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.”