January's theme was "Magic and Fantasy". 

"Ice Cold" by Angela Borjas

It collects and spins around
Cold as cold can be
Earth hoards it on its ground

Counting each dust sparkle that lands
Oh, what one would give to see this sight
Lingering snow monsters throughout the night
Disappearing by sunrise

 

"Blue Eyed Disguise" by Natalie Wilcox

your northern brow
is petalled with roses
your inner dome
contains thoughts
marked tragic
unfortunately
you don’t seem to see
that your irises
scream magic
and I’m so enchanted
by the chance
to love you

 

"The Diver" by Lexie Mason

            “Smell that air! The sweet, salty brine of the ocean!”

            “Yup, I just love the smell of fish piss in the morning.” his coworker clapped on the back andlaughed heartily. The vast and endless ocean was no longer a spectacle to Mike. The foamy peaks of waves looked like spittle in a gray puddle on the side of a busy road. After some time he began to grudgingly don his black divers suit. He struggled to get into it. The tiny rubber suit looked as if it would fit a six year old girl rather than a thirty something year old man. To try to wear it was like wrestling an unbreakable rubber band. After working up a considerable sweat in the hot, Atlantic sun it was on. The suit clung to every fiber of his being and turned a relatively fit man into a scrawny chicken, plucked of its plumage. He continued his mundane “before diving” routine of replacing his footwear with flippers, grabbing goggles, and checking his oxygen tank all the while squeaking with every movement.

            “Looking good Mikey!”

            I look like a rubber duck, he thought to himself. He couldn't help but think that John McDaniels was the biggest idiot he'd ever met.

            “We found the ship!”cried a radar jockey.

            “Alright Mikey, let's drop ya off. The guy who wrecked it is a bit of a big shot. Grab anything of value.”

            In another life I'd be your boss.

            “Here's your sack. Good luck” John gave him another clap on the back and a big cheesy grin.

            For a skinny guy in a streamlined suit he made quite a splash. The reef around him buzzed with life. In Mike's mind it became a city. The little yellow fish darting back and forth were taxis. The kelp: luxury apartments. The reef shark sauntering around was the notorious loan shark and little minnows around him his lackeys. In a perfect world that's where he'd be. Living the dream in some glorious city. Mike then remembered exactly where he was. Underwater. In a tight suit. Marinating in fish poop. He swam forth towards the $.$. Cheryl. It was a shame that some imbecile could wreck such a beautiful yacht. He dove onto the poop deck to begin his search for valuables.  There was not much there besides some broken champagne glasses. He went inside. He salvaged a beautiful pearl necklace, three diamond rings, an emerald the size of his fist, and a thousand bangle bracelets. What caught his attention though, was a small glass vial. There was nothing inherently special about it. It was no longer than his index finger and as thick as his thumb. It didn't look like crystal. It looked like something a doctor would use to hold a vaccine. He slipped it into the bag with everything else he collected.

            “Slim pickings?” cried John from the helm of the boat once Mike resurfaced.

            He stayed silent.

            “I'm not surprised. A big storm came through last night.”

            “Guy that owned that beauty was some business tycoon from up North.”John retorted as Mike stripped down out of his musty wet suit, “He apparently died in the crash. His wife was the one that called.”

            “Business as usual then.”

            “Feel sorry for the gal ya know? Must be hard losing your husband like that.”

            Who gives half a crap. Money is money. And I'll take what I can get.

            “Next time you go down see if you can find a body or at least a piece of one. Every man deserves an honest funeral.”

            Mike went below deck to log in the salvage. One really expensive necklace, one, two, three rings, fifteen individual bracelets, and one hell of an emerald. He wrote down each item. He reached back down into his bag and grabbed the last item. The vial. Upon closer inspection without the faltering light of the ocean, a clear liquid could be seen inside the vial. Mike gave it a little shake. The liquid sloshed around inside sticking to the walls and slowly slid down, like molasses.

