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The Once Golden City


Jonathan Isenor

     It was dark that night. Early in the morning the sun hadn't even come up as I  heard the sound of galloping horses going by my home and throughout the town.

       I heard people crying. So I, Lance, drew my sword, got up from my bedside and decided to help these poor people that didn't deserve whatever was being done to them. I would answer their pleas for help.

      I went outside to see people standing by their homes watching their homes burn down to the ground and their faces in horror. I looked down to see a little boy crying and the sadness in his eyes. I could feel the pain ache in my heart for this poor little boy.

    "Who did this to our town?"

     A man looked up at me, his long brown hair in his face and tears dripping down his face.”  

      "That man in the black. He did this! All of this! Now look at it - we have nothing left."

         "I wish I had been quicker! Now it looks at if we can do nothing. Who is this man in black?'

      "He's immune to every element on this earth.  His defense is uncanny."

      "Has anyone seen his face?"

      "Yes He has long black hair and a evil grin."  

       " Is he still here?"

      "No, the coward ran!"

      "Where does he live?"

      "The Realm of Magic."

      "How do I get there, sir?"

      “No one knows, Lance.  It is said one day a hero will come bearing the sword of light and will defeat this man and peace will be granted to everyone in the world."

     “Really?  This is the legend?'

      "Yes, the man exists ,so the legend must be real.”

      "You've got a point there.  So what do we do now?"

      "We rebuild in the morning, Lance."

      "I'm going to see if anyone else lived.  Good bye for now."

      I looked through the ruins of run down homes and burnt boards looking to see if anyone else lived until. I heard shouting from a pile of rubble nearby.”

       "Someone please help me. I need help!"

      "Is someone under there?"

     "Yes, help me!"

      I ran to the heap of rubble and began throwing boards off the pile until finally I got to the bottom of the pile to see a little boy covered in a black char like substance.  He was short with ruffled blond hair and wore rags.

     "My God is you ok?"

     "Where's my mother or father?"

      "I don't know, boy what's your name?"

      "My name is Jack Forester."

      "Nice to meet you, Jack.  I’m Lance."  

     "Lance, can we look for my parents?"

     "Yes, I'll help you find your parents.  How old are you?"

     "I'm 5 years old, Lance."

     I thought to myself when Jack said that, my God he's so young and his parents are

probably dead; otherwise they would have helped him.

    "Where would you like to start looking, Jack?"  

    "Right here in the village."

    "Do you have any other family here?"

    "No, I don’t.”

   "What will you do if you don't find them, Jack?"

   "Could I stay with you?"

   "Why with me?"

   "You’re a nice man who saved me."

   "Thank you and I suppose we can,  although I don't know what I'll do myself."

    So Jack and I looked for his parents through the rubble and town until Jack began  to cry.

     "What’s wrong, Jack?"

    "They're gone aren't they, Lance?"

   "I won't lie.  I think so.”

    "Lance, what do I do? Who can I stay with?"

    Jack was crying again at this point so I thought to myself quickly and responded.  "Jack, you can stay with me if you like."

   "Yes, thank you Lance!"

    "Jack, do you know any houses that lived through the fire?"

    "Yes I think one did that we could stay at."

    “Where is it?"

    "On the east side of town."

    "Ok, you lead the way."

    Jack took me to the remains of a home half burnt down.

    "We could rebuild it and live here."

   "Great idea but we need pegs and a hammer."

   "Yes, I could go see the blacksmith's old place and see if anything is left there."

   "Thanks, Jack, you’re a good boy."

   Jack looked back smiling with tears running down his face and then off he went.  It gave me a chance to think some things over like how must Jack be dealing with everything and if he’d come back with lumber pegs or a hammer or nothing altogether. I also kept  thinking about this man in black and why he'd do this to my town.

    Jack came back holding pegs and a hammer.

   "Look what I found, Lance."

   "Good job, Jack.  Let’s get to work."

    So we started pounding up boards to the walls and in no time it was in a lot better shape.  We managed to make a bed for Jack to sleep in out of  wood and leaves. I slept on the ground.

    Jack and I remember that night as if it was yesterday but the fact is the village just  got finished getting rebuilt and this is five years later. That bad memory hangs in my head every night when I go to bed.

