The Silver Tower Chronicles Adventures in other worlds, other times, and other realities

24Apr/13Off

Enzi’s Irregulars #0043

The hearts of Enzi's Irregulars all dropped. They remembered the last Magehunter they had encountered. It was possible that history could repeat itself. Beren looked to the group with eyes that said he had seen much more than a man of his age should have seen. While he was no more than twenty five years old, it was obvious he had been through several harrowing adventures already. He scanned the inhuman monsters and their Feergrus leader without a noticeable reaction.

“Good to have more people to aid us,” Beren said in a soothing baritone voice, “I just arrived not too long myself and I have seen how understaffed this front currently is. I had originally planned to join the rest of the Agonish troops at the southern front when I learned of the war, but there was no way I could leave this side of the war until we get fully manned.”

Enzi was surprised at the calm and relaxed manner of the Magehunter, then Beren continued, “You have run into another magehunter before.”

Enzi nodded, “Yes. The last magehunter that ran into my mercenaries had issues with the inherent power of a non-human creature.”

Beren nodded, “I could see that. Some Magehunters are more zealous than others. There are many that can not travel to Ravalei as they would slay the wizards there without regard to Ravaleian law. The more even tempered we are, the more likely to find us traveling far afield. In some places, like the Disputed Lands, it really turns into a case of anything goes.”

“That is unusual. Most military training I have seen involves getting everyone to follow one set goal and keep them all moving towards that goal in much the same way,” Enzi replied.

“Training to be a magehunter is very different,” Beren stated, “They search long and hard for the candidates for the training. Only a rare few have the talent to be able to detect magic. Even then, the ability varies greatly. While I can see magic by looking, some can only smell it or hear it. Since there are not a lot of people that can be Magehunters, the training focuses on skills instead of discipline. They attempt to hone our ability to perceive magic and our combat ability. No one walks out of Hadrarius unless they are a very dangerous warrior.”

“That is certainly true,” Eurysa hissed, absentmindedly rubbing the snake that had its head lopped off by a Magehunter.

“Even then, fighting mages and their allies alone is a dangerous business. Most of us don't survive long. Those that do survive for at least a year in the field are called on to do greater and greater deeds. The survivors are honed into deadlier and deadlier weapons.”

“Until you find a foe who's armor you can not breach,” Enzi stated at the realization of the grim life of a Magehunter.

Beren nodded, “This war will be a test of the Magehunters. I have survived on my own for over five years now. I fear the dangers of this war will be my ending. The Tarvoni that have allied themselves with the goblinoids need to be stopped. Without their beasts, it is simply a war against the goblinoids. That may be tough enough on its own, but at the moment it seems more like an impossible task.”

“Until we get reinforcements, the whole northern front will be rough,” Enzi replied, “Especially with this monster that is killing people.”

Beren nodded his head in agreement, “I've searched the area around the slayings. Whatever it is, it does not have a magical signature. The only magic in the area are the spells that power the two golems over there. I think the Ravaleians are worried that I'm going to destroy their toys.”

“The last golem we dealt with left me a couple pounds lighter,” Aldebaran grunted as he rubbed the empty area where his left horn used to be, “Although it was an experiment for the war effort that did not work right.”

“Too bad,” Beren said, “As long as the golems do what they are supposed to, I'm not worried about them. If I had a problem with Ravaleians doing magic, I would have never made it through their country to take the black ship to Casea.”

“Yes, I noticed your blade,” Enzi said.

Beren sighed, “If I knew what I would encounter to get it, I would have never gone to the isle.”

“I've heard tales of the isle, but I've never visited it myself.”

“Don't,” Beren said simply, “There is little left there now, and what is left is in the most terrible places. I arrived at what they call Adventurer's Port with little to worry me. I explored the ruins of what had once been a great port, supposedly the capital of the country. The floods had done some damage, time had done more, but the greatest damage had been the visitors. The rubble had been picked clean. The people from the black ship were busy collecting their mold. I busied myself heading inland.”

“Ah, the rare mold you mentioned to me,” Ritter said towards Enzi.

“It funds their trips to the isle,” Beren said, “Though I can not think of any legal uses for that stuff.”

“Crime often pays more,” Enzi stated, “They sell it to the Ravaleian assassins, which while not legal, they are socially accepted.”

“Ravalei calls itself a pure democracy,” Beren said, “But sometimes it feels more like anarchy. It is still more civilized than what I found on Casea. I searched further and further inland, finding everything picked over by other scavengers. Dangerous creatures walked the ruins. Mostly the enormous ants.”

“I've heard tale of the Casean Ants,” Kava said, “If they are as large as I have heard, then they should not exist. Insects can not grow that large, they are not designed to handle that.”

“I imagine magic is to blame,” Beren said, “Though the Razor Mantis found in Kurrot are of similar size.”

“The trenchers we dealt with were foul enough,” Kava stated, “I worry when so many creatures are of proportions that do not make sense. Next thing you know, someone will tell me that the dragons from the legends told by the troglodytes are real.”

