Year 3605, the Fifth Age, the fifty-second day of Winter
Drakkas, how I hate him. How I hate all of them. All those ignorant fools who bumble about in the grand libraries and laboratories of Aierthian claiming they are wise Magi but they do not even understand what it means to be a Magi. A Magi seek the truth in the lies, order in the chaos, and structure to the tangled weave of life. That is what I am doing. No, what I am trying to do. But those so-called Magi cannot see the genius of my research. I am asking the hard questions, the questions everyone else is afraid of asking, and they ridicule me for it. Even Drakkas berated my research and experiment propositions. A man I once respected, even idolised, someone who I believed to the greatest Magi of our time, of all time, disregarded my work. Disregarded me.
I see the truth now. They are all jealous, Drakkas and all his sycophants. Jealous of my daring brilliance. Jealous that it had not been them to realise the truth. I will show them. I will show all of them that I am the greatest Magi of our Age. Drakkas and all the rest will be the ones idolising me, and I shall disregard them in turn.
But all in good time. I have much work yet to do.
- My Blessed Life by Magi Siggr Stinfry
Year 3630, the Fifth Age, the fifty-third day of Autumn
“Aren’t clouds beautiful?”
The question pulled Legin from his daydreaming as he lay back in the grass of the East Quarter and gazed at the sky. He and Pip were lying down on the edge of a wide pool which had only recently come about after Legin and Kōrrin flooded the mines of the East Quarter. Water from the Southern River had now partially flowed underground and continued to supply this pool along with several others, and as such Legin and Pip had decided to try their luck at fishing these pools.
They had started their lazy fishing early that morning, tying fishing line around their ankles as they rested back in the soft grass. As yet they had not caught any fish, and Legin was quite bored. But he had been bored for about half a year now, ever since the battle between the Quarters had come to an end. As a result of the fighting Aurora now controlled the North and East Quarter while Kōrrin was Faction leader of the South and West.
Much had changed in the half year that had slipped slowly by, the dividing walls had been knocked down and many new buildings had been built around the place. The most interesting development had been the beginning of mining in the West Quarter and the building of many houses up the side of the steep ravines and cliffs, not to mention the pleasantness these new pools in the East now provided. Before, this area had been barren with little grass, but now many more plants were growing around the edges of the pools and animal life had come to call them home.
But it was all for naught, because Legin was bored and he was not getting any bites on his fishing line.
“Don’t you reckon Legin?” Pip asked, and Legin turned to regard his friend.
“Clouds,” Pip clarified and pointed to the sky.
“What about them?” Legin asked as he looked to the puffy white plumes in the blue heavens.
“Aren’t they beautiful?”
Legin shrugged, “Never really thought about it, Pip.”
“Think about it now,” Pip implored.
Legin sighed and looked to skies, and to the stark white plumes floating on the light breeze. The great plumes seemed to billow and grow before his eyes, reaching ever upwards and growing larger and white. But not all white, Legin noticed. The undersides of the separate clouds were dark and foreboding. Some darker clouds drifted in front and around the larger ones like wisps of smoke, shielding Inüer’s rays and casting shadows over the others.
For the first time in Legin’s eyes he truly appreciated the clouds as they covered the sky in the myriad of white, grey, dark blue, and black, giving so much depth to the heavens which otherwise would only appear as a blue dome.
“I suppose they have some beauty to them,” Legin remarked casually.
“You suppose, that’s nice,” Pip quipped and he suddenly jumped into a sitting position, “I think I got a bite.”
“You’re probably imagining it,” Legin sighed and looked back to the clouds.
“No I’m not,” Pip exclaimed, “I really have something.”
This time Legin sat up as Pip began pulling on the line, “Well pull it in then.”
“What does it look like I’m doing,” Pip snapped back, “Help me would you.”
Legin laughed as he moved to help his friend reel in the fish. With a great tug he and Pip pulled up the line slowly and struggled with all their strength.
