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Thread: Dracnäe - Epic fantasy story.

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    Registered User riferrada's Avatar
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    Sep 2013

    Dracnäe - Epic fantasy story.

    First of all, hi to everyone!

    About my book:

    Dracnäe is my first book. It is a story that has been in my mind for years, so I finally decided to write it. I have to say that English is not my mother language, so I would appreciate any comments or corrections. In addition, I would appreciate any comment about the story itself, so I could apply it to the text. Thank you all.

    Book 1
    "Echoes of War"


    At the beginning, only the goddess Dracnäh Orûhm inhabited the empty world. She was happy wandering in its gigantic plains, vast oceans, lush forests and high mountains, all of them her own creations; but she felt alone. The passage of thousands of years marked that deep loneliness, which made her finally decide to invent living beings to provide her company. The goddess created insects and small animals, which (without having planned it) took care of growing the beauty and very life of the planet. Again, the passage of thousands and thousands of years remarked that horrifying loneliness.
    It was then when she decided to create the first sentient being, someone who could share her own ideas and witness the beauty of the world and its life. The new being had to be immortal naturally; it should provide her company for all eternity. Thus the first winged serpent stepped the primeval world (which name nobody even remembers) and flew along the goddess for eons, until the creation itself felt alone. Sad for her fellow, the goddess Dracnäh created more serpent-like creatures to make them company, in that way, the beautiful winged beings spread over the lands, mountains and seas; guarding and protecting their world. The Goddess knew that by giving that gift to her beloved friend she had lost him forever. However, she was not vindictive; she loved each one of her creations, so she let him go. Dracnäh decided then to create more intelligent lives and watched them grow and interact, move back and forth, build and destroy, always under the supervision of the wise and eternal winged serpents, which (honoring their creator) had called themselves Drag’ ons; “children of Dracnäh”.
    One day, tired and still feeling that sad loneliness, the goddess left and never returned. This act filled their beloved ones with pain, especially the dragons (as the name transformed with the pass of centuries) and their leader, The First, who was the only one she talked before undertaking her quiet retirement.
    Therefore, no longer under mother Dracnäh’s guidance, the thinking creatures, mortals and immortals, were divided into groups, races and ethnicities. This caused hostility, one that grew over the centuries. Thus the first wars began, arousing the unknown fury of the winged guardians, who knew the terrible secret shared by The First, the one secret the goddess trust him before leaving. They had the difficult task of not letting the creatures war each other, so the vast peace long lived in the world could not be disrupted. But the thinking beings were stubborn, and they worked towards to arms.
    The First had to intercede on several occasions, but it was too late; the damage caused by the ignorant creatures was already made.
    Seeing the foolishness of the races, and how foolish they were themselves thinking of a change; the dragons decided to leave just as their creator, and they were never seen by the people of those times again.

    Over the centuries, the unexpected appearance of dark and deformed creatures horrified the thinking beings, who did not know where those entities (so violent and so far from the other Goddess’ creations) had come from. The numbers of the disfigured creatures grew in dozens, hundreds and thousands, as the conflicts between the thinking beings continued.

    Over the years, the presence of these new enemies, who pillaged, killed, destroyed and desecrated; forced the thinking beings to create the First Covenant, they had to put their differences aside and meet a common goal. Therefore, through the following centuries, they worked together to banish the aberrations, throwing them into infinite holes; holes that (according to their beliefs) headed to a place they called “The Underworld”. They fought the monsters until no one walked their domains again, domains they rename as “The Higher Lands”.
    The thinking beings had taken an important step, they discovered that peace was good, and they could survive very well along with each other; they had learned it the hard way. So they kept a (fragile) time of peace, which lasted many, many generations.
    Over the centuries, the alliances were gradually forgotten while conquering the vast lands and getting away from each other, but there was no struggle or conflict, they believed the appearance of the monsters was a punishment of the goddess, and they would not test her wrath again.
    One day, out of nowhere, seven winged beings appeared in the world, and toured the archaic cities and towns, bringing love and grace to the thinking creatures. They were the sons of Dracnäh, and the creatures of the world loved them, as they loved them back. That is how that love made them decide to give up their divine existences and live among the mortals, teaching them the magic with which their own mother had created everything eons ago. Those were the times of rebirth, the “Dracnäe” (as these beings called themselves) made the thinking beings grow in wisdom; promoting understanding, coexistence, and love to nature. Those golden times were called "the Age of Light".

    When the old legends had been almost forgotten, the monsters came back from the depths, not in small groups as before, but in enormous and well trained armies with only one goal in the collective mind, to destroy. Nobody knew why they appeared, or where they came from, but that kind of evil could not be mother Dracnäh’s doing. The so long harvested peace had finally come to an end, and not even the Dracnäe, now mortal beings, could do anything to stop or confine again the evil creatures to the Underworld.
    There were countless and endless wars, where the inhabitants of the Higher Lands banished their defeated enemies, closing the holes where they came from forever. However, the monsters always returned in superior numbers and guided by an even greater anger.
    Nothing changed for thousands of years, peace became utopia; one that only dwelt in old songs and legends. But they learned how to live with the chaos, and they even got used to it and turned it a part of their daily lives; specializing in war and the arts the battle, it was not against each other now, brothers all, but against one common and increasingly numerous enemy.
    But that was only until true evil appeared. An evil the very goddess did not dare to name.
    It was a demon, an aberration that should have never seen light. After its awakening in the depths of the Underworld, it began to conquer every one of the foul races that inhabited those darkened parts of the world. The Beast’s power surpassed anything known, even the Dracnäe could not stop it, it even gained the name “The Lord of the Dead” because of its ability to raise the dead (allies and foes) and command them against the fearful (and almost futile) resistance. When the war (usually called as “The Last Great War”) was ending, and the hopes of the defenders of the Higher Lands were shattered; the last remaining Dracnäe sacrificed their lives creating the ultimate warrior, a little boy who was born from a Dragon. He was named Di-Nahi, but after the years, he was better known as “The Black Dragon: Destroyer of the Lord of the Dead”. However, that is another story.


    It has been ten thousand years since the Last Great War, where the mighty Black Dragon destroyed the Lord of the Dead at the cost of his own life. Ten thousand years in which the heroes are scarce and the races of the Old Covenant forget the alliances and their own past. Ten thousand years in which the lords of Underworld have sought and waited for his terrible master.
    It has been ten thousand years since the Battle of the Black Sun, and the echoes of war finally sound, the smell of putrefaction, blood, destruction.
    Finally... their master has returned.

    Chapter one - Part one.

    The Silver City

    The summer of the ten thousand year of the Dragon age was ending, and the festivals honoring to the great hero “destroyer of the Lord of the Dead”, had left their mark on every corner of the Higher Lands, there was only happiness and joy in the hearts, leaving no room for enmity. All kingdoms and races shared and drank, sang and danced. But summer was going, and celebrations and joy with it; slowly coming back to normal, and while the first leaves of the forest began to fall, a shadow grew in the hearts.

    Kaius was seated on a large silvery rock in the middle of a glade where he had settled his camp; reflecting on the possibilities to transmute a stone he held in his right hand on a liquor bottle. The brown hair rested on his small shoulders, and his black eyes (that contrasted a lot with his pale face) were lost in the infinite. His thin lips outlined a slight smile imagining the tasty flavor the magically created liquid would have. With his free hand; he played combing and ruffling his short and sparse beard, which should be lusher in his twenties (considering that he had it grown from his seventeen). He was so lost in his thoughts that he did not realize that the fire had completely devoured the rabbit that so many troubles gave him to catch. Just when he thought he had found the exact formula to create his wonderful elixir, a loud roar and a howl, led him directly to reality.

    ―But what in all hells happened here silly kid!

    Mälkar had appeared bringing fine spices to add more flavors to the rabbit, and had found it completely charred. The old wizard angrily watched the remains of what would be a meal to remember. After all, one cannot achieve a rabbit from Thalas Bur every day.

    ―I cannot count on you for anything, can I? you little wimp ―he exclaimed while his long black hair fluttered in the wind and his beady blue eyes flashed with anger― I have only been out for five minutes and you almost burn the whole camp.
    The old man opened the faded leather purse hanging from his right shoulder, and pulled out his wand (which in his own words; was made from the wood of a rare tree called Ghissel, which by the way was gone extinct about four hundred years ago). ―To Kaius, the wand was not more than a vulgar crooked branch, and although sometimes he wished with all his heart to have one like his teacher, he would pick the staff if they made him choose―. With a single movement of the wand, the magician made the campfire and the roasted animal disappear out of sight.

    ―At least we still have the fish you catch ―he looked in all directions looking for the succulent fish that his apprentice, he supposed, had brought to serve on the fabulous feast.

    ―Where are they? ―The tall old man walked across the camp with his blackened robe dancing with his long strides.
    Kaius did not say anything; he just stared in fear of his master, thinking the punishment he would collect for burning the rabbit, and the worst punishment for forgetting fishing. If only he were not so distracted.

    ―I am asking you a simple question, for all the goddesses! Where are the damn fish? ― He shouted as he banged his staff against the ground.
    The young man remained silent just thinking of an idea to get him out of the mess, until, thankfully; one popped into his head.

    ―They escaped sir ―he spoke without hesitation, seeing like the old man's face changed― I caught them and put them on a rock over there, I swear! ―he continued― but as I prepared them to cut and spice; a dark sorcerer appeared out of nowhere and attacked me. The fight was terrible; a lightning spell the devil threw me carbonized the poor rabbit and left me paralyzed. The fish, seeing this scene, found nothing better than flee. In any case, I understand them ―he paused and looked at the sky pretending thoughtfulness― if I were them; I would have done the same.

    The old man looked at his apprentice in the eye, denoting the complete security on the absurd lie he was saying (and even some desperation to really believe it). The young man was standing playing with his long thin fingers eagerly, and tried to avoid the teacher's eyes at all costs; pretending he had new spots in his dirty gray robe, or looking in all directions expecting a new fictional attack. The wizard studied his face carefully during uncomfortable minutes, and then laughed aloud.

    ―If it were not for your occurrences kid, I would stop being your master since many years ago.
    His mentor’s smile made Kaius feel very relieved, but that was only for a short time, as the old man (flashing a mischievous chuckle) ordered him to catch another rabbit, this time not only without using magic, but also with one hand tied behind his back. The apprentice left the camp cursing softly.
    The forest of Thalas Bur was a beautiful place; his blue, red, green and orange leaved trees reflected the strong sunlight from that time of the day. The floor was covered with short reddish grass, and there were different species of shrubs of different greenish tones. The wind played among the branches mixing and spreading the delicious fruit fragrances that filled the lungs of the student, who breathed deeply, as if trying to keep the image in his memory forever. There was a wide river of clear and warm waters that completely crossed the forest, in which cheerful salmons leaped and splashed measuring their strength against the flow. According to his teacher, drinking those waters would make even the weariest of travelers recover his energies, but he had not verified it though.
    As he walked hunched over some bushes that grew alongside the rushing waters, the apprentice saw an abnormally large fat gray rabbit, whose gaze was lost in the blue sky where the wind toward the clouds formed funny (and sometimes disturbing) figures. So great was the view that the young man stared in wonder the strange forms. Suddenly a very peculiar image blew him out of reality; it was a kind of animal with very long ears, whose face seemed to be forming a mocking smile.

    ―Damn! ―he exclaimed― the rabbit!

    He looked at the direction where the animal had been moments ago, but there was nothing. Desperate and thinking that this time he would not be save from his teacher’s punishment, he wandered for at least fifteen minutes without finding any clues to the whereabouts of the animal. When he had lost all hopes to catch the fat animal, he finally found it resting on a pile of dry leaves, with his gaze lost in the infinite again.
    ―You are mine! ―He shouted.
    The apprentice’s scream alerted the creature, which swiftly turned and ran. Kaius chased him for several minutes, but it was too slippery, and it had preference for leafy bushes with long spines; making its pursuer to constantly rip his old and faded tunic and scratch his face and hand on more than one occasion. Until for some seconds (and maybe looking for another one of those thorny hideouts) the rabbit hesitated. Kaius, without thinking twice, jumped and grabbed the stubby tail with his available hand.

    ―Now I have you!

    The furious animal, which by its size seemed to be the emperor of the rabbits, ran carrying its hunter through more bushes filled with long spikes that pierced his skin. Just when the apprentice felt he could no longer hold his prey, the beast awkwardly hit his shaggy head against a rock hidden in a pile of sticks and dry leaves. The young man (tightly clutching his enemy) turned and tied its legs but not before receiving a big bite, though it was more by reflex than an action itself.

    ―You do not know how I will enjoy eating you ―he shouted forgetting the pain for a moment.

    Suddenly, the fat creature began to convulse and his red eyes turned white until it finally everything calmed down. The apprentice shook him hard, but there was no reaction; apparently, the chubby creature had suffered some kind of attack by the tremendous efforts.
    Kaius laughed loudly yelling at the animal he was the victor, but later (and noticing what seemed to be a mischievous smile on the deceased’s face) he realized that it was not his hand that ended with that life and it had no sense celebrating something not done by himself. In the end, despite being dead, the gray fat beast had won the contest. Kaius even thought that maybe the rabbit had died on purpose just to mock him for all eternity.
    After twenty heavy and tiring minutes, he reached the camp where Mälkar waited the food.

    ―OH! You made it ―the magician exclaimed pretending surprise while drawing a small grin at seeing his student’s scratched appearance, he did not seem to have spent a very good time exactly.

    ―I see you took a bit of work to catch this lovely creature.

    Kaius looked the long claws, sharp fangs and pointed ears, and recalled himself being dragged by that "lovely creature" with one hand, which certainly hurt enough.

    ―yes teacher, it is adorable.

    The old man sat on a flat rock, pulled out a black pipe, filled it with tobacco, and after a snap of his fingers; the soft fragrant smoke began to tour the camp. He took out a booklet of notes from his leather purse and began reading and smoking with pleasure. After a moment, he looked up and saw his pupil watching helplessly perplexed.

    ―You are not thinking I am going to spice and cook your rabbit right? You burned the one I prepared; you will cook this one. And do not forget the accompaniments.

    After dinner’s long preparation and giving a real feast on their prey (especially the apprentice, who seemed to over-enjoy every bite) the sorcerers prepared to break camp. There was still a long stretch to reach Thalas Bur; in the kingdom of Eddlar. There was only one path to the big city; a road made of fine polished rocks carved in such a way that resembled silver, and which gave a majestic touch to the vast forest that stretched to where the two men looked at.

    It was common to see wandering wizards walking in the Higher Lands, although not as much as it was in the old days. They were known as the connection between the Goddess and the mortal beings, and the light and guidance to follow. In the ancient ages, wizards had enough power to purge a city or punish a king if they needed it to be done, such was the power that the old Order possessed. The divine Dracnäe had taught them the arts of wizardry so they could mark a balance in the world, and thus it was made. For thousands of years they put order in a world in constant changes and chaos, they were respected and wanted. But after the First Magic War, they lost their revere and admiration. The peoples of the Higher Lands noted those were mortal beings just as themselves; they could make mistakes, and there were many of those in those days. Now, after many centuries, the sorcerers kept protecting the world as they were taught to, but they had not the same power and privileges they used to have. There are actually three kinds of wizards now; the ones of “the Order” (which is located in Haras Runadam), the ones called priests (actually priestesses, because they admit only women) and finally the renegades; those who decided to learn the Goddess’ precepts by themselves, ignoring the commands of “the Order” and detesting its absolute secrecy and arrogance. Mälkar was among the last ones, and he had always told Kaius to never trust the good intentions of a mage of the Order, “for there always must be some hidden meaning in that”.
    As they walked the shining road, the old man questioned his student.

