Wandering Through Terran–Chapter 05

January 6, 2010

Revised…

Links to archives…

Chapter Five: The Escape

Where Mentors Realize How Much

Trouble Their Former Students are In…

The wizard known as Merf rushed down the stairs to the Hall of Records in the bottom Guardian Citadel. He moved between the shelves of records looking for the one he sought. News of the incident at the tavern earlier that day had spread quickly and the Knights of Duramar had asked him to offer insight into why it had happened. They were at a loss to to explain the actions of their young captain or even venture a guess as to what he might do next. It troubled him deeply that such an event had unfolded with one of his students and he had no clear explanation. Patracolus had been one of his students, among the brightest he had taught. He had thought that the boy was one of the finest young men he had ever met, a soldier with loyalty beyond reproach.

Why would you do this Patracolus? he asked himself. It is not in your nature to act so recklessly. Not since the unfortunate death of your parents. There is some element here that we fail to see…

Merf was relatively young for wizard within the Guardians of Sorcery, inducted into their ranks only three hundred years ago. He was little more than a mage, a teacher for the young Knights of Duramar in anything not directly related to combat. He took little interest in studying the greater magics or political concerns that his fellows found so fascinating, often preferring to focus on less lofty studies. He was also somewhat of a maverick, preferring to wear blue rather than the traditional gray or white, and always keeping his beard trimmed short and shaved—with the exception of his chin and around his mouth. If asked about wearing blue, he often gave a smug laugh and declined to answer. It made him look considerably younger than the others of his order.

The Guardians were originally a group of wizards that served the Magnus Draco and carried out his will in the ancient days. Many wondered why such powerful wielders of magic would serve the whims of the destructive creatures that claimed dominion over the world. As events unfolded in the ancient war, it was clear some in their ranks wondered the same thing.

A small group of them betrayed their masters, solidifying the quest to rid the realm of the tyranny of the dragons. It was the first Guardians who showed the Rangers what to search for and how to find it. In the years following the end of the War of the Wurms, they taught the people of technology and magic—strengthening them against future threats and helping them to better their lives.

Feeling darkness around every corner he approached, Merf found what he sought and pulled the cannister from the shelf. The Records were kept in small, rectangular metal boxes, stored in the archive rooms that made up the basement and sub-levels of the Citadel of Sorcery. Within each lay an extensive history of each subject: in-depth and detailed reports on their behavioral and scholarly capabilities, various recommendations about possible appointments and a collection of assorted notes. Merf searched through the records and recommendations, many of which he had written himself, and found Patracolus’s biography.

Patracolus Tenwar:

Born on the twentieth of June in the 1392nd year of peace to James Tenwar, a Knight of Duramar, and Sarah Zewa-Tenwar, a shield-maiden of Aven… He was the second and last child born to them, having an older brother named Zev born three years prior… James and Sarah died during the Entarian Plague of 1404… Zev was taken into the Order of the Rangers and has not been seen or recorded in Aven with relation to any events of note since 1401… Patracolus was taken in by the Knights of Duramar, raised by Galic Morsse, becoming a Knight at the first testing when he was sixteen… He was named for his ancestor who was one of the men to kill the Magnus Draco…

His brother was a Ranger, Merf said to himself. He stroked his thin gray beard as he thought about the implications of this. Could Zev have been the Ranger that Patracolus encountered in the tavern? Seems to be the logical conclusion to reach with the evidence. Some explanation lies there, but not all of it. What of the heavy shadows that many report weighing on their minds?

These thoughts reminded him of other questions being asked. Questions being asked by nearly every person in Aven. The bans on Rangers were well known throughout Terran, so why would any Ranger, even Zev, come here? Why did the High King make this Order in the first place?

Merf returned Patracolus’s records and went to find Urza, the representative to the High King’s court. He went down the stone and brick corridors to Urza’s apartment and knocked. No answer came, so Merf chose to seek out his superior. He went towards the libraries, hoping to find the wizard researching something he had deemed important. Sure enough, he found Urza focused on a variety of ancient rites and texts. He looked up to Merf and smiled.

Ah, Merf,” he said. He extended his hand. “Please have a seat. How can I help you? Some of your students out of hand?”

Merf took his hand and cautiously shook it before sitting across the table from Urza. “I require insight into the recent Ranger edicts,” Merf said. “A former student of mine has made a strange decision and I’ve been asked to interpret it for the Knights of Duramar. You’ve probably heard mention of it.”

Yes, the tavern incident,” Urza said. “Witnesses say the knight in question knew the Ranger?”

I believe so. He was captain in the Knighthood, held in the highest regard. He refused to apprehend the Ranger and fled the area in the company of the Ranger in question. My inquiry into the matter seems to indicate that it may have been his brother, and that may be part of the explanation. I am hoping that more details about the edicts will bring the mysteries of this into the light. It is a very strange event, I’m sure you’ll agree.”

