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Heroes of Mystara - Chapter 1

by Jesper Andersen

An unnerving visit from the past

A cloud was drifting lazily across the sky and blocking the light of the full moon when Whitemane suddenly heard a noise, like a startled animal, in the forest. Fully alert, he picked up his great battleaxe and stepped away from the firelight of the camp and peered into the woods. Some fifty yards away he could see a strange aura of purple and white light coming closer. Quickly, he woke up his companions, first Wulfgar, then Thaminor, Petja and Ikaros. In moments, they had donned weapons and armour and turned to face the approaching light. They stood hiding behind the trees as the strange aura came closer.

'Whatever it is, it's magic', said Ikaros. Although there had been little doubt in his mind, the Glantrian wizard had just mumbled a spell of detection to be sure. 'By Thor, whoever is behind this foul sorcery shall taste my axe', Wulfgar said grimly as he clenched his greataxe with both hands. 'Let's not be hasty. It doesn't seem threatening', Thaminor said with an arrow ready on his bow. None of the others had noticed Petja slipping away into the darkness of the woods.

The bright light stopped some twenty feet away from the edge of their camp and out of the swirling mass of purple and white light stepped the translucent figure of a man dressed in robes. His face was old and wrinkled, his beard long almost to his waist and his eyes narrow and full of purpose. A gasp of horror as well as surprise eluded Ikaros' mouth as he stared at the ghostly figure. 'Master!' he said and slowly bowed his head. Wulfgar felt the urge to attack, as he always did when foul sorcery was involved, but he kept back, as did Thaminor, Whitemane and Petja.

'Yes, apprentice, it is I', the ghostly figure said in a deep, booming voice. 'But how can this be? You are dead!' Ikaros said in a voice that revealed his fear of his former teacher and tormentor. 'Yes, thank you for pointing that out' the ghost said viciously. 'I have returned from the grave to avenge a grave injustice done to me'. 'Re-really?' Ikaros stuttered. 'Well, it sounds like you got your hands full then. I'll just get out of your way. Best of luck!' 'NOT SO FAST!' the ghostly apparition bellowed. 'I have a matter that needs taking care of and YOU are the one who is going to take care of it!' 'Really?' Ikaros said and swallowed hard, 'well of course, Master. Let me just gather my things and I'll be ready in a minute'. Quickly, he walked to the campsite and began packing his bags. 'What are you doing?' Wulfgar inquired. 'Who is that guy?' 'It is Palando, my former teacher and master', Ikaros said. 'I thought he died long ago but apparently he was able to cheat death somehow'. 'You're not going with him, are you?' Wulfgar asked astonished. 'I don't have a choice - not if I want to avoid finding out what spending eternity as a zombie cleaning out the dungeons feels like, anyway. I am not asking you to come with me', Ikaros said. 'The hell you aren't' Thaminor replied. 'You'd have to be mad to think we would let you go with him alone - wherever it is you're going'.

The party quickly gathered their packs and other equipment from the campsite. Palando was waiting by a magical portal that he had somehow produced and Petja decided it was better to cut the horses loose and let them run free than to force them into the portal to whatever hellish destination might wait beyond. One by one, they followed Ikaros' undead master through the swirling purple light and once again the woods fell quiet...