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Works By S. S. Prince Nytheun Annals Ymd Eras Of Miashunes & The Epithecesh Oh Heynoch Thuntmutz Crimson Night The Crystal Tower Moonchild The Death Of A Duke Oracle Awakes Philosophical Essays Rants From A Nihilist Existence - An Exploration Syllogisms For A New World Short Stories The Little House Behind My Old Garage

hDO DJnv kOJu aLx hcxav Ohqa DJnv hphI aLx CphIhxG

hDO DJnv kOJu aLx hcxav Ohqa DJnv hphI aLx CphIhxG

Crimson Night
A Short Story

Silvanus S-gar Prince

Copyright 2011 Spicer Publishing Company

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1. Thshars Tower 2. Ekeshkois House 3. Rogues Hill

Storm wind blows from the west to the east Where can I find you, where can I find you Storm wind blows from the belly of the beast Where can I find you, where can I find you Young man staggered as they offered him the dream Almost was a promise, but he began to scream Silence at the bottom of the well How can I find you, how can I find you...Silence One more time to touch god's face How can I find you, how can I find you Dripping girl, sold the world so she could make the scene Lines engraved on an empty page told her the stories in between Where can I go, how can I know Is this real or is it just a dream From out of the storm a shout was born, that turned into a scream Silence At The Bottom Of The Well Three Fish

I tell you truly that what follows is as it had happened as I witnessed the horrifying events unfold before my simple mortal eyes. No other event in my lifetime, or the lifetimes of those of my generation has had such an effect upon the world & on my own journey through life. A storm like no other in history, even that history which is remembered by the hsitesi1. Some have said that such a storm was of no natural occurrence and it is with these individuals where my beliefs regarding this matter lie. For only the foul machinations of magic and spell users could have possibly induced such a fury upon the land. The ominous glow is what I remember mostly - how the sky seemed to be set aflame by the clouds that hovered menacingly, moving in from the west and devouring everything in their path. The winds howled as if they were demons set free from the abyss by some evil intelligence. Perhaps this is closer to the truth then I may perhaps wish

The Elves.

My sister, Eramma2, warned me once of such possibilities. After all, if anyone in our family understood the power of magic, it was she. Eramma, a mage herself, was the only person I knew who had any skill in manipulating the mystical flows of the essence. But she was strictly a scholar and used her powers to help her researches into the dark and macabre lore she had always been fascinated by. It was these researches that gave birth to her warning. I scarcely believed her words until that demonic wind began its howl. For with the wind, her haunting words returned to my psyche: Beware the wind that howls as demons! The merchant captains in all the quay-side taverns felt the same premonitions as I that eve, albeit their intuitions were sharper then mine. Oh, how I remember that night well. I had dropped into my favourite tavern for some warm cider, enjoying the songs & tales of a bard who had just arrived in the city. I did not notice the shadows upon the faces of the gathered ships captains, so enthralled with the melodies floating thru the smokey air of the tap room. But had I perhaps paid more heed to my environs, I would have noticed all the ships captains muttering dark words to each other. It was perhaps an hour or so past dusk, when darkness had encompassed the land and only the fireplaces, lanterns and candles of the city kept it at bay, that I first heard that hellish wind. Its song sent shivers through to the depths of my soul. Immediately I remembered my sisters warning and I fearfully looked around the tavern and for the first time, noticing the shadows on the faces of the merchant captains. The howl was distant and feint, but I knew it was approaching and with its dire harmony I knew powers beyond the usual human ken were about to descend upon us all. Foul storm is coming, lad. Captain Ghiadithe3 interrupted my thoughts. He was one of the older ships captains in the tavern that night. His sandy hair was starting to speckle grey and he looked at me with intense green eyes. He wore a long brown leather coat with a blue shirt underneath. Ghiadithe sat at the table next to mine drinking a mug of ale with a steaming bowl of stew cooling before him. He had that weathered look common to all seafarers but I had always noticed the wisdom in the depths of those green eyes. Those eyes scanned the other patrons in the tavern for a few moments and then returned their gaze to me. I believe it may be the one your sister warned you about. Perhaps it is. I replied. What of it? Well, Im not sure what you plan on doing on this evil night, but I am going to finish my drink, eat my stew & find a place that might keep the worst of this gale from getting to me. I took a long sip from my hot cider before answering. This time it was my eyes that went through the crowd before coming back to rest upon that weathered face and its green

Erugioth: Red Rose Weshiothe: Wolf Wind

eyes. And if this storm is indeed so dire, what sort of haven do you think would keep you safe. A friend of mine lives just on the outskirts of town. He has cellars which bore deep into the ground. They should be able to keep the natural elements from harming us. And what of any unnatural elements? For if we are of the same mind, this is no natural storm. My friend is a mage. Ghiadithe shrugged and then smiled wryly when he noticed the scowl that had crossed my face. He was well aware of my mistrust of magic users. Youre father felt the same way, Efutuithe. But his feelings never stopped him from loving your sister, as I am certain the same is true of you. My feelings in the end did not save either my father or my sister. I retorted. Aye. Unfortunately so the old sea captain nodded sadly. It was perhaps three years ago when both my father and my sister met their untimely and unnatural fates. Though the events which lead to their mutual demise were seemingly separate, I myself blamed one person for the tragedy: a mage by the name of Ekeshkoi4 who had been my sisters mentor in her magical studies. Ekeshkoi had arrived in our town about ten years ago after having left her studies at the Imperial University in Ashechran. I have since heard rumours that she had not left the Imperial University of her own accord but had been expelled due to some dark ritual she had undertaken. This rumour only added to my ire and my hatred of this mage who had brought such tragedy to our town. My sister had been the first to die suddenly and without warning. Eramma had been out in the forest north of town collecting herbs and other implements for her art. When she did not return home at nightfall, I was sent to search for her. For an hour I wandered through the forest following signs of her passage until at last I came to a small glade that had a cold mountain stream running through it. In the moonlight I saw, laying by the side of the stream and ravaged by wounds caused by magical energies, my sister. She was yet still clinging to life though she was very weak. My eyes filled with tears while my heart filled with rage. I demanded to know who had done this to her. Only one word escaped her trembling lips: Ekeshkoi. My rage knew no bounds, but first I had to bring my sister home. I followed the same game trail that had lead me to the glade, carrying Eramma in my strong arms. My tears had dried, being replaced by a fire of hate unlike any I had ever felt before or will ever feel again. But as I crested a small hill and stopped a moment to catch my breath & my bearings, Eramma clutched me tight and whispered in my ear. Her words dowsed the flames in my heart and again I was unable to stop the tears from flowing. I clutched her tighter to my body screaming Dont leave me! but my physical

