Sinead opened the Book. Her name appeared in fine illuminated script. More words danced down the page.
‘You overcame the Oppressors, not doubting the might of the fabled Blue Orb. You conquered your fear and retrieved the Chalice of Earthly Liberation from the Maze. You unswervingly followed the path to the Edge of the World, bearing the Crystal of Nor. You befriended the dwarves who Forged the Freedom Key.
You and noble Moonsprite brought all these sacred artefacts here without question, because you believed unerringly in the Book.
Because of you the Sisterhood has seen the error of its ways and will unite behind you. Others will come and sit at your side with Tarron, Lord of Elves and the Hound, Prince of Beasts.
You have proved your birthright. Mother Earth entrusts her Kingdom to you. The following pages are yours to write. Rule well, Sinead. This is your destiny.’
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And so, Sinead’s Final Quest is over and finally she has fulfilled her destiny. Previous episodes of our an epic tale, unfolding in tiny 150 word increments, can be found here.
Sunlight was sparkling through the trees when Moonsprite gently nudged her awake. Sinead rose and went to the bubbling brook where she rinsed her face and drank deeply of its rich waters. She’d had no food since she entered the Garden, yet she was sustained.
A gentle breeze rustled through the glade and Sinead remembered the voice in the night. Mother Earth had spoken to her. She looked around to see Tarron, the elderly elf, emerging from the trees. The Hound padded silently by his side.
Tarron greeted them both with a smile. ‘Let us consult the Prophesy Book one last time,’ he said.
‘But the pages are blank,’ replied Sinead.
Tarron held up his hand. ‘Let us look.’
Sinead removed the Book from Moonsprite’s saddle bag. The title of a new first chapter appeared: “All Will Be Revealed“. Tarron put his hand on her shoulder. ‘Now read on.’
The Hound broke into a run; Moonsprite followed. The day was dawning as they sped off across the Garden. The air grew warm and the trees and flowers sprung into life once again.
On and on they travelled, while the sun climbed beyond its zenith. Finally, the Hound slowed to a trot, Moonsprite matched his pace and Sinead caught a glimpse of a fawn with her mother and a the bright red brush of a fox’s tail disappearing into the undergrowth.
They arrived at a sunlit glade, where birdsong filled the air. A bubbling brook threaded through the grass. The Hound padded over and drank deeply. Sinead and Moonlight followed suit, the sweet water more refreshing than any they’d tasted. The Hound lay down. Moonsprite rested too. Both had expended much of their energy in their flight from the Gates.
Sinead lay down between them and surrendered herself to sleep.
Sinead’s fear turned to relief then joy when, as the gloom lifted, she recognized the creature standing before them. It was the Hound of Hellidore. He who had saved her from the Minotaur back in the Maze of Mandoran. But hadn’t he been slain? She rushed to embrace him, but his resolute bearing restrained her and instead she bent down to pick up the Orb.
As she did so, it rolled beyond her reach. Sinead scuttled after it, scooping it up as it came to rest. Sinead straightened up, finding herself standing before a face, etched in stone, its expression contorted in agony. She stepped back in horror. It was the face of the Gatekeeper.
Sinead whirled around and found the Hound’s golden eyes staring back at her. He lowered his head and gave one sharp bark. Moonsprite pawed the ground. We must go!
The dwarves scuttled back across the cavern leaving Sinead alone once again. Why had they departed so suddenly, almost without a word? Was it the bridge that had frightened them? Or was it the waters over which it led?
Sinead stepped onto the bridge.
She held the Crystal aloft, its soft bluish light glowed a little brighter with every step she took, while the inky waters lapped menacingly on either side. She quickened her pace knowing better than look down into their murky depths.
The bridge ended at a narrow jetty, but its moorings were empty of boats. A single domed archway in the towering stone wall ahead beckoned her, reminding her of the entrance to the Maze of Mandoran.
Courage, Sinead. The words echoed in her mind, just as they had before. So close, so close now.
Sinead placed her hand on the hilt of her sword and entered.
The Prophesy Book remained silent as to where Sinead might find the shackled Mother Earth. She and the two dwarves stood contemplating the key that lay in her hand. Then Dorrin spoke:
‘The key is the key! See the picture on the bow.’ He traced a calloused finger over the head of the key.
Alric nodded. ‘It’s the Cavern of Stalactites! Come, my lady.’
The dwarves each lit a torch from the dying flames of the forge and hurried down the passage next the spring. Sinead strode behind them. It was not long before it opened out into a broad cavern, the roof decorated with sharp stalactites. At the far end was a bridge leading across an inky lake.
The dwarves came to a halt.
‘We must leave you here, my lady,’ said Alric.
‘We may not cross,’ added Dorric.
They both bowed deeply and scurried off without another word.
Sinead forced her eyes open. She was lying on a lumpy mattress wrapped in her cloak. A short, stout figure with a black beard, was crouching beside her.
Sorry for hitting you like that,’ he said gruffly. ‘Alric and me thought you were one of them witches.’
Another squat figure appeared out of the gloom. ‘It’s her, Dorril! Like it says in the Prophesy: ‘She will come bearing a Dwarfen sword’.’ He pointed to the Sword of Elshain, which lay beside Sinead. ‘That’s it! The Destiny we’ve been waiting for all these years.’
Sinead raised herself on her elbows, fighting back the dizziness.
‘We are the last Dwarves of the Deep Mines. It’s says in the Prophesy that we must help you,’ said Alric solemnly.
Sinead blinked. ‘Prophesy?’
Sinead sank back onto the mattress.
Dorril crouched down again. ‘Quickly, fetch some water, Alric! Our Destiny depends on her.’
Tarron had already disappeared when Sinead turned to wave farewell. She sighed and continued along the new path. It led downwards into darkness.
She held the Crystal aloft to light her way along the smooth-sided tunnel. Her other hand gripped her sword. Water dripped from the ceiling and ran down the walls in tiny rivulets; beyond that there was no sound apart from her footsteps.
She pressed on, senses alert to any sound or movement. Somewhere she would find the Key. The Prophesy Book offered only the instruction to ‘forge ahead’. Tarron had put her on the right path and all she could do was follow it.
The air thickened. Dust filled the tunnel, dimming the Crystal’s light. The blade of her sword started to glow, warning her of danger. But it came too late. Feeling a sharp blow to the back of her head, Sinead crumpled to the ground.
A figure appeared from behind the cave. It was Tarron, the elderly elf. ‘I fear the Sisters have become too powerful since the overthrow of the Oppressors,’ he said. ‘I’m sorry. This was not foreseen. They are now unwilling to relinquish their control and are intent on preventing you from taking the next step.’
‘They’ve taken Moonsprite.’
Tarron inclined his head. ‘Fear not. They would never dare harm a unicorn. While your paths must diverge once more, you will be reunited.’
‘The Orb and the Chalice have gone too.’
‘That which is required will be returned, but now you must continue on your own path, Sinead.’ He held out the Prophesy Book.
As she took it, the book fell open at a new final chapter. ‘Forge Ahead’.
‘The Freedom Key is still required and you must find it.’ Tarron pointed to a path. ‘The Deep Mines are close. Now go.’