It is spring 1561, in Northern Europe. A furious storm moves menacingly across the uppermost reaches of the Bin Doh Blush Mountains as the warrior wizard, Yannash Deroba, embarks on a mission of intrigue and malevolent dark magic.
Are they real, these Dragons and Elves, Wizards and Fairies, who
dance and play in the forest at night? And those slippery, slimy,
slithering things that stay in our dreams till first light? Let us see…
It is hard to be precise but, at some time towards the latter end of the sixteenth century, a furious storm was slowly moving across the uppermost reaches of the Bin Doh Blush mountains. Menacing black clouds, tumbling wildly across the leaden sky, rumbled and cracked; a howling gale drove icy sleet and rain horizontally, biting cruelly at the visitor’s naked arms and face…
…The visitor stood immobile, seemingly unaware of his plight or the perilous environment in which he now found himself. Suddenly, a giant thunderbolt struck the ground close by him, exploding violently into showers of blue, iridescent sparks. It was at this precise moment that Yannash Deroba abruptly became aware of his existence for the first time! Disorientated, his mind tried frantically to focus. Afraid and sensing danger, he was aware that he must find shelter quickly, lest one of the thunderbolts strike him down. Another thunderbolt blasted down from the heavens, this time slamming into the side of the mountain with a thunderous crash, briefly illuminating the entrance to a cave and refuge!
Even though his limbs were cramped and stiff, Yannash began to run; he made good time, reaching the safety of the cave, albeit exhausted. Wet, cold and trembling with fear, Yannash removed his shield and pack. Then, wrapping his long cape about him, he lay down upon the dry, stony ground. With his thoughts in turmoil and shivering uncontrollably, Yannash fell into an uneasy and feverish sleep.
A whole night and a day slipped by whilst he slept. When he at last awoke, feeling refreshed, the storm had passed. Struggling to his feet, Yannash Deroba cautiously made his way to the mouth of the cave. A wild and desolate landscape lay before him.
‘What fiendish place is this?’ he said to himself.
To the south, the ground fell away gently into the distance, where it was swallowed up by the mist; to the north, the mountains rose abruptly, their sheer craggy peaks lost somewhere in the rolling grey clouds. All around lay boulders and rocks of varying shapes and sizes; the land was barren and nothing grew. He listened anxiously. Nothing stirred. The air stood still… Not even a whisper!
Nervously, Yannash placed his hand upon the jewelled hilt of the broad sword hanging at his waist; he drew some comfort in the knowledge that he would – indeed, could – defend himself if his life were to be threatened. But from whom or what? Once again, the icy claw of fear gripped him. Where was he? Why was he here? More importantly, who was he?
Having laid out the contents of his pack before him on a flat rock, Yannash began lifting each object in turn, examining it closely before replacing it and selecting another. The only recognisable items up till now were the flagon of wine, a loaf of bread, some dried sausage and some pale yellow cheese, which he dined upon hungrily. Now, having wrapped the remains of his food in a rough woven cloth for his supper, he returned to the engraved, material-bound, rectangular object resting upon his knee.
The material felt hard to his touch and there were dull metallic coverings that protected each corner. It was heavy and appeared to be very old, but the meaning of the embossed script only served to confuse him further. Yannash took a deep draught from the flagon. The object appeared to be in two halves, joined on one side with a supple spine which also bore the unknown script; on the opposite side it was held firmly closed by a heavy metallic clasp resembling the one which held his cloak in place. Somehow he had to open the clasp on the object.
Inserting the tip of his dagger between the object and clasp, he pried the two slightly apart. Then, repositioning the dagger by pushing it further underneath the clasp, he heaved with all his strength… The clasp flew open and the object tumbled awkwardly to the ground!
At first, it appeared to Yannash that he had broken it. Appalled, he reached down and, taking hold of one half of the object, he lifted it to his lap once more, where it flipped open to reveal more of the script. Steadying the object by placing his hand upon it, a strong, sweet, mildewed aroma wafted upwards. Yannash inhaled carelessly and, within seconds, he descended into a fathomless, dreamlike trance.
His eyes fell upon the opened book once more, for now he seemed to be familiar with the object that lay before him. He felt light-headed and it was difficult for him to focus. Strange, spirit-like entities crept stealthily into his mind, ill-defined to begin with but then becoming clearer… and then… becoming blurred again.
Unknown people and things entered his head, tiptoeing at first, then rushing, pushing and, finally, breaching the last barriers of his mind. They presented strange lands and magnificent flying creatures; scrambling, then rising, falling and tumbling. The shapes began changing now, becoming wraith-like… now transforming again slowly and dreamlike to become screeching, ghastly, nightmarish things.
Terrified by these visions, he begged for it to stop! To end now, or else his mind would become so torn and ragged that he, too would become a player in this outlandish scene. It was too much. His head reeled; day turned into night, darkness into light, whilst his whole body shook cruelly. Breathlessly, he tried to withdraw his hand, but could not. Now, voices intruding… calling to him, echoing in the darkest corners of his mind.
“Too soon Yannash! Too Soon! Hold fast, my son. Be strong, for I am wisdom! I am knowledge!”
Then goblins and warrior elves, and a gentle pixie with a beautiful fairy, now a magical forest with shady glades; then laughing children playing in spring pastures, and lovers, walking hand in hand at the edge of a gently meandering stream. Then, without warning, huge fire-breathing flying leviathans rupturing the scene, bringing fear and destruction to all… now fading, then darkness…
The nightmare continued until dawn the next day, at which point Yanash’s hand slipped from the book. He was exhausted, worn-out and weakened by the experience. Wrapping his cape about him once more, he sank down gratefully to the floor of the cave, whereupon he fell asleep. This time, however, he slept peacefully, his mind no longer troubled.
He awoke some hours later; he felt rejuvenated and made ready to leave. But it was no longer Yannash the boy who gathered his possessions together with the ancient book, placing them carefully into his pack; no longer Yannash the boy who strapped the broad sword purposefully to his hip; nor was it Yannash the boy who looked proudly at his reflection in the bright burnished shield… The boy had become a man. This was Yannash Deroba… the Warrior Wizard!
Yannash left the cave at first light the next morning, concealing the entrance with a magic spell. He would return one day, but now destiny beckoned. He looked once more upon the cold, inhospitable landscape and then, turning to the south, Yannash began his decent from the mountains of the Bin Doh Blush, reaching the tree line just before dusk.
…Dusk, the mysterious catalyst that permits Mother Nature’s transformation of day into night; a time of fear and obscurity for all mortals, when the spirits awake and gather to lay their malevolent devices for the night to come…
James A Bresco