Chapter 9, 1st Book of Serinity

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Chapter 9, 1st Book of Serinity

Post by SerinitysChild »

Chapter Nine

The wizard Euriptus stands quietly in his summoning room, contemplating the failure of his minions in getting the sword Ascension. Not only is he thinking about their failure, but how to adequately punish them for that failure. Choosing a course of action commensurate with their failure, he summons the four souls to him. Patience, and time, have taught the wizard not to throw away any tools that he can refurbish and reuse.
Stepping quickly onto the sheet of obsidian glass inlaid with an octagon formed by two overlapping squares of rose quartz, which takes up most of the floor of his summoning room, Euriptus checks both inner and outer circles. The summoning area is eight feet across, and polished to a high shine by centuries of flowing magical power. Euriptus has enclosed the octagon in a broken circle of gold that touches each of the eight points. Inside the octagon is a circle of silver that closes each of the eight points, making each point the top of a curved base triangle. Euriptus kneels down and finishes the outer circle of gold by placing a ring he’s taken from his left hand’s forefinger into its place in the circle. Stepping into the inner circle of silver he sets a matching silver ring into the inner circle, thus enclosing himself in a protective ward that all but the greatest powers would be hard pressed to breach.
In the center of the inner circle, placed on a waist high block of amethysts carved into eight staffs, is a solid onyx bowl two hand’s breadth across and half a hand deep. In this bowl Euriptus places herbs and potions, then lights them with a single word. Smoke billows upwards from the bowl, and hovers just under the room’s ceiling. As the smoke thickens, four faces fade into focus, and four souls await their master’s displeasure.
“You have failed me once, and have paid the price of failure with your lives. Now, if you fail me again, you’ll pay the price of failure with your immortal souls.”
Euriptus folds his hands behind his back, bows his balding head, and contemplates his next move. He could easily send the souls back to retrieve the sword, but souls can’t carry anything since they have no hands. If he could trust them, he’d give them spells that would allow them to transport the sword to him, but such powers are not for the damned. No, he’d just have to send more bodies to fetch the sword. This time, however, he’d send the souls of the dead to guide the living. Perhaps that combination would prove better able to cope with a single female.
After the wizard has summoned, and dispatched his minions, one soul giggles. “The old fool doesn’t even know what he’s up against.”
Dismissing both the souls and the sword from his mind, Euriptus releases the wards around the octagon and then strides across his laboratory. Opening an oak door that leads to the outside he then opens the gate to a large pen. Inside the pen he watches as the black dragon munches contentedly on the remains of a cow the wizard purchased from a local farmer. At the time he’d figured that purchasing the cow, instead of simply stealing it, was the more politic of actions. No need to rile the countryside before his little surprise is ready.
Pulling a finger length black wand from a bag hanging from his waist band, Euriptus points the wand at the dragon, mutters a few incantations and is rewarded for his efforts by seeing the dragon grow an additional six feet in length. At this rate of growth the dragon would be ready for his first attack a month early.
Looking up at the midnight sky, the wizard absently fingers an amulet hanging from his wide red belt. Forbidden magics curdled within the blood-red stone at the amulet’s heart, casting ruby beams into the night’s darkness.
Pulling his hand away from the amulet, Euriptus notices too late that his absent fondling of the amulet has pulled lose the knot that holds it to his belt. As he watches in horror, the amulet falls into the dragon’s pen, and the nearly full grown dragon flicks out his tongue, gathers the amulet into his mouth, and swallows.
Great powers, long held at bay by powerful magics, erupt within the dragon’s gullet. Gouts of magical flame erupt from both ends of the dragon, and flare out of his nostrils. True flames follow the magical ones from the dragons mouth blazing harmlessly off the wizard’s wards.
Stones that have withstood the test of time melt, flowing in long rivulets down the keeps sides, puddling in the courtyard. Great magic wards run the gamut of colors from deep red to eye piercing blue, then fail spectactularly in a shower of flame that lights up the midnight sky like a new sunrise.
As the flames subside, Euriptus gazes on the empty pen, wondering if the amulet ate the dragon, or the dragon ate the amulet. Either way, the dragon and the amulet are gone. The wizard’s plans lay in smoking ruin.
Heaving a sigh of frustration at his loss, Euriptus turns and walks quietly into his laboratory. Euriptus has forever changed those who’ve survived such sighs, usually for the worse.
Looking around for something to vent his anger and frustration on, Euriptus’s glance lands on a scrying glass. Letting an evil grin find purchase on his face, the wizard sets in motion spells that will let him spy on others.
Settling down in front of the mirror, the image he sees therein has instantly confused the wizard. In a valley between snow-covered peaks, a mammoth creature trudges tirelessly through drifts of snow that can bury a mounted rider twice over. Yet the snow barely reaches the monster’s chest.
Great tusks, as thick as ancient hemlock trees, swing back and forth, clearing a path through the snow for the beast as its long snout plucks small pine trees from along its path to munch on. Around the beast an aura of power so old, and so great, makes the wizard feel like a child playing at magical games.
Suddenly the wizard realizes that the beast he’s studying is not an image from the long dead past, but from here and now. Despite all the reassurances the survivors of the Wizard Wars told humanity, an ancient power managed to survive. Not only survive, but to bank its powers, waiting for a time when wizards have fallen out of favor, and mankind is open to the monster’s attacks and the enslavement of humanity.
Euriptus watches the behemoth for a few more minutes, then sets aside his plans for vengeance on the cities around him. Laying plans for the immediate acquisition of Ascension, along with the spells needed to capture the soul of the last ancient destroyer are also laid aside.
As he creates, and discards, many plans, the wizard faces two truths. First, he’d need the help of a magic wielding warrior, perhaps more than one. Secondly, he’d need to secure both Ascension and the spells for the warrior before the ancient behemoth reaches civilization, or all of humanity will fall before the beast’s bloody tusks.


