Catheldor Knights: Book 2

Catheldor Knights: Book 2 is a compilation of the second story arc in the ongoing fantasy saga. For ease of reading, pages 64 through 93 are compiled here. Enjoy.

Catheldor Knights – Page 64

Over the course of a few years the young men who had first fought together when the Mallvrann Forest elf delegation came to Catheldor had grown into men. They had grown to become competent in their respective responsibilities. Gaston trained as a member of the Catheldor Mage Hunter Corps. Prince Arlin continued his training under great wizard Mandel in the arcane arts while maintaining his piety with the god of goodness, Dian Cécht. Miirik worked in the fields and continued his worship of the harvest goddess, Demeter. Thothen worked closely under the trade master Naki Bravevein. Firae worked with the Mallvrann diplomats to keep ties with Catheldor. Jarik was permanently stationed as security for the elf diplomats in Catheldor and also picked up some coin doing nefarious jobs for the cloaked figure.

The young men remained friends and met for the occasional game of Spikes and Pikes. Gaston regularly challenged the others to duels, improving his skills against spells and swords alike. Jarik often was the first to pick up the challenge, improving his abilities to dodge between blows of a trained warrior. They never spoke of the events at the villa. When several mugs of ale loosened a tongue about the past the rest preferred to distract and change the conversation to their futures.

One day the six men were called to the Catheldor throne room. For the first time they stood together to receive orders from the king. The king’s voice echoed through the nearly empty chamber. Unlike most times a group was called to action, the room was nearly empty instead of filled with advisers. Upon their thrones sat the king and queen of Catheldor. Caption Kaarlo of the castle guard stood to one side of the room, he was flanked by Jirair, an elf diplomat, and dwarf Trade Master Naki Bravevein.

“We have a very important task for you six,” the king boomed from his throne. “It is a mission that will be wrought with danger. If you do not wish to partake in such a mission, please take this time to leave.”

None of the men dared to breathe.

Catheldor Knights – Page 65

After a short silence, which none of the young men dared to break, Captain Kaarlo stepped forward and spoke. “You six were chosen for your burgeoning skills, ability to work together in a bind, and young age and diversity. There are artifacts the Mallvrann elves would like to reclaim. These objects are about to go up for auction in a small mountain town deep into Ildonia territory. Your mission is to travel as a band of adventurers and acquire these objects, through the auction would be the easiest way. There is no need to alert our enemies that we believe these items to truly be of power or to over pay for what is rightfully ours.”

The elf diplomat stepped forward, “The relics are a staff and sword once owned by Galachir. As the legend goes, he was a magician-warrior who died in battle against a great red dragon many centuries ago. The sword and staff he possessed are said to have many powerful magical properties. These weapons are of great importance for our kind, as a link to our history. It won’t be until they are retrieved and our wizards have a chance to study them will be know if the stuff of legends is real or not. If they are indeed property of Galachir then they could also be used as potent weapons against us if they fall into the wrong hands.”

“Prince Arlin, you are to lead this expedition,” the king said.

“Yes my lord,” Arlin bowed. He was just able to get his words in before the king began speaking over him.

“Firae, you are to represent the elf interests and ensure the relics are treated with respect. Thothen, the skills you have learned under Trade Master Bravevein will assist in the auction. Gaston and Jarik, you have become masters in your respective fields of combat, in case the worst is to happen your job is to pull the fat from the fire. Miirik, keep them all protected with your divine energies.”

“Are there any questions?” The captain of the Catheldor guard said.

“Are we to be traveling as Catheldor and Mallvrann representatives?” Firae asked.

“No,” Gaston’s father said. “Tensions between Catheldor and Ildonia are too great. Even though the auction is being held by a third party, the location will be in Ildonia lands. There may very well be members of the Ildonia military there or you may be stopped on your way in or out. You are in no way affiliated with any kingdom for this mission. Part of the reason why Miirik and Thothen have been included is to add to the illusion that you six are part of an adventuring party or some such.”

Catheldor Knights – Page 66

Gaston stepped forward before addressing his king. “Should we worry Prince Arlin will be recognized?”

“Arlin is so far down the chain to becoming king that most do not even know he exists.” The king said plainly. “There is little to no worry any rank and file Ildonians would recognize him.”

Thothen looked to the trade master before speaking. “I am under strict orders to stay by my master’s side while I’m apprenticing. Has that order been lifted?”

Naki Bravevein stepped forward. “This mission is of grave importance to our friends. It was my honor to grant approval for you to be included.”

“How are we to win the relics at the auction?” Miirik asked. “Are there state funds that we are to appropriate.”

“Yes,” Jirair said. “We have appropriated a sum of 100,000 gold coins for this mission. This money is part of the Mallvrann treasury and it will be returned if the relics are not purchased for us.”

“Are there any other questions?” Guard Captain Kaarlo said. Each of the young men shook their head no. “Excellent. Then you may be on your way. Horses will be saddled and ready to go first thing in the morning. We expect to see every one of you in the stables. Remember, you will tell no one of this mission. It is a very important mission and your lives may be in jeopardy the more that anyone outside of this room may know. You carry a large sum and bandits can smell gold. So be careful and trust no one. We expect you will return within a few weeks. If word has not been heard from you then one group will be sent out to find you. Hopefully as a rescue and not as a body collection mission. Good luck with this venture.”

Catheldor Knights – Page 67

The sun was shining on a beautiful morning as the six men road from Catheldor. “It has been quite some time since we last rode out of Catheldor together,” Miirik dared to broach the subject that was forbidden for them to talk about over the years.

“This time we’ll carry out our mission and not let Ildonians stop us,” Prince Arlin of Catheldor said.

Jarik rolled the idea of swimming in gold coins over in his head. “Speaking of last time, what ever happened to that dragon treasure? My extracurricular activities kept me from venturing out and finding the dragon again. I don’t suppose anyone else dared the dragon for his treasure.”

Most of the group shook their head no, but Arlin spoke up. “Once mother was safe from the grave I headed to the cave again. The treasure and any sign of the dragon was gone.”

Gaston shot the prince an evil glair, “You never told me of this. Why didn’t you bring me for protection?”

Arlin’s skin crawled. “I had to get out of the castle for a while, just to think. Those were some dark days for me and I had to get away from everyone, including you. Sorry old friend.”

“What do you think happened to the treasure?” Jarik asked. “Do you think the remaining Ildonians found it and took it when they escaped?”

