The Race to the End of the World

Black and grey image of tree trunks

Sinead opened her eyes. Charred tree stumps and scorched earth were all that remained of the beautiful forest. The centaur had gone, the forest creatures, too. Safe, she hoped. Had the Crystal of Nor caused that? But why?

She knew that the Crystal was an agent of protection. A relic from before the time of the Oppressors. It had fallen to her to carry it with her; not to question its purpose.

Sinead reached into Moonsprite’s saddle bag from where it still glowed. She held it aloft. It brightened, pulsating like a heartbeat, pointing a finger of light on the path ahead.

The bridge arched upwards, climbing more steeply than before. The distance remaining, impossible to tell. The sun, now a great orange globe was beginning its descent. Moonsprite shook her silvery mane and stamped her hooves. It would be a race against time to reach the end before sunset.


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The Crystal Awakes

sinead's final quest - the light from the crysal of nor on lunasonline

‘Come rest awhile, my lady.’ The handsome creature bowed his head, softly pawing the ground with a bronzed hoof. ‘Come for an hour, a day, a year. Taste our fruits, bathe in our streams.’ He ran his tongue over his lips. ‘Lie on a soft bed of leaves and listen to the music of the forest.’

The centaur advanced to the edge of the bridge and gazed down at Sinead with long-lashed amber eyes. ‘Walk with me,’ he whispered. His eyes fell on Moonsprite. ‘Come, pretty creature.’ His words dripped like honey.

Arching her neck, Moonsprite snorted loudly. A searing shaft of light rose like a spear from her saddlebag. Sinead wheeled around and flung it open.

The Crystal of Nor burned with diamond intensity. Sinead leapt away from it, burying her face in Moonsprite’s mane. The centaur let out a deafening roar as the forest was engulfed in darkness.


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Centaur Forest

A centaur emerging from a forest

The sweet scent of meadow flowers filled the air. From her vantage point, mounted on Moonsprite’s back, Sinead allowed her eyes to wander over the welcoming landscape. Her unicorn stepped softly now, filling her nostrils with the captivating fragrance and shaking her silver mane.

Floral notes from a lute and a pipe filled the warm, scented air and suddenly the woodland came alive. Birds swooped among the trees and small furry creatures scampered over the forest floor. Sinead longed to cast off her boots and run barefoot with them.

She leant over Moonsprite’s neck indicating that they should stop. The unicorn came to a halt, turning her head towards the far edge of the clearing where a magnificent centaur, with the upper body of a beautiful bronzed youth, appeared.

Following her gaze, Sinead slid from Moonsprite’s back. The bronzed youth raised his hand in greeting as he advanced towards them.


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Crossing the Bridge

a picture of a foggy pathway

Sinead wrapped her arms around Moonsprite’s neck, resting her cheek on her unicorn’s silver mane. Moonsprite cantered swiftly through thick shrouds of morning mist. Beneath her hooves was the shimmering Bridge to the End of the World, suspended in a ghostly void.

Images tugged and twisted in Sinead’s mind as Moonsprite pressed onward. Ghostly faces formed from the fog. She cowered beneath a vision of Last of the Oppressors. It reached for her and she tried to scream, but no sound came. Its huge arm swiped at her. Moonsprite veered, breaking into a gallop, sparks flying from her hooves. The monster Sinead had once destroyed melted into the mist.

The day wore on. Beams of sunlight pooled around them. Green tendrils sprouted along their path, flowers bloomed and sweet perfume filled the air. A lush woodland paradise unfurled beside the bridge; temptation beyond the imagination. Moonsprite slowed to a walk.


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The Bridge to the End of the World

Sinead's Final Quest - the bridge to the end of the world

Sinead shivered in the pre-dawn blackness. Moonsprite stamped her hooves on the cold stone of the castle battlements. They waited, as Tarron had commanded.

As the lip of the sun appeared on the horizon, Tarron raised his staff. Out of the darkness, a golden pathway shimmered into view. The eyes of the elderly elf fixed unwaveringly on the pathway as he spoke. ‘The Bridge to the Edge of the World appears only on this, the longest day of the year. You must travel swiftly. Do not look over the edge. Do not stop for anything.’

Tarron whispered in Moonsprite’s ear and the silver unicorn lowered her neck. She whinnied gently, encouraging her mistress to mount.

