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The Chroniclers and the Sign of Evil



“Your RAT is eating all our food!” Eliden snapped. The green frock wizard stood on the banks of River Ganlen; his neck craned back. His face was twisted with irritation, the age lines pronounced. He stared up at the Hob before him, who glared right back. Grokthnar raised himself up as high as his body would stretch.


“Munchy hungry!”


Pasho Pyr stood mere feet away on the embankment, her glasses in one hand and the bridge of her nose in the other. The breeze off the river was a welcome respite after the stuffy, sandy terrain of Gerez’tuul. It could not ease her annoyance at the arguing. She sighed loudly.


The “rat” in question, Munchy, peeked up from a hunk of dried meat the Hob had placed on his shoulder for it. The creature chittered at Eliden as if aware that it was the source of the confrontation.


Eliden brushed his fingers through once vibrant hair that turned salt and pepper. He lowered them to his sides, thinking a disintegration spell might end his suffering. Grokthnar would likely beat him to death for it. Eliden seemed content with this.


“If that rodent gets into my sweets, so help me, God, Grok!”


“GUYS!” Pasho bellowed, throwing her arms back behind her for more emphasis. Both man and Hob turned toward her. Each glanced at the other, then huffed and angled away.


“It’s just food, Eliden…”


“JUST FOOD!? Preposterous! I have meticulously collected a variety of delicacies from across the multiplicity. They are to be enjoyed, not savagely devoured by this…feckless marmot!”


Grokthnar roared, swinging his arms up over his head. Munchy squeaked, planting itself on his shoulder. It chomped down on the chunk of meat so it wouldn’t fall off.


“TAKE BACK! MUNCHY NOT MARMOT!”


“Oh my God…” Pasho groaned, hanging her head.


“Oh, it most certainly is. Larcenous, Avaricious, Duplicitous, Malcontented MARMOT!” Eliden cried out in reply.


Grokthnar cocked back as if to slap the wizard clear across the river to the opposite shore.


“I DARE you!” Eliden shot back, outstretching his fingers. Sparks of lightning danced between the tips, drawn to his palm into a ball. “We will feast on charred rat. You can bet on that!”


“NO! NO CHAR RAT!” The Hob barked, his voice booming with menace. Grokthnar was certain he could take the wily wizard, but he wasn’t sure Munchy would survive the battle.


As the two squared off again, none knew of Pasho’s chanting. The winds rose, and they heard her speak the final word to summon a gust. Her hands thrust out at Eliden. The air current picked the man up off his feet and tossed him into the river with a splash.


Grokthnar laughed heartily at this.


Pasho grinned, satisfied with an end to the conflict.


Eliden was not so humored. He burst from the roiling surface of the water, sputtering. Wet sleeves whipped overhead and slapped down on the gentle waves.


“Confound it, Pasho! Dirty pool!”


“What does that even mean?” Pasho shot back, planting her hands on her hips. She posed, triumphant.


“That…pfffp! was a magical sucker punch!” called the soggy wizard, clamoring back toward the shore.


“Well, you wouldn’t shut up.”


“I have every right to be angry.”


Eliden Theorycrafter managed his way back to dry land. He shook out his green coat before checking to ensure he lost nothing to the river. He looked up, ready to argue but found Pasho, Grok, and even the abominable rat staring over his head. He turned, brows furrowed.


Across the river and south stood the Kingdom of Erudane. A mighty castle settled beside the Ganlen river on the cliffs of Balsephor’s Fall. It stood majestic against the skyline with rising parapet towers on its high, gray walls. Torchlight illuminated the castle, preparing for inevitable dusk and night. The light added a certain magnificence to the already awesome view at this distance.


What drew their attention was the white sigil hanging in the air over the cliff. White smoke stretched a mile or more against the sky’s backdrop, curling into such an abnormal shape. It could not be natural, only coalesced by magic. That much Theorycrafter knew.


“Pretty…” The Hob said, gazing at it with the innocence of a child.


“Truly. I’ve never seen anything like it before.” Pasho agreed, affixing her glasses back on her nose for a better look.


“And likely never will. That is the sign of Balsephor. Erudane is in danger.” Eliden said cautiously.


Pasho gasped before truly understanding the trouble. “What’s a Balsephor?”


“A terrible demon, Pasho. The last great general of the Dark Army. Balsephor brought

cataclysm in its wake. It was defeated by Eru long ago.”