            “Huh,” he mused to himself, “what would a rich stiff want with this junk?”

            He began to write, small vial with-, he put the pen down. He looked at the vial. Surely, no one would expect me to find this. He grabbed some white-out and deleted it. He placed it inside his locker to reclaim at the end of the day. It wasn't the first time he procured an item from a dive. It was no different than taking a pen from a supply closet in an office. No one would miss it. He went back into the water three times that day. He found a few other things but no body.

            By five o'clock he was home. The faded brown exterior glistened in the evening light, exposing all its weathered glory. The inside was even more spectacular. The carpet was matted and covered in mysterious stains and the dilapidated furniture slanted in the most artistic angles. It had all the charms of an abandoned barn minus the lack of heating and electricity.

            “I'm home!”

            No answer. She's probably out with the girls. It's not like she's worth anything any way. He trudged his way in to the kitchen. God, it smells awful in here. Did she attempt to cook? He sniffed around trying to find the source of the odor. It was an over cooked T.V. dinner of fish sticks and peas.

            “Thanks Laura. This is such a wonderful meal for your hard working husband. Absolutely freaking wonderful!” he shouted the last word and heard it reverberate around the house. What an awful cruel life to be forced into, the boring job of being a treasure diver both in the private sector and for various museums of high prestige. Such an awful mundane life. He sat down and began to eat his gourmet meal when he remembered the small vial he commandeered. He took it out of his pocket. He had no idea why he took this particular item. A single one of those bracelets would have allowed him to run of and live his dream. But, instead, he took the stupid little bottle. Maybe it was some sort of expensive liquor? Why not take a drink? He had a long day. He popped the rubber cork and took a swig. It wasn't bad. A little salty but oddly sweet. He drained the rest of the vial. The saltiness became overpowering the sweet sickening. It was like drinking pureed fish and caramelized sugar. The acrid taste of burnt meat crept on the back of his tongue. He grabbed his neck in an effort to stop the sensation of acid burning his throat. Every breath was agonizing and coughing made it worse. He convulsed on the floor. His dinner was thrown on the floor. Peas stuck to the wall and the fish sticks smashed and thrown about the room. His eyes were clamped shut and he took a deep breath in preparation to scream. No scream came out and when he opened his eyes the world around him changed. His shoddy house became a luxury pent house in upstate New York.

            “You okay there Mike? For a moment there you looked positively repulsed. Some bad caviar?” he laughed.

            “Yeah. I'm fine. Just some bad caviar. Thanks uh, John?” He was aghast. His boss was standing in front of him laughing and sipping champagne!

            “I'll be sure to stay away from it.” He laughed and clapped Mike hardily on the back before walking off.

            Mike looked around. Fine art lined the walls. The furniture was all custom made. A crystal decanter rested on each end table. The epitome of high end and class. The only problem was he was there and he felt like he needed to vomit. Surely one of these people new where the bathroom was.

            “Excuse me miss. Where's the restroom?”

            She laughed. Laughed, at him. Why would this woman laugh at such a reasonable question?

            “How drunk are you!”

            “Haven't had a swig!”

            “I'm not so sure. This is your house Mikey!” she laughed some more and showed him the way.

             Over the bidet hung a Rembrandt. Who hangs a Rembrandt in the bathroom? Me apparently. He was unsure of whether he stepped into a dream or had just woken up from a nightmare. He wore a well tailored suit. He looked sharp, like a hawk in flight. He left the bathroom after vomiting up some strange clear liquid and washing his face. He was greeted by a gorgeous woman. Her long golden locks cascaded down her exposed back in loose ringlets. The storm clouds that were her eyes were bright and clear and in no way obscured by her lick, black lashes.

            “Bad caviar, Darling?” The words spilled from her red lips like warm honey.

            “Did John tell you?” It was all coming back to him. This woman was his wife Cheryl. This was his party, to celebrate him becoming a C.E.O. ofWhat Yacht to Like! a boating company.

