The Light Wand and the Ice Blade Chapter 10


By Silveran

Seth awoke to find himself back at the keep. He was staring at the stone ceiling, listening to the howling of the storm outside. The torches flickered as a chill wind entered the room. “How did I end up here?” he asked himself. “How long have I been out?”

He lay on a soft bed covered in white linen that stood at the corner of the small room. Two braziers were at the foot of his bed and torches were hung in intervals around the room. Old armor and swords hung on one side of the room indicating that the room once belonged to one of the warriors of the castle.

He slowly rose up expecting to feel his body throb all over. He wore only his pants, his metallic torso reflecting the torches’ light. His feet were bare. He was surprised to find out that he could move easily without any pain. He looked at his wounds and found that they have been wrapped with bandages that had strange marks written on them.

He slowly lowered his feet to the floor flinching as the coldness pervaded his soles and stood up, pondering about the bandages. He checked his wounds. He opened and closed his fist and flexed his arms. “Everything seems to be fine.”

He extended his right arm and closed his eyes, willing his axe into his hand. He opened his eyes when he felt the weapon materialize in his hand and held it for a moment. He then took a few practice swings with it. He jumped and slashed, ducked and hacked, seeming to test his body.

“Well, it seemed that Razan’s magic has done its job,” a voice interrupted from the doorway.

Seth did a double-handed overhead chop in the air before answering, “Yes.” His back was towards the speaker. Sweat glistened on his metal skin and his shoulders and chest were rising and falling as he panted from his little exercise. He unwrapped his bandages and they slowly fell to the floor at his feet. He then frowned as he noticed for the first time a bandage covering the right side of his face.

He slowly took off the piece of cloth that was made into a bandage and felt the long gash that ran down from his forehead to his chin in a curved line. He brought his axe up and saw his reflection on the gleaming metal. He clenched his teeth and softly growled, cursing himself. On his axe, he saw Valta smirk. “I see that you have another scar to decorate your face,” the cat jeered. “None of us had managed to scratch you back at home but weaklings like Zed and Jack did. It seems you have gotten weaker since our coming to this planet. We may even consider a new second-in-command if this keeps up.” He snickered as he saw Seth shake with fury.

Seth clenched his fists, the knuckles turning white. “You dare to mock me?” he growled through clenched teeth. In one swift motion he turned around and hurled his axe at the cat demon. The axe hurtled across the room towards the grinning demon.

Valta yawned as he watched the axe come closer. He swayed to the side and caught the axe by the handle as it passed by. He looked at it and threw it down towards Seth. It landed at Seth’s feet, its head buried in the floor. Seth didn’t even flinch but continued to glare at Valta. “Bram is having us vacate Arushan,” Valta informed the scarred demon.

Seth took his axe and willed it away. He frowned at the news and asked why. “Bram has waited long enough. The traitor has become stronger and had joined the humans. Bram deems it wise that we make our move lest they become more powerful,” Valta answered.

“I see,” said Seth. He walked towards a dresser and began dressing himself. “And how shall we make our move?” he asked as he pulled his tunic over his head. He then buckled his cape around his neck and pulled his hood over his head. He covered his face with his mask and willed his axe to hang slanted across his back. He slipped his feet into his shoes and waited for Valta to answer his question.

“Besides vacating Arushan, I don’t know.” Valta shrugged his shoulders. “We are to meet at the throne room for instructions. I was sent to bring you there as soon as you were awake.”

“How long have I been out?” Seth growled.

“About a day,” Valta replied. “Fortunately, Razan was able to heal your wounds. What happened anyway?”

Seth clenched his hand into a fist. He still remembered that blast Zed had given him. “That‘s none of your concern,” he snarled. “I thought we were suppose to go to the throne room or are you here to ridicule me?” Without waiting for a reply, he shouldered his way past Valta and went into the direction of the throne room.

Valta snickered at Seth’s attitude as he went done on all fours to follow him. “You become soft Seth,” he whispered. “Soon you’ll lose the others’ respect if this keeps up.”


The castle was bustling with activity. As Seth and Valta walked down its corridors, goblins and wisemen moved all around them careful not to drop whatever they were carrying. Seth noted the activity with annoyance. What is Bram planning to do?, he thought.

