web analytics

The Sassquatch's Lair

Chapter 8

Ludger slept in late. When he woke up, he felt as if the entire weight of the world was resting on his shoulders. He slowly crawled out of bed. He looked at himself, bleary eyed, in the mirror overhanging the wash basin. He looked even worse than he felt. His hair was in a disarray and his eyes were red with sleep. His mouth felt as if someone had put little furry sweaters on his teeth and carpeted his tongue with felt.

He grimaced at the pitiful image reflected to him by the mirror. He was still dizzy with sleep. His head was filled with a kaleidoscope of dull aches and pains, that were amplified by his every movements. He poured some water in the wash basin. He splashed it on his face. It did not have the effect that he had wished. He now felt just as miserable, but he was also wet.
Ludger turned to his pack, who was on top of a closed chest, at the foot of the bed. He hesitantly walked to it with both hands holding his head. He was desperately preventing it from rolling to the solid oak floor. With a groan he extirpated from the nylon bag, some fresh clothes and his toiletry kit.

He opened the door of his room and stumbled to the washroom, at the other end of the corridor. Luckily it was unoccupied. The first thing he did was to hang his kit on a hook and unroll it. He filled a glass with water and took, in succession, a powerful analgesic, some megavitamins and an antacid. He quickly undressed, sat in the bottom of the shower holding his head and let the flow of the water slowly revive him.

Ludger stepped out of the washroom over half an hour later, looking well groomed and refreshed. His head had cleared and the pain had subsided to an almost comfortable level. He collected his bag from the room and headed for the dining hall. When he reached the top of the stairs he noticed that everybody was already up and having breakfast. Arexis, who was sitting at a table with Andrack, Arny and Dregnar, cheerfully greeted him and asked him to join them. Ludger threw his bag by an empty chair, sat down and ordered a light breakfast consisting of fruit juices, cold cereals and bread, from the jovial innkeeper.

Eyegar soon joined them, after having walked Ludger’s dog. Ludger thanked the tall man and happily patted Bacchus on her head. He petted her until his breakfast arrived. The innkeeper soon came back with a shallow wicker basket containing a tall glass of reddish-pink fruit juice, a bowl of cereals with a pitcher of cold milk, assorted muffins and pastries with fresh butter and preserves. He placed the basket in front of Ludger.

Before he could be thanked, the man quickly returned to the kitchen. He came back, a few minutes later, with a pot of herbal tea and a cup that he placed in front of Ludger. He put a bowl of ground meat and gravy, on the floor, in front of Bacchus. Ludger profusely thanked him for feeding his dog. The portly man patted him on the back and winked. He said.

“Your friend, Dregnar, told me how much of a hero and a fighter your dog his. I will treat her as such. I am glad to be host to our future Saviour. By the way, the herbal tea will invigorate you for the journey ahead.”

He winked at him again and returned to the kitchen. Ludger hungrily disposed of his breakfast. While he was sipping his aromatic tea he asked Andrack.

“Yesterday, when you said that you could not use a healing spell on Balnor and that it was a question of entropy, what did you mean by that?”

Andrack cracked a smile and replied in a scholarly tone.

“As you surely know, the universe is governed by entropy, In simple terms, if things are left by themselves, they will eventually go from an organized state to a disorganized state requiring less energy to maintain. All of our efforts are to slow down this natural trend.

It is the same with magic. It takes a lot less energy to cast a destructive spell, like a fire spell, that will increase entropy, than to cast a healing spell, that will locally decrease it. With the reduced energy available to me, it is impossible to cast any constructive spells. Only some minor destructive spells are still possible.”

Balnor chuckled and said in a hushed tone.

“It his a good thing, because most of the time his constructive spells, more likely than not, ended in destruction anyway.”

Andrack glared at the scribe. Before an argument could start their emaciated guide joined them and curtly said.

“We will leave within the hour. I assume you will be ready.”

He stiffly bowed and left the inn. Ludger looked at the others and said.

“I guess we should take care of the bill, fetch our horses and get ready to leave.”

The innkeeper vehemently refused any payment from Arexis. He stated that he was glad to have made this small contribution to the Prince’s quest. As they left the inn the horses had already been brought out. They were being saddled by the stable boys. Ludger was able to contact Chargoff at the appointed time. They were rejoiced to hear that all was well in the capital. Nathalia had contacted him the night before. They told him of the ambush they had escaped from, the previous day and that Balnor would be coming back to recuperate, with a group of young lads from the village that would join the troops.

Since the communication had been very clear, Ludger decided to install a small repeater on the roof of the inn. With this, they would be able to communicate with Chargoff from further up in the mountains. With the help of Dregnar he collected the small radio unit, a long collapsible antenna and a solar powered battery charger, from his pack saddle. In the meantime some of the stableboys had erected a long ladder.

Ludger and the troll quickly climbed to the roof. They installed the small transceiver with thin pieces of metal strapping and some nails. By the time they were back on the ground, the party was ready to leave. They grudgingly parted company with their friend Balnor and the innkeeper. They walked toward the mountain pass, leading to higher elevations, amongst the cheers of the villagers.

They were unhesitatingly led through a maze of canyons and passages by their gloomy guide. Early in the afternoon the temperature suddenly grew colder as dark clouds rolled over the mountain tops. In a matter of minutes a violent blizzard had descended on them, reducing the visibility to zero.

Arckvor quickly called a halt, so the riders could don warmer clothing. He himself declined to do so, the cold did not seem to have any effect on his body. They decided that every rider should be lead by the rider ahead of him. Their pack horses would follow by their side.

Soon a double file of horses was slowly led by a lone dark rider. They progressed for countless hours, having lost track of time and direction. Still Arckvor relentlessly led them through the rapidly deepening snow.

Ludger had long ago lost any hopes of ever seeing again a warm fireplace. He could not believe that anybody could orient himself in the white soup of the blizzard. The snow was getting so deep that the horses had slowed to a crawl. He could feel the cold in his bones and he had resigned himself to the worse.

Suddenly they entered a narrow gorge. The walls were so close that there was just enough room for two horses, abreast. There was less snow on the ground, but they could still see the blizzard raging high overhead. It was very cold and damp, but at least they did not have to contend with the high wind and the snow.

After a good hour of slow progress, they finally reached a cirque facing a gigantic metal clad door, set in the mountainside. Arckvor called a halt. He, alone, proceeded to the door. He leaned from his mount and grabbed a massive knocker, set in the middle of the door. He banged three times, paused, then two more times. He slowly pulled away from the door, as it ponderously opened out in silence.

A solidly built dwarf, wearing an intricately engraved suit of armour, approached the guide. Arckvor bent down toward him. He talked to the guard in a low voice, while pointing to the shivering group. The dwarf acknowledge with a nod. The guide turned his horse toward them, saluted, spurred his mount and quickly disappeared in a side passage leading back into the storm.

They were left alone with the dwarf. This last signalled them to follow him. They were led into the mountain. The large door closed behind them with a resounding thud. They were in a nondescript dark cave of large proportions. A few torches were smoking on the walls.

Arexis hesitantly ordered to dismount. The dwarf guard, without a word, grabbed a torch and headed into a dark tunnel. They were quick to follow him on foot, leading their horses. After the raging blizzard, the tunnels were very comfortable. They were led through a long series of tunnels that ended in a cathedral sized cave with a ceiling so high, that the light from the torch did not reach it. Their guide instructed them to wait while he fetched his leader. He disappeared in one of the multitudes of openings lining the walls.

