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Chapter 11, 1st Book of Serinity

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Chapter 11, 1st Book of Serinity

Postby SerinitysChild » Mon Oct 24, 2011 10:02 am

Euriptus stares at the image in his scrying glass, then, with a small grin, turns to finish his preparations for the long trip to Milesport. Slaves hurriedly place chests of magical ingredients next to boxes of clothes. Rolls of precious material lay across bales of dried leaves, giving the traveling circle the aroma of a merchant’s store. Several small locked boxes rest heavily atop two iron bound chests with massive locks.

Two hours of furious action by the house slaves have created a mountain of goods where once a clean floor existed. Carefully placing the boxes, trunks, bags, bales, and sacks inside the traveling circle, the slaves return to their normal duties as Euriptus closes the circle with a quick stroke of chalk.

After closing the circle, the Wizard lights three candles, places small amounts of incense in the flames, then summons daemons to transport him, and his goods, to a cave near Milesport. Once in the cave, Euriptus pays the daemons for their help, then offers each of them a gold coin, for luck.

Humming a little tune about a maid and her beau, the Wizard moves his equipment to one side of the cave, then moves boxes and bails to the other side. Euriptus drags comfortable furniture from some crates he’s had transported to the cave while other crates yield sumptuous meats, mounds of fruits, and delicate cakes. Broaching a keg of wine finishes his preparations for the night’s feast.

After setting the food on a table, Euriptus opens a large trunk, pulls out a formal robe, then a pair of silk slippers. Lastly he pulls out a full length mirror.

With hawks’ eyes, the Wizard looks over his image in the mirror. What he sees is a short man with long white hair that hangs down to the middle of his back. His visible face is as smooth as water washed pebbles, lacking either wrinkles or pockmarks. Bushy white eyebrows lurk over black eyes that sit possessively next to a beak of a nose. Thin lips peek from under a wide white moustache that melds into a neatly trimmed beard. Dropping his traveling robe to the floor, he examines, in detail, the heavy set body that’s reflected in the mirror.

“I’m not in too bad a shape for a man who should have died thirty-three hundred years ago. Fortunately, I had sense enough to stay out of that fool’s war.” Frowning at ancient memories, Euriptus pulls on his formal robe, then his silk slippers. “After all,” he mutters to himself, “one must follow the niceties of life.”

While he munches his way through enough food to feed a large family, his mind wanders back to the Wizard’s War.

********

As the Afridale race expanded in number, they required ever more subjects to feed the increased demands for fresh souls. Expansion meant war and war meant expending more magic which in turn meant more expansion into new lands. Conquest became a harsh reality for their subjects and death the end for both subjects and conquered victims. Around the temples, where the more powerful of the Afridale filled their needs with the souls of the unfortunates lead to the slaughter, the stench of rotting flesh filled the air with a fog so thick only priests long used to the smell could walk more than a few yards without violently emptying their stomachs of their contents.

Centuries of territorial growth without any meaningful opposition have bread contempt into the long-lived Afridale race. That all came to an abrupt end as the Wizards of the southern continent united their powers and attacked the undisputed rulers of the northern continent.

The unleashing of magical forces raised mountains and drained inland seas. Thousands of wizards cast magics against the wards of would be gods and in so doing gave their lives for the greater good. The Afridale replied by stripping the center of the southern continent of all life and creating a desert where once water flowed and life flourished.

Little by little the rampaging monsters were pushed back into their homeland and there the full force of the wizards laid waste to the country held in thrall by soul stealing would be gods. Unlike the previous war with the Afridale, this war ended with the tusked monsters being wiped out. Or so it was thought at the time.

********

Two hours later, his evening meal reduced to scraps of meat and broken rinds, Euriptus heaves himself to his feet, then moves heavily across the room to his magical equipment. With stubby fingers, he positions glass retorts next to helical tubes of crystal, and then sets liquids to boiling in metal cups. After reassuring himself that travel via the circle has not compromised his experiments, Euriptus returns to his pile of crates, opens one of the larger ones, and pulls out a simple, yet extremely comfortable bed.

