Over the weekend (August 18th,2018) was the latest New Jersey Collector’s Convention and my friends at Boss Fight Studio were there and they debuted some new stuff from upcoming waves in their fantasy line. As you’ve seen, their stuff provides me with lots of inspiration and these reveals were no different.
Felonious paused, holding the quill just over the parchment, ink thick on the tip. Lines of strange symbols spread across the pages of the open book. The pages were stacked up unevenly, only one remained on the right side. The last page and he was ready to commit the last word to paper.
But he was unsure.
Not about the word. That he knew. He had spent months perfecting all the words, getting the structures exactly right. Making sure there was no way to misinterpret what he said, no hidden holes in the logic. It had to be exact and total, covering any possibility. That was the only way.
He was unsure about the act itself.
Once that word was written he would be committed.
There was no backing out.
Putting the word to parchment did not mean the act was over. There was still much to do. Much that could go wrong. But the rest would need to happen once that word was down. If he did not complete all that was required by the end of the night then it was all for nothing. The moment would pass and he would never get another chance.
All that work, all that preparation. All that time.
But the risks?
Were they worth it?
A skittering noise drew his attention and he turned towards the other end of his desk. Thick wood, cracked and pitted with age, was covered in books and vials, stones and other assorted items of his trade. The noise belonged to a large white mouse, sitting on the far end on top of a pile of books. It looked at him, the eyes full of wisdom and knowledge.
“What do you think Draoi,” Felonious asked the mouse.
In reply it turned and jumped off the desk, landing on the floor and quickly disappearing into the shadows of the stone walls.
Felonious watched it go and felt like following.
Was the mouse trying to say something by way of its actions? Draoi was special, Felonious thought with a sigh, turning back to the book laid open before him. But sometimes the mouse acted like any other mouse. Was this one of those times or was there more meaning?
Most likely he means it’s a decision I must make for myself, the mage thought once more holding the quill pen over the page.
He closed his eyes.
Felonious did his share of bragging but it was most often for fun, a way to convince a lovely young lass to spend some time with him. Or a way to threaten a rival. He knew the limits of his power and how strong he truly was. This was a task he could do. Easily.
But that did not mean he should.
If he did, it would break with Accord. The Knights, if they found out, would brand him a traitor and hunt him down. A worry for another day and one he might eventually be able to work around. Steelblade was a somewhat reasonable man and there were many times the king had called on Felonious for tasks that only the mage could do, things that no knight would. And many of the knights in the order would not know about.
Even good kings had dirty deeds that needed doing.
It was not fear that held him back from putting the last word down.
Fear was what was pushing him to do it.
The Dark Man was coming for him and all the power he held would not save Felonious, not from Fear Dorcha. The Knights could not help. The elves would not. Even the strangers he had met, the one called Stonefist and those others, this was not something they could assist with.
Felonious had to face The Dark Man on his own.
The book was the chance, the hidden hole.
He had to face Fear Dorcha with the powers he possessed. This was using those powers.
Opening his eyes, Felonious quickly wrote out the last word before he lost his nerve.
Carefully he wrote out the symbols he had memorized, making sure each line and swirl was perfect. Once down he lifted the pen and gazed down at his work.
There was no flash of light, no intake of power, nothing to indicate what he had accomplished.
But he knew and that was enough.
The ink dried and he closed the leather bound book. It was not a thick book, only a couple dozen pages, but it felt heavy as he stood up from the table. His back protested, stiff from the long hours leaning over the book as he wrote. The corners of the reddish leather were banded in thick gold, the single symbol in the middle of the cover in gold as well.
A simple looking book.
Grabbing his staff from where it leaned against the wall, Felonious moved slowly out of the room. He needed to hurry, time was moving quickly and not a second was to be wasted, but it felt like a heavy weight was burdening him. Slowing him down. Not the book but just the enormity of the task he was about to perform. It was the weight of the world.
Stepping into the next room he waved the end of his staff through the air. The globe on the end flared and around the circular space torches caught fire and spread their glow. The room was empty, bare stone walls with a high ceiling, a single opening directly in the center of that ceiling showing the full moon and the stars of the night. A cloudless sky. Conditions were perfect.
