Mendrek watched as the two horses disappeared and as a third rider joined them. He turned around to face Valyn who had not seen the other rider.
“My Lord, are you sure you want the hall opened?”
“Very well, it will be opened for you.”
Valyn walked away from him, leaving him with his thoughts.
He remembered the times he spent with his little brother Moldrick. The times when their father, a wizard himself, would teach them, give them tests and assess them.
When both were granted their first staffs, they had played around until Moldrick broke the rules. Their father, who was on the council at the time, warned him of his acts time and time again.
Finally, the council took his staff from him and cast him out. Mendrek remembered Moldrick arguing with him.
Moldrick decided to make his own staff. In the forests of Tedranor, Moldrick found the lost stone of Urturk; placing it on his new staff, he made his way to Horowitz where he killed their father. Before he could get the other council members, Mendrek came.
The battle that was fought between them was the hardest and roughest wizards would fight. Spell after spell, blow after blow and parry after parry. Mendrek defeated Moldrick, but because of the love Mendrek had, he left to Moldrick to live.
Moldrick took his chance and cut Mendrek’s thigh. No one saw that scar apart from those that witnessed the fight.
Moldrick swore enmity to Mendrek for life. And there he embraced the darkness of magic becoming the last blood mage of Elasia, Mia Moldrin.
There the war of brothers began, everywhere they met they fought. However, that had been many years ago and now the world had changed.
Mendrek made his way up to the golden hall where he saw a figure standing in the doorway. It was Hauma the king. His eyes were weary and frightened.
“My Lord Mendrek,” he said. “The creature or wizard that haunts these halls has taken the lives of my best men for many weeks now. I will not be responsible if it takes the life of one of the greatest wizards in our time.”
“No one will hold you responsible, My Lord.”
“But they will,” Hauma cried. “And I fear this could be the end of you.”
“No, it will not,” Mendrek said. “It is but the first of many a task I must do before we see the fall of the darkness rising in the south.”
“And what if it is?”
“Then the bridge shall be crossed when the time is right.”
Hauma looked at Mendrek for a while, his grey eyes full of shock and pity. With a sigh, he breathed into Mendrek’s ears, “May the skies protect you, My Lord.”
“Should this mage fall,” Mendrek said, “then the attack on your city shall follow soon. You must be prepared, My Lord.”
Hauma nodded and turned away from Mendrek, leaving him. Mendrek entered the hall.
Its stone pillars and columns were made of pure gold. The wooden archways were inlaid with the purest form of silver with the walls painted gold. As Mendrek’s foot landed, dust would rise in the air, leaving a mark where it was.
Mendrek perched himself on one of the tables and waited for fate to deal its fatal blow to his family. Through the large windows on the side of the hall, Mendrek could see the day fade away.
As night dragged on, Mendrek could hear the few mothers left in the city sending off their children to bed.
Suddenly the wind changed, and the Earth shook under him. Soft footsteps, he heard them approaching him, and the ever-familiar smell of burnt skin and flowers wafted its way into the room. Mendrek stood up and removed the cloak that hid his true form from the world.
In his true form of gold robes glistening in the dark, Mendrek saw the red eyes and flaming-red hair of Moldrick, who preferred to be called Mia Moldrin.
“Brother,” Moldrin whispered in his cruel voice. “How nice to see you at last, after all these years.”
“Moldrick,” Mendrek said. “Still in the darkness, I see.”
“Moldrick,” the dark wizard snarled. “That name is long forgotten and not used by me. I am Mia Moldrin.”
“And still a fool.” Mendrek giggled. “And yet you fled from me last night.”
“Fool, you say fool.” Moldrin laughed. “You are the fool, brother. Father’s fool; Elasia’s fool. I fled to get you alone. You think I am a fool like you. To fight for a boy fated to die at the hands of Sarzgat.”
“Aravoen is bound to restore the glory of Ebillon here in Elasia.”
“You are an even bigger fool than I thought!” Moldrin shouted.
“Why?” Mendrek asked, amused. “Because I fight for the right side?”
“Men, elves and every creature that fights Novorgord shall fall soon.” The blood mage growled with delight. “You all do not see the bigger picture.”
“So says your new master.”
“Yes, Lord Sarzgat never lies.” Moldrin smiled. His yellow teeth could be seen in the dim room. “Ebrithia is on the verge of extinction and none rides to protect them from the grendels.”
This news frightened Mendrek. He had no possible way of answering his brother.
“You see, Mendrek,” he said, “even the great golden wizard does not see everything. Did you also know that the darkness overpowers the light in the aura and essence of the great tree.”
“I di know that,” Mendrek smiled. “We all did.
“And the tears dry up, brother.”
“I know that as well.”
“Not what it means exactly.” Moldrin laughed. Mendrek was tired of being patronized by his younger brother. “Soon everything will be laid out inthe open.”
“My task is to rid Earose of you.”
“The armies under my command will be here before two days are past.”