They reached the elevator and boarded it. The elevator automatically started to rise. Seth took the opportunity to question Valta about the full details of their ‘move’. “Do you think we’re moving to the Photosphere?” he queried.

Valta stood on both of his hind legs and yawned as a cat would. “I don’t know but that’s a possibility.”

Seth nodded as his mind wondered at the possibilities. His mind drifted on the past; past battles and past glories. He had killed his share of demons before being banished. He knew he was no weakling but against humans he was not so sure. The Photosphere was a great weapon but even Mother had not been able to conquer this planet with it. What made humans different from us?

He came back to the present as the elevator shuddered to a stop. He had to figure out the answer to that question later. He walked out along with Valta and followed the corridor and flight of stairs to the throne room.

Seth pushed the huge doors open and coolly walked into the room. He stood amidst them as he stared at them. “Well, I’m here. What’s this plan that we’re talking about?”

Bram gazed at him and smiled. “Welcome back, Seth. I take it that you are well?”

Seth waved a dismissive hand. “Yes, yes. Now explain this plan.”

Bram grinned. “As you wish. Razan?” He turned to the cloaked demon.

Razan coughed before explaining. “It is Bram’s plan to vacate Arushan. All should know that by now. Our new home would be the Photosphere.”

“But what if they come here looking for us?” Bow asked not liking this plan as much as Seth.

“Then they shall find us,” Razan simply answered. Seth, Bow, and Valta gaped in shock as Bram grinned in approval. “I shall create illusions of us as if we had never moved,” Razan explained. “They’ll be too busy chasing the illusions without them noticing that we are taking over city after city; a diversion, if you’d prefer to call it that.”

“But how do you know that they’ll come here?” Seth asked. He crossed his arms over his chest and stared at the demon.

“They’ll come,” replied Razan. “There’s no doubt about that but the when of it is another matter. Timing is crucial. When they get here, we start our conquest.”

“What do we do as we wait in the Photosphere?” inquired Valta.

Razan shrugged his shoulders. “Train if you like. Prepare as best you could. As you all know, the traitor,” he saw Seth glare at him but he continued, “has become stronger. Unlike the others of our kind, we have the ability to invent new techniques and skills. Find them so that we are all prepared at the time of our battle. As for me, I shall be at the ruins of the tower trying to unlock its secrets. I shall report my findings to Bram. Hopefully, I shall find something of good use to us. That is the plan so far.”

“It doesn’t seem it might work,” Bow snickered. “The boy will see through the illusions.”

Razan shook his head. “Not this time. My magic has improved much since the last battle. It will not fail me this time. Besides, there’s a thing called emotions. As I recall, the boy and Rudy were sore hurt when they had seen Cecilia fall. Grief and anger will occupy their minds and cloud their judgment. If it doesn’t work, then at least it will buy us enough time to take over Adlehyde, our first target.”

Bow and Seth exchanged glances seeming to see the other’s approval. Seth grinded his teeth unable to decide. Bow pursed his lips as he nervously watched Seth. “Very well,” Seth growled. “Seeing that we have no other choice.”

“It is settled then,” Bram grinned as he stood from the decimated throne. He took up his sword and hung it on his waist. “Razan, get to work! I want to be out of here before the sun sets.” He turned to Seth. “Are you fit to move about?”

“Of course!” he replied irritated for the fact that everyone thinks of him as a weakling now. I’ll get my revenge!, he thought angrily. I’ll show them that I have not gotten weaker but stronger!

“Very well,” Bram nodded. “I want you to fly the Photosphere to the crater south of the mountains and land it there. I don’t want to expend the energy of the flying fortress until it is fully ready to conquer all. Take Bow with you.”

“I can take care of it myself,” Seth growled, his eyes narrowing beneath the hood. “I don’t need anyone’s help.”

“I bet you don‘t,” Bram agreed sarcastically, “but take him as a lookout. You can’t control the Photosphere and watch your back at the same time now could you?”

“I guess not,” Seth whispered darkly under his breath. He turned, his cape fluttering about him, and began walking towards the exit.

