Writer’s block. Gotta love it. From time to time, I lose inspiration even for the stories I’m most committed to. This is the case with Fall of Paradise. So, for the time being, I have moved on to another story. This one is also in the Star Series, but for the few of you who have read the trilogy, this will sound more familiar.
It’s called The Suntop Gang, a story about Adrian as a kid. Several characters will be easily recognizable. Others are new to the series. Anyhow, this is draft one, so bear with me.
The sound of metal armor and dancing horse hooves clanked and clattered in the knight’s courtyard at Drumach Castle. The Ardenian army had just recently returned from battle, a glorious victory that had sent their enemies, the hideous Gauls, packing. Thus, all was hustle and bustle as the knights began to clean and repair those things which needed such attention.
From his perch on the stable roof, a young page watched the goings-on with interest. His bright blue eyes danced with mischief from behind a mop of unruly blond hair. He was only 11, a few years into his training, but already he was well-known to the castle residents. His name was Adrian.
No one had seen him climb up the stack of crates behind the stables, and so he watched unnoticed for some time.
Just then one of the knights, Efrain, caught sight of a blond puff quivering in the breeze. He glanced up and his eyes narrowed when he saw what it was.
“Adrian,” he commanded. “Get down here right now!”
The boy gulped. He’d been caught. His cheeks flushed slightly as he slid off the slanting roof and landed with a plop in the hay cart parked below.
“What a nuisance,” one of the other knights groaned as Efrain picked the boy up by one arm and hauled him to the ground.
Adrian shifted nervously, wondering what kind of punishment he would get this time. He was well-known, it was true, but his fame was more notorious than anything else.
“Now what do we do with him?” a third knight grunted.
“Leave him to me,” came a gentle reply.
All eyes turned to the speaker and immediately there was dead silence in the courtyard. Adrian glanced up, his bright-blue eyes widening in fear and wonder.
The man who stood before him was tall and somewhat thin, but very muscular at the same time. He had semi-long, light brown hair and gentle, honey brown eyes. He wore a silver tunic over a pair of pants. A silver star pendant hung around his neck. His name was Lance, and he was the knight of all knights.
There was an air of mystery surrounding this man. He had become a knight at the age of 12, something that was entirely unheard-of. He was smart, powerful, and invincible in the eyes of the others, and even those highest of birth looked up to him. His power, however, ran deeper than talent. He was a Star, a magical being with ancient powers. At least, that was what everyone said. There were others, too, who had these magical powers, but Adrian had never seen them. No, he only knew Lance, a man who he had idolized since his earliest memories.
“I’m sorry, Sir Lance,” the boy said as the knight led him out of the courtyard. “I just wanted to have a better look.”
“Don’t worry about it,” Lance laughed, ruffling the boy’s hair. “There are worse crimes you could commit.”
The pair walked in silence until they came to the main courtyard. There, standing in the center, was a sleek, white unicorn mare. An ornate saddle rested on her back and a fancy, bitless headset caressed her face. Her long, spiraling, crystalline horn speared the baby blue sky, glittering in the waning light of a setting sun.
So amazed was Adrian that he didn’t even realize he had stopped walking until he heard Lance laugh, “What? Did you get your toes caught in a bear trap?’
The boy shook himself out of his trance and quickly darted to the knight’s side.
“She’s so pretty,” he breathed, “I can’t help but stare every time I see her.”
“I don’t blame you,” Lance smiled. “It’s not every day a man gets to lay eyes on a unicorn. At least, I never thought I would. But Astra’s a wonderful companion. If you ever become a knight, as I know you hope to, I hope you can find a steed as reliable as she is. A man can be powerful, but as a knight, if your steed fails you, power means very little.”
“I’ll look for a unicorn, then,” Adrian replied, looking up at the man who had always been his hero. “If you can find one, so can I.”
“I wish you luck on that,” Lance laughed. “But in any case, I believe you had a writing lesson you are supposed to be attending at this moment, correct?”
Adrian wrinkled his nose at the thought. The knight grinned at the boy’s expression, then said, “Go on. I promised Master Danan that I would send you to him if I found you.”
“But Sir Lance, I don’t want to sit there and practice boring writing assignments and read boring books. I’m gonna be a knight, not a scribe!”
“I understand,” Lance nodded. “But you still need to do it. Think of it as character building. A knight needs a good character, you know.”
The boy’s mouth dropped open slightly, as though to say, “You’ve got to be kidding me!” but he quickly righted himself.
“Yes, sir,” he replied with something of an agonized moan.
“That a boy,” Lance smiled. “Sometimes a man has to do what he doesn’t want to do for the good of someone else or for the good of his own future. As a knight, remember this: life is not all about the joy of the moment but is, instead, about the joy you can create because of the choices you make in that moment. Now run along and go to your class before we both get a tongue lashing.”
Adrian grinned at the thought of even Sir Lance getting a tongue lashing, then, with that, dashed off toward the castle. He paused at the door to glance back at Lance. The knight had mounted his steed, but was still watching the boy closely to make sure he did as he was told. Then, convinced that Adrian would be obedient, at least for the time, Lance raised a clenched fist to his heart in farewell. Adrian followed suit, then watched as the knight wheeled his unicorn around and charged out of the courtyard, cloaked in the vivid orange of the setting sun.
Then, with a pained sigh, the boy turned and swung open the palace door. For Lance, he’d do almost anything, even if it meant suffering through another writing lesson.