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            It glistened again as the sunlight sparkled through the thick leaves overhead.  Edwin looked closer; it was gold, and its golden beauty seemed to shimmer as if it were alive.  He stepped back and studied it for a moment, then, convincing himself it was safe, approached it.
            Buried in the soft mud at the edge of the small stream was a golden bar, nearly as long as his forearm, and just as thick.  It stuck out of the mud at a low angle disappearing behind an old stump.
            Edwin stopped--since he was at the water's edge--and leaned over to where he could see the remainder of the shaft.  It was solid gold, straight as a knight's sword, and rounded on the end.
            Excitement filled his heart.  He had never seen an object so beautiful, it must be the lance of the Golden Knight he mused, and wondered if it had been lost in a battle with the fearsome Black Knights of Kievcor, Lord of Zarmor.  But those thoughts quickly fled, as he sank to his knees in the mud and started digging at the base of his golden prize.
            He dug with all his energy and soon had uncovered the remainder of his treasure.  It was not the lance he had anticipated, but a large golden scepter.  Its top, rounded with a man's head carved in the center, hung open and a small safety chain dangled from it.  Inside the opening was the eye of Zoran--a glistening multicolored jewel that held all the magic of Elfdom.  Realization hit Edwin as he gazed upon the scepter.  It was not just a golden scepter--although that would have been enough -- it was the magic scepter that rested in the stone of power at the side of Morgo, the ruler of the Elf Kingdom.  And without the magic of the golden scepter the very existence of Elfdom was threatened, and could very well vanish forever from the hearts and minds of men.
            Suddenly the silence was shattered by the thundering of hooves and the loud snapping of branches and twigs.  Then four Black Knights on steaming horses burst through the underbrush, and came to an uneasy stop, completely surrounding Edwin.  The horses stamped and snorted, and tossed their heads--rolling their eyes in anxiety.
            Edwin shuddered and his small body quivered from head to foot.  It was too late to hide the scepter, but he had enough wherewithal to snap the cap closed, binding him to its magic.
            "Aye, what have we here?" bellowed the knight directly in front of Edwin. "An elf with a golden scepter--what might that be?"
            "A staff to help the runt of a thing walk," laughed the knight to Edwin's right.
            "Me thinks not," the first answered softly.  He removed his helmet revealing a large square face ringed with bristling red hair.  His nose jutted out like a falcon's beak, and his gray eyes bore into Edwin like black steel.  He opened his mouth to speak, letting sinister air breathe down on Edwin like the cold damp wind of Zarmor.  "Me thinks," he said looking to his laughing companion, "that the small creature carries the magic scepter of Morgo."  His head snapped back to Edwin, and in the same smooth motion he withdrew his sword from its sheath and dropped its point directly at Edwin's heart.
            Clouds seemed to cover the sun, and the shadows moved from under the trees, shimmering in the darkness. Edwin held his breath and closed his eyes, sure his end was at hand.
            "Look up little elf," shouted the knight, "I am not without mercy. I have a deal."
            Edwin peeked with one eye at the knight.  The sword still pointed unquiveringly at his heart, but the knight's eyes had softened.  Edwin opened his other eye, and ignoring the blade looked at the knight with all the authority he could muster.  "Of what deal do you speak?" he asked.
            "The scepter of Morgo is mine, but you still have your life to bargain for--and you can win it back for a tiny act of magic."
            "No act of magic is tiny," Edwin retorted.
            "For a life--all is tiny," the knight said flatly, "You can cast a spell upon me to keep away the scepter's magic, or," he grinned and glanced at the others, "I can skewer you like a small pig, and we will dine on roast elf this eve."
            "I know no magic," Edwin stated absolutely.
            "Mercy I have, patience I am without, elf!"
            Edwin stepped back into the water, the sword edged forward.  He knew the scepter was lost, and if he did not return--who would know of its whereabouts?  And, anyway, he didn't fancy being anyone's roast dinner, A little spell can work two ways, he thought.
            "Well, elf?" the knight demanded, pushing the sword closer until the point touched Edwin's shirt just at his heart.
            "I will be unharmed?" asked Edwin.
            "Free to scurry back to your nether world unscathed. Now, the spell."  The knight's eyes once again hardened to steel.
            On open palms, Edwin held the scepter at arm's length, and said, "Beware the scepter's power for it will suck the soul from your carcass, and feed the creature that lurks in your mind's darkness.  Behold its color, its brightness--its power twisted in tightness.  To be safe from sorrow, say this for each 'morrow."
            The knight pulled his sword back and flicked the scepter from Edwin's hands.  It flew into the air, spinning and glistening in the sun light.  He sheathed his sword, reached up, and snatched the scepter in mid-air, then held it high and looked down at Edwin.  "Be wise elf," he said, "for if this magic does not do its worth, we'll be back hungrier than now."  With that the knight shoved his helmet over his red mane, pulled his horse around and charged back into the underbrush.  The other three thundered past Edwin, splattering him with mud and water.  And as the last knight pounded by, his foot smacked Edwin on the side of the head, flinging him face first into the mud.
            The horse's rumble faded into the quiet of the afternoon sun.  The golden scepter was gone, and Edwin had closed the cap sealing him to it.  He raised his aching head from the mud, knowing it was he--and only he--who could reclaim the golden scepter in the name of Elfdom.

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