Gates of Petheris
taverns on the Anderlay Road offer the east’s best ale,
home-brewed in their own cellars, stronger than wine and
easier to drink then the rum from our southern ports. A
bright fire crackles; minstrels play bawdy songs, and if
they tire, the storyspinners mingle. For the price of
bed and food, they weave epic tales, swearing every word
is true. Do travelers believe? Anderlay lies steeped in
myth, and every legend is born from tatters of truth.
a year, I travel the great road from Dulhanna in the far
west to Megadir in the east. I’m the famous Bartali --
Raston Bartali, dealer in spices, rugs, rare wines,
rarer jewels; manager of fair courtesans, trader in
ancient maps to lost cities and new navigator’s charts
drawn from the finest astronomical observations.
Business sends me a thousand leagues away while my lady
and daughters enjoy the cool of spring and autumn at
home. In my travels, I’ve heard every tale those
storyspinners know, one end of the road to t’other.
I’ve heard often. For a favorite, I’ll gladly pay a
gifted storyspinner to weave it again. One such tale is
the Legend of Tristan Vallo ...and of all the stories I
know, this is the one I wish most were true.
hundred years ago, Tristan was born in the city of
Lydris, on the craggy coast on Anderlay, where towering
chalk cliffs are constantly scythed back by our hungry
sea. His mother ran fishing boats; his father rode as a
mercenary in the service of Duke Ohmar the Elder. What
would be more natural than that young Tristan would grow
up as sailor and swordsman, fearing neither ocean storm
nor the steel of the barbarians who snapped around the
a lad, folk knew him as a great athlete, adventurer and
lover, as unbeatable in a skirmish as in a drinking
contest. He made several fortunes in battle, only to
lose them to dice and capricious lovers. At that age
Tristan remained untroubled. People called him the best
sword in Anderlay, one of the best sailors—and time was
his ally. Other fortunes would fall into his lap soon
one grand adventure, he held onto his wealth long enough
to buy a trading ship. Home in Lydris, he ordered the
vessel re-rigged, repainted and renamed Carmelita for
his one great love: the only woman he could never have.
was a wife of Duke Ohmar: third and youngest, of an age
to be Ohmar’s granddaughter. Carmelita came from
Harrand, across the mountains, at just eighteen, to
fulfill a marriage contract arranged by her father. In
return, Ohmar would furnish Harrand a defense regiment.
The city was then too poor to defend itself against the
brigands who ravaged everywhere in those years.
Carmelita felt herself honor-bound to stand by the
contract, faithful to her aged husband for the sake of
her father and homeland. But she was young, and had
eyes. On the Harrand road, long before the wedding, she
gave her heart to Tristan, who commanded a cavalry
cohort to escort her to Castle Mauvais, Ohmar’s
young Tristan and the beautiful Camelita spent weeks on
the road. Love bloomed like a rose: a tragic love,
leaving the cohort’s captain bruised and, perhaps, a
days from Ohmar’s borders, he almost gave his life to
protect the party n a desperate battle. The lady bound
his wounds with strips of the silk she brought for her
months later, healed, strong, he wore he ducal livery,
braced at attention in the temple of Ghiris while Ohmar
and Carmelita exchanged vows. He swore never to love
again, and meant every word.
He never wed, nor settled with any woman. He
enjoyed mad flirtations of every kind from Shehend to
Elyssan, but gave his heart to none.
this, before Tristan Vallo was twenty-three years old.
Little wonder he named his ship Carmelita and
pursued every tale of treasure and glory. Over and over,
he returned home with full holds and a hundred new
stories. Minstrels loved him. They still tell his tales:
how he fought the Iron Troll of Gnothia to win freedom
for the fair Tressida; cut the head off the Black
Gryphon to liberate the city of Selendria; found the
ancient necropolis of Eldrev and steered his Carmelita
home heavy with the weight of treasure long buried by
greedy, superstitious god-kings of old, who feared a
jealous sun would snatch away gold not hidden from its
love to weave his last adventure—my favorite, heard so
often I can recite it from memory. Minstrels call it ‘The Gates of
begins as they all do: here is the Carmelita,
moored at a Lydris wharf, her crew inebriated in an old
sailors’ tavern called The
Silver Sword, Tristan himself tangled in the limbs
of some lovely thing who’d caught his fancy. In comes a
man with a broken nose and two gold teeth. “Where might
I be finding Tristan Vallo?” he asks.
might you be wanting him for?” asks Toby, landlord of
whose back is bent with the bone ache, while his eyes
and mind are sharp as those of a general at war.
