Within the castle Greshnak was a secret room that, until this very day, only one man had ever entered. At first glance, the room appeared to be small, but the more you wound your way about the place, it became obvious that the room was quite large and only seemed small because it was so heavily packed. There were enough shelves to divide the deceptively large chamber into bunches of alcoves. Neat, organized, completely dust free magical objects filled those shelves. And each object sparked in a light whose source could not be spotted by any none mystical means. Rings, talismans, swords of great and terrible power, and enchanted armor rested on pedestals placed in such a way that just barely left enough room for a thin man to pass through.
There were wards, of course; wards so powerfully woven that even those without a lick of experience with magic could see the octagons of light encasing the powerful treasure. And, as if by instinct, they would know too that to touch, or perhaps merely think of touching anything within that deceptively large, well organized, room would end in the most horrible fate and bring forth the rage of the king’s sorcerer, Riezar.
The sorcerer stood now in the entrance to that once secret abode, hands clasped behind his back, staring into his treasury. The shelves had been pushed against one another in order to make room for the hosts of armored men, looking very much as if they’d rather be someplace else. None of the men could spot what was missing, indeed something was missing, for not one of them had ever entered into the Keep of a sorcerer. They stood shifting their feet nervously and glancing uneasily towards the door. Magic was not a thing for sensible folk like themselves, but for Riezar, the king’s sorcerer, exceptions had to be made.
“So, erm, what is it we are looking for?” asked Gren, the captain of the guard.
Riezar shifted a glance at the captain. “Five rings,” he said coolly. He did not appear to be out of sorts at having been robbed, but none of the men had hung around enough sorcerers to know what an out of sorts sorcerer looked like.
“Ah, and what do they look like?”
Riezar snapped his fingers and five rings appeared to float in the air. The men jumped, and one went so far as to take two steps towards the door.
Gren swallowed. “I see.”
“You’re not looking at them,” Riezar said dryly.
“Ah, sorry,” Gren forced himself to look at the rings. “Ah, can you give us a description of the man who stole them?”
Riezar sighed. “He was young, had a narrow face and dark hair, slanted eyes,” he paused in thought, “a bit shorter than most men.” He glanced towards Gren. “Well, aren’t you going to write this down?”
Gren shook himself and nodded. He had been gazing nervously at the rings still floating in the air. He then drew out his notepad and asked Riezar to repeat his description.
“Right, we’ll find your man in no time,” he said, and looking extremely relieved, turned to leave the Keep.
“I’d like you to bring him alive,” Riezar called after the men.
Gren nodded, and quickly left the sorcerer alone in his Keep.
Minutes passed, and still the sorcerer did not leave. With a gesture of his hand, the shelves lined themselves once more into their proper position, leaving enough room for Riezar to fit between them. He walked about, picking up objects with wardings that allowed him alone to touch. He inspected them for damage and found none. He hadn’t really expected anything to be broken. The thief knew what he was about.
Twenty minutes passed before someone else entered into the Keep. He was an older man, in his mid-thirties, tall and wiry. He wore two blades, one on each hip, and a purple stone at his neck. He gripped his right hand on his left blade and bowed to Riezar. This was the man who would fulfill the task that the guards were obviously unsuited for. Anyone who could get past Riezar’s wards would be able to handle a gaggle of less than exceptional men.
“What is it you require?” the true hunter asked respectfully, not rising from his bow.
Riezar set down the object he’d been inspecting. He gestured to the floating rings. “The thief who stole those rings.”
The other man rose and looked to the rings. Riezar repeated the thief’s description.
“I want him alive, with or without the rings,” Riezar said.
The man blinked. “Without the rings?”
Riezar shrugged. “I can replace them easily enough, Kai,” he lied, but he didn’t want the public to know just how important those rings were. “The thief however…”
The man, Kai, nodded, still gazing at the rings. “I will return them if I find them.” He paused for a moment and seemed to hesitate before speaking. “How did he get in?” he glanced at the sorcerer.
“That’s what I’d like to know.”
An hour till dusk and no one was on the road save for a lone rider, hunched over in his saddle, looking as if he’d been through the ordeal of his life. His clothes were cool with sweat and he smelt worse than pigs in a stable, worse than chickens cooped up in their pins, worse than three month old death on a stick. In fact, he smelt so bad, that the horse was having trouble putting up with him.
