Count Artis of the Kingdom of Draxban discovers the ancient mechanism that allows him to move freely between lands. Along with the boon, there is a threat. Worlds have been contaminated by impure forces, which reveal themselves, wreaking havoc.

The areas remaining in isolation will soon be on the brink of war, which will determine their fate. In order to face the demons, witches and vampires from the dark of Lanar, people are forced not only to unite, but also to ask for the help of Angels.

Nobody knows that war turmoil will wake up yet another, much more powerful force which has been dormant for centuries.


Thank you very much to the entire Royal Hawaiian Press team and especially to Maria Cowen for giving my novel a chance. Thanks to Maria, the novel crossed the Polish borders. I am grateful to my parents for faith in me and the success of my novel, as well as for supporting me during its creation. I would also like to thank my twin brother Robert and sister Natalia for cheering on me to write. Thank you to everyone who

will reach for this novel because thanks to you, readers, writers can exist.


Forest Blackwood

The waves, pounding the sand, poured out a fistful of rubies. An angel stood above the azure sea covered with a rime. He belonged to a hierarchy called the Judgement and was its leader. Angels lived in the land of Inarax, surrounded by a mountainous area known as a cloud. The rime that surrounded everything here made the mountains seen as moving just like clouds over the sky. The Judgement looked at the island inhabited by the archangel. He was the angel of the highest rank and he ruled the entire land. He felt in the morning that not without reason one of the lower-ranking angels, who were called Shepherds, brought him news. It is time to hurry to meet the archangel himself. He believed that if there were rubies on the beach, something good would happen to him; it was a superstition that prevailed in this area.

He looked again at the stones. The sun's rays fell directly on them; the rocks shimmered in their radiance, making the angel's heart beat faster and happier. He picked up one, made a few quick steps towards it, spread his blue and white wings, and in flight put a ruby into a leather pouch he had strapped to his belt. When he was flying, he passed the Shepherds, they were lower than his hierarchy; their wings were black and yellow and was shorter, came below than the knees. He had his wings to his ankles. When he fell from the sky and landed lightly on the island, the archangel came up to him and seized him with both hands by the shoulders.

“Hello,” said the archangel in his direction. “Let's walk. I have a plan, my friend. I mean people and the land of Draxban.”

“I'm all ears, my leader.” The Judgement looked at him with love and respect.

“That time has already come, my friend. We must appear in Draxban, witches start to threaten people, their king may not wake up one day and their counties may fall into disarray. I want you to turn your attention to this southern one. I have a feeling that his role will be unclear, which means that something or someone expects us. I had a dream about you and the boy, who I can’t see yet. I want you to create a clock for them. This mechanism will possess the elements of all known worlds. It will act as an information about their existence, it will allow people of all worlds to approach each other. Almegia, Syrnia, Unbia, Draxban, Inarax, and the cursed Lanar. This will allow people living in these regions to get to know each other and create a bond with our help. This also applies to us, we will have to open ourselves before them, and each of the worlds is different. You see, our relation is as different as these worlds, Judgement, they must start to see us as persons close to them, I suspect that it will take a while. In Draxban, I want you to order the angels to be more attentive, because we will be simply seen as something completely new. I do not want to arouse in them panic, embarrassment or fear. I entrust this task to you; choosing a hierarchy is yours!

The Judgement bowed to the archangel, pleased, took a ruby from the pouch, and clenched it for good luck. “It is time for me to act, archangel.”

He made take-off, spread his long wings and flew toward the angels that were wandering around Inarax. His captain flew to him.

“I was not looking for you, Captain,” he said cheerfully.

“Well, but I could not stop curiosity. Tell me, please, what did the archangel want from you?”

“Eh, well, a mission is being prepared. I want to keep the action going for the Shepherds this time; they must spread their wings. You know what's going on, buddy!”

“I understand you well, let the rookies quit being lazy,” he added with a smile. They flew to the Shepherds, trained in the fight, who practiced on one of the islands.

“Listen to me,” the Judgement said to them, evoking a grimace on his face. “You will go to the battle.”

They stood in line immediately. Captain Arahiel watched them, walking with a serious expression. “Listen to me, youngsters, it is not fun, not anymore, it is your fire test. You know what will happen when you fail?”

They shouted at the same time, “There will be no higher hierarchy!”

“Now that is what I am talking about, soldiers!”

“You will follow the Archangel's order and go to Draxban, but you have to be discreet, do not show yourself to people and do not step in on them, understand?”

“Yes,” they replied in a chorus.

“You have to act in such a way as to eliminate what is bad there, while being unnoticed by the people. We will decide when we reveal to them and establish a relation. Protect the Counts and the king. Your enemy are witches who are planning an attack on the local authorities and you will be looking for them, understand?”

“Yes, sir!” He heard again.

“Captain, stay with them and train them well, they'll stumble over with this bunch of furious she-wolfs for the first time.” He lowered his voice a bit and added with concern,

“Arahiel, remember about this, please.”

The angel nodded in understanding. The Judgement jumped to the sky, wrapped its wings, the air covered him, and he disappeared.


He appeared in Almegia. The rays of the moon were falling on the amber trees, filling them with a silver light. They gave them back, shining in the dark. He walked towards the rocks. He pulled out a short hatchet in a moment, he was hitting it on the wall. Breaking off a significant piece of it, he began to form a stone box from it. He lifted it up thanks to the hex. He spread out his wings, reaching out his hands to the front; the air fluttered in front of him. He threw a spell at some of the rock floating in the air. An image of a castle in the heart of this land appeared on it. He visited successively the other worlds known to him, and finally he came to the accursed Lanar, where evil prevailed. He reached out his hands again; there was a ubiquitous semi-dark here. He noticed in the distance that something was moving between the red-bursting crowns of the dark trees. It was a beige demon, who was so strongly pushed between trees by something, which he could not land.

He stood a moment; he finally saw that the demon was holding both long black and red forks with both hands. Other demon, black like a pitch, stuck them. The angel looked at them closely, observed that the attacker had yellow hands and feet, he carried short horns on the head. In the end, the one gave up, and he immediately gored him, he hit him on the ground. He got to him, pulled the forks out of him, stabbed them into the ground, and with one quick wrench he pulled his heart out. Something trembled in the Judgment, he saw in the distance how he devoured it. He raised his hands, placing the last image on the next, last piece of rock. He looked at himself threateningly, drew his sword violently, climbed on wings, and flew rapidly to him. The demon caught the pitchfork in a fraction of a second, thus reflecting the impact of the sword. The Judgment was petrified, made a pirouette in the air, holding the blade of a sword close to him, striking the demon's fork as it retracted its deliberate cut, revealing the entire right side. The angel cut him with great speed, he howled with pain, suddenly he fell dead. The Judgment immediately stabbed the sword blade in his back after the first cut.

“It's time to come back,” he said to himself. Immediately after that, he returned wrapped in a cloak of time to Inarax. He was spotted by the Shepherd when he was landing on the rock azure stones, and came running up toward him.

“Hello, general, I am reporting readiness to march.”

“You better leave me, soldier, you do not have this duty. Over eagerness is worse than. .

you know, soldier.”

The young angel blushed.

“Yes, sir.” He said instantly, moving away in the direction of his friends visible from afar.

In the end he heard a voice calling from afar, calling him by his name, “Elgian, are you there!”

It was an archangel, “Yes, I came back.”

“I see that you are coming straight from Lanar, were you battling?”

“Yes, archangel, and I ask myself why we are not there, where we should be.”

“Be calm. Everything has its time, remember that we are devoted and assigned to the sun, and it has not yet answered us. I direct only one question to it every day when we should move to Lanar, it is silent,” he added sadly. “He has not answered yet.”

“So, archangel, we must move to Draxban. I think that I will entrust this task to Arahiel, he has over two hundred young Shepherds; I thought about Unbia and we have matters in Almegia.”

“Yes, so young, inexperienced. . In the land of Draxban they will face the real threat for the first time. And what about the mechanism, Elgian?”

“It is practically ready, I want Arahiel to finish the work and create a scroll, which will tell where the mechanism will be hidden, and it will be a gift for whomever will come to receive it. He will have to go through the scroll stage, then he will easily reach the mechanism. People will start to understand themselves more and more, especially since it has the power to transfer anyone who is within its reach to any of the worlds.”

“It is a beautiful and wise gift, and then we will approach them in such a way to connect us with people. I, Elgian, also want to give something in this gift. Show me the mechanism.”

