Enter the world of Canai, a world of wizards, elves, dwarves, and more!
At the brink of war with a mysterious and dangerous group, the Wizards find themselves heading down a precarious path. They must draw upon the wisdom of Rolin, the determination of Emily, and the raw talent of their newest recruit, Paul.
Join the trio of heroes and their allies as they embark upon an adventurous journey full of intrigue and action.
What Inspired You to Write Your Book?
A lot of my inspiration for this books comes from growing up and reading a lot of Fantasy novels. There are so many authors that are capable of creating worlds that are fantastic and entertaining. When I was younger, my friend and I would imagine grand scenarios for when we were playing with action figures or in the backyard. These experiences propelled my interest in the prospect of trying my hand at that was something I didn’t feel I could pass up. So, I sat down and decided to write a Fantasy novel. Things got pretty busy with college and I sort of let the book fall to the wayside. A couple of years after that, another friend and I decided to write a non-fiction book outlining some of our previous experiences with traveling and mission’s trips. I soon realized that my writing style and personality made it difficult for me to embellish upon real life events. This pushed me to revisit my old Fantasy novel and rewrite nearly the entire book. During the process of writing the book, I realized that a lot of my stylistic issues with the non-fiction book were largely related to my lack of experience with non-fiction books. I quickly accepted the fact that Fantasy and Science Fiction were very much in my sphere of knowledge and expertise. Lastly, once the writing bug catches on, there is no greater reward than knowing that my work just might bring a smile to somebody’s face.
How Did You Come up With Your Characters?
I usually start off by giving my characters specific characteristics and traits that I see in my friends, family, or even strangers. For the sake of realism, I try to combine both positive and negative traits. Once I’ve created a sort of skeleton character, I insert them into the story and let their story and backstory begin to grow. Their experiences allow them to grow beyond the original outline and they take on lives of their own.
Emily grimaced as the branches from the forest whipped against her face and arms. Her brown hair was filling with smaller twigs, and the skin on her face and arms was turning red. She could feel her heart beating faster. Things had gotten eerily quiet since she had noticed the dark figure tailing her. She had lost track of how long it had been since she spotted her pursuer. Her steed, a large brown warhorse her father had given her ten years ago, was getting noticeably tired, and her unfamiliarity with the forest made it nearly impossible to navigate. The clearing up ahead didn’t look familiar, but both horse and rider needed the rest. Even the trees and the grass seemed to be inviting her in to stay the evening. She spurred her horse into the clearing and glanced back over her shoulder. The unknown pursuer was nowhere to be found. This dress is ruined, she thought as she looked down at her torn green dress. She took a deep breath to calm herself.
A thud sounded almost as soon as Emily slipped off her horse and landed on the ground. Several drops of blood spilled on her boots as her horse galloped off out of the clearing. She spotted a small knife in the horse’s side as it ran out of range of her sight. A man in black armor stepped out of the forest. The crest on the front of his Cuirass was instantly recognizable. The golden hawk with a broken arrow in one claw and a human skull in the other was the trademark sign of the Knights of Dyamer. She had heard rumors of the Knights of Dyamer being reinstated by her father, but she could scarcely believe that he would send one after her. He laughed as he approached her.
“What have we here? A Princess all by herself in the forest?” The man stopped a few feet from Emily, his massive sword dragging across the ground as he closed the distance.
“Please, I’ll pay you more than my father.” Emily shuffled backward, her back coming to rest against a tree.
“I’m afraid it isn’t about the money, my dear.” The man raised his sword above his head.
Emily closed her eyes and let out a scream. Her heart felt as though it would leap out of her chest. The man lunged forward. Much to her surprise, the blow never landed. Instead, there was a loud crack and only seconds later the man in black crashed to the ground, his helmet falling aside to reveal his scarred face. His long black hair spilled out over his armor as he stood up to face his new opponent. Another man, named Paul, was standing at the other edge of the clearing. His ragged beard and clothes didn’t fit with the sword he brandished. This sword was one of the finest that Emily had ever laid eyes on. The hilt inlaid with a diamond just below where it connected with the blade, an emerald at the tip of each side of the hilt, and a ruby on the pommel. The blade itself was a sight to behold; it glimmered in the moonlight as he twirled it in his hand.
