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Fantasticoe 2001 -  10th Anniversary Issue

Spells and Sorcery

Cody Bender

 If Charles wants a battle, that’s exactly what he’ll get, thought Thomas.  Moving with feline grace and speed about the tower Thomas quickly collected the staves and spellbooks that he would need in the coming hours.  The Kingdom of Bain had been quiet for the last few decades, but now there would be no more of that.  Not with events unfolding as they had earlier in the day.

 His tower sat in the extreme north of the land.  It was known as the Ebony Spire by most inhabitants of Bain because it appeared to be made of seamless black rock that tapered to a spike hundreds of feet above the ground.  For Thomas Sindarin, sorcerer, it was home and had been for more than fifty years.  A mountain range separated his domain from the rest of the land, but no sensible citizen would have dwelt too near his secluded valley anyway.  They knew magic was dangerous and it was whispered that this wizard was one of the most powerful to ever have lived in the Tower.

 The lack of inhabitants made it easy for Thomas to track living beings when they had crossed the mountain range.  Something large had been moving towards him for some time.  He was curious as to who would bother him here and therefore was waiting rather impatiently for its arrival.  He didn’t have to wait long.  His visitor was a griffin, an unearthly mixture of an eagle and a lion and it flew swiftly across his domain.

 The griffin had landed on the courtyard of the tower, not moving or making any attempt to rouse Thomas’ attention.  It made sense, however, that a person who could control a griffin, one of the most powerful beasts of legend, would assume that he could sense its presence when it was within fifty miles of his tower.

 Thomas had sent an apparition to parley with the beast.  “What do you wish of me, Lord of the Skies?” The apparition flickered around the edges as his enhanced voice boomed across the flagstones.

 “My master demands that you return that which you stole from him so many years ago”, replied the bird-monster.  “The jewel that burns everlasting must be returned.”

 Thomas was suddenly unnerved by the mention of a relic that most spellcasters did not even know existed, much less that he possessed it.   He recovered quickly though, and responded through the phantasm,   ”Go now and tell Charles that he will never again see that stone, or any other that I have in my possession.”

 The words echoed off the high wall surrounding the solitary tower.  The griffin began to shudder violently, thrashing and beating its wings on the stones.  Its bloodcurdling screeches shocked Thomas.  He knew several of the grand beasts personally from his days as a traveler and had never heard them make such an awful noise.

 In a sudden, jerky movement the Griffin stiffened and fell motionless to the ground.  Thomas moved the apparition closer in order to get a better look at the apparently dead majestic bird.  “Such a waste, Charles”,  he muttered, “but you always were overdramatic.”

 Before he could utter the necessary incantations to remove the carcass the body began to split apart in a bloody mess of feathers.  From within its body came a tearing noise, as it was rent by some powerful force from within.  What emerged from the carnage was a huge figure, covered with gore, which appeared to be made of iron.  The giant stretched as if waking from sleep.  It shook itself once to get rid of the blood and feathers that stuck to its body, spraying them across the courtyard. The creature known as a golem then passed directly through his spectral form towards the invisible door at the base of the tower.

   As it moved it began to chant words of power to unravel the spells that bound together the stones around the door and the door itself, presumably to make entrance possible.  Thomas was amazed at the turn of events.  He was also suddenly cautious of the powers that his former rival could have attained.  To control a griffin was no great feat, but to transform the griffin’s life-force into a golem, and give the golem the ability to cast spells?  These were things that would require intense studying for many months and usually were reserved by mages for long quests or great battles.

 Thomas knew that there was no decision to be made.  The Ruby would stay in his hands as long as he was still breathing.  The Power of the Dragon was his and any attempt to wrest it from him would be met with swift retribution.  For the golem it was already a forgone conclusion, for Charles as well if he tried again to attain the Ruby.

 Using his staff, Thomas first shielded his tower from the effects of what was to come.  His normal wards were designed to only deflect the attacks of other sorcerers.  For what he had planned his defenses would require only a slight bit of adjustment.

