Authors: Jonathan Casif,Sneer Rosenfeld
Jonathan Casif & Sneer Rozenfeld
Copyright © 2012 Jonathan Casif & Sneer Rozenfeld
All rights reserved. This book or any portion thereof will not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever without the express written permission of the publisher except for the use of brief quotations in a book review.
Drawings by: Avi Katz
Translated by: Zafrir Grosman
Thick clouds covered the sun above the northern magical forests, and the sky turned grey. A light breeze caressed the tangled treetops. All around, whispers and hums of the night creatures sounded, preparing for their nightly vigil.
A little girl’s voice rose from one of the hovels of the little village located at the edge of the forest. “Mother, I’m going to climb.”
“Alone?” the mother asked.
“No,” the child answered, “I’m going with Cornar and Bans.”
The hovel door opened and a little elven child bolted from it, wearing a brown leather skirt and thin woollen blouse. Two elven teen boys waited for her outside. One of them held a bow and a quiver full of arrows rested on his back. The three ran towards the forest and disappeared into the thick woods. “Be careful, Lagwanamaris,” called the mother from the doorstep, “and don’t be late!”
“Wait,” the running boys called after the child, “slow down.”
The elven child gracefully skirted trees and hopped over roots on their way to the heart of the forest, until she stopped, panting, in front of a particularly tall tree. After several seconds, the boys arrived.
“This is it,” she looked upwards, smiling.
“Are you sure?” One of the boys asked her.
The child spread her arms and leapt onto the thick bark, clinging to it with her fingertips and mounted on it with her little legs. Without much effort, she climbed and sat on one of the lower branches, looking upwards, toward the treetop itself.
“Well,” she called to the boys who were looking up at her. “Are you coming?”
Both boys leapt onto the tree and quickly climbed to her branch.
The elven child stood and continued climbing. Her two friends looked at her admiringly.
Suddenly, a cold gust of wind passed through the tree and the sound of rustling leaves was heard from a distance. The boys looked around with alarm. The child had already climbed to the middle of the tree.
The sound became faint.
The boys looked at one another and continued to climb after her.
This time, they heard a sound of breaking branches, accompanied by more rustling leaves. A flock of birds took flight from one of the treetops. The cold wind blew again; the rustling was getting louder and coming towards them.
“Look,” called one of the boys.
A dark figure advanced towards them, skipping from one branch to another, breaking and trampling over the nearest treetops.
“Jump down,” Cornar called and drew his dagger. “Hurry!”
Bans took his bow and raised his hand to take an arrow from the quiver. The small elven girl looked at the advancing creature, her eyes opened with alarm, but her legs refused to move.
Bans pulled the string when an object flew towards him. The bow slipped from his nerveless hand, and hot pain blossomed in his body when he fell from the tree. A black-shafted arrow was lodged in his heart.
“No,” Cornar called, a moment before a second arrow was fired and fell him.
“Bans,” the elven girl screamed, “Cornar, no!”
A big hand closed on the elven child’s mouth and another hugged her closely.
A muffled scream erupted from the elven child’s throat as she was thrown onto the rigid floor of a dark tunnel that stank to high heaven. The elven child tried to penetrate the blackness with the elven gift of darkvision, but she was too young and her eyes were not skilled enough.
Grey, stiff, and pocked hands held her against a rock and tied her with a thick rope. The dark creature, which stood up when she cried, seemed to her like a giant demon.
“I dreamt about you…” the child was terrified, “Are you… Hubris?”
“Ha, ha, ha,” the horrible laughter grated on her ears.
All around her, cockroaches and large rats scampered around and hid at the corners of the room.
“Guard her!” the creature’s harsh voice echoed while it went deeper into the tunnel.
The cockroaches reached her body and probed her with their long antennae. The rats also ventured to sniff and lick her sweat.
“Help!” the elven child cried, kicking the cockroaches that surrounded her.
Suddenly, the sound of footsteps was heard at the entrance, and then a head appeared. The head scanned the room and disappeared as if it hadn’t noticed her.
“Begone the blackness of night, thou shalt be replaced with the brightness of light!” a thin voice sounded from the same direction.
The room burst into light and three figures appeared at the entrance. The first was a small lutin, cloaked in a wizards’ robe with a little purple bonnet on his head. Next to him stood a tall and thin human, head-shaven, and thick of brow, decked in leather armour, holding a long wooden quarterstaff in his hands. Another man stood there: a young knight, his long hair plaited and a little goatee on his chin, brandishing a long and bright sword in his hand and covered in silvered armour.
“Hurry!” called the young knight.
The tall human rushed to the child, unbound her and banished the cockroaches that already climbed on her body.
“You are…” the girl said excitedly, “human.”
The knight continued to attack the rats with his sword, but they chose to stand their ground and attack him back with their long teeth. The lutin jumped in his place and squashed as many cockroaches as possible.
A rumble was heard from the end of the tunnel.
“Let’s get out of here,” called the knight.
