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TItle

The midnight black horse galloped through the little stream as Morcant clung tightly onto the animal’s neck. He had ridden for most of the day through the various fields and forests and marshland in search of the home of the Druids.

The fields within his family’s farms had failed to grow any food for three seasons now and supplies were running low. He had tried everything he knew and nothing had worked. The knowledge of the Druids was his one last hope.

Finally, as the sun began to disappear behind the trees and the moon glistened in the sky, the hill fort of the Druids emerged upon the horizon. The hill itself almost looked like a multi-layered cake, each bank slightly inwards from the previous.

At the top the wooden walls of the hill fort were visible, a few pinpricks of lights walking upon a palisade just behind the main wall. Tapping his heels into his horse’s flanks, Morcant set off at full speed towards the fort.

It had been built by the tribal kingdom, an impressive fortress to defend the local population. However a lack of water and any actual enemy made the hill fort quickly become useless.

The king had considered tearing it down to re-use the wood, when the Druids had asked to take control of the structure. The word around the various villages and farms was that the king didn’t like the idea, but it was well-known that you didn’t go against the wishes of the Druids.

The gate was opened as Morcant rode up the final bank and galloped straight through the entrance, bringing his horse to a stop just inside the fort.

Already a man in a woollen robe was waiting for him, his balding head barely visible beneath the hood. Dismounting with a sense of unease, Morcant fell to his knees and began to plead his case to the druid in front of him.

“Rise, young one,” the druid said, offering a hand as he helped pull Morcant to his feet.

He bristled at being called young; he had seen twenty years go by. However as he turned to look around the fort, with several wooden roundhouses in front of the high walls, he realised that nearly every man near him had white or grey hair, or indeed no hair at all. He wondered what the Druids’ secret was.

“We know why you come to us?” the druid in front of him said, starring unblinkingly. “The heart of the horse says that your land is cursed with a plague. And the liver of the sheep tells us that it can be fixed by several remedies that we possess.”

“You can fix it,” Morcant stuutered, suddenly cold under the night’s sky.

“Yes,” the druid replied walking away from him. “But first you must wait until the crescent moon rises. We will talk again then.”

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