 When he had finished he spoke using his apparition, “Begone golem, your welcome here has been overstayed.”  There was no visible change in the huge iron giant as it slowly shambled towards the tower muttering the unbinding spell under its breath.

 Having given the monster warning Thomas then proceeded to rain down a flurry of lightning bolts upon its back.  Thomas was stunned, nothing had happened.  The golem had shrugged off the blows without even a hint that it had just been struck.

 Thomas quickly examined the golem more closely through his small telescope in the window.  Ah, he saw them now.  The small dark runes that had been painstakingly carved into the body of the golem protected him from magical attacks directly to his body.  Once again, months would be required to complete such a task.  To do that much work must mean that Charles had finally found out what the real power of the Ruby was. How?  He had traveled across the continent and only found one text with the information he had sought.

 Slowly, his face creased in a smile that never reached his icy blue eyes.  It would make no difference in the end, he mused.  Raising his staff he began to chant, focusing his attention on the mountain range about one hundred miles from his home.  The incantation was relatively simple, but with the magnitude he was attempting it would take more focus than normal.

 As he chanted the golem had reached the tower and was splintering wood and stone alike with massive smashes of its iron fists.  Thomas had assumed that the golem would try to enter his tower and take the Ruby.  It appeared that he was wrong.  The golem wanted to crush the black stone tower to rubble and sort through the debris for his prize.  Too bad for it, thought Thomas.

 “Goodbye, creature.  I hope that your spirit enjoys its return to the afterlife.  Don’t worry, if your master persists he will be joining you there soon enough.” Thomas’ apparition wavered and was quickly gone from sight.  The golem however appeared to be slowed by the words and it appeared that it couldn’t bring its fists to bear upon the tower’s wall any longer.  Thomas laughed as the golem’s feet began to dig in to the ground as it was pulled away towards the south.  The trenches it was leaving were like two long scars upon the earth pointing towards the iron rich Khazad Mountains.  For the first time the golem used its unearthly voice to scream in frustration.

 It had been a simple spell he had learned to do while just a young apprentice at the academy.  It was officially known as “Changing and Enhancing the Polarization of Iron”.  Thomas had always just called it “Magnetizing”.  The golem had begun to pick up speed and now was tumbling head over heels towards the iron mine.  It really was amazing how fast it was going, thought Thomas.

 He watched through his telescope as it bounced along through the forest knocking down trees in a long straight path. He took his eye from the scope as the golem became a blur of speed and just looked out the window with his naked eyes.  When the golem finally struck the side of the mountain it was moving like a bullet.  A huge plume of dust went up as the side of the mountain slowly slid down over the crater that had been made by impact.  The golem had hit the mountain so hard that it had been flattened into a large iron pancake.

 The encounter earlier in the morning had tired him slightly but this was no time to rest. An army of undead soldiers led by a powerful magical presence had crossed into the borders of his country and was slowly making its way through the path that the golem’s flight had made through the forest.  It was going to be a long couple of days and he needed to be ready.

 He made a few short incantations and a box appeared, floating, in front of him.  He reached inside and pulled out the Ruby.  He moved to the courtyard and knelt there on the flagstones.  Raising the powerful relic above his head, Thomas began the spell of Dragon transformation.  He could feel the scales begin to pop up from beneath his skin.  His belly began to burn like hot coals and the smell of sulfur filled the spring air.  Two wings began to grow from beneath his shoulder blades, not feathered but batlike.  The popping and snapping of his bones as they started to grow and change shape echoed off the cold black stone of the Spire.

 As the transformation ended he stood on his hind legs and unleashed a roar that would have deafened anyone within 100 yards of the tower.  He was ready, and if Charles thought that he was the only one who could summon monsters, well he was about to be in for a big surprise  . . .

