Sunday, December 5, 2010

Brandt’s Quest for the Three Stars

Colyne Stewart, January AS XXXVI (2002)

Most of us who reside on the cliffs know the name of Brandt das Lederwerker. The Lord Brandt is renowned for his skill at leather craft and woodwork and his martial skill is known to all.

One day, as Brandt walked through the woods near the red bluffs, a Dwarf appeared before him. It was Verundel, the legendary smith of Ealdormere, rarely seen in modern days. The dwarf hailed the fighter, who dropped to one knee so the Dwarf would not have to crane his neck as they conversed. Verundel told Brandt of how, the night before, three stars had fallen from the heavens. These stars, he said, were magic and encased stones he wished to procure. Verundel charged Brandt to find the stars and return them to him, to which Brandt at once agreed. To aid him in his quest, Verundel gave Brandt a hammer with which to crack the stars’ shells and expose the gems within, and a raven called Wilhelm to act as guide.

Biding the Dwarf farewell, Brandt followed Wilhelm deeper into the bluffs and down into a lush ravine. The raven then perched on a tree outside a cave and gazed at Brandt. The Lord checked his armour and weapons then entered the cavern, his eyes adjusting to the dark. Within he found a wyvern coiled around a glowing sphere that he knew must be a star.

The wyvern, feigning sleep, let Brandt approach, finally springing up in a fury of wing, claw and tooth. It was vicious in its assault but Brandt fought on bravely and true and eventually the beast lay dead.

Taking the hammer, Brandt struck the star three times and it split open to reveal an emerald the size of his fist. He placed it in a pouch and walked back outside.

Wilhelm then took him farther into the ravine where he found a bridge crossing a chasm. On the other side he saw a second star, but guarding his side of the bridge was a black knight. The knight, who had fallen from grace because of his unchivalric behaviour, refused to let Brandt cross. The good Lord then challenged the knight to a duel, which was met fiercely. The two combatants fought for hours until finally the knight fell, flailing to the bottom of the chasm. Knowing there was nothing he could do for him, Brandt crossed the bridge and broke open the second star, finding a large ruby within it.

Again Wilhelm took wing, this time leading Brandt to the base of a dark, twisted tree. The third star was clutched in the tree’s roots and was guarded by a hairy troll. Brandt attempted to do the troll honour, but as he lifted his faceplate the beast attacked. Again Brandt found himself embroiled in a fierce battle, but once again he emerged victorious. This time when he broke open the star he found a giant diamond.

Accompanied by Wilhelm, Brandt traveled back to Verundel, laying the stones at his feet. The dwarf smith was much pleased and bade Brandt keep the hammer as it would increase his skill in leatherwork and carpentry. The two then parted ways, but often Brandt sees a raven fly over him and knows that Verundel’s grateful eye is still upon him.

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