Erugioth: Lurid Ivy

strength was no match for the magic. No matter how hard I held her, she still slipped through my arms, her entire body disappearing into an incorporeal mist that soon dissipated. At that very moment I lost all my strength and collapsed upon the ground screaming at the gods for the fate they had unjustly bequeathed my family and vowing to avenge my sister. Ekeshkoi would pay for her heinous betrayal. When I arrived at last to my fathers home, I recounted what had happened in the vale as well as on the path home. Having been a sailor all of his life and having then enjoyed the privileges of being the bosun on Captain Ghiadithes ship, my father was no stranger to the darker designs of fate. Yet he still cursed Ekeshkoi as fiercely as I had done. His wrath was as hot as mine but his years of experience made him much more rational in this situation. For as I prepared to depart, intending on confronting the mage directly, my father put his hand on my shoulder saying: Efutuithe, we are simple men, you & I. We do not understand the machinations of magic, let alone know how to fight against them. Your sister was the only one of us who could perhaps openly fight her supposed mentor and it would seem that even she did not have the power to save herself. What would you do to Ekeshkoi that your sister failed to do? Think about it boy. Our weapons are of no use. You would not even get a chance to swing your mace before that foul sorceress ended your life. But Eramma must be avenged father! I protested. There are more ways to bring about justice then with the force of arms. Let me handle this, for only through the subtle arts will our family find satisfaction. So life after that seemingly returned to normal. I went about my business as I had always done and my father put into practice whatever scheme he had believed would give us our satisfaction. But then tragedy struck my family again. While on one of his many voyages with Captain Ghiadithe, a strange storm blew in from the east - a storm that was far more intense then any that usually occurred that time of year. There was only one soul lost during the intense gale - my father. Most people in town wrote it off as an accident part of the danger of a life at sea. But Ghiadithe had told me otherwise. He was well aware of my fathers designs against the mage Ekeshkoi and the old sea Captain knew that the storm was of an unnatural origin. As for its cause, well, he let me deduce that for myself. So now we two sat in the tavern, watching the skies darken and listening to the wind becoming stronger. Ghiadithe silently ate his stew and I mulled over many different thoughts as I sipped my cider. The demonic screams of the wind were now audible to all and many patrons were discussing the ominous weather that was headed our way. Many of the merchant captains had left the tavern, most likely returning to their ships in order to prepare them for the storm. I looked at Ghiadithe and wondered if he had already prepared his ship for what was coming. So am I to believe you will take shelter with me, lad? he asked between mouthfuls of stew. As much as I distrust spell users, I replied, setting down my empty mug. I think

your plan is probably the best to ensure survival. Ghiadithe wiped his mouth on a handkerchief, drained his glass of the last remnants of his ale and smiled fondly at me. Your father always told me that if something were to happen to him out at sea that I should keep an eye on you and your sister. Sadly, I seem to be fulfilling my promise to him. Your father was a good man, Efutuithe. One of the best sailors I have ever had the privilege to sail with. Pausing a moment to look around the tavern, the old sailors face grew grim. Well lad, I think we had better be on our way. Thshars tower isnt far, but with that storm coming, we dont want to be caught outside for very long. The wind outside was far stronger then the monstrous wailing implied and the rain that came down was so thick and cold that it took all of our strength to walk in our intended direction. I could not see very far and the noise was so great that I had to cover my ears from the deafening sound. Thankfully the lamp posts along the streets found some way to remain lit and so we were able to keep our path. I am not sure how long it took us to reach the mages tower, for the entire walk has become a blur of cold bitting rain and howling winds, but at last we reached our destination. The tower was only three stories high and of a simple design. It was essentially a square stone pillar raising up from the ground just outside of the edge of town. A simple wood door located on its south face was its only entrance while eight small windows, four on each of the second and third levels, offered the mage a wonderful view of the surrounding countryside. It was close enough that the towers owner could enjoy all the amenities of the town yet far enough from the limits that he enjoyed a fair bit of privacy. I was well aware of the fact that the tower was the home of a mage and as such I had always avoided the place. My sister, on the other hand, had been a frequent visitor. Eramma and Thshar had enjoyed a close friendship built upon their mutual love of magic. Still, I suspected that the mage of the square tower might have had something to do with her demise or at the very least knew something regarding that fateful night that he had never cared to share with my family. As such, I was of mixed emotions when the door opened at our knock and the short blue robed man motioned us to come in out of the storm. Thshar wasnt very much older then Eramma and only a few years older then myself. His green eyes seemed to hover on my own brown eyes for quite a while after he had closed the door. Scratching his chin, just bellow his brown goatee the mage turned and greeted Ghiadithe warmly. Thshar wore blue robes, tied at his waist by a black rope and tucked into the tops of tall black leather riding boots. He smiled warmly at me and then lead us down into the cellars of his tower chatting idly with Ghiadithe. Still, my emotions were mixed as I followed the two friends down into the cellars of the mages tower. I paid no heed to their idle conversations, absorbed in my own thoughts and memories. Eramma had spent time in this building. She knew this man. And perhaps Thshar knew things about that night that he could at last reveal to me. Perhaps

