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The Lords of Norwold - Tour of Alphatia III

by Jeff Daly

Viscount T. Pendleton Waznust glared at the Glantrian as he boarded the vessel. Count Diego was an arrogant wizard who had established himself in Norwold long before T. Supposedly he was a master wizard who had graduated from the Great School of Magic and had come to Norwold to retire. But his "acts of heroism" had earned him a place in the nobility and action had been fair often.

Their eyes met for a moment, then T turned to find something interesting in the day sky.

For his part, Diego wondered why such a pompous young whippersnapper like T had been staring at him. The Thyatian mage had made quite a name for himself as the party wizard for "Halav's Avengers". When the king had offered them all lands, only T had accepted. No doubt this was evidence of his overweening pride. Diego would have to get around to whipping the boy at some point...

"So, Ali cat, why did you decide to come?"

Aligorum glared at the elf, Fiona, and replied, "I prefer you call me by my name, Aligorum, or my race, Gramalkin."

The cat woman then turned and preened herself almost absent-mindedly, pretending not to notice T and Diego pretending not to notice each other.

"Gentlebeings!" A voice called. It was the old man from Alphatia. Terari. He had arrived with much pomp and circumstance earlier that day. Sandralane of Glantri, and a few other lords of Norwold, had felt he was too familiar with the Queen when he had greeted her. But no mind, he was the honoured guide for the trip...

"The plank is being pulled, and the sails unfurled. We embark on a trip of great moment."

The old man's voice took on a lecturing tone.

"Westerners often speak of their lands as "The Known World". Of course, at the centre of the world, we tend to find this somewhat amusing."

Terari chuckled at his humour, but no one else did. He did not seem to notice.

"I ask that you keep open minds to all that you see. You will be in lands that will appear most strange at times, and maybe even a little fearsome. If you find that you are afraid of what you see, this is good. For there is much to fear in Alphatia."

"Yes, yes," T said tiredly, "Alphatia, wonderful place. Can I go to my cabin now?"

Terari looked at T for a moment. The space of silence grew long and uncomfortable. T broke the other man's gaze and stared at the planking, suddenly feeling like a chastened schoolboy.

"Now then," Terari continued, as if he had not been interrupted, "You will see a land that is ancient and powerful. Before the lands you grew up in were young, there was Alphatia. Alphatia, which rose from the central southern portion of the continent..."

Glancing over at Aligorum, Terari frowned in irritation at the cat woman who had taken out a small statue of a shrew. Placing it upon the ground, she spoke a command word and the statue came to life. It immediately fled the rakasta, who delighted in catching it by the tail and then letting it go.

Terari scowled, "Well then, you will see the empire soon enough I suppose..."