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Shadows lifted, Part One

by Daniel Mayer

Through the ringing in his ears, Laren heard a rough chuckle. Pain wrecked his body as he tried to stand up. The stone floor was surprisingly warm and welcoming. He lay on the floor in an embryonal position, so he felt simply the least possible stinging pain. Laren thought. He made a mental note to thank all gods he knew for the arrogance of that damn lich. Every black mage would have finished the job moments ago. But not this guy. Andrès´ magical abilities were much better than legends told. But just one joker was left. And it was time to play it. Now or never.
"For long years I didn't have such an amusing distraction. Yes, you were quit good, young mage. You even used some spells I didn't know. But I feel your fear, fear for your life." A man in an old-fashioned Traladaran robe turned again to his side, chuckling. "Yes, the fight was a fun I almost never felt before. But before I finish you, to my regrets, I have to kill your friends outside. They decimate my pawns too much. Especially these to fighters with their divine help." The mouth -part of a sunken face- began to move for a complicated spell. The wrinkled hands moved with astonishing speed. Laren knew the spell. He found hints of it in an old tome back in Krakatos. This spell was called ´Nightfire´ and bound energies from the Negative Plane to the ground of a 300 feet radius around the caster, slowly drawing all life of everyone standing in that area. And the spell would be complete in few seconds.


"Lords and Ladies! Make place for the new ambassador of Glantri, Lady Marianita Lucia de Leon y Valdez, blessed with the authority of the Princes of Glantri!" Applause raised through the great hall as a beautiful elven lady entered. A large man sitting on the throne raised and stepped down to equal level of the elven lady. As they met, the lady bowed and smiled seductively at the duke. "Oh, oh. Look at the duchess." Thrandir whispered to Aurelius. Aurelius, clad in silver and white in his ceremonial breastplate, turned to look at her, a knowing smile on his lips. "Yes, indeed. The duchess won't appreciate such a beauty at court. A shame that we've to fight great evil instead of enjoying this." The duke returned to his throne, sat down and look to the left side of the hall. "Now, Laren, finally you're free of your duties, aren't you?" The crowd parted as a black robed man went toward the throne. He had dark hair, was completely dressed in black, yet he radiated an aura of peace and happiness. The man called Laren smiled up to Duke Stefan "Yes, I am. Therefore I request formally the Land of Dreams of you for my estate." The duke looked sternly at Laren. "You know, I cannot give you what I don't really own. The mists and nightmares persist around the Lake of Lost Dreams. The evil resides there, as the Traladaran legends tell it." "So its my land if I free it from that evil? My own?" "Yes.
But I warn you. Nearly two thousand years the area is cursed. Are you such a great mage that you can fight two thousand years of evil?" "Not alone. But with the help of my friends we'll do it." "Then you have my blessing. Go and free Karameikos from that evil and you shall own the land you want." Laren bowed and went to his friends near the throne.
"Was it necessary to request the official permission?", Aurelius asked, "As he said just moments ago, he CAN'T give a permission." Laren smiled.
"Yes. But that's politics. I'm a mage with reputation. If I seek permission, it strengthens his position. Just politics. He's eager to see us fighting the east to freedom. Let's go. I don't have the stomach today for a flirt with Marianita." Laren turned and Aurelius and Thrandir followed. The nobles shifted uneasily when they saw their departure. Aurelius was a renown member of the highest religious order of Thyatis, while the elf Thrandir was less known, but the higher nobles knew Thrandir held a high position in the elven court, whatever that may be.
"Knight-Brother Aurelius, may I please request a few minutes of your time?" A man in simple but fine clothes stood near, "I'm Yurikai Heltar from Marilenev. My son heard of your new abbey and..." Laren and Thrandir turned to a side smiling. "Every day at least twenty candidates for a place in the abbey. This land's going to be populated by humble servants of some pantheon in a few years." Thrandir ironically remarked.
Laren chuckled "Yes. Maybe. But I know Aurelius. I give him two minutes and he'll catch up with us after fobbing off that court lord." "Two minutes? Not today." came Aurelius´ deep baritone from behind them. "We have other things to discuss. What's going with your spell researches?" Laren frowned. "I could use a little bit more time, but I don't have the nerves. A slight variation to the spell and I should get it working in a few days. And you?" Thrandir shrugged. "I'm ready for everything. Elves rely on themselves with more confidence than humans. If I can't survive a fight as I am, I won't with more spells or items. I'm ready." "Me too," added Aurelius, "but Flosi´s on travel. He'll return in three days, as I'm informed. Got some useful items as far as I understand.
We'll see." Laren nodded. "Yes, clerical spells and items we can use everything we get. I've requested some items from the `Griffons´ but I don't think we'll get much help. The powers of you and Flosi will be the best we'll have." "Should be enough for some poor souls, but is it really enough for the greater undead we expect? We'll see." Aurelius said. Laren sighted and Thrandir clasped Aurelius´ shoulder. "Let's get packed. We should arrive few days before the rest for not to awaken the interest of a mighty evil before we have done some serious damage." They left the court.

Thrandir and Aurelius sat on their mounts outside the city gates.
Aurelius was clad in his polished breastplate, his shield fastened to the left side of his horse. So his sword was partially hidden behind it but reachable. A red cape with a great cross he wore around his neck, held by a clasp with a ruby. The mighty warhorse nervously snorted, pressing for departure. Thrandir sat on his elven horse, a much more delicate version of a standard horse, but more agile and faster. He wore dark green clothes which hide a finely crafted elven chain mail. A large bow and a quiver with silver-feathered arrows were secured behind him, a scabbarded sword was at his side. A grey cloak gave warmth and a silver circlet on his head an image of nobility. They turned to the road after Laren didn't appear, supposedly sitting above some books to get his spell finished. Only little time later they disappeared behind the horizon.


Laren, Flosi and Elaya sneaked through the dark woods. The eyes of all three shone with infravision, and a slight silver star in their eyes made them able to see all evil. Laren held a black wand, Flosi had a firm grip on his warhammer and Elaya was at the rear with her bow ready.
Laren tried a last joke, for the evil came into reach "Hey, Flosi, What was the quote Thor made when he saw you?" "Hmmm?" Laren chuckled as Flosi stepped into something undefinable but stinking. "Shit!" Flosi cursed. Laren chuckled a little bit too loud. A secure sign of too much adrenaline in his veins. "Ah, Laren, you get every joke crushed. Now attention, I feel something." Elaya said with strain in her voice.
Yes indeed. ´Something´ was it. In fact, the hell broke out