Mendrek raised his staff and drew his sword, ready for battle.
Moldrin drew his chipped blade and charged at his brother.
The lights emitted from their staffs met in the air and threw both of them a few paces back. Mendrek directed his staff towards the windows, bringing the shattered glasses out of them. He threw them at Moldrin, sending the spell of fire behind them.
Moldrin had time only to duck and avoid the two attacks.
“Nerhe gunk,” he shouted. The Earth shook and all the windows in the hall shattered. A silver essence rose from the broken pieces and made for Mendrek.
“Deith lieg,” Mendrek replied. The essence burst into water drops that splashed the hall. Mendrek saw the flash of a sword and, raising his, he managed to block the blow.
Swinging furiously, dodging gravely and swinging their staffs, the two fought, forgetting they were wizards.
The door opened and the light of the full moon shone through the door. Many men stood there sword and shield in hand. Mendrek did not notice these things and neither did Moldrin.
They fought, overturning tables, blasting holes in the pillars, sending curses all around them. The men in the doorway did not dare march in, for fear of losing their lives. Instead, they stepped back a few paces as some curses flew past them.
The two brothers stopped for a bit, sweat on their foreheads and swords heavy in their hands.
“Give up, wizard!” Moldrin shouted.
Mendrek raised his staff in the air and sent something at Moldrin.
Moldrin dodged it. He smiled and looked at the tired Mendrek. He knew he had won.
Like their father before them, Mendrek could not believe he had done it: sent the curse of warm pears at his brother. But he had no choice, unlike his father who stopped it and let himself die at his son’s hands.
“Is that the best you can do, Brother?”
“No,” Mendrek said heavily. “It is the worst, watch your back.”
Moldrin turned in time to see a spear pierce him in his stomach. He turned to look at Mendrek with shock on his face.
The blood came from his mouth and he fell on his knees. Mendrek rushed forward and held him in his hands.
“You forced me, brother,” he cried.
“See you in the other world, Mendrek,” Moldrin said coldly. “There I will kill you just like I killed Father.”
He closed his eyes for the last time with the spear sticking out of his back. Mendrek drew it out. He heard the footsteps approach him. Slowly he picked up his brother’s staff and looked at the stone. Its red light was diminishing rapidly.
He raised his hand to hold back the Earoseian men. Slowly he touched his staff to the fading stone in the blood mage’s staff. A soft humming sound surrounded the entire room. Slowly the red light was being drawn into the golden light; after a few seconds Moldrin’s stone shattered into a million pieces.
Hiiuma slowly approached the dazed Mendrek. Mendrek had taken all the blood mage’s power into himself by doing what he had done.
“Thank you, Master Wizard,” a shaky Hiiuma said.
“Go inform the king that his hall is rid of evil.”
The men who had come around left the hall and walked away.
* * *
“Are you sure, Master Mendrek?”
“Yes,” Mendrek said. “The armies will come before nightfall.” It was two days since the fall of the blood mage and Mendrek sat with Hauma in the golden hall.
“My men return few by few and Hiiuma returned with only six-hundred spears, far less than what I hoped for.”
“Are the women and children all moved?” Mendrek asked.
“Yes, they are.”
Suddenly, the door burst open and a frantic Valyn walked in. “Father, it is two days now and Ralyn has not returned yet.”
“What?” Hauma roared.
“That girl has a lot to answer for, My Lord,” Hiiuma said, coming in behind Valyn. “Her bow and quiver are missing.”
“She will return,” Mendrek said.
“Let’s hope before tonight then,” Hauma snapped.
A blare of horns was heard in a distance. Loud clear and cruel they were. Hauma rushed to the door and looked far to the east and finally to the north. Mendrek came up to him and so did Valyn and Hiiuma.
Mendrek saw the black banners of Novorgord approaching. They appeared on the horizon like a storm cloud. With shock, he saw a few farmers pursued by the dark uruks in the plains.
“Come, Hiiuma,” he cried. “Gather a few men to you and ride with me to aid those farmers.” He rushed down the city, whistling distinctly. As he approached the gate, he saw his horse coming to him, and with agility known to none, he jumped on the horse.
Drawing sword and raising staff in the air he cried, “Ush tash intash!” His staff became pure gold and he galloped out with Hiiuma and his men following close behind him.
In a straight line, they met the uruks and broke them, giving the farmers time to enter the city. Seeing the farmers safely in the city, Mendrek cried for retreat. Pointing his staff at the uruks, he urged the riders to retreat. The golden light blinded and halted the uruks.
Riding like the wind, they entered the city.
“Lock the gates,” Hiiuma cried.
“My Lord,” one man said. “The Lady Ralyn is not yet here.”
“Let us hope she is safe where ever in the stars’ names she is,” Hiiuma said. “Now lock the gates and prepare for battle.”
Mendrek looked up and met the grey eyes of Hauma and together they hoped for the best of this day.