The tall human took the elven child in his arms and ran towards to opening, the lutin following him, but the knight stood vigilant and continued to fight the rats.
“NO!!!” a horrific scream was heard and the awful creature that kidnapped the little girl leaped forward. He closed on the knight and put a knife against his throat.
The tall human and lutin froze in their place.
Three giant rats ran into the room and stood behind the creature; while they stood, a rat army followed them. They gnashed the air with their long and sick-looking teeth.
“The child stays here,” whispered the serpentine voice of the creature. The sharp blade nicked the knight’s jaw.
“No,” shouted the knight, “run away, save her!”
“Shut yer mouth,” the creature screamed, driving the dagger point into the left cheek of the knight.
With an astounding speed, the lutin drew a boomerang that was hanging from his belt and threw it towards the creature. The boomerang circled on itself while it flew and hit the creature’s hand, causing him to drop the dagger. The knight reversed his sword and hit the creature’s stomach with its pommel, throwing him to the other side of the tunnel. He fell down in pain, crashing on dozens of rats.
“Run,” the knight leapt and ran towards the tunnel entrance. His friends followed him, the little girl safe in their arms. The rats chased after them, pouring from every crevice of the tunnel.
“Summon fireball from smoke and guano, destroy them all in hell’s inferno!” the lutin shouted, staying at the entrance to the tunnel after all his friends were safely away.
A large fireball erupted from his hands towards the rat army. A concussion shook the tunnel, its walls crumbled and fell on its occupants, blocking the entrance, and hiding the blazing fire that burned inside.
The dawn appeared, the first morning birds began to sing from the treetops, and the early ray of lights shone the path of the foursome as they walked towards the elven village. When they reached it, a strange obo sound was heard from above, its rhythm was uneven, rising and falling.
“The sound of victory,” the knight said, trying not to smile and hurt his cheek wound, cutting the foliage with his sword.
Dozens of elves greeted them with stomps, and an older elven woman ran towards them, crying, her arms open wide to receive her daughter.
“You are hurt,
,” she murmured above her daughter, still clutched to her chest, looking at the deep gash on the knight’s cheek. The knight also got down on his knee and fiercely hugged the mother. His two friends wiped a joyful tear at the reunion.
“Claudiomaris?” the girl asked in amazement.
The knight stood and unbound a bracelet made of wooden beads from his arm.
“It will guard you know,” he said, bent towards the child and tied it around her neck, “it belonged to your father.”
“Stay,” the mother pleaded. “I’ll stitch your wound and prepare a hearty meal.”
“No, mother,” the knight said, “we have to go.” He kissed her cheek and turned to leave with his friends.
“I will take care of the wound,” said the lutin when they turned away.
“Mother?” the elven child asked in wonder.
“Take care of yourselves, Tigertief,” called the mother to all three.
“Tigertief!” the elves chanted the honour calls. “Tigertief!”
I shall be obscure; to start from the end is not quite right,
The first words I shall utter will grant me flight.
I will not draw you tighter, like the strings of my lute
This tale has a beginning yet its end is still in darkness moot.
In our world, nothing is at it seems,
This tale is not of mice and bees.
I will regale and wonder you with water and fire,
Dare you with Ice and hell, with the silence of ire.
A sword’s blade, the hisssssing of a snake
A wizard’s spell, bravery and fear that will make you knees quake…
Allow me to introduce myself
Francois De-Fontain Fantastick, bard galore
This name can be hard, so I’ll cut it in half
Call me De-Stik, no less, no more.
I am a modest traveller, skilled and true to his word,
A Climber of walls and fast with his sword.
Disappears in shadows and quite adapt with picking a lock
Brings joy to the weeper and a few monsters’ shock!
Yea, I’ll start, I promise, no further delay:
It all started with a letter, arriving one sunny day…
To: Francois De-Fontain Fantastick
(De-Stik) To him and no other
It has been long since we’ve met
I need you. An urgent matter came up.
“The three dimensions” bar in Broncolina.
The morning of the festival.
P.S. Bring the wizard with you.
I thought to myself, as I again read the page
This letter from heaven must be from a sage.
“KA” I thought to myself, my heart pounding hard
Could it be that this person I thought of has written this card?
It is true, a long time has passed,
Many adventures are buried in our past.
And here, on the road, without a clue,
A note from above, out of the blue.
What has happened? Oh good gods’ of misery
I ask why my missing friend thinks of me?
After that incident in the royal palace, an old legend of yore,
He quitted and proclaimed that I shall see him no more.
“Bring the Wizard with you” he reminds me below
But there is only one wizard I know.
He wants me to bring Krunch, our companion of old,
But I heard he now teaches spells, if truth be told.
The situation is now clear as a slate:
Depart for Broncolina with all due haste,
Send a swift messenger to my wizard friend
To meet me there, at my journey’s end!
I set on the journey with all my possessions:
Arriving on the morning of the festival to the bar called “the three dimensions”…