The search (part 3)

They walked into the cavernous reaches of the library.  Jongleur showed them some of the rare books  in the collection. They were surprised to see so very few patrons in the library.

“Not many venture to the top of Mt. Crump in search of wisdom. You have managed to avoid the soldiers at the border. Now it seems necessary to tell you something you may not know about the Eyrrfish,” said Jongleur.

“What’s that?” asked Poxig.

“Many of them are half-orcish, half-elvish,” said he. “Your friend’s son must have been a sort of unusual addition to their kind. They are a strange bunch, and only come out at noontime due to their weak eyesight.”

“You have to tell us what we must do to learn this language. Brad would have the document. Can you get it for us?” Lakfi questioned.

That night, they talked late into the night about how to communicate with these strange people from a forgotten civilization. They knew that at least they had to get the locket to Carl’s son, Brad.

“But you said Brad lives nearby…” he commented. “Why can’t we just go there?”

“I never give the information of my patrons to others. It’s a policy that I don’t intend to break,” said Jongleur.

“Well, if we can’t find Brad, then we’ll have to ask you for the map to get to Eyrrf,” Poxig said.

“I wouldn’t recommend it,” said Jongleur. “These beings are technically orc. They might have you for dinner.”

“You just said that they have weak eyesight,” said Poxig. “I think we can surely evade them and find Brad.”

“Well, then, how will you communicate with them?” Jongleur asked.

“Once we have the sacred amethyst, we won’t need to,” said Poxig.

Jongleur continued on his tirade to persuade them that they ought to take precautions. He told them of a document that located the sacred amethyst’s whereabouts near Mount Eyrrf. But only through communicating with these people could they hope to find it.

That settled it for the twosome. They would wait for Brad Conrad’s return to the library, and then somehow get the document that they needed. Jongleur

The search (Part 2)

They had arrived at Mount Crump after a long, slow journey. Lakfi’s hands were gnarled after riding the horse all night. Poxig was also exhausted. But they had crossed the border to Ulteria shortly after dawn, and now they had reached the end of the Rivula River, where it flows into the sea.

The suzukib birds were chirruping, and there was little fanfare at their arrival. They would now have to scale the mountain as best as they could. They began their ascent to the library on the top of the summit. They walked, crawled, and scaled up the crags that led to the survey tower that was visible next to the library, which was carved into the side of the mountain.

Poxig could not help but propose some philosophical question or another, since there was plenty of time to expend. “Have you ever noticed,” he said, “that the same senses that we use to perceive the world is also what we use in dreams?”

“And so?” Lakfi muttered.

“Then, how can we tell the difference between dreams and reality? Could not our senses be misleading us?”

 

“Dreams will be our only hope of getting the Eyrrfish document,” said Lakfi.

“Ah yes. We must answer the riddle,” replied Poxig.

They came to the entrance of the library,  which was festooned with columns and draperies. They noticed that not many people were there, but just a few Ulterians around the area.

“Have you been here?” asked Poxig.

“It was a long time ago during my apprenticeship,” replied Lakfi. “I think that it will be difficult to meet the head sage and librarian, Jongleur. Hopefully, our letter has reached him.”

As they approached the library, a clockwork owl flew up to them and began to speak in a robotic voice: “WHAT IS YOUR BUSINESS?”

“We are here to see Jongleur,” said the green-faced elf. “Is he in?”

“MASTER DOES NOT SEE VISITORS.”

“What?” said Lakfi.

“MASTER …MASTER… MASTER…” at that point, the clockwork owl fell to the ground and began twitching.

A man in a coxcomb emerged from the library. “Oh, darn it! It seems that my sentry has malfunctioned,” he said.

“Excuse me, but might you be Jongleur? We are looking for him,” asked Poxig.

“Aha! Yes, that is me. You have found me. But I must say, how did you get this far? The Ulterian guards should have stopped you.”

“We evaded them by the pass by the Rivula near the Ulterian border. Lakfi cast a cloak spell that allowed us to pass undetected,” said Poxig.

