Dreadful Kingdom

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  1. Burkhardt stood before Minister Erhard, he knew why he had been called, he had heard the rumors as did everyone else. Erhard sat in the small throne that he grew out of Mother Tree 100 years ago when he had killed the seven. Burkhardt didn't think much of his ancestors, they were obviously foolish and had bitten off more than they could chew with their attempt to curtail the democracy of the clan. He felt no animosity towards the man and even respected him. He looked upon his visage, he had allowed streaks of grey to grow in because he liked the look and it was tied in a ponytail behind his head.

    Though he was sitting, he was still taller than Burkhardt, his shirtless form would be towering over him if he stood. Burkhardt dressed like he did when he trained, he wore white robes, tied off at the wrist and waist, blue trousers, tied tight to his calves, and bare feet. He carried his sword at his side, a kriegsmesser contained in a spelled leather scabbard. A bow on his back, unstrung the wood and the string spelled.

    Erhard stroked his beard and blew up on a nonexistent lock of hair on his forehead, "Ok, so, we have all heard the rumors." He said, looking at the sizable crowd they had gathered including several of his children, grandchildren, greatgrandchildren and great great grandchildren, "The nearby kingdom of Teutonia is incentivising mages to join them for the army they are amassing. Normally, even if they were, that would be none of our concern. However, several among our number have gone missing while visiting Teutonia, so I am forced to call for action. Burkhardt, you are to travel to Teutonia, ascertain whether the rumors are true, and find any mages there. If you find any that are captured or have been killed, bring them, or their bodies back here, at whatever the cost, call for back-up only if absolutely necessary. However, if they are there of their own free will, simply come back and report that and we need not look into it any further." He said, "When will you be leaving?" He asked.

    "I'm going to need the cobbler to make me some spelled hobnailed boots, but after I obtain them, immediately." He said, turning on his heel to address the cobbler.

    One of Erhard's grandchildren ran out of the crowd to speak to him, "Grandfather, are you sure it's best to send him? He isn't nearly as powerful of many amongst our number, yourself included, we literally have more than a 1000 mages more powerful than him. Surely if it goes wrong, it would be better for it to be someone else?" She asked.

    Erhard nodded, "True, he does not have nearly the volume of magic power myself, or any of my progeny have. But he has the right kind of magic skills and other skills for if this goes wrong. Imagine if you will, an orchard, peaches, plums and more, and an axe. Which would you rather have in the summer?" He asked.

    "The orchard." She said softly.

    "Winter? Spring? Fall?" He asked.

    "The Orchard." She said, patiently waiting for him to continue.

    "And why would you want the orchard?" He asked her.

    "Well, in the summer, it would bear fruit for us to gather and store to use throughout the year, in the fall we would collect the deadfall to burn in the winter, while using the trees as a shelter from the wind, and in the spring, the blooms would be useful for many reasons." She said.

    "If bad men come to attack your orchard, are you going to pick up the deadfall or the axe to fight them off?" He asked.

    "Of course the axe, sir." She said softly.

    Erhard nodded, "We are all like trees in the orchard, Ericka, we have many benefits, and we can even use our abilities offensively, but that is not what they are meant for. An axe is a tool, it is a tool for harm in one way or another. Burkhardt is an axe." He explained.

    "But sir, if we are the trees, and he is the axe, doesn't that mean he can cut us down?" She asked.

    Erhard nodded, "You were paying attention." He said with a smile, "I could have chosen any weapon I wanted, a sword, a spear, a bow, a club, I chose an axe. Do you know why that is?" He asked.

    Her eyes grew wide, "No, you can't be saying-"

    "Ah, but I am. He could cut down you, me, any of us. He is exactly the type of mage Teutonia would want to recruit, which is why he is the best for this job." He explained.


    Burkhardt walked into the cobbler tree, knocking on the counter, "Cobbler, I'm being sent to Teutonia, I need hobnailed boots, enchanted to be silent." He shouted into the store.

