All at once, the drums stopped. By then, Eville had grown so excited that she could hardly stand it. Then, through the silence that settled, Baelzerog turned back to Eville as lazy eyes rested on her face.


"Put the girl in the stocks."


Eville's bright smile slowly faded. She had never heard that word before, but she knew right away he was referring to the metal contraption on the edge of that cliff.


Before Eville could protest, two of the drummers seized Eville and lead her to the stocks. She didn't resist. She knew better. And in that moment, though fear had begun to replace the happiness that consumed her just seconds before, she tried her best not to cry and keep that smile there by focussing all of her attention back on the one thing back at the swamp she'd come to love... the wonderful smell of sweet grass of honey.


THE METAL WAS PIERCING COLD as the upper half of the stocks were lowered onto Eville’s tender hands and neck. Though consumed with fear, Eville didn’t resist the towering drummer as he carelessly locked Eville into place with a nail-like bolt that must have been forged in the very same fires as those stocks that anchored her to the edge of that mossy cliff.


Eville’s bleary violet eyes inched over to Baelzerog who stood a short distance away unaffected and unapologetic as Eville’s captor drove that bolt deeper and deeper into the right side of the stocks.


CLANK. CLANK. The sound of the hammering bolt leapt far and wide to the surrounding trees and down to the desolate valley below. The thunderous clanks caused a ringing in Eville’s ears that was matched with an alarming pain that shot deep in her neck. Though Eville was trying her best to be strong, no matter how tightly she winced nothing was stopping the tears from escaping those brilliant purple eyes.


Finally, the hammering stopped.


“It is done,” The monster that placed Eville in the stocks lowered the rock in his hand and returned to his spot on the cliff with the rest of his companions.


“At long last,” Baelzerog spoke as he approached Eville. The sound of his low grumbling voice escaped through those tusks that protruded from his bottom jaw. Once close enough to Eville, Baelzerog kneeled in front of her and lifted her chin with his slimy thumb and finger.


“Cry not, girl,” he wiped away one of Eville’s tears with the back of his free hand. “The pain you feel is nothing compared to the power you possess.“


“Please, Baelzerog,” Eville managed to whimper. “Can we please just go home? I don’t need a birthday. We can forget it, I swear.”


Baelzerog merely responded with a conniving smile as he stood and looked back to his companions.


“The vessel is but a few seconds away from final form. Bring me the sword.”


In an instant, the shortest drummer of the group approached Baelzerog bearing a simple wooden case. Baelzerog carefully unlatched the hinges that kept the box shut. As he opened the box his eyes gleamed at the object resting within.

A glorious silver longsword was pulled from that box as Baelzerog marveled at the weapon. The blade was as long as both of Eville’s arms if she opened them as far as they could go. The blade was thick, at the base but grew narrow at the tip allowing for swift swings that could leave any victim regretful for being on the other side of it.


On the handle of the sword, in a spot where it looked as if some decorative jewels or crests would be placed, three empty divots remained which detracted from some of the gloriousness of the illuminating sword.


Once Baelzerog had finished admiring the sword he took Eville’s hand in his. “Open your hand, girl,” Balezerog snorted as he yanked her arm through the stocks so that it extended just over the edge of that steep cliff.


Just then, through the silence that settled, the first sliver of daylight peeked over the horizon and landed on Eville.


In the same instant, something began to happen to Eville. Her heart started to beat faster. And louder. So loud she could hear the sound of it racing in her ears. The purple in her eyes began to shine brighter and brighter until the natural color became a glowing light as small bolts of energy crept over her palms and leaped between her fingers.


Suddenly that fear Eville felt was replaced with anger, and her weakness shifted to a sense of power she’d never felt. Baelzerog smiled at the girl, pleased with the course of events taking place. Finally he outstretched her hand and put the blade of the sword to Eville’s palm and uttered the words,


“Let the harvest begin.”