My name is Novaj.
Naturria was an old planet when I was born. After my birth, my powers manifested into fullness. I was never afraid of dying, despite the surrounding dangers. I was afraid of not living. We lived in a village at the base of Dragon Mountain. Dragon Mountain harnessed the most powerful magic on the planet. It lay dormant until my birth. The time to change Naturria and the Middle Realm was at hand.
Some of our people lived in homes carved into the mountainside. Others lived in free-standing homes throughout the countryside. There was a large river a half mile from the village and rolling hills. There were plenty of animals and crops that sustained the village. Dragon mountain cast a wide shadow over the village every afternoon. The shadow cooled us in summer and protected us from the chill of cold in the winter.
It was a time when magic was full of danger and excitement. It is told in our history that we came from the stars and that our mages were much more powerful when we arrived. Many of the elders still spoke of the mountain as being the source that siphoned our mage powers. Legend said an evil mage placed a curse on the mountain thousands of years ago with evil magic, and anyone who dared enter the cave’s entrance never returned. The legend said dark creatures would come out of the mountain in search of an elf who escaped centuries ago. Everyone thought it was a rumor and paid little attention to the authenticity. It was a fairy tale told to children.
My family were the strongest mages left on the planet, and we were the rulers of our society. Why our magic remained unaffected was a mystery. For centuries, our power grew. There were always secret groups trying to subvert our rule. A hunting party led by my father left the village one morning. A few of the men attacked my father and murdered him. Time would reveal his murderers to my mother and me, and why he died. I would learn later that my mother was a powerful elf in exile, but she chose not to reveal the murderers. Perhaps she thought it was for my safety. My mother was twelve months pregnant when he died. I felt his death from the womb. When he died, his power became mine. I saw three men attacking him, but they cloaked their faces. My reaction to his death almost killed my mother when I reacted to the surge of power in her womb. She used her magic to calm me.
When the hunting party returned, they came to our home. They explained my father had fallen into a deep ravine and did not survive. Mother knew better; Father was a powerful Mage and would not have fallen to his death. He could control the air molecules around him, so he would never have hit the ground. Mother knew the hunters murdered him, but she would wait until the right time to exact her revenge. When the time came, I would be that revenge, and it would be revenge served hot, molten hot! My mother eyed the men and nodded her head. Now she understood why I exploded into kicking in her womb. The surge of power entered my body. And thus, she endured the pain. When a second hunter spoke, the voice caused me to react again. He was the man who struck and killed my father, and now he stood before my mother and lied. My mother looked deep into his eyes and nodded. When the men finished, she stood and walked into our home. She was the ruler now, and she would have to choose a mate in six months after the mourning period ended. Mother turned back to the hunters.
“Where is my husband’s body, asked my mother?”
The body is still at the bottom of the ravine. We could not retrieve it.
“I will retrieve it. Thank you, said the queen.”
“My queen, that is not possible. You cannot reach his body!”
“I will bring the body to the village.”
Whispering amongst themselves, the three hunters walked away.
Early the next morning my father’s body was laying in the middle of the village. Our village doctor was examining his remains. My mother walked over and stood beside the doctor.
“Your highness, your husband was dead before he hit the rocks. This injury to the back of his head killed him.”
One hunter pushed his way through the crowd.
“His body should not be here. We could not retrieve it from the cliff face. What kind of dark magic is this?”
The queen turned to face him.
“There is no dark magic here. I told you the king’s body would be here this morning. Do you and your companions maintain your story that the king fell to his death?”
“Are you a witch? Is that how you made his body appear, he demanded?”
“I am not a witch but something far more powerful. I am a queen!”
The hunter turned and stormed away.
The queen looked at the villagers.
“Prepare the king for burial. We send him to his ancestors tomorrow.”
I kicked hard in my mother’s stomach. The queen placed a hand where my head was to calm me. She headed for our home to rest. Seeing her husband’s body had taken a toll on her. She remained composed in front of the villagers, but once she closed the door, she collapsed to the floor and cried.
