A Reawakening of Magic

Act One:


  Sharp spears of yellow light had begun to creep through the verdant green canopy of pine trees signaling the start of a new day. The fog was thick like a blanket this morning, and the dew-covered needles mushed into the mud as Carraig made his way home. A small plume of grey smoke in the distance was guiding him back with the faint smell of smoked bacon lingering in the air. Near three days in the glittering gem-filled mountains and the mushroom forests above his home supplied him with an abundant harvest of chanterelles and gemstones. He had planned on making a trip into the bazaar of Yorthen to sell his finds after returning home and seeing his family. Touching the two full leather sacks on his side, he thought to himself, "That old grouch Fanzor had better give me a reasonable price this time. Last time he tried offering me three gold coins for a full pound of chanterelles, is he crazy?"     Carraig stopped for a drink of water, and as he pulled the top from his cantine, he noticed that the snapping twigs and the soft mushing of the wet needles under his boots were the only sounds present in the forest. Most mornings, Carraig would be unable to think with all the bird songs or the bugles of elk, but the air was silent and still this morning - The forest felt sick. His mind began to wander as it searched for answers to the unsettling quiet, had a predator made a kill last night, had the Queen sent a hunting party into the hills again, or had something more heinous happened? His younger brother Broydin was known to wander out in the middle of the night when Carraig visited the mountains on his foraging trips. Had something happened to Broydin?   He stopped drinking and began racing home, but as his pace started to hasten so too did the plume of smoke that was rising from where his home should be. The funnel had increased to a great pillar of thick brown smoke much more substantial and darker than a normal chimney fire or smoker fire, Carraig threw the large bag from his shoulders and began sprinting to his house. In the distance, he could hear shouting and yelling, but none of the voices were familiar to him; they sound deep, and full of hatred. Then in a split second, a woman yelled out in agony - he knew in his heart that woman was his mother. He ran up to the tree line surrounding his home, the view wasn't great, but he could see a large group of heavily armored men standing near his well.   "Well they are not clad in the royal armor of the Queen, nor do they look remotely familiar, and why are they so short they look like children in armor. Is someone playing a trick on us?"   Carraig diverted his course to the small cliffside that overlooked his childhood property to get a better idea of what was happening to his home and family. Gliding through the dead leaves, mushrooms and morning mist Carraig crept to the cliffside. He peered over the cliff, and at that moment, his world fell apart in front of his eyes. His home was ablaze, his pigs had been slaughtered and loaded onto a wagon, the smokehouse where the famous smoked bacon his family was known for had been destroyed and crushed into splinters and his family was on their knees before a large group of heavily armored men. But something was off about these men, they were short nearly the same size as his younger sister Lyhri, and she was only thirteen and they all had massive beards that almost brushed the ground. Carraig had never seen these strange people before, and he wondered to himself, "Where did they come from, and what did they want with my family?"   The men surrounding the building were near around twelve in total and fully clad in boiled leather and armor with strange mounts that seemed to be Wild boars, but much burlier than any Carraig had ever seen before, and they seemed much more vicious than normal boars, more like a wolf in a pigs body. The warriors were also armed to the teeth with bows, swords, axes, and battle hammers.   "I couldn't take one of them, let alone twelve, I have no armor and this little dagger for snipping mushrooms, they would cut me down in seconds, and look at those boars, those tusks are near a foot long," Carraig muttered to himself in the brush.   They had bound his family with their hands behind their backs and on their knees. Carraig could see his Mother Marcy on her knees sobbing in her hands, Carraigs little sister Lyhri w pressed against mothers right hip with his younger brother Broydin clung to the left hip. They were all sobbing staring at the ground in front of them. His eldest sister Rhina was standing near the invader who was barking orders.   "Why had they singled out Rhina and where is Jagu?" Carraig thought. Jagu was fairly decent with a sword, and Carraig could only imagine what his older brother did when these invaders arrived.   Just then a new man rides up on a boar near a foot taller than all the other swine — the warrior riding the great beast, fully clad in black armor with red hair bright as fire indeed was a fearsome sight. Bursting through the black helmet was a grand braided beard full of rings and adornments of different metals and stones. All of the warriors surrounding his family separated, making room for the newcomer. Carraig, horrified by what he witnesses below when the warriors split, his brother Jagu is laying in a pool of blood with a blade in hand.   "Angor we have captured three prisoners, fourteen swine that have been slaughtered and loaded on the wagon, a few small pieces of gold and an emerald ring. Everything else is either junk or being loaded for use with the other slaves." Said the one barking orders earlier to the new arrival on the massive boar.   As the tremendous black helmet came off, it exposed a bald head shaved leaving a large red beard and a head covered in detailed tattoos.   "Great work as always Vikru, I see one of them was brave enough to test your skill," Angor said while pointing his sword at Jagu laying on the ground.   "He fought bravely, and stupid but I will say he was better than most of these worthless peasants in the hills here."   "Why is this one standing over here?" Angor said looking at Rhina   "An offering, we haven't blessed our Lord in near two moons, it is time."   "Load her on the wagon and have her brought aboard the ship, begin prepping her for the ceremony."   His mother cried out "Don't you dare take another one of my children from--"   Angor slapped Carraigs mother across the mouth with the back of his armored hand "Did anyone ask your opinion? Your daughter shall be graced by our lords' presence, the god of war, in true dwarven fashion. You should feel honored."   Angor walks past Carraigs mother who is spitting blood into the muddy earth and heads into the family home, disappearing for a moment. Upon returning, he is carrying with him a small book with a red leather cover.   He then leans down to Carraigs mother and asks her, "What is your name?"   *Silence*   Angor raises his other arm and slaps her once more this time, making her stumble to the ground. "If you keep vexing me I will make an example of you in front of your children, do you think they want to watch you die? Now let's try this again, what is your name?"   After spitting out a large mouthful of blood, she spits out "Marcy."   "Good see now how easy was that? We are going to try a harder question now, what do you know about the tale "Banished," and the missing wizard Ulbuzad the Cunning?"     Marcy responds with, "It's just a story I read to my children before bed."   Angor laughs, "Every Fairy tale has a sliver of truth about them, finding those truths is the real treasure. The tale talks about a tower that Ulbuzad used to live in, and rumor has it that Tower is located somewhere on this very island, have you ever heard of its whereabouts?"   "I already told you it's just a fairy tale, none of it's real and no one knows where the remains of Ulbuzads tower might lie."   "Alright...... let us try a harder question, and see if you can keep telling the truth. Why is it that your family here is four in total, but you currently have five beds in your home?"   "I had a child die in the last winter, and I haven't had the heart to remove the bed from our home yet."   *Slap*   Angors hand came crashing down, hitting Marcy square in the mouth this time knocking out one of her teeth. She fell to the ground too weak to stand any longer, Broydin and Lyhri clung to her as she lay on the muddy earth.   Angor turns and looks at Vikru and orders him "Send a search party into the woods, keep an eye out for hunting lodges or small cabins where stowaways may hideout."   "Yes, General" Vikru said while turning to engage his men in the new task. "Get these prisoners to the camp for work, and get this one back to the boat so she can get prepped for the ritual," Angor said as he mounted his massive boar and rode off into the forest.   Vikru had already gotten seven dwarves ready for the search party, and Carraig could see them beginning to make their way from the house and into the forest. He had run out of time. As his family was being wheeled away on a wagon, Carraig turned to the mountains.  

