From the Archives: Fortress

Oh, you thought I was done with the archives!? No, no, there’s more. Like this one.

It’s a story fragment for a fantasy tale involving magic, but there are no accompanying notes detailing what the story was actually about. It may be related to this other fragment, for which there were also no notes. This appears to be the first part of the first chapter of a novel. So here goes:

Kedron looked down expectantly at the approaching soldiers. Two of them, on horseback, carrying a large bundle. He couldn’t see clearly from so high up in the castle, but this certainly had to be what he was waiting for. He decided to make sure.
He cast the spell without so much as whispered word or a waved hand. Kedron simply concentrated, and the Elven Sight came awake within him. He looked down again at the men as they passed through the main gate. He could see them clearly now, their clothing, their faces, weapons. They weren’t soldiers; they were members of the Royal Guard. The bundle they carried was another man. Injured and obviously in much pain.
“Fools,” mumbled Kedron ,”Carrying and injured man on horseback.”
These weren’t the men he was waiting for, just another bothersome interruption. Still, he’d better see what they wanted. He used the Elven Sight to examine the man’s wounds. Nothing. There was nothing physically wrong with him. A trick? No, Kedron looked closer, briefly shifting his vision. Magic. Magic was a work here.
“Hmmm. Perhaps this is what I am waiting for after all.” He spun on his heels and with his robes billowing out around him, headed down the staircase to the castle’s entrance.

The main trellace was up when they got there; the wizard must have seen them approach. Simon dismounted and helped Kamen get the sick man off of the horse. Boyce’s muscles were like stone as they lifted him down; tensed from the effort of holding back the pain. He had been screaming uncontrollably when they left the royal castle. Either he felt a little better now or he was too weak to scream. His breathing was shallow, and each movement caused him to suck in air painfully. The ride here must have been pure torment.
They got the man to the ground, then Simon and Kamen grabbed either end of the tortured youth and lifted. Boyce’s sudden scream almost caused Simon to drop him.
“Shouldn’t we go in first? See if he’s in there?” asked Kamen
“He’s expecting us. See,” Simon nodded toward the entrance. “He never leaves the trellace open. Must have seen us ride up.”
“BRING THE MAN UP,” a voice like thunder boomed from the dark interior of the wizard’s castle. The two men paused and stared at each other while the echoes died away.
“It’s the only way,” said Simon in response to Kamen’s questioning look. “Let’s go.”
They carried Boyce into the Castle. Darkness closed in around them, but it was only temporary. Torches in the wall lit themselves as they passed down the short hallway and into a vast indoor courtyard. Neither men stopped to look around, they proceeded across the yard toward an enormous stone staircase directly across from the entryway. Halfway up the staircase was a landing, where the great wizard watched them and waited in silence. His body was hidden within his voluminous dark green robes. His tan face held an expression of annoyance at their being there. He didn’t even look at Simon or Kamen, his attention was held by Boyce. He stared down at the boy, his eyes following him as he was carried, as if he were seeing something that they couldn’t. They had just reached the stairs when Kedron turned and preceded them up.
“Follow me to my study…” the old man’s voice was softer now, but it was still like nothing either of them had ever heard before. His words ended as if there were more to follow. An unsaid epithet. It was well known that the wizard didn’t like soldiers, or guardsmen, and that he preferred to be left alone to pursue whatever it was that he did here. This was the first time either of them had been inside the castle. Kamen had been here before, but not inside. Simon and Boyce had never even laid eyes on the castle, or the wizard before. Unfortunately, Boyce was in no condition to appreciate the experience.
They were led up the steps, down another hallway, and into a large room. Torches flared to life as they entered, revealing desks and tables crammed with books, scrolls, vials, and various strange objects that neither of them could identify. Kamen glanced around, wondering if there was anything of value in here. He thought he spied a few gemstones strewn about among the glass vial and bottles, and what looked like an ornate sword in the far corner, half buried by a pile of scrolls.
“Place him there.” Kedron pointed, his thin finger indicating a large, cushioned thing that was a cross between a bed and a chair. The men obliged, settling the youth onto the cushions. Simon wondered if the chair was magic. He was somewhat anxious to see the wizard do his work. He had never seen magic before.
“What is wrong with the boy?” asked Kedron.
“This guardsman is sick. It came on two days ago,” answered Simon, “We don’ t know what…”
“What did the healer say?”
“Parvus doesn’t know what’s wrong. He suggested we send him to you. We think he is enchanted”
“‘We?'” questioned the wizard, “PARVUS thinks he is enchanted. You two do not know enough of medicine OR magic to make that determination for yourself.”
The men said nothing as Kedron peered down at the boy. Kamen noticed that the wizard hadn’t so much as looked at them since they arrived. Perhaps he could sneak off and take a look around.
Kedron leaned over, bringing his face close to the boy’s
“What do you feel?”
The Guardsman grimaced, and spoke:
“Like… Like my bones are on… on fire!”
“What else?”
“My heart! Feels like… like claws ripping at my chest! Help me…”
Kedron stood up straight.
“I will help.” He announced
“Thank you.” said Simon
“You two must leave.”
“What?”
“My magic is not for your spying eyes, Simon. You must leave.”
Simon wondered how the wizard knew his name. He didn’t remember telling it to him.
“And take your thieving friend with you. Both of you will wait outside with your animals.”
“Thieving!” injected Kamen. “I am no thief, wizard! How dare you insult a member of Her Majesty’s Royal Guard!” Forgetting, himself, Kamen advanced threateningly on the wizard. His hand grasping the hilt of his sword. “And we will not leave a Royal Guardsman unattended while you practice your black arts upon him. We will wait right here!”
“No. You will wait outside.” Without waiting for a response, Kedron lifted his left arm and flicked his wrist. The unassuming gesture knocked both men back through the door and into the hallway. A small pink gemstone dislodged itself from Kamen’s pocked and rolled onto the floor. Simon glanced down at it, while Kamen pretended to ignore it and drew his sword. Kedron made a second gesture. A fierce wind howled down from the upper reaches of the castle, lifting the men into the air and dropping them down onto the staircase. The blast whipped at them as they tumbled downward. Their armor absorbed most of the blows, as well as the damage from the fall, but they were both battered and bruised when they reached the bottom. The wind did not die away. Instead, it swept them back through the courtyard and out of the castle, finally depositing them outside. The trellace snapped shut with a loud bang.

