May 20, 2000
It had been a windy, winter morning, the sun could barely push through the dark, brooding clouds that covered the skies. I had just arrived back from the library when I heard a pounding at my door. I dropped my books on the table and went over to answer it. I opened it up to find a young man standing there, carrying an ordinary scroll in his hand.
"What can I do for you my good man?" I asked questioningly.
"Greetings Baron Zultic," he said, "I am a messenger from the south, and I bring news from Gdangus."
He handed me the scroll and lowered his head, avoiding looking me in the eyes I unrolled it carefully. It was a message from the Mayor of Gdangus, it read:
It is believed that your brother, Kuldan is dead. He was last seen in the Village of Gdangus around three months ago. He mentioned to us that he was heading on a long, perilous journey to an island far out in the middle of the oceans, to recover lost treasures supposedly in possession by a phantom king in the Ruins of Stornaway Castle. He did tell us as well that if he did not return in two months, or if we did not hear word from him that we should consider him dead, and then bring news to you of this. We waited out the two months and he still did not return, we waited one last week after that, just in case he had been delayed, but still no one arrived. I truly am sorry.
Mayor of Gdangus.
I lifted my head and dropped the scroll, I looked over to the messenger who was standing with me in the hallway of my home. I could not say anything, but only stared. After a few moments I led the messenger to the door and helped him out, I then pulled the door shut and collapsed to the floor, staring wide-eyed into the air.
After many hours of memories flashing in and out of my mind, I pushed myself to my feet and thought, "Kuldan can't be dead, this can't be happening. I shall travel to this ruined castle and find him, a corpse or not, I will find him."
Early the next morning I went to the scribe at the Crossroads of Armingo Avenue, I gave him a couple of gold coins and he handed me a feathered quill with four pieces of parchment. I walked on to a near by park where I settled down on a bench to write four letters to four close friends of mine, to request aid in my journey.
It was a warm, pleasant morning after yesterday, the heavy gushes of wind had dropped and the sun burned brightly in the morning skies above, I had finished off the last of my letters and strolled along down to the Post Office on Enterprise Avenue. I went inside and paid the fee to send the notes off to the requested persons, my friends, Raoulore, Argonon, Mordegast and Larhawk.
After waiting two weeks I walked back up to the Post Office to check for any mail that might have been sent to me. I was surprised when I arrived to find that all four of my companions had replied and were willing to venture off to the island with me.
Later on that week we all met at Daddy O's to discuss our journey. It was decided that we would leave exactly 3 days from then, we would meet at the town fountain. That gave all of us enough time to organize our equipment and supplies, and enough gold to pay for the good dragons to transport us across the crystal blue ocean to the small, isolated island.
The three days passed as if they were hours, we were all anxious but nervous, we didn't know what to expect from the island ... and of course what to expect in the eerie castle itself. When we met at the fountain we decided that we would first travel to Wytherwind and search the Ancient Library for any manuscripts, scrolls or books for any knowledge on the Ruins of Stornaway Castle. We walked down the main street of Medievia until we reached Roddenbury Park North, from there we went across to the stables and the stableboy lead four mighty warhorses out, they were black like the darkest night, but graceful in motion, they were our mounts for our short trip to Wytherwind. We all mounted up and then galloped up to the eastern gate of the city.
Our first journey was a short one, we left City of Medievia at noon, we were galloping along the once well-ridden paths, everything was going well, the sun was shining bright in the sky, there were barely any clouds, only a few wisps here and there, there was a small breeze blowing but it did not penetrate our armored bodies. We came to a stream and decided to have a small stop to rest, and let our mounts have a short break at the same time, before crossing it.
Just as we were about to leave and continue along to Wytherwind, Raoulore pointed out that there was an unnatural silence around us all of a sudden.
"Things seem awfully quiet," whispered Raoulore.
"Yes, a moment ago we could hear the singing birds high in the tree tops and other creatures hustling about in the dense brush, it seems as if the birds have been scared off and the other creatures are all hiding away," added Argonon.
"Mordegast," I said, "go scout around ahead and around us, see if you can find or see anything threatening."
"Sure, I will be right back," he whispered as he strode off.
"We shall wait here till he returns, then we can decide what to do from there," I commented.
After several minutes Mordegast returned with a worried expression upon his face.
"Rogues, there are a group of rogues heading this way. They are about 1 mile away from the bridge. I overheard their conversation, they seem irritated, and also mentioned something about a company of dwarfs which escaped them last night. I wouldn't advise us to be unprepared when they arrive," Mordegast whispered quickly.
"Looks like this journey isn't going to be as easy as we thought," Larhawk said with a sly smile on his face.
Larhawk had always enjoyed battling. He was a respected swordsman among many, and was always ready for danger and evil when it showed it's horrid face.
The rest of us took Mordegast's advice and prepared ourselves for the uninvited guests. Raoulore began to chant shielding and protection spells over our belonging and horses, while Mordegast, and Larhawk began to unsheathe their grand weapons. Mordegast wielded a dagger which seemed to glowed with an unholy light, while Larhawk unsheathed his mighty battle axe which was overwhelming in size and might. Argonon and I began to organize spell components and prepare offense spells which were not to complex, but would deal a great amount of damage. Once we were all prepared we took to the bushes and hid until the approaching rogues arrived at the spot where we had been previously resting.