Act Two:

The Cabin

  Carraig had lost track of time since retreating into the woods; he may have been traveling for one day or three, he couldn't tell anymore. The days began to blur into one seemingly endless nightmare as sleep seemed to evade him. The forest was dull, and the smells that once brought Carraig joy no longer warmed his heart. He had begun working his way to the family cabin where he stayed on his foraging journeys but soon realized that a small path led to the cabin and the dwarves would surely find the home; he had to change course and quickly. The forests were now teeming with foreign Dwarves, the kingdom of Yorthen was more than likely captured, thus leaving Carraig one choice on where to go; Up. He knew the mountains were scarcely populated and the likely hood of the dwarves following him in the harsh elements was less likely than in the forest. As he made his way up the mountainside, he sat down upon a fallen tree on a ledge overlooking the kingdom of Yorthen and the Sea of Shadows Beyond. Looking at the nation below, he began to wonder about his family.   "What was this ritual they were speaking about for Rhina?" "I can't believe that bastard would just hit my mother like that. What did we ever do to them? We've never even seen them before." "Poor Lyhri and Broydin they were forced to sit there as he hit her." "I wish I could make him pay for the death of Jagu and for beating my mother, but what could I ever do?"   Carraig sat on that log for a while thinking about everything he would like to do to Angor and the dwarves who ruined his life. As his mind danced around the possible outcomes for Angor, the shadows began to grow as the sun started to set. He had become tired of sleeping outside, and storms were bound to come, he would need to find shelter. Different possibilities raced through his mind. He could search for a cave higher in the mountains; hopefully, it was free of bears or cougars. Constructing his shelter would protect him for a day or two, but he has to keep moving, so that seemed pointless.   Staring at the massive giant that lay behind him, the Emerald Mountain, Carraig remembered an old forager who would sell these beautiful emeralds at the bazaar.   "Oh what was his name again...Ursin...No that's not it....Uson..no...ahh Usim...Usim Shroomfingers was his name."   The gems Usim sold were always twice the size of the ones Carraig would find. He would always ask Usim where he found such stunning gems and all Usim would ever say back was "The Emerald Mountain provides a wonderful bounty, one just needs to look." Most in the kingdom though Usim to be crazy, Carraig knew better though, no one here could grow to that age without some smarts.   Carraig then thought to himself "The old man had died about three moons ago on a trip into Yorthen and I don't remember anyone ever mentioning anything about his home. I bet it's been left untouched, but where is it? He must have lived close to the Emerald mountain with all those amazing stones he'd find. The emerald mountain is huge though there has to be something else he said...think Carraig..think."   Carraig remembered the old man mentioning a meadow full of clover near his house. There were only a few meadows in the mountains, and he wondered if he might live near the one directly to his north. "Better at least give it a shot, laying here isn't going to do me any good."   He spent the better half of the day searching through every clover meadow on the mountainside to no avail. Hunger had set in, and the search for Usims hidden home seemed to be going nowhere, and Carraig was beginning to feel hopeless and lost. Near dusk, he came into an unusually large meadow with a small batch of trees tucked away in the corner, and under the shadow of the mountain. Peering around through the brush and trees Carraig could see a small cabin was slightly visible and tucked away under a thick blanket a green moss. "I can't believe it, so this is where that old man was tucked away all these years. I can see why his view is amazing from here." Carraig said to himself as he turned around to see the meadow and the kingdom beyond.   Old beehives that Usim must have used for collecting honey were scattered all over the meadow with claw marks dug deep into the hives.   "A bear must have come through after Usim passed and feasted on his bees, red honey. Looks old though."   Passing through the meadow Carraig walks up to the old cabin and attempts to enter the cabin, but the door is still locked tight. Taking a few steps back, he runs at the old wooden door and lowers his shoulder crashing into the wood and knocking the door clean off the hinges.   