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The Staff of Naught

By Tom Liberman

Copyright© 2011 – Tom Liberman

Cover Art – Jenny Dolfen

Prelude

The full moon hung high and bright in the night sky and the sound of hoof beats quickly approached the hidden spot where the dark-skinned orc lay hidden in a small clump of bushes. He could clearly hear his young son’s fast and heavy breathing to his right.

A tall darkling appeared out of the gloom first. His purple hued skin gleamed in the moonlight and he was riding a massive black unicorn whose very breath was fire. Next to him, on a silver horse that easily kept pace, sat a beautiful golden-haired human woman in a regal riding dress decorated with the pattern of three towers interconnected by a walkway. She sat tall in the saddle and wore a silver crown upon her head. Her face glinted in the moonlight, its features perfect with high cheekbones and strange yellow eyes glowing like a cat in the night.

“What if he isn’t dismounted,” said the boy with trembling hands who squirmed even lower into the grass. The dark-skinned orc, who wore a close-cropped beard and moustache, looked down at his young son and noted the eyes wide with fear, his normally green skin almost ashen and white in color, and his lip aquiver. “They say he’s the finest horseman in the world,” continued the lad.

“He will be,” said the orc clutching a fine rope in this hand. Minutes before he tied both ends to trees on opposite sides of the path but left enough slack for it to rest on the ground. He tightened his grip as the horses approached.

“What if it doesn’t fall off?” said the boy.

“It will, everything is arranged,” he replied. “Now get ready.”

“What do I do with it after?” said the boy.

The orc replied in an almost dream like trance, “We’ve been over this, you know what to do. Take the Black Sphere to Three Eyed Dioly. He promised to hide the thing where no darkling will ever find it,” he whispered his entire body suddenly tensing up.

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