Elgian put the box on the rock. The mechanism lifted, dividing into seven parts, each of them showed a picture subordinated to each of the lands. The archangel extended his hands upward; the sun's rays swirled between his hands, seven stone parts began to rejoin the box, and then under the influence of the spell they formed a key. The archangel slammed into his hands and the key again became a box in which one of the solar rays had fallen. The Archangel said, “This ray has merged the spell, it will allow the mechanism to change into a key, and it will serve the door to our Inarax.

“Arahiel will have a real challenge to hand it over to the right person.

“Yes, let's leave it to his choice.”


It was already dimming, the sun was covered with an air curtain, only the whirling mountains and the sea covered with a rag emitted a light. The troops were in full readiness. Arahiel stood in front of the Judgment. He said, “I give this mechanism to you.

It is you who will choose when and to whom to pass it. I want to know to whom it will go, so that I can continue the rest of our mission. I entrust to you the care of it. I want to be informed about everything in time.”

“As you wish, general, I created a map on bovine skin. In my free time, I hide the mechanism, transferring it to one of the worlds. People will have a bit of fun with this map, but they will not have a problem. They just go to one of the worlds with it. They will take the mechanism and they will move to themselves. Can it be, general?”

“Eh, captain, let it be, good luck. It's time for you, move on. Start it, protect them, look around for the witches, and stay close to the castle and the counties.”

“According to your order, Elgian.”

They walked through the door carved in the grotto in the middle of the mountain peaks. Arahiel wanted to check whether the key would work. Everything went according to his expectations. They flew straight into the Draxban forest. It was raining and, in the

end, it started to get dark. Arahiel began to laugh inwardly, seeing the angels that had been unaccustomed to this landscape.

“A branch of fifty on the left, the second on the right, the third behind me, and the fourth in front of me.”

“On command,” he heard.

“You take the castle under protection, let the rest choose any county. Five from each branch to me. Tomorrow at noon, I want to hear some news from you.”

Each of the branches moved eagerly in the designated direction. When they scattered, Arahiel covered his wings with his other companions.


They fell asleep.

Night was coming. It slowly stopped raining. The sky was covered with stars, which, just like the mushrooms after rain at this time of the year, filled the divine majesty. One of the Shepherds lifted his sleepy eye, made a gap in the right wing, and saw slowly the red beating eyes approaching them through the woods. He counted twenty pairs.

“Captain,” he whispered.

Arahiel knew everything. He bit his lower lip, swung the leather bag behind his back with a quick movement. Under the influence of spells, it became invisible.

“You will attack at my command!” he shouted now.

The witches roared. They showed a mouth full of fangs, spread out their hideous bats’

wings. They pulled out long axes.

The angels have risen to the sky. They drew swords. Arahiel fired at them with the rays of the sun; the others immediately repeated the movement. The witches took the momentum, they run lowered, holding weapons both hands, facing the ground, and finally they rose on their wings towards them. A few of the young ones had already been hit at the very beginning, so the next ones also cut them badly. Arahiel cut off two at a time: one got a blade on the back, the other one lost her head. Enraged by the losses they inflicted at the beginning; he was hot under the collar. He banged with strength, looking around nervously. Suddenly, a spell reached hi. He fell to the ground, and the witch hit the edge of the ax over his leg. One of the Shepherds immediately came up to her cut her until she fell, however, he also fell down immediately after her. Struck with impetus in the back between the wings, Arahiel saw that they were losing in an unequal battle. He took the witches by surprise when they fought with the Shepherds. He cut three of them through their back.

He heard suddenly, “Defend the mechanism, run away, Captain.”

He saw that the duel between the Shepherds and the witches was even. He jumped to the sky, hit another one over her head.

“To the passage!” he shouted, but he saw only how others were falling. With no time for anything else, he flew over the tops of the trees. He ran ahead, and two witches chased him. Having flown some distance, he managed to turn in the air and hit the spell hard. One of the witches got a yellow light in the chest. She caught fire in the air, curled like an insect in flight, and fell into dark green trees.

He landed violently somewhere on a stony field in the middle of the forest. He felt suddenly what had happened; he was caught by a spell; it got into the wings, temporarily forced him to land. The witch took a powerful blow with his ax. He was steaming a punch, then he cut her in the stomach, until he felt a twinge. As she released the ax from her hand, she immediately pulled out a long hunting knife and stuck it with a terrified grimace on the face of the angel's belly. She fell with her own strength and a set blow a few meters away into the field, striking hard against one of the many stones.

Arahiel felt his time was coming. He removed the leather bag behind his back; there was a mechanism in it and a bovine scroll. He laughed suddenly, because he took with him coins as well as weapons from Almegia, to show them to the young soldiers. He did not

have time for anything. He knew that he would not be able to move to any other world, but he felt that he could still do something before he will finish his life. He unfolded a bovine scroll, said “Almegia.” The scroll shone, a bluish light flew directly to it to indicate the position of the mechanism, and he was transferred to the indicated world. He hit the stone field with a spell. An uneven deep bottom formed, and he hid the map hidden in the scroll.

He was breathing heavily, tears dripping down his cheek, his left hand holding on to the ground, the other spilling the soil with a spell.

After a moment he was dead.


The first unit saw the Castle from a distance.

Angels fell from heaven into the middle of the wilderness. They looked around urgently on the sides, paused, listening for a moment. Here and there the nocturnal singing of owls spread, their roaring continued. One of the Shepherds put a finger to his lips with theatrical gestures, making it understood that silence would prevail. It meant no movement by them. Suddenly, the sound of broken branches came from behind the trees; they understood that the force was responsible for this. Slowly, they took out the swords, still listening. It did not last long - pairs of moose appeared from behind the trees, the dams and toms ran, jumping through lying trees, thus making a unique noise. The angels immediately began to get out of their way. One of them looked at the moon and the starry sky, took a deep breath, and lowered his gaze to the forest again. He saw many red eyes approaching them. Their owners looked like wolves; their hunched posture made them read their movements as a four-legged approach. He directed the blade of the sword toward them. Immediately after him, everyone was ready.

Finally, the witches came out from behind a forest thicket into a relatively open space.

The witches were old, barely holding weapons in their hands. Shepherds were the first to attack. Witches began to roll with axes and pitchforks. The angels finished them without any problem. The last of them shot with a spell, but a white flame hit the spruce tree that was close to her. She fell on her face, hitting the ground with a quick prick of a sword.

“Victory!” they shouted. “We are well trained. Hurray in honor of Captain Arahiel!”

The one who defeated the last witch, ordered them to be the commander of the victorious squad. They awarded him this title. He stood proudly in the middle of them and gave the order, “Let's patrol the area.”

A dozen meters away, young witches watched them. They began to quietly approach the dead bodies of old, age-old witches. Smiling at each other, they began to tear out their limbs, whispering spells, stabbing fangs into them, filling them with blood. They began to change. They looked fabulously young and beautiful. When the spell was accomplished, they ran through the thinning forest directly to several Shepherds. The angels turned abruptly towards them, but they did not do anything. The young witches ran to the next angels. As they approached each one of them, they jumped, clasping their hands.

“Beloved warriors, dearest of the brave men. Thank you so much, you saved our sorcerers' clan from destruction. These lousy witches, these vile creatures, were already close to us and our death.”

The one, who was chosen as the leader, ordered to hide the weapons. He said, “Dear sorceress, it was our duty to bring you relief from certain destruction.”

One of the sorceresses smiled beautifully towards the angel, others immediately repeated this gesture, and then stretched out their hands towards them and blown out the spell that flew straight into the angels’ eyes. They grabbed their hands, each of them moved with an angel to a secluded place. They started copulating with them, hour after hour, without a break. The units that went to the counties fell into the same ambush one by one.

When the pale dawn came, the angels rose to their feet. In their ears, they heard the howls and remnants of the recited spells, each touch of a single tree made them echo back to them. They saw with horror and pallor that punishment had fallen on them. They were gray, thin and hungry. They went without a word to the return path; they already knew that their captain was dead.


Witches bared sons.

The beasts came out of them that carried the wings of their fathers. However, they lost their angelic glow; took on a matte gray color. They inherited long shaggy noses from witches. Purple eyes shining in the moonlight cut off on aggressive-looking faces. Witches in fear let their sons into Syrnia, because there was the nearest shelter there. For centuries, the forces of evil have tried to tear a piece of land for themselves there, ignoring the strong resistance of the priests and angels residing there, and they were wondering how to achieve the intended goal. Demons from Lanar helped them.


