By Michele Elaine Wilson © 2000
The main room of Horsefeathers was jammed. The Inn had been closed for a couple of months for repairs after a storm had caused considerable damage to the roof. The people were happy that their favorite tavern had reopened and there had been a huge crowd all night. Moira, the petite shapeshifting unicorn who owned the place, had taken the opportunity to redecorate while the Inn was closed. She rather liked the large picture behind the bar that Sean had gotten for her on one of his travels. She favored cool colors and the aqua ringed planet in the sky and the green jewels coming out of the sea were pleasing to her. Sean told her that the silver beings in the picture were called dolphins. The one in front looked like it was talking to her.
Geoffrey was wiping glasses getting ready for the next round of drinks that would come. He smiled at his boss and said, "we should have a break in a few minutes because I think Sean will be going into a story after this next song." He was a slender blue-eyed, blond-haired elf and served as barkeeper for Horsefeathers when his cousin Sean, the regular barkeeper, was either entertaining or, more frequently, out wandering.
"He is restless," Moira said as she looked over at the stage. "Has he said anything to you about that last trip of his? I sense he is disturbed."
Geoffrey looked over at his cousin. He was tall but next to Sean he looked positively tiny. Sean was a huge red haired and bearded man who got his size from his mountain elf father. He was close to seven feel tall and two hundred fifty pounds, all of it muscle. "I know he has been over at the Mystic Forest a lot," Geoffrey said. "He hasnít said anything but he hasnít really been himself since he got back. I thought he may have had another fight with his Dad but his mother says that they are getting along fairly well for a change, or Ďas well as two hard headed, opinionated, infuriating, males can beí, I believe is how she put it."
Sean finished a rousing song and paused to take a long drink from his tankard. "A story! Tell us a story!" someone in the crowd called out. Soon there were cries from many different voices all asking for a story. Sean was known as an excellent Bard and his stories were much in demand wherever he went.
"All right settle down now," Sean said in his deep voice, "if ye want a story I think I can accommodate ye. Now this be a story about the battle between good and evil that can rage inside any creature."
The man slipped into the tavern and found a seat in the corner. He was a big man but he could be as silent as the falling snow when he wanted. He had been wandering around the countryside observing the people. He had visited here several years ago and at that time found the people rather quiet but friendly. He noticed that this time around there was an unease that he couldnít quite put his finger on. There was something wrong, he sensed, but it wasnít obvious enough for him to see clearly. He sat back to watch the people in the tavern.
Tess was the landlordís daughter. She had taken her motherís place serving the customers after her mother became ill. She had noticed the big man coming in. She rather liked him because he seemed very sweet and he didnít treat her like she was a silly girl. She looked around and saw that no one else had seen him enter. She pulled a large mug of beer and took it and some bread and cheese over to him.
"Here you are sir, I hope you had a pleasant day," Tess said softly.
The man looked up at her and smiled and said, "thank ye, Tess. That is kind of ye. I had a nice walk around. The weather was perfect for being outside."
"Do you mind if I sit with you a spell?" Tess asked shyly.
"I would be honored to have such a pretty lady at me table," the man said.
Tess blushed and sat down and giggled, "oh go on with you." She was silent for a few minutes. "Did you go as far as the woods?" she asked.
The man looked over at the girl as he took a long drink from his mug of beer. He had indeed explored the woods but not the way the girl thought he might. He was a shapeshifter and had changed himself into a large sleek cat and explored the woods in that shape. He had sensed a darkness emanating from the area and traced the darkness towards the old manor house that was on the edge of the woods.
"I went there," he said, "they arenít very inviting, however." The man watched the girl. She was a mere slip of a thing and seemed very nervous. He had a feeling that she wanted to talk to him about something but wasnít sure if she should or not. He was a patient man and waited for her to decide whether to tell him what was bothering her or not.
Tess was fighting an inner battle trying to figure out whether to say anything but finally decided that the man wasnít the kind to laugh at a young girlís fears. "I donít like that place," she said. "It somehow seems very evil to me. Old man Bertram owns the woods and he doesnít like people, especially young people."
"Has he always been that way?" the man asked.
Tess looked up at the man and gave a wane smile and said, "well it is rumored that he has studied the black arts and that he can do nasty things to anyone who crosses him. I heard he had a young wife once and she left him taking their child with her. I know marriage is suppose to be sacred but I canít help but feel that the wife had the right idea. He has always looked so mean at anyone who is young and all the children are terrified of him. It is said that people that do for him come away changed and the evil in that house takes a part of their soul."
