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by Margo Fallis

          A group of twenty people stood in the center of the village to welcome them. One man walked over. Corin presumed the man was the leader.

“My name is Bubb. I am the ruler of Pinea. I knew you were coming. You are welcome here in our village.”

Corin expected the man was about sixty years old, gray haired, but muscular for such an old man, much like Grink.

After introductions, three women came out of the hut carrying platters of food. Grapes, apples, berries and slices of bread piled high on the clay plates.

“Please, sit and eat with us. You must be hungry after such a long journey,” Bubb said.

“We ate grubs and lizards and we fished in a lake and caught two fish, but mine was bigger than Corin’s, and a giant came and tried to kill us and then,” Fingal caught his breath, “a wolf with red eyes killed the man and we ran and came here as fast as we could and yes, I’m hungry.”

“What did you say?” Bubb’s face screwed up in confusion.

“I said we ate grubs and lizards and…”

“Not that! What did you say about the wolf? Did you say it had red eyes? Bubb put his hands on his hips.

“Yes it did. I saw them. They glowed, just like that other wolf’s eyes, but we killed it. Now there is another,” Fingal rambled on.

Bubb stood, mouth gaping. “He’s back. After all these centuries, Kolin has returned and he’s coming to our village.”

Braden cleared his throat. “We have been sent here by the Lord of the Seas and the other Lords, of course. They have assigned us this mission. They gave us the emerald stone, the Stone of Destiny, and asked us to find Padd, a man in this village. The Lord of the Seas told us to give the Stone of Destiny to Padd and he’d know what to do. The wolf is near. We must hurry and see Padd.”

Bubb called over a small man with hunched back and long, stringy, brown hair. “Tibbo, go and see if Padd is in his hut.” He explained to the group, “I’m afraid Padd isn’t a man. He came to our village about twenty years ago. He has lived with us in peace. He is different, yet wise. If anyone can help, it will be him.”

The little man came back and whispered to Bubb. “Come, Padd wishes to speak with you.” He led them to a half-fallen hut. 

Fingal stayed outside, not wanting to go into the hut. The others followed Bubb. Their eyes wandered to the fallen stones and buildings lying around them.

They entered Padd’s hut. A huge frog sat on the floor. It had olive green with lemon yellow spots. Its lips were so big and red that they took up most of his face. “Do not be frightened.” Padd saw the look of fear on Cafania’s face. “I will not harm you. Now, tell me why you are here.”

Corin did the talking this time. He told them about the visit they’d had with the Lord of the Seas. “Kolin is nearby.”

Cafania reached into her pack and pulled out the emerald Stone of Destiny. She handed it to Padd. She then pulled out the Book of Spells and the Healing Stone and gave them back to Gorbal.

Padd noticed. “What are those things that you gave to the gnome?”

Gorbal showed Padd. “This is my Book of Spells. It has been handed down from father to son for generations. I am just now learning a few of its secrets. This is the Healing Stone. I used it to save Princess Jasmine. I’ve saved others too.”

“Very well,” Padd said. “I am to bring Princess Serba and Kile back to life, using this Stone of Destiny. I understand. The Lord of the Seas knows that this is the only way to rid our planet of Kolin forever. He is wise. Now, I must ask you to leave. I must think.”

They left the hut and went into the village. Many of the villagers gathered around and introduced themselves. Most had lived there all of their lives, as their ancestors had, since the village began. Corin and his friends listened to stories that had been passed down from parent to child about Kolin, Kile and Princess Serba and the thriving city Pinea once was.

None of them noticed Padd hopping out of his hut and heading towards some stones on the hillside; the ancient burial place of Kile and his mother. Padd placed the Stone of Destiny on the burial ground. He closed his eyes and started chanting. The stone glowed bright and rays shot out, swirling around in arcs.

From below the group noticed the green light shooting up into the sky. Braden and Corin ran up the hill to join Padd. Next to him stood a young man and a woman. “It’s the princess and her son,” Braden said, not believing what he saw.

Kile, ten years old, looked just like his mother.

Padd stood back and watched as mother and child got reacquainted.

Princess Serba turned to Padd. “Why are we here? What do you want of us? What year is it now? What happened to my city?”

Padd explained his reasons and the historical events leading to today.

“You mean you’ve brought us back to life after four hundred years? For what purpose? Where are we?” Princess Serba turned in a circle.

“You’re at what is left of your city, Pinea. The frog, I mean Padd,” Corin said, giving a look of apology to the frog, “brought you back to life for a purpose. You are needed to rid the planet of an evil wolf that used to be your son, and his,” Corin nodded at Kile, “brother.”

“He’s still alive, after all this time?” Princess Serba held her over her mouth in shock.

“My twin brother still wanders the earth destroying others as he destroyed me? Kile shook his head in disbelief.

“He does. We have encountered him many times. To say he is evil is putting it mildly. We must destroy him, but only you can do it, Kile; you and your mother.” Braden sighed and put his hand on Kile’s shoulder.

“Come.” Padd urged the five of them to follow him down the hill into the village.

The villagers stopped and stared. “It’s Princess Serba.” Whispers rolled through the village. “That’s her son, Kile, the one Kolin killed.”

Padd stopped in the center of the group. “Yes, it is Princess Serba and his son, Kile. I have brought them back to help rid ourselves of evil. That evil is Kolin. I have discovered that he still wanders these lands and is now near our village. He must be destroyed!”

“But how?” A woman wiped her dirty hands on her dress. “I must instruct them. You don’t need to know, but I must warn you that you need to stay close. If Kolin finds out they are here, he will destroy us unmercifully. You must be careful. Nobody go out alone. Keep your children close by.” Padd hopped to his hut, followed by Bubb, Corin, Braden, Cafania, Gorbal, the princess and her son.

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