    Ivo came out from the back room, wearing a leather apron and trousers, "Oh, hello Burkhardt, investigating the rumors are we?" He asked, putting on leather gloves and waving his hands, leather and thread flying overhead, sewing together in the proper shape, hobnails joining them with steel plates that he struggled to cut into the right shape and form into another sheet, "I'm gonna miss you, how are we going to replenish our supply of fine steel?" He asked with a chuckle.

    "You'll manage." He said with a smile, "We have other steelmakers." He added softly.

    "Well, while you're there, can you buy some silver for me?" He asked, pulling out a satchel of gold and setting it on the counter.

    "Well, I will be keeping half of what you gave me the gold for." He said, holding out his hand for the gold.

    He narrowed his eyes at Burkhardt, "You're lucky this is pretty much worthless to us." He said, tossing the bag to Burkhardt, "I expect at least twice the weight in silver as I'm giving you in gold." He said as Burkhardt pocketed the bag.

    "All right, I'll give you half of the silver or twice the weight of the bag, whichever is more." He said.

    Ivo nodded and set the finished boots on the counter and closed his eyes, waving his hands over them, "All right, they're not completely silent. You can sneak up on a deer in a forest, but I don't know how will it will perform on cobblestone roads." He said, holding out the boots for him with a pair of thick socks.

    Burkhardt took the socks, brushing the dirt off his feet as he put them on, putting on the boots right after, marvelling at the softness, "Oh yeah, that's great. I haven't worn boots since-"

    "Since you became an adult. I know, my mom made them." He said. Burkhardt nodded and waved, leaving the tree with his gold and with Ivo's. He began to walk out of their grove into the rest of the forest, heading north.


    He entered Teutonia and went a few miles within before finding a decent sized town with an inn. It had been several days since he last ate and he wanted food, and wine, since the locals didn't know how to keep their water clean. He sat down at the bar in the inn, "How much for a hot meal, some wine and a room for the night?" He asked.

    "A silver for the meal, a silver for the wine and three silvers for the room." she said, sizing him up by the look of his clothes.

    He pulled a gold piece out of his pocket, "I'd like my change in as much silver as you have." He said, "You can keep the copper if you hurry with my food and drink."

    She nodded vigorously as she ran off to grab his food and he looked around for any mages. Most everyone in the tavern had a strange look about them to his eyes, no magical aura, he took that for the obvious, not mages.

    Soon enough the innkeeper was back with four silvers and her food, "I've heard that the kingdom is recruiting mages for the army here." He said loudly, "Know where I can sign up?" He asked.

    The innkeeper shook her head and hurried back off.
  2. Tesa stood before Head Mistress Lila. She was a frail looking woman, though she was by no means weak. She wasn't sure why she had been called to the office, as she had yet to do anything against the rules. Head Mistress Hannah was there as well, making her feel that this was a serious matter.

    "Miss Tesa," Lila began, and Tesa tensed, "You have been here for 17 years, and in that time, you have done nothing but excel, and exceed our expectations. You were the top of your class, every year." here she paused and looked at Hannah, who produced Tesa's staff. "As such, we feel it is time for you too have a bit of time outside the walls. We are sending you on a mission. You must find one person, a person of magic, and recruit them to our cause. Once you have successfully completed this task, we will further discuss your place among us. You may even be allowed to live outside the walls if you do well."

    Tesa was shocked. She had heard they were recruiting, but that was usually left up to the noble kids. She was speechless as Hannah handed her the staff. She had designed this one herself, as all are allowed to do once they reach a high enough ranking. Until then, they are to use a trainers staff. She took a finger lovingly down the side before looking up at the two women.

    "I-i don't know what to say," she paused to gather her thoughts. "Th-thank you. I will not let you down." She waited until they dismissed her and headed on her way to the kitchen. There, she gathered the supplies she needed before heading to the gates. She showed the guards her papers and took a deep breath as they raised them. Soon, she was on her way, wanting nothing more to complete the task before her. She wanted to go home, and this was the way to reach that goal.

