Darken Rahl left Nicci's abused body in his bed chambers. He had to remind his pet that she was the cause of his horrible looking body. The flesh of his body from the torso down was covered in third degree burns. The healers said that most of his skin would never be the same again. The smooth tight flesh that he once had could no longer be recovered. He beat Nicci into understanding that she was to pay dearly for that dire mistake.
Nicci was left covered in more blood, bruises and a broken bone or two on Rahl's bedchamber. She moaned pitifully as her head spun to unconsciousness. Darken Rahl dressed himself in his nightly tunic and headed to his desk on the other side of his tower. He grabbed a hand towel on his way out and wiped the sweat and blood from his face. His walk to the other end of the tower was peaceful. When he arrived in the conference room, Sister Belevich was already there writing in a parchment.
"Lord Rahl." Sister Belevich approached. She bowed in front of him. Her black ponytail went down to her waist and carried heftiness to it as she strode towards him.
"Sister Belevich. What news do you have from the outside world?" He was of course referring to D'hara. He began walking at a leisurely pace around the room and tossed the towel carelessly on his desk.
"There seems to be a lot of uncertainty in D'hara. The people are torn between two halves. I have been told by a little bird that Lord Oswin is causing trouble for the Seeker."
Darken Rahl knitted his eyebrows together, thinking about that name. While familiar to him, he couldn't muster the right memories to put a face to the name. He hummed as Sister Belevich waited for his acknowledgement. He paced slowly for a few moments before going over to his desk where a small tray of fruit was stationed for Rahl's appetite.
"Oswin… Kennedy Oswin?" Darken Rahl picked up a rose colored apple. A delightful scent wafted from the fruit. He bit into the apple; the crunch of its flesh was loud and the fruit was ripe with juice that dripped down his chin.
"Yes, my Lord. Lord Oswin was appointed to the throne as a temporary solution while the Seeker battled the Keeper one year ago."
"So my dear brother decided to deny his kingship. I hadn't known that. I am rather impressed he fought the Keeper of the Underworld without the aid of the D'haran empire. Taking on the Keeper singlehandedly is a most impressive, if not awe-inspiring feat. No doubt they will be singing songs of the Seeker for years to come." He chuckled, taking another bite of the apple.
"I can see that Oswin survived the attack." He continued.
"Attack, my Lord?" Belevich raised an eyebrow.
"Yes. I ordered an attack on Oswin after he began speaking out against me four years ago. He took to calling me a tyrant among other things. I decided to make an example of him. I ordered for his wife to be beat and his child killed in front of my good friend, Kennedy. But Demmin Nass, my right hand man, got too carried away and beat her before Kennedy arrived home. I thought for sure she would leave him but I found out later that she continued to stay with him."
He took another bite, chewing on the fruit and tossing it high into the air. He caught it without looking.
"Of course, I do remember them having some marital issues afterwards." His following shrug indicated to Belevich how little what he had done mattered to him. "So Kennedy is the current leader of D'hara. I wonder what'll happen once Richard takes his throne back." He turned to Sister Belevich, "You said temporary solution, correct? Meaning that Richard plans to take back what belongs to him. What does Oswin think about that?" He smirked, knowing where this conversation was going.
"Lord Oswin does not want the Seeker to take the throne. In fact, he's the one paying for the riots against Richard."
Rahl's smile widened. "Is he now?" Rahl finished the apple in his hands. The only thing remaining of the fruit was the core. He tossed the core in a nearby trash bin. "This is getting to be very exciting. One way or another there will be a civil war. I think I'll root for my brother this time." He laughed.
"Have you thought about taking back your throne, Lord Rahl? It still belongs to you."
"I have not. I enjoy this life more. My interests have changed since I died and worked for the Keeper. I escaped the underworld and now I have a second chance at life. Ruling the kingdom no longer interests me. I have all that I could want right here." He gestured to the tower around him.
"I have the Mord'sith to protect me, most of the gold that I stored here, and my new little pet." He trailed off in a memory, "Keep me informed of this matter. If my brother wants to lead the kingdom then there should be nothing stopping him from taking over. Give him the chance to see how difficult it can be to rule when no one fears you. I'd like to see just how he handles being leader for once."
"Yes, my Lord." She placed her fist next to her heart and bowed. She turned on her heel and walked out. Rahl sat down at his elegant desk made of heavy oak and a gold trim around the corners. He took a deep breath and let it out slowly.