Grokthnar growled. “Demon BAD.” He emphasized the last word of the two.


“Yes. Demon Bad.” Eliden agreed now, nodding droplets of water off his face.

Torches began to flutter in the distance, sashaying from side to side. Their light cast left to right, then back again, almost in unison.


“The call for aid.” Eliden breathed. “We witness the possible fall of Erudane.”


Pasho scowled. “We should help them.”


“I’ve interfered enough,” Eliden said, turning away.


“Eliden! No!” cried the girl, watching her companion and mentor turn his back to devastation. She stormed after him as he pulled the soaked coat off his shoulders to dry it.


“We’ll make a fire. If refugees make it here, we will give them comfort and nothing more.”


“How can you sit by? We helped Behran and his people with the obelisk! We saved an entire planet from a malfunctioning ring of slow fall! How can we sit here and watch a whole castle, a whole country burn?! It’s not right!”


Eliden looked back at his apprentice with a somber stoicism. “We are Chroniclers. To interfere is against our code. Observe, record, and share.”


Pasho’s lips peeled back, showing her teeth. “I won’t!”


The green wizard sighed, nodding. “Do as you must, Pasho. I will not stop you.”


Grokthnar stomped a heavy, bare foot in the embankment, flexing fat and muscle layers. The cloth wrapped around his torso, for modesty’s sake, stretched. The magical harness he wore creaked, strained by his power.


“Grok Go! Pasho Friend!” He said, thumping a fist against his left pectoral region.


Eliden shook his head. “Very well, take that insufferable eating machine with you.”


Pasho groaned, disgusted, and turned away. “Come on, Grok…” She said, chanting a levitating disk spell over the river. Its surface had turned turbulent, foaming with each rising wave of current that passed by.


The Hob grunted at Eliden and made a gesture common to his kind but was far too impolite to explain in good company. He turned his back on Eliden, following the tiny, young mage onto the glowing plate of eldritch power. With a wave, Pasho sent it down the river’s path toward Erudane and left Eliden Theorycrafter on the shore alone.


War is a vicious thing. The wars of men are bloody and senseless. The war of men versus demons is an entirely different horror as Pasho Pyr now knew. She and Grok reached the farther shore beneath Erudane, north of the cliffs. They rushed across burning fields and ruined cottages toward the broken gates. Fire brightened the dark sky, and smoke clouded the stars from shining.


Grok released a war cry, passing Pasho before they reached the battered gates. The Hob thundered through the archway, big enough for two of him. He kicked a powerfully muscled, blue-skinned humanoid. It swung blood-stained, thick swords of black metal until struck. Its limp body smashed into the wall of one of the castle’s many interior buildings and then flopped to the ground. Humans in suits of armor swarmed it, piercing the creature with spears until it struggled no more.


Pasho crossed the threshold shortly after. She chanted spells of lightning as she assumed fire would be no help to her here. What remaining knights of Erudane that still stood cheered at her presence. The Hob they feared until it brought victory over one of Balsephor’s demonic minions. With renewed vigor, they pressed the attack and engaged enemies with a song of hope and battle on their lips. She loosed bolts of lightning at all blue-skinned and soaring infernals she could see.


Swords clashed, and shields battered back the claws of the enemy. A horn blew somewhere distant. Its sound spurred the living men even more than reinforcement from the mage, and the Hob did. Knights fought bravely, cutting the enemy with one word repeated now.


“Kalumdane. Kalumdane! Kalumdane! Kalumdane!!”


The fevered cries soon drowned out the inhuman screech of flying demons. Grothnar spun about, swatting the smaller, faster pests. His big hands swung like one might swat insects buzzing in the summertime. The cobblestones of the castle dripped blood and ichor. The dead counted many demons and twice as many men.


“FOR ERUDAAAAAANE!”


A line of knights in full regalia charged onto the field between the building. Each wore helms styled like Pegasi and clenched long spears aimed down. At the lead, a golden armored man with a great black beard speared the first demon to fall to their charge. He didn’t falter, guiding his plated steed forward. He was the tip of their spear formation. Each knight loosed their deadly weapon into demons as they crashed by. The formation knocked aside and trampled those monsters in their path.


The golden king drew forth a shining longsword. He took only a moment to secure a leather strap around his wrist that was tied to the blade’s crossguard. He reined his warhorse, turning it about in a full circle with front legs raised. His sword swung mightily over his head as he cried out words of triumph to his people.


