I dropped the ball on this one, eh friends? Ah well. Better late than never. Read on, my friends. Read on. And don’t forget to drop a review for book one on Amazon….after all, you’ve all read it.
Far away, days north of Redemption and the Port of Lies, a forgotten volcano stirred awake. Violent gouts of lava and molten rock spit into the eye of the Old Gods as if mocking their existence. The skies around it darkened under black smoke, and the ground trembled from rage. Even more distant than the pirate haven, an old man watched with gifted vision. He’d grown to appreciate the supple sounds over the course of his exile. There were times when only the yawning of one of great volcanoes roused his desires and attentions from their musty prison.
The old man set his pen down and closed his eyes. He’d seen better days. Days when kings rose above the people and led them to greatness. Days when innocence was his best friend, and he could do no wrong. He’d lived through the dark days as well. Those memories lingered too close to the front of his mind. An unexpected knocking startled the old man from his dreams.
“Yes, Klaa,” Gage said. “You may enter.”
The smallish Kordite slipped through the crack and offered his bow. They’d been friends for many a decade, but Klaa remained faithful and respectful of what Gage was. He knew there was the potential for greatness in the old man once again. His eye stalks swayed to and fro from the open window where he could see the growing clouds of dark smoke ebbing across the horizon to the ancient wizard sitting at his plain desk. There was a confusion about him, washing his skin from green to brown.
“What seems to be the problem, my small friend? I have not seen you like this in a long while!” Gage said with a smile.
Klaa’s eyes focused on his friend and mentor. They have reached the Island.
“Yes, I know,” Gage confirmed. “I have seen them too. Perhaps tomorrow I will go down to Kratchen to await them. They are still very far away, and nothing good comes from being hasty, they used to say back home. Wizards are a troublesome breed, I think.”
I am worried for you.
Gage feigned a smile and asked, “Whatever for? Am I not the last great wizard here on Helscape? Oh, there are others of far less power and even shorter vision than I, and I have not been tested for many years.” Gage stood and began to glow. Sparks of power danced from his robes and flesh, and he seemed powerful and terrible in the same eye. “Do not despair! I know when to take up the mantle and yield. I seek merely to aid them in their quest. Nothing more.”
The power faded, leaving him the shell of a fragile old man again, and he resumed his seat. “Nothing,” the wizard repeated. He sighed before continuing. “Have you any idea the agony in my soul? I failed the Council, my friends and myself. The others are dead and barely a memory these days. I lost much hope when the Berserkers escaped to a new world. The joy in my world is deadened, I am afraid, and still the mission must continue.
“This is torture, my friend. Plain and delicate torture. I cannot go on for very much longer. The sorrow has become too much to bear.”
You were not the only one to fail, Klaa said. Remember the madness of Aragin Mephistile.
“Poor Aragin! We’d all be home now if it weren’t for him. But no, even he found a way to succeed, though his plots turned dark and wicked.”
Considered young for a wizard, Gage was old beyond his days. He could feel his life draining and knew things were drawing to a close.
“He’s been dead for so long, and still his image comes to haunt me in the night.”
You have been given a second chance to confront your demons. We will be going home soon, Gage.
“I wish could be so sure.”
Gage’s thoughts raced back to a bitter time of unspeakable horrors. Aragin Mephistile . His name sparked tremors of chills down Gage’s spine. Hundreds of years past his death, he was still causing so much death and suffering. To have so much power was dangerous. Questions of his turn to evil often plagued Gage long into the night. The sadness of the affair was much closer to his heart, for Aragin had been one of their order. He’d been a friend. He’d also been the first of their kind to attempt the usurping of the Gods.
Gage shut his eyes, fighting back the dried tears, and was greeted with visions of war and chaos. He watched as friends fell under the weight of the enemy. Waves of blood washed over the Wastelands as the Berserker empire strengthened and spread. The days of adventure where their quests were sharpened by easily obtained victories were lost forever to forgotten times. The rage began anew in Gage’s frail body. This must end.
You are forgetting that I, too, share the pain, for I was there the day when the last alliance of Men and Aliens fell back across the river in defeat.
Gage nodded. “Dangerous times have returned. We have said enough for now. Little from the past will avail us now if we are to succeed. I am the last, my friend. The last of ancient dreams. Who else to avenge the wrongs of my brothers if not I? We both knew this day was coming. But will either of us have the heart to see it through to the end? There is much to prepare ere the coming storm overtakes us. Bring dinner in when its ready, if you would.”
As you wish.
The door closed behind him. It was Klaa’s job as assistant to remind the old wizard of his life’s purpose and that hope was not lost. It was a job that was becoming increasingly difficult as of late. From down the hall, he could barely make out the faint words mumbled by the wizard. “Perhaps we will win this time.”