She could tell that both of these men came from vastly different walks of life just by looking at them. The larger man in black was clean shaven with long black hair. His wrinkled and scarred face looked like the by-product of a long and violent life. Paul had an unkempt beard and shorter brown hair. His face and features were much younger and full of life. The man in black stood nearly seven feet in height, while Paul was just over six feet. The newcomer was wearing a leather jerkin over his clothes and had no shield. The man in black wore a full suit of plate mail, all of which was darker than the blackest night. His armor was exaggerated and larger than it needed to be. Intimidation was one of the main weapons of the Knights of Dyamer.
The tactic seemed to have no effect on Paul. His eyes were full of hatred rather than fear. It seemed as though the mere sight of the man sent him into a rage. He closed in on his larger opponent and then waited for the man to get to his feet. The smaller sword leaped into action as the he stabbed at his opponent’s chest. Sparks flew as the larger man brought his sword up to parry the blow. He whipped his massive sword around in an attempt to sever the other man’s head from his body. The smaller man parried the blow and smiled as a current of electricity jumped from his sword to the other man’s sword. It continued down the Knight’s sword and sent a shock through his armor and body. A grunt was the only satisfaction that was gained from the electric assault on the man in black. His grueling training regime had been more than enough to resist even the most powerful of magic. This didn’t deter the smaller man. He pressed his attack with a ferocity that was rivaled only by the beasts of the wilderness. His sword gleamed as it slammed against his opponent’s sword once more. He pulled back and stuck again, his movements like that of a coiled snake. The sword connected with the armored man just below his left armpit, sending a wave of electricity jolting through his body yet again. A smile formed on Paul’s face as he continued his assault. His sword was flashing in and out. It connected first with the right side of the other man’s torso and then again with his right leg. The grunts were getting louder and louder with each connected strike.
Sensing that the battle was quickly spiraling out of control, the larger man locked swords with his opponent and shoved with all his might. He then leaped backward and swung a wild strike with the flat end of his sword. It connected as planned and knocked Paul to the floor. The heavily armored man whipped his sword above his head and tried an overhead strike. His opponent rolled to the side and jabbed his sword at the side of his opponent. Yet again, the electricity coursed through the armored man’s body. He swung his great sword with all his might, catching his smaller opponent’s sword with full power. The blow knocked the sword out of the other man’s hands and sent it crashing to the floor. Though unarmed, the smaller combatant was undeterred by what seemed to be a disadvantage.
Paul stood up and threw his hands forward at the armored man. The moisture in the air dissipated as a fountain of flames spewed from his hands and engulfed the armored man. Emily screamed as she watched the man writhing in pain from the jet of fire. The man fell to his knees with a loud grunt. His opponent did not let up until he dropped to the floor in a heap of twisted metal and roasted flesh. Paul waved his hand again and the dirt underneath the man began to move. It slid out from under the lifeless body, sucking him down before covering him up and creating a grave of sorts. Emily was slightly frightened, but the command that the stranger showed over the elements had her fascinated.
“An enemy of my enemy is my friend. I believe that is the saying. I’m Paul.” The bearded man offered his hand to Emily.
“Thank you, Paul. I am quite fortunate that you came along when you did.” She took the hand and shook it.
“I have been following that man for three weeks now, up until today I thought I was wrong about him.”
“Following him? Why were you following him?”
“That man was a member of the Knights of Dyamer.” Paul sheathed his sword and spat on the freshly made grave of his enemy.
“How do you know about them?”
“We have a long history, the Knights and I.”
“Well, we have plenty of time for you to share,” Emily said as she looked up at the night sky in an effort to find north.
“I don’t see how we do,” Paul replied, wiping the sweat of his brow.
“You can’t possibly just leave me here after knowing that man hunted me down.” Emily’s eyes narrowed.
Paul looked as though he was about reply, but decided against it. He nodded slowly and started walking into the forest. Emily hurried after him and attempted to start up a conversation, but was met with silence. The woods were far too dangerous a place to be distracted while traveling. She reluctantly followed him through the forest for what seemed like hours. It was her first time in the forests south of Galimdor, and she never knew how much variance there was in the density of the trees. At times, the night sky was completely blocked out by the massive trees. The deeper parts of the forest almost seemed alive. What little she could see in the darkness seemed to be constantly moving. The only comfort that she had was the fact that Paul didn’t seem to be fazed by the moving silhouettes in the dark.