he might hold the key to my vengeance against Ekeshkoi. Lost in my own thoughts and emotions, I barely noticed that Ghiadithe and Thshar had stopped. We were now inside a large room about the length of two wagons and equally as wide. Its ceiling was arched and rose to a height three times our statures. The walls were solid stone, carved out by either gifted hands or the mystical power of the mages magic. There was but the one door which we had entered, for the other walls were lined with shelves containing foodstuffs and supplies that would probably last a few months with just the three of us to feed. In the center of the room was a well about the width of a large mans shoulders and whose bottom sank down to a natural spring below. In preparation for our arrival, our host had setup three cots, a number of chairs as well as a table which were placed throughout the room in an orderly fashion. There seemed to be everything we needed in order to survive the worst. Make yourselves comfortable. Thshar invited us. We might be here for a few days so we might as well be comfortable. We sat down in the chairs arranged around the table. Our host produced some mugs and began to pour wine. Thshar then set out some bread and some biscuits on a plate and then sat down as well. I was deeply sorry to hear what had befallen your sister, Efutuithe. the mage started. She and I were good friends and my life has been very different since she passed onward. I realize how you and your father feel about magic and I understand that you probably do not trust me. But know this, I was just as outraged at your sisters death, and the death of your father as you were. I did not trust myself to reply. The subject, though needing to be broached for us to get along while we waited out the storm, was a difficult one for me. This mage knew well how magic had taken everything I loved in this life from me and could indeed deduce what sorts of feelings I had for those who practiced its arts. Efutuithe, Thshar continued, I would like you to know that if there is anything I can do to help you in anyway, I am at your service. I owe that much to your sister. What is it you feel you owe her? I asked, my voice somewhat harsher then I had intended. I warned Eramma to be wary of Ekeshkoi. he replied sadly, I knew she had been expelled from the Imperial University and knew that she was not one who could be trusted. But Eramma sought Ekeshkoi out all the same because your sister wanted to learn as much as she could about the flows of essence. I have a limited library and Ekeshkoi offered Eramma free use of all her tomes and scrolls. Your sister could not resist the offer. I knew my sister well enough to know that what Thshar said was true. Her desire to learn everything she could about magic would probably have blinded her to the dangers presented to her by Ekeshkoi. I failed to protect her from Ekeshkoi and for that I am truly sorry to you. Thshar concluded.

Ghiadithe looked from the mage over to me, his grey eyebrows raising at my expression. But he kept his thoughts to himself, simply taking a sip of Thshars red wine. You must understand, Thshar that I have a hard time talking about all of this, especially to someone who is a spell user. I acknowledged in a strange tone of voice. But I thank you for your apology. Silence filled the cellar, well except for the ongoing demonic howls emanating from outside which even filtered here into the depths of the mages stone tower. We simply sat and drank the wine, each absorbed in our own thoughts. What a strange company we were: the sea captain, the mage and the man who hated magic users. Whether fate or misfortune brought us all together I am not certain. But looking back, I tend to think perhaps the gods might have been responding to my challenge the night my sister had died. Perhaps you two might want to observe the storm outside. Thshar suggested. The captain and I both nodded in agreement and the mage stood up and left the room. A few moments later he returned carrying a large mirror on a stand which he placed near the well at the center of the room. We moved our chairs in order to have a better view as Thshar began to chant in that mystical language of magic: Thotobovondithoarod! Thotobovondithoarod! Thotobovondithoarod! After the third time the mage chanted the words, a grey mist began to form inside the glass. Slowly it parted revealing an image of the town from the top of Thshars tower. The image that was revealed on the silvery sheen of the mirror struck terror into the pits of my soul for the skies - which should have been dark with stars shining benignly were in stead the colour of blood. We could see the waves of the sea and their heights were truly frightening. Great walls of water crashed down upon the town sending water through the streets and damaging most of the buildings which stood where the waves impacted. Compounding the flooding from these waves was the wall of water falling from the sky which created the effect of buildings simply being islands in the sea. Streaks of lightning cris-crossed the sky adding to the macabre illumination that had engulfed the land. Someone nearby is making this worse. Thshar announced suddenly. We had been watching the storm in stunned silence, completely raptured by the images displayed on the mirrored surface. The mages words broke our concentration and Ghiadithe and I turned our attention to our host. He was now staring intently into the glass, his green eyes scanning every corner. Suddenly, the image shifted - its viewpoint changed to one looking back at the town from what would have been the harbour. Everything seemed to be under water and I thanked the gods for having listened to Ghiadithes suggestion we leave the harbourfront tavern. The image shifted again to a third perspective, Thshars eyes intent on every detail it depicted. The mage furiously searched for whomever was augmenting the destructive power of the storm. And then I saw a shadowy figure standing tall on an outcropping of stone. Thshar saw the figure as well and the image began to move in to get a better look. Streaked in rain, the individual had its back to us. It held a long staff in its right hand and

it was making motions with its left. Just then, the figure turned slightly and a flash of lightning illuminated its face. Ekeshkoi. I breathed, my rage spilling forth from my heart almost at the boiling point. I should have guessed. Thshar scowled. What by the gods does she think shes doing? Well lad, Ghiadithe mused, a strange gleam coming to his eyes. I do believe you might be able to find that satisfaction youve been seeking. What do you think, Thshar, can the three of us take her on? The mage turned his attention from the mirror and contemplated us. His green eyes bored into our souls, as if he were searching for our deepest secrets. This feeling, compounded by the rage I felt, made me look back at Thshar with evil eyes as if to say: I dont care what you think. Im taking the witch down with or without your help. We must quickly think of a plan. Thshar emphasized, To simply come upon her without some sort of strategy will only get us all killed - or worse. Very well. Ghiadithe interceded, Heres my thought: youre the one who can take her head on, Thshar. Efutuithe and myself wouldnt stand much of a chance. I think you should go out there and challenge her. And while she has her attention fixed squarely on you, Efutuithe and I sneak up from behind and take her down. She may be a mage, but a dagger in the heart is still a mortal blow. It will need to be timed perfectly. I added. If we miss our opportunity we could easily be killed. And you have to be careful not to disrupt her spell casting. Thshar warned. If she falters at the wrong point the spell could have unintended results that could destroy us all. There will not be much I can do to save us if that happens. Where is she? I asked. The gaze of the mage returned to the mirror. The viewpoint seemed to get further away from Ekeshkoi, who was still in the midst of whatever incantation she was performing. Rogues Hill. he informed us after a few moments. Fitting, in an ironic sense. But thats almost a mile away. I protested, By the time we reach it, she might be gone. Not to worry. the mage countered, Give me a moment to find a safe place for you two to hide. The image moved again, arcing to the right and moving in slightly. It focused on a small outcropping of stones not far from where Ekeshkoi stood. The stones were relatively sheltered - as much as could be expected in the storm - and there was an easy path to where the evil magician worked her spell. Well gentlemen, Thshar asked, does this location work for your ambush? Ghiadithe nodded. Very well. Thshar returned his attention to the mirror and then spoke the