    ―Kaius, what do you get from the mix between gray tiger bones and Wild Flowers of the Queen ―he pronounced solemnly.

    ―It is a replication potion master, alchemist mages used it in the War of Eddlar ―the student responded while dodging a blue branch that crossed the trail and closely followed the tall old man, who walked briskly.

    ―Now, what is the specific function of a letter-spell, and how do you make it ―the master continued.

    ―The letter-spells ―Kaius repeated gladly, one of my favorites. It can be any piece of paper that is imbued with a spell, translating the magic words into ink so then the non-magic carrier can use it.

    ―Very well ―the old man said while combing his black thick eyebrows ―Now, how do you make a healing potion?

    Kaius thought for a moment, and then raised his voice.

    ―That is an easy one master ―he answered with an air of grandeur―, it is necessary the Radimis leaf, some spores of the Evas Flower, and of course a few leaves of the Forgetting Flower ―he added frowning in sign of wisdom― the amount depends on the wounds of the treated.
    The master looked at him as he ducked to avoid a green fruit.
    ―Excellent! ―he exclaimed frowning― and the poor wretch who drinks it would sleep for all eternity. It is amazing your ability to forget everything you have been taught, boy.

    Kaius looked at the old man without understanding what he meant.

    ―Read your annotations ―Mälkar added angrily― do not think I will give you the answer to something that you should already know.

    The night came quickly and the first stars begun to be reflected in the wet leaves of the thick and ancient trees. The Elhimîs River could still be heard at the distance and the wolves’ howls echoed while the darkness of night slowly enveloped the environment. The shadows of the tree branches formed amorphous figures in the red grass that covered the forest while student and teacher advanced through the silver road.

    ―All right, now to the practical ―the wizard said as he pulled out a long black coat from his new rabbit fur backpack and put it on his shoulders almost completely covering his faded robe―. Grab that snake ―he ordered―, the one crawling to the tree at your left. Use “the arms of Darainis”.
    Kaius nodded, looked for the selected animal, breathed deeply; and then hit the ground with both hands.

    ―Adericus Darainis!

    Four thin but long roots rushed out from the ground, pinning the snake like green fingers. After that (and after a long minute of fruitless struggle) the frightened snake was freed as the apprentice canceled the spell.
    ―Perfectly applied, now invoke the White Flames of Khon ―the master added watching his student's eyes as he made a face. He had never been good at that spell.
    Kaius raised his hands, closed his eyes; and uttered the magic words.

    ―Khon Arak Doradan!

    There was a loud bang, but only a black and stinking smoke came out of his hands.

    ―I still cannot do it master, but at least I can make smoke now ―the student blushed and turned thoughtfully toward the sky, while Mälkar kept walking with his eyes on the road― How old were you the first time you were able to control the white flames?

    ―I was seventeen; I think I have told you that before.

    ―Three years before me ―the student sighed sadly― I am starting to believe that, as you say, I am definitely not cut out for this.

    Mälkar noticed his apprentice’s grief and tiredness, his gray robes and short green cloak were still covered in dirt by the incident with the rabbit and he still had chunks of grass and weeds in his tousled hair.

    ―Patience Kaius, I also said you are a lot better than I was in other spells at your age ―he added nodding thoughtfully― for example; transmuting the weirdest objects into liquor.

    Kaius’ face brightened. Sure, when it comes to make liquor, he was the best wizard in the world.

    ―You are right master, if I do not get good enough in magic within a few years, I think I will put my own tavern.
    Mälkar burst out laughing.

    ―I still remember when you created the “Old Frog Whisky”. Your skin was green for two months.

    ―Yes master, I remember it too ―he said making a false and tedious smile― though I rather not to do it.

    ―What do you mean? It was the funniest thing, I had never laughed like that in all my life.
    ―Yes master. It was very funny.

    The stars were shining, and the moonless night began to betray the two men’s senses. The old mage (who still laughed aloud) pulled out his Ghissel wand and shake it three quick times, making it to shine; showing them the way to follow.

    ―When will I have one like yours master? ―the student asked as he pointed the lanky device.

    ―When you know how to use it ―the wizard answered in a mocking tone.

    Finally, late at night, they arrived at Thalas Bur; ancient elven city now inhabited mostly by humans, gnomes, dwarves and imps. That was their destination.

    The Sorcerers advanced through a row of white stone pillars masterfully carved, which guided them to one of the two entrances to the city, which was completely fortified, surrounded by tall thick white stonewalls inlaid with gleaming metals. The entrance was guarded by proud soldiers dressed in silver and black armors, who looked suspiciously at the two nocturnal visitors, who slightly bowed their heads in greeting.
    Kaius could not help but greatly impress at the first sight of that city. There were houses of different sizes, shapes and colors; the floor was made of the same shiny stone that covered the forest road, probably work of the dwarfs; who in the Age of Glory had helped the elves of the Golden Wood to build one of their most important capital cities. Among the various alleys that led to the main street (where the sorcerers walked) there were many people, even at that late hour, circling, sweeping the street, or talking about the latest gossip from the kingdom.
    After about twenty minutes, they reached the center of the city, where a large and busy trade stood surrounding the main square; the streets were crowded with people taking advantage of bids offered by the competitive merchants, who fought to have more customers than the neighbor. From the main square, various streets and alleys could be accessed, leading to the different sectors of the city. And in the center of the square, surrounded by a daintily maintained short grass, stood a beautiful silver seven levels fountain, where fresh water fell floor by floor reflecting the lights from the burning lamps; strategically placed so that all corners were lit even in the darkest night.
    Thalas Bur had been part of the Golden Wood for thousands of years, under the reign of the elf lord Dhamrel Ilvandir, who, as a symbol of unification and alliance between the kingdoms (and after the slaughter the human country suffered during the Underworld hordes invasion) kindly ceded it to Eddlar, becoming one of the most famous and visited trading centers between races in the Higher Lands.

    According to Mälkar, there was an area inhabited only by dwarves, who had become rich by trading with precious metals and stones, and had built their own corner in the city, the Eternal Golden Halls; with high buildings erected with pillars of rock and gold over so lit streets that it was as if the very sun dwelled in there. It was like traveling to the legendary Mithran Mines just going down the long stairs leading to that beautiful place, At least that is how his teacher described it, and it was one of the first Kaius` destinations once they had found an inn.
    There were also a few elves remaining in the city, who were seated at the high sectors and their homes were built on large silvery trees. The place was almost the last remaining of the city’s elven art. Buildings that seemed to float, crimson streets and so immense trees that seemed to own a complete metropolis in every one of them. As it was the magical focus of the city, it was one of the apprentice’s main destinations. Anyway (as his mentor had said), having such a mixture of races and cultures, Thalas Bur was one of the busiest places in the kingdom of Eddlar.
    As it was his first time in the Silver City, Kaius walked entranced, watching every corner trying to capture it in his mind so never forget such a magnificent sight. He knew that wandering wizards’ life would not allow him to settle in one place for too long, that is not the way it works, he had to travel all over the world seeking wisdom and power (according to Mälkar), although he willingly had stayed for a long time in Thalas Bur to "gather wisdom and power" and incidentally take a vacation.
    In a corner of the long street where they walked, Kaius noticed a small fountain of drinkable water, he went to wash his hands and face, then watered his curly brown hair a little. As he bent to drink the fresh liquid, he looked up and in the distance, after two or three rows of houses to the east; he could see the tops of tall trees and some small lights on inside these. It was the Magic District, home of the elves. The apprentice began to walk unconsciously in that direction, but his mentor’s hand stopped him as he stated that it was not the time to explore.
    Shortly after passing the elven sector, they advanced by an area his teacher appointed as the leisure nook. It was particularly grim, with many bars and what at first sight (although they did not confirm it) seemed to be disreputable business. However, the young man was so excited that he did not care if he was taken to sewers while touring the magnificent city.
    As they walked, Kaius gave a fleeting glance at his master, who looked strangely tired mind. His face (to the swinging light of the torches) denoted further wrinkles of the ordinary, his small blue eyes forced greatly to distinguish objects and streets in the shadowed place, his unkempt beard fell on a dirty robe, so aged, that the original color could no longer be distinguished. This; added to the ruffling long black hair and his walk leaning on his white staff, made the old man look more like a sad beggar than the truly powerful sorcerer he was. After all, it must not be easy to reach four hundred years old. The old man had had a life full of adventures and misadventures, saving and destroying cities; loved in as much realms as hated in others, he had been master of six more sorcerers, those who never shone as much as he did, and could not even reach half-life of the great Mälkar Whiteflame. After all, a wizard’s life is not easy.

    ―Master, are you going to tell me what are we doing here yet?

    During his journey in search of a mystical arcane rune in the western kingdoms; the old man had departed on one of his common (and long) reflection walks after dinner, and when he got back he told Kaius there would be a small change of plans, so they would head to Thalas Bur and find a place to rest there. Kaius did not bother much about it, but it really caught his attention, because his master was not devoted to leisure.

    ―I told you we have only come here to take a break ―the sorcerer tiredly answered as he looked in all directions looking for a place already known but (perhaps product of long years of absence) almost forgotten― and there is also something I have to do in this place. OH! Here is it; the old wolf, and it is really old I see. Here we can rest and we will see what happens tomorrow.

    Kaius looked up and saw a small tavern, in which weathered oak door hung a rusty table, where the almost imperceptible letters said "Welcome to the Howling Wolf soldier". At the sight of the grungy place chosen by his mentor; the apprentice’s first idea was to turn around and return to the forest, there at least (and despite the hungry wolves) the view was much more welcoming. The small two-floor building had only one window in the front, and it was easy to guess it was poorly illuminated. Mälkar pushed the door, which creaked unpleasantly as they entered.

    The Howling Wolf was a grim place, almost completely dark, there were wandering beings of different races, but one could only distinguish their silhouettes as everything was lit by a single star shaped devise of fifty candles in the middle of the room (of which less than half were lit), so only a dim light allowed to see just the glittering eyes that watched the two wizards as they advanced at a rapid pace in the shadows.
    The center of the room (whose color was impossible to distinguish) had only eleven tables available, mostly adorned just by a bottle of an indistinguishable half-drunk liquor, full bowls, and wide ashtrays for the pipes and cigarettes (which odorous smokes made the place even gloomier). Long black wolf’s leather armchairs were deployed in the corners, where the mysterious figures sitting there seemed to comment the newcomers’ entrance. To the right of establishment there was a large white stone bar, where a fat old man (who seemed to be the owner) watched the wizards trying to distinguish their faces. Mälkar told Kaius to follow him there.

    ―We are going to stay here a few days ―the wizard exclaimed giving an intense look to the old and chubby bartender, who in return, responded with the same glance, as if trying to recognize the wrinkled old man with lively blue eyes before him.

    ―Damn it Mohk! You are really getting old ―the magician cried as he pulled out his wand from the rabbit’s leather bag and illuminated his face― it is me, Mälkar.

    The bartender stared in amazement as his countenance changed; he even looked younger than he really was for a moment, perhaps product of memories of old times when he was a proud soldier of Eddlar.

    ―Mälkar! You are still alive, old witch.

    The barman’s fat face, despite the battle marks, wrinkles, freckles and a thick white beard (that left little to see); denoted great happiness.

    ―I thought my days would end and we would never be able to finish our discussion about who really killed the giant mace Troll.

    The chubby old man put on a pointy red hat, which was not enough to completely cover his bald head.

    ―Let’s go to the backside to have a more quiet conversation ―he said asking the two wizards to follow him― Hey you! Gellen, come here you good for nothing― he shouted to an extremely thin lanky helper who was across the hall― Take care of the business while I talk to these gentlemen. Do not give free drinks while I am off, or I will cut your scrawny neck off!

    They walked down a narrow hallway leading to the other side of the tavern, where after a large stone door, the inn started. Unlike the previous site, this one was bright and colorful, with ocher walls almost completely covered with different races and cultures ornaments. The inn had many rooms on the second floor, but in the main one, it only had four gates, the kitchen, his own room, and the friend’s rooms (as the old man said).
    ―What brings you back to these parts of the world, my dear friend? ―The innkeeper sat on a large brown wolf’s leather couch while beckoning his guests to accompany him― Do you want some house special cider? ―he asked Proudly― Thom! Bring a bottle of pure cider, quickly! ―He shouted into the kitchen without waiting for the wizards` response.

    A young red gnome, with long nose, pointed ears and wearing a mustard suit, came in from the back door carrying a large crimson bottle. He took three glasses inside a cupboard and placed them neatly on the star shaped table that was on one side of the couch. Then he remained standing next to his fat boss, with his arms folded, expecting some order. The old barman gestured with his hand to withdraw, to which he nodded and headed hurriedly towards the kitchen.

    ―Very good, old friend, are you ready to remember the old times? ―He said, smiling.

    ―Do you really intend to bring the incident with the big mace Troll to the table, Mohk? ―Mälkar asked mockingly― you know that to fall back due to fear and have the incredible luck that the sword just stood stuck in a hole in the ground, thus killing the creature falling on you; is not something you should be very proud of, should you my friend?

    The fat Mohk (who according to Kaius’ estimations should have been something more than seventy years old) jumped up and took a ragged old sword hanging over one of the small windows.

    ―OH! ―he exclaimed offended― I see you really are senile witch, a strategy like that was very complicated and previously elaborated.
    Mälkar laughed.

    The bartender took two steps back; dropping heavily to the ground and raising the sword firmly. While the magician also jumped off the couch, with his drink in hand and smiling evilly.

    ―So I guess the spell I threw against the monster’ back did not influence it to fall on you.

    ―Of course not! I saw very well how that lightning spell missed and bounced against a pillar behind me. No, my friend, you did not have anything to do with that terrible creature’s death.

    Mälkar continued laughing, which further angered the bartender, but after a moment; he also began to laugh loudly.
    Kaius was very amused watching the singular scene, he had never seen his serious master that way, after all; the old man was human too.

    ―Whenever we meet each other, we end up discussing the same thing, my old friend ―Mälkar added with a sad smile―, our two versions go towards totally opposed ends of the world, but as our paths will soon come to an end, I must say that I accept defeat, I will never make you understand what really happened.

    ―What really happened ―the chubby Mohk repeated smiling.

    The two elders talked and drank for hours, laughing and singing battle songs that Kaius (still stunned by his mentor’s behavior) did not recognize. They smoked every single part of the tobacco provision that Kaius had bought in Longshire, without even offering a little to the poor apprentice, who could not help but to remain sat hearing the incredible (and sometimes almost unbelievable) stories the old geezers remembered, as he watched the last handful of that delicacy (which so many troubles he happened to get) was leaving for good. That night, the old men slept like logs.

