Chapter Three: Beol Visits Port Yealfalt
Beol respected his master and remained one who was not for complaining, however he could not credit Mori’s timekeeping or his organisational skills, though he could applaud his enthusiasm. Even before they had left the tower the magician seemed excited about visiting the capital, but of course the preparations were long and hard, extended by the love of magic and all the strangeness which went with it. Before he even considered packing anything which the likes of common people would consider first (clothes, food, water-skins, money, etc.) he began by packing strange things, mystical and wonderful things which were unexplainable by Beol except as magical ingredients and implements.
The wizard had already packed three bags and began to pack a forth when Beol came into the library. Strange roots poked out of one bad, it was full of plants and roots which were wet and dried, then in another bag were glasses which seemed to show other lands and some showed images of dark rooms or were purely dark glass. In the third bag were jars which were sealed shut but Beol knew what was in them: powders of multiple colours, thick liquids, ash-grey flakes like skin only Mori assured the apprentice that they were not skins. The wizard was good in that respect, as Beol adored him for that. He was not one for using any animals for acts nor for his magic, he did not care for involving creatures who had no choice. Having thought that, Beol looked at the greedy creature Tokan, who lay lazily batting a ball of yarn with his tail while his master was too busy. Beol wondered if this creature was here voluntarily or if it, too, had some dark allignment with the wizard.
Yet as he pondered over this, Beol looked into some of the glass jars and seeing all the strange floating colours and weird, mystical powders, the strange objects and all the wonderful things, he could not help but wonder which of these were actually trapped spirits, or which of those seemingly empty jars had once contained such things. Occasionally among those strange, glowing jars Beol swore he saw an eye staring out here and there.
“Master, how would you trap a spirit?” Beol asked.
Mori smiled. “You have been busy with the mirror-spirit, haven’t you? You’re too inexperienced to learn something like that, Beol, it’s very advanced magic.”
“I thought you were meant to be teaching me more advanced magic.” Beol said, then quickly added “Master.”
“There are some things even the wisest do not seek to learn of, for it is beyond even them.” Mori said. “I will show you one day, but only when you are ready.”
“Well, you might as well tell me his name?” Beol asked.
“What did he tell you to call him?” Mori asked.
“Well Ginv calls him Bad Eye and Qo calls him White Face, but he told me to call him Spirit. I wonder why he chooses such strange names, and why he keeps changing them? Surely it’s easier to keep one alias, or two if he doesn’t want me knowing his true name.” Beol said.
“Easier for who, you or him? He’s just showing off, he’s very intelligent, doesn’t forget much. Likes to show his creativity and his memory. But its as you said, he doesn’t want you knowing his true name. If he wanted you to know it, he’d have told you.” Mori said. “Why you should care I don’t know, he’s dangerous and you should not speak with him anyhow!”
Beol looked disappointed but Mori was too busy packing a selection of twigs from different trees to notice.
He wondered all the more if Mori had more spirits stored away in secret places. The previous night the apprentice had taken the time to search in unusual hiding spots; under the stairs and in the cellars, but all he found were spiders and rats, none of which spoke to him. When he was given no information from Mori and found the door to Bad Eye’s mirror chamber locked, he went up to the observatory to pack his own belongings.
He had an old bag which he could pack his belongings into, though they were greatly fewer than the wizard’s. He packed a few sets of clothes, a few tomes and the one which Mori had given him, but asides from those, his runed shard and a walking stick, he felt complete as he stood.
Suddenly the wizard came into Beol’s quarters, appearing by the door to his observatory as quickly and silently as a cat.
“Grulf! You come from Baerukk Zaew, yes? How is this for the city?” he asked, presenting himself. His attire was golden and violet, silver laces tied his sleeves around his elbow but the wrists draped down a foot below his wrists. Atop his head was a jewelled circlet under a pale hood, across his hands a few rings which seemed to glimmer lightly. “Obviously I’ll not have my hood in court, just seems more mysterious for my arrival, you know? Sow the seed of wonder.”
“A touch over the top I should say, Master.” Beol said.
“Really? I thought I was lacking in something. Perhaps when I add a mantle it will be more complete. I have something for you too!” Mori presented a small sized grey and scarlet tunic with a pair of plain grey trousers. They were made from exquisite material, the finest cotton and velvet. Beol took them cautiously. “Keep them clean, they wear clothes like this in the capital, so I hear. I must say I’m quite looking forward to our visit.”
Mori threw the door shut, rushing back down the stairs. A moment later he returned wearing his travelling outfit, a long sleeved brown-grey coat over some very plain looking green and turquoise clothes. Even now he wore a pair of plain, brown leather travelling boots, but Beol noticed tucked under his arm was the robe which had hung separately. The wizard clenched the conical cap which had been dusted and repaired with very unusual and obvious patches where it was moth-bitten, the brim was particularly well worn and more difficult to repair, but Ginv appeared with the wizard, a pair of scissors and a needle about his person with a large smile on his face.
“The capital, Beol, how many days walk?” Mori asked.