following words: Thabavanby! The image in the mirror shimmered slightly and the mage then pointed at the mirror. Simply step through the mirror and you will find yourselves behind those stones. I looked suspiciously at Thshar, but Ghiadithe nudged me in the chest. The old Sea Captain stood up and took a step towards the mirror. Looking back meaningful at me, he then stepped through the mirror and now stood in the image, directly behind the stones Thshar had found. I loved your sister. Thshar revealed in a sad voice, noting the hesitation on my face. She was an extraordinary woman whose life was cut short by that evil fiend. You have no reason to trust me, Efutuithe. Especially given how spell users have ruined your family. But know this, I want Ekeshkoi dead almost as much as you do and as such, I am doing everything in my power to help you seek your revenge. I nodded my understanding and without saying a word, I then stood up and stepped through the glass. The feeling I experienced at that moment was one of the strangest I had ever felt. One that is hard to describe. It almost felt like walking through a wall of water, but water that made my skin tingle. But the feeling was much more intense. And then suddenly I was standing next to Ghiadithe, the driving rain and the howling wind bitting into me. I could barely hear Ekeshkois chanting above the hellish sound of the elements. The old sea captain and I ducked down behind the rocks which provided us with some shelter from the wind. But the rain kept pelting us, soaking us to the bone. I looked over at Ghiadithe just as he was drawing his dagger. I drew my own and began to wait for Thshar to confront the witch. Now that I had time to look around, the colour of the sky washed over my soul. The macabre light was more then just eery, it was absolutely terrifying. The rain clouds appeared to be a dark purple colour that moved through the sky at an alarming rate letting fall their cold rain and lighting up the macabre sky with flashes of blue and gold lightning which added an even more abysmal aura to the storm. I should have known you were involved with this unnatural storm, Ekeshkoi. Thshars deep voice cut through the wind. Powers greater then either of us brought this upon the world, Thshar. the dark mage retorted in a harsh voice. I am not surprised that one such as yourself cannot perceive the causes of this tempest. Just at that moment, a loud rumble of thunder split the night inserting an uneasy pause in the two spell users conversation. The causes are unimportant. Thshars voice resumed moments later. What concerns me is whatever ritual you are performing right now. You dont have the guts to even contemplate the power this type of storm gives us. You may scoff at the causes, but you will feel its effects! Thebebor! Just then, another crack of lightning lit up the sky and the thunder that accompanied it was deafening. Thshars cry of pain filled the air, only drowned out by a triumphant sounding gust of devilish wind. This was my chance, my one and only chance for vengeance. I leapt up over the

stones and dashed towards the unsuspecting sorceress, my dagger gleaming in the crimson light. The gods must have been with me, for my blade struck true. I sank it deep into her back, the blade slicing through the foul womans heart. Ekeshkoi gasped in surprise and in pain and stumbled forward a number of paces before collapsing on the ground. I looked up to where Thshar sat, hunched over on the ground - his blue robes scorched by the lightning bolt Ekeshkoi had cast at him. He was still alive, his breathing heavy. Another bolt of lightning lit up the sky and I noticed that the mages face was ashen. Ghiadithe was at my elbow. Go and get your knife, lad. he instructed in his gruff voice. Ill go help Thshar. I crept over to the fallen body of the vile sorceress and placed my hand around the grip of my dagger. As I began to pull on it, I could have sworn I heard my name being called. It was a familiar voice and it seemed very far away. I looked around, only to see the chaos of the storm rage about me. Shivering from the cold driving rain that seemed to have soaked in to my soul, I concentrated on my dagger, pulling it out from the back of Ekeshkois dead torso. Standing up, I looked around to see Ghiadithe helping Thshar back towards the pile of boulders we had recently been hiding behind. I sheathed my blade & helped the old sailor carry the mage out of the direct wind. Can you get us back to your tower? Ghiadithe asked the stricken magic user once we had taken shelter behind the boulders. Yes. Thshar replied in a pained voice. There is a flat silvery stone on top of these boulders. Can one of you bring it to me? I raised my head into the driving wind, cold rain pelting my face. The sky erupted with lightning again and by its momentary flash I was able to see the stone the mage sought. It was perhaps the width of my hand and no thicker then a slice of bread. And in the eerie crimson light, it glowed the colour of blood. No matter my misgivings on the subject of magic, I only wished to return to the safety of Thshars tower and so I deftly grabbed the stone and hunched back down behind the relative protection of the boulders. Place it on the ground in front of us. the mage instructed. I followed his instructions and then he pushed himself forward so that he was leaning over the stone. With his right hand, he began to trace symbols upon the flat reflective surface of the stone, all the while whispering words in the strange tongue of magic. The symbols glowed with an unnatural blue light and seemed to grow as Thshar spoke those magical syllables. Just then, he leaned back - resting again on his posterior - and we all marveled at the magic unfolding before us. A shaft of white light about the height of the mage emanated from the center of the stone. It slowly began to distort forming an oval whose interior space was the dry & warm cellar chamber of Thshars tower we had taken refuge in. In fact, from what I could tell, the angle we were looking down was exactly the same as if we were to have been looking upon the room from behind the mages magical mirror. And again I swore I heard my name being called by that familiar voice, but this time it seemed to be closer. Step through as you did the mirror. Thshar instructed, pointing towards the