Upon entry, it's obvious the cabin had been empty for some time as dust, cobwebs and stagnant air filled the old cabin. The forest surrounding the cabin had begun returning the home to the woods as plants were starting to grow through the floorboards and windows of the small cabin.   Carraig knew the older man was a great forager and had lived in the mountains alone for a good many years. Usim could have had a stash of pickled goods or tools that could be useful stashed away somewhere. As he's searching through the home Carraig finds a glass jar of pickles and quickly eats the entire jar full.   "He was even good at pickling, what was he not good at?" Carraig said before drinking the juice from the pickle jar.   With a full stomach, he resumes his search through the house, unable to find much else of use other than a few small jars of pickled vegetables and a machete his search ultimately leads him into Usims room. Upon entering Usims room, he can tell that the older man enjoyed reading as a small bookcase in the corner was full of old and decaying books. He tried to remove one of the books from the bookshelf, but the binding on the book has just fallen apart. Near the bed, though is a small table with a drawer, Carraigs opens the drawer and finds an old and worn green leather journal with a beautiful gem in the clasp and a small tin with a long-necked smoking pipe. He opened the tin, and to his surprise, Usim still had some of his pipeweed left over. "I haven't slept in days maybe this will help," he said while filling the old man's pipe. As he sat there smoking from the old wooden pipe, the gem from the journal had caught his eye. He stared at it for some time it was colored like an emerald, but this gem was nothing like Carraig has ever seen before. The inside of the gem seemed to be fluid as the colors shifted and moved like waves. Sitting there staring at the gem shift and change Carraig forgot that the book had an inside and presumed to start flipping through the pages seeing what Usim had deemed worthy of writing down. Most of the works were daily scribbles and counts of items he had gathered in the mountains.   "15 gold pieces for 3 Emeralds. Three jars of honey and two jars of pickles for five gold coins. Six gold coins for a 1lb bag of Chantrelles. I can't believe Fanzor was giving Usim 6 gold coins for a pound of Chantrelles and only giving me three. I knew he was trying to rip me off." Carraig said   Flipping through the rest of the journal he found a particularly exciting section In the middle of the book that recounted the adventures of Usim as he had searched for an ancient treasure belonging to Ulbuzad the Cunning in the "Banished" tale.   In the book, it details his exploits in searching for Ulbuzads treasures and his finding of the actual ruins, and it even showed a map of where the ruins are. It seems the ruins were just north of here in a massive forest named "The Mist Woods." Even though he was successful in finding the ruins of the tower where Ulbuzad lived, he was never able to find any treasure belonging to the wizard. Usim believed that the wand of the Wizard was held up in the ruined tower in the Mist Woods. He also scribbled down that If the rod were to be uncovered, it would then allow the wielder to find the Banished tome; where all of Ulbuzads knowledge had been locked away. Carraig let his mind begin to race, wondering what could happen if he found this magical power; -=[phe could save his family and his king--   *BOOM*   A massive explosion can be heard outside as the cabin shakes, and as he looks down the mountain range, Carraig can see the great Kingdom of Yorthem had been destroyed and leveled to the ground, and a massive cloud of smoke and dust can be seen rising from where it once stood.   "I can't save my family or my people on my own; maybe this wand can help me. I really have no other option, and this Dwarf Angor did seem interested in Ulbuzad, maybe this all is real and not an actual fairytale-like we've always thought." He whispered to himself.   Hunkering down in Usims Cottage for the night Carraig begins to study the map inside the journal and sees that just north of here the path that leads from the kingdom of Yorthen will bring him directly in contact with the magma falls and the flowing rivers of lava that flow down the mountainsides north of here. Carraig had never traveled that far north, the Mist Woods was not a pleasant place many people visited, and the Magma falls have taken a few lives themselves. His eyes began to grow heavy as he began to daydream about the Tower and the nasty Mist Woods that surrounded it and the waterfall of molten magma he would need to cross. His eyes shut, and he fell asleep with the journal to his side.  