‘Go now,’ Tarron commanded. ‘Remember, you have only until nightfall.’

Moonsprite sprang onto the Bridge and set off at a canter. Sinead glanced over her shoulder. Tarron stood, staff raised, a ghostly Hound beside him.


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The End of the Beginning

empty corridors seen from above

‘The Chalice!’ the words echoed inside Sinead’s head. She’d dropped it when she’d retrieved her sword. The Hound stirred as she leapt to her feet and scurried along the passageway. Tarron, the elderly elf, stood in the archway where she and the Hound had first entered the Great Maze. He smiled. The Chalice of Earthly Liberation was in his hand and Moonsprite, her unicorn, stood beside him.

‘The Hound…’ Sinead began. Tarron shook his head, pulling her urgently through the archway. She turned and looked back. There was just an empty room. The Hound, the monster and the maze were gone.

‘Grieve not, Sinead, it was the Hound’s destiny.’ Moonsprite edged forward and nuzzled Sinead’s neck.

Tarron placed the Chalice into Moonsprite’s saddle bag. ‘Hurry now, I will lead you to the Bridge to the Edge of the World. You must cross while you still can, then gather the Sisterhood.’


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Slaying the beast

an image of a sword with a silver hilt

Glancing back as she ran, Sinead saw the bull-headed monster about strike the Hound again. Her foot struck an object sending it skittering before her. She looked down. It was her sword; the Sword of Elshain! However it came to be here, now was her chance.

Sinead snatched it up and wheeled around. The battling beasts were still locked together. She thundered back down the passageway, then raised the blade above her head and plunged it into the back of the monster’s neck with all the might she could muster. The monster staggered and fell to the floor. She retrieved the weapon ready to strike again, but the Sword of Elshain had done its work and the monster breathed no more.

The Hound was splayed on the ground, bloodied and panting, but still alive. Sinead knelt down and stroked his head. He’d saved her, but at what cost to him?


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The Minotaur of Mandoran

A bull's head or minotaur

Hound’s eyes glowed red. Growling savagely, he bared his teeth and launched himself at Sinead. But the Hound leapt over her. Sinead spun around.

A hideous bull headed creature filled the passageway behind her.

Jaws snapping, the snarling Hound crashed into the horned monster. The creature grasped the Hound in its great meaty paws, crushing his rib-cage.

Sinead gasped. The monster had been almost upon her and now the Hound was fighting to protect her. She longed for her sword; without it she was powerless to assist.

The Hound fought back, jaws tearing into the creature’s shoulder, but the great beast was stronger, hurling him away. The Hound hit the ground hard; his head snapped backwards. The creature moved in, but the Hound was up again. He leapt into the air and the creature charged, horns gleaming savagely.

Sinead turned away. All she could do was run for her life.


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The First of the Final Challenges

A photo of an old silver chalice

Sinead stared up at the depiction of the Maze in which she was trapped. A dark shape was moving near the outer edge. The Hound?

His bark had been a relief. If she’d realised why he’d not touched his food sooner, she might not be imprisoned now. But wasn’t this her challenge from the Prophesy Book? Destiny could not be avoided.

Her eyes searched the images on the ceiling. A silver object glimmered in a small chamber nearby. A silver chalice. She recognised it immediately. It was the Chalice of Earthly Liberation. The fourth sacred artifact.

Sinead took a step backwards and found herself in the passageway. The wall behind her had vanished. She spun around. Moments later she had the Chalice in her hand. Sinead pounded through the Maze, certain of the way out. Finally, thankfully, the archway she remembered loomed ahead.

The Hound awaited her, poised to spring.


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The Maze of Mandoran

Maze Garden by Victor Garcia

Sinead awoke shivering in the darkness. She reached for her cloak but it was gone. Panic rising, she felt for the Sword of Elshain, but it was gone too. Then she remembered. She’d either been drugged or enchanted.

The room grew brighter. Stone walls encased her in a small chamber. No window. No door.

Not all is as it seems. Was this an illusion?

She looked up. A picture was forming on the ceiling as if painted by an invisible hand. It was a depiction of a maze. In the centre was a tiny figure enclosed within a solid wall. Sinead rose to her feet, not taking her eyes off the ceiling. The tiny figure moved too.

This must be the Maze of Mandoran; the first of the four final challenges.

She heard a dog barking. The Hound was calling to her! All she had to do now was escape.



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