Sir Lochlan Mayes’s breaths were coming hard as he bent over in the stifling heat scorching the city streets of Goldenshore. It had been especially hot this summer on the coast of the Southern Sea, and today was no different. Lochlan put his hands on his knees, watching the sweat drip off of the tip of his nose onto the cobblestone below. He grimaced and looked up just in time to see the princess turn the corner onto another street.
“Sorcha!” he called out as he started after her again.
As Lochlan rounded the corner he could see the young princess many paces ahead, dodging between the carts and wagons filtering through the street. Cursing under his breath, he continued after her. He could see the city folk out of the corner of his eyes, laughing and pointing with amused smiles. It was an utter embarrassment. Lochlan was a revered knight who had commanded armies in the Great War. And here he was chasing a small girl, who at twelve summers was just fast enough to elude his aging strides.
“Sorcha, stop this instant!” he yelled again. “Your father will hear of this!”
He knew that was a lie. If there was one person in the whole kingdom of Andara that Lochlan didn’t want to anger, it was King Marcas Goldenshore. He would have Lochlan’s head for this if anything ill should befall his only daughter. The daughter I was sworn to protect, Lochlan thought as he barreled out into a street crossing.
The scream of a horse drew Lochlan’s attention away from the princess. He turned his head just in time to see a rearing mare kick its front hoof into his shoulder. He fell hard onto the street and rolled over just as the wagon that the horse was pulling rolled over his ankle. Lochlan let out a scream of his own as he heard his ankle crunch under the weight of the wagon. Without a word of worry the man leading the wagon quickly snapped the reigns and was off again, leaving Lochlan in the street, grasping at his already swelling ankle.
“Solton curse you,” Lochlan said between gritted teeth, evoking the wrath of the king of gods. He pushed himself to his feet, remembering the princess. But one step later he fell again. Wincing, he dragged himself to the other side of the street and set himself against the Copper Mug, a tavern frequented by the nobles of Goldenshore.
“You there,” Lochlan called out to a youth walking the street. The boy gave Lochlan a dismissive look and kept on his way.
“Stop this instant, boy!” Lochlan called. “In the name of Marcas Goldenshore, your king, you will come here this instant.”
The boy stopped and turned to regard Lochlan, but did not come closer. The lad couldn’t have been more than fourteen summers, if Lochlan had to guess. The light brown hair coming out of his worn leather cap hung just past the shoulders of his tattered tunic. He looked like a beggar, which was odd to Lochlan. Most beggars didn’t come to this part of the city.
“What do you want?” the boy asked impatiently.
“I need your help,” Lochlan replied.
“Can’t say I’m really in the helpin’ mood, mister.”
“Your king needs your help, boy.”
His light-blue eyes narrowed. “Can’t really say that changes my mind much.”
“Don’t make me call the city watch after you,” Lochlan threatened, wincing again at the pulsing pain in his ankle.
“I’ve escaped the city watch plenty of times. Go ahead and call them. Besides, what’s in it for me if I help you?”
Lochlan looked down the street, knowing the princess was getting further away. He wiped the sweat from his brow.
“One gold piece,” Lochlan said after a moment.
“Five gold pieces,” the boy replied instantly.
“Five golds!” Lochlan stammered. “You must be mad! Two golds. No more.”
“Two,” Lochlan reaffirmed sternly.
“For Solton’s sake, boy, I’ll give you two golds to help me and that is all.”
The boy looked Lochlan over for a few moments.
“How do I know you’re good for it?” he asked.
Lochlan sighed. “I’m a knight in the Princess’s Guard. My word is my honor.”
“I’ve seen knights do bad things before. Most I’ve seen don’t have any honor.”
“Very well, boy. Three golds. Three golds if you help me.”
“Swear on your father’s grave,” the boy said.
“My father still lives, but I’ll swear on my mother’s.”
“I swear on my mother’s grave that I will give you three golds if you help me.”
“Help you with what?” the boy asked.
“I’m chasing a girl through the city. She is very important to me, and if anything ill should happen to her, I’d be in a very uncompromising position.”
“Very bad things would happen to me.”
“And it’s worth three golds to you?”
“Yes. Now will you help me?”
“Where is this girl?” the boy asked.