    I'm ready now to seek answers of why this was done to my hometown that was called The Golden City and to all of us.  I figured the best place I  could go to get answers was the nearest kingdom the city of Graze. The King there would help me I hoped. His name was King Fitz and not a bad king from what I had  heard, so I would ask him about what happened five years ago (about The Golden City and if he knew anything about it). 

    I had a hard time sleeping that night so I just sort of lay there wondering what Fitz would say to me. After I noticed the sun coming up in the window I said to myself time to get up and get going. After all, it would be a long ride there and a long ride back but I thought to myself I should stay awhile there to see what  the town has going on right now and check out the blacksmiths and other little shops. I wouldn’t tell Jack - I didn't want to put him in harm's way.

So after I was washed up and  ready to go. I went down to the town stables and asked to take out a horse which  cost me money. I had money because all the years rebuilding the town I was a Carpenter and earned gold pieces, just a little over enough to keep our home running.  Mine and Jack's; I’d taken care of him since he had no other family left.

     So off I rode towards the town of Graze. Time seemed to slow to a crawl.  I was riding in the woods looking around as my horse galloped on the dirt trail.  The trees were bare with no leaves and orange leaves covered the ground that crunched as my horse stepped on them. The sky turned light; I could see orange and yellow colors in the sky above me.

   Finally the path came out to a dirt road and I could see far ahead of me the town of Graze. It was huge with tons of little homes and one huge castle in the back of the village. I could see people's lights on in their homes and a great big sign that said  "Welcome to Graze - home of the greatest blacksmiths of the country and best food!"

   So I kept riding towards Graze despite the cold chill of the air and the nasty howl of the wind in my long blond hair.  I figured once I got there I'd check out the legends of the Realm of Magic and also any info on the man in black. Once I find this man I'll ask him, “Why did you destroy the Golden City?” It was a question that ate away at me like vermin eating away a food supply for years. I often wondered is he plain out sick? Or wants to show the world he has power to destroy towns if he doesn't get what he wants? Is that It? I'll find out soon enough once I ask King Fitz about all of this.

I finally rode up to Graze and tied my horse into a stable and decided to walk around the Town a little bit. As I looked for a place to stay I noticed that there was no one in the streets and it seemed as if every house I passed was locked and with the lights on.

What is going on? Graze wasn't a ghost town before when I came here. There must be something wrong. So I decided to go up to the castle and talk to the king right away rather than wait. I walked up the stairs to the castle and in front of me were two guards with plain faces wearing gray plated armor and red helmets.  Their eyes seemed as if they were trying to bore a hole right through me.

    "How may I help you, sir?"

   "I would like to see the King."

   "Sir, we will send for you at another time, not right now."

   "Why? What's going on here?"

   "Nothing.  Now leave sir, we do not want to escort you out."

   "Where do I go to stay?"

   "Graze’s Inn, of course, sir."

    So I left the castle area and walked down until I found the inn which was just a little home, nothing fancy really. So I knocked on the door, a frail old man with a long white beard walked up to the door, hunched over wearing rags.

      "How may I help you, sonny?"

       "Can I stay here? I’m waiting to see the King."

      "Yes, you may stay here with me but it will cost you some gold pieces."

      "How many gold pieces?"

     "About ten sound fair to you?"

     "Yes, that sounds fine to me.”

     "Come on in then, umm, whatever your name is."

     "My name is Lance, What’s yours?"

     “It's Herman.”

    "Herman, why is the town in a uproar?"

    "What do you mean by that?"

     "No one is outside. I've been here before; people are usually in the streets."

      "I can't tell you, Lance. I'm sorry."

     "What the hell is going on?"

     "Shut up, Lance.  You will never know!"

    "I will find out somehow!"

    "Go to bed now, Lance. I want you gone in the morning."

    "Fine, I'll be gone by then. I just don't see why people know something I don't and no one will tell me what's going on anymore.”

    "Just go to bed."

    "Where's my room?"

    "Up the stairs to the right."

    So I walked up the old creaky wood stairs and got to the hallway and turned left to go into a small room with a bed and a tiny little dresser in the corner. I guess for ten gold pieces I shouldn't expect much. So I laid down for a little while and hoped to see the King soon. I awoke to the sound of horses.  I jumped up to hear my name being yelled and I heard the crackle of fire. I walked out of the inn to see the man in black standing in front of me. He had a black cape and long goldish hair and held a long sword.

