Part 21: Xardas
Update 19: Xardas
The teleportation rune returned me to Saturas' chambers. When I arrived he was in the midst of a conversation with the mercenary, Gorn. They stopped, and turned to me.
"I'm glad you returned. Something terrible's happened!"
"Let me guess. The Free Mine has been assaulted by the guards from the Old Camp. Nobody saw them coming...?"
"Hang on... how... but of course... You found out about it in the Old Camp!" I nodded and Saturas continued. "Gorn arrived here just before you did. What could have caused Gomez to dare to take such an aggressive step? He should be aware that such a heinous act can only provoke war."
"The Old mine collapsed after water seeped in." Gomez was now without income and desperate to keep his power.
"Collapsed... of course... then the whole thing make sense. Gomez has his back to the wall. He's more dangerous than ever. Now that he doesn't have anything left to lose, he'll do anything!"
Saturas didn't know the half of it. "Gomez has had all the Magicians of Fire killed!"
"HAD THEM KILLED??? Why in Beliar's name would he do a thing like that?" The news caught the Water Mage by surprise.
"They were against the attack on the Free Mine, and opposed Gomez."
Saturas' face darkened. "Then we're all doomed. Without the other six magicians, we'll never be able to control the concentrated power of the massive ore mound." I was afraid he'd say that. "But in spite of that, I thank you for passing this dangerous message to me."
I thought back to our last meeting. "When you sent me to the magicians of fire, you mentioned there was... SOMEBODY."
The Water Mage sighed. "I had hoped we could make it without his help, but the way things are developing..." He shook his head.
"Who is HE?" I asked.
"Many, many years ago..."
I wish people would get to the point "Give me the shortened version, please!"
Saturas scolded me. "Be patient! Well, when we - the twelve magicians - created the Barrier back then, our magic powers were directed and controlled by a thirteenth magician."
"A thirteenth magician? I thought there were only twelve?"
"Most people who did not experience the early days of the colony believe that." Saturas continued with his story. "The thirteenth magician was our leader. All this took place before we were divided into the Circles of Fire and Water. But he left the Old Camp, which was once the only camp of the Colony."
"Why'd he do that?"
"He started to investigate the invocation of undead and magical creatures. Gomez was not the only one who began to worry. Most of the other magicians opposed him as well and his unholy deeds." Saturas explained.
"What happened then?" I asked.
"Unlike Gomez, he was no butcher, so he avoided the conflict and left."
"Where is this magician today?"
"He lives in seclusion, in his tower in the middle of the Orc land. That's just about the southernmost point of the colony." That must have been the tower I saw.
"What is this thirteenth Magician called?"
"His name is Xardas. Hardly anybody remembers the old stories about him! The ones who do just call him the NECROMANCER!"
I'd heard enough. It sounded like this Xardas was our, and more importantly my, only way out of here. "I'll make my way to Xardas and ask him for help!"
"He's the only one that can help us now. If he knows no way out or doesn't want to help us..."
"HE WILL!" I said, reassuringly.
Saturas rubbed his chin. "There is one other problem. Over the years we have tried to get in touch with Xardas several times but it looks like he prefers to remain undisturbed."
"What does that mean?"
"None of the messengers ever returned from his tower. You'll have to find a way to get past his creatures."
"Looks like this is going to be interesting! How will I get past his creatures?"
"If I knew that, I would tell you! I'd advise you to do some research in our library. Maybe you'll find something in the old books about the strengths and weaknesses of magically invoked creatures."
"I'll rummage through the library. And don't worry I'll be back." I seemed to have luck on my side. I'd done much more than I ever thought I would in these past two weeks. Surely this would prove no different.
Saturas bid me farewell. "May you return in one piece!"
I turned to Gorn, who had been waiting behind me. "I met Diego and Milten in front of the Old Camp."
A big smile appeared on his face. It was likely the best news he'd heard today. "That's good news!"
I continued. "They want to meet you and Lester. At your usual rendezvous."
"Thanks. There's nothing more valuable than good friends in troubled times like these. You're almost one of us now! You're reliable!"
"What have you got planned now?"