“It must weigh a tonne,” Legin growled through clenched teeth as he and Pip were on their feet now and still struggling.
“It’s not snagged,” Pip said through laboured breath, “Keep pulling.”
“It’s not a fish, it’s damn whale,” Legin grumbled as he set his feet again for another great haul.
“Come on,” Pip growled, “One last pull. We got him.”
Legin and Pip fell back to the ground as their prize suddenly released from the water and showered them in droplets. Pip laughed in triumph and jumped to his feet, but that laugh came to an abrupt end as he looked at what they had caught.
“Kōrrin’s old boot,” Legin remarked and shook his head for at the end of the fishing line was indeed a waterlogged boot.
Pip grumbled loudly and sat back on the ground in a huff, his arms crossed in front of his chest.
Legin laughed and shook his head again as he got to his feet and unhooked the boot from the line.
“How does that dwarf even walk?” exclaimed Legin as he struggled to lift the leather and metal clad shoe, “This thing was made for a damn troll or something. I wonder if he will pay anything to have it back?”
This time Pip laughed and Legin dropped the boot back to the ground with a dull thud.
“Aren’t you and Lilly getting married yet, Pip? Legin asked, changing the subject.
“In here?” Pip asked back and motioned around and to the prison walls.
“Why not?” shrugged Legin, “Could be a sign of the changing times.”
“No way that’s…”
Pip’s words were cut short as a sudden explosion thundered through the prison and a wave of Fog ripped through the compound, knocking Legin from his feet and face first into the grass.
Legin could taste blood and dirt as he rolled onto his back, his ears ringing.
“What the?” Legin groaned as he rolled back to his stomach and pushed himself up on his knees.
Clutching his forehead tightly to try and stem the throbbing he felt he spat a wad of brown and red spit to the ground. Staggering to his feet Legin ran his hands over his face and through his black hair before looking around to see what had happened. Pip was also on his feet beside Legin, not seeming that hurt or disorientated, but Legin’s friends face was masked with shock and his mouth hung open as he looked past Legin.
“What are you…?” Legin began to ask but something caught his attention behind Pip. “The walls…”
Legin spun around his blue eyes, flecked with pink, green and yellow, wide as he realised that the prison walls were no longer standing, and in fact were no longer to be seen. Without a word Legin took off towards the guard barracks, or where the barracks used to be, and as he and Pip ran up the hill and onto the small and dusty plateau he could see that apparently he was not the only one with the same idea.
Where the building had once stood was nothing but a flat bit of ground covered in clothes, papers, food and dining utensils, sleeping mattresses and sheets, other odds and ends, and amid all that debris was also what remained of the guards. Many of the green uniform wearing bodies were clearly dead with broken necks and backs from the fall from the upper levels of the structure when it had suddenly disappeared. Many of the guards were still alive, most groaning and bearing broken limbs, but well enough to come to their wits and realise a crowd of prisoners had gathered before them.
Legin gazed around in shock hardly believing what he was seeing, and looking to the other prisoners gathered he could see that they also felt the same.
“I’m gonna kill you good,” growled one rough prisoner as he moved towards one of the guards and drew and rusty dagger.
The female guard gasped in terror as the man roughly grabbed by the hair and pulled her head back.
“No,” Legin yelled in denial as he realised what was happening and reached through the air towards the man, but he was too far away to stop the murder.
Suddenly there was a flash of light and Legin was standing right before the two of them. The prisoner’s eyes widened as Legin suddenly appeared before him, his dagger still poised to strike the stunned woman. Legin too was stunned by the swift movement and glanced around and looked to his hands.
The prisoner was quick to gather his wits and the dagger dived for the innocent guard’s exposed neck. But Legin was quicker and he grabbed the man’s wrist, stopping the dagger plunge in its tracks. Legin’s other hand shot forward and slammed the man in the chest with a heavy punch. The prisoner recoiled from the blow, letting go of the guard’s hair and stumbling back a half step. Legin was quick to act before the man gathered his footing and he let go of the prisoner’s wrist as he struck with a heavy side kick to the man’s gut, sending him to the dirt.
