Monday, October 8, 2012

Mage Knights: Quick Study

“News of the massacre in Arcanis has not yet spread to smaller hamlets.” Deviån reported as they trotted out of the village and on to Wayward. “It was the first time the villagers here had been made aware of the attack. I have no doubt that in larger cities such as Wayward, the Arcanis Council has scryed them and informed them of the massacre, as well as our disappearance. We were well received here, but it will not be so in Wayward.”

“We bought enough provisions to last the brief journey between here and Wayward.” Kashé informed. “Crowlin was also attacked by the village children. They wanted to know why he wore such thick robes and had black lines along his cheekbones.”

“Little savages.” Crowlin muttered, still brushing off his robes, which were covered in the dust that had been hurled at him. “And they say that mage knights are widely respected. Sha!”

“Did you find out if any of the masked ones passed through the village?” Sage asked Deviån.

Deviån shook his head. “As far as I could gather, no. We are no closer to tracking them down than we were at our outset.”

“Then we pin all of our hopes on this sage we are seeking to visit.” Coriko summarized. “We will have to sneak into Wayward, though. I do not imagine that will be easy.”

“Perhaps.” Sage said. “Or perhaps not.”

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Mage Knights: Quick Study

“What promise is that?” Martin asked.

Sage smiled, then rose and held his sword upright before his face. “To stand for justice, mete out mercy, protect the downtrodden, and be fair and just in all we do!” Lowering his sword, Sage sheathed it in his scabbard once more. “Mage knights don’t just defend Aylodae. We stand for a higher ideal. We put the welfare of others before the one, before the individual. This is the duty of the mage knights; to be arbiters of justice under the wise counsel of the Archsage, and when the need arises, defend Aylodae as a unified force.”

“I want to be a mage knight.” Martin said with wide eyes.

Sage knelt down. “You’ll have to put every effort into it, then. In order to get into the Instructory, where they train mage knights, you must know both magic and swordsmanship, and you must show exceeding promise in both when you apply - which is at the age of fourteen. The Instructory only accepts the best to protect Aylodae and uphold its laws. If they find that you are worthy, then you will be called to the Instructory when you are fifteen, to begin your training.”

“Where do I start?” Martin asked.

“With learning. You need someone to teach you to wield a sword, and someone to teach you to use magic. Neither of these endeavors come lightly, Martin; you must be able to devote yourself to them. The duty of mage knight is not an easy one, and only the dedicated and talented are rewarded with the honor of being a mage knight.” Sage warned.

Martin stood upright, puffing up his chest. “I will be brave and true!”

Sage was silent for a moment, then reached up to his steed and pulled a dagger out of his bags. “This is for you, Martin.”

Martin de-puffed his chest and reverently took the dagger with wide eyes. “For me? Why?”

“So that, if at any time in the future, you doubt your path or what you believe in, you can remember the day that a mage knight visited your village and told you what we defend and uphold.” Sage explained. “If your studies in the sword and the spell ever become difficult, if your peers insist that you will not make it, if you become discouraged in dark times, you look upon this dagger and remember the high calling that is the duty of a mage knight. Justice. Mercy. Fairness. They are noble things to fight for.” Sage said, then ruffled Martin’s hair. “Now run along and tell your parents you want to be a mage knight. It’s an idea that they’ll take some getting used to, so keep on pushing it till they know you’re serious.”

“Yes sir!” Martin said, running off.

Sage smiled, opening his spellbook once more, and remembered a time a decade prior when a mage knight had stopped by in his village, and given him the same dagger Martin now held.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Mage Knights: Quick Study

Sage brushed down the horses while the others were off at the respective activities. Once he was done, he took a seat and pulled out a small book he kept. In it were written spells that he was practicing or had yet to memorize, and flipping through, he chose a page and began studying. Off to the side, one of the village children watched him.

At length, Sage noticed the child and looked up. The boy started to move away, but Sage spoke. “Hullo. Who are you?”

“Martin.” the child answered bashfully. Sage would guess that Martin was no more than ten years of age.

“And what are you curious about, Martin?” Sage asked, putting away his spellbook.