The forest around him created an apparent calm. The wind swayed the autumn leaves, danced among the old ones, remembering many trees. His icy, nice-touch touched everything.

Count Artis, a tall black-haired man, wandered the path. He has already moved far away from his court, always thinking about what he must do.

The kingdom of Draxban was divided into the eastern, western, northern parts and the one belonging to him, southern. In this world, angels took care of people; they were the Shepherds who were led by the angel Judgement and its hosts. Centuries ago, they came from the land of Inarax, but being inexperienced in the fight against evil, fell into the trap of witches with whom they were affiliated. By this, Judgement drove them away to redeem their sin.

The Shepherds were the angels of the lower hierarchy; they lacked hardening in the battle. The world they chose was to be a clash with what they were born for - the necessity of taking care of people and defending them from evil. Judgement knew that sometimes throwing down the pink slip could only cause that one of them would simply not make it.

He did not like it, but it was only way for angels to check them, so he decided to forge them from scratch. He imposed punishment on them and sent them to other worlds so that they could wash away their shame, and so that the experience they gathered could eventually be transferred to the world entrusted to them. He himself decided to take care of this kingdom. Shepherds would come again to Draxban, but only when the experience allowed them.

Only knights knew secrets and secret magical places. Artis was just following a mission to one of these places. Each court had a guardian, a guardian with magic skills. Zai, a red-haired brown-eyed woman, anxious about the information from one of the knights, immediately turned to Artis with a request to collect an ancient bovine coil with an unknown handwriting. It was owned by the knight Zelfram, who was to wait for him in the forest castle.

Artis knew nothing about the scroll or what was in it, but he trusted Zai immensely.

This land hides many things, he thought. There are caves to which it is better not to enter and mirrors in which it is better not to look. Ha! Not the first and the last time destiny sends me in the arms of the unknown. Zelfram, yes! I will go to him with a calm heart. I wonder what he has been digging for. He started laughing at himself. He knew him from the last battle in which they defeated the Counts of Count Walrad. Walrad oppressed his taxpayers. It happened that he had stolen the elixir from a witch belonging to his court, and fell into madness, which resulted in unleashing the battle.

Suddenly, Artis' consideration was interrupted by his horse. A dozen robust robes emerged from the forest. Count, in the blink of an eye, thought of the approaching night and meal. He grabbed the spear and aimed it at the game. The smallest doe will look beautifully at the fire today.

At the meal, he was thinking about Zai and Zelfram for a while; about the scroll that interest him. A normal human feeling filled his body and it was a feeling of curiosity. He also felt drowsy and when an owl sat on a branch, he fell asleep.


A jay covered with fear, wounded. Artis dreams; he screams, “A jay covered with fear, wounded, heals fossilized beasts”. Count cringes, body trembles in sleep, hears again, “a figure covered with fear heals fossilized beasts!” He sees a rainbow in his dream, in it faces of iron, the figure disappears, and boulders remain.

Artis woke up sweating. It was already light. He opened his eyes and saw the bird departing into a light fog with the morning prey in its beak. Artis whispered to himself,

“Zai, you'll have to explain this dream to me.”

He grabbed the parchment and wrote down the symbolism that appeared in it: stones, jay, iron faces. . He stood up, wiped his face with sweat, moved on.

The wind gently nudged the bushes of wild lilac, on which the birds were singing metallically. The Count was hurrying along the road to the castle. Two days left. Last night he wanted the dream to fly away like birds nesting in wildly growing forest bushes. He was accompanied by a light fog that emerged from the field. For a moment, he would disappear behind the forest.

Artis decided to stay with the local village administrator for the night. They knew each other not from today; not because he was a Count, but because he often chose this way when he was young; when he was interested in everything. He helped the village leader - he cured him of a curse cast by an envious neighbor who envied his belongings as well as beautiful, well-married daughters. In addition, neighbor Grymek could not forgive him that he was chosen by the population. He went to the witch with a bag of gold. He was not poor, and he asked an old witch to kill the cows, and the village administrator Kolec had to become mad! Then the young Artis, completely unaware of future events, hunted the game when Kolec appeared hanging with a string of various dead birds. He spoke something incomprehensible and his eyes were wild and sad. Artis, who learned magic and spells from Zai, immediately sensed that something evil and supernatural was here. He looked into the eyes of the village administrator and uttered a detoxing spell:

“Silver crow, silver tail

Feathers in fire are burning!”

In the blink of an eye, Kolec opened the mouth, the eyes stopped for a moment, and a purple haze appeared around them. The Count, without looking, grabbed a braided pendant of various flowers, which he always had around his neck. The purple haze was captured by the pendant, and the village administrator, returning to health, saw an orange glow on the Count's pendant. He staggered and fell into Artis' arms. He wept. Artis looked at him, pushing him away from him.

“Who are you, man?” the Count asked.

Kolec flushed with powerlessness and shame, tears running down his cheeks. He responded, “Eh, dear Earl, I am a local village administrator. Eh, my lord, what happened to me? I did not do anything.”

Artis replied calmly, “Village administrator, the curse has been thrown at you. I have this mist, and I mean the curse is captured.” He pointed to the pendant.

Kolec said, “Well, sir, I have a string too.” He took a string from his head. “A curse on me. Oh, this scoundrel will remember me. Oh, indeed, I'll gore him with fork. Lord, I am not a simple person, but I will not let go until he is a live and I will catch him even he will be dead in the afterlife and believe me my fork. . Lord!”

Artis began to speak calmly, “Dear Village administrator. .”

“Well, hmmm! I'll get to know everything who has something to me! I invite you, Countess, into my humble abode. What do you say, Count? Let's go!”

Freshly mowed meadows gave off essential oils that made for a pleasant feeling. They were breathing fully. The Count's horse carried them like two feathers, ignoring the weight of the riders. They missed a siege of singing cranes.

It was a rebirth for Kolec. He heard the sound of trumpets and thought that angels were playing instruments. He shivered all this time. He said to the Count, “Master, what was happening to me? I, like a horned beast, with some rope with dead birds.”

“Relax, village administrator, we will deal with everything.”

The village administrator smirked, “Oh, we will. We are approaching my home, sir.”

A country road was beginning in front of them. You could see a wooden fence from a distance and on it grew a wildly growing dowry rose. There were three large brick buildings nearby: a barn, a cowshed and a cottage.

“Well, well,” said the Count. “You can see, that the village administrator lives here!”

They entered! The women in the courtyard were talking nervously with the peasants.

They all turned to the dismounting riders.

“Oh, mother!” they shouted. “It's Kolec, Kolec. Two days you were gone! We all were going out of our minds about where you were!”

Kolec grabbed his wife and hugged her, daughters and their husbands happily welcomed him. Kolec turned and said,“Enough of this. This is my savior, Count Artis in person.”

“Oh, sir.”

“Yes, my dears. If not for this happy coincidence. .! Oh, if not for this happy coincidence!” The village administrator smiled. “Well, let's go to the cottage. It's time to welcome you!”

The wife of a village administrator, Marka, began to bustle about meals and drinks with her daughters. She spoke to her husband, “Two days ago, you went to look forour belongings. You mumbled something about headaches. Later you did not come back. After you disappeared, the cows were falling one by one. We did not know what to do anymore. .

We were looking for you everywhere, eh!”

“Marka, I got under somebody's skin. Oh, I got. It was a curse thrown at me, at us, at my house.”

“We will talk about it later. Let's eat! We have something to celebrate.” She smiled. Tears of relief flowed down her round face. The peasants began to return happiness and joy returned to their homes!

The Count spoke, “Kolec, it's time to find out about this collusion was against you and who did it. Let Marka bring a mirror.”

“She has one, sir! A wedding gift.”

Marka was already approaching with the mirror, so the Count said, “Now it's time for the spell:

“Silver crow

Cat's eyesight

Show us the dark!”

He grabbed the pendant, a purple haze got in the mirror. Artis caught it with fingers, held it with his right hand and his eyes were purple. Kolec grabbed Marka's hand and they looked at each other.

They all saw a man talking to a witch with murky hair. The woman was dressed in a beige-colored dress, with a nettle leaf on her neck.

Suddenly, Artis with the mirror approached the village administrator and his wife, he asked, “Do you recognize them?”

“Yes,” said Kolec, with hushed voice. “It's, it's Grymek and this woman is aherbalist.

Sometimes she is at the market. I saw her once or twice. She sells poultry.”