Bow looked questioningly at Bram whether or not to follow Seth. Bram nodded and Bow ran to catch up with Seth. Seth stopped at the door, his hand on the knob. Bow slowed then stopped right behind his comrade. Seth glanced at him from the corner of his eye. “Just don’t get in my way,” he warned softly. Bow nodded in understanding. Seth turned the knob and both exited the throne room.

“What am I to do?” Valta asked, always the last to do something. He hopes that he will do something important as he had done when finding the tower.

“Nothing much,” Bram replied. “You have earned your rest Valta. If you wish to do something, then you may help the others prepare for our departure but I think it’s beneath your standards to work with the lower creatures of this planet. No, rest for now Valta. When Razan is done with his task here, then you shall accompany him to the tower and show him what you know of it.”

“Then I shall rest,” Valta agreed. “It was a long journey.”

“Your next journey will be easier,” Bram said, “since you know the whereabouts of the tower and can, therefore, teleport there. I take it Razan will read your mind to obtain the tower’s location and teleport there as well.” Valta only nodded. “Come,” Bram beckoned the cat-demon, “we shall leave Razan to his work.”

He briskly walked towards the door followed by Valta. They could hear Razan murmuring softly as they left the throne room to his own devices.


Seth stood on the battlements that ran along the front of the ancient castle. His cape fluttered furiously in the arctic wind as he stared at the tundra before him. He could see the mountains that surrounded the castle, their gray stone covered in white, the sun’s rays glistening from their surfaces.

A thick mist surrounded the castle as if it were trying to hide it. A forgotten building that should forever remain in the past. An ancient castle where kings ruled for who knew how long and where warriors in armor practiced chivalry. Nothing remains of this once thriving kingdom except for some old relics and armor. “And nothing again will remain here once we’re gone except for a bunch of illusions,” Seth muttered beneath his mask.

Bow stood patiently behind Seth, waiting for him to lead him to the Photosphere. His snow-white hair swayed gently in the arctic breeze along with his green cape. A draft blew across the ramparts, snow floating down gently before his eyes. He gripped his curved bow as he continued to wait for Seth.

Seth wrapped his cape around him. “I hope you know what the Photosphere looks like from the inside,” he said. “I don’t want to waste my energy flying there.” He slowly disappeared from Bow’s view and he knew that he had teleported himself to the Photosphere.

Bow stood where he was, trying to recollect the Photosphere’s interior. It was still in construction on Hiades when he last saw the flying fortress. “I hope it’s enough to teleport me there,” he murmured as he closed his eyes. He thought of the interior as he jumped into the air and disappeared.


Razan chuckled as he stared at his own clone. “I amaze myself,” he smirked as he studied it. He walked around the clone, inspecting every little detail. It had to be flawless to be able to fool the others. “Wonderful!” he exclaimed. “The physical details are perfect! Now to test its ability to speak.” He faced the clone and asked, “What is your name?”

The clone looked at him with the same stare and replied, “My name is Razan. I am to serve Bram.”

Razan jumped in joy, proud of his work. “Perfect! Perfect! The same voice as I! Now about abilities?”

As if in answer to Razan’s question, the clone unleashed a simple fireball spell at Razan. Razan stopped the fireball with the same spell and they both canceled each other out, exploding between them. “Excellent!” Razan exclaimed. “You have passed all three tests. Now you may help me create clones of the others. I’ll make Bram and Seth while you conjure Bow and Valta.” The clone nodded and both went to work, lips murmuring and arms weaving intricate patterns in the air.

Soon two forms began to materialize like black smoke, one in front of each wizard. They took on a more solid form as the wizards’ chants grew louder. Both wizards took out a handful of sand from their pouches and sprinkled it around the forms, chanting still. Their chanting reached a crescendo as they threw the remaining sand at the forms’ feet. There was a blast and a flash of white. As the smoke from the blast cleared, the two clones they were working on were fully formed.

The two forms were perfect images of Seth and Bow. The clones stood where they were, their eyes closed and right hands on weapons. “Awake!” both Razans shouted as they tapped their glowing staffs on the floor. The clones’ eyes opened at the same time as the staffs tapped the floor, glowing an eerie white before settling to their original eye color.