Martin’s eyes flickered to Sage’s sword. “Are you a mage knight?”

Sage smiled. “I am. What of it?”

Martin bit his lip. “Can I see your sword?”

Sage drew his sword, laying it flat across his knees. Martin came forward in fascination, staring at the runes carved into the blade’s surface.

“This is the sword of a mage knight.” Sage explained softly. “Unlike normal swords, a mage knight’s blade is forged out of sunsteel or moonsteel, and shaped, molded, and sharpened by the mage knight who is to use it. No two blades are ever the same.”

“Wow.” Martin said, staring with wide eyes.

“My blade is forged out of moonsteel.” Sage continued. “And each mage knight gives his sword a name that defines both the blade, and himself. My blade is Siarnor.” At the mention of its name, the blade kindled to life with blue fire, causing Martin to jump back. “In the language of the Wolven, Siarnor is the Blade of the New Moon.”

“Is that what those symbols say?” Martin asked, pointing at the runes on the Siarnor’s blade.

“Ah, these?” Sage said. “The runes along the blade’s flat are the promise written on the swords of all mage knights.” he explained, balancing his sword. “This promise gives the sword its power.”

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Mage Knights: Quick Study

“Wayward’s just a couple of days’ journey now, according to the villagers.” Kashé said, sliding off her horse. The five of them had just arrived in one of the small villages around Wayward. “We need to restock on provisions.”

“I’ll take care of it.” Crowlin said, trying to slide off Windcrest in the same manner that Kashé had slid off her horse. Unfortunately, his robes caught, and he flipped off his horse instead, hitting the ground with a puff of dust. “Oof!”

“You’d be less of a fool if you took off all those robes you wore.” Deviån said disdainfully as the village children snickered. “It’s a wonder you don’t melt to a puddle in the summer heat.”

Crowlin stood indignantly, brushing dust off his thick and many-layered robes. “I will retain them, Deviån, and trust you to hold your snide tongue. These are the robes of my people and it is my way of honoring my heritage.”

“Deviån has a point. How are you not sweating to death?” Coriko asked, tethering her horse. “You must have six or seven layers of robes on.”

“Nine, to be precise. And they may be thick, but they keep both heat and chill out.” Crowlin informed.

“And they keep you from getting off your horse.” Deviån pointed out.

Crowlin glared at Deviån. “I am the only one of the Instructory staff that survived. Do you know why that is? Because these robes were thick enough to protect me from the spell circle long enough for Myrrdin to break me out. Should anybody smite me with a fireball right now, it would have little effect but to burn through the first three layers. The other six are enchanted. For all intents and purposes, Deviån, these robes are the equivalent of magical armor.”

“C’mon, Crowlin. You don’t need to spend your time explaining yourself to the ignorant.” Sage said, tying up Windcrest. “I’ll keep an eye on the horses. Coriko, Kashé, you go with Crowlin and make sure the vendors don’t overcharge Crowlin for provisions.”

“Don’t you dare tell me what to do.” Deviån threatened. “I’ll find something productive to do on my own. As a matter of fact, I’ll ask around to see if the mask men passed through here.”

Sage repressed a smile. “Fine. You go do that. Meet back here in three hours?”

The others agreed, and they all went their way, with the exception of Sage, who stayed to watch the horses.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Mage Knights: Quest of the Black Cat

At length, the mage knight reached the specified vault room. The doors themselves were unremarkable; it was the security measures within that presented the real challenge. Highly complex spell circles were carved into the stone floor, each one protecting an artifact stored in the vault. Deactivating those spell circles usually required a keyword or a very specific counterspell, and sometimes both were required.

Lurking by the door, Myrrdin slipped into the vault. The mage knight came to stand by an unactivated spell circle, holding the mask out; but he hesitated, staring at the mask. Myrrdin could sense curiosity in his actions, in the way he contemplated the mask. Slowly, the mage knight raised the mask to his face, as if to try it on.

Myrrdin hissed, weaving between the spell circles as he tried to get to the mage knight. This man was a fool for not seeing the danger in putting on an artifact like this. But Myrrdin was not quick enough; when the mask was but an inch from the mage knight’s face, it left his hands and locked onto his face, a surge of red light running through the lines in the mask. Myrrdin stopped dead, staring in dread. 

