Gurmble walked out with a smile on his face. As he passed Gravelhand he thanked him. This put Gravelhand a little off guard but Gurmble didn’t care at all. All he could do was think about the journey and getting to the goblins. He wanted to know why they were attacking now of all times. Gurmble was fully intending to go alone but got the idea of asking the others. He knew they all left their own homelands. Now maybe they will be up for a little adventuring with him. There was only one way to find out. Gurmble unconsciously started to pick up his pace as he headed for home. He just couldn’t wait to share the news and ask them if they would be willing to join him in an epic adventure. One that could possibly be shared with your grandchildren someday. With all of them, just maybe, they could foil the plans of the goblins enough to stop the attacks even if they didn’t survive it. Gurmble ran, as much as a hobbling dwarf could, to the cabin.
Gurmble burst into the building with force, huffing and gasping for breath. Everyone looked at him expecting the worst. Elderist half stood up almost expecting to have to fight his way out of the building. Joanan shook his way to his feet hiding behind Elderist fully expecting the goblins to come in chasing Gurmble. Flynn jumped up with her hand to the hilt of her sword. Spike, who was laying down just about to go to sleep, jumped up so high he hit his head with a thump on the table bottom. Spike landed on all fours with haunches up staring toward Gurmble. Gurmble just waved them back to their seats and sat down in the closest chair trying to catch his breath. Spike gave a low growl and turned around in a circle until he laid down again at Flynn’s feet.
“I have (gasp) a question (gasp) for you (gasp) all.” Said Gurmble as he huffed. Then he just put up a hand and said “Just (gasp) give me (gasp) a minute to (gasp) catch me breath (gasp)”.
They all sat there waiting for Gurmble to speak next. Elderist looked at Gurmble and said “Just like a dwarf, No endurance at all.”
Gurmble gave him a stern look and said “Look it here boy. I could out last you in any battle. Any day, any time.” Gurmble sucked it a deep breath and let it out slowly. He continued with more of an ease. “Now the things that happened out there were terrible. The worst thing about it is that the king does not want to send out troops to fend off the horde and kill the leader before they lead a mass attack on Minius. I tried to plead with him to give me a group so I could find out what is going on and possibly eliminate the threat. He again told me no. But he did give me permission to go out on my own. The question to you would be. Will you join me? It was an honor to fight with you all today. You are more than capable warriors. I would be honored to have you all protecting my back and I protecting yours.” Elderist pointed a finger in the air and opened his mouth to speak but Gurmble cut him off with a hand and said “Of course we will share in everything that is found.” Elderist smiled and seemed to be happy with the answer.
Joanan looked at everyone and said “Do you know where they are hiding?”
“Well it is my belief that they are hiding up in the mountains. Some say that they are living in the old Dwarven mines. The old halls have been abandoned for years. The story is said that the giants drove us down into the plains. Here we set up Minius and we got so used to it that we never set out to look for the old mines again. It seems after the dwarfs and gnomes finally fought back the giants is when the goblins took over our mines. The location of the old mines are unknown anymore. So we may be searching for weeks or even months” Gurmble said.
Kai said “Well I saw that you guys had a pretty extensive library here. Would there be any information in the books?”
“Maybe. I also have a lot of books in the back room. My father collected them from the old mines, he was one of the original dwellers but forgot the exact location or at least that is what he told me. We dwarfs like our secrets, you know. Also those are his favorite books. That might be a good place to start if you wanted to.” Said Gurmble as he pointed to the door right beside the bar. “I personally have looked through most of them. What I got was a vague idea that it is in the mountains toward the North West. Around a five days march from here. But feel free to look. Maybe you could extract more information than I.”
Both Kai and Joanan shared a knowing look. Kai said “I will take a look at the books you have in the back Gurmble. Sounds like the best place to start. Maybe I can find something that you might have missed.”
Joanan nodded in agreement and said “Excellent idea. I’ll take a look at the library in the city and see what I can scrounge up there. The rest of you might as well rest and we will meet up in the morning to see what we might have come up with.”
“Well, while you guys look at the books I can help build some armor for you if anyone needs repairs or even a new set. I have a great hammer and anvil out back. Does anyone want anything in particular?” Said Gurmble to everyone.
Flynn shook her head. “I will not put anything unnatural on my body dwarf. But if you can repair leather I may need a few adjustments.” Gurmble nodded as if to say he could.
Kai shook his head when Gurmble looked at him questioningly.
Joanan said “If you can I would like to have a new large shield and some chain mail armor.”