Three days had passed since Zax had broken into the keep of Riezar. He had hardly slept since. For three days he did little else but ride, or walk to give his steed a rest. By the time he reached the port where a ship was waiting to take him to a neighboring country, he was beyond exhausted. Though he was young, little older than twenty, a hard three days ride and with the fear of a sorcerer on his trail could put anyone on edge.
Zax led his steed through the city of Sherwood, to the docks. Few shops and street stands remained opened this late in the day. He passed a startled jeweler and two white faced big men at the market place, but was too weary to ask what could have scared them so, not that he really cared. The sight did worry him enough to glance about, but saw no one following him. He breathed easy.
At the docks, Zax had some trouble finding his ship. He’d never been to Sherwood, but had sent a letter and half the pay for the trip ahead of him. The ship would not leave till tomorrow morning, however, Zax figured that if he bribed the captain a bit they could leave within the hour. But when he found the captain, directing his crew about the ship, he thought it would be best for him not to make much of a scene.
He listed his name down as part of the ships passengers. The sailor, checking off his name, wrinkled his nose at Zax. And that was about the time Zax decided to find an inn and a warm bath. For a full five minutes Zax debated with himself. Sleep or a bath? In the end, the sailor’s wrinkled nose won out and Zax headed for the tubs.
The following morning, he arrived early to board the ship. He checked a small pouch, which he carried around his neck; to be sure the five rings were still there. He did not expect them to be gone, but the night before he had dreamt of a tall man with two swords at his hip and a purple stone at his throat, standing over him as he slept. Upon waking he found no one to be there, yet he could not quite get the image out of his head.
“Jae Mok?” a crewmember of the ship asked. He tugged Zax on the shoulder to get his attention.
“What? Oh, yes?” Zax replied and glanced about, fearing someone was asking for him.
“You will be with us the whole journey?” the crewman asked.
“Yes, I expect I will,” Zax rubbed his eye.
The crewman looked him over. He was a great deal older than Zax. “You won’t be bringing any trouble down on us I hope?”
Zax paused in rubbing his eye. He lowered his hand and blinked as innocently as he could at the crewman. “Whatever gave you that idea?”
“You look skittish and as if you’ve been riding hard. Not to mention this ship sails for another country,” he stared towards the city as he spoke, “and there’s a group of guards heading this way.”
“What?” Zax yelped and swept his head to the docs. “I don’t see anyone. Where…” he trailed off as he heard the crewman’s belly laugh.
He patted Zax on the back. “Not to worry. Whoever is after you hasn’t caught up with you yet. I don’t expect they will once we set off.”
Zax let out a false laugh. “Well no one’s after me, I’ll have you know. And even if they are that’s really none of your business. I just don’t like guards is all. They always look at me as if I’m about to do something wrong.” Zax let out a little cough.
“Eah, can’t imagine why,” the crewman said. He put out his hand. “Name’s Kel. So long as the trouble isn’t too deep I’ll keep an eye out for you. Don’t need to tell me nothin’. I’ve been there lad, had a bit of an affair with a lord’s daughter. But, gods, she was pretty.”
Zax offered no reply. He managed an awkward smile for Kel as he took the man’s hand.
“Well, Mr. Mok, I’ll expect a safe passage.” Kel patted Zax on the back once more before heading off to aid the other crewmen as they set the sails.
Thank god for nostalgic crewmen. I must really be a wreck to attract his attention.Zax noticed the captain staring at him and decided it was best to retreat to his cabin until the ship set sail.
For the first few days of the voyage, Zax had trouble
sleeping and the tall man with the two blades continued to haunt his dreams. He
woke early and took to checking the deck of the ship; nothing but the morning
air and the sound of the crewman’s ore hitting the water. Forests and rock
bluffs to either side of the river was all that lazily passed the ship by. The
scenery and the light splash of the water instilled a tranquility in Zax that
calmed his dazed mind and he soon forgot the haunter of his dreams. But each
morning he’d rise again with the same feeling of unease and yet still he found
nothing, and was once again calmed.
