beseeches Morcyth to come to the aid of his friend, to return his life and heal his wound.

The others watch as he sits quietly with eyes closed. His lips move silently as he prays for Fifer to live. A gasp from Qyrll brings James’ attention to Miko and he stops what he’s doing when he sees a shining nimbus surrounding him.

He can feel the magic from the Star, different than that which he feels when mages summon it. The glow from the Star envelopes Fifer and they all move back as they watch what happens.

For a full minute, Miko and Fifer are surrounded by the glow. Finally Fifer’s chest begins to rise and fall as he starts to breathe on his own. The wound where his leg was severed begins to close as new skin forms over the wound.

Fifer’s eyes flutter open and the glow dissipates.

“You did it!” Jiron says excitedly. To Fifer he asks, “How do you feel?”

“Tired,” he replies softly.

“You go ahead and rest then,” Jiron tells him and he closes his eyes again.

Miko glances from one to the other. “You okay?” James asks him.

“I…I think so,” he says. “I feel good.” The patches of singed hair on his head are as new, as are the other scrapes and injuries he had before healing Fifer. The Star healed him too.

James smiles at him and then grimaces as the pain begins throbbing again from where the bolt is sticking out of his thigh. Jiron comes over and asks, “Should we have Miko fix you too?”

Shaking his head, he says, “I wouldn’t use that” pointing to the Star, “unless it was a matter of life or death.”

“It’s got to come out,” Jiron tells him.

“I know. Best do it now.”

“Qyrll, give me a hand,” he says.

The Parvati comes over and braces the leg while Jiron gets into position. “Ready?” he asks.

“No, but go ahead,” James tells him, gritting his teeth in anticipation of the pain to come.

Jiron grasps the bolt and after a quick glance to Qyrll, pulls it out which elicits a cry from James. Blood starts to flow and he tears off a strip from his shirt to pack the wound. Then he tears off more to tie it securely.

Around them, the old buildings continue to burn. The wind whips the fire from one to another as more and more become engulfed. “We better move,” James says as the smoke begins to thicken.

Qyrll lifts Fifer from the ground and Miko, after placing the Star within his pouch, does his best to help both James and Jiron to follow.

They find a building still in good shape away from the consuming inferno and one unlikely to be in the fire’s path. They bring in wood for a fire and decide to wait until Uther and Jorry show up before returning to The Ranch. While James waits for their arrival, he amuses himself by watching those passing through Ironhold as they take in the damage. He can just imagine the wild stories that are going to be circulating about this latest unexplained incident, a third of Ironhold has fallen to the fire.

The morning of the third day since their return to Ironhold, Fifer is doing much better though James and Jiron still are unable to get around very well. Miko seems his same old self, at least having the Star in his possession shouldn’t bring about negative consequences such as the Fire had. James wonders what effect having been exposed to two focal points will be to his friend.

Near noon, horses can be heard approaching and before they make it to the door to see who it is, Jorry’s voice can be heard. “…had to be here. He’s the only one who could level a town this effectively.”

“Well, maybe,” replies Uther. “But remember that time when we went…” He cuts off just as James comes walking out the door, using a long stick as a crutch. “Thought you might be around,” he says as he glances around at the devastation.

“Just waiting on you guys to show,” he says.

“Everything taken care of?” Jorry asks.

“You could say that,” replies James. “Come on in and we’ll fill you in.”

Jorry dismounts first and moves to help his friend who’s still having trouble despite the days since the injury happened. “…it was way up north when we ran across the Wizard of White Pass…” he continues his story as he enters the building and the door closes.


Walking across the snow covered ground, he makes his way to the meeting. Only four of them know of this meeting, secrecy is of the utmost importance. The inn isn’t far and he’s soon through the door and up to the room where the others are waiting.

“Good,” James says as soon as Jiron enters, “we’re all here.” He waits until Jiron has taken his seat before he begins. He glances around at them one at a time, Jiron, Illan and Delia. “You and I are to be the only ones who know of what transpires here,” he says.

They each nod in turn. “Why all the secrecy?” asks Delia. Her caravan is parked in the usual place, that clearing outside of town. When she received word that James had needed to talk to her, she quickly made her way back to Trendle.

“There’s something which happened when we found the Star that I have yet to tell anyone,” he begins. “I had a vision.”

He relates to them the vision in detail. His meeting with Igor, the High Temple of Morcyth and all that was said, including that the temple must be rebuilt in The City of Light.

“But how are we to do that?” Illan asks when he’s through. “The Empire now controls not only the City but a good portion of Madoc. And from what intelligence I’ve been able to gather, they are likely to launch another offensive in the spring in an attempt to break the defenders at Lythylla.”

He remains silent for a moment, knowing what effect his words are about to have. “Come spring, when the passes are once more clear, we travel to Madoc.”

“And then?” Jiron says in the silence that followed.

“And then,” he says glancing from one to next, “we drive them back to the Empire!” The death of his friend still weighs heavily upon him. They say paybacks are a bitch? Well this is going to be like nothing the Empire has ever seen before!

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