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CHILDREN OF THE LIGHT – Chapter 1 – part 4

Memory alone guided him through the lightless tunnels.

Sorry to say, but I’m currently editing a manuscript for publication. I’ll only have a chance to intermittently add instalments to my blog site. Sorry to all those who have followed thus far… Mick Dawson

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CHILDREN OF THE LIGHT – Chapter 1 – part 3

He recognised the woman, although the did not know her name. Her voice sounded younger than her appearance. With matted hair and rheumy eyes, she appeared at least seventy.

“Nor can I stomach him,” said the man.

His broken teeth nibbled the last vestige of meat from a hapless victim’s rib. Contemptuously, he too threw the bone at Dollifer. Turning away, it glanced from his back.

“You never go on a raid,” said the man with opaque eye. “It will all come to an end soon though; after tomorrow.”

“Aye, tomorrow,” said the woman.

Dollifer dreaded the day for years. Tomorrow, he would have another birthday. One that marked his coming of age in the tribe.

The woman smiled through her filthy haphazardly applied bandages. Horrid lesions and bubbled flesh showed through the gaps.

“Let us see if your mother protects you then.”


His name boomed throughout the long room. Celebratory conversations died almost instantly. Dollifer never liked attention. Approximately eighty sets of eyes watched him as he stood.

The king grinned evilly from his throne.

“Come forth!”

Dollifer stepped through the tribe. Smirks twisted their faces as he passed.

“Aye, my king?” he said meekly, bowing his head.

“You are old enough now. Me and your mother have agreed that you will take part in next eve’s raid.”

Dollifer cast his eyes aside. His mother looked fearful. She may have agreed verbally, but not in her heart.

“One way or another, you will feed the tribe,” warned the king.

Dollifer nodded nervously at first. Then for the first time, a spark of courage prompted him to raise his head. His mother gaped, reading the intent in his eyes.

“Dollifer!” she cried, killing the words before they began.

She got off the throne and took hold of his arm.

“A word please.”

They had only taken a few steps.

“Eat and be merry!” cried the king.

It began the revelry anew, leaving Dollifer and his mother unnoticed. They entered the nearest side tunnel and stopped. She looked both ways.

“My son, I beg of you to never speak out of turn,” she whispered.

“It is wrong, mother to eat the flesh of men.”

“I know it is wrong!” she hissed.

“Then why eat with the others?”

“Because the king distrusts anyone who does not eat.”

Dollifer reluctantly nodded. “What will I do tomorrow, mother?”

He did not ask the question out of a need for advice.

His mother grabbed his cheeks.

“Stay alive,” she said. “Do what you must, as I have. I too have eaten the flesh. Worse still, I have endured the king’s touch and his fetid breath. I have listened to his weak humour, and put up with his every slur against you. All this, I have done with a smile on my face. I have done this so that you might live.”

He swallowed, not wishing to imagine her misery, and years of feigned affection.

She shook his face.

“Please, my son, do not let it all be for nothing. Swear to me that you will never speak against the king.”

His reluctance to agree did not surface in words. A single tear rolled from his eye.

His mother sighed with a pained expression, dropping her hands.

“You know what happened to Cobecca.”

Dollifer lowered his eyes at the memory.

“Well… I must go now,” his mother said awkwardly. “The king will expect me at his side.”

Her footsteps receded in his hearing. Now alone, he decided to go back to his only sanctuary; his private domicile.

Chapter 1

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CHILDREN OF THE LIGHT – Chapter 1 – part 2

The face looked ashen, with a bandage slanted, giving a view of a single eye. What little teeth remained in the all but lipless mouth were broken. No ridge just below the eyes, bespoke of a face devoid of a nose.

Gaping, the pirate took in the other faces. Grotesque mockeries of humanity stood before him. Faces sagged lopsidedly. Broken teeth showed in drooping mouths. Some of them had opaque eyes. Every one lacked at least one finger. All held clubs or knives.

The pirate gaped but a moment. A moment proved his undoing. One of the tribe swatted the back of his head. He sank to his knees. Another shoulder charged him onto his back. The pirate locked his hands around the leper’s throat. More of the tribe delivered blows to his head, clubbing him into submission.

They then dragged him off to the alley’s dead end. An open square hole awaited them. Two of the tribe vaulted into the hole. More of the hunting pack shoved the pirate irreverently in after them. Taking a last look around the lane, they too vaulted down.

Haphazardly bandaged hands reached out of the hole. They gripped the edge of a huge iron grate and dragged it, sealing the opening.

