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The Wizards of Pangea – The Sorcerer Chronicles – 2

The room that he was given was large and comfortable, it had a large bed, one larger than he had ever slept on, the mattress was so soft that he wondered what it was made from, the lavatory was amazing, flowing water in a large tub, the water was warm as if it had come from a hot spring, which he would later learn it did, the cleansing powders were amazing, he smelled of lilacs and pine needles, with a hint of cinnamon, he was able to shave, and he wore a long shirt and went to bed. He slept without dreaming, and it was the most peaceful sleep he had ever had.
Bartok woke him an hour before they would need to make their appearance and be introduced. He told him that he wasn’t the only one here to pass the trials, there were several Elven Apprentices, and five more human apprentices that would be joining him in the trials. All could pass, all could fail, but he must not fail, and he must pass through the Well of Souls, he needed him on the outside, war was coming, and that meant Morcandon the Black had recovered from their last duel, and would be seeking vengeance.
He swore to Bartok that he would pass the trials, and that he would make it back to the northern lands as his fellow guardian and Wizard. Bartok smiled a sad smile, and said he believed him, and that in him resided all he found to be good.
They exited the Oak House, and came into the glade where the Ceremony would take place. He told Sarzon what to expect. They would all be introduced individually, and then they would meet the Council who would evaluate each of them to make sure they should go forward into the Trials. This was the first test, once they passed that, then they would be asked to perform certain feats of Magic in the presence of those gathered, and finally they would need to show their ability to manipulate energy into different shapes, without destroying anything in the process. Sounded simple, but was harder than he thought. When you manipulate energy, it is drawn from everything around you, if you take too much, the plants begin to droop, if you go too far, they die. That was what they had to control. how much energy they could draw from all the sources so as not to harm anything. The Dark Mages drew the energy and killed everything around them, birds, animals, fish, plants, even the worms in the ground, and once they were dead, they moved on.
The Council greeted all of them, and pronounced that the testing was to begin. They all stepped forward and were required to perform a series of Magical feats. First was to form an energy ball from their own energy. That was simple enough, then they were asked show what they could see in an energy orb. That was harder, most sorcerers use a seeing crystal or an orb carved from crystal but this was causing it to appear in the air, much harder. Bartok had taught him from the beginning to always form his visions from the power of the earth, deep down in the earth, so as not to harm the life on the surface. The Council could see his teachings in Sarzon and were more than impressed. He was by far the most advanced of all the candidates present. Two had failed to produce the image, and were out, that left ten, five elves and five humans. One of each had failed. The next test was the hardest test, and passing it meant you would start the trials the next day. They were commanded to stand ten paces apart, and each was to use only the energy within their space to perform the task of forming an energy ball and casting it without killing everything within their space or destroying anything when they did cast it. It wasn’t a test of power as much as it was a test of control. Sarzon passed the test first, and his area wasn’t affected at all.
Two of the Elves passed next, then another one of the Humans, followed by another elf, that was all who passed. They would begin the trials the next day. Those that failed the two tests, would be allowed to try again, but it wouldn’t be for ten years. That was the rule, if you failed one of the three basic tests, you weren’t discarded, but you would need to study for ten more years and try again. What they didn’t tell them was they wouldn’t be able to return to where they started at, they would be sent to Bright Haven or Storm Haven to complete their studies under the tutelage of the Wizards and Sorcerers that resided there and they couldn’t leave Benelvin unless they passed through the Well of Souls, and stayed for one hundred years protecting the realm. It had been a while since any Sorcerer or Wizard had departed Benelvin and some of them were actually able to leave, they just needed a push. The other reason for Bartok’s visit. He wanted Sarzon confirmed and if no one else would leave, at least he would have Sarzon at his side to battle Morcandon and his hordes.