Act Three:

The Magma Falls

  He jumped from one stone to the next, trying to dodge the liquid rock below him as he made his way across the chasm. He takes a giant leap, the last jump to get to the other side of this fiery river. His footstep misses the stone and Carraig trips dipping his foot into the hot lava, and just as he was to scream out in agony, he found himself inside of Usims Cabin and a trail of drool running from his mouth into his shirt.   "Must have finally gotten a decent nights sleep. That pipeweed certainly did the job, but man was that dream crazy! I hope the river isn't that terrifying." he said while standing and cleaning the mess of drool that covered his face.   Carraig quickly packs the few things he found in Usims Cabin into his pack and heads out the door into the crisp morning air. The smell of clover punched him in the face as he left the cabin, but the wind had another smell to it this morning; Death. The dust and smoke from the ruined capital had finally made its way into the mountains, and the smell was horrifying.   "I hope my family wasn't in the blast," Carraig muttered to himself while looking at the smoking ruins or Lorthen Below. "I had better get going and find this tower before those Dwarves kill my family or ruin any more of the islands." He said while turning North.   Walking along the steep mountainside, Carraig works his way through the volcanic rock and brush. He was going in the right direction as the air kept getting warmer and warmer and the smells of the forest began to vanish behind a thick cloud of sulfur. The shrubs and grass began to thin until none were present anymore and all that he was walking on was volcanic rock. Then he saw it, near 200 yards out in from of him the bright red-orange flowing river of lava that spewed from Mt. Emerald. The river itself was a magical sight flowing slowly down the mountainside to the sea below. Checking up and down the river he couldn't see a way across it was just a straight stream of lava running from the top of the volcano into the ocean, then he saw his answer. Above him, a small rock bridge had managed to form itself over the river, although small it was the only way across. Making his way over to the crumbling rock bridge he notices that the bridge isn't quite as sturdy as previously thought, it seems the river below had started to erode the sides, and it looked as if it would fall in at any time.   "Do it. I have nothing left to go back to." Carraig thought to himself as he stepped upon the rock bridge.   Just as he takes his first step onto the bridge an arrow goes flying by his head Carraig turns to see who had shot the shaft and to his horror, he could see the distinct dwarven invader of Vikru and four other dwarves chasing him up the mountainside. Without a second thought, Carraig rushes across the crumbling stone bridge, each step he takes more of the bridge falls away. Near halfway across the bridge another arrow went whizzing by his face nearly knocking him off balance. The bridge below him begins to crumble away into pieces, with only a few more steps to take Carraig can feel himself lowering down into the river. He gives one last push and jumps onto the bank of the river on the other side. Turning around the bridge that once stood joining the two banks had vanished, and the dwarves were cursing him in their native tongue on the other side.   Vikru yells out across the river "We will find you, boy, you can't hide from us forever!" He then demands his dwarven comrades to spread out and find another way across the river.   Turning to the forest that lay behind him Carraig rushes in never looking back, knowing full well that the dwarves will soon find a way across.   How did they find me after all this time?  

