Into the Wastelands: Book Four of the Restoration Series

BOOK: Into the Wastelands: Book Four of the Restoration Series
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Into the Wastelands
: Book Four of the Restoration Series

 

By Christopher Williams

 

Published By Christopher Williams

 

Copyright 201
2
Christopher Williams

 

 

 

http://BooksbyChristopherWilliams.com

 

 

 

Other books by Christopher Williams

 

The Guardians: Book One of the Restoration Series

Ossendar: Book Two of the Restoration Series

Valley of the Ancients: Book Three of the Restoration Series

 

Red Lightning

Nephilim

 

 

For a map of Telur and the surrounding kingdoms, visit:

http://
booksbychristopherwilliams.com/Restoration-map.jpg

 

The Three Forms of the Mystical Arts

 

Magic:

Magic is a learned art. All that is required to learn magic is a good mind. The magic user focuses on their need, and then casts the appropriate spell. Spells can be as simple as single words or chants, or as complex as multi-person rites and rituals. Magic is by far the most common of the three forms of the Mystical Arts.

 

Sorcery:

Sorcery, unlike Magic, is something a person is either born with or not. It can not be learned. Sorcerers are born with the unique ability to control their spirit and use it to manipulate things in the world around them. Touching other people's minds and moving objects with just a thought are some of the more common uses of Sorcery.

 

Wizardry:

Wizardry is the use of the elements to summon demons. Wizards use their will to control the demon and force it to do their bidding. Wizardry has been forbidden for two thousand years, ever since the destruction of the Demon Lord War.

 

 

Chapter 1

 

 

Zalustus sat some twenty or thirty yards from the main encampment. Every now and then voices of those who sat around the main campfire could be heard but Zalustus either did not hear them or he chose to ignore them.

He sat motionless on a small log. Unblinking, he stared into the small fire he had made just for himself.
An eye patch covered his right eye and a scar ran vertically from under the top and bottom edges of the patch.

There was a steady breeze blowing and it ruffled his unkempt curly brown
hair, but he took no notice. Anyone watching him might have mistaken him for dead. This notion was dismissed by Zalustus’ right hand which occasionally stroked a small medallion.

The medallion was small enough to fit in the palm of a man’s hand, and it was made of gold. In the very middle was a blood red stone that appeared to flicker and dance, although that was probably due to the fire. It hung from a chain
that was wrapped around
his
neck.

Nearly a quarter of an hour passed before he
finally moved. Pulling his gaze
from the fire, Zalustus took a deep breath and let it out slowly.
Removing the chain from his neck, he
studied the medallion. Just under the stone, a name was written in ancient elven characters. He knew what the letters spelled. It was the name of one of the last members of the Dragon Order.
He
held the medallion in his right hand and clapped his left hand over the top. The medallion rested in between his two palms.

His appearance was that of a man being led to the gallows. Breathing deeply now, sweat covered his brow.
He swallowed hard again and then opened his mouth to speak.
He spoke quietly but forcefully, “
Ven-stanarion
, hear the cry of your descendant. My need is great.” The medallion began to warm up within his hands.

He knew the words to speak, they had been told to him long ago,
but
this was
the
first
time he had spoken them. If he had tried to use the medallion before certain conditions were met, disaster would certainly have followed.

Not quite sure what to expect, Zalustus glanced around.
It was rather childish to think that the ghost of Ven-stanarion would appear, but still that was
his
chief fear. He respected his forebear but he also feared him greatly.

Zalustus looked to his left and then slowly upwards at the night sky.
Is it getting darker?
h
e thought, looking at the encroaching darkness. The stars in the sky seemed to be fading out of existence and the moon no longer
shown its light on the woods
surrounding
their camp. The only source of light that soon remained was the small fire. Even the night sounds, and the sounds of his companions, faded away.

He focused his attention on the fire, as it was the only thing that seemed to have remained with him. But even the fire seemed different. There w
as a ring of stones in a circle
around the fire, and Zalustus had never placed any such stones. The very ground and his surroundings faded from view, leaving Zalustus alone with his fire.

“So you come at last?”
a
voice said from the darkness.

Zalustus twisted to stare at where the voice had come from, but he couldn’t make out anything. Darkness still surrounded him but at least there were sounds again. In addition to the voice, Zalustus could hear the crackle of the fire and the sound of bubbling water.

Glancing back at the fire, Zalustus could see the light from the fire was slowly illuminating his surroundings. The ground around the fire was no longer green spring grass. The fire sat in a small stone fire pit and was surrounded by a grey stone floor.