The next day, we buried my father. It was a grand celebration for a king beloved by his countrymen. The three men who informed my mother of his death stood off in the distance, watching as if waiting for something to occur.
The ceremony ended and mother returned to our home and the emptiness she would feel from that day forward. I lay still inher womb for fear of disturbing the moment.
All of us have some natural magic. It is a gift from Naturria. However, legends speak of a child born with extraordinary powers. A child born with the power of the mountain. I was that child. There was a gathering of the elders to discuss protecting me and the village. They could already feel me in my mother’s womb. When my mother gave birth, my magic spread over the village, touching all the things in this world. It was different now; my mother could not shield my probing, and it was exhilarating. I was already learning many things. It worried the elders; they could feel my power, and my existence was a threat to our people. No elder could remember a child born with the level of power I had in the womb. They felt they had to protect me; if the Sheltak homed in on me, they could destroy the settlement in their search for me.
I was born the day after we buried my father. My mother gave birth alone so no one would see her true form or the glow that emitted from my skin. She cast a spell to conceal my birth for the first three days of my life, but by the fifth day, I exhausted her attempting to stop my curiosity from breaking free. My mother sent for the shaman to assist her.
The Shaman cast a spell to cloak my magic, but even he strained to suppress my power, and he was the strongest of the elders. When the rumbling started in the Yellow Forest, they knew what that meant. The Sheltaks were coming, and it sounded like a lot of them. The elders looked at each other and shook their heads. I made a noise behind them and they spun around. I was standing just outside our home. The elders stared at me; I was five days old, and I was already the size of a seven-year-old. My growth was because of the power I was absorbing from the mountain and my father at the moment of his death. That was the secret of our lineage, passing our Mage abilities. I did not know my mother’s power far exceeded my father’s.
The rumbling in the forest grew louder behind them. The elders didn’t react to the sound at first; they were still staring at me, puzzled by my growth.
The crashing sound grew closer, and the elders turned. Novaj laughed; the Sheltak scouts were watching him.
The shaman walked up to me.
“Do you realize the danger you have brought upon the village, he asked?”
I motioned the elder into silence.
“I will protect the village.”
Novaj stood there with a smile on his face, watching the Yellow Forest. There were more crashing sounds; evil was coming. He had been planning this fight for nine months. There were many nights he could feel dark magic swirling around his mother’s stomach. She was asleep, but her magic protected them. Novaj levitated a few inches off the ground and drifted over to face the threat coming to decimate the village. Coming for him. That would not happen. There would be different rules in the world and he would make them.
The trees at the edge of the Yellow Forest exploded as the Sheltak King burst into view. He was massive. He stopped about fifty yards from the shaman and Novaj.
“This village has a powerful mage. We have been sensing an impending birth for ten months. A few days ago, there was a massive power surge of pure energy. Which means the child has been born. I need his energy to conquer the rest of the planet. Where is the child? Tell me, and I might spare your miserable lives, he growled?”
Novaj took a step forward.
“What shall we call you? Your name please, and you can have the boy,” said Novaj.
“I am King Grimu, ruler of the Sheltak, and who are you, child, addressing me in this manner?”
“I am Novaj, protector of this village and defender of the realm.”
King Grimu smiled.
“I told you my name. Now, where is the child?”
Novaj turned to the elders and told them to take cover.
The elders walked to the safety of their homes.
Having received his father’s power and battle strategy, he was ready for this first fight. He could feel his mother standing in the doorway of their home. He turned to her and smiled. She returned a half-smile. She was fearful. Novaj turned to Grimu, King of the Sheltaks.
“Now, let’s get this over with. I am the child you seek, said Novaj. What can I do for you?”
Grimu looked at Novaj.
“You cannot be the child; he was born five days ago. You are at least six or seven.”
“I am the child you seek, and I will ask once more what you want with me?”