The air in the cave was clean and warm. They uneasily talked with each other, as they stamped their feet to reestablish some warmth in their cold bodies. After half an hour had passed, Ludger wondered if their guide had forgotten them. He said so to Andrack. The large magician replied.

“You cannot rush a dwarf if he his otherwise occupied. We will be attended in time.”

Just as Andrack was finishing his phrase, a deep booming voice, coming from one of the openings, said.

“Andrack, you old fool. I am glad to see you again. Have you learned any new tricks lately.” The last he said with a wink.

Ludger could not believe his eyes at the sight of the dwarf who had joined them. He was over a foot shorter than him, still very tall for a dwarf. He looked almost as wide as he was tall. He was wearing a pair of heavy cloth pants. He was bare-chested under a long leather apron. A large hammer was stuck in his belt. His wide hairy torso and massive arms were bulging with heavy muscles. His callused hands looked like vices that could crush a tree trunk. He had a square set jaw and a wiry head of air and beard. Making this awesome physique secondary was the darkest pair of eyes that Ludger had ever seen. They looked like polished, black onyx set into a snow white surrounding. They made the man look like he could love or hate with the same endless passion. He was glad that these eyes showed happiness at seeing them. He did not want to be at the receiving end of their hatred.

The dwarf went straight to Andrack and easily lifted the bulky wizard as he hugged him. He looked at the other men and said.

“My name is Kurden McNish, I am the leader of this mountain’s dwarves.” He pointed to Arexis. “You are Bluthor’s son. You have a lot of him in you. May he rest in peace.

Andrack, where have you hidden my friend Balnor, the one who knows better about you?”

“He was injured in an ambush. He returned to Arnor to recuperate.”

“I am saddened to hear that. I will miss him, we have a lot in common.”

He winked at the wizard then eyed Ludger up and down for a long time. He turned toward Andrack and said.

“This must be the one that you summoned. I can sense that he his not of this world.” Turning to Ludger he continued. “Do not believe anything that this large bag of useless magic has to say about me. Welcome to Thorland. My city is now your city.”

Kurden shook his hand. Ludger winced from the pain. He thought that he would never be able to use his hand again. The dwarf clapped his hands and dozens of attendants answered the signal. They relieved the party of their horses and heavy winter clothes.

Kurden led them through the tunnel he had come from. It was lit by crystals embedded in the rock. It ended in a large underground avenue that was bordered by shops and inns. Hundreds of dwarves were milling up and down the street, attending to their daily business.

The sight of the underground city was marvellous. Imagine a large city, carved elegantly out of the rocks, that stood in the middle of a cavern so vast that it seemed endless. The buildings were exquisitely engraved with countless volutes and statuaries. This hedonistic scenery was lit by a diffuse glow coming from no particular direction. It was as if the air was glowing faintly.

Kurden headed for an inn across the avenue. He entered the hall and said to Arexis.

“Your troops can have food and shelter here while you and I have a long talk.”

They left the guards and the trackers at the inn, while they followed the dwarf to a large, elaborately carved, portal that stood at one end of the avenue. The other end was lost in the distance. They soon reached the large marble door, where attendants ceremoniously bowed their heads to their leader.

The doors opened on their own accord. Kurden showed them in. The walls of the entrance hall of the palace were covered in intricately carved murals inlaid with precious gems. Lush wool carpets covered the floors. With a laugh Kurden said.

“Welcome to my humble abode.”

Willowy female attendants escorted them to private quarters, while Arexis left with Kurden. Ludger followed the perfectly proportioned short woman leading him. She was dressed in a gauzy long dress, that showed tantalizing glimpses of her exquisite body.

They soon reached an exotically decorated room, all silk tapestry and deep cushions. In a corner Ludger’s bags and equipment were neatly stored. The attendant closed the door behind her. She silently took his hand and dragged him behind a curtain leading to the bathroom.

In the middle of the room stood a veined marble tub filled with steamy, scented water. Behind it another houri, the exact duplicate of the one escorting him, stood naked. She was pouring some aromatic liquid into the water. The heat and the humidity in the room was stifling. Perspiration was beading on her forehead, her luscious body was slick with moisture.

Ludger’s mind was in turmoil. Only a few minutes ago he was lost in a blizzard, slowly freezing to death, with all hopes lost. Now he was trust in a tale right out of the 1001 nights, though it was populated by miniature creatures of dream.

Unsure of what to do, he turned toward the girl who had brought him. He looked into her jet black eyes and before he could mouth a question, she put a finger to his lips and hushed him. She turned him around and gently pushed him to the edge of the tub. Her deft fingers attacked the unfamiliar fasteners of his clothes. Within seconds he was standing naked in front of the other girl. She stepped down into the tub and helped him into the scented water. The shock of the heat sapped his last reserve of energy. He clumsily sat down in the middle of the water.

The original houri shrugged her wispy clothes off and joined him in the water. She took a jar, carved out of vivid green stone, from the edge of the tub. She dipped her fingers in the warm salve and handed the jar to her counterpart, seated in front of Ludger. She started to rub his shoulders with a surprisingly strong touch. Amidst the moist heat, the fragrances and the sensuous massage, Ludger felt so relaxed that he could not consciously move a muscle. But -incredibly- at the same time, he had never felt so aroused. His rigid tumescence stood at attention, underwater. As the girl rubbing his shoulders grew nearer, he could feel the engorged bud of her nipples tickle his back.

Noticing his turgid member, the girl holding the jar, put it aside after taking a great moist glob of the salve. She rubbed it between her fingers. She pinched her quickly enlarging nipples, leaving traces of the ointment on their brown tips. She looked into Ludger’s eyes and cracked a smile revealing her perfectly formed teeth. While holding her gaze she gently pushed him back onto her willing sister-in-pleasure, as she started to slowly massage his chest. As she drew nearer, and lower, Ludger found himself to be the meat in a voluptuous sandwich. Four hands, populated by a multitude of wonderfully dextrous digits were exploring every contours and apertures of his body. Soon his arousal reached its paroxysm. His release built slowly from the base of his spine and escalated, quickly building momentum, until it seared his brain with an outburst of passion verging on agony. As he laid, limp and lifeless, between the two warm and receptive girls, darkness slowly engulfed him amid muted giggles, tickles and nibbles.

*

Ludger slowly came back to consciousness, not knowing exactly where he was. He was floating on a warm cloud, feeling utterly relaxed and vibrant with energy. He did not feel any of the small aches and pains normally associated with the human body. His first thought was that he was in heaven, floating on a cloud. He even, halfheartedly, grasped around him to see if he could find his harp. He felt strangely lyrical, this morning.

He soon remembered that he did not believe in the traditional views of heaven, as reality slowly crept back in. He finally recalled who he was and where he was. At the thought of his encounter with the twin houris, a wide grin enlightened his face.

He slowly opened his eyes. He found himself in the bedroom that Kurden had graciously offered. He was laying in a deep feather bed covered by a soft airy comforter. He yawned and stretched languorously. All in all the first leg of the quest had concluded very nicely. He was ready to face anything that would be thrown at him. As he completed his thought a young woman, dressed in a revealing outfit of shimmering silk that bared her midriff and displayed her pert bosom, entered the room.

He smiled and noted that nothing better could be thrown at him. She smiled back and handed him a long silk gown and a pair of slippers. He grudgingly slipped into the gold silk and donned the fur lined slippers. She escorted him to a warm room where his friends were lounging on silk pillows around a low table, dressed as he was. Kurden and Arexis were at one end of the long table. Ludger was led to a vacant group of pillows at the other end. Bacchus was at her usual place, dozing in front of a roaring fire. His dog’s affinity for finding a roaring fire to lay in front, was amazing.