Every night and every morning he’d check the rings in his pouch. He did not put them on and would not try till he was well within the neighboring country. He knew that each ring was a key to a door or would aid him in some way when entering The Temple of Mashock. The temple was his end destination. He knew it contained treasures as well as many dangers, but the five rings would gain him safe passage. There was said to be a wishing well within the temple. However, he could not find a source to prove that rumor true.
A week passed without incident and it was then that Zax truly breathed easy. Though the man continued to haunt his sleep, he did not put much thought to him. By the second week of the voyage, Zax had grown quite tired of the confines of the ship. Kel was entertaining enough, but most of the other passengers kept to themselves. Or perhaps they simply didn’t appreciate Kel’s mannerisms. He was a sailor through and through and no company becoming of the softhearted.
The ship docked at the city of Redbrick, and would not leave until early the following morning. Many of the other passengers parted with the ship and several more signed on to set off.
“Fancy yourself a drink?” Kel asked, coming to lean on the ship’s railing beside Zax.
“Oh, ah, well, if you insist,” Zax said and smiled at the crewman.
“Thought it might take a bit more to convince you,” Kel chuckled.
Zax shrugged. “No trouble so far and the ship doesn’t leave till dawn.”
“Yes, likely we’ve outrun whoever is chasing you,” Kel said a little too loudly for comfort.
Zax glanced around, but the rest of the crew had already left the ship and the captain was down at the docks, busy with the new passengers.
Kel chuckled again. “Come on, lad. Let’s get ourselves a drink.”
With that, the pair of them headed for a pub Kel said was good. Fighting down a feeling of nervousness, Zax laughed and joked along with Kel, hoping he appeared more at ease than he felt. He couldn’t stop himself from glancing at the posters of wanted men. He did not get a good look at any of them. Blatantly walking up to a poster would let Kel on to exact manner of trouble Zax had landed himself.
It was not quite the hour when the pub was at its best. The sun was still up with plenty of time left of the day to work, yet still a good number of travelers occupied the tables, enjoying themselves at a game of dice or cards. Men talked, occasionally someone left the bar and was replaced by another. The activity was light, but there was still activity.
Kel bought the first round of drinks. He then became preoccupied with the serving woman, who didn’t seem to mind his attention. The two appeared to have met quite often before. Zax left them to it, drinking his ale and doing his best to relax, but he couldn’t get those wanted posters out of his head.
He took to eavesdropping on the conversations of other men. After about an hour of hearing nothing of use he quit listening and bought himself another drink. It was then that he realized both the serving woman and Kel were missing. That was quick… He took a swing of ale and choked.
An eerily familiar man entered the pub. His gaze swept the room, and almost immediately landed on Zax. Not taking his eyes from Zax, the man grabbed one of the serving women and told her something that Zax could not hear, though he could have guessed the subject matter. The woman flashed Zax a frightful glance before hurrying out of the pub.
Well, shit.Zax forced his hand to stay clear of the pouch that held the rings. Still keeping Zax’s eye, the man started towards him. I suppose I should run. No, that would create a bit of a scene. Zax nodded his head up the stairs and turned to look at the man once more.
The fellow paused, eyebrows drawing together. Zax nodded again up the stairs, and made to rise. The man hesitated, but nodded. He headed for the stairs, keeping an eye on Zax, who leapt over the bar and dashed through the kitchen door. The cook let out a shout, and told him to wait his turn, but he was out the back door of the pub before the cook could do much more.
He darted down the alley, not glancing over his shoulder when he heard the pub’s back door smash against the wall. He threw himself into the first narrow street he could find. Only then did he look behind him to find the man right on his heels. Damn he’s fast!
He turned his head around and slammed into a transparent purple wall. He rebounded off it and fell to the ground, clutching his nose.
“Ouch, oh god, I think you broke my nose!” Zax whined, still clutching his face. He feigned pain as he watched the man between the slits of his fingers.
The purple stone was glowing at the man’s throat, his hand reached for one of the two swords at his hip.
He’s gonna kill me! With that panicked thought, Zax dropped his act and shot to his feet. He took a breath, and slammed a fist into the ground. He felt his Sparkburst to life within his chest, the strength of it shot down his arm into the earth. He threw his hand before him and spread his fingers. The earth spit into five jagged points, all aimed at Zax’s stalker.
The man’s eyes widened, he barely had time to throw his hands to either side of him. The purple stone’s light brightened as another transparent wall appeared before him, shielding him from the spikes of earth.
