A wooded hollow ran between two streets in the small, southern mill town. A dying creek struggled to trickle through the bottom of the hollow. When the water had been flowing, it cut a deep gouge through the wooded bottom land, its banks reaching ten feet high in some places. In the summer, crawdads under smooth stones hid from small hands, and lightning bugs dotted the dark twilight. The boy loved this world. He couldn’t hear the trains, cars, or the nearby factory whistles.
His favorite time in the hollow was late fall and winter. He loved the musty smell of the fallen leaves layering the paths he’d worked so hard to cut the previous summer. The man next door was burning his leaves, sending the cleansing incense over him. He could see his breath in the evening, and the bullies that hid during the summer didn’t care for the woods when the temperature dropped.
One late November day, it began snowing at noon. The snow fell in dense white clouds until later that night, a foot and half of the pure white powder coated the woods and the creek. The boy descended into the freezing hollow, the crunch of his rubber galoshes the only sound. Hundreds of stars shone but were dimmed by the blue-white light of the sliver of moon. The boy stopped at the bottom of the hollow and looked around at the glowing blue and silver moonscape. High above him on Church Street, the Episcopal Church’s bells began to ring eleven. He didn’t move. He felt the silence and the bells and knew this was the most beautiful music he had ever heard.
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Owen R. Minter was inspired to write The Shrouded Sword, a fantasy story filled with ancient magic and time travel, after creating a drawing based on Arthurian legend. The Shrouded Sword is the first book in the Gramarye Cycle series. When he’s not writing, Owen makes paintings with a leaf blower, reads, and enjoys coaching Special Olympics Athletics.
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