The rider held up a small blue flag in his right hand as he approached the camp. Freezing temperatures made it difficult to wave the flag, but the man made the best effort he could. It was the blue truce flag, oft used by the Barbarians of the north due to the difficulty of seeing white flags in the snowy north. Only the Barbarians were brave enough to make camp in the frozen lands. Arcantos didn’t like the idea of being the King’s lackey, but he knew a treaty with the Barbarians would improve Galimdor’s chances of victory. In his mind, the Holy Order was not even worth contacting. The choice was not his, however, and the King felt it necessary to establish communications with both factions.
“What brings a mage into the sacred lands of the northern tribes?” One of the tribesmen shouted.
“I seek an audience with your leader. I am an emissary from the King of Galimdor.”
“So shall it be. You will follow our lead.”
Arcantos dismounted from his horse and followed the man through the lively camp to the center tent. The tent was nearly three times the size of the other tents and he could feel the warmth even before the tent flap was opened. Inside of the tent was even more remarkable than Arcantos had expected. Rugs, tapestries, and even a few paintings were spread throughout the tent. Decorations of elven and dwarven origin were also littered about the tent. It seemed as though the contents were meant to inspire awe, but the placement of said objects was somewhat lacking. Arcantos held back a chuckle as he approached their leader.
“I see that the Barbarians have kept their reputation of being messy.” Arcantos remarked as he took a seat opposite the leader at the great table in the center of the room.
“Our enemies have invaded our lands and stand at our doors and windows. We haven’t the time to organize our things.” The leader was older than was expected for the Barbarian peoples.
“Perhaps if the younger blood was allowed to take charge.” Arcantos glanced at the man to the chieftain’s left.
“I am no less fierce than I was ten summers ago. My age should not fool you, Mage. More than fifty summers I have seen. Forty years my father led our people. If I am to follow in his footsteps, then twenty more must I rule. My son will see his time when I am dead and buried.”
“How then, shall your people survive? Your father was at least seventy when he was slain, will you too let your weakened state destroy your people?”
“Silence! You were allowed into the great tent for an audience, not for the berating of me or my people. Though your words ring some truth, our people are not like the other Barbarian tribes. I am no more the champion of the people than the young men of twelve that train every day to bring glory to the tribe. My place is to speak for the northern tribes. Our answer to your King is that while the Ogres still raid our provinces, we shall not participate in your wars.” The leader’s words were final.
Arcantos felt a pang of guilt as he rose. The King would be most displeased with the answer. He exited the tent and watched the Barbarians interacting around the fire as he plotted his course for the next group of Barbarian tribes and hoped for the best. If he failed again, the King would undoubtedly take away his position as court mage. This would be a blow that the Knights of Dyamer would not take lightly. As such, Arcantos reached deeper inside and decided to show restraint in his meeting with the next tribe of Barbarians. The Barbarians watched as the mage pulled his robe around him and trudged off into the distance until he disappeared into the blizzard.
Paul and Emily arrived at Carmalia just as the sun dipped below the horizon. The town was one of the largest towns in the southern kingdoms. Their King was one of the few that owned his own castle. The stronghold itself stood not too far outside the perimeter of the city. As the capital of the Kingdom of Carmalia, the town of Carmalia was home to one of the more prominent Wizard Conclaves. The Conclave was run by an Archwizard named Rolin. His expertise was said to be illusion and healing magic. He was known throughout the land not only as a man of wise counsel, but also a man of great benevolence. This was the help that both Paul and Emily sought. The citizens rushed into their homes as they saw the two walking down the streets of their fair city. Why are they afraid? Emily wondered as she glanced over at Paul. He raised an eyebrow as he watched the people of Carmalia retreat into the safety of their homes.
“Pay them no heed. The Conclave is south of town. We’ll leave them alone as we pass through,” Paul said, noticing Emily’s hesitation.
The Conclave was larger than any of the other buildings in or around the town. Its massive stone walls were four stories and the entire structure could hold at least five hundred students. As they neared the massive arch at the entrance, they were approached by two wizards. They had a short conversation about Archwizard Rolin before being sent into the courtyard. More than fifty students were practicing magic in the courtyard. Their skill levels varied greatly. This is so different from the Galimdor Conclave, Emily thought as they wound their way through the students and headed for the tower on the other side of the complex. It rose above the rest of the Conclave and made everything look quite small. The Archwizard’s quarters were at the very top of the tower.
“Are you new here?” One of the teachers asked.
“Yes, we are looking for Archwizard Rolin,” Paul said as he extended his hand to the man.
“Head inside and to the left. The air chamber will send you all the way to the top.”