Ludger laid down and made himself comfortable. Kurden said in his deep voice.

“I hope you feel, humph…, relaxed.”

Ludger, slightly blushing, replied.

“I thank you, Sir, for your hospitality. It is second to none.” With a smile he continued. “I never have experienced such good, argh…, service. You had left me in very capable hands….”

With a wink Kurden said.

“I am glad you approved. My eldest twin daughters wanted to be the first to welcome a bona fide hero from another world, into our mountain commonwealth.”

Ludger choked at the thought that this man would offer his daughters to strangers, but he did not want to offend this powerful man and his strange customs. As he was lost in a fit of coughing, the young woman that had escorted him, brought him a silver tankard full of soothing herbal tea. He gulped it, between coughs, as she was softly rubbing his back. He soon recovered and excused himself. Kurden continued.

“As I was telling your friends, before you joined us, the situation in the outside world is so critical that I have decided to help Prince Arexis in his quest. I will guide you myself, to the source of the river of Gods. Even though our powers are not derived from it, we would like to see its powers restored. I will also send a battalion of my best soldiers to help you in the upcoming war.”

In a hoarse voice, Ludger asked.

“When will we be leaving?”

“Even though we will travel underground for part of the way, we will wait for the blizzard to abate before leaving. Thus, when we reach the upper course of the river, we will have good weather to travel. In my best estimate, we will leave in two to three days.”

Attendants brought in a sumptuous breakfast, into which the travellers dug in hungrily. After breakfast Kurden continued.

“My good friend Andrack, informed me that you have brought, with you, a wide assortment of metals from your world. After you rest for a few more hours, we will meet and discuss what I can forge for you, with the metals. Until then….”

The dwarf leader stood up, saluted with a nod and followed a scantily clad young attendant, with a leer on his face. They stepped behind a silken curtain. A slap and some hearty giggles were followed by the sound of running feet.

Ludger felt a small delicate hand on his shoulder. The young woman who had waken him begged him to follow her. He took the offered hand in his own and gladly did so. He was happy to notice that her expression did not suggest a period of rest. She lasciviously smiled as he was dragged back to his room by this surprisingly strong girl.

He judged that, even if she was no taller than a nine year old, she must be at least seventeen or eighteen years old and used to get her own way. As she closed the door behind her, she turned toward him. Leaning against the carved panel, she said.

“I am Leta, Kurden’s youngest daughter. I was very disappointed when I lost to my twin sisters. Now I will have to do my best to catch up to them.”

The young girl quickly wriggled out of her vaporous garment. She posed in front of him, showing off to their best advantage every inch of her trim, shapely body. The twin domes of her pert young breasts were tipped by wide budding nipples. They were a shade darker than her tawny skin. Her muscular abdomen was slightly raised in the centre. It was indented by the smallest of navels. She slightly parted her powerful thighs, showing him a glimpse of the thick, curly, black hair covering her hidden pleasure nest, as she slowly turned away. Her perfectly shaped back widened, at its base, to the tight globes of her buttocks. They were deeply dimpled at the side. As she finished her display, she looked at him deeply in the eyes and asked in a sweet little voice.

“Do you like what you see?”

Ludger, being mesmerized by those dark eyes, nervously coughed. A familiar stirring in his loins, tenting his golden garb, answered for him.
Leta looked down at his staff, pushing at the silken fabric. She beamed as she proudly said.

“It is obvious that you like what you see. Now it is time to put it to good use.”

Ludger blushed at the boldness of the young woman. She slowly walked toward him and put her hands on his shoulders. Since the top of her head barely reached his chest, she had to crane her neck to look at his face. She grabbed his neck and pulled herself up by the strength of her arms, sliding her warm body against his, through the silk of his gown.

When her face reached the level of his own, she wrapped her powerful legs around his waist. She locked her delicate feet, together, in the small of his back and firmly anchored herself to him. She let go with her arms. She held herself solely by the strength of her legs. She reached behind her head and unpinned her silken black hair. She shook her head, daintily sending a cascade of raven coloured locks floating like a cloud around her delicately featured face.

Leta smiled again. Her hungry mouth grabbed his own and greedily bit his lips, then his tongue, in a lust filled passionate kiss. Ludger lost his balance and stepped backward. He hit the edge of the bed with the back of his knees. He collapsed backward into the deep softness of the feather mattress.

As he was falling back, Leta flew through the air, above him, executing a perfect somersault. She landed with the aplomb of a trained gymnast. The young woman giggled and came back at him with a vengeance. She grabbed his long robe and forcefully pulled it over his head. It landed on the floor by the bed. She clasped her thighs on either side of his head and lowered herself to his waiting face. What followed could only be described as a two hour long sexual workout. It was a very technical display of erotic prowess lacking warmth and affection. It reminded Ludger of the multitude of people studying the martial arts to learn a technical skill, without ever understanding the philosophy and the mind control behind it.

Even though all the right buttons were pushed and their bodies responded like well oiled machines (no pun intended), Ludger felt somewhat empty, laying spent on the soft mattress with Leta wrapped around him. He was basking in the afterglow of a particularly rousing final climax, when his mind started drifting to the image of a crying young redhead, who was waiting for the return of her brother in a faraway castle. Ludger angrily told himself that she disliked him, that she was not even his type. But he could not keep his mind from her, as he drifted into sleep.

*

A sharp slap on his behind woke him up. A playful voice was saying.

“Come on, lover, we have to get cleaned up and dressed. We cannot make my father wait.”

Leta was pulling him by the arm as he slowly stood up. His body was dully aching. It felt clammy, being covered in dried sweat and other bodily fluids. She dragged him into the shower and quickly cleaned him up and helped him into a clean silk robe. As she slipped back into her abbreviated clothes, she instructed him to fetch his bag of metals. After he did so, she dragged him down a series of corridors, to a large ornate door. She sharply knocked, opened the door and pushed him in, rapidly closing the door behind him.

Ludger stumbled into a small room, whose walls were covered with a panoply of edged weapons of all descriptions. Kurden was seated on a cushion, behind a low square table. It was the only piece of furniture in the room. On its exotic woods, inlaid top, rested an antique balance with an ornate set of weights.

The dwarf leader lifted his eyes from the leather bound grimoire that was laid out on his lap. He studied Ludger with his gaze. He pointed to a cushion at Ludger’s feet and silently invited him to sit. He grinned, noticing how stiffly Ludger lowered himself to the cushions. With a twinkle in his eyes, he said.

“I notice that you have had a run-in with Leta. I am told that she has a tendency to sap all the strength, of even the most vigourous man.”

Ludger blushed again and answered.

“I do not think that I have ever experienced such a vigourous workout. Are all your daughters so, humph…, athletic.”

“No. Leta is the most quiet one of the lot.”

Ludger digested this bit of information. For an instant he feared for his life. He quickly decided that there could be worse ways to go. He put the thought aside. He told Kurden.

“I have been asked to bring a variety of metals from my world. I do not think that there is much to be done with them. They are all so different and I do not have much of each of them.”

“Young man, let me be the judge of that. As you know, our world is ruled by its magic. Anything in it must abide by its rules. Any mystical sword that I could forge from metals mined in this world could be a powerful weapon with no equals. But it still could fall prey to a high concentration of dark magic, like Magdar’s supposedly controls.

Since the metals that you have brought me are not of this world, I can forge you a weapon that cannot be attacked by this world’s magic. This will make it indestructible.”