The landlord stormed over to the table and demanded, "are you bothering the guests with your idle chatter, girl?"
The man reached over and put a hand on the girls arm as she started to rise and gently pulled her back down. "Your daughter was sweet enough to bring me a bite to eat and I asked her to sit for a spell and talk with me. She has been very charming and has been telling me about your fair land," the man said.
The landlord looked like he wanted to protest but noticed the manís size and that he carried a large broadsword with him. The landlord was a small man who made up for his lack of size by being a bully, but like all bullies he wasnít about to take on someone who was considerably larger than himself. "Well as long as she isnít bothering you," the landlord said. "That is a fine looking sword you have there. It looks like an elfin blade and they donít make them for just anyone. You must have an in with the elves."
The man looked at the landlord. He didnít like his oily smile. The man had no use for bullies and he had heard ill comments about Grayson, the landlord. One woman was heard to say that she thought that he had driven his poor wife to her illness and that he was likely to do the same to his poor daughter. The man smiled at the landlord but it was a smile without warmth and said, "the Queen of the Elves commissioned it for me."
"She really exists?" Tess asked in an awe-struck voice. "Is she as beautiful as legend has it?"
The man looked at her and smiled, this time his smile was full of warmth and answered, "no, she is much more beautiful in real life then any legend has her being."
"So why would she have a sword made for you?" the landlord asked in a tone of voice that implied that he didnít believe the man.
"She had her reasons," the man replied with a shrug.
"Can I hold it?" the landlord asked reaching for the sword. A bolt of energy shot out from the sword striking the landlordís hand. "Ouch!," he screamed sucking on his burned fingers.
"No," the man said. "Elfin name swords are keyed to one person and only that person can safely handle them. This is the sword Nuadias. It will permit no one but me to touch it."
"What happens if you die?" the landlord asked.
"The sword reverts to the fires in the mountain where it was forged. It will remain there until the Queen decides someone else should carry it," the man said.
The man and the landlord stared at each other and the landlord broke first and stormed away to yell at his barkeeper. Tess, who had tried to make herself as small as possible, started to shake.
"It is all right little one," the man said in a soothing voice, "it wonít hurt you. It strikes at those it feels will use it for ill. It has been known to let those who are pure of heart to touch it."
"You make it sound like it was alive," Tess said and looked up at the man with huge eyes.
"In a way it is. It was made and remade with high magic and it is sentient in a way. All of the great swords are," the man said.
Wow," Tess sighed, "and the Queen of the Elves gave it to you."
The man leaned over and whispered something in the girls ear. A radiant smile crossed her face. "Now remember not a word to anyone, this is our secret." The man said as he looked over at Tess and smiled.
Tess made a crossing sign over her heart. "Cross my heart," she said with a big smile.
Later that night the man set the wards to protect his room and to keep prying eyes and ears out. He pulled the sword from its sheath and said the words in high elfin that would uncover the crystal hidden in its pommel. The man concentrated on the crystal and an image formed. A tall woman with silver blond hair that cascaded to the ground was standing by a window in a castle. She turned and looked towards the man.
"Have you found her yet, dear?" the woman asked.
"Not yet, my Queen," the man replied, for the woman was Queen Niri, the High Queen of the Elves.
"Have you let the sword be seen?" the Queen asked.
"Aye, Madam, that I have," the man said. "It zapped a rather nasty bully in the process. I donít think it is very happy." The man looked at the Queen and smiled.
"Iím afraid it will be even more unhappy before this is through. You must be careful my dear. I donít know what happened to Briana but I fear the worse," Queen Niri said.
"Has the White Mage been able to find anything out?" the man asked.
"No, dear, he hasnít. There are rumors that Briana may have been with child so she may have gone into hiding to protect that child. Again I tell you, be careful. You are too valuable to me to lose," Queen Niri said.
"I shall be as careful as I can my Queen," the man said and broke the connection. He remembered Briana and prayed she was still alive.
The man sat for several hours reviewing everything that he had seen and heard during the two days that he had been in this land. He had heard the term shadow-self more than once. As near as he could tell the people who used the term were speaking of people that didnít seem to be themselves but a shadow of themselves. The Cleric he had talked to tried to explain but the best he could come up with is that certain people seem to be missing a part of their humanity. Tess had said that people who went to the manor house came out as if evil took away a part of their souls. All of the changes seemed to be for the worse.