Huffing and puffing at how much muscle’s required to move the bed from crate to wall, the Wizard finally yields to his irritation and summons servants to straighten out the mess in the cave. Fifteen minutes later his servants have neatly stacked the boxes. The crates are either opened and distributed, or stacked neatly against a wall. Sacks of jewels, rolls of expensive cloth, bail of herbs, and the rest of the Wizard’s possessions get stored in some now empty crates and boxes.

Dismissing his servants to other parts of the cave, Euriptus wards the mouth of the cave, sets glowing crystals to watch, and then settles onto his bed with a heavy sigh. He’s never liked traveling, and only does so when there’s no way to avoid it.

Night, and the children who inhabit it, hover around the cave’s entrance, waiting for its new inhabitant to make a mistake. After all, even those who’ve given over their lives to evil need to eat.

**********

Far south of Milesport, the Sorcerer Darkling angrily paces the flagstones that pave his great hall. Rejection has written irritation plainly on his face as he studies the velum clutched tightly in his right hand. A flowing script proclaims the writer’s “regrets” to inform him that he’s unable to comply with the ‘Sorcerer’s’ unreasonable demands. Perhaps if the Sorcerer would reconsider his position?

“I’ll reconsider my position,” mutters the sorcerer. Suddenly the sorcerer turns and casts three spells at the east wall of his great hall. Solid stone vanishes as the first spell touches them, then, the second spell places a large hole in the ward that lays hidden behind the stone wall. The third spell unlocks the stone doors that the stone wall and ward hid.

Moving quickly past the stone doors, the sorcerer mutters a homily about beggars and choosers, then motions the door to shut. Striding purposefully to the table in the center of his enchanting room, the sorcerer quickly assembles several small spells. None of the spells, of their own violation, are deadly, but combined in the proper sequence, they represent the summoning of forces that can, and do, overwhelm mere mortals’ defenses.

With a final wave of his hands, the sorcerer sends the assembled spell on its way. By tomorrow morning the winter monsoons will begin. A week from tomorrow the summer tides will rise, and a week after that, they will rise again, flooding the land along the coast. Crops in the coastal plains will rot from the water flooding their fields, herd animals will drop from diseases spread by botflies, and artesian wells that have never failed will over flow with blood. As his land dies before his eyes, the prince who rejected the sorcerer’s offer of ‘help for a price’ will learn what it means to rebuff a sorcerer.

“Let’s see how long his resolve will last,” whispers Darkling. “If these illusions don’t change his mind, then I’ll release the real thing on his principality. I’m sure that long before his kingdom dies he’ll see the wisdom of making me his first advisor. After all, the other kingdoms fell into line long before I needed to release the worst of my spells.”

As the sorcerer returns to his great hall, a wraith hovers in the air near the main hearth. Pain at being summoned back to the land of the living plays over the wraith’s face, humiliation at being a messenger for a low level witch adds to the wraith’s pain.

“Speak wraith,” commands Darkling. Anger at the princeling, and his refusal to participate in Darkling’s plans, brings sharpness to the sorcerer’s voice.

“I bring news of the Afridale from my mistress.” The wraith’s face fades in and out of focus as she shifts between the realms of life and death. “My mistress commands that you join her in the defeat of this ancient foe.”

Looking closely at the wraith, Darkling can see the young girl he transported to the coven that dominates the western half of the southern continent. “Such a lovely child you were,” he muses. Then, in a stronger voice, “Tell your mistress that I accede to no one’s demands.”

Pausing in thought for a long second, the sorcerer continues. “However, as a token of my esteem, I’ll meet with the lead coven to discuss the Afridale’s sudden appearance, and perhaps, the best way to use the ancient goddess to our advantage. After all, her race did rule a large part of the world for many centuries.”
More rampant silliness.
SerinitysChild
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