"Sword of Fire"
Weapons of Darkness, Part 1
by Edward Bolme
from an idea by Jimmer Sivertsen

"Pruning a tree makes it grow stronger and healthier. Hammering a sword on an anvil makes it sharper and stronger. Boxing and wrestling make our warriors more able to fight. In short, construction requires destruction; therefore I have done nothing wrong."

Lanyx stood at the center of a large volcanic caldera, surrounded by the Magi of the Cald. The judges stood at positions of prominence around him, scowling.

Ashgar, the head judge, thumped his staff and spoke. "Your actions have brought war upon us, and the other regions turn against us."

Lanyx laughed. "Ours is the way of sword and fire," he said, "the way of the warrior!"

Ashgar was unmoved. "A warrior seeks combat, and fights with honor and valor. A warrior does not seek out and burn farmhouses and fields of grain, a warrior does not terrorize small children and scatter the weak before him."

Lanyx spread his arms wide and raised his chin defiantly. "The strongest warrior has no equal, all are weaklings to be scattered like leaves!"

"ENOUGH!" bellowed Ashgar. "You are strong in the ways of fire, your dreams are powerful, but equally great is your careless disregard for everyone around you. Strength and honor must remain in balance; you, Lanyx, have chosen the one and ignored the other. Therefore we pass sentence upon you. You will do penance for--"

Ashgar stopped in midsentence as Barak, Elder of Cald, got up from his throne.

"There will be no penance," said Barak. "For there to be penance, there must be sorrow, and Lanyx has none."

"There! You see?" snorted Lanyx, sneering at Ashgar and the other judges. "Even Barak knows I have done nothing wrong. You're jealous, Ashgar, and it clouds your mind!"

Barak stood before Lanyx, his arms crossed over his powerful chest. "Ashgar's mind is not the clouded one, Lanyx," he said. "I think the fumes have gone to your head. Nothing less will teach you the lesson you must learn, so I strip you of your title in the Cald Council and banish you from our lands. Go now, and think upon your life."

Lanyx stared at Barak, stunned.

"GO!" shouted Barak.

Lanyx turned and snarled. "You fear my power, Barak!" he spat. "Clutch tightly to your throne, for when I return I shall see Cald in ruins!"

With that, he swept off into the night.

* * * * *

For years Lanyx stalked the Moonlands, picking fights to vent his anger and frustration. He was not welcomed anywhere he went, but this he assumed was because everyone was envious of his abilities... and had nothing at all to do with the havoc and destruction that he brought with him.

One day, Lanyx heard a rumor of a great black geyser and the unstoppable Magi and Creatures that slithered forth from it. More powerful than me? thought Lanyx. Preposterous. He immediately set out to investigate; the idea of being cautious never even crossed his mind.

What he found was a streaming column of darkness spewing into the sky, visible for miles as he approached. The energy was tangible even at a long distance, filling the land with a palpable chill, one that shivered the soul.

The geyser occupied a clearing that was clearly of its own making. Mangled trees and the ruins of a farmhouse were scattered about like driftwood after an Orothean storm. He saw a gathering of Magi on the outskirts of the clearing battling some shadowy nightmare creatures that had erupted from the Geyser. Kalius circled above the fray, desperately conjuring half-formed dream creatures to keep the dark beasts at bay, but then a flight of three monsters that looked something like rotting Arbolls flashed out from the geyser and charged him. They approached the Arderial Magi and erupted in gouts of vile energy, sending him crashing to the ground.

The shadow creatures paused to gloat at this victory, but the distraction gave Ebylon enough time to work his magic. At his command, a small trough of water rushed upwards, becoming a tidal wave of monstrous proportions.

"Hey, now, is that really fair?" asked Ulk as the water smashed down on two of the shadow creatures. In an instant, creatures and water alike vanished in a twinkling of animite. With but one giant green humanoid left, Ulk dreamed up an athik and send it oozing forward. The blubbery shadow beast tried to pound on it, but the athik's spiny shell proved a great deterrent, and its boneless body showed no damage from being pummeled. At last athik wrapped the shadow creature and squeezed, until it, too, vanished, leaving the clearing empty.

Suddenly all was quiet, save only the unhealthy hum of the geyser.

Lanyx strode boldly past the other Magi gathered nearby. When they looked at him, he sensed they were tired, fearful, exhausted. Lanyx pretended not to notice them as he approached the column of cold darkness. He felt the power within, and he wanted to have that power for himself. With fire and darkness he would bring Cald to its knees, claim his rightful position on Barak's throne, and reform Cald in his own image, making it a true warrior's nation. But first, he had to claim the power.

Streams of energy and hate swirled around him as he stepped into the geyser. His hair whipped around his face, blinding him momentarily, and he found it difficult to move through the thick, cold air that seemed to try to push him back out. He persevered, lurching forward with one arm across his eyes, and suddenly the gale ceased and he stumbled forward to his knees.

He shook his head to clear it, and saw that another Magi was standing over him, studying him carefully. He was large, misshapen, grotesque. Powerful. Two shryques perched nearby, hideous malformed birds gazing at Lanyx with hungry intent.

Lanyx stood slowly, moving with a careless disregard that he hoped would convince this newcomer that he was unafraid.

The mysterious Magi saw through the façade easily. He laughed a deep gravelly laugh, and his shryques seemed to laugh with him, their high reedy caws a bizarre counterpoint to the basso voice. "My name is Nagsis," he said easily. "You are nervous, it seems, because I can see your knees tremble. But you are also curious, aren't you? I can see it in your eyes. This is something different for you, isn't it? Would you like me to show you more, show you the power that created this Shadow Geyser? Shall I show you how you can have this power for yourself? It's easy..." Lanyx nodded, though his malevolent grin faded under the renewed cackling of the shryques.

* * * * *

When Lanyx emerged from the Shadow Geyser once more, he was utterly changed. His skin was an unhealthy pallor, his bones and muscles protested every move. He had to keep his limbs wrapped tightly with cloth to numb the pain. But he had been compensated; his eyes glowed with power and understanding.

He had encountered true power in the Core, learned it at the hands of Agram, himself a legend thought lost to time.

Although none of Agram's court knew it, Lanyx had hated that experience. He hated that Agram was more powerful than he, and he hated having to humble himself and become a student again. He felt like a tool in the hands of Agram. But he chose to remain in that role, be Agram's sword, for a sword has two edges, and can attack the one who wields it as easily as anyone. And one day, he would attack Agram and defeat him. That day was not yet, but he had taken the first steps.

He had learned to control the shadows. Now the power was his.

There had been a price, of course. Shadow and fire cannot easily exist together, and as he embraced the shadows he could feel the fires slip from his grasp. Only a fraction of his Cald heritage remained in him.

No matter. He would get it back.

He would take it back.


What other shadow magi are there? Read Part 2 "Blade of Grass"

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