King Grimu stood there, contemplating his next move. If this was the child, how had he grown so fast? He sent a mental probe to sense the power the child harnessed. It was unthinkable that a child could harness so much energy. He took a step forward, and Novaj rose from the ground. Grimu thought he had an advantage because he had a third arm that lay hidden along his right leg.
Novaj smiled, “if you swing your third arm, you will lose it.”
Grimu stopped; he was almost close enough to strike the child.
“How do you know about my third arm? The only person who ever lived from an attack was —”
“Yes, he was my father, and I have all of his battle strategies, so I will ask you to leave our village, or I will destroy all of you.”
“What do you mean, all of us? I am the only one here, said Grimu.”
“Then you will not mind if I destroy the ten Sheltak hiding in the woods?”
Novaj extended his hand with his palm up. He closed his hand in a forward motion, and the bushes behind Grimu came alive with the Sheltak as he pulled them forward. When they were out in the open, Novaj asked Grimu again, “So, you do not mind If I kill these Sheltak I pulled from the forest?”
Grimu looked at the Sheltak standing behind him, one of which was his son.
“Ahh, your child is among the group. If you have something you want to say to him before he perishes, now is the time.”
Novaj summoned more power and felt the mountain shake. The rumors were true. Dragon Mountain was a source of power. The mountain did not siphon power; it was giving him power. Novaj pointed at the first Sheltak, and he turned to dust. He looked to the next Sheltak, and he turned to dust. He continued down the line until he reached the king’s son.
King Grimu raised his hands, “don’t kill my son; we will leave!”
The King and his son turned to walk into the forest when his third arm swung from his body and threw a large knife at Novaj; it was heading for his heart. Novaj did not budge. The knife hit its mark and pierced his heart and continued through his body. Novaj heard his mother scream, and the elders were cringing in their doorways. Novaj reached behind him and caught the knife. When he brought his hand around to the front of his body, he was holding the knife and looking at King Grimu. He looked at the blade; it was a beautiful knife. Then his gaze returned to King Grimu. He raised his hand and made a fist. They all watched as he crushed Grimu into a ball of bloody flesh.
Novaj turned to the king’s son. “You are King now, rule your people. You are not welcome in this village again or I will hunt every one of your kind until you are extinct. Is that clear?”
“It is clear, said the new King.”
Novaj could see the hatred in his three eyes. The new King reached down and removed the rings from his father’s hands. Grimu II reached deep into the pile of jellied flesh and retrieved the royal shield. He turned and walked into the Yellow Forest. He looked back once more at Novaj, who was standing there holding the imperial knife. The new King vowed he would return that knife to his people. If it took two hundred years, someone in his lineage would retrieve the Imperial blade of Sheltak.
Novaj could sense Grimu II was still traveling to the other side of the forest. He lowered himself to the ground and collapsed. The power exerted and the surge from the mountain were almost too much for him to control. His father’s voice instructed him on how to deal with King Grimu. He had two thoughts before he passed out. He thanked his father, and the second thought was of venturing into the mountain to find the source of the surge of power he received. Then there was darkness. He was asleep for three days. While he slept, Lola could see the magic weaving itself around his body. A few times, the magic lifted him off his bed, and he would levitate there for hours. At one point, Novaj’s body was in total darkness, which worried Lola. She didn’t know what it was doing to him, but she could not interfere. Blackness meant evil in their world. The darkness slid off him, and he lowered onto his bed. Lola was his mother, but she knew when the rituals were over, he would never again be the son she gave birth to. He would be something different. She knew the chosen one never remembered his family after the ritual, so she prepared for that whenever he woke up. The second night, he burst into flames, but nothing was burning around him. He was aflame throughout the night. When the sun rose on the fourth morning, his body absorbed the fire.
Novaj turned his head, “Hello, Mother.”
It surprised Lola. “You know who I am,” she exclaimed, as the tears ran down her face?