“Days, sir? I cannot say.” Beol said surprised. He had assumed that Mori would use magic to travel there. “It is very far, Master. I should doubt we’d reach it within the month, perhaps longer.”
“Bah! Curse it! We’ll have to go buy some horses I suppose.” Mori said. “Beol! I’m going to pack the last items for our journey. Here!” he held out a coin purse full of gold coins and silver nuggets. “Go to Port Yealfalt and buy two horses. We’ll leave as soon as you come back.”
Mori turned to Ginv who still stood smiling. “Ginv, would you be able to repair this cap?”
“Cap will be patched.” Ginv said.
“It doesn’t matter how patched it is, just needs the brim tidying up.” Mori said, taking Ginv out of the observatory and, as usual, slamming the door as he left.
Beol donned his cloak, a brown hooded cloak which was surprisingly warm, then fastened the coin purse to his belt. Port Yealfalt was no more than a few miles from the tower, but it was no safe journey. He opened the door gently, a gust of wind pushing against it as though it wanted him to throw it open! Beol was one for respect, though, and respected doors as well as any animal or person. He held it firmly as to avoid letting it hit the wall behind.
“Oh no you don’t!” he hissed, dragging himself out and heaving the door behind him. The wind kept pushing against Beol’s pulls, but he would not give in. At last the door shut with an almighty bang when the wind suddenly ceased. He turned to face the wild, before him long fields of snow and ice, above him the tall, black tower looming like a sleeping giant. He could see no further than a few hundred yards and could not see the top of the tower, nor any higher than the next window from the base level, though this he only saw thanks to the light shining through. A blizzard had settled around the tower which blinded his view.
He hated the snow and the winter weather which Zhar was so prone to. With a flap and a quick wrist he pulled his cloak closer about himself, trying as best as he could to keep the warmth nearby to him.
“What does Mori want horses for anyway?” Beol asked himself, taking the first trudges through the thick snow. “Surely an all powerful wizard able to capture spirits and hurl lightning like a toy could find some other way of travelling?”
Beol complained loudly for a while to the blizzard, talking to flakes of snow about the selfish and useless wizard Mori. “And what’s more he keeps vanishing! Can’t stay still, can’t close a door quietly, no respect for anyone except himself. Maybe Bad Eye…” he wondered if the spirit could see him, then quickly corrected himself, “er, Spirit… is right. Maybe Mori did get the spirit’s cruelty and selfishness.”
He had come a way by now, soon the tower was just visible through the snowstorm. He kept on a way, hoping that he was walking in a straight line. He tried to look back at his tracks to see, but not too far off fresh snow covered the marks leaving a clear, smooth sheet behind. ‘Curses!’ he thought. ‘If Mori had’ve taught me advanced magic I might’ve been able to clear the snowstorm away!’
He stared down at the shard he held in his right hand, wondering how difficult it would have been to stop the blizzard. He lifted it high, taking a breath as Mori has shown him, then assumed a more comfortable stance. Magic was all about the movements of his body, after all, and Beol knew that the stances were among the most important parts of spell casting.
“Hmm, I wonder if it’d be a worded spell?” Beol asked a spot on his hand. “Bah, I don’t know what I’m doing! Lets just try it.”
He moved his hand across first, like drawing a curtain away. He tried to clear his mind first, emptying it of the anger towards Mori, though he felt it had not completely gone. When he was satisfied with his mind state he focused on the storm, as though imagining himself clearing it away.
He felt something surge through his arm, not quite as though his arm were full of energy, in fact afterwards it felt weaker. It was as though his arm was, for a moment only, much warmer than the rest of his body, though not unpleasantly warm. When his hand pointed down at the ground a shot of fire burst from the centre of the runic shard, exploding in an arc on the ground! Beol was almost caught in the blaze, though fortunately it spread no further than where he had stood. He stepped back when it came out.
“Whoa! Well, now I know how to do that, suppose that’s something.” Beol said to himself. “Best try that again, check I’ve got that.”
He tried again in the exact same way, only this time he started with his hand pointing at the ground and raising it up as he went, to try and aim higher rather than at his own feet. As he lifted his arm up the same surge ran up his arm, then another ball of fire hurled out, flying straight from him away from the tower.
“Hah, I’ve got it!” he cried to the wind. “I’ve got it on my own! I wonder what spell that is? There are so many focused on fire. Right, now I can light more than a candle. Let’s see about this storm.”
He held the runic shard high and tried to build the same thoughts in his mind in the same stance, only this time he moved his arm downwards, straight downwards with a different motion. He felt the same surge through his arm, though nothing came from the runic shard. By now Beol was becoming colder, his arm was worn and his footprints were covered by a fresh layer of snow.
“Damn it! I suppose I shall have to continue.” he told himself as nothing happened again and again.
He pushed himself on through the blizzard, snow falling behind his hood and down under his clothes. He cursed the snowstorm, hurling occasional bolts of fire out into it as practise and occasionally trying new stances and new arm moves to clear the storm. It had no effect.
Finally the port came into sight. Through the storm he caught sight of a few buildings right on the edge of the port. He placed the shards away and rushed into the town. There were no walls nor guards outside in the storm, the rugged wooden buildings looked as though a better storm would have brought them down.