That’s when Elderist smiled and said “I could sure use some repairs on these sleeves Gurmble. For some reason they just fell apart. Might get more protection if it wasn’t flopping around in the breeze like your beard.”
“With your mouth nothing can protect you half-elf! Either way give it to me and I will fix it. Flynn I would be more than happy to fix your armor. I have worked with leather many times.” Said Gurmble. Then he eyeballed both Joanan and Elderist. “Looks like they both will not take long at all. Give me about a week. I think by than they will be finished.”
Everyone nodded and went on their way. Both Flynn and Elderist went to train while Kai and Joanan hit the books. That night they all met to find out what they discovered. Both Joanan and Kai shook their heads in resolution “Nothing found out tonight, but tomorrow is another day.”
This went on for several days. Both Joanan and Kai went off to read while Gurmble worked on the armor and Flynn and Elderist trained in the yard with Spike. About the fifth day Kai said something interesting. “I found this book about a wizard who disappeared shortly before the goblin wars. It is said that he was the most powerful wizard in the realms. He helped out all of the goodly races by going to them in their times of need and fixing their problems. The book talks about the locations he visited. I am hoping that one of them might be the old dwarven mines. I plan on staying up tonight to find out. Gurmble you don’t mind do you? I will be right outside your door.”
“No go ahead. My father used to read all the time till the wee hours of the morning” Gurmble said
Kai settled down with the lamp lit above him on the hook. The desk was a little short but he didn’t mind at the time. He was finally doing something he loved, the pursuit of knowledge. Kai was so entranced in the book about this old wizard that he did not even know what time it was. This book seemed to be a collection of many stories from different races, as if someone went around looking for information on this wizard. He was reading a story from the Dwarven city. Kai read carefully to make sure he didn’t miss a thing. There was a description of the surroundings that the dwarf who was telling the story gave. A specific rock formation that the wizard seemed to sit alone at to think or study. Kai pulled out a map from a book the he previously read that was all topography around the time of the goblin wars. He was hoping that maybe he could find a location that fit the description. It didn’t take him long to find a location that was the most likely spot. But there were no names on this map. Kai grabbed a more recent map and pored over it matching up the mountain peaks. It took him awhile, but he felt like he may have found the spot. He stood up and excitedly smacked the table as he smiled. Just as he heard the loud thump he cringed as he remembered how late it was.
Standing quietly now Kai patiently waited for the smashing of a dwarf coming out of the room not too far from him. It felt like an eternity until he heard a loud snore coming from behind the closed door. He let out a sigh of relief. Everyone would be excited to hear what he found but he knew it could wait until the morning. He just smiled looking down at the map. It was indeed to the North West just two days directly west of the current half-elf village. They can easily get close to the opening by going five days North West of Minius. Since Kai had nothing else better to do, and the adrenaline was pumping through his body, he decided to keep reading about the wizard.
He pored over stories that were collected from the gnomes that seemed to interest him. Some of the descriptions of the area felt familiar to him. Almost like he had been there before. The gnome told the writer about a particular story of the wizard that he found very interesting. It was about a time when all the gnomes in the hollowed mountains that they made home were having trouble with their inventions and magic in particular. Just when the leader just died from an explosion the wizard showed up. Almost like he was called to them from the tragedy. The gnomes were having trouble in picking a new leader. There were several candidates for the position. The gnomes liked to pick their leader by their prowess in magic and building. No one had the talent of the last leader but several young ones showed promise but it was too early for them to really lead a nation. The wizard stepped in with the idea of taking the current candidates and having them build something and power it with magic. This startled the gnomes because they all knew that their magic was not working properly but the wizard said that he would oversee the building and implementation of the inventions to make sure no one got hurt. The wizard had to put out several fires and even stop one gnome in mid-air as he was falling from the failure of his invention “the crank-less elevator”. In the end with lots of work from the wizard, who the story teller noted seemed to go off on his own several times a day and come back clammy and sweaty, all the inventions worked with no more problems ever with their magic again. They also noticed that the children, no matter if they showed talent in magic, could always cast certain spells. When the leader was picked, his first duty was to take the young ones that showed promise and teach them the ways of the gnomes. The leader noticed that when the wizard left one of the more promising gnomes disappeared as well, a young man who showed a lot of talent in magic and the great ability to ascertain information from written word. Many felt that he may have followed the wizard believing he could learn more with him than with his own race.
Kai found that last to bit to be very intriguing. Most young of all the races didn’t go off rashly, especially one that had potential of leading their people. He decided, instead of dwelling on it, to keep reading. The next story was from the human race.