While the man was distracted, Zax tapped a finger to his chest, and felt his form lose solidity. Like a ghost, he passed through the man’s first purple barrier. He tapped himself again, regaining solid form. He then darted down the alley once again.
Kai stood shocked for a moment, staring after the youth who’d just dropped from Kai’s tracer completely. The boy had just passed through his barrier without disturbing it in the slightest. He’d lost physical form completely, turned into a phantom of air and drifted through. Kai had never seen anything like it.
He shook himself, casting off his barrier and starting after the boy once more. He was fast, but small. With Kai’s long legs he was able to match the boys pace. Kai chased him from alley to alley, leaping over barrels and boxes the lad knocked over in his haste to get away. The earth rose unexpectedly beneath Kia’s feet and he tripped, but he managed to righten himself with enough time to catch sight of the boy dipping into a narrow alcove.
He rounded the corner and smirked at the wall of brick, trapping the boy. Kia had him cornered, or so he thought…
As if weightless, the boy scaled the wall and was over in a manner of seconds. Kia hastened after him, using the power of the stone to create stepping places and by the time he spotted the lad again, he’d darted into a narrow way leading to the open street.
Using the power of the stone at his throat, Kai threw forth another barrier. Just as before, the boy changed into the phantom of air and breezed through the barrier. Kai waited for the boy to change again before casting out the stone’s power once more and wrapped the boy’s legs in purple bounds. The boy tripped out into the street. He let out an ‘oomph’ as he hit the redbrick.
The boy jerked his hand towards his chest, but Kai lashed out with the stones power, binding the boy’s hands to the ground. Kai released the barrier and stepped over the boy into the street. He reached for the sword at his right hip, but the boy took a breath and blew it into the dust covering the brick. It spun up as if caught by a wind and flew into Kai’s eyes.
“Gah!” Kai shouted, gripping his face. He lost concentration and became aware of the boys bindings giving way. He then felt someone kick his shin. Kai let out a grunt of pain, and crumpled to his knees in the street.
Zax glanced over his shoulder. He’s got to be Riezar. What other sorcerer wants me dead? Though, he had expected Riezar to be a bit more impressive… He made to dart into another alley, but a guard blocked his path. He was so startled that he spun and ran from the guard lounging on the alley wall. The guard’s eyes widened briefly, before he too started chasing after Zax.
“Leave me alone, I didn’t do anything!” Zax yelled over his shoulder.
“Then why are you running from me?” The guard called after him.
“You scared me!”
“Then stop running!”
“Guard, stop him!” The man whom Zax guessed to be Riezar shouted after them.
“God damn it,” Zax said under his breath. He spared another glance over his shoulder to find both the guard and Riezar at his heels. “Go away!”
He soon found himself approaching the pub he’d just run from. A group of guards stood outside the door. The bartender was speaking with the captain. At Zax approached, he pointed and exclaimed.
Zax slowed as the guards ahead started at him.
“Halt!” the captain shouted.
Zax halted and threw up his hands. “I didn’t do anything!” He spun and pointed an accusing finger at Riezar. “He’s trying to kill me! Arrest him!”
Before the guards could become too befuddled, the man, who Zax thought to be Riezar, pulled out a metal badge from the pocket of his tunic along with a piece of parchment. He flashed the badge before the guards. “I am in the employ of the Majesty’s Sorcerer’s, Riezar. My name is Kai Roan, and this man is under arrest for thievery.”
Zax glanced around searching for a way past the guards. “It was only an apple, honest. Nothing to kill me over.”
“That’s enough,” the captain said. “Come along, and we’ll get this matter settled.”
“But my wife is having a baby!” Zax lied. The guards were almost upon him.
“If your wife is having a baby, why would you go steal an apple? Besides, you’re far too young to be a decent father,” one of the guards said.
“Oh, my goodness!” Kel called from the pubs entrance. The serving maid he’d disappeared with clung to his arm, hair astray and clothes disheveled. “What are you doing here? Your wife is having a baby!” He turned, wide eyed, towards the guards. “Officers, you must let him go. I’ll pay for whatever he has broken.”
“Who are you?” The captain asked.
“I’m his father.”
