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Bitter Parting


Magnus shivered. He was uncomfortable. He did not know if it was because he was inside the structure which had resisted his initial entry or if it was because he was in the presence of his uncle, a man he highly regarded and respected. He felt ashamed, unworthy, of such surroundings and company. It was if all virtue had forsaken him and he stood naked before chaste eyes that saw through him, penetrating into the darkening recesses of his soul, and heart.

Itannar bade him to be seated and he complied. They sat in a foyer beside a gilded fireplace, the flames therein filled the room with an orange glow and soothing heat. "I perceive you are in the grip of some form of evil... a spell perhaps. Deminatza mentioned the other day that you were unwell, but I did not need confirmation to know that. I apologize for being away for so long. There is no excuse for it. Let me find a way to help you. Can you tell me when all this began?"

He hesitated. Was this something Mahal... Virani... wanted him to say? His mind raced to secure a suitable answer. "Weeks ago," he replied. "I was at the tavern across the way. I met someone. We have been seeing one another frequently."

Itannar gave a brief smile. "You are still very young, nephew. What you do with your private time is your business alone, besides. What I need to know is when did you begin to sense a problem, and what was its nature?"

Magnus scowled. "You ask too much uncle! I don't know what has happened to me. I feel as if all I have known has deserted me. She gives me assurances and comfort. I need her! She needs me! If I am being punished because of some kind of forbidden love, then there's your answer!" he responded, his voice rising.

"There is no need to be upset. Calm yourself," Itannar replied in genteel manner. "This woman. Do I know her?"

Now he really began to fidget. "I doubt it. She is a bar maid. I had rather not say more. What has she got to do with this?"

"That is what I am trying to determine. Think it over. If these symptoms began when you met her, could it be she holds some kind of power over you... more than carnal passions? Does she have a name?"

Magnus bit his lip. He did not know why he was becoming so angry. He sought control. "Her name is Virani… I mean Mahal. She is sister to Alderia, the proprietor."

Itannar nodded. "I know Alderia. I know Mahal. They are recent arrivals. Gypsies. It is good to enjoy diverse company, is it not?" He smiled.

Magnus stood up, clenching his fists. "So, you DO know her as well! Has she yielded her "company" to you also?! Is she not too young for you, uncle?"

"What are you talking about? I was speaking of..."

"I know what you were speaking of!" he fairly yelled. Then, taking a step forward to loom over his uncle, "She is mine, do you hear?! Mine! Keep away from her!"

The loudness of his voice reverberated throughout the building. Both Scar and Deminatza appeared from the portal tile that led to their room. They were shocked to see the two men, one standing, the other sitting, both glaring at the other. "What is going on?" Scar inquired.

Magnus broke the painful silence. "I was just leaving!" he blurted as he headed toward the door. Itannar stood up and moved quickly in pursuit. "Wait! Magnus!"

As Magnus whirled to face his uncle, Deminatza's keen eyes saw what at first seemed to be puncture wounds on his neck, festered and swollen. She stepped closer for a better view. Realization caused her mouth to open and she placed her hand over it. A gasp escaped her lips.

Magnus, alerted to her gaze and the knowledge she had just gained, pulled up his leather gorget to conceal the wounds. With one hand he shoved Itannar away, knocking him easily to the ground. Scar rushed forward, angry at the sudden, unwarranted, attack by a younger man on an older one, but went to help the fallen lest he be badly injured. Magnus gritted his teeth and rushed out the door.

Scar knelt beside his friend whose head was bleeding profusely even as he tried to staunch the flow. Itannar was semi-unconscious, muttering incomprehensibly. Scar turned his head to face Deminatza, a look of disbelief in his eyes. "What in the nine hells just happened?"


Lying In Constant Hiding

Deminatza knelt beside Scar, taking over the medical aid.

“Quickly, go after Magnus,” She met his eyes. “He has a festering wound on his neck. I need not explain this to thee the precautions thou must take. Bring him back here, there is time yet to save him, I hope,” her voice trailing off, turning her attention to dazed figure. “I shall see to Itannar,” her tone level, as any practiced healer must impose, to prevent any unnecessary questions at this critical time

Scar, seeing the shock in her face and sensing the calm but firm urgency in her voice, rose to his feet and complied, rushing out the door after him.
Feeling, rather than seeing, Scar’s departure, she looked around the room to see where to place her patient to better examine him. She was about to call Scar back when she noticed he was long from her view. Berating herself for not thinking this through, she looped one of his arms around her neck, wrapped one of her arms around his waist and attempted to rise. To her surprise, he was incredibly light and then suddenly gone from her hold. She turned to see Torak standing at her side, carrying Itannar easily.

“Upstairs, second floor. There are rooms where we can place him,” Demi instructed. She did not have time to process nor bombard him with questions. Right now her patient needed her more than her desire for answers.

