Protector of the Zuries – 3/4
“Gorman bowed himself on his wild horse. ‘Angel of the Almighty God, I have sinned against God by disobeying his command. I dare not beg for forgiveness, for I know that my transgressions are beyond pardon. My father warned me many times not to enter the Emerald Forest, but I could not resist the desires of my selfish heart. I had to see this sacred ground with mine own eyes, and now I have no more regrets in life. Nevertheless, I beg of you to spare my father and my people for my transgressions, for they are guiltless of my deeds.’
“The Angel of God answered, ‘Death is not a just punishment for your deeds. God has commanded for a curse to fall upon you and the Emerald Forest. All the creatures of the Emerald Forest will put on the garments of winter and fall into a deep sleep. There will be no more birth or growth, but only a deep slumber and death. You shall take the form of a creature that befits your nature. You and your offspring shall dwell in this forest all the days of your life, for on the day you step out of it, you will be hunted by men as beasts. You shall no more eat of the creatures of this forest because their flesh will be poison to you, but you shall find food in the Pearl Sea and drink from the Crystal Creek.’”
“Gorman pleaded earnestly, ‘I am deserving of the punishments decreed by God, but the Emerald Forest and my offspring have committed no offence. Please plead for me to God, to have mercy on the Emerald Forest and my offspring.’”
“The Angel of God looked at Gorman with compassion. ‘Gorman, I have but declared to you the judgment of God. Who am I to make God change His mind about what He has already decided. However, if you repent of your sins and teach your children to do the same, God will one day send a young boy to lift this curse. He will come in garments of snow, and his eyes will reflect the beauty of the Emerald Forest.’”
“‘God is truly merciful! He has not condemned me to death. I shall do everything in my power to teach my offspring the way of righteousness.’ Gorman and his wife bowed their heads in worship. A lightning struck them and their upper bodies merged with the wild horses. Gorman cried out in great anguish and beat his chest in sorrow, but it was too late. He became a centaur, who must change his heart in a beastly body to find favour in God’s sight.”
Ayron held his breath when he pictured in his mind the transformation of Gorman’s legs into the body of a horse. “Are centaurs real too? Did the boy come to lift the curse?”
“Gorman and his family still live in the forest today.” The Phoenix continued, “He had many sons and daughters with his wife. He struggled with his beastly instincts and did his best to instruct his children in the teachings of God. But much to his grief, many of his children followed the desires of their beastly bodies and committed all sorts of abominable acts. The Centaur Clan have made themselves a stench to the inhabitants of the White Forest. Only one of his sons, Floyden, took his father’s teachings to heart and taught his children the hope of changing back to men. He had one son, Drysten, who also taught his two sons, Corvan and Garvin, to wait patiently for the young boy to lift their curse.”
“So the boy has not yet come?” Ayron was disappointed.
“The young boy is on his way, my Prince.” The Phoenix answered. “Please try to remember the names of the goodly centaurs: Floyden, Drysten, Corvan and Garvin.”
“Hmm, they have such unusual names.” Ayron repeated them in his mind. Floyden, Drysten, Corvan, and Garvin.
“Yes, these are the names of the Zuries. Your mother also named you according to the traditions of the Zuries.”
“She never mentioned it to me.” Ayron had a hard time believing that the Phoenix knew more about his name than he did.
“Ayron means the ‘exalted one’. Believe me, I know the name of every Zurie Prince when he is born.” The Phoenix said with confidence. “Prince Ayron, do you see the rocky white mountains behind the White forest? The Valley of Lolaville is on the other side of it.”
“The Valley of Lolaville, that’s the land of the Zuries!” Ayron marvelled at the snow-white mountains coming into view on the other side of the White Forest.
“Yes, my Prince. Do you see the stone castle atop the highest summit of the Bearinton Mountains?”
“I see a tiny square jutting out.” It was not easy for Ayron to distinguish the white stone structure from the rest of the mountain.
“It’s difficult to see it now since the mountains have turned white. It used to look like a white spider hovering over a dark grey nest.”
“I’ve never seen a castle like that before!” Ayron marvelled. “Why would anyone want their castle to look like a spider?”
“The great warrior, Mahon, built it for King Zuriah many years ago, as a place of refuge during times of war. The king was not fond of living atop a mountain, so Mahon moved into the castle himself with his family. After Mahon’s death, his family moved back to the Valley of Lolaville. It was left empty until Sage Rufus occupied it twenty-five years later with his household. He called it the Castle of the Forsaken.”
“The Castle of the Forsaken?”
“Yes. The Sage has lived there for over two centuries now.”
“You don’t mean that the Sage is over two hundred years old?” Ayron pictured a hunched wrinkly man with untamed white hair and beard, shaking uncontrollably in bed.
“No, of course not, he is three hundred and fifty-seven years old this year. He is the oldest and wisest man alive!”