Tales of a Horse Thief, Cycle 2 Part 8a

Tales of a Horse Thief, Cycle 2 Part 8a

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Part 8) Tanfardi


A lot had changed in ten thousand years.

Specifically, someone had moved the gate.

Given the state his own home had been in, he really should not have been surprised to find that things here had undergone some changes. For some reason the gate had been moved from its original location and placed in a heavily protected structure. Initially he had thought he had lost both of his companions through a miscalculation on his part. When he found himself in the sealed chamber, with dozens of delayed spells having been triggered by his intrusion, he had also thought he had been trapped by the drake.

However, those that had lain down the keys as a contingency against unwanted visitors had not been very skilled. Most of the spells had no effect on him and those that had worked as planned were easily dispelled. Two living guardians and a pair of stone constructs had been in place to greet him. The constructs had been easily subverted, quickly under his own control, he then put both of the armour clad humans to sleep despite their own keys of protection. Once again he found himself nearly drained of energy, not having had the opportunity to properly rest and recuperate from his battle with the Dragon Queen.

In the moments that followed he came to the realization that the room’s floor was in fact a casting circle artifact, modified to trap magically gifted intruders in the room. The artifact, having originally been constructed by his own people, had been more than powerful enough to trap him. Additionally he could not cast his senses beyond the confines of the gate’s chamber. Perplexed by the situation he took a moment to collect himself.

The constructs were uninspired creations, simple guardians of brute strength. The two humans were a curiosity, both were mages, though of unremarkable power. They both carried weapons forged and enchanted by his people, they were clad in red armour, also modestly enchanted. He assumed the keys on the armour must have been created by humans as they lacked the craftsmanship he would have expected had one of his people made them.

From the sleeping humans he purloined their mana-stones and crystals, according himself a small reserve of energy.

More humans started showing up, some teleported onto the stairs leading down into the gate room, shortly thereafter many more arrived on the stairwell through typical ambulatory methods. A fair number of them wore red armour, many could be seen to bear artifacts of various sorts, no small number of which had been created by his people. They were agitated and seemed fearful, there was some disagreement among them even as the majority waited at the ready.

He saw a great diversity within those who had responded to his intrusion. Some appeared to be crossbreeds, many bore the telltale signs of the elvish people and disturbingly a few bore traits indicative that his own people had mixed their linage with that of the humans. This last fact was anathema.

What had happened for his people to have taken such a decision?

Tanfardi remembered how condescending many of his people had been towards the elves who had fallen in love with humans and chose to breed with them. To the ellodran such fascination was indicative of poor thinking. Surrendering to a lust that would weaken your own bloodlines was considered a childish act, at best.

Calmly he approached the edge of the circle, but stayed a few paces back from the arched door leading to the stairs. He did not want to give the impression that he was hostile. One of them had raised a barrier to block sound and they briefly engaged in a heated conversation. He waited patiently.

When they had finished their discourse, weapons were sheathed and spells held at the ready were dismissed. One of the men, the one that seemed to be in charge, who also had the largest amount of ellodran ancestry, tapped his staff on the edge of the circle. The barrier containing Tanfardi dropped. Everyone of them bowed deeply.

With the barrier down, all of Tanfardi’s passive keys and enchantments were effective beyond the confines of the room. He detected his two companions, they were not together, but both of them seemed physically sound. He was then able to quickly deduce that there were very few ellodran-blooded people within the city or surrounding area. None that he could detect were truly his people, over half of them were presently in front of him. With the barrier down he could clearly see that the man in charge here was more closely related than any of the others. He did maintain an illusion to conceal his true features, yet for some reason he did not completely mask his true nature. Tanfardi raised his own guise, concealing his true appearance as well.

Then there was the air, thick and damp, it was an effort to draw a breath.

“Welcome, true-born. We are honoured by your presence. Though we had not expected one such as yourself to visit again. I am the Grand Magus of the GreensBridge Mages Guild.” He waited expectantly.

“I am Tanfardi. Perhaps we could converse in private?”

“Of course. Might I suggest the rooftop garden?”

“That would be acceptable. Lead on.”

The rest of them shuffled to the sides of the stairs and the Grand Master said, “Follow me.”

From the room with the gate they entered another sub-level of the red-stoned building. A number of rooms were sealed with heavy, metal bound doors and warded against tampering or scrying. The next level up was also below ground but contained areas were mages could train with hostile elemental spells and armed combat. At ground level it appeared as if the structure was a fortification of some sort, though the layout was not something designed by his people.