“Enough,” Kai snapped. The stone at his throat pulsed with light and Zax felt the binding of its power wrap around his legs once more. He lost balance and hit the ground. The purple binding spun up his legs, over his arms, and around his mouth. Zax jerked from side to side, but the bindings held him too tight. He couldn’t move his fingers to touch his chest. Though his Spark was still alight inside him, he could not make the motions to use it. “This man stole five rings from the treasury of Sorcerer Riezar. You need not bother yourselves with this matter any longer.”
The captain of the guard swallowed at the sight of Kai’s magic. “You heard him, men. It’s out of our hands.”
The other guards had already taken several steps away from Zax when Kai’s binding appeared. They glanced at one another, but none wanted to abandon their duty as readily as the captain, despite their fear. Brave men annoyed Zax.
Kai drew out his blade, brushed past the uneasy guards and put it to Zax’s throat. “Where are the rings?”
Zax stared at him. How am I supposed to answer bound and gagged? He rolled his eyes and managed to wiggle one finger into a crack between the bricks of the road. His Spark made a connection with the earth. He jabbed it in as far as he could, sending out the power of his Spark.
Ten thin, but strong spikes of earth erupted out of the brick and jabbed into Kai’s lower legs. The man let out a cry and withdrew his blade, waving it in the air. The bindings disappeared from Zax, and he rolled to his feet. However, two not so startled guards grabbed him by his arms and held him in a firm grip. Zax was small and the guards were a good deal taller than he, however he had a few tricks the armored men did not.
With a smirk, he laid a hand on the guard’s metal, and let the power of his Spark pour out of him. As if threads of wire, lighting sprouted from his fingers and the moment it made contact with the guard’s armor, it conducted and soon the men were shrieking in pain. They immediately released him, jolted by the shock, and collapsed to the ground. Zax stumbled away from them.
But before he got too far, the earth heaved up and out of the brick road and a wall rose before him. He turned to find Kai wielding a brown rod. Zax smirked, and touched one hand to the wall, but this time when his Spark emptied into the earth he found himself being drained.
Realizing his mistake, Zax tried to draw his power back, but the pull was too strong. The earth reached out of the wall and engulfed Zax hand, pulling him into the wall. Desperately, he grabbed his arm and tried to pull it out, but the wall continued to swallow him. He felt the last of his power drain from him completely. He pressed his hand against the wall, thinking to use it as a brace to pull the other arm out, but it too sank in.
Kai pressed his sword to Zax’s throat once more. “You’re more trouble then you’re worth, lad. Now, tell me where the rings are before I bleed you.”
Zax bounced unhappily in his saddle. The horse he rode was tied to Kai’s. His arms were bound behind his back with a special stone that Kai had crafted. The stone worked as a constant drain to Zax’s Spark, preventing him from using it to escape. He no longer carried the rings he had stolen from Riezar. With a blade to his throat, and the threat of death, Zax had little choice but to give in. Though, truth be told, he was not certain why he was still alive. The man had the rings. He supposed Riezar wanted to run a trial for him or perhaps kill Zax himself. Either one was not a good outturn for Zax, so he took to persuading Kai to letting him go. As it was, Kai wasn’t going for the bait.
“Will you just hear me out,” Zax muttered, clinging to his horse with his knees. It was hard on his legs and back, but it could have been worse. They could have not given Zax a horse at all. Around ten guardsmen escorted the pair of them, making a kind of formation with Zax and Kai at the center.
Kai didn’t even glance at Zax, just kept his eyes straight on the road ahead.
“Look, whatever Riezar is paying you, you can double, or probably triple it if you just took the rings and headed for the Temple of Mashock, you could use them to get past the dangers of the temple and come away with as much treasure as you can carry,” Zax said, keeping his voice low enough that only Kai could hear. Zax had hinted that the rings were profitable, but with Kai continuing to ignore him, he thought it’d be best to take a more direct approach.
For a moment, Zax thought it worked, for the older man turned his head to Zax.
“The Temple of Mashock,” Kai’s tone didn’t sound impressed. He met Zax with a flat stare. “What have you heard about it?”
“Well,” Zax said, attempting to lounge casually on his horse. He didn’t think he pulled off the desired effect for he nearly fell off. “I know of something particularly valuable at the temple’s center; something that few have gone far enough to see.”
There was a brief pause before Kai spoke.
“You don’t know anything about it do you?”