Artis replied, “Get away from the mirror!”

“I have not seen yet that people talk in some item!”

Marka stated, “It is magical!”

“Marka,” Artis said to her. “Do you recognize her?”

“Yes, this is the hen who sells poultry. What more can I say; she lives a village from here. She spends her life alone. Neither with children nor man. She has helpers. She manages somehow.”

“Oh. Now I will listen to the rest.” He sank back into the mirror. He saw Grymek give the herbalist a pouch and curses on Kolec, and she promises him his revenge. The haze returned. The mirror has become an object of everyday use once more. The Count looked at them and said, “Your cows were killed by striga!”

“Oh mother, and if it attacks a man!”

“Who puts a curse?” Kolec looked grimly at the Count.

“Do you know some Grymek?”

“Oh, this drifter, this. . that bastard,” Marka shouted. “I will break his bones.”

“Count, we can catch the striga, but we will give Grymek to your judgment. To court with him, sir, to court.”

“Listen to me,” he said. “I do not want you to kill anyone by yourself. The court is a good solution when it comes about this Grymek!”

“As for the striga, you can be wounded and even killed.”

“Help us, Lord, help us!”

“Okay, so I will ask for help my old friend. Tomorrow evening we will go to the field!”

“How should we prepare?” asked Kolec.

“You probably have spears or other weapons?”

“Yes, sir, we have.”

“So tomorrow take your boys and let's go. Now it's time to rest.”

The women listened to the whole conversation. Marka came with the girls, “Kolec, do not go away. Stay.”

“Finish it now, Marka, so I cannot protect us from evil?”

“But Dad. .” said the daughters. “We’re afraid for you.”

“My little ones, that's enough,” said the Count. “We will not be alone. There will be someone with him. I did not ask who, for what and why. We will manage. We will not ask anything more. Let's go to sleep!”


The next day, Kolec took Artis for the rounds on the farm. The women took care of their duties, asked beforehand, that they would not venture into the market and would not announce that Kolec returned.

It was getting dark. The peasants were getting ready, Artis with full kit asked them to come to him. “Give me a weapon.”

The peasants were holding a spear, swords and a pitchfork. Suddenly, Artis blew the dust from his hand. The weapon became lighter, and the shape of the wings appeared in various places. The peasants looked at each other.

“Interesting, sir, interesting. These are certainly eagle symbols!”

Artis smiled and replied, “Probably so.”

He looked at the sky. The family of eagles just flew low over the roofs of the buildings.

“Listen to me. From now on, there is silence in the field. You are ten meters apart from yourself. At my command, you throw spears and deliver the coup de grâce, understand?”

“Yes, sir,” said Kolec.

“Who will be as your friend? If we are to throw and deliver the coup de grâce.”

“That's all in right time. Do not ask me anything!”

Kolec smiled and replied, “Yes, sir.”

The moon glow enveloped the landscape. The cows calmly picked at the grass, whilst the peasants lined up ten meters from each other. This sight so dulled them that they felt a bit bored waiting for this night cursed creature. Artis took the sword, put the blade to his head; he did a ridiculous step for the peasants: quite a deep, right leg, not moving at the left, and began to speak loudly. It was a spell:

“Their cry is sad

Their singing is sad

They are flying in the sun

When they hear satanic laughter!”

He raised the sword with both hands above his head. The peasants saw an arriving scarlet looking like a rat with wings, only without tail and fur. It was something that already wanted to kidnap one of the cows, when suddenly in the sky among the stars it was possible to see the falling comet. Artis swore on:

“Defeat evil, overcome fear

Fall like morning dew, hit the ground!”

The falling comet took shape. It was an angel entrusted to Artis’ father and his family.

At the same moment when the striga caught the cow, the angel cut her head in the blink of an eye. The peasants, dumbfounded, saw the winged figure. It was surrounded by a starry glow, the sword shining with the light of stars. Artis said to Kolec, “Now finish this odiousness.

Kolec's face darkened. He grabbed the spear and threw it into the body of the striga! The angel appeared in front Artis and the village administrator. Kolec waved his hand at the peasants; they approached them, and the marks from the weapons disappeared. Kolec whispered to Zemek, so that all the rest, and he, did not gape so much.

“Stand at attention,” he added.

“Angel, thank you,” said Artis. The angel looked at him, and his eyes seemed to be stars in the dark.

The angel announced, “The bond given to us by your father is eternal, Artis.” He smiled and flew away. The peasants again saw something in the shape of a comet. They thought that this night would be something that will stay in their memory for eternity. Generations will sing about these events.

Kolec grabbed Artis' arm and said, “As long as I'm a village administrator, the village will be grateful to our grave, forever.”

“It's half our way, village administrator, only half!”

The body of the night creature was killed. The peasants said that it was not a rat. It was a reptile, a bulging eye, a crease of a creme-rat. They burned it and there was peace. They returned to the cottage, drank honey from Kolec's recipe, and fell asleep.

The morning sun awoke them; they sat outside. At the meal, among the trees long-tailed tits and titmouses flew merrily. There were swarm of them. Artis said, “Now it's time for the judgment of Grymek and this witch.”

“So, do your duty.”

Artis went to the market. Grymek revolved with his wife at the baskets of eggs and forest mushrooms. They were talking to a woman with murky blond hair. Artis stood

further away and he heard Grymek's wife niggardly and invitingly express herself about the pendant with the nettle leaf on her neck.

Together with her husband, they praised Krywa's products, “Oh, Krywka, Krywa, you have so fat ducks. Oh, and how many leccinums and boletes.” Looking into each other's eyes, they smiled at each other. Artis approached them. Krywka reddened. Grymek looked at him, then he grabbed the egg and drank it, slamming the shell on the table.

The wife looked at the Count and said, “It would be better for him to have health than a weasel eats it,” and she smiled happily.

Artis could not stand it and began, “Well, maybe, Mr. Grymek, I'll show something.”

He showed them the pendant. Purple haze came out from the cover. It hit Grymek and Krywa, the nettle lit up and Artis uttered a spell, “Burn, fire, white wood in it.”

Krywa began to sweat and fall to the ground. She heard the angel's voice in her head, and she fainted. Grymek and his wife had a mournful face, as if they admit to everything.

“Follow me,” he said to them.

They were tangled with a spell. They followed him, and the energy of the angel interlocked them with Artis. He grabbed the pendant. A Sonchus flower appeared in the sky, flashed, the leaves scattered, and the yellow light struck Grymek and his wife in eyes.

Their pupils expanded. They saw a cold emptiness - it was their dungeon. In their heads, they heard angel sentences: five years for a curse.

Krywa turned into nettle and as a flower she grew on the meadow they passed. This is the fate of villains and witches.


Artis saw a familiar sight: a fence that remained, a hedge of mossy rose, buildings. As if the idyll, temporarily interrupted, only seemingly disappeared from this place.

“Count, our savior has returned,” said Kolec, who grew up in front of him when Artis entered the farm. They shook hands.

“Eh, Village administrator, many years passed, you know how many?”

“Eh, Count, happy people do not count time, especially here in our village far from the manor. Ha, ha, ha. Women at that time gave birth to sons. They are as sharp as a needle.

Imagine, Artis, that grandchildren bought the property of this accursed poisoner, Grymek.

A lot of land we have now.”

“Well, I see that there is something to drink for!”

“I invite you, please rest.”

“I'll tell you everything at supper!”

He began by saying that Zai, the guardian of the court, was delighted and immediately worried when she learned that something was found in the old castle, and that the knight Zelfram was waiting for him to take this thing away!”

“I am excited. Listen to me. We do not know anything about this thing. It is just that Zelfram watches over the scroll and he also wait for answers.”

“Nice, knight, nice.”

Night was approaching. Skylights gave light, bringing out the hidden beauty of the garden. The singing of nocturnal birds was heard in the distance. The bats were catching mosquitoes at the lake, which started just at the end of the cowshed, and the cattle were quietly sleeping in it. Natural meadows full of flowers brought a honey-lemon scent. The frogs were coming around. Kolec and the count drank wine, eating venison. They talk about these years and joked about a certain witch and her necklace with nettle. At some point, they started humming the song:

“Oh, girl,

Do not collect nettles,

Do not collect sonchus power!

For this nettle is green

And will bite you and burn your nose!”

When the time came to say goodbye, Kolec said, “I know that you have these different abilities that allow you to survive.” He looked at Artis. “It's a gift for you from us.”