More quickly now, the light spread and he saw the woods were gone and he sat on the floor of a large stone room.
The room was rectangular, with grey stone walls, floor, and ceiling. Strangely, there weren’t any windows. The fire pit in front of Zalustus was in the exact center of the room. A water fountain was against the far wall and the bubbling of the water had been what he heard earlier. Two
wooden
tables and four chairs were scattered across the floor and the walls were lined with bookshelves. The bookshelves were buried in books.

Zalustus was not alone. Another man stood in the room, well, in actuality, the other man was an elf. He leaned against the wall near the fountain, and he was plainly studying Zalustus.

Zalustus climbed to his feet and bowed. “My lord Ven-stanarion,
my name is Zalustus,
” he said. He still held the medallion in his right hand, the chain hung nearly to the floor.

The elf approached quickly and studied Zalustus’ face. “You are my descendant?” he asked, incredulity and disbelief playing across his face. “You do not appear to have any elven blood. My son was half-elven and had distinct
elven features.


Yes, my lord, but that has been over two thousand years ago. Each generation married humans and farther diluted the elven nature of our blood.”

After a moment, Ven-stanarion nodded. “I see.” He motioned towards one of the two tables. “Join me and tell what has transpired in the world.”

Zalustus glanced towards the table and was surprised to see two glasses of wine on the table. They most assuredly had not been there a moment ago.

Ven-stanarion led the way and sat on the far side of the table.

Zalustus followed and sat on the near side. He placed the medallion on the edge of the table. “This has been passed down from father to son, as well as the instructions on how and when to use it.”

Ven-stanarion leaned forward for a better look at the medallion. Then, leaning back in his chair, he grinned. “That was one of my better ideas.
Do you know what it does?

Thinking about how to best answer, Zalustus leaned back in his chair and crossed his legs as a way to gain more time. “Well, it summons you from the abode of the dead back
to the
realm of the living.”

“No,” Ven-stanarion answered, “it does not. In fact, it did summon me from the realm of the dead, but not to your world.” He raised his arms and motioned at t
he walls around him,
“This is not your world but rather a place in the middle of the two realms.”

Zalustus swallowed hard. “I’m no longer in my world.” There was an obvious note of fear in his voice.

“No. Y
ou are not.”

“How do I get home?” Zalustus asked. He had gone slightly pale at the news that he was no longer in the world he knew.

“When we are done, then you will return in the manner that you arrived.” Ven-stanarion answered.

“And how long will it take us to get done?” Zalustus asked.

Ven-stanarion
smiled,
“Many years.”

“Years
?
!” Zalustus exclaimed, bolting to his feet. “I
can
not remain here for years. I will lose the race if I were to remain here for that long.”

Ven-stanarion was silent for several moments, although he wore a look of disappointment. “Calm yourself,” he finally said. “When you return to your world, only several short moments will have passed.”

Zalustus slowly sank back into his chair and th
en he smiled. “That’s brilliant,” h
e said, causing the elf to grin. “How did you ever think of it?”

Ven-stanarion’s grin slipped a little.
“Well, truth be told, I modeled the medallion on the manner in which I was trained for the Dragon Ord
er. When I was exiled from the O
rder, I assumed that my descendants would be prevented from joining. I wanted a method by which I could pass along the training that I had received.”

“Does that mean that Flare is receiving instruction in a similar manner?”

Ven-stanarion look confused, “Who is this Flare?”

“He’s a descendant of Osturlius and my chief competition for the restoring of the Dragon Order,” Zalustus answered.

“Then I would assume that he is learning in a similar manner.” Ven-stanarion looked sour for a moment. “Do not fail in this. I lost my life to Osturlius and I so dearly want to see his bloodline extinguished.”

“Have no fear,” Zalustus said, pointing to the patch over his eye. “I got this in my first encounter with Flare and I greatly
wish
to repay him.”

Chapter 2

 

The streets of Eled Aminor were dark and quiet as
Heather followed Agminion
. It was several hours until dawn and s
he endeavored to stay close on the man’s heels. She still found it hard to believe that they were just being set free. As they had already been imprisoned, it made absolutely no sense that
it was any kind of a trap. S
till
,
she was determined to keep a close watch on the sorcerer, Agminion.

She stumbled and nearly fell. The after-affects of their interrogation still weighed
heavily
on her.

She glanced backwards and saw her comrades struggling to keep up. They had all been through the same interrogation, with the exception of the old sorcerer Dagan. He alone had been spared, and he now helped support Cassandra.

Cassandra was a magician and normally looked extremely well groomed. She did not look
so good now. Her hair was dishe
v
el
ed and
she had dark splotches around her eyes. A sign of her exhaustion was that she leaned so much on the old man’s shoulder.

Mikela, also a magician, was supported by Enton, a soldier. She looked pale and wobbly.