            “Mmmhmm,” she grabbed him around his waist and kissed him on the lips, “are you alright Mike?”

            “I'm fine. This party is getting a little boring. How about you and me?”

            “You're hilarious. Come on. Go out there. Be the life of the party that you all ways are.” She walked away with swaying hips.

            Aren't I lucky! The party was in full swing. Glasses clinking, people chatting, laughing, dancing, music blaring all blending together to create a wonderful symphony. Mike saw so many new faces that he swore he has seen before: Edward, Mary, Valence, Charles (a close friend of his whom he never met), Abigail, and so many others.

            Around three o'clock the house was empty. The smell of spilled liquor, miscellaneous glasses, and the quietness of a room void of people was left. As well as a small glass vial. It was around the length of index finger and and the width of his thumb. And inside it was a strange clear liquid. Mike picked it up.

            “Did you get a new perfume Cheryl?”

            “No dear. Why do you ask?” She walked out of the bedroom in a robe and examined the bottle in Mike's hand, “Looks like some one left you a little gift. Probably vodka. I bet Charlie left it for you.”

            He wasn't entirely sure though. This strange little bottle, left in the middle of the room, like he was supposed to find it. It was so enticing and familiar, like an ex-girlfriend.

            “Wanna go boating tomorrow.”

            “Maybe.”

            The next day he went boating, without Cheryl she was suffering from a hang over. He went alone. There was nothing like going out upon the open sea. However, he couldn't shake the deep feeling of despair that resonated with in his gut. A sort of hatred of the ocean consumed him. He ignored it. Off in the horizon some clouds began to form into an ominous shape. He went below deck when he heard the distant roar of thunder. I should head back before, the ringing of a phone interrupted his train of thought.

            “This is Mike.”

            “Good afternoon.” The voice on the other end was dry and with a troubled undertone but, familiar.

            “John! You alright? You sound dismal. Is everything alright?”

            “Well, Mike I'm not gonna lie. Not good. Mike, I know what you've been up to.”

            “What?”

            “You lied and cheated to get to the top. You embezzled millions. Mike I'm sorry. I've called the cops.” John hung up the phone.

            “John! John! I swear to God!”  Mike yelled into the receiver then the storm rolled in.

            The storm roared above. The boat shook back in forth. He couldn't help but think how? He was so careful to hide the evidence. How did this happen? His life was in ruins. He needed something. He needed a drink. He needed that little vial in his pocket. Mike gave it a little shake. The liquid sloshed around inside sticking to the walls and slowly slid down, like molasses.  He popped the rubber cork and took a swig. It wasn't bad. A little salty but oddly sweet. He drained the rest of the vial. Slowly it turned vile. It tasted like rotten caviar and caramel. He threw himself to the ground. He shook and convulsed. The boat rocked back and forth. Thunder drowned out his screaming and the ocean drowned everything else. The boat began to sink. Mike closed his eyes and took a breath in order to scream or to swim, he didn't know and when he opened his eyes the raging tempest was gone. He was inside some shoddy little house, alone. A T.V.  dinner of fish sticks and peas lay in front of him. In his hand was an empty glass vial, the length of his index finger and the width of his thumb. He was unsure of whether he stepped into a dream or had just woken up from a nightmare.

"A Sloppy Mess Of Phrases" by Dylan Gadzala

Your spells and incantations
Are simply cerebral recreations

As you set your fire on me like you would a soldier
I will continue making this unnatural war older and older
And when I cling, I will stay clung onto
Falling through the war’s crew
Hide inside your boarded chapel
I’ll wait outside suturing my chest with shrapnel
Simply call out to your divine gods
And I will brave this war’s odds
And amidst the bullets and magic
Holds our eyes, a war so tragic
The fire spreads like a flower
The flames create a tower
Who set fire to our golden sun
And who is the one with their hands around the gun
Is it the soldier the war has braved
Or is it you, the only one left unscathed
Your magic is all in your head
And ignore the words we have once said
I shall open my eyes to the divine reason
And you shall leap from these high cliffs of treason

