Tales of Strange Adventures

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Home Index of Tales of Strange Adventures

"Call of the Dragon, Pt I"

"Call of the Dragon, Pt II"

"Ruins and Hopes"

"Shield Maiden" Cornell #3

"Warrior Eternal" Cornell #4

"Childhood of a Fighter"

"The Pledge" Cornell #5

"The Rock of Discontent"

"A Tale of the Gods"

"The Miracle of Solstice Day" Cornell #6


Call of the Dragon, Part 1

  by Marc H. Wyman & Chris Bogues

  Section 1 / Section 2



 “You have been hurt,” Ylvain said as they entered the wide complex near the edge of Sestercion that housed Darawks’s academy. Built of marble, it was an enthralling sight, white and airy like the promise of knowledge that beckoned from within. A score of people clad in the tan vests of the scholars sat on the plaza in front, browsing through books or discussing various topics. The halls and corridors of the academy were empty for the moment, though. Voices issued from behind some of the doors they passed, sounding like lectures.

Cornell suddenly became aware that Ylvain was right. The blows Sylasa had struck had left their painful marks on him. Before, he had been too furious to notice, yet now he felt ache sting with every breath.

“This way,” Ylvain said and opened an oak door leading into a well furnished study, limned with shelves full of books and scrolls. Two windows were set on the opposite wall, allowing the afternoon sunlight to stream in and glisten on a number of metal idols placed on stands in the center of the room. “Sit down there,” the scholar continued, pointing to a leather chair with oak arms. Cornell obeyed. Ylvain went across to a closet while Barandas inobtrusively settled on another chair identical to Cornell’s.

After a few moments the scholar returned with a flask in his hand. “Pull up your shirt, young man,” he said as he pulled the stopper from the flask. “I am sure you would prefer the ministrations of a priestess of Alyssa, yet I assure you that an old scholar-priest can work the same magic –“ he grinned, “- at least as far as your wounds are concerned.”

Cornell did as he was asked. His chest was covered with spots already turning blue. Added to that were a goodly number of scars he had contracted in the past, painting a pattern like tattoos over his welltoned muscles. “Quite a pummeling you have taken,” Ylvain muttered and sprinkled some of the liquid in the flask over the warrior’s body. It stung wherever it hit, without a sensation of wetness. The cleric waved his right hand slowly over the chest, mumbling arcane words, calling down the blessing of his god.

The aches subsided quickly. After a few more passes of the hand, the spots began to fade. Five minutes later, not a trace remained, and Ylvain replaced the stopper in the flask. Sweat had gathered on his forehead. “You may cover yourself again,” he said huskily before he turned for a jar of water on his desk.

“Thank you, honored sage,” Cornell said.

“Don’t mention it,” the scholar answered, his voice returned to freshness as he put down the jar. “After all, you have just paid some part of your dues. Barandas, please leave us.”

Surprise and worry plastered across Cornell’s face, as the wizard’s head jerked up. “Honored –“, he began to protest only to be cut short by Ylvain. “This is none of your concern, my boy. This man wishes to keep a secret, so it should not be for a stranger to learn.”

“A –“

Barandas checked himself abruptly, nodded reverently to the sage and left, not without casting a vicious glance in Cornell’s direction.

The warrior sat upright. He worked hard to conceal his anxiety. “What payment are you talking about?” he asked cautiously.

In response the scholar flashed him a cheery smile. “What is the name of your dragon at home? I suppose you’ve kept the same beast that bit your arm when you were younger.” He took a pause to enjoy Cornell’s consternation then continued, “The marks are still visible. And quite typical of a horsedragon’s jaws. A young one, playfully biting, to be sure, else you would no longer have an arm.”

“True,” Cornell admitted through gnashed teeth.

“You should not worry overly much, young friend. Few people have studied dragons enough to recognize the scars for what they are. I had the aid of a treatise written by a splendid researcher over a century ago. Albaroy of Corvales’ texts are, to your fortune, not widely distributed. Now,” he sat down in the chair Barandas had vacated, “I draw the conclusion that you are, in fact, one of the famed dragon riders of Cayaboré. I know of no other land where horsedragons are bred; only the Cayaboreans associate hatchling dragons with their future riders. So, you still haven’t answered my question about that name.”