Enton looked to be in the best shape of all of them. He walked along easily and showed no signs of exhaustion. He supported Mikela gingerly, but he kept a constant watch on the way they had come, looking for any signs of pursuit.
It was a tribute to his amazing physical condition that he alone seemed not to suffer from the exhaustion.

The last
two
member
s
of their party
were Aaron and Atock
.
Both men were soldiers and in excellent condition. Both men stumbled
along;
occasionally looking back the way they had came to make sure there
wasn’t any sign
of pursuit.

Agminion stopped suddenly and Heather walked right into his back. She had been looking backwards and hadn’t noticed the man’s sudden stop.

He grunted and shot her an angry look.

Heather ground her teeth, refusing to apologize. The sorcerer was partially to blame for this. He had helped interrogate them using sorcery and it was this interrogation that had so drained them of energy.
It was that very same interrogation that had confirmed to King Stennis their ties to the Kelcer prophecy. He had urged them to go to the Faerum city of
Saprasia
and to search for Nerandall. Nerandall was an ancient suit of armor made from dragon skin and was supposed to be another of the signs of the restoration of the Dragon Order.

“Why are we stopping?” Heather asked. Thoughts of being spotted occurred to her and she tensed up slightly, losing some of her anger. “Is something wrong?”

Agminion leaned in close and spoke quietly. “Everything’s
fine
and I want it to remain so.”

Heather glanced back at the small group that had stopped right behind her and the sorcerer. “We’re not ready for this. We can’t travel long nor fast. And may the Gods help us if we have to fight.”

Agminion nodded, “I know. We don’t have much farther to go.” He started to move out into the darkness but paused, “Stay close and stay quiet.”

Once again Heather ground her teeth.
The Fool!
She didn’t need him giving her such useless advice.

Agminion, and two guards that he trusted, had smuggled them out of the castle via an underground tunnel. The tunnel had emerged just on the far side of the castle’s walls, through a small concealed opening in a public statue. They had emerged tired and eagerly looking for a place to rest. They had been quite disappointed. The sorcerer led them through the castle district
;
the manors of the nobles near the King’s castle.

After nearly an hour of sneaking from shadow to shadow, they crossed a small bridge. The bridge spanned a narrow river, which the nobles used as a sort of a moat to separate themselves from the peasants. Once on the far side of the bridge, Agminion relaxed visibly and their pace had picked up.

He carefully avoided the rowdier areas of town where they might be spotted, even at this time of night. It was true that most of those in the pubs and whorehouses would be too preoccupied to notice the small group of strangers, but there wasn’t any reason to press their luck either.

On two occasions Agminion pulled back into the shadows just as some guards walked past. It was obvious that the guards were on routine patrols and not searching for anyone in particular. None of the guards so much as glanced to either
side;
instead they kept their eyes down, watching the street.

They all knew that the guards would be more alert soon. So far the alarm had not been raised. No one knew that they had “escaped,” but surely an honest well-meaning guard would chec
k on their cells soon. When that
happened, the alarm would be raised and the guards would be looking at every person and into every dark shadow.

Heather increased her pace slightly and moved up beside Agminion. “We have to
find somewhere to hide. Surely
the alarm will be sounded soon.”

Agminion nodded, “I agree.” He paused for a moment and studied the shadows in the street ahead of them.
“If we hurry any faster, then we might stumble onto a patrol and that would be a quick end to our little undertaking. Believe me, I have a plan and we do not have far to go.”

Heather sighed deeply and glanced at the buildings they were passing.
This part of the city was changing from closed up st
orefronts to massive
storehouse
s. To Agminion’s credit, he paused
not to determine which way to go, but instead his pauses were to make sure their path was clear. He undoubtedly knew this area well.

A muffled exclamation came from behind her and Heather spun, tensing up. Mikela lay on the ground and Enton and Aaron
were leaning
over her.

“What happened?” Heather demanded, hurrying back to them.

Enton shook his head, “She fainted. I had a hold of her by the arm, which was a good thing. If I hadn’t caught her, then she might have fallen
on her face
into the stone of the street.”

“How is she?” Heather asked, kneeling down beside the magician. She was relieved to hear a low moaning coming from Mikela.

“She’ll live,” Agminion said quietly. He had followed Heather and now stood over her, looking down on Mikela’s crumpled form.

Heather tried to stand, but it took her two tries to regain her feet. “We can not go on like this! We must get out of the street.” She spoke through gritted teeth, keeping her voice low.

Agminion opened his mouth to speak, but didn’t get the chance. The sound of a galloping horse reached their ears and they shrunk back even farther into the shadows. A horse bearing a man in the King’s colors rode by, heading south on the main street.