“I still do not understand how you can mix metals that cannot be alloyed in my world.”

“As the ruler of this commonwealth, I am also the Grand Priest of our religion. Our god, Vulcan, reigns over the other minor deities. He his the patron of blacksmiths and of all those working with metal. He will help me in combining the metals in modifying what you would call the atomic structure of its different components. By this way we can achieve a composition that cannot be duplicated anywhere else in the universe.”

The burly dwarf put aside the grimoire that was still open on his lap. He donned a pair of thick lensed, half spectacles. He looked at Ludger over their rim. He said with a tremulous voice.

“Now lets look at what you have brought me.”

Ludger took the long rolled-up leather pouch from his lap. He deposited it in front of him, on the table. He slowly started to unfold it. Kurden, rubbing his hands in anticipation, urged him to proceed faster.

When the large piece of leather was finally laid out, open on the table, Ludger took out the assorted pieces of metal from the pockets stitched into it. He laid them out on the leather and pushed the entire collection toward the waiting dwarf. He looked more like a kid than like a great leader.

Kurden passed his hands over the foreign metals, mumbling an incantation. His eyes were closed and his face was contorted in a mask of great concentration. He suddenly opened his eyes and said.

“We will be able to do great magic with these foreign treasures.”

He took every scrap of metal and examined it carefully under the magnification of his spectacles. He rubbed a spot with his powerful thumb, lightly licked it, then placed it on his forehead. His eyes would close and a great tremor would shake his body.

When the tremor subsided he would open his eyes, put the bit of metal on the scales and weigh it carefully. He wrote the results of his inspection down on a wide sheet of parchment that was laid down in front of him. The metals were placed in three different piles. After he had finished examining all of the metals, Kurden took a deep breath and said.

“I am impressed by the subtle metallurgy of some of those alloys. They have made some of those metals very strong, without the aid of magic.”

“This is the result of our technology.” With a smile Ludger continued. “You should have a discussion with Andrack, about this subject, one of this days….”

Kurden looked up sharply at Ludger, then his eyes softened.

“I will be able to forge you a sword and a chainmail. If you already have a strong knife, I should be able to greatly improve it. Now we will discuss what kind of sword you wish.”

The dwarf made a widely encompassing gesture with his arms. He pointed at the wide array of edged weapons hanging on the walls. Ludger examined the amazing collection with glee. He soon realized that no matter how exotic the blades looked, he was not trained in handling any of them. The only type of sword that he could use, with any hopes of proficiency, would be a samurai sword. It resembled the long bamboo staves (shinai) that they used in the sport of kendo, which he had practised for many years.

He explained his dilemma to the dwarf. Kurden invited him to describe, in every details, what he was looking for. They spent the next hour designing the sword and the lightweight chainmail. Ludger described his modern version of the traditional kukri. Leta was called in to fetch the large, curved blade knife from Ludger’s room.

When she returned, Kurden examined it. He approved the design of the graceful, yet massively powerful blade. He put it with the smallest pile of metals. He turned to Ludger.

“You should go and meet with Andrack. He will instruct you in some relaxation exercises. They will enable you to clear your mind of any thoughts and to focus your inner soul to the magic of this world. Later, some of the girls will come and fetch you. They will prepare you for the purification of your soul, that will precede the forging of your weapons. We will start at sundown.”

They were interrupted by a group of six priests, dressed in crimson robes. They were coming to fetch the metals to prepare them for the ceremonial meltdown. Kurden followed them out of the room. He carried the bundle of foreign metals. Leta gently tapped Ludger on the shoulder. It brought him back to reality. She escorted him to Andrack’s room.

The tall, portly, wizard effusively greeted him. He handed Ludger a cup of wine. They sat comfortably, discussing the events of the last few days. When they finished their wine, Andrack took on a professorial tone and started to lecture him on the three stages of mystical meditation.

“First there is the emptying of the mind of all thoughts and emotions. Second, is the baring of ones soul from the confine of its outer protection. Third, is the filling of ones soul with the essence of the Gods and the magic of the earth.

Somebody trained in the magical arts, should be able to instantly attain step three, in any kind of situation and under any form of external or internal stress.”

Andrack thought Ludger some meditation exercises to aid in the liberation of the soul. Ludger was able to reach step three without too much problems, in the quietness of the wizard’s room. He had regularly indulged in similar exercises during his martial training. He would now have to work on attaining it rapidly under stressful situations. He would also have to maintain it under duress.

Andrack instructed him in a series of exercises that would help him attain this goal with daily repetitions and practice.

A discrete knock at the door interrupted Andrack’s lecture. He answered it curtly. Six of Kurden’s daughters, dressed in black silk robes, were there to bring Ludger to the purification ceremony, that was to precede the Holy Forging. Amongst them were Leta and the twins, looking demure in their long silk robes.

Ludger excused himself from Andrack. He followed his lovely escort. He was brought to a high ceiling room where hundreds of thick, aromatic candles, burned. The air was laden with powerful exotic smells. In the middle of the room was a series of five narrow pools. On each side of the four furthest pools, stood three young women also dressed in long silk robes. The colour of the robes ranged from crimson for the attendants of the closest pool, to cyan, yellow and white for the furthest. Stairs led into the first pool and out of the last. At the far end of the room was a wide portal closed by white silk drapes. A wide, low, altar stood at a distance of one of the sidewalls amongst the burning candles. As Ludger stood restless at the top of the stairs leading into the first pool, a discordant music suddenly echoed behind him. He turned to see an elderly dwarf priestess, garbed in a flowing white robe, walk into the room. She was carrying a white alabaster jar. Behind her a solemn looking young girl was carrying an imposing volume, bound in white leather. She was dressed like the elderly priestess, as were the young musicians following her.

The old woman put the alabaster jar on a white pedestal, that stood near the far end of the room. She slowly walked to the back of the altar, where she stood motionless. The young girl deposited the leather bound book in front of her and quickly removed herself. The musicians seated themselves in front of the altar while performing their strange melody.

With a flourish of hands the priestess opened the book and silenced the musicians. She took a deep breath. She then declaimed a prayer in a strange tongue as the music followed her halting speech pattern. She nodded toward the black clad girls surrounding Ludger. They quickly removed his silken gown. He stood there, naked in front of a room full of young women. He blushed in embarrassment.

Ludger and his escort walked slowly into the warm scented water. The water soaked their silk gowns, making them cling to their young, firm, bodies. They sat Ludger in the shallow pool. They lathered his hair and beard with a sweet smelling soap. He was instructed to swim through an underwater passage to the next pool.

He held his breath and swam the short distance. He was greeted by the crimson garbed young women. They lathered up his body and propelled him to the next pool. The women in blue trimmed his hair and beard. They also did his finger and toenails. All of this was accompanied by the eerie music and chant.

In the next pool, the young women in yellow silk anointed his hair and body in exotic oils. When he reached the last pool, some drops were placed in his eyes. They stung him for a few seconds. As he was led out of the pool, he admired the way the white silk clung to his young attendant’s bodies, becoming translucent in the process.

He was vigorously dried with plush towels. His hair and his beard were combed. He was asked to kneel. The music and chants reached a crescendo, then suddenly died. The priestess stood in front of him. She held, high above her head, the alabaster jar. She chanted a last incantation while scooping a small amount of the balm with her long, fragile looking, fingers. She anointed his forehead, his lips and his chest, over his heart.
Ludger felt a burning sensation at her touch. It was as if a great amount of energy had flowed through him. When the pain subsided, he felt lightheaded. his soul felt cleansed of all the burdens of the world. He had never felt so fresh. He had just been reborned.

