Authors: Craig Gilbert
First published 2005. 2
edition 2011. Copyright © Craig Gilbert. All rights reserved.
PART I: Dark Arrival Page: 1. Intervention of the Gods 1 2.The Magicks of Elrohen 11 3. Youthful Dream 20 4.Storm 36 5. Gathering of the Norfel 46 6.CityofGold 65 7. Into the Magick 80 8. Spells in Stone 90 9. Battle of two worlds 110 10. The Power of Lorkayn 131 11. Usurpation 148
12. Temple of Evil 157
13. The Crystal Staff 167
14. Raising the army 181
15. Ice Magick 192
16. Summoning of the portal 199
17. Lizard and ice 210
18. Journey into the Planes 221
19. A demon rises 234
20. The Great Barrier 246
21. A Wizard’s Tears 265
22. A Priestess’ Love 274
23. A Spiritual Journey 280
What is it to be evil? An evil so dark, so sinister it bubbles and seethes, almost palpable in the night air, engulfing all in a fierce embrace from which there can be no escape.
Elanakin sighed, remembering his old master’s words. He watched as the storm outside his tower ravaged the countryside of his birth. It was odd to be thinking of his old master, at such a time of crisis. It was hardly the time for a reminiscent mood. Yet, here he was numbly thinking of the past, and finally understanding the ancient words of his master. He was witnessing evil on a grand scale.
The storm, it was a construct of evil, dark sorcery. The ancient sorcerer, Lorkayn, was coming for him, as he knew he would.
A crash, and a tree outside the tower, a huge, ancient life that had stood for several generations in silent wisdom, toppled onto the charred ground. Elanakin nearly cried. He remembered planting the very tree several hundred years ago, when he was a young boy. Such a long time to live, being a sorcerer. Such a long time to endure the pain and torment. Such a long time to be a protector of Mincalen.
He wondered where his brethren were, his allies. They had kept order on the world for millennia, the magicians, always stemming the flow of evil whenever it appeared, in many differing forms. So it had been decreed. So it had been.
Elanakin wondered where the evil came from, why it should develop out of the harmony of the world. Perhaps these days it was easier to be evil than good, he surmised. Stealing, cheating, killing, these were actions that could happen in seconds. To be good took time and patience. Elanakin sighed once more, shaking his head. He would never understand his race. For whatever reason, evil was here, and it was coming straight for him.
He must protect the world again, however much he wearied from it.
Already the dark sorcerer, Lorkayn, had taken control of the continent. All who opposed him faced a quick and painful death. The man was omnipotent, and had studied his arts well. None seemed to match him for power. Not many dared to face him. His reasons for this complete destruction were unclear, probably not even important to him, Elanakin wagered. He was causing destruction simply because he could.
Murmuring prayers to himself softly, Elanakin walked down the stone steps to the foot of his tower, and waited for the evil to come to him. He held a staff of power, one he had created using his skills, its central core a crystal of pale green, woven into the wood, glowing fiercely. His eyes held great sorrow, as if, in these dangerous moments of conflict, he felt not contempt for his adversary, but deep pity.
A foul mist descended upon the tower. Elanakin could feel the evil emanating from it. Totally unnatural, noxious, it clawed its way inside, engulfing the sorcerer in its thick entrails. Elanakin raised his staff aloft, and the green crystal fired into life, piercing the depths of the fog. It seemed almost to shy away from his staff, as if the light had hurt it. Now Elanakin could see black shapes within the mist, wispy minions of the night, come to show their evil master the way through his protective shields.
Closing his eyes, the very sight of the mist grievous to his being, one of the ancient protectors of Mincalen mustered his power, letting the energy pour from his body into the staff. The crystal core flared in a sudden burst of power. There were annoying squeaks, as the creatures within the mist recoiled from the light, rushing away to find their master.
Staff still held aloft, Elanakin waited.
The mist started to part, ever so slowly. A slight breeze begun, enough to clear the way and for Elankin’s eyes to see beyond his tower. He could see a dark robed figure approaching. Finally, the evil one showed himself!
“I was wondering when you would meet me face to face, Lorkayn!” shouted Elankin over to the dark, menacing figure. “Evil is so much alike wherever you go; it hides beneath its own cloak of deceit.”