The inside of the tower was cozier than either of them expected. On the far side of the room was a fireplace. Above it was the portrait of a wise looking mage. It had a placard underneath the painting that read “Archwizard Rolin.” The man looked young for a man of his reputation, his hair was black on top with patches of gray on the side and his beard was peppered with gray. Each side of the fireplace had a staircase that spiraled up to the next floor. Inside the room were three doors, each one labeled for easy navigation. The room on the left read “air chamber,” the closer room on the right read “Head Alchemist’s chambers,” and the other room on the right read “Head Enchanter’s chambers.” Paul opened the door to the air chamber and waited for Emily to enter first. The room was empty except for a small panel that had small buttons with numbers on them. As Emily’s finger got closer to one of the buttons, a small scroll rolled out from behind the panel. It had a list that showed what each number corresponded to. The Archwizard’s chambers were on the tenth floor. Emily waited until Paul was standing next to her before pressing the button.
They were both catapulted into the air and flew up to the tenth floor. Just as they passed the door for their floor, the burst of air stopped and a net extended out to catch them. Emily stood up and was greeted by a stone walkway that had extended out from under the door to their position. They both stepped onto the walkway and were about to move forward when the walkway slid back toward the door, taking them with it. The door opened as they approached and the walkway tilted up slightly, encouraging both of them to step forward through the large door. Inside the room, there were several chairs, a desk, a bed, a large fireplace, numerous bookcases, a mirror, a dinner table, and a table made for all manner of magical creations. An older looking Wizard was sitting in the largest of the chairs and beckoned for them to come and sit with him. His hair was grayer than in the portrait below, his skin was haggard, and his beard was a few inches longer.
“What brings you to the Carmalian Conclave?” He asked as they approached.
“I am Princess Emily of Galimdor. My father ordered an attack on the Conclave in Galimdor. I fled from there and was chased by one of his Knights of Dyamer. This man saved my life. His name is Paul.” Emily said as she took a seat across from Rolin.
“Ah yes, Emily. This is troubling news. I wish this reunion had come on better terms. Melcorn mentioned that he thought you were one of the visitors. I fear that you will find us quite unprepared to deal with a situation like this.” Rolin stood up.
“Is not the council meeting here later this week? Should we not propose a counterstrike?” Emily asked.
“Aye, the council will be in session, or at least the gathering will occur. We have yet to decide if we are creating a council. As for a counterstrike, how would you propose we mount such an assault?” Rolin paced back and forth as he thought about the situation.
“The southern kingdoms will surely side with us. They have no love for my father.”
“Yes, but they have no love for Wizards either. How do you propose we recruit them?” Rolin stroked his beard and looked at Paul.
“I’m afraid I have nothing to add to this conversation,” Paul said, looking somewhat uncomfortable under Rolin’s stare.
“Now is hardly the time to discuss such matters. Come, we must prepare to meet the other Archwizards. Was Owyn able to make it out alive?” Rolin directed the question toward Emily.
“He was killed with the others, I saw it with my own eyes.” Emily wiped a tear from her eye as she spoke.
Rolin nodded as if to say he expected as much. Paul was about to stand up when Rolin held up his hand and shook his head. The Archwizard took a seat and rolled up his sleeves. He took a deep breath and raised his hands in the air. Paul grabbed the arms of the chair and began looking back and forth between Emily and Rolin as the chairs started to rock back and forth. Emily smiled as the room began to spin and fade. She held back a laugh as Paul grabbed the arms even tighter. Everything stopped spinning, and they found themselves in a different room that had a large table with several robed figures sitting at it. Rolin moved his hands forward, sliding the three chairs into place at the table.
“I see that you have all made it here safely. Excellent, we shall begin shortly,” Rolin said, acknowledging those gathered.
“We seem to be missing one, Rolin. I hope your mind is not slipping with age,” One of the Wizards said.
“Ah yes, the Galimdorian Conclave was attacked and Owyn gave his life trying to save his students. I fear that Emily is the only survivor.” Rolin motioned toward Emily as he spoke.
“This is grave news. Was it an isolated attack or should we prepare for more?” One of the others, a female named Janessa, asked.
“I didn’t even know my father was capable of attacking our enclave. There is no telling what else he might do. Even if there is no evidence of an impending attack, I would think it wise to prepare yourselves for the worst,” Emily held back tears as she spoke.
“Your father’s actions are no fault of yours, nor do they sully your name. I don’t know the circumstances between the two of you, but he is the one who has failed as a father and a King,” Paul said as he reached his hand out and placed it on Emily’s forearm.
