It is the 27th day of the 27th year.
Snow lies upon the frosted mountain peaks, yet the air is unseasonably warm. The heavens are exposed in a mass of blue. Mysteriously the earth appears to merge into the water like one endless reflection. Everything is still.
Then, hidden in the reflections, a fast-moving blur sweeps the ground.
A glimpse from the sharpest eye detects a figure lying low upon a cantering white stallion. The strongest telescope sees that the figure rides in the colours of Count Kiev of Pinehilta. He is headed toward the great northern city of white stone.
Later that day at the city gates it is in fact The Count who is intercepted by the lunatic hermit woman. She boldly claims she is his mother’s mother, and he is therefore bound to join her for supper. The Count laughs at her bold statement, yet agrees to stay a little while. She pours a drink. They talk of lineage, wars, of politics and the rogues of the underworld. ·The grandfather clock in the old woman’s cottage strikes once, twice, thrice, and The Count recalls the purpose of his journey.
His restless eyes look toward the hill in the valley yonder. There, in the upper reaches of the village, just beyond the great grey castle, his heart’s desire. The Countess Sharne of Wallaceville awaits his call.
“I must bid you farewell old woman.” Count Kiev flees galloping across the valley, past the castle gates, and to the manor with a white picket fence.
Dressed in black, her green eyes ablaze, Sharne stands by the door, a fierce shaggy beast guards her feet. “It will eat you dear Count!” she warns. Kiev turns to look the beast in the eyes – it melts like butter in his gaze – and is soon reduced to nothing but a common lap dog.
Once inside Sharne introduces Count Kiev to her ladyship of the manor. The trio drink and speak of literature, fine steeds, and adventures past.
“But now dear Lady, I must take Sharne from you, for we make haste unto Eden”. Her ladyship intercepts with a stern warning. “Be careful my young ones for the road is treacherous and infested with bandits from the underworld”.
“Never fear kind woman for my stallion is strong,” Kiev replies. “No harm will come of us”.
As they leave the white picket manor The Count turns to The Countess. “But first let us explore the treasures of this great white stone city”. And so they venture forth, discovering strange creatures of the sea, secret caverns, and a glimpse of the rare cloaking birds, who would appear, then disappear at will.
Dusk just around the corner, the sun bears down in blankets of gold as the pair gallop southwards, night is falling and the goddess Venus shines upon the horizon. Yet in the fresh cloak of darkness they stumble upon a bay full of light. “Why?” Sharne exclaims. “It is all day within this bay!”.
She spins along the brink of the waves, then rolls in the sand. “I shall name this place “All Day Bay””, she proclaims.
“Be wary my Count, for there are dragons near, I can tell for they breathe upon the sea water – it froths for it is freshly boiled”. He keeps watch upon the rocks whilst Sharne frolics, and he smiles at her joyful spirit. They leave all the bay of all day and again it is night.
Hunger sets in, so they venture deep into the underworld in search of food. The creatures of the underworld are crude, unhelpful, and offer only scraps of infested meat. It appears that all hope is diminished when they fall upon a great roaring fire, a singing minstrel with a mandolin, and a gang of trolls heartily drinking and gambling away the night.
“Ah” the minstrel cries upon their entry. “We have guests! Clear them a path, for they are welcome to join us in our merriments”. Sharne accepts a goblet of whisky and swings it back, then joins Kiev by the fire. The minstrel sings of faraway lands from which he has departed. Then by the fireside they overhear the trolls speaking of a great mine full of gold just beyond the neighbouring village, and with the fresh scent of adventure, set forth again into the darkness.
Upon the dark road a villager and his dog are walking. They approach with caution, but the villager turns on a cheery smile. Kiev speaks. “Greetings villager. We are in search of the great mine of gold, and where there is gold there surely must be food, drink, and lodgings. So tell me friend, where can we find them?”
“Alas, I cannot help you” the villager replied. “A gold mine there is and with it promises of riches to all the surrounding lands. It has been prophesied, although to this day the land remains barren”.
Kiev and Sharne retrace their steps, the night grows long, and the white stallion begins to grow weary. Sharne speaks. “The sun lies sleeping, and the stars are ablaze. Shall we rest for tonight? Three miles yonder I saw a cozy village rested upon an island. Take us there for I’m sure it will bide us well”.
Kiev agrees and they set forth. Almost invisible the island shimmers like a mirage beneath the night sky. Sharne turns and smiles.”This place is magic!”.
A huddle of empty huts sit on the end of the village. In the centre of the huddle the largest hut has the warm glow of a lamp burning. They knock and a woman with scraggly blonde seaweed hair answers. She agrees to loan them a hut for the night, and some food in exchange for a handful of gold coins. “Welcome to Damora,” she smiles with a knowing grin, and the door is closed swiftly.
Once settled in the hut, Kiev brings forth his flask of Stoli – as is the custom in his homeland of Pinehilta – and they drink in celebration of the 27th night of the 27th year. On the midnight hour they lie in the long grass on the shore of Damora. It is silent but for the distant rumblings of the dragons sleeping on the mainland, gentle waves lapping and sea creatures singing. Above them the night sky is alive and without end.
They make silent wishes upon shooting stars, and are soon cast under the spell of Damora.