The mage knight, now possessed by the Kahu Ifera, snapped his head right in Myrrdin’s direction, the red eyes of the mask locking onto him.

Myrrdin bolted to the door, darting around spell circles and unsheathing his claws to allow himself traction on the smooth stone floor. He could sense a gathering of power behind him, along with the low words for a spell, followed by a hiss. He made it out the door and shot down the hall as a blast of dark light curved out of the vault behind him, hitting the wall and narrowly missing him. Tearing down the hall, he shot by the two mage knights that had accompanied the now-possessed knight.

“The mask has claimed another!” he shouted back at them as they shouted at him and drew their swords. But their attention was drawn away from Myrrdin when Kahu Ifera stepped into the hall behind them, red mage fire brimming at his hands.

Ignoring the shouts and the roar of fire, Myrrdin tore through the halls of the Instructory, seeking one who would listen to him instead of trying to capture him.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Mage Knights: Quest of the Black Cat

In the lower halls of the Instructory, two mage knights marched by, patrolling the the level. They passed a dark corner filled with shadows; after they went on their way, one of those shadows slipped away and slunk further down the hall. Keeping close to the walls, Myrrdin slipped down to the vault rooms and cast about, his yellow eyes glowing in the darkness.

Hearing boots coming his way, he slipped into another dark corner and watched as three mage knights came around the corner. One of them was holding the Kahu Ifera; the other two specified the vault that the mask was to be stored in. The mage knight with the mask nodded.

Watching from the darkness, Myrrdin focused on the mask. In the torchlight, the rims of the eyeholes seemed to take on a lifelike gleam. A faint red light seemed to kindle to life in the mask’s eyes, and with a jolt, Myrrdin realized the mask was staring at him.

It knew he was there.

Myrrdin restrained a hiss. The mask had a sentience of its own; it was an entity unto itself, which might explain the strange allure it held over others.

The three mage knights parted ways, the other two leaving and the one with the mask walking down the hall leading to the vaults. Myrrdin silently followed the latter knight, keeping to the pools of shadows between torchlights.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Mage Knights: Quest of the Black Cat

Returning to the Instructory, Myrrdin lurked in the bushes as he contemplated how he would get into the Instructory’s underground vaults, where the Kahu Ifera would obviously be stored. His mind lingered, with some exasperation, on Inkfang for a moment. She was, without question, a very attractive vixen. Soft fur, bushy tail, big, green eyes, and a musk that smelled faintly of cinnamon. And she was also very fond of him, as noted on several of his past visits. However, Myrrdin was not keen on a relationship, mostly due to a rough past with regards to romance, and so he maintained a cool and collected distance from Inkfang.

Keeping close to the walls and using the bushes as cover, Myrrdin made his way to a side door along the outside wall. The door was generally used by gardeners passing in and out of the campus while they were tending the grounds, but it would obviously be monitored now. Unfortunately, Myrrdin did not know of any ways into the campus that would avoid detection, and there were no tall trees he could use to get over the walls. Coming to the door, he opened it with a flash of his eyes, and slipped in.

Once within, he quickly slipped in among the flowers and made his way to the nearest tree. No alarms went off, but the spell monitoring the door would’ve alerted the mage knights in charge of that section of the campus border. Coming out of the flowers, Myrrdin bolted across the short distance to the tree and raced up the trunk, taking cover in the thick summer leaves. Running along the branches, he made his way from tree to tree, eventually reaching the main building. Dropping from the tree, he slunk over to the door, hiding in the flowers, and slipped in as a mage knight stepped out.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Mage Knights: Quest of the Black Cat

Myrrdin glanced around the corner into Crowlin’s room. It was in a disheveled state; the mage knights assigned to the Instructory had obviously rifled through his belongings in the wake of his disappearance. Drawing back, Myrrdin slipped through the halls and out onto the grounds, evading the watch of mage knights patrolling the walls of the Instructory. Ever since the massacre, there had been a new feel of vulnerability to Arcanis, a lingering fear in the air. Aylodae was supposed to be a safe, cultured region with a powerful army to guard it, but that perception had been challenged by the massacre.