Pasho was awestruck, forgetting her spells at the sight of the great golden king. So enthralled, she was struck hard and unaware across the back by a demon's black blade. Aesilk spared her a grisly evisceration, but the force threw her down to the dirty street.


Terror gripped her.


Crawling, Pasho tried to escape her foe. The horned head of the demon loomed over her, and she heard its hoofs clacking on the stones behind her. Tears blurred her vision. She hated them.


She refused to cry at the end. She refused to be a coward. Pasho Pyr rolled onto her back, stammering instead of spellcasting. She stared at the grotesque, fanged man-beast that raised its sword to kill her.

A great, knobby hand smacked into the upper half of the demon. Pasho heard its back snap as the hand pushed its torso down to the stones. Grokthnar’s huge foot lifted over and across her prone body, then stomped down hard. Standing over the fallen girl, the Hob drew his arms into his chest and flexed wide. Grok's roar shook the castle walls. His jowled face quivered as he dared anything and everything to challenge him like a gorilla. Blood trickled from his bare flesh, torn by claws and blades. Yet Grok stood strong over his beloved friend.


Pasho scrambled, rolling onto her side to get on her knees and up off the slimy ground then. She lurched up as a set of gilded horse hooves clattered across her vision. Each leg was defended by notched plates meant for movement. She looked up, finding the golden king towering over her with his free gauntlet held out.


“Come, young lady! Come!”


Pasho peered at him, finding nothing but kindness in his sky-blue eyes. She put her hand in his and gripped the hard metal surrounding it. With her aid, the king hoisted her onto his horse, and Pasho awkwardly tried to settle behind him. The golden warrior waved his blade high again.


“GUARDIAN POSITION!!”


His silvered knights and horses converged around them. Their shields sat securely to the sides of their steeds. They lifted them to create a circle of protection for their king. Each man let out a noise, a single syllable sound to show they were ready.


Grok peeked over his shoulder, angry eyes melting to gentle affection. He saw Pasho safe. His eyes also beheld those who came to her defense.


“...shiny…” The Hob muttered, impressed by the king and his knights’ regalia. A cobblestone struck him upside the head, thrown by another muscular demon ahead of him. His face went slack at first, surprised by the pain. It instantly contorted into rage next. Grokthnar whirled around and charged the thrower. He crashed upon it with devastating hammer fists until it was nothing but a puddle of goo under his hands.


“RALLY!” cried the king next, spurring his horse and likewise his knights to move. Pasho chanted behind him, unleashing directed currents of lightning from her hands. Aerial demons on leathery wings swooped down at them. These were lithe, small like her. They were no less deadly, and neither was she with her spell casting. The king’s men cut a bloody path through, pressed on all sides despite Grokthnar’s wanton destruction.


Pasho saw one jump onto Grok’s back, trying to climb the harness he wore to get to his head. She fired off a jolt into its back that made the monster twitch and let go, falling to the stones. Grok turned and stomped on it, snarling spittle from his thick lips. She thought she saw Munchy's furless tail wiggling behind Grok’s head as if the rodent were defending him.


The army of the damned seemed endless. The people of Erudane suffered despite the work of the king, his armies, and Grokthnar too. Still, Kalumdane fought with Pasho at his back. He held the line and gave his surviving citizens hope.


An explosion threw Pasho from the horse. She rolled across the stones and groaned from the bruising fall. Her glasses cracked, clattering nearby. She scrambled to put them back on so she could see. She regretted it.


The king’s pegasus knights lay in ruin. Their horses whined as their armor and flesh burned away by hellfire. His men writhed in the blackish flames, clawing at themselves to get out of the armor that sealed their fate. To her right, the king had fallen and was rising unsteadily with the help of his sword. He tried to wedge it between cobblestones. His beard burned until he patted it out.


There, twice as tall as Grokthnar, stood the devil.


It was everything Pasho feared a great evil would be. Huge, hulking, and red like embers in a campfire. Black horns curled from its forehead over the top of its head, then curved around beside pointed ears. It looked like a ram's horns.


Its face was long and human-like, though the nose was pointed sharply. Its dark lips pulled up at the corners with cruel delight. The red flesh was mottled with what Pasho assumed were arcane script burned into the dark god’s naked hide. An unholy dedication to some foul Faith. Its fingers ended in black nailed claws she knew could rend her to pieces.


