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Perilous journey has happy ending in perfect harmony

"Where are you taking me?" Tara called to the man in the hooded cloak. "Away from here, it's your father's bidding," was his reply as he led her down the streets of Drysle. "My father's bidding? You've heard from him?! They told me he was dead, died from a dragon attack. But you've heard from him!" "Not so loud!" he hissed back. "But you've heard, right?" "Yes, I've heard from him," he grimly replied. "What's wrong? He's not dead, is he? Oh God, let him be alive; say he's alive!" "Come on, hurry up. We're almost out of the town." The gates of Drysle were visible, and soon, Tara would be the farthest away from home she'd ever been. Tears stung her eyes, but she bit her lip and held them back. She never once looked behind her. The two ran on until they reached the edge of the forest. That's where Tara stopped.
"I'm not going in there," she stated. "Why not? My wife's in there waiting for you, and she and the kids are making the rest of the journey with us." "It's haunted. Haven't you heard the stories?" "Oh, that's all lies. Never trust the legends." And with that, the man took Tara by the hand and led her into the Forest of Nyru. About half a mile into the forest was a cave worn into the ground under the large roots of an oak tree. There they found a dirty woman sitting around a fire with a pair of twins on her lap: a boy and a girl, both around the age of four. The woman looked up and exclaimed, "Oh, Will! You're safe! And you must be young Tara. Your father told us all about you. It's a pleasure to meet you in..." "Sarah, don't scare the girl. She's already confused enough. I think some explaining is due after the kids fall asleep." After sharing a few sausage links cooked over the small fire, the twins, Mable and Jonathan, were fast asleep. Sarah and Will sat on one side of the fire, each with a child in their lap, while Tara sat opposite and stared out into the forest with vigilant eyes. "Well," Will began. "We first met your father in the kingdom of Byrrimer..." "Byrrimer!" Tara interrupted. "I've heard of that place, but I never believed it existed! They say its walls are made of gold, and the streets are lined with jewels, millions of them! But I've never met anyone who's actually been there. They say that certain people are chosen to travel there, like high priests and elves, is that true? What was it like?" "Like a dream," Sarah said. "There were nobles everywhere, and the rich helped the poor, and everyone lived in perfect harmony. And yes, there were high priests along with the elves." "Your father called on us to find you and bring you to the kingdom of Byrrimer," Will said. "He wants to keep you safe." "Safe? From what?" "From the evil of the world, Tara. There is so much danger, especially for a girl like you with a father like yours." "My father? But how could he be important? He was just a serf on Lord Gallaway's land. He had neither money nor power." "But he was important. He taught things no one else could, helped people in ways others couldn't dream of doing." "Oh, this is all going in one ear and out the other. It makes no sense and I'm quite confused and tired. Maybe if I sleep, I will understand when I wake. I figure there's only one question left. Sarah, Will, I can trust you, right? You are not lying, about any of this?" "Of course you can, sweetheart," Sarah gently replied. "Now close your eyes and rest. You need it. You've had quite a trying day. Tara awoke the next morning to the sound of little voices laughing. She sat up with a sore neck, for she was not used to hard, rocky ground. She saw the twins chasing one another, Sarah gathering the family's few belongings and William grinning as he watched the wild scene. Mable was the first to notice Tara and jumped onto her back, yelling, "Good morning!" John soon followed, and eventually the two brought their guest tumbling over.

