Chapter 1: Perdfale
Draden wiped the sweat from his brow with a dirt-stained arm. He leaned on the axe he had been using to chop wood, gazing around the bright, wooded clearing as he caught his breath.
He was seventeen, of average height, and slightly muscular. His hair had a glowing, golden brown hue and his clothes, though not ripped or torn, were not much, for neither him nor his father had a great deal of money.
He had been ceaselessly chopping wood at the town’s lumberyard, located west of his house in the same forest that encompassed it. He sighed. Today was his birthday, and yet here he was doing this. Things still needed completed, however, regardless of what special occasion happened to be occurring.
It was a mile walk to the lumberyard from his house, but only half a mile if you walked from Perdfale, the nearest town. The walk was worth it to him, mainly because it was so near the Gsiper Ocean that the fresh ocean breeze kept him cool. Sometimes, he could even glimpse the sparkling water glinting through the trees, if it was a clear day. This was the best spot to get top-grade wood, because the trees grew stronger and more durable; when processed it could make long-lasting firewood or building material suitable for the harshest of weather. The base of their income came from here.
He was now finished working and was returning home for dinner, his father Marfol expecting him. He had stored the chopped wood inside a shed; wagons came periodically from Perdfale and took all of the processed would back to the carpenter in town.
After walking for a little while, he came to the clearing where their house stood. He stopped shortly to take in the beautiful scene. The trees had layers of bright reds, oranges and yellows, the grass covered in a blanket of drying leaves. Puffy, white clouds dimmed the sun’s brilliance, casting a cooling shadow over the area.
The sound of crunching leaves met his ears as he walked over to the wooden stairs that led up to the house. He stepped onto the creaky porch, and as he put his hand on the wooden door to open it, the aroma of cooked venison wafted out of the open window next to it, tantalizing his senses.
After his mother, Juleian, had passed away a few years ago, their meals had been quieter and not as lavish. She had indeed been a very gifted cook.
With the memories still running through his mind, he opened the door and entered into the main room. The atmosphere inside was much warmer than outside; it felt welcoming. To his left was a small sitting area, two wooden chairs atop a round, woolen rug in front of a roaring fireplace. To his right was the dining room: four more chairs seated around an old, rectangular table.
The kitchen branched off from the dining room, where Draden could see his father busily rushing to get dinner ready.
In front of him was the hallway, leading to three other rooms: his, his father’s, and the study. His room was the first, directly on the left, and that was where he headed.
First, he walked over to the fireplace, grabbed a cauldron of water hanging over the flames, and then walked down the hall and into his room. He turned into the adjoining washroom, poured the steaming water into a circular, wooden tub, and waited for it to cool a bit.
As he lingered, he walked over to a shelf of trinkets he loved to look at in his spare time. He gently picked up his favorite: a shiny gemstone his mother had once owned. His father told him that she had once worn it around her neck. Draden could not see how, as there were no visible holes, but he was working on making it into a necklace once again.
He walked back to the bath, slowly stepping in. He groaned as the hot water soothed his cramped muscles. There was not enough to cover higher than his stomach, the tub just large enough for him to sit in with his legs crossed. Grabbing a bar of soap, he cleaned off the dirt and sweat. When he had finished, he put on a fresh pair of clothes and walked out to join Marfol at the dinner table.
While they ate the venison, Marfol told him of the things that were currently happening in Perdfale.
Life in Perdfale was not too hard as the food they grew sustained them and always held strong, but the only fresh water source for the town was the Saero River, a good day’s journey roundtrip. Because of the rocky terrain surrounding the area of the river, it was impossible to build a firm foundation for establishments. The Council had plans to extend the river closer to the city, but they were unsure how it would affect the forest and wildlife, so until then the workers of the mill carried loads of water to the town well twice a month, which worked sufficiently.
The town of Perdfale resides in the Forest of Lost Hope, which extends to the Gsiper Ocean. Almost all of the forest is uninhabited, Perdfale being the only permanent settlement. There are a few homes scattered here and there, but nothing worthy of mention.