“BEHOLD” Its voice boomed, rattling the castle. “THE END OF ERUDANE IS Ni-”


“RAAAAAAAAAAAWRGH!” Grokthnar’s massive bulk slammed into the red behemoth. They both bounced off the nearby blood-soaked wall. The Hob tried to grapple the Archdemon around its neck, but its clawed hands seized him at the waist.

Grok screamed in pain as the red god’s arms bulged and claws punctured. Pasho watched Balsephor lift Grok like he was nothing and throw him across the plaza. Grok bounced twice, groaned, then flopped still on his side.


“GROOOOOOOOK!” Pasho screeched, clawing herself up to run for her friend.


“Hhrrrr,” growled Balsephor. “As I was saying…” Its deep voice rumbled. “I BRING DEATH TO MAN!” He roared triumphantly.


“Demon!” Kalumdane, King of Erudane, rose up onto his feet to face the dread infernal with his sword in hand. “You will fall before me as you did my ancestor!” He announced, bringing the sword before him, its gleaming blade aimed at Balsephor’s chest. His castle, his people, burned and died around him. The gold-clad sovereign stood resolute.


Pasho reached Grokthnar’s body, crawling up to his heavy head to brush strands of stringy hair from his face. She put her arm over his cheek, hand under his bloody nostrils. She felt the rush of air from them and swallowed a cry. Tears dripped down her dirty, red-caked cheeks, knowing her friend still drew breath.


“Ohh, Grok..,” the girl sobbed, hugging the Hob’s head as best she could. It was half as high as she was, after all.


Despair crept into Pasho Pyr then, wondering if her mentor was right to stay out of it. Grokthnar was hurt. Her body ached with bruises and exhaustion. Though she was not a penitent woman, Pasho closed her eyes and prayed. She prayed for the Hob, for the King standing strong against a powerful evil. She prayed for what was left of the people of Erudane. And she prayed that the green wizard she antagonized knew that she loved him dearly.


“FOOL!” Balsephor laughed behind her. “YOUR END HAS COME!”


It raised a hand, and wicked claws outstretched toward the king. A swirl of black flame erupted from its palm, bursting forth into a fireball. Roiling flame shot for Kalumdane. The golden king braced himself, never fearing death. He would show his people true valor.


“Induite vos arma Dei et sumite arma contra impios!” A familiar voice sang. The demon lord’s fireball burst with a roar over Kalumdane. Pasho threw herself over Grok’s head as if her tiny body and its aesilk could shield the prone giantkin. Yet, she felt no heat, no searing pain from the demonic flame.


Whirling about, Pasho looked first to the king and found him standing. His armor shined. His sword gleamed still. He held its point toward Balsephor.


The demon hissed, baring sharp teeth. Its muscles flexed, and it threw its arms wide with fury seeing its attack fail. Pasho turned her head as bright, white light illuminated the opposite end of the plaza. Her heart leaped from her chest.


“ELIDEN!!”


There between the broken gates stood Theorycrafter, head raised and shoulders back. His aura glowed with holy power, bathing the blooded stones and wounded in an ethereal warmth. To Pasho, he looked like a legendary hero. His mere presence brought her strength she didn’t know she possessed.


“STRIKE, Blood of Eru!” Eliden commanded.


Kalumdane needed no more than that. He roared, charging forward. His sword drew back, gauntlets twisting tighter around the grip under the crossguard. Balsephor reared first and then hunched forward, snarling. Kalumdane’s blade arced across the demon lord. Balsephor dodged its edge by jumping back but found itself pressed to the cracked wall. Its great size became a liability.


The King of Erudane took advantage, bringing his longsword back the way it passed. The tip split Balsephor’s belly lightly, and its flesh sizzled. Black, corrupted blood seeped from the wound, staining its torso.


Balsephor seethed, Kalumdane's soot-stained face spread into a grin. His beard still sizzled from the flames when Balsephor arrived, yet the King was no longer cowed. His ancestor’s sword had left an impression, one the demon despised. Renewed, Kalumdane began to swing a series of arcing, circling diagonal slashes.


The Archdemon defended itself, taking glancing cuts from the foereaver’s blade. It would not succumb to death by the weapon again. At the third, Balsephor managed to slap the blade aside with its clawed hand. It found an opening. The dread lord kicked Kalumdane in the chest with a cloven hoof and sent the king sprawling onto his back.


By then, Eliden had crossed the plaza at a steady pace. He did not run nor hurry in any way. Pasho wondered over the strange but welcome calm the green wizard exuded. She turned to make sure the King of Erudane was alright. Then, she understood.