Patience has its virtues no doubt. But Rahl was just content with sitting there in his tower retired from politics. He took many things for granted in his life but not anymore. He could do whatever he wanted now. The entire world except for the Mord'sith, Richard and his companions, and Nicci knew Darken Rahl had passed. He was going to take this time to enjoy life; the fruits, the elegant meals, the wine, the women; all of which he took for granted before he was to enjoy now. Starting with Nicci and his lust for a slow revenge on the woman…
Verna sat at the campsite the three companions had set up. She wrote in a private journal she kept in her bag.
It is day three of our quest to find the Seeker. Again I am plagued with the same thoughts I had last time if we should find him. The last time I travelled to the outside world I lost two of my sisters. I hope this time I won't lose either one of them.
Verna looked up to see Mariette and Victoria bickering about the roast they were cooking.
Sister Victoria was the first sorceress that I had brought over to the palace one hundred years ago. The palace had found out a young girl had the gift of magic inside. She was my first charge to retrieve. She just turned fifteen when her magic was at its peak. Back then she was afraid of her gift. The buildup of magic in her body was pent up and causing her endless trouble.
The first lesson they taught us in the palace is that magic is unique. It manifests itself differently in everyone. Magic is unique to the person. Every sister was skilled in one way or another in magic. For some, healing came natural. To others it was difficult.
Victoria's magic manifested in her emotions. When she was upset, objects around her were thrown about. Her manifestation also made her panic. I walked in with a shield made of my magic to calm her down. I promised her I could help her out but she needed to calm herself down first. I made the mistake of startling her by something I said. The dining room table was thrown towards me. My shields were stronger and held in place but not before it knocked me to the other room.
Victoria felt horrible for throwing me to the other room. She willed her entire body to calm down. The poor child trembled afraid to even flinch.
The welcome ceremony was joyful but Victoria felt uneasy about being alone in the palace. I stayed with her until she felt comfortable being by herself. She was also not used to being away from home. During training they found that by training her emotions she could wield her Han more effectively.
Verna looked up. Victoria rolled her eyes at Mariette and kept stirring the pot. Mariette kneeled beside her, a pout on her face. Verna smiled.
I rescued Mariette sixty years ago. I had just become a full-fledged Sister of the Light and on my first week I was tasked to bring back a girl who couldn't control her powers. I was told she was wrecking havoc in the town. She ran away from home but left a magical trail. I found her by a river. Mariette's power manifested differently. Her magic was expelled suddenly. It looked like she was holding back magic. Mariette screamed as she tried to focus on her power, trying to control something she didn't know how to handle.
I was able to calm her down for a moment. She begged me to get rid of that cause she had inside. Her tears poured down her face. I wiped her tears away and convinced her she had a gift given to her by the Creator to protect other people.
We camped out by the river. In one week I was able to teach her to focus her Han just enough so it wouldn't cause her pain. She would send a soft wave of magic out of her hand and into the grass. The dead grass would change color to a luscious green. The smell of grass was strong. For the first time in a week she smiled and I thanked the Creator for her help.
I took her to the palace without any further incident. I started training her at first before she was moved to a different Sister. She caught on to magic focused on nature.
I taught her how to focus on her Han and tame it. Like her personality, her magic focused on bringing more life. Even now, she continues to bring that lovely personality with her.
I will write more entries later. The girls are calling me over saying the food is ready.
Verna put away the quill and the journal in her bag and walked over to the pot of food.
"Thanks for catching the roast, Verna." Mariette said, "You have to teach us what you did."
"I will in time. I learned by a huntsman. I didn't hunt with a spear like he did. I used my Han to lure and trap the beasts. He taught us the rest." She explained. She began serving her partners first. "The key is to have patience." She handed the first bowl to Mariette.
"Yes, try teaching this one some patience." Victoria pointed at Mariette.
"This one will set the trap, bait the trap, but then will charge straight at the creature."
"I would not!" She whined.
Verna handed Victoria a bowl.
"What did you do to this roast?" Victoria teased.
"I…" Her voice became a mutter, "ran straight for the creature."
"Away from the trap." Victoria finished for her.
"I will teach you both the patience for hunting on the field. The trick is to use your Han to make the creature think they're running from danger but they will be heading straight for the trap."