Arlin shook his head. “I don’t think so. I’m no ranger but I did find signs of blood and damaged trees in that location. Something tells me that the dragon found the horses, ate them, and took the treasure back.”

“You didn’t go back to the dragon’s lair, did you?” Thothen asked.

“You bet I did. There was no sign of that dragon anywhere. Hopefully he isn’t off in some remote corner of the world plotting our demise. I’m sure he got a good whiff of all of our scents. They say that dragons have long memories and I don’t think I would want to be the subject of his rage if he remembers us.”

Catheldor Knights – Page 68

The party rode on across the country side and discussed what had happened in their lives since the last time they had seen each other. They all felt it was remarkable that the powers that be decided the group should work together again. It was a calm and cool day, not a cloud was in the sky. A perfect day for a ride across the kingdom.

“Off of those horses,” a voice called from behind shrubbery which lined the road. “There are ten men with bows in these woods ready to turn you into pincushions.”

The riders pulled their horses to a halt and dismounted. Arlin called towards the woods. “What is the meaning of this? Who are you?”

“We are nothing but a band of friendly brigands,” a smiling man said as he emerged from the underbrush, a sword was in his hand. “Now would you kindly throw down your weapons? We don’t want any harm.”

Arlin scoffed. “We? Am I to believe that there are ten of you out there?”

“You are to believe there are fifteen of us. I didn’t want to tell you of the group on the other side of the road who will shoot you in the back if you don’t follow my commands.” The brigand then hollered towards the vegetation which lined the road. “Come on guys. Let them know that you are out there. Hoot and holler.”

There was a pause. Everyone on the road watched the shrubberies. “Don’t be shy. Let them know you’re here. We can’t kill everyone silently under the cover of night.”

Distinct voices emanated from the foliage with shouts of how deadly they were. The hidden brigands tried to disguise their shouts to be from many different warriors, but it was plain only two were hidden.

The men on the stood dumfounded. Jarik couldn’t contain his laughter. Arlin walked along the road to the brigand, trusting his friends would be prepared when fighting started.

“Stop his laughter or I’ll have my twenty guys rain down death,” the brigand stomped his feet. “They are all expert shots. Every last one of them.”

Arlin spoke softly as he approached the brigand. “You do not want to do this. I am a cleric of Dian Cécht and I mean you no harm. Just lower your weapon and be on your way. I will forgive your actions against us.”

“No,” the brigand spat, his eye twitched. “He said that you would give it to us. Fork it over. Give us the money. We know you have it. Hand over the gold.”

Catheldor Knights – Page 69

Arlin spoke softly as he approached the brigand. “You do not want to do this. I am a cleric of Dian Cécht and I mean you no harm. Just lower your weapon and be on your way. I will forgive your actions against us.”

“No,” the brigand spat, his eye twitched. “He said that you would give it to us. Fork it over. Give us the money. We know you have it. Hand over the gold.”

“Tell you what,” Arlin smiled. “Tell me who put you and your fearsome men up to this and I’ll gladly hand over the money. There will be no violence today.”

“He… I… I can’t tell you. Just hand over the gold. Or else.” The highway robber scratched his head while searching for the right words to say. He then hollered towards the shrubbery. “Give them a show of your hunting skills Joe.” An arrow flew high into the air, wobbling as it went, before falling flat on the ground before the five young men.

“That sure was impressive,” Arlin said. “Please, tell me who the mastermind was behind this highway action and the gold will be yours.”

The brigand scratched his chin. “Fine, we’ll do this your way. Don’t know who he is. He wore a dark cloak which covered his eyes. He came up to me and my men at the Golden Drake.” The highway man extended his hand, opening it wide and closing it repeatedly. “I told you what you wanted now give me what you promised.”

“You did not tell me exactly what I needed to know.” Arlin drew his dagger and slashed. His foe stumbled to one knee and grabbed his belly.

Gaston, Jarik, and Thothen charged into the underbrush. The dwarf screamed an ancient battle call while the half-elf ducked from tree to tree. The pair of thieves in the woods dropped their bows and drew swords. They rushed to meet the oncoming travelers.

A burst of flames surrounded Arlin, catching the brigand. Bolts of arcane magic streaked from Firae’s outstretched wand, wounding the burning highwayman further. The thief dropped his sword and fell.

“There is no place in this world for highway thieves,” Gason shouted as he attacked one of the men. Thothen growled as he swung his axe, the highway man stumbled away. Jarik circled around the battle, flanking their opponents and cutting off their escape. The fight was quick and left the highway men dead.

“You weren’t planning on giving them the gold, were you?” Miirik said while tending to the injuries the men had suffered in the fighting.

Arlin shook his head no.

Catheldor Knights – Page 70

The party found the rest of the ride to Brandeisberg to be uneventful. The Catheldor countryside transitioned itself to Ildonia lands. Most of the fellow travelers they passed along the way did not pay any attention to any other travelers along the road There were no more run-ins with highwaymen or Ildonian military.

“They call this a mining town?” Thothen scoffed as the mountainside town of Brandeisberg came into view. “It looks like some foolish human burned down a clearing and setup dilapidated shacks.”

Miirik was the first to respond to the dwarf. “Actually, I’m pretty sure that is exactly what they did. If I remember my geography lessons correctly, this was once a boomtown built around a silver mine. The silver vein had all but dried up in recent years so the town has pretty much become deserted. The locals have not done much to keep it up.”

“Someone sure does know how to live it up,” Firae pointed towards a mansion perched on a far hill.

“Probably the mine boss’s mansion. Why don’t we ride into town and see what is happening around here.” Gaston took a swig from his canteen.

Main street was a bit more active then any of the travelers expected. As they neared they saw travelers of various different races buzzing about the Rusty Pickaxe Tavern. The tavern swarmed with activity. Men stood around the massive wooden bar that flanked one side of the building in an effort to keep thirsty habits wet. The six had to push their way through the crowd before finding a lone empty table with enough room for four of them.

Firae scrunched his nose. “What a hive of scum and villainy. We may be able to find some information around here.”

“I’ll ask some questions at the bar,” Thothen grunted before wading back into the mass of people who filled the room.

“The shadowy corners look to be full of potential,” Jarik said before slipping through the masses.

A waitress approached the table, “What’ll y’all have?”

Catheldor Knights – Page 71

Arlin smiled up at the towering man of a woman who stood beside the table. “A round of ale would do us wonderfully, as well as a bit of information.”

“Conversation will cost extra, hon,” the waitress rested a hand on her hip.