“I don't know about dragons,” Beren said, “But there is something far worse lurking in Casea. I approached a city that had once been known as Lorica. It was the center of scientific achievement and magical research for Casea. Just seeing it in the distance made me think of turning back. Great clouds swirled above the city in a constant maelstrom.”

“I hate to think what the damage to the isle might have done with all that magic and science,” Enzi said, “From what you are saying, you found something terrible.”

“Beyond terrible,” Beren replied, “It was confirmation of something I was not sure I believed. I felt I had little to fear, so I entered the city. I searched around despite a sense of foreboding and pure evil. A great many treasures sat unclaimed. It seemed too easy. I saw the blade I hold now and took it in my hand. It saved my life that day. The blade was remarkable when I cleaned it off. It gleamed so well that I saw movement behind me in the mirrored metal. I spun and saw a terrible beast. I had been taught of this creature and others like it in Hadrarius. They were the monstrosities that many Tarvoni make deals with to increase their power.”

“A demon?” Enzi asked with a twinge in his voice.

Beren nodded, “It was massive and shrouded in shadows. I could feel its malevolence as it came towards me. The dread I had felt in the city had been its very presence. I thought that my end had come. My feet seemed rooted in place. I broke through the fear and fled through the city, hoping to use the buildings as obstacles to escape the creature. Then I saw why the city remained filled with artifacts. I stumbled across a mighty ziggurat covered in the skulls of the dead. The maelstrom was centered above it. I had run straight to the very home of the demon.”

Beren took a deep breath, “Even with all my skill and a Casean blade at my side, I saw no way I could defeat such a foe. I fled the city, though the demon was hot on my tail a few times. I lost him and made my way back towards the Adventurer's Port. The black ship had certainly left by then. I was worried that the fiend would track me down but he never came. Eventually the ship came back and I took passage back to Ravalei. If I ever return to Casea it will be with an army of allies to defeat that monstrosity. The Tarvoni supposedly make deals with the demons and even summon small fiends to their service, but the demons do not stay here long. This fiend is actually permanently in our world.”

“A worthy threat to take down someday,” Enzi replied, “Hopefully whatever allowed it to enter this world also prevents it from leaving that city. I can not imagine many other reasons why such a powerful creature would not simply have followed you and ended your career short.”

Suddenly a great commotion interrupted the conversation. The group moved to see what all the fuss was about. A corpse was dragged into the camp. It was one of the rangers who had been on patrol. His head and spine were missing. The Beast that Takes Trophies had taken another skull for his collection. Immediately a party was put together to investigate.

“Take us to where you found him,” Enzi said, “We will see what Mayitso can sniff out.”

***

The goblin sat in a tree cleaning his new trophy as his listened to the humans in the camp not far from his position. He watched the party sent out to find him with great interest. The monstrous members intrigued him. He had never seen a gorgon, vodyanoi, or minotaur before. He had to resist an urge to spit at the dwarf. The Halz had long been a bane to his people. Seeing one above ground and away from his people seemed like a unique opportunity. A dwarf skull would make an exquisite trophy.

The Feergrus man worried the goblin. From his limited knowledge, they were mages. Defeating him would be a challenge. The large wolf also worried him. Such a creature had very sharp senses. He would have to be extra careful in his travels. Stealth was his ally. If the wolf could remove that advantage, the goblin would be greatly outmatched. The goblin decided to follow them and watch. Perhaps the opportunity to eliminate one would come. They seemed to be in too tight a group, but observation would allow the goblin to learn more about them.

***

Kasamir sighed as he watched Lunaris fire another wayward arrow from her bow. The only reason she was practicing at all was because the elder ranger was hovering over her. She had no urge to learn to fight. He was not even sure why she was being trained as a ranger. Being one of the Nuvroci Rangers was an honor. They were an elite force, using stealth and the wilderness to their advantage. He wondered if her entrance had been because of her family. He did not know the Justis family, he wondered if they were rich enough to get their daughter into an elite program.

When motivated, she learned things quite well. Her skills in stealth and knowledge of nature were second to none. She had learned them because it allowed her to find the best places to disappear so she could sleep. Kasamir wondered if there was anything he could do with such a lazy and unmotivated wretch. If she could apply her motivation to other things, it was possible that she could become a truly great ranger. As it was, Kasamir expected she would find herself in a bad situation someday. It would lead to her death.

He was not entirely sure how he felt about that. In a way it would be his fault as a failure of his teachings. Yet he also could not feel sorry for her. It was her own choice to act as she did. Perhaps if he was a better teacher he would know how to motivate her. Yet he had never chosen to be a teacher. He was a Nuvroci Ranger. That was what he was good at. The responsibility for Lunaris had been thrust upon him. As another arrow widely missed its mark, Kasamir merely sighed again. It was going to be a long day.

Comments (0) Trackbacks (0)

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.

Trackbacks are disabled.