Verna served herself and sat herself near the fire. She dipped the wooden spoon in the soup and stuck it directly to her mouth. She preferred the soup to be near scalding. The soup was carefully seasoned and the meat was very tender. Mariette had prepared the meat while Victoria prepared the soup. The dish was excellent and she was sure to go back for seconds. Surely Mariette had bugged Victoria to the point of taking cooking classes. They were definitely worth it.
Tencom studied the glyph on the wall of the cavern. The symbols were in the High D'haran language, an older and more verbose version of the D'haran language. He didn't know much of the High D'haran language other than a few dozen symbols and words. He didn't speak it himself.
It was a dead language. It was only spoken by Lord Rahl, wizards, and the wealthy in the kingdom. Of course this was back when there were thousands of wizards in the D'haran palace and before the wizard war.
Tencom referred to his spell book. He looked for the chapter on High D'haran. He hunted for the symbol until he found one that matched the biggest symbol in the center of the glyph. The glyph had eighteen other symbols surrounding the border of the glyph.
"Fire." He breathed out. He put the spell book down and stepped farther away from the cavern walls. He shot Wizards' Fire at the door but nothing happened. With a puzzled look on his face he tried again. No result. He tried throwing a fireball at the target. No results other than the flames sticking to the door a moment. He needed help from another wizard; someone who could crack these riddles he kept encountering.
He grabbed his staff and touched the levitating crystal in the middle of the cavern mouth. He enchanted a magical barrier around the edge of the cliff to make sure the weather wouldn't set his progress back. The crystal teleported him down the cliffside to where another crystal was hovering above the ground. He needed to go back to the People's Palace and find a wizard willing to help. Hopefully their thirst of knowledge would overcome their lust for gold as well…
The next morning three men wearing metal chest plates and chain mail galloped towards the three ladies whom were in the midst of waking up. They noticed the smoke from their fire and changed course to investigate.
"My, my, my. Look at these lovely ladies here. What's your name, sweetheart?" The first man asked Mariette.
She squeaked, "My name is Mariette."
Verna rubbed the crust away from her eyes. She was unfazed by the three unwelcomed guests. "What is it that you want, gentlemen?" She asked.
"We just want to take you ladies out for a night of fun." The second person said, "Declan, you can have that one over there. She's too old for my tastes."
"Old? You want to take us out to some fun yet we don't know your names." Verna said. She stood tall.
"Name's Taylor." He wore a powder blue bandana tied around his neck. His weapon was attached to a holster on his horse; an axe.
"That's Declan." Declan wore a purple bandana around his neck. His weapon of choice was a crossbow he had within hands' reach. An arrow was already nocked on the chamber.
"That over there with the lazy eye is Edwin. Don't let his eye scare you. He killed a D'haran captain and he damaged his eye in combat." Edwin had his red bandana folded neatly in the breast pocket of his armor. Usually meant to holster a small blade, he used it to store his bandana. His weapon was a silver spiked mace.
"Take a hike, gentlemen. We're not interested in entertaining you. We have a mission to fulfill." Verna turned away from the gentlemen and began packing her things.
The three men laughed like it was a joke while Mariette and Victoria stayed close to each other. Both ladies felt uncomfortable with the current situation. Victoria wanted to hide Mariette behind her; the men's eyes were clouded over in lust. Mariette was like a younger sister to Victoria. The thought of someone hurting Mariette sent chills up her arms.
Taylor climbed down from his horse. Victoria and Mariette gasped and clung to each other.
"Come on, babe. Don't play hard to get. Everyone likes to have fun every now and then. Let me show you what I can do." He grabbed her by her arm. Verna in an instant withdrew her Dacra from her holster and held the weapon, in its folded position, at the man's neck.
"I said take a hike." Her voice was more commanding.
Declan picked up his weapon and held it at the ready and Edwin climbed down from his horse brandishing his mace.
Mariette and Victoria readied their own Dacras, releasing them from their folded state and the blade turned into a triangle shaped weapon.
"You don't know what you're doing." The man warned.
"I think you fail to understand what you've done." She teased back giving him a smile.
Not wanting to look like a wimp in front of his men, he pushed Verna back and threw a hard right hook at her. She dodged with ease and popped him on the nose. A loud crack sounded out with his scream.
Declan aimed his weapon at Verna.
Victoria saw the action and threw her Dacra. Her blade knocked the weapon from his grasp. The arrow was shot but landed some distance to the side of Verna's position. Mariette threw her Dacra at Edwin; the knife hit him on the exposed flesh of his arm.