Leaving the campus and padding down the streets, Myrrdin entered one of the public parks in Arcanis. Navigating his way into the thick bushes along the wilder edge of the park, he hissed out a name.


There was no response, and Myrrdin narrowed his eyes. He cast about, and was about to hiss again, when a bushy black tail with a white tip swept over his mouth.

“Well well. Look who decided to pay me a visit.” said a coy black vixen with green eyes. “What’s the matter, Myrrdin? You look cross.”

Myrrdin twitched his whiskers. Inkfang was a Darkling fox, a rare type of vixen with greater intelligence and a student of arcane arts. It was to her that he went to when he needed to learn stealth spells.

“I need a spell that allows me go unseen.” Myrrdin stated in a businesslike voice.

“Oh? Shouldn’t it be the other way around? Cats are supposed to be the masters of the night.” Inkfang murmured, pressing her muzzle into Myrrdin’s shoulder. “My, don’t you have soft fur. Did you wash before you came to see me?”

“No.” Myrrdin said sternly, slapping Inkfang’s muzzle with his tail. “I need a spell that will hide me from even a mage knight.”

“Mm, stealth spells of that caliber aren’t exactly commonplace, Myrrdin.” Inkfang said, running her tail under Myrrdin’s chin as she padded around him. “What are you up to, mysterious one?”

“Something important. Do you have a spell like that, or not? I don’t have time to sit around and flirt with you.” Myrrdin said brusquely.

Inkfang pouted. “You’re as stiff as a stuffed stag, Myrrdin. Carrying on like the world hangs on your actions. A proper cat, if I ever saw one!”

“At the moment, the fate of Aylodae may hinge on my actions. I have no time for your affections, Inkfang.” Myrrdin said, rising and leaving. “I’ll just have to get along with the stealth spells at my disposal.”

“You. . . you arrogant, self-absorbed cat! You still owe me!” Inkfang shouted after him in frustration.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Mage Knights: Quick Study

Crowlin blinked, rubbing his eyes. Stretching, he shook his head and refocused on the tome he’d brought with him. It was night, and the others were asleep. Kashé had taken the first watch and was staying up with Crowlin.

“You should really get to sleep.” she said to Crowlin, coaxing a miniature flame wolf out of the fire. “You didn’t sleep last night and you don’t have a strong constitution.”

Crowlin watched as Kashé directed the flame wolf around, letting it step into her hand and then morph into a snake, which slithered up her arm and onto her shoulder, where it grew legs and wings and became thicker, turning into a dragon. Such adept manipulation of fire showed Kashé’s advanced skill with the element. It was why she was a declared fire mage, in spite of her elvish heritage.

“I’m studying.” Crowlin answered, looking back to his tome. “Kahu, Oru, Kopak, Vaytra, Parmu, and Ifera were all heroes of ancient times. They were considered the first archmages.”

“Is that what the book says?” Kashé said, feeding a splinter of wood to the fire dragon on her shoulder.

“No. It’s common teachings of Druid history, something I remembered when I was reading through these names. I’d realized I’d heard them somewhere before.” Crowlin answered. “The book does say that the masks were forged to replicate the powers of what the eastern shamans believed at the time to be gods. It says that Kahu and the others were these gods, though I know they were really only powerful archmages with a deep understanding of magic. I never knew that the Precursors visited the east. . .”

“Precursors?” Kashé asked.

“Yes. My schooling in Druid knowledge was limited, but I have the basics. The Precursors were the ancestors of Men, Elves, and Druids.” Crowlin explained. “Over time, they split off to become the branches of humanity that exist today.”

“The knowledge of the Druids must be vast, to go back so many years.” Kashé commented, feeding a pebble to her fire dragon.

“Indeed.” Crowlin agreed. Kashé’s doting on her fire dragon reminded him of Myrrdin. “I wonder how Myrrdin’s doing. . .”

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Mage Knights: Quick Study

Cloaked and hooded, Eclipse entered a village on the northern border of Aylodae. Walking down the main road, she accosted one of the men and requested the location of the stables, then made her way there. Not liking the look of the visitor, the man alerted the village watch to her presence.