Arlin placed a gold coin on the table. “Sure is busy around here today.”

“That it is,” she smiled and picked up the coin. “The auction always seems to bring a lot of y’all questionable types to town every year.”

“Every year?” Firae asked.

“Being as you young’uns are new to town I’ll give you a little tip,” she rubbed the piece of gold between fat fingers. “These are some rough men here. Many are mercenaries who would rip your throats out if you so much as look at them funny. Just drink your drinks and be on your way. There is nothing for you here and nothing you can afford neither.”

Gaston’s eyes narrowed and his voice was a near growl. “Don’t worry. We are more than capable at handling ourselves in a fight.”

“Who puts on the auction?” Arlin’s white teeth glistened in the candle lit tavern.

“Those drinks will be a silver each.” Arlin placed a second gold coin on the table, which she snatched up. “There’s a group of spell casters who put the auction on. They call themselves the Zmatek Elementalists or some such. Always a big turnout. Always a few fights. Always good coin to be made.”

“Where do they acquire these items for the auction,” Firae asked.

“Don’t rightly know, hon. Some say they find them in ancient tombs, others say they create the items themselves. I never did care to find out myself.” She punctuated her words with a frown. “I have other customers to get to. Since you’re here for the auction I’ll leave you with this last piece of advice. Save y’all some trouble and get all y’alls’ butts out of town. If y’all gonna stick around then don’t miss the start at the first thing in the morning. Many of the items for sale are on display at the town hall today.”

Catheldor Knights – Page 72

A chorus of cheers rang out from a corner of the bar. Thothen had made his way into a diverse group of beings. Humans, halflings, and orks were surrounding the dwarf. All held mugs high in the air. Ale sloshed, splashed amongst the beings and soaked the wood floor.

Jarik had pulled up a chair and sat at a table occupied by a single human. A hood was pulled low over the human’s eyes. Wisps of a gray beard protruded from his wrinkled face.

“Come here often?” Jarik asked of the old man. The human drank from his goblet and didn’t respond to the half-elf’s question. “Sure is busy in here today. How were you able to secure a table for just yourself? My friends and I were barely able to find a seat in here. Unfortunately there wasn’t enough room for us at that table. Mind if I join you for a spell? It sure is nice to get off of that horse. Sure is a long ride all the way out here. Why did they have to hold this auction in such a remote village? Do you have any idea?”

The old man glared at Jarik. “If I answer your questions will you go away?”

“Probably not. My name is Carroll Cassivellaunus, what’s yours?”

“My name is of no importance to you young one,” the old man said. The corner of the room seemed to grow a little darker and a little colder. “Vacate this table now before things get vastly unpleasant for you.”

“What ya drinking there?” Jarik reached for the goblet. “Is it tasty? Do you think I would like it? What brings you to this auction? What are you planning to buy? Is it interesting? I bet it would be something that you could use to level entire cities.”

“You are lucky on this day you meager little pest. For I do not wish to be escorted away for wiping a whelp like you off the face of this speck of a town.” A pillar of smoke erupted around the old man and he vanished.

“Looks like I need to find someone else to question,” Jarik said to himself as he finished off the red wine from the goblet.

Catheldor Knights – Page 73

Thothen joined back up with the group as they left the Rusty Pickaxe tavern. “Those were quite some guys. Good guys those mercenaries were, I’d say. It’s a shame that not a one of them could hold their ale like a dwarf.”

Arlin’s voice had harsh tones to it as the group made their way to the town hall. “We are here for a very important mission. Not for laughs or drinks. What did you learn from them?”

“They are a mercenary band, the Black Scars or some such like that.” Thothen took a swig from a tankard he borrowed from the tavern. “This auction has brought them to town over the past several years. They have always been able to pick up a few odds and ends that have assisted in the field. This year, they say, that the big draw is the Galachir weapons. They plan on using those weapons of legend to way waste to the battlefield and bring home glory. I believe they’ll be some major competition and have the budget to back them up.”

“Not if we can get the relics first,” Firae said. “Do you have any ideas on how we can keep them from acquiring the weapons?”

“Aye,” the dwarf smiled. “They are here for many items that are commonly hard to find at magical bazars. I’m confident we can force the bidding to go high on some items so they’ll run out of coin for the big prize.”

Firae frowned. “That sounds risky. We should not be playing with the coins unless we are purchasing the relics.”

Arlin’s frown turned to a mischievous grin. “I like it. If the group of us shows up and don’t bid on anything until the final item is brought out, then everyone in the room will know that is what we are here for and that we have a ton of coin to back up what we say. I feel we should be placing bids as the day goes along. With a straight face it shall help our outcome in the end.”

Thothen nodded. “Not to mention anything that we may accidentally purchase we could use or I could sell back in Catheldor to pay back your people. It will be a win-win situation when we pull it off.”

Catheldor Knights – Page 74

Burning swirls of wind and fire flanked the entrance to the town hall and surveyed the grounds before the town hall. A large human with beefy crossed arms stood in front of the doorway behind a hunched old elf that looked over each soon to be auction goer as they entered the building. They were guards who could repel an assault if the bidding went bad for any of the mercenary companies in attendance.

The six adventurers were very courteous to the security measures when they entered the building. Even though it was the most important building in the town, the hall was nothing more than a large ramshackle wood shack. Floorboards creaked with each step. Rows of merchandise laid out for potential bidders to see and inspect. A pair of rock beings plodded their way around the perimeter while a being of swirling water splashed in a corner. Beings of a less magical nature who wore clothing similar to the two outside strolled up and down the aisles and assisted those with questions about the items for auction.

Arms and armors were displayed upon tables covered in white silk sheets. Swords were upon one set of tables and axes upon another set. Armors were laid out by size, material, and presumable protection. A row of leather followed by chain and finally plate. Vials of potions were set about tables in one corner of the room, flanked by magical scrolls and various trinkets. However, the Galachir staff and sword were no where to be found upon the display room floor.

While the rest of the group was looking at the items spread out on the tables, Firae went to one of the Zmatek Elementalists. “Are all of your items for sale in this room?”

The elementalist was a weasel looking human with a large pointed nose. He twirled the end of his mustache before speaking. “Yes. All of the items that will be auctioned off tomorrow are on display here today.”

“There seems to be a few pieces missing.”

“Were you hoping to catch a glimpse of the legendary Galachir weapons? I suppose you might, they being part of your fine heritage and all, but they may only be viewed by individuals with enough money to purchase them.”

“I do have enough money to purchase the weapons. I demand to see them as a paying patron of this auction.”

“Very cute little boy. You have no scars of battle upon you. Now run along and let real paying customers have a chance to see these items. Fighting men have no need for a young elf gumming up the works.”

Catheldor Knights – Page 75

Dejected, Firae left the rude Zmatek Elementalist guard and returned to the rest of his group. “From what I can gather they have Galachir’s weapons here, but they are not willing to show them to the likes of us. That guard won’t take me seriously. He thinks we’re not the type of fighting men who would be interested in the relics.”

Arlin led the group from the town hall. “That will have to change, but for now I propose we find a place to bed down for the evening.”

The solitary inn turned the six young men away. All of their rooms were full for the evening. A small camp of tents which flanked the city seemed to be the best place to set up for the night. The auction brought more people than what the small town could handle. Once the tents were set up for the evening the six did not wander off far for fear of the disreputable folks about.

Once night fell and their camp fire was extinguished, the six found themselves in the cool embrace of sleep. Most of them welcomed the rest, but one of them did not. As the moon raised high above the camp a beautiful human woman ducked her head from under Prince Arlin’s tent and scampered through the night towards Brandeisberg.

A cool breeze blew down from the mountain top and she pulled her shawl tight around her shoulders. It did not take long for her to cross town and walk to the mansion that sat upon the hill. With a few kind words to a guard on duty, along with a warm embrace, she found herself inside of the mansion.

Candles hung from sconces along the hallway walls. Half of which were lit. The young woman found her way through the mansion. It was late enough that most of the auction goers were asleep for the evening, but some were still awake and drinking the night away.

“I have not seen you around here before,” a voice barked from behind the young woman. “What are you doing here?”

The young woman looked to the guard with a demure smile.

Catheldor Knights – Page 76

Roosters from a neighboring farm cawed on a bright and early morning. The six men rubbed sleep from their eyes and crawled from their tents. Arlin was the last to crawl from his tent for breakfast.

“Sleep well?” Gaston said when Arlin emerged. “When did you find time to convince a woman to visit your tent last night? Her face could sail a dozen war-barges. Did she leave or is she still sleeping in there?”

“There are some things you will never understand about my times with women. And no, she isn’t still in my tent.” Arlin shook his head. “We must not dawdle any longer and get to the auction. I would prefer to have good seats to watch the action.”

Miirik tore a hunk from a hard roll and passed it to the prince. “We have a long day ahead of us. We should stay on our toes.”

Once in Brandeisberg the men found themselves in the hustle and bustle of auction day. Warriors dressed in their finest armors paraded about the street. Smells of eggs and bacon permeated the mountain air. Men were standing at the tavern doors, calling for all to sample their finest breakfasts and whiskies.

“We should stop off for a drink,” Jarik said.”

“That is exactly what they want us to do,” Firae said to the halfblooded one. “To be sharp of mind is to be sharp of spirit. We shall bring the relics home, I can feel it. My dreams were clear on this fact last night.”

“Things do not always pan out the way you elves envision it,” Gaston said.

The elf shook his head. “You must not have read much elven literature, fiction or not, they tell a clear tale of events that are to occur.”

Miirik lead the group into the town hall. “Then why live life at all? If you elves have already seen it all, then there is no use in doing anything.”

“I’ll admit that sometimes it’s a bit subtle, but it’s there nevertheless. The main meat of the matter is there when you study the literature. Sometimes it’s only evident after the event has passed.”

Catheldor Knights – Page 77

The men filtered through the town hall. It was only the day before when the room was filled to the brim with items to view before the auction. On this day the items were no longer on display. In place of the rows of tables were rows of chairs. A stage area sat upon the far end with only a single podium adorning it.

The six picked seats towards the front of the room and off to one side. They wanted a good view of the stage and be able to look back to the other bidders. Thothen wanted to see the other bidder’s faces to get a read on their budget and motivations.

As morning grew older bidders trickled into the hall. The black scars were in the opposite corner from the group, towards the rear of the room. The old man Jarik had spoken with the night before also found a seat towards the rear. The rest of the bidders filtered in. Some were by themselves, others were in small groups, and there were a few large groups like the black scars. Concession girls began making their way through the aisles of seats, making sure that mugs stayed full and lips were loosened for the main event. Elemental beings and large human guards circled around the seating area and watched the audience.

By mid-morning the hall was filled to standing room only. An announcer crossed the stage and stood behind the podium. He was dressed in satin robes of brilliant reds and blues and browns. Large gemstone rings adorned his fingers. Hoots and hollers rang out from the crowd, ready to start the auction.

“Ladies and gentlemen,” the auctioneer called out, “and I do use that term loosely. Welcome to the annual Zmatek Elementalist’s auction extravaganza. I see some new faces out there today and many returning ones as well. I hope all bidding turns out as excellent as last year and that we will have a good auction. Just remember, there is to be no fighting amongst your selves while within the boundaries of this room. I hope no one will have to be forcibly removed like last year.”

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The crowd laughed at the auctioneer’s silver tongue barbs and quips. He had put everyone into a relaxed good mood, a mood which in turn should loosen their purse strings by quite a bit.

“Let me do all of our bidding,” Arlin whispered to his friends as the auctioneer finished his pre-auction speech. “There will be more strength in our actions if we speak with one voice.”

“Let us start the auction with one of our highlighted items, the suit of armor worn by Luiton Vandermeer in the battle of Hemptings.” The auctioneer spoke as a pair of assistants wheeled a wooden cart onto the stage. Atop the cart was a wooden dummy adorned with a suit of glistening mail armor. Two holes were in the armor above where the wearer’s heart would be. “Archers felled poor Luiton in the battle, as you can see by the arrow holes still preserved. The winning bid on this item will also receive repairs by Zmatek Smiths to patch those holes if desired. Hopefully the winner is much more fortunate than poor Luiton was.”

“This is one that those black scars were interested in,” Thothen whispered into Arlin’s ear. “It shouldn’t fetch more than five thousand. Let’s see if we can push it up to six.”

The auctioneer’s voice rumbled like a brook over fast rapids and kept the bidding running smoothly. He called out bids and pointed out those who placed them. When the total hit four thousand most of the bidders backed off and it was down to the Black Scars and Arlin. At six thousand Arlin rose his hand to indicate he would place a bid.

The room grew silent. The Black Scars discussed amongst themselves. The total was high and everyone knew it. The mercenary company leader shook his head no while one of the big brutes growled at him.

“When I said six, I meant they should take that bid not us,” Thothen said.

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A brutish human yelled out a new high bid. The black scar leader pulled him to his seat and shut him up, but the bid was accepted. The auctioneer looked to Arlin to see if he would go any higher. The young prince of Catheldor shook his head no.

“Looks like we have our first winner of the day,” the auctioneer called out. “You’ll need the extra protection from your boss after an outburst like that. The armor can be picked up at the rear entrance of the hall later today. It will just take a few moments for a proper fitting and repairs to that battle damage.”

“Got lucky on that one, Arlin,” Firae hissed under his breath.

“I knew what I was doing the whole time. This day shall be a piece of cake.” Arlin smiled but Firae shook his head in disbelief.

As the morning dragged on Arlin continued to place bids and followed Thothen’s advice. Occasionally Firae would chirp up when the magical auras upon an item didn’t compare to what the power auctioneer reported the item was capable of.

During the bidding the group acquired a handful of magical scrolls, a backpack capable of carrying more than it appeared to be able to carry, and several different types of potions. Most of the potions were in groupings of twos or threes, except for a lot of fifty potions which let a man breath fire as if he were a dragon. Each accidental purchase didn’t seem to affect Arlin. His bidding showed strength through his folly. Each time Thothen reassured the group he would be able to sell the goods and repay the spent gold coins.

Catheldor Knights – Page 80

At midday the auctioneer called for a meal break. The crowd of bidders and watchers filtered into the town square. Venders from the taverns had set up shop, selling roasted mutton and ale.

Thothen went to the Black Scars and offered them a round of ale in exchange for no hard feelings on the biddings and that he’d be willing to sell anything acquired. Their response was a resounding cheer. There were no hard feelings where ale was involved.

“This is where things will start to get interesting,” Arlin said to his friends as they gathered under an old oak tree. “Bidding will start to get more competitive now as the juicier items are brought out. Some of those people who have yet to place a bid will start dropping bags of coin.”

“How do you know this? Have you been here before?” Jarik scowled.

Prince Arlin smiled, “I have my ways of finding information out.”

“You just had to pay her a little lip service, didn’t you,” Gaston chuckled, remembering the sight of the young woman exiting Arlin’s tent the night before.

“Just believe what you want to believe,” Arlin winked.

After about an hour Zmatek Elementalists made their way through the lounging bidders and announced the auction was about to restart anew. Those who still had coin to spend filtered back into the auction hall. Everyone sat in the same positions they were in before leaving for the meal break. Some of the participants in the auction had thinned, a few here or there who had already purchased what they were after.

The auctioneer called everyone to attention and once again gave his speech about the rules during the event. With the next item that was pulled out the starting bids were noticeably higher. The auctioneer took his time calling out the bids, attempting to tease things out and maximize winning bids. Arlin was careful with the inflation bids now. Thothen hadn’t returned from lunch and the prince had not wanted to accidentally blow most of their coin on a few useless items.

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Thothen crept to Arlin’s side. “Like my new pack?” the dwarf said a little too loud for the Prince’s taste. The stench of ale was thick on his breath. “Decided to pick up our winnings during the break. I think I’ll be keeping the pack though, it should prove handy for carrying my fine dwarven goods for sale.”

“Would you be quiet? We don’t want to draw unwanted attention to ourselves.” Firae hissed

“Then you should keep a better eye on your little friend,” Thothen grunted as he hoisted himself onto a chair. Towards the back of the hall sat Jarik next to the old man which he had pestered the day before in the tavern.

“Why haven’t you bid anything yet?” Jarik asked of the old man.

“Timing has not been right. It’s difficult to make a winning bid when half the room is willing to throw down coins onto the same item.” This time the old man was a little more tolerant of the half-elf.

“Are you here for anything in particular?”

“As a matter of fact I am.” The old man turned to look straight into the half-elf’s eyes. “But why should I tell you what interests me?”

“Even I can see you are a wise and powerful man, one who could smote myself without bringing sweat upon his own brow. I’m quite powerful myself. Perhaps not as powerful as you, but powerful none the less. At some time you may prove to be not so powerful and need my assistance.”

“I don’t rightly know your game half-elf, but you’re playing a dangerous game indeed. I have half a mind to take us both away from here, reduce you to a pile of sun bleached bones and ashes, and reappear before the kind auctioneer knows what happened.”

“I don’t think you have the gall to do such a thing.”

The old man stood with outstretched arms. “Try me half-elf. Invoke my wrath and you will never forget the day you crossed paths with me. An end will be brought down upon you so fast that your great grand parents will feel it in the grave.”

“Looks like we have a bit of a commotion,” the auctioneer said as he waved guards towards the pair.

“What has he gotten himself into this time?” Firae hung his head.

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With all of the auction hall staring him down, the old man beside Jarik smiled and raised his hands above his head. “There’s no problem here. Nothing to get worked up over or pause the auction for. We are fine. Just fine. Sorry for holding up festivities. You may continue.”

The auctioneer glared at the old man and Jarik. “I don’t know about that. Didn’t I have you removed last year for disintegrating a bidder?”

“You must have me mistaken with someone else. I firmly follow all rules of your fine event, most especially the no disintegrations rule.”

Jarik nodded. “We’ve never had a problem before and we sure won’t have one during your fine proceedings. We apologize for the interruption.”

A large grin returned to the auctioneer’s face. “Very well, but if there are any more distractions then I will have to remove you from these proceedings. Both of you.”

Jarik smiled as the two sat back down. “So, what are you here for?”

“You are going to continue being a nuisance, are you not?” the old man said with a heavy sigh. The auctioneer continued to rattle off new bids for an enchanted axe.

“The outcome is likely,” the half-elf said with a devious grin.

The old man sighed once again. “Then I suppose I must tell you I’m here for the Galachir weapons. I suppose that’s what your friends are after as well. I’ve been watching you six. You all seem quite competent for your age. A bit rough on the edges, but competent. You’re doing us all a favor by draining funds from the Black Scars.”

“What are you trying to say, old man?”

“How about this. Let’s spend the rest of this auction in peace. There is no sense in either of us being removed from here. However, there is no moratorium on our actions once we vacate the hall. If I happen to win the elf relics, and you truly have an issue with that, then we could settle our score outside. You can even bring your little group of friends along. I’m sure you six could easily handle an old man such as me.”