Agminion waited until the horse had passed and then addressed the Guardians. “Listen to me! There’s a guard outpost several streets over and that is where the horseman has to be headed. The alarm has been raised and we are short on time.” He looked
at Enton, “Can you carry her?” h
e asked motioning towards Mikela.

Enton looked first to Heather, and once she nodded at him he turned his attention back to the sorcerer and nodded. “Yes.”

“Good,” Agminion said. “We are close, only several blocks from where I intend for us to spend the night, but we must hurry. Stay close and stay silent!” Without waiting for an acknowledgement, he turned and moved to the corner of the street. He stopped there for just a moment and then
darted out into the darkness; t
he Guardians following close on his heels.

 

They crossed the main thoroughfare and entered a small side alley. The alley was dark and crowded with empty boxes and trash. It was difficult to see and Heather heard mumbled curses as the other Guardians stepped in garbage or walked into the piled up boxes.

Agminion led them through the long and narrow alley, slowing down as they neared the next street.

Heather could now hear Enton’s labored breathing. Carrying Mikela was taking its toll on the big man. Despite his excellent condition, the exhaustion of the interrogation was catching up to him.

This section of the city was mainly enormous
storehouse
s with large main streets running north and south. Smaller, and much narrower, alleys ran east and west between the buildings. The main streets were used to transport the goods to and from the
storehouse
s, while the alleys seemed to be used for nothing more than a trash heap.

Agminion reached the end of the alley and peaked around the corner.

Heather followed him to the edge and she too glanced around the street.

The sorcerer moved
back
from the corner and Heather followed.

“The street’s empty,” Heather said. “
What are you waiting for?

“The street is not empty. There are guards to the north searching for us,” Agminion answered.

Looking confused now, Heather said, “I didn’t see anyone. How can you be sure?”

Agminion didn’t answer right away, but took a deep breath. “I’m quite sure. I sensed them.”

Heather blinked, having momentarily forgotten the man was a sorcerer.
“Okay. So, what do we do?”

Agminion smiled for the first time in a long while. “I have a plan.” He looked around at the other Guardians. “When I enter the street, I need you to follow me as fast and as quiet as you can. Are you ready?” His eyes lingered on Enton, who had began to struggle a little with Mikela’s limp form, and on Cassandra and Dagan, who were now leaning on each other. It was now impossible to tell if Cassandra leaned on the old man, or if he now leaned on her.

“Don’t worry about us,” Enton answered. “We’ll be right behind you.”

Agminion nodded and returned to the alley exit.

Heather motioned for the other Guardians to follow her, and then she followed the sorcerer to the corner of the alley.

Agminion glanced around as they approached, putting his finger to his lips. He then turned around and gave an almost indifferent wave of his hand.

A
voice in the
street called out, “What was that? Did you hear that?”

A second voice replied, “Yes. Sounded like footsteps back the other way. Hurry!”

Agminion waited several
moment
s
and then leaned out past the corner of the building. Without a word, he slipped away from the building and ran across the wide street.

The other Guardians didn’t hesitate but followed immediately. They ran as quietly as possible.

They ran to the far side of the street and then followed the
road
south. They hugged the edge of the buildings, trying hard to stay in the shadows. They paused several times and Agminion searched for any guards, either those that were now well behind them or any others that might be searching for them. Each time he breathed easy after a moment and then led them farther along the street.

Several blocks farther south, Agminion turned into a small alley that led west between two massive
storehouse
s. About halfway down the alley, he stopped beside a door and knocked quietly.

The door immediately creaked open and an old man’s face peered out.
“Bout damn time.” The old man backed out of the way and Agminion moved quickly into the darkness beyond.

Swallowing hard, Heather led the other Guardians into the darkness.

 

They stepped into a dark cavernous room. The pitiful light coming from the open doorway did not reach far into the building. Even though they couldn’t
see far
into the near total darkness, the room had a feeling of immenseness.

Aaron was the last one to enter and he pulled the door shut behind him. The last amount of light disappeared.

They remained quiet. Unconscio
usly they moved closer together
as if they were afraid of getting lost in the darkness.

After a moment, there came the sound of flint being struck. Moments later, the old man held up a torch that burned brightly and chased the
closest
shadows away.
“This way,” he said simply, and then he turned and walked off.

Agminion followed the old man, as did the Guardians.

The
storehouse
was not empty, not even close. Numerous piles of bags were strewn about. The bags were near to bursting, and in a few places some had burst, showing the grain they contained. There were enormous stacks of boxes and shelves piled high with every imaginable type of good.

Heather reached out and pulled on Agminion’s arm and somewhat surprised, he slowed his pace. Still Heather waited another moment to let the old man get farther away. “Who is he and can we trust him?”

BOOK: Into the Wastelands: Book Four of the Restoration Series
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