The young attendants draped his body in a gown similar to the one worn by the priestess. He stood up and white sandals were put upon his feet. The priestess motioned him past the milky silk curtain closing the portal.

He was greeted by an impressive sight. He stood at the top of an imposing staircase, leading down into a gigantic room. Coal fires were burning and imposing machines worked soundlessly. They were attended by strongly build dwarves, dressed in black leather pants and aprons.

In the middle of the milling throng, by the hearth of an imposing forge, stood Kurden. He finally noticed Ludger. He signalled him to come down and join him.

They were ready to start the proceedings. He waved at a burly dwarf, standing by a large gong. The man took a long mallet and crashed it on the large copper disk. A deafening sound reverberated through the room. In its aftermath, the room was strangely silent. A trumpet blew in another room. The six priests dressed in crimson walked into the room, two by two. Each pair was carrying a wicker basket between them. In each basket laid part of Ludger’s metal collection.

They, in turn, dipped each basket in the water of a small stream flowing through the room. They emptied the content of the baskets in three waiting crucibles, that stood by a large open pit of red hot coals.

Some herbs and potions were thrown over the fire, making it flare deeply. The priests began a low chant while a group of smiths, using an overhead crane, lowered the crucibles into the hot coals. A crew of young dwarves, manning a large bellow, started to pump it rhythmically. The coals glowed white around the crucibles. Soon the various metals flowed into a uniform fluid mass.

Ludger, who stood by the fire near Kurden, was instructed to let the energy flow into his soul. He concentrated. He could feel an entity of amazing strength gently nudge into his consciousness. He felt the fire grow inside him. He was one with the planet.

One by one the crucibles were brought out of the fire. They were put in front of Ludger. Over each one, Kurden took Ludger’s right hand. He held it firmly while a priest, holding a long thin needle, lanced the tip of Ludger’s thumb. Kurden squeezed seven drops of blood into each crucible, while the priest mixed the blood with the molten metal using a ladle.

Their content was then poured into three waiting ingot moulds. Ludger came out of his trance, while the metal was cooling. Kurden took each ingot with a pair of long metal tongues. He quenched them in the water of the stream.

He took each ingot in his powerful hands, feeling the power flow through them. The priest blessed the three ingots. The lightest one was given to a waiting smith to be drawn into a long thin wire, to fabricate the mail. Ludger observed, as the ingot was softened in the coals. It was brought to a large machine consisting of drums, turning against one another. The softened ingot was passed between the drums and rolled into thick wire. That wire was continuously fed to a second machine where it was pulled through a die plate. It was thus drawn into a long, thin, wire that was spooled on the far end of that machine.

Kurden explained that this wire would be cut in short pieces that would be bent in small loops, that would be woven together and welded shut. This would form his chainmail. He gave the smaller ingot to another smith who would reforge his kukri. He took the larger ingot to his own forge and started on the sword.

He buried the ingot in the coals, with a large pair of pincers. He instructed the bellow crew to start pumping. When the metal was white hot, he pulled it out of the fire. With mighty blows of his hammer he elongated the piece over a large anvil. He briefly returned it to the coals then notched the middle. He sprinkled some flux on the metal’s surface, folded it upon itself and hammered it back into a homogeneous mass. He repeated this procedure countless times. When he reached the requisite number of folds he hammered out a blade out of the ductile metal.

The hand of the master swordsmith quickly became a blur, when two of the priests joined him in a chant that was echoed from different areas of the large cave. The noise was deafening and sparks were flying everywhere. Ludger grew dizzy, watching Kurden work. After what seemed like hours, in the timeless glow of the forge, a rough outline of the sword had emerged from the ounce shapeless lump of metal.

He quenched the hot blank in the waters of the stream. He held it to the light and closely examined the metal surface for imperfections. He went to a large grinding wheel, that was turning, lapping at the river’s water. He was accompanied by the two priests. Kurden ground a long bevelled edge along the length of the blade. He honed it to razor sharpness on a finer grit wheel. The sword was uniformly grey and dull, except for its sharp edge. Ludger had never seen any metal work like that. The round guard and handle had been forged, with the blade, out of the same piece of metal.

The only thing left to do was to polish the sword and to quench the blade. Kurden brought the sword to a large buffing wheel. He rubbed some polishing compound on its edge. He applied the sword to it. From the dull grey skin of the metal emerged a brightly shining smooth surface. Ludger noticed that the mirror-like blade was covered in inlaid gold runes. The guard had the glow of platinum. The handle was covered in a rubber-like substance similar to the one his kukri’s had been.

Ludger looked at Kurden with wonder showing on his face, as the sword was handed to him. He could not believe its sheer beauty and its perfect balance. He was interrupted from his contemplation by the sight of the six priests carrying a large round platter, loaded with a mound of a substance looking like pure white tallow.

The greasy mess was dumped in a large shallow pot and heated over a flame. As it melted it released an acrid smoke that made Ludger’s eyes water. Ludger was asked to get back in his trance. His left thumb was now lanced by the priest. Seven drops of his blood were mixed with the melted fat. It hissed and bubbled, then suddenly turned a deep crimson.

The fat was cooled down and mounded back on the large platter. A gigantic ceremonial bowl, holding a bed of glowing coals, was wheeled into the room and put in front of them. The six priests surrounded the tub. Accompanied by a flourish of trumpets they started a long incantation. Each one, in sequence, threw a small packet of powder on the coals, making them glow in a different colour.

When they finished, Ludger plunged the sword into the coals. When the blade was glowing red hot, Ludger went back in his trance and grabbed the glowing blade with his bare hands. He did not feel the heat. He pulled it out of the coals. He raised the blade high above his head while being led through a prayer to Vulcan. Great bolts of energy were flowing through him, making his hair stand on end. He lowered the blade into the crimson mass. A great ball of flames engulfed him. He was feeling an intense bond forming between himself and the blade. When the flames subsided he stumbled and sat hard on the floor. He felt totally drained.

Later, when they were ready, the ceremony was performed again with the knife and the armour. During the last ceremony, with the armour, Ludger had spent so much energy, in the last few days, that he collapsed before the end. The abrupt termination of the mind-link with the Gods, created a backlash of energy, that engulfed Ludger with a cloud of glowing plasma. He laid on the ground, twitching violently, until the energy dissipated. His still form was carried back to his room under the worried eyes of Kurden and Andrack.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

From 1990: One Way Ticket To Talenthar

The Sass

Last weekend we went to Xochimilco, the world famous floating gardens at the south of the city, and we enjoyed a great day in the company of Normita’s friends Viky and Lety, as well as with Johnny a friend of Normita from work. We arrived early before the crowds and had a nice boat ride on the canals while things were still quiet, then we had a nice walk to one of the local markets where we had some lunch of typical Mexican dishes like tlacoyos, gorditas de chicharones, and quesadillas de flor de calabazas y queso.

We had a great time and managed to relax a lot, except for me whose task was to drive, and we were stuck in heavy traffic on the way there, and also on the way back. It used to be that on weekend’s mornings you could enjoy roads with lighter traffic, but so far this year there is not much difference between weekend and weekday traffic, unless there is some football in TV.

Here are some pictures from our day in Xochimilco…

Embarcadero

Lucerita

Brenda

Canal1

Canal2

Canal3

Canal4

Canal5

Cranes

LosZuch

Flowers

Girls

NormitaJohnny

Group

JohnnyBoy

Food

From: July 15, 2006

Lucito

Magic is a way of life for many of us, and more and more people like to learn more about the subject and perform their own spells. Learning magic is a lifelong quest, but everybody can do it. It can help you become a better human being and if you live by its main principles you can make an impact on the universe and make it a better place to live.