Razan walked up to Seth and examined him. “Not a bad piece of work if I do say so myself,” he murmured as Seth’s clone glared at him from beneath its hood. His clone nodded in agreement as he studied Bow. Razan looked at his double and said, “We need to finish up with the others before Bram returns to inspect my work. I’ll not dawdle in this castle for long.” The clone nodded and they began to work on the last two clones, Bram and Valta.

Soon all five clones stood before Razan. “Wonderful!” Razan exclaimed. “My work is complete!” He turned when he heard someone enter the throne room.

“Are you finished yet, wizard?” Bram demanded as he approached the mage. Valta followed from behind, curious as he gaped at the clones. Bram stopped besides Razan as the mage replied, “As you can see,” he indicated the clones that lined up before them, “I have done my work. They are perfect representations of us.”

Bram nodded as he approached his double, a hand stroking his chin thoughtfully as he studied his clone. He suddenly drew out his sword and swung it at his double who blocked as swiftly as Bram had swung it. The rest of the clones and both Razan and Valta stepped back as the two Brams fought in the middle of the room. Both combatants moved so swiftly that soon all were confused on who was the real Bram and who was the double.

Valta maneuvered besides Razan and whispered from the corner of his mouth, “How do we distinguish who’s the clone and who’s not?”

“Observe,” Razan replied as he held his staff high above his head. It glowed a soft white. The eyes of the clones responded to the light by glowing the same color. Valta nodded in understanding as Razan lowered his staff, losing its glow in the process.

Both Brams continued to fight. After awhile, Bram jumped back and shouted, “Enough!” The clone stopped where it was and stood perfectly still seeming to await its next orders. Bram sheathed his sword and the clone did likewise. Then it went back to its position in line.

“Very impressive Razan,” Bram praised the wizard as he walked up to him. “My clone has the same abilities as mine. It will be very hard for them to distinguish the clones from the real thing.”

“As you have planned,” Razan nodded. “Your plan of creating clones is excellent!”

“Yes,” Bram agreed softly. “While they are here fighting shadows, we’ll be conquering this new world starting with Adlehyde.” He gazed at Razan and Valta. “Proceed to the next part of the plan. I would not delay any further.” He turned on his heel and began walking towards the exit.

“But what about the clones?” Valta called after him. “They can’t just stand in the throne room until they arrive.”

“Don’t ask me,” Bram replied as he continued walking. “The clones have free will, do they not?” He turned and stared at Razan who nodded in reply to his answer. Bram again turned around and resumed walking. “Then they have the right to do whatever suits them.” The huge oak door creaked as he exited the room.

“Well, you heard him,” Valta said to the clones. “Go do whatever you wish. This is your domain now. No one will stop you.”

Bram’s clone nodded and turned to the other clones. “Bow, you take the East Wing; Valta, you take the West Wing . . .”

As Bram continued to issue orders, Razan and Valta were in a far corner of the room where they won’t be distracted. “Now relax,” Razan said as he placed a hand on Valta’s head. “Let me see this tower.” His staff glowed softly as he peered into the cat-demon’s mind.

It seemed he flew for miles over land and sea, the landscape all a blur to him. Then the ruins of the tower came into view, the stump of the once magnificent tower surrounded by rubble from the upper portions of the building located within a lagoon. Razan studied the location for awhile before returning to reality.

“Did you see it?” Valta questioned as soon as he saw the staff stopped glowing.

“Yes,” Razan replied. “I’ve seen it and I’m eager to be gone from this place.” He murmured a few words and was gone in a puff of smoke. Valta, assuming that Razan had teleported to the tower, took out his whip and snapped it around himself disappearing as well.


Seth was bent over the control panel as Bow appeared behind him. The blue-armored demon was stunned for a moment to find himself surrounded by flashing lights and beeping monitors. He strode over to another control panel and studied it. Many switches and buttons adorn the panel accented by beeps and flashes. Bow raised a finger to press a button.

“Don’t touch anything,” Seth warned him before Bow had a chance to press it. “Just act as the lookout as Bram had instructed you to do.”

Bow’s finger recoiled at the warning, letting his hand drop to the side. “I’ll do as you bid,” he complied, Seth nodding absently in reply. “Then I leave you to your task,” Bow said. He turned to study another panel with interest until he grew bored with the technology. He then decided to explore the rest of the sphere, turning towards the exit of the control room. “I’m going to explore the rest of this place,” he informed Seth who just waved a hand in answer. Bow perceived it as a yes and was soon gone from the heart of the Photosphere.

Seth flipped a few more switches then studied the instrument panel's response to those switches. A few lights flashed and beeped, then a mechanical voice spoke, ’PREPARATIONS ARE COMPLETE. READY TO COMMENCE MANEUVERING.’

“Then let us be gone from this place,” Seth murmured as he punched in the coordinates of their destination on the control panel. He felt the floor shudder beneath his feet as the flying fortress shifted towards the coordinates of its destination. The screen above the control panel flashed into life, showing the cerulean sky with clouds passing slowly by. A few birds flew among the wispy clouds, caring not for the fortress that trespassed in their domain.

Seth stared idly at the screen until he grew bored himself. “May as well do as Bow is doing,” he murmured as he headed for the exit, “until this fortress stops above the designated area.”

He never took the liberty to fully explore the place on his first visit, taking the liberty now, exiting the room, the door closing silently behind him blending perfectly with the wall. A round pedestal was situated in front of the control room that seemed to have been added to the Photosphere after it was fully built. “Probably to hold something of value,” Seth murmured as he passed the round stand and continued down the steps from the platform to the exit at the east side of the room.

He sighed as he looked at the many flights of steps that trailed below him. It’s a wonder why the control room was hidden. Seth placed his right foot on the railing and jumped down to the floor below, doing a somersault in the air before landing with perfect ease. Dusting himself off, he exited the room and continued south to another dim-lit hallway, passing three more rooms before emerging in a giant area.

Spotlights moved back and forth along the huge place of pathways, a welcome sight to the dimness of the sphere. The area was a giant maze of catwalks suspended over the first floor of the Photosphere. Seth jumped off the pathway and hovered in midair. The shortest route to the next area was by flying over the pathways. He headed east where he saw another door. He flew through it and placed his feet back on the ground.

Bow stood over the wreckage of what used to be a giant of some sort. The bowman turned when he heard the gentle landing of feet to metal floor. “What do we have here?” Seth questioned as he moved next to Bow, inspecting the giant.

Bow turned and looked at him. “It’s a metal giant,” Bow replied. He knelt down and studied the rusting metal and the black scorches that adorned its surfaces, much like the scorch mark on his armor made by Jill. He picked up a piece of the metal, turning it in his hand as he tried to look for answers to what the giant being was.

“A huge metal demon?” Seth pondered as he moved to another part of the room, gazing over the remains. He could detect two metal arms and two metal legs among the wreckage and stopped when he saw what once used to be the head of the giant. He knelt down and examined it. A huge red eye seemed to stare coldly at Seth, it’s eye cold as ice itself. For a brief moment, Seth thought he saw the eye flash red but deemed it to be his imagination. A hidden force hid behind that orb, he knew. A force that could destroy the world but somehow it had been destroyed.

Seth turned his head when he saw Bow approach him and he stood. “There was a battle here, that’s for certain,” he notified Seth. “The wreckage of this ’thing’ indicates it.” He waved his hand at the pile of scrap metal, before bringing it up to his chin in thought. “But to what it was, I am not sure. I may have a clear definition to who destroyed it.”

“Mother?” Seth asked. It was only the logical answer given to him by the state of the giant.

Bow shook his head in negation. “No, it couldn’t be Mother. You and I can sense the power this giant had possessed.” Seth nodded his head in agreement. “It may have been too strong for Mother to destroy alone but why would she when it possessed great power?”

“She banned us from Hiades for having too much power,” Seth argued. “She could have surely banned this being as well.”

“But what if this thing wasn’t a Metal Demon but a product of the humans?” Bow questioned.

Seth raised an inquiring brow. “Continue,” he prompted.

“I believe that this giant have aided in the humans somehow in that war Razan read in one of the books in the castle,” Bow continued. “The one that spoke of eight golems that aided the humans with the war against our people.”

“Yes,” Seth nodded, “I remember now. So this was a golem?” He pointed at the wreckage.

“I believe so,” Bow acquiesced.

Seth was beginning to see the picture. Pieces of the puzzle were beginning to fall into place. “Mother intended to use it against the humans.”

“And those humans destroyed it,” Bow finished. “The same humans that fought against us twenty years ago.” He pointed to the parts that were scattered. “See how it was positioned in front of the door? As if it was guarding it.”

“Then let us see what it was guarding.” Seth hovered above the wreckage while Bow nimbly stepped over the debris. They entered the doorway and saw a flight of steps leading downward. They took those steps illuminated by green light. In the next room, there was another flight which they cautiously took, certain that whatever the golem was guarding was nearby.

Seth stopped at the foot of the stairs, surveying their surroundings. A stairway was ahead of them, leading towards a door. Two beams of green light shone on either side of the door, which Seth approached carefully, followed by Bow.

Seth felt that there was something different about the door as his hand gently touched it. He snatched his hand back as the door shuddered open as if it was expecting them, revealing a dark room. Seth glanced back at Bow, who nodded in return then stepped into the darkened room, his eyes flickering back and forth, his muscles tensing in awareness. “There’s something strange about this room,” he muttered, his hand gripping his weapon’s handle. Bow’s weapon was nocked as he followed Seth from behind, alert as Seth was.

There were two huge broken glass tubes to either side of the door, their diameters about three feet thick, that seemed to have run from the floor to the ceiling, the top part of the shafts shattered only leaving jagged remnants, the points glistening from the water that once flooded the room. A thick beam of wood slanted from the ceiling to the floor crossed their path. “Of all the rooms in the Photosphere, this seems to be the most damaged,” Bow muttered as both of them went around the beam. Seth was about to mutter something in reply but stopped when he saw what the golem had been guarding.

He gazed upon a dais that had a diameter of five feet with thick cables running along the floor and back wall connecting with the platform. A metal circle as wide as the dais and as thick as the cables hung slanted from the ceiling above the dais. The dais, the cables, the circle, all must have been some sort of confining device. “Or a life support system,” Bow stated as if he could read Seth’s mind. “Of what, I can only surmise.”

“But to be sure, we need to bring Razan here,” Seth said coming to his own conclusions. “This is truly the heart of the Photosphere and the control room, the brain.” His muscles relaxed sensing no danger in the room now that they had found out the reason for their uneasiness. “Let’s go back to the control room,” Seth suggested as he turned away from the dais and began walking back to the door. “We’ve seen enough for today.” He exited the room without waiting for an answer from Bow.

Bow unstrung his weapon, the metal shaft disappearing. He turned around and took one glance over his shoulder at the dais before following Seth out the room, his cape rustling as he treaded on metal flooring. The door closed behind him as he left, leaving the ’heart’ as Seth had called it, to rot continuously.


Valta appeared slightly behind Razan who was staring at the ruined tower in awe, the whip’s coil withdrawing into the handle. The cat-demon willed the handle away as he stepped next to the wizard.

They stood on a round peninsula of gray stones, surrounded by water, a bridge of the same stonework leading from the peninsula to the entrance of the destroyed tower. “Such tremendous energy,” Razan whispered as he began to walk towards the entrance, rapt in wonder at the sight.

Valta followed Razan, albeit, hesitantly. He didn’t want to return to this place of power, which he felt should not be toyed with, forbidden. Valta shuddered at the thought, his fur beginning to stick on end. Nothing flew within the boundaries of the tower, the island void of life. The waters gentle lapping was the only sound that pervaded the stillness that surrounded them. Valta stopped when they had reached the entrance, which was blocked by huge masses of rock that had fallen when the tower was destroyed. “I had no way of exploring the tower fully,” Valta explained as Razan gazed at the rocks with no interest. “I just took a piece of stone and went back to Arushan, my mission complete.”

Razan waved a dismissive hand at the explanation. “It does not matter,” he said as he waved his other hand at the boulders. The huge stones began to rise one by one, clearing a path to the entrance. Razan then motioned his hand towards the lagoon, the stones following his hand’s motion, floating towards the water until they hovered above the small blue waves. The wizard dropped his hand and the stones fell into the lagoon sending silvery spume upward, the sound of splashing very loud in this forsaken island.