“The last I saw she was running down that street,” Lochlan replied pointing. “She has long, blonde hair. It comes down to the middle of her back. She’s wearing a light-green dress that matches her eyes. I need you to find her and bring her back to the castle somehow. If you have to ask the city watch to pick her up and drag her back to the castle, then so be it. Tell them that Sir Lochlan Mayes has given his permission to do so. They will help you.”
“I will find this girl for you,” the boy answered confidently. “Where can I claim my reward?”
“Come back here to the Copper Mug when you have safely returned her to the castle, and I will give you your three golds. Now be off! She is running for the city gates, I have no doubt.”
The boy started up the street. Lochlan watched him go for a moment before he reached down to his ankle. It was broken. There was no doubt about that. He grimaced as he touched it through his boot. Somehow he was going to have to get back to the castle. From there he could tell the other men in Sorcha’s guard she had escaped again and set them out to find her. He knew the young boy wouldn’t be able to bring Sorcha back, but at least he might be able to divert her long enough for his men to find her. Lochlan called out to the next wagon that passed. He would need a ride back to the castle.
* * *
Colt looked back at the aging knight sitting against the Copper Mug, touching his wounded ankle. The knight’s brownish-blond hair and beard were speckled with white. Sir Lochlan, he thought. He slightly remembered the knight from when he was younger, before he had been put out on the streets. If truth be told, Colt didn’t want to help Sir Lochlan. Not that he had anything against the knight in particular, but the man whom he worked for was a different story. He hated King Goldenshore and it tore him apart to be helping that evil man in any way. But three golds were three golds, no matter which way you went about it. And Solton knew Colt needed three golds.
Colt turned his brisk walk into a dead sprint at the thought of the golds. He would find whoever this girl was and bring her back to the castle. And he’d do so without the help of the City Watch. Piss on the City Watch, he thought, remembering how they had hunted his family. The sight of long, golden-blonde hair brought his thoughts back to the task at hand. The hair hung well past the shoulders of a light-green dress. The girl didn’t seem to be in a hurry, although she was constantly looking behind her. This is going to be easier than I thought, Colt mused. He could already feel the gold coins weighing down his pocket. He slowed to a trot as he neared the girl.
“Hullo there,” he called out. “May I have a word?”
“If you can catch me!” she yelled, bolting down the next street.
Colt didn’t smile much these days, but a small smirk grazed his face as he chased after the girl. To his delight, she was much faster than he would have thought. His eye never left the girl as he weaved through the street peddlers and beggars. Before long they made their way into the poorer part of the city. Colt’s cap flipped back off of his head, but he let it go. He’d be able to afford plenty more of them once the girl was safely back in the castle. Colt diverted his route down a narrow alley as he saw the girl turn a corner up ahead of him. The alley cut diagonally in the same direction she was heading. He came to the end of the alley just as the girl passed him on the main street. He turned the corner just behind her. After a few more strides he dove and tripped her up by her legs, sending them both tumbling to the ground. They sat up at the same time and looked at each other. For the first time, Colt noticed how beautiful she was.
“That was most unkind!” the girl said, rubbing her elbow.
Colt stood up. “You told me to try and catch you,” he replied, shrugging his shoulders. “And I did, so now you will come with me.” He offered his hand. She refused and stood on her own.
“Come with you where?” she asked, wiping off her dress.
“To the castle.”
“I can’t go there.”
“You can. I’ve been told so. We’ll be let in.”
“I can be let in whenever I want,” the girl said, folding her arms.
“Not everyone can get past the castle gates, trust me,” Colt replied.
“I live in the castle, you dolt. I can get in without you. But I’m not going back.”
“You live in the castle?” Colt asked, confused.
She rolled her eyes. But Colt started to work it through his head. Lochlan had said he was a knight in the Princess’s Guard. Who else would he be desperately chasing through the streets? Colt thumped himself on the forehead. He should have known!
“You’re the princess!” he said a little too loudly.
“Shush!” she replied.
“You hear that, Farren?” an older boy said on the other side of the street. Colt and Sorcha both turned their heads quickly. The boy’s faded gray tunic hung loose on his skinny frame. He smiled to show his brown teeth. The fuzzy attempt at a moustache above his lip was almost comical. “We’re in the presence of royalty.”
“Yah I heard it, Vardan,” the other youth said. He was tall and muscular for his age. “You wantin’ us to wipe yer arse there, little princess?”
“Just leave me alone,” the princess said.
“Only one princess I know round there parts,” Vardan said. “So you must be Sorcha.”