“Of course I do! I got the rings didn’t I? I know where it is. I’ve done my fair share of research,” Zax said.
“Yes, and did it ever occur to you that Riezar might have already been to the temple? Did you ever wonder how he came by those rings? Did you think that he might have more, or perhaps things of greater value in the keep?” Kai snorted at Zax’s expression.
“So you think the sorcerer could pay you more than you’d gain by trying your luck with the temple?” Zax asked.
“I’m saying it would be foolish to double cross a sorcerer, particularly one that is employed by a king.”
Zax was quiet for a few moments. “You know, you could tell them that you didn’t catch me till after I’d reached the temple--”
Zax’s mouth snapped shut as Kai’s purple binding wound around his face.
Bound and gagged, Zax spent the rest of the day bouncing on the back of his horse, doing his best to keep from falling off. He’d tried earlier to fall off his horse and make a break for it. It hadn’t gone over well.
After four weeks of uncomfortable traveling, and little conversation on Zax’s part, the group was now making their way down the main streets leading to the castle, where Riezar waited, and Zax assumed the headsman axe as well. The guards surrounding him had tripled since entering the city. They were hardly necessary. Kai’s bindings were enough to keep Zax from running, or even maintaining a comfortable position.
A few high spirited farmers did stop by to throw some vegetables at Zax and shake their fists at him. Zax would have sneered, or shouted some pretend spell at them, but Kai had gagged him upon entering the city.
They entered through the main gates, through a grand pair of double doors, where the majority of Zax’s guard dispersed. Kai kept a close watch on Zax as they traveled through the castle. He went so far as to hoist Zax around by the arm.
It came as a surprise that Kai didn’t lead Zax straight to the dungeons. Certainly he was going to have some sort of trial before they killed him. Why else would Kai drag him all the way back here? But it was not to be so. Kai led Zax down the familiar passageways to Riezar’s branch of the castle.
Kai, with his free hand, stopped a passing servant. “Excuse me,” he said politely. “Do you know where Riezar is at the moment?”
The servant glanced at Zax before answering.
“The top of his tower.”
“Ah,” Kai said, and led Zax on.
Zax watched the servant pleadingly, but was unable to do more due to the gag. It was at this point Zax became truly panicked and threw himself to the floor. He slipped out of Kai’s grasp and managed to pull himself to his feet without his hands, and stumbled a few paces away before Kai lashed out at him with the power of the stone. Purple bindings wrapped around Zax’s legs, and without turning back, Kai hauled him down the hall.
Zax managed to flip onto his back to keep his face from dragging across the floor. Upon reaching the first few steps of Riezar’s tower, Zax began to truly regret his panicked decision to run. About twenty steps up Kai paused and addressed Zax sternly.
“Are you going to give me any more trouble?”
Zax shook his head.
“Good,” Kai said and released Zax’s gag and the bindings on his legs, the bracers on his arms remained though. “Because if you do I will drag you all the way up, and I won’t be gentle about it either,” and with that, Kai helped Zax to his feet and the pair of them continued up the spiraling staircase.
At the top Kai rapped on a heavy wooden door.
“Enter,” a deep voice called.
Kai glanced at Zax before pushing open the door.
Riezar stood holding a bottle of orange liquid over his head and examining it under the light. Quite a number of other potions and alchemic equipment filled the surprisingly large room. Rubies and other magical objects sat on unexpectedly clean shelves, and an intimidating iron chair with shackles for wrists and ankles sat in the middle of a pentagram and several different colored pillars.
Kai bowed and gestured to Zax. “Your thief,” he said and did not rise.
Zax shifted his eye towards Kai briefly while Riezar lowered his potion bottle and gazed from Kai to Zax. He set the bottle down and addressed Zax.
“What is your name?”
“Jae Mok,” Zax said. He knew better that to give a sorcerer his real name.
Riezar looked skeptical. He gestured for the pair of them to enter.
Zax glanced longingly at the stairs, but Kai grabbed him by his arm and dragged him inside. The door snapped shut of its own accord and clicked ominously.
“How far did he get?” Riezar asked Kai.
“Farther than I would have liked,” Kai admitted. He reached into his pocket and produced the five rings Zax had stolen. He placed them into Riezar’s outstretched hand.