would hire him, ship and crew, for a voyage,” says the
stranger. “I need him and them for their expertise in
the desert. I’ve a map showing the way to Zuralia, but I
can’t get there alone.”
whisper of this magical name makes heads turn, ears
prick. Everyone knows Zuralia—and its fate. She was a
wealthy trading city, long ago, before a Borask
slithered in with a sandstorm and settled there. You get
a Borask in your area, you might as well fly, and warn
your neighbors to run while they can.
one in Anderlay has ever seen a Borask... or, no one
ever lived to tell of it. But legend swears the beast is
a great serpent: half dragon, half cobra, with red eyes,
the breath of Hell, and possessing dark magic no alchemy
under heaven can undo. When living flesh feels the blaze
of its malodorous breath….
know of a goose that lays golden eggs. The Gorgon, whose
gaze turns men to stone. King Midas, whose touch makes
anything gold. Vengeful gods of desert folk, who turn to
salt anyone disobeying their will. Well, the breath of a
Borask turns living flesh to silvergold, the gorgeous
argentiferous gold, worth more than all jewels in a
claims Zuralia’s folk chose to make a stand, fight, so
there’d be hundreds, even thousands who lingered like
fools. They challenged the monster. Meaning, thousands
of great lumps of precious, argentiferous gold, once the
flesh and bones of idiots. Enough to make a kingdom
wealthy beyond any dream of avarice.
wonder the Sword’s landlord ran up to hammer at a chamber where Tristan lay
tangled in some amorous embrace.
minutes the map lay uncurled on a table beneath six fat
candles: painted in rare metallic inks on the polished
inside of a hide, stretched, cured, bleached the hue of
ivory—so old, even these pignents had faded. Tristan
knew at a glance that it was genuine. He’d seen enough
fakes to easily recognize forgery.
map was real, but one more thing interested him. He
recognized the accent of its owner. Carmelita spoke with
the same lilt. “You’re from Harrand,” he growled.
am indeed.” The stranger called himself Eldrigo.
seek Zuralia’s riches for your own sake?” Tristan asked
was a decent man, honest. Certainly, he’d take his fair
share of whatever riches Zuralian yielded, but the rest
was for the defense of Harrand. It would furnish the
kingdom—Carmelita’s home—legions of mercenaries.
thought the lady could demand a release from her
marriage contract, since Harrand no longer needed any
service of Anderlay. She’d be a freewoman, leaving
Tristan at liberty to court her.
he gathered his crew with orders to rig for sea: they’d
head west along the coast, paralleling the Anderlay Road
for six days. Lookouts must watch for a cove marked by
tall, bluestone cliffs, one shaped like the head of a
blacksmith, sailmaker and armorer labored through the
evening hours; voices bawled between ship and quay long
past midnight, as stores came aboard to the tramp of
sailors’ feet. Tristan sprawled in his cabin, a goblet
in one hand, in the other a tiny cameo painting of
Carmelita, commissioned by the duke and purloined for
Tristan by the lady’s handmaiden. He brooded over it,
thinking of all that might be.
cast silver gauze over the harbor when the Carmelita
slipped silently out. She left behind the headlands,
east winds billowed her ivory sails and she sped before
a good sailing breeze. She set fast time into waters
that grew stranger, more dangerous every hour. All our
gentle, generous Anderlay ports fell far astern. Ahead
loomed seas alive with mystery, treachery.
the crew took arms, stood lookouts day and night, kept
their weapons close. Tristan dozed fitfully, reluctant
to sleep while the ship raced into peril, but the Carmelita
remained unchallenged when she cut sail and
slipped in under the great cliffs Eldrigo had described.
colors painted the bluestone ramparts pink and gold.
Shadows curling around the looming gryphon made the
monster appear to watch the ship come into the calm,
still bay. There, she dropped anchor.
whole day lay ahead. Tristan saw no reason to delay.