High above Milesport, rainbows coalesce into whirlpools of vibrant colors. The whirlpools tighten around their centers, flames lick out and scorch the summer’s sky. Lightning flashes and thunder echos hollowly across the sea port rattling ships timbers and house windows. The few cotton-candy clouds that were floating serenely across cerulean sky are now sucked into the maelstrom of color and sound. Strange beings flash across the hollow center of the main whirlpool only to vanish in the flashes of light and sound that rain down on Milesport.
As the whirlpools flash and collide they form a single, massive hole in the sky. Red and yellow flames splatter across green and blue lightning yielding colors so harsh that those who watch the conflagration from below shield their eyes. Thunder roars its defiance of the gods themselves, leaving Milesport shivering in the aftermath of the sound. Reaching a crescendo of sound so violent that the world holds its breath in anticipation of its final doom, the whirlpool explodes, scattering light and sound to the four winds.
Silence echos across the land. A silence so loud that even the restless waves of the harbor are stilled in the aftermath. Nothing moves on the ground below. No bird flits across the cloudless sky.
Where seconds before the kaleidoscopic whirlpool ravaged the sky, now a single black dot approaches the shaken city of Milesport. Minutes pass, and the tiny dot swells to boulder size.
As the town’s people remember to breathe, the black mass swells again into the form of a great Black Dragon. Wings that stretch three ships’ length from wing tip to wing tip whisper promises of death from above as the dragon flies silently in the afternoon’s sunlight. The dragon’s wagon sized head turns from side to side, shield sized emerald green eyes seeking the town’s people know not what, or who. At last it spies the object of its search.
Heavily muscled hind legs the length of a ship’s main mast absorbs the dragon’s weight as it lands on the town’s commons. Vibrations from its landing rattle the rafters of the building that surround the commons and sift long undisturbed dust from them onto the wooden floors below. With great care, the black dragon reaches out a taloned claw and gently picks up Ashera.
From head to tip of tail, the dragon is as long as the dock’s biggest warehouse. It’s smallest claws are the size of a Dwarf’s sword, yet its grip on Ashera is as tender as any mother’s holding her youngest child.
Deep within the dragon’s throat, words form, rumbling out into the daylight. “Across time and space I’ve come to you. No longer will we be apart.”
Twisting around to its right, the dragon gently sets Ashera onto its neck, where neck and back join. Pointed spines that defend the dragon from attacks of its own kind shift into a high-backed seat for his rider.
Serinity, watching in amazement as a legend from the past squats in the town’s commons, can only raise her left eyebrow in question. “Ashera? Is there something you’d like to tell me?”

Ashera’s nervous chuckle fills the silence after the dragon’s words. “It seems that in another lifetime my friend and I knew each other.”
Again the Dragon rumbles words. “During the Wizard’s War we fought side by side. Just before the Afridale fell to our magics one managed to pull my soul from my body. For centuries after the war I was held in thrall by its spell. Only in the last few months have I been free of that glamour. My return to the world as a Dragon is a bit surprising, however, as a Dragon or an Elf, my love for you is eternal.”
Looking down on the Dragon, Ashera lays her right hand on his neck and says, “You remember things I have forgotten. One day I may remember the things of which you speak. Until then, you have my friendship.”
“Until then,” rumbles the Dragon. “Until then.”
“Well,” Serinity says with a small smile playing over her lips, “we can’t let the world pry into our business. Ashera, ask your friend if he’d be willing to accompany us to House Artris.” With a laugh she adds, “What’s another mouth to feed at a table as long as ours?”

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