The light of the torches revealed a five sided shape etched into the smooth stone floor. Large symbols were at each corner of the shape, solid lines connecting them, with hundreds of smaller symbols filling the space between. Neat and orderly lines, every inch between the five sides filled with those symbols except the center, a rectangular spot in the shape of a book.
Carefully, not wanting to disturb any of the symbols he had painstakingly etched into the stone, Felonious set the leather bound book into that clear space. It fit perfectly.
Quickly he stepped back, standing outside the lines and centered on that side. He raised the staff, a foggy light swirling within the green globe held by the carved dragon.
He spoke the words and lights appeared in the symbols carved on the ground. First at the top, the furthest away from him, and then in a spiraling pattern along the edge and continuing into the middle as he spoke. The light increased, growing with a deep red. The words flew out of him and he could feel the power. More than he had ever before. They moved him, almost like a song, reaching for the crescendo.
And then it came.
Felonious spoke the last word, the symbols on the floor racing towards the book in the center in time. As the last word came, the globe of his staff fell dark, and the single symbol on the book glowed brighter than all the others combined.
The book rose into the air, held aloft by nothing. Smoke seeped from out of the floor, escaping from the symbols in the stone. It swirled around and around, covering the book and collecting over a corner.
It seemed to collect on itself, the dark smoke taking on a brass color and solidifying into a shape. Chains. The smoke was becoming chains.
A foot or so out from the corner of the book, the chain stopped and the smoke that continued to pour from the symbols became a bracelet.
Now the smoke started to collect next to the book, a formless cloud. Felonious watched as part of the cloud shot out to and through the bracelet. Again, the dark cloud started to solidify and change color. A hand started to form, first the fingers with long dark claw like nails, and then the wrist and arm.
A deep red, heavily muscled arm, the bracelet with hanging book around the wrist. From the arm, the shoulder and then the body. The smoke became a tall creature, humanoid shaped. Parts forming slowly. Solid, the creature did not move. Naked. The legs were formed, the other arm and shoulder and the wings. Large and leathery, pulled in tight against the body. There was a tail, not moving, the end covered in large spikes. It was easily eight feet tall and heavily muscled. Strong and fast.
The smoke continued to pour from the carvings, swirling around and forming the creature until only the head was missing. It stopped coming, no more smoke issuing forth. The last of it swirled around the neck and then faded, abruptly revealing the creatures head.
Curly black hair, a human looking face except for the sharp teeth and pupil less yellow eyes. Two horns grew from its forehead, a thick ridge of bone that curled up and slightly back.
Silence fell as Felonious took a step back.
The head turned, looking everywhere. Up, to the sides, and finally settling on Felonious.
It took a step forward and stopped, unable to move. It looked down at the book hanging from it’s wrist and lifted the tome up. Holding it in front of its face the creature studied the book, not opening it, but seeming to be reading it.
After what seemed an eternity, where Felonious held his breath, the creature let the book drop and Felonious took a breath.
The wings unfurled and the creature let out a roar that echoed through the room.
Forcing his body to stop shaking, Felonious stood straight. Now was not the time to show fear. Be strong, be forceful. Do not back down.
“Eligor,” he said and the beast turned back to face him. Not a beast, he thought, but a demon. It was all Felonious could do to not turn and run as those eyes focused on him.
He had summoned a demon and bound it to him.
“You are bound to me,” he continued. “I have written the book with your name and the commands. You are mine.”
The demon studied Felonious, looking the mage up and down. It seemed to smile, a wicked and cruel one.
It snapped the fingers of the hand that was not bound and more smoke came out from the symbols. Not as thick as before, this cloud completely enveloped the body and legs, leaving the head and arms free. It closed in on the demon, tightening around its body, and Felonious watched as clothes appeared on the naked form.
Purplish pants. A belt made of what appeared to be leather but Felonious was not sure and did not want to know. Knee high boots with the tops turned down, trimmed in gold. A long coat, open at the chest, made of some dark material and trimmed in gold.
The demon looked down at Felonious, smiling with an evil glint in its eyes. There was a hunger there. Hunger and hatred. Rage, barely contained. And cunning.
The demon Eligor spoke, it’s voice rough. The tone alone enough to make Felonious want to run away. He prayed he had made the right decision. The words were spoken with a sneer, contempt. “What would you have me do, master?”