Eldrigo was keen to march, and Tristan could almost feel
Carmelita’s hand in his. He’d kissed her once, and
thought he could still taste her lips, like berries and
honey. The kiss was surreptitious, illicit, stolen in a
single moment when her stewards and his officers had
left her tent. It burned through him, and three years
later still felt as if it were branded into him.
they shipped out, he’d sent a message to Carmelita’s
handmaiden, who’d brought him the cameo. Thira would set
the note in no other hand than Carmelita’s. Hold and
hope, my dear, he wrote. We return before
winter, and the slenderest thread of luck will see
Harrand well defended and you free. Hold this in your
heart, and wait.
signed the note with a drop of blood. A tiny scar on his
wrist glistened in the sun as the dory bucked through
lazy breakers to a white beach. Indescribable deserts
stretched away, right above the shore.
still fear this as the Coast
of Skeletons. Sure enough, Tristan saw bleached
bones—men, camels, mules, victims of sandstorm and
tempest, as seemed to claim any attempt to carve out a
foothold in lost Zuralia—before they’d trudged three
miles inland. Five men landed with him and Eldrigo, and
the party of seven carried provisions for four long,
hard, thirsty days.
familiar with this hell swear there are no wells, soaks
or creeks, save in the depth of winter. Streams expire
before spring. Zuralia thrived a thousand years ago,
when rivers flowed through different channels, rains
came from the south, not the east, and the hinterland
bloomed. Lands which today are cruel were generous
during Zuralia’s glory—the years before the Borask.
master builders who raised Zuralia cut immense cisterns
into the bedrock beneath the city: granite tanks which
fill with every rain. Even in high summer they remain
full, the water clear and cold.
paths wind from salt pan to dune to wadi. Goats can make
a living upon thorn bushes, lapping dew at dawn, when
fine sea mists creep inland with grudging veils of
moisture. Tristan’s party followed their trails as the
sun arced high, and afternoon grew hot enough to boil a
man’s brains inside his skull.
camped by a salt pan under indigo skies and blazing
constellations. Fretful winds stirred, full of the
whispers of fools who’d perished not far away. Tristan’s
men hugged the fire, longing for dawn, though a thin
wedge of daylight would fetch back the heat.
days found them still hunting, and beginning to
relinquish hope. If they didn’t stumble on Zuralia’s
ruins soon—with its cisterns full of cold, sweet
water—they must turn back while enough remained in their
flasks to see them to the ship.
Tristan glimpsed something half-buried in the
sand, gleaming in the sun. They stumbled forward, keen
to dig it out. The crew gathered, only half believing,
but eyes don’t deceive. A human skull lay in Tristan’s
hands... seemingly cast in argentiferous gold.
is close,” Eldrigo said eagerly.
to your map, we should be right on top of it,” the
swarthy little mariner, Rashid, added.
an hour or two ahead,” Tristan corrected. “But there’s
one thing we never talked about.” He frowned at each man
in turn. “The Borask.”
might still be there?” Rashid whispered.
Eldrigo’s cheeks blanched. “After so many years? Surely
men would have turned back, but Tristan’s crew had
followed him to Hades more than once—and prospered. They
were not about to quit. Each carried a number of sacks,
to carry out as much silvergold as a man could bear.
They made ready while Tristan thrust this first prize
into a sack and slung it over his shoulder.
map sent them around a salt pan, whiter than bone in the
sun. When they crested a low rise to the southwest,
Eldrigo began to shout. With eyes shaded beneath both
hands, he’d spied a tumble of stone where constant wind
swept the sand level and brilliant sunlight blinded a
actually lay much farther than they’d imagined. Dusk
fell before they stumbled into the ruins. In fading
twilight they searched frantically, their desire not
gold, but water. Rashid found it: a staircase
winding into basements beneath the ruins. Every man held
his breath, praying....
Fortune smiled. The ceiling remained sound enough,
permitting them to walk passages where dust lay inches
deep. No human foot had trodden there in centuries. By
the light of three meager oil lamps, like mules or
camels smelling water, they followed raw
instinct to a great bell-shaped chamber where the floor
glistened by torchlight —
it rippled, for it wasn’t stone, but water.
Lakes gathered, untapped since the Zuralians either fled
or became silvergold. The men swam, drank, bathed in the
vast cistern of dew-sweet water. In an hour, the
goatskins bulged as the crew rested by the pool and
pleasantly with the first cold he’d felt in too long,
Tristan climbed to the ruins to get warm, eat, watch the
stars, and make plans. He thought, they’d find the
Borask’s handiwork tomorrow. He set a lamp, and sorted
the contents of his pack. Moths fluttered around the
flame as he ate his ration of jerky and dried fruit.
his mind, it stood to reason the gold must be buried.
Sandstorms would have covered and uncovered Zuralia time
and again since the monstrosity laid waste to it.