"Our entire defense strategy will have to be changed. That takes time. Until Lee and his people are ready, I'll join Cord's provisional guard."
"Are you planning a counter attack?"
He shook his head. "Not yet, but the day will come. If you're ever looking for me, start here and walk toward the mine. I'll be on guard there."
I met with Nefarius, another Water Mage in the camp. Some days ago, prior to retrieving the focus stones, I had asked as to whether I was ready to join the Water Mages. At that time, he said that I was not. This time, however, he said that I was and to speak with Saturas. It's about time!
I returned to Saturas. "Nefarius said I was ready to wear the robe of a Magician of Water."
"Then I welcome you to our community." That was quicker than I expected.
"Does that mean that I now belong to the guild of the Magicians of Water?"
"Not yet. First you need to take the oath of Water."
An oath? No more tests?
"Now speak the words of the oath." Saturas said.
"I swear by the might of the gods...
and by the power of the holy Water...
that my knowledge and my deeds from now on and forever shall be one with the Water...
until my body shall return to the realm of Beliar and the source of my life shall dry out..."
As Saturas recited each line I'd repeat it back to him. When I was finished, he gave me my robe. "Wear this robe as a sign of your bond with the holy Water and with Adanos."
"For the honor of magic!" Now that I was one of them, Saturas was able to offer me magical training. However, he informed me that such training would take hours. I would need to dedicate the rest of the night to it and even then there was more that could only be learned through practice. This would, of course, delay my mission by a night.
"I'm ready to enter the first circle." I told Saturas after brief consideration. Delaying a meet with this Xardas by half a day would not compromise our escape plans mission any more than they already have been.
Saturas began his lecture. "To enter the first of the Magic Circles means learning to use magic runes. Each rune contains the structure of a special magic spell. By using your own magic powers, you'll be able to cast the magic of the rune. But in contrast to the magic scrolls, which are magic formulas as well, the magic power of the rune ensures that the structure of the spell endures. Every rune is a source of magic power which you can fall back on at any time. Your own magic power is used up when you use a rune, just as with a spell scroll. With every circle you enter, you learn to use further runes as well. Use the power of the runes to recognize yourself." Saturas quizzed me briefly on what I'd just heard. When he was satisfied that I'd fully understood the content he moved on to the next lecture regarding the second circle.
Saturas removed some notes from his pockets. What was written on them I was not sure, though he seemed to use them to refresh his memory. "You have learned to understand the runes. Now it is time to deepen this understanding. When you join the Second Circle you will learn the foundations of stronger battle spells, and above all the secret of healing. But you need to learn much if you want to recognize the true secrets of magic. You know that you can use every rune as often as you like until you've used up all your own powers. But before you act, think about the point of your actions. You have obtained powers with which you may easily conjure up death and destruction. A true magician only uses magic when it is necessary. Understand the situation, then you'll recognize the power of the runes."
Several hours had passed already and it was now late afternoon. When Saturas was satisfied with my understanding of the Second Circle, he moved onto the third portion of his lecture.
"The Third Circle of Magic is one of the most important steps in the life of a magician. Once you've reached it, you cease to be a seeker. You have already come far on the path of magic. You have learned to use the runes. This knowledge is the foundation for your further path. Use the runes with deliberation. You may use a rune or not. But you must decide on one of these possibilities. Do not hesitate to use your powers as soon as you've made your choice. Understand your path, then you'll recognize the power of the decision."
For the next portion, Saturas turned to his tome and flipped to a page that contained several diagrams of runes and a detailed analysis on their structure and creation. He used this as an aid during the next lecture.
"You have completed the first three circles. Now is the time for you to learn the secrets of magic. The magic of the runes is based on the stone. They are magic stones, created out of magic ore. It is the same ore which is collected in the mines. The ore is endowed with magic formulas in the temples. There, the runes are converted to the instruments of our power. With the runes you control now, you have the entire knowledge of the temples of the realm at your fingertips. Understand the magic, then you'll discover the secret of power."
Saturas had now been lecturing for some time. The sun had set several hours ago. When the topic of the Fifth Circle came up, Saturas mood darkened. The fifth circle of magic had one purpose: to cause destruction. As such, this portion of the lecture served as much of a warning as it did a lesson.
