Castle Roland

Zarin Testa and the Andrake Academy

by Jandar Tyr

In Progress

Chapter 3

Posted: 12 Sep 16

Zarin Testa and the Andrake Academy

Copyright © 2016 by Jandar Tyr
All Rights Reserved

The Search for Trip

Early the next morning Zarin grabbed his stuff and quickly ran out past his bewildered parents.

"ZARIN!!" His father called him back. Zarin stopped and walked back in smiling at them.

"Where are you going in such a hurry." Lowell Testa asked his son.

"Sorry dad." Zarin kissed his mom. "Trip was missing last night. I'm in a hurry to find out if Reno found him."

"Oh dear!" His mother Lisette said looking worried. "I hope he's ok. I know how well he takes care of him."

"You think we need to get the guards on this?" Lowell asked worried. "I can organize something to help."

"I'll let you know." Zarin told them." But I have to get going."

"Be careful!" His mother called after him

Zarin ran off out the door. As he reached the street, he found Reno and Thalia waiting for him.

"You didn't find him." Zarin frowned. "My dad wants to call the guards in to look for him."

"We don't think that's going to help." Reno said. He sat on the wall and looked up the lane. Dack was running towards then.

"So what happened?" He stopped in front of them breathing hard. Thalia waved them all closer.

"We searched the whole city." She told them. "Everywhere but in people's homes. We would need the council's approval for that."

"What about Tabor's manor?" Dack asked.

"We couldn't get near the place." Reno said. "To much magic guarding the house."

"Then that's it." Dack's eyes lit up. "That's where he is. We should have known Tabor took him to get the ring back"

"We can't prove that Dack." Thalia grabbed her school bag and looked at the others ready to get going. Reno, Dack and Zarin shouldered their bags and followed her down the lane away from Zarin's house.

"So what are we going to do?" Dack asked. "Just go to school? We have to find Trip."

"Relax Dack." Zarin looked around at his friends. "Trip is more important than school. We'll find him and soon."

Zarin turned to Reno and Thalia. "Thalia, you don't think he's been taken to Tabor's right?"

"Reno and I don't think so." She said looking at Reno for his agreement. He nodded. "We don't think he's in Winterhaven. We think he's been taken out of the city. We tracked his scent as far as we could until at just vanished."

"Was that anywhere near Tabor's house?" Zarin asked.

"No." Reno said. "His scent ended behind a shop on the boulevard. From there we searched the city and found nothing. Not a single scent or clue."

"Then where?" Dack asked. "If he's not in the city, what's left?"

"Outside the city walls." Zarin had that look of discovery on his face. "The underground! Did you check there?"

Reno and Thalia smiled at him. Zarin had come to the same conclusion they had.

"No. We were waiting for the two of you so we could go together."

"Then let's get going." Dack smiled at his friends anxious to go find his Trip.

"Hold on all of you." Zarin stopped. "If we're not going to school Professor Insa's going to look for us. I think we should tell him what's going on."

"So do I." Reno told them. "He is our legal guardian after all."

"And he can investigate the Larin's." Thalia's eyes brightened at that thought. "But if we go to the school, they'll make us stay. We can't do that."

"Don't worry. I can inform the Professor without going in." Zarin turned up the lane that went to Shayn's place. "We'll leave our bags at Shayn's and head underground from there. Come on."

Together they ran towards their hideout to stash their things. In his mind Zarin called out to the Professor.

[ Professor! ] He called

[ Zarin. ] Came the answer. [ You're late. You have class in just a few minutes. Where are you? ]

[ Professor, Trip is missing. ] Zarin sent to him. [ We think he's been taken by the Larin's to get that ring back. ]

[ I knew this was going to become an issue. How can I help? ]

[ Can you search the Larin's manor? ] Zarin asked.

