It was 2001. A year after the doomsday prophecies were proved frauds. The first year in the new millennium. I was a boy, a fourth grader, young and smooth-skinned without a care in the world about anything but being happy. I had faith back then too. I suppose I still do, but not like the institutions would think of it. Back then, I had a structured faith, by the book, concerned about keeping all the rules. I was a fool.
It was a Saturday morning, early and bright. I always slept in; I never woke up before eight A.M. I leapt out of bed, full of a child's energy. I ate my breakfast, and watched my television. A normal day's work for me.
When I turned on the water, letting it heat to a soothing temperature, and clambered into my shower, I felt something. A stirring. A touch of divine inspiration, perhaps. I didn't know then. There came a moment when my mind spoke with a clarity that I can never experience again. The novelty of it, at least.
I heard it, that voice. I heard it speak to me in the voice of a child foreign to me. I started to draw on the fogged-up glass: symbols, maps, names, anything I could think of. It was all there. In the land of Miarda, in the city of Lesotho—which I know to be a country—there lived a boy named Valacar. His father was Elfstan Fairbairn, and Valacar was poised to embark on a journey so great that J. R. R. Tolkien himself would smile and shake my hand.
That Saturday in 2001, I was inspired to write my first novel: a three-part epic that would transcend both time and place. The Forsaken Blade would be my masterpiece: completed by fifth grade, published before middle school. It was perfect, except that it never happened.
Here I was, a naive ten-year-old who wanted to be an author by age twelve. I was insane then. Shy, keeping my thoughts and visions to myself, I would wander in a daze, lost in my dreams and fancies. I was a ten-year-old Romantic. I had no idea what that was, but I certainly was one.
I would stand, en garde, at the training school, waiting for the Elvin swordsmaster to show us a new technique so I could pass the test. I would sit in the great libraries of Telar, listening to an Elvin maiden teach us the finer mechanics of Latin so I could butcher it with my friends. I battled the evil Maivan on the great plains of the playground, never ceasing until I had vanquished him each and every day. I befriended Elves and searched for the lost Dwarf Colonies. I learned to use magic; those were my favorite days: casting invisible spells upon invisible enemies, growing in power until I was the wizard extraordinaire.
Those were the greatest times of my boyhood; they were the best of days. Still, I was a fool.