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Chapter 9: Ruins
Galdren knew the girl he was looking for was to the North, but beyond the Impenetrable Mountains.
Before leaving the Gray Magi he had time to prepare a strong healing spell by capturing a Celestial. He had no doubt it was going to be a perilous journey.
The Magi had offered to help him on his journey. A portal to the West, opening in the Village of Shoreham, speeding his journey across Lake Urith, or a Portal East to the port town of Castel.
He had sent the Angel East, too, but a journey by sea might be the quickest route.
- East to Castel 22%
- West to Shoreham 78%
“I must go West” said Galdren to the Mage. “My rival Mancers will be looking East. I can’t let them interfere.”
“The politics of our institutions are complex” nodded the older Gray Mage.
“I must leave now. Please, let me know if you find Barton’s killer. It may be important.”
Within the hour, Galdren stepped through a Portal and onto a cobbled village street, the giant lake visible to the right helping him get his bearings.
It was getting late. Perhaps just an hour before night settled.
- Find an inn for the night 67%
- Try to buy a horse 22%
- Go into the countryside 0%
- Find travel companions 11%
He adjusted his pack on his shoulder & made his way through the streets until he arrived at an Inn, The Oar & Line. He went in and arranged a room with the inkeeper. He’d have time tomorrow to buy supplies & find a horse for the journey.
Galdren ate a quiet meal & went to bed.
His eyes were closed for mere moments when he felt a small tug at the edge of his mind. He rested deeper, clearing his thoughts, becoming open and receptive. His eyes glowed softly beneath his closed eyelids as someone communicated with him. A Sending from
- Shadow Mancer Lelaine 29%
- the Mance Librarian 43%
- an unknown origin 28%
“Galdren” said an intent, masculine voice in his mind. “Finally.” A wave of relief filled Galdren’s mind.
Jasper, Librarian of the Mance, home of the Shadow Mancers located on the isle in Lake Summoms, continued.
“Your movements have been noticed.”
“So I see” he replied.
“One of our colleagues from Meldon sent a Throne to track me” he told Jasper. “Do you know why?”
“It seems you have been drawn into certain… political schemes. Please, tell me where you are and what you know. I can help.”
- Trust him and report 0%
- Don’t trust, stop talking 25%
- Reply with questions 75%
“I have questions of my own” replied Galdren. “Who is looking for me?”
“We believe it’s the Conclave of the Light. Possibly the High Mancer Serabel”
Galdren was silent for a moment at that revelation.
“And the Dark Conclave? Are they involved?”
“It is unclear”
“Is there news of the World? Any major events?”
“Always news. Librarians like to talk.”
Galdren mentally sighed. “Beyond the Impenetrable Mountains?”
“So you’re North!”
“Yes, yes. The news? I need information.”
“Rumours are a Star Child has fallen. Do you need help?”
- “No, no help needed” 14.5%
- “Yes. Send someone North” 71%
- “Contact me every three days” 14.5%
Galdren sensed a mental nod. “I’ll send someone North to help. Where will you rendezvous with them?”
“I should be in Trentham in 5 days. I can wait there a day or two. Will that be sufficient?”
“Yes, they should be there for you when you arrive. I’ll speed their journey.”
“I’ll be in touch again soon” Jasper said, and the connection was broken. The light behind Galdren’s eyelids dimmed and he drifted into normal sleep.
In the Mance, Jasper opened his eyes. He wasn’t alone in his room.
“Well done” said
- High Light Mancer Serabel 25%
- High Shadow Mancer Brith 8%
- High Dark Mancer Rela 25%
- The demon Tamiel 42%
Tamiel looked like a handsome human male, tall, pale skinned, long straight dark hair. His eyes a dark red. Black feathered wings protruded over his shoulders.
“I’ll leave immediately” said the demon.
His image rippled and he became more ordinary looking, wings disappearing.
“Light Mancer” said Deralyn. “The Throne appears to have reached the coast, near the town of Castel. I fear it was diverted from our quarry.”
“Indeed. The Shadow Mancer is a powerful one. He may have had the strength to command the Angel.”
He pursed his lips. “North, still.”
