The Enchanted City

Kingdom Tales Kickstarter Campaign: The Enchanted CityOnce upon a time, not long ago and not far away, there was a boy, no longer a child and not yet a man, who lived in the Enchanted City. . . .

The boy, Scarboy, and his younger brother, Little Child, were not like the other children in the city. Yesterday, their mother had died, and they had immediately been taken into custody by the Enchanter’s men. Rumor said that the Enchanter kept orphans to stoke the huge fires that burned deep in the hold of Dagoda, the temple where the Enchanter lived and ruled.

A Burner, one of the secret police who carried out the Enchanter’s bidding, had brought the boys to the Burning Place, a vast square of ashes. There they would watch the funeral ceremonies for their mother, whose body rested on an ornate bier in the middle of the field.

The thought of his mother choked the older boy. She had been so beautiful, as beautiful as the daughter of a king.

“There is a King,” his mother had always insisted. “A real King.” She believed the ancient tales even though signs were posted all over Enchanted City.

THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS A KING.
DEATH TO PRETENDERS.

But his mother had become ill, as so many did in the foul air of Enchanted City. In the last days before she died, she slipped in and out of the fever—often telling Scarboy the ancient tales from her childhood.

“Once a great King ruled our city,” she had said. “All the people thought him beautiful and served him willingly. But the Enchanter came and deceived the people and put a spell on the city. The King was exiled. Those who would find him must hunt for him in the place where trees grow—.”

Oo-mb-pha . . . oo-mb-pha . . . oo-mb-pha-din—the death drums interrupted the boy’s memories. Now he heard the ceremonial bells sewed to the hems of the Fire Priests’ robes. He heard the mourner’s chants. Then a swish, an explosion! The funeral flames had been ignited.

As the swirling swords of fire leaped toward the sky, a long line of shining cars, low and shadowy and quiet, moved toward the field and parked on the edge of Burning Place. The boy’s heart pounded. The Enchanter had come to the funeral ceremony.

Scarboy watched the tall man step out into the field of ashes. The boy saw the amber hair that curled and caught the light of the blazing fire. A handsome man, most thought. But Scarboy’s mother had said that the look in his eyes was cruel. The boy took Little Child’s hand and held him close.

The Enchanter was wearing the robe of fire, a mastery of woven color: red and yellow patterns interwoven with orange and white and blue. Burners, each holding a glowing poker in their hands, climbed from the other cars. Soon the tall, proud man was surrounded by these guards.

The Enchanter ruled Enchanted City with fire. He loved fire, loved its power. He called it to himself and used it to cast spells. Long ago he had decreed night to be day and day to be night, because he was so jealous of the light of the sun.

Now the people of Enchanted City rose from their beds to work and play and eat when the moon, a lesser light, came up. They went to sleep at dawn. Mothers tucked their children beneath the covers and said, “Morning-morning. See you in the night.”

The Enchanter turned and looked across the ash field at the two boys as the drums beat out his personal rhythm, din . . . din . . . din.

“Are these the orphans?” he called, pointing at them.

To read the rest of this story and many more powerful stories like it, go here  and back our Kickstarter campaign to revise, re-illustrate, and re-publish the Kingdom Tales Trilogy. If you want to order the classic, original editions, go here.

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