“I know who you are. You are my mother and Queen of Naturria. As of this moment, you do not have to pick a chosen after the mourning period. My birthright is to be King, but I abdicate that responsibility to you. I have some things to correct around Naturria. In some areas, Naturrians are under siege.”
Lola looked at her son. “You are so young. How can you go on missions to save the world?”
“The reason the chosen come every thousand years is to fix the wrongs people inflict on the helpless, and to restore Naturria to a healthy planet,” replied Novaj.
“I know, said his mother, when do you have to leave, she asked?”
“I will call a council meeting tonight and inform the elders you will rule our kingdom in my absence. The rules of mourning do not apply. My father lost his life by betrayal and murder, and if that is not sufficient, I will deal with the objections!”
Council Meeting and Mission
The council members representing every kingdom on Naturria were present when Queen Lola and Novaj entered the chamber. They stood up when they saw her and waited until she sat.
The head of the council spoke, “Queen Lola, why have we convened the council when our regular session is in two weeks?”
Novaj placed a hand on his mother’s shoulder. “May I, he asked his mother?”
“Yes, you may,” she said.
“The Queen did not call the council meeting. I did,” said Novaj.
“You have no authority to call a council meeting. What does this mean, shouted one man who did not rise when the queen walked in?”
Novaj did not acknowledge the interruption. “I am the rightful heir to the throne of Naturria. However, I must address some urgent matters around the planet. In my absence, my mother will rule Naturria.”
The same man who interrupted Novaj jumped to his feet. “And if you are not back before the end of the six months of mourning, then what?”
“Oh yeah, that, the six-month mourning period, no longer applies. Queen Lola will rule Naturria alone unless she finds a man she considers a worthy mate.”
“You can’t change the rules of our society because you want to. It doesn’t matter who your father was, you can’t do this. At the end of the six-month mourning period, she will pick a mate, or she will abdicate the throne!”
“It is interesting you should mention my father. Please explain to the council why you killed him? You and your two companions walked up behind him and delivered a fatal blow and threw him into a ravine. I am eager to hear your tale of why. The floor is yours.”
“Why do you think I killed your father? You are delirious. I had nothing to do with your father’s death!”
“Then perhaps one of your friends will tell the story. The three of you are guilty, and the three of you will receive the same sentence of death. Did you think my mother would accept one of you as her mate?”
The third man who remained quiet jumped to his feet, “It was not for us, they paid us to kill him so that—” the man with the loudmouth swung his hand, and the quiet man fell forward with a slit throat. The council members scrambled to get away from the carnage.
The man who slit his companion’s throat started walking towards Novaj.
“You will not change the mourning period of six months. It will stand, and there is nothing you can do to stop it!”
When the hunter was about four feet from Novaj, the floor turned into molten lava. His body melted in a matter of minutes, but everyone in the room would hear his screams for months. Novaj pulled the man with the slit throat forward and dropped him into the pit of lava. The third man could not move.
Novaj walked towards him. “Your companion was about to tell me who hired you to kill my father, and I gather it was to ascend to the throne. Who put you up to this?”
The man was trying to speak, but his fear had rendered him mute. When he stopped shaking enough to speak, he stated that the person paying them wanted queen Lola and the throne. He was about to name the mastermind behind the scheme when an arrow whistled through the air and pierced him through the eye. All eyes turned to the assailant standing at the hall’s entrance. A black figure that vaporized. Novaj turned to his mother; she looked terrified. There was a conspiracy, and the goal was to claim the throne of Naturria. Novaj placed a shield around his mother and led her out of the hall. The council members scattered to any available exit.
Novaj and his mother reached their home, and he placed a spell around the house to protect her. He needed answers, and he needed them before he went out into the world. Someone wanted the throne, and they wanted her at their side.
“Mother, why would someone kill father, but make it clear they want the throne and you with it?”
“I’m not sure, son. It is all so strange,” she said.
