the short story project


Benjamin Mailloux

The Scroll of Life 

Long ago in the Days of Old, when the Land of Guardiana was just beginning, The Council of Wizards came together to discuss the matters of the Land. Guardiana was once a land of peace, but now was on the brink of war. The Four Kingdoms of the North, West, East, and South were beginning to turn on each other, vying for the powers in the Land. On Mist Island, it was decided by the Council, that in order to maintain peace, the Wizards were going to have to intervene in the affairs of The Men. Their minds were quickly changed. In the South, Queen Amy wrote a magical Scroll, designed to bend all to her will. In the Scroll was the power to manipulate minds and bodies alike. Evil things drew near to the Southern Kingdom. Hordes of Goblins, Trolls, Phantoms and Mages flocked and joined the armies of the South, something that was not seen for the last 2,000 years, not since the Great Peace. The oldest and most powerful Wizard at the Time, Talon the Great, united the North, West, and East Kingdoms to march South and crush Queen Amy’s Army. In the Battle of the Southern Kingdom, when all thought was lost, Talon the Great slayed Queen Amy on the battlefield and took the Scroll of Life for himself. When Talon was asked where the Scroll of Life was, he lied and took it high into the Lancaster Mountains, far in the North. There he gave it to the Mountain People and entrusted them to keep it safe for all eternity. Talon sealed the Scroll in the Mines of Khazar, the deepest of all the Mines. The Scroll of Life was forgotten and remained that way for over 5,000 years. Talon the Great, the last of remaining Wizards of Guardiana, went to see if the Mountain People kept their promise and was surprised on what he found deep in the passages of the Mines of Khazar. The Mountain People were killed by an unknown force and Talon set out to find who had killed the Mountain People. The Scroll of Life was gone and Talon himself was deeply troubled. So he set off to find the son of Baron the Bold and prayed that his friend was still alive. 

In Borderline City, close to the nearby Borderline Forest, there was a young boy by the name of Max. He was an ordinary boy, the son of a poor farmer who lived outside the city. He never met his mom or dad, as they both died when a Goblin raiding party came through and killed them both right in front of him. Max always found ways to support himself, whether it be by stealing or by working at odd jobs of cleaning stables and watching dogs for the farmers. He also worked for the folk in Borderline City, running errands for shopkeepers, repairing stalls in the city square, and helping to catch criminals. Yes, he was paid for that. Max ended up selling the family farm to another farmer, on the condition that he would get half of the harvest for food. The farmer, seeing that Max was just a poor soul, agreed. Max didn’t live inside his house with the farmer, but lived in a tent that was just outside of the property line, located near the Borderline Forest. The Borderline Forest was not full these days, as the Goblins would kill the wildlife and eat it. Max always carried with him a club, which he put spikes on it a little later. At the end of the week, Max would go into the city and spend what he earned on either food or improvements for his club. He often wrote notices that he was looking for work and posted it in the city square. Somedays, Max would wake up to an army of people, waiting to meet him and employ him for his services. It was in this way, that Max gained a lot of respect for the people of Borderline City and of an old man, by the name of Tanner. Max never knew about him, but listened to the Stories of Old, when Talon the Great, the greatest Wizard of all time, killed the ruthless Queen Amy in the Battle of the Southern Kingdom. Max loved listening to those stories and since when peace existed for so long, he would always be stuck in Borderline City, helping those who needed it and supporting himself at the same time. 

It was another ordinary day when Max woke up. He went over to the farmer and collected his yield of the harvest. It was only a few potatoes, squash, and some peppers. Max was thankful for the farmer and went off into Borderline City,to check his notices. He always did and asked people who passed by to leave their info so that he could contact them. Max was in the process of learning how to write, so that he can further his services. Borderline City today was full of activity. The King of the West was coming to visit and he was bringing his most trusted advisor, which was a Wizard. There had not been a sighting of a Wizard for the last 5,000 years and since the downfall of Queen Amy. Max thought that it was strange that a Wizard was coming to Borderline City. No one of great importance ever came to the city, unless they wanted to give money or see the city’s progress. Max weaved in and out of the city square, checking is notices to see of anyone was interested in his services. The notice board was full and it was all for him. Max got excited and went to see the scribe on the other side of the city. He paid the fee and the scribe, Robbie, taught him the basics of words and how to write. Max was finished for the day and headed back to the city square. Max noticed that there was a man that was following him closely. Max tried to lose the man, but he kept on following him. The man was then drowned out by the large crowd that was in the square. The crowd erupted in applause as the King of the West came into the square, waving and throwing money. He was obviously looking for support. Max turned around and the man was still following him. Unbeknownst to Max, another man was following him, this time it was an older looking man. Max, getting worried, decided to head back to his tent for the day. The city was way too crowded. When Max got back to his tent, he instantly pulled out his spiked club. The man followed him to his tent.