Your spells and incantations
Are simply cerebral recreations 


"Sterlix" by Megan Packard


There is no sun in Sterlix. There is no moon in Sterlix. There are no stars in Sterlix.
Where most people see blue skies and frothy clouds there is only blackness. The entire country
is lit with enchanted torches. It was said that the god Fit had carved out the mountains into a
series of vast caverns and twisting tunnels in order to protect his original disciples, the
Burrow Elves. His children were defenseless against the other gods’ followers, so their loving
father built them a fortress where they could live in peace at last.


At the heart of this sacred country was the largest temple of Fit on all of Daganfold. It
stood as a giant pillar in the center of the tallest mountain. In order to reach the doors, one
must climb up a set of steep, spiraling stairs. Only the most devoted of pilgrims attempted
the climb. Many strong warriors and powerful magicians had failed to make it to the top.
Very few people found such a task worth the effort, and strived to become the champion of a
deity that was easier to please.


It had been a long time since somebody had dared to challenge the staircase, but no
task is left unfinished forever. A child desperate for a home and a family had started his
ascent just that morning. Everywhere he went he attracted attention, and was gawked at like
some sort of oddity. He didn’t mind this, for he understood the reason for this treatment.
He was elvish, which often took men by surprise. They seemed to forget that elves had
been the original inhabitants of Sterlix. In addition, Gladwin was extremely agile and light on
his feet, so he managed to make his way across impossibly narrow bridges and dangerously
unstable ledges without so much as sending a pebble over the edge. Also, he had a rather
unusual companion. Perched on his shoulder was an enfield kid. At first glance, it seemed
that it was no more than a young red fox, but upon closer examination, one would notice that
it had the forelegs of an eagle. Feathers sprouted from its elbow joints, tufted from its back
paws, and were scattered throughout her tail. Gladwin had named her Reed.


Even more jarring than his way of moving and his choice in pets was his appearance.
He had skin the shade of snow. His hair and eyelashes were the same color as his complexion.
In fact, the only thing that was slightly different were his eyes. They were the color of pale
amethysts and stood out on his colorless face.


Now that Gladwin had been climbing for a few hours he was beginning to notice that
the stairs were shrinking and the light was growing dimmer. Reed was circling around his
head happily. It wasn’t often the pup got to stretch her wings in the claustrophobic tunnels of
Sterlix.


“How much farther is it, Reed?” Gladwin asked, sounding out of breath. His limbs
were beginning to ache, but he was far too excited to stop his ascent. Reed yipped joyfully in
response. This was enough to appease her young companion who firmly believed his enfield
could understand his every word.


The stairs continued to shrink and the torchlight now seemed far behind. Gladwin was
left in the darkness, and couldn’t even see Reed fluttering above him. It was the first time he
felt nervous since beginning the journey. His enfield was his only friend in the world, and the
thought of losing her broke his heart.


“Reed?” He listened for her familiar high pitched barking, but it didn’t come. “Reed,
where are you?”


Just then the enfield let out a terrible human like scream. Gladwin knew that he had no
choice now. He pushed his cloak back and raised his hands with splayed fingers. He took in a
deep breath before curling his fingers and slowly bringing them together, as though he were
holding an invisible ball. He furrowed his eyebrows and concentrated as best he could with
Reed’s horrifying shrieking filling his ears. He squeezed his eyes shut and prayed to Fit that
the magic would work.


He felt heat filling his hands, and a mixture of excitement and fear filled his heart. He
opened his eyes to see the ball of shimmering light glowing in between his fingers. Gladwin
didn't waste time admiring his success, for when he looked up he saw that Reed was
plummeting, her tiny legs flailing wildly. Gladwin released his ball of light and it floated lazily
around his head.