"The Storm of Fire. The Wave of Ice. The power to destroy the undead. These are now spells whose runes you can use. But the mightiest spell of the Fifth Circle is the Ripple of Death. If you ever possess this rune, you'll have dangerous powers. Be careful to use this kind of magic as little as possible. It's a gift from the god of darkness." Saturas closed his book. "You have now learned everything I can teach you. Expose your limits, then you'll recognize your true power."
I stood up and stretched. The lectures and learning had not given many opportunities to move about. When I left, I retired to my chambers for the night. Tomorrow I would research some information in the library and then find this Xardas.
The following morning I met with Cronos. We exchanged greetings and I browsed his supply of magical goods. I purchased a rune of healing and wave of ice in exchange for my old armor and jewelry.
I had one more thing left to do before leaving. Saturas had mentioned that Xardas used a variety of magical creatures and that I should try the library to learn more of what I may be facing. The library was filled with a variety of books. There were books about the magic ore, astronomy, and other topics that were of no use to me.
After some more searching I eventually discovered a two book set entitled "Arcanum Golum". The books dealt with the topic of magical golems. The first book only dealt with stone golems and variations. The second volume dealt with elemental golems, such as those made of ice and fire. I opened the first book and skimmed. Near the end of the book was a single page that old me what I was looking for. Stone golems, such as what I'd faced at the mountain fort, were weak against blunt strikes.
When I was finished with the first volume, I moved on to the second book. I discovered a small chapter addressing encounters with these creatures in the past. Unsurprisingly, it said, in a roundabout way, that fire golems were weak against ice and ice golems were against fire. I tucked the books into my bag for safekeeping and left the library.
I ensured that I had a proper supply of healing potions, magic potions, scrolls, and food. When I was ready, I left the camp and traveled west toward the Old Camp..
I circled around the Old Camp, careful to avoid being sighted. I had planned to enter the Orc lands at the western entrance but it appeared to be guarded by two of Gomez' men. Instead, It seemed I would need to travel the same path that I had taken to find the fourth focus stone.
I recalled Diego's request and decided that this would be a perfect opportunity to give a message to Lester, who was still in the mountain fortress. He'd been there since I retrieved the focus stone and likely had no idea what had happened in his absence.
I encountered no trouble on the path there. After all, I had dealt with them all on my way here the first time. I found Lester situated in the mountain fort's library where he was studying some old tomes.
He turned upon hearing my footsteps. "Hey, what are you doing here?"
"The Old Mine collapsed after water seeped in!" I responded, not bothering to exchange small talk.
Lester only shrugged. "So?"
"All the Magicians of Fire are dead! Gomez had them assassinated."
He rubbed his head. "It won't be easy to straighten that out!"
"I met Diego and Milten in front of the Old Camp. They want to meet you. At your usual rendezvous."
He nodded. "It was about time."
"What happens now?" I asked.
Lester turned away. "I'll stay here to read the old books."
"Uhh... I don't understand..." The message that Diego had given me seemed important.
Lester turned to face me again and folded his arms. "Master Y'Berion used to say: A student tries to move things with his hands and feet, the master moves them with his spiritual powers."
"Okay, okay. I get the point." I didn't really. "I'll be on my way now."
Lester returned to his studies and I returned to the road.
As it seemed the western entrance was heavily guarded, I decided I would try the eastern approach. I had passed through it when I was on my way to acquire the fourth focus stone and it was watched by a single guard, Pacho.
Unfortunately it seemed that the order to execute me on sight had spread. As soon as he saw my face he removed his crossbow from his back and fired it at me. I had no choice but to respond in kind.
Clenching my rune of Ice Block, I focused on him. Soon, the power surged through me and a block of ice enveloped him. This would not last long so I rushed him, unsheathing my sword on the way. When he was fully thawed I knocked him out the pommel of my sword. I took the time to loot him of his weapons to prevent such incidents in the future and went on my way. If he, or anyone else, tried to kill me again I would be less merciful.
