They spent the night in an abandoned Inn, its occupants having been frightened away or kidnapped by Merdock's soldiers, helped themselves to some food and left a few handfuls of money on the counter in the morning; gathered some more supplies and went on their way down the long, tedious path down the other side of the mountain. They reached the foot of the mountains with little difficulty, a dry night had evaporated the moisture in the air meaning that Haylie, and the horses found their ascent much easier, they mounted and spent the rest of the day riding towards the Abandoned Watch Tower. On the way to retrieve the sword of visions they passed the Salanshin Forest where they stopped the to rest and recuperate over night; once again setting up camp and spending the night under canvas. In the morning after everyone had had a good nights sleep, Elera pulled the intricate map from her bag once again but this time she placed her finger in what seemed to be the place where they were stood, chanted some words under her breath and then she ran her rounded nail along the map in a wobbly line and behind her finger, following it, was a sapphire blue line mapping out what seemed to be a route they were to follow next.
"And what is that exactly?" Haylie asked
"This is, hopefully what is going to shield us from what ever Merdock is using to watch us. As long as we stick to this path we should be fine, this will take us right to the Old Watch Tower," She explained.
* * *
At the summit of Mount Morgant, Madelia leaned against the huge black doors of the highest tower in the black castle listening to Merdock explain all there was to know about the prophesy.
"So do you see?" He asked when he had finished "if we do not stop Elera and this other worlder you saw crossing the plains with her, we shall have a full scale uprising on our hands. And you have no idea as to the identity of their third companion?"
"No my Lord, I have never seen his face before, yet in some ways it seemed familiar"
"I want to know who he is. Now, go. Get out." He roared.
"Yes Master." Madelia stormed from the tower and swept through the maze of gloomy, torch-lit hallways and dark endlessly spiralling staircases to her chambers deep within the bowels of the castle.
In the deepest corner of the Black Castle Madelia crouched beside a four poster bed in her ominous and sinister room, and reached beneath the coal black bed and retrieved a small wooden box. She rose from the cold, stone floor and moved into the light; within the box were three items; a silver hair pin decorated with rose shaped rubies; a gold plated bracelet engraved with ivy and flowery vines, and an iron chess piece, a queen. Beneath these odd, out of place, seemingly unimportant items was a thin piece of dirty parchment, she pulled the sliver of paper from the box and held it up to the light of a candle to make it easier to read. The piece of paper was a letter addressed to her and it read…
I master Merdock, the all powerful ruler of the land of
Lardinia, and all lands there within. Declare that in the unlikely
event of my departure from this world by death or other
means, do leave my position and authority and
everything that I own to my apprentice Madelia Sifadias.
Although this declaration pleased her, she did not like being labelled as an apprentice she was an entirely capable, spell caster and dark enchantress. Madelia's story was not a particularly fascinating one however it was a tale brimming with bloodshed and darkness. She had been born with her gifts, as many sorcerers are and from the age of seven, was well trained in all the arts of magic and spell casting by a great warlock from a distant and ancient land; however when searching through a more prohibited text she discovered that if she were to murder a true master of magic she would gain his power. When her powers had grown strong enough, she killed her master in his sleep, in the belief that by doing so she would grow stronger; her search for power turned her magic to the dark arts and her later history becomes shrouded in mystery. Until one day she was discovered terrorising small villages, searching for lost relics of power, on the outskirts of the city of Morgantia where she grew up, by none other than Merdock himself, he shared her search for power and admiration, and recognised her potential for destruction and offered her a place at his side while he plotted to take over the feeble lands of Lardinia, starting with the weak minded Morgantians who were so easily tempted by riches and power. So being called an apprentice by a man who had never done anything for her other than make her is right hand woman, made her livid.
* * *
Meanwhile in a slightly more cheerful setting Elera, Ringmore and Haylie were in sight of the Old Watch Tower, outside all looked peaceful and calm, the building comprised of what was once a single story building adjoined to a six story tower, the entire building was thread bare, shattered stones and shards of glass littered the ground around the perimeter, scorch marks plagued the walls of the turret and heavy boulders stuck out at angles from the ramshackle ramparts. Each of them knew that waiting inside was a danger unlike any other. Through the cracks and holes in the walls all was dark but as they skirted around the old watch tower sunlight streaming through gaping holes in the nearly tile-less roof, glinted on what seemed like mountains of gold; precious gems and valuable objects
"Ok let's just wait a while to…uh make um sure that the thing definitely isn't there at the moment" Haylie stammered. The others agreed so they spread out around the tower at a reasonable distance to make doubly sure the great beast was not at home.