* * * * * * * * * * * * * *

 As Charles Stanist crossed the mountains he could feel the emotions of the griffin and the steady monotone drone of the golem’s lifeforce in the back of his mind.  He hoped they would finish with the tower in time for his arrival at the Black Spire.  When he had last seen Thomas it had been at the Academy when they were both just fledgling mages.  Charles was born into a long line of magic-users, many were among the strongest to leave the Academy.  Thomas had been a “wilder”, or first in a new line of magic.  Thomas had shown potential but his lack of polish always relegated him to a smaller role in all of the spellcasting that was done at the school.  Charles would use almost any opportunity to remind the weaker students of his power and his hurtful remarks were directed at Thomas, as well.

 When they turned 18 Thomas and Charles were sent to quell an uprising of demons that a nearby country was experiencing.  They had used fire and ice in conjunction to destroy the demons who would not return to the underworld, the others had fled on their own.  They had made camp just off the path back to the Academy when Charles had noticed that Thomas sometimes stared at the gem that had been passed down through his family for centuries, The Ruby.  He had used it to make the powerful fire beams earlier in the campaign and could tell that Thomas would like to try out the power of the stone.

 “The stone is really only good for making fire spells.  Its magic is too tainted with the red of the stone to be of any use for anything else”, Charles remarked.  “Even that function is limited.  Those beams I made earlier?  That is the height of its power. I only used it because it doesn’t drain on my natural reserves of power.”

 Thomas had said nothing in response to this.  He just sat next to the fire and contemplated what had been said.  The next morning when Charles awoke the Ruby was gone and so was Thomas.  Angered, Charles used a spell of divining to try and discover where Thomas had gone, but it was no good.  He had used an obscuring to hide his true destination.  Thomas was gone and so was the family heirloom.

 So now, Charles was sure that Thomas was screaming as his magic resistant golem was tearing his limbs off.  He had programmed it to keep him alive, barely.  If Thomas had hidden the stone he would be forced to give its location.

 Suddenly he noticed the cold fire of the golem’s anger burning in his mind.  As he looked across the forest he saw a swath of trees being splintered as his creation tumbled with arms and legs flailing towards the mountains.  The impact shook him and his skeleton warriors and threw some of the weaker creations to the ground.  So, thought Charles, he destroyed my golem that I spent months etching runes upon?  Rage burned through his blood.  The thieving mage would pay for his actions.

 He mentally ordered his army to double their pace and matched his own to theirs.  Thomas would be surprised to see him today, indeed.  The rotting flesh caused a stench so vile that the animals of the forest cleared out of their path well before the army came upon them.  The battlefield that he had crossed had proven to be perfect for his needs.  Thousands of dead warriors had been entombed under the earth there and he had raised them all.

 Necromancy was not taught at the Academy because the black arts were seen as spiritually corrupting.  Thomas would have no idea how to raise his own army to fight this one.  This would be a quick victory for his dark warriors.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * *

 Thomas felt the cool wind blow across his face as he flew higher into the low lying clouds.  He enjoyed being a dragon much more than being a human.  He could still use magic in this form, as well as breathe fire and fly.  The text that he had found on the Ruby so many years ago had said that the stone contained the spirit of a Dragon.  When properly invoked the user of the stone could transform his physical body into that of a magnificent Red Dragon.  The text had also spoken of the destruction of the Dragon Temple by magic-users who looted the stones found there.  Charles’ family had stolen the Ruby but they had no idea of the power that it contained.

 He swooped down to use his enhanced vision to locate the army.  The use of magic to reanimate the dead disgusted him.  Staggering, rotting corpses shambling with pilfered swords and spears in hand, ready to kill anything that moved.  Generally avoided, if not prohibited, the practice was not something that most mages dabbled in.  He spotted the army as they entered the large area of cleared trees that the golem’s crazy flight had made.  It was time to burn.

 His huge wings made it possible to drop thousands of feet and still recover easily.  The initial burst of flame caught full two-thirds of the army and set them ablaze like dry kindling.  The others were scrambling on their strange dead limbs to recover and mount an attack.  Thomas could see Charles standing off to one side chanting furiously.  He checked the magic shield that he had made before leaving the Spire and began to burn the other skeletons.  If any of them escaped they would create chaos across the land before he could find them.  Better to burn their filth from the earth now.