Silvergold must lie everywhere folk too stupid to flee
made some desperate, insane stand against a demon. Only
find the ramparts, Zuralia’s fortifications, and enough
would surely lie underfoot to free Harrand—and
tired mind drifted on the brink of asleep. He saw her
face clearly, heard her voice. She reached out to him,
so close, he thought he felt her touch. Her nearness was
so real, he actually understood her words, though her
voice was ethereal as dawn mist.
she said, “listen to me—you must hear me!”
am listening,” he said, reaching for the
phantasm, wanting to bury his face in the soft tresses
of her hair, breathe the lotus perfume of her skin.
She seemed to hiss into his ear. “Listen!”
urgency shook him awake. He began to concentrate. “This
isn’t a dream?”
a dream—it’s me,” Carmelita promised. “I got your
message, when you left Lydris. I know where you went—in
fact, I know where you are!
You’re in the ruins. Zuralia.”
was astonished. “How d’you know this?”
I was so afraid I went to the witch, Magdala, paid her a
duke’s ransom to work magic for me.” She paused. As he
listened harder her voice gained substance. “Look
about,” she said. “D’you see a bird, a raven?”
gazed around the ruins, found it in the starlight. “I
do,” he said. “How could you possibly know …?”
raven is Magdala’s familiar,” Carmelita told him. “It
followed you, rode in your rigging, though you didn’t
see it...she sees through its eyes, and has worked this
magic to let me speak to you.”
she work more magic, let me see you?” He would have
loved to see her, whom he’d only seen fleetingly, from a
distance and at state occasions, since she wed.
wish it were possible,” she sighed, “but listen well, my
love. Do as I bid.”
listened and was horrified. He must gather his crew, she
said. They must flee Zuralia before dawn.
why?” he demanded. “We already found a skull, pure
silvergold, as legend promised. Thirty like it are the
price of a legion for your home, freedom from you.
There’ll be hundreds here!”
do I care for freedom, if you’re dead?” she cried.
“Don’t you know, Tristan? Has Eldrigo not told you? Or
perhaps he doesn’t know... the Borask is in the city!
Magdala knows. It’s there now, it hibernates in
a chamber below the ruins. Sleeps till it’s disturbed.
Just being there, walking its passages, breathing its
air, you’ll disturb it. At dawn it rises with the sun.
You’ll join the silvergold bones in the sand.
Run, Tristan—get your people together and run!”
your freedom?” he asked, resentful even as he began to
stuff his pack.
freedom against your life?” Carmelita asked sadly. “If
only one of us can be free, I want it to be you. Quick,
voice faded. He struggled to reach her, but she’d gone.
In a fine fury he roused his friends. He pinned Eldrigo
with a gimlet-eyed glare, demanding to know why he’d
said nothing of the hibernating Borask.
knew by the blanch of Eldrigo’s face, the man had been
blissfully ignorant. “Perhaps Lady Magdala is mistaken,”
the Harrandian began.
all his life Tristan had known Magdala by reputation.
She appeared to be a young woman but was older than the
foundations of Ohmar’s castle. Her powers were immense.
She was never wrong. He knew they had two
chances—fleeing was by far the safer, but another
possibility lay ahead. He put it to his men, rightly
letting them choose their own fate.
before dawn, and they’d return to the ship with one hunk
of silvergold, enough to outfit two voyages. They’d not
leave empty handed. Or draw swords, head into the
catacombs, seek the Borask’s lair, and slay it like a
bear in its den.
the monster before it woke freed them to claim Zuralia’s
terrible legacy. This crew were mercenaries, sailors,
adventurers to a man, afraid of nothing if they believed
they possessed a fighting chance.
knew how they’d choose. Swords and lances gleamed by
lamplight; whetstones slithered, sharpening blades. Men
braided their hair and buckled on weapons, ready to
second time, Tristan heard the voice of his beloved, and
closed his eyes to concentrate. “Don’t,” Carmelita
begged. “Please, Tristan, go! Magdala sees through the
raven—she knows your plan. Run while you’ve
too late already,” he murmured. “My crew chose their
destiny, as is their right. They’re ready to hunt.”
you be ready to flee,” she insisted. “Don’t let
the creature’s breath touch you! Be fleet-footed, don’t
stand and fight, for you can’t. Run into the rising
sun—the creature is blinded by brilliance, when the sky
is clearest in the early morning. Watch for the gates.”
he puzzled, wondering if he’d heard correctly.
Gates of Petheris,” Carmelita repeated urgently. “Look
for them! Promise me, Tristan, promise you will. They’ll
appear as a mirage, but you must make for them with the
last breath in your lungs and strength in your legs.