[ Not without some kind of proof he's involved. ] Professor Insa told him. [ He's a councilor of the highest rank. The best I can do is ask him and see how he reacts. But that will let him know somethings wrong, if he's not guilty. Do we want that? ]

[ We have to know if he has Trip. ] Zarin know they had to take the chance. [ Talk to him. We're going to look for him. If we find anything, I'll let you know. ]

[ Be careful. And bring Trip home. ]

[ We will Professor. ]

It didn't take them long to find an entrance to the city sewer system. The smell from all the garbage was overwhelming coming from the gates. Reno stepped up to the gate and rattled the chain on the gate. He whispered a spell and began to twist. Heat flowed from his hand into the lock making it soft and malleable. It broke off in his hand and he dropped it as the gate swung open.

"Can you find a scent over all this smell?" Zarin asked.

Reno took a few sniffs of the air as his form became more wolf like. His ears perked up as he found a scent.

"I smell him." He said. "He was down here. He went that way."

Reno took off into the sewers with the others following him. Quickly they moved through the tunnels taking turns and running through ankle deep water. They ran for a time until Reno lost the scent then they walked. Less than an hour later Reno found the scent again and was off. Soon the smell of fresh cool air began to hit them. They looked ahead and saw the sunlight coming from outside. They slowed as the came to the end of the tunnel and a broken gate.

"This is how he was taken out of the city." Thalia said stepping through the gate. Outside they found the forest in front of them. Large trees, grasses and wild animals. This was the first time Dack had been outside of the city other than the trip to Lands End. He looked around amazed at the sights of the forest.

Reno stepped up beside him and put his hand on his shoulder. Dack looked at him in wonder.

"I know this is all new to you." Reno said still in his wolfen form. "But Trip is still out there somewhere. We have to keep moving.

"OK." He nodded. "I'm with you."

"He went this way." Reno pointed walking on.

"Was he alone?" Zarin asked.

"No, he wasn't." Reno sniffed the air again to assure himself of the direction to go and Trips scent. "I don't know the other scent. Its familiar but strange. Somethings masking it."

"Whoever it is knew we would track him this way." Zarin said. "They know we're coming I think."

"Then lets not disappoint them." Thalia joined Reno and waved them on. "Let's find Trip."

Once outside the sewers they looked back at the high walls of Winterhaven. They could see the guards patrolling at the top. Zarin told them to keep close to the wall so they would not be seen.

"Where are we going?" Dack asked keeping close to Zarin.

"There are a few small villages and villas out here." Zarin told them. "The villagers hunt for Winterhaven and the villas are private homes of some of our citizens."

"Does Tabor's family have one?" Thalia asked.

"That's a good question." Zarin said. "I don't know, maybe. I guess we'll see."

"Shh!!!" Reno held up his hand to stop then. He had heard something in the distance. He sniffed the air to try and see if he could recognize the scent.

"What is it?" Thalia whispered moving closer to Reno.

"We're not alone out here." He said. "We may be in trouble."

"What is it?" Dack asked a little worried. They all looked around trying to locate what was crashing through the forest towards them. Zarin and Dack readied themselves for a fight as a great Garmr broke through the trees howling at them. It was a monstrous hound confronting them snarling with red eyes blazing.

"Everyone get back!!" Reno yelled.

He took a fighting stance as the beast charged him. Zarin let loose a stunning spell that the Garmr just shook off and kept coming. It snapped at Reno as he jumped to the side missing him by inches. Dack sent a spell of darkness at it. The Garmr howled shaking its head trying to find them in the dark. Reno leaped on its back striking at its head again and again. Pushing itself up on its hind legs it dislodged him from its back knocking him to the ground. Quickly Reno rolled away as it dropped back down to crush him. Plunging forward, the Garmr swung its head blindly knocking Dack into the brush. Thalia ran to him casting a protective shield around them as the beast paw smacked at them.

"Reno!" Zarin called. "My stun wasn't strong enough. We'll do it together. On the count of three. One, Two, Three!!"