   "You bastard, what do you want?"

    "Lance we meet again!  This town will suffer like your hometown."

    "Why, who are you?"

     "Lance, you know me."

    "No, I don't.  Why are you doing this?"

    "To hurt you for what you did to me."

    "What did I do to you?"

    "You'll remember in time Lance."

    "Turn around and face me now!"

    “Lance, my face is not the same anymore.”

    "You’re sick in the head!  Why all this needless violence?"

    "My face that's why..."  

   "Turn and face me."

   "Never, until we meet in the Realm of Magic."

   "How do I get there?"

  "A feather that blows in the eastern winds and the scale placed into the shield."

   "What do you mean?"

   "You figure it out."

   At this point I’d had enough of his talk.  I ran up trying to attack him with my broad sword. He turned around and slashed my sword right in half.

   "You'll need a stronger sword than that to defeat me."

   "My God, what are you?"

  "Good-bye now."

  He disappeared with that said, so I decided to go after his henchmen that were attempting to do arson, but I had a problem with no sword to defeat them.  Not another town I can’t save! I fell to my knees and began to remember poor Jack and how his parents and how the rest of the people's homes were burnt down so easily and I couldn’t save them I felt so bad! It was happening all over again - or was it? 

  A light began to shine on me and I felt the warmth in my heart return. A sword appeared in front of me. Words played in my head:  “You are the one to stop this carnage. Take this sword, for it is the sword of light which will end all darkness that the man in black causes.

    So I grabbed this sword that looked like just a white image and the outline of a sword. It was long but felt as if nothing in my hand.  I got up and took the sword, I was too late to save this town I figured, but the words played in my head:  “You can end all of  this with the sword of light.”

   So I pointed the sword towards a home on fire, stopped, and the house was restored to perfect. So I saved every house in Graze.  Everyone just looked on in amazement as I used this magical sword to heal their homes. Two guards came up to me after I was done.

     "The King requests to see you now please follow me."

     "How did you do that, sir?"

     "How did I do what, guard?"

     "Get that amazing sword?"

     "It is the sword of light, I lost my broad sword to the man in black. I fell to my knees and a light shone on me and words played in my head and the sword appeared right in front of me."

     "What did the words in your head say?"

    "They said I can stop this man in black and the sword of light could fix any of his carnage."

    "Sir, I think that, umm the king will talk to you."

     One guard looked at the other and gulped.  I heard him whisper "Do you think he's the one?"

     "Shut up we've got to let Fitz talk to him first, then we'll know if it's true."

     "Guard, if what is true?"

     "Umm, nothing. What's your name?"


    "Lance, the King is ready to speak with you now if you don't mind going in the throne room.”

    "Is it this door right here?”  I pointed to the door right in front of me. The door was huge and wooden and sort of old looking.  I grabbed the door and pulled it open to see the king sitting on his throne.  Fitz was about six feet tall with gray hair dangled on his shoulders and green piercing eyes. He was wearing his crest, a lion on his red armor and a gold cape.

    "So, Lance, that is a mighty sword you bear."

    "Yes, sire, it is."

    "I heard how you got this amazing sword and that you requested to see me earlier what would you like?"

    "I need answers about my town."

     "The Golden City?"

     "Yes.  Why was it burned down?"

    "I don't know.  I've heard rumors though."

    "What are these rumors?"

    "That this man in black will stop at nothing to make your life a living hell."

     "Why my life, sire?"

     "No one knows why. Just that he works under someone else; another King."

     "Any idea who?"

     "No, none.  I'm sorry, but do you remember that night the city was burned down?"

      "Yes, why?"

      "The man in the black was yelling your name, people said."

      "Who is he? What does he want with me?"

      "No one knows, Lance, you’ve got to destroy him though."

      "I just don't understand why me?"

      "You bear the sword of light.  It’s time I tell you the legend now." 

      "OK, please tell me."

      "When a man comes to the earth and is granted the sword of light he is the other that can enter The Realm of Magic and destroy the man in the black.  But before you can get in there you must get the feather of the internal bird a phoenix the firebird.  Also you need the shield of the black dragon then you can enter the realm of Magic.  Then and only then."