magical portal he had opened. Help me, lad. Ghiadithe nodded towards the mage. No, I can make it on my own. Very well. the old sea captain replied. He then stood up and stepped through the portal. I watched as he stepped back upon the stone floor of the mages cellar, the water from the rain on the captains clothing dripping and forming puddles upon the ground. Thshar looked at me. Go ahead, Efutuithe. I must close the portal behind us. All I could do was nod and make may way through the portal. I felt the same strange tingling sensation and the feeling of walking through a wall of water. And then I was standing again in the mages cellar, the magical mirror behind me. I suddenly realized how soaked we had become and how cold I was. In fascination, I watched as the rain water streamed off my body and onto the floor below. Just then I felt a hand upon my right shoulder. Thshar had stepped through the mirror and now stood behind me. I turned to look and was almost disappointed to see that the magical mirror had returned to its normal reflective surface. Efutuithe! All three of us turned to the source of that sweet voice. Surprise does not even begin to describe my reaction as I watched the ethereal spirit of my sister raise itself up out of Thshars well. Her long dark hair seemed to be blowing in some unfelt wind and her brown eyes were terror stricken yet I detected a note of sadness in them. Eramma I blabbered, my voice unsure. Speak, for I sense your time amongst us is short. Thshar instructed her specter. You have killed Ekeshkoi. my sisters voice breathed, though the lips of her specter did not move. But her magic has preserved and corrupted her spirit. I sense her power growing. Thshar, you must prepare or your lives will be forefit! As those words of warning drifted upon the still air of Thshars cellar, the ethereal image of my departed sister faded. What does she mean? I demanded. At first the mage did not respond, his mind was elsewhere, concentrating and searching for a trace of the evil spirit of Ekeshkoi. Give him a minute, lad. Ghiadithe reassured me. The wailing of the demonic winds was the only sound in the fear-infused minutes that followed. At last, Thshars eyes lost their glazed over look and he turned them in my direction. Ekeshkois spirit has reformed somewhere near her home. the mage told us. It seems her power has allowed her one final recourse. Unfortunately, her undead form is far more powerful then her mortal shell ever was, for Ekeshkoi has transformed herself into a Lich. This is grave news indeed! Ghiadithe exclaimed. You are saying, then, that in killing her tonight, we have only made her more powerful. I queried.

It would seem so. Thshar mused. But hope is not lost. There is still a way to destroy her power and force her spirit from this world once and for all. However, it is very dangerous - and with the might of this unnatural storm howling beyond these walls - the way will be perilous beyond measure. Unfortunately, we probably do not have much time. From what I understand, her Lich body should form within the next day of so, close to whatever vessels she has magically stored her organs in. It is these containers - and the organs stored therein - which we must destroy in order to vanquish her. Hold on. I interrupted, confused by the Mages words. Her body lies dead on Rogues Hill. How do her organs get into these vessels? Through the use of some of the most evil spells known to man. Thshar replied, his face a mask of disgust and fear. Ekeshkoi must have had some enchanted item on her person with spells embedded within which were designed for just such a situation. These spells would transport her organs back to the prepared vessels and cast the evil curse which would bind her spirit into the form of an undead Lich. So we have about a day to plan. the old sea captain noted. Well, I do believe we all know where her home is. Would these containers be hidden there? Presumably. Thshar theorized. But they could possibly be anywhere. We do not have time to search for them. If Ekeshkoi is able to fully assume her Lich form, we will have to battle her outright. Cant your magic find those containers? I pleaded. Ekeshkois home is shrouded in magical spells that prevent my abilities from detecting what lay within. the Magician answered in a troubled tone. Its still our best chance. Ghiadithe noted. Can you whisk us there like you did to Rogues Hill? Unfortunately not. Thshar continued. I have no seeing stones near to her house. It would be quicker to go by foot. If that storm wasnt raging. I put in. Again the howls of the demon-storm filled the room as each of us contemplated our own thoughts. I looked over at Thshar and saw that again his mind was focused elsewhere. The minutes passed and the fury of the storm seemed to grow. I begin to see the detrimental effects of this storm. Thshar informed us. Something within these demonic-winds is disrupting the Flows of Essence. That means my power is being disrupted. But it also means that Ekeshkois power will be disrupted as well. Though I will be weakened, it may prove advantageous for us if we do have to face her outright. That is excellent news. I replied, genuinely pleased that this evil storm was draining power from magic users. But what sort of plan can we come up with to take on Ekeshkoi? Ghiadithe interjected: We will have to go on foot to her house. It is the only way. I think the sooner we do, the better, not only because she will not be prepared for us, but

because the storm outside grows more powerful with each passing moment. I agree. Thshar put in. I also do not know how much of my power will remain as time passes. We must go quickly and destroy those containers and end Ekeshkois horror once and for all. And so it was agreed. For the next little while we prepared ourselves as best we could. Thshar found some heavy cloaks which we hoped would help us bear the brunt of the elements. We determined the quickest course to Ekeshkois house on the far side of the village. Finally, we attempted to plan what we would do once we were inside the house - but such ideas would only prove useful once we were there. Thshar made a brew of some healing herb he called Rewk, drinking it in order to heal the wound he had suffered during our initial battle with Ekeshkoi. It was after midnight when we at last departed the Mages tower. The howling winds and driving rains were far worse then they had been when we had battled Ekeshkoi on Rogues Hill. It was difficult to even walk, but we used all of our strength, trying to keep to the lee-side of any of the buildings we passed. After an arduous trek, we at last found ourselves on the lee-side of the evil Magicians house, near the door. Ghiadithe stepped up to the door, peered in through its glass and then tried the door. Its locked. he bellowed over the howling winds. Thshar came close and ran his hand over the knob, concentrating his mind to his task. There are no traps, mechanical or otherwise. he informed us. Ghiadithe pulled out a small pouch from under his coat and opened it up to reveal small intricate tools. He selected two, a long thin needle-like implement and a short tool which looked a little bit like tweezers. He placed the tweezer ends into the lock, their points at the top and bottom of the key slot, then he slid the needle into the slot and began flicking it gently. After a few moments he smiled at us and then twisted the handle, opening the door and motioning us to enter. Once we were inside, Gliadithe closed the door behind us, shaking off the rain water that had pooled on his coat. Im surprised that lock was so easy to pick. the old sea captain grinned. I would have thought Ekeshkois house better protected. Where did you learn to pick locks? I asked. Its a skill that at times comes in handy for seafarers. the sandy-haired seaman shrugged. I looked around the room for the first time, taking in the sparse furnishings. There was a fireplace to our left and in the middle of the room was a wooden table with four chairs sitting around its square perimeter. A head of us was an opening under an archway which lead further into the house. There was no fire burning in the fireplace, just some simmering coals which provided little light and even less heat. As simple as these accouterments were, there was something unsettling about the place. It was only when I turned to look out a large window located to the left of the door that the peculiarity I sensed was revealed. The house was quiet - even the ferocious sounds of the howling