Act Four:

The Mist Woods

  As he is traveling through the forest and the trees, begin to thicken, and the large canopy blankets, the light from the setting sun as the woods darken. The forest he found himself in was thick and old with wisdom about it as a wise grandmother would. Unfortunately, that wasn't the only feeling Carraig felt as he stared into the foggy forest. The air felt as though it were thick with a cloud of doubt as he began to lose faith in his strange and unfortunate circumstance. He wanted nothing more than to curl into a ball and lay there in the middle of the forest.   "I need to get out of this fog. Something foul moves in this mist."   Searching the area for a place to lay down and possibly start a fire, he spots a cave about 50 feet up the mountainside from where he stands.   "That will be perfect, and I could use a little fire, maybe eat some of these mushrooms and get off my feet for a bit. I hope ." whispering to himself as Carraig climbed the hill.     Luckily he still had some flint in his pack which made starting the fire quite easy as the dried out cave provided the perfect shelter. Searching through the cave, he found some small rocks and lined his fire, getting them hot enough to cook some of the mushrooms he had leftover. While the mushrooms began to cook, he searched through his pack and found the Journal of Usim and started going through the pages of the journal. In the center of the journal, he found the map once more that showed the location of the Ruins of Ulbuzads Tower. It looked to be just due north of here in a small patch of trees that seemed to be surrounded by a small swamp.   "I hate swamps, those mosquitos are killers, and I swear they would drink you dry if they could."   Then off to the side of the map, there seemed to be a small doodle of a creature on the bottom of the map — the likes of which he had never seen before.   "Old man Usim must have liked to doodle, in his spare time. I've never seen or heard of anything like that living on these islands," He said under his breath. The creatures were small little wisps of what seemed to be cotton, and they had tiny little appendages that came from the fluffy center. It seemed like the little creature was floating by the way Usim drew the picture.   "What a weird little thing," he said while checking out the doodle.   Then below, the animal Usim scribbled three small words that read: "Do Not Kill." That seems odd, why would he write this under a made-up creature?" he wondered.   Flipping the pages revealed another doodle, this one unlike the drawing of the small wispy creature, had its own full-page and seemed to be the crumbled remains of a building.   "The ruins of Ulbuzads Tower, Usim must have drawn this when sitting in front of the ruins, I wonder why he never found anything if he had been to the ruins themselves." he pondered.   From the picture, he could see that the top of the tower had crumbled and fell in a pile of bricks and mortar. Surrounding the tower seemed to be a swamp with a good deal of water. Behind the tower, there appeared to be a waterfall in the distance that was flowing into the marsh and river nearby. As the firelight began to flicker low, he could feel his eyes growing heavy again as his vision began to blur and flutter. Just as his eyes were about to close, he saw a small fluttering white light brush past his face.   "What the-" Carraig said as he sat up from his slumped over and half-asleep position.   He looked down at the journal, and there seemed to be a small fluff of fur caught on the gemstone of the old journal.   "Must have just come in from the wind," Carraig said as he closed his eyes again.   Moments later, he felt another soft piece of fluff brush across his face and a small flash of light. This time as he sat up, he was greeted by a small army of little fluffs. They all seemed to be gathering on the journal, and each time one of them touched the journal a small flash of light would emit from the Emerald on the clasp. He picked up the journal softly and brought it closer to his face as to get a better view of these small white fluffs that were covering the journal. As he did, he could see small little eyes of what seemed to be green fire deep inside of the fluffs, and they were all fixated on Carraig. The little green eyes seemed to pierce his soul, and he knew these were the creatures that Usim had Doodled in his book. More of the fluffs were floating into the cave; some even began landing on Carraig. One of them landed right on his nose and proceeded to stare at him with unwavering eyes. As the last few creatures fluttered into the cave, he realized that near over 200 of these little creatures had taken over his cave. Once the last one had landed the creatures light up with a bright green light, and the most brilliant sound flowed from them that pleased Carraigs heart like nothing he had ever heard before, and it felt like everything that had been bringing him down had vanished. They were humming a lovely song that made Carraig think of his family, and a small tear fell down his face. As the tear hit the journal the creatures began to flutter away, but they didn't fly entirely away as they began to make a line and one of the small fluff that had stationed itself on Carraigs nose made a soft noise at him like it wanted him to pay attention. Carraig picked up the journal and began to follow the path set out by the creatures. The trail leads him through the woods, and up a riverbank to a tremendous and massive waterfall. Carraig stood there on the cliffside overlooking a swamp. Just then the creatures begin to flutter down the waterfall giving the waterfall a brilliant green hue as they move their way down to what seemed to be a crumbled ruin of a tower.   "I can't believe it; they brought me to the Ruins of Ulbuzads Tower."   The forest was dark and damp in the middle of the night, and Carraig was having a hard time seeing anything but the small green burning eyes of the little fluffy creatures. As they were swept down the waterfall and poured out into the swamp, the little fluffs began sticking to the ruins, and once the last one had found its place upon the ruins, they all gave off a faint glowing illuminating the ruins for Carraig to see. Many of them had attached themselves to what seemed to be a door. Hiking down the hill near the waterfall proved to be quite treacherous, especially in the middle of the night with the only guiding light coming from the glowing creatures on the ruins. Nearly rolled his ankle on three different occasions and cut his leg open on a sharp branch that had lodged itself into the hillside. Upon reaching the bottom of the hill, Carraig walks across the swampy moat surrounding the Ruins.   "These damned mosquitos" Carraig complained as he smacked the back of his neck bursting a full mosquito on his neck and wiping the blood from his hand onto his shirt.   He reaches the ruins soaked, scrapped, tired and full of bruises and as he slowly reached out to grab the handle on the broken door of the ruins he felt a great rush of wind that swept him a few steps back from the door. The small fluffy creatures began to free themselves from the ruins and were swept up into the wind that had turned into a small swirling tornado above the ruins. In an instant, a bright light forced Carraig to close his eyes, and even though his shut eyes, he could see the bright green light flash in front of him. As the light faded, he opened his eyes trying to adjust to the dark forest after such a bright flash of light, and as his vision came back to him, he soon saw a high figure looming over the ruins. At first, he couldn't make out what shape it had taken, and as his eyes adjusted, he could tell that this was no creature he had ever seen before.  