Marka covered his arms with a warm coat made of raccoon dogs.

“We hunted them a lot. They are everywhere. I thought I would do one more.” She smiled. Artis hugged her.

“Thank you, Marka,” he replied. Village administrator, Kolec, shook his hand.

“Over and out. . ”

Artis looked at them for a long moment, then said together with Kolec, “Yes, happy people do not count the time.”

Marka began to laugh happily.

The mossy roses and their captivating smell favored him. Birds on bushes sang loudly, there was their time. Symphoricarpos bushes have already begun to bear fruit.

He started to go. A falcon that chased after a titmouse flew over him, birds flew into a lilac bush.

The moved Count Artis was already far away. The horse carried him back into the deep, beautiful forest. The sun, slightly hidden in the lead clouds, threw rays all over the surroundings. The rains fell from the sky, and the cold air flew into the lungs.

Kolec and Marka hugged each other, closed the gates and returned to their daily duties.

Far away from Kolec and his house, Artis drove into a hidden road. It led to the forest castle. It stretched through holly trees, oaks and spruces, and it was invisible to the human eye. Artis uttered the spell:

“The song of an iron raven, a whiff of dark wings.

Feathers are falling on the nest.”

The pendant on Artis' neck was surrounded by a black feather and glowing pink. A road has been created. His eyes were now the same color as the raven's feather; they turned pink and black. The road, seemingly only safe, led through slightly mountainous areas. The meadows were full of flowers and herbs here. On the rocks there were signs of priests who had a settlement at an oak hill, where old ancient white oaks stood. Their resin was a valuable magic ingredient.

Artis wanted to visit the priests. These magical beings have for centuries cultivated their own rituals. They were very friendly towards the population, and sometimes they also helped many people, for certain gifts and favors. The Count decided to go to them on the way back to get more resin from white oaks.

There were Granite Mountains on the horizon, a mountain gorge going up, writhing like a viper in the desert. He reached the place to the mountain peak. It was much easier now. The feather appeared and disappeared. The mountain forest in which it was located had the shape of the letter L. It was a mixed forest, old, freshly fragrant with autumn leaves whirling together with strong gusts of wind and falling in various places, richly decorating the landscape.

He reached the beginning of the lands due to Zelfram. Chestnut fruits lay by the trees, decorating both sides of the path leading to the manor standing at the end of the forest.

The manor made of granite rocks was cold in the touch; the yard was fenced with a wooden fence. At one end, a hawk landed, sang and flew into the forest. A woman with two boys came out of the mansion, holding both by their hands. Artis uttered the spell:

“Shine, autumn leaf,

Collect sunny rays and dance!”

The woman was Kamao, the caretaker of the forest castle; a dark-haired, blue-eyed sorceress with gentle facial features. She looked at Artis and said, “Boys, go to the Count.”

Smiling happily. The youngsters in the middle of the road took their natural form; they were two lynxes of the size of a horse. Their eyes turned yellow and at the same time went out. Artis cheerfully jumped from the saddle, bored a soothing melody into the ear of his horse so that he would not kick in defense of himself and his master. The horse, already calm about their lives, welcomed the animals, blowing them straight from the snores into their faces. Artis began to stroke the lynx, he approached Kamao with them and they fell into each other's arms. They went inside, big lynxes Anxe and Wolxe were playing in the yard; the human eye could see cheerful running children, boys fighting with each other in a queer battle.

The stone mansion, forged from cold granite, had a dark-red color. Thanks to magic, it kept the fragrance of flowers and herbs inside and produced pleasant warmth.

They sat at the table, a heavy wooden table, the top of which was made of blue and cherry stone and carried refreshing, warm energy. Kamao spoke, “Zelfram is waiting for you, Artis. He found a scroll with a letter forgotten for centuries, and there are drawings on it. Is very interesting. I looked at him and I think that it can be quite important for our land, for Draxban! I also think that priests from the settlement of white oaks will be able to help. They were among the first in these lands. They appeared during the reign of your family. I think it's about the time of your famous great-great-grandfather. We know that there was a difference between them, but maybe this scroll will help us understand the course of those events. You know, I could work on it right now, but that is Zai's job, so I will wait for the information from you. The sooner the better. I am curious about what is hidden in it.”

“Kamao, I am also very curious. I also had to talk to Zai about my dream that I had a few days ago.”

“Do you want wine, Artis?”

“Yes, please. Maybe this is my favorite, from the needles of spruce and your grapes?”

“Ah, how did you know? Put your hands on the counter.”

Kamao at that time leaned out a cup of wine. She wore a bracelet of flowers-herbs. She grabbed his hands and an herb-flower emerged from the tabletop. It was mud. It flashed a white-yellow glow, an image appeared on the stone.

Boulders in the forest stood in the shape of a hexagon. From each of them, a jay was flying out; each of them different. The birds gathered, formed the shape of a circle; every hour they sang. Later, each of the jay flew into a boulder subordinate to another. A rainbow appeared in the middle and a figure in an iron helmet emerged from it. Her red eyes were glowing, the beast's teeth were emerging, and suddenly a spell could be heard:

“Owl covered with a rainbow

Heal the fossilized beasts!”

Once again, the jays flew out of the boulders. Each of them surrounded the energy of a different color. At the same time, they hit the beast, and she disappeared, fell, her body began to fall apart sharply. Kamao saw the angel approaching. He put a stone box on the center of the hexagon and said to them, “This object is waiting for you for centuries, hurry up.” Artis looked at Kamao, “If I have, we have to hurry; it's time for me.”

Artis realized that the land of Draxban was no longer the same place he knew. This magical box upset him a bit. He felt uncomfortable. He realized that he was chosen from among his family. He felt the breath of an angel, the same one that protected and looked after them for centuries.

“Zelfram will tell us more.” By saying this, Kamao had her own interest in this matter.

“Your dream is an indication for you that there is some secret here and it time is coming.”

“You're right, Kamao. In nature nothing is lost. As they say, everything has its time. As you can see, this time has come.”

They left the court together.

“See you, Artis, give a nice word to Zai.”

“Of course!”

He moved forward. Lynxes accompanied him for some time. He rode the path to the castle. He was struck by the refreshing autumn fragrance of trees and colorful leaves; old beautiful trees led him deep into the forest thicket. He left in front of a tall wooden fence that stretched far ahead. The first of four watchtowers of the castle began. An open gate welcomed guests.

The buildings were made of granite stone, the same one from which Kamao’s court was built. Solid, cold, dark-red stones stacked one on top of the other. Around the high wooden fence grew a natural wall of ginkgo trees.

Artis pulled into the yard, tied his horse and walked straight ahead, where the wooden and stone manor house was located. He heard people talking. Then the knight accosted him.

“Hello, sir.”

“Hello,” he replied. “Is Count Zelfram present here?”

“Yes, he is in the middle of the mansion.”

“Well, thank you.”

He went to the main door and found the knight in the court. Zelfram was a man of medium height, stocky with a slightly round face, on which the good humor was drawing.

They greeted each other, shaking hands with each other.

“I rushed here hurry-scurry. Now save me waiting and talk, man, what is it?”

“Or maybe first sip something stronger on this autumn aura?”

“Well, one cup and my ears open.”

Finally, Zelfram handed the scroll to Artis.

“Please, look.”

He put it on the table and began to grow. The scroll represented drawings of leaves and stones.

“Ah, those old tricks. And I must believe in it, Zelfram? Someone intentionally left these leaf-stone engravings. They look as if the child was collecting them in the forest and chose more interesting treasures.”

Zelfram laughed a moment. Artis put his hand on the open scroll, the pendant flared.

A hewn uneven stone appeared on the cowhide. The jays surrounded him until they took the shape of a clock. Leaves and stones took on colors. The jays formed a circle, and spun continuously.

“What is that telling us, Artis?”

“Eh, we see uneven stone and birds. In addition, leaves and stones change color and shape.”

“You see the same thing as me.”

“Yes, Zelfram, I think I will leave the rest to Zai. We will end for today. Too many unknowns.”

“I agree with you, curl it, but remember about me when you discover its whole secret.”

“Castellan, start talking. How did this object find itself here?”

“This scroll had one of the peasants. He drew stones nearby from the forest. He needed them for construction. The scroll was hidden in a sack, which also contained coins as well as weapons. Interesting. You see, Artis, a boy found it as a blind pig finds a truffle; he made a pile. For the fact that he brought it to the court, I still rewarded him; let him also have something.”