At the stables, she requested a black stallion. The owner of the stable was reluctant to sell, claiming he had another customer the next town over waiting to purchase the stallion of question. Eclipse was undeterred, doubling the offer of the absent buyer. The stallion’s owner was still reluctant, and it was at this time that two of the village watch stepped in.

“Ma’am, our breeder obviously does not want to sell.” one of the village watch said firmly and politely.

Eclipse ignored him. “I can offer two full deols for the stallion in question, and that is only rental price. When I am finished with my journey I will return him, as I will likely have no further need of him.” she said to the breeder.

The breeder shook his head, looking to the village watch for help. The other member of the village watch stepped forward, clapping a hand on Eclipse’s shoulder. “You should leave.” he advised unkindly.

Without looking, Eclipse grabbed his hand and snapped it backward, breaking it. Her eyes never left the breeder as she forced the much larger man to his knees before her. “My patience is waning.” she stated calmly. “Will you sell or not?”

The breeder stared with wide eyes, looking to the other member of the village watch to intervene. The moment he moved, Eclipse twisted the first man’s wrist, breaking it in another direction. As he howled, Eclipse’s scarlet irises burned out from the darkness beneath her hood.

“A quick decision would be prudent.” she advised ominously. To emphasize her point, she twisted the first man’s wrist yet again, breaking it in yet another direction.

“Two deols is perfectly acceptable.” the breeder quickly agreed over the man’s scream.

“Excellent.” Eclipse said pleasantly, digging out the money with her free hand. “A pleasure bartering you. If you could have him brought here immediately, I would fain appreciate it.”

As the breeder scrambled off to get the horse, Eclipse released the man whose hand she had thrice broken. “Next time, you may wish to carefully consider the consequences before choosing to lay hands on a Druid.” she said unconcernedly, flicking a hand towards the man’s wrist. The bones instantly set themselves, the damage healing. “I have healed the damage I have done with my hands alone. Pray you do not ever incense me enough to use magic. The damage will be much more extensive, and far beyond your village magician’s limited ability to heal.”

As the breeder brought out the stallion, Eclipse jumped up on it, taking her leave. Galloping out of the village, she set her course for the interior of Aylodae.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Mage Knights: Quick Study

“Of the six masks, one is dominant over the other five.” Crowlin continued explaining as they crossed a river. “That mask is called the Kahu Kahu, the mask of leadership. It contains a little bit of the properties of the other five masks.”

“Which are?” Sage asked, now listening avidly.

“Oh, please don’t.” Deviån groaned. “It’s bad enough that he’s giving us a classroom lesson on the go.”

Crowlin went on as if Deviån hadn’t spoken. “In no particular order of importance:

“The Kahu Parmu - it sharpens the sight of the wearer and enhances the reach and accuracy of their divining skills.

“The Kahu Kopak - it increases the wearer’s sensitivity to the magic in the world around them, and grants the wearer the ability to mute the magic of the people around the wearer.

“The Kahu Vaytra - it heightens the wearer’s sense of hearing and allows the wearer to hear the thoughts of those around him.

“The Kahu Ifera - it increases the cunning of the wearer and boosts the strength of their spells.

“The Kahu Oru - it doubles the strength of the wearer and increases his resistance to magical attacks.

“And the Kahu Kahu - containing a little bit of the qualities of the other five masks, it allows the wearer complete command over the wearers of the other five masks.”

“And would you also have a list of the twenty-nine variations of Gegil’s Fire?” Deviån inquired sarcastically. “I was looking forward to hearing you recite them.”

Nudging his horse up behind Deviån’s, Sage gave Deviån’s steed a sharp smack on the flank. Deviån yelled as his horse took off, dumping him in the shallows.

“You should really pay more attention in class, Deviån.” Sage said, trotting by him. “You might learn something.”

Deviån glared, coming up with a riverbed pebble and whipping it at Sage. It bounced off his head, and Sage growled, his fingers starting form the signs for a spell.

