A/N: Hello everyone! I'm back, with another story to add to the Deltora Quest fanfiction archive :) This fanfiction concerns Endon and Sharn as they seek refuge in the forge and wait for the time to come to restore the Belt of Deltora.

Disclaimer: Deltora Quest belongs to Emily Rodda.


Chaos reigned as Endon, Sharn and Jarred hurried from the palace to the forge. Although it was approaching dawn, the darkness had not abated and an eerie wind was howling, piercing the core of their ears. Far in the distance, Endon could see scarlet clouds tumbling towards Del, and within them dark slits of eyes glittering with greed, triumph and malice.

Within their cottages, the people of Del could be heard awakening to the sight of evil closing in on their world. Endon's heart ached to hear their cries of terror and confusion, and their desperate pleas for help. He had caused this to happen; now his own people were paying the ultimate price while he was running to safety. It was not right that it should be this way.

But as Jarred had told him, his family had to survive or Deltora would be lost to the Shadow Lord forever. It was the only thing that kept Endon from running back into the palace to try and help his people: the thought of his wife and unborn heir dying horribly at the Shadow Lord's hands, and the thought of his people and kingdom being lost to the Shadow Lord for eternity. It was physically hard to do so, but Endon kept running, trying to convince himself that in this way he was helping Deltora; that the best way of helping his kingdom was to stay alive and safe from the Shadow Lord's view.

He looked at Sharn, running beside him, her dark eyes blazing with her determination and courage as her hand hovered over her belly, as if she could protect her babe from falling into the clutches of the Shadow Lord. He looked at Jarred, his closest friend, like a brother to him, who had promised to help them when no one else would. He had to trust that Jarred would have a plan, that he and his family would remain safe. It was the only thing Endon could do now.

Endon scanned the cottages, searching for the place that Jarred had called home for the past seven years. He could not recognise it, the forge, fabled home of Adin. The city looked so different than when he had viewed it from the palace windows. Then, it had looked beautiful: the fields had been golden and full of produce, the cottages had been well-built and stable. It had seemed as if the city was at peace, that it had no troubles. Now, the fields were rotting with weeds, and the cottages were crumbling and decaying. Homeless vagabonds prowled the streets, breaking into villagers' homes to find food to fill their bellies with. Others lined the shadows of the street, begging for a piece of bread or ale, their haggard eyes flooded with anguish. Endon could not have been more horrified. How could he have been so oblivious to the despair and troubles of his people?

He had asked Jarred what the city of Del was like outside the palace, but he had hardly believed him. How could he, the King of Deltora, have been so deceived? As he left the palace, he had turned back to see it one last time, but all that had been visible of it were the tips of the turrets. The rest of it was hidden, engulfed by a misty screen. And as he saw the city, he had seen its decay, despair and pain, and his heart choked within him.

Oh, Jarred! Endon thought. Why had I not listened to you when I had the chance?

It was his fault, all of it. If he had listened to Jarred, if he had put on the Belt when Jarred had asked him to, none of this would have happened, and he and his family would not be running for their lives in a world thrown into chaos. He was to blame. Why could he have not acted differently instead of acting like a fool, oblivious to the evil surrounding his land?

'Endon,' Jarred's voice broke into his melancholy thoughts. 'We are here.'

Endon focused on the open gates, and the small cottage light warmly from the inside, bearing the promise of safety, even if it were only temporary. He gazed at the forge, Adin's home, and now Jarred's.

'Let us go inside,' Jarred urged. 'Anna is waiting, and we must make a plan before the Shadow Lord arrives.' Endon could not mistake the love and longing in Jarred's eyes at the thought of seeing his wife.

'Yes, of course,' Endon agreed. And so Endon let Jarred lead them into the cottage, the cottage door shutting out the painful screams of the people of Del as wind howled and the chaos continued in the city.


A woman was waiting for them in the forge house. As soon as Jarred, Endon and Sharn entered, she stumbled forward and flung her arms around Jarred, her face as pale as parchment. 'Jarred!' she whispered. 'I have been so worried! Are you alright? Did you find the King?'