“Use your wings Reed!” Gladwin yelled frantically. The enfield continued to fall and
thrash. The boy tried to position himself underneath his beloved pet, but he was afraid she
would crash into the stairs above him. He knew it was risky, but he had to use more of the
magic.


Gladwin inhaled deeply and focused on the stagnant air of the cavern. He would have
to make this quick. He let his hands fall to his sides before balling them into fists. He could
practically feel the pressure around him increase. He focused on Reed’s tiny frame. He
positioned his arms so that it looked as though he were clinging to an imperceptible rope.
Gladwin pulled with all his might and an excessively strong wind tore through the cavern and
Reed’s shape moved with the current.


The elf boy stretched his arms out towards the pup and hoped that he hadn’t created
too strong of a blast that would blow the enfield away. He felt warmth fill his heart when the
red fluff ball crashed into his chest. She was whimpering. Gladwin buried his face into her
silky fur and let it tickle his skin. Nervous laughter bubbled from his lips. Perhaps this had
been a mistake after all.


He placed Reed gently on his shoulder, and her tiny talons dug into the leather patch
he had sewed in once the enfield had begun following his every move. Gladwin let his heart
return to a normal rate before continuing his climb. Reed’s head was shifting continually from
side to side as though there were something just out of sight. Gladwin willed his ball of light
to grow, but he knew better than to push his luck. Using the magic was dangerous, and he
wasn’t very good at it yet. He was hoping that at the temple he wouldn’t have to worry about
it anymore.


“We’re almost there girl,” Gladwin whispered. “Just a few more times around.”


He knew this wasn't true.


The stairs continued to diminish, and the more he had to focus on climbing, the
dimmer his light became. This worried Gladwin. Something about the darkness didn’t seem
right. Reed was beginning to chatter threateningly. Her eyes were narrowed. A lump formed
in Gladwin’s throat. He willed himself to move faster. There was a strange swishing noise
coming from the gloom.


The stairs were completely gone. He was now pulling himself up a completely vertical
slope. He held on with nothing but his fingertips and had to press himself up against the wall
to keep his toes from slipping. His childish proportions sometimes forced him to leap blindly
and hope that there was something for his fingers to grab onto. His heart was pounding in
his chest. Gladwin didn’t dare move his head to get a better look though, for he didn’t want
to knock Reed off of his shoulder. He knew that something lurking in the darkness had
attacked her.


The ball of light was starting to disappear and Gladwin prayed to the gods that he
was getting close to the top of the precipice. His endurance had always been impressive, but
this was testing the limits of his capabilities. It was too late to give up though. If he didn’t
continue he would either fall or be left to the mercy of whatever monster was stalking him.
These grim thoughts didn’t encourage the child very much and the light began to flicker.
Gladwin closed his eyes and put every ounce of thought he had into preserving the
twinkling ray of light. It was too late. He opened his eyes just in time to watch it peter out
for good. The sound of the swishing crescendoed and Reed began to squeal again. The elf
groped around for the next outcropping of rock, but his hands were shaking too much to do
their job. Gladwin tried his best to think of a plan. He couldn't use the magic, because he
couldn't exactly move his arms and legs the way he would have to. Reed fluttered her wings,
but didn’t take off. Evidently they were still damaged from her first encounter with the
creature.


“I can do this.” His boyish voice had lost its normal sing-songy timbre. He was
grinding his teeth and tensing all of his muscles. He felt something brush his back and his
panic amplified.


This propelled him into action. He was afraid of the dark, but he was even more afraid
of just waiting for it to overtake him. He launched himself into the air with all of his strength.
Reed cried out fearfully and Gladwin felt as though his stomach had fallen, leaving the rest of
him to follow shortly after.