Cornell smiled resignedly. “Tempest. A female, pretty much the fiercest I’ve ever met. Honored sage, I have to thank you again for not revealing this to my… the wizard.”

“Don’t mention it.” He clasped his hands together.  “Now what would a dragon rider be wanting from dear Ceravin Tangrain? Especially disguised as the barbarian Nych… No, don’t bother to tell me. It is so much more entertaining to discover the truth myself!”

Resignation flared through Cornell as the eyes of the scholar rested inquisitively on him. They seemed to bore through his skull, starting to flip through the pages of his mind like one of the many books he kept in his study. Knowing that mindreading was not a gift any of Darawk’s scholars possessed served little to put Cornell at ease as he settled down to watch his secrets being torn from him one by one.


“The wizard Barandas? Have you seen him?” Cornell asked the pert female scholar sitting on the stairs to the plaza.

She looked up from the scroll she had been deciphering, and her deep blue eyes showered him with reproach. “Young man, has your mother not taught you any manners?”

Young man?! Cornell thought, still furious after the conversation with Ylvain. This priestess had just had her twentieth birthday, from the looks of her! Calm down, will you? She is a scholar, and this is her academy. Not to mention that Mother would have your hide for this kind of behavior towards a woman. “Forgive me, honored sage. My temper has taken too much of a leave, indeed. If it is within your knowledge, would you please indicate where the wizard Barandas is?”

She cocked her head, clearly weighing whether his contrition was acceptable. After a moment she nodded, satisfied. “He has gone to the shrine of Ke’hatch, over there. And, young man,” she stopped him as he had already turned in the direction she had pointed out, “you should take better care of your words. Tempers of such fury have ruined many a good opportunity.”

“I am grateful for your advice,” Cornell said, as politely as he could, “and beg your leave.”

The scholar smiled, showing a perfect set of teeth as she graciously waved him away and concentrated once more on the scroll.

A curse on his lips, Cornell went on. The shrine she had mentioned opened directly onto the plaza, a white, one-story building fronted by pillars. Bas-reliefs were chiseled into the stone over the door, depicting some religious scenes that the Cayaborean couldn’t care less about at the moment. All he cared about right now was finding Barandas. And wringing his scrawny neck like a chicken. “All your fault, old friend,” he muttered when he pushed open the right valve of the door.

Inside there was a hall with benches for prayer, arranged in a circle around the star-shaped altar at the center. Scented candles burned on the altar, below a golden globe that rested on a slim stand. The local godling Ke’hatch was, after all, associated with the sun, the primary source of light. Two worshippers chanted in low voices, but no sign of Barandas.

Marvelous. Cornell shook his head, about to walk right back when he noticed the doors leading out the other side. Well, I don’t have much else to go on, he reasoned. If Barandas had indeed come to the shrine, then it was doubtful that he would have wanted to worship. Not that he disrespected the gods – he preferred paying his tributes to such as Alyssa rather than Chazevo’s dour God of Light.

He walked along the circumference until he reached the first door. There was no sign to indicate what was beyond, and frankly Cornell was unfamiliar with the layout of Ke’hatch’s shrines. This could easily lead to the private quarters of a priest. Oh, I’m a barbarian anyway, am I not? The Cayaborean grinned, opened the door and slipped through into the halflit room beyond.

The grin evaporated when he saw a crossbow whirl around and a quarrel spring towards him.



 Instinct took over and slammed Cornell to the ground at the first sign of the crossbow’s motion. The quarrel he saw rushing well over his head, then he pushed himself up and forward, to tackle the legs of his foe. His shoulders connected squarely, his foe toppled forward. Cornell skipped sideways, rammed his knee up to receive the falling body – and groaned as the knee hit a thick unresistant material.

He had no time to wonder about what that material was for his opponent had scrambled to his knees, a shortsword blinking as he unsheathed it.

Cornell jumped up, launched his boot at the unprotected head. The man avoided the kick, too surprised to cut at the leg. Just what Cornell had hoped, now having enough time to draw his bastard sword. He became aware of a commotion a few feet further into the room, two more men fighting. None of them was moving in his direction so he looked back to his immediate problem.

His opponent brought his shortsword forward in a stab. Cornell slashed it aside, following his boot through in another kick. This one hit the thick vest on his foe’s chest squarely, propelled him back. Cornell stepped forward, slashed at the hand holding the shortsword. A nick drew blood, then the blade jabbed his own aside and the man launched his own head at Cornell’s midsection.

