Wizard’s Path, Chapter I

Chapter I

Sticks and Stones


The day was grey and threatening rain on the city of Mor Aldenn. The thought of rain did not worry young Cellian Varr, she had a spell in mind should the rain fall. As an apprentice of the Tower of Abjuration, the magic of protection, one of the first things she learned was how to create a magical umbrella. Even the wizards of Mor Aldenn were wise enough not to tamper with the weather, well, not much in any case. Still, it was not a bad day for shopping.

She started as she caught a pair of eyes looking at her but then laughed as it was just a mirror. Cellian patted her hair making sure that the combs were keeping it snugly in place. Her long hair was dark where her mother’s was honey blond. Cellian tilted her head right and then left, comparing her features to those of her elven mother and wondering for the thousandth thousandth time what her father had looked like.

“I wish I had her fine features,” she lamented quietly. “At least my eyes are those of the elves.” She smiled sadly meeting her own violet eyes in the looking glass.

“Can I help you, young lady?” asked Kol Woodwright, the gnomish proprietor of the store, as he peered around a wardrobe.

“Just admiring the mirror,” she replied with a blush. “Perhaps when I am a master, I can afford it.”

“I cannot hold it that long,” the gnome smiled.

“There will be other mirrors.”

“As long as you purchase from me, young lady, I will be happy.”

She waved and headed on. “I will not forget, Master Woodwright.”

“Take care, young woman.” The gnome moved to polish the mirror. “And be careful, there have been a rash of accidents. Be wary for I fear there are some spirits of ill-fortune about.”

Cellian reached up to check the protective amulets around her neck. “Thank you, sir, I will be!”

As she moved from shop to shop gathering the components needed to build a set of wards for her next test, she heard about the mysterious accidents Woodwright had mentioned: A wagon wheel had broken and the ropes holding the load had snapped, sending barrels rolling everywhere. A piece of slate roofing fell and hit an apprentice, only a flesh wound but it could easily have been worse. Carelessly stacked wood had fallen into the fireplace and nearly starting a conflagration at the Whimsical Sprite Inn. And other minor incidents, people hurt, things broken. Cellian could not but think that something was going on and it seemed only a matter of time before someone was seriously injured.

She was lost in her thoughts as she turned a corner. Avoiding a dark cloaked man she almost ran into a string of fish at the end of a pole. “Ack!” Cellian jerked back and almost tripped, dropping her bag.

“Ssellian, not be afraid, is fish,” said a small, lizardlike being with glittering black eyes. She waved the prizes of the day’s fishing tied to the end of her spear.

“Konni,” said Cellian relieved as she bent to pick up her bag. “My head was in the clouds. You look to have had a good day.”

“Good for fish, bad for frog,” the kobold said with a shrug. “You like? Fresh as fresh can be.”

“Maybe, Konni, maybe, I am not sure what mother has planned for supper,” she replied. “Have you seen any odd accidents in town?”

“Old Jaspar slipped on fishguts, broke wrist. Unhappy making,” answered Konni. “Lost fish too.”

“Cellian, Konni!” Rufys, his unruly red hair wild and his stained apprentice’s robe flapping as he moved, hurried over. Rufys, for all that he studied the arts of transmutation in the Changing Tower, seemed totally unable to keep himself neat and clean. Following him with a measured stride was Zael, the young dwarf’s precise appearance and movements contrasted with that of his human friend. Konni slipped behind Cellian, Zael still made her nervous.

“Have you heard . . .” Cellian and Rufys both began before stopping and laughing.

“Accidents?” asked Rufys. Cellian nodded. “I thought as an abjuror you might have some ideas about it,” he continued.

“Not yet. Master Woodwright thinks it’s a malevolent spirit.”

“Master Woodwright thinks bad soup is caused by spirits.”

Konni looked out from behind Cellian. “Maybe not wrong now.”

“The dragonling has a point,” agreed Zael, earning the dwarf a glare from Konni. He returned the kobold a polite nod.

“Well, I do not yet know how to locate a spirit . . . but I would recognize a curse or spirit summoning tablet,” ventured Cellian. “So we can look.”

“A plan!” said Rufys, and with a gesture he transformed the end of his staff into a small red banner displaying an intricate arcane mark.

The quartet moved onward in a loose line with Konni and Cellian on one side of the road and Rufys and Zael on the other. “What exactly are we looking for?” asked Zael.

“Any sign of a curse or haunt,” answered Cellian, pausing while Konni sold her string of fish to a passing goodwife. The young dwarf pondered this statement while Rufys tried to conjure a breeze to make his banner wave.