     "Where are this black dragon and the phoenix bird?"

     "The Cave of The Black Dragon."

     “What about this phoenix?"

     "The Nest of Fire to the south."

     “How do I defeat each of them?"

     "You have to out-think them, Lance; use your brain."

      “Hmmm, a phoenix is made of fire?"

     "Yes, why do you ask that?"

     "I never heard of it before, I was just wondering."

     "Ok, when shall you leave?"

     "In the morning after I buy some new armor and food for my journey."

    “I will alert the blacksmith to let you see him and the market."

     "Thank you very much."

     "Good luck, and if you'd like this bag of cash by my throne it is yours."

    "Thank you sire.  How much money is in the bag?"

    "About 500 go."

     "I can have it all to myself?"

    "Yes.  Use it wisely."

    "I will, thank you."

      I bowed to the king and left for the inn again. Along the way many villagers talked to me about the recent happenings and what I'd do next. I got to the inn and right away went to bed I didn't talk to the nasty innkeeper. Morning came so fast and overnight I decided I'd go after this firebird first.

   My first stop was the blacksmith’s.  It was a small home with a big sign with a sword on it and in bold letters Best Blacksmith Ever in the world. I knocked on the door and an old black bearded man wearing black clothes came up to the door.

      "Are you Lance?"

      "Yes I am sir.  Nice to meet you."

     "I've got the perfect set of armor for you."

      "How much is it?"

      "Nothing. You saved the town."

      "No I must pay you.  It's ok."

      "No, it's free."

      "Fine.  Then may I see the armor?"

      "Yes, it’s right over here."

      I looked down to see a blue metal armor that shone in the dimness of the sun.

      "Thank you, sir.  It must have taken you a lot of time to forge this armor."

      "Yes, it took quite a while to forge."

      "Thank you, sire."

      "Lance, I heard you're going after the phoenix and the black dragon?"

      "Yes, I am."

      "I suppose I'll be on my way now."

      "Where are you going?"

      "The market."

      "You should, you're right.  Good-bye Lance."

      So I walked to the market, it was very busy with people running and shopping around looking for goods.  Kids were running about chasing each other. I shopped around for food and potions.  I found a few fire and water potions. Then off I went to my horse.

     I figured the first place I'd go would be the Nest of Fire.  I had a plan to get the feather of the phoenix. So I rode down the grassy fields southward toward a huge nest above on a cliff.  It was a huge peak.  I thought to myself while riding there, my God how will I climb that cliff? But that’s when I noticed the river beside the cliff, which changed my plan in a good way. I finally got up closer to the cliff to see a  Huge Red bird about 12 feet tall on its nest. It looked like it was made of fire but had feathers also made of fire.

     It saw me and let out a huge howl as it glared at me. I began to run towards it holding a water potion in my hands. As it swooped down at me I threw it at the bird and it let out a terribly angry sound and came at me again.  Thinking quickly, I jumped into the flowing river and on the way down I used the sword of light to jam it into the phoenix.

     Sure enough it disappeared but left a fiery feather on the ground that glowed red but was not hot.  Everything seemed ok - if I had only known... I returned to Graze to see it in flames. Homes On fire.

      "Damn it, why?"

      "Sir, this is for you, a man in black told me to give this to you."

      I looked up, tears going down my face and took the note, I opened it slowly.

      It read like so:

      "Dear Lance,

      Pity isn't it, Lance? Another town burned down. More people's lives ruined. Soon we’ll meet and then I'll end your terrible life. You are so weak, Lance, you don't even remember me, do you?  Lance, after you’re ready to enter my realm I'll kill you slowly.


     The man in black.”

     I yelled out right after.  "That bastard will rot in the depths of hell for this!"

     I will defeat the Black dragon then he will die right after, I thought to myself.

     Before I left I wanted to go see Jack, and the blacksmith in my town.  After all, I needed all the help I could get.

      So I left and rode back to the Golden City.  When Jack saw me he ran right up to me.

     "Lance, you’re back!"

     "Yes, but not for long."

     "Why can't you stay, Lance?"

     "I need to see the blacksmith and take care of some stuff."

     "Like what?"

     "The man in black."

     "Oh, you’re going after him?"