The testing was finished, the ceremony was done and he and Bartok returned to the Oak House. They were exhausted, and this was just the beginning. Bartok gave him a drink from a dark bottle, it tasted like honey but wasn’t thick or sticky. It was refreshing, it filled him, and he felt sleepy, Bartok told him it was called Ambrosia, and it was a restorative that he would learn to make while he was here. It was made from honeysuckle flowers, water, and honey. He immediately liked it, and asked for a second cup but Bartok gave him water instead. He told him that the one cup was sufficient for now, and tomorrow he would make sure he had a water skin filled with Ambrosia but to mix it with water, it was a warning, one he would obey.
The Trials began shortly after day break, they were long and hard, they were tested in every way. Their skills with a staff, sword, martial arts, and Magic. They were all told to be a Sorcerer or Wizard meant being able to fight with weapons as well as magic. There were foes they would face who were impervious to their Magic, and would require them using other means to vanquish a foe. Sarzon had mastered the staff early on, and practiced every day, even when travelling. He was a master swordsman, and his abilities in the Martial Arts was excellent. He passed each trial and they were more than sparring sessions, they faced masters of each discipline, not each other, until the only trial left was the trial of Magic. The most difficult of each. Bartok had told Sarzon to mix the Ambrosia half and half with water, one cup only after each trial. No less, and no more. He had done as instructed, and when he entered the final trial, he was as fresh as he had been when he came that morning.
Of the ten remaining Apprentices, six had failed by the end of the Martial Arts Trial. That left four to face the Magic trial. Delvina was the Master of this Trial, and one by one, she told them that they would be going to the cave, one each day, this was the final trial, they were to proceed to the cave, where they would stay, meditate, and prepare, the order was done by drawing lots, one who drew a white disc, would enter that day. Until all had entered and returned.
The next morning, the Council arrived along with the Wizard or Sorcerer who had apprenticed the four, they reached into a dark bag, and drew out a disk, when the white disk came out, the lottery was over and the Apprentice would enter the cave. The exit was on the other side of the cliff, and the remaining Apprentices weren’t told if they passed or not, only the Council and their sponsor knew until the trials were done.
The first apprentice who drew the white disk was an Elf named Hrazor, he was apprenticed by Trandor, and he should do well in the cave. The next day, they drew again this time it was the other human, Mathathiel, and he was apprenticed by one of the other Elvin Wizards, Bindor, and he knew he would do well. Most of the time, if an Apprentice made it to this stage he would pass, the introduction at the ceremony was where Delvina would read them and know if they were ready and had overcome the darkness that dwelt in them. All of them had the seed, how they had dealt with the seed determined if they would enter the cave. The third day, Sarzon drew the disc. He gathered his things, and entered the cave.
At first, it didn’t seem all that strange, it was light inside, and he saw things, but nothing to indicate evil was present. He descended further and further, and his staff became his light. He had placed a crystal in its end after the trial by Staff, and had firmly affixed it to the staff the way that Bartok had taught him to. He wouldn’t need to remove it ever again. His staff end was a thing of beauty. He had manipulated the white wood into an intricate pattern the surrounded the crystal, and with a word, the light would shine. It was one of the skills Bartok taught him, he also told him to counterbalance the other end so that the staff was balanced, which he had done. His staff was carved in runes from top to bottom except where he held it, and it was painted magically with gold paint on the runes which would glow when magic passed through the staff. Bartok had been pleased with the final product. He had figured out the painting and runes on his own.
He had travelled into the cave for an hour or so he thought when he felt it, the cold, darkness that was filled with evil. It made his skin crawl, he hadn’t felt that kind of evil since the day Morcandon and his Dark Mages had destroyed his village. He knew he wanted to run, and when he thought it, he knew he hadn’t shielded his mind. He got the shield up, and faced the mirtheless laugh that had formed in front of him. He was shocked, what he saw was himself as a Dark Mage, wielding dark power and destroying all the things that he loved. He saw Bartok lying dead at his feet, Benelvin destroyed, and the elves shattered and broken, taken as slaves and the dwarves were dead and dying. The human Wizards in Thunder Haven had all fled and were caught in the sea on boats which he sank with terrible power, and as he witnessed all of this, the power of Light inside him began to increase with great intensity and his staff was glowing on the end and he challenged the Dark Mage and when it turned to face him, he shattered it with the power from his staff. When it dissipated, all was normal again, and he walked from the cave. Bartok was waiting for him, and when he looked up into his eyes, the old Wizard smiled, Sarzon had passed the trial, he went into the Well of Souls and destroyed the seeds of darkness that were in him. What he saw would never come to pass now. He had destroyed that future when he destroyed his own dark self.
No one had done this in a very long time, the last one was one of the Human Wizards from Thunder Haven, Borromeo, and he had chosen to stay in Benelvin and wait for the time that they would have enough wielders of Magic to defeat Morcandon. He knew now that he would be leaving with Bartok as well as Sarzon, it was time.
Bartok had won enough votes to take Sarzon with him when he left as well as Borromeo, and several others, Elf, Human, and Dwarf. They were going to prepare for the battle of ages, and it was time to take Morcandon the Black and his evil forces out for good. All of the Council had agreed that Sarzon should be allowed to return with Bartok, even the Dwarves, and two of them were going with them. They said that they would be needed, weapons of Magic are what they made, and with this many Sorcerers and Wizards returning to the realm of Men and Dwarves, they would need weapons. It was settled, he would be confirmed as a Wizard, and he was given a beautiful cloak like Bartok’s with runes embroidered in white and gold, on the cuffs, hems, and borders, his robe was green with brown stripes, in the pattern of a tiger, and he was told it was made from a Dappled Lions fur. He was called Sarzon the Silver afterwards, like Bartok the blue, the names came from the unique robe they were given upon confirmation of becoming a Wizard or Sorcerer. Bartok’s robe was made from the skin of a blue bear, one that was as rare as a dappled lion, and the mane of the lion formed the hood of the robe.
So he was now no longer Sarzon, Bartok’s apprentice, he was Sarzon the Silver, a Wizard and Sorcerer. It was an honor for him, and he was humble, he didn’t want to run and tell everyone of what he had accomplished, his first thought was where were they going to go once they left Benelvin, and how would they get there. But before they left, it was Bartok’s request to the Council that he be allowed to take Sarzon to each of the Haven’s and be introduced to all of them. Delvina granted his request, how could she really refuse him since Sarzon had passed the tests and was going to be allowed to leave Benelvin with the others.
He was amazed as he saw each Haven. Bright Haven was very much like Fair Haven except it only housed Elves. Green Haven was a Dwarf community and it was built for their shortened stature, most dwarves were between four and five feet tall, and everything in Green Haven was built by them for them. No magic lived in Green Haven, other than the natural order of things, not like Fair Haven and Bright Haven where magic flowed from everywhere, even the air. Storm Haven and Thunder Haven were human settlements one on each side of the inland sea, it was actually a lake of fresh water, but was so big it was called a sea. It took a day to sail across the narrowest part in a boat, and a full two weeks to travel its length. The human Havens stood on each side of the narrows, and they guarded Benelvin’s eastern border.
The human Havens were much like any hamlet that he and Bartok had visited over the last twenty years, except there was magic everywhere. Humans unlike elves, didn’t contain the magic, they allowed it to flow naturally and everything in their Havens was affected by it. Giant fruits and vegetables, no sickness or diseases, and their homes and gardens were beautiful, the difference was that Elves didn’t eat meat, but dwarves and humans did, even he and Bartok consumed meat, and they brewed Ale’s and stout’s, they had a fondness for beer. They did make wine, they had wine presses and the vintages of wine they made were traded to the outside at the other end of the sea. It was the only free market in the north. Elves, Dwarves, and Humans came from all over the north to trade there, and it was where the dwarves sold their wares, and humans bought weapons, and wanted Elvin bows, but often the only bows available were either made by dwarves or humans, good bows, but not equal to the Elvin make in any way. Bartok and Sarzon both carried Elvin bows, gifts from Delvina, the finest bow maker in Benelvin. Their staffs they had made themselves as it was a skill necessary for a wizard, and their blades were of Dwarfish manufacture and imbued with runes and magic by the elves. The blades would glow blue in the presence of evil, as would their daggers. They also had mail shirts made of silver by the dwarves, the finest thing they made, gifts as well from the dwarves, strong enough to turn even a boar spear, and almost impenetrable. The mail shirts were more valuable than their blades, because they were impervious to magic as well, their bodies were protected better than if they wore the plate armor of men.
When the tour was completed, they gathered in Fair Haven, and when all that would be leaving had gathered and were packed, the elves had brought a herd of their finest horses for the group, it would take two days to reach the border, and then they would be across the human kingdom in a week, and back in the area that Bartok kept safe and was under his protection, where the free folk lived, where they would return to his keep, and prepare for war with Morcandon. They would be stopping in the human kingdom of Menandor, and would be taking a census of recent incursions from the south as well as any word that came about the Black Necromancer. That was what he was called by most outside of Benelvin, not even Menandor would speak the name of the Black Necromancer, and with good reason, Morcandon was his brother. He could claim his throne if something happened and he had no heir for the throne.
Bartok was one of the few who were privy to that information, not even Sarzon knew, Just the elder Wizards of the Council and the Dwarves. No one else, and it was best for that to stay that way. If too many found out, they would begin to blame Menandor and dethrone him giving Morcandon a foothold in the north.
They would be leaving in the morning. The Elves wanted to have a ceremony for them, blessing them and gifting them before they departed. It was the largest group of Sorcerers and Wizards to depart from Benelvin in over two hundred years, the world hadn’t seen this many wizards except for The Black and his Hordes. The occasion would mark the beginning of something that Bartok and Delvina had put into motion five hundred years earlier when Morcandon had turned evil.
The ceremony was a celebration more than a ceremony, gifts were given to each of them. Bartok was given a book of spells by Delvina, Sarzon was given an amulet made from silver and gold and had runes on it around the largest diamond he had ever seen, as well as a ring that matched the amulet for his finger. That was given to him by Lazolon, who told him he would be going with them on the morrow. He winked his wink, and smiled, he was glad to be going. The others had received various gifts, swords and daggers, bows, cloaks, new belts, hauberks, and jewelry ringed in runes. They were as prepared for this journey as they could be. They had each been given Ambrosia for the trip. A much larger supply than Sarzon had had during the trials, and they had plenty of water along the way.
When the morning came, the elves and the Elders had formed a walkway that lad from where they were all the way into the heart of the forests of Benelvin, they had well-wishers for the whole first day. They were halfway to the border, and would be there the next day. Sarzon wondered why they were travelling so fast, and when he looked, really looked, he discovered that the horses were enchanted. They had been imbued magically with speed. They would be to Menandor’s border the next day. Once they exited the forests of Benelvin, the enchantments on the horses would fade within a day and they would travel at regular speed to his capital city, that would take a week. His kingdom was large, almost as large as Benelvin but tiny in comparison to the Free Lands of the north, or the Southern lands. Pangea was huge, the only continent one large land mass, and they hadn’t even seen what was in the east beyond Benelvin. It was where the Giants lived as well as the Sons of God. They didn’t venture there unless they had no choice. It wasn’t a safe place for any of the three races, and definitely not for their women. The Sons of God liked their women and would mate with them, and when they did, their offspring were giants.
The only outpost near them was Storm Haven and the Magic prevented the Giants from entering into the city. The southern end of the great sea where the crossroads was located, was open to all travelers from any land, but the dwellers of the Free Lands, Benelvin, and Menandor’s kingdom didn’t go there, the Southern dwellers were there as well, and that would usually end up in some kind of battle, so the three lands in the North avoided that city with all they had. No one was willing to take the risks associated with a trip there, not even Bartok.
They passed out of Benelvin at dawn, and they were going to be traveling about twenty miles a day. That meant they were over a hundred miles from Menandor’s capital, a week long journey. To Sarzon, it was a relief. He had been around Magic since he was ten, but being in Benelvin where it flowed freely made him feel strange. He didn’t know if he would ever want to live there, or even return there, but he knew he would return, he would be taking his own apprentice there one day, and he hoped it was a journey he would make with Bartok.
They had made the first leg of the journey in two days, the second leg of the journey would take two weeks, the capital was in the middle of the kingdom, and then they would be on their way to the north, the third and longest leg of the journey, it would take months to get to Bartok’s Fortress in the north. It had Spells and Incantations woven into the construction to prevent anyone from entering who didn’t know the proper spells, he had changed them after his first duel with Morcandon, because Morcandon knew the proper incantation to get through the guards that were in place. The dwarves had carved the new runes and replaced the stones with the old ones, that way there was no trace of the old incantations to use to get around the new ones. It was a slow and methodical process which had taken the dwarves two full years to complete.
They made camp in a beautiful glade with fresh clean water, and an abundance of fresh fruit that could be eaten. The water tasted so pure that Sarzon cast a seeker spell to see if the Glade was enchanted, it wasn’t which surprised him, but Bartok told him that the water bubbled up from a spring which he pointed too, and that the fruits grew here because of the water. They trekked up to the spring and Bartok told him to taste the water, he did, and it was sweet, almost like honey, he had never tasted water like this. When he looked up at Bartok, he smiled and said it was the rock that made the water sweet.
They had a good night’s rest. The horses had plenty of fodder to eat, they had the rations supplied by the elves, meat from the dwarves, and had some mead and some stout the humans had sent. They were in good spirits by the time they had finished eating, even the Elves who usually abstained from mead or stout, had joined them for a mug of stout, and then all was quiet and they made their way to bed. Each taking a turn at the watch. The Elves took the last watch, they saw the best at night, the dwarves the first watch, and the men the second watch. This was a good group, well balanced and well prepared.
They packed in the morning, the elves had saddled the horses, made breakfast, and packed everything but the bedrolls, no tents on this trip, they slept on the ground they wouldn’t need tents for quite a while actually, not for several months, not until they were at least halfway to Bartok’s fortress. They rolled up their bags, lashed them to their saddles, ate breakfast, and then put out their fire, and using a little magic, Lazolon made it look as though they had never been there. When he had finished, he looked up and said “One can never be too careful, we wouldn’t want the wrong people finding our trail and following us.” Bartok smiled, Lazolon had come far in the years he had known him.
As they travelled, Sarzon had chanced to look behind them, and saw that thirty feet behind the last rider, their tracks faded and all traces of their passing was erased, even the horse dung disappeared. He looked at Bartok, and Bartok smiled and pointed to the horses, and then one of the other Wizards, and said “he enchanted the horses so that their tracks would disappear thirty feet behind us and the horse droppings would turn to dust when they hit the ground, then he also put as part of the enchantment that after ten minutes even the enchantments would fade and completely erase our tracks. The only way we can actually be tracked, is from above, and so far, there have been no fell beasts following us. We are safe for the moment.
Then he understood why he and Bartok had ridden Griffin back to Benelvin, they couldn’t be tracked in the sky, and he didn’t want anyone to know they had gone to Benelvin. Especially Menandor. The less he knew the better for them all. He didn’t hate Wizards and Sorcerers, he blamed them for what his brother had become. Which was true in part. But he had failed in the Well of Souls, instead of destroying the Dark Seed within himself he had embraced it, thinking he could change it to good. Which seemed an honorable thing, but wasn’t, it had ended up being what had turned him into a necromancer in the end.

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