He shouted when he was hit. He went to remove the knife but Mariette screamed.
"If you remove that, you will die. Stand down!" She ordered; her hand raised directly at Edwin. Edwin threw down his weapon and raised his arms up in surrender.
The three men were gathered together and knelt on the ground with the three women surrounding them. Taylor held his nose, broken and bloody. Declan had his arms raised, and Edwin had one arm raised and the other to the side, the Dacra blade still stuck to him.
"Are you gentlemen going to stop harassing us?" Verna asked; arms crossed.
"Yes, ma'am." The three men replied in a defeated tone in unison.
"Remove the Dacra." She told Mariette.
"What now?" Victoria asked.
Verna eyes the horses and gestured to the other two women. "We take their horses."
The three humiliated men got up from their positions when the women galloped away on their horses. An awkward silence lingered on the men.
"How do we explain your broken nose to the saloon, boss?" Edwin asked.
Taylor wiped the blood from his nose. "We, uh. We say there was twelve—no! Fifteen men."
Declan chimed in, "Yes! And they were bulky men with heavy swords and cleavers and axes!"
"And we's beatthem up! Right, boss?" Edwin continued.
It took five days for Tencom to reach the People's Palace in D'hara. He arrived famished and thirsty at the tavern. He placed 2 gold coins on the counter of the bar. "Give me the biggest meal you have and a large mug of ale." He slapped one silver coin for the waitress. "That's for you if you hurry."
"Right away, sir." She gushed and hopped to the kitchen area where she began shouting orders at the cooks. She hurried back and brought a pint sized mug to the dark wizard, practically overflowing with ale.
"There's more where that came from." She winked.
Tencom smiled and pushed the silver coin towards the young lady.
"I'll be back with your food in a moment."
Tencom gulped down part of the drink, his thirst beginning to quench. True to her word, not long after a plate of an assortment of cooked meat, baked potatoes, a side of seasoned vegetables and a fresh dinner roll on the top of a chicken leg was sent out from the kitchen. She set down a small side of a red jelly-like sauce.
"I threw in a side of a homemade berry sauce just for you, love." She winked and left him to his devices.
An hour later, he had almost finished the meal and was at a tankard and a half of his ale. With how much he drank he felt the warmth of the alcohol wash slowly over his being. His own tension eased away after the hot meal and cool drink.
He rotated his body on the stool, his mug in hand. He watched the atmosphere of the nearly full tavern. Some D'haran soldiers lingered at a few tables; there were some people dressed in wealthy clothes and a few others that looked like they didn't belong there. On one corner in a booth sat a man wearing a full cloak over his head. Part of his face was visible but it was unclear who was underneath it.
Sitting across the room there were a few people who looked less enthusiastic to be there. There was one in particular who clearly didn't belong in such an environment as this. They weren't dressed in fancy clothes. Only their chain main armor with scattered mud patches covered them. Tencom studied the group. They all had their eyes on a specific person. They eyed the person with a cloak over their head.
Tencom sipped on his drink. No one else paid that group any attention. Some of the wealthy whispered to their companions and pointed in the direction of the chainmail-wearing men, all looks of disappointment. No doubt they were talking trash about the group.
The leader of the men stood up. He had stubble from his chin all the ways to his ears. Even his cheeks were painted with his hair looking like fur.
"Can I get you something else, sir?" The waitress was back.
Tencom turned around with a smile on his face and placed his mug back on the counter. "No, that'll be all. Good food, great spirits, excellent service, and a pretty waitress. I'll definitely be back."
The young woman blushed and shied away, muttering a "thank you" to him.
Tencom grabbed his mug he had placed on the counter and took a hearty sip. His ears perked up when there was some commotion behind him.
He turned around to see the stubbled man grapple the cloak wearer and push him against the wall.
"What do you think, boys?" He removed the cloak to reveal a slender young man pale from the sudden attack. Tencom knew who the man was; an old associate he used to work with. They had learned magic from the best wizard of the Second Order. All wizards of the second order had pledged their undying loyalty to Darken Rahl. Any wizard who studied underneath them also pledged their loyalty.
Back then Iras and Tencom were not close. They considered each other associates and only called on the other when they needed their help. Out of the eleven wizards that were training under the wizard Ekius of the Second Order, only a total of five students remained. Iras and Tencom were among those five. The others were killed in accidents or their spells backfired. A few were unfortunate enough to cast spells higher than their level and lost their lives.
