Hidden deep inside a meandering ravine, nestled beneath the darkoak trees of BlackMyst, the village of Veiled Gorge was a secret gem, revealed only to those curious and brave enough to follow the meager road that wound deep into the forested gully. Some twenty-five quaint and simple homes stood sheltered within the ravine, hidden beneath the forest’s mighty branches. Tucked away along the eastern border of Delvengard, Veiled Gorge was often forgotten or ignored by the outside world, and this suited the villagers just fine. Originally established as a commune for peace-loving peasants looking to escape the atrocities of the war-torn kingdom, Veiled Gorge remained a safe and secluded community.
The village had evolved over the years from a mishmash of people with a common dream of peaceful living into a colony of talented woodworkers, fabricating fine works of art and furniture from the wood of the surrounding trees. The villagers worked in harmony as a collaborative team to create pieces to be sold or bartered to traveling merchants who frequently visited Veiled Gorge.
Beynn Firehand was twelve years old. This was significant only in the fact that it had also been twelve years since the end of the Sorak War. As his father had told and retold him a hundred times, Beynn’s mother had died giving birth to him on the very day that fighting finally ended between the Kingdom of Delvengard and the Sorak. This fact had always brought a sense of sadness and more than a bit of guilt to Beynn.
His father, Gerran, had been a soldier in the King’s Army and had fought in the war against the Sorak. He met and fell in love with Serraif, Beynn’s mother, in a village along the front line of battle. As his father described her, Serraif was both beautiful and kind. She had passed her sleek dark hair and blue eyes on to Beynn, a contrast to his father’s blond locks and green eyes. Beynn had the best of both worlds, his father would say. Tall and strong like his father, with the good looks of his mother. Although his father would often reassure him that his mother would have willingly died a thousand times over if it were that he could live, Beynn still felt some responsibility for her death.
When he opened his eyes he saw the branch. It was an enormous giant of a branch overhanging the path on which the Sorak were heading. An image flashed in Beynn’s mind of that branch falling and crushing the Sorak as they walked underneath it. Beynn looked away. This was no time for silly thoughts. The Sorak continued to get closer and closer. They needed to run, Beynn thought. But, he needed to hide their tracks somehow.
His eyes moved back to the branch, the one that was going to break and fall. Beynn closed his eyes tight. Forget the branch! His mind reeled. He knew they had to get away; they had to run. He opened his eyes and stared at the branch. His focus became clear. The Sorak neared. Beynn’s breathing slowed, all of his muscles tensed, his eyelids closed halfway. He watched the branch and he knew it would fall.
It was late afternoon when they finally reached the clearing. This was where Beynn and his father had always camped during their travels to his uncle’s house. Beynn set up camp while Fritz went to gather wood for a fire. Beynn was pulling blankets from his pack when he heard a scratching sound. He looked up, thinking Fritz had returned with firewood. Instead, he found a six-foot long gorkin staring at him from the middle of the clearing. Gorkins were large grayish-green lizards that inhabited BlackMyst. They were fast runners and packed a viscous bite. Although not poisonous, they were well known to bite off people’s limbs with their razor-sharp teeth.
Beynn stayed crouched and continued to dig in his pack blindly, unwilling to take his eyes off of the gorkin. Finally he found his knife, and gripping it firmly, he stood up and backed away from the predator. He moved slowly around the edge of the clearing until he faced the area of the forest where Fritz had gone to gather wood. The lizard turned in place, matching Beynn’s every step. He and his father had encountered a gorkin once before, and Beynn tried desperately to remember his father’s tactics to kill the great lizard. He knew better than to try to attack the beast head-on. There were rumors that, because the lizard’s eyes were on the sides of its head, it couldn’t see forward very well. This faulty bit of information had led to a great number of travelers’ deaths over the years. Beynn knew that the gorkin’s only blind spot was directly behind. The problem became how to get behind a gorkin. For one person, this was virtually impossible. But maybe not for two.