King Necian frowned at the wooden shackles in his hands. “You are certain these will be enough to keep him subdued?”
Matrais snapped his bald head around, shooting Necian a cold glare over his shoulder that all but screamed, keep quiet, you doddering old fool. He was one of Necian’s top wizards, along with Fenbuckle, the stocky dwarven druidess that stood beside Matrais.
“Don’t look at me like you’ve got hamsters in your teeth,” Necian barked. “You did say you cast a hush glamour on the hallway, did you not?”
Matrais opened his mouth to speak, but Fenbuckle cut in front of him and cleared her throat.
“Absolutely, your majesty. The whole hall has been glamoured with potent enough magic that not even Agamon could detect.”
Necian grinned smugly at Matrais as the wizard begrudgingly turned back to his work on the gold gilded double doors to Agamon’s inner sanctum. They both knew full well the wizards had said no such thing upon the king's arrival. At least Fenbuckle had the good sense to know her place, unlike her spindly companion.
Gold gilded doors and putting airs to the king. Necian grunted. He had given the Silver Spire far too much latitude to do as they please. After this business with Agamon was over he would need to see that Matrais and, several others of his order, were taken down a dozen notches or so.
He cleared his throat and glared pointedly at the wizards. They still had not answered his question. Matrais clenched his teeth, his spell casting interrupted. Fenbuckle continued to weave her fingers across the surface of a dismembered tiger’s paw, her voice chanting softly, like the sweet song of a nightingale that echoed down the opulent corridor.
“Yes, your majesty,” Matrais said. “You have the utmost assurance of the Seventh of Serapsis that the Galfintyl are more than sufficient to subdue Agamon’s powers.”
“Galfintyl, huh?” Necian remarked, turning an unimpressed eye back to the shackles in his hands. “And that’s sixth, Matrais.”
Matrais frowned and turned away from his work. “Pardon?”
“Sixth. You said Seventh of Serapsis.” He pointed a stubby finger to the double doors. “After you dispose of Agamon today there will only be six of you.”
Matrais frowned thoughtfully.
That was the funny thing about wizards. When allowed to wield the magical forces around them they were quite formidable, excellent tools for the kingdom. The only problem was that most of them took too damn long to cast one of their bloody spells. Give Necian a footman with a decent polearm any day over one of these pompous bags of hot air.
“Hmm. Yes, I see,” Matrais replied with an arched brow, as if reading his mind. “Well, your majesty, we have reached the last of Agamon’s wards. Once it is removed we can enter the sanctum.”
Necian cocked his head to the side, the weighty gold crown on his head slipping down to his ears. “Enter the sanctum?” He readjusted the crown and shook his head firmly. “I think not. My footmen will accompany you, but I shall remain here. No sense in getting in the way of professionals.”
The eight footmen stood at attention behind him, broken up into two rows, fully armored in chainmail with crimson tabards that came down past their knees. He had every confidence that, should the wizards spells not prove fruitful, one of the footmen would be there to accommodate Agamon with a halberd through the chest.
Matrais eyed the soldiers. “Indeed.”
Fenbuckle snapped her fingers and a flare of pink smoke swirled across the surface of the double doors. A sharp odor of burnt hair permeated through the hall. Necian rubbed his moustache and beard, feeling as if the acrid odor was clinging to each follicle. He waved the air away from his face then handed the wooden shackles to Matrais.
“Quickly now,” Matrais waved for the King’s footmen. Fenbuckle flung the right door open and leapt into the room, followed closely by six of the footmen. Matrais took one last deep breath then entered behind. Necian could not fault the overly pompous wizard his hesitation in this. Agamon was the most powerful ranking member of the Silver Spire, a wizard among wizards.
They entered throwing spells left and right. Brilliant flashes of light went off inside the room, crackling pops of severed air and screams of battle. Necian winced, as one of his footmen cried out in terror. Then, just as quickly as it began, the battle was over. A cloud of grey smoke curled on the floor, escaping into the hallway. Honestly Necian expected Agamon to throw up far more of a fuss.
“Your majesty!” Fenbuckle shouted. “You are going to want to see this.”
Necian grumbled that he needed to enter the sanctum, finding it in poor taste to force a king to see the dismembered bodies of his subjects. The first thing he noticed upon entering was that his youngest footman, Karloff, was still alive, slouching against the wall red-faced and staring at the floor.
“What was all that screaming then?” Necian grunted to the footman.
“The lad stubbed his toe on the center table when we entered, your majesty,” Kyke, the lead footman, replied for his man.
Necian twisted his face in disgust. “Of all the-”
“Your majesty, it was so smoky with all of them spells going off,” Karloff whined. “I could barely see me mate’s and then that table, I swear it looked like a wilkinbeast leaping for me.”
The king sneered at them and moved on, to Fenbuckle, who stood beside Agamon’s divining altar. A perfectly folded ream of cream colored paper rested on its edge, a waxy KN stamped on its face. Necian groaned. “He escaped?”
Matrais looked ready to eat his hat rather than answer.
Necian glowered at the wizards in turn then snatched the letter from the well.
Only a simpering badger brained imp such as yourself could have thought that I would just sit around while you fu-'
The king grunted and dropped the letter to his waist. Of course Agamon had fled. Nothing had gone right for him since he started this whole mess in the first place. Why did he expect this to be any different? His eye traced the faint outline of a circle on the floor behind Karloff. That’s odd… he thought. Karloff withered under his gaze and shuffled backward. Necian thrust a hand in the air and shouted. “Wait, don’t step-”
Karloff’s heel clapped down on the dusty marble floor, overlapping the circle by mere centimeters. A clicking sound cut through the empty air and then the light came, blinding as if they were staring into the bowels of an inferno. The air ballooned, tearing on itself to let loose an expanding ball of flame. Necian was thrown off his feet, hurling into Matrais as the explosion rocked the room.
It took a few minutes for his vision to clear. He sat up choking on the grey smoke and rubbing his ringing ears. Karloff’s smoldering foot was still inside the trap. The rest of him was gone. A pile of black ash marked where Fenbuckle had been standing. Something was there in the center of the pile. Necian nudged it with his toe. The ash slipped away from the wooden shackles revealing them to be wholly intact.
It was just a shame that the most powerful wizard in all of Malakar was not in them.