Jarred smiled reassuringly at her, and pecked her on the cheek. 'Dear heart, I am alright,' he said, placing one hand gently on her large belly. 'Do not stress yourself. I found Endon, and his wife the Queen. I will tell all later.' He turned to face Endon. 'Endon, this is my beloved wife, Anna. Anna, this is Endon, King of Deltora and my close friend, and his wife Sharn.'

Anna stared wide-eyed at the royal couple, their exotic make-up and rich, embroidered robes, and was silent. We must seem like foreigners to her, Endon thought. She has surely never seen the like of us before.

'It is nice to meet you,' Anna said at last. 'Jarred has told me of you, and has spoken nothing but good of you.' She turned to Jarred. 'What is happening, Jarred? Is the Shadow Lord invading?' Her fear was reflected in Jarred's eyes.

'Yes,' Jarred said bluntly. 'The Shadow Lord has invaded, and the Belt of Deltora is no more. We have escaped the palace, and have come here to plan what to do now. Endon and Sharn need to find a place of safety where they can hide.' He gestured towards the living area. 'If we sit we can discuss things more comfortably.'

Once they were all sitting comfortably on couches that surrounded a blazing fireplace, Endon decided that it was time to speak. 'What should we do, Jarred?' he asked his friend. 'You said you have a plan.'

'We must leave the city, and find a place to hide,' Sharn broke in. 'My ancestors' city, Tora, will shelter us. They have to, by honour of their ancient vow to Adin. We could send a message…'

'Yes, that is the best course of action,' Anna agreed quickly. 'You need to leave Del as soon as you can, before the roads become crowded with people trying to escape to the countryside. We must send Tora a message, and you must escape and travel there. There I am sure you will be safe.'

Endon saw Jarred's frown, and the apprehension in his eyes. 'Jarred, what are you thinking?' he wondered.

'You will not like it,' Jarred remarked. 'But I believe it is the safest way to protect you and your family, Endon.' He stared at Endon, as if willing him to understand.

'What is it?' Endon urged him, although he was not sure he wanted to hear it. He willed his heart to stop beating so rapidly. What was Jarred thinking? 'What is your plan?'

'The Shadow Lord expects you to flee Del as soon as possible to seek refuge in the countryside. He will have his creatures on the lookout for a man dressed royally and a woman with child. I believe the best course of action would be for you to stay here at the forge, while Anna and I take your places and flee to Tora to seek refuge. The Shadow Lord will never think of searching Del for you and you can live here safely until the time comes to search for the gems.' The words came out in a rush. Jarred leaned back in his chair, seeming relieved that he had finally told them his plan.

Sharn gasped. Anna's eyes widened and she stared open-mouthed at her husband.

Endon felt his mouth gape open, and felt his limbs freeze as if they were made of icicles. Was Jarred mad? 'No,' Endon whispered. 'I will not allow it. How can you think such a thing?' He gazed at Jarred, feeling his hands clench into fists at his sides. 'You have sacrificed enough for me, Jarred. I will not allow it. You have your wife and child to think of now; how can you do this to them?'

'Nothing matters more than you and your family staying safe,' Jarred said firmly. 'This is the safest place for you. It is as simple as that, Endon.'

'But Jarred, I cannot do this to you,' Endon said, his voice shaking. 'You cannot sacrifice your home and identity for me and my family.'

Jarred opened his mouth, but Sharn spoke first, gently touching Endon's arm. 'Endon, his plan is good, and he is right. What really matters is our child's safety. We will stay here, and when we are ready, we will search for the gems.' Determination shone from her very core, and Endon's heart swelled to see her courage and calmness in the midst of danger and uncertainty.

'Jarred…' Anna seemed at a loss at what to say. 'Are you sure of this?'

Jarred stood and walked to where she sat, her face blanched, trembling in her chair, her hands pressed to her belly. 'Do you trust me?' he asked her.

'Always,' Anna replied, smiling weakly up at him. 'You know that, Jarred.'