“Where is it?” The man asked.

“Where is what?” Max said back.

“The Scroll of Life! Where it is it!” The man shouted.

“I don’t know what you are talking about.” Max said, raising his voice. 

“Yes you do. Don’t lie!” The man said. 

The man pulled out a sword. Max only had his club and it would be no match for a sword. The man lunged for Max and swung his sword. Max dodged out of the way and swung his club. It cracked on the mans leg and the man went down clutching his leg. Max swung again, but the man swung first. Max clutched his arm in pain as the sword grazed it. Blood seeped out of Max’s hand as he clutched it. The man tackled Max to the ground, pinning him down with his knees. The man brought his sword up. Before the man could bring down his sword, a fireball came out of the woods and shot the man off of Max. The man screamed as he was on fire and rolled off of Max. Max backed up and grabbed his club. The man was burned to a crisp and a charred body was on the ground. Max looked up and saw the older man, who was following him earlier.

“Who are you?” Max asked.

The older man came closer to him. He was wearing a brown robe and a hood over his face. He pulled off the hood to reveal an old man with a white beard and green eyes. 

“The name is Talon.” The old man said.

Max was in shock.

“Are you really Talon the Great from the Stories of Old?” Max asked.

Talon nodded.

“Well yes, but now I should be called Talon the Old, considering I am the only Wizard left.” Talon said. 

Max and Talon both laughed then looked at the charred man on the ground. Talon went over and touched the man with his staff. Max only noticed it just now. 

“What was he talking about?” Max asked.

Talon looked at him. Max continued.

“He was saying something like a Scr…” Max said.

Talon went over and slapped a hand over Max’s mouth. 

“Shhh.” Talon said.

Max nodded. Talon took his hand off of Max’s mouth and looked around. 

“Come with me.” Talon said. 

“Where are we going?” Max asked. 

“Just follow me.” Talon said. 

Max just grabbed his club and a bag that carried all of his money. He let the farmer know and followed Talon. The Wizard was fast for an old man and he led Max into the Borderline Forest. Talon had a cart that was parked near a few trees. There was a horse and a couple of bags that were in the back of the cart. A horse was tethered to the cart and Max assumed that it was Talon’s. Talon went over to Max and bandaged his arm. Max hoped that it would stop the bleeding. 

“Get in.” Talon said. 

“Where are we going?” Max asked.

“We must get out of Borderline Forest and head to the North. We must meet a friend of mine in Burningham.” Talon said. 

“How far is that from here?” Max asked. 

“At least a days ride. We only have to cross the Western River and continue North from there by following the Northern River.” Talon said. 

“Will I know what is going on in Burningham?” Max asked. 

Talon sighed. 

“There is no telling what will happen next. Come, I will tell you on our way.” Talon said. 

Talon and Max got into the cart and Talon urged his horse forward. The two of them rode through the Borderline Forest at a fast pace. Talon was in a hurry.

“What is it?” Max asked. 

“The Scroll?” Talon said.

Max nodded. Talon continued. 

“The Scroll was written by Queen Amy of Old. She has been gone for almost 5,000 years. In it was the power to manipulate mind and body.” Talon said. 

“What do I have to do with this?” Max asked. 

“I have been looking for you all your life, Max.” Talon said. 

“Why?” Max asked.

  “Do you remember your father, Max?” Talon asked. 

“No, he died.” Max said. 

Talon nodded.

“I see. I knew your father. He was a Wizard, just like me. He was called Baron the Bold. The reason for this was because when King Rangomar of the Goblins attacked Borderline City, he burned them all to a crisp. That is when I called him the Bold.” Talon said. 

“I never knew that my father was one of the Wizards.” Max said. 

“He was a great Wizard and always looked out for others. He watched over the lands of the Borderline Forst up to the Low Hills, as well as the Neutral Lands to the West, the Death Swamps and Archer Forest in the south. He was always at Fort Archer, where he used the old fort as his base of operations.” Talon said. 

“What happened to my mother?” Max asked. 

“She died when you were born and Baron was devastated. He asked a farmers family to look after you. When they were killed by Goblins, he suspected that Evil was coming back to Guardiana. He searched for me, but the Servants got to him first.” Talon said. 