Together the two cast their spell on the enraged beast striking it in the head. It howled in pain as it fell to the ground and stopped moving. Zarin ran to Thalia and Dack and helped them to their feet while Reno checked on the Garmr. It was still and it's breathing was deep.

"Are you alright?" He asked.

"We're fine." Dack said brushing himself off. "Thalia saved me. Thank you."

"I couldn't let it hurt my little brother." She smiled. "Did you kill it?"

"No." Reno walked over to them. "But we should get out of her. It won't be out for long."

"Then let's go." Zarin said. "There's a village close to here. That will be a good place to start looking."

"Yeah, its creepy out here." Dack walked beside Zarin. He put his arm around his shoulder comforting his best friend. Dack thought it was funny but he always felt so warm when he touched Zarin.

"You're doing fine." Zarin told him. "That darkness spell saved all of us. Just everybody stay close. You never know what will come out of this forest."

Sitting at the head of the council table, Insa listened to the arguments made by various members on different issues. They were all minor unimportant issues, but Insa tried to keep his mind on what they were saying. But it wasn't easy. He was worried about his three wards and his two favorite students. They were out there somewhere in who knows what kind of trouble.

He looked across the table to see Tayor looking back at him. Tayor might know what kind of trouble they were in. Insa sat forward and stared back at the dark mage. He was hoping his dragon could sense what he was thinking. He sent has senses across the table at Tayor trying to enter his mind.

[ Your wasting your time Insa. ] He heard in his mind. [ You'll never read me. ]

[ Where are they? ] He sent.

[ I have no idea who your talking about. ] Tayor smiled. [ Is someone missing? ]

[ If any of those children are hurt. ] Insa thundered in his mind. [ I will not rest until you and your family are driven from Winterhaven in disgrace. I will make sure you and Tabor's magic is bound and your estates are confiscated. I promise you, I WILL DESTROY YOU!! ]

Tayor's face showed fear for the first time. He got up from his chair knocking it over and stormed from the council chamber. Everyone looked at him as he left.

"Is something wrong?" Councilman Hamil asked.

"No." Insa told them. "Is there any more important business to discuss today?"

"No, but there's someone waiting to see you in your office." Hamil told him.

He got up with the rest of the council and left. Insa sat for a minute. He couldn't get Trip off his mind. He was thinking he should be out there looking for him with Zarin and Reno. But he knew he needed to keep an eye on Tayor. He was very dangerous and there was no telling what he might do. Especially now that he's been threatened. Tayor would push forward whatever plan he's been working on. Insa just had to learn what that plan was.

Rising from his chair, Insa gathered his paperwork and left the chamber. His office was on the top floor of the council building. He walked to the window and shifted to smoke and flowed out and up into the outer chamber of his office. Sitting behind her desk, his secretary, an elder elven woman dressed in her green clan colors watched as he reformed.

"Shera." He smiled handing her his notes from the meeting. "I hear I have guests."

"Yes. I sat them in your office and served them tea." Shera turned to the serving table and whispered a spell. Fire ignited under the tea pot as she readied the sugar and lemon. "I'll have your tea ready shortly. I'll bring it in for you."

"Thank you Shera." Insa walked to his door, opened it and went in. Waiting for him in his office were two young men that were very familiar to him. He smiled as Azeal Zlenka and Tanis Gaelich stood to greet him.

"What are you two doing here?" Insa hugged Azeal then Tanis. "I thought you Azeal were with your father rebuilding Vasagi. And you were supposed to be in Prafa."

"We were." Azeal said sitting back down. "But father thinks the future king of Vasagi needs more schooling. Of course I disagree."

Insa laughed. "And you?"

"Same story." Tanis told him. "Jandar convinced my mother that you could help with my magic. But I don't need magic. I do fine as I am."

"I see." Insa leaned back in his chair. A moment later Shera came in and served him his tea.