Artis sighed. He decided that he would tell the castellan of his last experiences, “I had a dream on the way. Kamao brought it out by spells. The dream spoke of a stone hexagon and a stone box. An angel appeared in it, who guards us and gives us this device. In my dream there is also evil in a pure form and as if it was also lurking for this object. Do you have it too, Zelfram? I mean visions and strange dreams.”

“Well, Artis, to be honest, I did not have anything like that – neither dreams nor anything similar. You know me, I would say right away. What you say is interesting. This dream can be an instruction, a map, how to get there. Hmmm, maybe it's an angelic tip.

Artis, we know them not from today. We have a scroll. Maybe it will lead us to the goal. I have such a feeling.”

“What is the news from the priests from the settlement of white oaks?”

“I think everything is the same. They go for herbs, pray for their stones; they worship signs on trees; generally good for them. They asked people if they wanted to learn something from them, to trade. Those who agreed, do not regret. When I come back, I will go to them.”

“A good idea.”

“Greet priest Ekwir.”

“So, what, I invite you to the feast.”

“Yes, Zelfram, I think I will leave the rest to Zai. We will end for today. Too many unknowns.”

“I agree with you, curl it, but remember about me when you discover its whole secret.”

“Castellan, start talking. How did this object find itself here?”

“This scroll had one of the peasants. He drew stones nearby from the forest. He needed them for construction. The scroll was hidden in a sack, which also contained coins as well as weapons. Interesting. You see, Artis, a boy found it as a blind pig finds a truffle; he made a pile. For the fact that he brought it to the court, I still rewarded him; let him also have something.”

Artis sighed. He decided that he would tell the castellan of his last experiences, “I had a dream on the way. Kamao brought it out by spells. The dream spoke of a stone hexagon and a stone box. An angel appeared in it, who guards us and gives us this device. In my dream there is also evil in a pure form and as if it was also lurking for this object. Do you have it too, Zelfram? I mean visions and strange dreams.”

“Well, Artis, to be honest, I did not have anything like that – neither dreams nor anything similar. You know me, I would say right away. What you say is interesting. This dream can be an instruction, a map, how to get there. Hmmm, maybe it's an angelic tip.

Artis, we know them not from today. We have a scroll. Maybe it will lead us to the goal. I have such a feeling.”

“What is the news from the priests from the settlement of white oaks?”

“I think everything is the same. They go for herbs, pray for their stones; they worship signs on trees; generally good for them. They asked people if they wanted to learn something from them, to trade. Those who agreed, do not regret. When I come back, I will go to them.”

“A good idea.”

“Greet priest Ekwir.”

“So, what, I invite you to the feast.”

Fish, vodka and poultry were served. Zelfram still had his assumptions about drawings inside the scroll and dreams. They came to the same thing, that Zai would lead them.

“We can’t take away this pleasure from her. Kamao was already rubbing her hands, but she herself gave priority to Zai.”

“Such a hierarchy and agreement between them.”


The wind rose and brought a white snow late in the night. From the force of the breeze, the branches stretched, white powder poured down from moment to moment. The starry sky merged with the silver glare of falling snow. The howl of the courthouse made feel anxious and drowsy, but they gave way to the beauty of the winter of the silver night.

Artis was snoring in his sleep. He was dreaming about Zai, who was brushing her hair.

She gently embraces him in her arms; they kiss. He caresses her breasts, she kisses his neck, and they lie down naked on the bed. They love passionately, until suddenly Artis begins to die, disappear. He speaks to Zai, “My Dear, where you and me. .”

As if he wakes up. He hears the angel's singing - its sad singing. In the winter of turmoil, the silver sword hits the sword. It is a sad night when the trees lose their autumn leaves.

Snow falls on the arms of the trees. An ancient figure appears from white oak, as if made of iron; its dance is flexible and had rapid movements. It leaves behind the wind striking the night. He sees an angel. The beast hits the half-turn, the angel evaporates, opens his mouth and a metallic voice comes out of them. The stone demonic figure throws his sword at the right wing. The angel kneels and sticks the demon's sword. Beasts have their weapons raised in the air. The angel holds the handle, pulls out the blade, holds the weapon with his left hand, rotates around its own axis, and cuts off the beast's head. Artis sees it all, wrapped in the wind. The angel looks at him, opens his wings and speaks.

“Hurry up.”

Artis woke up. The pendant was a symbol of priests from the settlement of white oaks.

The Count rose from the bed and walked across the corridor. He found Zelfram.

“What happened, Artis?”

“Listen. I think the priests.. they have brought with them all that hope, but also the bad thing, long ago, a very long time ago. These visions, the dreams I have, tell us that the end of the fun. That we did not notice something that goes around us. In a moment we can stumble solidly and so we crash on the floor, that we will not see anything again. Twice an angel fights this thing in my dreams. A beast with red eyes who moves strangely in a dance movement. It is fast, and I do not know what it is. I just do not know.”

Zelfram lost his composure, grabbed his shoulders.

“Stop tearing. We will do something. We have to. How many of these beasts were in your visions?”


“Okay, so I will inform the guards throughout Draxban to look out for it, a red-eyed beast according to your report.”

“I, Zelfram, will not only go to the priests for resin from white oaks.”

He looked at the castellan knowingly.

Zelfram sent his men with letters and details about the upcoming threats. Meanwhile Artis got on a horse; carrying a scroll with him. Snow merrily creaked under the horse's hooves. The Count rode through the forest, returned to Kamao to tell her about visions.

Wild cats were running joyfully on the snow. One chased a hare, the other one on the tree grabbed a weasel that slipped between the bushes to catch a partridge.

“The view is always happy at your place.”

Kamao began to laugh, grabbing the horse's bridle. They went inside.

“Have you heard?”

“Yes, Artis, do not be afraid. Zai also knows. You just go there and search for the truth.

If our adorable angels cut out these beasts so much, it means they are guarding us and guarding us better than we think,” she continued, looking in his eyes. “Only what we have to do is to ask our priests,” and here she winked, “what the hell it is, and from when it is walking around our Draxban, and why we do not know anything about it. It's really time to find out from them what the truth is.”

Artis headed straight for the white oaks. He traveled the same road, turned right, and entered the forest path. Dense rowans grew on it, boulders stood unevenly apart. On some of them were signs of priests. The road led down. Snow fell to the height of horse's hair. Artis noticed that the path in front of him was overgrown with a tree that bent over a huge boulder. He patted the horse.

“And what will we do next?”

He pulled a small stone and a piece of bark from the bag attached to the saddle, saying the spell:

“Wind up petals,

Rose, wind up petals,

Leave a stem full of spikes.”

Under the influence of magical powder, the stone began to rotate and pulse with a red light. It hit a fallen tree from which was only ash remain. The road further became passable; the snow melted. The path led down.

Artis slowly descended with the horse to an even surface, where on one side the lake of Luto began, and on the other, there was a bit of swampy glade. White and gray herons walked on it. Artis accelerated, he started trotting. Slowly there were traces of human presence. The great water mill was emerging on the left, the settlement was already beginning, all of a field stone with elements of wooden decorations. Two priests were leaving the dirt road. Artis drove with them to the settlement. They were dressed in black and white clothing with red hoods with a thin material.

The horse was escorted to the stable. The buildings here, regardless of the application, looked similar; they were massive, long and high.

“Where to ask about the elders, about Ekwir?”

The priest smiled.

“Hello, lord from Draxban. Ekwir sits in his house, the road to the end and on the right.

You'll find him there.”

The Count reached the door of the house, came in. Ekwir was just squeezing the bark of the white oak into the pitcher. The liquid dripped thickly.

“Oh, what a pleasant surprise. Hello, Count, what brings you this winter's afternoon?”

Artis took Ekwir by the forearms.

“Hello, Ekwir, hello. We have known each other for a while, right? So, I will cut to the chase. Recently I have different visions.”

“What content?” He spoke in a calm, booming voice.

“About the angel and the beast, the jays, the circle, the strange box.”

Ekwir looked at him, sweat on his forehead appear. e grunted. From the beginning, he wanted to hide the first impression, but decided not to play in front of Count.

“The thing is that what you say makes sense. These are the signs from our old world. A few centuries ago, our sorceresses took shapes of jays, because they could only get to know your land. Your magic is close to nature, so the stone-passage itself filtered the magic, like our mill do with water. In this form, our sorceresses have been admitted to Draxban in order to give us knowledge about you, because, as you know, our land,” he flushed with shame, “is no longer good. From the beginning, the roles were mixed up, it is cleaner and calmer at you.