Torak did as instructed and lowered Itannar onto the bed. The healer rattled off the items she required and instructions to which he obediently carried out. As she worked, she spoke of what she and Scar had witnessed. She rose to her feet, exhaustion on her face, arms crossed and studied Itannar’s sleeping figure.

“I believe he shall recover fully, physically at least. As for his heart,” she sighed tiredly, “One can hope.”
“What can I do,” Torak inquired.
“I know not. Perhaps warn friends and contacts of thine that there may be something sinister afoot.”
“As you wish, Caramio,” Torak bowed and flipped through his spell book.

Just as he uttered the last word to complete the word of recall spell, the door flew open. Seeing Torak’s figure, Scar paused in an attempt to comprehend exactly what he was seeing. Relishing the dumbfounded expression on Scar’s face, Torak smirked and gave him a look as he vanished that said I was here when she needed me. Where were you?


Return to Nature

The fleeing warrior had a good head start on the pursuant, Scar. Instead of running past the Ankh, which had held him up at the main entrance, Magnus fled the building via a flanking archway that opened onto the turf outside. Scar closed the distance. Sensing he would fail to outpace him, Magnus stopped suddenly and whirled about, his hand on the pommel of his war axe. "What do you want of me?!" he snarled. "Stay back!"

Scar stopped far enough out to avoid any sudden attack. "You need to explain yourself, Magnus! What happened back there? Why did you push Itannar like that?" He kept his own hand away from his kryss.

"It's none of your business! Leave me alone, I warn you!"

"I'm not going to pick a fight with you, but you *are* going to tell me why you did that, and then you will go back with me to apologize to your uncle. You left him dazed and bleeding, don't you know?"

"Then we fight!" he yelled, drawing his war axe and swinging it in one quick motion at Scar's head.

Scar ducked aside and drew his own weapon. Scar took a defensive posture, blocking oncoming blows repeatedly, but Magnus was not holding back. One mistake, one missed block, and the razor sharp axe blade would have cleanly severed a limb or removed his head. "Stop this!" Scar cried.

Magnus paid no heed. In fact, a slight grin crossed his face as if he were enjoying it. "I don't think I ever liked you, wolf man! Never saw what my uncle did in you. And you are definitely not worthy of that woman you keep on a leash for yourself!"

If the heat of battle had not been enough to generate his uncontrollable ire, those words did. Scar emitted a furious cry and set to him. Now it was Magnus who went on the defensive, backing up as the lightning fast strokes of that deadly-poisoned kryss hummed in the air around him. It was clear he was going to lose this battle.

"I yield!" he shouted, backing up and lowering his axe. "Enough! I will do as you ask," Magnus promised. Secretly, however, he was waiting for Scar to lower his guard, at which point he would finish him.

His planned ambush did not materialize.

Scar had transformed in an instant into the wolf he was, and no ordinary one at that. If the sheer size of its head and bulk were not enough to drain the starch from him, the glowing red eyes, five inch slavering fangs, and gaping mouth, would. Scar, growling gutterally, crouched to pounce...



Three hundred plus pounds of bestial rage felled Magnus like a rag doll slapped by a she-bear. It took his breath away and dazed him. The beast that was Scar pinned his arms to the ground but it did not matter - his war axe was slung far away. The bared fangs descended toward his throat. "Scar! NO!!! Heeeellp!" The calming solace of accepted death washed over him and he closed his eyes.

"Not this time my son," came a calm voice somewhere nearby. A field of paralyzation laced across Scar's hackles, freezing him into place. "Get up Magnus. Go. Run and do not look back," the voice commanded. Impossibly, an invisible force pulled him from underneath the beast's claws. Had he not been wearing iron gauntlets his arms would have been torn off. As it was the armor plate was only dented. Magnus needed no further inducement. He glanced to see a wraith hovering nearby, enshrouded in darkness, nodded a thank you, and ran for his life.

Scar struggled against the magic field but to no avail. It was a powerful one and rendered even the hulking beast that he was, helpless in its grasp. The wraith moved closer to him. "Let it pass. He is of no consequence. Return home. Thy wife needs thee," it stated as it vanished into mist.

Moments later the fever passed and Scar lay on the ground flexing muscles that had been knotted and stiffened by the spell. He knew that voice but the words troubled him. He rose and hurried back home.

* * *

Torak?!!! What magic was this?! It occurred to him that it was not magic at all - Torak had found a way in, or had used a way only he knew. He had come that close to Deminatza who seemed spellbound, as if what she had just experienced was the most natural thing in the world. He remained speechless after the initial shock wore off, but searched the room for any conceivable secret panel or trap door. He found nothing.

Deminatza began explaining how she had helped Itannar and what she had seen of Magnus' neck wounds, evaluating it, acting as if nothing else had happened untoward. He gave her his full attention, listening all the while reviewing the multitude of conflicted images of the evening. It was too much to take. He would speak of it to her later, after they had made sure Itannar was well tended and resting.