    Tesa sighed. Finding mages seemed to be harder than she thought. Every time she heard a rumor, she was there as soon as she could be. Most times, it turned out that the rumors were false, ans she would have to set out once more. She now found herself in a village, a few miles out from the border. It was getting dark and she felt tired. Sighing, she searched for an Inn, until she found one that seemed rather nice and entered. Her staff was wrapped in a gray blanket, looking more like a tool than anything. This was to keep it from being stolen. She barely glanced around as she sat at a table, and produced just enough money to buy a hot meal and a room for a couple nights.
  3. Burkhardt's gaze glided over the people in the inn. He drank his wine slowly, taking bites between sips and thoughtfully chewing. The food was terrible, but he figured that was to be expected, he could tell the woman had overcharged him, but he didn't want to stir up a ruckus. His gaze fell on Tesa and lingered on her, she was dressed much finer than anyone in the bar and had a magical aura larger than even his. He saw the staff wrapped in the grey blanket and knew what she was then, a mage for the kingdom.

    He scarfed down his food quickly, wanting to fill his belly, drinking down his wine to wash the taste out of his mouth, sour though it was. He left his dishes on the table and walked over to her table, "That staff help you focus?" He asked, "I can't see any magical aura coming off of it, so it can't be enchanted in some way, so I have to wonder if it works kind of like the runes I inscribed on my sword so enchanting it was easier. Something to focus on helps." He added, trying to see if she had any reaction from that.

    "I come from a neighboring..." He tried to remember the word, "Kingdom." He paused, thinking on that word and nodded to himself that it was correct, "They don't appreciate mages like..." He paused, choking on the name for the kingdom, unable to remember it, "This kingdom. I heard that the royalty are recruiting mages here. That true?" He asked.
  4. Tesa's eyes went wide. All this searching and one just falls in her lap. Her luck was beginning to turn it seemed. She coughed to clear her throat. She didn't want to scare him off, not when going home was on the table. She gave him a warm smile and gestured for him to sit down.

    "It sure is," she said "In fact, that's what I'm here doing. Looking for a new recruit." looking at her staff she had a small frown appear briefly on her face. "I-i can't control my magic without my staff. It's too, explosive." She ordered them a couple of drinks. "By the sound of it, I'd say you were looking to join?" she asked. She looked him up and down. She didn't know what kind of mage he was, but she hoped he may reveal that while they talked.
  5. He nodded when she asked if he wanted to join, "Yes, I heard you were paying special heed to enchanters? He pulled out his sword and set it on the table and everyone in the Inn began to stare. He was confused for a moment then realized they probably thought he was intending to use it. He held up a calming hand, showing that the weapon wasn't in his hand and set it on the table and everyone went back to their drinks, "I made this sword myself, I'm a mage-smith, I'm able to manipulate the components of rocks and ores and make them into fine steels, tempering them to perfection by causing them to generate their own heat. I'd wager my steel superior to the steel of any smith in the kingdom." He said, showing off the fine shine of the blade.

    "After I'm done with that I enchant the blade, for everlasting sharpness, durability and strength, I imagine there's a lot of enchanters who put stupid, complex enchantments on their blades, but like I said, that's stupid." He explained, "The simpler the enchantment, the more power able to be put into it, so my sword could cut through such a blade and the armor of the man wielding it, and then the man, until it came out the other side and I, or whoever was wielding one of my swords, stopped moving." He picked up his sword and sheathed it again, "I also enchant armor, though I tend to just put the enchantments on clothes." He said tugging on his own clothes, "It'll work just as well as any armor. So, do I qualify?"
  6. One of Tesa's eyebrows raised as he talked. This was looking better and better. Enchanters were few and far between it seemed. The good one's anyway. And he was a metal worker? This was a big score for the Kingdom, and there was no way she was going to botch this up. With him, she was guaranteed to be able to go home. Though she knew she had to test him to make sure he was really who he said he was. Just because he had the objects, didn't mean he produced them himself.