winds beyond its walls could not be heard. With this realization dawning upon me, I quickly looked at my companions. Aye lad. Ghiadithe nodded, seeing my expression. I noticed it too. A result of Ekeshkois protective wards. Thshar mused. They not only keep prying spells from looking in, but they also keep sounds from getting in as well. Come, let us find the fiend and be done with this. We followed the mage through the archway and into the kitchen. At the back of the kitchen was a second door leading outside next to a stairwell leading upstairs. Another door was located under the top of these stairs, next to some large cupboards. This door obviously lead to the cellars. I sense power emanating from both upstairs and down. Thshar noted, turning his head from the cellar door to the stairwell. I suggest we start upstairs and work our way down. Ghiadithe put in. Id rather know whats above me head when I crawl down into a hole in the ground. I nodded my agreement and we cautiously began up the stairs. Thshar was concentrating just as much on the unseen dangers as the stairs in front of us, and so our going was slow. At last, we reached the top of the stairs and entered into a short hallway. There were two doors, one to our left a few paces ahead and another one at the end of the hallway itself. The power I sense comes from the door on the left. the brown-haired magician informed us. Laying a hand on Ghiadithes shoulder he continued: I sense powerful wards placed on this door. Your picking skills will be of no use to us, my friend. Without any further words, Thshar stepped up to the door, closed his eyes and began to concentrate. Cautiously, the mage put his hands against the door and whispered a few syllables in the language of magic. Suddenly the entire door vaporized in a shock of magical energy. When the dust settled, we peered into the room, seeing bookshelves, another fireplace lit only by embers and a large oak desk in the center of the room. Cautiously, Thshar crossed the threshold and motioned us to follow. The containers are not here. Thshar told us after a few moments of concentration. I did not think they would be, but it was worth checking. As the mages words dissipated upon the still air of the room, I suddenly heard a sound which sent ripples of terror through my being. Turning towards the sound, to the left of the fireplace, I could see a large chest sitting in a small alcove under a window. The chest began to shake and the frightening noise we all began to hear was coming from inside the box. I heard Ghiadithe un-sheath his cutlas and I took his lead, pulling my mace from its holder on my back. At that exact moment the lid of the chest flew open and the body of some hellish abomination began to seep up and out of the chest. The creature appeared to be an elf with silver hair. It had black skin which appeared to be smooth and flawless, like that of true elves. But its sapphire eyes were filled with a cruel hate and an unchecked rage which seemed to permeate the room. When it was fully

formed, it stepped out of the chest - standing a head taller then myself and Ghiadithe. In its right hand was a long elvan sword which it raised, readying an attack. Elf-demon Thshar hissed. He closed his eyes and began concentrating. Just then the demon stepped forward and swung its long-sword at me. I quickly tried to parry, feeling the strength of the demons attack in the shaft of my mace. But the shock of its swing reverberated off of the cold steel of the handle and I was unhurt. I quickly reversed the motion of my mace hitting the fiend squarely under its arm. The force of my blow was not enough to do much damage though and I hoped that my next attack would be with more force. Just at that moment I saw Ghiadithe step up to the creatures flank and swing his steel cutlass. The blade bit in deep through the fiends black flesh causing a lot of damage and making it ooze violet coloured blood. The blow also seemed to stun the creature and it stumbled back two steps from its force. I took this lapse in the creatures awareness as an opportunity to strike. I landed a strong blast which staggered the demon even more as the sound of breaking bones emanated from the creatures torso. It took one more step backwards and collapsed, unconscious, to the floor. The effects of our combined attacks were too much for it. It was then that Thshar turned his attentions from his incantations and looked at the sorry beast laying on the floor. He pointed his right hand at the monster and commanded with the word: wosodad!. Being unconscious, the demon had no will to resist the mages spell and its body began to slowly vapourize. After a few moments of tense silence, the body of the elf-demon was gone from our plane of existence. When it was fully gone, the mage turned to us. Let us leave this library before some other horror decides to pay us a visit. We followed Thshar out of the room and back into the hallway beyond. We descended the stairs and found ourselves back in the kitchen of the house. As he had upstairs, Thshar cast his mind over the door to the cellar. Finding no wards or traps, he opened the unlocked door and descended into the darkened stairwell. I heard him say a syllable in the language of magic and a glowing orb of energy appeared at the head of his staff. At the foot of the stairs, a storage room was to be found. Along the one wall were racks of wine bottles and casks. Two large trunks were also located along this wall and a number of large crates occupied the center of the room. On the wall opposite the wine racks could be found all manner of foodstuffs and household items, including tools and other residential hardware. The wall opposite the stairs was breached by a doorway which stood strangely open. Noting nothing of great import in the storage room, we cautiously made our way to the open door opposite the stairwell. Beyond its threshold was to be found the houses privy. A wooden bench with a hole cut into one of the seats provided the main equipment of the room while a large round wooden bathtub filled the back corner. There were a few shelves along the wall to the right of the doorway with what appeared to be grooming