The blow was too fast for him to avoid. Air exploded from his lungs, yet he was not too stunned to forget his opponent’s blade. His left fist hammered into the man’s neck while his right hand brought another slash down onto the shortsword. The slash connected, and the blade dropped.

“I’ve got the crossbow aimed at him, Cornell,” Barandas’ calm voice sounded at that moment.

Both the opponent and Cornell looked over to see the wizard indeed holding the crossbow trained on the attacker. Behind him, a crumpled body lay on the ground, a dagger hilt protruding from his neck. Fear washed over the face of Cornell’s foe, and before either the Cayaborean or the wizard could react, he grasped Cornell’s blade – and rammed it into his own throat.

Gurgling noises foaming from his mouth, a triumphant gaze in his eyes, the man keeled over, blood spewing forth from his wound.

“What the…?” Cornell muttered.

Barandas lowered the crossbow with a disgusted face. “Holy Tide, what a mess!”

“Is that all you have to say?!” The Cayaborean kneeled and took a closer look at the man who had impaled himself on his sword. The vest had struck him as familiar before, now he knew that he had seen the sort before. At Tangrain’s place. The armor vests that the accepted guards wore, like Boragger. Nobody else used it, since it was probably one of those Modayrean goods that Tangrain never sold, just like the dragon rods.

“No,” Barandas answered as he bent down to look through the pockets of the man he had downed, also retrieving his dagger. “Thank you, Cornell. The two of them would have killed me if you hadn’t come in. Ahhh!” He fished a pouch of coins from under the man’s vest – identical to the one his colleague wore – and opened it with a delighted sigh. “Good solid gold, hah! What’s yours got?”

The Cayaborean suppressed the acerbic comment on his tongue. Instead he got up and said drily, “Look for yourself. You are so much better at this. And while you’re at it, please tell me what you were doing here. You shouldn’t have left the academy, I’d say.”

“Probably,” Barandas agreed while methodically continuing his search and clucking in satisfaction every now and then as an item wandered from the corpse into one of the wizard’s pouches. “The mousy one over there told me he had information on the gauntlet, but he couldn’t tell me in the academy. Said the wards there spied on everyone so that no knowledge of any kind would be wasted. That makes sense, I thought. So I went over here, his friend pulled the crossbow on me, and started to ask me how I knew of the gauntlet. That’s when you came in. Satisfied?”

“Not by a long shot,” Cornell muttered, thinking once more about how he could yet acquire the dragon rod. “But this isn’t the right place to talk about it. Are you finished?”

The wizard quickly patted the body again, then he nodded and nonchalantly handed a pouch to Cornell. The warrior sighed as he pocketed his share. Both checked each other for tell-tale blood stains, then they went back to the worship room of the shrine, unnoticed by anyone.



 “You owe me,” Cornell said when they had returned to the small room Barandas had been given in the academy, “twice over.” On the way back, they had passed the female cleric still studying her scroll. She had looked at them with interest, but as she noticed Barandas returning the gaze with an all too obvious leer, her gaze had turned cold and spun down to the scroll.

Now the wizard dropped into a wicker chair near the barred window, stretching out his legs comfortably. “Once, sure, but twice? Come on, Cornell, counting that far isn’t that hard.”

“Twice,” the Cayaborean insisted and stood before the wizard threateningly. “The shrine, and before you caused me to be thrown out of Tangrain’s. And now you are going to tell me what you are doing here. You are going to tell me exactly why you are after that gauntlet, and what it is.”

Barandas shrugged. “It’s magical, isn’t that enough? The Modayreans manufacture great stuff. That’s why you were there, right? Looking for a new magical sword? One that isn’t inhabited by a trapped soul this time?”

“Don’t try to distract me.” The reminder of that particular incident was all too unpleasant; running around and fighting with a blade that he knew held the soul of a previous owner, a miserable elf mercenary who was all too bloodthirsty for Cornell’s taste. “The gauntlet.”

“All right, all right,” the wizard shrugged again. “It’s a resurrector. Someone who’s just died within the past two or three hours, the gauntlet can capture the soul and put it back into the body. Heals the most serious wounds, too.” His eyes had grown animated, belying the easy rest of his body. “Do you have any idea what people would pay for that service?”