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Jarik scratched his beardless chin. “I don’t know. It does seem easier to have the Zmatek Elementalists remove you before bidding even starts. It doesn’t matter to my group if I’m around for the bidding or not.”

“I like your moxie kid,” the old man pulled a painted clay disk from his pocket. “Tell you what. If you leave me alone while inside this town hall I will bestow a gift upon you. If at any point in the future you need assistance then just break this disk upon the ground. I will be summoned and will help you with any trouble you may have found yourself in. How does that sound?”

“How do I know you truly have power worthy of summoning?”

“My power as a wizard is so great even an apprentice could make brooms come alive to clean just by following the tomes I’ve written.”

Jarik nodded and snatched the disk from the old man’s fingers. The half-elf crept through the hall back to the rest of the group. He told them of the wizard’s purchase intentions.

“I get the feeling a large number of the patrons here will be vying for the sword and staff,” Firae slumped in his seat.

As the day wore on bidding continued to be fierce. A dispute broke out between two prospective bidders over a cloth robe, a dispute which was settled with a short wizard’s duel outside of the hall. The victor was removed from the town while the loser was taken to the cemetery. After an evening meal break the crowd filtered back into the hall. The number of patrons swelled to see who could afford the evening items. Everything left to bid on were powerful relics which only the rich or kingdom backed buyers could afford.

“Think we have a chance at all?” Firae was worried because bids for lesser items were nearly seventy thousand cold coins.

“These are all pretty powerful items. I could make a fortune if only half of them had fallen into my lap.” Thothen’s voice was a gruff whisper.

Arlin shook his head. “I’m not sure we have enough resources to purchase those weapons back. With any luck all these bids will run everyone else’s reserves dry. Other than our early winning, we haven’t spent too much today.”

Passion burned in Firae’s voice. “We have to win those relics. We cannot go back empty handed. This mission was entrusted upon us. Arlin, you must not fail Mallvrann.”

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The auctioneer’s voice boomed through the crowed hall. Side conversations were quickly silenced by the vigor left in his voice. “We’ve drawn quite a crowd for these final two items up for auction tonight. It has been a long day. There have been many items won and lost today with a few altercations sprinkled in for entertainment. All that has happened so far was just a prelude for what we have to offer now. For, we are down to the final two items that all of you are here to see and offer bids upon.”

A round of cheers rang through the crowd. Some members stood to stretch their aching backs and legs. It had been a long day and the hard wooden seats had done their backsides no favors.

“Due to the nature of our final objects up for auction, we will not offer them up for display. It’s not that we don’t trust you, it’s just, well, we don’t trust you at all.” The audience laughed and nodded in approval. “The great importance of the Galachir weapons dictates we keep them under lock and guard at the mansion up the hill. The lucky winner will be able to retrieve them after the auction. Now, do I have a starting bid of twenty-five thousand?”

“Here,” one voice rang out.

“Twenty-six,” another shouted.

“Twenty-seven,” quickly followed.

“Fifty thousand,” Arlin shouted out. Then he whispered to his comrades who shot him glares for the large early bet, “Relax, I’m just showing our dominance.”

After a short pause filled with murmurs from the crowd, the old man spoke up. “Seventy thousand.”

“I got this under control,” Arlin whispered to his friends before standing and announcing, “One hundred thousand.”

The old man let the murmurs fill the hall for a moment before standing and calmly saying, “One hundred and fifty thousand.”

Arlin looked at the other five young men for guidance. Firae shot the prince a look of death. The Mallvrann elves did not give enough coin to go any higher.

“It is your bid, young sir,” the smiling auctioneer said.

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A serene visage of a wood plank boardwalk cutting between crashing surf upon a white sand beach and tall sharp grasses was the only image the young prince could get in his head when the auctioneer called for the next bid. There was nothing they could do. They did not have any more money. They could not continue in the bidding war. It was over and the elf relics were lost. There was nothing that they could do to retrieve them from the auction. Arlin had let the Mallvrann elves down.

“Two hundred thousand pieces of gold,” a gruff voice called out beside the prince. Arlin turned to see Thothen standing with an outstretched hand.

“What are you doing?” Arlin whispered when Thothen thumped back to his chair.

Thothen smiled smugly. “My people have a stake in retrieving the Galachir weapons as well. We dwarves have some tricks up our sleeves as well.”

“Two hundred and fifty,” the old man stood. His eyes bored into the dwarf’s, daring him to bid again.

“How deep are your reserves?” Firae looked hopeful, if only for a moment.

“Five hundred thousand,” a human with a dark goatee called before the dwarf could respond. When he walked along the aisle towards the stage the room seemed to darken.

“Not that deep.”

“That is quite a generous bid. Is there anyone that will go higher than five hundred thousand?” the auctioneer smiled. Only silence answered him. No one in the audience moved, much less spoke. “Looks like you have won yourself the Galachir sword and staff. Who may I have the honor of bestowing these items upon?”

The winning bidder spoke when he stepped upon the stage. “You may call me Zdenek. I would like to have my property now.”

“Yes, yes, of course. Once we validate your payment the sword and staff will be handed over to you.”

The auction hall began to empty as the auctioneer and Zdenek discussed payment for the won items. The young men found themselves under the large oak tree where they had had lunch. They discussed what options they had left while the rest of the auction goers celebrated the end of another auction with ale and song.

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Jarik jabbed Thothen in the ribs with his pointy elbow. “You don’t have any extra funds do you?”

Thothen shook his head. “Almost worked. We could’ve lied about our resources but I doubt they would’ve believed we had over five hundred thousand. We wouldn’t have made it out of the hall alive.”

Firae hung his head low. “There is nothing left for us here. We have failed in retrieving Galachir’s staff and sword. Might as well go home in defeat.”

Jarik’s hand rested upon the sword hilt at his side. “There is still one more option available to us. We can get to the relics while Zdenek is paying. Those Zmatek Elementalists didn’t look so tough. We can take them down no problem, get the staff and sword, and get the heck out of town before anyone realizes what’s going on.”

“Are you crazy? They will cut us down if we tried storming the front door. They control beings made of pure elements, creatures which don’t go down easily.” Miirik said.

Arlin started walking towards the mansion on the hill. “Jarik is right. We have one chance if we move quickly. I know of a side entrance we can use which would keep our profile low and give us a chance to steal the weapons.”

Gaston shook his head. “How much did you have to pay your female visitor to get that kind of information? Were we bidding with a nearly empty purse all day?”