The sorceresses were amazed at this change. The stone-passage simply accumulated their good energy and rejected the rest. Well, as you know, we have settled here centuries ago.

Yes!” He stroked his long black beard. “I see that a very serious matter. Sit down, eat, and I will continue. Maybe we should tell you from the beginning of our stay about the differences between Draxban and this land, where the stone hexagon opened us the opportunity to reach you. The sun always shines there and our white oaks bloom.”

A tear ran down his cheek. Artis was proud of himself for this belligerent attitude.

“You see, these beasts in question.. ” he looked sadly at Artis, “. .they used to be.. ” He leaned over the table, holding it with both hands. He felt as if the electricity had passed him on the back. “. . They were angels, Shepherds. Until they encountered witches, not our sweet-haired sorceress. These witches so lured our Shepherds, he saddened, “until they lured them. They started to copulate with each other. Witches gave birth to ordinary boys, but it was enough to look at them through magic and it was clear that they were beasts.

It's not a legend, Artis; it's a story of the sun cast over our land. These beasts feed on every blood. These our angels, the Shepherds, have been punished severely by the angels of

Draxban, called the Judgment. And their offspring falls from the hands of their own fathers.

As you can see, your angels are more effective. Besides, they were not tempted by this damned sweet thing. It was centuries ago. Sorcerers drove the witches off, but we just went where is better. However, there are still conflicts that occur, not only against this background.” He reddened again.

Artis burst, “Ekwir, what I hear is,” he shouted, “a big vague hint for me. You hear me?

BIG! Can these beasts be frisking here in Draxban in larger number?”

“They can,” replied the priest.

“What are the white oaks saying about it?”

“I will add to the consolation that resin from oaks works on it deadly, when you add magic to it. You know, if they would arm people with resin, that they would be safe, and if they would enrich the resin with one powerful spell, which would bring the desired effect.”

“Ekwir, this should probably ask an angel.” Artis looked at him threateningly. “You had to secure your magical passage right away, do you understand me? In my dream I see a stone box and I do not know what is in it! Maybe you do not say everything you know, priest.”

“Unfortunately, Artis, I do not know anything about the box.”

Artis tossed the scroll onto the table.

“Expand it.”

The priest listened. He took in the marks on the scroll and said, “It's our legend. How did this scroll come to you?”

“Well, by some coincidence it was found in a sack of coins and weapons. The sack was buried in a field among stones.”

Ekwir lowered his voice, “A clue is given in the scroll that leads to the ancient tool. This tool, Artis, has many uses. It came along with your angels. I think that this device can help us. We can still save our old land.”

Ekwir picked up the scroll and kissed him. Artis reacted immediately.

“You're going to Zai with me as soon as possible.”

“Of course, I will go. If a miracle needed, it's only in Draxban.” He smiled broadly.

“You will issue the order to your priests to start distributing the resin in Draxban. They are also to inform the local authorities that it is available at marketplaces, inns and wherever there are people. They can also buy it from you.”

“Okay, I'll give it right away; let it happen. Everything will be as planned. Artis, what does Judgment and his angels say about it, do they already know what happened? I wonder why Judgment and its hosts have chosen this world.”

Artis scratched his chest, then took a sip from the mug on the table, “Priest, my father, the Count of the southern kingdom, Henryk, he was the first to meet an angel on his way, and this angel was Judgment. When he came back from the battle, in which the witches gouged a larger number of troops, he encountered him standing on a forest road. The angel pointed the forest with his sword, and soon after a few of his companions fell from heaven. A moment later, a witch started directly on them. Judgment deprived her of her head with one quick move. The rest of his angels finished the work, cutting the remaining witches. There was a wild scream in the woods. My father mentioned that he asked the angel to let them rest with them at the shared bonfire.

Ekwir drank the goblet of wine. “He agreed?”

“Yes, he sat down with them. Then my father asked him where they came from. He told him that from the mountainous region. He added that mountains look there like clouds in the sky, but they are not. He also mentioned that the world is also surrounded by the sea.

Judgement seized him by the hand and informed him that during Henryk's life, the angels would not appear to the people, and he himself had many duties, but the father would gain the right to bring him back to the rescue. Watching at my father, he said that he was entrusted to his family, including me!”

Moved, Ekwir asked, “Why did not they want to show themselves to people then? Artis, please tell me when you saw him for the first time?”

“Judgment explained laconically that the evil that prevails in Draxban is scrupulously searched for by his angels. When my father asked if there were more of them, he added that they were divided into hierarchies, then he also mentioned about the Shepherds. That they are the beginning and they are the middle, that the Shepherds, as a lower hierarchy, are only learning through experience and this is a test for them. When they return from other imperfect worlds, they receive a higher rank. The best of them are joining the hierarchy of the Judgment. He noted that this happens only after death: when their soul is formed into a bodily shell; he descends, taking the form visible to us and understandable.

Then the same existence strives for the achieved level, entering the appropriate hierarchy.

He became sad, saying that sometimes Shepherds never reach this level.. ”

Artis stood for a long moment. “Ekwir, you ask me why they are here. Well, as a child I went back to the same questions. Then my father answered me like this: 'The human heart is like a branch; it will wither, not hearing the song of the returning bird'.”

“Ah, Count. We did not have the opportunity to question them. As priests, we have our old habits. We simply accepted them as a good gave to us. We watched them with a watchful eye, and we decided that they were doing so much good that it was better to leave them alone on the principle of mutual coexistence. I do not know if I would do the same today, but being here with you, I did not think about it. I just assumed that they are our daily bread. The Shepherds are more active in Syrnia. It is possible that they were sent there. As you know, evil is spreading there, and you can meet them in the least expected moment. There are no such threats here in Draxban. Something happened that the beasts, those lousy vampires had come here. This is serious.”

Artis listened to him intently, looking for the first meeting with Judgment in his mind.

Finally, he spoke, “Ekwir, you want to know when I saw him for the first time.”

“Yes. Please, continue.”

“Father was dying. It is possible that mother's death led him to this state. She had died half a year earlier. He felt bad from that time. Nothing helped anymore. Sorceresses said with regret that the heart wanted to go out with the person he loved. I was called to the chamber. Then my father spelled the remaining spell with his strength and called him. He appeared covered with white and blue wings. When he hid them behind, he put his hands on me, looking me straight in the eye, and said: 'When we choose from stones, we push out the human matter of this world. When its value is still in us, we perceive it as the beginning of choice.' He looked at my father and blew air out of his palm. When it fell on him, father fell asleep forever. I was twenty, Ekwir.

Judgment ordered me to follow him. When we got outside, he taught me a calling spell.

I asked about the meaning of his speech, but he only replied that what is happening is beyond his control, that the choices I will make will be crucial for me and for him. Smiling enigmatically, he added that angels make friends for life. As for the stones, he added that he meant the angelic stones that perform a special function in Inarax; it is about choosing the realms in which the angels serve. 'Once, I will explain it to you,' he said, 'today, cry over your father, but be glad because you have me by your side.' He covered by wings and disappeared.”

“Stay here with us, Artis. We start the day after dawn.”

The next day, twenty wagons with resin awaited Ekwir.

“Everyone will go their own way, and this is only the beginning,” said the priest to his knights.

They left the settlement. Artis was driving, and during the trip they continued the conversation. When dark came, they stayed for a night far behind Lake Luto and the mill.

Late at night you can hear the howling of wolves. The camp was quiet, there were bonfires here and there. Flames licked the cold air. Artis said to Ekwir, “It is good that we immediately took this action. Better safe than sorry.”

“It is true. You know, I feel a terrible relief that I confessed the truth about our old land.

After all, this place carries a threat, and we did not do anything about it. Well, nobody asked us, after all. Oh, I wish I knew what might have come out of the stone. Let's go to sleep, we also have a day tomorrow.”

“Of course.”

In the morning on a further journey. The next day passed in a calm, quiet way. You can hear only animals; a flock of moose ran through the forest, which forced a short stop. A fox in the meadow catching a mouse, flocks of geese flew in the sky and, taking the shape of a key, awakened the sky again. Ekwir talked with Artis about a device drawn on a cattle roll.

“Priest, we can see a mirror image in the surface of the lake.”

“Alright, Count, it may be a vague, distorted figure.”

“We get to the place where we will be separated.”

“To the world,” said Ekwir to the priests. “Send me news about the unloading and whether everything went according to our plan.”

