“Are you sure you want to attack this settlement?” asked a slightly hunched hooded figure, pointing towards a settlement that was located at the base of the forested hill he and another person were standing on.
“Yes,” replied the man that stood next to him confidently, gripping the ornately decorated hilt of his sheathed sword. He wore a black and grey coloured armour which reflected the light of the pale autumn night’s moon.
“This settlement won’t be easy to assail like the previous ones,” remarked the hunchbacked man. “They have a small garrison of guards that protects it.”
“Good. The men have not seen combat in awhile...it’s time they do. What’s more, my blade thirsts for the blood of warriors.”
“If any of the men gets caught or killed my lord, the entire plan might be ruined,” stated the slightly hunched man, trying to dissuade his superior from carrying out his plan. “Decades of planning could go up in smoke.”
“I will see to it that that does not happen,” declared the man in armour as he walked off.
The hunchback man looked down to the settlement for a brief moment. He could see that it was a full of life, evident from all the lights that illuminated the houses and streets. He sighed before hobbling off to join his liege.
“Concentrate Thomas, feel the magical energy which surrounds you and channel it,” instructed an old bald man with a thick white coloured beard to a young man who was probably not more than thirteen years old. The young man was standing next to the old man. His hand hovered above a bowl of water.
“I can’t do it Master,” uttered the young man, shaking his head.
“Yes you can,” stated the old man adamantly. “Just concentrate, close your eyes and quiet your mind. Let the energy flow through you.”
Thomas did what the old master instructed him to do. He closed his eyes and took in a deep breath. A few moments passed before a blue aura started to form around his outstretched arm.
“You’re doing it my dear boy!”cheered the old man, grinning from ear to ear. “Now just chant the incantation.”
Thomas began chanting the words ‘Ezeref Ukeb’, over and over again. His hand began to glow brighter, a ring of energy with runic inscriptions had also formed around it. A thin layer of ice began to form on the surface of the water in the bowl which Thomas’ hand hovered over.
“Hohoho, you’re doing it my lad!” rejoiced the old man.
Thomas opened his eyes, wanting to see what exactly he was doing. Opening his eyes however caused him to lose his concentration, which in turn caused him to lose his connection to the magical energies that was allowing him to do magic.
“So close Thomas, so close,” the old man said as he placed a reassuring hand on his apprentice’s shoulder.
“I could feel it master, I could feel the magical energy flow through me,” said Thomas to the old man.
The door of the room in which Thomas and the old man were in practising the magical arts opened. The old man and Thomas turned their attention towards the door.Walking into the room was a fairly tall and clean-shaven middle aged-man. He also had short and neat black hair. The man wore a dark brown leather armour under a winter coat made out of fur. Pinned to the right side of his armour was a pin that was in a shape of a wolf’s head.
“Lord Wolfe, what brings you here?” asked the old man to the man who was walking up to him and Thomas.
“I’m here to see how young Thomas is progressing in his studies.”
“I’m afraid you’re too late my lord,” remarked the old man. “We’re done for the day.”
Lord Wolfe sighed.“What a shame. I wanted to see Thomas’ progress.”
“You can come by tomorrow my lord,” stated the old man. “We have a class then.”
“Father,” Thomas said, tugging at Lord Wolfe’s coat. “Can I go and find Benjamin? He promised to teach me how to use a bow and arrow after I finished class”
“Go, go and find your brother,” answered Lord Wolfe, tussling his son’s curly dark brown hair.
Thomas thanked his father and his master before making his way out of the room. The young boy grabbed his winter fur coat that was hanging on the coat hangar located next to the door before exiting the room.
Lord Wolfe and the old man now were the only people in the room. “So how’s Thomas’ progress Master Felix?”
“He’s progressing well,” replied Felix as he walked over to the fireplace of the room for its warmth. With every passing year, his old body increasingly disagreed with the perpetually cold weather of the Northern Lands, no matter how many pieces of warm clothing he was wearing. The fire at the fireplace was dying out, weakening. The old mage snapped his finger, bringing life back to the dying fire.
“Is he better than I was?” questioned Lord Wolfe, walking over to the fireplace.
Felix looked up to his liege, smiling. “Hoho, much better than you ever were Nathan. As he actually comes to class and practice.”
“Let’s just say that I wasn’t as interested in studying magic as I was in going hunting and chasing girls,” Nathan laughed. Felix joined him.
“I see great potential in Thomas, Nathan,” stated Felix, seriously. “With enough practice, he could be one of the greatest mages in the Northen Lands.”
“Not only a mage, Felix, but a warrior as well,” Nathan added. Felix nodded his head, agreeing with Nathan’s statement.
The door to the room opened. Nathan and Felix turned their attention away from the fireplace to the door. A young man with blonde hair walked briskly and with a sense of urgency into the room. He was wearing a dark blue and brown coloured leather armour under his winter fur coat. The young man also wore a dark blue coloured headband which concealed his forehead.
“What is it Flynn?” asked Nathan, recognising the look of urgency on one of his most trusted bodyguard’s face.
“My lord, another settlement has been attacked,” answered Flynn.
Another settlement? Nathan and Felix looked at one another, each exchanging worried looks.
“Which settlement?” queried Nathan, walking over to Flynn.
“Coldwater, my lord.”
“Do you know what happened?” a concerned Nathan chided.
Flynn shook his head. “No my lord, but Vincent and your brother, Lord Gilbert, is gathering a group of men to ride to Coldwater to investigate what has happened and to look for survivors.”
“I’m joining them as well,”stated Nathan. “Flynn, prepare Whitefang for journey.”
“Yes my lord!” acknowledged Flynn as he left the room to carry his lord’s instruction.
This was the fifth settlement that has been attacked in the past month. These attacks puzzled and deeply concerned the High Lord of the Northern Lands. Who would want to attack the settlements in the North? And why?