Novaj made a mental note that she was speaking to him with her back turned to him. Novaj walked around her, and when he saw her face, she had a look of terror.
“Mother, what is wrong? Why are you so frightened?”
“I don’t want to cause you any harm, son; there are people trying to rule the world on the surface. Today was the boldest attempt so far to keep their plans secret.”
“What do you mean people, asked Novaj? I thought your family was one of the high-bred families from the other side of Naturria. At least that is the memory father has of you.”
“Yes, that is the memory your father has of me because I planted it in his mind when he found me wandering in the red forest. It was a memory to protect him if they scanned him for information about me. The elves of Dragon Mountain were hunting me. Your father jumped into the fray and rescued me, just as one of your ancestors had since they crashed landed on Naturria centuries ago.”
“Wait, are you saying you have always known my forefathers, asked, Novaj?”
“Yes, said Lola, but let me explain before you think I am a monster. I am from the Mountain Elves of the clan Draco. I am Queen of the elves. My father, the King of Lindor, died at the hands of an evil mage many centuries ago. My mother made me run out of the mountain. I ran, and I kept running until I saw daylight. Most elves have never been to the surface. It was exciting and terrifying at the same time. I stood at the mouth of the massive cavern too long, and I heard the militia coming, so I started running again. They almost captured me when your father jumped out of nowhere and took on the elves. He killed six, and the other two ran back to the cave. I made your father see the elves. He killed the images I conjured for him to see. Every time one of your forefathers died, I would create the same scenario. Now here is the part I hope makes sense in this story. We elves can be reborn if we chose to. I would go deep into the forest and build a cocoon. For two months, I would transform before being reborn. I kept my memories, which was not always easy. I loved some of your forefathers much more than others.”
“And what of your feelings for my father, asked Novaj?”
“Your father, I adored. Each time the ritual of the chosen one took place before you, they awoke with no memory of who I was. Each of them wandered off into the world and I never saw them again. When you said hello mother, I knew something had changed. I don’t know what changed, but something is different. The three men killed in the council chamber were elves in disguise, and the specter we saw in the entrance was a dark elf called Belaur. He is a powerful mage, and he killed that elf for the usurper, King Akkar. He killed my father and killed anyone who defied him. His intent is to marry me. Since I am part of the royal bloodline, any child we produce could wield the Dragon Sword. With that sword, he could control the kingdom’s underground, and I am sure he would not stop there. So, that is my story.”
“Mother, if you are an elf, why do you look like one of us?”
Queen Lola stepped back and snapped her fingers. She transformed into the most beautiful black elf, right down to the long wavy hair and the tiny lines that looked like roots in the forest. She was tiny, and her pointy ears stuck out through her hair.
“Is this the face you were born with, asked Novaj?”
“Yes, this is my original face,” she replied.
“Wow, so there are elves, black elves, he asked in amazement? You are beautiful; I wish father could have seen you like this.”
Lola lowered her head, “your father was different, the night I conceived you, this is how your father saw me. He was the most loving, gentle man I have ever known. He was my hero.”
Novaj walked over and hugged his mother.
“So, what is your Elven name, Your Highness?”
“It is Alasea Maplehorn.”
“Hmm, Novaj Maplehorn, that is a powerful name.”
Lola’s face was grave. “you can never say that name outside this house. It could get you killed. There are Elven spies everywhere. So, the answer to your original question is, Akkar wants to breed me so he can conquer the world. There have been mage wars going on for centuries, but the elves always stayed out of the minor battles between the smaller kingdoms. Akkar wants nothing more than to march into battle with the Dragon Sword and conquer the Middle Realm and the surface of Naturria. It has powerful old magic. In the right hands, it can restore the balance of power to the kingdoms.”
“So, would I be able to wield this sword asked Novaj?”
“Yes, you would be able to. Oh no! You are not going into the mountain. If Akkar discovers who you are, you would be in danger of being captured and made a slave or drained of your power. No male child of the lineage of Maplehorn may live.”