His father had just finishing relaying all the current news and was now sitting back in his chair, letting the food digest. Draden was doing the same.
“Before you get too comfortable,” declared his father, “could you go to Perdfale and purchase a few items for me? We are running low on food, so you best go now. I’ll clean our plates, and here, take these Ƒangs.”
A Ƒang was the currency that everyone in Zersevbein, the entire known land, used.
The coins clinked as the bag dropped into Draden’s eager hand, and he quickly grabbed his cloak and a sack to carry things. He walked out the door into the cool, dusk air and began the trek to Perdfale.
The path, worn over time by the people who lived separate from the town like Draden, wound slowly through the forest.
Above him, the first glimpses of stars began to appear from behind the thin, gray clouds, the last rays of sun disappearing beyond the mountains. A few people passed him, heading home from their day in the town, as he walked underneath the dimming sky. Most people occupied jobs in Perdfale, but some chose to work elsewhere. Many stores closed at dusk, but others continued through the night.
Stopping before the town’s secondary entrance, Draden took the list his father had given him out of his pocket. The hasty scrawl said they needed fresh meat, some vegetables, and two yards of blue cloth. He could get vegetables in the Town Centre from one of the various traders, cloth at the tailor, and meat from the butcher. The butcher shop generally closed at dusk, but he was friends with the owner, so he may still be able to purchase what he needed.
He briskly walked down the main street, turning right when he reached the Town Centre. The butcher was located in the first building on the left, standing tall next to the tanner. He bounded up the steps and onto the porch, just as Maltor, the butcher, was turning the key to lock the door. Draden came to a stop before him, bending over and panting, regaining his breath.
“I’m––sorry––that I’m late. Can I––still get something?” Draden asked, a smile playing on his lips.
Maltor let out a fake, exasperated sigh. “I was quite looking forward to my wife’s…interesting meal today. But, I guess I can open for you,” he said, laughing. He inserted the brass key into the lock once again and opened the door. The shopkeepers who closed at dusk generally relied on the sun to light their stores, so Draden could hardly see anything as he entered.
Maltor crossed the room to a door next to the counter, opening it and walking in. Cold air hit Draden. ‘Ah, the freezer,’ he concluded.
Maltor’s voice echoed out, “What would you like?”
Draden walked to the door leaning in, “Whatever costs less than five Ƒangs.”
A loud thump sounded, followed by swearing, and finally Maltor emerged from the room holding a packaged piece of meat. He strolled over to the counter, placing the item on the scale. He raised his eyebrows, hitting the scale with his hand. Finally satisfied, he told Draden, “Four Ƒangs for this fresh rabbit meat, please.”
Draden reached his hand into the bag, pulling out four Ƒangs and handing them to Maltor. Rabbit was not his favorite, but it was cheap and kept them satisfied. “Thanks, Maltor. I’m not sure what I would have done if I hadn’t caught you,” Draden said gratefully.
“Oh, don’t mention it. By the way, my daughter asked me to tell you she wanted to see you. I’m not sure how Melana knew you’d be coming to town today…. I guess she just knows her boyfriend. Go boy! She’ll be at the blacksmith!”
“Why is she at the blacksmith?” Draden asked, laughing.
“She said something about a birthday present and…ah, well I guess I’ve said too much.” Maltor exclaimed with a wink.
Placing the wrapped meat in his bag, Draden turned to leave. “I guess I’d better hurry then!”
He quickly made it to the Town Centre, pushing his way past the few people that were around and onto the main street. The dark stone building of the blacksmith approached on his right, and he opened the heavy door and walked in.
The aura was warm, the room lit only by the blaze coming from a furnace in the far corner. Melana stood before him at the counter, consulting with Sgorba, the blacksmith. Draden walked forward, slipping his arms around her waist. With his chest against her back, he felt her heartbeat quicken, and she let out a comforted sigh.
“You’re late!” she said playfully, spinning around.
“Late? How could I be late for something that wasn’t planned?” he asked, picking her up and spinning her around the room.