“Enough.” Kashé said sharply, trotting between the two of them. “Or I’ll knock both you lugs senseless and tie you to the undersides of your horses for the rest of the journey.”

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Mage Knights: Quick Study

“There are six masks.” Crowlin expounded as they trotted along. “Each has a name and is infused with dark magic that grants the wearer differing abilities, depending on which mask is worn. One, the Kahu Ifera, can be accounted for. It’s the mask I cut away from the face of the dead man at the Instructory.”

“Does the book you were reading list the masks and their abilities?” Kashé asked.

“It does.” Crowlin answered. “The Kahu Ifera boosted the wearer’s cunning and magical power. It’s currently at the Instructory, and Myrrdin’s watching over it. We only have to deal with the other five masks.”

“Tell us more about the other masks. We need to know what we are to stand against.” Coriko said intently, leaning forward.

Kashé glanced at Sage, who was staring at the countryside as they trotted through it on their horses. “Sage? Are you listening?”

“I’m thinking.” Sage answered, looking at his companions. “About why they’re doing it.”

Deviån scoffed. “Oh yes, we’ll have the time to stop and ask them why they do what they do before we lop off their heads.”

“Which is why I’m thinking about it.” Sage replied sharply. “Did it occur to you that it won’t be easy as just lopping off their heads? That they could possibly be stronger than us? We assume that just killing them will be the end of it. If we can’t kill them, what then? We need to find out why they’re doing what they’re doing and find a way to stop them from doing it, just in case it’s not as easy as lopping off their heads.”

“Sage is right.” Crowlin agreed. “If they do prove stronger than us, knowing their motive may lead us to a weakness we can exploit. Not every problem can be solved with senseless violence.” Crowlin cast a knowing look at Kashé. “Though some may try.”

“I’m not senselessly violent!” Kashé protested. “I’m just. . . enthusiastically proactive about solving problems quickly and efficiently.”

Monday, August 27, 2012

Mage Knights: Quest of the Black Cat

Myrrdin prowled down the streets of Arcanis, a dark look in his golden eyes. After Crowlin’s escape last night, the Instructory had been locked down, multiple guard spells activated to protect the campus. A good number of mob members had been trapped within the campus, since the guard spells were meant to keep anyone from entering or leaving. Sage and the others had probably shaken the pursuit because of that.

As for Myrrdin himself, he had been forced to slip off when multiple mage knights began turning up. The Great Library held untold nooks and alcoves, and Myrrdin had used them to evade the mage knights searching for him. The search for him had eventually been called off, but by then, Myrrdin had managed to slip off the campus, using fox magic to open a small hole in the guard spells.

So now, wandering the streets of Arcanis, Myrrdin brooded heavily on the mask he had failed to guard. The mage knights would’ve taken it and locked it away somewhere, to be researched later. But Crowlin had told him of the draw the mask possessed; how it influenced those nearby. It had been why Crowlin requested Myrrdin remain with him as he researched the mask; he had nearly fallen under the mask’s thrall once and didn’t want to do so again. There was no guarantee that those now handling the mask would possess the same astute wisdom and caution as Crowlin, and should anyone don the mask, Myrrdin knew no good could come of it.

Grumbling irately, the mage cat made his way back to the Instructory, snapping at every human rude enough to get in his way.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Mage Knights: The Leave Taking

“And what should we call you?” Crowlin murmured to one of the horses Sage had bought. “I’m sure you have a name, but Sage didn’t bother to ask, and I doubt he would’ve remembered the names of you and your brothers. Mmm. . . how does Windcrest sound? I think it’s a noble name, but perhaps it sounds different to you.”

“Crowlin?” Sage called, stepping out of the inn.

“Here.” Crowlin called, turning and walking over to him. “I’m ready to go.”

“What did you tell the horse?” Sage said, sounding amused. Crowlin turned to see that the horse he’d been talking to followed right along behind him.

“I only gave him a name.” Crowlin said as the horse nudged him. “Windcrest? Do you like that?”

“Looks like he does.” Kashé said, stepping out of the inn. “Sage tells me we’re going to Wayward to look for a sage?”