'Then let us do this, Anna,' he urged. 'I promise you, we will find a way. We will be safe, whether we go to Tora or somewhere else. I promise. Our child will be safe, and so will Endon's. We will find a way.'

Anna stared at Jarred, saw the hope and conviction shining in his eyes, and slowly nodded. She rose from her chair and into Jarred's arms. Together, they turned to face Endon.

'Fate is punishing me,' Endon whispered. 'I have lost my throne and my people's trust. Am I to lose you too?' He could not stop shaking; the thought was too much to bear. He and Jarred had been close friends since they had been four years old. Jarred had always been there for him. How could he do this to him?

'It is the only way, Endon,' Jarred said. 'You and your family must be safe, and this is the best way to do it.'

Endon closed his eyes. 'So be it,' he said flatly. 'We must send the message to Tora.'

Jarred nodded, his expression communicating his relief at Endon's logical suggestion. 'Do you have a blackbird to carry the message?'

'Yes. But first let us write the message.'

Pulling herself from Jarred's arms, Anna hurried from the room and returned in seconds with a piece of parchment and a quill and an inkbottle. She proffered it to Endon. Endon gratefully accepted them, and nodded his thanks. Placing the parchment on his lap, he dipped his quill into the ink and wrote in a shaky, urgent scrawl:

People of Tora,

The Belt of Deltora is lost, the Shadow Lord has returned. With the help of a true friend I have escaped with the Queen and our unborn child. I ask you to offer sanctuary in fulfilment of your ancient vow. Return word by this messenger. Waste no time, I beg of you.

Endon, King of Deltora.

He showed it to the others. 'I can do no better than this. If only I had my seal ring...but no matter.' He walked outside and returned with a blackbird perched on his arm. 'This will have to do.'

Endon bound the parchment onto the bird's leg, and set the blackbird free through the open window in the forge kitchen. He watched as the bird's wings beat a steady way through the darkness of the morning and as he watched he prayed with all his heart that it would reach Tora safely, and that the Torans would give shelter to Jarred and Anna. He strode into the living area, feeling as if he were carved from ice. He did not bother responding to their questioning gazes, and sank into his seat near the fire, feeling that his world was falling to pieces in front of him.

A sudden burst of wind shook the cottage walls, and a flash of crimson light could be seen outside. Jarred, Anna, Endon and Sharn started, their hearts hammering. 'The Shadow Lord is coming,' Sharn whispered under her breath, her face devoid of colour. She started for the door. 'You must go now!'

'Wait!' Jarred snapped. The others stared at him, astonished and wondering at what he had thought of now. 'First, we must change clothes,' he said. 'We will seem more believable if we are wearing your clothes, and not our own.'

'Of course,' Endon murmured, his head bowed. Did Jarred ever run out of ideas?

In seconds they had changed clothes. It was strange to see Jarred and Anna dressed in the clothes Endon and Sharn had worn. Endon felt a pang at how alike he and Sharn they seemed, even without their makeup and elaborately braided hair.

And then they were hurrying out of the cottage, and through the forge gates. The four of them paused just outside the gates, gazing at each other, reluctant to part although they knew they needed to. It was as if they had known each other for a lifetime, and not a scant few hours.

Endon clasped Jarred's hand. 'Know that I will be hoping and praying that you safe and well, wherever you go. I will be forever grateful to you for your sacrifice, Jarred. And I am sorry you had to make it.' He hoped his eyes conveyed what his words did not: how sorry he was for the predicament he had put Jarred in, and how he hoped they would meet again someday in the future, what ever happened to them both.

'I will pray that you stay safe, Endon,' Jarred said gruffly. 'And know that it is nothing, as long as you and your family are alive and well. I will be thinking of you, know that, and I pray we meet again.'

'Thank you,' Sharn said, her voice trembling. 'Thank you for everything, Jarred.' She turned to Anna. 'I am honoured to have known you, for however short a time.'

Anna smiled. 'And I am honoured to have met you, Sharn.'

'Farewell, old friend,' Jarred said quietly. He clasped Anna's hand in his own and walked away down the streets of Del with her by his side, where people had already emerged, almost trampling one another in their efforts to leave the city.