He progressed quickly now; fueled by adrenaline. As he scrambled up the wall he felt
long spidery fingers pawing at his back and grabbing his ankles. He cried out in horror, and
Reed tried to bite thin air. Gladwin knew that if he so much as hesitated, that would be the
end of him and his dear enfield. The thought of one of the demons snatching Reed off of his
shoulder entered Gladwin’s mind, and he managed to propel himself even faster.
The swishing sound had turned to slurping, and every once in awhile the sound of
snapping teeth would click in his ears. The elf had never moved so quickly or precisely in his
life. He didn’t know exactly what the creature was, but he really didn’t want to find out. He
just had to make it to Fit’s temple. It was one of the greatest sanctuaries in the world. He
would be safe there, if he could just make it…


Gladwin felt the ledge above him level and stretch out. He hoped to the gods that he
had reached the top. He pulled himself up and clambered to his feet as swiftly as his body
would allow. He went through the motions and was beginning to let the magic flow when
pain erupted between his shoulder blades. He screamed in agony as he was knocked off his
feet. Reed hopped down from his shoulder before he hit the ground. Despite her injury, she
forced herself to become airborne. She slashed out fiercely with her talons, but it was futile.
She was batted to the ground alongside her young master.


Gladwin blinked the tears from his eyes and squinted into the darkness. He could see
the vague outline of a shape. No, shapes. Their outlines were blurred as though they had
been blotted out. The darkness became more dense as the monsters accumulated on the ledge.
Gladwin thought back to every tale he’d been told about Sterlix and Daganfold altogether to
try and name these creatures.


Their movements were disjointed and unnatural as though they had no bones. Gladwin
managed to get to his feet, but he was shaky and his thoughts were garbled. His back burned
and he could feel the blood pouring out of the gashes the beast had given him. He spread his
arms to summon the magic, but as he did one of the creatures grabbed hold of his wrists and
began to take him into the air. Gladwin kicked his feet wildly and tried to jerk his arms free.
It was still too dark to see, but Gladwin was almost certain he saw a trail of swirling
black mist following them. He looked over his shoulder to see that the wisps of black fog were
emanating from the creature itself. A chill went up his spine. He remembered his father
telling stories about these creatures long ago. They had haunted the young boy’s nightmares
on more than one occasion before.


“Screechers” It was as if they had heard him. They let out such a high pitched scream
that Gladwin felt the noise was coming from inside his own mind instead of from the
monsters. His head was left swimming again from the noise. That was when the creature
dropped him.


It took Gladwin a moment to come back to his senses, and by that point he was already
speeding towards the ground at a terrifying velocity. He called the magic and opened his
palms. He bent his elbows as quickly as he could, and sure enough, a strong gust of wind
slowed him down. He hit the ground hard, but he was alive and in one piece. He ignored his
pain and got to his feet.


He could feel the screechers swarming him like bees. He made a ball with his hands
and conjured every bit of warmth that was left in his body. Light poured from his hands and
the screechers wailed. Gladwin cringed and the light flickered. He wasn’t strong enough.
The elf’s eyes fell on Reed’s crumpled form and tears gushed from his eyes. It wasn’t
possible. She had to be okay. He was going to protect her! He reached further into himself
and a wave of light burst through the darkness. Warmth bathed the ridge and even the
people at the base of the temple stopped their business to look at the unusual ray of light.
Gladwin fought his urge to collapse and staggered over to his enfield. He scooped her
up into his arms and ran his hand over her tiny body.


“Reed?” His young voice was choked with tears. “Reed, I scared them away! It’s safe
to wake up again!”


She remained motionless. Gladwin fell to his knees with the enfield still cradled in his
arms. Tears dripped from the bridge of his nose. She had to be okay. He was too scared to
be alone. Reed had been a gift, or rather a sign, from the gods. It had been the day that he
had met her that Gladwin decided he had to go to the temple. It was the only place where he
could finally have a home. The only place he would be safe. Sterlix seemed so big and
confusing to him, but she had made it bearable.


“Please?” He wasn’t sure who he was pleading to. There was nobody up there but
him, Reed, and his ball of light.


