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Excerpt from the Book
THE OLD MAN stands silently atop a pile of rubble. As he
stares into the empty horizon, he thinks about the incredible
contrast between what this land once was and what it has
Just over six short years ago, it was a bustling village. Every
day, the air was filled with the sounds of a thriving community.
Children laughed, horses brayed, men argued… something
interesting was always happening. The paths leading through
the marketplace were lined with dozens of vendors’ stalls. In
these stalls, one could find all he ever needed: bread, meats,
vegetables, blankets, toys, clothing, tools… all of the comforts
of civilized life.
The old man looks down and examines his worn and sooty
robes. What was once a luxurious midnight blue garment is
now fading, and in need of mending. It is barely enough to
protect him from the chill of a relentless wind that rolls across
the plain, a harsh reminder that there are no longer any walls to
The sadness in the old man’s heart swells as he surveys the
ruins scattered around him. As far as his eyes can see, there is
nothing but rocks and weeds, enveloped by a swirling morning
mist. The sky, as if to reflect the old man’s mood, is a washedout
expanse of dull grayness. Stroking the snowy white beard that reaches the middle of his chest, he tries to remember the
village he once called home.
Here once stood a cathedral, with its towering spires and
beautifully detailed stonework. Behind him is the area where a
cluster of peasant homes, simple yet secure and warm, stood.
And at the far end of the village was the castle: a fortress, a symbol
of power and majesty. It was a massive structure that boldly
proclaimed authority, poised to defend its inhabitants from anybody
foolish enough to question its might.
The castle was once a home, too. It was the residence of
Alistair, Duke of Hallswich, and his family. It also housed the
duke’s many servants, including the old man himself. Now the
entire marketplace, the cathedral, the modest homes, and the
castle are gone, wiped from the face of the Earth, due to the
foolishness of a few stubborn men.
In the days immediately following the great conflict that
had destroyed everything, looters scoured the land. Hundreds
of men and women dug through the wreckage, searching for
anything that might be of value. During that time, the old man
was busy tending to the needs of the lost and the wounded.
One day, upon returning to his makeshift tent, he made a horrific
discovery. The looters had been there, and they had taken
everything. Enraged, he shouted, “No-o-o-o-o-o!” at the top
of his lungs. He raised his fists in the air and cursed himself for
being so careless. Almost all of his possessions were gone, but
only one item truly mattered to him. It was the source of all of
his power: the Dragon’s Teardrop.
Not long after that, everybody left, seeking a new life elsewhere.
The wasteland had been picked clean, and there was no
longer any reason to stay. The old man remained, though, hoping
desperately that the Dragon’s Teardrop was still buried in
the rubble. Perhaps the thief might have accidentally dropped
it. For six years, he spent all of his waking hours searching for
the Teardrop, as it had supplied all of his wisdom and all of his
remarkable abilities for many decades prior. Without it, he
started to feel like an ordinary man.
A lone falcon’s cry pulls the old man from his daydream
about better times. He looks up at the bird and sighs with a
scratchy voice, “You won’t be finding any mice here, my friend.
Best be moving on now.” As if it understands the old man’s
words, the falcon obediently tilts its wings and veers off, setting
a course for more promising terrain. “Moving on…” the old
man repeats quietly, a faint smile beginning to play across his
lips. “Time to take your own advice, Mercastus.”
Reaching behind himself, Mercastus grasps a cold, black
metal handle protruding from the back of his soft, faded leather
belt. Carefully, he withdraws the blade and holds it up so he
can admire its perfect condition. He was carrying the dagger
when his tent was robbed, fortunately, so the looters were
unable to claim it. Over the years he spent alone, the old man
took very good care of this, his last earthly possession. The
weapon, never once used to inflict harm on a living being, is a
shining work of art. It is the only bright point in a land otherwise
stripped of beauty.
Directly addressing the blade, Mercastus whispers hoarsely,
“My years of searching now come to a close. I must face the
truth: the Dragon’s Teardrop is lost. Along with it, what was
left of my power is gone. Time is finally catching up with me.
I am growing weaker by the day. You have served me well, my
companion, and I now bestow upon you what is left of my
strength. I hope with all of my heart that my efforts are well
placed in you, and that you will rescue our land from its present
state of destruction.”
The old man crouches into a squatting position, lowering
the dagger almost to the ground. He closes his eyes and gently
kisses the blade. He tightens his grip on the handle and tenses
every muscle in his body.
With a sudden burst of strength, he springs into the air
while heaving the weapon above his head, and releases it. The
clouds break at that very moment, and the sun glistens brilliantly
off of the spectacular steel blade. Light is thrown in
every direction as the knife slices through the air, spinning end
Boulders grind against each other, making a brash scraping
sound. The ground directly beneath the twirling, sparkling
wonder opens up. By the time the blade begins to fall, there is
a large hole among the rubble. Finally, with a blinding flash, a
sharp crackling sound, and a blast of moist heat that travels
toward Mercastus and soothes his raw skin, the dagger plummets
heavily and is swallowed up in the pit.
The old man pauses for a moment with his hands on his
hips. He feels more relaxed than he’s been since before the
great conflict. Once again, he lowers himself to the ground, but
this time he lies down all the way and falls into a deep sleep.