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.”

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Mage Knights: Childhood's End

“What?” Crowlin said, shocked.

“A mob, looking for your head!” Kashé repeated, pulling him up. “Up on your feet!”

“Do you have your sword? Excellent.” Sage said.

“Wait, why?” Crowlin demanded, confused.

“It is believed that you helped orchestrate the massacre.” Kashé explained. “The late-night drunks have carried the conspiracy theory even further, and they can’t be reasoned with.”

“I can hear them!” Coriko said, looking to the front of the Great Library. The faint mutter of discontents was filtering to them.

“They’re here!” Deviån hissed. “We must go!”

“Go where?” Crowlin asked.

“Away from here. Out of the city. With us. We were leaving anyway, but this’ll just move our departure forward a few days.” Sage answered.

There was the sound of doors being forced open, and the angry rumble of the mob poured through the Great Library. Myrrdin mewed. “Crowlin! Take it with you.” he said, placing a paw on the tome Crowlin had been looking at.

As Crowlin grabbed the book, one of the mage knights assigned to Arcanis stepped in on them, and instantly shouted out. “He’s back here!”

“Away!” Sage hissed, grabbing Crowlin and yanking him along, with Kashé, Deviån, and Coriko following up the rear.

“The mask!” Crowlin shouted, throwing out an arm. “I can’t leave it behind; it’s dangerous!”

“Not as dangerous as an angry mob that even respected mage knights have been caught up in.” Sage replied, drawing his sword. “This is insanity. Mage knights are supposed to be levelheaded, not brainless mob lugs!”

Back at the table, the mage knight moved to pursue the fleeing companions, but Myrrdin hissed at him.

“If you know what’s good for you, you’ll stay put.” the mage cat threatened.

“It talks!” the mage knight gasped, drawing his sword.

“Oh, it does much more than talk.” Myrrdin growled. His eyes flashed, and a horizontal cascade of books flew out from the nearest shelves and hit the knight, bringing him down.