Author's note (read only if you care for semi- boring details): This was the original version, the precedent, if you will, to my current story Nornid's Quest. I wrote it about three years ago, and need to make a few clarifications of differences here: most notably, the fact that it's written as an epic poem, and is not finished (this story corresponds to chapters one, three, and four of the modern story). I often have a tendency to not finish stories, and don't intend to finish this one, now that I'm working on the modern version—I just thought it would be fun to post and compare the two.

A few other things I must mention as I now reread this old work: I'm somewhat appalled at many of my rhyme choices and uneven meters of stanzas, but am glad to know that my writing skills have improved significantly since middle school. A few names were created (and kept in the original) just for rhyming purposes. Also, this edition was before I thought of making the story an allegory, so it's not as meaningful as the modern one. Thus, the name Kristopher, which is significant in the modern version, does not appear here, and the wizard's magical words in this version are mere babble and not derived from actual words, as in the modern version.

Furthermore, (don't worry, the boring note is almost over!) most measurements of time that are mentioned are probably off, since at this time I mistakenly gave the elves a lifespan similar to humans', when they are generally thought of to live much longer. I also have no recollection of giving the shadow beasts the ability to control minds, or of the Shadow Stone (obviously, I changed these details in the modern version).

If you just read all that, I feel sorry for you, because I'm probably the only one who actually cares about such subtle and relatively meaningless differences. At any rate, just go enjoy the story/poem now!

I tell you a tale of a magical land

Of another reality.

A land of enchantments and warriors,

A land called Starnifree.

It happened eleven centuries past,

During King Dordig's reign.

The elf king was in deep thought one day;

His expression was not plain.

Dordig was a wise old king,

His hair and beard were gray.

He was quite stout, yet fairly strong,

And had lived many a day.

"Oh dear, oh dear," said he that day.

"Whatever am I to do?

I must choose which son will inherit my throne,

Yet cannot decide between my two.

Two young sons King Dordig had.

Nornid and Yoriff they were.

Two years apart they were in age,

And Yoriff was the elder.

Yoriff was a tall, strong elf

His hair a dark red hue.

Upon his chin was a small beard,

His eyes were ocean blue.

Nornid was of average height,

Golden was his hair.

His eyes were blue, just like his brother's.

He was brave, wise, and fair.

In many lands, to make the

Older son king was custom.

But the oldest or youngest could be the best ruler,

And thus, the king's conundrum.

One night, he was having great trouble with this,

So he asked his wife Jeela what he should do.

Said she, "Only one is to make that decision.

And that one is you."

To make matters worse, Dordig had little time

To select his heir.

For just three days hence was the eighteen-years festival,

And he was supposed to announce it there.

This festival occurs on the eighteenth birthday

Of the king's oldest son.

The king's heir is announced, but does not become king

For one year, when the festival's done.

Dordig thought long and hard about this,

He thought about it day and night.

Finally, he reached a decision

And hoped that it would be right.

Three days passed, and finally

Came the festival of eighteen-years.

The Banquet Hall was filled with

Lots of elves with pointy ears.

Everyone was waiting anxiously

For the festivities to begin.

Elf children anticipated the games,

Their faces in a grin.

There were many fine drinks

And lots of good food

Everyone was

In a very good mood.

But more than aught else,

They all wanted to see

Which one of the princes

The new king would be.

So after the food,

Games, and everything,

Came the time to learn

Who would be the new king.

Alas, this news

Would not lead to rejoicing.

For evil plans

An evil creature was voicing.

Far away, lived an evil race.

They were called the shadow beasts.

They were so evil, they'd kill any being

Just to have a few good feasts.

The shadow beasts have raven-black fur.

They are thin, yet very strong.

They've horns for ears, and glowing red eyes,

And a prehensile tail that's two feet long.

The shadow beasts possessed a dreadful power:

Of your mind, they could take control.

If they simply touch you for all of five seconds,

They'll have power over your body in full.

The leader of the shadow beasts

Was a vile one called Brance.

He wielded a sharp-pointed dagger

And a double-edged lance.

The shadow beasts lived far away from the elves

In a land of treachery.

And on that day, Brance was plotting

To take over Starnifree!

Brance said, "I've been studying these folk.

This is what we'll do.

We'll sneak in through the country's gates

So we can start their kingdom anew!"

"Today is their eighteen-year festival,

So they won't suspect a thing.

Once we're in, you'll all wreak havoc

While I capture the king!"

The rest of the beasts promptly yelled their approval

Of their master's sinister plan.

"We'll capture the kingdom of Starnifree!

If Brance can't do it, nobody can!"

So, the villainous creatures

Set out on their trip.

Soon they'd have Starnifree

Right in their grip.

But for now, let's return to Starnifree

And go back in time a short while,

To the meal of the eighteen-years festival,

At which every face bore a smile.

Nornid sat with Jeyra, the maiden he loved,

And with Yoriff, his brother.

His father the king stood on a central platform,

Along with Queen Jeela, his mother.

Jeyra was a maiden fair

With hair of black and eyes of green,

Scarce was a more beautiful elf girl

Ever to be seen.

