Meanwhile, not far from McFearson Hill, down in the swine-commons east of Hamfest village, and at some time not long after the events recently told of the Fire and Water Wizards, there was another contest of wills between two siblings. This time we find ourselves in the company of Storm Wizard, whose real name was John Bellowick and his dear sister Juliette. These two young people happened to be the siblings of the Fire and Water Wizards, of whom we recently heard so much about. Together the four siblings formed an alchemical set, and Juliette was by far the sweetest among them, a young girl who loved the earth and healing, and so had devoted herself to the worship of the Golden Sheaf Elkron, the Celestial Lady, Minvar.
It was after sunrise on that blustery autumn morning in the yard of Mr. and Mrs. Bellowick as the swine were grousing for grubs among the roots of the old elm trees, rutting around snorting while being cajoled by the two siblings out toward the better pasture. Out of the corner of his eye, a momentary glint of polished metal drew Storm Wizard's attention. It seemed to him that a speck of a figure was moving along the distant ridge-path high up on McFearson Hill. The black clad figure was heading toward the old burned out McFearson house. And that was a something of a surprise to him.
It's odd, he thought to himself, for anyone to be heading up there as it had been quite some time since old man McFearson has fled southward to Wheatsdale. It was the night that the fire in which his daughter Pamela died (though some rumors to the contrary persisted, while other rumors claimed her ghost was seen in the window of her room in the old burned out house), and Mr McFearson took his wife and son southward that very night on a wagon filled with the remnants of their belongings and was never heard of again in Hamfest village.
And so, dropping his chores like a hot potato, Storm Wizard insisted that Juliette remain behind to watch the swine and make sure that none of them wandered out into the open pasture beyond the commons.
Well, this was really not going to pan out quite that way, as Juliette was a feisty little thing, and refused to remain behind. And so the two of them, grumbling for different reasons, headed up toward McFearson Hill to see who it might be that was walking the lonely path on that dreary hill. It was probably no one of interest, Storm Wizard conjectured, just a peasant, or a wandering monk, but there was something about the figure that struck them both as ... strange. Perhaps it was the black cloak, or the gait by which the figure moved. At any rate, they rushed along as fast as they could, and made their way past the Hogsworth homestead cutting across their fields, and over the Fox Brook Bridge.
Before they made it that far, however, they were hailed by a young brown haired waif of a girl named Morgana Feyton, a friend from the Monastery of the Golden Sheaf, who also insisted on coming along. And so the three of them marched their way along the ragged path, edging the cliffs and finally made their way to the barn, into which they had seen the unusual figure enter. By that time they were a lot closer, as the black cloaked person had stopped along the trail long enough for the little troop to catch up. What they saw struck them as exceedingly strange. The figure was a beautiful woman wearing a jet black skull cap with a widow's peak, her bright red hair flowing in a luxurious wave down her back, and a long flowing black cloak, black chain-mail, and high black boots. She ware a bright silver buckle on her belt, and carried a long thin sword at her side in a polished black scabbard. Into the barn she vanished.
And so the young adventurer's made their way to the barn very carefully, sidling along the bushes and hedges that marked the old garden that once was the envy of the neighborhood, but now sat a limpid warren of rabbit holes and brown weeds. They slunk past the old burned out McFearson house, noting the second story window where the Hogsworth children recently swore they'd seen Pamela McFearson's ghost in the moonlight. It was dreadfully creepy, and so they crept past as quietly as three field mice. And into the barn went Storm Wizard while Juliette and Morgana remained on vigil outside, only to find that the strange woman had indeed vanished completely.
And so the siblings went inside the barn and searched it carefully, leaving Morgana to keep watch at the door least the mystery woman return unexpectedly. And so it was that they too found the old Dragon Chest, and so it was that they too discovered that it was as immobile as if it had roots deep into the ground. And so it was that they discovered that indeed it very well might have, as someone, they could see, had not long before tried to dig beneath the chest only to stop three feet down. To this Juliette proposed that the chest was not a chest at all, but a coffin, perhaps. Storm Wizard roundly scoffed at this notion, but had no better suggestion either, and even so, he was suddenly brushed by an eerie feeling that he could not explain away very easily.
Quite out of the blue they heard a gruff, low, gravelly voice tell them in no uncertain terms that they'd best not trifle with that old Dragon Chest, and spinning around, in the far corner of the barn, sitting on the floor as though he had not a care in the world, was a furry little man in a red cap, wearing a green vest, and smoking a long stemmed pipe, gazing at them with small beady little eyes and a crooked little smile. It came as a great shock to the two of them, and they recalled that not that long ago, just such a furry fellow and his furry friends were responsible for a great number of thefts at last season's Spring Fair in Hamfest.