    The next day, seeing that his master could not get up due to the severe headache that hangover entailed, the apprentice felt ready to explore every corner of the city. However, his intentions were thwarted by the old bartender, who asked him to attend the tavern as he was “not in the best position to manage the business”, and he had been a fool to think he could still drink as much as in his youth.
    Kaius spent all day working in the bar. The old Mohk had expressly asked him not to let the "fool Gellen" to approach the drinks or else he would give them free as if it was the end of the world. Indeed, the skinny man (with dark skin, greasy black hair and extremely small bony hands) approached the apprentice every five minutes to tell him “that is my friend”, or “that man is important in the city and we should give him a free drink to keep our customers happy”, to which Kaius ignored (and on more than one occasion made him want to accomplish the threat that the old barman had made the night before). But not everything was a waste of time, for he used that situation to test his magic skills; creating and changing drinks at will, which were greatly well received by the tavern customers, who seeing that the new barman was a wizard (and the eccentric way the delicious drinks were fixed), they bought every cup or bottle that Kaius made, even the messy ones. Of course, he did not see any penny of the earnings he made with his “fair and honest work”, as Mohk took it at the first glance; thanking him for the good job.
    That night (or actually the little night remaining) Kaius slept soundly and did not wake up until the next day afternoon, which he devoted exclusively to rest.
    At dusk, the old Mohk seemed ready to resume what they had started the day their guests arrived, excusing himself with "we must recover all the years we did not meet". Mälkar, with a very serious tone, agreed but also said that it was time to put on the table the actual situation for which they had arrived at the Silver City.
    When Thom (the young gnome) put the transparent cider bottle on the table, the three men sat on the couch. The wizard took a sip, and when his friend was about to speak; his serious look and voice interrupted him.

    ―I need to unbury it Mohk. Something happened during my last trip. Something that should have never happened.

    The innkeeper's face paled, his round brown eyes watched the sorcerer with surprise.

    ―Where did you bury it? ―Mälkar insisted― I know I told you to hide it, including from me, but I need to see it again ―a sorrowful wince spread across his face― Mohk, I saw General Rhegar, there’s no doubt about it, it was him.

    The plump old man looked at the wizard with a mixture of disbelief and pain. He remained silent for long minutes, looking directly to his friend’s beady eyes.

    ―My brother died many years ago in the Battle of Red Leg at the hands of the princes of Underworld. Mälkar, you know that, you were there, you saw him die ―his eyes filled with tears remembering an immense sorrow that he believed superimposed.
    Mälkar rose from the couch and began to pace around the room with his long staff in one hand and the half-drunk glass of cider in the other.

    ―Then you should know what that means Mohk ―he gave a quick glance down the hall and then to the door where the gnome had left to make sure no one were listening― the rise of the dead is one of the signals.

    Kaius did not understand what they were saying. And just like the night before, he simply listened and tried to spin some ideas to understand something of the two elders’ bizarre conversation.
    Mohk also rose from his chair and walked to a window, shaking his head in denial.

    ―No! You told me this could happen… that if you ever got blind by the lust for power and came begging me to have it back… You made me swear that I would never handle it to you… that I had to hide it… bury it where no one could ever find it.

    The old man was not looking at the magician anymore; he was lost in his own thoughts.

    ―I cannot tell you where it is ―he kept silent for a moment, looking at the floor―; did you really see my brother? ―he Groaned but then his face darkened again― No! I cannot do it Mälkar, you made me swear!

    ―Do not be stupid Mohk ―the sorcerer countered in a desperate tone― you know very well that I am the least of the problems if I am corrupted by the power of the book, compared to the return of the Lord of the Dead! ―he cried― now take me to the place where it is!
    The bartender looked into his friend’s blue eyes, which were staring at him with a hint of pain in his face. He tried to convince himself that his old comrade would never have those mean intentions. In fact, he was always sure that he would never live the day when the great Mälkar Whiteflame could be corrupted. Finally, and after a long sigh, he nodded.

    ―All right my friend, and may the gods forgive me if I am making a mistake, but I could never doubt on you ―he said painfully― I buried it in the ruins of ZhenGalf; I took it there after the war. It is under the statue of Almen Rohir; in a dwarven magic lock box several feet underground, not even you could open that box my friend. I must go alone; there are instructions not to let anyone other than me to enter that place. If you do not want to cause problems, let me go at dawn and bring it the day after tomorrow.

    The wizard approached his friend and placed his right hand on the plump shoulder.

    ―Was it so hard to trust, my friend? You can rest assured ―he added quietly― no evil power has been able to seduce me. At least not yet.

    The old mage sat down heavily in the couch and turned his gaze to his young apprentice, who had been watching that strange scene in frightened silence.

    ―Kaius, serve another drink so my friend Mohk can relax; now we are drinking this good cider and tomorrow is another day to worry.

    The two old men slowly started to get drunk and Kaius (tired of hearing so many stories of the past) retired to his room, and just putting his head on the soft pillow, he slept soundly.

    The next day, the apprentice found his master's bed empty, he could not understand how after drinking so much, the old man could lift so early. However, he finally felt free to go sightseeing.
    Last edited by riferrada; 09-29-2013 at 12:26 AM. Reason: Update

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    Registered User hannah_arendt's Avatar
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  3. #3
    Registered User riferrada's Avatar
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    Chapter one - Part two.

    His first destination, as it was on the way to the city center; it was the District of Magic, home of the elves.
    Kaius walked decided, Cueing between the alleys until, little by little, the stone floor was turning into soft grass and earth, as if he was getting out of the city without realizing it. He saw large trees of orange and green glossy leaves, which danced melodiously with the summer’s last warm winds. He walked for a few minutes until he finally noticed a wooden ladder climbing from tree to tree until reaching the leafy tops.

    As he climbed helped by the finely polished handrails, the young man enjoyed watching the various houses and businesses built on the broad tree trunks; all united by bridges of rope and wood. If he had not known it was impossible (or at least unlikely), he would have thought the whole place was laying in the air. An exquisite fruity scent flowed reaching every corner of the place, making him breathe deeply and feel a peaceful and tranquilizing sensation he had never felt in his short life. Contrary to what he imagined, there were not many elves living in there; in fact, he noted that many of the natural buildings had no inhabitants. For a moment, he closed his eyes, took a deep breath and imagined himself there, leaving one of the houses going to the morning shopping. Secretly, he had always longed for an ordinary life, but his fate was already sealed, he would be a wandering wizard as his master, he had not spent so many years with the difficult learning for nothing. After a scramble, he continued his journey. Most of the stores he visited were completely devoted to magic; where they sold wands, staffs, letter-spells, potions and others.
    The apprentice did not have much of value to exchange, and no piece of gold, so he only content observing (and hating the old Mohk for not letting him keep any of the earnings he made in his temporary barman job). When he reached the top floor, a shop caught his eye, "The Burning Flame". It was a small wooden shack painted in red with a black roof made of artificially hardened long leaves. According to the sign on the door, it was focused one hundred percent on fire magic.

    ―They must have a book to help me with the flames of Khon here ―thought excited.

    Despite the size it was on the outside, the inside of the hut was much wider, perfectly fitting the six pairs of shelves filled with neatly arranged books, two tables full of gadgets and amplifiers and a small desk in the center; where (who appeared to be the owner) read concentrated.
    After asking for permission, and after twenty minutes of exhaustive search among the many volumes of sorcery, he managed to find what he wanted; a small booklet with precise annotations and exclusively dedicated to the white flames so difficult for him.

    ―Excuse me― he said to the seller clearing his throat and indicating the booklet― how much for this one?

    The elf, of pale skin, beautiful face, long ears and brown hair, looked at his exited customer’s face during some moments.

    ―Two hundred gold coins for you, Master sorcerer.

    ―I am just an apprentice for the time ―Kaius replied impressed by the high price― do you have any discount or exchange system for students?

    The sales clerk shook his head without looking up his client, who looked desperate.

    ―But I feel you really need that wisdom, master...

    ―Kaius. My name is Kaius, sir.

    ―Master Kaius ―the elf continued― you see, this booklet was originally not for sale. The truth is that it is personal and I do not know how it ended in the shelves. It is a memento of my past, but when I saw you really need it; I decided to put it a price on it. Now, do you have any personal value to exchange for it?

    ―No sir.

    The seller walked to a small window, facing the center of the city, he lost himself in the landscape for a moment and then sighed.

    ―In my youth, the white flames of Khon were always my worst spell. Until a certain errant sorcerer took me as his pupil for a short period of time. I learned many things about the black and white flames, which I was collecting in my book, the same one you hold in your hands right now. It is not useful to me anymore, at least no more than a good memory. In despite of this, and seeing you need it so badly, I propose you a deal.

    Kaius nodded without thinking twice.

    ―Whatever it is, I accept it, sir.

    ―I like that attitude young student ―he smiled― let us see. Since my reputation as a seller would be affected to be giving away my products, which I tell you I will not do, I will however use your presence here at this time, because this very day I had to receive a packet sent from Haras Runadam.

    ―The Island of Magic ―Kaius interrupted impressed.

    The sales clerk nodded.

    ―So, as you can understand, I was in a dilemma. If I closed the store, I could lose a potential customer, even though we do not have many these days. Nevertheless, since you are here, I am relieved of that problem it and gives a perfect solution to both of us.

    ―To both of us? ―Kaius repeated very interested and a little entranced with the elf’s soft voice.

    ―Exactly, my young friend ―the elf answered making his seat backward and placing his feet on the table―, you will go to get my packet. From here to the post office you would take about one or two hours on the return trip, and while you do that enormous favor to me, I will let you to take one of my books, any you want, so you will not get bored while fulfilling the task. Do you accept this deal?
    Kaius' face brightened.

    ―Of course I accept it.

    The seller got up from his desk, walked over to a shelf, took a jib and wrote on a papyrus for a few seconds, then he put it in the cheerful apprentice’s hands.

    ―My name is Ulimdar by the way; the packet should have my name. Have a good morning Master Kaius; I will be waiting here when you have finished your errand.

    The apprentice took the papyrus, and walked quickly to the outside, feeling very lucky for master Ulimdar’s kindness. Once he set off Landfall again, he walked (very slowly) towards his destination. He put the papyrus carefully in his bag, and opened the book; in which front-page read "The Thirteen ways to master the flames", written by Ulimdar, Thalas Bur genius.
    After three hours of overflowing reading and rereading (during which he almost forgets to collect the elf packet), Kaius headed back again to the Magic District, where the seller expected him a little worried.

    ―I feared you would not come back for a moment, master Kaius ―the elf exclaimed with a smile between his teeth.

    ―Never, master Ulimdar ―Kaius said slightly offended― here you have everything you asked, plus your booklet.
    The elf looked at him straight in the eyes; there was something different about them, a renewed sparkle.

    ―Did you enjoy your walk? Was it helpful? ―He asked as he took the small package and placed the book in a pocket in his jacket chest.

    ―It has helped me in everything I needed. Thank you very much ―he said bowing― now I just need some practice.

    A melodious sound of bells in the distance caught Kaius’ attention, a sound as he had never heard before; it was as if hundreds of cosmic voices united and gave a sonata just for him.

    ―It is midday my friend ―the seller added noting the ecstatic face of the young man, who exalted by the hour took his leave gratefully of his new friend. He had only half the day and still far to go.

    ―I hope it had been helpful Master Kaius ―the elf whispered thoughtfully while the apprentice (at the distance) descended rapidly among the trees―, we all might need you in the times to come.

    The market, which extended neatly around the main square, was full of the most diverse objects, from weapons, to fine spices, up to wolves to hunt, or strange food prepared in ways that Kaius could have never imagined. The soldiers of Eddlar (in their black uniforms with silver pads and belts) circulated through the crowd with their heads proudly held high, watching for any ruffian who looked tempted to act.
    The young man walked delighted trying to soak up all the happiness that surrounded that strange and beautiful metropolis. He advanced so focused on the magnificent view, that he did not notice some children running towards him. When trying to avoid them, he almost fell on a stall of rations for travelers, but after an overly long struggle against gravity; he managed to keep the balance, just shaking weakly the merchandise. After apologize, he left embarrassed while receiving a not so gentle reprimand by the elderly seller, who told him (with various insults) to pay attention where he walked.

    After touring each market stalls, Kaius set out to visit the dwarves’ district. He walked down one of the alleys leading to the west, where there were only houses; all in different shades of gray. At the end of the alley, Kaius saw a wide white stone stairs leading down to a very dark place. Right on the floor where the white stairs began; there was a finely crafted metal plate, where (written in a language that the apprentice barely read) stated "The Eternal Golden Halls"

    He walked slowly down the stairs; touching every step with his foot very carefully for not running into any surprises (he thought his master's wand would have been helpful that time). When he finally descended the more than two hundred steps (which he did not finish counting) he came to a deep tunnel, and at the end of it (or what seemed to be the end), he noticed a dim light and began to walk toward it.

    ―It is a place worth visiting Kaius ―he exclaimed imitating Mälkar’s deep voice sarcastically― the Eternal Golden Halls seems to have its own sun ―he added―, Nonsense!

    When he had the light close enough, the apprentice could see that there was something (or someone) in what appeared to be a small bench. Next to the bench, there was a stone table, in which the fading candle lighted the way. As he walked, he could see everything clearly, the figure on the bench was a dwarf soldier wearing the same uniform as his human counterparts, except for the Eddlar Kingdom’s emblem on the chest; in which a beautiful black-gold sword was surrounded by seven crimson stars (three on each side) and a larger one on the tip of the weapon (which pointed toward the north), in the dwarven guardians’ version, there were two intersecting axes after the swords.
    Seeing the young man approaching, the dwarf stood up, he almost reached the chest level of the apprentice.

    ―What do you want here, sir! ―He asked in a husky deep voice.

    Kaius kept silent for a few seconds, "I come to steal your gold" he thought, but a joke like that would have brought consequences, especially with a dwarf; which race is well known to have a temper. So he just quietly enjoyed imagining the reaction of the burly guard, who was very impatient seeing the intruder’s mischievous smile.

    ―I come to visit your beautiful underground city ―the student quickly replied―, I have traveled from afar motivated by the comments that have reached me on so exceptionally wonderful architectural art that this place under the Silver City is.

    Those words seemed to work perfectly, as the bearded guard’s wrinkled face lit up and drew a big smile.

    ―Go ahead my young friend ―he said proudly― rejoice with the dwarven architecture.

    The guard took a brilliant hammer and gave three heavy blows with its end on the ground. Instantly; the wall in front of them lit and two large stone doors (which the student never noticed) opened wide. A powerful light momentarily blinded him, and when at last his eyes adjusted, he advanced through the passage, not before saying goodbye to the cheerful soldier, who took back his previous position on the small bench as the doors closed.

