Book 1 Chapter 3

The city was sprawling. When Marek had entered Freston it seemed dark and lonely. Now it was bustling and vibrant. Having destroyed Slyfer seemed to bring the city back to life. He entered Miranda’s quarters and sat while she brought food to the table. After eating his fill they sat by the fire and talked.

“Marek, as I said before your men told me of what happened. But I would like to know what possessed you to take on a dark mage.”

“It was not my intent to attack a dark mage. I am generally not so foolish. I came to Freston because I had heard of an evil terrorizing the city. There was little information on what this evil was. In exchange for a sizable pile of gold I agreed to discover what the evil was and give the city leaders my opinion on the best way to handle the evil. I had been here several weeks when a small boy gave me a message from an unknown source. It was just a piece of paper with a note suggesting that I check out an abandoned building near the edge of town.”

“This didn’t seem odd to you.”

“Of course it seemed odd. But I didn’t go in completely unprepared. I decided to gather a sizable group of men. Men who I knew were already trained and were ready to take my orders. I had them do reconnaissance on the building in question. All of the intelligence gathered suggested that we would have no problem getting in and out of there.”

“It would seem you were wrong.”

“Indeed I was. At first the building seemed to agree with our findings. We had made our way around four rooms and all seemed to be clear. It seemed that we would not find anything. We came upon the final room and we couldn’t enter. The entryway was blocked.”

“Knowing you this piqued your interest.”

“Of course, you know me to well. I gathered the men and we worked together to enter the final room. When we cleared the entry way we all rushed in at once. A bit foolishly it would seem. Thinking back upon it, I should have recognized it as a trap.”

“A trap?”

“Yes. It’s never that easy to enter a mage’s lair, especially a dark mage.”

“I thought you didn’t know it was a mage.”

“I didn’t. But the note from the boy, it was too convenient. It led us directly to Slyfer’s lair. During my battle with him it was clear that he was toying with us. He was having fun. I was asking a lot of questions about the supposed evil. I turned up every lead I could think of. He must have heard of my inquiries and wanting to be left alone, set a trap to get rid of me.”

“Do you really believe that?”

“The more I think about it, the more I’m convinced of it. Every detail I recount, every memory leading up to the battle makes me sure of it. Mages are not known for their social skills. They generally like to be left alone. If I had known a mage was in that building I would never had led those men in there. I would have enlisted the help of a light mage, or found another way to drive him out. It was a stupid mistake, and the cost was the life a good man.”

“You can’t blame yourself. If it was a trap as you say, then…”

“I can and do blame myself. I led them in there. Therefore it is my fault and my fault alone. I should have been more cautious.”

“Marek, you were as prepared as you could have been. Based on the information you had, you did everything right.”

“I should have gotten more information. I will not be so foolish next time.”

“Next time?”

“It was no accident that Slyfer was there. During the battle I had a chance to survey his lair. He was working on something. It was something dangerous and sensitive. Some of the data I had gathered before the encounter suggested that someone was trying to take over the city. I believe that Slyfer was building a weapon or tool of some type to control the citizens of Freston.”

“Don’t avoid the question Marek. Why do mean next time?”

“I’m not avoiding the question. Mages like to be left alone. Light or dark, they keep to themselves and don’t go around enslaving cities. They only break away to populated sites if they are being paid to do so. They’re not unlike mercenaries. They typically do not get involved in the affairs of men unless they need money. The only reason they need money is to continue their own experiments in private. Slyfer must have been low on funds.”

“What are you saying Marek? Somebody hired him, somebody who wants to take over Freston?”

“That’s exactly what I’m saying. But I don’t think this person just wants to take over Freston. I think they want to control the entire land. They want to rule all of Creedon. If my suspicions are right, I would guess they want to rule over Valeria too.”

“I don’t believe it. Who would be so evil to attempt such an atrocity?”

“I don’t know. It’s just a feeling I have.”

“What makes you feel this?”

“As you know I have been fighting many evils across the land for many years.”

“Yes I have heard as much. I know you left me to seek adventure and riches. It was really quite impetuous of you if you ask me.”

“That’s not fair. I asked you to come with me.”

“I asked you to stay. We could have had a good life together.”

“If my suspicions are right, based on my adventures over the last few years, that good life together would have been cut short by this evil that is now spreading across the land.”

“If you say so.”

“Please Miranda this is not the time for this discussion. Haven’t you noticed a darker air about the land?

“There have been more people in need of healing these past few moons. Given Slyfer’s activity in the area I assumed that was the reason.”

“It’s not just Freston. I’ve been through many of the major cities of Creedon.”

“Valeria too it would seem.”

“Miranda, let me finish.”

She stared at him. His eyes were growing cold; he seemed shaken as he continued to speak. She realized that he was telling her something that was very serious. That he wasn’t just making up this delusion for the sake of her entertainment. She did not plan on interrupting him again.

“In addition to learning the arts and ways of battle and earning enough money to live a peaceful quiet life, I have traveled to several parts of this land. In each city I found work which usually involved rooting out different types of dangers. Sometimes it would be foul beast devouring food supplies. Sometimes it would just be men who decided to rule unjustly, hurting the poor for their own profit. I did not always know my enemy, but I became quite skilled in discovering the dark forces in addition to banishing them.”

Marek spoke of his travels to Valeria, the land of the elves. Marek told Miranda that he had met a great many people who helped train and teach him along the way. He fought alongside fantastic warriors who knew a multitude of fighting styles. Every place he stopped he learned a new skill and helped countless amounts of people with his knowledge and skills. Finally in the early hours of the morning, just before dawn, their conversation came to a close.

“I’m very meticulous about keeping track of the foes I have met. I track the types, their frequency, and their location, among other things. In the last cycle of seasons I have noticed a distinct increase in the amount of evil across the land. Slyfer being here is just one example among many. I am sure that this is the case. I’ve also noticed a trend in the type of evils I’ve encountered. Each one, as of late, has been working to control large populations of people. Fortunately I have thwarted their efforts thus far, but it cannot be coincidence. There is a greater and darker power at work here.”

“But someone trying to rule all of Creedon. It’s madness. Who could possibly be that powerful?”

“I do not know, but I intend to find out and stop them. Which is why I said, next time I will not be so foolish. Whoever or whatever has the ability to hire a dark mage to do his bidding must be quite dangerous. I will need your help.”



Image credit: TheOrckid

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