Kalumdane had fallen into the brilliance of Eliden’s aura, breathing hard and heavy for a moment. Balsephor pounced for him, looking to end their conflict with grisly ferocity. The Archdemon leaped into Eliden’s light field, and Theorycrafter’s eyes narrowed.


“HOLY STRIKE!” The Chronicler demanded.


An arc of heavenly lightning snapped from the stones below Balsephor. The arc reached for the night's sky with a sizzle and crack. Its energy tore through the Archdemon.


Balsephor screamed, flung backward end over end. The red-skinned monster toppled. It writhed and rolled about as the bolt’s current wreaked havoc through it.


“AAAAARG! WHAT IS THIS?!”


“Divina Praesentia,” Eliden said, slipping his hands into his coat pockets. He continued his even gait forward. Balsephor began to crawl back to avoid the perimeter of the man’s spell. ”Designed for creatures such as yourself,” Eliden went on. “Quite powerful against the infernal when invoked by those faithful to the Creator.”


“Now rise, Kalumdane King. Rise and vanquish your foe.” Eliden spoke. His natural demeanor returned with a smile and gentle rocking on the balls of his feet.

Kalumdane heard the wizard and felt the warmth of Light Eternal infuse him with strength. He stood once more, bringing his blade up toward Balsephor.


“KILL THEM!” Balsephor roared.


The Archdemon's hordes swarmed from all sides. Blue-skinned vassals rushed while the winged demons dove from the black sky above. Lightning snapped at each upon entering Eliden’s field. The energy crackled over his white globe, glowing like hands on a plasma ball. It was a wonder for all to behold.


Pasho breathed, renewed as well. She felt her pain leave her, soothed by the glow as much as Eliden’s peaceful manner. Quickly, she turned about and opened her mouth to start a spellcasting when she felt Grok stir. Pasho abandoned the spell and turned back to the Hob as he rolled onto his belly and pushed himself up.


“Ooooo,” Grokthnar moaned.


“You’re okay!!” Pasho cried, her face lit with joy. “Oh, Grok!” The girl threw herself onto his face. She clung to his loose cheeks as a flying squirrel might.


The Hob cooed. Munchy skittered out of one of the packs on Grok’s harness, chittering madly.


“Demon…hurt Grok!”


Pasho exhaled loudly, slipping off the giantkin’s face to set her feet on the stones. She stepped back and looked up into Grok’s dull, greenish-gray eyes.


“Get Him.”


Grokthnar’s saggy face widened, a devilish smile lengthening its thick lips. The massive Hob bounced right up, shoulders down and legs thundering under its bulk. It charged by Pasho for Balsephor.


“BAAAAAAAAAD!” bellowed the Hob as trampled demons in its path for the dread lord.

Balsephor’s head jerked at the sound, looking away from the oncoming King and his magic blade. Kalumdane swung a high, wide slash that the Archdemon spun away from. By the time Balsephor turned back around, Grok was in his face. There was no way out.


The Hob’s head rammed into the Demon lord’s belly, doubling him over. Grok’s arms had snapped around Balsephor’s legs, and the Hob hoisted like he was flipping a table.

Balsephor went up, end over end. It spun twice in the air, out of control. On the second revolution, the infernal's face clenched with confusion. A small rat-mouse-thing sneered at it from the shoulder of the Hob.


The greater demon slammed into the stones when it landed. The fall left it bruised and shocked. Never had Balsephor seen a Hob, much less thrown by one. Pain shot through its shoulder as Kalumdane joined the fray. The king twirled his sword. He drove the weapon through the dread lord’s shoulder blade and out the other side.


Balsephor rolled, trying to dislodge Kalumdane from his sword. The strap around it kept the King and weapon connected. The gold armored man was thrown, flopping over Balsephor to the stones. He jerked the blade from the demon’s body. Black ichor splashed on the stones.


Grokthnar’s mighty hands pummeled down on Balsephor, pounding like a frenzied gorilla. Red flesh began to darken where meaty fists bashed. Soon the Archdemon recovered enough to try to break free. Yet, Eliden’s divinity field reached it, and its face began to burn and peel.


The demon’s instincts made it scramble up and back from the white light. Grokthnar’s hands grabbed Balsephor by the horns, the Hob’s knee shoved hard into the fiend’s back. Grok pulled, bending Balsephor awkwardly back.