“As much as we need to discuss the topic of Galimdor, I am afraid there are other things that need to be addressed first. With the death of Owyn, our numbers are now even. As per the rules set forth by our predecessors, we must either assign another Archwizard or demote one,” Janessa said.
“First we must see to it that Paul becomes a member of our order, if he so desires,” Rolin said, looking to Paul for his reply.
“I am willing, if that is what must be done.” Paul glanced at those gathered around the table.
“It is decided then. Emily, why don’t you accompany Paul while we discuss the matters of the council,” Rolin suggested.
She nodded and rose from her seat. Paul got up as well, looking to Emily for his next move. She smiled and bowed to those gathered before turning to leave. The room had one door that led to one of the middle floors of the tower. This floor was significantly larger than the others, which seemed impossible due to the tower’s size from the outside. Must be enchanted, she thought as she waited for Paul to join her. The floor was similar to the courtyard in that there were dozens of students practicing magic. These students seemed to be significantly less advanced than those in the courtyard. Several of the teachers stopped what they were doing and watched Emily and Paul.
“Is there something you need?” One of them asked.
“My friend here is being instated into the order. We need to know where to go to finalize it,” Emily said, motioning toward Paul.
“That is good news. Floor two, left hallway, second door on the left.”
Emily thanked the man and led Paul to another of the air chambers. This time she pressed the button and they plummeted down toward the ground level. They were caught once again, but this time there was no net. They were suspended in midair on what felt like the same net as before, but they could not see it. The door slid open and they found themselves slowly moving toward it. As before, they were lightly thrown into their destination room. This floor consisted of two long hallways that looped around and connected somewhere far off. They turned to the left and entered the second door they came across. Inside they found several mages perusing through massive tomes. The room itself looked like a small library. Much to their surprise, the room seemed to expand as they came closer to the mages.
“You must be Emily and Paul.” One of the older mages looked up from his book.
“That’s us,” Emily replied.
“Please, let Paul do the talking. This is part of his acceptance test.”
“Do I have to write an essay or something?” Paul asked, not expecting a straight answer.
“Ah, we have a bit of a feisty one. Good, we like that here in Carmalia. Your first test is to conjure a fireball. Before you begin, I think it appropriate that we leave the books behind.” The man motioned for Paul and Emily to follow him through the center aisle of the library.
“Why don’t we just teleport to our destination?” Emily asked as they followed the man through the labyrinth of bookshelves.
“Rolin might find teleportation a favorable form of transportation, but we here in the library feel that a brisk walk serves the soul better than even the books on these shelves.”
The Wizard led them past the towering bookshelves to a small chamber made of stone. There were no windows or torches, but the room was still well lit by an unknown source. The amount of magic used just to run the Conclave was staggering to Emily. Galimdor had several tricks and interesting things at their Conclave, but nothing was on par with the Carmalian Conclave. Paul leaned back against the wall and watched as the Wizard made his way into the middle of the room. The man was mumbling to himself as he glanced around the chamber. He raised his arms and pointed them toward one of the walls. A small line formed on the wall and then a portion of the wall below the line slid down to make a window.
“We were never properly introduced, my name is Thaddeus. Please, show us what you are capable of.” Thaddeus moved out of the center of the room.
Paul stepped forward and planted his feet squarely under his shoulders. He took a deep breath and lifted his hands into the air. The moisture was sapped out of the air as fire came out of the tips of Paul’s fingers. It grew into a small ball of fire that sat in his palm. He held it out in front of Thaddeus as if to check and make sure it was what he was looking for. The mage seemed impressed as he nodded to Paul. Emily smiled at Thaddeus’ reaction. Even though it was enough for the others, it wasn’t enough for Paul. He thrust his hands toward the window and the fireball grew to an even larger size before shooting out the window. As it flew through the air, Paul continued to exert his control over it, sending it flying in loops and corkscrews. The fireball lit up the entire night sky, fascinating several onlookers.
“Most impressive! Let’s see what you can do with the other basic elements,” Thaddeus said as he stepped forward.
“Something like this?” Paul asked, holding a small tornado in his palm.
“What else?” The wide-eyed mage asked.
Paul brought up his other hand and a small wave formed in his other palm. He slapped his hands together and the tornado jumped out around him, circling just outside of his reach. The water at the bottom of the tornado slowly rose up and joined into the midst of the raging tornado. As the water tornado grew, Paul opened his hands again and thrust his arms into the air. The water began to freeze around him, creating a large cone of ice. He created giant slabs of stone around himself and the others to protect them before shattering the ice. The slabs of stone slid back into the floor. Thaddeus was clapping, and Emily was amazed. She had never seen anyone of that skill who was untrained by a Conclave.
