It was that very night Esriel sat comfortably at home. Outside the wind clawed softly at the door like a delicate toy to play with. The sky hastily darkening, like some whisper of peril amongst shadows. He watched silently for a minute before he rushed upstairs into his room- a secret palace. His safe keep was here, a place where he could think about the events of his life and how swiftly they had gone by. He thought a minute about his father and his loving smile, but the image dissolved as soon as Esriel thought of the man’s name scratched raggedly upon a grave stone.

Quickly, the child moved toward his computer, wanting to fill his head with warriors and honour, and the beginning of new life. Where were his noble steeds? His kingdom and his right hand man? He opened the disc compartment and ensured the game disc was within it – even though it always was. The computer loading was dawdling almost purposefully, but when all was finally set up, Esriel’s annoyance disappeared instantly and he became engrossed with the colours upon the screen.

For hours did this child journey through different worlds, catching stars and destroying evil, flying on the great wings of Pegasus and being taken to distant lands where the sun set in the East. Every moment he enjoyed with all his meek heart, and every moment he wished more than ever he could be taken away to such a place where he could really be the hero he dreamed of-

An enormous bang suddenly ripped through the sky right down to Esriel’s shivering bones. The growl of what must have been thunder shook the entire world causing the boy to gasp shockingly having no warning beforehand. In that instant, the bulbs in the house all burst, shattering aimlessly and sending shards of glass and filament outwards. The alarms on clocks suddenly went off and the computer immediately shut down. The boy screamed and when he turned getting up from his chair, he banged his hands against the wood of the desk. He sucked in his pain through his teeth and whispered murmurs of hurting. And then…silence.

Esriel heard only his own anxious breath whilst everything else stood still. He then heard a tiny ‘beep’ sound and the revving of a computer starting up. He glanced towards the black screen and did not notice any signs of the computer coming to life. Esriel tried the ‘ON’ button, but when the computer screen lit up, something strange happened. A spectrum of what seemed like aurora borealis- the famous northern lights – danced across the screen of the monitor. He could do nothing but screw his face up in confusion knitting his eyebrows closely together. Then, an unexplainable tiredness took him over and he lay back in his chair, his eyes forever watching the ghostly colours smile from so far away. What were they saying to him? He was not quite sure, yet he had an urge to speak to these ghosts and give himself to sleep amongst them...

Esriel stared and stared at a mauve sky until he felt the strength to stand up. All that surrounded him was tall, soft grass until he noticed a menacing dark forest behind him. He was not sure if his imagination had incurred the boughs of the trees to bend and creek and reach out to him, but he became frightened nevertheless and ran to a large lush hill where he barely caught his breath back due to the sight that lay before him. For miles on end, until sky met the horizon, Esriel saw a gloomy city filled with specs of rainbow coloured lights. The lights were like diamonds, enticing little treasures which seemed to lure him into the deep pit of a city.

‘I would not child’, came the voice of a Wiseman that suddenly appeared. Esriel stared at the man in all his tattered clothes and dirty skin. The boy could not speak, for the shock of all that had previously taken place had still not subsided.

‘Look at me boy; I was once a man of pride and fortune how is it that I have come to this?’ Esriel made no answer to this, not knowing whether he should or not. ‘You see that malevolent city beyond? It used to be a great, honourable kingdom of goodness and light, but its beauty was ravaged by a monster, Vortex, who is forever hungry for the wonders that are brought to us by the Dancing Lights.’

‘Can you take me home? I am not from here’, Esriel said, his voice sounding a little unknown to him.

The Wiseman’s reply was, ‘You shall only go home if you complete a task which shall destroy the Vortex and cause the great Kingdom to come must leave your past behind Esriel- run through the Dark Forest and never look back, within it you shall find what you seek, but you must hurry, for the Gate between this world and yours is always closing...go...NOW!’

The scream seemed to split Esriel’s ears, so he ran, terrified, straight into the menacing forest...running...running, his eyes watering, his breath going, his flesh and clothes tearing as the trees scraped at him. He looked about him as he sprinted; dark shadows beginning to follow him...he tried to forget his past. As he ran, his demons were catching up on him...his mother was hysterical the night she found out his father was dead...Esriel heard the screams over and over again. Behind him he heard the raggedy, unrelenting growls and even a clutch that wanted to drag him down...he remembered crying in the school toilets...the sorry faces of all around him...he had to get away...his lungs were going to burst... he was screaming...but then...

He was in the arms of his father...a protection that he knew would never cease to exist. His father’s smile was never-ending and its glow encased him.

Then he knew, he was home.