"The time is near," said Nornid to Yoriff,

"To see which one of us will inherit Father's throne.

And I say, may the best elf be king.

For I know each of us wants it for his own."

"Verily, I agree, with you, brother,"

Said Yoriff in reply.

"For though I myself would like to be king,

I shan't set my expectations too high."

Said Jeyra, "Either one of you

Would be a great king 'till he retired."

But she secretly hoped that Nornid would be chosen,

For he was the one she admired.

So they ate and drank

And talked and played

For about two hours.

Then Dordig said:

"Hello, my fellow elves and friends.

How do you do on this special day?

I hope that you are enjoying your time

And that you liked the main entree."

"As you know, today is the day

That I announce my heir."

He gestured to Nornid and Yoriff now.

"He is sitting right over there."

"I had a hard time in deciding

Which son I would give the kingdom to.

But after long hours of consideration,

I have decided what to do."

"I now will tell you whom I have chosen

(and you'll soon see that I've spared no thrift)

Nornid, you are to be the new king!

Step up here now and receive your gift!"

Cheers erupted from the crowd

As Nornid was congratulated

By Jeyra, Yoriff, and many others.

Nornid himself was, of course, elated.

Dordig: "To celebrate your future kingship,

I give you this mighty, enchanted blade.

It will protect you from the forces of evil

For it was blessed with magic when it was made."

Dordig gave Nornid a mighty sword

Which Nornid accepted happily.

He took the giant blade and said,

"Thank you, king of Starnifree!"

Said Nornid: "Fellow elves and friends,

I promise you this and more:

With me as king, we will work together

To make Starnifree better than ever before!"

The crowd of elves cheered once again

In celebration of the king-to-be.

The happy elves started talking and singing

And dancing merrily.

Suddenly, the county's gates were crashed

And a horde of creatures stormed in.

They stomped about and cried aloud,

Creating a very horrible din.

"We are the shadow beasts!" they cried.

"And we have come here to take over these lands!

Surrender to us peacefully,

Or we'll take matters into our own hands!"

"Do not try to resist us

For in a matter of hours,

We'll succeed in our mission

And this country will be ours!"

A hushed silence enveloped the crowd

And all the elves quivered in fear.

They'd heard legends of the shadow beasts

And knew that their end would be near!

Nornid, however, was braver than most

And did not take kindly to threats.

"You vile beasts! You filthy scum!

You'll see what your boasting gets!"

"The people of Starnifree don't give up lightly.

And if you try to take over these lands,

We'll slay you all before nightfall!

We'll cut off your heads, feet, and hands!"

Brance and his monsters were enraged at this.

Brance yelled one word to his army large.

It was a command which they readily obeyed.

The word he yelled was: "Charge!!!"

The Shadow Beasts stormed into the city

Like a swarm of angry bees.

"Soon we'll rule this place!" cried Brance.

"It'll be governed by our decrees!"

Most of the elves fled in terror.

But Nornid and Yoriff decided to stay.

Yoriff had a dagger, Nornid bore his sword,

And together they charged into the fray.

Many beasts went after Dordig

As Brance had previously demanded.

"Three of you, stay and fight with me!",

The dark king now commanded,

So it was Nornid and Yoriff versus Brance and three others.

Their names were Gnatch, Prak, and Skrattle.

The four evil creatures lunged at the elves,

Thusly beginning the battle.

Skrattle swung at Yoriff,

And Prak by Nornid was struck.

Nornid then aimed a blow at Brance,

Who quickly managed to duck.

The battle raged on, with both sides fighting well,

Until the beasts tried to hold Yoriff back.

They tried to entrance him and take over his mind,

And he barely escaped the whole pack.

"That was a close one," said Yoriff, wielding his dagger.

And by him, Gnatch was quickly slain.

"I say to you, Nornid, we must keep on fighting,

Even though we're both in much pain."

But Nornid heard not,

For the Shadow Beasts had

Pierced through the armor

In which Nornid was clad.

They now had touched Nornid

For seconds five.

"This is dreadful!" cried Yoriff.

"I wish these beasts weren't alive!"

But to Yoriff's gladness

And utter surprise,

His brother Nornid

Had not met his demise.

For though he had been touched

By the shadow beast horde,

He'd been protected

By the magic of his sword.

"Yoriff, please leave!

They cannot harm me!

For I'm safe with my sword,

But you're not. You must flee!"

Said Yoriff, "Very well, my brother

And my future king.

I'll summon the armies, and they'll make sure

These Beasts don't harm a thing!"

So Yoriff fled in search of Frall,

The captain of Starnifree's troops.

He ran across the country's pathways

With all their curves and loops.

Meanwhile, back at the battle,

Skrattle and Prak both lay dead.

Nornid had pierced through Skrattle's heart,

And his sword had dismembered Prak's head.

It was one on one now,

Shadow Beast versus elf.

Nornid hoped he'd be able

To win the fight by himself.

"Give up, puny creature!

You'll never defeat me!"
Brance lashed out at Nornid,

Laughing haughtily.

