The Lord of Tambor El is dead. But Brandon’s Mother, Layla, has a secret about their Lord that will change his life forever.
A Fantasy Short Story About A Bastard Son
THE FLAME OF TAMBOR EL
by Bonnie Johnson
For the LANTERN’S FLAME Fantasy Writing Award
The Lord of Tambor El was found with his head face down in a plate of wild boar, his hand still gripping a golden goblet, red wine slowly travelling from the cup, along his stiff blue fingers, to splash into a puddle on the floor.
A drop of red wine hit the floor violently shattering the vision into nothingness.
“It has come to pass sister”, the blindfolded lady whispered “The prophecy has started, oh the one-eye, what are we going to do?”
Chuckling, the crone continued to stoke the fire that roared in the middle of the forest hut, finally replying “We will watch, as the Keepers of the Eye have always watched”.
‘” It’s not natural I tell ya” Layla said, flour covering her apron and sleeves. Pounding bread in the Tambor El castles kitchen, she repeats “it’s just not natural”
“I know ma” Brandon replied, “I can feel it, the cold is scorching my bones!”
Layla smiled sweetly at her son, tugging his newly sprout beard, speckling the fiery red with flour. “You’re a summer child dear, of course you don’t like the winter”
Turning her head to look directly at him, she gazed into his eyes, “The one-eye has branded you a summer child, no one in memory has had your colour hair, the spirit of fire, and the winter is going to hit you the hardest dear”.
Grabbing a handful of flour, Brandon dumped it onto his mother’s head, watched her squirm with mock horror and delight. Layla let out a squeal more of 16 year old girl than the wizened crone she was becoming.
“Go, get!” She squatted him away, “Don’t you have work to do?”
The Lord of Tambor El had died on the last day of winter. Killed by his own gluttony. When the councilmen raided the storeroom they had found it near empty. They pulled his mother in for questioning, all Layla could do was shrug. She had always told Brandon that the Lord was a hungry man, for all pleasures of the flesh, the type of hunger that consumes all. Secretly she would whisper – He has the sickness of Nell Amon. Layla had never mentioned to Brandon she had once been called to satisfy that hunger, nor answered why the village women all glared at him, nor why he was nicknamed Brandon the Bastard. She would only shrug.
It has been two months since the Lord died yet the city of Tambor El still lay in the thick of fog and frost. Brandon watched his breath mingle with the cold night air forming puffs of cloud which were absorbed by hard walls of the alcove perched high in the stony mountains. Shivering, Brandon pulled his furs around him, huddling closer to the lantern. Pulling out his stash of dried wild boar, he nibbled his strict ration for the night.
“Oh, mother, where did you find this jerky! You better look after yourself” His question was swallowed by the darkness.
After the Lord died, spring never came, and the remaining food stores did not last long. Tambor El, like the rest of the Kingdom of Nell Amon, relied on the gypsies of Hashaj. The gypsies came on the first day of spring every year trading spices and fresh food for the prized flower of Eden that only grew on the outskirts of the Tambor forest.
Two months have passed, no gypsies or flowers of Eden have come. Soon there would be no food.
“Where the one-eye is spring” Brandon exclaimed again to the silent night, “Curse you, I shouldn’t be here”. A she-wolf howls in response.
Sinking down into the bedroll, he drifts to sleep, thinking only of the single pair of orange orbs burning into him from the distance.