"Thank you Shera." She nodded and left the room. "Boys, they're right. Azeal, as the future king you'll need training in diplomacy and strategy, etiquette and history. You've learned a lot from Valkar, but there's so much more. That's why he sent you here."

"I guess." The young vampire said slumping in his chair.

"And you, Tanis." He looked to the handsome youth next to somber Azeal. "With all the magic in your family, is there any doubt you possess strong magic too? You just don't know now to access it. We can teach you how to unlock your magic. Just trust us."

"I don't really have a choice." Tanis frowned. "Do I?"

"Yes you do. If you don't want to learn." Insa told him. "Don't waste my time. I have enough on my mind with a missing student and dark mages trying to turn Winterhaven into their own private kingdom."

Insa climbed to his feet and walked to the window. He stared out forgetting his guest for a time. Tanis and Azeal looked each other puzzled at Insa's behavior. They both could tell he was worried. Maybe they had arrived just in time to help.

"Professor." Insa turned back to them. "I think you should tell us exactly what's going on here."

As Tayor stepped from the transport stone into his study, he reached out enraged and knocked everything from his desk. He looked at the globe of Keanna next to his desk and sent a bolt of energy at it blowing it to bits. As his anger flailed he blasted all the books from the shelves then tore down the shelves too. Looking at his destroyed study and bellowed out his anger. Once done, he sat in his chair livid from the way he had been treated by Insa. He knew Insa was wise to him now. That Testa brat surely would have told him all about the ring by now. That was probably what was behind his anger in the council chamber. But what was that threat all about? Who the hell was missing? This had to be more of Tabor's doing.

From up in his room, Tabor heard the noise from his father's study. Zarin or one of his friends must have broken in he thought. He got up from his desk formulating an attack and hurried downstairs to catch them. They would be sorry he thought. Then again, this might be just what he needed to force them to turn over the ring to him. His father would be pleased. Tabor readied himself as he stood and listened at the door. There was silence. Could they have gotten away? He reached for the door and pushed it open and rushed in. There he found his father sitting in the middle of the destroyed room staring at him.

"Shut the door." Tayor said. Tabor knew somehow he was in trouble. He shut the door and went and sat before his father.

"You have something to tell me." Tabor could see his father knew something he didn't. He thought for a moment before answering.

"Father." Tabor said. "We searched the whole city, but we haven't found anything."

"Have you?" He said. "It's here in this city somewhere, so you haven't searched everywhere. But that's not it. What have you done to that boy and his friends?"

"Nothing, father!" Tabor looked at him in shock. "I haven't seen any of them since we came back from the mines, I swear!"

"Then maybe you should go find them since they have the ring." Tayor stood from his chair. He looked around and waved his hand in the air casting a spell. All around him items began to fly through the room righting themselves. Broken objects fixed themselves, books and scrolls torn apart came back together and returned to the shelves they belonged on. Tayor turned to his son.

"Your Professor said someone was missing." Tayor sat on the edge of his desk. "If one of his little bastards is missing, it has to have something to do with the ring. You better go find out who's missing. If it's one of them, find out who took them. AND GET MY RING BACK!!"

"Yes father!" Tabor jumped from his chair and ran from the room. He had a job to do, and he'd better get all his crew together or there would be hell to pay.

Still under his cot, Trip woke from a nightmare. He dreamed he was alone running from a dark hooded man. He didn't know who it was, but for some reason he felt his pursuer was familiar. Running as fast as he could, he shifted to raven to get away, but he was swapped back to the ground. Just as the hooded man bent to grab him he woke shivering in his cell. He sighed his relief that it was just a dream and realized he could see. There was light in his cell now. Trip peeked out to see if the hooded man was still there. He didn't see anything so he crawled out from under the cot and looked around. The light was coming from a window high in the wall above his cot. Trip climbed up on the cot to try and look out but it was too high. Shifting was his next thought but the wards on the cell kept him from using magic. He sat back down sadly wishing Reno and Zarin were there to help him. Where were they he wondered. They had to be out there looking for him. Thalia and Reno were worried to death he was sure. And Professor Insa, as his guardian he had to be tearing up Winterhaven looking for him.