“What’s yer deal, ya crazy monkey?” the prisoner gasped as he got back to his feet, his face marked with anger. “You know what them guards have done ‘ere. Tortured every one of us they have.”
As the man spoke he looked around to the other gathered prisoners for support and receiving many nods of agreement.
“I say we kill ‘em for what they’ve done,” the prisoner continued and a small cheer came from the others.
“Did she ever torture you?” Legin asked loudly and pointed to the terrified guard. “How many of the guards you see here have actually tortured one of you?”
Legin looked to the crowd and many nodded in agreement.
“Do you want to perpetuate the stigma placed upon us?” Legin asked seriously as he turned back to the dagger wielding inmate.
“What?” the man asked back and scrunched up his face in confusion.
“What he means,” Aurora said authoritatively as he pushed her way to the front, “Is that by killing the poor guard you will prove that fact that you belong in a prison.”
The instigator paused at that remark and looked to the female guard who was still cowering at Legin’s feet.
By now those of the guards who could stand and had overcome the shock had got to their feet and moved cautiously together. Legin could see that they were scared, he also knew that they could likely still use their magicks effectively where most of the prisoners had probably lost their connection to the Fog and its power.
“We are free,” Legin exclaimed, trying to distract his fellow inmates, “Don’t you guys get that? Why should we waste our time on the guards, let’s get out of here.”
An excited mummer flooded through the gathered as they too began to realise the reality of the situation. In fact many left then, quickly headed away from the area to gather things and run far away before they could be re-captured.
“None of you are going nowhere,” a guard shouted and a heavy set man pushed his way to the front of the guards.
“Ham-fists Troul,” Legin sighed heavily, “A shame you are not among the dead.”
“Shame for you,” the man snapped and walked confidently towards the dagger wielding prisoner, “No point tryin’ to run buddy, we will have you and the rest of yous all in magickal chains within the hour and shipping to Chilldeep Prison in the Scar of Gornl.”
Troul suddenly moved his hand forwards at the prisoner casting a spell. The dagger wielder flinched and raised his hands defensively, but nothing happened.
Slowly the prisoner lowered his hands and looked around in surprise just as Troul did.
“My magicks,” Troul stammered and tried to cast again.
But like before nothing came of it and the burly prison guard backed away a step, terror slowly seeping into his expression.
“Feel free to kill him,” Legin remarked coldly.
Not needing to be told twice the dagger wielder jumped upon Troul stabbing wildly and with all the pent up anger he had against the man who had tortured him and other prisoners countless times.
“But no others,” Legin said quickly and loudly as the rest of the inmates began to move for the guards.
“We don’t take orders from you, crazy monkey boy,” snapped another prisoner.
“But you do from me,” Aurora cut in loudly.
“Not no more bunny,” the man was quick to reply, “We are free now. Free to do what we want. And I want to kill me some guards. And maybe something else.”
The prisoner looked luridly at the female guard who was still kneeling before Legin.
“Are you foolish enough to believe you can defeat my magicks,” Aurora said threateningly and a flash of worry came to the man’s features. “Is your connection to the Fog even still intact?”
The man glanced nervously to the side.
“Is yours?” he managed to reply unconvincingly.
“If you wish to test that theory, be my guest,” Aurora smirked, “Remember what I did to the West Quarter? And that was only with the tiniest amount of Fog stored in a stolen Anther crystal. Imagine what I can do now.”
The prisoner bit down on his bottom lip his finger twitching.
Legin watch with a slight smile as Aurora’s intense eyes bore into the other inmate. The man tried to return the stare but failed utterly and eventually sneered angrily before turning away and disappearing into the crowd.