Inside, Kedron saw to the remaining Guardsman. He didn’t know many healing spells, and the few he had tried had failed to stop the boy’s pain. The enchantment that had him was too strong. It would have to be removed, and the boy would continue to suffer until it was. Kedron shifted his vision again, studying the lines and fields of power that surrounded the guardsman’s body. The enchantment had forcibly woven itself deep into the boy’s aura, into his very lifeforce. A particularly strong enchantment. Yet, that was not what worried Kedron. Something was wrong. This spell was… unnatural. Twisted and dark. Instead of steady, rhythmic bands of color that signaled normal magic, the boy’s malady was knotted and discolored. A mutated sickness that pumped poisonous energy into the boy’s aura. Still, there was a definite pattern. The throbbing and heaving of the enchantment was not entirely chaotic, there was something… else. An underlying pattern. Kedron studied it deeply, shifting his vision into higher and lower planes in order to view it from different perspectives. He had seen this before. It was familiar. Not the corruption, but the base pattern. The way it had intricately woven itself into the boy’s lifefield, centering at the chest. The chest…
Kedron stepped back, his eyes glimmering with recognition. A love spell. A particularly complex one known as the Glimmering Amr. Only the sorcerer who had cast this was either dangerously inept or frighteningly malicious. Kedron frowned. This abomination must be undone at once.
“Boy,” he addressed his patient. Boyce moaned a response and tried unsuccessfully to sit up. “I will remove this wretched thing from you. But there will be… pain. Prepare yourself.” Boyce flinched as Kedron raised both arms above his head. Kedron thought for a moment, then lowered his arms. He began rummaging through the pockets of this robes until he pulled out a small crystal. It was perfectly clear, with a smooth, polished surfaced. He stared into the stone for a moment, then, holding the SpellCrystal in his left hand, raised both arms above his head again.

[END OF FILE]

I hate it when I don’t make good notes. Even if you wanted to know what happened next and I wanted to tell you… I couldn’t because I have no f’ing clue.

I do know that the character of “Kedron” turns up in a lot other places, and may have even been mentioned in some of my Dragons-Inn stories. I he hasn’t been, then he would have eventually because I’ve got notes that say so. This is a case of a cool character that really didn’t have home, so I kept trying to put him in other stories. As for this story, your guess is as good as mine.


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