    The Eternal Golden Halls lived up to its name; hundreds of golden chandeliers hung from the ends of the higher walls and also in the long thick white stone pillars adorned with glittering dwarven symbols. Kaius could not help wondering who would turn on the torches every night (he could not imagine a dwarf climbing to do so). He walked to the edge of what appeared to be a lookout, which had fine golden protections to prevent the amazed visitors to fall. He put his hands in the warm metal and looked down; the place was almost a city itself, with houses, taverns, and a small market in the center.
    There were dozens of mirrors with gold plated edges placed strategically on the walls. The mirrors function was to reflect the light and make it circulate around the place as if the very sun inhabited there. Kaius could hear a lot of movement on the lower floors, accompanied by the hoarse voices (characteristics of those people) talking, arguing and laughing. He had fun trying to guess if the voices were male or female; it made no difference for him.
    He headed to a wide descending spiral staircase that passed through each one of the six levels (which were also very well protected with gilded railings) up to the first floor. There were houses and shops in every level, but mostly taverns; which were crowded with humans, gnomes, imps and of course dwarves. The apprentice walked through every level, visiting the shops; which sold all kinds of precious metal objects, from the incredibly cheap to the ridiculously expensive. Unlike the District of magic, where very few elves remained, the Eternal Golden Halls seemed to receive new tenants every day, which suggested to the builders add three more levels.
    He finally reached the first level, and walked around the place from the outside circle (where there were only houses) to the center, where the market stood. While walking among the people that ran the place looking for deals, a particular store caught his attention. It was a little shop decorated with pendants, bracelets, rings and other jewelry; where a very old dwarf with long white hair and beard carved what appeared to be a diadem with a crimson metal that the apprentice had never seen. He approach amazed watching the artisan’s work.

    ―Have you never seen Rubium before, young friend? ― the old dwarf Asked noticing Kaius’ astonished face.

    For a moment, just the glance of that wonderful metal made the apprentice felt his blood boiling, as if an unknown power were trying to go outside with a powerful gale.

    ―No sir, I have not ―he answered rearranging his thoughts― I thought this metal was extinct in the Higher Lands since thousands of years ago.

    The dwarf looked the diadem and gestured a small smile.

    ―Well my young fellow, that is what most people think. Nevertheless, it is not fully true.

    ―What do you mean by “fully true”? ―the overwhelmed student asked intrigued.

    ―This metal only arise in a specific place of the Higher Lands, my friend. And from what I know, only sporadically and in very small amounts. But do not ask me its location, because I do not know it; it just comes to me occasionally with a work order.
    Kaius stood still in silence, fascinated watching the work that the dwarf slowly (but masterfully) made with the beautiful metal, which glittered in thousands of colors before the fire of the forge.

    ―Do you know what was the Rubium used for in the Age of Light? ―the artisan Asked.
    Kaius would respond, but the dwarf continued.

    ―For thousands of years, the valuable tools created with Rubium, which number even in those times was very reduced, served as magic amplifiers used by the richest and most powerful wizards.

    The old artisan retired the diadem from the fire, and softly carved its edges, wiping it with a damp cloth.

    ―Although the gadgets and magic amplifiers are always attributed to the hand of the elves ―he added― this peculiar metal, do not ask me why, can only be handled in a good way by my race ―a proud smile spread across his face.

    ―how much is it for the headband? ―Kaius asked entranced while looking for some nonexistent currency in his bag.

    ―Sorry kid. This object is a special order, it is not for sale, and even if it was, I do not think you had enough gold to pay for it.

    Kaius, deeply disappointed (and seriously considering renewing his wardrobe to avoid being confused with a vagabond), said goodbye to the friendly jeweler, giving one last look at the beautiful jewel; which seemed to call him in a soft voice.
    He continued his walk around the market, but nothing was the same after that store, nothing seemed worth his attention. He looked for the stairs and went up the six levels to get to an exit, where a small and robust guard politely dismissed him and guide him toward the dark hallway. When he reached the surface (in the southwest part of the city), the sun was setting and the first stars had begun to appear. He decided to return to the Howling Wolf and made his way through the main square.

    As he walked through the trade stores (some of which were already beginning to close), he saw the same group of children who almost brought him down hours ago, now sitting in the cool grass close to an old bard who sang old tunes that spoke about heroes of past wars. Kaius surprised to hear a very dark melody, where one verse sounded strangely familiar.

    …When you see death roams again the earth
    And you closely hear the drums of war start
    When you feel your hope is dying then
    You be afraid because his master’s back...

    As Kaius approached walking down the grass, he intently heard the sad and melodious stanza, repeating the verses in his head over and over again; trying to find in his mind why they sounded so familiar. He finally remembered Mälkar’s words (to which he regretted not paying the deserved and full attention); "the rise of the dead is one of the signals". Then, the legends about the great Black Dragon filled his mind in vivid images as if were his own memories. He remembered what was said about the Beast, the Lord of the Dead had earned that name for being able to raise the fallen as its allies and bring down entire kingdoms with its unrelenting armies, which devastated his opponents for centuries, until the hero appeared.
    For a few seconds (that seemed like ages), the young man felt his body shudder just thinking what would be of that beautiful city with all those people who chattered, laughed and lived; what would happen if the monster came back?. Then a strange numb sensation ran through him from head to toe; he opened and closed his eyes desperately but he could see nothing but the blackness of night. He tried to move his hands but it was impossible, he could not move an inch of his body. Suddenly, a blinding light replaced the deep darkness and the most terrible and heartbreaking images appeared before his eyes, images that he would wish not to ever see;

    "The rock pillars of Thalas Bur’s south entrance were completely destroyed; the people, who were laughing moments ago, were now running for their lives as a battalion of hulking ogres hunted them and killed them without remorse. The children who were next to the bard moments ago, where lying on pools of blood on the floor.
    On one side of the street, there were some humans and dwarves protecting a group of women and children who screamed in terror, but the ogre forces were superior, and they dismembered the defenders alive while the piercing screams of women and the crying of infants smashed the young apprentice’s heart. He could not do anything to help, just to watch. When despair begun to become unbearable and his only wish was to flee; a wrinkled hand abruptly grabbed his shoulder and pulled him out of that horrible nightmare as he lost consciousness".

    Mälkar was sitting beside the bed where Kaius lay. The wizard watched him in deep concern and a gloomy expression of pain was etched on his old face. What was the meaning of that? He could see what Kaius did for a moment but he did not understand it. He knew much about magic, though not everything (that was impossible for a mere mortal), but in any case, he had never heard of a wizard having such vivid visions, well, there were some, but…
    Mohk opened the bedroom door and asked the wizard to follow him towards the hall, to which he nodded silently. As they sat in the wolf’s leather armchair, the bartender noticed that his friend's face betrayed a concern, a big one; he had seen that expression before, so he did not say anything about it.

    ―You do not know the inside struggle I had while unearthing this demonic artifact, Mälkar ―he whispered― nor you know the money I lose by closing the tavern today so no one can bother us.

    He took a heavy and battered object from his bag; it was wrapped in a discolored skin and it emanated a foul odor as he put it in the sorcerer’s hands.

    ―For the sake of all of us, I hope you are wrong, Mälkar.

    ―Honestly, my old comrade, I hope so too ―the mage replied while carefully removing the envelope; showing a rugged and dirty codex―. The King of Underworld’s book ―he growled frowning in disgust while cleaning the black cover with his sleeve― the goddess know that I have never longed for the dark powers this repulsive source of evil has, but I need to verify it.

    As the wizard opened the volume, the room became almost completely dark, as if the light was not willing to go through the large window of the guest room, or rather; as if the thick darkness would not let it enter. The most repulsive stench and ruthless feelings emanated from it, as if a demon were trying to take control of their bodies; making them feel like killing and destroying, pushing them toward anger, spite and hatred. Mohk retreated a few steps and remained touching the wall with his back, fighting against what the sinister book ordered him to do. Mälkar (trying to order his thoughts) looked as quickly as possible for the page that he had seen many years ago, just by chance.
    After long minutes of search in midst of an intense pain, the sorcerer managed to find it, although in the depths of his heart; he had hoped not to.
    The signs were clear. The evil chants and verses in the book spoke of events that somehow had been occurring in recent times. Mälkar knew it, he had seen it fifty years ago in those obscure languages, only at that time (perhaps engrossed by the pain and evil that the horrid codex expelled) he did not give it the importance it really had.
    Fifty years ago, if he had understood...

    …The War of Eddlar finally ended, and the corpse of the King of Underworld lay halved on the floor of the royal palace’s main hall. Mälkar crawled with the only trembling arm he could still move; in search of the soldier who had saved his life. After killing the dreadful leader of the invaders, the princes of The Three Labyrinths; Blorlion and Imatlion, verified the wizard was still alive and quickly rushed to chase the enemy vanguard, which now escaped cowardly after seeing their master’s fall.
    The sorcerer stood up awkwardly and helped the young and burly Mohk to rise from the broken ground. It was then when he felt those voices; echoes silently screaming in evil dialects. He turned to his right and then his left, there was nobody else in the great hall, only the two of them and the demon's mangled corpse. However, the choir continued to sing necromancies and malicious whispers, insulting, cursing. Mälkar supported the soldier in a pillar that had not been destroyed, and began to move toward the body that lay before him; the voices became louder as he approached the dead demon’s huge body. Then he saw it, a small part of a black leather envelope came out of the shattered armor. The voices hushed, he could not hear anything else, and nothing else mattered. When he removed the demon’s vest, he saw a cracked and filthy black book, which he observed without touching. Its greasy cover drew barely legible words in the language of the ancient Khar'attal; "The Ascension of Darkness". The sorcerer took the book driven by a force that he could not control. Everything went black at that moment, there was nothing more than the book, the darkness, and silence. When he managed to focus his thoughts again and prepared to open the black codex, a loud screech almost destroyed his eardrums, and a painful shadow blaze burst out his hands forcing him to release the cursed object, which fell open displaying a page written entirely in blood. Mälkar read what appeared to be a demonic chant in the fell language of the Aldalur; the old high dark wizards.

    ...The disgusting refuge of the elves burned and consumed thousands of lives and the silver stones of its walls were stained red...
    ...The bodies of those killed in battle rose as minions of the one they so much hated in life, and they served as spies and soldiers on the lands, without fear, for their master had returned...
    ...The mighty ruler of the depths was killed by the treacherous brothers whom once he shared the power...
    ...The most powerful kingdom of the dirty new race received the coup de grace from our Lord’s very hand. While his minions destroyed the last resistance of their filthy covenant...
    ...The fire destroyed each one of the cities of the damned moles who dared to steal our treasures...
    ...The human hero died drowning in his own pool of blood, which he used to write the name of his little heir, who later would swear allegiance to our lord...
    ...Without their precious hero and his filthy weapons, no one could stop the world to sink into the beautiful obscurity...

    Kaius woke up at hearing an awful shriek coming from the hall. He jumped out of bed scared; he recognized his master's voice shouting in an unknown and evil language. He began to dress quickly while the old man's screams became more horrid and dark, he felt a terrorizing feeling in his heart; he had to help him.
    The apprentice entered the main hall and saw the old Mohk on the floor after the star-shaped table, with his fat hands covering his ears; he was crying tears of blood which dyed his white beard black. The plump man made horrible grimaces and moved his lips trying to scream; but no sound came of them. Then, to his left, the young man found his master, while the deepest fear reached every corner of his being. Mälkar was in a corner of the room, held in the air. His body contorted in ridiculous ways and kept repeating unintelligible words, while holding what appeared to be a very heavy object. His eyes, mouth and ears exuded blood, black as night. The man could not stop repeating the verses the evil page contained, which whenever pronounced, the more pain he felt, and the more he understood the obscure words, and how much truth they brought.
    The student rushed to where his mentor was, and; noting that the object held in the old hands was the source of all that was happening; he took it from him without thinking.
    Everything became calmed at that very moment, the screaming stopped and the blood ceased to emanate from the wizard’s face.
    The old Mohk was on the floor, passed out in a pool of blood. Kaius held his teacher with his right arm while keeping the book tightly gripped in his left hand. The foul codex fought and convulsed as if trying to escape the clutches of its captor.
    Mälkar, soaked in blood and very weak, looked in awe at his apprentice without understand what was happening. He thought his life was over and nothing could stop the inevitable death the book had prepared for him and his old friend. So many years, so many battles, so much power, but still he had succumbed to the evil force of the object that his student (without any difficulty) held with one hand, and not being affected by its dark influence. How could the King of Underworld’s book not affect a human? A mere mortal? The old man lost consciousness.
    Kaius dragged his teacher to his room and laid him painfully in one bed; then he ran to the living room, doing the same with Mohk. The two old men looked like dead and they were barely breathing, their faces were covered with the black blood (making them almost unrecognizable), but there were no pain in them; they seemed to be in a deep peace, a great reward after passing through the underworld.
    The student felt a great weariness; and a mixture of fear, pain and anger filled his heart. Suddenly, he noticed he still held the heavy book, which seemed to come alive and convulsing violently trying to escape. He watched it for a moment and felt a terrible urge to open it, but the darkest feelings and repulsive odors emanated from the inside. Kaius refrained, instinctively wrapped it in his little moss green coat and ran downstairs. He could still hear the voices from the fetid codex cursing him. He ended in the small basement that was located under the bar, where (whispering a spell) he split in two one of the large stones of the floor, he put the wrapped object in the empty space and covered it again with one of the heavy halves, then he quickly went upstairs to check the bleedings in Mälkar and Mohk.
    During the following days, the apprentice (helped by Thom the gnome) cared for the elderly.

    It had been a month since the beginning of autumn; Thalas Bur looked even more silvered with the chimneys’ smoke and the cold winds whispering through the city. Mälkar and Mohk had awakened a few days ago, with very little strength to get up, but with a ravenous hunger; which kept Kaius and Thom very busy. The student had not wanted to refer to the events that nearly took his master’s life until the old man’s health was recovered. And the time had come.
    The morning of April 21st, Mälkar got out of bed with renewed strength. He walked to the guest’s hall of the inn, which had been remodeled and looked almost the same as before, and even cleaner (certainly the skillful work of the gnome). The magician conjured a white book and put it on the star-shaped table; he took out his phoenix feather pencil from inside his robe and began to fill one of the shiny pages with scribbles and drawings.
    Kaius had returned from shopping with Thom when he saw his mentor working intently.

    ―What are you doing master? ―He asked as he sat by the mage’s side and watched the resplendent paper.

    The elderly saw his student and remembered how he held him (and the book) weeks ago; He did not see him as the little child who he had found twenty years ago at the foot of a tree anymore. He was a man now. Kaius was wearing a black robe and a silver coat, which made him look chunkier than he actually was. His hair was shorter and his sparse beard was strangely more notorious. His large black eyes stared at him, the immaturity that characterized them had vanished; the recent events had made him grow by force.

    ―I know what is going on Kaius ―the wizard's eyes turn darkened and a chilling pain went down his spine― fifty years ago, at the end of the War of Eddlar, I faced the King of Underworld. It was a terrible battle and I could barely get out of it alive. As you know, the princes of The Three Labyrinths finally killed the demon ―the old man paused, looked at the doodles he had done in the paper, and continued― when I approached his mutilated body, I found the book; the same one that almost killed me weeks ago.

    Kaius listened his master concentrated, and he could not help feeling that the old man had aged even more, his once bright blue eyes did not sparkled anymore, his wrinkles were more pronounced in his deathly pale face, and his black hair and beard had begun to fall gradually since the incident.
    The old wizard took a crystal goblet and drank the golden elixir that it contained; he took a breath, and observed again the writing on the white page.

    ―By coincidence or not ―he continued― the book fell displaying a specific page, and I read a few paragraphs from an extract of the stories of the Aldalur; speaking of atrocious events of which I had no memory. I was so stupid.