“Have I received correspondence from you?” asked Jongleur. “As you well know, I don’t entertain guests that I don’t have any missive from.”

“You must have something from us!” said Poxig in an elated tone. “We sent the letter several months beforehand.”

Jongleur began to fuss with his papers in a large leather knapsack. He pulled out a long letter with a red seal on it. “Ah yes, this must be yours,” he said.

“However,” he added, “you must understand that no one may enter the library before they answer a riddle.”

Lakfi thought himself very good at these sort of idealistic mind experiments. “This shouldn’t be too hard,” he whispered to himself.

“Very well, let’s begin.  What ceases to be the very moment it is spoken?” asked Jongleur.

“Hmm.” Poxig mused. “I’m not sure I know the answer to this one.”

“I do,” said Lakfi. “The answer is: silence.”

“Ah yes!” the fool on the hill laughed with delight. He did a back somersault and then shouted, “that’s absolutely right!”

“I have another one…” Jongleur began,  but Lakfi interrupted.

“You said that we should only have to answer one! Our business is pressing. We must gain the translation document for the Eyrrfish language. We sent you the letter in April,” said Lakfi.

“Ah yes, it is April,  the cruelest month. And you, sirs,  are out of luck. One such individual has borrowed that document from me. His name is Brad, and he lives just beyond the Ulterian border.”

“You tricked us!” yelled Poxig.  “You led us to believe…”

“You have come here on your own,” said Jongleur. “I had nothing to do with it. I make sure the documents are in order, but otherwise, it was all of your own devices.”

“Then,  can you at least inform us as to Brad’s whereabouts?” said Lakfi.

“Well, I never give out the patron’s information. I only have about 200 of them. I rarely get visitors on the top of Mount Crump. But since you answered my riddle, please come inside, and I will tell you about some of my most recent research,” said Jongleur.

The trio went inside the great library together as dusk was falling.

crump

 

 

 

The search

Poxig and Lakfi had make their peace with each other, because a new problem posed itself. They had promised the dying Conrad to find his son, and present the locket to him. In fact, Poxig had little to go on except the reformed vampire’s instructions to seek him at the castle on the top of Mount Eyrrf, where there was a chance that they could find him.

Poxig and his friend the dark mage set out from the manse to locate the lost son at the heights of Eyrrf. This place was ancient people that had separated themselves from all other races. Although human, they did not consider themselves to be of the human race. They spoke in a strange dialect called Eyrrfish. In order to speak to these people, they would have to consult Dr. Unne, the master of languages.

They arrived in Melmond that evening as the sun set, and knocked on Dr.  Unne’s door. He lived in a small accommodation by the end of the road, next to the graveyard. A large oak tree was towering over them, and was cutting shapes in the sky with its long black branches. The owls were hooting in the trees.

Dr. Unne appeared at the door, disheveled in his lab coat. Obviously, he had been working on an important scientific discovery.

“Eyrrfish, you say?” said Dr. Unne “Well, you’ve come the right place my boys! It’s my scientific speciality!”

They learned that Eyrrfish could only be translated with a special document which had to be found and brought to Dr. Unne. It just so happened that there was a copy at the library on the top of Mount Crump, but they would have to communicate with the master librarian Jongleur by letter, so as to alert him to their arrival.

“Jongleur is a mysterious librarian,” said Dr. Unne. “He does not like to deal with the general public, so you will have to ask him to meet with you by writing him a letter.”

They agreed that they would do this. The librarian’s vision was not as it used to be, and it was not sure that they would be able to see him right away. They gathered up their courage to set out for Ulteria, when Mount Crump was located. They had to keep the promise that they had made to Carl Conrad while he was still alive.

“Do you think we have a chance of finding the Eyrrfish translation document?” asked Lakfi.

“I think even one missive to Jongleur should do the trick,” replied Unne.

“Even we fail, it will not be all for naught. Perhaps Jongleur can give us some insight as to the location of the sacred amethyst.”

“We can’t afford to fail. As light warriors, the fate of Illyria rests in our hands,” said Poxig.