Endon watched him go, his vision blurred with unshed tears. He held up a hand in farewell, and gazed at his friend's retreating figure until he and Anna were swallowed up by the crowds.

'Farewell, old friend,' Endon whispered, his heart aching with bitterness, loss and sadness. He knew, without a doubt, that he would most likely never see his friend again in this life. But he hoped and prayed anyway that it would not be so.


Endon heard Sharn's sharp alarmed cry and spun to see a man stumbling towards him, clad in the uniform of a palace guard. In the confusion and chaos of the day, Endon reacted by reflex, his fist smashing into the man's face, shattering the bones in his nose. With a strange sense of satisfaction, Endon watched the guard collapse onto the street, unconscious to all that saw him. Now he realised that he had been furious, maddeningly furious, at the Shadow Lord, for invading his kingdom and taking his crown.

And now, Endon thought with a pang of guilt, he had knocked unconscious a man sworn to his service, someone who was innocent of the wrongs done to him and his family.

Sharn came beside him to stare into the man's face. 'Endon,' she whispered. 'We must bring him inside. It will not do to have him lying out here in the cold. I do not think he is a danger to us.'

'Of course,' Endon murmured. He stared at the man. He seemed strangely familiar, despite having never seen him before. Who did he resemble?

Together he and Sharn half-carried the man into the house, placing him on a bed in the spare room. 'We must wait for him to wake up,' Sharn said. 'Then he will tell us who he is and why he has come here.' She gazed at the big man as he tossed and turned in his sleep. 'He reminds me of someone,' she added, her brow crinkling. 'I cannot think of who.'

Endon nodded. 'I feel as if I should know him, but I do not.'

The two started as the man cried out, though evidently still asleep. 'No!' he gasped. 'Mother…dead? Killed. I must…leave…I will be killed as well…Oh, mother!' he cried out again, the rage and grief plain in his voice.

Sharn's eyes were filled with compassion. 'He has suffered much, it is plain,' she said. 'He must have been fleeing from the palace, not wanting to be killed. The poor man!'

Endon's head was reeling. Suddenly all the pieces were falling into place. 'Of course!' he muttered. 'Min! He is Min's son, who fled palace during the feast.'

Sharn's eyes widened. 'Min?' she exclaimed. 'Your old nursemaid? No wonder he sounds so afraid, and grief-stricken! He must have been in fear for his life.'

'And he came here,' Endon added, confused thoughts swirling in his mind. 'But why? Why here?'

'Perhaps he came here by instinct,' Sharn suggested quietly. 'This is the ancient home of Adin, remember. Adin may have guided him here.'

'It may be so,' Endon agreed. He thought of Jarred, who had sought refuge in the forge seven years earlier, and of himself and Sharn, who had been given refuge there. 'This forge seems to be a place of refuge,' he commented.

Min's son cried out again, in a low and pained voice, and his eyes snapped open.

Sharn gasped, and turned to Endon, who did not react, though his heart was fluttering a mile a minute. 'Peace, friend,' he said, managing to keep his voice steady. 'We mean you no harm.' He raised his hands to show the man that they were empty of weapons.

The man frowned, wariness clear in his eyes. 'Who are you?'

Endon hesitated. Should he tell this man the truth, or should he give him false names? Even though he was Min's son, Endon was not sure he could trust him. For all they knew, this man was not who he seemed, but was instead a servant of the Shadow Lord.

'I am Anna, and this is my husband Jarred,' Sharn said calmly. Endon could have kissed her for her quick and rational thinking. 'Truly, we mean you no harm.'

The man's eyes blazed as he took them in. 'You!' he exclaimed, glaring at Endon. 'You knocked me unconscious.'

'I am sorry for that,' Endon said shakily. 'I was afraid, and reacted out of reflex. My wife is with child, close to her time, and there are many dangers in the city now that the Shadow Lord has invaded. I thought you might be an enemy.'

