles scratch his hands as he makes a desperate passage towards the banquet hall.

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