    "Yes we are actually. Of course, I would need a bit more proof than what you have shown me. As it is late,I suggest you give me a demonstration tomorrow. Assuming, of course, you still want to sign up." She could almost taste her freedom. She had no reason to believe he was lying to her, as there would be no reason to. Even still, she did have to be absolutely sure he was who he said he was before bringing him back. She might end up demoted if she brought back a phony. Then, she would definitely never see home again.
  7. He nodded at her request for a demonstration the next day, "Of course." He said with a smile, "I'll have to find some iron rich minerals though, so it will take some time to get started." He explained, "So what type of magic do you use, that makes it so explosive that you actually need a focusing element rather than it's just helpful?" He asked.

    "I've never heard of such a thing before where I come from, and mages are rather common there." He let slip, silently cursing himself and hoping that she would let it slide by, "I'd be interested in seeing a demonstration of it myself."
  8. "I-" Tesa paused before continuing. More mages where he's from. She could use that do her advantage, but then again, this man seemed like he would be enough. Another detail caught her attention about his home though. The mages there didn't use a staff, AND could control their magic, curious. "Y-you need a staff to focus your power. Everyone does. Without it, things could go very wrong." she finally said. Her voice matched her confusion however, and she was sure he noticed that.

    Looking him up and down, she decided it would be okay for him to know her power, since he was a magic user as well. "I'm a High Fire Mage," she said, as it was a title, she emphasized on it slightly, trying to show she was no one to mess with should he try anything tomorrow. "And I wouldn't mind giving you a demonstration. After all, it would only be fair, seeing as I asked you for one as well."
  9. Burkhardt tilted his head to the side at her explanation of the staff. She seemed to know that wasn't true as well, but couldn't quite figure out why she had to use one. He dismissed the thought, she was probably as much a victim as his people might be. Now he just had to find them serving in the military, and then figure out a way to get back to Pagas, they would have to prepare for a war.

    He stared at her blankly when she announced her title, they had plenty of fire mages back in his village, he would have been more impressed if she were a sun mage, only Erhard's descendants had been sun mages. He stood up, "Good then, it's settled." He said, looking for the innkeeper so she could take him to his room. He closed himself in and took off his sword belt and set his bow off to the side before taking off his shoes. He flopped down on the bed and immediately fell asleep.


    The next morning Burkhardt hopped into his shoes and they laced themselves up. He left his sword belt and bow in his room and went down to get breakfast. He got to the bar and held up a gold coin for the innkeeper, "Eggs, eggs and bread and butter." He said, laying his head on the counter, "Change in silver, keep the copper." The innkeeper rolled her eyes and took the gold coin, running off to make his food.
  10. Tesa's sleep was fitful, and she woke many times. This was made very apparent when she shuffled downstairs with her staff in tow. Her eyes were tired and movements slow as she sat beside Burk. "Morning." she said as she yawned.

    Once she ordered her own breakfast, she asked the inn keeper where she could find the items her companion requested. She also asked for an area that they may not care about if it was destroyed. This was where she would demonstrate her power. She wasn't kidding when she said it was explosive.
  11. Burkhardt laughed when she asked the innkeeper for a place that she wouldn't mind if it was destroyed, "This is an inn in a small town. It matters if anything gets destroyed." Once the breakfast and change came to him, he shovelled in the food quickly and put the change in his pocket, "Come on." He said, leading her outside. He walked a bit out of the village with her, leading her to a rock with large orange stripes in it.

    He waved a hand and a chunk of one of the stripes came out. He touched it and it began to heat up as various other materials came out from it, turning into gasses as they left. It began to resolve into a dark knife with circular symbols on it resembling the ones on his blade. He traced his finger over them and the runes lit up as he poured his magic in. Once done he grabbed the handle and stabbed it into the rock, it sunk in several inches, "The blade is pretty much pure iron, steel would make for a much better blade, but I think this will suffice for a demonstration."