“Ain’t as pretty as she’s made out to be,” Farren said. “Although I ain’t gonna mind being her first,” he added, grabbing himself and laughing.
“Leave her be,” Colt said levelly.
“Aw, ain’t that sweet,” Vardan replied. “Her little hero!”
“Stand out of the way, little boy,” Farren said, walking towards Sorcha.
“I’m not a little boy,” Colt said, stepping between the princess and Farren. Farren went to backhand Colt, but he ducked and hit Farren where he knew it would hurt the most; between the legs. Farren cried out in pain and fell to the ground, clutching his manhood. Colt smirked at the sight of him squirming on the street. But his triumph was short-lived, as Vardan struck him in the back of the head, sending him to the ground next to Farren. Colt didn’t have time to turn around before Vardan was on top of him. He grabbed Colt’s hair and lifted his head before smashing his face into the street. Pain exploded in Colt’s nose and tears instantly came to his eyes. By then, Farren had stood and delivered a hard kick to Colt’s side, rolling him over onto his back. Colt looked up at the sky as he tried to catch his breath. Farren and Vardan stood over him, looking down with mocking grins.
“You won’t be a hero today, weakling,” Vardan said before smashing his heel into Colt’s face, knocking the back of his head onto the street. Colt could barely hear the princess’s screams through the ringing in his ears as his world turned black.
* * *
A light humming woke Colt from his painful slumber. The tune was pleasant enough, but Colt wished it would stop. The pounding in his head was fierce. He opened his eyes and squinted. The sun was still high in the sky. He let out a moan and rolled over.
“Ah, the mystery boy awakes,” he heard a voice say.
Colt sat up, rubbing the back of his head. He touched his nose gingerly, but the light touch was enough to make him wince. He looked over to see the source of the humming. An old man with bright white hair and bushy white eyebrows was bent over a cane only a few paces away. His hair was tied behind his head and extremely thick, which surprised Colt being that the man looked so old.
“Looks like you’ve had a misfortune,” the old man continued with a smile.
Colt felt his bloody snot draining down his throat and hacked it out onto the street. “Who are you?” he asked. “And what do you want? I’m done giving favors for the day, if that’s what you’re looking for.”
“No favors needed, young man,” he replied. “My name is Arius. And I happened to come across you lying in the street. I thought I’d wait until you woke to make sure you were all right.”
“Yes, I’m fine. Now if you’ll leave me alone….”
“I meant no harm, lad. I heard some screams and came as fast as my old legs would carry me.”
“You heard the screams?” Colt asked, looking around.
“Did you see where they took the princess?”
“The princess?” Arius said. “This is certainly getting interesting. What were you doing here with the princess?”
“I was charged by Sir Lochlan Mayes to return her to the castle.”
“Were you now?”
“Yes. And I was about to when two ruffians took her. I tried to fight them, but wasn’t strong enough,” Colt said, lowering his head in shame.
“Don’t fret, young lad, you may still find her, but not without help.”
“What help can I get? I’m nobody in this city. At least not anymore.”
“Sometimes being nobody is a good thing. Trust me in that, young man.”
“If you say so.”
“I do,” Arius replied, smiling wider to show his full set of teeth. This is certainly an odd fellow, Colt thought to himself. Most old men he’d met had few teeth, if any at all.
“And it would be good if you remembered that,” the old man continued. He looked at Colt for a long time, his crimson eyes thoughtful and piercing at the same time. “The princess is very important to the future of the kingdom,” the old man finally said. “Sir Lochlan can’t fathom the burden he has laid upon you. You will need my help. It’s imperative that she returns safely to the castle.”
“What help can you offer me?” Colt asked skeptically, looking at Arius drooping over his cane.
“Wait for a moment,” the old man said, turning to the side. Colt watched in fascination as a small mouse climbed up Arius’s cane and up onto his shoulder. The mouse tweaked and twittered for a moment by Arius’s ear as the old man nodded his head. He turned to face Colt again.
“Are you able to walk?” he asked Colt.
“Yes,” Colt replied.
Colt followed Arius through the city at a pace that was surprising. It didn’t appear that Arius needed the help of his cane in the slightest, although the stick was tapping the street with every step. Arius’s old woolen cloak was wrapped around his body even though the heat was stifling, yet the old man wasn’t breaking a sweat. Colt’s curiosity over the man was piqued as he followed. The princess was still on his mind as well. He hoped nothing ill had befallen her. For my gold’s sake, he told himself, half believing it.
