Statues of Teneris: Sample Chapter
(last updated: 18 August 2015)
The shadows were darker tonight.
Sandro walked home on his usual path through the city, his eyes darting left and right.
He knew he had no reason to worry. The sight of his white outfit of a wizard in training was enough to send even the most daring thieves away. And if some misfits did try to stop him, he knew he could fight them off. But tonight, something felt wrong.
He walked between the three-story stone buildings, his boots making no sound on the cobblestones. He was skilled in muffling his steps with magic, and he enjoyed practicing the skill, even though he had never needed it.
Not until now, at least.
He turned right on the Tanner’s Alley and walked among the ancient columns. He passed underneath a low arch, not needing to duck. Sandro the Short, his friend Ricardo called him; yet his low stature did not bother him. It made him quicker, more agile.
The windows shed no light; the tanners had long gone to sleep. After his long stay at the library, Sandro had expected it. Only one light glimmered ahead.
The light of the street lamp in the Main Square, the home of the four winged lions.
The ancient statues surrounded the fountain in the middle of the square, guarding it from some unseen enemy. They were the largest group of lions in the city, though many other squares and buildings had one or two of the statues, and the Mayor’s Palace had three. The lions in the Main Square were the most beautiful of them all.
And, even from a distance, tonight something felt… strange. Different.
Sandro quickened his pace, still muffling the sound of his footsteps, and soon he walked into the square. It was empty as usual; at this late hour, only thieves and men of the Night Watch roamed the streets. And the occasional wizard in training, returning home from his studies.
He stopped and admired the closest statue. It was only four feet long – much shorter than the lions in the books he’d read. It was carved from a single piece of marble, and represented the creature in exquisite detail. Great wings sprouted out of its sides. Its mouth was open, showing its great teeth.
Even though he had seen the statues many times before, Sandro shuddered involuntarily. He knew that, on the faraway lands to the East, the lions had been called the kings of the beasts. Almost ten feet long, with immense strength and ferocity, they were the perfect hunters of those wild lands.
And, though smaller, a lion with wings was far worse.
For a moment, he imagined it. Great winged lions flying high above the land, falling from the sky upon men and beasts. Even at their small size, a swipe of a paw would be enough to tear a man’s face off. And their teeth… their teeth…
He shook himself. You are being silly, Sandro. These are only statues. There was never such a thing as a flying lion.
Maybe mother is right after all. Maybe these books are addling my mind and I should just become a carpenter, like my father. He smiled at the thought. Magic had been his calling ever since the age of eight; and now, shortly after his sixteenth birthday, he was one of the best students in the city. Only Ricardo was better.
And here I am, jumping at shadows.
He passed the fountain and the group of statues and continued his journey home. Then something made him turn.
The fourth lion. Its left front paw was not where it had usually been. It stood a few inches forward, and slightly higher up in the air.
It can’t be, he thought. It’s only a trick of the light.
He gazed away from the fountain and started walking again. Then a soft noise came from behind.
He whipped around. The statues hadn’t moved.
Of course they didn’t move, Sandro. Not moving is what they are good at. They had hundreds of years of practice.
He smiled to himself. I must be imagining things. I won’t tell anyone of this. He thought of Ricardo. He would laugh at me. I’d never hear the end of it.
He continued his journey and got home without incident. As he had expected, his parents were sleeping. Quiet as always, he went to his small room and surrendered himself to sleep..
The next day, as he passed through the Main Square at noon, he could not believe his eyes.
The fourth lion was gone.