He watched the orb dance around the air and a thought occurred to him. He placed
Reed onto the cool ground. He felt for her breath and tiny heartbeat. A buzz of joy flooded
through him when he felt it thudding feebly in her chest. He held his hands just above her
soft, rust colored fur and took a shuddering breath.


“Come on Gladwin, you can do this,” he focused on the warmth of his light and let the
thought of all his progress fill him up. He had yet to make a mistake. What was one more
spell? Gladwin ignored the reply in his head that reminded him he had never tried anything
like this before. He took deep, slow breaths and imagined the sound of Reed’s barking.
“Please work, please work, please--” his eyes snapped open.


Reed shifted on the ground and let out a relieved sigh. He looked down in horror,
afraid that he had just heard her last breath. Instead of seeing a lifeless form though, he saw
Reed’s orange eyes blinking up at him. He scooped her up and held her close.
His joy was so immense that he forgot to suppress the magic and a great rumbling
sound filled the entire cavern. Gladwin froze and felt himself fill with dread. He had feared
something like this would happen. Why could he never stay in control?


Gladwin was sure it was all over, but then the rumbling stopped. He looked around in
confusion. He had been trying to fix his mistake, but knew he hadn’t succeeded. Reed nestled
into the crook of his arm and hid her pointed face behind Gladwin’s tattered cloak. There was
nobody there. The boy began to think that he hadn’t given himself enough credit. Perhaps he
really had stopped the oncoming earthquake.


Then, the sound of cracking echoed through the mountain. Gladwin wheeled around to
see the center of the ridge was splitting open across a thin seam. The elf raised his arms
defensively but he wasn’t sure that the had enough strength to summon the magic. Reed
whimpered as the ground began to shake even more violently than the last time.


Gladwin collapsed onto the ground, feeling too tired and too injured to keep his balance
through the tremors. He didn't even have the energy to be upset at the lack of a temple on the
ridge, because the only thing that was on his mind was resting. His eyes grew foggy and his
ears started to ring. It didn't take long for Gladwin to fall onto his back and gaze blankly into
the darkness above him.


He didn’t get to see the fissure open up or see the temple rise out of the hole that was
created. Two men in robes came out to find him sprawled on the rock. They thought nothing
of his unusual appearance or his pet, and carried him into the temple. Reed padded along
behind them, too afraid to use her wings with the screechers hiding just out of sight.
Gladwin woke up in a bed with warm blankets. It wasn’t the nicest bed, the mattress
was made of straw and his pillow was flat, but he didn’t know these things. The boy had
never had a bed before. He tried to figure out where he was, and how he had gotten there.
Most importantly he searched the room for Reed.


The second that he set a foot on the ground the door to his quaint room opened, and a
man in plain brown robes entered. Gladwin didn’t give this man much thought because Reed
came soaring in behind him and landed at the elvish boy’s side. His eyes lit up and he
gathered his enfield up for a hug. The man smiled at the touching scene.


“Congratulations.” The old man bowed his bald, veiny head. “It has been a long time
since somebody made it into the temple of Fit.”


It took a second for Gladwin to make sense of the old priest’s words, but when he did
his heart leapt with joy. He had made it to his refuge, and he was where he would no longer
have to worry about his or Reed’s safety again. A childish smile spread across his face, and a
cleaned up Reed licked his cheek with her little pink tongue.


Hope radiated through Gladwin, for he had found his new home. The Brothers tended
to his wounds and cared for him in his illness and fatigue. There were other children in the
temple, but the Brothers had let them in upon Fit’s command. Gladwin was the only one who
had truthfully made it there.


There is no sun in Sterlix. There is no rain, snow, or wind. However, down at the start
of the spiraling stairs, the people of the market had seen a ball of energy and felt a draft of
god-like strength on more than one occasion that day. They made many stories about what
the source was. Very few people actually remembered the unusual boy with his oddly pale
skin and shining white hair. They only remembered seeing the sun.