This is book two of Destiny of Fire
Having completed the day’s training of King Ollord’s newly appointed commanders, Balgor left the dungeons and commenced the climb up to his tower: a long, spiralling ascent at the end of each day’s toil. It was his meditation and he savoured every moment of it: a time to contemplate the day’s events and to weigh challenges against accomplishments.
Seven hundred and eight steps later he set foot upon the landing just above his laboratory: a spacious opening and the tower’s highest reach. Here eight arches opened to the surrounding world and afforded the Bloodrobe an uninterrupted view of the environs of Lodeh.
Most others avoided this landing. Being high, it was constantly buffeted by the mountain winds and offered no practical use. However, Balgor was not most people; one word from the sorcerer and the wind’s howl was reduced to a whisper.
He gathered his robes about him and sat on the single stone chair in the centre of the landing, closed his eyes, and waited.
He heard the loud panting of his underlings as they arrived. Although they tried to stifle their laboured breathing, the weight of the burden they had hauled up from the dungeons made a silent entrance impossible. Wordlessly they placed the vat down before the Bloodrobe and retreated.
Balgor listened for a time to the fading sounds of their descent. It was only when silence was restored that he took a deep breath, his nostrils flaring as the iron-tang of blood teased his palate.
He opened his eyes then and looked at the still-steaming pool for a while. Then, reaching towards it, he trailed a finger through the living fluid and brought it up, dripping, to his tongue.
It did not take long for the link to open. Balgor’s consciousness soared, alighting from creature to creature, in a steady stream that bounced through the ether, using each awareness as a springboard towards the next, forming a long chain of links until his mind was melded with his brethren.
Klathka was the first to reveal herself and Balgor was instantly filled with desire as the link between them took hold and grew strong. Viriill was next and soon all the others were connected as well.
What news? Klathka asked.
Balgor could feel her connection to him on many levels and responded to all of them, though he kept only one open to the rest of his kin.
My spy has just sent word to me, he announced. The Adepts have enlisted some minions to aid them in doing their bidding. There is no doubt that they are biding their time before revealing themselves.
An avid surge of yearning came in the wake of this announcement.
Have you found them, then? Do you know where they hide?
No, he said, not yet.
Once the snarl of their disappointment had receded, he continued.
But these minions will eventually lead us to them, of that I have no doubt. All we have to do is watch and wait.
More waiting? spat Viriill. Where is the advantage in that? We have waited for thousands of years! Kill the vermin servants, Balgor! Force the coward Adepts to show their hand!
So like Viriill, Balgor thought. But, before he could respond, Greem cut in with the acid of his thoughts.
No, Balgor is right. The Adepts will have to emerge sooner or later and most definitely before the Illignment, but they will not chance it early if we reveal our intentions by slaying their servants. Let them think that we have relented, that they are forgotten and safe. Follow the underlings and see where they lead. As you said, sooner or later it shall be straight to where the vermin are hiding!
Viriill continued to vent his disappointment but the others ignored him.
What of the king you have chosen to corrupt? Is he proving pliable and useful to our schemes? asked Klathka.
Oh yes, Balgor replied. The time for tipping this land’s balance grows ever nearer … but do tell, how go your efforts with the portals? We cannot continue this task until they are able to be opened…
The trials are about to begin, Viriill said. Fear not, when you are ready you will find us right there, alongside you!
By unanimous consent the Bloodrobes allowed the link to wither.
Alone once more, Balgor remained where he was.
With one word he unleashed the winds and these instantly howled all around him, as if furious at having been contained, even for a short time.
Balgor smiled at their promise of violence.