The four continued, more thoughtful than before, and meandered along through the city streets and alleys. After nearly an hour, they were beginning to think about calling it a day when Konni pointed to a rooftop. “There,” she hissed.

Cellian saw something fall from the roof and something small leap back from the edge. She ran forward, behind Konni who dashed ahead, her fishing spear ready. Cellian knelt down for a closer look at what had fallen and immediately recoiled, her gorge rising. It was a young cat. The poor creature had been terribly tortured, its legs were bent and broken and its fur torn away. Cellian did not think it was dead before it hit the ground.

The young wizardess gritted her teeth, forcing her mind into order. She stood, bringing her spells to mind. She drew her one wand out of her satchel. A wand made of carved ivory, which had been a gift from her mother, something to defend herself with until she mastered more magic.

“Konni, where did it go?” Cellian asked scanning the nearby rooftops.

Zael and Rufys arrived, dagger and staff ready. “What cruelty,” growled the dwarf looking at the slain cat, his knuckles white on the hilt of his dagger.

“There,” pointed Konni as a roof tile toppled. She tossed her fishing spear. It skittered across the roof and tumbled down. Followed by a few tiles and a squirming . . . thing.

Rufys ran forward, swinging his staff. The thing, now revealed as human-shaped amalgam of sticks and pebbles, stood half Konni’s size. Rufys’ swing went wild as he lost his footing on a fallen tile.

The thing seemed to laugh as Rufys fell. Then it was on the move, dashed away as Konni’s net flew towards it. The kobold hissed a curse and reeled the net in. Zael and Cellian gave chase.

“What is it?” managed the dwarf, his stout legs not built for speed.

Cellian’s mind raced as she ran after it. Something so small should not be so quick. “Elemental?” she ventured, dodging around a stack of firewood.

Cellian could hear the others behind her as she dashed out across the open field of the Horse Downs. The stick man was fast and nimble but she kept it in sight, just. She was faster across the open ground. There it was! Cellian gripped her wand. The animate dashed over the road. She was almost upon it. She tried to aim her wand but it vanished behind a stone block. She skidded to a halt as something blocked the sky in front of her and looked up.

It was the Fallen Tower, its shattered upper levels looming over the young wizardess. “Oh . . . dear,” she stepped back. Cellian spun as she heard skittering behind her. A trio of odd manikins made of charred bits of wood and pebbles clambered up on another stone from the tower. Cellian pointed her wand at them. She heard movement behind her. How many are there? she wondered, slowly looking around, Eight, ten, eleven. This is bad.

Cellian traced a rune of protection with her right hand. Her left, trembling, held the wand pointed at the group of three as the circle of menacing things made of sticks and stones slowly tightened around her. One leapt at her. A flash of magical force from her wand shattered it. She cried out as twig-claws slashed at her left ankle.

Zael’s dwarven frame ploughed over one of the manikins. “Run, Cellian, run!” He tried to fend off another two with his small dagger.

Cellian stumbled over the pieces of the one that Zael had trampled. Almost losing her wand, she turned and let loose another blade of force at the things. It went wide shearing off an arm of one of the figures and gouging a notch out of a fallen stone block.

Rufys stepped forward. He winced as a small rock bounced off his temple. He gestured and a fan of flames flicked over a group of the animates. One collapsed in a pile of burning splinters. The other two rushed forward at the young transmuter.

Konni’s thrown spear took one in its torso piercing through and pinning it wriggling to the earth. “Flee, flee!” she shouted. Cellian needed no more encouragement as she scrambled away onto the road.

“We need help,” she said limping back from the fray. Aiming her wand, she blasted one of the things off of Zael’s back. The dwarf fought his way free of two others, leaving his sleeves shredded and his arms covered in scratches.

From the Fallen Tower arced a black stone. It landed and rolled towards them far too quickly, passing through the fragments of the shattered animates, gathering bits and increasing in size. Suddenly it stood. The black stone was the head of another of the things, its body made from pieces of stick and bone, cloth, string and pebbles.

“Unfair!” cried Rufys, batting at one of the creatures ineffectively with his staff.

“I do not think the demon cares,” snapped Cellian as she dragged Rufys back. “We really need to get help.”

The remaining seven manikins gathered around the newly formed one, their sightless faces watching. Konni tossed her net over them and bolted. “Run! Run!”

“To the Tower of Abjuration!” added Cellian running as best she could with her wounded leg. She was sure she could hear the things chasing them but she did not look back. They ran through the streets, dodging carts and pedestrians, and the occasional shouted curse. Cellian thought she saw one of the beings out of the corner of her eye but they made it to the tower without incident.