"Looks like we not alone out here," said one of the rogues withdrawing a rusty dagger.
"Yes, looks to me like we have some company not to far from here," said another with a smirk on his face, while bending down and looking at our tracks.
All in all it was a group of six rogues. The time was now right, and at the given signal, Mordegast and Larhawk leaped from their hiding places and began their offense, Mordegast crept up behind one of the rogues and plunged his dagger deep into the back of one of them and twisted it around while removing it, the rogue fell to his knees and with one more pierce he collapsed lifeless into the dust. With that Larhawk swung his mighty axe, decapitating one of the other villains. The four remaining rogues started closing in on Mordegast and Larhawk, then Raoulore, Argonon, and I stepped out from behind a tree, when they caught a glimpse of us, the one turned in surprise, but was reduced to ashes by a blast from Argonon. The others fled, feeling overpowered by the strength of our small but potent force.
"Good, at least there wasn't as much bloodshed as we bargained for," I noted, grinning.
"Yes indeed so," laughed Raoulore.
Once we had checked the corpses for any useful equipment or supplies we decided to carry on, we were almost there, only about 10 miles left to go. So we mounted up and carried on galloping along the overgrown path. After riding past many small, lush bushes, and enormous trees that towered up into the skies above, we reached the entrance to Wytherwind. At that point we tethered our mounts and entered Wytherwind. We headed over to the Library, lead by Mordegast who had been there before.
Wytherwind was an odd place. In the past it was a mighty Castle but now it was run down. The story of it's tragedy, no one knows, but there seemed to be life inside, maybe not anything living, but there was definitely something. Fortunately for us we didn't run into anything while on our way to the Library.
Once we reached the entrance to the Library we moved inside, we all stood in awe as we stared at the huge, luxurious room that lay ahead of us. There were torches surrounding the room providing plenty of light for any travelers who sought knowledge there. This was definitely surprising to us, after viewing some of the Castle, this must have been the only room that didn't seem run down and ruining.
We spent a good few hours there, searching high and low around the enormous room, looking for anything we could find on Stornaway. After about three long hours, Raoulore shouted out that he thought he might have found something, his voice echoed through the room as if a booming voice was hollowing from above. We all gathered around a torch and placed the script under it. It was part of a Diary from a past adventurer. It read:
"Long ago, I ventured into that god-forsaken place, haunted by powerful phantoms and infested by mighty creatures that roam wild inside. There are phantom guards who seem to be protecting one apparition in particular, the phantom king, King Clayborne..."
And that was all there was, the rest of the page had been burnt and the other tatters that weren't burnt were illegible to us. Our journey to Wytherwind had almost been a total waste of time except for the fact that now we knew what we might have to battle to recover my brother.
It was now late afternoon, the sun was moving slowly down towards the mountains off on the horizon, it would soon be dusk, so we found a spot to set up camp for the night. Larhawk and Argonon went off to find wood for a fire, whilst I, Raoulore and Mordegast went over our route for tomorrow. We had discussed our plans for tomorrow and agreed to stopping off in Gdangus to replenish our supplies and prepare ourselves for what stood ahead of us on the island.
Now we were all sitting around a fire. We were talking and recalling many of our past adventures, and jumping around and waving sticks in the air, acting out scenes from the many battles we had fought in. It was a merry night but it was getting late so we decided to turn in and go to sleep. Mordegast offered to take the first watch, and then Larhawk volunteered to take the second. Once that was organized the rest of us dozed off into deep, untouched sleep.
The next morning we woke up quite early. We packed our supplies and got ready for our journey down to Gdangus. The companions and I were chatting and after a while we decided it would be to out advantage to summon five dragons and fly to Gdangus instead of walking there by horse. We would arrive a lot sooner and time was something we did not have. We had to get to the Ruins of Stornaway Castle soon, none of us knew that place, and weren't sure where we could even starting looking for my brother or let alone knew what we might have to fight, or what the "mighty creatures that infest the Castle" were.
Once we were ready, we summoned our dragons. A small fire lizard appeared with a bang. We handed it our gold and it disappeared as quickly as it arrived. After a couple of minutes the first dragon arrived, and then the second and the third, until they were all standing on the ground waiting to be mounted. They were grand creatures. Standing there with a mighty posture, their smooth scales, stronger than any armor, gleamed in the morning sun, their breath was more lethal than any blade and their eyes were like magnificent jewels. They crouched down as we moved closer. Once we were all mounted upon them, I told them that we were heading towards Gdangus.
Without a word, they leaped into the warm morning skies and began to beat their powerful, leathery wings. We sat on the dragons' backs watching the passing lands below us, while powerful gushes of wind blew in our faces from their pounding wings. All the time we were thinking of the journey, the danger that we still had to face, the unknown mysteries that we might find, if we would ever return or if we would die bloody, horrible deaths.
It was early evening; we had been flying for a few hours. We had watched the sun, move across the heavens, and watched down below as we flew over dark forests and beautiful cities. It was getting late and now, we could see campfires of other adventurers, burning on the grounds below, for tomorrow they were to take their risks in their adventures. Our dragons had finally begun to circle lower and lower, through the evening clouds and mists, and down, down, down, to the small Village of Gdangus. They spread their wings out as far as possible, balancing themselves as they hit the ground once more. We looked up and before us stood Gdangus.
Part 2 to follow...