Manish Joshi would have gladly exchanged the last few days of his life for an eternity of torment. The only thing that prevented him from actually selling his soul to some mystical force he did not even believe in was that he knew everything was his own fault. He made his first mistake when he stayed in that blasted city for more than a week, because he wanted to thoroughly research its extensive library, even though he knew that he would eventually be recognised. His second mistake was that when the local military moved in to capture him, he took them head-on instead of just avoiding them like he always did. He somehow managed to send them running, but then, he made his third mistake, the one that nearly cost him his life. He decided to raid the library of the city and take some of the books they had on stock with him. Needless to say, the old mage that always visited the library did not take kindly to that. In his defence, Manish had no idea that an old woman like her could wield so much power, but in retrospect, he really should have just fled the city. Whoever that mage was, she almost managed to set the library on fire with her flurry of spells, not to mention that Manish could not attack her even once. Her spells were so powerful that he had to spend all of his energy on defending himself, but as he discovered, not even his golems could take more than a few of her attacks. Of course, he realised the difference in power within a few exchange of blows, so he chose to count his losses and flee the city, but then he discovered that the local army had managed to re-organise itself. With the support of the old woman, the army was more than a match for Manish. In fact, they were such a strong adversary that he had to play tag with them for days before he could somehow escape from the city, then when they noticed that he was gone, the army chased him right into the ominous mountains near the city. For some reason, the army did not follow him, but at that moment, he was glad to have survived that encounter. It did not occur to him that the army had a reason why they abandoned the chase, a reason which manifested in the form of skeleton warriors. Utterly exhausted from fighting the army and their helper, Manish was chased across the mountains for days until he finally managed to find an area that was out of their area of influence. While that meant that he could rest for several days, it also meant that he had absolutely no idea where he was because he was too busy surviving to pay attention to the surroundings. Of course, he still had his compass with him, but as he discovered, he did not have enough food and water left to last a journey. Therefore, he spent the last two days discovering the mountain and hunting for animals. But now, even though he was finally rested and he had enough food, he was on the verge of giving up. He has been trecking across the mountains for days, but he saw no signs of civilization at all. There were no paths on any of the mountains, nor any weapons, nothing. Even when he decided to climb up to one of the peaks, he saw only trees for miles without end. For the first time in his life, he was completely lost without a single soul or object to help him. He hoped that his compass would at least lead him out of the mountains, but he seemed to venture deeper and deeper into the wilderness. Fortune decided to lend a hand to him though, for he soon found a clearing that was filled with tree stumps. Jumping for joy, Manish explored the clearing thoroughly and found a path that renewed his resolve. With his willpower renewed, even his tired arms and legs felt like they could carry him across a thousand miles, so he started following the path to civilization. Eventually, he ended up at a small village in a valley. It was just a typical village, nothing more, but Manish almost jumped with joy as he saw it. It has been so long since he has seen other human faces and even if these small villages were absolutely hostile to outsiders, at least it meant that he could find out the name of the village and follow a road to the nearest city. He managed to reach the village at twilight, but he was dismayed to see a pair of soldiers standing at every entry point. Even worse, they were wearing the uniform of the regular army, meaning that they were not just some kind of local militia that the villagers drafted because they feared of the outsiders. His only hope was that the guards would not recognise him on entry, so he quickly pulled the hood down from his head and loosened the cloth on his mouth, hoping that being inconscpicious would prevent the guards from inspecting him closely. Naturally, that theory did not work. "Halt," said one of the soldiers to the approaching Manish. "We have been informed that a criminal is travelling in these parts. Please wait a..." said the soldier, then he looked up at the face of the mage. "You are him," he said, his hand already gripping his weapon. "Manish Joshi, you are hereby arrested fo-" "I hate you, Finagle," said Manish, interrupting the soldier. For a second, both soldiers looked up at him in surprise... Then they screamed when two huge spiders materialised right in front of their faces.