    ―What did they talk about, sir? ―Kaius asked intrigued.

    Mälkar remained in a thoughtful silence for a moment, he felt overwhelmed by an enormous sadness and despair. Whatever the obscure book made; it had changed him forever.

    ―It was written in these verses. I did not understand it at that time, but I do now ―he showed his apprentice what he had written―. This is a translation of what I saw that day.

    The apprentice studied the page carefully. It was like the incomplete piece of an old story told by demons. Dark deeds of those he had never heard of.

    ―The order was wrong, of course ― the wizard added―. I divided it into two parts, the dark and the darker ―a grieving smile escaped from his lips as he made only three verses with a wave of his wand.

    ...The mighty ruler of the depths was killed by the treacherous brothers whom once shared the power...

    ...The fire destroyed each one of the cities of the damned moles who dared to steal our treasures...

    ...The bodies of those killed in battle rose as minions of the one they so much hated in life, and they served as spies and soldiers on the lands, without fear, for their master had returned...

    ―The first verse is obviously referring to the princes of the “Three Labyrinths” Imatlion and Blorlion ―Mälkar kept on―. They are direct descendants of Arak the Black; leader of one of the dark elven clans which betrayed the Lord of the Dead, reinforcing “the Covenant” in the Dark Ages. The regent to which the text refers is, of course, the King of Underworld, who fell under the two brothers’ hands.

    Kaius watched intently to his teacher, without understanding what was the point to which the veteran was getting at.

    ―The second verse talks about the moles that were burned for stealing their treasures ―he continued― if you remember my teachings, you know that more than twenty years ago; the dwarven Golden City under the Mountain of the Eternal Moon was burned to ashes when a large army of Darcraws emerged from the depths of the earth, wiping out every living being they found, and then they set it on fire, thus ending one of the most beautiful cities in the dwarven realms. As I have understood, the territories under that mountain belonged to the dreadful Khar'attal for thousands of years; vicious necromancers and the most fervent to the beast.
    The Wizard paused and looked into the room where his friend Mohk was resting, his eyes sparkled and a mournful sadness crossed his face.

    ―Finally, the bodies of those who hated him rose as his servants ―he looked at his apprentice and noticed that he had already understood the meaning of all that arose― you know that very well, kid. The beast had the power to make the dead rise from their graves as slaves ―he lowered his voice to an almost imperceptible whisper― it was my old comrade’s brother whom I saw the day I decided this trip, the same one the King of Underworld used as an example for the resisting forces within Eddlar Castle fifty years ago. I will not describe you how he died; the only thing I have to say is none of the witnesses could ever forget that terrifying scene.

    Mälkar’s eyes glimmered, and a lonely tear rolled down his cheek and got lost in his black beard.

    ―It was three months ago, when we were heading to Khal Darhes. You were sleeping and I needed to stretch my legs. So I went for a walk around the ruins, and when I returned; I saw a hooded figure moving at full speed no more than thirty feet from where I was. It strongly caught my attention for some strange reason, so I followed it for a few minutes. Then, of a sudden, it stopped moving and turned to me. The face of that valiant captain of Eddlar, who we all admired so much, looked at me for a moment; pale and covered with countless scars, which didn’t prevented me from recognize him. His green eyes wore now a flaming red. It was as if everything else stopped, he recognized me and gave me a grim smile, and then he began to run and disappeared from my sight. I tried to reach it, but there was no trace of someone, or something had passed that way. That was the reason for my change of plans, so I decided to come to this place, to realize what my mind had begun to spin ―he concluded tiredly.

    Kaius gazed his mentor in astonishment. He could not believe what he was hearing. Nor in his darkest nightmares, he would have even imagined that the Lord of the Dead, that cruel demon from the ancient histories, could really come back.

    ―But master, those are just three verses, what about the other four?

    Mälkar looked at him sternly.

    ―That has not yet come to pass, kid.

    Then, the apprentice remembered the strange vision he had had about a month ago, and the purest fear seized his being.

    ―Master, I saw how hundreds of monstrosities attacked and tore this city ―his thin face paled and a choking feeling completely dominated him.

    Seeing the despair of his disciple, the wizard put his hand on the skinny shoulder.

    ―I know Kaius, when I saw you writhing on the main square’s floor, I tried to help you, but at the time I touched you I could see myself what you did, or at least a part. At first, I was petrified, but I could get you out of there on time. I do not know how, but you possess one of the gifts of the ancient Dracnäe, the children of light, the gift of clairvoyance.

    The student was terrified. How was that possible? Why exactly he possessed the gift to see the destruction of life? It had to be a mistake, Mälkar could not be right, the beast had been destroyed; it could not return.

    His teacher was quick to recite aloud:

    ...The disgusting refuge of the elves burned consuming thousands of lives and the silver stones of its walls were stained red...

    When finished reciting, he led a deep desolation look to his student.

    ―What you saw was the first verse, Kaius; the destruction of Thalas Bur ―a shadow covered his face― this city was part of the elven kingdom known as the Golden Wood for millennia, but some years ago, the Lord of those lands, Dhamrel Ilvandir; kindly ceded these territories to the humans who had lost their homes in the hands of the armies of the King of Underworld.

    Mälkar stood up with renewed energy.

    ―If this is correct kid, and I fear it is, we are witnessing the darkest moment of history, the return of Ahg 'narohg ragh' Nur. We need to acquaint the commanding heights of the city; there are still four verses that have not yet occurred.

    He put the booklet hastily in his leather bag.

    ―I would say that I recognize three of the other verses, but one is totally unknown to me. I guess that we will discover it along the way. Hurry!
    Last edited by riferrada; 09-27-2013 at 04:08 AM.

  4. #4
    Registered User riferrada's Avatar
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    Sep 2013
    Chapter two - part one.

    The Scourge of the Underworld

    The wizards left the inn and walked quietly and quickly down the main street towards Thalas Bur governor’s palace. A cold chill remained insistent on Kaius back; still thinking about what his teacher had told him(especially the part regarding to his "gift"), so he just kept following the old man, who left him constantly behind with his long strides.
    As walking towards the palace, he could not help but notice the happy faces of the citizens of that beautiful place, and compared them with those horrible pictures that did not want to get out from his mind; pictures that his master had named as clairvoyance. But he did not have to worry, the great Mälkar Whiteflame was there to help; he would never allow such terrible events to happen.
    After thirty minutes, they reached the entrance to Thalas Bur’s royal palace, built by dwarven hands as a gift and once used as a dwelling by the elven lord Sor'Eddnail; former ruler of the ancient kingdom of Hilas Udär.
    The dwarven architectural work was built on the same rock that dominated the city, but this one shone more than any other did, it was as if it were really a silver palace. It had immense windows with black frames, and a huge front door (also stone-made, but this had different blackish shades). On the building’s roof, there were five white pillars, and in the center, there was a black dome adorned with radiant star-shaped figures of different metals. The great palace was surrounded by white stonewalls (giving the shape of a pentagram) that gathered at the only entrance, where four burly guards (dressed with black and silver uniforms) blocked the way. Mälkar stood before them.

    ―I am Mälkar Whiteflame, I demand a meeting with the city governor to address an issue of great importance, which for the moment, does not compel to you.

    The guards watched the wizards from head to toe without expression, and stood firm with their long spears closing the road. Seeing this, the old mage got angry and raised his staff as a threatening sign.

    ―I have had many difficulties getting the news I bring, for a group of insolent brats, evidently without knowledge of history, deny me the entrance. So get moving and do not interfere! Every minute is crucial.

    The guards stood motionless and expressionless, which further irritated the wizard. When he prepared to cast a spell to move the disobeying men, one of them (smelling the danger) spoke aloud.

    ―The governor Aurious Straglehorn is very busy right now, sir, and he expressly ordered not to let anyone into the palace today.
    Mälkar (enraged) gave a strong blow with his staff on the stone floor.

    ―Ridherior Oradehmus!

    The guards’ bodies shook and their eyes turned white, then they moved aside opening the way for the wizards and (while the newcomers quickly crossed the entrance to the palace) the four began to take off their armor and clothes until they were completely naked; then they started jogging around the building.

    ―It was that or kill them ―Mälkar told his student in a sarcastic tone― but I think when they regain consciousness, their shame will make them wish they had died.

    As they walked down the white hallways, Kaius noticed something in his mentor’s face, a nuisance.

    ―What is happening sir?

    ―Long story boy ―he replied thoughtfully― there is no time to tell you about it now, but I do not think we will be very well received in the palace. Ah! This is the way.

    They went rushing down the main hall, made of black marble floors and gray walls decorated with beautiful paintings of proud warriors and wizards of different races. The vividness and realism of the people painted there was such; that they seemed to come alive and watched intently the intruders on their way through the extensive place. The ceiling was very high and it was painted as a canvas, with the night-sky faithfully portrayed, with the beautiful shining Dracnäh’s star in the center. It was such a masterfully done work, that one seemed to stand under the very infinite in a moonless night.

    ―I visited this place before it was gifted by the elves ―Mälkar exclaimed seeing his student’s astonished face―, I got also impressed with the beauty of this palace in that moment, as you are right now. However, although humans cannot give it the class the elven kings could, I see that something remains.

    After advancing through the main hall, they entered a long corridor that led to the room where the governor had his office. They ignored the guards and rapidly pushed the dark doors, entering the large room where the governor was sitting on a golden chair with his feet rested on a long ivory table. The man spoke with a dwarf sitting on a stone bench on the other side of the table. Behind them, a large wide-open window let the wind in; bringing the fresh forest scents. The office walls were decorated with swords and shields, and a single canvas hung above the man’s chair; a portrait of him-self. One could say the artist who painted the canvas was very talented, but he could not reach the impression given by the paintings in the main hall.
    The two guards (still stunned by the wizards’ brief entry) went after them and took their arms firmly.
    The governor saw the scene and stood up. He was a tall bald man in his sixties, his bearded and wrinkled face did not hide the pride and arrogance that he still had at his age. He had broad shoulders and wore the fire red and black uniform used by the ancient kingdom’s generals, with the Eddlar’s silver emblem in the center of the chest. All of this covered by a brown silk cape.

    ―What is happening here? ―The man asked angrily looking at the guards.

    ―My name is Mälkar Whiteflame, my lord, I have a very important matter to discuss with the city council; I request them immediately.

    Despite the governor’s powerful appearance, Kaius could hardly believe that man was the ruler of the magnificent Thalas Bur. He had imagined a beautiful golden-haired elf lady, or a proud young armored warrior. Instead, the old man who stood before him had a permanent hateful look and an expression of resentment and envy. The apprentice felt in the depths of his heart that this man somehow did not deserve the position of both, power and responsibility he held.

    The governor looked at the two newcomers from head to toe.

    ―I see that despite the age you do not lose that arrogant tone, warlock ―he started walking toward the mages, dragging his cup of wine along the entire long table― and I also see that despite everything, you still have the nerve to show up here and give orders.

    ―This is time to talk about more important issues master Governor ―Mälkar interrupted― we have very sensitive information and we request an assembly with the city council.

    ―You should have made an appointment from at least a week ago, warlock ―the governor exclaimed sarcastically.

    ―Shut up! ―the wizard cried as he violently pulled out the guard's hand from his arm and took the governor by his shoulders, getting closed so only the man’s ears could listen to what he would say―. I tell you this city will be completely devastated and if you do not do something now, I swear the people of Eddlar will always remember you as the great responsible for all the lives lost.

    The governor withdrew the wizard's hands from his shoulders and retreated a few steps, hesitating for a moment, but he finally turned to the guards.

    ―Call the Silver Council!

    After an hour, the city committee; consisting of humans, elves, gnomes and dwarves, were gathered in the great hall, very intrigued by the urgency with which they had been called.
    The great hall was like a small amphitheater, in which the attendants sat on thick upper terraces supported by white stone pillars. The floor of the place was made of black stone and the ceiling was dark-red with a silver star (symbol of Eddlar in honor to the elven kingdom) stamped in the center.
    The governor sat in a molten rock throne in the northern side of the room, surrounded by his advisors; all human. The dwarves and the elves were located in the east and west terraces respectively, and the humans and gnomes in the northern and southern ones. The two wizards were standing in the center, being the focus of the crescent whispering.

    ―Please master wizard ―the governor spoke gesturing a false smile― tell us why you have summon us here today.

    ―Yes lord Aurious, but I fear what I am about to tell you will erase that gentile smile from your face ―Mälkar replied seriously―. Members of Thalas Bur city council, I will not waste my saliva or your precious time adorning the news I brought to you this day, and it is bad news indeed, for Ahg 'narohg ragh' Nür is announcing its return.

    The faces of the city council members paled to hear the name of the Beast.

    ―Although I tell you now I have no more proofs than my own words, which I hope you will trust, for if you do not, I fear the worst for this city and its inhabitants. Coming to this city was not on my plans; in fact, our destination was beyond the western islands of Eddlar. but, as for mere coincidence or perhaps destiny, I happened to cross my way with something that should never put a foot in these lands, a foul creature that had not been seen for ten thousand years in the Higher Lands; I met a Shadow.

    The entire great hall was filled with a terrifying silent at hearing the wizard’s words. Before he could continue, the governor rose from his seat shaking his head and put both hands on his white desk.

    ―We recognize your name and honor your presence Mälkar Whiteflame ―he exclaimed in disgust― But do you honestly think we will put attention to some vagaries of a decrepit witch? Vagaries that do nothing but exalting the presents and bringing panic to my city.

    ―Your city? ―Mälkar replied angrily― last time I checked; Thalas Bur was part of the kingdom of Eddlar, under King Desnand Rainshore’s command.

    ―You perfectly understand what I mean with my words old witch. It seems age has finally clouded your mind and eyes; surely, you saw a common vagabond and thought it was that forgotten creature you speak of ―the governor said between the laughs of his counselors.

    ―I saw the corpse of General Rhegar Thunderfoot, master governor ―the wizard replied as a shade spread across his wrinkled face and the man paled―, I knew that brave soldier very well, my lord; I was there during his terrible death. I saw the same man months ago, although his face was deathly pale, covered by horrid scars, his eyes were red and emitted an almost undistinguishable dark flame. He gave me a wickedness smile and then fled. I had never seen a leaving being running so fast, it was as if it flew over the soils.

    He made a pause and looked at every one of the council member’s faces, which denoted fear and distrust.

    ―My arrival to this city was just to confirm what I was almost sure of. Here I found the legendary Chant of the Underworld, which speaks of the feared return of the Beast. Believe me or not, one of those foul verses speaks of the destruction of Thalas Bur.

    Mälkar read the verse as a frozen gust run through the great hall, chilling the spines of everyone present.

    ―And that is not the only verse I found; there is one that speaks of the slaughtering in the city under the Mountain of the Eternal Moon, and another that speaks of the King of the Underworld‘s death. Those are facts that have been taking place during the last decades.

    ―But master sorcerer ―a red gnome dressed with an ocher tunic and green cape said as he raised his tiny hand in midst of his companions― can those facts be just coincidences? Can you assure the words you have just said?

    ―We do not mean to disrespect you with this, Mälkar ―another one of the gnomes added as his comrade took a seat in silence―, but you have to understand that the information you bring is too dangerous. I have to agree with the lord governor when I say that this could bring panic to all the peoples of Thalas Bur.
    Mälkar nodded thoughtfully as he raised his right hand to stop the murmurs that had begun to run across the hall.

    ―I understand what you say master gnome. Moreover, I have to remember you the words I pronounced when I began talking about the news I bring, I have no more proof than my own words.

    The council members began to talk to each other, agreeing or against the words of the mage, whose gaze was lost in the forest beyond the solitary and wide window in the southern wall. The governor did not say anything; he was silently enjoying the moment, nobody would disturb his peace, and that hateful old man would not be the exception.

    ―The final proof I have… ―Mälkar added while hitting the ground with his staff― is that I had a vision…
    Kaius looked at him surprised as he noticed that everyone gave the wizard the same glance; the gift of the foresight was not common, only a few mages in history had been blessed with that gift, and the few times that a vision was revealed, they came true. There were no doubts about that fact, lying about a taboo like that was forbidden.
    One moment after his words were pronounced, the council exploded in discussions, and not even the governor’s hammer against his desk could stop it.

    ―Sorry for using your skill as mine kid ―Mälkar whispered― it is not that I want to take your glory ―he added with a slight smile―, but a gift as precious as yours should remain unnoticed for now, especially in theses dangerous times.

    ―You speak of it as if it was my special spell, master ―Kaius replied shaking his head―, it has happened just once, just by luck, and it was awful. Believe me; I would give it to you or to anyone who wants it without thinking twice.

    ―You will not say the same when you master it, silly kid.

    ―Anyways, how do you plan to make these fools believe us, master?

    ―Do not worry, everything is going according to my calculations.
    Finally, after long minutes of fierce verbal struggles, the governor’s hammer could call to order, and everything return to calm as the man began to walk around the great hall in a thoughtful silence.

    ―Master wizard, nevertheless you have been a great help in times of need for the kingdom of Eddlar, I do not see how this makes you think you have the right to come and talk such nonsense, disrupting the daily work of this council. I can do nothing but feel sorry for your mournful state, to see a once great sorcerer that is now consumed by age, pitiful.

    Mälkar did not finish hearing what the governor said and interrupted him.

    ―I am old, but not senile, and I am impertinent but not a fool to be here inventing issues that should never be discussed. Are you so blind or so afraid of losing your power, that you do not see that this city is on the brink of destruction? And that with every minute we lose here with these ridiculous claims, we lose lives that could be saved?
    The governor's face was distorted; he gave an utter contempt look to the old mage (who seemed to have an answer for every one of his statements) and then he raised his hand gesturing to his assistant to take note of what he was going to pronounce.

    ―Let it be written that Mälkar Whiteflame and his apprentice, whose name is irrelevant, are now unwelcome for the city of Thalas Bur, and they must leave immediately, on charges of spreading panic, rioting, and insulting a high commander ―he giggled and sat down again― Guards!, escort them to the city’s exit. If they try to enter again, proceed with violence.
    Mälkar gave a blow with his staff shaking the entire room and silencing the growing murmur (also making the guards recede in fear). Then he watched the council members who in turn looked at him scared and unbelieving.

    ―Do you not see, my friends, what is coming? ―He asked in mournful tone― do you think it is a good idea to wait for death to come to your own homes? To your own families?
    The guards approached the two magicians again, but a single gesture of the sorcerer made them step back terrified.
    An old dwarf fitted with a formal golden dress (common in the magistrates of that race) rose from his seat and spoke.

    ―Fellows of the assembly, I have known Mälkar Whiteflame for countless years, and I can assure you he would never lie in such a matter. Think, what would a person like him get from this?

    The uncertainty and horror caused by Mälkar’s words motivated different reactions. Some of the humans sitting in the northern terrace insulted and denigrated the two wizards. The dwarves and the gnomes were irritated and argued among themselves. The elves, however, remained silent and intently watched the old man, who looked at the governor furiously.
    I do not know what you will do, fellow council members ―the old dwarf continued― but I will declare high alert among my people, so we are going to get ready for battle.
    Mälkar looked at the dwarf and slightly bowed his head in a sign of respect; then he hit the floor again silencing the uproar sparked by the dwarf’s statements. Meanwhile the governor watched him with his face disfigured by anger, feeling powerless to expel with his own hands the two men who were causing such a fuss in his city.

    ―My friend ―Mälkar told the dwarf with soft but potent voice― I appreciate your confidence, but do not misunderstand me. Have you not heard what I said? I am not asking you to form a resistance, I am asking you to leave the city ―his face darkened― The coming enemy does not compare to any you have seen in these times, it marches motivated by its master’s return.

    ―Enough of this nonsense, damn trickster! ―the governor rose from his seat again and powerfully hit the desk with his bare hands as his eyes bulged― you make up stories to try to be a hero and make us forget the lives of those you did not save in the war, the lives of those you did not care to die like dogs. I will expel you myself from this place.

    The man launched furiously against the wizard, but at that moment he drew his sword, a piercing sound (like of a thunder) silenced all the attendants to the council. The roof then collapsed to a giant fire rock that penetrated through the building, breaking stone and bone; filling the space with a heavy smoke.
    Half room was shattered. The survivors began to scream and run. The northern part of the great hall (in which the governor, the dwarves and the humans were) had been completely destroyed.

    Some soldiers entered the meeting room and paled seeing the dimension of the destruction.

    ―The city is under attack!

    The survivor council members quickly left the room between shouts as the soldiers tried to move the large pieces of rock in search of survivors. Mälkar emerged from the debris and helped Kaius to stand. The place was in ruins, the roof had almost completely fallen and it was scattered on the floor along with the remains of walls and bodies of the unfortunate dead council members.

    ―Let’s go Kaius, I am afraid it has begun! ―he took his staff, his backpack, and sped away.

    The apprentice nodded frightened and ran after him.

  5. #5
    Registered User riferrada's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2013
    Chapter 2 - Part 2:

    When they left the palace, they greatly impressed seeing how chaos had gripped the city. The terrified people escaped as hundreds of giant fireballs fell from the sky, destroying everything in their path. They hurriedly head back to the inn, while the southern Thalas Bur buildings crumbled and burned. Suddenly, in the middle of the frightened crowd, the student noticed the same children who he had seen a month ago, the same ones of his vision.
    ―Master! I have to help them, go and find Mohk and our things. I will wait you here.
    The old mage looked straight into his student’s eyes for a moment, and then he nodded.
    ―Just be careful, kid.
    Kaius saw his mentor getting lost in the crowd of people that fled hysterically through the debris looking for some shelter, and then he advanced rapidly in the direction where the children were.
    The kids were embraced in the centre of the main square, sobbing. Kaius took the youngest in his arms and made the others to stand up, to what they obeyed horrified.
    ―Follow me, do not detached from my side!
    He ran with the infants as he heard the buildings crumbling on his back. He led them to the southwest entrance of the dwarven sector, while the enormous burning rocks continued to fall like an endless rain of fire destroying everything in its path; ending with all the lives they could. As he run to the Eternal Golden Halls, Kaius shouted everybody to follow him; he would not allow his atrocious vision to come true. When they were near the entrance (and thanks to a fortuitous reflection) they narrowly dodged a flaming boulder (that nearly reach them) jumping and falling by the stone steps that finally lead them to the shelter.
    ―Go fast and hide in the first level! I have to help the others.
    Mälkar made it to the Howling Wolf and addressed Mohk’s room, but his friend was not there. He took his purse and ran downstairs, where he moved a large box in a corner and picket up a halved rock; he found the dark book no more than four feet deep in the hole. The grimy object was very well wrapped in his apprentice’s blanket.
    A sudden and loud noise coming from the kitchen took him out of the dark feeling that the evil codex emanated. He could recognize Thom and Mohk’s voices, they were quarrelling. He ran to where the voices came, thankful to know they were alive.
    ―You are crazy, I will never let you out of here! ―the small gnome shouted behind the kitchen door.
    The wizard entered the room and saw the gnome arguing with the old bartender, who wore the Eddlar armour, which at his age (and adding his excessive weight) looked ridiculous.
    ―You are not fit to fight, sir, you have to hide; I will never leave you to do it!
    The small red gnome blocked the way to the old man, who brandished his sword and shield menacingly.
    The strong thunder-like sounds in the outside made the earth tremble, and the terrorized people’s screams could be heard from inside of the inn.
    ―In the name of the Goddess, Mohk! What are you doing? ―the sorcerer shouted as he walked around the room.
    His friend looked at him raising his head proudly.
    ―I am going to protect my city, Mälkar, and neither you nor anyone else can stop me! ―He gave the gnome a critical look― not even the weight of every year in the world could prevent me for defending my compatriots’ lives. And the one who decide to get in my way will feel the weight of my sword!
    Mälkar (seeing his friend’s determination) gave the young gnome a disconsolate smile and softly patted his small back.
    ―Forget it Thom, he is a brave soldier of Eddlar, and he will be so until his death. Go away and hide in the basement, I will take care of this old curmudgeon.
    The gnome nodded, took a last and sad look upon his boss, and ran toward the basement.
    The Wizard looked thoughtfully at his friend and felt a sudden longing; for a moment, he thought he saw the young soldier whom he fought side by side fifty years ago. The old Mohk in turn, put the helmet on and placed his hand on Mälkar shoulder. His eyes flashed.
    ―One last battle, my friend?
    Without another word, the two veterans went at full speed from the inn towards the square.

    The south of the glorious silver city seemed now little more than ruins of an ancient civilization. The beautiful buildings (which once sparkled under the moonlight) were now spread in the grounds, while the burning chunks of rock rolled down the broken streets, crushing structures and people, who shocked as they were, could do nothing but just close their eyes and wait for the inevitable death. The trade sector was completely burned, and the main square was covered with debris and dead bodies. Those who were not mortally wounded, dragged among the rocks, screaming and sobbing hysterically, seeing no reaction from the still stunned military defences. The strong buzz caused by the burning rain of stones did not stop, and the explosions caused when striking against buildings and grounds sounded like thunders provoked by the wrath of vicious gods.

    Kaius ran helping everyone he could, ordering them to look for shelter in the dwarven underground sector. The faces of Thalas Bur citizens were deformed and denoted the greatest fear that they had never experienced.
    As he approached the city’s southwest entrance, he noticed that the time between each of the projectiles was going on too long, as if the attack were slowly stopping. He went to one of the gates that were closer to the main square, and saw a large group of guards who observed the forest, weapons at hand.
    ―Who is at command. ―He asked the defenders, who were sharpening their swords and knives behind one of the walls.
    One of the soldiers pointed to a black-haired elf, dressed with silvered armour, and who stood still on the remains of one of the walls.
    ―It is captain Erêagar ―a soldier added.
    Kaius climbed the broken stairs with difficulty until he reached the top; where a few dozen archers readied their weapons.
    ―What do you see Captain? ―he asked while trying to maintain balance.
    The elf (visibly worried) aimed his light-blue eyes at the different directions of the forest. The silvered plate armour almost completely covered his body (though it looked like it provided an exceptional mobility). He wore a long black and red coat over the armour, which rippled with the strong wind. His noble and gentle face had a long scar on his left cheek, which nevertheless did not overshadow the natural beauty of that race. The apprentice felt that was how the governor of the Silver City should be, not as the late one.
    ―They are coming ―the elf replied in disconsolate tone― six battalions: orcs, ogres and trolls. Soldiers! Get ready to welcome our guests!
    Kaius focused trying to find what the elf's eyes saw and his own could not, which (in the dim light of that afternoon and the abundant smoke that the burning city emanated) was nearly impossible. After a few minutes (and much effort), he saw two large groups in a row, far away, which gave the impression of being a huge snake stealthily moving through the woods, approaching its prey.
    Suddenly, everything stopped. The buzz caused by the rocks falling from the sky was not heard anymore and the funereal silence was disturbed only by the sound of the blazing fire devouring the city. But over a few seconds (which seemed like years for the defenders) hundreds of steps, which were becoming stronger and stronger, gradually replaced the silence. Terror gripped Kaius, who asked himself if that would be his last day?
    The elven captain turned to his men; among those there were humans, dwarves, elves and gnomes, all dressed in black and silvered armours with the red star (symbol of Eddlar) stamped on their chests, and long grey capes waving with the cold wind that chilled their bodies and hearts.
    ―The enemy is approaching comrades. Hope the goddess will not allow this to be the day when our city falls to the demons that torment us ―he raised his bright sword―. We will defend it with life or death, and even if it is the second one, we will willingly accept it, for we are doing it to protect our dear brothers ―he took a deep breath and yelled:
    ―For the Silver City!
    The soldiers felt brave and strong again, and shouted at the same time.
    ―For the Silver City!
    The heavy footsteps began to shake the ruins of the southwest entrance; the rate had changed, and the enemy was heading rapidly towards them. The defenders could see some trees falling as if a great typhoon ripped them from the roots.
    Mälkar and Mohk appeared at Kaius’ back accompanied by a large troop of archers (elven and humans) and crossbow-gnomes. The sorcerer ruffled his frightened apprentice’s hair in a fatherly manner. Kaius in turn, saw his teacher and noticed despair, but also anger and power.
    ―My fellow soldiers of Eddlar ―Mälkar shouted to the soldiers―, it is a big horde the one coming towards us, but we can handle them. They should have bombed the city for weeks to get us waver ―he lifted up his staff and further raised his voice― Resist defenders of the Silver City!, Thalas Bur shall not perish to these foul creatures this day!
    Kaius looked over his shoulder at that beautiful city; he saw the dead bodies of many of its inhabitants. There were some stragglers who ran and hid in the few places that had not been completely destroyed. Apparently, the dwarven sector could not accept any more people and the ones that had not found refuge there, looked desperate for a place to protect their lives.
    Then, among the smoke coming out of the ruins, he saw many men approaching the gate; they were villagers armed with axes, shovels, poles and knives, ready to protect their families. That sight encouraged the apprentice, who pulled out a long knife with diamond blade from his backpack and stood in battle position.
    The two entrances of the southern part of Thalas Bur were guarded by hundreds of soldiers and villagers waiting for their cruel enemy, which steps made the land and their hearts tremble. The large openings caused by the flaming rocks in the outer walls were being guarded by dwarven warriors, who carried heavy hammers and long axes and seemed to follow the instructions of one of their own; strongly built, with red beard and black armour, and who encouraged them reciting old battle verses. At the top of the walls, an extensive battalion of humans and elven archers, accompanied by crossbow-gnomes, stared at the forest concentrated as the nearest rows of trees began to fall by the enemy strokes.
    Mälkar felt his student’s anxiety.
    ―Courage Kaius! ―his once shiny blue eyes twinkled― this city is fortunate to have two great wizards protecting it. Use what you have learned so far. We will not let them go through!
    The young man nodded, still feeling himself insecure.
    The steps coming from the forests became closer, and the defenders of Eddlar waited impatient with their weapons tightly wielded, waiting for the enemies that would appear anytime from the shadows of their beloved forest; attempting to destroy all what they had lived and fought for.
    Powerful drums began to sound strongly from the shadows, making the loose parts of the walls to fall off, crumbling and spreading across the future battleground.
    Suddenly, the leader of the archers on the walls gave the signal to attack; and all of them discharged at the same time. Horrid screeches in black tongues were heard from the blackness of the forest, while the sound of trees collapsing accompanied by the fierce blows continued.
    A long spear launched at full speed, grazed Kaius’ right cheek and pierced the chest of a villager who flew several feet falling dead instantly. The last row of trees fell and a large battalion of trolls came out of the darkness, raising their weapons, moving rapidly between showers of arrows.
    The huge monsters, which oversized at least two or three times a man, and which wore heavy armour made of polluted metals, rushed against the guards outside the entrance. Just one hammer blow of one of the trolls sent flying five soldiers. The rest of the men (seeing the Troll’s overwhelming strength) wavered for a moment, which gave the opportunity for two more monsters to attack and slay another group of defenders, who could not do anything to stop the blast.
    Terror dominated the soldiers, who watched paralyzed their evil enemy approaching. But just before despair took complete control of the men, hundreds of thin and accurate gnomic poisoned arrows pierced and got through the armour of the trolls, which fell in midst of horrific screams of pain. Mälkar (noticing the fright of men and fearing for the safety of the gate) ran and stepped facing five Trolls coming towards the entrance.
    ―Eddlar Guardians! ―He shouted as he raised his staff in a threatening manner against the approaching giants, which stopped their charge at seeing that the old man in front of them was a wizard―. Do not be tormented by this evil vermin’s presence, for fear and indecision will not only lead you to your own death, but also that of your brothers who are waiting for you in the city that the enemy tries to enter.
    Some of the trolls (snapping out of fear) jumped upon the wizard as he swatted his staff on the floor.