She laughed and he put her down, kissing her forehead. She hugged him tightly, and then said, “I got you a little present on your birthday.” She skipped over to the counter and whispered to Sgorba. The blacksmith nodded, walking briefly into the back room and returning with a long, slender object wrapped in scarlet cloth resting on his palms. He delicately handed it to Melana who walked over to Draden, holding it out for him to take.
Draden took it, slowly folding back the cloth to reveal the most beautifully crafted sword he had ever seen. Its blade was as smooth as a lake devoid of ripples, the hilt made of blue metal, most likely Scixare. A smooth strand of silver spiraled lazily up the hilt, stopping to leave an indent that traveled halfway up the blade, narrowing as it went. Inlayed inside the indent was more Scixare, and he noticed the edges of the blade were also faintly blue.
“Melana…it…it’s beautiful. How did you pay for something this- this exquisite?”
“Does it matter how? I just wanted to get you something special. I’m still trying to pay for the sheath…”
“Sheath?!” Draden blurted.
“…but you can’t have it until it’s fully paid for,” she finished, looking down.
“Melana…thank you so much. I can’t possibly thank you enough.” He tilted her head up and kissed her lips.
“Does the sword have a name?” he asked the blacksmith.
“That, my friend is up t’ the owner. An’ might I say th’ name is almost as important as th’ sword. Whatever you call it, it shall be. I’d su’gest seein’ Jannice. She can properly explain how t’ bless your sword.” Sgorba answered.
“Thank you,” Draden said.
Turning to Melana, he said, “I better be going; Marfol didn’t expect me to be gone long. Would you like to come with me to Jannice’s tomorrow? I’ve never been to a sorceress’s shop before.”
Nodding, she said, “I’d like that. I’ll see you tomorrow then.” She hugged him and walked out the door.
He followed her out, stopping and glancing at his list.
‘I hope the shops still have things to buy at this time of day,’ he thought, mind already wandering on thoughts of tomorrow.
There was hardly anyone left in the centre when Draden arrived, so he quickly purchased the items on his list and continued on to the Tailor’s.
Miss Shazvo was a plump woman in her later years, with six children and thirteen grandchildren. She lived alone, being a widow for nine years now, so she had plenty of time for her profession in which she took great pride.
When Draden arrived at her shop, she was already busily laying out various colors of cloth that she had made that day. She had many different shades of each color, and his father had not specified, so Draden asked her for the brightest blue she had.
“Right away, dearie. I’ll be quite happy to get it for you.” She shuffled off, quickly returning with bright blue silk. “Very nice choice, darling. What might you be needing it for?” she asked in her honey-sweet voice.
“Oh, it’s for my father,” Draden replied.
“How much would your father like?” she asked pleasantly.
Draden glanced at his list again. “It says here two yards.”
She nodded, smiling, and walked over to the counter, picking up a knife. She sliced off a long piece of the cloth and said, “Well now, this would generally cost quite a bit, but I can see you are a good boy, and I hear it’s your birthday…”
“How did you know?” he blurted.
“…so it will only be thirteen Ƒangs, dear,” she finished, beaming at him.
“Um…okay.” Knowing she had deliberately avoided the question, he handed her the coins and left.
The walk home seemed to fly by, and he had soon arrived, giving his father the items and getting into bed. As the silver moonlight gently washed across his face, he thought about what he would name his sword.
Sometime later that night, deep in his dreams, he envisioned a dragon named Isliaz, with scales as blue as water and spikes as silver as the moonlight. It vaguely reminded him of something, but he could not place it. In his sleep, he whispered, “Isliaz…,” and on the table next to him, a blue spark of electricity slid up the indent of his sword, and blue light began to emanate from the Scixare on his blade.
Perdfale = Përd-fāle
Draden = Dray-den
Gsiper = Sī-për
Marfol = Mar-fōl
Juleian = Jew-lay-in
Zersevbein = Zër-siv-bāne
Maltor = Mal-tōr
Melana = Mĕ-lay-nŭ
Sgorba = Sōr-bŭ
Scixare = Si-zar-ăy
Shazvo = Shăz-vō
Isliaz = Iss-lē-ăz