“Hold, you lugs. When did we decide we were going to Wayward?” Deviån demanded, stepping out after Kashé.

“I don’t see you offering any brilliant ideas.” Sage zinged Deviån.

Deviån glared, and Kashé explained the decision to him. “There’s a sage in Wayward that studies eastern magic, and Crowlin’s book identified the masks as coming from a far eastern culture. He may be able to help us.”

“We should be tracking down the other five attackers, not running off to study.” Deviån muttered.

“There was nothing to track; they just disappeared after the massacre.” Coriko pointed out. “This is the only clue we have.”

“It’s better than blindly wandering.” Sage said. “Unless you have some magnificently brilliant insight into where they’ve gone?”

Deviån gave Sage a sarcastic look. “Fine. We’ll go to Wayward.”

Monday, August 20, 2012

Mage Knights: The Leave Taking

“Gah!” Deviån groaned. “It’s barely light out. Why did you wake me up?”

“Because we’re not safe here.” Sage answered, collecting his few possessions and gearing up. “The Council of Arcanis will be looking for Crowlin, and the mage knights assigned to Arcanis will be doing the looking for them. The surrounding villages are the first place they’d check, so we need to be off before they get here.”

“If we’re on foot and they’re on horseback, we won’t make it far.” Coriko yawned, rubbing her eyes.

“Stop fretting.” Deviån ordered suavely. “It was a drunken mob that was after Crowlin last night. They’ll wake up today with a headache, regretting their actions last night, and they won’t bother to follow us.”

“Except that the five of us have left.” Kashé pointed out. “There were six attackers at the Courtyard during the massacre. One was killed, leaving only five. Then the five of us leave Arcanis, disappearing into the night? It will strike them as highly suspicious.”

“But we were there during the massacre, remember?” Deviån pointed out. “Kashé ran in with Sage and started hacking apart spell circles, while Crowlin cast the Grace of Aralis to protect the survivors. And don’t forget that Coriko and I were among those trapped in the spell circles. We couldn’t be killing our classmates, getting killed ourselves, and saving our friends all at the same time!”

“Very few know the details of what happened, and since we aren’t there to give our accounts, we cannot defend our version of what happened.” Coriko said, strapping her travel armor on. “In our absence, the clarity of what happened that day will diminish. Conspirers can spread rumors, and rumors will be taken for truth. The only way to settle this mess is to carry out the mission the Archsage gave to us. If we can do that, he will vouch for us, and that will validate our innocence.”

“Alright, alright.” Deviån gave in, getting up. “I really only desired a few more hours of sleep, but the lot of you put down more good arguments than I can counter. Let’s get ready to go. And where’s Crowlin?”

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Mage Knights: The Leave Taking

Yawning, Kashé rose and walked in on Sage, who was doing pushups on the dirt floor. Blinking, she rubbed her eyes. “How long have you been up?” she murmured sleepily.

“I never went to sleep.” Sage answered, finished exercising. “Crowlin couldn’t sleep either. He spent the night reading. I went out and got supplies and horses as soon as dawn started to come.”

“Horses? How did you have enough money for that?” Kashé asked as Sage rose and tugged a cloth out of the washbasin, toweling himself down.

“Crowlin gave me money, two full deols.” Sage answered, wringing out the cloth. “He called it pocket money. He’s still got more in his purse. Yow, that’s cold water.”

“He calls deols pocket money?” Kashe said, tossing Sage’s shirt to him. “Pocket money for a king, mayhaps.”

“He does come from a prestigious family.” Sage replied, tugging his shirt on. “But he doesn’t flaunt it, and it’s his money that’s gotten us what we need, so I see no reason to complain. Are Coriko and Deviån awake?”

“I can wake them.” Kashé exhaled, stretching, and catching Sage watching her. “Oi. Eyes off.”

Sage waved a hand as he buckled his sword on. “I’m just admiring the inherent perfection of elvish architecture.” he demurred.

“I’ll have you admiring the inner architecture of the village well if you keep looking.” Kashé threatened, leaving to get ready. “Coriko! Deviån!”

Monday, August 13, 2012

Mage Knights: The Leave Taking

Puzzle Pieces
“Are the others sleeping?” Crowlin asked.