He had observed the people in the tavern during the evening and he had sensed a forced gaiety. People were trying to act like nothing was wrong yet they seemed to be very careful about what they said. There was an overweening stench of fear in the place. People would talk to their neighbors but they were watching them as well. Everything pointed back to the manor house that belonged to Bertram. He would have to find more out about the man.
The next morning the man came down early for breakfast. Tess was washing down the tables and setting things up for the day.
"Good morning, Tess," the man said with a smile. "How are ye on this fine day?"
"Oh, Iím doing well sir. Did you have a good nightís rest? I hope the room was comfortable for you," Tess said returning his smile.
"Indeed I slept very well, thank you. Could I trouble ye for a bite to eat?" the man asked.
"Of course," Tess said and hurried over to where the porridge was bubbling in the pot over the fire. She brought him back a large bowl.
"Thank you, Tess," the man said and ate for a few minutes in silence. "Tess Iím looking for a friend of mine that may have come through here. She was a young lady named Briana and had blond hair and blue eyes. She was about your size and if she were here it would have been about three and a half years ago. Would ye happen to recall anyone like that?"
Tess stopped and thought very hard. "I think there was a lady like you described about that time," she said, "but I donít recall what her name was. I think she was just passing through and if memory serves me right she was asking about Bertram. I think she had something for him. I havenít seen her though but that one time. Iím not much help am I?"
"You have been an enormous help to me, Tess. At least I know Iím still on the right track," the man said gently.
"Is she a friend of yours?" Tess asked.
"Aye, you could say that. We grew up together and have always been close. I havenít heard from her in four years and no one seems to know where she might have wandered off too. The Queen is worried and wants me to try and find her," the man said.
"The Elf Queen knows her?" Tess asked with surprise.
"Queen Niri knows all of her people and Briana is the daughter of a close friend. The Queen is attuned to the life crystal of all elfin kind and when a crystal becomes silent she worries until she knows the reason," the man explained.
"What is a life crystal?" Tess asked.
The man reached into his shirt and pulled out a green glowing crystal that pulsed with light. "This is a life crystal," he said. "It comes from the Source of Light and is attuned to its wearer from birth. It pulses in time to the wearerís heartbeat."
"Wow! What is it used for?" Tess asked.
"We use it as a focus for our psychic energy. It is a catalyst for our abilities as well as our link to the Source of Light. It is white magic and it can be very powerful," the man explained.
"Did this Briana have a crystal like that?" Tess asked.
"Aye she did and the Queen hasnít been able to sense the resonance from that crystal," the man said. "She fears that something terrible has happened." The man was silent and watched the girl as she stared at his crystal. As he suspected the girl was drawn close to the power emanating from the crystal. He sensed that this one had elfin blood in her though it was considerably diluted by human blood. Still she would need watching and it might be a good idea to test her for ability. After he found Briana he would tell the Queen about Tess.
"How could the crystal go silent?" Tess finally asked. "If it is pulsing to your heartbeat wouldnít the Queen be able to hear?"
"Normally she would be able to but there are things that could silence it," the man said. "The main one is death, of course, but the crystal can be blocked if a person is strong enough to do so. If, for example, I didnít want anyone to find me I would have the crystal pulse inward so that no resonance would be sensed from it."
"Why would you do that?" Tess asked in amazement.
"Just as this is a part of white magic and good, there is also black magic and evil. The crystal can be felt by those who have the power to perceive it and sometimes those beings are purveyors of the black arts. If I wanted to be hidden from them I would command the crystal inward so that evil men could not use it to locate me. Unfortunately, it also means that those who are using white magic are also blind to my presence," the man explained.
"Wow. You are the only one who can touch that arenít you?" Tess asked.
"I can touch it and so can the White Mage, who is the chosen one of the Source of Light," the man answered, "and he can touch the crystal while I am wearing it without either harming me or himself. In addition there are two others that can actually take the crystal from me and I will not be harmed. One is the Queen of the Elves who gave the crystal to me and the other is my twin sister who has the other half of the crystal. In my world twins always share a crystal because their bond transcends the boundary of white magic." The man looked over at the girl and smiled. She was sharp this one. He had chosen well his ally here.
"Is you sister like you?" Tess asked.
"No, she is very tiny and is a Healer. She does have red hair however," the man said.
Tess giggled and said, "I bet she is pretty."
"Aye that she is. I even tell her that sometimes. Not often mind ye, we must keep her humble," the man said with a laugh.