"Shall we get going, then?" Sarah asked as she turned, all of the belongings packed away in a knapsack hung over her shoulder. "We shall," Tara answered. Now that she understood what the situation was and where they were headed, things made more sense. The twins took a fancy to Tara, and she to them, and the group of five made there way to the other side of the forest. Over the next two weeks, the team traveled through the Forest of Nyru, over the River of Karlor, and over the Plains of Betallaway. They had no trouble until they reached the Sea of Gyllian, where they ran into a family of water trolls. Water trolls are not like ordinary mountain trolls that are large and dumb. Water trolls are small, about the height from one's foot to their knee; they are quick and as smart as a scholar. Sarah, Will, the twins and Tara reached the sea relieved they had made it out of the plains. "Just across the sea," Sarah said. "Just across the sea is where Byrrimer lies. We're almost there." Tara smiled at this. Almost there, she thought. And then I can see Byrrimer with my own two eyes! "We should stop here for the night," Will stated. "The sky's growing dark and the twin's are tired." The group had just settled under their cloaks when a noise startled them. Will was the first to recognize the atrocious calls of the trolls, and immediately jumped up, grabbing his sword. "Sarah," he called. "Watch the kids." "Of course. Will?" "Yes?" "Be careful. Be safe." By this time, the sounds had awoken Tara and the twins. Sarah and Tara came over to comfort them and eventually the four fell asleep huddled together, waiting for Will's return. But Will never came. Sarah was the first to awake. Tara sat up gently soon after, but the twins stayed asleep. "Will's not back," Sarah said. "Maybe he's still fighting those trolls." Tara reasoned. "No, he wouldn't be gone this long. Oh, Will..." she began to weep. As soon as she had calmed herself, Sarah said, "We should get going. He won't come back." No one said anything during the trip to the seashore. They met a sailor and bribed him to take the four across the water. The trip to the outskirts of Byrrimer took another week, but when they at last docked at the small jetty, Tara was as exuberant as ever. "Oh Sarah, I get to see Father!" "Yes," Sarah replied. "And I will see Will again," she added to herself. Trouble struck a half-mile from Byrrimer. At first, the beast was just a dot in the sky, but it soon grew larger and larger until it became the silhouette of a dragon. Tara saw it first, and pointed it out. Soon, it was directly overhead, and Tara saw the worst symbol of all. The scales on its stomach were dark, symbolizing he was evil. "Sarah, Sarah! There's a dragon!" "I see. Take Mable and run! I'll take Johnny. Go!" Immediately, Tara reached down and scooped little Mable into her arms. She began to run, but, the dragon blocked their path by flying straight at them, mouth wide open. There was nowhere for the four to run. All they could do was close their eyes and wait till it was over. Tara opened her eyes to find she was enveloped in darkness, and her body stung with a searing pain. She wanted to scream, to run, but she couldn't. She couldn't do anything, except sit and hope things would get better. Soon, she closed her eyes again, and drifted into a deep slumber. Tara awoke in a bright room, hearing the voices of men discussing something in a language she could not understand. She sat up and looked around. She lay in a white bed and wore a simple, yet beautiful white nightgown. She looked at her hands. The dirt under her nails was gone. She reached up to find her hair smooth instead of knotty and unruly. The men who had been talking saw her sit up, and turned to greet her. "Welcome, Tara, to Byrrimer," one man began. Startled, Tara looked up to see Will, smiling at her. "Oh, Will! You made it! We thought you were dead!" "Tara," another man chuckled. "Father! Oh, Father, your alive, and here! I thought I'd never see you again. Oh, how I've missed you!" She jumped up to embrace her father, but then turned when she heard another voice at the door, this time a woman's. She saw Sarah and the twins standing there and smiled at the happy trio. "You're awake, Tara. You're safe." And then it struck Tara. "But the dragon!" she exclaimed. "What about the dragon and the water trolls?! Shouldn't we all be dead right now?" "Tara," her father replied soothingly. "Tara, remember when you were little and I first told you about the kingdom of Byrrimer?" "Of course, how could I forget?" "I told you that this is a kingdom that people only get to by special invitation, very special invitation." "So we... are...?" "Technically, yes, we are dead," Will explained, "but this isn't heaven. This is home." "Home. It's lovely to call a place like this home." So Tara got up and went out into the courtyard to see the kingdom just as she always imagined it: golden walls, jeweled roads, high priests and elves, and everyone was living in perfect harmony.
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Upload Date: 31/12/1969

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