If you are interested in following online classes in magic or attending seminars, please fill the form below and let us know about your interests. If there is enough demand we will soon post a series of online classes, and prepare some seminars, and contact you about them.

We also plan to soon put into the market some spell kits that contains the same ingredients we use to cast our spells with complete instructions on how to prepare yourself and do the spell. We will soon also be offering a full line of magical items in our online store.

The Lost Bearded White Brother

Chapter 7

Ludger awoke with a start at around 04:00. It was still dark outside and he could hear sobbing in the room next to his own. He got up and dressed to investigate.

All was quiet in the stately corridor, except from the muffled weeping coming from a neighbouring door, that stood slightly ajar. Ludger noiselessly walked to the door. He was witness to a compassionate scene. Nathalia, with all traces of her regal, commanding ways gone, was crying on her brother’s shoulder. Arexis was doing his best to soothe his sister’s sorrows. She looked so young and vulnerable in her brother’s arms, that Ludger thought that her earlier conduct might have been the veneer of court rearing, put on to maintain her composure.

He silently retreated to his own room. He quickly found out that he could not sleep. He decided to take a bit of fresh air and go walk his dog at the same time. He walked to the other end of the corridor, escorted by Bacchus. After ten minutes of unsure progression and numerous backtracking in the silent palace, he finally found a corridor exiting in the courtyard. Ludger crossed the empty space to the main gate, where two guardsmen stood at attention. They saluted him. When he inquired, they pointed the way to the palace’s gardens. Since he was not dressed to comfortably jog, Ludger took a long brisk walk in the crisp, cold, morning air. The gardens were quiet and desolate in this early winter morning. The scenery fitted Ludger’s mood perfectly.

It was slightly past five when Ludger returned to the palace. In the courtyard he found Chargoff examining his truck and equipment with a look of confusion mixed with curiosity, on his face. He joined the man and explained to him the workings of the truck and of some of the equipment. Dregnar soon joined them, accompanied by a stableboy who was leading a pair of magnificent grey horses.

Both horses had their chest, shoulders and hindquarters covered in flexible, lightweight chainmail. The leading horse was tall and solidly built, while the other was shorter and more massive. They both seemed even tempered.

Chargoff explained that the lead horse was a trained battle horse that would follow its rider’s commands implicitly. He would not retreat under attack. The second was a sturdy pack horse that was trained with the battle horse as a team. It would follow its leader without any attention from the rider. It could carry a heavy load, day in day out.

Ludger looked over the horses with an expert eye. He was satisfied with his inspection. He proceeded to saddle the horses with the help of the stableboy. This last was fascinated with the modern saddles. With the help of Dregnar he loaded up the pack horse with his equipment. He put his G3 and shotgun in the long scabbards hanging from his riding saddle. He stored some extra ammunition and personal effects in a couple of saddle bags, that he fastened on the horse’s rump.

Other teams of horses were already assembling in the vast courtyard, under the watchful eye of General Chargoff. Ludger cornered the General and showed him the use of a 2-way radio. The General was very impressed by this technology. Ludger gave Chargoff two of the handheld units, with some spare battery packs. One was for himself, the other for Princess Nathalia, so that she could keep track of her brother’s progress. Ludger urged the General to establish a daily schedule of short calls at fixed hours, to preserve the batteries’ power as long as possible.

After the preparations were completed, Ludger followed Chargoff to the officer’s mess. They would eat breakfast with the troops. He felt comfortable with this no-nonsense man. Over breakfast they talked about their respective world’s differences and similarities.

They were interrupted by Andrack. The portly magician was looking for them. He informed the General that the Prince was ready to go. Their presence was needed in the courtyard. Chargoff ordered his officers to assemble their men. The small group left for the courtyard.

Ludger left the General to his job. He quickly found and mounted his horse. He told Bacchus to follow him. As the Prince lead his troops out of the castle’s yard, he fell in line behind Andrack, who was riding a massive black stallion.

As they slowly emerged from the courtyard, Ludger caught sight of Nathalia. She was overseeing the departure from one of the tower’s balconies, with barely suppressed tears in her eyes. Masses of troops were waiting in the outer enclosures. After they crossed the bridge to the citadel, Arexis motioned Ludger to ride at his side. More troops joined them in the citadel. Every soldier not critically needed for the protection of the city, would follow to the base camp.

As the main gates of the citadel opened, Ludger noticed that crowds of citizens were lining the streets, even at this early hour. They silently watched, with gloom in their eyes, as their leader left for his quest while a strangely dressed man, mounted on an alien saddle, rode at his side.

They slowly crossed the town on their way to the north-east gate. Once there, the small party, with their armed escort, parted company with the main body of troops. They picked up their pace as they crossed desolated snow covered farmlands.
They rode all day under the cold winter suns. Ludger’s only distraction was to listen to the constant bickering between Balnor and Andrack. They were discussing the proper method of reclaiming the sceptre. They seemed to never tire of their endless arguments, like young siblings on the back seat of a car, during a long trip.

Late in the afternoon, Chargoff called a halt. They set up camp about half a days ride south of the town of Arnor. Soldiers kept themselves busy by setting up tents for the night. A few large fires were lit. The men sat around them to eat their meagre trail rations. Ludger, after taking care of his horses and dog, unrolled an insulated sleeping pad and laid down comfortably in front of the crackling fire. Dregnar brought him a piece of dried meat and a steaming bowl of thick stew. The troll uneasily sat down between Ludger and his dog, who was sleeping by the fire. The troll still did not trust Bacchus.

At the end of the meal, Andrack came to join them, carrying a leather covered flask. The large man sat on a boulder next to Ludger. He passed him the flask. Ludger was delighted to find out that it contained a fortified wine similar to Vintage Port. He took a sip and passed the flask back to it owner. With a long sigh Andrack passed the flask back, after taking a long pull from it. He said.

“I am glad that you decided to come with us. I am sure that without your help, it would be impossible to finish our quest.”

“You seem to have more faith in me, than I have into myself. I do not really have any special magical abilities and I am not familiar with the customs of your world. The only thing I can offer is a little bit of technology.”

Ludger took a long sip of the strong wine and before Andrack could reply, he continued.

“I have read your treatise on technology and magic. I agree with you that in some cases, unfamiliar technology can be called by the uninitiated, magic. But I do disagree, though, with your position that they are fundamentally similar.”

“Well, they are similar in that they both accomplish good and help man in his daily life.”

“They both can also do bad. Like your black magic and our military technology that makes killing more easy every year. But in my world the technology, or machines, are not in themselves evil. Only the man using them for this purpose, is. In your world it seems that black magic is the embodiment of evil that corrupts its user.”

“This might be due to the fact that the people using this form of magic are predestined to be creatures of evil and that black magic only amplifies this trait in its users.”

While Ludger was listening he pulled, from his vest, his cigar case. He offered one of the long cylinders of tobacco to the large magician. They both lit up and continued their argument.

Ludger pulled on his cigar and let out a long stream of pungent smoke. He then said.

“Another difference, that I found, between our worlds, is that here magic brings you close to your environment. It is part of the essence of your world. In my own world, it seems that technology separates you from the earth. It removes you to an artificial man-made cocoon. The more technology, the further away your are removed from the earth.”

“But your technology comes from elements harvested from your earth and….” So the argument went on, late into the night.

