The Stones of Bragh
"You have ten seconds to get out of bed or I’m getting your little brother to pour a pail of water on your head!”
Salna hated mornings. She was a night owl through and through. She enjoyed staying up until the wee hours of the morning reading a good book or silently staring at the starry sky. Mornings meant she would have to face the blaring sun, the noise from town, and worst of all work.
Salna was at the age where she was too old to spend her days playing with her friends, but too young to be out working on her own. Instead, Salna helped her mother. Salna came from a long line of bakers. Her mother, her mother’s father, and her mother’s father’s mother had all been bakers, a skill which Salna lacked. Her mother had tried to teach her how to bake the beautiful cakes and pastries that the family sold, but Salna would always become too distracted and leave the baking in the ovens for too long; resulting in a smoky kitchen and unsellable goods.
Salna preferred delivering her mother’s goods to baking, but still despised the routine. She would much rather be exploring the forest, or climbing trees. Delivering bread was monotonous and lacked excitement. The only deliveries Salna enjoyed were to Saal, who always invited her in for tea and stories.
“Salna, I need you to take these biscuits to Mrs. Plough, she’s having a lady’s lunch and needs them immediately. After that I need you to deliver this load of bread to Saal. Don’t stay at Saal’s too long, I need you back to help close up the store.” Salna’s mother gave her instructions as she rushed around the tiny kitchen located in the back of the bakery. Salna’s mother did not look up from her work as she gave Salna her instructions. If she had she would have seen Salna roll her eyes and steal a strawberry tart before setting off on her deliveries.
As Salna stepped out of the warm bakery into the cool streets she looked up towards the castle. Since she was a young girl she had dreamed of being in the castle. She did not dream of being a princess like her younger cousins Flo and Sar, instead she dreamed of being a daring knight. Salna wanted nothing more in life than to go on a grand adventure. To face danger, to fight monsters, and to discover treasure. Life in village was terribly boring, and Salna felt she was destined for more.
Mrs. Plough’s house was not too far from the bakery. Salna quickly made her way to Mrs. Plough’s cottage so that she would have more time to spend with Saal. After delivering the biscuits to Mrs. Plough Salna ran down the alley that bordered Mrs. Plough’s cottage, a shortcut she had recently discovered.
At the end of the alley Salna took a quick right and then a quick left to cross over the old wooden bridge that connected the two sides of the village. Saal lived in an apartment above the blacksmith’s, just up the road.
Salna neared Saal’s apartment, she sniffed the familiar smell of the blacksmith’s fires. She loved this part of town. It was where the knights, from the castle, were often found buying new weapons or drinking in the tavern.
You could access Saal’s apartment from a set of stairs located in the alley behind the blacksmith’s shop. The stairs were looked old, but were sturdy and could support great weights. Salna bounded up the stairs, two steps at a time and knocked on Saal’s door. She could hear Saal slowly make his way towards the door, where he then proceeded to unlock the multiple locks that he had installed to keep intruders out.
“Saal, no one is going to break into your apartment. You don’t have anything of value! You don’t need all those locks. Hurry up, I have your bread and I don’t have much time for story.” Salna stamped her hooves impatiently.
The door creaked open revealing a small, one room apartment with little furnishings. A small bed sat in one corner, while the other corner was taken up by a wood burning stove. Beneath the window was an ancient chest, which Salna assumed housed Saal’s clothes, with two plush chairs sitting on either side.
Salna made her way over to her usual chair and placed Saal’s loaf of bread upon the chest. She plopped herself down into the chair, allowing the cushions to engulf her. Saal slowly made his way towards the other chair and sarcastically said, “Go ahead, sit, please, don’t wait for me to offer.”
Just as Saal made himself comfortable Salna excitedly asked, “What’s today’s story about? A fire breathing Draik? A giant Chomby?”
“No,” Saal started, “today’s story is something much more exciting. It’s the story of the Stones of Bragh.”
“The Stones of Bragh? Those sound boring.” Salna sighed.
“Oh my dear girl, these are not your regular old stones. The Stones of Bragh are three ancient stones, that each bear great power.”
“Tell me more!” Salna leaned close enough to Saal where she could smell his breakfast of garlic eggs on his breath.
“A thousand years ago there was a great wizard named Bragh who was a trusted advisor, and dear friend, of Castalia, the Queen of Meridell. It was Bragh’s job to help the queen in making many of the important decisions that affected the kingdom. He also led the Meridell army to many victories. It was Bragh’s wisdom, courage, and magic that allowed Castalia a long and peaceful reign. However, after Castalia passed there was a period of unrest in Meridell. While her son, Dorian, tried hard to maintain peace, he could not.”
Salna stared at Saal eyes wide, “What happened?”
“An evil wizard named Petrina came to the kingdom with her army of Skeith’s. Petrina’s magic rivaled Bragh’s, and her army was evenly matched with Meridell’s army. The two sides warred for many months with neither giving in. With no end in sight, Bragh made a decision. He performed a magic spell that embued three ordinary stones with great magical powers. He did this and gifted each of the stones to three of Meridell’s greatest warriors.”
Salna sat listening intently as Saal continued his story, “The first stone allowed the holder the ability to control nature, this meant all simple creatures and plants bent to the will of the warrior. The second allowed the warrior who held it the ability to temporarily immobilize anybody with a simple touch. The third, and perhaps the most useful in the fight against Petrina, allowed the one who held it the ability of transformation.”
“They sound amazing!” Salna said as she gripped the solid arms of the chair.
“The first warrior used her control over nature to strengthen Meridell’s defenses. Trees with trunks the size of King Skarl’s belly grew in front of the castle. The forest creatures also came to Meridell’s aid, bringing much need supplies into the castle and attacking the invading Skeiths. The second warrior used his stone to immobilize the invaders. As he touched them, their bodies went slack and they fell to the ground. The Meridell knights quickly gathered their immobilized foes and imprisoned them. Finally, the third knight used her stone to turn into a copy of Petrina. The remainder of Petrina’s army was so confused that Meridell’s knights were able to quickly deal with them. While the stones were to be used to defeat Petrina and her army, casting the spell has also eft Bragh weak. Petrina was defeated, but so was Bragh”
“What happened to Bragh?” Salna questioned.
“Nobody knows. He disappeared soon after, as did the three stones. Pretina was gone, and Meridell was once again at peace. Anyways, I’m tired. Go home.” Saal rose from his chair abruptly and made his way towards his wood burning stove.
Salna made her way towards the door looking back at Saal, “Thanks for the story Saal. I wish my life could be as exciting as the characters in your stories.”
That night Salna lay in her bed reimagining Saal’s story. She slowly drifted off to sleep where she would dream about being one of the warriors, using a stone to help defeat Petrina and her army.
Across the village Saal opened his trunk and carefully lifted out three packages wrapped in old brown cloth. He slowly unwrapped each one to reveal three glowing stones.