“Well, for whatever reason, when I was facing King Grimu, the mountain sent me a boost in power, so I think something is calling us home, Queen Alasea.”
Lola walked across the room and sat down.
“Maybe the legends are true, that one day a child of the light would free the middle kingdoms of Draco. Since you remembered who I am, my time here is growing short.”
“No, you will remain here and rule until I return. Am I able to transform into an elf?”
“Yes, you can, but please heed my words. The middle realm is no place to become a hero.”
“Mother, I was born a hero, and the mountain touched me, and one day I will answer that call. If your magic is as strong or stronger than mine, I don’t have to worry as much. I will scout around the village and see if there is anything out of the ordinary. Oh, put your ears away.”
Lola laughed, “I am not as powerful as you, she said, but I am strong. It has been so long since I felt my skin, but you are correct, I better put my ears away.”
Novaj slipped out of the front door and asked his mother to lock it behind him.
Novaj walked the perimeter of the town and did not feel or see anything suspicious. He felt a few magical signatures, but they were far away. He went back to the house and packed his travel bags. The young prince was still growing, and he could feel his knowledge growing, too. The bigger he got; his father’s voice faded. The memories were now his.
The next morning, he was up at the crack of dawn. When he walked out of his room, his mother was sitting at the table waiting for him. She looked worried.
“Mother, I will be fine,” he said.
“I know, but this is new to me. Take this manual with you. It is the Elven language of our people, and the legacy of our family.”
Novaj opened the book, and it was all gibberish to him. “I can’t read this, Mother.”
“Sure you can,” she replied. She placed a finger to her temple, and one to his. The words on the pages were rearranged, and he could read the manuscript.
“I am impressed, and something tells me you are quite the fighter.”
“They knew me to hold my own,” she laughed.
“I will see you in a few months. I don’t expect to fix all the things I want to in one trip.”
“Be careful son, I love you.”
“I love you too.”
Novaj stepped out into the morning air. It had a little nip to it; it felt good. He looked west at the Yellow Forest and decided he would visit that side of the planet on his next trip. Novaj headed east towards the Black Forest. He felt the pull of the Dragon Mountain, but he did not have enough experience to take on King Akkar and his army. The Mountain was calling, but he would resist the urge until his instincts told him it was time. He headed for the Black Forest. He was reading the manual his mother gave him. It was interesting; it spoke of the history of the Elves of Draco. His forefathers were skilled warriors. Many of them had given their lives for the freedom of their people. There were thousands of years of peace, but when someone threatened the lives and well-being of the middle kingdoms, they rose in defense of the weak. Novaj felt a signature of magic and thrust the book into his jacket. A few minutes later, he came across what appeared an old lady with a broken wagon. It was strange, though; the power levels were too strong to be coming from one so old. Novaj stopped and surveyed the area. Then he felt the other heartbeat.
“Excuse me, please ask your friend to step into view? None of us need any surprises today.”
The older woman stood up and motioned for her accomplice to come out of hiding. A man around the age of eighteen walked out of the forest.
“How did you know I was hiding back there, asked the young man?”
“I felt your heart beating, replied Novaj?”
“How is that possible, asked the old woman? No one can do that.”
“I can. I take it this is how you make a living, robbing people. Well, today you will pay for your deceit. Neither of you will have a mouth or hands for the next five days, and If I ever catch you doing anything deceitful again, I will make these afflictions permanent. Is that clear?”
Novaj waved his hand, and both of the thieves lost their hands, and their mouths had disappeared. They were both mumbling and waving their arms. Novaj shook his head and started back on his quest to rid the world of pain and suffering at the hand’s bullies and monarchs who were abusing their power.
He arrived at a tavern and paid for a room and food. He sat eating, and a half-dressed girl with sad eyes t sat beside him and started making small talk.
“Would you like companionship tonight, she asked?”