Of course, Lakfi didn’t really think of himself in this way, and he impugned the light warrior prophecy. But his respect for Poxig remained. Poxig, on the other hand, had other issues to resolve. He wished to be able to find his lost father, and thereby his namesake. If he could do this, it was possible that his father would tell him what the purpose of his being was, or if not, validate his ancestral heraldry.

And so the search went on for a suitable guide to Mount Crump. Dr. Unne would not leave his work at laboratory, and could not accompany them. They would need to hire another mage to guide them through the rough terrain of Ulteria. Who knows what Wyverns flew in those dim skies?

Dr. Unne wished them well, resupplied their knapsacks, and sent them on their way. Having mailed the letter to Jongleur, the two unlikely friends continued to Ulteria, in hopes of at least retrieving the sacred amethyst.the friends

 

Poxig and Lakfi disagree

Poxig was always a winsome chum, but he knew how to watch his own tongue. It was one night after he and Lakfi were arguing about a certain theological topic, that he let loose his true thoughts, which Poxig hardly ever did.

“There is no light warrior prophecy,” said Lakfi. “Your trust is misplaced in Releven.”

Of course, this insulted Poxig, who believed himself to be the recipient of Releven’s emic language, as opposed to Lakfi’s etic false language.

“Releven was responsible for repelling Darxon at the Nitla pass. A god is just a hero in a non-human form. Our hero Releven remade us in his own image, and made the elvish people into a united country. Before, an elf was considered a kind of orc.”

At that point, Lakfi stammered and retorted. “You lost during the wars of religion, and that is why you are defensive about Releven.”

“Even now, Releven could win the victory against Garland, with his powerful magic!”

“You have no idea about the powers that be, and they are conspiring against you!”

Lakfi cast a muddle spell on his friend, he was so angry. Poxig had bested his most formal logic of darkness. Now, Lakfi wished to show him his power.

When Poxig revived, Lakfi said, “Darkness is power. This is something you can never understand.”

“Nor do I wish to,” said Poxig. “You and I will never agree here.”

Poxig gave him his wages for having finished the quest to reform Conrad the vampire. He had thought that this story would be  an object lesson that would bring his deceived friend to the light. Instead, it had caused him to return to darkness. Poxig wanted no part of it.

A friend’s betrayal is still hard to take. This gainsayer had caused him to question his trust in his friend, and it was many more months before he would trust him again.

Poxig & Lakfi

The inheritance

Conrad the master vampire entered the graveyard once more. He saw that Poxig and Lakfi were sitting roasting their dinner with a spit over a fire.

“I have overheard you,” said Conrad. “You want to change me back into my former self. But it will never happen. I’ll tell you why. This manse was willed to me by my grandfather Farraday, and his father was also a vampire. We continue to consume Melmond, because that is  what we’ve always done.”

“Master Conrad!” exclaimed Poxig. ” There is always the possibility of change. Look here, is the ruby necklace that your wife once wore! Remember the love you had with your wife before you accepted this terrible inheritance. You were able to resist the dark side. Even now, you may be reformed.”

“It can never happen. My inheritance as the master vampire is too great. I will continue sucking the blood of my victims in Melmond!” shouted the creature of the night.

Lakfi thought that he was too far gone to be reformed at that point. The only way that Melmond would be free from his reign of terror was to drive a stake of holly through his heart.

Lakfi doffed his cap and pretended to listen, but then cast a stun spell. While the vampire was still under the effect of the spell, he grabbed the stake of holly and went to the makeshift overhang near the edge of the graveyard. He leaped upon it and then fell upon the vampire. He tried to drive the stake through the vain creature’s heart.

But then Poxig grabbed his hand. “No, Lakfi! There is some good in him!”

The vampire, seeing that Poxig had given him an advantage, moved over near him to suck his blood. But Poxig remembered the Latin cross that Dr. Unne had given him. He raised the cross into the air, and the vampire recoiled in fright.

Then Poxig shouted: “Conrad, grandson of Farraday! Remember Milly, who was the only woman you ever loved! She wrote on her death-bed for you to repent of your ways and turn to the god of your soul. She wanted you to be with her in the afterlife, but now your soul is headed for condemnation because you have shed innocent blood.”