Storm Wizard accused the fellow, and there were harsh words spoken on both sides, and in the end the little man managed to work out a bargain with the feisty and argumentative Bellowick children. If they agreed to leave McFearson Hill and never return, he would explain to them about the chest. And so, having made that bargain he told them that inside the chest were magical seeds which would never fail to grow a bumper crop and make whomever planted them wealthier than anyone else in the town. And so the two agreed, after another verbal tussle, to take some of the seeds and plant them in the on the first day of spring (and only on the First Day of Spring!), on the condition that they never come back to McFearson Barn again, and that they never tell a living soul where they got the seeds. Then the little man took out a small triangular key and fit it into the strange triangular lock in the Dragon Mouth of the mysterious chest and opened it up to reveal a pile of small black seeds. Good to his word, the little furry man grabbed a handful, filled his little pouch, and gave it to the earnestly amazed children. Slamming the chest closed with a loud thunderous crack, a flash of sparks, the little fellow had vanished in a puff of smoke. When the children rubbed the smoke out of their eyes and looked around he was no where to be seen at all.
It wasn't long before they quarrelled about whether or not to leave the barn, or keep exploring it, since their agreement, technically, with the little man, was to never return, said Storm Wizard, but they didn't agree on how long they would take to depart... when they heard rustling in the loft above. Climbing the ladder, Storm Wizard was suddenly shocked to find himself the recipient of a blinding flash of light and fell backwards to the ground with a hard thud. Juliette then tried to climb the ladder herself, but she too was suddenly rendered unconscious by a flash of light. It was not for some time until Morgana managed to awaken the two, outside the barn, at the end of the day, laying in the old garden among the rabbit holes and dried weeds. They decided it would be a good idea to head home after all. With the small pouch of seeds in Storm Wizard's pocket they departed into the darkening night.
A cold wind blew down the hill side, as they trundled along blearily. They hadn't gone terribly far when they heard a loud rustling in the heavy undergrowth of the forest through which the foot path lead them. It was getting dark. The wind was howling, and Storm Wizard, being that sort of fellow, marched off in the direction of the noise. Picking his way through the undergrowth he came upon a wild boar that had been rooting in the bushes, and turning on him with an angry snort, it charged him with it's sharp tusks, bloodshot eyes, and yellow saliva dripping from it's mouth. Now, it must be said that there are few in Hamfest who are quite as thin and gangly, under nourished and sickly as poor Storm Wizard, generally speaking, and so when the beast charged him his life was very much in jeopardy. Yet without hesitation, and with a steady hand and eye that belied his diminutive form, he barked out a thunderous chant and there was a sudden flash of lightening that flickered off his finger like some monstrous static charge, and hitting the boar in the head, blasted a black smoldering hole right through it's left eye, dropping it like a sack of rocks as it came skidding through the dirt up to Storm Wizard's little feet. Proud and defiant was Storm Wizard that evening, as they headed back to the their home across the fields.
And so they made it safely home after all, and found themselves warm and cozy by the fire, puzzling over the strange black seeds, and all they'd heard and seen since leaving the swine-stead for McFearson Hill. A few days went by and they thought it might be ok for them to just take a quick peek at the hill and if possible, Juliette thought it was her sacred duty to find out of Pamela McFearson's ghost was indeed in that old house, and if so to help her to find her rest in the after life. And so they head back toward McFearson Hill one chilly morning not long afterwards. But this time they took two of their other brothers, Daniel and Brian, fighters both, and together they took a chance that others might have thought quite foolish.
It was a dangerous time of year, though, and before they could make their way over Fox Brook Bridge beyond the safety of their pastures and the swine-commons, they heard the howling of wolves approaching fast through the forest. They found a refuge in some rocks and took a stand. Four wolves came from the woods and assailed them viciously. It was a battle that none of them would soon forget, and by great luck and daring they slew the wolves and took their pelts as a reward and proof of their prowess. And so they stopped at that spot for a time and rested, making a small fire, and sat in the glowering forest. After much conjecture, they decided it would be wiser than not for them to take their hard won earnings, four fine wolf pelts, home for their father to sell in town, least their parents begin to worry, or worse, grow wroth at their insubordination. After all, there were chores that had to be done!
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