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Boddaert's Magic: Fire Rock


Chapter 1
Brock stumbled to a halt beneath the full moon, staring at the view. His breath faltered and his heart raced,
but whether from the exertion of his hard climb through the Brockenhurst Mountains, or the result of the scene
spread out in the valley below, he was not sure. Brockenhurst Forest at last; the place of magical promises, and
source of all knowledge and wisdom. And nestled within its protective environment, Brockenhurst Sett;
birthplace of Boddaert, the greatest Teller of all time and Father of the race.
As Brock's eyes ranged across the forest below, his excitement mounted and he sang a sonnet to calm
himself. Letting the tensions flow from his body, his heart slowed, keeping pace with the simple rhythms of the
song. His thoughts turned to the teachings of The Way and he allowed its perfection to refresh his tired muscles.
Brock was the latest in a line of Tellers that stretched back into the mists of time, his lineage boasting such
names as Evaert and Char, both still talked about on hot summer-cycles, when the crickets sang their songs of
lust. He studied the rocky mountain slope for the easiest descent into the valley. To the north, a tall escarpment
brought the steady march of the trees to an abrupt halt, and here the only relief from the stark granite wall was a
gigantic, flat-topped rock, thrusting its way up out of the canopy. Regular in shape, sides strangely smooth, with
little evidence of weathering, its top as flat as a pool of water reflecting the moonlight in dazzling sparkles of
brightness. Reaching into his memory, Brock summoned its name– Fire Rock. Laughing aloud, pleased that he
had reached the end of his journey at last, he set out on the descent into Brockenhurst Valley .
*
The stuttering cry of a magpie carried on the gentle breeze blowing in from the south. The trek down from
the mountains had been hard, at times dangerous, but Brock stood now on a wide path amongst the hoary trees
of the old forest, his eyes widening as he took in the scene. A vole flicked across the damp forest floor, almost
indistinguishable from the dead brown leaves, stirring Brock into motion. He had rested long enough; inactivity
was allowing unpleasant memories to stir. He rubbed the wound on his leg, trying to suppress the echoes of his
dying sister's screams, but no matter how hard he tried, he couldn't stop the memories flooding his mind.
*
The fire had been swift and savage, burning everything in its path, the flames jumping from grass to bush,
from bush to tree, too fast to outrun. And with the crackling and roaring came another unforgettable sound: the
screams of the dying. The thick acrid smoke had coiled its oily tentacles into the deepest sleeping chambers,
suffocating those not already overwhelmed by the flames, and only Brock's knowledge of The Way had saved
him. He was the sole survivor, and that had left him with a feeling of deep shame.
Since starting out on his journey, Brock had reproached himself many times. After all, he was a Teller of The
Way, the Keeper of the History; trained to predict the future and read the past, and yet the fire had come as a
complete surprise to him. Standing in the moon-dappled clearing, fighting his feelings of shame, Brock tried to
push his tortured thoughts aside, while overhead, two starlings watched him warily from their nest, wondering
what threat he might pose.
Brock shook his head irritably, muttering, "Enough of this. I must find the Custodians."
*
Starting out along the path once more, Brock had only taken a few steps when a loud voice hailed him.
"And who is this dreamer? Certainly an ill-mannered landloper to ignore me so diligently!"
Brock turned, studying the old badger standing fore-square on the path behind him. The boar nodded a
greeting, settling his plump body into a more comfortable position, causing the moonlight to sparkle from the
silver hairs sprinkled liberally throughout his coat.
Lowering his snout in respect, Brock hailed the stranger. "Greetings friend. Forgive me, I was lost in my
thoughts and didn't see you there. I'm looking for Brockenhurst Sett. Can you tell me if this is the right path?"
The old badger raised his head and with half-closed eyes nodded, as though reluctant to share such
information.
"Indeed it is. But tell me, what business takes you there?"
Brock narrowed his eyes and the boar dipped his head.
"Ah, I see I might have offended you with my curiosity, but if you intend spending any time in Brockenhurst
Sett you'll get used to that." The old badger's chest expanded proudly. "I'm a Custodian you see, so it's my duty
to be nosy." Winking at Brock, his grin widened even further.
Brock's heart beat a little faster. Could it really be just a coincidence that the first badger he should meet in
Brockenhurst turned out to be a Custodian?
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