Dollifer did not go on the raid. He only saw the delirious pirate dragged through the tunnel’s muddy floor. In his native tongue, the Nezlander muttered all the way to the side of the fire pit. Horrid faces ringed him, looking down. His semi opened eyes widened with his scream, cut short at the edge of a weapon. Cheers from the lepers echoed throughout the tunnels.

Now Dollifer sat at the rear, well away from the fire, avoiding eye contact.

At the other end of the long room, he could see the king. Tall and heavy of frame, he too wore the marks of his leprosy. Two things set him apart from the tribe. He did not wear ragged clothing and he wore a crown. Atop his brow rested a gold hoop. His throne was nothing more than an oversized chair his people stole during one of their raids. Clutched in his right hand, the butt of his sceptre rested on the floor by his feet. His left hand held Dollifer’s mother’s hand on a neighbouring, but smaller throne.

She too bore the stigma of horrid lesions. Still, the tribe considered her a beauty. Her affections for the king were all that kept Dollifer alive. Often he had heard the tribe say so in surly tones. They constantly reminded him that he was born in the tunnels. That he was even more hideous than the others. For this reason, they insisted that he bind himself more neatly. That not a single trace of his flesh be seen at all times.

Something struck his back and clattered on the bricked floor. A rib gently rocked on its curve. Rats appeared from nowhere, dragging it aside.

“He makes my skin crawl; that one,” a woman said in a hoarse voice.

Chapter 1

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CHILDREN OF THE LIGHT – Chapter 1 – part 1

Togullen stopped by the next statue in the Hall of Heroes. Like the hero the Forgotten One, this one too had bandages covering all exposed areas of his flesh. There were differences though. For one thing, the Nusallean hero’s likeness looked gaunt. With hand stretched out in front of himself, he cowered on the pedestal.

Togullen read the bronze name plaque – Dollifer. 

He sat down on the stone bench set aside for the public. Dipping his quill in his clay ink pot, he set it to parchment…

Dollifer sat back from his tribe. Light flickered from the central fire pit against the bricked ceiling. Its glow outlined their many backs. His tribe usually shared their grisly repast together, here, in what they called the long room. The room itself was cavernous, reverberating the sounds of their revelry. They could make as much noise as they wanted. Even though Caliet’s poorer quarter slept just above them.

Tonight they celebrated, for they had done well on the hunt.

Dollifer only ate of scraps and meat he found on the tribe’s raids. Never did he eat of the main meal from the fire pit. The thing they roasted no longer resembled a human being. He saw the barely conscious man they dragged into the tunnels. They said “he thought bravely.” Dollifer had no doubt. The man looked huge with spirally tattoos. Obviously a Nezlander seaman, possibly a pirate. Beyond that, Dollifer had no clue as to the man’s identity, nor did his tribe care. Their interest in him ended when they made him their next meal.

Dollifer reluctantly listened to the retelling of the Nezlander’s capture. His tribe knew of every tunnel, hole, and dark alcove. Never could they have taken the man in a head on confrontation. They followed him and struck from the shadows, before he knew of their presence.

In Caliet’s poor quarter, the people had a saying, “little fish are eaten by bigger fish.” Dollifer had seen the truth of these words. A drunken man might sleep in the gutter; the smallest fish. Then a bigger fish preys on him in the form of a selskirt. She slips her hands into his pockets to relieve him of his last coins. In turn, a bigger fish preys on her. A homeless waif will then pick her pocket and run into a back lane. There the waif meets with a bigger fish, a ruthless thug. The thug too is preyed upon by the Nezlander pirate.

In his drunken swagger, the Nezlander made the mistake of walking the back lanes. He thought himself safe from any cutthroat. His size, strength, and cutlass could best any armed Nusallean. In his pride, he did not realise that there were even bigger fish.

Dollifer’s tribe clubbed him from behind. The Nezlander buckled, but refused to fall. He attempted to draw his sword, when a knife stabbed his wrist. With blood running freely down his arm, he punched into one of the tribe. The bandages parted where he struck, revealing a face of livid nightmare.

Chapter 1

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NOT BY WORKS Chapter 2 – part 9

Togullen quilled, at times, I have trod the poorer quarter late at night. Would be thieves or assassins have bypassed me in search of easier prey. In most cases, I have heard something move in the shadows. No doubt the Forgotten One watched; ready with his long hafted, double-edged axe. 

The exaggerated myths of Nusalle’s champion went on a few years after, then ceased altogether. At the time, I assumed he died. It was good to have him fade from history, rather than hear of his death. It only pained me that the did not know he could have found forgiveness. Ephesians 2:8 tells me that it is not through works that one can find Salvation. If the Forgotten One had known this, he would not have worked so hard in vain to atone for his sins. 