Suddenly he heard something. He looked around again. It was sobbing. Someone was crying. Trip stood and walked to the bars of his cell. The crying was coming from the cell across from him. He looked in and saw a young blond boy. A gypsy dressed in warm cotton pants, a light dirty white shirt and a colorful gypsy vest huddled in the corner crying.

"Hello?" He called hoping he would answer.

The crying stopped and the boy got up and walked to the cell door..

"Who are you?" The boy asked.

"My name is Trip." He said. "Who are you?"

"My names Rese." He sobbed. "Rese Padescu. I have to get out of here. Can you help me?"

"Sorry Rese. I'm a prisoner too." Trip told him. "How did you end up here?"

"I was traveling with my family to Winterhaven to study healing magic." Rese slumped down at his cell bar while he told Trip what happened to him. "My family was attacked by this huge dog thing on our way in. My family was killed!!"

Rese began sobbing again. Trip could hear the pain pouring out from him. He didn't know what to say. He remembered the day Reno's family was slaughtered, and his was turned to stone. He missed them so much. That was one of the reasons he had agreed to come to Winterhaven. He hoped to find a spell that would restore them. But Insa had explained, even if he could turn them back, their stone bodies now had cracks in them. They would die in horrible pain the minute they were restored. He cried his heart out that day in his best friend's arms. So now his friends were his family. Hopefully they would find him soon.

"I'm so sorry Rese." Trip told him. "I know how you feel. My families gone too. But we're not. We have to survive. Tell me how you got here. It might help get us out."

"I ran into the forest running from that thing." He said. "I didn't know where I was going until I saw a man carrying something. I followed him hoping he was going into Winterhaven. But he wasn't. He was coming here, to this place. He saw me and used his magic on me. When I woke up, I was in here."

"Did you see this place from outside." Trip asked getting a little excited.


"Where are we?" He asked. "And you sound pretty young. How old are you?"

"In some kind of private estate I think." Rese's crying had stopped. This was good Trip thought. He had gotten his mind off what happened to his parents. "And I'm thirteen on my last birthday. Old enough for the academy now."

"What did it look like out there?" Trip just wanted to keep him talking and his mind occupied.

"Well." He said. "It's a rundown villa behind a tall wall. It looked like it would have been beautiful in its day. Now the wall's falling in places and parts of the building is crumbling. I could see it once had a tower, but it fell some time ago. The place just looked old and run down."

"Did you see the face of who put you in here?" This was the most important question Trip could ask. Who's keeping them here. Was it Tabor's father?

"No. I didn't see the man's face at all." He said. "I'm sorry."

"It's alright." Trip tried to reassure him. "My friends are looking for me. They'll save us. I promise you that."

"It doesn't matter." Rese whimpered. "I have nowhere to go now."

"You can come with us." Trip didn't want him to start crying again. He had to keep his mind from giving up. "Me and most of my friends are orphans to. We take care of each other. We'll take care of you too. Just don't give up Rese. Please don't."

It was the middle of the day as Tabor walked down the halls of the Academy looking for Aron and Elan. He had work to do and he needed help. This was the time of day when they would usually be in the one class they hated most. Magical history. They didn't care much about how things happened in the past. They found it useless. He hurried to the second floor and looked into Professor Edgar's class. There they were in the back looking bored. He opened the door and went in. The class all looked up at him.

"Professor." He said. "Elan and Aron are needed by Professor Shyer in ancient languages. He sent me to get them."

Professor Edgar didn't trust Tabor. He knew these were his two friends. But to call him a liar would offend his father and he didn't dare do that.

"Take them." He said. "They're failing anyway."

The two elves grabbed their things smiling and followed him out sneering at the class. Once in the hall they stopped him.

