Missive to Margravine of The Keith from Keith Dan
Season of the Cold Sun Second Quarter Second Day of Duty
I trust you are still managing in my stead. We continue to travel with this Wizard through the snowy wastes from city to city, now near the legendary mountains of fire. It is at times I wish you were traveling with us, as the smoking mountains with their rivers of fire are a sight I would not have believed and cannot describe with the words I know. Perhaps our tapestry weavers can take what I see and fill the empty wall on the north with such visions.
As for the Wizard we are guarding, I am thinking even he has begun to doubt our mission. We have met with several others he has suspected, yet those suspicions have gone for naught. As such, I do begin to believe other than the visions of the strange north and of course the meetings with the buyers and merchants of ironwool are the only positive measures of this journey. I miss the warmth of the March. I miss your warmth. I hope my next missive will be to tell you I am on my return journey.
We left the Citadel, to my company’s poor spirits shortly after the blizzard subsided, made out way through the thick snow which covered the low mountains which divided the kingdoms, traveled hard along The Kings road from village to town to city, to tower.
I could even begin to agree with the Baron’s thought’s as we made our way along the foothills of the Pillars of Fire, who were ever active, even under the Cold Sun’s chilling rays, even though I still had the power and willingness to use the burden of passage, where they did not. I was beginning to regret how willingly I had been to spend some time outside of the cozy combines of The Council. It seemed to have blinded me to the realities of the world I had fought for all those years past.
We learned at Stormguard that Omar had retreated to his tower in the marshes thirty leagues north of the fortress. Well, the Duke was on a tour of the warmer provinces of the Empire to the south, so it was understandable Omar had returned to his own. I was alternately looking forwards to seeing him, and dreading the meeting.
We made our way through the ice covered causeways on our way to Omar Blackrock’s tower. None of the river men would take us, as there was no river to traverse, but the frozen cold season swamp. We lost two horses to the thin ice of the frozen bogs. And, almost in the shadow of the tower the men were at their most mutinous, voicing their desires to turn back. But it was there, amongst the frozen willows, I could feel it, feel him, feel the nothingness, feel Arcory. And, even as it filled me with a despair I hadn’t felt since the fall of Kindereon in the darkest days of the first war of the alliance, it was now clear, perhaps my most successful apprentice, had been the thief. And the realization made a great sense.
I had to be sure, even as I cursed myself for not seeing what I now suspected in Omar’s words, in his warnings.
In the silence of the frozen marsh, as we walked or rode down the path under the willows, where the ice covered branches snapped as we passed through them, I strode over Ice, through the brittle reeds to The Keith.
“Give me your stone,” I asked him, watched him glance over at me, breath white in consideration. He narrowed his eyes at me.
“What is it?” He wanted to know as he dismounted. “Is this the place? Is the wizard of that tower the thief?
“I don’t know as yet, something in the air perhaps,” I offered, held out my hand “I will give it back to you in a moment.”
He opened up his saddlebag and pulled out his stone, three times the size of his fist, and encarved with Arcory’s runes.
I took the cold stone heavy in my hand, heavy in my heart. Felt its smoothness, it numbing essence.
“How much, of you is in this one, my old master,” I whispered to the dark grey stone. “And what were your final intentions on this dispersal. What were you planning?”
As with all his other stones, this one held silent its secrets.
He had become chaotic, unpredictable, perhaps even mad towards the end, as the war wound down and what he had brought to our world, what he had created, needed to be fought as much as what had invaded from the underworld. At times he seemed drunk with power, at others, frantic with dread, the nee for action. There were many who thought of him, even I, at the time had turned from the path and would attempt to pattern himself just like the enemies from below — we thought. But there were times… times when he was his old self. And he asked me to trust him… and just as quickly he would bellow for me to leave him alone.
He fooled us all, me more than most. I look again to the stone.
“Are you deceiving us again? Are you deceiving me?”
That is the reason we parted the way we did, the reason why I betrayed him in the end. I would no longer be manipulated, nor follow the dark path I was sure he had committed himself to. My trust had cost many as well. I looked back up at the tower. How much would it cost this time?