Salvation can only be found through Jesus; not through anything we do ourselves. 


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NOT BY WORKS Chapter 2 – part 8

Lin Su’s foot followed him, kicking indiscriminately about the body and head as the Forgotten One attempted to roll away. More from desperation, than design, he snatched hold of Lin Su’s right foot, and squeezed. A scream filled the throne room as the Forgotten One flung him aside. Two Guardsmen leapt aside as Lin Su abruptly met with the wall; his scream cut short.

The Forgotten One snatched up his axe from where it fell and grimly walked toward the Yacatanese man. Lin Su groaned a moment, then attempted to rise, only to slump to the floor against the wall. His face became a mask of horror as the Forgotten One drew near. In Yactanese, Lin Su whimpered something in his native tongue. It did nothing to prevent justice falling with the Forgotten One’s axe.

The king turned for Dehoran, still seated on the throne. Quivering, Dehoran feebly raised his sceptre. Ignoring it, the Forgotten One reached for the crown and removed it from Dehoran’s head. With a nod aside from the Forgotten One, Dehoran removed himself and fled from the throne room as swiftly as his overweight legs could carry him.

Every set of eyes in the throneroom watched as the king studied the crown.

“Olleton; come forth!”

The boy walked awkwardly to the throne stairs and mounted them, staring into the gaze of the king. Without a word, the Forgotten One placed the crown on the youth’s head, then turned to face the Blue River Guardsmen.

“Behold, your king!”

The Blue River Guardsmen drew their axes across their chests.

“Devra Kija!”

Kija ran to the top of the dais and bowed.

“There is no Guardsman more loyal or braver than you,” said the Forgotten One. “Take your place as protector by the king’s side.”

Olleton, still gaping, shook his head. “Why? Why not take the throne for yourself.”

The Forgotten One clutched the axe tighter in thought.

“Not yet,” he said softly. “Not until I learn to love others as I should. There are things you said, Olleton that tells me the unknown god has gifted you with wisdom far beyond your years. My father often said “that a man’s greatness is measured more by his compassion than by his strength.” You understand this. Perhaps men will come to call you ‘Olleton the Wise.'”

He thrust out his hand. Olleton gripped his wrist firmly.

Saying no more, the Forgotten One turned, making the long walk across the throneroom for the double arched doors.

“Forgotten One!”

Olleton called after him, now seated on the throne.

“If the day ever comes that you deem yourself worthy of  the throne, then I will gladly give it back to you!”

The Forgotten One walked on, not seeming to register the words.

“Goodbye, Forgotten One… my friend!”

The Forgotten One halted, half turning, not quite revealing his face, then resumed walking through the doors.

Olleton smiled warmly, lost in thought until a steward brought him a cup.

“Thank you,” he said, taking a sip. “It is a good thing.”

Kija leant closer to his ear from behind.

“I beg your pardon, my king?”

“Did you notice the Forgotten One paused by the door and made to speak, but thought better of it?”

“Aye, my king.”

“He was hiding a tear after I called him ‘friend.”‘

“Is that important, my king?”

“Indeed it is. He is finally beginning to heal.”

Kija laughed. “It seems he spoke the truth. Men will call you Olleton the Wise.”


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NOT BY WORKS Chapter 2 – part 7

The Yacatanese man donned his helmet.

“Lin su is worth any ten Blue River Guardsmen,” said Dehoran.

His body guard drew his sword with the darting of his hand.

“As you are about to see.”

“Guardsmen, protect the king!” boomed Kija.

They had drawn their axes and stood defensively, even as he spoke.

“Stand at your posts!” demanded the Forgotten One.

Dehoran’s smirk broadened.

Lin Su stood immobile as if unaware of his opponent with axe held defensively. His elbows kinked in a two handed slash. The Forgotten One barely managed to deflect the blow.

Rapid shuffling, instead of stepping, Lin Su delivered a few more slashes; all deflected from the axe head.

“My bodyguard is merely toying with you,” said Dehoran.

The Forgotten One was inclined to agree, but he saw patterns arise in the Yactanese man’s attack. He had fought faster men than himself before, and knew he had to anticipate. Lin Su’s head shifted minutely, his front foot turned, with the leaning of his shoulders.


The Forgotten One swung his axe full into the blur made by Lin Su’s sword. Metal rang, as the sword spun end over end, bouncing from the wall and clattering to the floor.

Blue River Guardsmen cheered. Lin Su swept the helmet from his head, as the Forgotten One delivered the swiftest downward stroke he could muster.