implements and makeup. But no further doors or exits could be seen. I still sense power down here. Thshar asserted. And now that I am closer it has the distinct feel of Ekeshkoi. But where are the containers? I demanded, my patience coming to an end. I do not know. the mage admitted. I can not detect them amongst the chests and crates. But they are down here, close by. I just do not know where. A secret chamber, perhaps. Ghiadithe suggested. Thshars green eyes lit up in realization. Of course. he berated himself. How could I have missed it. He began walking around the storage room, casting glances in all directions. Soon, he came to a point a few paces to the left of the bathroom door. Now Ive got you, Ekeshkoi! the brown-haired mage exclaimed. Putting his hand against the wall, he pushed on one particular stone and it moved inward. Thshar stood back, as a small section of the wall began to move. Magically, it seemed, the stones of the wall twisted and turned, creating an opening into a hidden chamber beyond. Cautiously, Thshar stuck the tip of his lighted staff into the crevice. In the bright blue magical light we could all make out a human form lying on the stone floor covered in some black cloth. Three large chests, similar to the others we had seen throughout the house, were placed along the right-hand wall. There was nothing else in the chamber, but it was enough for me. Can you hear me, Ekeshkoi? I taunted. Your malice against my family comes to an end tonight. I am here to avenge the deaths of my sister and of my father - both of which you are solely responsible. Efutuithe, you are a fool. came the whispered voice of the witch from inside the chamber. And your companions are even more foolish for helping you. Do you not understand what I have become? I am more powerful then I ever could have possibly dreamed. And you are the one who have given me this gift! You boast, Ekeshkoi. Thshar interrupted. You have not fully taken on your Lich form and inside this chamber lies your urn where your organs are stored. When we destroy them, we destroy you. You do not have the sufficient power now to stop us. Your ignorance will be your downfall, Thshar. came Ekeshkois disembodied voice and following it was a haunting laughter which chilled me to the bone. Suddenly, the air around us became cold, so cold in fact that I began to see my breath steaming out from my mouth. A dark shadowy form began to move at the back of the chamber, making its way towards us. Fear began to creep into my body and my only thought became one of flight. There was no resisting the feeling, I turned around and ran for the stairs as fast as I could with Ekeshkois horrifying laughter chasing me all the way. I found myself in the kitchen and kept on running, into the foyer and out into the violent storm beyond. To my horror, many of the buildings in the village were aflame as streaks of magical fire blasted down from the crimson nightmare above. The howling demonic wind was in a frenzy as I watched the roof of the inn next store to Ekeshkois

house explode in a conflagration. Scores of terrified people ran from the doors and I watched in horror as a woman in her bed-cloths jumped from a second story window, crashing down onto the hard earth below. Everywhere I turned I saw buildings aflame and people fleeing in terror. My senses were reeling as my mind tried to grasp the chaos that surrounded me. Ekeshkoi. I grunted, turning back into the door of the house. I went back through the archway into the kitchen and over to the door leading to the cellar. I began to feel the sense of utter fear and doom, but sudden determination strengthened me against the creatures aura. So I descended the stairs into the room below to find Thshar and Ghiadithe battling an incorporeal shadow wielding a gleaming broadsword. For Eramma! I bellowed, charging into the cold air of the melee. Swinging my mace, I hit the wight square in its mid-section with the hardest blow I could muster. As my mace hit the undead creature, its form dissipated into a shadowy mist which then vanished completely. The gleaming broadsword it had wielded fell to the ground with a clang. With the creature destroyed, I looked around the room. Thshar was laying on the floor, blood gushing from a sword wound on his back. Ghiadithe was next to him, attempting to tend to the mages injury. I looked over at the entrance to the hidden chamber where Ekeshkois Lich body was growing in power. Within was a magical darkness my eyes could not penetrate. You might have defeated my wight. the witchs voice echoed from out of the stonelined chamber. But you have yet to defeat me. See now, I am now fully formed in my immortal shell, I am more powerful then I ever have been. Then step out from your crypt and face me, witch! I taunted, not entirely certain what to expect. Though, I could see in the corner of my eye, Ghiadithe creeping into a hidden position to the right of the chamber opening. I kept my eyes on the darkness within the hidden chamber, hoping that his location was not detected. Get ready, Efutuithe. Thshars voice came from behind me. At that moment, the dark cloaked figure of Ekeshkoi stepped out from her crypt. She was nothing more then a skeletal figure wrapped in a black cloak, though the eye sockets of her skull burned with unholy purple magical auras. In her right hand she held her dark oaken staff and there seemed to be a grey mist which hovered around her skeletal feet. Slowly the Lich raised her left hand, its skeletal digits sending waves of horror through my mind. Without a word, a great lightning bolt shot out of her outstretched index finger and striking Thshar square in the chest. The mage flew backwards a few paces and then landed in a heap on the floor. The shock of the attack, which grazed my shoulder, forced me to dive to my right and I found myself crouching down on the stone floor below. It was at this moment of dire circumstances that Ghiadithe leapt at Ekeshkoi from behind. His blade swung through under her rib cage, slicing through the spinal cord. Continuing the arc of the swing, Ghiadithes cutlass cut downward slicing through the Lichs pelvis and snapping her upper thigh bone in two. A great horrific scream shot forth