Flicking away the hood of his robe, Lorkayn looked over to the magician with unconcealed contempt. “Still you mock me, Elanakin?”
“Evil mocks itself,” stated Elanakin. “I will never understand it.”
“You need not understand my intent, magician,” rasped Lorkayn in a sinister, gloating voice. “You need only understand that I have won. Mincalen is mine for the taking.”
“Strange that you would want to rule a place you have destroyed. Look around you, evil one. Look at the death and mayhem you have caused. The destruction you have wrought. You will rule a barren world.”
Lorkayn’s eyes flared into anger, and from beneath his robe he revealed his own staff of power, a red crystal set atop it, immersed in a blazing glow.
“I would rather not fight you, sorcerer,” said Elanakin. “There is still time to mend what you have done. Let us sit and talk. I would indeed like to know why you are so intent on mindless chaos.”
The sorcerer smiled sardonically. He had worked diligently for this moment, learning the rites of the black; the full, terrible power that was now his to command. It was the time for transcendence. Time at long last to strive towards inconceivable greatness to rival the very ranks of the gods themselves.
“While there is one better than I in the mystic arts, I cannot sleep. While I am weaker than they, I cannot rest. While the gods look down on me and laugh, I cannot yield!”
Elanakin frowned in great pity. “Then, I see you have already lost your soul.”
Lorkayn raised his staff, whispering to himself. Energies rippled and touched the very fabric of existence. Lorkayn began to chant, and as he did so, small bolts of fire issued from the tip of his staff. Elanakin hastily erected a shield of protection, and the flames roared around him, but not a moment too soon. The battle was joined.
Grinning cruelly, Lorkayn darted forward, striking the magician’s shield with his staff. It disintegrated in an explosion of light and fire. Elanakin raised his own staff, and parried a blow from Lorkayn, who moved faster than a whirlwind. Sparks and flame showered from the contact of the two staffs.
“You are too slow, Elanakin,” mocked Lorkayn. “It is time for you to die.”
The magician focused his mind on the crystal within his staff, and it erupted into a fierce green light. A quick blast of pure energy came from it, slamming into Lorkayn’s chest. The force sent the evil sorcerer reeling away.
The effort had taken a lot of Elanakin’s mental power. His crystal glowed dully, its energies spent. He needed some time to regroup his thoughts, and draw the power to him again. The magician turned away from his foe, and hurried into his tower.
Lorkayn composed himself once more, letting the pain ebb from his body. It would take a lot more than that to stop him. Just another war wound, he thought to himself. He had many scars, many burn marks from the tumult of battle. Soon, he would find himself a new body. He looked up at the night sky, and watched the storm of his creation smashing against Elanakin’s tower. It could not harm him. Stood in the centre of total chaos, like the hub in a spinning wheel, Lorkayn laughed. He motioned for the storm to send lightning down, to raze this tower to dust. Hide in your stone walls, Elanakin, he chuckled. For what good it will do you.
Elanakin could feel each blow of lightning, hear each roar of thunder. The rain came down in huge torrents. He knew what Lorkayn was doing, and also knew he would not have much time to gather his strength. He was immensely saddened by the sound of the storm. It made him think of his old teachings, praying the will of the gods to all that cared to listen. Had he prayed badly? Was this his punishment? He did not understand the wisdom of the gods, and that hurt. How, why would they create a being of such an evil nature? Elanakin had lots of unpleasant thoughts in his mind. He shook his head to clear it; now was not the time for blasphemous thinking.
He reached into an ornate, wooden chest. Ah, these might help him! Ancient artefacts of magick! He picked up a crystal orb, and immediately it shone a blue, sparkling light. He held it for a moment, enjoying its beauty, then took it to the tower window and flung it into the rampaging storm outside. There it hung, suspended, but spinning furiously in the rain.
“Now,” spoke Elanakin to the orb softly, “You will be my eyes.”
The wizard returned to his chest, and this time emerged with a silver amulet. He put this around his neck, and immediately felt imbued with a strong, healing power. Taking hold of his staff, Elanakin began to chant, gathering his strength and that of the amulet. His green crystal glowed and flickered as he transferred the energies to it. He closed his eyes, willing his body and mind into the power surrounding him.