“If you don’t mind, we will take the back stairs. I’d like to avoid too many people seeing you.”

Tanfardi wondered why, but simply said, “As you will.”

“Have you been to GreensBridge before?”


“Ah, so you are not familiar with the Red Tower?”

“Certainly not.”

“This is the Arcanium. Here we house the Warders and keep a secured inventory of magic artifacts. Especially anything very powerful or not understood.” His host lead him up a narrow flight of stairs that seemed to be situated around the inner circumference of the structure. It was dimly lit, there were doors every twenty steps, across from the doors were shuttered archers slits and usually a small light-orb.

The Grand Magus explained the basic layout and utility as they climbed, “The ground floor, as well the third and second levels are the most used areas of the keep. Any guild member has access. Most of the administration takes place on these levels, as well the day to day concerns of the facility and the guild members who work here, including the main barracks of the Warders. The fourth level is the lodging for the leadership of the Warders, as well a couple of magically dampened rooms for special guests. The top three floors contain the dangerous and unknown artifacts.”

Tanfardi did not know what a warder was, other than by context. He also wondered what sort of artifacts were too powerful and why some artifacts remained a mystery to them. So, he kept quiet and followed the other man up to the top of the tower.

Once at the top, they stepped outside into a vibrant garden that took up most of the available area. He noted that many of the plants were of a magical nature. Breathing became more laborious, he lay down a key to filter the air he was breathing. They crossed the roof, encountering only a few other people, then entered a turret and climbed to its top. From this vantage they could see the entire city. Keys had been enchanted to prevent others from hearing or seeing what transpired up here. The Magus waited quietly as he took in the city.

While Tanfardi had not shared his sister’s altruistic feelings for the inhabitants of Prymvera, he had been well informed of the efforts taking place to save the remnant populations. As well, his own people’s efforts to settle the planet.

Esher-arradda had been the great project. Bringing all the civilized races on the planet to one place where they, with his own people, would forge a new high civilization. A bastion from which the chaos of the drakes could be countered. The best engineers, architects and enchanters of his people had meticulously planned and built the city.

Over the past ten millennium, parts of the city had been damaged or destroyed and some rather peculiar renovations had taken place. Much of the original city had been built over, in some areas there were numerous levels of newer structures built over the old. It was also very densely populated, unreasonably so by his expectations. None of his people remained, just a few dozen humans with various amounts of ellodran ancestry, the majority of those people were here in this stronghold.

He looked to the man who might be his closest remaining relative, “What happened to my people?”

The Grand Magus of GreensBridge regarded him with curiosity, “There are few of your people left. Though the Eldra had managed to drive the drake from civilized lands, the Second Elemental War had left your kin greatly depleted. So, while the drake had been defeated there were not enough of your people to exile them from this world. After the Dragon King had retreated, the drake lay a powerful curse on your people, who later found that they could no longer reproduce.

“After that, efforts were made to lift the curse and to find alternative ways to produce offspring. In the end, the best that could be done was for your people and the humans to crossbreed. The half Eldra were sometimes able to reproduce with the pure, that is how someone like myself came to be.

“After a few thousand years the drake had largely recovered from their losses, while your people slowly waned. The high-mountain citadels were attacked one by one, few of the Ellodran survived, though many drake were also slain. The Third Elemental War would have seen the end of your people if the high-elves had not come to your aid.

“There followed a dark period after that, your people were divided, some chose to become gods to the humans, for a long while the Eldra fought among themselves. After that, the survivors started to train the half-men to help hold this realm from the drake, these people became the Rovers, who’s halls were used to preserve the lore of the ancients.

“Not so long ago, after I was born, the drake resumed their battle for this world. They infiltrated human societies and institutions, as well those of the high elves. It was later revealed that the Dragon King had challenged his offspring to a grand game. They would coerce and manipulate the humans against each other, as well, the other races. No one knows for certain why, the assumption is that it was for dominance within drake society.

“Nearly two and a half centuries ago, the Queen of Maldorn used the book of Hod and unleashed a powerful bane. While it is assumed she meant to attack the drake exclusively, in fact, all magical beings came under assault. It was the final blow to your people, nearly the same for the elves. Only the remnants now remain.”

Tanfardi looked at the man, he had many questions, he knew the Magus was surprised by his ignorance but he did not care. He had to know, “Do you know where my people are?”

The Magus shook his head, “They have hidden themselves away from the rest of us. We know not where they dwell.”


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