The stable was empty, save a few frightened and cold horses and mules. The stable-keepers had all rushed into the inn, finding comfort through the blizzard with a few mugs of frothy ale. Beol knew how impatient Mori could have been and was keen to return to the tower, but he knew the stable-keeps would not allow the horses to venture into the blizzard, particularly with the untrusted apprentice of the mysterious wizard. Mori had given the peoples of Port Yealfalt more reason than most to dislike him, the stealing of a valuable mirror and introducing a Shadow Spirit to the port was the least of the troubles he had caused over the years. He was rumoured to have stolen children away from their homes at night, steal the hearts of women and have murdered many of the people who had gone missing over the years. Beol knew none of these were true, except perhaps stealing the women’s’ hearts, but he also thought it suspicious the number of missing people who had vanished since Mori’s appearance many years ago.
Occasionally they disappeared at night or wandered away during the daytime then were never seen again. People claimed that Mori kept their bodies in the cellars of the tower, or buried them in the snow, then some said he came down to the sea at night to cast them into the waves. There were even a few rumours that Mori devoured the bodies or fed them to a Shadow Spirit, which Beol began to question after meeting Spirit. Of course no one dared to question Mori himself, and none of them took up against him, most people knew they were just rumours made up by attention-seeking villagers.
Inside of the inn was warm and busy, it seemed as though most of the town were here today, tables were full and mugs carried back and forth, spilling red wines and beer across the floor. A minstrel stood up nearby to the fire playing a strange tune with her lute and singing a song which seemed to match the tune harmoniously, though it was very different. She was a Dreumar, not a race which was usually seen in Zhar, nor in any society of humans. At the bar a short, bearded Grulf stared over the counter, his mutton chops just showing from behind.
“What do you want?” he asked as Beol struggled to the front.
“I’m looking for the stable-masters.” Beol said.
“I don’t serve stable-mastered here, boy. You get beer, wine, ale, or mead. Which will it be?” the barkeep asked.
Beol looked across, he had been away for so long that he had quite forgotten some of the now familiar faces. He struggled to place them in their correct positions though, some he thought had been bargemen and others he thought were the old innkeepers, but he recognised none of them as stable-masters. He looked over them all one by one, placing names on those he recognised and trying to determine the positions of those he had never seen before.
“Here, aren’t you that kid works for the wizard on the hill?” the barkeep asked.
“I work for Master Mori, yes.” Beol said.
“Mori, the dark and infamous magician?” another voice asked as some people began to crowd around him.
Suddenly Beol was the subject of most interest in the inn and received titles as questions, most of which he had never heard before.
“The Ally to Spirits?”
“The Defiler of the Seas?”
“The Lost Soul?”
“The Dark Wanderer?”
“The Dark Mage?”
“Mori the Blackheart?”
“Mori the Fashionable?”
Beol had never heard so many titles for one man, put atop that Master or Sir and such a name would exceed any Beol could think of.
“That bastard killed my daughter!” an older woman called.
“I promise you that Mori does not kill people!” Beol insisted. “Your daughter did not die by his hand. He’s a great respect of life!”
“What nonsense! He’s a wizard, wizards don’t respect anything except themselves, particularly that one.” an older gentleman by the bar called.
“I think he’s a wise man and very intelligent, even if a little harsh.” the barkeep said. “I don’t think he’d go around killing people without reason.”
“The rumours all say there is a reason!” the gentleman called.
“I think the rumours are nonsense! They’re made up to give the magician some aura of fear and respect, to make him seem powerful.” a younger man called.
“He’s already powerful, he’s a bloody wizard! You don’t get much more powerful than that.” the older woman called.
Beol stood astonished for a moment as the villagers began to argue among themselves over the alliance of his own master. The majority of the people seemed to think Mori was evil, but some argued his case. The argument quickly became something worse and Beol began to wonder if the inn was the best place to be. Soon the first person threw a punch, then the brawl began.
Suddenly there was a full out fight. Beol ducked as punches flew over his head and people were thrown about like hay bales. He edged across towards the door, pulling his cloak about himself and trying to hide as best as he could. Then, all of a sudden from the centre of the room there was an explosion of light and a puff of smoke. There, standing in his travelling clothes and holding a crooked, dragon-topped staff was Mori le Torne himself, the creature Tokan flying at his side with a half-hiss half-roar, revealing some its long fangs.
“The drink has taken leave of your senses!” Mori barked. His voice was like a thunderclap in the room and threw many hands up to their ears. “Ere I cut the light of this room you will heed your own words and realise your own faults before accusing me of mine! Such squabbles over rumours told by children, the most feared of your kind yet not the most fearful! Have you not had enough death and misery from the loss of your own kin?”
“It was your doing which made them go! Where did you hide their bodies?” the older woman called.
“Were that I knew where there bodies were, living or dead, I would have returned them to you. Know that I had no part in their disappearances, though you would blame me for the end of this earth in many aeons to come!” Mori roared. “I have searched for your children, but they are beyond my sight. Know that I will continue to look to bring some respect back to my name.”