 Suddenly he felt his magical shield take a substantial blow from above.  Over and over Charles let loose bursts of white-hot lightning, which crashed against his shield, buffeting him downward.  He realized that Charles was driving him down into the remaining undead soldiers.  As he slammed into the ground the warriors leapt forward to try and slash and stab him with their ancient swords and spears.  He belched fire at the few that came at him head on and used a spell of crushing on the ones behind and to the left and right.  They were quickly destroyed, their decaying corpses nothing more than a fine dust now, but Thomas was more worried about what Charles had in store for him.

 He craned his massive head backwards just in time to see a burst of light erupt from Charles’ body and race through the air directly at him.  The light hit the shield he had made and dissipated in a clap of thunder and huge flash of light.  Thomas’ magical shield was weakening.  He knew he had to throw Charles off balance to avoid being left helpless in front of his spells.  Focusing all his concentration, he enacted a spell of telekinesis.  He used his focused energy to uproot a massive tree and whip it across the small clearing at Charles.  It smashed into Charles shield and knocked him back a few feet.  His concentration wavered and Thomas used the opportunity to bait his opponent.

 “I know now that your family stole The Ruby from the Temple of the dragon.  Your ancestors were thieves, as are you, Charles.”  Thomas’ voice boomed out through the forest, “It is time to pay for your insults to myself and the spirit of the Dragon.”

 “You think that you can defeat me?  Come then, wilder, and feel the power of a true sorcerer!!” screamed Charles in rage.  He thrust his hands downward and began to motion as if pulling something upwards from the ground.

 Two golems sprung up from the earth in front of Thomas’ dragon form and began to walk slowly towards him.  As soon as they had taken two steps a huge hammer appeared above them and began to pound downward onto their iron heads.  Resounding like a bell through the trees the hammer began to increase the rate of its blows.  Soon, the force and speed of the blows of the giant mallet were inconceivable. In mere seconds the two golems were nothing more than beaten pieces of metal.  The hammer began to spin rapidly. Suddenly, with a puff of smoke, the hammer disappeared as quickly as it had come.

 Using the Power of the Dragon that was contained within the Ruby, Thomas began a spell and let it grow within the confines of the stone that was now located somewhere within him.  To his surprise he found that he could create yet another spell using magical power of his own.  He decided to use a spell of ice to smash into the shield that Charles had created

 His spell used chunks of super-cooled frozen air to buffet Charles from all sides. The spell he stored within the Ruby created a large ball of fire directly above the head of his enemy and suddenly dropped it down onto the spellcaster.  Thomas could see the magic shield of his enemy hold for a moment and then buckle under the combined strength of the spells.  He quickly set a magical block on Charles so that he could not access the remaining power within himself.  Charles face registered the horror of being defenseless in the face of a dragon.  Thomas used the opportunity to change back into his normal form.

 “I have decided what your punishment will be Charles Stanist.  You will remain in this clearing for eternity to show what happens to those who oppose me!”  With a flourish of his staff he shouted one word, “Stone!”

 Charles screamed as his body slowly changed from flesh to rock, starting at his feet and moving towards his skull. When the transformation was complete he stood with his arms were raised in silent protest to the fate designated for him.

 Thomas slumped to the ground exhausted after the massive battle.  After resting for quite some time he decided that it would be best to walk back to the Black Spire using the path of the golem.  It would take several days, but the rest in the countryside would help restore his strength.  Besides, if he grew tired of walking he had other ways of returning home.  He patted the Ruby that was now tucked away in his robes and began his journey to the Spire.

Acknowledgments: Thanks to my classmates and professor for the inspiration for the characters involved, Super Mario (from Super Mario 3) for being there during the rough times, Mike Tyson, Tim Robbins, Howard Stern, Scooby Doo and Shaggy, and last, but not least, Tony Hawk, Pro Skater.

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