When the discussion was finally wound up, due to lack of ammunition, Andrack retired to one of the tents. Ludger was left alone, thinking, by the fire. He felt refreshed, like he used to feel after similar argument when he was still a student. Stimulation of the mind is something that is very important and it is needed on a regular basis. It felt so good, under the cold stare of the stars, that Ludger decided to sleep al fresco.

He fetched his down-filled mummy bag from his pack and made himself comfortable by the fire. He noticed that Dregnar had also decided to sleep under the stars, as he quickly lapsed into unconsciousness.

*

Ludger awoke with a start. It was still dark. His body was stiff from the long day’s ride. He heard muffled noises coming from the direction of the river. Dregnar was not around, so he decided to investigate. He pulled on his boots, laced them quickly and took his G3 rifle. He attached a powerful multi-cell electric torch under the barrel of the firearm. He turned on the light and the illuminated reticle of his scope.

He slowly walked in the general direction of the sound. Bacchus followed sleepily. They soon reached the edge of the dried up bed of the river, where they followed the sound of the scuffle to a series of large boulders that stood ominously in the stark moonlight. As they approached the first rock, Bacchus’s ears started to twitch. She emitted a low menacing growl.

They soon found the source of the commotion. Dregnar was cornered, amongst the rocks, by a large animal with a long, well-toothed muzzle. It looked like a cross between a black bear and a rat, because of its pointed snout and its long tail. The animal was about ready to pounce on the poor troll. Ludger could do nothing, because the troll was in his line of fire. Sensing his indecision, Bacchus let out a lone bark and ran, head down, toward the bear. She bunted the animal in the chest, making it loose its balance. Before it could regain its equilibrium, she jumped, open jawed, at the animal’s throat. She could not get a good grip on the loose folds of fur. The creature effortlessly brushed her off. This had been enough to remove Dregnar from Ludger’s line of fire. The man surgically placed two bullets, in rapid succession, in the creature’s shoulder. The beast was killed instantly. The deafening roar of the shots, awoke the sleeping camp. Soon Ludger, Bacchus and the dazed troll were amongst friends.

Chargoff was surprised that a feisty water bandybear could be so easily defeated by Ludger’s firearm. They were all in awe of the power of the gun. They left a group of soldiers to expertly skin and quarter the carcass, for meat. As they walked back to the camp, Chargoff explained that the bandybear’s meat was a delicacy. It would nicely supplement their daily rations. He then chided Dregnar for leaving the camp, alone in the night.

As they sat by the fire, merrily passing around a wineskin, Dregnar pledged servitude to Ludger and Bacchus, with Arexis’ blessing. While things quieted down and people started retiring to their tents, Arexis took Ludger aside. He said.

“I want to thank you for leaving one of those communicating devices to my sister Nathalia. With it she will be able to keep in touch. I know she might seem haughty, but she is under a lot of pressure. She is at the verge of a breakdown. I had hoped that you two could have met under better circumstances. She is really a great girl.”

Ludger silently acknowledge the Prince’s words. He went to his packs to retrieve one of the small radios. He gave it to the Prince for personal use. Both men exchanged a warm handshake and retired for the rest of the night.

*

They were under way at dawn. After an hour’s ride, Arny of Elkvar – the Prince’s Trackmaster – joined them with his squad of trackers. They had news from the north. The way was free to Arnor, though there was trouble between Arnor and Setcryck. Bands of goblins or trolls had attacked small villages. They would have to be very cautious on their way up north.

By mid-afternoon, they arrived at Arnor. The farming town seemed desolated in the middle of the snow. Led by Arny, they bypassed the town. They went directly to the military camp. There, they found a few thousand soldiers looking worn. They were milling around the tents in an enclosure defined by high log walls. They met Colonel Dimitri at the gate. The solid man, in the prime of his life, was wearing a field armour. He enthusiastically greeted them.

Dimitri led Arexis and Chargoff to a tent, so they could finish planning their campaign. Arny and his trackers proceeded toward Setcryck to reconnoitre ahead of the small party.

After a night’s rest in the camp, they prepared to leave. They met with Chargoff, who was staying behind. They quickly went over their plan. They would first travel to Setcryck. There, they would find a guide to escort them to the underground city of Thorland. In that city they would request help from the dwarf’s leader, to proceed to the source of the river of Gods.

They had an emotional farewell. They rode all day without any signs of trouble. Early in the evening they set camp by the river. After they finished their evening meal, Arny of Elkvar came back from the field. He reported on his findings.

The tall thin man, dressed in the traditional green felt uniform of the Royal Trackers, said in a low clear voice.

“My men and I, have found traces of a marauding band of trolls patrolling this area. Guards should be doubled for the night. I would advise that Dregnar stays out of sights. I fear that if his presence is revealed it could provoke an attack by his inferior cousins.”

“Thank you…” Said Arexis. “…we will act upon this information. We should meet again at midday, tomorrow to evaluate the situation.”

With this, Arny soundlessly disappeared into the night, to rejoin his men. Arexis instructed Dregnar to stay out of sight. The men nervously settled down for the night.

All through the night Ludger kept being awaken by yells and cries emanating from the sparse woods surrounding the camp. He was uncomfortable at the thought of a band of trolls roaming in the darkness. Bacchus seemed to be of the same opinion, she kept growling faintly all through the night.

After a restless night, they raised camp early in the morning. Around them, the snow was slowly getting deeper. The air grew colder. They were lucky, it was still more invigorating than uncomfortable to ride in the cold air.

By midday they caught up with Arny. The willowy tracker was sitting on a rock while pensively cleaning the soles of his soft leather boots. When they reached him, Arexis called a halt.

Arny gave them a grim look. He said, pointing to the low foothills ahead of them.

“To reach Setcryck we must take a pass, in the hills, about three miles ahead. In a narrow portion of this pass, a group of goblins and trolls, together, have set an ambush. This is a very bad sign.”

Andrack quickly said.

“This is true, only Magdar could force trolls and goblins to work together. They normally cannot stop fighting each other long enough to cooperate.”

Balnor nodded in agreement. Things must have been really serious, it was unusual for the scribe to agree with matters uttered by the magician. The situation was discussed and a plan of action was decided. Arny’s men had found a small gulley that lead from the pass. It was unoccupied and could provide good cover for hiding. The bulk of their small group would hide in the gulley. A small party, lead by Arexis, would ride ahead to the site of the ambush. There, they would draw the attack and retreat past the gulley. From there, Ludger would launch an attack on the rear guard of the ambushers, who would effectively become the ambushees.

On foot, quietly leading their mounts, Ludger and his men were led into the gulley by one of Arny’s trackers. At the mouth of the narrow trench, another tracker signalled that all was well. They went in a single file and hid themselves as best as they could, amongst the low vegetation that clung to the walls and behind large boulders that had rolled from the top of the hills. After they were settled, the two trackers covered their tracks in the snow. Soon it was as if no one had entered the gulley. Nothing would reveal their presence, except the occasional muted neigh of a horse, that was quickly lost in the sound deadening bushes.

After waiting about half an hour the small party, lead by Arexis, passed in front of them. The Prince was lost in deep conversation with Arny, who was riding a borrowed horse. Silence quickly fell back amidst the waiting men.

Their wait was of short duration. Suddenly, amongst loud hooting and hollering, they heard the rhythmic drumming of horseshoes. The Prince’s party burst into the open space in front of them, with a ragged band of trolls and goblins at their heels. The formers ran like overgrown apes while carrying large knives. The later looked like small deformed caricatures of human beings, with permanent toothy grins set on their distorted faces. They kept cackling, laughing and hitting each others with a mind boggling panoply of sticks, knives and rusted swords.