Act Five:

The Secrets of Ulbuzad

  Carraig closed his eyes tightly one more time.   "Are my eyes playing a trick on me or was that real." He thought to himself while looking at the inside of his eyelids.   He opened his eyes and now able to fully see again he was utterly baffled by the figure in front of him. The fluffs had transformed into a magnificent creature as he had never seen before. Glowing from the inside with the faint green light that lit the little fluffs eye, the new creature that stood before him must have been nearly 40 feet long with the tail of a giant rattlesnake. The end of its tail continually moving back and forth with the faint sound of a beaded rattle. The massive tail had wrapped around the ruins with pale white scales that reached up to the main body of the beast holding a massive head shaped like the great lizards of the Northern Islands. A forked metallic tongue slithered from the mouth of the great serpent nearly as long as Carraig was tall. The eyes of the beast had a dark burning green center much like the Emerald in the journal, shifting on the inside. Just as the eyes of the massive serpent met with Carraig, the beast thrust its head forward only a few feet away from where Carraig had been standing.     "Another Suitor for the power of Ulbuzad I see." The serpent hissed through its teeth.   The beast untangled its tail from the ruins and began to circle Carraig getting a better view of the young man before him.   "Wha--Wha--What are you?" stammered Carraig as the creature circled him.   "The Guardian of Ulbuzads Power." said the serpent with its forked tongue.   "Many have attempted to gain entry to the caverns below, none have succeeded."   "You hold the eye of Ulbuzad, but do you also carry the same heart as the Cunning Deceiver?"   "We will see."   A flash of light plunged from the serpents eye into Carraigs chest. Carraig closed his eyes as the light-filled his chest and began to fill his body. He began to see a hazy shape form in the darkness of his closed eyes. As the vision began to clear he could see his brother Broydin, then another figure began to appear it was his little sister Lyhri, then three more faint objects appeared, and they were Jagu, Rhina, and his Mother Marcy. They were all just standing there staring at him and for a split second Carraig felt a warmth fill his body as he saw the face of his family again. Then as quickly as they appeared, the light was gone, and Carraig dropped to the ground in the dark forest with his hands in the mud. He looked up, and the serpent was no more, the little fluffs had returned. The door to the ruins had been covered in the little glowing fluffs, and as Carraig takes his first step to the ragged and splintered door creaks open and with a great gush of wind the little fluffs are sucked into the ruins. He walks up to the doorway and gives the door a little shove so that he can fit through then begins the descent down the dark and winding stone staircase.   The fluffs had taken up residence every five feet down the staircase in old portions of the wall hollowed out for candles. Each one sat upon a small pedestal shining with a dim green light that lit the entire cavern. Deeper and deeper Carraig ventured into the spiraling staircase, and at long last, he had finally hit the bottom of the stairs. He was greeted by a small fluff floating in the doorway that led into the next room. The fluff stared at him for a moment then began slowly floating back into the room, the other fluffs that had illuminated the staircase swirled down through the doorway and surrounded the room.   The circular room was splendid and looked as though age and time had forgotten this room of magic. Shelves filled with ancient books, and cabinets filled with glass vials containing swirling liquids of varying colors, great golden spheres that hung in the ceiling in the shape of the solar system and great runes that were etched into the walls with bright pink, purple, and green shades help to illuminate the room.   "This must have been where Ulbuzad lived and studied his magic! Carraig said with wonder and amazement as he looked at the fantastical room.   Near the center of the room lied a large long table and chair with a great many parchments and small writing utensils were strewn around the table. Carraig sat down in the chair and began peering through one of the many texts on the table.   "Potions of Death, By Ulbuzad the Cunning," He said to himself while reading the front cover.   As he was flipping through the pages of the book, seeing all of the pictures that Ulbuzad had created for each of his potions in the book, one of the fluffs had fallen on his nose again.   "What do you want now?" he said while staring at the little green eyes.   The little fluff gave off a flash and fluttered away across the room, landing on a small box that rested upon a pedestal. The pedestal was in front of the fireplace, but this was no ordinary fireplace as the flames that burned here were as green as new grass. The fire cast a shadow across the box with its flickering green glow and the little fluff perched itself upon the clasp of the box.   Carraig rose to his feet and began walking to the little box when he reached the pedestal he hesitated for a moment. As he did the air behind him swirled once more as the little fluff left its resting place upon the box and flew behind him. In a green flash, the swirling stopped, and once again Carraig heard the hissing of the massive serpent behind him.   "Open it" the serpent hissed at Carraig from hushed lips, and the snake leaned in behind him.   When Carraig opened the box, he could see a small twisted tree branch interwoven with black and white wood. The little twig was near perfect size for his hand, so he picked up the stick to get a better look at it. For being so small, the little twig was remarkably heavy as if the center was filled with stone. At the tip of the stick, the wood frayed out as if it had once been holding something.   "The gem, get the gem" hissed the serpent.   Pulling out the journal from Usim, he can still see the shifting green gem that was inlaid into the clasp of the journal. He removed it and wondered if the gem had previously fit into the top of the stick, so he placed the gem into the frayed wood on the top of the stick. Nothing happened. Carraig turned to the serpent and asked: "Why did nothing happen?"   "Place the wand into the fire."   "The what?"   "You are holding the two pieces of Ulbuzads wand, and the power has long seeped from the separated pieces only the fire can bind them once more."   Carraig places the pieces into the fire, as he does the flames seem to turn and grab the wand from him. As the wand floats through the light, and the frayed wooden ends begin to grow steadily over the gemstone encapsulating the gemstone into the wooden handle. The flame from the fire gives off a sharp burst of light then in an instant fizzles out into nothing leaving the glowing green wand on the floor. Carraig reaches down and picks up the wand, and as he does, he can feel the power from the wand begin to seep into his veins. A slamming noise echoes throughout the stairwell and into the Ulbuzads study, then again and again louder each time.   "He's Here" hissed the snake.   Carraig proceeds up the stairs followed by the glowing serpent, as he reaches the door the snake pushes past him and slams the door open pushing Angor to his back several feet back. Standing in the doorway Carraig in Ulbuzads Robe and hat stares down at the dwarven invader who stole his family from him with the great glowing serpent behind him.   "I see you found the ruins of Ulbuzads tower, what did you find, the banished tome of Ulbuzad mayhaps?! Give it to me, and I will have your family returned to you boy." Said Angor as he wrestled to get back on his feet.   Carraig says, " I don't believe you are making promises you can keep, and no, I haven't found the book, but I did find something else that is quite interesting."   Carraig pulls the wand from his sleeve and waves it towards one of the dwarves that had accompanied Angor to the ruins; the warrior disappears in a flash of green light and agonizing screams.   The look on the dwarves was of pure and utter shock as they all looked back and forth at each other then finally to Carraig.   Angor yells at the remaining troops, "Get him now!"   Carraig waves the wand, and the dwarf that was the closest to him is torn into pieces and left in a pile of his blood. The second dwarf disappears into thin air as if he had never existed before. Two more dwarves upon their boars ride towards Carraig with spears in hand, and with another wave of the wand, the two warriors and their mounts begin to melt into the ground like rainwater. One last dwarf had been sitting in a tree with a bow and arrow, and as he was about to let loose his arrow he was turned into a massive stone, the weight of him pulled him from the tree and as he came crashing down into the earth the dwarf separated into a million pieces of sand. Angor and Vikru are left standing and staring at this newfound wizard, Vikru turns and attempts to abandon Angor and as he is running through the swamp Carraig waves the wand causing Vikru to get launched into the air hundreds of feet high until he was lost from sight. All that was left was Angor, who was now cowering in the mud before Carraig.   Angor then gets on his knees and studders "m-m-mercy p-please."   "You promised me that if I gave you the power of Ulbuzad that you would have my family returned to me. If you showed my family mercy and kept them alive, then you will not be harmed, but for every one of my family members you have killed, you shall suffer dearly. Lie to me, and you will suffer far worse," said Carraig.   With a flick of his wand Angors left leg was ripped clean off and then left sitting there in front of Angor. He screamed out in agony, grabbing the bloody hole where his leg was once attached. Carraig then asks, "What happened to my mother, Marcy?"   Writhing in agony and holding his bloody stump Angor answers "Your mother tried to fight our guards when your brother and sister were separated from her, she was stabbed in the belly in the confrontation and died moments later." The wand flicks and in a flash Angors right leg had now separated from his body lying near his left leg. Another cry of agony as Angor fumbles to deal with the suffering.   "Where did they take my younger siblings, Broyind and Lyhri?" Carraig demanded.     "They were both taken into Yorthen as slaves to help load the supplies of the city onto the Dwarven War Boats. After the supplies were loaded, all the slaves were left in the city. our Pyromancers leveled the city and everyone inside." Yorthen choked out through the pain.   The wand waves and both of Angors arms are ripped from his body violently and thrown into the swamp.   Angor in a writhing pain is laying on his back, screaming as he bleeds out into the swampy mud.   Carraig walks over to Angor and stands above him for a moment watching as the dwarven general slowly dies before him.   "And my sister Rhina, you said she would be sacrificed in a ritual. What did you do with her?" Carraig said through his teeth.   "Drowned, to the god of War Indori for our safe return home." Angor sputtered through bloody lips.   The wand waved, and Angors body began to sink away into the swamp slowly, and as his body left, so did his cries.   At that moment the great Serpent burst into a beam of green light and disappeared into the wand. Carraig felt a rush go through him from his fingertips radiating all through his body, and then he heard a voice.   "The boats have not departed yet, and they still sit in the Bay of Shadows."   Carraig turned to the bay and began walking, his robe gliding through the mud behind him.

Cover image: Banston Islands by Michael Pope


Author's Notes

First Completed Short Story - Ever....Like in the entire 29 years I've been on earth this is the first one to be completed and shown to the public...   I know its not perfect and thats ok! I would like to grow as an author and I can only do that by realizing my mistakes and growing from them. If you see anything in the writing, Grammer, Sentence Structure, Run on Sentences, Or Literally anything else that I have done and could work on please tell me!!!!   Thank you so much for reading my short story and I hope you enjoy!

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