Covered in blood and dripping with sweat, Nemo emerged triumphantly from the holy inner sanctuary carrying the Sword of Eternal Day. He had survived the deadly Test of Truth and, after a millennium, the sword had finally been claimed by its true master. The guardians bowed as the hero confidently crossed the holy courtyard, ignoring the gaping claw wounds on his gleaming chest. A beautiful blonde woman ran out to meet Nemo, binding his wounds and smiling as she caressed his cheek. They left the Sanctuary of the Day to continue their journey fighting the Forces of the New Moon who would plunge the land into darkness and chaos.
The guardians were left alone in the holy courtyard before the holy inner sanctuary, which now lacked the object that made anything on the grounds holy.
“I did not expect that,” Guardian Macarius said, breaking the silence.
“Who did?” Guardian Adeodatus asked.
“However, I must admit that it will be nice not to have to bury another adventurer. The graveyard was almost full.”
Guardian Adeodatus turned to peer inside the inner sanctuary. A large manticore lay slain on the ground. The scorpion tail still twitched but her human eyes were glazed over in death.
“Though now we’ll have to bury Sally,” Guardian Adeodatus said, nodding toward the manticore.
“Poor Sally. What did she ever do?”
“Well, she did kill anyone who tried to take the sword.”
The rest of the guardians were milling around the courtyard as if in a daze. Novice Dominic seemed to be the only one smiling.
Guardian Macarius nudged Guardian Adeodatus, “Look at Dominic over there. Just selected from the village and the first person he watches attempt the trials is the chosen one.”
Most of the guardians seemed to regain their wits and entered the inner sanctuary to begin cleaning up. This proved difficult since the Fire River had become blocked by a boulder and lava was beginning to spread out across the room.
“Do you think we should help?” Guardian Macarius asked.
The lava reached a guardian’s robe and it caught fire. The others quickly put out the flames, leaving the guardian unharmed but with no eyebrows.
“It looks like they have it under control,” Guardian Adeodatus said. The two guardians watched the lava for a few more minutes then looked back toward the gate. “So what should we do now?”
“We could become shepherds. Though I don’t know how we’ll get the money to buy sheep. Or we could stay at the Sanctuary. It’s self-sustained and most of our chores didn’t involve the Sword of Eternal Day anyhow, but we would have to rename the Sanctuary.”
“Sanctuary of the Gardeners and Caretakers,” Guardian Adeodatus said, “That doesn’t have the same glamour as the Sanctuary of the Day.”
They fell silent and listened to the muffled hypnotizing singing of the Living Statue from the inner sanctuary.
“You know, I’ve heard that the Temple of the Rain-Forged Sword accepts anyone who wishes to become a monk,” Guardian Macarius said thoughtfully.
“Do they have gardens to tend and livestock to feed and elaborate rituals to follow?”
“And just how long have they had their holy sword?” Guardian Adeodatus asked warily.
“Barely seven hundred years.”
“Sounds charming. Now hopefully some hero doesn’t come around and ruin everything there too.”
Laura Davy is an editor and writer living in the Bay Area. Her love of cats is only hindered by the fact that she doesn’t own a cat.