When the unlikely group finished defiling in front of them, Ludger launched his own attack. MAC 10 at his fist, he spurred his horse after the evil creatures. His men jumped into the foray with their swords drawn. Ludger let go of a few short bursts of fire, but soon found out that he was just as likely to hit a friend than an enemy. He put away his submachine gun and drew his long kukri knife. He quickly hacked at a troll, who was trying to bite him through his boot while hanging by his stirrup. The heavy blade thudded in the troll’s neck. It fell, lifeless, to the ground.

When Ludger was bent forward, in the follow-through of his blow, a goblin jumped on his back. He could smell the stench that reeked from its open mouth. Fighting nausea, he elbowed the creature to his side. As it was about to bite him, Bacchus jumped on it. She clamped her teeth in the goblin’s leg. They both rolled to the ground. Dregnar swiftly disposed of the creature with one swift blow of his walking stick. He wildly grinned at Ludger, nodded to the dog and they both went after their next victim.
Andrack was calmly sitting on his horse. With a flourish of hand gestures, he was setting the greasy hides of goblins and trolls ablaze with simple firespells.

They quickly decimated their attackers. After they had regrouped, they discovered that the only casualty, on their side, was Balnor who laid on the bloody ground, with a deep cut in his shoulder. He was hysteric. It was well known that being wounded by a goblin’s weapon led to massive infection and soon after, painful death.

They quickly established a makeshift camp in a clearing. Balnor was carried to it. They laid the scribe on a rough blanket, by a fire that Andrack had hastily lit with a spell. Ludger grabbed his first-aid kit from his pack horse. He attended to the wounded man. Andrack was pacing back and forth and muttering to himself.

“I do not have enough power for a healing spell. It is all a question of entropy.”

Balnor, through clenched teeth, said.

“I am glad that I will not be touched by Andrack’s magic. I do not know what I would be turned into.”

Ludger hushed the man and looked at his wound. It was messy but superficial. He cleaned the area, then anaesthetized it. He disinfected the gaping wound with providone-iodine. He stitched the deep gash using silk on a mounted cutting needle. He dressed the, now closed, wound with an antibiotic ointment, then applied an adhesive bandage.

Andrack, looked with great interest. Ludger said to no one in particular.

“And now to combat the potential infection.” As he drew a syringe full of antibiotics. He expertly injected Balnor in the biceps and followed it with a tetanus booster.

As he swabbed the injection site he said to the man.

“Your shoulder will be stiff for a few days, but you should not be afraid of any infection. You should rest for an hour, then we will ride.”

Ludger helped Balnor to arrange himself comfortably by the fire. He went to the Prince, who was talking with Arny. Ludger said.

“Balnor will be alright we should be ready to ride within the hour. I would suggest that Balnor return to Arnor.”

Arexis replied.

“Thank you for your help. We will have to force our pace toward Setcryck. Arny does not think we should chance sleeping out tonight. He fears another attack.”

After a short rest, the men gathered their horses. Balnor was helped to his mount. Some of the soldiers carried Arny’s trackers behind them. After an uneventful crossing of the snowy pass, they reached a long valley. Setcryck occupied the far end, with its back to the tall mountains.

By nightfall they has reached the banks of the river of Gods. They forded the narrow muddy creek without any difficulties. From there it was only a short ride to the village.

Setcryck was nested on an incline at the base of tall mountains. Two deep canyons led from either side of the village. They once contained the raging flow of the river of Power and of the river of Gods.

The village was gaily lit by lamps hanging in the windows of alpine style chalets. A large stone wall, made from a hodge-podge mixture of darkly polished river stones, blocked the access to the valley.

Men, standing guard by fires near a narrow tortuous gap in the wall, recognized Prince Arexis, as he was leading the party. They ceremoniously bowed and saluted the Prince and his entourage. They were led through the narrow opening. As they crossed the gap in the wall, Ludger noticed that it would be very easy to dislodge stones from the sheer sides and effectively seal that gap.

When they reached the snow covered path, leading to the heart of the village, a mob of children were waiting for them.

Obviously, news of the Prince’s visit had travelled quickly to the villagers. Escorted by the irreverent horde of cheering kids, they quickly reached the main square of the village. A large Inn stood ablaze with lights. A painted sign representing a ruddy complexioned, cheerful faced, dwarf holding a large blacksmith’s hammer, hung over the front porch. On this porch stood the owner of the Dwarf’s Hammer, the town’s mayor and a few other dignitaries.

They officially greeted the Prince and his friends. They were led to a large common room while young stable boys took care of the horses.

The high ceiling, brightly lit, room was lined with tables. A high mezzanine circled it. A massive staircase led to it and the sleeping quarters.

They were ushered to take seat at the tables where the mayor made a long speech. The portly man, with a faded suit where the sash of his office left a bold stroke of colour, finally terminated his oration to the applause of the bored crowd.

Arexis gratefully thanked them for their hospitality. He requested rooms for the evening. The large innkeeper graciously offered his best rooms for the night. He ordered a meal brought to his guests. A hearty repast of meat and potatoes was devoured by the ravenous men. Entire kegs of ale were drunk in the revelry that followed the telling of the story of their heroic fight.

Andrack was sitting in a quiet corner, lost in a conversation with a thin man wearing a dark cloak. He finally shook the man’s hand and gave him a small leather pouch. The man’s long thin fingers expertly appraised the weight of the bag and deftly pocketed it.

Andrack went to fetch Arexis, Arny and Ludger. He introduced the thin man to them.

“This his Arckvor, our guide. He will escort us to the gates of Thorland. Where we will meet with the dwarf’s leader, my good friend Kurden McNish.”

The thin man replied in a low reedy voice.

“I am pleased to meet you. We will leave by mid-morning. We should be in Thorland by mid-afternoon. We will have to keep close to each other. It is very easy to get lost in the snowy mountain passes. I will see you in the morning.”

The thin man curtly bowed and retired to his room. The three men look at each other and shrugged. Ludger asked.

“Can he be trusted.”

Andrack replied.

“Do not be put off by his gruff manners, he his one of the best mountain guides around. I have known him for many years. He can be trusted, I guarantee you.”

Ludger took another pitcher of ale. After he finished drinking the potent brew, his head was spinning. He wearily climbed to his room. It was a comfortable, well appointed room. He fell asleep on the bed, without first undressing.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

From 1990: One Way Ticket To Talenthar

The Sass

Last Saturday night we had 4 of Normita’s younger friends, which we refer to as ‘Las Sobrinas’ (The Nieces) even though we are not related, over for lunch and much silliness ensued. We had a great meal and the girls chatted about Life, the Universe, and Everything, and made me dizzy from the constant talking. It is very tough to be the only male in such occasions, but somebody has to do it…

Before

Lucito

Turkey

Pouding

LucNormi

Girls

Harem1

Harem2

NormitaFriends

IsGood

Sobrinas1

Later

MelLate

From: July 8, 2006

Lucito

For magic to work it needs some essential ingredients. The most important one is that, like with religion, you must believe in the deepest part of your soul that the spell will work. You also need to have faith in yourself that by using magic you will be doing something good for yourself and for others. You must be perseverance, as the spiritual realm is timeless and may work in mysterious ways.

We never know when the spell will come through, and in exactly what way. What might be seen at first as an unwanted outcome, most of the time proves to be for the best. Without those essential ingredients your spell is doomed to fail.

The Lost Bearded White Brother

Categories