Chapter 1: Nightmares in the Storm


“No!”, I screamed as the windows rattled in the storm. Sweating, I awoke to find that it had only been a dream. No, not a dream: a nightmare. Nothing that terrible could ever happen in the peaceful town of Granseal. Why, Grans Island must be full of places to have adventures, but not this town. Not Granseal. A quiet and boring life where nothing exciting ever happens, unless that is, you count the opening of a new pet shop. Sometimes a soldier from Galam would pass through here to collect supplies. Maybe even a messenger with news for the King… but never anything of interest for me and my friends.
“Bowie!”, my mother called. I pretended not to hear her. It had been a rainy night and my sleep was frequently interrupted. School was the one thing I just couldn’t face today.
“Bowie! You’re up early this morning… good, you’ll be at school on time today! Sir Astral’s been angry about all these late mornings… it’s just as if you don’t care…” but before she could finish the sentence, I was out of the door. Even going to school was preferable to listening to my mother. I heard her voice as I left the house: “Bowie? Bowie! Come back here right now…”

As usual, Jaha wasn’t at school when I arrived. I couldn’t even see old Sir Astral anywhere, but Sarah and Chester were there. Just like Sarah to be there on time… Sir Astral’s Star Pupil. She was the same age as me and already training to be a priest! What sort of a profession is that? I’d much rather be a Hero, out fighting the evil hordes of Darkness like in the Legend of Max and the Shining Force. What it would be to have my own Shining Force! Well, a boy can dream. Chester, well, let’s just say he’s strong in the body and not quite so strong in the head. Never mastered any magic, but really kicks butt in a fight, and I mean that quite literally, because he’s a centaur.

Getting tired of waiting, I went downstairs to find Sir Astral. He was there, nose buried in a book. I wasn’t surprised… he’s the King’s Advisor and probably the wisest man in the world… wiser than Old Hawel I’ll bet. Astral seemed a little concerned about the storm we’d had in the night… mentioned something about a sense of evil. I put it down to his age. Everybody knows that Dark Sol and Dark Dragon were killed years ago… well, those that still believe in them anyway. Most people shrug those tales off as myths, but not me. Those times must have been fun! Journeys and adventures, fighting goblins and demons, now that’s what I’d like to do. If I had been born a few centuries ago, I might have been Max and lead the Forces of Light to victory against Runefaust!

I was brought back down to earth by the swift entry of a messenger. He and Astral exchanged words and left abruptly. Amazed by his lack of courtesy to at least tell us where he was going, Chester, Sarah and I started planning. We came to the conclusion that they must have gone to the castle, and so we followed. Sarah came up with a great plan to get us into the heavily guarded Castle of Granseal, and within no time we were inside the thick, grey walls. I wondered to myself how many battles had been fought here… the sieges with arrows flying through the tall thin windows. I didn’t know any archers, in fact I don’t even think the sport is taught on Grans anymore. One day I’d go to the Main Land and seek adventure and sword fights there!

It wasn’t very difficult to find Sir Astral, as there were very few people around the castle to catch us. When we found him, it was obvious why… there was something wrong with King Granseal! He was just lying there in bed, shaking, shaking so terribly! And beside his bed was Princess Elis… so young and fragile, yet her face seemed to have aged beyond years with the knowledge that her father was very ill. I caught Astral’s eye and before I could move it was too late. He had me in his gaze, staring at me… probing me. He didn’t get a chance to get angry, since the Minister got the first word in. He thought that Sir Astral had sent for us with some special purpose in mind, and that was how it all began…