Lin Su seemed to casually twist aside, as the axe head scattered chips from the tiles where it struck. Before he could raise his axe again, Lin Su punched his arm, forcing him to drop the weapon. The Forgotten One’s senses swam as an elbow filled his vision, then staggered, as he spun with a second elbow to the back of the head.

Sweeping his hand back blindly to defend himself, he caught Lin Su a glancing blow. The Yacatanese man half fell, half rolled backwards, then got to his feet. In deft movements, he shed sections of his armour. Moments later, he wore only the breastplate and gauntlets.

“Ahh, it seems you have impressed Lin Su enough for him to take you seriously,” said Dehoran. “It will however, prove your undoing.”

The Forgotten One punched at Lin Su’s head. Twisting side on, he deflected the king’s arm and struck the side of his head and torso in rapid succession. The king’s strength alone did not allow him to fall. A persistent ache arose from the blows, but no real damage.

He only needed one blow to fell the Yacatanese man. His chance came as he rode a blow across his jaw. Gripping Lin Su’s arm, he thought to break the limb. The man dropped with the bending of his knees, and turned his arm out of the Forgotten One’s grasp. His hand ended in the king’s forearm. Gripping hard, he launched his knee into the king’s midriff.

The king doubled over, and saw the throne room upend itself as the Yactanese man threw him over his back. The Forgotten  One landed heavily onto his back. He swept at Lin Su’s shin, only for the man to raise his foot to avoid the hand.

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NOT BY WORKS Chapter 2 – part 6

“What is this?” asked one of the guards.

Both of them raised their axes defensively.

“I am here to see Dehoran,” said the Forgotten One.

“It is too late for petitions; not that he would see the likes of you in any case. Why do you come, wearing a mockery of the king’s elite mail?”

The Forgotten One leaned closer.

“I am the true king,” he said sternly.

“Tonunda’s son? My father told me he was a freak of strength.”

The Forgotten One bunched the Guardsman’s mail at the chest, and threw him into his companion. One landed on top of the other, looking up with shocked faces.

“Convinced now?” said the Forgotten One.

Running feet scrunched on the white pebbled path. Coming towards them was a Devra of the guard. In his late 50s, the man was still impressive of bulk, and fast on his feet. He drew his axe across his chest in salute of the Forgotten One. When he raised his horned helmet, Olleton saw a broad Nusallean face greying at the sides.

“My king.”


“It is I, still Devra of the guard.”

“It is good to see.”

“It is even better to see you, my king. Have you come to remove Dehoran? None of us have any love for the man; me included.”

“I will tell him to step down from the throne. If he will not, then I will remove him.”

Kija placed a hand on his shoulder, halting him.

“You will find Dehoran will not be so compliant. He has come to enjoy the throne. It will not be as easy as you think.”

“I will do what I have come here to do,” he said, walking on.

“You two,” said Kija. “Run ahead and inform the rest of the guard that their king has returned.”

The Guardsmen snapped to attention, and ran ahead on the white pebbled path.

Kija fell in beside the Forgotten One, casting a glance at Olleton.

“What of the boy, my king?”

“He comes with me.”

They marched together, with Olleton behind them, soon entering the checkered floor of the rounded throne room. As the Forgotten One halted in the centre of the throne room, Olleton receded fearfully behind him. At any moment, the twenty Blue River Guardsmen lining the walls could leap into action.

“Dehoran, I deem you unfit to wear Nusalle’s crown! Step down from the throne!” boomed the Forgotten One.

Dehoran, obese with the opulence of his rule, sat upon the throne unperturbed.

“Seize him,” he said calmly.

His Guardsmen remained in place.

“They know who their true king is, Dehoran.”

Dehoran smiled, tapping his sceptre against his cheek.

“I am no fool. Did you not think I saw the day you would come back for the throne? Lin su!”

A man, clearly Yacatanese, wearing black lacquered amour, stepped from the folds of the curtain behind the throne. He donned a broad helmet with metallic horns flaring from the forehead.

“Lin Su was once the chief body guard of the emperor of Yactan. I paid a great deal of money for this man. Half the treasury in fact. Just for this day.”

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NOT BY WORKS Chapter 2 – part 5

“My father died, due to your brother.”

The bandaged brows furrowed inquisitively.

“Dehoran is no king,” said Olleton. “He taxes us hard to fill his private coffers. Then he forced men into the army so that he could sell their services to foreign kings. My father was among them, and killed in the desert tribe wars of Dabal B’aque. Two years later, my mother died of a fever. For a time, me and my older sister tried to tend to the farm. We lost it through Dehoran’s taxes. Now we have come to the city seeking work. Little chance of that though. Other tribesmen have come in droves to do the same.”

“Dehoran did this?” whispered the Forgotten One.