'I—I came from the palace,' the man responded, sitting up on the bed. 'I am no enemy of yours. I left during the feast, I was afraid…' his voice trailed away, and his face hardened. 'My mother was killed before the feast. She heard that something terrible was to occur this day, and she told me. I knew I would be killed as well if I did not flee. My name is Barda,' he added.

'We do not believe you are an enemy, Barda,' Sharn said gently. 'We know your story, we heard you talking in your sleep. We know you mean us no harm.'

Barda frowned again. 'Just before I was knocked unconscious, I saw you, with two other people. They were dressed in strange clothes, rich in colour and decorative. And then they left, disappearing among the people escaping from the city. Who were they? Friends?'

Beside him, Endon heard Sharn draw in a sharp breath. He himself felt his head reel, and his heart thud. The man had seen them, and Jarred and Anna. He had seen Jarred and Anna leave, although it seemed that he had no idea who they really were. But it would be enough to implicate them if Barda whispered a word of it to anyone else. The Shadow Lord had spies everywhere—who knew where? Any one of them would be alerted if they heard of two strangely dressed people leaving the forge.

Endon and Sharn's eyes met. Should we tell him? his eyes asked of hers. Should we give away our secret to a man we have barely met?

Let us tell him, Sharn urged silently, but not everything. Her eyes blazed with purpose. She clearly wants to help this man, Endon thought, and does not want to turn him away.

Endon nodded, his decision made. He would tell Barda, and deal with any problems later. He turned to Barda. 'Barda… I was King Endon's friend when we were children. Min was our nursemaid.' The words felt heavy on his tongue. It was strange to talk about himself as if he were talking about someone else. 'We were like brothers, until I was accused of plotting to murder him. I sought refuge in this forge, and was taken in by the blacksmith and his daughter. But I swore to help Endon when he needed it. Finally, last night, he called for help, and I came. I convinced him to put on the Belt once more, but when we got to the tower, it had been ruined and the gems had gone. I helped Endon and the Queen, Sharn, escape the palace, and we came here to plan.'

'The people you saw were the King and Queen,' Sharn said to Barda. 'We saw them to the forge gates, and watched as they left.'

'We vowed to find the gems and restore the Belt of Deltora,' Endon said. 'I myself plan on going to find them when the time is right. We will not rest until Deltora is free from the Shadow Lord.' He found himself surprised at how fierce his voice had become. But he was the King of Deltora, and he had let his kingdom be invaded by the Shadow Lord. He would not rest until he had freed Deltora.

Barda smiled grimly. 'That is good. Then my mother will not have died in vain.' He bowed his head, and then added, 'And I would like to help, if you will let me. My mother died at the hands of the Shadow Lord; I wish to avenge her death. I, too, will not rest until Deltora is free.' Endon saw the man's eyes blaze with conviction and determination, and he thought: this is a good man, and he would be a good ally. But is it worth the risk to let him help?

'I will do anything to help,' Barda continued. 'I will work for you, if you like, in the forge or in the cottage. I will do anything to avenge my mother's death.'

'You will do nothing of the sort, Barda!' Sharn said firmly. The two men stared at her, amazed at her sudden passion, but she lifted her chin. 'You are welcome to stay with us in the cottage, but you need not work for your keep. We are not monsters, to turn away a man so obviously in need of our help.' She glanced pointedly at Endon.

'Of course,' Endon said, stifling a sigh at this sudden turn of events. 'Barda, you are welcome to help us on our quest, if you wish, but it will be dangerous…'

'I do not care,' the big man said. 'I want to help.'

Endon hesitated, still unsure. Could he really risk another person's life for his quest? He was the one who had doomed the kingdom; he was the only one who should go to restore the Belt. It was not right to needlessly put innocent people's lives at risk.

'You will need help on your quest,' Barda said reasonably. 'Two people are better than one, do you not agree?'

Endon nodded reluctantly. There was merit in Barda's calm rationalising, and he realised that the big man was right. It would be folly to go alone to seek the gems.

'Then it is settled,' Barda said, in a satisfied tone of voice. 'I will come with you on your quest, when the time comes.'