A prologue from Shadow Bard’s tale

PROLOGUE

In the dying light of a misty tragic fated day, Captain True Jones of king Stonewall’s Royal guard along with six of the King’s guards lit the torches in the slave’s burial graveyard with their fire stones. The body of a young slave girl lay on the ground beside a newly dug grave. The Smith’s son was in the hole digging away. He had started sixteen hours ago without a moment’s rest. Tears flowed down his cheeks as he wept silently.

The guards knew why the young man was crying but they didn’t care. They were there to make sure the smith’s son finished the task he had been ordered to do. The day had been horrible and the events that had caused the sudden death of the young lady had left a deadening feeling for them all. They all just wanted the deed to be done so they could all go home and forget about what happened and then pretend this day hadn’t been.

The sound of guitar music playing put the guards on alert. Each man searched the thick mist but could not find the guitar player. Bitter laughter followed that brought a frightful chill down their spines but the Smith’s son smiled he felt no fear for he knew the avenger of his lover had come to take his life. He dropped his shovel and came out of the grave to stand beside the body and await the avenger’s arrival and sentence upon his head.

Captain Jones came forward to stand in front of him with his sword’s tip raised and pointing at the boy.

“Get back to your task assigned to you. The King has ordered you to finish it before the dawn of the next day. We will protect you from the girl’s brother.”

The Smith’s son shook his head. “The avenger of the innocent has come at last for my head. You cannot protect me. Leave now. I will join my lady in the grave soon.”

Captain Jones opened his mouth but then the laughter grew louder. Wild magic was among them now. Captain Jones hated the fear that started to fill his heart. He and his men were being surrounded by its master.

“Be still your hearts.

Stand at attention.

Watch and see.

The end of the Sword Maker.”

Captain Jones along with his guards were taken in a spell and frozen in place. The young sword maker moved away from Captain Jones’ blade and turned to his right as a shorter man suddenly appeared out of the mist. The man was dressed in black with a guitar in his hands and an angry twisted smile on his face appeared. The boy bowed to him.

“Hello, friend bard. I welcome your vengeance on my head. I deserve no pity. Please make it quick.”

The bard’s wild jade green eyes stared at the young man with a bored expression. He shook his head. “No. The maker of deadly weapons thinks to trick me of my vengeance but the bard will not be denied his due. Death is a sure release from the punishment you deserve. You asked for my sister’s hand in marriage and then you had not the strength in you to protect that hand from the wilds of the king’s wicked sons. No. Death is too sweet a release for you. I will see you surfer for the wrong you didn’t right. You are a coward and cowards deserve no mercy.”

The boy nodded and came down to his knees before the bard. “Do your worst. Death is the sentence I am worthy of most for all my crimes against you and my love. I deserve the highest punishment you can perform on me.”

“You accept my judgment. “The bard asked.

The slave nodded. “I accept the truth. I wanted what I could not protect. The person I loved most was stolen from me and all I could do was stand and watch it happen. Powerless. The sword I crafted with my own magic was used by one of my masters I serve to kill the one I love. There is no greater sin or shame I cannot bare it. This is the curse on my life.”

The bard smiled a wicked sharp grin. “A curse. Yes. On your life forever and again, you are cursed.”

“A curse.” The weapon smith said.

The bard began to play a song on his guitar.

“You were once a marker

Of weapons. You once was

A dealer of death.

Now the fire

Of the forge

Will no longer

Wield its power

To your voice or

Touch again.

Your voice has changed

Your touch has become gentle.

No longer do you carry the form of

The weapon maker

When you look through the mirrors glass

You see only

The bard’s shadow of magic

Smiling back at your soul.”

A musical wind of smoke and magic surrounded the cursed smith’s son. The magic lifted him and the dead body of his true love into the air. Captain Jones watched as the two bodies became stones of light and joined as one being of mist and energy. They floated in the air for a few minutes and the being from a guitar and began to play. Heavenly music came out his guitar and then he began to float down to the land.

Captain Jones heaved a sigh of relief when he could finally lower his sword. He looked around but the dark bard had left. His nerves had eased just a little. He turned and fixed his eyes on the maker of magic weapons. Maker had a strange smile on his mouth and he was playing skillfully on the guitar.

Captain Jones nodded over to one of his men to take the guitar away. The guard was slow in approaching the marker but did as his commander ordered and took the guitar away. The maker dropped his arms.

“I command you. Maker of deadly swords. Open your eyes it’s time for you to report on what has happened to your king.”

Maker’s smile spread. He shook his head. “The Maker of weapons is no longer. The Bard’s shadow has been born today.”

Captain Jones frowned and then stared at the Bard’s Shadow when he finally looked up. Shadow stared at him.

Shadow raised his hand and his guitar flew back into his hand. The guards all went on alert and raised their swords pointed them at his head. He still stared at Captain Jones. “Lead the way. I have a song to sing to his majesty.” He said in a enchanting voice.

L. M. Parker

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