Book 1: Runeblade Academy
Written by: Ben Marroquin
The cool salt tinged air swept over and down the small grassy hill overlooking the lightly forested valley below. A lone figure, shrouded in rippling black robes, stood on top of the hill surveying the scene below.Dark black eyes were lit with a strange fervor as they darted from left to right and back again, taking in all the morbid details of the mysterious old stone tower standing below enshrouded in an unseen fog like veil of darkness. The stained walls were laden with the poisonous vines of blood ivy, bones of countless unknown anguished souls, and arcane symbols devoted to some dark magic or being.
The robed figure’s thin leathery hands clenched a sturdy dark ancient oak staff tightly. A staff adorned on the top with a strange sculpted form of a two headed parasitical creature, as the dark eyes took in the old town cemetery resting behind the dreaded tiled roofed tower below; a cemetery which could only mean two things: One, there would be undead creatures of shadows, bones, and rotting flesh guarding the dark tower. Two, that this indeed was the home of the vile and evil necromancer Lord Festivius whom terrorized the townspeople of Varune for nearly a decade now.
Yes, it was there in the small port town of Varune, lying a mere 5 miles south of the tower by Caitlyn Bay, which the lone robed figure had learned of Lord Festivius’ existence and dwelling. Within the shadows of the robed figure’s hood a sinister smile and a small squawk like cackle broke free in anticipation of the power soon to be gained.
The Fadey sky began to darken with the setting of the suns and the robed figure began to make its way towards the dark oversized door of the tower, whispering strange words of a powerful language. Words which were ripping foul unseen smoky like tendrils from the dark side of the veiled essence of magic; enveloping the robed figure in much needed protection against undead conjurations, enchantments of the mind, and allowing the robed figure to change form. The robed figure then pulled a plain looking black ring out from the folds of the robe, placed it on the now small and supple ring finger, and continued on towards the lurid rock steps that led up to the oversized dark door of the tower.
Lord Festivius was in his putrid smelling laboratory, on the 2nd floor, working on the creation of a new stitch golem since his last one had been destroyed in his blood stained summoning chamber, located deep in the bowels of the tower, when he heard an echoing scream emanating from downstairs. A scream originating from a small horrid bloated head-like knocker which adorned the tower’s dark oversized door thus signaling the arrival of a new victim or visitor.
With his mind on the difficult task at hand, he quickly paced over to and opened a small window, peered down into the greenish tinted light below which magically lit the doorway, and noticed a trembling robed figure with her hood pulled down… her eyes darting in all directions. The little girl left at his door appeared to be no more than 12 years old. Ah, I see the townspeople of Varune have sent me my payment early this month thought Lord Festivius as a smile creased his half burnt face I guess they learned their lesson from last month. He then whispered some strange words into the dark, turned, and headed back to his work table smiling with renewed energy from the thoughts of the delicious dessert waiting for him downstairs upon completion of his new servant. A just reward for such a long and difficult task he thought.
The oversized door creaked open as soon as its master had whispered the command, allowing the little girl entrance into its dark embrace. The little girl paused for a mere moment, stuck her arm into the blood ivy covering the nearby walls and pulled forth a dark oaken staff, then entered the tower with a very wicked looking smile etched upon her pale face. Clenching her now dark glowing staff the little girl entered the arched hallway, paused to let her black eyes adjust to the little amount of light within the tower, and prepared to be attacked in case her spells of protection did not work.
Several undead creatures of rotting flesh went shambling by but not a one bothered to approach her. In fact, it was as if they didn’t even see her… and her smile widened. The little girl made her way towards the stained stone staircase, placed her black ringed hand on the railing, and proceeded up towards the 2nd floor where she had seen the necromancer. She felt waves of unseen jaundiced black energy pulse through her, only to be absorbed by the ring, as she ascended the stairs in mounting confidence.