from the jaws of the skull as the upper torso of Ekeshkois Lich body separated from its lower half and her bones fell to the ground in two massed segments. I hesitated no longer and charged directly at the prone Lich as quick as I could, swinging my mace high in the air with all my might. I brought my mace down right on the glowing purple skull of Ekeshkoi and felt an ultimate satisfaction as it shattered into millions of tiny bits. At that precise moment, the evil magic that had held the other bones together was no more and the rest of the Lichs skeleton tumbled apart. Quick, lad. Ghiadithe urged, Find the containers and destroy her organs. It is the only way to make sure that her evil is at an end. I will tend to Thshar as best I can. Go now and finish the task! I made no reply but headed the old sea captains words. Quickly I stepped into the hidden chamber and looked closely at the three chests stored therein. I looked around, wondering what vile spells might protect them from harm and decided that brute force was my only option. I raised the mace again above my head and brought it down against the lock of the first chest. The blow shattered the lock and its pieces fell to the floor. But then I remembered the fires which were spreading through the village above and an idea came to me. Rushing out of the chamber, I ran up the stairs to the kitchen. I tore open the cupboards until I found what I was looking for - a large vial of cooking oil. Quickly I ran into the foyer and dinning room to the fireplace. Grabbing hold of the thongs hanging off the mantle, I reached in and picked up the brightest ember I could spy. Taking my spoils back downstairs to the cellar, I walked by Ghiadithe who was desperately trying to revive Thshar. Into the dark chamber I went, gently placing the tongs and their burning ember on the floor. I then uncorked the stopper of the vial and splashed the cooking oil all over the three chests. When this was done, I ran out to where Ghiadithe knelt beside Thshar. I need parchment. was all I could muster for words. But why lad, what are ye doing? the sea captain enquired, confusion and fear painted plainly on his face. Does he have any parchment paper? Ghiadithe patted the mages robes and then reached into a pocket, withdrawing a large piece of parchment. Wordlessly, he passed it to me and I spun round, picking up the fallen staff of Ekeshkoi as I returned to the hidden chamber. I tore the paper into strips and tied them to the end of the witchs staff. Next, I poured the remaining amount of cooking oil - which I had saved for just this purpose - onto the paper strips. Then holding the staff in one hand, I picked up the burning ember with the tongs and put it against the oil-bathed paper. Immediately, the tip of the staff was alight with flame and I dropped the tongs and their ember onto the ground. I took a step forward and touched my make-shift torch to the first of the chests. The top burst into flame as I moved onward to the next, repeating the process again. By the time I had lit the third chest, the first had begun to really burn wildly. Thick black smoke bellowed out of the entrance and into the storeroom beyond and I took

this opportunity to withdraw there, out of the confined space where fresh air was beginning to be at premium. As I stepped over the threshold of the hidden chamber, a terrible scream - one filled with the sound of immense pain - erupted from the chamber. I took a few more steps backward, keeping my eye on the burning chests - making sure that they continued to burn. A fitting end, lad. I heard Ghiadithe say from behind me. Using Ekeshkois very staff to finally destroy her. I turned and looked at him, seeing for the first time how badly injured Thshar was. The brown-haired mage was unconscious, a black scorch mark on his chest. Parts of his blue robes had burned away and I could see seared flesh where the witchs lightning had struck. Ghiadithe had Thshars head cradled in his arms. A look of despair was upon the sea captains face, which told me that all of his knowledge of healing could not help Thshar. Just then, the room grew warmer - at first I thought from the fires destroying the chests. Soon though, I saw a white nimbus forming not far from where the mage lay in the kneeling arms of Ghiadithe. Slowly the white nimbus began to take a form and I watched in other amazement as the image of my sister appeared, kneeling next to the fallen Thshar. Her perfect white hand touched his chest where the burns were worst. Eramma then bent forward, kissing the fallen mage on the lips. What happened next I could never explain in words, not even to Ghiadithe who witnessed it as well. But I shall attempt here to find words to describe it as I am able. The white nimbus - which still surrounded the apparition of my sister - expanded and encompassed the body of Thshar. It seemed as if ethereal arms reached out from his fallen body and began embracing her, wrapping their brilliant appendages around her incorporeal form. Eramma began to lean backwards, pulling the spirit of Thshar out of his body - their lips still locked in the kiss. Ever backwards did she move, pulling the mages soul with her until at last their radiant forms were found to be floating above the floor, still locked in their embrace. Ghiadithe and I stepped back from the embracing spirits and at last they separated. Thshar turned and looked at us, first to me and then at the old sea captain. Thank you, Efutuithe. I heard his voice but could not detect the mouth displayed by his spirit moving at all. You have destroyed Ekeshkoi for good and reunited me with the love of my life - your sister. It would not have been possible without your own aid. I pointed out, in a awed tone of voice. Indeed. the voice of Thshar mused. Ghiadithe, my old friend. I know you are not fond of land-locked retreats, but my tower and all it contains is yours. You may do with it as you please. Thank ye, Thshar. Ghiadithe returned, bowing his head in humility. Eramma I started.

Efutuithe. I could hear the smile in her voice, though it did not appear on her face. Your vengeance is complete and the honour of our family is upheld. It is time you move on and find a path to follow. I know you will eventually find happiness. I love you deeply and will be with you always. At those words, the forms of the two spirits began to fade and the white nimbus which surrounded them began to lessen, until finally it was gone all together.

There is not much more of the tale to tell. Ghiadithe and I waited until the chests were fully consumed by flames and that all their contents were destroyed before leaving Ekeshkois cellar, being certain that Ekeshkois organs were completely destroyed. We carried Thshars body all the way back to his tower, through the chaos of the burning village. In a solemn ceremony which the sea captain gave, we buried the mages body on the western side of the tower and marked the grave with stone. As for the chaos of the storm. Its menacing clouds would last for almost two years, but the initial chaos of fires caused by its un-natural power subsided after about a week. As is always the case with people, the villagers rebuilt burnt out houses and businesses though they were wary of the weather and its portents. When at last blue sky was seen again a great festival was held and all the village celebrated, having survived the evil storms. Myself, I took Erammas advice and began to move on. I joined the crew of Ghiadithes ship, learning my fathers trade and journeyed to new lands. As yet, I have not truly found what I am searching for. However, at least now I am looking. From time to time I will hear Erammas voice on the wind as the ship plows through the waves. Sometimes I even hear Thshars deep voice, always laughing merrily. Indeed, the Crimson Storms changed much in the world - but for me they gave me a new life. We stayed up that night It was cold in the north I gave you my prayer And you gave me your word Don't remind me now Don't remind me You gave me a light From the smoke that you turned Spoke of your life

Like your fire that still burned Don't remind me Don't remind me Don't remind me Time to go Time to go home Time When i was a child I dreamed of sailing ships I saw them sink into the horizon I saw their sails I felt the wind on my lips Time to go Zagreb Three Fish