Sage nodded. “Deviån’s out like a light. Coriko’s tossing and turning.”

“You left out Kashé. Which means you were watching Kashé sleep.” Crowlin assessed.

Sage was glad the relative darkness hid the color that rose to his face. “It does not mean that at all!” he protested.

“You should keep your voice down. Kashé’s part elf, and elves sleep lightly.” Crowlin teased.

“Never mind you.” Sage muttered. “Myrrdin told you to bring that book you’ve been carrying around. What importance does it have?”

Crowlin opened the tome. “It tells me where the mask on the dead man came from. The mask itself is the Kahu Ifera, one of a set of six masks from a far eastern culture, all infused with dark magic. That was as much as I’d read before you and the others burst in on me.”

“There were six attackers during the ambush in the Courtyard.” Sage recalled. “All of them wearing masks. Not a coincidence, I think.”

“Agreed.” Crowlin concurred. “They were probably wearing the other five masks in the set. There’s an entire section on those masks in this book.” Tapping the page, Crowlin looked up. “There’s a sage that lives over in Wayward who studies eastern magics. He might have deeper information on these masks.”

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Mage Knights: The Leave Taking

“You should really get some sleep, Crowlin.”

Crowlin looked around. Sage was standing at his doorway.

“I tried.” Crowlin said, turning to stare out the window into the night once more. “But I can’t.”

Sage came over and took a seat beside Crowlin. “Aye, I know the feeling.” Sage said heavily, then smiled. “It’s the reason I’m still awake.”

Crowlin stroked the book in his lap. They were in one of the villages around Arcanis, and would stay there till morning. Bands of armed civilians were roaming the streets of Arcanis, searching for Crowlin, but wouldn’t find him since he wasn’t in the city.

“The people won’t look kindly on me for running.” Crowlin said quietly. “They’ll think I’m guilty of what I was accused of.”

“I would say you didn’t have a choice.” Sage replied.

“I hope Myrrdin’s fine.” Crowlin said, setting the tome aside. “What were you and the others doing? You said you were planning on leaving Arcanis. . .”

“Oh. That.” Sage said, lacing his fingers together. “An emissary from the Archsage met with Deviån, Kashé and I. The Archsage wanted us to track down the group responsible for the massacre and stop them. We were allowed to invite three others with us on the mission. I was going to invite you.”

“Looks like I don’t have much of a choice, do I?” Crowlin stated grimly.

Sage smiled. “There’s always a choice. Some of the options are just less pleasant than others.”

Monday, August 6, 2012

Mage Knights: Childhood's End

The mage knight pulled himself from beneath the pile of books and lashed out at Myrrdin. “Sorcerous cat!” 

Myrrdin hissed, dodging the sword. “Fool. Did your mother never teach you not to meddle with black cats?”

Elsewhere in the library, Sage and the others made for the back entrance. As Crowlin stumbled along with them, book in hand, he caught sight of the mob pouring into the Great Library, some of them bearing torches. Letting out a strangled cry, he came to a dead stop.

“Torches!? They dare bring open fire into the Great Library? Vandals! Bandits! Brainless lugs, if you even so much as singe any of these books, I’ll have you-”

Kashé grabbed Crowlin, clamping a hand over his mouth as his scholarly indignation gave away their position in the Library. “We need to get out of here right now!” she hissed to Sage as the mob closed in on them.

“This side door should take us out onto the street.” Coriko said, opening a narrow exit crammed between two bookshelves. Deviån slipped through first, and Kashé dragged an indignant Crowlin through next. Sage ushered Coriko through the door, then went through himself, closing the door behind him. The mob was at the door in moments, but found themselves restricted and bottlenecked by their sheer numbers.

“I would very much appreciate knowing where we’re running to.” Crowlin said breathlessly.

“We just know that we’re leaving Arcanis.” Sage replied as they slipped down side streets with the sound of the mob growing distant. “In truth, we were hoping you could tell us where to go.”

“Save it for later, gentlemen.” Kashé growled as they were forced to take an unexpected detour. “It appears there’s more than one mob loose in Arcanis tonight.”