Novaj looked at her for a moment and continued to eat.
She asked again, this time, “Please say yes!”
Novaj put his spoon down and looked at her. “Why do you do this? Your heart is heavy with shame, Novaj asked her.”
“Please, let me go to your room, even if you don’t want me. At least it will look like I tried, please, or he will hurt me again.”
The girl was frantic and in tears.
“Who will hurt you he asked?”
At that moment, a gruff-looking man walked to his table. “If you will not pay for her, she needs to move to the next customer!”
The man grabbed the girl and snatched her up from the table. Novaj snapped his fingers, and the man’s arm fell to the floor. He stood there screaming, though there was no pain. Novaj snapped his fingers again, and the man’s pants and undergarments fell to the floor.
“Now, let’s see, it appears you have drunk a bit of ale tonight. Do you want your arm back?”
The drunk shook his head, yes.
“Okay.” With another snap of his finger, the man’s arm reattached.
“So, your punishment for mistreating the girls who used to work for you is you cannot take a pee until sunrise. If I ever hear you hurt another woman, I will make sure you never pee again. Have I made myself clear?”
“Yes, Sir, who are you, and how do you stop a man from peeing?”
Novaj snapped his fingers, and the man’s genitals disappeared. “That is how I do it.”
Novaj turned to the girl.
“When was the last time you had a nutritious meal, and a warm bed to sleep in without some drunk crawling all over you?”
“I guess it would have been just after I turned twelve. My parents sold me to this man, and I have been a whore ever since.”
“I see, first, you are not a whore; you did not choose this life, they forced you to do these things. Where are your parents now?”
“My mother is at home heavy with child, and my father is sitting over there caressing one of the other girls.”
“Your father has the nerve to sit in here while men have their way with you? Where is he?”
The girl pointed to a little man sitting in a dark corner.
“What is your name,” asked Novaj?
“You do not have to call me Sir. What is your father’s name?”
“His name is Rance.”
“And your father leaves you here to be assaulted night after night?”
That was all Novaj could take; he stood and walked over to Beala’s father.
“Excuse me, are you Rance?”
“Yeah, who wants to know? You must see I am busy here?”
“Is that your daughter sitting at my table?”
Rance leaned forward, “yes, that is my precious Beala.”
“Your precious Beala? I think you owe her and every innocent girl in here an apology for being a pig.”
“I don’t know what your complaint is, but there are no refunds. If she did not serve you well enough, take her back upstairs,” said Rance.
He wasn’t even looking at Novaj when he spoke those words.
“Stand up! I said stand up, you little worthless bastard!”
Novaj snatched Rance from his seat and held him in the air.
“You will never have sex with a woman again; I destine you to root in the garbage for the rest of your days.”
Novaj shielded the discipline of the first man, but now his power was on display and he had everyone’s attention. He dropped Rance to the floor and raised his hand and cast the spell and turned Rance into a female hog. The men in the tavern dropped their mugs.
“This will be the fate of every man in here if you ever touch another underage girl. I will leave a spell on this building and each of you, if one of you touches another woman except your wives, I will sentence you to be a pig for the rest of your days! Now get out. Who is the owner of this establishment?”
The other girls gathered in a corner and watched the stranger work his magic.
“I am Sir. We never agreed with these men. My wife and I ran a decent inn until Rance and his partner took over and turned it into a brothel. It was clear if I attempted to contact the authorities, they would hurt my family.”
Novaj looked at the man, and he seemed to be genuine.
“You have your inn back.”
Beala was still sitting at the table, shaking. Novaj walked over and took her hand. He led her upstairs to his room and ordered food. Once she had eaten, Novaj started gathering his things to leave. Beala looked bewildered.
“Sir, the only way I know how to thank you is with my body. You can do whatever you like.” Beala started peeling her clothes off.
Novaj walked over to her and pulled her clothes back on.
“Beala cried, If I am not enough for you, I will get one of the other girls.”