“Where have you learned these skills?” Thaddeus asked as he led them back into the library.
“My father made a deal with a mage when I was younger. He would teach me magic in exchange for my father keeping it all a secret. What better place for a magician to hide than a blacksmith’s shop?” Paul answered.
“Interesting, did the man ever explain what sect of mages he was from?”
“Cornelius never spoke of his past. That was the only topic that he forbade discussion of. In fact, I knew so little about him that I’m not even sure Cornelius was his real name.”
Thaddeus shrugged and continued leading them through the library. The other mages were busy at work examining the tomes for some piece of arcane knowledge that had been missed by previous readers. Rolin instilled in his pupils a thirst for knowledge that was rivaled by few. They were encouraged to pursue the lore from ages past as well as build upon it with newer thoughts and approaches. The Carmalian Conclave was a head above the rest in their knowledge of magic, due in no small part to Rolin’s policies. Among the Wizards, there were two competing schools of thought at this time. The more traditional school felt that you needed to learn specific practices and building upon only those practices. Rolin held strongly to his opinion that all forms of magic built off each other. Thaddeus stopped and explained something to one of the other librarians before leading the two out into the hallway.
“We’ll head to the initiation chambers and get you your robes and a decent staff. Rolin prefers that when we travel, we do it armed.” Thaddeus explained as he led them toward the air chamber.
“I’ve got a sword, I don’t think I’ll need the staff. Thank you,” Paul replied.
“I’m afraid Rolin insists. In fact, he even instructed me to get Emily one as well.”
“I assure you, Thaddeus, that is not necessary. I am honored that Rolin would be so kind, but I prefer to stick to magic when my life is in danger.” Emily tried her best to decline the offer in a respectful manner.
Arcantos mumbled under his breath as he raised his hand to hail the Holy Order gatekeeper. He brushed the dirt off his cloak as he waited for the Holy Order’s envoy to come and greet him. The massive gate opened, and a smaller man in robes approached Arcantos, he was flanked by two tall men in plate armor. Their armor glistened in the sun, and they stood without fear. The smaller man held up his hand, telling the other two to hang back while he greeted the stranger. It seemed odd to Arcantos that this man would elect to confront him without his escort.
“Hail friend. What brings you to the gates of the Holy Order?” The man asked.
“I seek an audience with your leader on behalf of Galimdor and its King.” Arcantos bowed after he spoke.
“Ah yes, your King sent a messenger not too long ago. I don’t believe we were properly introduced, I am Brother Timothy.” The monk extended his hand to Arcantos.
“I am Arcantos, advisor to the King. It is a pleasure to meet you.” Arcantos could barely bring himself to shake the man’s hand.
The two exchanged small talk as they entered the courtyard of the Holy Order’s stronghold. It was unlike anything Arcantos had seen. From outside, the fortress looked large, but its true size was lost on anyone who had not seen it from the inside. The fifty foot tall, twenty foot deep, outer wall was dwarfed by the inner wall. Arcantos estimated it to be at least seventy-five feet in height. This wall was even smaller than the massive keep at the center of the complex. The height of which was well over one hundred feet. Just the keep by itself was larger than most of the towns in the Southern Kingdoms. Only Galimdor could compare in sheer size to the Holy Order’s fortress. The differences in the two castles were startling. Where Galimdor housed a Wizard’s Conclave, The Fortress of the Light housed the largest cathedral that Arcantos had ever laid eyes upon. Galimdor was a town within a castle, but the Fortress was a bastion of strength. Within the fortress, there were no houses and exceedingly few shops. The Fortress housed numerous barracks, seven cathedrals, ten blacksmith shops, a larger grocer, and a bazaar.
“I had not heard there was a bazaar in the Fortress of Light. This surprises me,” Arcantos said as they passed through the stalls.
“The bazaar is the only area in which the Holy Order permits outsiders to stay, except for special guests and diplomats, of course. We must spread our light to the world somehow, Arcantos. We find that the best manner in which to do so is to let others examine us in our everyday lives. The bazaar brings people from all across the continent, it is our hope that the light stays with them when they leave.” The monk seemed to be aiming his words at Arcantos, as opposed to those who visited the bazaar.