     "Yes, after him."

     "Why do you need to see the blacksmith?"

     "I have the phoenix feather and need it forged into something if possible."

     "How did you get it?"

     "Never mind, I have to go now."

     "The blacksmith is in his shop like normal.”  

     "Thank you, Jack." 

     So off I went to see if this feather could be made into anything useful. As I walked up to the shop an old man with a cane came up to me. He had long gray hair and an expressionless face.

    "How may I help you, Lance my boy?

    "I need to know if you can forge anything out of this feather."

    "Let me see it closer."

    So I handed it to him and watched.  As he looked on his mouth dropped open.

    "Is this a phoenix feather?"

    "Yes, it is."

    "I'll be back in a while."

    "Where are you going?"

    "To get the scale of the Black Dragon."

    "Already you're leaving?"

    "Yes.  Good bye for a few hours."

    "See you later, Lance."

     Off I went again; this time to face the black dragon.  I had no clue how to fight this mighty enemy so I figured I'd figure it out when I got there or die. It took me a while to get to The Cave of Dragons. It was far away but I knew I was there when I heard something inside breathing fire, and I could see the light from the entrance. It glowed a fiery red on the cave walls. I figured for protection I'd put on a water protection potion to guard me against fire.

     It took me a long time to get far inside the cave. The cave was dark and damp and a gray hazy color covered with a thick fog and puddles everywhere at this point I figured it would be impossible to defeat this dragon for I could hear it growling as if it knew I was there and was waiting for me. Finally I got to an opening in which the cave split apart and a sword was on the ground - a long thick gray sword looked as if a sword from ages ago.

     I took the right passage, which led up to a huge opening and there it was - a ten-foot dragon that looked mad, almost as if I had ticked it off. It was a char black color and had huge wings and teeth that were yellow and parts of humans hung off his sick grin.  His eyes were red with anger. The dragon quickly snorted at me and then looked at me as if I supposed no harm.  That’s when it happened.... he blew a fireball at me but I repelled it with my potion  and stabbed him with my sword of light. He groaned and began to bleed.

     I ripped a scale off his body, or shall I say attempted to, when he got up and smashed me with his tail. He grinned at me knowing I was in deep trouble and yet again tried another fireball at my head.  I quickly moved, avoiding the contact, and ran to grab a rock.  I threw it at his scale; it fell off.  I ran to get it but the dragon was madder then ever and tried to smash me with his front huge paws, but luckily missed again. I grabbed the scale and ran like hell out of there and out of the cave.

     As I rode back to the golden City I thought to myself, I wondered what the riddle he said to me meant.

     A feather that blows in the eastern winds and the scale placed into the shield.  Hmmm… where could this place be?  I figured I'd ask the town’s elder if he knew so I went to see him at his home.

     "How may I help you, Lance?"

     "I need you to help me solve this puzzle.”

      “OK.  What is the puzzle?"

     "When the wind blows east and there's a feather in the air and the scale is placed in the shield the Realm of Magic will open up. Know anything about it?"

    "You must go to the temple of the sacred, Lance."


   "There is where you place the shield and let the feather in the air go."

    "Where is it?"

    "To the east from here of course, Lance."

    "Seems to make sense.  I guess I'll be going to stop all this carnage soon."

    "Lance, you’re a good man."

    “When I come back, I hope I'm more than that."

    So with all that said I left again, this time for the Realm of Magic.  I rode to the sacred temple in the east.  I wondered what these eastern winds would be like - how strong they’d be and where I'd have to place this scale from the black dragon.  But more so I wondered to myself, what would the man in black say to me? What was his name? Why does he hate me so much? All these questions played in my mind as I rode up to the temple which was huge it had great big pillars holding up the ceiling.

   The pillars looked gray and old there also was a huge set of stairs leading up to the Temple.  Small cracked stone steps. I got off my horse and began to climb the steps.  They cracked as I stepped on them. I had a bad feeling in the pit of my stomach, like

    "Lance, I knew you would come."

    "Are you the…?"

    "The guardian of the temple or ghost as some say."

   “You do exist!  Are you going to harm me?"

    "No.  I just want to talk for now."

    "About what?"

    "Why I should let you go in this temple."

    "I need to avenge my hometown and Graze."

    "Who did what to those towns?"

