Black Hole Zion: The Cauldron of The Crones

Sunday, September 11, 2022

The Cauldron of The Crones

 Wow!  Proud friend moment that I need to share.  My friend, Christopher Epley, just started up his website,!  If you follow Black Hole Zion on social media, you've heard me talk about his writing.  I met Chris through a series of online interactions during the height of the pandemic.  He found our music on YouTube, and we became actual friends once we realized how many things we had in common.  Chris would occasionally send me short stories he had written.  I enjoyed them so much!  Chris is one of those people that can craft a world that feels familiar and also like a fantasy.  I finished each short story wanting to know more about the characters and the world.  I kept encouraging him to write more.  Some of these stories are gateways to a larger world he plans to present in a novel.  Some are not.  I have legitimately enjoyed every one of them though.  If I didn't, I wouldn't be taking up time to write all of this.  

I reached out to Chris and asked him if he would be willing to write a very short story (1-5 pages) for me to feature on this website.  He agreed!  Then, he started writing and it turned into something larger.  What we got was The Cauldron of The Crones!  It's 19 pages of beautiful fantasy writing.  I encouraged Chris to release the full version online and start his own website.  Again, he agreed!  

Chris will be using his website to publish short stories like this for free!  Pretty amazing!  He gave me permission to share the first page of The Cauldron of The Crones here, and I am seriously honored to have such a kind and talented friend.  If you like what you see, you can head over to his website and read the whole thing.  Yes, for free.  No, there isn't any kind of a catch.  He's just a good person.

The text is below.  Chris, if you are reading this, I love you, buddy!  Congratulations!  Live long and prosper.


"The Cauldron of The Crones

By Christopher Epley

The cold wind blew by the Wizard’s face, the comfort that the cool air brought his grizzled face was refreshing. He travels alone stopping from time to time in every town he passes through to restock on supplies or look for odd jobs here and there. He has been practicing and studying magic for decades now, immensely knowledgeable he is a formidable magic user capable of spells in multiple schools with his destruction magic being fiercely dangerous. The Wizard stops and grasps his long dirty white beard thinking to himself “How long has it been since my last hot meal?” he has been eating rations of bread for a week now. That is how long it has been since he was in a town, nowadays he rarely learns the names of these towns that dot the countryside he visits so many. He thinks aloud “Yes a hot meal sounds wonderful now” the thought of warm food in his belly on these cool nights just fills him with excitement. The Wizard has been walking through Wenneford forest a dense wooded area on the northern edge of the kingdom for that week since he last ate a hot meal in the town who’s name has been lost to him. Wenneford forest is massive and once beyond it’s boundaries to the north lies a town, that is where he will stop and purchase sustenance and a bed at the inn. The Wizard raises his staff, the crystal globe fastened to it’s top begins to emit a bluish hue of a glow. The Wizard uses his knowledge of magic to have the staff tell him how much longer before the edge of the forest, it is a mere hour of a walk. Relieved that the distance is not that great he lowers the staff the glow dissipating, he lifts his dark blue hat to wipe his brow, puts his hat back on, takes a deep breathe and resumes his walk through Wenneford forest.

The town’s edge became visible and the Wizard began to fill with excitement, just the thought of warm food and cold ale, no more bread and spring water at least until his return to the trails. He begins the walk into town, as he reaches the outskirts he sees the sign “Fritania, Province of Wolfden, Kingdom of Colkirk” with a small smile he enters in search of the inn. The Wizard makes his way up the road with town folk giving him a long stare, it has been ages since they have seen a wizard come through town. Fritania is far away from the academy of magic to the South and rarely does a wizard venture out this way. However our Wizard is not on official business, he travels alone practicing his magic for those that need it and could afford him. He has become disillusioned with the politics at the academy and the constant meddling of the royal family. The Wizard left and headed North after decades of living at the academy, not knowing what he would find it mattered not to him. Living by his own rules and helping those he deemed worthy not the academy is all that matters to him now. At last he spots the Inn, he walks up to the small staircase just off the main road leading to the entrance, a sign on the side of the entrance reads “Welcome weary travelers to The Gifted Obsidian enter, feast and join us for the night” the Wizard enters through the doorway a relieved smile on his face.

The crowd was somewhat big, a good mix of local shopkeepers, farmers and some guards of the local garrison of the royal army. The crowd was boisterous, it was late in the evening, the sun was but mere minutes from setting. The guards off their shift relaxing, shopkeepers fresh from closing for the night and farmers done with chores for the day. The Wizard calmly walks in and removes his hat placing it on a coat rack next to a mannequin wearing brown leather armor emblazoned with what the Wizard assumed is the local Jarl’s sigil. He began walking to the back of the Gifted Obsidian where the bar is located. The Innkeeper behind the bar was an older man very worn and tired looking but also warm and
inviting. The Wizard walking through the crowd catches the eyes of several townsfolk and the boisterous crowd noise begins to soften as the people notice a wizard is among them, a rare sight in Fritania. The stares never bothered the Wizard, he was used to it and understood that wizards are not a common sight here this far North. He smiled at everyone who caught his gaze, hoping that reassured the people that nothing strange was going on. The townsfolk still curious of the Wizard began to go back to their feasting once he smiled. The Wizard arrives at the bar and speaks to the old Innkeeper."

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