Tess was silent for a moment. She looked over at the man and said, "I hope Briana is just hiding her crystal. I wouldnít want to think of her as dead."
"Neither would I, Tess. She is a very special person and this world would be diminished if she were not in it," the man said.
The man left a short time later and headed towards the woods. It was a pleasant morning and he enjoyed the walk. He stayed in human form and headed towards the middle of the woods. His earlier exploration had showed him a glade that would be ideal for his purpose. An hourís steady walking brought him to the spot.
The man sat on the ground and listened to the sounds around him. He sensed that there were no other creatures around. Taking the crystal from his shirt he brought it where he could see through it and focused his concentration on it. The green crystal started to glow brightly and in its depths he could see a picture forming of the manor house he sought. He had identified it yesterday as the source of the disturbing emanations. As he concentrated on the image of the house he felt the presence of another mind joining him. He recognized the touch as that of the White Mage.
"I will need to go there," the man said.
"I know. You must be cautious for there is something very wrong there," the White Mage said. "Iíve checked the records and the only Bertram I could find should have died many years ago in a fire. He was known to be interested in the black arts and was so hated by the townspeople that they stormed his house and burned it to the ground with him in it. They found several bodies but there was no way to know if his was one of them. If he survived that fire he certainly would have been scarred."
"If he was into the black arts could he have been saved by the Dark One?" the man asked.
"From what I have been able to find out, he certainly would have been the type of being that that one would want on his side," the White Mage said.
"Just once it would be nice to have a villain that wasnít allied with the Dark One," the man sighed.
"I know. You be careful," the White Mage ordered. "You have foiled the Dark Oneís plans too many times now and he would love to get his tentacles on you. You are going to have to rely on your wits and skills in this one. The living flame spell will not be able to help you this time. The disturbance is too great and that spell would alert the Dark One, if indeed this Bertram is the man I think he is. The last thing we need is to give that one any more information as to your whereabouts than we have too."
"I would prefer to keep out of his reach meself," the man said with a sigh.
"Are you going to try and get into the manor house today?" the White Mage asked.
"Aye, I am," the man replied.
"I hate to have you do this but it would be best if you turn your crystal inward," the White Mage said. "It puts you entirely on your own but it will protect you from being located by the forces of darkness easily. Again, I tell you to be careful" and with that last warning the White Mage withdrew.
The man sat for a moment in silence. Finally he muttered, "well it isnít going to do me any good just sitting here." He stared deep into the crystal and got hold of the pulsing light and with an effort he reversed the outward flow of light and sent it into the crystal itself. The outward appearance of the crystal changed and it no longer glowed. With a sigh the man put the crystal back inside of his shirt.
The man got up and started walking towards the manor house. He had decided on a direct approach. He knew that manor houses often employed Bards for the evening to entertain. An hours walk had led him to the front door.
The door was opened by an old lady. Her hair was untidy and her soiled housedress looked like it had been worn and slept in for a week. She glared at the man and snapped, "What do you want? We donít buy from peddlers."
"Iím not a peddler my good lady. Iím a Bard and I was wondering if your master would care to have an evenings entertainment," the man said with a smile.
"Let him in," a voice said.
The old lady stepped aside and the man entered. As his eyes adjusted to the dim light he saw a man dressed entirely in black. He was an elderly man and his face had a mask like appearance.
"I am Bertram, the master of this house. You are welcome Bard," the old man said.
"Thank ye sir," the man replied.
"The old woman will show you to the kitchen and you can have something to eat there. Iíll see you later," Bertram said and walked away.
"Well this is certainly a first," the old woman said. "Come along with you I have much to do and canít waste time on you."
The man followed the woman into the kitchen. She prepared him a large plate of food and indicated that he could sit at the table by the fire. He found that the food was very good. Whatever else Bertram did, he didnít stint on the creature comforts.
"Hi!" a childís voice said. The man looked down at a little girl with curly blond hair.
"Hi yourself. Who might you be little one?" the man asked with a smile.
The little girl climbed up onto the bench next to the man and said, "Iím Crystal and Iím three."
"Ah, you must be almost grown-up then," the man said.
The little girl giggled. "You are Bard."
"Aye that I am," the man said.
"Sing me a song," Crystal asked.
"Stop pestering the man, child," the old woman said and came over and started to shoo the little girl away.
"Please donít, I love children," the man said.
"Humph, well, if she starts bothering you send her away," the woman replied and went back over to the stove and started stirring a pot she had there.