I passed under the rock arch. The road ahead forked into two directions. One went west, which is the path I had followed for the fourth focus, while the other went south. I turned south. What I assumed to be the tower of Xardas was now in sight.
I was quite close to the tower when the path narrowed significantly. A stone golem stood further down blocking any entrance. I'm going to need to defeat it to continue.
I removed my hammer and drew the golem toward me. It clumsily attacked with its heavy arms but I skillfully out of the way. I retaliated with a strike of my own. The hammer struck the magical creature's side, a crack going up the length of the golem's body. With two more hits it fell to the ground in pieces. A circular stone remained in the rubble. I took it, feeling that it may be useful.
I continued down the narrow trail. Twenty paces and around a corner was a golem made of ice. I thought back to what I'd read and withdrew my Storm of Fire rune. Concentrating, I launched a ball of fire from my hands toward the creature.
The ball exploded, igniting the golem and melting the ice. Large chunks of ice were falling to the ground as slush and pooling water where the golem once stood. Once again a sphere was present among the remains. I took it and stowed it away into a backpack.
I had a good idea of what to expect next. First I'd encountered stone and then ice. As I'd thought, a fire golem was my next obstacle along the way to the tower. It spotted me before I was ready and I fumbled for my rune of ice bolt. I let loose a barrage. Five bolts struck the creature but it was still standing and drawing closer.
The fire golem was close enough to feel the heat when I let loose a final ice bolt. The bolt struck the golem just as the golem struck me, singeing my exposed hands and the sleeves of my robe. The fire golem hardened and the fire was extinguished as it fell to the ground.
Yet again, I found a sphere in the golem's remains. I placed it with the others in my pack and continued following the path.
The path opened up and I could now see the tower.It looks quite a bit larger than I thought it would be. With my right hand on the hilt of my blade and my left clutching a rune, I cautiously made my way through the tower's opening.
There did not appear to be any way of reaching the next level of the tower from here. I was quite confused. Suddenly, a voice entered my head.
I frantically looked left and right for the source. "Hold on... Who... Who's talking to me?"
The voice told me to turn.
I was shocked at what I saw when I did. A demon with two wings, razor sharp teeth, and claws capable of piercing flesh. What is a servant of Beliar doing here?
"YOU are talking to me??? How did you get into my head?"
The voice once against filled my head. It was here serving its master. "You are what? The servant of your master? You seem to be a creature from hell! You want me to be silent?" I would stand no chance against this demonic creature or the master capable of controlling it but I needed to know. "Is your master's name perhaps Xardas?"
Two words repeated in my head. "Oh, right... So names are not important..." I swallowed nervously. "Okay. I'll just assume that this here is the tower of Xardas. I-I have to talk to your master!"
Unworthy it said. I must be tested. "Me? Unworthy? ...What kind of test? Aaahhhh. I understand. Whoever wants to talk to your master must prove worthy first!" It spoke into my head yet again. I needed to prove victory over the elements. "Hold on, what was that? The proof? Victory over what? Victory over the elements? Stone? Ice? Fire?"
I thought about it briefly when it suddenly made sense. I needed to give proof that I defeated the three golems guarding the tower.
"Here's the heart of a stone golem." I said as I nervously handed it to the creature. I hoped that this is what it meant. "What? Right! Worthy proofs! Missing? Two are still missing?" It must mean the other two stones.
"Missing? Two are still missing? Is this heart of an ice golem the proof? Duality? The second proof? What about this heart of a fire golem? Perfection? I'm worthy? If that's the case, I'd like to speak to your master now! Counter evidence? What kind of counter evidence? A rune? A rune for me?"
A rune appeared in my right hand. The last test seemed to involve it
I looked at the rune. It bared markings similar to, though not identical, to the runes I was given by Cor Angar and Saturas.
I invoked the magic of the rune and, similar to the Water Mage's rune, I found myself teleported to the center of a pentagram. The room itself contained very little. Empty shelves and cages lined the walls.
In the adjoining room a skeleton was held against the wall and a ladder led to the next level. He really must not like visitors..
I climbed the ladder It became immediately evident that the rune had transported me to a higher level of the tower.