“Don’t try to preach to me, you insignificant elf! You are nothing compared to my inheritance!” shouted the vampire. But a tear was visible on his eye, and Poxig knew then that he might be able to reform this prince of darkness.

“This manse is only an earthly inheritance that will soon turn into dust! But there is a more important one that exist beyond this world, in a place of unapproachable light. Milly wanted to meet you there, in the land beyond the stars,” said Poxig.

Lakfi joined Poxig when he realized that hate and darkness could not be defeated with even more black magic. “Conrad, remember those noble days when you defended your country from the elves. Now, some powerful god has sent this elf to show you that he is the god of all heroes, and that you were wrong! Why can’t you see the truth?”

Suddenly, the vampire fell to the ground, as the tears welled up in his eyes. “Oh, Milly, how have I lost you!” he exclaimed.

Poxig slowly ambled over to the vampire, holding the Latin cross in his hand. “Now, Carl, you must ask master control to forgive your sins, now that you have shed innocent blood! You must face the sun’s rays tomorrow morning!”

“Now, my only inheritance will be to be with my beloved Milly! But this is a greater inheritance than all of this great manse!”

“And you will save your soul,” said Lakfi. “But unless you face the light, you cannot go to the land of the living souls!”

“Now, I must beg of you gentlemen,” said Carl Conrad, seated on the ground, ” daylight is almost upon us.  Then, I will dissolve like snow in the spring heat. You must go tell my son, who is still amongst the living, that I have gone to join his mother.”

“We will,” said Lakfi. Poxig agreed, nodding his head. millyconrad

Attack from the nemesis of Melmond

The master of the manse presented himself before the two denizens. He was dressed in a cape with a large black collar, and he had blood streaks down the side of his face where he had sucked the life from a marsh squirrel. His hair was combed back, with some sort of hair gel. He had sunken cheeks behind pronounced cheek bones, and his pallor gave a  sort of wan complexion. He introduced himself.

“Allow me to present myself. Carl Conrad. I am the descendant of the Conrad family who have owned this manse for seven generations. We are a proud race of the clan Farraday, who you may be familiar with. Our name shows our pedigree. We have our own family seal. Now, before I devour your blood, may I ask what you are doing in my graveyard?”

“We will never surrender, Conrad. We know that you are the vampire that is terrorizing Melmond. Your reign of terror ends here,” said Lakfi.

“We are the light warriors,” shouted Poxig. “We will not go quietly.”

“Then, you will know the full power of dark magic!” replied Conrad. He proceeded to cast a dazzle spell, which blinded them with white light. Then, in their confusion, the heroes could not see the vampire approaching.

Then, Poxig was reminded that vampires could be repelled by the aroma of garlic. Just as the vampire was about to reach his person, Poxig threw the garlic. It gave off a smell that repelled the evil genius. Then, when he was muddled by the garlic, Poxig took his penknife and waved the dagger near the undead creature’s heart.

Conrad immediately turned into a vampire bat and flew into the evening sky. Lakfi, who was blinded by the spell, awoke from his stupor. He realized that Poxig had saved his life from the vampire. The black magician congratulated Poxig and then thanked him for saving his life.

Behind him, the vampire had left the ruby necklace. Poxig took the necklace and put it around his neck, and he heaved a sigh of relief. It was the case that he had repelled the vampire, but he would be back to torture the inhabitants of Melmond.

“We never got to tell him about his wife’s plea,” said Poxig.

“This kind of evil will not be reformed, my green-faced companion,” uttered Lakfi.

“Still,  I believe that we can change him back to his former state, if only we could use holy magic on his person. But this kind of magic is beyond your purview,” said Poxig.

“Indeed, we would need to inquire the service of a practitioner of white magic,” replied Lakfi.

“Still, if we could find him in his coffin, then maybe we could…”

Lakfi interrupted Poxig. “The ruby necklace! Remember that Mrs. Conrad had told us that she gave it to him!”