“A prince of Catheldor has his ways of gaining information.”

Zmatek Elementalists milled about the mansion accompanied by the elemental beasts under their control. There numbers were spread out between the town hall auction and the mansion in an attempt to keep revilers under control. Several were near the mansion main entrance, but the group was able to make it to the side entrance without much trouble.

“Halt!” the single guard at the entrance said as the six approached. “Entry into the mansion at this entrance is not allowed. Please go around to the front entry for proper admittance to collect your property.”

Arlin stepped forward, “We were sent from the auction. The auctioneer told us to use this side entrance. He didn’t want commotion around our arrival.”

The guard drew his sword. “I have explicit orders to not allow anyone though this entrance. No one is getting through this entrance today. Not you. Not the king of Ildonia. Not the gods above or below. No one, no way, no how.”

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The prince of Catheldor pulled a fist full of gold coins from his pouch and held them out to show the guard. “I’m sure that we can reach an agreement.”

The Zmatek Elementalist guard growled. “This is your last warning. Leave here at once or I will strike you six down myself.”

Arlin shook his head. “Such a shame. I was looking to resolve this peacefully.” The prince shoved the coins back into his pouch and said a short incantation. Flames burst from his body and engulfed the area around the prince. The guard screamed and was ignited by the magical flames.

Jarik lunged forward. His rapier struck home deep into the guard’s flesh. Gaston followed the half-elf’s advance. He stepped forward and swung his heavy sword. The blade dug deep and the elementalist fell. Jarik stabbed his weapon into the man’s heart. He twisted the blade as he pulled out, to ensure the man was down for good.

Arlin opened the door with the guard’s keys. “It’s not too far from here. Just down this hall and to the left and we should find ourselves at the library with the relics.”

“She sure did tell you a lot,” Gaston cleaned his sword in the grass.

Jarik patted the guard’s pockets for spare coins. “You’re just upset you didn’t think of pumping a whore for information first. Not that your human ways would have pleased her enough to keep her talking. Not like an elf could.”

“You know what they say about elves,” Gaston grunted.

“Hush up. We don’t want to get caught now.” Arlin crept down the empty hall then turned the knob on the library room door slowly until it clicked open. The prince pushed open the door and stepped in.

A large Zmatek Elementalist guard stood in the middle of the room and tapped a mace in his open hand. Whirling fire and water beasts flanked him on either side. A small man in a hooded robe stood in a corner, a hand pointed at each of the elemental creatures. “None of you will this mansion alive.”

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Jarik leapt past Arlin into the Zmatek Elementalist mansion library. Oak paneled walls were covered with book covered shelves stacked floor to ceiling. In the middle of the room between the guards was a marble pedestal capped with a large metal chest.

“You’re the one who’ll not be leaving here alive.” Jarik stabbed but the elementalist stepped backwards and deflected the blow with his mace.

Thothen’s hands turned to stone and he rushed towards the beast made of fire. Bolts of magical force launched from the Zmatek spellcaster’s wand. Thothen’s invisible shield of magical energy absorbed the blow but Jarik grunted in pain when the magic struck him. The fire beast lashed at the dwarf. Searing heat radiated through the shield but the dwarf was lucky and left mostly unscathed.

Chaos erupted across the library when more bodies were fed to the fight. Arlin, Miirik, and Firae hid behind a desk and couch. They slung magical energies at their opponents. Gaston rushed the water beast and assaulted it with his heavy blade.

Jarik battled the large guard, they were well matched as they thrust and parried each other’s attacks. The guard powered his way through the half-elf’s defensive maneuvers and smashed his leg. A scream erupted from Jarik’s lips when he fell with a dislocated his knee. From his back, the half-elf struggled to deflect blows.

The large elementalist towered over the fallen half-elf. “Just give up now, I’ll make you death quick and painless.”

Miirik rushed from behind the couch to Jarik’s side. A prayer loosed from his lips when his fingers touched his fallen comrade. Healing energies radiated from fingertips and reshaped the twisted knee. The half-elf scrambled to his feet and pressed his attack.

“Give us the relics and we’ll let you live,” Arlin shouted over the din of combat. A small ball of fire flew from his wand and exploded against a bookshelf on the far wall. The flames lapped at the water beast and the large guard. Jarik flipped away from the licking flames, but Gaston was not so lucky and his skin blistered. Flaming books flew from the shelves and burning paper rained onto the combatants.

“Watch it,” Gaston’s blade sliced through the water being. Liquid splashed against the floor and his flesh, cooling his burns. The water being diminished in size as it succumbed to his onslaught.

The Zmatek wizard shouted a spell and water flew from his fingertips. The water beast’s form grew back to its original size. The swirling water growled and lashed at Gaston, splashing the human with each bludgeoned blow.

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Gaston ducked under the water creature’s wet attack with flailing arms. “I’ll take care of the wizard. Keep this water beast off my back.” The warrior leapt over a chair and slashed at the wizard. The spell caster stumbled backwards against a towering bookcase. Books fell around him. He was cornered by the Catheldorian.

With a flick of his wrist, bolts of force launched from the wizard’s wand. Gaston staggered backwards for half a step before his armor absorbed the magical blow. The warrior pressed his attack and felled the Zmatek wizard.

Soot and ash fell about the dwarf with each chop of his axe into the fire being. Searing flames licked Thothen, but his stony limbs kept him insulated from most of the pain. On the last of its legs, the flaming beast roared and exploded upon the room. All were washed with bathing flames. Firae screamed and dropped to his knees behind the desk. Some hid from the furnace heat, but most were burned. Scents of burnt flesh filled the room but the flaming elemental beast was no more.

“Give us the relics and we’ll let you live. We out number you and will end your cult.” Arlin shouted over the desk he hid behind with Firae then grabbed the elf’s arm. Healing energies washed over Firae as Arlin said a prayer to Dian Cécht. Burnt and blistered flesh disappeared and an unearthly cold shiver ran down Firae’s spine.

The remaining guard laughed as four more guards rushed into the library. “Surrender now and your deaths are quick and painless. No one stands against the Zmatek elementalists.”

Jarik ducked under a guard’s blow and lunged with his rapier. The slender blade penetrated an opening in the large guard’s armor. Blood dripped from the blade when the half-elf withdrew it with a twist. His attack was the only answer needed to the demand.

Like a rogue typhoon, the water being rampaged through the room. It washed the six invaders in thunderous waves which battered them against furniture. Bolts of fire launched from Arlin and Firae’s fingers into the creature. Steam screams erupted from the creature.

