Book 1 Chapter 1
“A DARK MAGE, RUN!”
Marek knew the futility of his words as he screamed them. Before he could finish his breath he had already started to hear the whispered incantation coming from across the room. He turned back to face his aggressor and check the status of his men. They were frozen in place, motionless and defenseless. Marek needed to end this battle quickly if he wanted to save their lives.
He focused his attention on the mage before him. It would not be long before Slyfer would want to figure out why Marek was not affected by his curse. Marek had never seen Slyfer before, but his image was easily recognizable by the description that the terrorized town folks had given. Slyfer was cloaked in a deep purple gown that flowed about him with a sense of electricity. His eyes matched his gown except at the center which seemed to darken with the hate trapped inside of them. His hair stood out long and wavy against his pale skin. The hair was the same purple about the rest of the outfit, with a few exceptions of onyx streaked throughout. The most telling part was Slyfer’s staff. Thin and wrapped in silver, no doubt steeped in magic, it was topped with a perfect crystal within which a spider with a million matching purple eyes stared out at its victims.
It made Marek’s bones shiver, but he spent no time delaying his plan.
“Why are you held in place like the others? You must somehow be protected. There is no talisman that my magic cannot break.”
At that moment dark bolts shot from the top of Slyfer’s staff and hit Marek square in the chest. Marek did not move as his shirt burst into flames around him. He was unharmed because of the ink across his body.
“I see you bear the marks of Valeria. It must have been quite painful to receive those. Most humans cannot survive the process it takes to magically bind the inks to one’s body.”
Marek continued to not say a word, as he kept his eyes fixed upon Slyfer. He knew that Slyfer would understand the marks across his body immediately. Because of these markings no direct attack could ever hurt him. There were other ways though, and that would be all too apparent to Slyfer. Quickly more bolts shot out, but not at Marek, at the ceiling above him. He dove to the side as fast as possible.
“I may not be able to attack you directly, but that doesn’t mean I can’t crush you all the same.”
Marek swung his sword as swiftly as he could. Slyfer, almost lazily, knocked the blow to the side with his staff. Slyfer was toying with him. He wanted Marek to know that no matter how great a swordsman he was that he could not be nearly as skilled as Slyfer. Several more bolts started to make the ceiling rain around Marek, and that was when he saw the advantage he would need. But he could only use that advantage if he could entice Slyfer to attack him directly. He pondered; Slyfer had no reason to attack him directly. He didn’t need to. He could just collapse the whole building, killing him and his frozen men instantly, then safely walk away and continue to rule over this town. As Marek thought, he realized that a sacrifice was going to be needed for victory. He looked at his men and made his decision. They were good men. Twenty of the finest soldiers he had ever had at his side. They just burst in there, without the slightest fear. Each and every one of them wanted nothing more than to fight evil and do good works. Through no fault of their own they were suddenly in the lair of a dark mage. Marek always felt that a light mage, on a good sunny day, outside, was nothing to be trifled with. But a dark mage in his own lair is something Marek would not wish upon anybody.
With a heavy feeling in his heart Marek took his place behind Ulrich, stared into his eyes and whispered an apology. He suspected the men were only frozen, but fully aware of their surroundings. He guessed that Slyfer was the type who wanted his opponents to know their demise, not out of respect but as an instrument of fear. Ulrich almost seemed to nod in understanding. Most of the men were young, with families. Ulrich was smart as a whip, and a master planner. But he was older, and had no family. Most had been killed by evil forces in the world, so Ulrich dedicated his life to fighting those evils. He knew what had to be done.
Marek started shouting obscenities at Slyfer. He insulted him in every way that came to mind. He had to get Slyfer angry enough to attack him directly.
“You must be very brave, or very foolish. Either way I will crush you into dust, you pathetic mortal.”
Marek’s plan was working. He insulted the mage further. He compared Slyfer to every deplorable thing he could think of. As the rage contorted within Slyfer, Marek knew this would be his best and last chance. Marek slurred the mage’s origins and called him a silly stage magician who couldn’t conjure a rabbit from a hat. That was all that Slyfer would stand for.
A powerful streak of black lightning started to streak towards Marek, and Ulrich. In that moment he saw, again, the minute opening that Slyfer had left during his attack. Marek dashed away as Ulrich was reduced to a pile of ash. He had hoped that Ulrich’s end was as painless as possible. Without a further thought he flashed his blade at the staff’s dark glowing orb and split it in the middle while the ebony bolt was still emitting. This caused purple and black sparks to spray violently around the room. The last thing Marek heard were the curses of Slyfer before he violently exploded. The source of Slyfer’s souless life and magic were in that orb and Marek had done all he could to destroy it. As the orb spit and spewed, so did Slyfer. The final burst of energy from both knocked Marek back and rendered him unconscious. The remaining men were freed from their prison at the moment Marek’s sword cracked the top of the staff and they were able to escape safely.
Marek awoke sometime later and only for a brief moment before he shut his eyes again. Whatever light was available to him was too bright and made everything fuzzy. However, even in his dazed state, he heard her voice and was able to make out her subdued image.
“Sleep dear Marek, you have battled well. Now you must save your strength for the trials ahead.”
Marek offered just one word in response before giving into his weakness.
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