“I am sorry all of this has befallen you, but Dehoran is not my brother. At the time, I had to have someone replace me in a hurry. Dehoran was a prominent statesmen and a winning orator. I thought he would have been good for Nusalle.”

“He is not. And if he is not your brother, then you can rule again. You are a champion of the poor, aiding people singally. Why not return to the throne? Think of the good you could do then for an entire nation.”

The Forgotten One’s eyes turned glassy.

“I… cannot.”

He turned aside, staring at the floor.

“Go now.”

Olleton remained where he stood.

“So is this what you have become? An anonymous dropper of coins in a beggar’s cup? Perhaps you are right. I would not want a man who turns his back on his friends for a king.”

“I have no friends.”

Olleton placed a hand on his shoulder.

“You have one now,” he said softly.

The Forgotten shrugged his hand free and slammed his fist on the small table, smashing it into several pieces.

“Dare you say such a thing to me, boy?!”

He raised his axe above his head. Olleton remained where he stood, unflinching. The man before him was famed for his benevolence. He knew the axe would never fall.

Shuddering, the Forgotten One, slowly lowered his arm.

Olleton nodded resignedly, turned to leave, and stopped in the doorway.

“You might not understand your true worth… but I do.”

He immediately headed into the street. There was nothing more he could do. Best to just go home and salvage what little life he had left with his sister. The Forgotten One was a lost cause, broken by grief and doomed to remain a champion of the gutter.

He almost turned the first corner.


The Forgotten One ran after him, now wearing mail, helmet, and carrying his axe. He stopped beside the youth.

“Come with me, Olleton,” he said, leading with a bold stride. “It is time Nusalle had a new king.”

Olleton beamed brightly, following with short, quicker steps like a toddler. An hour later, they crossed Caliet’s main square and approached the path leading into the gardens of the front palace courtyard.

Two Blue River Guardsmen snapped to attention at the head of the path.

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NOT BY WORKS Chapter 2 – part 4

He had stretched his luck thus far and turned to leave. Something shone dimly in the light. Leaning closer, he could make out the razor edges of an axe, resting on a small table.

By the unknown god. 

It’s crest bore the head of a snarling dog; obviously a fake. His eyes crept down the haft and widened on seeing a hand, belonging to a heavily thewed arm. The Forgotten One rolled from his bed, putting himself between Olleton and the door. The silhouette closed it and turned.

“You have nothing to fear from me, boy,” said a voice in the gloom.

Ollleton watched sparks emanating from striking flint stones above the table. A small sputtering flame arose, giving him a clear outline of the Forgotten One’s silhouette. The man in front of him had his back turned. It tapered into a vee at the waist. He raised his tree branch arms and began to wrap bandages around his head, binding silver tresses which fell to his shoulder blades. After a few moments, the Forgotten One turned, his head completely covered.

His eyes took in Olleton’s fearful face, then down to the axe and back again.

“Perhaps you would feel safer, holding my axe.”

Before Olleton could answer, he snatched at the haft offered to him. It’s weight surprised him. He could hold it easy enough, but could never wield it to any affect.

“No?” queried the Forgotten One.

He snatched the weapon from Olleton’s grasp, almost making him overbalance, then placed it on the table.

“Did Marin send you?”


“He is a worthless cur who thinks he owns the poorer quarter.”

“Everyone knows who he is, but he did not send me.”

“No,” the Forgotten One conceded. “You are no assassin, nor even a fighter. Marin has wanted me dead for years. I thought this eve he might have gotten the spine to face me. Who are you?”

“I am Olleton, of the Goanna tribe.”

“A tribesman? Normally they do not wish to move to the city.”

“Your axe bears the royal crest.”

Olleton tried not to sound accusing, but received no answer.

“How did you come by it?”

“My father gave it to me.”

“Who is your father?”

“Tonunda,” the Forgotten One said reluctantly.

“Tonunda the Savage?!”

The Forgotten One nodded.

“Are the stories true? Could he really speak with beasts? It is said in the Hall of Heroes that he was the deadliest warrior to ever tread the earth.”

A snort escaped the Forgotten One. “You are asking” if the man fills the legend.” What you should be asking is ‘does the legend fit the man?”‘

“Then you are the true king of Nusalle? Why do you hide here?”

“Because I am not the tenth of a man my father was. It is true, I once ruled this land. When my father died I repelled the southmen beyond the river. But I did not love as my father did. I lost my kingdom, my wife, and my child. That is the price of a loveless man, Olleton.”

The Forgotten One stretched.

“Speaking of fathers; surely it is time you returned home. You look to me to be no more than fifteen.”

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