They had reached the town of Yarnsted & needed to decide whether to follow the road to Riverend & the river which feeds Lake Summons, or to travel North cross-country. The Northern route, though faster & more difficult, would take them via some ruins South of lake Urith.
- Take the road West 17%
- North, cross-country 83%
They travelled from Yarnsted into the hills of North Cheross. It took them 4 days to reach the dust plane, filled with stunted trees and large rocks. Each evening Arkath summoned water to get them through the following day, expending power from a Martyr trapped in his phylactery.
Stone ruins appeared on the horizon on day 10. An enormous stone circle centred the ancient ruins. Both Mancer and Paladin immediately felt the concentration of celestial power at the site.
“This is a place known to Mancers as a place of power” said Arkath. “Also of danger”.
- Camp outside the ruins 67%
- Camp inside the ruins 33%
The Portal fully dimmed into night and the ruins appeared ominous in the distance. The Paladin and Light Mancer had set up camp some way from the ruins.
“Tell me about the ruins” said Deralyn.
“It amplifies the magic we use to control angels and demons” said Arkath, lecturing.
“It is unstable. It varies with the strength of the Portal” he gestured up at the dim ring hanging in the sky. “At night, Dark rules. Had we entered at night it might have been the end of us attuned to the Light.”
Suddenly a woman’s shriek came from the ruins.
- Investigate the cry 75%
- Ignore the cry 25%
Deralyn sprang to her feet, grabbing her sword & shield. She glanced at Arkath, shouting “quick!”
“Come back, fool girl!” he replied, scrambling to his feet, hitching his robes. But it was too late. Deralyn was rushing to the ruins to aid the girl.
“Help me!” she cried again.
Arkath caught up to a chaotic scene. A woman in travelling leathers was being wrestled by two devilish imps, crawling over her as she struggled. At her feet lay a man, sword meters from his open, lifeless hand.
“Fool!” said Arkath, for Deralyn or the woman, who could know.
- Arkath attacks first 57%
- Deralyn attacks first 29%
- The woman dies 14%
Arkath raised his hand. A few complex gestures & the demons & woman were bathed in Celestial light, the sound of chimes filling the air. His phylactery shone white with power. Both demons screeched. So did the woman.
“Not right…” said Arkath, surprised. The woman grimaced.
The woman shook off the imps & walked towards the Mancer. One moment a woman, the next a red-skinned man in hunters garb.
“Deceiver!” yelled Deralyn, jumping between Arkath & the third demon. She raised her shield & two angel wings swept out either side of it creating a barrier.
- Attack the red Demon 80%
- Try and retreat 20%
- Attack the imps 0%
The demon approached the sweeping angel shield with confidence and touched it lightly with its hand. Deralyn shuddered as a feeing of filth crept up her arm.
Arkath again made a gesture & a thin beam of intense light punched the demon in the shoulder. It was pushed back a step.
‘This is no low-level demon’ Arkath shouted.
Deralyn nodded. She felt the ruins fighting against her power and bolstering the demon. Closing her eyes, she willed her shield to be stronger. To her horror, the Angel trapped in her shield fully stepped out of it. It stared at her
- and turned on the demon 43%
- and flew into the night 29%
- then attacked her 28%
The Angel, a Virtue of the 6th Order, couldn’t defy its nature, turning to face the red Demon. It raised its hand & a sword of light appeared. The Demon smiled, disappeared from striking distance, reappearing 50 meters away, drawing a bow. It loosed an arrow darker than night.
Realisation dawned on Arkath’s face. “The Demon” he called to the Paladin. “It’s Sondennath. The Huntsman. This is a battle we can’t win.”
The black arrow buried itself in the Angel’s shoulder & melted into it. In a dash the Angel leaped the distance to the demon.
- Mancer & Paladin retreat 50%
- Mancer & Paladin fight 50%
The two Imps bounded towards the Paladin & Mancer while the larger Angel & Demon fought amongst the ruins.
“We need to leave” commanded Arkath.
The Paladin agreed, dodging the first Imp & striking the second with her blade. As it connected, it flared white with angelic power.
Arkath held his Phylactery. Using the weakness caused by the ruins, he released the Angel trapped inside. It left him vulnerable, but would buy him & the Paladin time to escape.
His lesser Angel pulled the focus of the Imps & both Mancer & Paladin escaped into the night.