"This is my dolly," the little girl said as she held up a cloth doll to the man. The doll showed the wear and tear of being constantly in a childís keeping. The man could tell the doll was homemade and had been made with a lot of love.
"She is sure pretty. Whatís her name?" the man asked.
"Bree," the little girl said.
"Thatís a nice name," the man said.
"You want to see the house?" Crystal asked.
"Sure," the man replied.
"Keep out of the Masterís rooms, child," the old woman called out.
The man got up and the child took his hand. "You are sure big," she said with a giggle.
"Aye that I am," the man answered with a smile.
The child showed him around the large manor house chattering all the while. The man noticed that there were mirrors all over the house. Crystal became quiet when they passed a closed door in the left wing. She tugged on the manís hand and hurried him past it. The man sensed that what he was looking for was in that room, but it was not a room to take a small child into. They finally ended up in the little girlís room in the servantís quarters.
"Bree and I sleep here," Crystal said.
"Where does your mommy sleep?" the man asked.
A tear trickled down the childís cheek and she said, "Mommy got real sick and they took her away one night and she never came back."
The man gathered the child in his arms and held her. "Iím sure your mommy loved you very much little one," he told her soothingly.
"She made Bree for me to play with. Mommy said as long as I had her, she would always be with me," Crystal said softly.
The door was thrown open by the old woman. "The Master is looking for you mister and he doesnít like to be kept waiting. He commands that you keep your sword with you." She looked towards Crystal and said, "you stay out of the Masterís way child."
The man kissed the child and told her as he put her down, "Iíll come back and see ye later Crystal."
The man followed the old woman downstairs to the closed door in the left wing. She knocked and opened the door and stood aside for the man to enter. She closed the door behind him. Bertram had his back to the man and didnít turn around as he entered. The man looked around the room while waiting for his presence to be acknowledged. The room had heavy curtains that were drawn against the afternoon light. Candles and a fire lit the room with a red glow. Shelves lined the walls and there were many large heavy tomes in dark bindings. The man recognized some of them as spell books for necromancers. The air in the room reeked with the stench of black magic and evil. The manís eye was drawn to a large free standing mirror. The glass was dark and there seemed to be a fog swirling in the glass.
"Ah it is the Bard," Bertram said as he turned around.
"Aye sir, that it is," the man said. "I take it you wish to discuss the eveningís entertainment?"
"Ah yes, the entertainment," Bertram said. "Iím sure to find you very entertaining."
The man sensed a probe pushing against his mind but he had tightly shut down his shields before entering the place. He gave a slight smile as he noticed the look of surprise on Bertramís face as his probe was brushed aside as easily as one would brush away a fly.
"I noticed you looking at my antique mirror, Bard," Bertram said. "It cost dearly but it was worth it."
"There seems to be some distortion in the glass," the man replied.
"Oh that is only the angle you are looking at it from," Bertram said. "Go up closer and stand in front and you will see that it gives a remarkably clear view."
The man walked over and looked into the mirror. His reflection seemed to be leached of color. He started to turn when he felt a shock rend through his body as if part of himself were being torn away. He crumpled to the ground unconscious. The man came to with the feel of someone kicking him in the side. With a shock he saw the reflection from the mirror standing over him.
"Get up," the reflection hissed. "The Master wants to talk to you."
"Donít damage the White Mageís pet Bard," Bertram said as he came over to where the man had pulled himself into a sitting position. "We need some answers from him."
"The Dark One will get no information from me," the man said. "That mirror did indeed cost you dearly. It cost you your soul. You allowed him to absorb you into himself and now you are nothing but his tentacle."
"Oh brave words my little Bard," Bertram said coldly. "How little you understand. You canít imagine the power it gives me to be part of the Dark One. It was worth it." Bertram walked over to a map on the wall. "Bring him."
The reflection reached down and grabbed the manís shirt and hauled him to his feet. He dragged him over to where Bertram was standing.
"I need to know where the citadels are of the Source of Light. Show me on the map," Bertram said.
"Never!" the man replied.
"You will tell me or you will die and your reflection can find out for me," Bertram said with a shrug.
"They will never believe he is me," the man said.
"Oh but he is you, a part of you at least," Bertram said with a laugh. "He is your other half. The dark side if you will." Bertramís laugh was chilling. "Iíll give you a chance though. Iíve heard you are good with that sword. Letís see if you can kill yourself."