Rufys pounded on the door of the Tower of Abjuration with his staff. “Masters! We need help.”

“We can go in,” muttered Cellian, opening the door and stepping inside.

Master Winn was coming down the stairs, “Cellian! What was that pounding?” asked the old master, leaning on his cane. His watery blue eyes squinted at her and the door beyond.

“Master Winn, thank goodness! There are things at the Fallen Tower causing trouble! Accidents all over town.”

“What?! Something is escaping from the Fallen Tower!?” Winn changed from his usual dithering persona to the skilled wizard he was. “Master Laud, Master Vallent, we are needed!” He looked to Cellian under glowering brows, “This had best not be a joke, apprentice Varr.”

“No, sir, not at all,” answered Cellian nodding.

The other two masters-in-residence appeared, as did the other apprentices and journeymen. “The Spellwarden is away, so I am in command,” stated Winn, all listened and nodded. “All of you, gather warding materials, quickly,” ordered Winn. “We march on the Fallen Tower in five minutes.” Cellian remembered that Winn had served among the armies providing magical protection before retiring to teach. “Go help them, Varr,” the old master added after a moment.

“Yes, sir.”

Less than five minutes later, with Winn at its head, the entire magical contingent of the Tower of Abjuration marched out. The masters questioned Cellian and her friends the entire way. “How many?” “You say a stone came from the tower?” “How big were the animates?” “Did you hear anything from inside?” They answered as best they could. Though Konni’s observations were politely ignored, so it seemed to Cellian. The kobold had sharper sense than most she knew, it pained her that her friend’s thoughts were overlooked.

As the Fallen Tower came into sight, Winn organized and dispatched the abjurers to encircle it, giving each a particular task to perform. Cellian and her friends were kept close to Winn.

“There is one,” said Zael. Everyone looked as the animate ducked behind a stone.

“Apprentices and journeymen, place the wards,” commanded Winn. “Masters, guard.”

The magic flowed around Winn. Cellian could feel it as she placed the first of the ward stakes she carried. She jerked back as one of the other apprentices cried out. It seemed that all of the things were attacking Vennik, a senior apprentice. Vallent raised her hand and rays sprang from each of her fingers. The rays struck several of animates swarming Vennik and knocked them away . Zael ran forward and dashed one of the others to the ground. Vennik spun, beating frantically at the others clinging to him.

“Continue with the wards!” bellowed Winn, snapping Cellian back to the task at hand. She focused on placing the next stake. Vennik was quietly muttering, so she knew he was safe, if unhappy. Cellian placed her third, and final ward stake and quickly recited the words to activate them.

Cellian stepped back, nearly bumping into Konni. She watched as silver light flared from stake to stake. She felt, rather than heard, a cry of anger from deep within the Tower. Almost in unison, the assembled abjurers took a step back, many making signs against evil.

Winn clapped his hands. “Fellow abjurers! Good work, good work indeed. We have done what the city asks of us, to guard them from evil. Apprentice Cellian spotted a threat to us, to all of us, which allowed us to act in time. These puppet imps of the demon would have continued causing havoc and, given time, would have freed their dark master. Now we must maintain these wards. Normally, I would task a journeyman to oversee this task, but I think Apprentice Varr has earned the right.”

Cellian felt all eyes on her and blushed. “I will not fail the abjurers, Master Winn.”

“I know you wont, Varr,” smiled Winn. “Now, let us retire to our tower. Apprentice Varr, your companions are welcome to accompany us. I will be certain that young Redland and Forgeguide’s masters are informed of their assistance in this matter.”

“Thank you, Master,” she said with a curtsy. Konni mimicked the gesture. Rufys and Zael bowed to Winn with murmured thanks.

As they walked back, Cellian listened to Winn’s lecture on what needed to be done to maintain the wards.

Once back at the tower, she slipped away as everyone started in. Cellian smiled at her friends. “Thank you. Together we helped the city.” She embraced each of them in turn. “Let us always be friends.”


From the shadows, a cloaked man watched as the friends made a pact that would bind them together for the future. He nodded to himself and turned away.


In the Fallen Tower, a demon raged and plotted in the darkness. Its servants probed the wards for weaknesses. A handful of its puppets still skulked outside the ward, it would be hard to communicate with them…but they were there; tools to be used.


Written by Sean Holland


Like what you just read? Maybe you want to explore the setting further? Check out the Mor Aldenn Campaign Setting from Paizo.com and RPGNow.com



Explore posts in the same categories: fantasy, Fiction

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

You can comment below, or link to this permanent URL from your own site.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: