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The Wizards of Pangea – The Sorcerer Chronicles – 4

They travelled north through the Free Lands, the people were relieved when they saw them. They were helpful in locating the Chimeras and Manticores. The Dwarves had already found the trail of the Goblins and had marched off to vanquish them. They would destroy the nest and all that were in it, and when they saw black smoke rising out of a cave or hole in the ground, they could expect the Dwarves return.
They found the first Chimera not far from where the Dwarves had taken their leave, they scaled up the rocky crags that the Chimera was using as a home and destroyed the fell beast with weapons. It was a hard battle, with its scorpion tail it could inject poison into a person and it was deadly, turning them into a steaming puddle. They had formed a three headed attack and one of the Elves was able to cut off the stinger, that made the Chimera howl, then Sarzon took off its head and it lay dead at their feet. They burned its body, then began to search for others in the area. What they found instead were several Manticores, and they were ready to fight.
The Manticores had attacked without warning, it was the enchantments that saved all of them, before they started the climb, Sarzon had placed protection enchantments in place, to warn them of any evil approaching. It didn’t require much energy, he had supplied it himself, but it had saved all of them. With his staff in hand, he whorled around and unleashed the lightning on them and fried them where they stood. Bartok had told him not to use bold displays of Magic, but it had been an instinctive reaction, and he had done it without thinking.
That was they kind of Magic that made him not only a Sorcerer but a Wizard as well. The enchantments had protected him, the Magic had slightly drained him, and he learned not to loose any Magic from himself, the hard way. He passed out after the Manticores were dead from the release. He realized how important it was to always react out of thought, not feelings after that. He didn’t want to kill himself trying to protect others, he wanted to protect others without killing himself in the process. If he needed to make that sacrifice, he would, but it would have to be the only option he had left.
They found several more Chimera and Manticores after that and using natural, non-Magical means, dispatched them. He left up the warning enchantments, but that was the only Magic he used. They burned all the bodies, and kept on searching, checking with the hamlets and towns as they went until they were sure they had dispatched all that the people had seen.
It was drawing near time for them to continue on their journey to the Fortress, when a large winged shadow crossed above them. It wasn’t a Griffin, it was the King of the Birds, he was a huge white bird with the power of speech, and resembled a Raven, but was white and the size of an elephant. He was landing in front of Bartok. Sarzon had seen him before, and he had spoken to him on several occasions, but he was here to see Bartok the Blue, not Sarzon the Silver.
They all bowed before him when he landed and had closed his wings. Bartok asked him “Elric the Fair, why are you here?” Elric looked at him, then asked who the others in his party were and he introduced them all, leaving Sarzon to the last. When he was introduced as Sarzon the Silver, Elric cocked his head to one side, and eyed him top to bottom. He knew all the others in the group, he had been to Benelvin in the past and had met all of them as well as the Council, but he was overly curious when it came to Sarzon, then he laughed, and said “You’re the Apprentice I’ve spoken to on many occasions, I see you passed through the Well of Souls. Did you learn anything about yourself in there?”
Bartok whispered a warning to Sarzon to be very careful about what he said. Sarzon replied “I learned that if one doesn’t face his own worst fears, he can never be free from them, and once passing through the Well of Souls, one had overcome his greatest fear, and is ready to continue learning what it means to be a Wizard and Sorcerer.” Bartok was pleased, his apprentice was no longer an apprentice. He had just answered the wisest creature in their realm with wisdom. Bartok was becoming more and more impressed with his student. He was indeed a most powerful Wizard and Sorcerer, and he was given of Wisdom beyond his years as well. He was a good student and studied all the time, and not just books. He had learned from the other Sorcerers and Wizards with them, and he had learned from the Dwarves, and he had learned from himself.
Elric looked at Bartok and told him that the Dwarves were almost done in the holes of the Goblins who had come and would be rejoining them in a few days north of where they were by about two hundred miles. Ten days on horseback. He asked Bartok if he intended to go all the way to his fortress on horseback, or would he permit himself and his party to be transported on wings. Bartok, not wanting to offend the King of Birds, said that the horses had come from Benelvin, and there was no place to release them here to return to their home. The Bird accepted the logic of the statement and lifted off with a flurry of wind from his great wings.
They watched him fly away, and then all looked at each other, and then at Sarzon, he was certainly attracting a lot of attention by doing little. What was the reason for them to seek him out? Could his fame from the kingdom have spread this far already.? The answer was no, in the kingdom birds and spies from all over were in the palace as were the intrigues that plagued the kingdom, these visits were the result of birds flying forth after the demonstration, and being on wings instead of feet, the word had reached them before they had. They should expect more visits soon, and hopefully none were any more malevolent than the Chimera, Manticores and Goblins.
The trip had been long and they had endured it with grim determination. Having to deal with the Chimera and Manticores had tired them, and they still had at least two weeks to reach the fortress if they had no more creatures to deal with. They were alert, ready, and had kept an eye on the sky. It wouldn’t do for them to be taken unawares at this point of the Journey. They reached the rendezvous with the Dwarves unscathed, the Dwarves hadn’t been so fortunate. One of them had a nasty gash on the side of his face, and one had been bitten on the arm by a Goblin. It was infected, and it was given to Sarzon to heal them. He took his time, using his magic sparingly, and when he was done several hours later, the Dwarves were good as new. Bartok was pleased, his skills were now complete, he had healed two Dwarves with the aid of Magic, a feat that few could accomplish.
They hadn’t had a run in with any Dark Mages yet, and that was on Bartok’s mind. If the creatures of Darkness had come, where were the Mages that controlled them. He had all of the party on the lookout, especially Sarzon and Lazolon, he wanted them at the front of the battle, they were the strongest with the exception of him. The Dwarves would handle any beasts they brought, the rest were to focus on the Dark Mages when they appeared. There should be at least two of them, if they held to form. They never travelled alone, always in two’s, and never into an area they could be destroyed easily in. they would meet them before they reached the Fortress. He was sure of it.
They had made camp that night and when everyone was through eating and had finished packing their supplies, the fire leaped up and roared into a bright yellow flame, the Dark Mages had come. They stepped out of the fire, and started hurling Magical bolts at the Companions. They were trying to force them to use Magic. It might have worked if it had been someone of lesser training, but they knew the cost of using their Magic without needing to. They deflected the Magic bolts with their staffs or swords, and engaged the Dark Mages on the ground with weapons.
The battle lasted half the night, they hard pressed to defeat the Mages without Magic, but Bartok had warned them against using Magic too soon. They needed to make the Fortress fully imbued with their Magic, it was essential that they defeat the Mages with weapons and skills, not Magic. They had parried or blocked every attack, and the attacks came so rapidly that they couldn’t get a foothold and go forward. When they would go forward, the Mages would drive them back. They were powerful, but they weren’t using weapons, only Magic, and it took time to wear them down, when their Magic finally started to fail, they moved in, and Sarzon and Lazolon gave them the death stroke with swords. The scream that they emitted when they dispatched them could turn your blood to ice in your veins, their individual protections had guarded them, the amulets and rings were glowing as they shielded them from the Dark Magic that they released with their dying breaths.
Once they had regained their composure, Bartok was not his usual serene self, he checked everyone to see if they were wearing their Dwarf made shirts over their shifts and under their tunics. Once he had determined that they all had their protective shirts on, he told them to shake out their armor and robes, put on all their gear, no more hiding, they were close enough to the Fortress to not be scrutinized any longer. He told them not to take off their armor or robes unless they were inside the fortress.
He regained his composure, and Sarzon realized that it was concern for all of their health that had caused his gruffness. He didn’t want to lose one Companion to stupidity. Not wearing their shirts would have been stupid. They were made from a special silver that only the Dwarves knew how to work, it was light as a feather, but strong as the Scales of the Behemoth. It was impervious to any blade, arrow, and had been made with runes in the weave to ward off any and all Magical attacks.
Once they reached the Fortress, all of them would breathe easier, and would have a chance to rest before the actual battle began. This was just a test of their skills, the Black Necromancer would sacrifice his own troops to test their skills, and if they weren’t up to the challenge, they would die and that would be one less Sorcerer he would have to deal with later.
They had two more run-ins with the Dark Mages before reaching the Fortress, both ended the same way, but the Companions were working as a group now, and the battles lasted half as long before they took out the Mages. This pleased Bartok very much. He knew they could end up a rag tag group rather than a force to be reckoned with, and his continued encouragement and direction had turned them into the fighting force that would put the Mages and the Black Necromancer on the run back into the south.
When they finally arrived at the Fortress they were shocked to see an encampment at their door. It was a force of Ninety Sorcerers and Dwarves that had come from Storm Haven in long ship that set sail a week before they left. They were one hundred strong now, and the fortress had changed from when they had left. Sarzon hadn’t expected to see what he saw. The fortress was taller, and larger, large enough to hold a force of one hundred easily, and the Magic Enchantments were full strength and fully in place. He looked at Bartok for an explanation and what he got was a shrug and a smile. Bartok had set the Magic in motion before they left, that was what took him so long to exit the Fortress and seal it. He had used his own Magic to change the fortress, and was why he was so weak on the trip to Benelvin. They had walked to the place where the Griffins had met them and transported them to Benelvin.
When the Captains of the new group came forward to welcome them and introduce themselves, Bartok waved them off, and told them they would have plenty of time for introductions once the entered the Keep. He wanted everyone inside before a force of more than two Dark Mages appeared. It took them an hour to get inside, and the long ship was beached and hauled inside as well. It was imbued with Magic and shouldn’t be left where it could be used against them.
Bartok, Sarzon, and Lazolon could’ve used Magic and moved everything inside in a moment, but Bartok knew that the residual from the Magic would be a homing beacon to the Dark Mages and would spoil the plans that had been so carefully laid in Benelvin. They didn’t want anyone to know about the additional Sorcerers and Wizards who had come by way of sea to get here. The enchantments on the boat had to be removed and the trace in the surrounding area as well. It was too important to their plans to let anything slip. They had looked for any ravens or bats flying in the area, those were spies for the Dark Mages, they could see through their eyes and was probably what they had used on the three occasions they had attacked to locate them.
Bartok hadn’t destroyed them or sent any wards to drive them away, he was more concerned about leaving a trail of Magic than of a few spies following them. Besides, the ravens and bats could be taken down with a fowler’s arrow, and they all had them with them. They were all inside of the Fortress now, and the door was up, and the portcullis was down. They would be safe now and could talk freely and make plans for the upcoming battle. The enchantments would prevent any user, spy, or creature that was an agent of Dark Magic from entering into the Fortress or even flying over it.
The first order of business was introductions, and that started with Bartok the Blue, Sarzon the Silver, Lazolon the Bright, Josephus the Green, Mahalalel the Bold, Jorcantor the Brown, Morthandor the Gold, Jormundor the Red, and the Dwarves, Threndonor, Gamaliel, Javonor the Hammer, and Ivorian the Smith. That was the party that had left Benelvin six months earlier.
The Captains of the host were Umbriel the Tongs, Longfellow the Captain, and Lorelai the Fair. The rest would introduce themselves as the evening wore on. Bartok was looking for one more who should have been there along with the rest, Javonor had a twin brother, Davonor the Anvil, and he and Javonor were also the brothers of the Smith and the Tongs. When he called out and said didn’t the Anvil come with you? He was surprised at the deep Baritone voice resounding through the hall, it was of course Davonor, making an entrance, “It would have been due courtesy to have asked after the twin brother of one of your Companions rather than asking if he was here. Do you think I would let my brothers come on this quest alone? You know they can get themselves into all kinds of trouble without me to keep on the straight Bartok”, they all burst into laughter at the taunting, “Of course, of course Davonor, your right where are my manners, and he asked him to come up front with the rest. He did, and he laughed the whole time he walked to the head table in the hall. They all knew that this bantering between them had been going on for hundreds of years, and it was all in good natured fun.
That started the banquet off to a roaring feast, the dwarves had brought the meat, the men the wine, mead and stout, the elves the ambrosia and the all the vegetables and bread, and the fortress was fully stocked with food, and the people to man it. They had roast meats, and fowls, along with all manner of side dishes, and pastries, it was amazing to see this feast of friends and allies, in a place that had once been the home of two persons. Bartok and Sarzon.
That night they talked late, and when everyone had been introduced and were well satisfied with their food and drink, they had discussed what the battle plan was., Bartok assured them that on the morrow they would all know what the plan was, tonight they were to make themselves comfortable, bathe and clean up, get a good night’s rest, and be ready for the planning to begin the next day. With that being said, he bade them a good night, and retired to his own chambers, Sarzon followed as did Lazolon. He wanted to talk to Sarzon before they slept, so they entered into Sarzon’s rooms and Sarzon was surprised, his room had been transformed, all he needed to do was unpack, there were pegs for his weapons, a place for his staff, a place to hang his robe and armor, and new boots and clothes in the closets and bureau. He wasn’t expecting this, he remembered what his chamber looked like as an apprentice, a narrow cot, a cold room, and no place to put anything. He even had a book case filled with all his own copies of every book and scroll in the fortress.
Lazolon looked at him and asked if there was something wrong, he said no, he just wasn’t expecting his rooms to look this way, they hadn’t before they had departed over a year ago, almost two years actually. Lazolon laughed, and said “You didn’t expect Bartok to not gift you, especially after your winning your right to be a Sorcerer did you? It would be unthinkable to return to the room of an Apprentice, seeing that you’re a Wizard and Sorcerer as powerful as any I’ve known, and possibly even more powerful than Bartok the Blue. I am not saying you are, I am saying it’s possible, especially if you listen to him and learn what he tells you.” He was amazed at his friend, they had become like brothers, and treated each other as such. From the moment that he smiled down at him and winked, they had been inseparable except during the trials and the Well of Souls.
With that Lazolon excused himself and went to his own room, right next door and made himself ready for sleep. Elves didn’t sleep like men or dwarves, but he was tired, the journey had been long and the battles with the Dark Mages had taken a toll on him that Ambrosia wouldn’t restore. He sat there staring into the fire in the hearth in his room, and as he drifted into sleep, he dreamt for the first time in two hundred years. He dreamt of his long dead mate, and how she would light up every room she entered, and he saw the day she died. It was the Black Necromancer who had killed her, with a bolt of lightning thrown at him, she had jumped in the way to save him, and the bolt had killed her. When he had looked up, Morcandon the Black had stood their laughing and in a puff of smoke, was gone, he had been waiting for his turn to pay him back for two hundred years and it was the reason he had wanted to come on the quest, not to get himself killed or for revenge, but to make sure that no one else suffered what he had at the hands of Morcandon the Black.
He had kept the shields up, even behind the walls, the last thing he had wanted was for the Necromancer to have a way to enter into the Fortress. It was Bartok who came to his room and shook him awake, Sarzon was right behind him. He asked him if he’d had his shields up while he slept, he assured him that he did, and Bartok rose the full Garrison of the Fortress.
Standing outside was Morcandon, not his spirit or a dream vision, but the real Morcandon, and he was firing bolts of Magic at the Fortress, it was holding, the enchantments were very strong, and Bartok was reinforcing them with each blast. Sarzon took control inside and set half the Wizards and Sorcerers to lending strength to Bartok, they could add their magic strength to his once he spoke the incantation and it wouldn’t only strengthen the enchantment, not alter it or trace it to them.
That being done, Sarzon and Lazolon went to the parapet and faced Morcandon, he saw them and he started speaking to Lazolon and Sarzon spun a spell that took his words away, something very few could do. It was a spell that didn’t require a lot of energy to maintain, and unless Morcandon knew the exact wording he had used, he couldn’t counter it. After several hours of attack, he was gone in a puff of smoke.
Bartok was exhausted, he had maintained and strengthened the enchantments with the help of the Sorcerers there with him, Sarzon had shown his true nature, he hadn’t attempted to duel with Morcandon, he had simply taken the power of his words away, saving Lazolon the grief that Morcandon tried to cause. He was more than impressed, and he knew he was the one who would eventually defeat Morcandon. Bartok needed to stay with him until he reached his full potential and strength, then he would step aside.
They didn’t have any more attacks on the fortress for quite some time, and the enchantments had been so strengthened by the combined Magic, that the Dark Mages nor Morcandon could penetrate them. It was why they hadn’t returned, they wanted to catch them out in the open and in less than full strength.
The battle was about to begin, and they would need to stay in the Fortress for a bit longer, they needed to be at full strength, all of them before venturing out unprotected. That was going to be where they started. Bartok had gathered all of them together, and spoke to them, he told them “We are about to enter into a battle that will not be won easily, some of us will die, and some of us will be changed, and some of us will be broken beyond healing. If we aren’t prepared for that, then we can’t leave this Fortress.”
All of them, were stunned, none had expected for Bartok the Blue to say that they some of them would die, some could turn, and some could be so broken by this that their minds and bodies would never heal. They were not in this as a game, they were about to enter into an all-out Wizards duel, and neither side would be taking prisoners, this would be to the death, and it was going to change everything.

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