"Professor Syn doesn't want us. Does he?" Aron asked.

"Of course not idiot." He said. " Have you seen Zarin today?"

"No." Elan shook his head. "I haven't seen any of them all day and Aron is not an idiot."

"We have to find them." Tabor said ignoring Elan's outburst. "Somethings up."

"What?" Elan asked annoyed. "And why would you care if they dropped off the planet?"

"I don't but they have the ring!" Tabor shouted at them. "And we still need it!"

"You know; I haven't seen Craven today either." Aron started for the transport stone to begin their search. Tabor reached out and grabbed him.


"Craven." He said. "He didn't show up for class. We thought maybe he was with you."

"I haven't seen him since we left the harbor." Tabor thought for a moment. "You know, he told me he had some kind of plan."

"Craven?" Elan laughed. "A plan? That idiot?"

"Craven's not as dumb at you think he is." Tabor narrowed his eyes at them. "He's passing his classes. Are you? Either of you?"

"Some of them." Aron looked smugly at him.

"Not the important ones." Aron started to say something, but Tabor stopped him. "We have to find him and Zarin. And we have to find them now. Come on."

"What about the ring?" Elan asked following Tabor to the exit stone.

"It's here in this city. My father wants it, so I want it." Tabor stepped up to the stone. "Find me someone that can find what we need. Either the ring or Zarin."

With a wave of his hand he activated the stone and disappeared. Elan and Aron walked over to the stone to leave.

"I don't like him." Aron said. "And I'm sick of him treating me like an idiot."

"I don't like it either." Elan said. "But we won't have to take it too much longer."

"We need someone that can track them." Aron told his friend.

"Or someone sensitive enough with magic to find the ring." Elan nodded. "But then the ring would have to be so powerful, a lot of people here would feel it. We should try and find Zarin or one of the others."

"But how?" Aron asked. "How do we find them?"

" How about a vampire hunter." Elan's eyes brightened. " Thalia's a vampire. Maybe we could track her. It's worth trying."

"Do we really want to get involved in this?" Aron asked. "Can't we just get away from Tabor and his father?"

"Just help me for now please."

Dressed in his dark hooded robe, Craven paced back and forth in the old study of the villa. He had done the first part of his plan and captured Trip. He knew Trip had to be the one that had the ring. Now all he had to do was get him to tell him where it was. That would be the hard part. He just might have to torture him for the information. Could he do it? He wasn't sure he could. Yes, he had been a bully at school. But he only did it to fit in with Tabor. He hated being cruel like that to anyone.

He remembered how it had been back in Leban his old home before his parents moved them to Winterhaven. Magic was frowned on there. And when his abilities began to manifest he tried his best to hide them.

One day at school he was in the library studying Leban history. He had to write a short essay on one of the kings of Leban and he had been assigned King Turo. Hundreds of years ago, King Turo hated magic because of a curse placed on him by a mage he had crossed. Everyone in Leban thought Turo was doing right by burning the mage. But Craven learned he had actually cheated the mage. He had asked the mage for his help in defeating his enemies to acquiring the kingdom. The mage agreed to help and gave Turo a sword that was impossible to beat. After a long battle when Turo and his blade killed all his opposition, Turo won. But he never had any intentions on fulfilling his promise to the mage. Instead he had him arrested as a heretic and sentenced him to burn to quiet him. Unfortunately for Turo, It didn't quiet him at all. Instead it gave him the chance to cast his strongest spell ever. It was a curse cast on Turo and all his descendants. Since then Leban housed a curse. It was in the royal family and not many knew about. But they did know about the murders that happened every ten years. Turo killed ten men that opposed his reign. Ten enemies. Every ten years since the mage died. Ten men died a horrible death. There was never any evidence as to who was committing these murders and nobody really looked that close into them. But Craven knew who the killer was, and it scared him. The mage's curse turned Turo and one of his male descendants into murderers.