"Perhaps not," replied Nornid.

"But the armies of Starnifree will!"

Even as he said this, however,

He felt his chances were nil.

And to make the fight even harder,

Nornid stood near Large Lake.

Brance might try to push him in

Like a cunning, evil snake!

"Now, my opponent

You shall meet your death!"

Cried the king of the Shadow Beasts,

Emitting foul breath.

"No!" shouted Nornid

And he swung his new sword,

But then quickly was kicked

By the Shadow Beast lord.

He had been kicked quite hard,

And now backward he fell,

Into Large Lake,

And he let out a yell.

But alas, no one heard him,

For they all were in hiding.

Even so, Nornid knew he must

Keep on fighting.

For now, he just had to get out of the lake.

For his air supply already was getting quite slim.

And he had to escape as quickly as possible,

For the light was now growing incredibly dim.

He was about to climb out and face Brance again

When he saw in the side of the lake a wide hole.

Of course! He remembered! The underground library!

He had to get there before his lungs became full.

The library had been built by the great king Hift,

Who'd been Starnifree's first king.

During his reign twelve score years ago,

He'd done many a marvelous thing.

No one knows for sure why he built it underground,

Though some say he was superstitious.

He could have done it to protect from foul creatures,

Ones that we know are fictitious.

Remembering this from a history lesson

He'd had nearly five years ago,

Nornid swam into the tunnel entrance,

Escaping the water's flow.

He climbed a small ladder and descended a short flight of stairs,

And thusly, he entered the room.

He was delighted to see there Yoriff and Jeyra,

Who had obviously eluded their doom.

Also with them was the old wizard Mirnell,

Who much time in the library spent.

He'd often read up on Starnifree's past

While perfecting a spell or enchantment.

"Nornid, good brother, I'm glad you have come!"

Said Yoriff with much glee.

"For Mirnell the wizard has a device

That will save poor Starnifree!"

"The victory won't be permanent," Mirnell said.

"Perhaps much like tying up an ox."

And with that he reached into his long, purple coat,

And he produced a jeweled, golden box.

"This is known as the Box of Entrapment,"

He said as he stroked his chin.

"When I say the right words, it will unleash its magic,

And trap the Shadow Beasts within."

"But we all must be extremely careful,

For as I said, the trap is temporary.

At the slightest impact, the Beasts will be free,

A thought which is certainly most scary."

"Then, by all means, wizard, say the words!"

Cried Nornid, who wished to see

The Shadow Beasts imprisoned and helpless

As quickly as could be.

"Very well then, I shall," replied Mirnell,

And then he spoke this chant:

"Shadow Beast charra darra quori frip,

Srana tatchell grongid fwant."

Suddenly, the sound of a ghostly wind

Signaled a tornado of black and gray.

It was the Shadow Beasts, being magically carried

To the box where they'd be locked away.

The whirlwind spun into the library,

And then was sucked into the box.

The Shadow Beasts were trapped, and realized

That they couldn't escape these magic locks.

"Good," said Mirnell. "They are trapped in there.

We are safe for now.

We must find a way to be rid of them forever,

But the question is: How?"

"I believe I can answer that,"

Said a voice from across the room.

It was King Dordig, and he said,

"I know how to prevent our doom!"

Said the king, "I've found a tattered scroll

Containing an ancient tale.

It tells of the Shadow Beasts' weaknesses,

And shall surely be of much avail!"

He read: " 'The Beasts come from a city called Kneill,

Over the Western Mountains.

The city is days and hours away,

Near the Speaking Fountains.' "

" 'The Shadow Beasts own an enchanted rock,

Known as the Shadow Stone.

Find it in the darkest cavern,

And place it on the evil king's throne.' "

" ''This will release a mystical energy,

Destroying the evil creatures.

It will melt down every last Beast,

Erasing their ghastly features."

"But beware! The stone has deadly power

Beyond what you have known.

It can turn your heart to evil;

Beware the Shadow Stone."

These words marked the end of the scroll,

And Dordig tucked it away.

A short silence filled the room,

But the king still had this to say:

"Nornid, my son, I feel I've no right to ask,

But since you are to be the new king-"

His son interrupted, "I know what you ask,

And for you, I'd do anything."

"And I shall go with him," said Yoriff the Prince,

Not to be outdone.

"I will protect him, and fight by his side,

Until this war is won."

"I'm coming as well," said Jeyra the elf.

"And I'm ready to face the worst.

If the Shadow Beasts want to kill Nornid or Yoriff,

They'll have to kill me first."

"You all three are going?" asked Dordig the king,

Who didn't know what to say.

He did not want to lose his sons or this girl,

Yet he knew there was no other way.

"I know it's not easy," said Yoriff.

"But truly, we've no other choice.

There once again came a heavy silence,

Which was broken by Dordig's voice.

"Very well, then," said Dordig the king,

Whose heart was truly torn.

"My soldiers will ready you with provisions,

And you shall leave in the morn."

"Thank you, my father," said Nornid the prince,

Whose head was to bear the crown.

"I say to you and all of Starnifree,

We shall not let you down!!!"