Mountain at the End of the Earth
Here is an excerpt of the beginning of The Wizard’s Sword where Mirrortac first discovers the mysterious sword in the woods.
The woods were a forbidden place for erfins. The scent of the fir trees was pleasant as the erfin Mirrortac went in search of firewood for his hearth, his paw-like hands deftly picking out the dry twigs and branches as he kept a wary eye at the woodland deep for any danger. Beyond the woods were the steep slopes of Mateote – the Mountain At The End Of The Earth – its snow covered summit partly obscured in cloud. Erfins were afraid of the mountain and believed the oblivion of the Netherworld awaited anyone foolish enough to attempt to cross over. Even before one reached the foothills there were nite-wolves to contend with – vile smelling creatures with shaggy hair, fanged grins and cold yellow eyes.
Mirrortac stumbled and cursed the ground. He bent down to massage his sore toe and saw the faint sheen of metal winking up at him from amongst the litter of fir needles. Coming down into a squat he sifted away the litter with his fingers, exposing more of the metal. His eyes widened and he sighed with awe. Beneath his hands was a short sword of exquisite design; its hilt adorned with three stones of precious amber and its blade gleaming as though it had only been fashioned yesterday. Glancing into the dark of the wood, he picked it up and handled it with reverence. The sword was weighty yet balanced easily in his grip. He stood up and swung the blade through the air, feeling at once the clean gliding motion and a sense of strength and power. He tested it against the grey fur on his legs. Its cut was precise, deadly. Where had such a weapon come from, he thought. No erfin owned a sword though there were tarnished examples on the walls of the Halls-of-Eol and the High Halls of Mateote. The high priest was keeper of a ceremonial sword that was rarely used and was unlike this one, though it had been kept sharp and in good order. No, this was a warrior’s sword and countless seasons had passed since erfins had been feared warriors. All their enemies had been conquered and none remained to challenge the might of the fierce erfin warrior. The last to be conquered were the Madin, who were mountain people, but in the end, it was the mountain that brought their demise. Forced upwards, the Madin were trapped on the edge of the earth. The erfin warriors were remorseless in their pursuit and sent the last of the Madin warriors over the edge and into the great abyss beyond. Both peoples were from the same stock. The erfins were grey of fur and thickset with pointed cat-like ears and large eyes. The Madin’s fur was courser and they were slightly taller than their erfin cousins.
Now, gone were all the warriors. The last had died many moons ago but the stories of their conquests had been passed down from generation to generation until they had attained mythological status alongside the great god of the mountain and the gods of the day and night skies, Luma and Mogog.
Mirrortac brushed fragments of soil off the crevices in the hilt and looked up as his neighbour, Fillytac, approached from across a meadow of nif-grass. His was the portly figure of an elder erfin, his fur shaggier and exhibiting the silver tips of age. His eyebrows lifted theatrically above luminous green eyes and his voice betrayed surprise.
‘Mirrortac, what have you there? Is that a sword?’
The younger grinned. ‘Yea! I must have walked over it dozens of times. I can’t imagine how it has escaped my notice all these moons.’
Fillytac bounded the last few steps and stood staring at the sword while he regained his breath. The blade gleamed in the afternoon sunlight.
‘What will you do with it? Present it to the priests to display on the walls of the great hall?’
Mirrortac ran his fingers along the blade. ‘That would be the place for it,’ he said, uncertainly. ‘But I think I shall keep it for a few days; show it to Yenic and the child-fins. It is such a fine piece of work!’