“Ah,” Cornell commented and dropped onto the small cot behind him. A resurrector. Incredibly powerful magic. Though rumors abounded about artefacts like that hidden somewhere on Gushémal, only Modayre could be skilled enough to create a new object with that power. The value… beyond measure, not just financially but also in terms of knowledge. An unbidden vision appeared in front of his mind’s eye – his return to Cayaboré not bearing a dragon rod but rather the gauntlet. (Or both, perhaps?) Great Haguen, that would be a glorious homecoming! His father would keel over full of pride, and his superiors… would likely send him out again as quickly as possible, not even allowing him the time for a single ride on Tempest. Which was probable anyway, considering the state of affairs back home.

He sighed. “Barandas, whatever made you think that Tangrain would part with this gauntlet under any circumstances? Particularly without money! You can bet your greedy head that he knows the gauntlet’s value as well as you.”

“Who,” Barandas grinned, “said anything about my expecting this ploy to succeed?”

Cornell was taken aback, took a closer look at his friend’s face and found that the weaselly features had become more obvious. Understanding dawned all too clearly. “You just wanted to take a look around the place and see where the gauntlet is. Check the security measures.”

The wizard’s grin turned shamelessly open, his eyes strangely innocent. “Why, Cornell, you may not call yourself a thief, but appellations never stopped me, now did they?”

“I’m assuming Ylvain has no idea that you’re using him.”

Sour lines drew across Barandas’ face. “You’ve spoken to him. Do you think there’s anything this man does not know? I guess he wants to use me to get the gauntlet, to hand it over to him for study. Whether I’d get it back, now there’s one thing I would not guess at. The academy has a splendid museum of magical artefacts. Very well guarded.”

Cornell nodded. So far Barandas’ words made sense. And indicated what had drawn the wizard to the academy in the first place. He probably had been planning to steal something from that museum – or acquiring it in a trade of some sort. “You’re still planning to steal the gauntlet. After the encounter with Tangrain’s men.”

“Especially after that encounter!” Barandas leaped out of his seat. “Trying to kill me? By the tides of magic, I will get that gauntlet. Are you in?”

“What? Why should I help you?”

“Because you know the place better than I do! And you’ll get your fair share – you know I never fleece my friends. Aside from that, we could take a look at whatever you want there.”

Cornell squinted. “You have no idea what I’m after. And I don’t owe you anything.”

“Really?” Barandas grinned. “Remember the incident with the burrower dragonfly? If it hadn’t been for me, you’d be maggot fodder.”

“And if it hadn’t been for me, you’d have a crossbow quarrel in your throat right now!” Cornell countered.

“Well, all right, then don’t come with me.” The wizard shrugged. “It’ll be more difficult, but that’s what I’d been planning for anyway.” Calmly he went over to an ash chest in the corner of the room, opened it and withdrew a sleek, black tunic, followed by a number of items carefully wrapped in cloth. He closed the chest and set all on top of it.

Cornell stared. “Are you going to try the break-in now?! It’s bright day.”

Barandas scowled. “So you do think I have less brains than a donkey. Of course I’m waiting until tonight. I’ll have to craft some magic, though, and that’s going to take some time. Care to watch?” He grinned viciously, knowing fully well how little Cornell liked magic. Use it if it was available, yes, but like it? Absolutely not. So the wizard waited gleefully until his friend has risen from the chair and turned towards the door before he added, “Well, I wouldn’t wish to keep you from running into Ylvain again. Enjoy!”

Cornell stopped dead in his tracks, cast a fierce look at his friend and dropped into the wicker chair.



 The first two items Barandas unwrapped were quite unremarkable: a pair of leather boots and some cottonballs. He murmured an encantation, pulled his dagger and softly pricked his forefinger. The drops of blood he let fall onto the cotton, holding each of the balls close to the wound for a few moments until the nick had closed. What Cornell found curious was that the cotton became moist yet it didn’t change its color to the red of blood.

Barandas whistled off-key when he took the balls and rubbed them generously over the boots. “In case you’re wondering, I am creating a magical layer around the boots that works like the cotton and will muffle any sounds. It is the blood that holds the layer and the qualities of the cotton so I’d better get it spread evenly over the soles.”