    ―Adericus Darainis!

    Tens of thick roots came up from the earth and caught the approaching monsters by their feet, pulling them to the floor and making them unable to move.
    ―Now defenders of the Silver City! ―He cried as he sliced his sword in the throat of the nearest deformed creature― show your bravery and strength! Send these creatures back to hell where they belong!
    The soldiers (with their courage recovered) screamed and pounced on the enemy. Nobody would pierce the southwest gate.

    Darkness continued to expand on the battlefield and the huge trolls kept coming out in numerous groups from the blackness of the forest; furious, some of them heading to the walls and others rushing directly against the entrances.
    The human and elven archers on the walls were in constant motion, restlessly releasing their precise munitions against the monsters trying to force open the cracks left by the rain of rocks. Nonetheless, their almost perfect aiming skills and effective shots, at the time one troll fall, another one more ferocious and stronger quickly replaced it, giving them no time to rest.
    The crossbow-gnomes, meanwhile, were split into three groups. Two small squads in the southeast and southwest gates and the third and largest one moved over the walls firing their thin but strongly poisoned arrows to the monsters heading for the two larger openings of the walls, where the dwarven guardians awaited. The short but burly warriors fought fierce and violently against the few creatures who managed to cross the poisonous gnomic blasts.

    The gatekeepers, however, were not getting along so well as the archers and dwarves.

    Kaius (inspired by his master’s previous action) jumped and grabbed the arm of one of the Trolls, put his palm on the deformed head and pronounced his spell.

    ―Ridherior Odaradehmus!

    The apprentice jumped back with his eyes closed and his right hand rose toward the monster. The cursed troll turned against one its own companions and charged upon it, splitting its head of a powerful axe swing. Then, the creature pierced its own throat with the same weapon that killed its teammate.
    Mälkar looked impressed at his pupil, who assumed a threatening posture toward the three giants, which were passing over their fallen comrades with difficulty.
    ―Well done boy! ―he yelled as he threw a golden beam from his wand to the tree creatures, killing them instantly― but you still have a long way to reach your master.
    The magician took his staff with both hands and gave a powerful blow to the earth, which shook heavily.

    ―Amperius Odaradehmus!

    A group of trolls advancing to the entrance turned against each other, dismembering themselves between cries of pain, filling the silvery soils with their blackish blood.
    ―This is not a contest my young friends ―captain Erêagar cried as he cut the legs of two monsters and then pierced his long curved swords in their throats with an incredibly rapid movement ―we have to find a way to send help to our counterparts in the southeast gate. They will not resist any longer.
    ―Then I will try to finish all the ones coming this way, master elf ―Mälkar exclaimed as he raised his staff― I will give you time you need to send help there.

    ―Darainis Amperius Khadarum!

    The groups of trolls rushing to the gate stopped their movement at once, then, they began to emit horrid screams as hundreds of magical roots came out of their bodies, breaking them apart until turning into tall and thick trees.
    ―Why is that I did not know about that spell master ―Kaius asked very impressed (and somewhat scared of its viciousness).
    ―Think boy ―Mälkar replied shaking his head― what kind of terrible “accidents” could you have by knowing it at your current level?
    The soldiers alongside the wizard shouted in victory, but then they fell silent to see how the forest lit up with hundreds of flaming arrows that flew heading where they were. For a moment, it seemed as if a shower of burning stars fell upon them from the black sky.
    When the projectiles were about to reach their targets, a powerful scream echoed through the air.

    ―Amperius Protectus!

    As he uttered those words, Mälkar opened his arms, releasing a strong golden light that completely pulverized the enemy’s rain of arrows.
    The forest lit up again, and another quick burst of fiery arrows flew towards the defenders, but the old wizard repeated his spell and (just as the previous occasion) all the air missiles vanished. Therefore, it happened a dozen more times, no defender fell under the monster’s attack. The old wizard fell on one knee on the floor, he looked exhausted; his eyes were narrowed and countless drops of sweat fell from his aquiline nose. Mohk and Kaius ran and helped him to get up with difficulty as the guards watched him silent, feeling their hopes fade.
    The old man opened his arms again, waiting for the next rain of arrows.
    ―I will not let anyone else dies this time!
    Before the forest lit again, captain Erêagar’s cry alarmed Mälkar and the others.
    ―The enemy has gone through the southeast door! Stand back! They are coming in, return to the main square!

    Contrary to where the sorcerers were, the southeast gate guards could not stand against the powerful trolls, which had destroyed the entrance and headed hastily into the city followed by a large battalion of orcs and ogres dressed in deep-red rusty armours. The dwarves had neglected their jobs in the walls to go in aid of the violated entrance guardians, but while trying to prevent the passage of their powerful enemies, many other monsters advanced through the broken walls; surrounding and killing the short but burly guards.
    The archers went down the walls and retreated firing their few remaining arrows, trying to delay the invasion that at that point; was inevitable.
    Kaius and Mälkar remained guarding the southwest gate while the other defenders retreated toward the main square. When the wizards saw that their allies were far away, they sealed the entrance with large magical roots and ran after them. The roots would not prevent the advance of the enemy troops, but they would give them time to get to the main square, which (being the largest centre and connection between the different streets of the city) would serve to see the enemy’s movements.
    Kaius noticed that his master was too exhausted.
    ―Calm down, kid ―the old man exclaimed showing a forced smile― I still have many strengths left.
    After a few minutes of running at full speed, they reached the centre of the main square, where the defenders fought against the invading forces, which swept violently into the city destroying everything in their path. Thalas Bur was engulfed in flames, and although the skies were black, the city looked completely illuminated.
    The city guardians fought fiercely, but the invading hordes were superior in number and power. The different battalions divided into small groups trying to prevent the entrance of more enemies in the alleys and to search for hidden citizens, without realizing that in less numbers, they were an even easier prey. The almost non-existent organization of the still astonished military forces, favoured the invaders, which continued getting into the various streets and alleys in larger groups.
    Mälkar was recovering strengths along with a group of human soldiers, watching the terrible picture; he knew it was hopeless to resist in the city, but still, he wished he had had more time.
    ―Fast! Someone head to the Eternal Golden Halls and get the people out of there ―he shouted to the overwhelmed defenders― this battle is lost, but we can still save the lives of our loved ones.
    Several men nodded and ran to the underground area.
    Realizing the plan, three Trolls rushed after the soldiers raising their huge mazes. But in that instant, a powerful and echoing voice made them stop at once.

    ―Ridherior Oradehmus!

    Mälkar’s control spell made the monsters to slay a group of orcs that almost overcame some dwarf guardians, and after killing them (in midst of screams) they finished their own lives. Nonetheless, the efforts of the wizards and the soldiers, more and more monsters continued their deathly march across the city, smelling and enjoying the taste of their victim’s panic. It was a total chaos.

    Mohk faced a large orc, which was trying to deliver the coup de grace to a wounded soldier. The old bartender jumped against the monster and quickly finished it, and then he continued with another, and another; as if age had gone from his mind and he was a young soldier again. Kaius fought besides him using stun spells on their enemies and terminating them with his diamond dagger. Suddenly, the apprentice spotted a group of disgusting ogres that rushed against human and dwarven soldiers who protected some women and children. It was his vision!
    He had saved most of the children moments ago, but he still had to save the others, he would change fate. He told Mohk what happened and the two of them ran to the monsters. The apprentice touched the edge of his knife and whispered a spell; the weapon blew and ended in the greasy neck of one of the ogres, which collapsed amid shrieks drowning in its own blood. Mohk, giving a fierce sword blow, cut off the leg of one of the creatures, which roared furiously until the old man’s blade penetrated completely its throat.
    The ogres turned their whole attention to the old soldier and the young apprentice, who ordered the soldiers to run north and go as far as they could with the survivors.
    Realizing they were the main targets now, Mohk sighed and run against one of the ogres, stabbing his sword several times until the monster fell, crushing his head with a long sharp rock in the ground. The old man pushed the deformed and greasy head with his foot until he heard the sound of the bones breaking apart.
    ―Ah! That is an ugly death ―he exclaimed with a laugh as he prepared to attack another one of the ogres, which were enraged, yet fearful of their two (apparently weak) opponents.
    The two remaining creatures attacked Mohk with powerful mace blows. The old man barely managed to dodge the attacks and jump to the ground trying to avoid the incoming blows. Kaius raised his right hand and paralyzed the fat creatures with his magical roots. The bartender stood up quickly, picked up his sword and easily killed the two ogres who stared terrified the eyes of his elder but fierce executioner.
    ―You saved me, my young friend ―the old man said as he wiped the polluted blood from his sword in one of the fallen enemies’ bodies―. Now we must...
    The old man's words were silenced by a thick black spear that pierced through his chest and ended nailed in a wall at his back.
    Kaius run to the elderly and tried to help him stop the profuse bleeding, but the bartender (coughing blood profusely) took the young man's hand squeezing it with all the strength he had left, shaking his head disconsolately; indicating that there was no hope for him.
    ―Do not… let them... kill... my brothers...
    The brave soldier stopped breathing.
    Kaius (sobbing) looked up and saw the old man’s murderer: a strongly built orc with white hair and dressing a polluted red armour. The creature was fighting against a very little contender.
    ―I will never forgive you, animal, he was like a father to me ―Thom screamed amid tears― I will kill you!
    Nonetheless the efforts of the small warrior, the orc easily sent him to the floor, finishing his life with a discarnate row of sword blows.
    After witnessing the awful scene, the apprentice took Mohk’s sword and charged upon the creature, which dodged the blow and launched a slash that touched the right side of Kaius’ skull, making him fall down throwing blind swings in the air with the heavy sword. The black and burly orc stood over him and kicked the sword from his hands. Kaius, who had half his face covered in blood, refused to believe that was the way he would die, and struggled to take off his opponent, but his thin arms were no match for the power of the creature, which got his deformed face close to its victim to study him with its expressionless red eyes, while (enjoying the moment) it took a knife and slowly approached it to the apprentice’s right eye.
    ―Do not give me that glance, you miserable worm ―it exclaimed in the common tongue with a hoarse voice― you didn’t like what you saw, did you. Then let me take your eyes so you never see anything like that in your remaining life.
    Kaius (leaving fear aside) raised his voice without hesitation.

    ―Khon Arak Doradan!

    The white flames burst from his hands and burned the orc completely, while the creature screamed and threw himself to the floor trying to put out the fire unsuccessfully. The young man stood up, took Mohk’s sword and without thinking twice, cut off the enemy’s head, which rolled a few feet being quickly consumed by the magical flames.
    Mälkar arrived where his student was mending his head, and saw the little gnome dead at his feet.
    ―Where is Mohk? ―He asked looking in all directions in search of his friend.
    Kaius, with downcast eyes, pointed the place where the old innkeeper’s corpse laid. The magician came closer silently, closed his comrade’s eyes and wiped the blood from his round face.
    ―You fought as the old warriors of old, my friend. The goddess must be proud of you.
    A lonely tear rolled down his dirty face, leaving a white mark on his cheek full of blood and soil. Then he stood up, wiped his eyes, and walked to his apprentice. His face showed an immense pain.
    ―Let’s go boy, we have to help the villagers to escape.

    Teacher and student scurried toward the north, where the rest of the inhabitants of Thalas Bur were fleeing into the woods. Chaos had gripped the city and there were almost no defences to protect the terrified people who run one after another not knowing what to do. The evil hordes smashed everything in their path, killing men, women, elderly and children without distinction, cutting their heads and nailing them in the grounds. Road to the north exit, in front of the Magic district, Kaius spotted captain Erêagar at the distance, fighting alongside a group of elven soldiers and citizens. He also recognized master Ulimdar among them, the magic item trader who helped him with his white flames.
    ―Master, we have to help them, maybe they not yet know that the city is being evacuated.
    Mälkar nodded and ran with his student to reach where the elves fought.
    ―You will have to help them while I am recovering a bit of magic, kid ―the wizard said almost breathless.
    The apprentice drew his dagger.
    ―I understand master, do not worry, I have everything under control.
    The elves were facing so many enemies; that they had to fight wildly and in solitary disadvantage.
    Captain Erêagar rammed two Trolls fiercely with his two curved swords, the monsters shouted angrily at not being able to catch up with its agile contender, who gave them not a single moment to think, looking for an opening. The other defenders fought similarly against their numerous enemies; giving amazing jumps and appearing again at their enemies’ backs, slashing them; reducing their strengths with every drop of blood.
    Seeing that one of the soldiers was losing the struggle against a group of orcs, Kaius closed his eyes, opened his arms and cried aloud.

    ―Amperius Odaradehmus!

    The orcs were turned against themselves killing each other. But the spell was not completely effective, since one of the enemies was not affected and rushed at full speed against the apprentice, who closed his eyes again and screamed aloud;

    ―Khon Arak Doradan!