Kalumdane came on then at a dead run. He leaped onto the massive Demon lord’s chest to plunge his ancestor’s sword into Balsephor’s breast. The blade sank through muscle and bone, piercing a good three-quarters deep. Balsephor’s black eyes bulged, the fiend’s body curling upward with its last gasp. It slumped dead a moment later.


Kalumdane pulled the blade and lept off the corpse. The body of the demon began to disintegrate. He landed on the stones to stand victorious. Kalumdane raised his black-blooded sword high. Grokthnar released the dead demon's horns. He shoved from underneath it, rising up much like the Erudane King.


The Hob roared, beating his own breast with his battle-stained fists. War was sport to Hobkind, and Grokthnar had blooded himself well this day. The Hob’s arms lifted high above him.


Those men who survived cheered. The minor servants of Balsephor fled without their master to guide them. Swords and spears were held high, though none as high as Grok’s limbs. Pasho breathed a heavy sigh of relief.


“My thanks to you all,” Kalumdane, King, said as he brought his weapon down to his side. “This day, Man held back the forces of evil. No comfort could be found, no victory assured without your aid. Pray, give me your names.”


Pasho brushed her hands down her robe as she stood and drew closer to the golden king. His posture was imposing, yet his countenance was kind. She ran her fingers through her hair, trying to clean herself up in his presence. It did no good; the girl was half-soaked in blood, both red and black. Her face was purple bruised, and her spectacles cracked. She felt a right mess.


“Pasho Pyr, Sire.” the young mage offered, curtseying properly. “That is Grokthnar of the Mayweh Mountains, far, far from here,” she added, gesturing past Kalumdane to the Hob.


The King turned slowly, setting his free hand to his hip plate. “Grokthnar of the Mayweh Mountains, I am in your debt. Lending your strength to strangers was nobler than any knight of my realm.”


Grok lowered his arms, peering down at the small, gilded monarch looking up at him. A smile split his jowled, bruised face. The rodent he carried scampered on his shoulder and joined in the stare while settling down on its rump. Grok lifted a hand and pointed at it.


“This Munchy.”


The King smiled, then let out a boisterous laugh. Grok joined him. Pasho smiled warmly. Those survivors of the siege began to flock toward the king. However, a new cry of alarm raised and drew attention.


Pasho spun around, preparing to chant a spell to fight by. Her mind froze, and her heart fell. Instead of demons, she faced grief.


Eliden lay on the bloody stones on his belly. Armored men rushed for him before the Great King even called for help. Pasho couldn’t move, couldn’t think, couldn’t even breathe.


Grok could. The Hob bounded past Kalumdane and Pasho. He stopped behind the ring of men working to lift the fallen wizard, hunkering down in a worried crouch.

“Eliden hurt!”


Those two words energized Pasho. She almost sprang from her skin and found herself running for the fallen man. Eliden was rolled over onto his back when she reached the crowd around him. His face was ashen pale, lifeless. Pasho all but strangled herself to stop from screaming.


“He lives.” A soldier said after removing his leather glove to check for breath. “Yet slumbers still.”


Pasho shoved through the others to reach him. She pressed her fingers to his neck before she would even release the pent-up sob in her throat. She had to be sure herself. She had to. Grokthnar mewled concern over them both.


“Grok…we must take him home,” the girl sniffled, knowing Eliden would expect her to take charge. She rose to his needs as she rose from his body and faced the King once he neared. “I wish we could stay and help you rebuild, but my master needs care only our order can give.”


Grokthnar nudged his bulk between the parting crowd and scooped up his friend into his arms.


“Pasho! Go Now!” The Hob said firmly.


Kalumdane grimaced. Worry shone in his gaze despite the dazzling helm he wore. “Waste no moment, save one. Give me his name so that we might pray for him.”


Pasho choked only once, clenching her fists to steel her nerves.


“Eliden Theorycrafter, First Magus. Order of the Cross and Crucible. The Green Wizard.”


Kalumdane’s solemn nod was heartfelt before he bid his people make way. They watched the brown-robed woman hurry into the open plaza. All eyes watched with awe and respect as Pasho began her portal spell. She’d never summoned the portal herself, though she had been taught how by none other than Eliden himself. Her last word sealed the casting.


“Melnephina”


The Erudane people gasped as a doorway between worlds opened. All wondered over the lush land beyond the shimmering hole in the fabric of space—a path sprawled before them from the portal’s maw.


In the distance, a shining citadel awaited.


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