The reflection drew a sword from the sheath on his back and pointed it towards the man. The manís hand automatically went to his own sword. He stood facing the reflection with his sword at ready.
The reflectionís lunge came suddenly but the man was able to beat it back. He tried a strike of his own but it was easily beaten back. The two were soon engaged in a flurry of strikes, lunges, and parries. The man had been taught by the best swordsmen in the land and was considered a master swordsman himself but his every move seemed to be anticipated by the reflection.
It would have been considered one of the finest sword battles in history if there had been others to witness it and sing its praises. The two men circled each other and sudden clashes of swords rang through the room. Furniture got knocked out of the way as the two fought. The fighting was fast and furious.
The man found himself tiring and realized that he would have to finish this battle soon or he would lose. He suddenly realized that he was literally fighting a creature that knew every move he would make. He tried consciously letting go and fighting on pure instinct and he made a little headway but not enough to beat him. There had to be a way to beat this reflection of himself!
"He has no crystal," the childís voice said. "No light."
The reflection lunged towards the child trying to run her through with the sword.
"No!," the man roared and knocked the reflection to the ground. In that instant the man let down the barriers on the crystal in the swordís pommel and with his remaining strength he hit the mirror with it.
"Stop him!" Bertram screamed.
The man felt the shock course through him as the mirror shattered. There was a blinding flash of light, an acrid smell of smoke and then the man felt something strike him on the head.
"Wake up Mister Bard," Crystal said, "oh please wake up."
The man came to with a start and saw the little girl standing over him. He quickly sat up and realized that was a mistake as he was felled by a wave of nausea. After a momentís rest his stomach settled and his head cleared. He took the child in his arms and hugged her tightly. "Are you all right little one?" he asked.
"Ooh youíre squishing me," Crystal said.
"Sorry," the man said as he let up his grip.
"Iím fine and so is Bree," the child said.
The man looked around the room. The reflection was gone and the mirror lay shattered on the floor. Over in the corner the old woman was sitting with the hideously disfigured head of Bertram on her lap.
"The mirror created a mask for the burns from the fire didnít it?" the man asked.
"Of course," the old woman replied.
"What now?" the man asked.
The woman looked down at the wreck beside her and said, "he is no use to the Dark One now and will live on like this for the rest of his natural life. I doubt it will be a long one."
"And what of you," the man asked.
"I am a succubus," the woman replied. "I was cursed into this form after I displeased the Master. I committed the unpardonable sin of caring for that young woman."
"Briana?" the man asked.
"Yes, she came to the door three and a half years ago," the old woman said. "She was carrying that child within her. Bertramís grandchild." She looked at the surprise on the manís face. "Yes Briana had been married to Bertramís son. The young fool always thought his father could be redeemed and he set off for here with his pregnant wife. He was killed along the way and before he died made her promise to come here."
"What happened to Briana?" the man asked softly.
"The birth was difficult and she never fully recovered from it," the old woman answered. "The evil here was leaching at her and she fought the best she could in her weakened condition. Finally she realized she was dying and placed her life stone in the doll for her daughter. Without the stone she died a couple of days later."
The man sat silently rocking the child in his arms. Tears trickled down his face.
"She knew you would come, Bard," the woman said. "Take her child and go."
"The reflection?" the man asked.
"It could exist apart only as long as the mirror was intact," the old woman explained. "Since it didnít slay you it was compelled to return to you when the mirror broke. It is a part of you whether you like it or not. You are lucky though the others lost their fights and their reflections have died. There will be considerable wailing and mourning here." The woman looked over at him and gave a wane smile.
"Come with us," the man asked.
"No my place is here," the old woman said softly.
The man left a short while later taking the child with him. He stopped by the Inn and spoke to Tess and her mother. Grayson the Innkeeper had suddenly died and the mother and daughter agreed to go with the man to help care for the child along the way after the womanís brother agreed to take over the Inn.
"And so you see," Sean said, "in every creature there is the potential to do evil. It is our ability to fight the evil which makes us what we are. The gains ye may make from evil are only smoke and mirrors and have not true value at all."
The audience broke into rousing applause as Sean left the stage. He walked on over to where Moira and Geoffrey were standing at the bar. "Well I think Iíve sang and storied enough for one night so Iíll be heading out." He reached behind bar and got out a box containing a beautiful golden haired doll and quietly left the Inn.
Moira watched the big man as he walked out the door and then turned and looked over at the picture behind the bar that Sean had brought her. It hung where a large mirror use to be.
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