“Well played,” Legin remarked as he walked over to the Yineth, “Are your magicks truly returned?”
“Not to the same extent yours clearly have,” Aurora replied with a curious expression.
“Yeah that was weird,” Legin nodded, remembering how he had stooped the prisoner from killing the female guard. “I certainly wasn’t expecting it.”
“I wonder,” Aurora suddenly remarked softly as she pushed passed Legin to address the guards. “Guardsmen, tell me: can you all still wield magicks, or are you more like our friend Troul?”
All the guards looked to each other in surprise and many of them tried to cast some form of spell, most failed.
“What has happened?” breathed a tall guard with a headband, “My magicks they have gone.”
“Same with mine, Danner,” another guard agreed and was followed by many more worried responses.
“I can still use mine,” the woman who had nearly been killed exclaimed as she got to her feet, “But I can hardly feel my connection to the Fog.”
“By The Five, what has happened?” another guard wailed desperately.
“Come on, it’s not like it’s the end of the world,” Legin laughed aloud.
“Easy for you to say,” the guard called Danner snapped, “You can still use magicks. How can you still use magicks? Tell me.”
Legin shrugged, “I honestly don’t know.”
Danner cursed and turned away from Legin.
“Magicks or no, you are all still prisoners,” another guard foolishly spoke up, “And you will all be placed in irons to be transported to Chilldeep Prison.”
An eruption of laughter from the gathered prisoners stopped the brave guard in his tracks and many of them simply turned away and continued on their own path.
“Stop all of you,” the young guardsman tried to gather his composure, “You are under arrest.”
“Try it laddie,” Kōrrin laughed loudly as he filtered through the departing prisoners.
“Honestly, give it yer best shot,” Kōrrin smiled widely and slapped the flat of the large axe he had in his hands.
The brave young guard quickly backed away then and vanished into the group of guards who were helping their comrades who had been wounded in the fall when the building disappeared.
“So what do you reckon, Pip,” Legin smiled, “What shall we do now?”
Pip shrugged, “What do you want to do? Where do you want to go?”
Legin sighed and looked to the clouds over head, those questions had been playing on his mind ever since he had begun the escape attempts with Vythe those few years ago.
“I need to know who I am,” Legin said softly and turned to his friend, “What I am, and where I came from.”
“You came from Pentra,” Pip stated and Legin smiled.
“But who am I, Pip?” asked Legin, his eyes sparkling, “Why am I the only person to have a tail? Are there others out there like me? And if not why not?”
“So where to?” Pip asked back, “Where could you possible find out the answer to those questions?”
“The Yineth,” Legin said confidently, “Aurora is going to take me to the Yineth.”
“What?” Aurora exclaimed as she just heard what Legin had said, “I am going to do what, Legin?”
“Take me with you to the Yineth,” Legin smiled innocently, “You are going home, aren’t you?”
Aurora seemed stunned by the question and looked away.
“I honestly had not thought about it,” the yineth shrugged, “I have been in this prison for so long now, I never thought about what might be afterwards.”
“You cannot have been here that long,” Legin shook his head, “You barely look thirty.”
Aurora smiled, “You flatter me. But we Yineth are like Elves and Dwarves, our life span is not measured in the same manner as Men.”
Legin looked at the yineth curiously, “So how long have you been in the Gaia Prison?”
“Since its beginnings,” Aurora replied casually, “In many ways I was the reason it was created in the first place.”
“I thought it was because of all the vagabonds and thieves hiding here when they got too much attention from the guards in Issia,” replied Legin as he cocked his head to the side.
“That was part of it,” Aurora nodded.
“And the rest?” Legin asked curiously.
“I shall tell you another time, perhaps,” Aurora dismissed the question.
“So you are going to take me to the Yineth then,” A clever smile came to Legin’s face and caused Aurora to laugh slightly.
“I suppose I owe you something for all the aid you have given me over the past year,” the yineth nodded and smiled.