He dropped the boots to the ground carelessly. With care, though, he put the cottonballs aside before he started unwrapping the next items: a pair of gloves, garlic, and a tiny metal idol that looked like an alreu with unusually large hands. “I love this,” Barandas said with a wide smile. “Found it in one of the libraries here at the academy. Imagine, they have an entire library for the study of alreus. Dreadful thought, isn’t it? The thieving manlings getting this much attention…”

Cornell stayed quiet. He had his own misgivings about the manlings, three feet tall humanoids, known as they were for their endless curiosity and proficiency at acquiring the objects of their curiosity. Yet the wizard’s smile told that he would get a spectacular effect from this.

So it proved when Barandas used the idol to crush the garlic. He muttered a few words in a harsh foreign language that Cornell assumed was the alreu tongue, then a glow suffused the idol wherever it had touched the garlic. The wizard smeared the remainder of the garlic over the idol, forming an even spread. He put on the gloves and rolled the idol in his hands about.

“Don’t tell me,” Cornell muttered. “Your gloves have now the power to repel anyone nearby.”

The wizard shook his head. “Nice idea, but I don’t think I have the strength for a spell like that. The garlic is just a medium; I haven’t the slightest idea why it has to be garlic. I tried it with onions – even with blood – but there’s no effect at all. Except for the smell. Which is missing here, by the way.” He held up his gloved hands, yet Cornell had no interest in finding out the truth of the statement.

“Let me show you what the gloves can do now,” Barandas continued and put one hand high against the wall. Then he – pulled himself up by that hand! The glove stuck firmly on the wall, and so did the other one when Barandas placed it half a foot above the first. He had no problem removing the first hand and pulled himself yet higher, until he hung right below the ceiling and cast a triumphant gaze towards Cornell. “This is fun, friend! Scaling walls, the easy way!” He let go of the wall, landing easily on his feet and then glanced at the gloves with protective pride before he laid them next to the boots. “The best part is, both of these things will get even stronger by the night. The liquids have to seep into the cloth, you know. And now for the final touch…”

The last item that remained wrapped soon proved to be a simple yellow cord. Just a piece of string. Yet Barandas handled it carefully as he lifted it and wound it around his wrist. “Don’t be fooled,” he cautioned, not even bothering to check on the raised eyebrow of his friend, “this is actually an antique artefact. It used to be held in an impressive glass contraption that its – ah – previous owners believed were the real artefact. My humble discovery was that the string is the older part, by more than a thousand years. Now why, I thought, would anyone preserve a piece of string if it isn’t that simple cord which holds the true magic.” He gave a careful tug on the string, nodded in satisfaction. “I gave the owners fifty gold pieces, and they thought I was a retard. Well,” Barandas moved his wrist over the treated boots and gloves. A soft purple glow emanated from the string, growing stronger the closer it came to the magical objects. “I don’t believe I am retarded in any way.”

“Only morals.”

The wizard cocked his head, smiled and nodded. “You do have a point there,” he conceded. “So, you have seen my preparations. What do you say, Cornell, don’t you want to join me after all? Or maybe you could tell me what you seek, and I’ll get it for you.”

It was Cornell’s turn to look sourly. Barandas’ preparations actually did look sound. He might not be a powerful wizard, but a careful one he had always been. Perhaps, he wondered, this was actually a good opportunity to retrieve a dragon rod… perhaps better than his original plan to pose as a barbarian.

“You win, friend.”

“Hand me your boots,” Barandas smirked, “I kept the cotton wet for them.”



 The house of Ceravin Tangrain was well guarded. And no less well placed were the maigcal wards that detected motion. Evenly set along the outer wall, invisible to the eye, they left few spots outside their range. With the aid of the string, though, it did not take Barandas long to find one of these spots where the string no longer glowed.

Cornell kept a lookout for any guard while the wizard quickly scaled the wall with the aid of his magical gloves, unlocked a window in the third floor with a very ordinary picklock and slipped inside. Moments later he dropped a rope, held tight while Cornell scrambled up.

“Where are we?” Barandas whispered after his friend had come inside.

They were in a small room that held an elegant couch, a low table and a painting on the wall that neither could recognize in the dim light. “It’s called a reading room,” Cornell explained after a moment’s thought. “In the times of Tangrain’s father, there were many visitors, for all I have heard. The third floor used to be the guest quarters, along with rooms like this for their entertainment. You probably could see all the way to the ocean back then, before the other buildings were raised.”