“Yes, maybe we could use it as leverage. Once he remembers his former self, then he  will relinquish his nefarious ways.”

The daylight was coming over the mountains on the horizon. There would be no vampire attack until nightfall. Lakfi and Poxig planned their attempt to revitalize the sailor-turned-vampire. Of course, neither Releven, nor Master Control could ensure their success. But the two prayed to their gods nonetheless, and began to make a plan to reform the terror of Melmond.

Conrad

The Dark Magician’s confession

As they sat in the graveyard awaiting the return of vampire Conrad, Poxig began to importune the obscure black mage about his life. They started a fire and awaited nightfall. The suzukibs were making the loudest noise in the trees, and the bats would have to eat them for supper. Neither of them expected the vampire to emerge from his sepulcher, but they would be damned if they wouldn’t wait for dusk.

“How did you become a student of the dark side?” asked Poxig.

Lakfi paused and tipped his wizard’s cap. “This is a strange question, for I might as well ask why your skin is green. Of course, you had no part in your physical characteristics, since they were determined by Master Control. Many people such as I are born for the dark side. We have never known anything else. But even such as I cannot deny that our continued mastery of a gift given to us at birth is more or less up to us.”

“And the wizard’s cap? Is that standard issue for all wizards in the Naughright guild?” asked Poxig.

“Black mage, mind you!” Lakfi chortled. ” I haven’t yet earned my stripes as a wizard, and so I am still learning the dark arts. I am by no means a master wizard, but then if I was, there would have been no chance of me coming on this quest.  You would have had to pay a hefty fine,  the likes of which I daresay you would not have been able to afford. But to your question; yes, the cap is standard. But it was given to me by a master wizard who had known Darxon before he fully surrendered to the Chaos.”

The name made Poxig flinched.  Of course, the Chaos was the nefarious evil  force more powerful than anyone could reckon with. Even the greatest of knights-errant would tremble before such an evil. It was theorized that this force had come before the dawn of  modern era in Illyria, 2,000 years ago in the Temple of Fiends.

“What was the name of your teacher?” questioned the humble elf.

“Black mages never can give the names of their teachers to those outside the craft. It’s against our protocol. But know this, my young elven friend, not all who practice black magic are outside the realm of Master Control. There are, in fact, chapters in the Dark Wizard’s manual which not even the worst of us would dare to touch, since we know that it would irrevocably transform our likeness to that of the Orc-heraldry. Most of us are simply trying to channel the black magic against the enemies of Master Control, and not for our own benefit. We have much in common with the Red Mages, and more than you would know,” Lakfi said.

“But surely you know the wellspring of life comes from the light warriors?” Poxig offensively asked.

“Ah yes, but we can no sooner deny our affinity for the dark side than you can turn your hair white. You only have an advantage over those who practice dark arts if you know how they think. Whereas a true friend would never betray, the wicked warrior will destroy his closest companion who comes too near his worldly pelf of gold. We come here to vanquish the vampire, but you must know that vampires will only attack innocent victims that they are sure of killing.”

“Then, we may be waiting in this graveyard in vain,” added Poxig.

“Exactly,” said Lakfi.

But at that moment,  a dark form emerged from behind the stone obelisk. Then a voice was heard.

“I’ve been waiting for you, Lakfi,” said the voice.

“Carl Conrad, I presume,” returned Lakfi.

“Ah yes, it is I,” said Conrad. “And you have spoken correctly about our kind. We vampires never fight a battle that we can’t win.”

“Then, be prepared for the worst, for I have no other aim than to vanquish these hosts of night!” shouted Lakfi.

But before he could finish his sentence, the vampire changed into a bat and flew away.

Lakfi (2)

The weird encounter

Poxig brushed back the hair from his eyes. He had always wanted to become a wayward wanderer, and now he was able to do so.

It was time to say goodbye to Janquis for now and head to his mother’s house, and this time is was for an extended goodbye. He was now going with Janquis to Marginalia, and he would not return for some time, if ever.

Life would become more fantastical and wildly erratic for this young elf, especially because that time had passed from young adulthood to adult, & now he would see new things and experiment on a level that he had never known.