    He hit the hilt of the knife and it snapped off, what was showing of the runes faded in power as the item broke. He leaned against the rock, waiting for her.
  12. Tesa had a small glare on her face ever since he acted as if she had no common sense. Of course she wouldn't use her magic in town. But you never know when one might find themselves on a piece of property that someone owns. She grumbled as she ate her own food. She was already tired, and he was making matters worse with his cocky attitude. She knew she was going to be cranky for the rest of the day.

    She had to admit, he did do impressive work. But again, she was in a foul mood, and it was her turn to demonstrate her own power. So, with a few more grumbles, she led him to a giant open field, keeping them at the edge. The Innkeeper had told her the land belonged to no one and was safe to use in any way. Taking a deep breath she uncovered her staff. This would be the first time Burkhardt would have gotten to see it. Placing it in front of her, Tesa began to focus, muttering words under her breath to help create the spell. It took a bit, but soon, she was ready to release the spell. This wasn't her most powerful spell, but it was still pretty strong.

    "Witness here, the power of a High Fire Mage!" she exclaimed before smirking and releasing the spell. At first, nothing happened, which was normal, but after a few seconds, there was a bright light as blue flames burst from the center of the field, extending outward in a circular pattern, leaving nothing but ash and a crater at the center of it. As it expanded, she covered Burkhardt's ears, having already put plugs in her own. This was to cushion the sound of an explosion and keep their ears from bleeding.
  13. He watched the fire explosion, impressed that someone outside his village had this kind of power, he had heard that magic power was incredibly scarce out here, but there were still some problems, "I'm frightened how your magic works without your staff to focus it." He said drily, "That was an impressive show of power, but control is a bit lacking." They needed his people, and he wondered how they got kidnapped if this was some of the best mages they had. He resolved that they had the numbers.

    There were 10 that never returned from visiting, 10 that went missing without notifying of a stay. They would only need ten mages with her magnitude of power for them. One each, greater population, more able to spare the hands. It was good he was sent.

    He decided to take a gamble and touched her staff with his index finger, making a circle on it, an indent formed and magic began to pour from him into it. It was a simple enchantment to improve focus and concentration when she used the staff, but he put a little catch, he could remove it at any moment, "That should help with the control." He said, looking over the ash and flames that remained, "So, what now?" He asked.
  14. Tesa gave him a worried glance. "What did you do to it! I'm not supposed to mess with the enchantments already in place! I'll get into trouble!" she explained before examining it. Her attitude was gone, replaced with slight fear. She was worried they wouldn't let her go home if she messed up. She tried to calm down. Maybe if she explained to them that the enchanter had meddled with it without her consent, she would get into less trouble.

    Taking a deep breath she looked at him, trying to shove the fear down. "Now, we go to the tower, and introduce you to Head Mistress Lila and Headmistress Hannah," looking away from him, she also muttered "And hope I can finally go home."
  15. He looked at her funny when she said that it might mess with the enchantments that are already in place, "What are you talking about? There were no enchantments in place before I did that. That staff was basically a metal stick till I added the focusing magic..." He gritted his teeth, realizing that she was in fact in a similar boat to what his people suspected was happening.

    She said they would go to the tower and muttered that she might be able to finally go home and his suspicions were fully confirmed. They were taking mages from their homes. His teeth chattered with the anger and he struggled to calm himself down as he nodded. He breathed in heavily and let out a deep sigh, "Well then, we should head out, how far away is it?" He asked, suddenly wishing he had one of the more powerful self enhancers with him. Dignified or not, being carried by one of them as they flew across the landscape, their feet barely touching the ground, was a lot quicker than walking.
  16. Tesa gave him a confused look. Surely he must be mistaken about there not being any enchantments on the staff. They were always told there was a focusing enchantment on the staff, to keep their magic under control. Paying no more heed to it she looked around, to once more get her bearings.