“Good. So where do we go from here? I don’t think Tangrain would keep the gauntlet down in his hall with the merchandise.”

Cornell agreed. Neither would the dragon rod be there. Unless there was more than just the one Boragger had used, the weapon was most likely in his room. Which was also on the second floor, along with Tangrain’s private quarters. The other guards had their rooms up here, yet Tangrain wanted his chief bodyguard always nearby. Not a bad notion. But on the second floor a goodly number of guards were on the prowl at night, occasionally checked by Boragger. Here there would be only two or three, at best, not counting the ones who might unexpectedly leave their chambers.

“One level down. Tangrain lives there.”

A nod from the wizard, then they slowly moved out of the room. Cornell marveled at the way magic snuffed out any sound from his boots, no matter that the soles should have sounded loudly on the wood floor of the corridor they cautiously walked along. There was no sign of guards about. Now and then Barandas glanced at his string to check whether any magic was around; probably wards. The string remained dark.

Cornell couldn’t help but smile when they walked past the door behind which his room had been until that very morning. He had only been allowed to move in three weeks before, after laboriously introducing himself and his fighting abilities to Tangrain’s guards. Such a lot of work, and if today’s attempt succeeded, he might as well not have bothered.

As they neared the staircase, the string started to glow. “Damn,” Barandas muttered.

“It can’t be a motion detector,” Cornell reasoned. “Otherwise it would go off anytime a guard walked past. Maybe it is one of the wards that prevent scrying.”

The wizard shrugged helplessly. “Could be, but I have no way of knowing. Any kind of magic activates the glow if it’s strong enough.” Unsaid went the fact that the magic in Barandas’ own gloves was too weak to be noted by the string. “We’ll just have to try it.”

More carefully than before Cornell started the way down. No cries of alarm sounded, nor did any magical noise erupt around them. Followed by the wizard, Cornell soon reached the second floor, and stopped.

This floor was relatively well lit by the magical lampsticks from Modayre – and a few yards down the corridor a guard stood. A guard who looked his way.

“Nych?” the man exclaimed in astonishment. “Didn’t the old vulture set you on the road?”

Cornell forced himself to breathe easily, while he sent a silent prayer to the gods that he still wore his outfit as a barbarian. No less grateful was he for the fact that Barandas froze on the steps as soon as he heard the guard’s voice.

“Yes, he did,” Cornell said and confidently walked towards the guard. “I had forgotten some of my belongings. Do you wish to make a problem of this?”

The guard shook his head, smiling at the belligerence of the supposed barbarian. “Don’t worry, Nych. As long as the vulture or Boragger don’t see you, that’ll be fine.”

“What was that?!” Cornell suddenly growled, his gaze swiveling with concern back towards the staircase. So did the guard’s – and missed seeing Cornell’s arm race up, slinging around his neck and pressing hard. Not a sound escaped the guard’s mouth, the Cayaborean’s arm cutting off his air supply. Moments passed, then the guard’s body went limp. Cornell held him tight a little longer, to make sure the man wasn’t faking, then he gently lowered the body to the ground. “Barandas,” he whispered.

The wizard soon joined him, saw what had happened and immediately drew some cord and a rag from a flat rucksack. With that he bound and gagged the guard, then both shoved him into a dark corner. “A pity there are no closets,” Barandas nagged. “He’ll be found pretty fast this way, I’d say.”

“Let’s hope not,” Cornell shot back. “You don’t have any magic to mask him, do you?”

Barandas rolled his eyes angrily “If I did, I would have used it to mask me first,” he grumbled.

“That,” a new voice said calmly, “would not have helped, wizard. Don’t move.”

The two men whirled about instinctively – and froze when a lightning bolt flashed between them.

Down the corridor, right where the guard had been, Boragger stood, dragon rod leveled at them, a menacing frown on his face. Not to mention a glad sparkle in his eyes at seeing the supposed barbarian again, in these circumstances. “Didn’t the lady’s lesson help, Nych?” he taunted. “Drop your weapons. Careful, wizard, I’ve got my eyes on you.”

Cornell felt a terrible laugh choke in his throat. As if Barandas could have let go a fireball! The darkness of the dragon rod’s barrel seemed to bore into his head, the very object that had brought him to Chazevo, and now it might as well be the object of his destruction.

They were caught, and escape was not an option.

Not yet.