The reply made Arcantos even more uncomfortable. He knew the King had sent him as a showing of power. As leader of the Knights of Dyamer, being sent on such an assignment showed that they still bowed to his will. Even in such matters as dealing with one of their sworn enemies. The keep in the center of the stronghold was even more imposing than it looked from far. It was, however, the cathedral that fueled Arcantos’ fear. The Crusaders of Hope, a smaller group within the Holy Order, was dedicated to stamping out the Knights of Dyamer. Their name and sole purpose both came as a direct result of the actions of the Knights of Dyamer some years ago. He let out of sigh of relief as they entered the keep.
Inside the keep was more impressive than outside the keep. The entry led directly to the Holy Order’s version of a throne room. As it was not a monarchy, there was not a King. They had two heads of their faction: the Grand Cleric and the Grand Crusader, together they came up with the rules by which the order operated. On either side of the two were the Grand Champions. Each one of them decked out in gold-plated armor. Neither the Grand Cleric nor the Grand Crusader wore armor while in the keep except when it came under attack. They differentiated themselves in action and in the way they dressed. Though not as regal as the Kings of other Kingdoms, they still dressed as many nobles would. The Grand Cleric rose to greet Arcantos.
“Greetings, servant of Galimdor. The Grand Cleric and I welcome you to our stronghold,” The Grand Crusader rose and accompanied the Cleric to greet their guest.
“It is an honor, your greatness. I am but a humble servant of the King and his people. We wish to strike an alliance with you against the evil magic using Southern Kingdoms.” A majority of the onlookers turned their attention to Arcantos as he spoke.
“Does not the Kingdom of Galimdor have a Conclave of their own? Does not the Kingdom of Galimdor consort with the Knights of Dyamer?” The Grand Cleric asked.
“Archwizard Owyn attempted to assassinate the King, and we dealt with his assault appropriately. The Conclave has now been outlawed in Galimdor. As for the Knights of Dyamer, the King does not admit to having anything to do with them. They may claim to be fighting for Galimdor, but we have no ties to them.” The intricate web of lies woven by Arcantos was so masterfully delivered that those listening instantly found themselves believing him.
“You have already dealt with the mages in question, I do not see why you rush to attack the other Conclaves. It would be much wiser for us to send our inquisitors to inspect them on a case by case basis. We excel at finding mages who abuse their gift.” The Cleric’s eyes narrowed as he approached Arcantos.
“One of the Galimdorian mages escaped. She is highly dangerous, and we expect she will seek the other Conclaves for assistance and asylum. We cannot allow this. If she were to return to Galimdor, a large portion of the people would side with her. Our people deserve better.”
“We shall send out troops to assist you, but know that we will be dealing with the magic users as we see fit.” The Grand Crusader gave Arcantos a stern look.
“I accept your terms. Though it is not what we had hoped for, we will defer to you when it comes to the magicians. I’m afraid that I must take my leave of you. The King will want to hear the good news.” Arcantos bowed to the two menacing figures.
Sev crouched low and scanned the ground. Sweat dripped off his forehead as he examined the footprint. The imprint made by the foot was an inch or so deeper than his own and at least five inches longer as well as two inches wider. A troll, he thought as he pulled out a knife with his left hand. The footprint was fresh, less than an hour old. It was a lone footprint in an area of lush grass, whoever was traveling with the troll, if anyone, had some way of concealing their trail. Sev’s half-elven heritage allowed him to pick up on things that neither race could manage. The other two hunters, one elf and one human, stared at him as he placed the knife back at his belt and drew a sword with his right hand. One of them tried to speak, but he raised a finger to his lips and then pointed to the edge of the clearing.
A small patch of flowers crumbled as if it had been stepped on. Only seconds later, the flowers sprung back up as they were before. Sev knew instantly what was going on. He pulled out a small knife, designed for throwing, from his belt and sprinted for the edge of the clearing. His hand flashed forward, and the knife flew at the spot where the flowers were wavering back and forth. A loud cry sounded and, blood began to drip out of thin air. Several trolls came crashing out of the trees to see what was going on. Sev soon found himself surrounded by a troll hunting party. His concentration broken, a man in a robe appeared, holding his side where the half-elf’s knife had struck.
“Kill him!” The robed man shouted as he pointed at Sev.