An ancient dwarven battle cry erupted from Thothen and he bowled his way into the four new guards. Their sword blows slashed against his toughened skin, but none penetrated deep into his stone exterior. The dwarf struck with his axe, not caring if it left his side open to attack. His raging fervor had to bring the new guards down before they threaten the spell casters.

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Gaston grunted and closed with the large Zmatek elementalist guard. The Catheldorian flanked the guard with Jarik. Together the two attacked the large man. The elementalist couldn’t maintain defenses against two attackers and blades found his flesh.

“There is no way you will escape from this village,” the large guard grunted and fell to one knee. “We will hunt you like the dirty flee bitten dogs that you are.”

“You’re the dog,” Jarik pierced his blade itself into the guard’s neck. Blood squirted across the library and the large man fell to the floor. Gurgled blood bubbles foamed around the wound.

“Get the box open,” Gaston demanded of the half-elf when he charged beside Thothen to assist with the four remaining Zmatek guards.

A padlock hung from the large metal case atop a stone pillar. Jarik hit the lock with the butt of his weapon, but it wouldn’t budge. He patted his pockets for a set of lock picks but couldn’t find any.

The remaining elementalist guards fell to the Catheldorian might and magic. All of the men were bruised and bloodied, but had cleared the room of guards trying to stop them. The fight had taxed their abilities and another harsh battle could be the end of the group.

“Let me get it open,” Thothen grunted as he hefted his axe over his shoulder and strutted to the half-elf. His obsidian axe blade could cut through stone and metal alike.

“We may get the relics and accomplish our mission before the day is through,” Firae said.

“I fear we have yet to run into the worst of the challenges in our way,” Miirik said.

A fiery explosion rocked the mansion and knocked the six to the floor. They were showered with sections of the building’s roof. The old man from the auction hovered above the building. His magic kept him aloft above the building while colorful bolts of arcane power streamed from his fingers towards the mining village.

“Step away from that box,” the old man demanded. Blue arcane fires raged in his eyes.

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Jarik stepped away from the metal chest and shouted to the old man hovering in the hole torn through the roof. “I wasn’t anywhere near that dang old box. Now get down here so we can discuss this face to face.”

A bright blast of arcane magic slammed the old man. He howled in pain and flew from view. Zdenek appeared hovering above the open roof, magic blasted from his fingertips towards where the old man disappeared.

Firae tried to pry open the metal box. “Let’s get the Galachir staff and sword out of here. Those battling wizards will buy us time to escape. The Zmatek Elementalists will be more worried about dealing with their mass carnage.”

“Let a real man take care of this,” Thothen pushed past the elf away from the box. With two hands on his axe he swung the weapon into the locked metal box. With a spark the axe clanged off. Not a scratch was visible.

“The damn thing is enchanted.” Arlin looked to the half-elf. “Can’t you open it with your lock picks?”

“What do you think I am, some kind of a thief?” Jarik spat.

“Well, yes we did,” Gaston patted the half-elf on the back. “Forget it. We should just carry that thing out of here. We can get the mages to open it once we get back home.” Gaston and Thothen tried to lift the metal box, but it did not budge.

Arlin said an incantation his eyes glowed blue. All of enchantments became visible to the prince as swirling colors of the rainbow which flowed around the box. “I see more enchantments than I thought could be put onto a single item.”

“Get out of here while you still have a chance.” The old man came into view above the library once again. A cloud of fire erupted and engulfed his entire body.

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The old man reappeared from the fire cloud and plummeted to the ground. The party stepped back to not be hit by the falling man. He impacted the library floor near the metal case and then scrambled to his feet. Blasts of arcane energies erupted from his fingers and leapt into the sky. “This is beyond your powers. Get out of here before you’re caught in his cone of destruction. Don’t waste your lives.” The old man cast a spell and a wall of fire grew from the ground and cut them off from the relics.

“We can help you,” Jarik shouted over the roar of the fire.

The flames grew in intensity around the old man. “I’ll finish you off myself if you don’t flee from here.”

Miirik held open the door leading from the library. “We should listen to him and get out of here. I don’t feel like dying on foreign soil today. Not for a quest we could never complete.”

“They were counting on us,” Firae pushed towards the wall of flame and scalded his exposed flesh.

Gaston grabbed the elf’s shoulder. “This was a test. If your people wanted the Galachir relics returned they would’ve sent skilled warriors and more coin. We’ve been doomed to failure since the highway men attacked. Let’s save our skins and escape this mansion.”

“Gaston is right. All we can do now is survive. I doubt the relics even existed, they were never on display. I would say they are fighting for an empty box.” Arlin rushed through the library door.

The mansion rocked with explosion once more and Zdenek appeared in the hole through the roof. His floating body sunk through the roof. “Give up old man, Galachir’s sword and staff are mine. Give it up. You can’t in. Not in the auction and not against me.”

“I cannot let them fall into your vile hands. Those power relics were enough to pull you from hiding so I can finish my quest to destroy you.”

“Your words won’t justify the deaths you caused.”

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Flames licked at the six men as they ran from the mansion. Fiery blasts of magic had ignited the building. Screams echoed through the halls of elementalists who tried to escape from the burning building.

Once outside the carnage wreaked upon of the village shocked the adventurers. While they were inside the mansion a sprawling battle had rocked the city. Many buildings were on fire and mercenaries fought each other as well as elementalists.

“What in the name of the gods above has happened here?” Gaston clutched his sword.

Arlin flinched as an arcane explosion rocked the mansion behind them while the two wizards battled high above. “Those two must have kicked off something fierce. Death threats over items lost in the auction just needed a spark to turn into a war.”

“We must get the horses and flee this place,” Miirik said.

Gaston evaluated the combat surrounding the village. “The fighting seems to be focused inside town. It may take us some extra time but I’m sure we should be able to sneak around the outskirts and retrieve our horses without getting involved.”

Jarik cracked his knuckles. “Think of all the gold coins that are being spilled down there. We could just pick up a few items on our way though.”

“No,” Firae said, “Our mission now is to return home safely.”

“But the coins. We could take enough to pay for what we’ve spent and pad our pockets.”

“No, we aren’t highway men.” Prince Arlin of Catheldor marched towards their camp and the horses. “We are leaving this town. Either you will come with us or you can take your chances alone in town. We are not going to risk the ability get home.”

“Very well,” Jarik hung his head.