    "The man in black burned them to the ground."

    "He enters here a lot.  He's hard to fight off; I can't do it."

   “So how do I make the portal open?"

    “I will show you if you answer one question right ok?"

    "Ok ask away."

    "Why do you fight?"

    "To protect those I love."

    "I will now show you how to enter the portal. Follow me now please to this room here where you will be transported to the other realm. Do you have the feather and scale?"

     "Here they are.”  I handed him the items in a bag.

    "Thank you.  Now I know you are the man to stop all of this madness."

    "I am the other half to enter the realm."

    "Now I’ve got to place this in the shield like this and throw the feather in the center of the room like this."

    There was no wind in the room but when the feather was thrown up a wind began to blow throughout the room and when the scale was placed in the shield it began to glow    And in the center of the room a huge blue hole appeared, bubbling on the floor. I looked to see the shadow figure point to me.

    "Go now Lance; destroy him."

   “I will say good-bye and I'll see you when I get back from all of this.” I stepped into the portal and it felt as if I was falling through floors and floors.  All I seen was a blue color and waves until... I hit the ground with a thumping sound. I got up and looked around to see a huge grassy field filled with trees that reached to the sky.  The sun was a blood red color and I began to hear wolves howling as the river beside me that was a bright blue color turned to a red sick liquid that reeked of blood.  I got up to see him again standing in front of me.  Without a hood over his face his face was scarred badly.  I looked at him as he glared at me.

    "Lance, it ends here."

    "Who are you?"

    "I am your father."

    "What?  How is that possible?"

    "Everyone thought I was dead.  Remember that time when I fell off that cliff and you couldn’t hold me up? I fell and everyone thought I was dead. You never even came back for me to see if I was alive.  Some son you are."

    "Dad, why all this to get my attention?"

    "I hate you! I almost died because of your weak arms dropping me so far."

   “When did I drop you?"

    "Remember when we were chased out of town by the soldiers?  They pushed me off that cliff and you tried to save me but couldn't and didn't even come back to see if I was alive, damn it!"

    "So now you want me dead?"

    "Yes you little bastard!  Do you miss Graze and the Golden City?"

    "Dad, I don't remember you being such a bastard."

    "Fight me now, you inconsiderate brat."

    "Dad, I don't want to kill you!"

   "I won't let you kill me!  Now fight or die!"

    He began to swing his long sword at me and I managed to block his attacks time and time again. He ran out of breath and started huffing and puffing.

   "Dad, I love you.  Stop this!"

   "Never!  I will not be happy without bloodshed."

    "You’re sick."

    "Come on, defeat me, holder of the light."

    "What do you mean by that?"

    "You came here to kill me, so do so."

   "I'm leaving, father, you’re sick."

   "I'll kill Jack!"

   When he said that I lost control and ran back and with one stabbing motion I gave him a killing blow.

    "No one touches Jack - ever!  I'm like his father. A good one!  Without you peace will spread throughout the land."

    “Good-bye Lance!  Your day will come one day soon in the near future.”

    "I have a quick question.  My mother my brother - where are they?"

     "You’ll find out soon enough."

    After he said that he fell down and blood spilled out of him. So I took my sword and headed back to the portal to go back after all this is over.  I stepped on it and yet again found myself back into the temple I appeared but things were different now for the room was a white light color. A man about my height walked out and hugged me.

      "Lance, I'm sorry I didn't want all this carnage, but I needed to keep Father company."

     "Oh my god!  Is that you? Reis? My brother?"

     "You freed me, brother, from father’s anger."

     "Reis, come back to the Golden City with me for I have questions."

      I rushed him to the city and took him to my home.

       "So tell me, brother, why did you appear as a shadow figure to me?'

      "I was a ghost.  I could not rest until father’s angry soul was put to rest - then you freed me."

     “What?  how did you die? What about mother?”

     "One night when you were little soldiers did an arson to our town we ran out but I was killed for trying to run.  My soul was punished by staying with my father.  He blames you for his scars.  Mother is with Father now in heaven."

     "Why was that done to our town?"

     “The war that was going on the opposite side ordered an arson and killing on us."

      "What now, brother?"

     "Let's try to have a family."

     "Just me and you?"

    "Yes me and you again, finally!"

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