Aure the Topaz: Book 1 of the Aglaril Cycle

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Capturing the Thief


Evan didn’t understand how a gem could die, but he wasted no time and prepared to enter the shack, his sword drawn. As he stepped up to the door, he heard a noise inside the shed. Immediately Evan moved to one side and motioned to the others to move back so they could not be seen from the doorway. He put his finger to his lips and waited.

The door opened and a man in a dark blue shirt and trousers stepped through the entryway. Evan grabbed the man and threw him to the ground. The stranger tried to resist, but only managed to sink a little into the mud. Evan pressed his advantage and pushed the tip of his sword into the man’s chest. It was only then that Evan noticed the man’s long dark hair, sparkling green eyes, and pointed ears.

“You’re the elf we’ve been chasing,” Evan said. “Where’s the gem you stole?”

The elf did not answer. A whisper of a grin played on his lips.

“Where is it?” Evan roared and pressed down on his sword a little more.

“Killing me won’t help you,” the elf sneered.

“Who said anything about killing you?” There was a trace of sarcasm in his voice. “Torture will do. You’ll be maimed and disfigured if I don’t get the information I want.”

“Ppppf, you’re bluffing,” the elf replied.

“Try me,” Evan snarled. His eyes were like ice.

The elf paused. His eyes shifted back and forth and the faint grin on his face faded. He swallowed hard and perspiration beaded on his face.

“It’s gone,” said the elf.

“Gone?” Gone where?”

“I don’t know exactly. I sold it.”

“To whom?”

“A mage.”

“His name?” Evan asked insistently, teeth clenched.

“Jormundan.”

“Is he still around?” asked Brashani.

Evan looked up at the wizard. “You know him?”

“We’ve crossed paths before. A long time ago.”

Turning back to the elf, Evan asked, “What’s your name?”

“Ebalin.”

“What is Jormundan planning to do with the gem?”

“I don’t know. I was hired to find the Aglaril and give them to him. That’s all.”

Evan didn’t like the sound of that. “And how many have you found?”

“Just the one.”

Evan gestured with his head toward the shack. “Where does the portal stone go?”

“To Jormundan’s workshop.”

Evan grabbed Ebalin by his shirt and pulled him to his feet. “Show me.”

“I can’t.”

“Why not?”

“The portal stone knows who is permitted into the workshop and who is not. If you are not permitted, you end up outside the underground complex that houses the workshop.”

“A dungeon?”

“A series of caves. Each one has a trap or a creature in it to discourage the curious and the greedy.”

“So, you’ll guide us.”

“No,” Ebalin answered, as he grew pale and his lower lip quivered. “I don’t know how to get through the traps. No one ever has. It’s suicide.” He tried to pull away from Evan but the priest held him tight.

“Tie him up and gag him,” the priest said to James.

James took some rope out of his backpack.

As the bard started to restrain Ebalin, Iriel eyed the sailor. “How could you consort with necromancers?”

“And why shouldn’t I? Human necromancers are trying to kill human demon hunters and vice versa. It’s just like Davenar all over again; and it’s great sport to watch too.” He smiled broadly. James pulled the rope tight around his wrists. “Ouch,” cried Ebalin. He turned his head toward the bard. “Not so tight.”

“But they’re evil,” implored Iriel. “Working with undead, causing strife? Elves are better than that.”

Ebalin raised an eyebrow and turned back to face her. “Oh, really?” he said with scorn. “Tell that to Queen Emeriel and her minions who now occupy Andropolis.”

Iriel blushed and walked away. James found a rag and stuffed it into the elf’s mouth.

Evan released his grip on the sailor and lowered his sword after surveying James’s work, satisfied that it would hold his prisoner. He went over to Iriel.

“Don’t let Ebalin upset you,” the priest began.

“He didn’t,” she replied curtly and then added, “But I was taught to believe in values that elves hold dear — truth, justice, honor — and to shun the negative, such as hatred, anger, and intolerance. It is unsettling to remember that not all elves share those values. The dukefs certainly don’t and apparently neither does Ebalin.” She glanced over her shoulder at the sailor. “I wonder what makes him ignore our most cherished values and side with necromancers?”

“He probably wasn’t taught the same lessons you were growing up.”

“But to be cruel to another elf …” she trailed off.

“He is just trying to undermine your morale.”

Iriel raised an eyebrow and smiled at him. “It won’t work.”

Evan smiled. “Glad to hear it.” He turned to face the others and said, “Let’s go. Brashani, be ready to detect traps.”

“Sure.”

“What do we do with him?” James asked and gestured at Ebalin.

“Leave him in the boat.”

“Won’t he escape?”

“Not when I get through with him,” said Brashani. “I can enchant those ropes of yours to entangle him. He won’t be able to move, let alone escape, after that.”

“Perfect,” replied Evan. “Do it.”

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