by Kevin Mason

AS THE SUN ROSE ABOVE the barren landscape, a lone wanderer cast a shadow across the bloody battlefield. All across this wide open field, dead bodies were lying in bloody heaps and strewn about as far as the eye could see.

However, the carnage did not bother the wanderer, for he looked neither left nor right; his eyes were fixed on his goal. Across this field, he could see a golden palace that stretched high above everything else. It was all he allowed his eyes to gaze upon. It filled his vision and his mind and became all that he was aware of.

From around him, armored soldiers mounted on silvery steeds galloped toward him, swords drawn. One of the soldiers dashed up to him and lashed out with his blade. The bite of the weapon did not last long, and then, the wanderer's vision faded to black.

The soldier who had felled him leapt from his horse and examined the corpse. The one he had killed was just a boy. The knight inspected the boy and found a golden chain about his neck. On the chain was a sliver of metal, and engraved on the metal was the word "caelestis." The soldier cursed under his breath.

"What troubles you?" another one of the soldiers asked.

"He belongs to the Enemy."

The soldiers wailed in horror. "The Enemy!"

When the young wanderer opened his eyes, he found that he was inside of a large building. He remembered the bite of the sword and shuttered fearfully for a moment, but curiosity overwhelmed him and he walked to a window across the room. He looked outside and saw the golden palace stretched out before him in all its glory.

"Welcome home," said a kind, warm voice from behind him.

The wanderer, with tears of joy rolling down his cheeks, slowly turned around to face his addressor. . . .