Ardo’s Tale – A Short Story

Episode 4

(See: Episode 1  /  Episode 2  /  Episode 3)

Ardo threw a water card down and watched the blue light rise and spill. For two days, Erian had not said a word and continued to keep Ardo in the cage, giving him bread and water whenever he asked. For the first day, Ardo believed he would somehow escape and return to the village before the end of the day. On the second day, he reasoned they would show him magic and then let him return. As the third day began, Ardo wondered if he would ever see the village again.

He knew his mother and father must be devastated, but he was confident they were smart enough to let him go and move on with life if he didn’t come back for months. His sister Evy was his concern. He feared she would recklessly charge into the badlands searching for him.

Ardo stretched his legs and arms out and took a deep breath. There was nothing he could do about getting back home. He decided he would stay and learn as much about the rogues as he could until he got home. They could be an enemy to the town one day, even to the empire by the look of their magic. He threw down the skyfire card and stared in awe. The way the light leaped off the cards awoke something new inside him, something dark, terrifying, raw. Some part of him that was always there that he’d never noticed before.

He pushed that part of him away again. The magic was toxic and he feared if he let his guard down for one moment it would run straight through him and nothing would be the same again.

Ardo watched Erian walk up to him. “You’re not ready yet,” he lighted. “But I want you to be ready, and I’m not sure if you’re going to be ready tomorrow or if you’ll never be ready. What do you think, Ardo?”

“Just let me go.”

“Ah! But not until we know, right, Ardo? We can’t let you go until we know, can we?”

Ardo studied Erian’s swirling bodylight. He guessed it could be a mark of insanity.

“I’ve got something for you, then,” Erian lighted. He tossed an emerald shape to the ground. “Mold it into anything you want in the next hour, then let it sit while you sleep. Or do whatever you want with it. But do let me know if you’re ready.”

As Erian retreated, Ardo picked up the shape and found it was a heap of clay-like light. He tossed it back and forth in his hands for a while, thinking, then stretched it into the shape of a dagger and set it deep in the cave where Erian wouldn’t look. As he laid down to sleep, he listened for voices beyond the cave but heard none.


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