“The Servants?” I asked. 

“The Servants are Queen Amy’s guards. They are Demons, just like her. Evil is coming and it is looking for the Scroll. I found your father dead in the Phantom Forest, which was not in his area. I then buried your father and headed north to find you. I didn’t find the Scroll, but I know someone in Burningham who might know where it is.” Talon said. 

“And that is why we are going to Burningham.” I said.

“Yes, and since when you are the son of Baron the Bold, the Servants are already looking for you. Baron said that he knew the Evil was coming back, but he couldn’t pinpoint where it was coming from.” Talon said.

“So we must find the Scroll. Then what?” I said. 

“Then we keep it away from The Evil. I fear that there may be a Second War coming to Guardiana and there won’t be enough good to stop the Evil. Already the Servants are looking for us and for the Scroll, so we must be careful in the days journey ahead.” Talon said. 

The two of them stayed in the cart and Talon urged his horse to go faster. By the time that the sun was setting, the cart reached the banks of the Western River. There was a tiny bridge that was big enough for the cart to pass over. Once when the Western River was crossed, there was another larger bridge in the distance. 

“That is the Great Bridge. It divides Guardiana in two pieces. The water under it is the Northern River and that is the River that we are going to follow.” Talon said. 

The two of them continued onwards through the night, not stopping at all for anything. Talon gave Max some fod, which was some apples, pears, and bread to eat. Talon continued through the night, not eating at all, but Max assumed that the Wizard had to eat at some point. The darkness swept over the Land and the only sounds that Max could hear was the sounds of the Northern River and cart wheels crushing the ground. There were no roads in Guardiana, just bridges, Rivers, and wide open land. Travel was already hard during the day, so Talon slowed down the cart just to not tire his horse out. The night dragged on and Max found himself dozing off a little bit. Talon didn’t stop the cart and let Max rest his head on his shoulder and continued travelling in the dark, hoping that The Evil was not around. 

The sun rose in the distance and Max woke up. Talon urged his horse and the cart picked up the pace. In the distance, was a gray looming shape. 

“That is Burningham. This place makes Borderline like a town. Stay close to me and be careful. The Servants can be anywhere.” Talon said. 

It was hours before they entered Burningham. Talon was right. The city was bustling with activity at this hour of the morning. There were a few other carts in front of the two of them, but that didn’t bother them at all. When Talon and Max entered the city, there was a place to put the carts. Talon and Max left it in this lot and headed deeper into the city. Max stayed close to Talon. Burningham had a long history of being one of the biggest cities in the North. Rows and rows of houses lined the paved streets. Large amounts of people walked to and fro through the streets and never stopped. Talon and Max cut through the city square, which was lined with shops of all kinds. Endless people were in Burningham and Max was shocked. Talon led Max to a house at the end of one of the streets. He knocked on the door with his staff and the door opened. Max went in first followed by Talon and he made sure that no one followed him. Inside the house was a table and a counter with food on it. The house had two rooms. There was a door that led to a back room. 

“Cedric?” Talon called.

A man came out of the back door. He was tall and wore a black robe. His brown hair blended in with robe and there was a scabbard on his side with a sword in it. 

“Talon. Good to see you. Who is this?” Cedric asked.

“This is Max, Cedric. He is the son of Baron the Bold.” Talon said.

Cedric was silent. 

“Does he know?” Cedric asked.

Talon nodded. 

“This is dangerous Talon.” Cedric said. 

“I know.” Talon said. 

“The Evil is back now, looking for the Scroll.” Cedric said.

“I know, but we must keep it out of enemy hands.” Talon said. 

“How?” Cedric said in shock.

Talon looked at Cedric.

“No I can’t” Cedric said.

Talon continued to look at Cedric. Cedric sighed.

“I will.” Cerdic said.

“Good. Then we can find the Scroll.” Talon said.

“What do you mean?” Cedric asked.

Max looked at Talon as his expression changed. Cedric went to the back room and came out with a box. He put the box on the table and opened it. Talon couldn’t believe his eyes. It was the Scroll of Life, rolled up in the box. Max saw it. It was written on old paper and rolled up. 

“Where did you find this?” Talon asked.

Cedric smiled.

“I found it in the most Evil place.” Cedric said.

“Where?” Talon asked again. 

“I found it in the Troll Kingdom, in the High Hills.” Cedric said.

“How did it get there? That is near the Southern Kingdom.” Talon said.

The three of them didn’t say anything. Max’s adventure was only beginning by keeping the Scroll of Life out of the hands of The Evil.

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