The little girl reached the 2nd floor of the dreaded tower and walked over towards a thick wooden door on the far wall guided by the stench of decay, chemicals, and formaldehyde which were wafting up from the small opening at the bottom of the wooden barrier. She pressed her ear up against the door, listening for sounds of the master within, then satisfied that her prey was within; she prepared herself for the battle ahead. If her planned worked as designed then she knew that the battle would be ended before it even began and so far, up to this point, it has worked flawlessly she thought as she whispered words that undid her transformation spell and returned the dark robed figure’s original form.
Lord Festivius was hunched over his work table, sewing a hefty rotted leg onto his creation with a large threaded needle when the door to the lab burst open with a BANG! Fear… and then anger swept his face as he glared up at the form of the dark robed figure holding a strange dark staff and heard its raspy voice bellow out “Corpius Pertrificus!”
Unseen smoky dark tendrils of ripped magical energies encircled the robed figure’s outstretched hand and then shot out towards their victim, wrapping themselves around him, from head to toes, like a giant constrictor, and held him fast to the spot. Sounds of squawking birds filled Lord Festivius ears as he found himself immobilized, silenced, and at the mercy of this blasted intruder.
The robed figure strutted into well lit lab, drew back the hood revealing straight shoulder length black hair and the source of the sound of squawking birds. He then gave Lord Festivius an eerie smile of victory.
Lord Festivius’ eyes darted from his assailant’s grayish hollow face with the blackest of eyes, to the black ring on the hand; the plain black ring sent to Varune by one of his servants which would allow the next sacrifice to enter his tower and allow her some freedoms within: The very same ring the townspeople had given to a robed figure in hopes that he would be able to destroy this vile necromancer, finally bringing an end to their nightmarish suffering. He was silently cursing himself for his lack of foresight concerning the ring when his eyes finally noticed what the ring hand was clenching…
A strange dark oaken staff adorned with a two headed parasitical creature, a relic of the darkest of powers that he had believed its existence was mere myth… until this moment. That means that this robed figure must be… he thought with mounting fear a vile soul sucking Parasite Mage!
The tortured look of realization within Lord Festivius’ eyes only served to make the Parasite Mage squawk louder with laughter. A fierce rage, born of fear, waged in Lord Festivius’ eyes as the last words he would ever hear again echoed throughout the vile lab, “Soulticero Angterium!”
If not for the paralyzing spell enveloping him, the room would have reverberated with the dying screams of the necromancer.
A moment later violent tendrils of the darkest and most foulest of energies dissipated and a shriveled up shell of a necromancer hit the floor in a lifeless heap of torn and withered flesh, battered bones and tattered robes from which a dark book had escaped skidding across the floor… catching the eye of the Parasite Mage known as Alabaster Darkthorn… or as of tonight: Lord Darkthorn.
Whispering words the dark book floated into the open hand of Lord Darkthorn. Upon opening it he read the title page silently to himself “The Journal of Lord Festivius Master of Death.” Filled with the energy of his latest kill, he made his way onto a reading chair by a fire lit chimney on the first floor, and began devouring the dark knowledge contained within the pages of the journal.
He sat there for hours; suddenly rising to his feet as his eyes repeatedly read one of the last entries over and over again, each time adding to the shining fervor of his eyes the likes of which he had never known.
The entry contained events from a few nights ago; the summoning of a dark being of immense power… the promise of a powerful ritual which would create an object of immense power known as the Soulstone… and the binding of six powerful servants unlike the world has ever seen before… it contained his escape from certain death which cost him his stitch golem… the rest of the journal spoke of the process of rebuilding his stitch golem but Lord Darkthorn didn’t care about that useful information at the moment for he was a Parasite Mage and that meant that he was driven by one goal: The acquisition of POWER so strong as to be able to break free of the bonds and limitations of flesh and bone in order to achieve a new state of being, an immortal god-like state of being.
I must have this Soulstone he thought and thus a sinister plan began to take shape…