A brother? Well, I suppose that does shed some light his actions at least. As to the edicts… about four weeks ago one of our seer had a vision of an assassination attempt being carried out by a Ranger. I arranged for some inquiries to be made, which is rather difficult even in the best of times. By that time, Albert had died and I suspected it was the assassination that had been foreseen. I conducted my own inquiries, learning nothing of any real import to indicate his death was an assassination. With my findings mostly unsubstantial or highly troubling—but still serious—I deemed it was best to advise the High King to take a more… preemptive approach to the matter. He agreed and that was when the High King decided it was wise to ban the Rangers from the city under penalty of death until the conspiracy was unveiled.”

Why not go to the Council of Rangers with these claims?” Merf asked. “It seems as though this is the very purpose they were formed for. From what I’ve gathered, they do well in monitoring their own. Isn’t this an insult to them?”

I felt it was unnecessary to call on them. The situation was a minor one that will be remedied fairly quickly by the resources we have available here.”

Merf nodded. He was attempting to conceal the surprise at what he suddenly realized. To call a threat against the High King a minor situation showed that Urza had deeper concerns about all of this that he was not revealing to Merf.

Thank you Urza,” he said. “I am no closer to understanding the actions of my student, but at least I know what has led up to this. Forgive me for saying so, but I doubt the evidence that led to the bans and am not certain that the Rangers are the ones we should be watching for.”

You are forgiven, Merf,” Urza said. “It is a complex game of wits being played out here, where even the slightest misstep could result in death. A great predator will not attack if the prey knows of its presence. It will wait until the prey least expects it.”

Merf nodded as he left the room and began to wander through the halls. He moved up to the hall where Urza room was and stopped. Grimacing, he prepared his own plan.

He’s lying about something, Merf told himself. Possibly a great many things. Killing the Rangers is a stupid and foolish move. It will only bring about a war. A war that Aven would not likely win. And I feel the shadows swirling around him more heavily than others. Surely he is aware of them. Yet he shows no sign of their pressures weighing him down.

He stopped and leaned against the wall, thinking over what had been said. It was obvious that Urza was hiding something. Somebody or some group was moving in Aven and they did not want the Rangers in the kingdom to see them. There were too many questions left unanswered.

He knew there was one person he could absolutely trust with the secrets at hand who might be able to offer true insight. He went to the oldest of his order, the only person alive who had lived during the age of the Dragons.

Cannus was formerly a liaison to the Rangers, an expert in the seeing arts, and one of Merf’s closest friends. He seldom left his study anymore, choosing to do most of his work from his own apartment—attempting to avoid taxing his tired body too much in his waning years.

Merf entered the study, which smelt of death. It was well known to all that Cannus drew near the end of his life and soon would pass on to whatever lay beyond. The study was dark, little light to enable Cannus to rest easier when he became strained with the work of the day. Cannus lay on the bed, his withered and ragged face barely above the blanket. Merf knelt beside the bed.

Cannus,” he whispered, rousing the ancient wizard.. “I need your help.”

Merf” the ancient one said. His dry and cracked voice wavered as it spoke. “I know you would visit today. You and I were to speak before the end… What do you need, my friend?”

Merf quickly explained what had happened in the tavern, the edicts, Urza’s strange behavior and the suspicions that each had brought. Cannus listened carefully, asking Merf to repeat various details for him to more deeply consider. He weighed the cause and effects with equal care before answering.

The Council of Rangers isn’t going to take this situation lightly,” Cannus said. “I spoke with our ambassadors there through the seeing orbs before I fell ill again last week. They are evaluating things as we speak. They believe there are four possibilities: That the High King is making mistakes due to inexperience, he is being used, he is receiving poor counsel, or he wants to do away with the Rangers. They have not ruled out any possibility and are watching the situation closely. They are contemplating action against Aven, but have yet to reach a decision yet. No matter what happens, things will get messy.”

What about the renegade Rangers?” Merf asked.

There are no renegade Rangers,” Cannus replied sharply. “The Rangers have an extensive training program that makes every one of them into a warrior that an army could not defeat. It weeds out anybody who would not be fit to be trained as a Ranger. It’s a ploy of some kind. If a Ranger wanted to kill the High King, these foolish edicts would be nothing to them. I would be surprised if the Knights of Duramar were able to actually catch any of the Rangers.”

“So who are the Rangers that have been captured to this point?” Merf asked.

“I don’t know,” Cannus said. “Maybe failed Rangers on a quest to prove the Council wrong? Impostors? I don’t know. But I know for certain that a true Ranger wouldn’t have been captured so easily.”

“Do you know what is happening?”

“No. That is one of two questions we need to be asking. The other is who’s in control of these events?”

“A question that I need to answer.”

“Come closer Merf.” Merf slowly moved closer to the side of Cannus’s bed and knelt down beside him. Cannus spoke softly, barely above a whisper.

“The key to your solving this lies with Urza,” Cannus said. “You and him are entwined in destiny, I’ve seen that for years. A couple of months ago Urza received a prophesy. I don’t know what he learned, but it caused a tremor in the air and he immediately went to the High Court. Then the High King died and the edicts against the Rangers were issued. Urza is deeply involved in all of this. To what end, I don’t know.”

“Can I learn what the prophesy was?” Merf asked.