    The creature fell to the ground writhing in pain as the white flames completely consumed it.
    Ulimdar the trader was using a long golden staff and stood positioned further back from where his comrades fought, acting as a healer and casting damaging spells whenever he had the opportunity. Seeing the two magicians approaching, he raised his voice.
    ―What are you doing here Master Kaius? ―his green eyes twinkled― the city is being evacuated, you must leave immediately.
    ―Did you already know that? ―the apprentice asked impressed.
    The elf nodded.
    ―Those who were born in this city thousands of years ago, will die alongside this city today.
    Kaius was going to reply, but captain Erêagar’s voice interrupted him.
    ―He is right young wizard, we are part of Thalas Bur and if she dies, we die with her. However, you must not. Help the evacuees and save them on our behalf.
    ―But don’t you see that if you come with us it would be easier to take care of the escaping citizens? ―Kaius cried sobbing.
    ―They are precisely for whom we are fighting for my friend ―Ulimdar exclaimed as he casted a mortal lightning spell that hit multiple enemies― we will contain the monsters for you.
    ―No! ―the desperate apprentice shouted― I promised myself I would not let anyone else die.
    ―That is precisely what will happen if you do not help those who need you the most right now Master Kaius ―captain Erêagar seriously answered as he nailed both swords on the head of the last standing troll― we do not deny our importance in this battle young one, This street is the only one that leads to the exit which the citizens are using to flee, so we will be the containment; the lure so that our friends can escape.
    Kaius was to debate, but Mälkar (placing his hand on the apprentice’s shoulder) shook his head indicating him to remain silent.
    ―It is settled, boy ―he sighed solemnly watching the elven guards― these brave soldiers will give us the precious time we need to bring the people of Thalas Bur to safety; you must understand that in war times you have to be willing to make sacrifices for the greater good.
    The apprentice looked into Mälkar’s eyes, and noticed the same grief and despair that in his own heart.
    ―I understand master, let us proceed.
    As they were leaving, and the elves stood firm closing off the narrow street, Ulimdar gave one last brief glance at Kaius, then (staring at the place where the enemy would appear at any time) he rose his voice;
    ―Excellent application of the flames of Khon, master Kaius.
    The young man stopped and looked back to the elf sorcerer, who waited on guard to what would surely be his death. Without a word, he ran alongside his master to the exit of the city, while his tears were dried up with the hot burning wind that ran across the city.

    When the wizards made it to the high sector, the few city forces that still remained guarded the entrance to a long narrow alley; which the last survivors were using to escape. The glorious Silver City fell down between flames, and the places where once their inhabitants laughed and shared, were now bathed in the blood of the sons of Eddlar.
    Once the last villager entered the passage, Mälkar ordered the exhausted soldiers to follow and guard the survivors until they were safe, and as far as possible. The soldiers obeyed with tears in their eyes and (after giving one last look at their beloved city) they disappeared into the darkness of the alley.
    Kaius and Mälkar stood still waiting for their enemies, just as captain Erêagar’s squad moments before, trying to give the people more time to escape. When they managed to visualize the large army that came from the black smoke emanated from the centre of town, the two wizards got their hands on the ground and shouted in unison.

    ―Amperius Darainis!

    Hundreds of huge magical roots sprouted from the earth in a huge wall with sharp thorns, which made it virtually impenetrable.
    ―Let’s go Kaius ―the wizard said tiredly― this will stop them for a while.

    They ran wearily down the alley. The magic used on the Great Wall had almost exhausted all of their remaining might.
    When they finally managed to get out of the burning city, a horrible image shattered their hearts;
    A monumental orc battalion walked through a sea of corpses strewn across the north exit that led to the forest. The bodies of villagers and soldiers laid in a large pool of blood that the monsters spattered as they jumped from place to place giving the final blows to their defenceless victims, slashing them merciless. No one had survived.
    Kaius fell to his knees and cried inconsolably without understanding what had happened. He saw dead faces with the terror of their last breath marked on their expression, dismembered bodies of man, women and children which had been brutally slaughter after they had embraced the idea of salvation. The dreadful creatures knew beforehand what they had to do; they were waiting, giving them the illusion of escape and then destroying it so they could enjoy even more their stark carnage.
    The terrible picture before his eyes stunned Mälkar; all their efforts had been in vain. At the end, they had not been able to save anyone, the story repeated again.

    The sky was black and only the fire that consumed the city illuminated the slaughter that took place before the two wizards’ eyes. No wind ran through the woods and the smoke made the air almost unbreathable. They could hear at their backs the efforts of the hordes coming from the city, trying to open a hole in the natural wall, which would not resist any longer.
    One of the orcs, which stood about twenty yards from the mages, gave notice to the others; and all the ruthless creatures focused their attention on the two last survivors.
    The one who seemed to be in command of the dark horde, rushed to slay the newcomers escorted by its warriors, but when they approached; Mälkar (with a wave of his hand) burned many of his enemies with furious white flames that devoured them alive while screaming in pain.
    Kaius, still on his knees, could not stop watching the corpses of the inhabitants of that beautiful city. He could recognize the children who he thought he had saved among the fallen. An outrageous empty feeling ran through his heart, one that he had never felt in his whole life. He was not afraid, nor angry; he just could feel nothing but the deepest emptiness. Mälkar looked sadly at his beloved student, who stood still awkwardly alongside him with his eyes fixed on the soils. Master and student saw the demonic troops heading toward them at full speed, while the yells of the hordes destroying the root wall at their backs became louder and louder; they would pass it at any moment.
    ―These might be our last moments in this world Kaius ―the old mage sighed desolately― I have no more strength to fight against such large army. Since the incident with the book, I...
    The young man put his hand on his teacher’s shoulder.
    ―It will be an honour to die along with you, master.
    Mälkar looked at his student's eyes, feeling the deepest sadness. He took firmly his staff and walked a few steps towards the incoming enemy.

    ―Strohm Darainis Oridaharum!

    The sky grew darker and tens of raging thunders came out through the clouds; killing many of the creatures that approached. But as the monsters fall, many more appeared behind them, yelling viciously and rushing against their two victims.

    ―Strohm Darainis Oridaharum!

    The Wizard repeated his spell and many more enemies fell, but the survivors continued to advance, furious.

    ―Strohm Darainis Oridaharum!

    Mälkar fell to his knees, exhausted, and repeated the spell; but nothing happened, magic had finally abandoned him. The once powerful wizard seemed now only a common and decrepit old man who did not even have the strength to stand. His blue eyes were lost in the sky and his extremely wrinkled and dirty face showed extreme pain and suffering. If only the incident with the black book had not occurred.
    He stood awkwardly and walked a few feet forward (helped by his staff) looking menacing to the enemies, which were now moving slowly and without fear towards him, enjoying the hunt.
    A big black orc, who seemed to be one of the commanders of the horde, pounced on the old sorcerer, and before its victim could do anything; it stabbed the cruel sword in his chest. The old man gave a last glance at his beloved student as his eyes became white and he gestured a small smile. The orc quickly pulled its blooded sword off and cut his head.
    Mälkar Whiteflame’s body fell at the feet of Kaius, who terrified, could only witness this macabre scene, and remained standing sobbing as the murderer of his master laughed aloud in front of him.
    The apprentice (snapping out of terror and owned by an immense rage) uttered the same spell that his teacher casted moments before.

    ―Strohm Darainis Oridaharum!

    Some thunders (less than he would have liked) fell on the battlefield, tearing the closer enemies.
    The murderer of his mentor, mortally wounded by the attack, was laying on the floor coughing up blood and trying forcibly to breathe. The apprentice approached it and slipped the diamond dagger slowly (but powerfully) through his enemy’s mouth, killing it painfully.
    The rest of the hordes stopped moving for a moment at seeing the young wizard's furious face, whose eyes faced them blazing and challenging. But then, motivated by the desire to kill and the arrival of the monsters coming from the burning city (which had finally passed through the natural wall); they continued their advance until completely surrounding him, then they began to discuss what would be the most painful way to finish with their last prey.
    ―Can I eat him? ―an ogre asked as he patted its round belly― all this killing has made me starve, and I prefer my food to be alive while I eat it.
    ―You can keep feasting on rotten meet, peace of scum ―a burly orc replied spitting― we should keep him alive and torture him until he begs for death, then, keep torturing.
    ―We crush little witch with foot at once ―a giant troll interrupted― have bad feeling about him. We crush him.
    ―Or we could cut him into several pieces and make the sing of our lord with them ―other monster said― that will surely spread terror across these disgusting lands.
    ―I’m hungry too ―another orc exclaimed― maybe we can use all your ideas at once. Let’s eat him alive and when he cries for mercy we let the troll crush him. Then we cut his remains and make the sing of our lord.
    The entire horde yelled in sing of approbation. Once the decision had been made, they began walking slowly towards the terrorized young man.

    Suddenly, dark voices filled the apprentice’s mind and forced him to look at his master’s corpse. A dim light came out from the old wizard’s leather bag, dismissing a horrible stench. Kaius opened it, and pulled out the black codex, which seemed to call him; emanating a repulsive yet unavoidable feeling, making him forget any hope, any feeling, any goodness. The ghostly voices invited him into darkness in midst of horrendous echoes and profane melodies.
    The book opened itself on a page written almost completely with blood; it seemed like a demonic curse. Without thinking, Kaius took his teacher’s staff, hit the ground and uttered the black words written in the book without hesitation.

    ―Rakkhom Dreagar Agolizar!

    At pronouncing the black spell, the apprentice felt how an immeasurable power ran through his being. A black light came out from the grounds, which began to shake and crumble. For a moment, the invaders kept the intentions to kill their enemy, but at seeing his face distorted with rage and the blackish flames coming from the furious red eyes, they stopped their march and retreated a few steps, which could not be many because hundreds of skeletal and putrid arms emerged from the cracks formed on the earth and grabbed them firmly and painfully, while the desperate creatures tried to flee. Then (and regardless of their resistance), the monsters were pulled violently to the soils, dismembering among cries of horror and suffering, drowning in the blooded earth.
    A few moments later, the apprentice was all alone in midst of the blood-dyed path that separated the forest from the flaming city. There was no sound, only the fire consuming every corner of Thalas Bur. He looked at his hands still holding the infamous tome and his master’s white staff, which (perhaps because of the dark spell just pronounced) had broken in two.
    Kaius collapsed on the red wet ground without any strength left.
    Everything became dark.

  6. #6
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    Jan 2012
    The Far East (of England)
    Well, you've posted quite a bit there. Hopefully you'll forgive me for only looking at a tiny portion.

    At the beginning, only the goddess Dracnäh Orûhm inhabited the empty world. She was happy wandering in its gigantic plains, vast oceans, lush forests and high mountains, all of them her own creations; but she felt alone. The passage of thousands of years marked that deep loneliness, which made her finally decide to invent living beings to provide her company. The goddess created insects and small animals, which (without having planned it) took care of growing the beauty and very life of the planet. Again, the passage of thousands and thousands of years remarked that horrifying loneliness.
    Your opening line

    At the beginning, only the goddess Dracnäh Orûhm inhabited the empty world.
    Firstly, this is intertextual in that it mirrors the opening of Genesis. So (and this may seem trivial but) it's worth noting that most translations of Genesis use 'In the beginning' rather than 'At the beginning'. You may want to play up the parallel. Especially since you have a female Deity which is quietly subverting the biblical opening.
    It's also probably worth leaving out either the word 'only' or 'empty' because you're essentially repeating information unnecessarily there.

    Questions I'd have on reading the opening line are 'why is she female? Can a deity be gendered if nothing else exists yet? Does this mean she is subject to pre-existing powers/laws? (This is maybe a question your text answers, just vocalising thoughts really).

    I'd also be interested in why the deity has a name if she is the only being. Should we interpret this as meaning the story is being told as legend, by a narrator long after the events, as opposed to an omniscient narrator?

    She was happy wandering in its gigantic plains, vast oceans, lush forests and high mountains, all of them her own creations
    I'd personally steer clear of describing the plains as gigantic, the oceans as vast, the forests as lush. It's all a bet kitschy. I definitely wouldn't describe the mountains as high. That's like describing an ocean as 'wet'. It's important to ask what it is you want your adjective to do for your noun. What does it add?

    The passage of thousands of years marked that deep loneliness, which made her finally decide to invent living beings to provide her company. The goddess created insects and small animals, which (without having planned it) took care of growing the beauty and very life of the planet. Again, the passage of thousands and thousands of years remarked that horrifying loneliness.
    I'm curious as to why she waited so long before creating anything else if she was already lonely. It seems like there is an untold story here. She *finally* decides to create living beings. It seems implicit that the choice was not taken lightly but we're given little insight into it.
    Also I think you're trying to create the feeling of Really Deep Time here. I'd maybe play around with ways of describing the passing time without just repeating the specifics (thousands and thousands).
    And having created beings to kill loneliness... And finding they don't sate her appetite for company, why does she wait *even longer* before going further?

    I'd also be cautious of unnecessary words in the last paragraph. Be brutal. With every single word ask 'what is this word for? What is it adding? Why is it here? Does the sentence make just as much sense without it?'

    I think you're trying to hit a very specific tone, that kind of cod-medieval, lyrical romantic, sounding prose. Which is perfectly in fitting with epic fantasy. But don't let your attempt to capture a tone drag your writing down.

  7. #7
    Registered User riferrada's Avatar
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    Sep 2013
    Quote Originally Posted by Bonsai Ent View Post
    Well, you've posted quite a bit there. Hopefully you'll forgive me for only looking at a tiny portion.

    Your opening line

    Firstly, this is intertextual in that it mirrors the opening of Genesis. So (and this may seem trivial but) it's worth noting that most translations of Genesis use 'In the beginning' rather than 'At the beginning'. You may want to play up the parallel. Especially since you have a female Deity which is quietly subverting the biblical opening.
    It's also probably worth leaving out either the word 'only' or 'empty' because you're essentially repeating information unnecessarily there.

    Questions I'd have on reading the opening line are 'why is she female? Can a deity be gendered if nothing else exists yet? Does this mean she is subject to pre-existing powers/laws? (This is maybe a question your text answers, just vocalising thoughts really).

    I'd also be interested in why the deity has a name if she is the only being. Should we interpret this as meaning the story is being told as legend, by a narrator long after the events, as opposed to an omniscient narrator?

    I'd personally steer clear of describing the plains as gigantic, the oceans as vast, the forests as lush. It's all a bet kitschy. I definitely wouldn't describe the mountains as high. That's like describing an ocean as 'wet'. It's important to ask what it is you want your adjective to do for your noun. What does it add?

    I'm curious as to why she waited so long before creating anything else if she was already lonely. It seems like there is an untold story here. She *finally* decides to create living beings. It seems implicit that the choice was not taken lightly but we're given little insight into it.
    Also I think you're trying to create the feeling of Really Deep Time here. I'd maybe play around with ways of describing the passing time without just repeating the specifics (thousands and thousands).
    And having created beings to kill loneliness... And finding they don't sate her appetite for company, why does she wait *even longer* before going further?

    I'd also be cautious of unnecessary words in the last paragraph. Be brutal. With every single word ask 'what is this word for? What is it adding? Why is it here? Does the sentence make just as much sense without it?'

    I think you're trying to hit a very specific tone, that kind of cod-medieval, lyrical romantic, sounding prose. Which is perfectly in fitting with epic fantasy. But don't let your attempt to capture a tone drag your writing down.

    Thank you very much; I will apply the changes you proposed. I will send my book (which is already copyrighted) to several publishers in the US and the UK. Would you like to read it and tell me if you like it? I can send you one chapter at a time. Greetings.

  8. #8
    Registered User
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    Jan 2012
    The Far East (of England)
    Quote Originally Posted by riferrada View Post
    Thank you very much; I will apply the changes you proposed. I will send my book (which is already copyrighted) to several publishers in the US and the UK. Would you like to read it and tell me if you like it? I can send you one chapter at a time. Greetings.
    I'm afraid I don't really have time to read a whole work and give it the attention it needs (between PhD proposals, my own writing and trying to earn a living, they keep me pretty busy).
    But it might be worth having a look around a fantasy-specific website (Fantasy Faction is still going I think) and asking for feedback.

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