“Excellent, you hear that Pip?” Legin laughed and slapped his friend on the shoulder.
“I am standing right next to you, Legin,” Pip remarked dryly.
“You and Lilly will come too, right?” Legin looked to his friend who smiled.
“Of course, bro,” nodded Pip, “You can’t get rid of me that easily. Perhaps me and Lilly will get married on the way.”
Legin laughed aloud, “This is great, and Kōrrin and his brethren will come also.”
All the dwarves, who had been talking amongst themselves, turned to Legin in surprise before looking back to each other.
“Ar bee edding oome,” Scooten shook his hairy head, “Tar long ave ar been gorn. Stei safe Kōrrin, ye all bee warlcom in da Amber Mootains.”
With that Scooten clasped wrists with Kōrrin and the two young dwarves before heading back towards what used to be the West Quarter of the prison.
“Where is he going?” Legin asked curiously.
“Didn’t ye hear ‘im?” Kōrrin asked back and shook his head, “He’s heading home, back to the Amber Mountains.”
“So why is he going that way?” asked Legin with a blank expression.
“He’s gettin’ his things o’ course,” replied the bald dwarf as if it were obvious, “Now what are ya on about monkey boi? Where can I come as well?”
“On the road of adventure,” Legin smiled wide, “Lots of thing to kill and fights to get into. You got to be interested in that.”
“Well I did ‘ave me own plans,” Kōrrin remarked and Legin’s shoulders slumped. “But I guess they can wait.”
“Same with us,” said Ynald and Blarrid nodded.
“Always keen ta kill a few things,” Blarrid grinned widely.
“So you guys will come too?” Legin’s faced brightened immediately.
“As long as ye ain’t goin’ near the Gaia Vale, sure,” Kōrrin nodded shrugged.
“Do your kin not live in the Gaia Vale?” Aurora asked curiously.
“Sure they do,” Kōrrin was quick to reply, “But the reason I don’t wanna go there ain’t none of ya business, nosey.”
Aurora smiled slightly and left the conversation there.
“We should make for Galleraze, I reckon,” Kōrrin said looked to the southeast, “We can get some stock there an head for the Gullisian Highroad.”
“Or we could just teleport,” Aurora added with a sly smile.
“I’m a Dwarf, we don’t teleport,” Kōrrin replied gruffly, “Walkin’s better anyways, more things ta kill.”
“True that,” Ynald nodded eagerly.
“We have to wait for Lilly any way,” Legin cut in, drawing curious looks from the dwarf and Yineth.
“Who?” Kōrrin asked gruffly.
“There she is,” Pip said before Legin could reply and he moved to the small wood elf who was walking towards them with a stunned expression upon her face.
“What happened?” Lilly asked in bewilderment as she and Pip re-joined Legin.
“Who knows,” Legin shrugged and looked to Aurora and Kōrrin, “Do either of you know what that wall of Fog was about?”
Kōrrin just looked at him in confusion and Aurora shook her head.
“Shall we be off then?” Aurora asked pleasantly and began to cast a spell.
“What in Dhror’s name is…” Kōrrin began to asked until he cut himself short as he noticed Aurora begin to cast the spell of teleportation. “Wait. Bunny don’t…”
But it was too late and Aurora had already cast the spell.
As the world around him began to blur Legin wondered why Kōrrin was so adverse to teleportation. The vison before him then shattered like usual but suddenly it all felt very wrong. Legin felt pressure like he had never felt before crash upon his mind and pulled at his joints. His whole body jolted and contorted as he felt himself being sucked into oblivion. Something had gone terribly wrong with Aurora’s spell and he felt as if he was being ripped apart by the unseen power. His mind ached and his stomach turned making him feel nauseous and caused his muscles twitch uncontrollably. Loud pops rung in his ears and unbelievable pain wracked every part of his body. Just as Legin believed he would be literally stretched and twisted into a strand of coiled rope his conscious left him.