“Not likely,” Cannus said. “He is not a fool and likely has ensured that no others will know it. But I myself have had a vision of things to come. All of Terran is in danger. A danger that will confronted by all of Terran. Soon you will face a choice on which will rest the fate of Terran. It inevitably will lead you to confront your death, regardless of your choice. Such is the way of things. Urza has many allies, and they will attempt to destroy everything that have seen built and fought for. There are those who are here and those elsewhere who can confront these omens. You must make sure they come together. Be cautious. I offer you my casting stones, my old friend. Take them, use them in the days to come.”

He held up the small pouch to Merf. The younger wizard gently took it, unsure of what was happening. The old wizard smiled before closing his eyes. With that, Cannus died. Merf felt a tear fall from his eye.

“Good-bye, my old friend.” He called for a steward to begin the preparations for the funeral. He left after Cannus’s body was prepared for the Time of Mourning, the casting stones secured on his belt. He had to learn the nature of the prophesy and what it actually held.

He walked back to Urza’s apartment just as the elder wizard left for the High Court. Standing against the wall, Merf waited for the other to leave. As soon as Urza was out of sight, Merf entered the apartment.

Like all the Guardians, Urza kept few personal things and the stone room was bare except for a few papers and writing utensils on the wooden desk. Merf quickly sifted through the papers with a cursory glance, finding nothing of real importance beyond itineraries for the upcoming days in the Court of Aven. He paused for a moment as he considered what to do next.

Urza’s hiding something, Merf thought. That much is clear.

He went into Urza’s bedroom and looked for anything that was out of place. There were only two items in the stonewalled room: a simple bed and the night stand beside it. The night stand was bare except for a single, half-melted candle. The bed as a simple pillow, two white sheets, and a thick wool blanket on top of a mattress.

Merf looked beneath the bed and saw nothing. He groaned and shook his head. Then he looked up and saw a box between the mattress and the wire slacking of the frame. Slowly he lifted up the mattress to study what lay beneath. Beneath it was a small box. When he saw it, Merf stumbled back in shock.

The box was about the same size as the cannisters that held the records in the archives, just slightly smaller. But rather then being a dull gray, the box was black with a small image stamped on it. The image was a sword, with the head of a serpent for the hilt, the insignia of the League of the Dragon, a sect of dragon worshipers. When the Guardians left the service of the monsters, they decided it was best to ban all images and insignia of their former lords. To have any object bearing such a mark was an offense that often carried the penalty of death for those found with it upon them or their possessions.

Why would Urza have this? Merf asked himself.

He lifted the mattress again and removed the box, taking it carefully in his hand. He removed the top to reveal the contents. It was empty except for two pieces of paper. One was a communique by way carrier pigeon. It was written in one of the old languages, but Merf was well schooled in the forgotten tongues and was able to read it easily:

The goblins are massing in the mountains beyond the knowledge of the dwarves. They will be ready to move on Aven by the end of the month.

Merf’s jaw dropped, realizing the importance of what he had just learned. Urza was a part of a plot to overthrow the kingdom, allying himself with goblins. And it was succeeding up to this point. And Merf was the one who held the evidence of its existence.

He picked up the other paper and looked it over. It was blank, with no apparent markings upon it at all. It felt smooth on both sides, no indication of text on either side.

Creak!

Merf heard the door opening. He quickly returned the box to beneath the mattress and tried to find a way out of the apartment. Seeing limited options, he got against the wall to the side of the entranceway of bedchamber and waited. His breath stopped as the sounds of Urza’s footsteps could be heard.

Closing his eyes, Merf tracked the sounds and movements in the study. Keeping silent and barely breathing, Merf rapidly planned his next moves. The footsteps came closer and Urza entered the bedchamber. He immediately went to the bed and Merf slipped out into the study, bolting for the door with as much speed and silence as he could. As he walked down the hallway, he realized he still had the paper in his hand.

“Damn,” he said aloud. He thought about trying to talk his way out of the situation, but did not see that as a viable option. The choice had been made. He sped up and continued down the hallway as he heard a doorway open behind him.

“Merf!” Urza shouted. Merf broke into a run as he turned a corner. This hallway was a dead-end and on some level Merf knew Urza would kill him for taking the paper. At the end of the hallway was a large glass window, stained and died a variety of colors to depict some scene that Merf did not care to remember at that particular moment. Merf ran and jumped through the window, hoping for a little luck.

Beyond the window was a grove of oak trees, the treetops being about level with where he was. Merf kept moving and climbed through the trees as though he were a squirrel, getting lower and lower until he reached the opposite end. He leapt down and ran for the wall. He jumped the wall and was in the forest.

Not bad for a three hundred year-old, Merf thought. He knew that Urza would be after him, and he needed help. There was not a second to lose.

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One Response to “Wandering Through Terran–Chapter 05”

  1. ahelmic6 said

    Poor Merf 😦

    ~~~~

    It was well known to all that Cannus near the end of his life and soon he would pass on to whatever lay beyond.

    that makes them into an warrior that an army is required to defeat

    He walked back to Urza’s apartment just as the left for the High Court

    for any who are found with it upon them or their possessions.

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