There were gifts from his mother that he did not want to forget. One of them was the Orb which had once belonged to his father. This was the Orb that the prophecy had talked about, & he had realized how important it was to retain this knowledge. If leaked out, it could cause the imps to summon dark-magic that would overthrow the delicate balance of Illyria.

Once he had arrived at Excelsior, he stayed at his mother’s cottage for a little while, & then moved on towards castle Marginalia. There he would gain an audience to king Charles I, and receive his mission. It was a long slow trudge to the emissary Seljuk, who was the first person to visit on his journey.

In fact, emissary Seljuk, or Er. Seljuk as he was known, was a friend of his father’s, and had been a trusted adviser of the family for many years. He came to the man’s cottage and knocked on the door. In fact, a nameless beggar prevented him from getting to the door. He was asleep on the doorstep.

“This is Emissary Seljuk’s house! Who goes there?” he asked.

“It is me, Poxig, ” said the young elf.

“Er. Seljuk doesn’t like mendicants!” he exclaimed.

“What makes you think I am as such?” asked Poxig.

“I am the guardian of his house,” he said.

“Why do you look like a beggar?” asked Poxig.

“Obviously, to repel the beggars,” he replied.

“And so?”

“You didn’t even ask my name or pay me respect, even though I am a  surrogate for an emissary.”

“Pardon me, what is your name?”

“Guess,” chimed the beggar-man.

“Rumplestiltskin.” said Poxig.

The beggar chortled.

Suddenly the door opened to the house, and none other than Emissary Seljuk emerged.
“What’s all this racket?” asked Er. Seljuk.

“Oh, dear sir, pardon my intrusion. I am looking for Er. Seljuk,” intoned Poxig.

“Is Sheldon bothering you? I told him not to be rude to visitors,” said Er. Seljuk.

At this, Sheldon turned into a falcon and flew away.IMG_0551

 

The search

The two neophytes wandered to the foot of the statue outside the great manse. Inside, there was surely the remains of the undead creature. Poxig felt trepidation, but in all honesty, he was glad to have his new friend Lakfi by his side.

“The first rule of black magic is that you must never underestimate the power of the opponent you are facing. The best bet is to overwhelm him with superior force at the beginning, and not give him a chance to retaliate,” said Lakfi.

“That would be fine, but we’re not trying to kill this agent of darkness. We must convince him to come back to his lost love, and so to save his soul. Somewhere in the soul of the vampire, there is Carl Conrad,” said Poxig.

They approached the castle and knocked on the solid oak door. The lion’s head knocker showed them that this man was one of wealth and taste. There was no answer. They knocked a second time, and suddenly, a man dressed in a suit and tie opened the door.

“May I help you?” asked the butler.

“We’re trying to locate Carl Conrad,” said Poxig.

“I’m sorry, but the master of the house has been deceased for three years,” said the butler.

“We happen to know that’s not true!” said Lakfi.

“I’m quite certain of it,” the butler said. “but if you’d like to come in and look around, you’re more than welcome to do so.”

Poxig and Lakfi went in. But as soon as Poxig had his back turned looking at an old suit of armor in the foyer, the butler accosted him and tried to bite his neck. Lakfi blasted him into a corner with a rush of fire magic, and knocked him out cold.

“You can’t trust anybody here!” said Lakfi. “They’re all vampires. They aim to kill.”

“I owe you one,” Poxig said. He knew that without Lakfi, he would have surely met his doom.

The two friends ventured into the basement, where there was a sepulchre. In the gloaming, there was a head stone. “Carl Conrad (872-902),” it read.

“So maybe the butler was right!” Poxig said. “But I’m sure that Conrad awakens at night to feast on human blood.”

“Can you be sure that Dr. Unne is telling the truth?” Lakfi questioned. “Perhaps he is not the friend you thought he was.”

Poxig had a small doubt. But then he remembered what his mother Eliana had taught him about dark magic. It was always to see the pessimistic side of things, which eventually led to a spiral of negativity.

“No, let’s search the house. Dusk has almost arrived.”