Magdala has wrought a great magic. I paid her the
emeralds Ohmar gave me when we wed. She’ll be rich, but
this magic is her last, and her greatest.”
mirage,” he repeated.
not mirage.” Her voice dwindled again and he
listened harder. “They are the Gates of Petheris.
Inside, you’ll be safe....”
she was gone, and his heart hammered. He’d heard the
Petheris myth, though not in decades. Stories of
Petheris were so ancient, his mother’s father told them
at the end of his long life, an old man dimly recalling
what his own grandfather had said.
a place, or person? Tristan couldn’t be sure, but
remembered enough to know that beyond those mirage gates
lay another realm: fabled, splendid, safe. A land from
which no one ever returned, though the same legend swore
it was possible to come back, if one were
determined enough. Strong enough.
was the last, greatest magic of the most powerful witch:
to open the gates for him, if only he could run hard and
fast enough to escape the breath of the Borask. He
swallowed his heart and faithfully recounted every word
to his crew.
eyed, they heard him out. He hoped they’d quit Zuralia
while night and darkness were on their side, but as one
the company turned down a flight of cracked marble steps
into moldering basements and cellars, intent on hunting.
stretched miles underground. Often Tristan was sure he
was lost, then a gap would open in the ceiling,
permitting a glimpse of the stars. He held a tenuous
grasp on his bearings while the men searched from hall
to hall, down passages thick with the muck of eons.
last Eldrigo’s sharp ears noticed a sound. He held up a
hand to halt them. They strained to hear in the absolute
quiet. Tristan heard it too. A rasp that might
have been breathing, a slither that could have
been the coils of a serpent shifting, moving in its
sleep. They had it!
slid silently out of scabbards, sheaths lifted off
razor-honed spear blades. Tristan led the way on
cautious feet, following the shush of the
creature’s breath. They rounded a corner into a wide
hall where the roof gaped partly open to the stars.
Vines and creepers intruded, sinking roots into the
cisterns below. And here, he knew at once, they were
sounds they’d heard were not a monster shifting in the
depths of slumber. Magdala had seen correctly: the mere
presence of humans disturbed it. The Borask had woken.
reared on its coils, twice the height of a tall man. The
monster bared massive fangs as it turned toward them,
issuing a sibilant roar as a glistening, forked tongue
darted out. Rashid — always impulsive, seldom wise — was
first to try his luck. He flung a javelin, and another.
shrug of the creature’s armored hood turned the first
aside. The second struck it squarely where its heart
might have been, but bounced easily off. Its armor was
too thick to be damaged by a spear. Tristan doubted a
sword would hurt it. Acrid breath swept over Rashid as
he spun, trying to withdraw. With vast eyes his fellows
watched their friend transformed into silvergold.
next to try, and pay the price for rashness, was
Eldrigo. He rushed forward, an axe in either hand,
trying to dodge the Borask’s head, stay out of its
breath. He hacked where its armored scales joined and it
might have been vulnerable. Watching intently, Tristan
realized Eldrigo never drew blood. The incredible
creature seemed merely infuriated by the blows.
than Eldrigo could hope to move, it spun, twisted,
breathed long and hard on him. A chill rushed through
Tristan as he witnessed Eldrigo of Harrand freeze in
place, solidify to the tips of his long hair, as had
Rashid, and take on the luster of pure argentiferous
the Borask was not done. Its sinuous neck darted,
snakelike, faster than Mahmed, the young steersman,
could escape. It had him even before Eldrigo’s
transformation finished. Mahmed was gone.
of them—half the party—were lost in as many moments.
Tristan knew by now -- victory must be measured in sheer
survival. He shouted at his men while the thin,
breeze-like murmur of Carmelita’s voice whispered into
Tristan, for the love of all the gods, run!”
might have been the only time Tristan or any of his lads
turned their backs on an enemy and fled, but they had
the sense to do as the lady bade. He bawled for them to
follow, but did not look back as he hurled himself
through a rent where the roof had collapsed, and found
himself in the ruins. He heard scrambling on his heels
and willed his men to speed.
had the night gone? They’d lost track of time. Dawn
lightened the east as they raced through the tumbledown
columns and walls of a dead city. What had Carmelita
said? They must run into the rising sun, for its
brilliance blinded the monster. They must not stop till
they reached what seemed a mirage. He shouted this to
his fellows, exhorting them just to follow.
water, they raced directly into the desert. Return to
the ruins spelled death, and the cove lay too distant
for them to dream of reaching the ship. One chance urged
them on: the Gates of Petheris, which would swim, dance,
mocking as a mirage.