A curved smile formed on Sev’s face as he pulled a short sword from his side and wielded his two weapons as the first of the trolls came at him. The beastly humanoid charged at him with a lowered shoulder as two more drew their weapons, one a massive club and the other a spear. Sev dropped onto his back and shifted his weight back onto his shoulders. As the troll came close, he pushed off his back and sprung over the troll’s head. His swords flashed out and sliced into the beast’s shoulders. The troll stumbled to the ground, and Sev rolled to his side, making sure the other trolls were out of reach. He spun to face the others, expecting all of them to be charging at once. Much to his surprise, only one troll was coming after him. He jumped backward as the troll swung one of his massive arms at the smaller opponent. Sev stepped back and allowed himself to fall, faking tripping over a rock. The troll sprung forward, ready to pounce on his downed opponent. Sev bent his legs at the knees and then threw his body back over his head in a somersault, his knees slammed into the trolls face. The resounding crunch caused a couple of the trolls to hesitate.
The troll with the club was unfazed and attacked first. Raising his club up above his head, he lunged forward. Sev stepped to the side and jabbed his short sword into the troll’s ribcage. The other troll thrust her spear toward Sev, who used his now free hand to redirect it into the ground. She struggled to pull the spear free as Sev used it as a stepping-stone. He vaulted from the spear onto the short sword that was still inside the other troll’s ribcage. He slammed his knee into the troll’s head and then applied as much pressure to the blade as possible as he used it to jump and kick the other troll square in the nose. The troll yelped in pain as the sword slid lower, breaking several ribs in the process. His partner staggered backward, blood pouring from her now shattered nose.
“Kill that man!” The robed man yelled as he disappeared deeper into the forest.
The remaining five trolls looked at one another in hesitation. This was just the opening that Sev needed. He leaped forward and dug his sword into the closest troll’s arm. His left arm sprung out towards the next troll and a small throwing knife dug into its shoulder just next to the neck. Satisfied with the damage he had dealt to the first two, Sev turned to the next. He swung his forearm at the troll’s knee. As they were about to connect, he twisted his arm to the side, and the sharp end of his bracer sliced through the troll’s kneecap. Another troll stepped forward and swung at Sev with his massive fist. The half-elf ducked the blow and backhanded the troll in the face, his spiked gloves drawing blood. It let out a loud bellow and lunged forward. Sev tried to scramble away, but the troll was too fast. He grabbed his smaller opponent in a great bear hug and tried to squeeze the life out of him.
Sev lowered his head and slammed it into the troll’s nose. His helmet dented slightly as it connected with the troll’s face. Unable to hold the sly Ranger, the troll stumbled backward in retreat. Sev threw his last throwing knife into the troll’s throat as he tried to turn and run. The remaining troll stood waiting for Sev to face him. He turned to the final troll. Standing at nearly eight feet tall, it was a full head taller than the other trolls. Crooked teeth met with Sev gaze as the troll laughed at the smaller opponent. Sev grabbed a dagger from his boot and lunged forward, attempting to slice the troll’s chest. The dagger connected with its mark, but the troll didn’t seem to care. He punched at Sev and connected with the right shoulder, sending the smaller combatant careening to the floor.
Pain shot through Sev’s body as he hit the floor. The force of the impact nearly shattered a rib or two. With a loud grunt, Sev jumped to his feet and faced the troll yet again. The troll lunged at him again, trying to break his already battered and bruised body. Sev sidestepped and turned. He found himself looking at the troll’s outstretched arm. Taking the troll’s wrist with his right hand, he punched the elbow with his left hand and then sidestepped again. The troll’s exposed side became a punching bag for Sev. He managed to connect with three hits before the troll tried to backhand him. A smile formed on his face as he ducked under the blow and threw an uppercut into the troll’s chin. It staggered backward and then pushed one of the wounded trolls in between itself and Sev.
By the time he had pushed the massive creature out of the way, the other troll had escaped. He turned to see the other two Rangers at the edge of the clearing staring in disbelief. They had heard the stories of old about how the great hunters would challenge trolls in combat, but they never believed it could be accomplished. Sev retrieved his weapons and waved the two over. He was battered, aching, bruised, and even bleeding, but not beaten.
“We must warn the others. The trolls have never been this brazen, nor have they ever enlisted the help of a mage.”
Born and raised in Southern California, Cody J. Sherer was always fascinated with Science Fiction, Fantasy, and similar type genres. His interest led him to read a great many books and watch a great many shows and movies. These were the kindling that ignited with a spark that led him to begin writing seriously at the age of twenty. His writing mainly consists of Science Fiction and Fantasy, but he is also working on other genres as well.
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