From the journal of Clementiyn, Wizard of Guardians.
From the journal of Clementiyn, Wizard of Guardians.
Day 2, Fighting Moon 435I woke from a brief nap to find Varl kicking me in the shin. Not exactly the way one wishes to be awakened. But Varl was hired as a Guard for our Guild Hall for reasons other than his diplomacy.
"Miss Clementiyn!" he shouted. "There is trouble at the bridge! A courier brought word just now!"
Trouble at the bridge? Interesting. Had the Forest Trolls been trying to expand their territory again? Perhaps another invasion of sheep. Either way, the exercise would be welcome.
I gathered my things and set out Northwest toward the bridge. It was a short walk, and before I was halfway there I could sense magics ahead. Perhaps this day would be interesting after all. I slid on my rings, and made for the bridge.
I saw the corpses first, but the cacaphony of spells being uttered by Fuoco and Cassandra in the distance told me I needn't bother checking them. It wasn't the first time Brigands or Mercenaries or other hired thugs had underestimated a female wizard. I joined my friends on the bridge and found it lined with Bracken. Cass cautioned against a rapid advance and two Brigands came from hiding behind one to confirm her suspicions.
Kestric was with them. And the four of us made steady progress across the bridge. Soon enough the trees were dead and the thugs with them.
The gate ahead was open, but had been blocked by shelters. Behind them we could see and hear dozens more thugs milling about. I sent word for Redman, Cyric, and Sumac. I knew between them they would gather a plentiful force. But we would need to stall until help could arrive.
I felt him before I saw him. A mage was among the thugs. A strong mage. We would need to be careful. I decided it might be best to play at weakness. Perhaps he would become overconfident. But at least it might buy us time.
(Clementiyn): why are you here?
(Brigand Mage): Well well.
(Clementiyn): Greetings Mage
(Brigand Mage): What have we here.
(Brigand Mage): Why am I here?
(Brigand Mage): Well, I am collecting items in this area.
(Brigand Mage): Official D.D.D. business.
(Brigand Mage): I suggest you all move along.
I whispered to my friends that Redman was coming, but I needn't have. We all knew we were presently overmatched. We might have been able to dispatch the Mage, but not his 50 minions. It was time to stall and gather information.
Black Hand. Not great news. But perhaps...
(Brigand Mage): Well, we could not have any interruptions you understand.
(Cassandra): Maybe you should have picked a more discreet place...
(Brigand Mage): *shrugs*
(Brigand Mage): I'm not management.
There it is. There's the opening.
(Brigand Mage): Why do I get all the messy jobs, surely I deserve something far grander than this.
(Clementiyn): Perhaps you work for the wrong employer
(Brigand Mage): *puffs out chest* Master Rem is the best!
(Clementiyn): Perhaps you should consider working for another
(Fuoco): so Master Rem is busy again?
(Brigand Mage): There is no better place to work than D.D.D.
Time to appeal to his pride and arrogance. And stall for more time.
(Clementiyn): And yet he assigns you to a meaningless task like this?
(Clementiyn): Someone of your capabilities?
(Brigand Mage): It's just until I prove my worth. Though really...
(Brigand Mage): with my brilliant fortifications, I don't see how he could doubt me, do you?
Laricen had arrived, and disappeared to scout the buildings. I saw Satoshi arriving in the distance. The plan was working. Keep him talking.
(Clementiyn): We are three strong wizards here, and the strongest in the land approaches
(Clementiyn): Surely a Mage such as yourself belongs in better circles
(Brigand Mage): Well...
(Clementiyn): Rather than being an errand boy
(Brigand Mage): I won't be an errand boy forever.
(Brigand Mage): Once I prove my worth I'll be allowed to work in the Keep.
In the distance I could see more friends making their way to the bridge. But I caught something in this Mage's tone. Perhaps there was an opportunity here to avoid battle altogether.
(Clementiyn): Allowed to work? Great Mages do not wait for permission
(Brigand Mage): Hmm.
(Brigand Mage): Indeed you do appear to have the right of things.
(Clementiyn): Surely you see you are being slighted by your employers
(Brigand Mage): I like the way you think.
(Clementiyn): Why continue to serve those who do not respect your talents?
(Brigand Mage): I DESERVE to be a great mage.
By this time a small army was arriving. And I knew more were coming. But what had started as a stalling tactic had taken another turn. I hoped my friends would see the opportunity.
(Cassandra): Well, Rem doesn't seem interested in promoting you.
(Cassandra): Or we have heard of your name and feats already.
(Brigand Mage): This will be it.
(Brigand Mage): My grand gesture.
(Brigand Mage): Once I defeat you all, he will have to promote me!
Uh oh. No. Quickly, must turn the conversation around once more. Away from the battle.
(Clementiyn): Rem will not reward you for this
(Cassandra): Or kill you if you fail?
(Clementiyn): He will keep you running errands like a common thug
(Fuoco): Rem serves his own ends
(Clementiyn): You belong doing greater things
(Brigand Mage): Hah!
