The Myth of Tristan Croll by Iris Anderson
Karl felt pain shot through his arm and staggered. His arm ached badly. He couldn’t fight the Red Bandits and wouldn’t surrender, so he ran. He needed rest. Spiky trees cut off the dusty path. He felt sweat on his back and his arm throbbed. He collapsed on the dirt path. He couldn’t go on. He passed out feeling like he couldn’t breathe, his asthma kicking in. Karl spat out dirt. His mouth was dry, his arm was aching and the smell of freshly baked cake wafted into his nostrils. He lazily opened his hot, swollen eyes and suddenly pain rushed through his arm. Karl yelped out in pain, and then saw a kind, wrinkled face looking down at his own wretched one.
“You’re tired, aren’t you? Well, I suppose I should still tell you that your real name is Tristan–Tristan Croll., and your whole life is just a big lie!” the lady said, trying to sound cheerful but failing quite badly.
Karl exhaled and cursed under his hot breath.
“You’re lying to me,” he breathed.
He put all his effort into saying this, then screamed as his arm tingled and tensed.
“Calm down Tristan. I’m not lying. To add to it, crows gave birth to you. My crows. I’m a crowkeeper, but since we’re considered, well… illegal in Ahoy, I’m disguised as a magaker-a magical baker.”
Karl-Tristan-felt the scratchy linen against his bare legs and exhaled. He tried to breathe, but he’d just been told that his life was a lie. Tristan felt deflated, as pain continued to rush through his arm. Moving was overrated. Tristan’s stomach was throbbing as he managed to breathe. He felt the lady stuff a sweet, crumbly cupcake into his mouth. Tristan hadn’t had cake for a long time, and savoured the taste until the very last bite. He gulped down fresh water that refreshed his dusty, dry mouth. Tristan felt sweat on his brow but couldn’t be bothered to wipe it off. He couldn’t be bothered to move.
Many days continued like this, until finally the lady – of whom Tristan never learnt the name of – managed to recover Tristan. A great many years later, after Tristan had defeated the Red Bandits and succeeded with many other heists, he – after winning a very hard battle – met a woman, who healed the wound on his cheek.
After she did so, she whispered, “Good luck, Tristan Croll,” and handed him a crumbly cupcake.
Tristan, of course, remembered the lady who had sat by him for days on end, feeding him delicious pastries and her iconic crumbly cakes, but, after much research, couldn’t work out how, or why, her crows had given birth to him. If that was even true…