The smell of dead fish began to fill Colt’s nose. He looked at his surroundings, which had diminished considerably. Lost were the timber and stone structures of the inner-city. Instead, the houses and buildings looked like they’d blow over at the slightest wind.
“The docks,” Colt said. “Why are we going to the docks?”
“That’s where your princess is.”
“She’s your princess too,” Colt replied.
“Is she now?” Arius said, smiling wryly.
“How do you know she’s by the docks?”
Arius chuckled. He stopped a few paces later and pointed toward the docks.
“She’s in the ship house on the last dock,” he said. “Be careful, Colt.”
“How do you know my name?”
“I know much about this city,” Arius said. “But that will have to wait for another time. You need to rescue your princess now.”
“You’re not coming with me?” Colt asked.
“No lad, you’ll have to do this on your own. Besides, what help would an old man like me be?” he said, tapping his cane and smiling. “Go now.”
Without another word, Colt walked cautiously toward the ship house. The timber structure appeared to be leaning, ready at any moment to fall into the sea below. A muffled scream from within sent Colt into a run. He slowed as he came to the dock, tip-toeing across the old planks toward the ship house.
“My father will kill you!” he heard the princess yell.
“Your pap ain’t gonna even know where to look,” he heard in response. “Take a good look out that window. You’re by the docks, little wench. King Marcas ain’t been down by these docks his whole life.”
“Ain’t nobody gonna look for you swimmin’ with the fishes,” Colt heard the other say.
Colt leaned against the building near the door, which was slightly open. He heard Sorcha crying inside and peered through the crack in the door. The dock ran along the left side of the ship house, butting against the wall. The right side of the ship house was wide and lofty, completely open to the water below. No ships were within, although a few rowboats hung randomly from the side of the dock. Colt saw Farren and Vardan standing near the princess, poking at her with harpoon spears while she was tied to one of the dock posts. The rope was coiled around her waist and arms, leaving her unable to move.
“Let’s see what you look like under that dress,” Vardan said, tearing the fabric with his spear. The princess tried to protest, but Farren hit her with the end of his spear, knocking her unconscious.
A rage filled Colt that he hadn’t felt since his parents had died. He grabbed a small forked anchor from the side of the building and threw open the door. Vardan and Farren turned at the intrusion.
“Look here, Farren,” Vardan said with a laugh, “the little hero has come back.”
“Ain’t that romantic,” Farren replied.
“Seems like he’s willing to die for this little wench.”
“Let’s kill him then,” Farren said.
“Yes, let’s kill him.”
They walked toward Colt, each with a harpoon spear in hand. Farren reared back and threw his at Colt. Colt had just enough time to lunge aside, but lost his footing and fell into a small rowboat hanging over the dock. He heard the youths above him laughing when suddenly a strong hand grabbed the back of his tunic and lifted him out of the boat, slamming him down onto the dock.
“Let’s cut him up,” Vardan said.
Colt felt another hand grab him, but at that moment Colt spun around, swinging the anchor wildly. Vardan’s eyes went wide as two of the anchor prongs pierced his neck. His eyebrows furrowed in confusion as he let out a low grunt and fell to his knees. Everything was so silent that Colt heard Vardan’s last breath escape his lips as he fell, face first onto the dock. His lifeblood began to stain the old wooden planks. Farren and Colt looked at each other, both too surprised to react.
Finally Farren screamed in rage. “You will die, you little whelp!” He picked up Vardan’s spear and swung it at Colt. Colt ducked, but Farren kicked him hard in the stomach, sending him reeling against the wall of the ship house. Farren’s chest was heaving as he closed on Colt. “I’m going to kill you slowly, boy. I may even keep you alive while I have your little whore.”
Colt rose to his knees and tried to crawl away, but Farren stomped on his back, sending Colt’s face into the dock. The pain reawakened in Colt’s nose. He rolled over to look at Farren, but tears blurred his vision again. Farren put his foot on Colt’s chest and pinned him to the dock. He lowered the end of his spear and cut a gash into Colt’s cheek. Colt cringed and grabbed Farren’s leg, trying to move it, but Farren’s hold was too strong. Colt could feel the blood dripping down his cheek already. He quickly wiped the tears from his eyes to get a better look at Farren, whose expression was terrifying.