The wizard showed up one day when the humans were being attacked by a large army of orcs. The story-teller told of a mountain pass where the humans were putting up their last stand. Kai remembered the place well. He used to hear stories from his parents all the time, funny how none of them ever said that the human wizard in the folklore was this guy. His name seemed to fade away from the story only replaced by his great powers.
The orcs were marching into the pass in thousands. The human army had been dwindled down to three hundred men. They looked to stop the orcs for as long as possible in hopes that a retreat of the village could take place. They knew they had to hold out for at least three days. The orcs marched to the mid-way point of the path and the leader stopped and smiled an evil sharp-toothed grin. The orc then pointed up as his smile widened. The three hundred men looked up to see the peaks were covered with orc riders and they knew all hope was lost. The leader brought his hand down fast and yelled a visceral scream of hatred and hunger. As the army ran toward the three hundred men from above and in front, the three hundred spread out in an arrow formation, hoping to prevent the orcs from above to have space to land beside them, forcing them to jump in the middle opening them up to attack from all sides. This would serve for a short time but they knew all was lost at that time and they could only hope that some would be able to escape the massacre.
The riders from above jumped in the air toward the middle of the formation. Just as they were about to hit the ground a bolt of lightning hit the first in the air then spread to two more of the riders and kept spreading as it hit from one orc to the other. Danger was no longer raining down on the three hundred only smoldering orc corpses. One of the three hundred ventured a look behind them and noticed a lone figure dressed in brown robes floating in the air. The figure floated up higher into the air as he gestured with his hands, mumbling something. Within a few seconds the man looked like he threw something toward the backside of the orc army. That is when an eruption of fire burst forth in front of them. The air stank of burnt flesh, and screams could be heard coming from the back of the orc ranks. With that the orcish army retreated from the pass and never returned. The story teller noted that there was a large banquet for the wizard, as he left so too did a young man from the three hundred. Again it was noted that everyone believed that the young man must have left thinking that he could learn more with the wizard than with what he was doing there in the village.
That is when Kai decided to look back at the other stories to see if they all had someone leaving with or right after the wizard. Sure enough every story ended the same way. The wizard left and a youth from the village left with him. Some females but mostly all of them were men. Some people even said that he was the cause. The people that were missing were always a promising youth in the community. It was not uncommon for them to travel away to try and find some riches and fame at that time, so it mostly went unnoticed except for these stories. Kai knew that with a pattern comes some suspicion. He quickly grabbed another book from the shelf in hopes of finding more stories about the wizard, maybe some indication of where he came from or where he lived or even if any of the missing youths turned up as wizard’s themselves.
Kai scanned all of the books that were within reach and none of them had any indication of the Wizard in them. No heroic wizards showed up that were old members of a community. It was if the wizard and the youths just disappeared. Kai decided to go back to the book with the story of the wizard and check to see if there were any indications of time frames. Maybe if just one of them indicated a youth with the wizard as if an apprentice he would feel better. He carefully read each story, intersecting important information of known history. That is when he got more confused. For all indication the wizard was a human but a lot of the stories were spanning several hundred years. Some indications were that he was the first wizard, the one who started it all. Kai kept reading as he slowly got tired. It was getting very late indeed but he just couldn’t tear himself from this book.
Kai kept reading until finally he passed out from exhaustion. He dropped face down in the book snoring. He slept so peacefully he did not see the figure that seemed to step out from a shadow just outside the reach of the light. The figure stood about six feet tall and was covered in a black robe. The robe had a hood that covered his face in shadows. His eyes seemed to be glowing a faint green from under the hood. His arms were folded and his hands were in the opposite sleeves making him look almost like a praying monk at midnight. From under the hood a tuft of a black beard could be seen from the flickering light. His lips were parted in a slight smirk as he looked down upon Kai’s sleeping form. That smirk looked like a father looking down upon a child but his eyes flickered with a sense of craziness. He looked as one would think a person who had just lost most of his sense of humanity, but still had some semblance of clarity at times when looking upon one of their children.
The figure unfurled his arms from his sleeves and took another step closer to Kai’s sleeping body. He bent down and whispered “It is time for you to take your true form my child. You have done well.” With that he stood back up and waved his arms over Kai’s body while chanting quietly. A brown aura seemed to start from his body that emanated into a darkness as it got further from his figure. The darkness threatened to take over Kai’s sleeping form but stopped just short. After a short time Kai’s body started to respond with a brown aura of its own. The auras came together mingling.
As the figure finished, he watched as the aura’s collided together becoming one. He watched as the darkness started to take control hiding Kai’s sleeping form. As the darkness subsided the figure smiled once more and stepped back into the blackness behind him, seeming to melt into the darkness.