Gabriel learns about the Blackwell prophecy and how the Light Riders - a group of individuals with very special gifts - are the only ones that can stop Lord Malovear's rise to power.
By Kira Morningstar
Chapter 1: Gabriel
“Lord Malovear’s riders are in the village again,” Jophie reported.
Gabriel looked up from his scroll, surprised by this news. It was the second time that week that riders had been sighted. “Again?”
Jophie nodded, sitting down next to him and taking a bite from an apple before continuing. “They seem to be looking for something.”
“Yes,” Gabriel agreed. “The question is, what are they looking for?”
“Or perhaps the question is, who?”
Gabriel set his quill aside, blowing gently on the parchment of the scroll to dry the ink. “Are they still asking the same questions?”
“That’s what Dunn says. They always want to know the same thing—has anything out of the ordinary happened? Or has anyone done anything unusual, something that made people really take notice?”
“What do you think they mean by that?”
Jophie shook his head. “That's the mystery, isn't it? Apparently they’ve been asking the same questions in all the villages as far north as the Lake of the Dead.”
“Curious,” Gabriel murmured. “I wonder what they’re up to.”
For the past few months Lord Malovear’s men had been showing up in the village, unannounced, nosing around and asking questions. No one knew what to make of it, but one thing was certain—they were after something. Or, as Jophie pointed out, someone.
“Actually I heard an interesting rumor about that,” Jophie said, lowering his voice to a whisper. “Dunn told me about it.”
Gabriel arched a brow. “Oh? What did he say?”
“I’m not sure we should talk about it here.” Jophie looked around cautiously, eyeing a few nearby children with suspicion.
“Let’s go inside, to my room. I need powder for these scrolls anyway.”
Jophie nodded, falling in beside Gabriel as they made their way inside the small dwelling. Gabriel’s room was just off the main room and consisted mostly of a desk and shelves of scrolls. The small bedroll in one corner was the only thing in the room that didn’t relate to writing. The desk was crowded with inkwells, quills, inks, powders, parchment, sealing wax, ribbons, seals.
The dark-eyed, red-haired young man closed the door behind them while Jophie walked over to the open arched stone window and peered outside, checking to see if anyone was in earshot.
“So? What did he say?” Gabriel pressed. “Does he know what they’re after?”
“He calls them the Light Riders.”
Gabriel felt a shiver go through him as soon as he heard the words, a tingling that began deep inside him. It was almost as though he’d heard the phrase before. “Light Riders? What are those?”
“They have to do with the Blackwell prophecy. Do you know it?”
Gabriel thought for a moment, and then shook his head.
“It was written by a boy named Silas Blackwell ages ago and passed down to the People of the Whispering Drum in the Northlands. Dunn says Lord Malovear tried to have all the copies of it destroyed years ago. Dunn came across it when he was on a journey to the Lake of the Dead and stopped by one of the Northland villages to rest.
“Silas Blackwell. That doesn’t sound like a Northlander name.”
“It isn’t,” Jophie agreed. “He was found on the lake in a boat when he was a baby. Whoever left him knew the Northlander tongue, for he came with a letter that said his name was Silas Blackwell, and that he had been sacrificed to the lake. But the Northlanders took him in and raised him as one of their own, believing that, because he had been given to the Lake of the Dead, he would have special visionary powers. Apparently they were right.”
“So he made a prophecy? What was it about?”
“Dunn could tell you the details. Something about the rise of a king in the south, one who would do terrible things. But that then the Light Riders would come. Only they would be able to stop him.”
Gabriel listened, fascinated. “Then, Dunn believes Lord Malovear is the king in the prophecy?”
Jophie nodded. “He believes that’s what Malovear thinks.”
“So he’s worried that the Light Riders will get in the way of all his plans.”
“Light Riders,” Gabriel repeated, smiling. “Does Dunn know anything else about them?”
“You’d have to ask him. But when I was in his pub earlier today and the subject of Lord Malovear came up, he said, ‘It’s the Light Riders he’s after, sure as I’m Dunn Narduke.’ Then he said that they were supposed to have special powers, powers that ordinary people don’t have. Somehow these powers are what allow them to stop the rise of the king.”
“What sort of powers?”
“He didn’t say. But that’s what made him suspect Malovear was after them, because of the questions the riders have been asking.”
“Maybe I’ll talk to Dunn,” Gabriel remarked. “I’d like to hear more about it.”