“I’m gonna have some fun with you,” Farren said. “How long have you been waitin’ to get into the princess’s skirt?” He laughed wildly. “Waiting for so long and now you’re going to see me have her first. How’s that going to feel, little weakling? Maybe she’ll moan for me, aye? Maybe she’ll –”
But those were the last words from Farren’s mouth. A harpoon spear smashed into his face, piercing the bottom of his nose and splitting his lips. The spear hit him with such force that it lifted him off of the dock and sent him falling into the water below. Colt heard the splash moments later.
Colt sat up and hacked more blood onto the dock. He turned around. Arius was standing in the doorway of the ship house.
“That one should learn to watch his mouth,” the old man said.
“Arius!” Colt yelled.
“A good lesson for you to learn, young Colt. Now let’s untie the princess, eh?”
Colt scrambled to his feet and followed Arius to the princess. The old man cut her bonds and rested her gently on the dock.
“Stay here and watch over her until she wakes. It shouldn’t be long.”
“You’re not staying?” Colt asked.
“No, she is your responsibility. Lochlan laid this task onto you, lad. Tell them you did the task on your own, without help. Your three golds won’t be denied. It will be our little secret,” he said with a wink. He started down the dock again.
“Who are you?” Colt called to him in wonder.
He smiled as he looked back to Colt. “I’m a friend. We’ll be seeing each other soon enough. Don’t worry.”
With that, Arius turned and left the ship house with the help of his cane. By the time Colt could no longer hear his cane taps, the princess started to wake.
“What happened?” she asked, looking up at Colt. “How did you get here? Where are those two?” She sat up, looking around frantically.
Colt grasped her shoulders. “Calm yourself, princess! They have been dealt with. Let’s leave this place and get you back to the castle.”
“How did you find me?” the princess asked as they walked out of the ship house.
“I followed you,” Colt lied.
“What took you so long to help? They were toying with me for so long!”
“I’m sorry, I was… delayed.”
Colt looked for Arius, but saw no sign of the old man.
“Can you make it back to the castle?” he asked, looking back to Sorcha.
“Yes, and thank you for saving me,” she said, grabbing Colt’s hand. “I owe you my life,” she said.
“You owe me nothing,” Colt said, remembering the three golds that were promised to him. The first thing he would buy was a bath. He cringed at the thought of how he must smell. And in front of a princess no less!
Sorcha reached over and kissed him on the cheek. Colt pulled his hand away and scratched the back of his head, unsure of what to do. He smiled sheepishly.
“Who are you?” Sorcha asked. “What is your name?”
“My name is Colt.”
“Yes, I know,” Colt replied with a smile.
“What is your family name?” the princess asked.
Colt’s smile faded. He kept his silence as he looked out over the sea.
“Surely you must have family,” Sorcha insisted.
Colt turned and looked at Sorcha. “My family is dead,” he replied.
“I’m sorry,” Sorcha said after a moment’s silence. Colt nodded in response.
“What was your family’s name?” she prodded.
His mouth firmed before he let out a sigh. “I am of the Raegant family.”
Sorcha gasped. “The Raegant family? That means… you’re of nobility! The Raegants were nobility here in Goldenshore before–” But the princess faltered.
“Before your father labeled them traitors and had them killed,” Colt finished for her.
Sorcha bowed her head as they walked in silence through the rest of the city. The gates of Castle Goldenshore came into view as day turned to dusk.
“Colt?” Sorcha said, breaking their long silence.
“Yes?” he replied.
“I am truly sorry for your loss. I know my father can be a bad man sometimes.”
“I know it’s not of your doing,” Colt replied.
They stood together for a moment outside the castle walls.
“Why did you help me today?” Sorcha asked.
“I was charged by Sir Lochlan to find you and bring you back to the castle.”
“I should have known,” Sorcha replied.
“Why were you fleeing him?” Colt asked.
“I have friends outside the city walls that I never get to see. My father won’t allow it. He says it’s too soon after the war for me to be outside the castle walls. But I hate being cooped up in the castle. It’s fun to get out and run. And even more fun watching Sir Lochlan chase after me.”
They both laughed.
“How old are you?” Sorcha asked.
“I’ve seen thirteen summers. You?”
“You are beautiful,” Colt blurted out, not knowing why he would say such an absurd thing.
The princess smiled shyly and blushed.
“I’m sorry,” Colt said, blushing himself. He wiped his sweaty palms on his tunic. Most times Colt was unaffected by girls, but something was different about Sorcha. “I was out of line,” he continued.