This was knowledge only the royal family knew. So how did Craven know? It wasn't in any books. No one had ever written anything about this. So how did Craven know? The mage was Mica Tasco, Craven's great descendant. And sometimes he talked to his grand descendant. He told him his father would be next to die. Just as Turo talked to his descendant. He advised him whispering in his ear at night. He told him a name. Tasco.

So the Tasco's ran, for they knew what would happen if they stayed in Leban. But that changed Craven. For the first time in his life he was scared. He knew there was a chance they might be discovered one day and he wanted to protect his family. So in Winterhaven he studied magic. He wasn't brilliant but he learned as best he could. Then he met Tabor who promised him power. Just what he needed to protect them. Even though grandfather had told him of the Larin's evil, something made Craven ignored him and became one of Tabor's crew of bullies. Now here he was a kidnapper about to torture someone to help someone as evil as those he hid from. Craven sank into his chair with his head in his hand.

[ Grandfather. ] He called in his mind. [ What have I done? ]

[ You let your fear and anger consume you my son. ] Mica answered. [ And that was all they needed to use you. Tayor and Tabor have spelled you to follow them. Your crime has broken the spell at last. ]

[ But I'm responsible for this. Not Tabor. ] Craven stood from his chair and walked around. [ How do I fix this? ]

[ Not true. They're responsible too, you just can't see it. You have to free them and get them home. ] His long gone ancestor told him. [ And help stop the Larin's from taking over Winterhaven. ]

Craven stopped and thought about what he had just been told. He knew his forefather was right. He had to get Trip back home to his friends and hope he could forgive him for his crime.

Unknown to Craven, there was a problem. He was not alone at the villa. A group of Orcs, members of Polan Dressak's Black Armors had been hiding out in the villa just happened to be coming back from hunting when Craven brought his captives to their prison. They saw them and thought they would make a much better meal then the two wolves the had caught. From the forest edge they watched the villa waiting to see if more men would make their way there. Once they felt it was safe, the three Orcs crept closer. There were four warriors in the group and one Orc mage. All four warriors still in Polan's black armor and the mage in black robes. Yes, Orcs had magic too. Not many could wield it, but a few did have the gift. As Orcs they all had long canines that extended over their upper lips and hairless heads. they stood as tall as men and were broad in the chest except Gorak who was much smaller than his companions.

Slowly they moved forward readying their weapons. Their mouths watered at the thought of the meal waiting in the old place.

Suddenly, Gorak held his hand up to stop them. He felt something strange. Strange, but familiar.

His two companions tried to push past him but Gorak's hand radiated with power that burned them.

"Are you mad?" Skang asked as he huffed himself up. "Can't you smell the meat in there?"

"Meat's not all I sense." Gorak moved his hand in front of him in the air. "There's magic in there."

"There was always magic in there, damn you!" Zark walked around him and started for the hole in the wall. Gorak stopped him.

"That is not what I mean." He told them. "Whoever is in there has magic. Powerful magic. So if you want to just storm in, go ahead. You will be the meat in our pot."

Zark stopped and turned back to them. He knew better then to doubt Gorak's magic. He had kept them hidden this long, and as much as Zark hated him, he still needed him to get them back to Ardia. Then he could kill the fool.

"What do you suggest?" He asked.

"I've studied the runes that make up the magic in there." Gorak told them. "The spells are to inhibit magic use. If I can make amulets or some kind of collars. We can catch them."

"Then we eat." Skang smiled his savage grin and rubbed his hands together.

"No, we're not eating them." Gorak readied a spell in his mind to cast in case his companions decided to attack him. He saw Zark's hand go to his sword and Skang tense himself for an attack. "I have a better use for them."

"You think too much." Zark said. "If we are not going to eat them, then what"

"We use them to get home." Gorak said. "They could make good hostages. Then we eat them. Have the others watch the forest. We could have company any minute"

With that, all three Orcs started laughing.

More to Come

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