an athlete, Tristan sprinted. He dropped every weapon,
for all were useless. Near to naked, like the athletes
of old, he hurdled tumbled columns and sped into the
sand, into the dazzle of dawn. He heard three of his
crew behind—one screamed and surrendered, but the
fastest two hung on.
they could keep enough speed, just ahead of the
sun-blind Borask, they might live. Tristan could do
nothing to help. Anyone who turned back would give his
life for a futile attempt. No man in the company would
have permitted the sacrifice, much less asked it. Each
juggled his fate between his own hands. The prize, the
ultimate victory, was survival.
raven flew ahead, cawing urgently as it chased the
rising sun over sands sparkling with quartz. Tristan ran
till his legs trembled, lungs burned and throat rasped.
Exhaustion swam in his head while the sun climbed a
ridge of saltbush, but still he didn’t look back. Heat
haze began to shimmer, and now he looked for the mirage.
was slowing, he knew. The Borask must be back there,
though he couldn’t know without stopping, turning, which
would surely be the end of him. Instead, he forced
himself on, fleeing into the sun. Exhaustion dogged his
every step, his body begged for rest, his lungs spasmed.
He stumbled, sprawled, dragged himself up and plunged
on, slitted eyes raking the distance, praying Magdala’s
last, greatest magic would not be wasted. Sure he
couldn’t lurch another step, much less run—he saw it.
portal appeared misty, as if made of glass, shimmering,
wavering amid its haze. The Gates of Petheris stood
wide, and he dove toward them, though the mirage mocked
him with transparency, fading in and out as if it must
vanish before he reached it.
even breathing, he tumbled through. The gates closed one
instant before they winked into nothingness, as mirages
storyspinners pause. A camel driver fetched home the end
of the tale. He’d chased his animal into the sands and
saw a magnificent athlete, spent, at the end of his
endurance, vanish into a mirage. The camel man hid among
saltbushes, unable to believe his eyes as he glimpsed an
immense, impossible serpent. Losing its quarry, the
monster turned back, in moments swallowed by the dancing
recounted the same. She’d observed through the eyes of
her raven. The bird rejoined the ship, which waited
weeks in vain for Tristan’s party. No one walked out of
the desert, and at last the Carmelita turned
for home with dire news. But Magdala, grown rich on
Ohmar’s emeralds—the price of her Gift—promised
Carmelita this was far from the end of the tale.
magnificent enchantment stripped her power utterly:
everything she possessed, she gave to let Carmelita
speak with Tristan, and to open the Gates of Petheris.
Magdala would wreak no magic now, but had one more
pledge for the youngest wife of the duke.
made this promise as a mortal woman; even her ability to
cheat time was spent. “Petheris is a land beyond,” she
swore. “The gates are impossible to find and even harder
to enter. People who step through don’t return—not because
they can’t, but because no one desires to. Once
one discovers this splendid realm of demiurge and
demigod, light and music, wonder and magic, the world of
mortal men seems tawdry. A sham. One has nothing to
Magdala added shrewdly, “nothing much.”
Tristan returned from Petheris, it was surely love
brought him back. But did he return?
abound. It’s a matter of history that within a year of
the ill-fated Zuralia voyage, prospectors struck gold in
the hills south of Harrand. The city became as wealthy
as any in Anderlay. Its duke recruited a legion, trained
by the finest officers from Ohmar’s personal guard.
liberty to request her marriage contract be dissolved,
Carmelita did so. Everyone believed she’d fly home at
once, but instead she, her handmaiden, Thira, and the
now-mortal Magdala moved to Lydris Harbor. They took a
house overlooking the bay; and waited.
long they waited, no one knows, but soon town records
show the house at the top of Rigger’s Lane held by two
women, not three. In the following years Thira’s
name appears in the tabernacle register as the mother of
four sons born to a handsome sea trader. Magdala grew
notorious, gambling on horse racing, as if she retained
enough second sight to unerringly choose winners. She
grew richer than the duke, though she aged, as mortals
must. Young men adored her to the end of her days, as if
under some spell. The last history records of her is a
voyage to the west, to a cove marked by bluestone
cliffs..., an immensely old woman borne off into
dawn-lit sands dancing with mirage. The chronicle says
ran wild. Of Carmelita, history soon lost all trace,
just as it records no more of Tristan.
two disappear into time, leaving one to wonder, and
wind down there, demanding wine to quench the thirst of
a long tale, well told. They always drink the best, for
the story of Tristan and Carmelita is a perennial
favorite; and, as for the ending... everyone wants