“No, it’s quite all right, Colt. Will you follow me into the castle?”
“I’d better not,” Colt replied. “The king thinks all of my family has been killed. If he finds out otherwise, I’m sure he’ll have my head too.”
“Not if I talk to him,” Sorcha said.
“I’d rather not take any chances.”
“I’ll speak to my uncle Philip for you. He’ll understand more than my father will.”
“I mean it! I will!”
“I believe you,” Colt replied, taking her hand.
Sorcha looked down, smiling shyly. “Did Lochlan not offer you some sort of reward?”
“And you will not come to claim it?” she asked, looking up to Colt.
Colt thought for a moment. “I’ve a better idea,” he said, pulling the princess closer in embrace.
* * *
Sir Lochlan set his crutch against the wall outside of Princess Sorcha’s room. Her empty room, he thought grimly. He had sent his fellow guardsmen into the city to find Sorcha, yet none had returned with her as of yet. The city of Goldenshore was the largest in the kingdom of Andara, and darkness had now taken the land. He didn’t want to think of the trouble the princess may be in at the moment. He had let her get away. After chasing after and catching her so many times, he had finally failed. Lochlan had known his old age would catch up with him sooner or later, but he never thought it would be this soon. And to make matters worse, his ankle was broken, forcing him to walk about with a crutch. Like an invalid, he thought sourly.
Lochlan turned to take his position next to Sorcha’s door. He peered down the long hallway that led from Princess Sorcha’s chamber. At any moment he expected King Marcas to appear from around the corner, demand his daughter, and have his guards behead him on the spot when he discovered she was missing.
Lochlan strained his eyes in the dim torchlight. And then they went wide. Someone was coming, but it wasn’t the king. It was someone much smaller.
“Can it be?” he muttered out loud, daring to hope. “Sorcha!” he called out, ignoring the pain in his ankle as he limped toward her. “Sorcha, is that you?”
“Yes, Sir Lochlan,” she called. “It’s me.”
“Dear child, it is you. I’ve been worried to death about you! Do you realize the agony you have caused me today, young lady?”
“I’m sorry, Sir Lochlan. I didn’t mean to be so long. I won’t ever run off again, I promise.”
“Somehow, I don’t believe that,” Lochlan said. “Which one of my men brought you back? I shall double his commission.”
“Colt brought me back,” Sorcha replied wistfully.
“Colt? Who in Solton’s name is Colt?”
“The honorable young man you appointed to bring me back.”
Lochlan’s eyes went wide with wonder. “He brought you back?”
“Yes sir,” she said with a smile.
Lochlan looked further down the hall. “Well, where is he?”
“He didn’t want to come into the castle.”
“He didn’t?” Lochlan asked, confused, remembering how adamant the boy had been about his three golds. “Ah,” Lochlan started with a smile, nodding his head. “Now, I remember. I am to meet him at the Copper Mug, aren’t I?”
“No, he said to keep the reward you had offered him. He said to tell you he received something of much higher value.”
“Did he now? And what would that be?”
“I gave him three single locks of my hair,” Sorcha replied, grinning widely.
Lochlan scratched his head. “Odd lad, that boy is,” he muttered.
“Anyway, you are relieved, Sir Lochlan. Uncle Philip is coming to my chambers. I need to discuss something of importance with him.”
“Very well, young lady. You are lucky to be back at the castle.”
She hugged him at her door, and Lochlan watched her walk into her room. Her golden blonde hair wisped behind her and was the last thing he saw. Lochlan grabbed his crutch and headed down the hall.
“Three locks of hair,” he mumbled out loud. He stopped and furrowed his brow for a moment before throwing his head back and barking out a relieved laugh. He shook his head, smiling widely. “Golden blonde hair.” he repeated. “Three gold pieces! That little whelp did get his three golds.”
About the Author: Brock L. Noel is a 28-year-old Michigan native. He currently lives with his wonderful fiance and their misbehaving dog, Renly. He has written an epic fantasy novel titled Kingdom of Darkness, which is to be his first book in the Kingdom of Andara series. His short story Three Gold Pieces takes place in the same world as his novel, only set 10 years prior.
Story (c) 2009 by Brock L. Noel firstname.lastname@example.org
About the Artist: Romeo Esparrago is the greatest artist in the history of the Planet (Magazine).
Illustration (c) 2009 by Romeo Esparrago