“Be careful, if you do. You don’t want anyone to hear you talking about them. Lord Malovear has spies everywhere these days.”
Gabriel nodded, shaking some powder onto the scroll and then blowing the excess away.
“What are you working on?” Jophie asked, nodding to the scroll.
“Just some documents for the miller. He wanted me to make copies of them.”
“I wish I could write,” the brown-haired boy said longingly.
“Do you? I could try to teach you. First you need to learn to read.”
“I tried to learn once. It was too hard,” Jophie answered. “No, that’s for smart fellows like you.”
“Don’t be so hard on yourself. Anyone can learn. It just takes practice. And you’re smart, Jophie. Don’t ever think different.”
“Well,” Jophie smiled, throwing his apple core out through the window, “at least I know how to pick good friends. Thanks, Gabriel.”
“I’ll always be your friend, Jophie. And I’m serious—you’re smart, whether or not you ever learn to read or write.”
“I’d better go. I’m supposed to be watching Agatha. Who knows what mischief she’s into now. I only came by to tell you about Malovear’s men.”
Gabriel nodded as Jophie left, thinking about what Dunn had said about the Light Riders. He wasn’t sure why, but he found them fascinating. As soon as Jophie had begun talking about them, he had felt a strange tingling inside. What sort of special powers did they have? And was the prophecy really true? Was that really why Malovear’s men were asking those strange questions, because they were looking for Light Riders?
He began straightening up his desk, though he felt extraordinarily lazy. Something about writing all day always made him feel tired by the end of the day. But his desk was a mess, and unless he kept things orderly, accidents happened—ink or powder got spilled or parchment was ruined, or sometimes a scroll got too close to the desk candle and caught fire.
So he was reaching for a quill to clean it as he sat in his chair, his mind only half-focused on the task, when suddenly the quill moved of its own accord into his hand! One minute he had been simply reaching for it, and the next it was in his hand, without his having to do anything!
Startled, he dropped the quill, staring at it with wide eyes. What had just happened? Had the quill really moved?
Frightened, he got up and walked over to the corner of the room, staring back at the desk suspiciously. Things didn’t move on their own accord. Quill pens didn’t move. What was going on? Was he going out of his mind?
Or perhaps...he had only imagined it?
After a few moments his curiosity got the better of him and he went back over to the desk and sat down again.
With shaking fingers, he put his hand over the quill again, and thought about picking it up. He watched with astonishment as the quill trembled on the desk for a moment and then lifted into the palm of his hand! It had moved! He dropped the pen, stood up and then sat down again, not sure what to do next.
He wasn’t going out of his mind, was it? No, the pen had really moved!
He shook his head, again wondering if he were going crazy. Even though he had seen it happen twice, he knew it was impossible, so he couldn’t quite believe his own eyes. He decided to try it again. The quill once again moved into his hand as soon as he opened it. He repeated the movement over and over, becoming more and more excited each time the quill responded as if obeying his silent command.
An enchanted quill?
Gabriel turned the quill feather over in his hand in amazement. But how could the quill be enchanted? He’d used it before…it was just an ordinary, everyday pen.
Or perhaps…it wasn’t the quill.
His heart beating fast, Gabriel put the quill down and then looked around. He spied a scroll and then put his hand out to reach for it. Amazingly, the scroll shook and in the next minute was in his hand. He put it down, reaching next for a seal. Just like the quill and the scroll, the seal slid across the desk, right into his hand!
It wasn’t the scroll or the quill or the seal, Gabriel realized—it was him! Somehow he had made the objects move!
It didn’t seem possible. It wasn’t possible. And yet he’d just seen it with his own eyes! The objects had moved. He’d made them move with the power of his mind!
Gabriel felt almost sick. He got up again and began to pace, trying to make sense of it all. It was all too hard to believe, and he felt a little frightened, despite being so excited. Objects didn’t just move because you wanted them to. It was like some sort of sorcery...but Gabriel wasn’t a sorcerer.
But then how had he come into such a power? And why now?
Then a thought came to him—a tremendous, extraordinary thought. The Light Riders! Jophie had said the Light Riders had special powers! That was why Lord Malovear’s men were asking such strange questions about anything “unusual” happening.
Could that mean…that he....?
No, no. Surely not....
Gabriel stood in front of the desk, staring down at the objects he’d moved. It was all too much. Surely it didn’t mean what he thought it could mean.
But what if it did?
What if it was true?
What if he was a Light Rider?