The tower shook violently, and a fragment of stone fell from the top to the ground below. Lorkayn was slowly battering through. Elanakin opened his eyes, and glanced at the floating orb outside the window. He spoke magick, and it answered, showing him an image of Lorkayn. “I see you sorcerer,” he said quietly. “I see the sick, twisted monster you have become. I just hope I have the strength to send you away.”
At that moment the heavens opened.
Lorkayn looked up at the sky, and faltered in his spell casting. His storm wavered, the lightning becoming less intense, the rain petering out. His mouth opened wide in astonishment and shock. He watched as the sky itself seemed to crackle and hiss from an energy not of the world. A loud, ripping noise far worse than thunder deafened him, and the darkness of the sky was suddenly pierced by a bright, white light, spreading across the horizon, beaming down onto every part of the land in its magnificent ferocity.
The sky seemed almost to belch, and a rift opened, like a tear in a piece of fabric. Another plane, another area of space and time became apparent to the two wizards. Slowly, inexorably, a spinning vortex appeared, a maelstrom of wind and colour, and such was its power and magnificence it drew Lorkayn’s magick to it, destroying the spell of the storm.
Instantly there was quiet.
There was a moment’s pause, as if the fate of the world hung on the very next breath. Elanakin stopped his chanting to look outside in awe. It was an odd sensation, listening to all the quiet so abruptly after a raging storm.
Lorkayn, from his position on the ground, looked up in horror at the vortex. The rift was still open, and try as he might, Lorkayn could not see beyond the vortex. It altered colour as he watched, moving through all the colours in the known spectrum. It was at once remarkably beautiful and yet so deadly in power, and slowly, ever so slowly in the quiet, it floated down towards the tower, spinning.
Then came the noise.
Wind surged downwards, enveloping the tower in a mighty gale. Weird sounds of scintillating energy surrounded the stone walls, penetrating them, making them almost alive with the very essence of the power raging down from above. Violet lights and turquoise beams, the energy progressed in magnificent array through the walls and rooms of the tower. With dreadful omnipotence, the gods' forces arrived at the battle scene in a cacophony of strident sound and colour.
Elanakin bowed low, his combat momentarily forgotten by the supreme power from the skies. Although one of the most powerful magicians in all of Mincalen, he thought himself insignificant under the majesty of the gods.
Lorkayn gazed at the awe-inspiring power engulfing the tower and now him. He did not bow. He would not pay homage to the gods. Bordering on the brink of an unavoidable death, Lorkayn stared upward at the sky, his initial shock gone, and laughed. He scoffed at the threatening power as the colours swirled around him, suffocating him as he breathed deeply. Raising his arms above him, the dark sorcerer shot a fierce blast of red energy into the sky. His force dissipated in a mere blink of an eye, but its message found its target. It was a shout of defiance.
Elanakin watched, sick to his stomach, as Lorkayn began to chant, building up to a crescendo of sound. His staff raised into the air, the evil sorcerer began to float in the air, slowly rising up to meet the spinning vortex in the sky. “Come for me, gods of Mincalen,” boomed the sorcerer in a loud, commanding voice. “Come and kneel before your new master!”
He’s mad, thought the wizard, watching from his tower. The gods will rip him apart. It was amazing they had come at all. The gods did not intervene without good reason. Lorkayn had gone too far in the world. He had killed too many people, decayed the land with his feet. It was time to pay the price.
The vortex picked up Lorkayn, who could be seen spiralling within, attempting to raise his staff to combat the power. He looked pathetic, his body contorting in agony. Faster the vortex became, spinning higher into the sky, back towards the rift it had come from. With a final cry of anguish, Lorkayn’s form became still. The vortex spun round violently for several minutes, and then sucked itself back into the rift. There was another loud explosion, a sound that the whole world would have heard, and then silence.
The sky was dark once again.
Elanakin collapsed onto the stone floor of his tower, both relieved and deeply concerned by what he had seen. The gods had spared the world a possible death. Lorkayn had achieved much power and sorcery from his black arts; was undoubtedly the most dangerous evil mind the world had ever faced. Elanakin knew he would have lost the battle eventually. Then there would have been no more protection for Mincalen, none at all. Except for the gods. Yet, why now? After so much death, so much of the world in ashes, why did they arrive now? Why could they not have intervened far sooner?
It was a question that Elanakin would ask for a long time. Ultimately, he would get his answer. For now, he prayed, his head low, and gave thanks.