(Brigand Mage): In that you are close to correct.
(Fuoco): no good being a puppet in his hands
Perfect. My friends chiming in exactly when needed.
(Brigand Mage): I doubt the Twins have any idea how powerful he has grown.
(Clementiyn): These mindless minions he gives you. They are as nothing
(Clementiyn): You deserve a better fate
(Brigand Mage): So what do you propose then?
There it is. Hook set. Now to try to reel him in.
The next few seconds seemed to take forever. What had been a roundabout conversation had now come to a point. Either he would renew his loyalty to the Black Hand, or renounce it. I clenched the Dragon Teeth in the pocket of my robe a little tighter, but hoped I would not need them.
Wait. Wait... Let him be the next to speak... Let him carry his own momentum.
There it is.
But now we have additional problems.
If he no longer works for the Black Hand, what of the thugs behind these shelters? Will they follow him? Will they turn on him? Still more friends appear in the distance and it is clear that any battle will be a short one with few, if any, casualties on our side. But it would be best if there were no battle at all.
(Cassandra): Brave decision!
(Clementiyn): Brave indeed. And worthy of greatness
(Brigand Mage): You, stay here and guard these items for Rem.
(Brigand Mage): You, you and you. with me.
(Cassandra): Now you can start your own path for fame.
(Brigand Mage): Take that shelter down.
(Clementiyn): What shall we call you?
(Cassandra): Yes, your name needs to be known.
He started dismantling a shelter on the far side to make his exit. Was he planning to circle around to speak with us further? Or take his leave? And how would we know him again?
Fuoco, Cass and I waited a bit on the South side of the building, then made our way around. As I expected, by the time we got there nearly all the thugs were dead. Our friends had made short work of them. At first it appeared the Mage had left. Then he walked back toward us from the North. Karad had been late to arrive and cast a Lightning Bolt at the Mage but stopped when he realized a conversation was to be had.
Suddenly, he ordered his handful of remaining minions to attack. I almost felt sorry for them as we cut them down. The Mage then stood alone again.
He cast a Paralyzing Field that I shrugged off in moments. Redman disoriented him and left him powerless and he was felled in seconds in a brief hail of spells and sword swings. His ghost appeared stunned at his sudden defeat, then faded away.
A cursory search of his corpse found a key to the guards' quarters and the rogues began tallying the items left therein. There were some armors and weapons, and an odd collection of enchanting items. Perhaps they had been working on an enchantment not known to us. We consulted with Redman about the items, but he knew of no unusual item that could be made from them.
As we were doing so, his ghost returned. We were all strangely able to understand him, though no clerics were present. Perhaps he had studied magics bridging the path between life and death.
He criticized us for not doing a good enough job of killing him. Perhaps he had expected to immediately receive rewards in an afterlife. We spoke at length about his disappointment, and then he said something that struck me cold.
(Brigand Mage): *puts hands on hips* Maybe it's better this way...
(Brigand Mage): Perhaps this is my new challenge.
(Cassandra): It is a miserable ... life... as a ghost.
(Brigand Mage): I can learn all there is to learn about being dead!
(Brigand Mage): That might convince Rem to take me back!
(Clementiyn): My brother has been dead 5 moons now. It is not a path you want to choose.
(Cassandra): Poor Cad.
As much as I hate the Black Hand and what they have done to the innocents of this land. I would not wish that fate upon this Mage.
(Fuoco): was it the hope of glory who pushed you in the chosen direction?
(Cassandra): He will fail you after this.
(Gawr): Are you sorry for all your subordinates?
(Cassandra): Whereas with us you still have a chance to prosper.
(Fuoco): Master Rem has no honour
(Fuoco): we may be angry
(Fuoco): but we are not unreasonable
(Clementiyn): Begin a new life. A new path. To honorable glory.
(Brigand Mage): How dare you insult him! His libraries rival the fabled libraries of Brigobaen!
(Cassandra): We can walk you to Brigobaen.
(Cassandra): Or not...
(Brigand Mage): Well.
(Brigand Mage): I will think on it.
(Brigand Mage): For now, I am off to explore.
We made one last attempt to keep his humanity alive.
(Cassandra): What is your name, again?
(Clementiyn): Choose a name for yourself. That we may know you again.
(Cassandra): At least you can stay in our history books.
(Cassandra): As an example for future mages.
(Brigand Mage): Oklev is my name.
(Clementiyn): Greetings Oklev
(Sumac): ochen priyatna Oklev
(Fuoco): we shall remember you
(Brigand Mage): Someday, it will be known over all the lands!
(Brigand Mage): Now, excuse me...
We thought about following him as he walked away. But each of us reached the same conclusion. It was pointless to do so.
Loot was shared, and I received a marvelous Black Shield, of finer quality than even Bell could create. I have never seen its like.
But it saddened me. Both it and my time with Oklev remind me of my brother Cadwallader, who seems more lost to us with every day. Perhaps there is still hope for Oklev. He made a brave choice in rejecting Rem. I hope to meet him again some day.