Razan glanced at Valta over his shoulder. “Shall we continue?” he asked casually as if they were just taking a stroll in a park. Without waiting for a reply, the mage continued onwards towards the entrance, reveling in the power that seemed to flow outwards from the gaping portal.

Valta hesitated for a moment, then he went on all fours and cautiously followed Razan who had disappeared into the tower. The cat-demon slowly entered stopping as Razan stared at the room in wonder. Valta also looked around but saw nothing of interest. There were two doors to either side of the stairs leading to the next floor of the damaged tower. “Simple,” he heard Razan utter, “yet powerful.” He took a couple of steps towards the stairs, climbing up the steps that lead towards it. “I wonder how far this tower goes,” the wizard asked himself before climbing the flights of steps to the next level. Valta just growled as he followed Razan upwards.

The next floor was bigger than the first floor with many doors, ledges, and hallways. Two southern doors faced them. There was a ledge that ran above them on all sides of the room. “Which way?” Valta inquired staring at the two doors.

The tower is powerful, Razan agreed, sensing the power flowing all around him but in that power, he sensed another. An energy source of some type that was part of the tower but wasn’t at the same time. He attuned to this energy source, feeling that it would provide him with answers as soon as he found it. “This way,” the wizard answered as he went towards the southeast door. Valta followed, still on all fours, as they continued to explore the tower.

Valta observed his surroundings as Razan continued to lead them as a hound following the scent of its prey. Debris littered the hallways and ledges of the once proud edifice. They were climbing to the seventh floor now. Razan felt the energy source becoming stronger as they neared the landing. “We must be getting close,” he whispered as he stepped onto the landing of the seventh floor and gasped.

“What is it?” Valta questioned as he moved his head to gaze at what had surprised the mage. He cursed when he saw a mound of rocks blocking their path illuminated by the setting sun. A cold draft flew into the tower, rustling through Razan’s robe. Valta looked up and saw the sky above their heads where the tallest reaches of the tower once had been. “So this is where our exploration ends,” the cat muttered. “The tower was the power itself. What of use is it to us?”

“No,” Razan muttered rejecting the notion than fiercer, “NO!” He lifted both hands to the sky and the mound of rubble that stood before them rose. Then the wizard, as a conductor orchestrating a symphony, spread his hands apart, the stones flying to either direction past the tower’s perimeter, hovering above the watery depths below. With a shout, Razan dropped his hands and the stones obeyed that command, falling to the water below and what stood before them was nothing they had ever seen before.

“What is that?” Valta queried. They gazed upon a round dais with small steps leading to the center of it. In the middle of the dais, there seemed to be a hole surrounded by three dull glowing white lights in a triangle formation.

“This,” Razan answered as he approached the dais, “is the energy source I’ve felt among the power of the tower. An energy source that is different from this crumbling edifice.”

“But WHAT is it?” Valta questioned again. “An energy source of what?”

“We shall see,” was all that Razan could say as he stopped and studied the round platform. The platform hummed softly, seeming to have a life of its own. The warlock climbed the small steps up to the platform’s top.

“Wait a minute!” Valta protested as he stood at the foot of the steps. “What do you think you’re doing?”

“Exploring,” Razan answered simply as he went to the dais’ center. As soon as he stepped onto the ’hole’, a mechanical voice spoke. “THE DIMENSIONAL ELEVATOR’S POWER SWITCH. THE DESTINATION IS SET TO MALDUKE. DO YOU WANT TO TURN IT ON?”

“Dimensional elevator to Malduke?” Valta whispered suspiciously. “Where is this Malduke?”

“Come and we shall find out,” Razan answered impatiently. “I have a feeling that this Malduke is a place unlike we have ever seen. I believe the true purpose of the tower is to transport others to this Malduke.”

“Then this Malduke must be a very important place,” Valta said as he climbed up and stood next to Razan. “This must please Bram as well.”

“Of course,” the wizard replied plainly. “Then the answer to the elevator’s question is, yes.”

Soon they were shot up into the sky at a blinding speed to a destination unfamiliar to them in a searing white beam that illuminated the darkening sky; their destination among the stars that were beginning to dot the heavens.


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