Riezar inspected each one before setting them on a shelf with a host of other magical objects. He returned his attention to Zax.
“What is your name?” he asked again.
“I told you,” Zax said. “Jae Mok.”
“Are you sure,” Riezar said, “you want to go down in history as the only man to break into a high sorcerer’s keep as Jae Mok?” He arched a brow.
Zax pursed his lips, and looked up to the ceiling in thought. “Well, it’s not that impressive but it is my name.”
“You know, I am going to kill you,” Riezar said.
Zax shifted uncomfortably. “That’s a bit of an overreaction.”
“You broke into my Keep,” Riezar said. “I need to set an example to anyone else who might try. So, I ask again, do you want to go down in history as Jae Mok?”
Zax thought about it, really thought about. Well, since I’m going to die anyway, might as well let the world know my real name… “Zax Vieringe,” he, at last, admitted.
Riezar half smiled. “Pleasure to meet you.”
“Can’t say the same,” Zax said.
Riezar gestured to an intimidating iron chair at the center of a pentagram.
Zax glanced at it. “I’d rather stand, thanks.”
“Undo his binding, Kai, and assist him to sit,” Riezar said.
Kai shifted uneasily. “My lord, you should know the nature of his magic. I had quite a time in trying to catch him. He seems to possess some sort of elemental ability. He can shift his physical form and drift through any magical barrier. I assume that is how he was able to break into your Keep.”
Riezar nodded. “Yes, I suspected something of an elemental.”
Riezar arched another brow. “You think you’re the only one who can walk through walls? Why do you think I sent Kai to bring you alive? I know there are few people who possess true magic. A young man with little training in the magical arts stands little chance against the spells of a sorcerer. Yet you slipped through every enchantment without leaving a trace. What other explanation is there other than the true magic of an elemental?”
Riezar nodded again towards the chair.
“Oh, will you just kill me?” Zax said. “I’ll tell you everything you want to know about the temple of Mashock. You don’t have to torture me!” Panic had seized Zax again. Oh, god, I don’t want to die.
Kai hesitated. “Are you sure you want me to undo his bindings?”
“His magic won’t return immediately,” Riezar assured him.
Kai still wasn’t comforted. He led Zax around by the arm and pushed him into the chair before undoing the stone bindings at his wrist.
The moment he was free, Zax threw himself off the chair and shot for the door, or at least tried to. The second his bindings were off, the ankle shackles on the chair snapped onto him and he tripped, falling within the pentagram, which started to glow faintly. He looked fearfully at Riezar.
“What are you going to do to me? If you want to kill me just do it!”
“No,” Riezar said. “I will not kill you.” He spoke calmly, coming to circle around Zax, keeping out of the pentagram. He touched each of the different colored pillars. Zax suddenly realized they represented each of the elements he had mastered. As Riezar touched each one, they too began to glow faintly.
As a new wave of fear crashed into Zax, he dug his hands into the wooden floor and tried to drag himself and the heavy iron chair out of the pentagram. It was no use. His Spark had sprung to life again, but its power was too small. Without much hope, Zax jerked a hand towards his chest, but before it came close, something yanked him back into the chair and the wrist shackles pinned his arms down.
“What are you doing?” Zax cried again, unable to keep the fear from his voice.
Riezar continued to circle around the pentagram, letting his hands slide around each of the pillars. He began to chant in a language Zax did not know, though he did recognize his name uttered several times. The pillars of light grew brighter. It poured out into the pentagram. Threads of light drifted out of the wood and wrap around the iron chair. Riezar chanted faster and louder. He circled swiftly around Zax.
Hundreds of thin threads of light sprung out of the wood, wrapping around the chair and attaching onto Zax. When the threads touched him he felt no pain, but a different kind of binding. The threads continued to come until they touched every part of him. It was then that he felt them encircle around his Spark.
When this happened Zax became strangely aware of Riezar. He felt bound to the man by some invisible force.
The chanting stopped, the pillars shone so bright that Zax could not see beyond them. He could see nothing but patches of multicolored light.
The next thing he knew he was sitting on the floor. Iron chair, pillars, and pentagram vanished completely. He blinked spots out of his eyes and turned his head to Riezar, who was panting, yet wore a look of triumph.
“Rise,” he said.
And like a docile doll, Zax rose.