The two friends went into the manse and searched the corridors. Around the halls were old paintings, sacred manuscripts, and suits of armor. They could not contain their expectation. Someone was keeping up this place, for it had not fallen in disrepair. They knocked on the tower door.

“Hello?” Poxig shouted. “Anyone here?”

“Come in,” said a voice.

Right in front of them in a fauteuil sat a man who was impeccably dressed. He was sitting by a roaring fire, and smoking a pipe.

“Lane must have let you in,” said the man. “Who do I have the pleasure of meeting this evening?”

“I’m sorry sir, but we’re looking for Carl Conrad,” Lakfi blurted out.

“Well, you are speaking to him,” retorted Conrad.2016-04-29 15.18.07

 

The new friendship

Poxig continued to the hallowed Hall of black arts,  where mages of every stripe would go to learn the craft. He realized that his grasp of Latin was small, and therefore, his chance of learning any magic would be nil. But his story was too good to keep to himself. He had to reunite the lost widow Conrad to her ancient lover, and so perhaps, save his soul.

He approached the front counter, where concoctions of magic potions were strewn about. There were journeyman mages everywhere saying incantations of an inscrutable tongue. He nodded at the strangely dressed attendant, who wore a coat of rainbow colors.

“May I help you, sir?” he asked.

“Yes, I am trying to find a black magician in order to accompany me on my way. I am going to a dark circle where only dark magicians can navigate the terrain. Perhaps, you can tell me who is selling their services, and I will choose from one,” uttered Poxig.

“Yes, yes.” At that moment he heard some shouting in the back.

“Κοσμος, Κοσμον, Κοσμου,” the strange man chanted.

Poxig did not know it, but he was practicing his Greek declensions. Poxig was very curious what this strange language might have to do with his question. “Who is that?” asked Poxig.

“That is Lakfi,” said the attendant. He’s the worst student here, but his price is very small.

“Will you call him for me?” asked Poxig.

The attendant called for Lakfi, who appeared in a disheveled garment,  without any formality. He wore a giant  wizard’s cap, although it was apparent by his coarse appearance that he was not a master, but merely a moonlighting mage.

“What were you talking about back there?” asked Poxig.

“Oh, hi. Yes, that was the word ‘cosmos’, which is the Greek word for ‘world.’ I was expressing my general frustration with the world,” chimed Lakfi.

“Oh?” said Poxig.

“Well, injustice  seems to come more often than I would like. I should be in a wizard’s guild by now, but I am stuck in Melmond,” he replied.

“Well, it’s funny that you should ask. I am looking for a mage to accompany to the castle of a well known practitioner of the black arts. Perhaps, you fit the description of someone who might be able to help me.”

“That depends on how much you are willing to pay,” Lakfi responded.

As Poxig could not afford to hire him, he tried a different approach. “I am a light warrior. I wish to have someone to aid me in pursuit of the reason of the corruption of earth.”

“A light warrior!” exclaimed Lakfi. “Then, perhaps I can learn something from you! I am always open to learning things. But I must admit, if there is no chance of success.”

“If we find the cause of the earth’s rot,” interrupted Poxig, ” then, you can be sure there will be a reward in the land where I am from, Marginalia.”

“Ha! Everyone knows there are no elves in Marginalia!” retorted Lakfi.

“My father was held captive in the wars of religion. He converted and changed his name.”

“I see. Well, that makes sense.”

“What do you say about this idea?” asked Poxig.

“Well, I don’t very much think I can help you, but a chance to learn something from a light warrior seems reason enough. I will help you on one condition. You must answer a riddle. What is the opposite of happiness?” asked the black mage.

Poxig thought for a while and admitted he did not know. He guessed, “The question is flawed. You must claim to be happy to know its opposite.”

“Clever! We’ll leave it at that! I will join this enterprise.”

The two associates left the hall of black arts in a peal of laughter. It was likely that they would become friends, even if they never accomplished the mission.  Poxig was glad at least that he would have some insight into black magic, which would be indispensable if they were to return the vampire to its original state.2016-04-29 15.17.46