“Stop, said Novaj. You are beautiful, and you do not owe any man your body for coin or good deed. Your heart should guide you to choose who you allow to touch you. I want you to remember that your body is sacred, and you must treat it as sacred. You need to leave this town and never look back. There is nothing here for you.”
“What about the other girls? They have suffered the same fate I have?”
“How many girls are there asked Novaj?”
“There are eight of us, Sir.”
“Fix your shirt and call them up here, please.”
Beala fixed her clothing and opened the door. She stood on the railing and called the girls upstairs. They all walked in and started removing their clothes. Beala followed the last girl in and saw what they were doing.
“No, no, keep your clothes on. He does not want you up here for that. I am not sure why he wants you up here.”
The girls put their clothing on and just stood there looking at Novaj. He was years younger than them, but he had the body of a man.
“Why did you want me to call the girls, Sir?”
“Please stop calling me Sir. I am not much older than you girls.”
He hated the lie, but the actual story would have taken far too long to make them believe.
“I called you girls to give you a chance at a fresh life. I told Beala, this town has nothing to offer you. So you need to leave this place and start over.”
“We do not have the means to start over; we have been whores for most of our teenage years.”
Beala cleared her throat. “He doesn’t like the word whores. He says we are better than that.”
The girls laughed. “A man who does not like whores?”
Novaj turned to the girls and fire flashed from his eyes; they all stumbled back.
“I dislike hearing women referred to as whores. I am offering you a chance to leave this town. If you do not want that chance, you can leave the room now.”
Novaj snapped his fingers, and the door flung open. None of the girls moved. He snapped again, and the door closed.
“I will leave here in the morning, and you are free to travel with me as far as the next town or the one after, if you wish. You can stay there or take a boat to a much bigger town to settle in.”
A shy girl who seemed to be the youngest of the group spoke up. “How are we to survive? We have no money. The men took every dime we ever made?”
Novaj removed his things from the table and placed them on the floor. He extended both hands over the table, and eight purses appeared.
“Each of you take a purse and look inside.”
The girls opened the purses; they were full of gold coins. The purses were about the size of their hands.
“We are grateful, Sir, but this will not get us very far.”
“No, what you see will not. However, when you open your purse, the gold coins you need will always be there. If lost or stolen, it will always come back to you, but heed this, if either of you uses your coin for anything deceitful. Your purse will disappear, and it will leave you to your own devices to survive.”
The girls rushed him and gave him hugs and kisses. They offered more than that, but Novaj felt someone else. It was his chosen mate, reaching out to probe his magic.
The next morning, the girls were up and waiting for Novaj. Beala was standing in front.
“We don’t know how to thank you for everything.”
They all chimed in with a thank you. The innkeeper had breakfast waiting as a thank you. Novaj sat and ate with the girls. When they finished eating, Novaj left a satchel of gold on the table. They walked out into the morning sun. He and the girls had just started walking when the Innkeeper came running behind them.
“Sir, you forgot your satchel.”
“No, it is yours. That is for all the misdeeds of the men of this town. I hope you put it to excellent use,” said Novaj.
“Thank you, thank you.”
Novaj and the girls continued the journey east. They walked through the middle of town, and the wives were standing in their yards cheering, thanking him for what he had done.
“How do they know what happened last night, asked Novaj?”
“I went to say goodbye to my mother, and I gave her a few gold coins. I told her the story, and she must have told the other women.”
“Which of the ladies is your mother, he asked?”
“She is in the green apron at the next house.”
Novaj walked over to the woman and extended his hand.
“You have a lovely daughter. I hope your life will be more comfortable from now on.”
“Thank you for all you have done, Sir. I am thankful Beala will have a wonderful life from this day forth.”
“Let us hope so. Oh, I almost forgot, here is a purse of gold for you and all the ladies. Please deliver them. As long as you are honorable, the coins will never run out, and your men will never have access to the gold,” said Novaj.