“OK, Ekwir. See you later.”

“See you, my friend,” said priest Eldor.

They traveled in two. Artis was thinking about his court. Ekwir smiled seeing that Artis was nostalgic. He took out the instrument, the master's flute, the melody accompanied them for a long time.

The wind moved snow, danced, spewed silver, inviting spruce trees to dance. They rocked to the rhythm of the music played, green sleeves moving like birds' wings. The sun was shining in full, dissolving falling snow. The music followed the wind with the sun, leaving traces on the wet ground.

Suddenly, a performance like a curtain in the theater was covered by a curtain of clouds. The sun was disappearing. The wind rode alone among bushes and trees. Finally, he also fell silent, maybe he went somewhere with a spruce wind-believer from the ground, leaving other trees. Artis said, “Winter does not want to stabilize.”

Ekwir put down the instrument and replied, “In our place. There, in this land of uncertainty, where it is not known which of the original forces will win, snow has a different color, it is yellow green. It has the color of autumn leaves, all the time the air carries the scent of pear fruit. It would be wonderful if it was not for the evil that was there. For many years there was peace, but something settled there so much that it is difficult to bring it out. From the very beginning we had weaklings who could not defend us and this land. Those who have remained for only two centuries. They created normal living conditions, but we do not want to change Draxban to that land, too much loss. There was too much anxiety and fighting in those days. I think that these beasts are simply looking for a different place of living. Maybe they are so strong and insolent, and maybe they do not feel as comfortable as it was at the beginning. I only know that they are endowed with strength and can cast spells. They inherited this skill from their mothers, the witches. However, these creatures, without blood, can’t do much. They become weak.

You can easily beat them like a drunk villain. However, once they get eat, they are more powerful than humans and can split us in half.”

“They have us, Ekwir. It will change. I think that they, like your sorceresses, they also found a way to get through to us.”

“I do not know how, if the stone rejects what is bad.”

“Eh, half a day more and we are on the court.”

The herd of animals passed again; they were wild. Suddenly, Ekwir could smell the pear. He grabbed the short handle of the stone sword and pulled it from its sheath. Artis did not ask anything; he grabbed the short spear he had at his horse, then looked at the priest.

“Why are you so nervous?”

“I felt a familiar smell. You do not feel anything?”

Artis cast a spell:

“The flame is smoldering,

The tree dies.

Smoke run into non-existence.”

A dark gray glow wound around Artis' hand. Ekwir, holding the sword, said, “That is right behind us.”

There was a pear scent, and the glow was released.

“Prepare now.”

The afterglow settled behind the trees a few meters away. Artis's right hand picked up the spear. The afterglow hit the beast on the road, it fell with a bang a dozen meters further on the back of the wagon. Ekwir jumped on the trail, holding the sword in readiness. The red glow that extracted from the sword, struck the beast. It quickly took off from the left heel, jumped a few meters, flashing red eyes. During this time, the red glow got it when the right leg wanted to reach the ground. It hit the ash with impetus and roared, it drew out a short sword, and finally threw a spell at them. Artis's pendant lighted. The spell flew towards them, but Ekwir blew the spell like a candle flame. Artis was at the beast, the wind moved him. He hit the spear in the neck. The beast blocks the blow with one hand, the other aimed at Artis' throat. The Count's with left leg tilted his body violently. Ekwir hit the beast's heart with a hilt, and it flew to the tree. It crashed. Snowflakes came straight on it. Falling on the soil, the blade of the spear was already around its neck.

“We got you. You see, it does not pay to be someone's shadow.”

The beast was screaming.

“Now you will tell us what has brought you here.”

The beast was snarling. Ekwir spoke, “You were the one who scoffed the game, and we would probably have stopped for a while. But thanks to you, bloodsucker, we could enjoy the view. My friend is a painter and thanks to you he satisfied his desire to capture this fabulous perspective.”

Artis began to laugh, then replied, “Now, devilish beast, you'll answer some questions to us, seriously. How did you get here with your friends? I suspect that you did not go to pick up a mushroom yourself, and you lost your way in passing. Speak.”

Ekwir cast a spell that lifted the beast to its feet. It wriggled around her own axis; glow tied it around the tree with a red pulsing rope.

“I am Ezgad, an envoy of my clan, and I have come here to eat you and crash this carriage.”

Artis stuck the spear into his leg and turned the blade. The beast made a face silently.

Fangs appeared, sharp as daggers. Ekwir slammed it into the mouth.


“That is nothing you can do; you are behind us. When we drink a human child, we can jump through these stones like frogs hunting insects. Do you know why, you bearded fool?

Because children are without sin.”

Artis snatched the spear from the bloodsucker's leg and stuck it into its arm.

“Go on. I apologize for the inconvenience.” With that word, he turned the blade again.

“I see that you only want to make a mess here. You will not do anything!” Artis roared in the direction of the monster. Ekwir at the same moment the word was spoken, cut off the beast's head. Artis pulled the spear from its arm with his right hand, turned on his left foot, and drove the blade again, harder this time, into the heart. The wind carried away the ashes in which the carcass had changed. It wafted away, and the ashes drifted off into the silver winter distance.

“You see Artis, I believe this beast, they have this angelic gift in their hearts, and they just want to make a mess here. Besides, it told us how they go to Draxban, and this is very important information.”

Artis suggested rest and Ekwir agreed without hesitation. They made a fire.

“We will be home tomorrow; we have a lot of work. Later again on the road, we need to find this box. But for good and finally, close this topic. In addition, we must strengthen the passage as quickly as possible, find all the beasts and knock them down. In time, before they start making mess in Draxban without self-control.”

“I agree without a doubt.” He smiled. “I really like it. Have I already praised you for

'better safe than sorry' approach? If it was like that from the beginning, eh.”

During the night, snow fell, after the last thaw, there was no trace left. The wind brought a huge amount of white powder. In the morning, when they got up, they saw the snow drifts to the wagon itself. They scrambled out of the tent. In the morning the sun was shining fully. Ekwir said to Artis, “Shit, what a mess.” They both started laughing. “Well, Artis, I say we must throw some spells if we are supposed to be with you on time.”

“It is difficult to disagree with you, priest. Maybe you will praise yourself and show what you can do, huh?”

“Well, I will do a little hocus-pocus.” The priest smiled. He grabbed the half-burned stick from the fire, directed it toward the wagon. An odorless smoke emerged, which normally floated from the burning wet tree, and covered the road on which the car stood.

The snow melted under the cover of wood smoke.

“The car is now free.” He smiled again.

“Now my turn,” said Artis. He looked at the road ahead of them, then pulled out a handful of pebbles from the pouch. Red, warmed pebbles flew into the air, dragging a cherry streak behind them. They fell one after another every ten meters. The road in the area of a square kilometer was cleared of snow.

“Nice, Artis, I liked this spell. As if you were throwing stones at the surface of the water.”

Artis laughed, pleased with the company of such an extraordinary companion.


They have been riding for some time.

“No jokes now. One, two, three… “

At the same time, the road began to melt. They both used the same spell. It was evident how in the distance the fog raged right next to the ground, gray, after which the snow was melting in the blink of an eye. They reached the beginning of the court way, along which large plane trees grew interwoven with redwoods. The fence was high, made of cherry rock. They saw a stone path in front of them that led them to the court itself. There were snow caps on both sides; they covered different shrubs. The gates were guarded by the sentries. Artis picked up the spear and fired a yellow beam of light from it. They saw it in the distance, so the gates were opened.

“Hello, lord, we are glad that you are here.”


Zai was the guardian of the land of Draxban, chosen unanimously by her superiors. It was said about her that she was darning and stitching human fate. She sees good and evil; she is available to anyone who needs help or justice. She was called the heart of Draxban.

The red-haired sorceress just finished reading the book of good and evil when she was informed of Artis's arrival with the second rider. She ran to them just when they entered the courtyard. Artis embraced her, they began to embrace and kiss. Ekwir smiled.

“Hello, my lady.”

“Hello, priest. Let's go. I invite you for a meal and a drink, of course.”

They sat at the table.

“How was your travel? Do you have a scroll?”

“Oh, Zai, a lot has happened.”

He reached the point where Ekwir appeared. The priest said, “Zai, we neglected the basic things on our side that should be done first. First of all, we must take care of the

passage and warn the population about the dangers posed by our first land. Ages passed, and suddenly these damned beasts began to pass as if nothing had happened. This event immediately reminded us painfully what was happening there and who lives in the old Syrnia.”