I was now at what I believed to be the top of the tower. This roomed contained a good many books among a dozen bookshelves. A man in a black and purple robe stood in the corner reading a book.
I approached slowly while remaining as quiet as I possibly could. He heard me anyway. Xardas turned quickly and angrily. "WHO DARES TO DISTURB ME IN MY STUDIES?"
I held out my hand. "I'm-"
Xardas interrupted. "I don't wish to know your name. It is insignificant. All that matters is that you are the first person in years to have solved my golem's riddles." It wasn't that difficult
I started with the news I thought most significant. "The so-called 'Sleeper' is said to be an evil arch demon. That's what the Brotherhood in the swamp found out. Now the Magicians of Water believe that everybody in the colony is in great danger"
"There is a greater danger than anyone within the Barrier could possibly imagine."
That didn't phase him as much as I'd thought it would. "All the Magicians of Fire are dead! Gomez had them assassinated."
Xardas shook his head. "That does not surprise me. Those foolish barbarian butchers in the castle, especially Gomez, were never to be trusted. Corristo and the other magicians elected their own hangman when they helped Gomez to usurp the power."
"I was sent by Saturas. We need your help! The Magicians of Water plan to use their big ore mound--"
Xardas interjected. "The ore mound is NOT the solution!"
This wasn't what Saturas and the others had said. "If the explosion of the ore mound doesn't avert the great danger..."
"Forget the ore mound! Its power won't open the barrier. If Corristo and Saturas hadn't wasted their time fighting over foolish and vain issues throughout the past years, they'd all know what I know now."
"None of the twelve magicians ever stopped to wonder why the formation of the Barrier got beyond their control, or why it assumed such gigantic proportions."
"Did YOU find out why that happened?" This Xardas sure acted as if he had all the answers.
"Well, one thing is certain: The answer lies deep beneath the Orc town."
"The Orc town?" The fact that those savages had towns surprised me. It seemed as if all they knew was related to killing in some fashion.
"Orcs are not animals, as many people think. Their culture is as old as the human culture. A few centuries ago, five Orc shaman invoked a very old arch demon which they hoped would give their clan the power to defeat their enemies."
"This arch demon... was it the Sleeper?"
Xardas nodded. "The Orcs gave him that name much later. But I won't tell you why they did it, or why they are now terrified by this supernatural creature!"
"Why not?" I asked. I very much disliked when people did this.
"I believe you could be..." Xardas stopped himself. "No. To be really sure, you'll have to perform another task." Of course.
I sighed. "Which task?"
"Listen carefully: The Orcs have exiled one of their own shaman from their town."
How vague "What does this Orc shaman have to do with my task?"
"He'll tell you the rest of the story about the Sleeper."
"An Orc shaman is hardly likely to be keen on talking to me!"
"Do you want me to help you or do you not?"
"Well, yes, but..."
Xardas looked quite annoyed. "Then never question my words again! Find the shaman. He's not on good terms with his brothers in the Orc town, so he may listen to you before turning you into a living torch!
"Very comforting. Why they have exiled him?"
Xardas face returned to its usual emotionless look. "The dying Orc warrior was no longer able to answer that question when he was interrogated by one of my demons."
"Where is this exiled shaman?"
"Go to the old citadel in the east. You can't miss it. It's on top of a high mountain which can be seen from a distance."
"Can you just enter it?" I asked.
"They call it the old citadel but there's hardly anything left of it other than the foundation walls. It's been a ruin for many decades."
"I will get the answers from this shaman." I said. After all, there was little else I could do. Xardas seemed to be held in high regard in the past. and was once High Magician of the Circle of Fire.
"My servant has already given you a teleportation rune for the pentagram one floor below. That will make it easier for you to get back here later."
Before I departed, I expressed interest in purchasing some of Xardas' spells or scrolls. Surprisingly, he agreed to a trade. In exchange for the books I'd taken from the Water Mage's library and some ore he would sell me the rune of "Death to the Undead". I left the tower immediately afterwards. While I was getting quite sick of needing to solve every matter myself, it did seem as if I was finally getting somewhere.
Update 19 Supplements: Demon conversation video Viddler
Xardas conversation video Viddler
edit: Forgot to add this: