The Legend of Lardinia
By Chloe A.B Taylor
The full moon bathed Briony beach in a pool of silver light and the midnight air sent shivers down Haylie’s spine. The chilling wind whipped her coffee brown hair across her pale face, a spat of rain landed on her nose and as she looked up at the cobalt sky, the moon glinted in her emerald eyes for the last time before ominous bleak clouds began to smother the moon's radiance. Haylie had spent the afternoon at the college studying, with the promise to her mum that she would be home by nine; it was now five minutes past eleven. The rain began to come down thick and fast and it wasn’t long before Haylie’s clothes were soaked through. Dashing through the torrential downpour she could hear a dog barking into the emptiness of the night up ahead and knew that her house was only a few minutes away.
As she sprinted across the shifting pebbles she saw a flash of light in the corner of her eye, emanating from a large crack in the cliff beside her. She glanced at her watch, it was ten past eleven and way gone past the time she had promised to be home by, nevertheless something seemed to intrigue Haylie inside the small cave. She darted inside, glad to be out of the rain and dropped her bag on the damp floor of the cave: she was tired after carrying the heavy thing across the beach. Once inside Haylie’s eyes began to search the shallow cave, it seemed perfectly ordinary; the chalk and clay walls of the cave were slippery and caked in seaweed that smelled salty and stagnant and stung her nose with every breath.
Her eyes continued to search her new surroundings until they came to rest upon what seemed to be the source of the hazy blue light; a bright blue stone that was glowing a dazzling, iridescent indigo it appeared to have something pulsating within it like swirling strands of crystal. Then something happened that Haylie would never be able to explain. Haylie began to reach out for the stone and not being a greedy sort of person, she would never steal anything but this was different: it didn’t seem like it was her reaching out but like it was someone or some kind of force pulling her towards it and controlling her; willing her to lay a hand on the stone’s smooth surface. Her wet, cold palm landed upon the icy surface of the crystal and suddenly the cave began to spin around her and Haylie was pulled into a wave of blue and silver light blinding and disorientating her.
Haylie landed with a muffled thud onto what seemed to be lush wild green grass, the midday sun dazzled her eyes but as she squinted around her eyes adjusted to the harsh light and she stared around at her new surroundings, a huge cityscape sat on the horizon and the sunlight danced and shimmered on a colossal lake at the foot of the hill she was resting on. A figure rose from behind the hill and came bounding up the rather steep incline towards her.
“Need a hand Haylie?” and with that a hand reached out, Haylie grasped it and was hauled to her feet. Haylie’s clothes were no longer wet but felt as if they had just been washed and dry-cleaned, and they seemed to hug her with that feeling you get when you take a warm jumper off of the radiator after it's been raining.
The woman standing before Haylie wore clothes like none she had ever seen before; she wore a dark green cloak with a diamond broche that caught the sun every time she moved, a white dress that trailed to the ground, decorated with silver braiding and hand sewn silver flowers, and a brown embroidered waistcoat, to Haylie she looked like a character from one of her childhood fairytale books.
"Where am I?” said a more than slightly perplexed Haylie.
"You are in the land of Lardinia Haylie" was the mystical woman's reply.
"Ok. So who are you and where on Earth is Lardinia?"
"Lardinia isn't part of your Earth Haylie" She replied
"Sorry but can you please stop using my name it's freaking me out!" She said slightly breathlessly as she attempted to process all that was occurring.
Haylie lowered herself back onto the grass beneath her in an attempt to come to terms with what was actually going on, the strange woman sat beside her.
"My name is Elera, I'm an enchantress"
"You mean with like magic spell and that?"
"Yes, with magic spells and that!"
“So how did I get here? I was in a cave a few moments ago" she held he hand out, palm facing the beautifully blue sky, "and it was raining ”
“Do all you mortals ask so many questions?” Elera sighed, a hint of annoyance in her tone, “there is a prophesy, that an other-worlder will come and lead a rebel army against the power of Morgant and put an end to Merdock’s evil rule over our once peaceful lands and restore that peace to our world.”
“What’s a Merdock?” Haylie asked
“Merdock and his apprentice Madelia are powerful sorcerers who have been ruling Lardinia for almost a century with no intention of listening to any of the inhabitants of the land; they live in an impenetrable castle inside Mount Morgant, a volcano that has been dormant for centuries. Welcome to Lardinia.” was Elera’s answer.
“Thanks! So you expect me to do what? Save you all from this evil Merdock person by myself?” Haylie asked slightly puzzled.
“I have sworn many oaths to protect Lardinia. I will fight to whatever end.”
“But why did you choose me, that prophesy didn’t say a name anywhere” Haylie argued.
“I didn’t chose you, you were the one who went into the cave and touched the stone that brought you here and by doing so you were woven into the prophesy” she explained.
“So what if I don’t want to do this?” snapped Haylie
Elera pointed one pale finger at Haylie’s chest and a golden locket appeared suspended from a thin, delicate chain.
“Open the locket and it will return you to exactly where and when you came from but before you do just stay and help for a bit will you?” Elera appealed
“Fine but just for a while if things get weird I’m out of here” Elera could tell that this was the end of the conversation and so they pressed on down the relatively small hill which Elera informed Haylie was known rather charmingly as the sun spot. They walked off in the direction of a small forest of large and ancient oaks whose branches almost seemed to part as the two girls strolled past
The two girls walked through the creaking trees until Elera spotted an earth brown, owl up on a high branch in an oak tree. He just sat there looking at them, his speckled feathers fluttering in a sudden breeze, ruffling them to reveal the soft downy grey beneath; then Elera broke the silence in a cheery voice
“Good morning Rafael having a pleasant day?”
“My dear Elera you know you can dispense with the pleasantries, I’m no longer your professor but it is good to see you again.” replied the owl.
"Wow!" Haylie was stunned, "that owl, it just spoke, Elera that owl is speaking!"
"I know Haylie! He used to be my tutor when I was little."
"Pleasure to make your acquaintance Haylie" Haylie just made a sort of high pitched noise of shock in reply but Elera soon snapped her out of her trance as she continues her conversation.
"I used to live in a village around here but it was destroyed some time ago now" Elera hung her head in remembrance.
"Merdock's rise to power was a sad time for all of Lardinia, many lost their homes and worse" Rafael interjected solemnly, "I presume you have come to me for a far more urgent reason than to say a mere hello Elera."
“Afraid so, we need to find the sword of Ventura, Rafael” explained Elera
“Well no one has asked me about the sword of visions, as it is more commonly known, for more than fifty years."
"But do you know where it is?" Elera asked urgently.
"Well the sword was hidden in a cave near the mountains, to prevent it from falling into the wrong hands when Merdock came to power, but it has long since been removed by a fearful dragon named Dracon the ancient warrior. He took the sword east to an old abandoned watch tower, where he keeps it as the crown jewel of his treasures.” Was the historical answer, Rafael was a professor after all.
“Ok” Haylie stammered, getting over her previous shock. “So how do we get to the sword without being burnt to a crisp by a dragon? Wait did he say dragon?”
"Yes Haylie, dragons are real you know!" Elera giggled slightly to herself.
"First talking birds, now dragons, I swear I must be dreaming!" She pinched herself just to be sure.
“You must seek out the dragon tamer Ringmore Rider, one of the last known tamers left, the rest were captured and taken to Merdock and taught to fight for him as his own band of knights.” Replied Rafael
“Thank you Dr Rafael, just one more question where do we find Ringmore?” asked Haylie