They became closer when they worked under the service of Alistair, one of the governors under D'haran rule. They were tasked to protect the governor at all costs. Working together, they were able to become closer associates. However, Iras was known to lie to become the favorable wizard among them. Tencom "talked" with Iras to never lie behind his back again or in front of Alistair. Iras got the message.
"Wh-what? I don't know what you're talking about." The stubbled man shoved Iras next to a bulletin board. It was then that Tencom saw the 'Wanted' poster with Iras's name. The bounty was two hundred gold coins. It was a not so fair amount for a wizard's head.
Tencom understood who the six men were; bounty hunters. The dark wizard continued to sip at his drink. He wanted to see how this was going to play out. It was rare that a bounty hunter ever killed a wizard. Those who did became infamous in the world of bounty hunters. Of course, most weren't dumb enough to hunt for a wizard to begin with.
"He looks exactly like him. It's Iran!" One of the bounty hunters said.
Tencom rolled his eyes, very annoyed at this man's lack of literacy.
"My name is Iras you dumb brute!" He defended himself.
The entire tavern had eyes on the two men. The stubble-man took out a knife but before he could brandish it in front of Iras, the wizard used his magic and pushed the man to the other end of the bar. Tencom raised his mug to Iras but no one in particular paid attention to him. It was a superb throw.
People began scattering around, trying to leave the tavern through the back way seeing as the confrontation was blocking the front door.
"He's a wizard! Get the bastard!" The other five members withdrew their arsenal; swords, knives, clubs and a man twirling a rope above his head.
The second man with the group grabbed the leg of the table, turned it over and started ramming at full speed towards the wizard. Wizards' Fire shot out of the wizard's hands towards the makeshift shield. Three feet away, the man turned his body and the flash of metal was seen curving towards the Wizard. Iras threw up a magical shield. The man stepped back. Iras shoved the man with his powers hard and threw him out of the window.
The third man charged with dual knives but Iras shoved him to the back of the bar. The body flew near Tencom and collided to the back wall, falling down with glass and wood breaking. Tencom easily jumped to the side, standing up and holding his mug with both hands. He drank from his mug without a care.
He leaned over the bar, "You alright, hunter?" His answer came in a pained whine that sounded like a dog got kicked.
A rope was thrown and Iras's hand was pulled towards the rope wielder. The fourth and fifth men charged at the Wizard. A spell was thrown but was blocked by the fourth-runner's shield. The fifth bounty hunter pinned the wizard to the wall.
To Tencom's disappointment the fight was rather anti-climactic. He rolled his eyes and groaned in disappointment. Ekius's training couldn't hammer out all of his flaws, it seems. Then again, Iras was never much of an offensive wizard. The man used to study symbols, spell circles and glyphs. He could draw the most complicated and intricate spell circles he had ever seen… Tencom's heart leapt where he stood and panic arose in him.
He watched the bounty hunters tie him down. Tencom needed Iras. Iras might know what that glyph meant. If anyone could crack High D'haran it would be Iras.
"Let him go!" Tencom ordered. The first man that was thrown across the room walked by with a limp. Iras struggled to see who his new savior was but could not lift his head with the rope wrapped around his neck.
"Piss off!" The beat up bounty hunter screamed in Tencom's face, "He's ours!"
"Alright." With a shove of his power the man was again thrown to the other end of the tavern. He landed on a table filled with half eaten food. The man lay sprawled over the table, his consciousness gone.
Tencom raised his clenched hands, aiming at the group.
"Damn the spirits! It's another wizard!"
"Step away." Tencom commanded.
Instead of making this easy, the bounty hunters gave each other a look and charged for the dark wizard. Tencom released the power he was holding in his left hand. The two bounty hunters on the left were blasted back. Loud cracks resonated throughout the tavern.
He released the power of his other hand and two other bounty hunters flew through the tavern windows outside. The last man took out a knife and stepped forward. Tencom shoved his hands forward and the last bounty hunter hit the wall so hard it cracked the ebony wood.
"My friend!" Iras cried, looking up from his very awkward and uncomfortable looking position.
"Shut up and stay close to me." Tencom waved his hand and the ropes unbound themselves from the other wizard. The two took off at a run away from the tavern before any more guards or other bounty hunters came their way.