    "Well, first, now that I have found you, well a new recruit. I'm allowed to purchase two steeds to take us back. I have two in mind that caught my eye yesterday. After that, it's a 4 days ride north. 5 if it rains a lot and the river crossing is flooded. I will also purchase us a couple of tents and sleeping gear." with that, Tesa led the way back to the village, stopping first at the stables. There were only two steeds they had for sale. A dapple gray mare, and a chestnut gelding. She had stopped in here before and had taken a strong liking to the mare, and it her apparently.

    Once she purchased the steeds, she made her way to the village goods store. She made sure to get the provisions they would need as well as their sleeping gear. The only problem she ran into, at least it was a problem for her, was that there was only one tent, so either one of them would have to sleep outside, and hope it wouldn't rain, or they would both have to share a tent. Tesa blushed at the thought as she exited the store and walked up to Burkhardt.
  17. He followed her along, listening intentively as she explained the journey, "Good. Five days will be soon enough." He suspected that the Minister could carry him there by the afternoon but decided not to torment himself with unreasonable, unrealistic thoughts. Five days, his people could survive that long. He'd have to find them all as soon as possible and get them out of there.

    She bought the horses and it was clear that he was going to have the Gelding. He touched the horse softly, patting its nose reassuringly before hopping up onto its back, landing softly. The horse nickered as he did and he settled himself into the saddle. She bought them a tent and he nodded at her, clicking his tongue with the horse to trot around a bit, he was eager to set off.

    He kept close to her, not wanting to leave much of a distance between the two of them. He didn't need any problems happening with her, her obvious confusion was problem enough.
  18. Tesa set about putting their supplies on the backs of the horses, being sure to distribute the weight evenly according to their strength. Once she was done with that, she pulled herself up into the saddle of her mare, who she named Eliza. Taking a deep breath, she smiled and motioned for him to follow. Setting an easy pace, so as to not tire the horses before their journey was done, she led the way towards the city. She had them stop a few times during the day to water the horses, making sure everyone in their group was taken care of.

    As the sun began to set, she set about finding a good place to camp. Once she found a clearing suitable, she motioned for him to dismount and tied off Eliza to a sturdy tree by her harness. She then removed the horses tack, so they would be comfortable through out the night. It wouldn't do to have unhappy horses, least one of them get thrown. After dealing with the horses, she began to set up the tent, asking Burkhardt if he would deal with the fire pit.
  19. Burkhardt patted his mare, he hadn't named it, feeling it an unnecessary thing. He kept close, looking around for any threats, she couldn't reliably use her magic in close quarters, he'd have to deal with any threats that managed to get close to the horses. Every time she stopped, he ran off to forage, heading off into the forest. He went full speed once out of sight, nearly that of the horses at full tilt to gather berries. Soon enough, he had enough snacks to keep him satisfied for a bit before returning to camp.

    When she started setting up camp, Burkhardt jumped off the horse, pulling all of his equipment off before patting the horse and sitting next to him. He nodded when asked to set up the fire pit, quickly digging out a hole with his hands. Once finished he gathered some wood and drew a symbol on a stick, putting a small amount of magic in it before it set ablaze. Satisfied, he tossed it on the pile of wood in the pit and leaned against the saddle as the blaze started up.

    "I heard you talking about home a couple times. Tell me about your home." He said, trying to find out more about her.
  20. At his question, Tesa fell deep into thought as she tried to remember her home. It was hard to do so, as she had not seen her home in 17 years. Her family was a mass of blurred faces, and she teared up a little. Clearing her throat she finally spoke, still attending to the tent. "Home is a small village, with six older brothers and sisters. My mother and father scrambling after all of us in an attempt to get us to do chores. My grandma, sitting in her rocker, watching us all with a small smile on her wrinkled face. Home is a small cottage on the edge of a huge field, filled with wildflowers. Home is seventeen years in the past now. Faces blurred as I try to remember them." she sniffled a little, trying not to show her emotions. It may very well turn him away if she did, and she could not afford that.
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