What the saw on the other side of the portal was breathtaking and foreboding at the same time. The ground they stood on was not grass, but stone. There were steps leading up to a large, black castle that looked like it had been pulled out of a ghost story. At the same time, it was intriguing. It had spikes at each corner, and the top was dome shaped. It looked to be very solid and impenetrable.
Mark glanced at his friends, nervous. He was not so sure about this now.
The wizards left them to stare at the castle a moment longer while they talked to the guards. Alix was watching them the entire time, ready to strike if things turned ugly.
One of the wizards noticed him, and smiled. "If you would all follow us, the Head mage would love to meet you," he led them through the gated and up the stairs. Alex was still in front of the others, ready to defend them. He glanced at his sword, assuming he was supposed to hand it over. When he tried to, one of the guards stopped him.
"Please keep them, so the Head mage can see them," the man's eyes were gleaming with excitement. "He would love to see the Blood Swords. Please, come this way."
A servant led them down a long corridor to a large, black door with a tree symbol on it. Knocking softly, he cleared his throat. "They have arrived, my lord."
There was silence, then a deep voice answered from the other side of the door. "Bring them in, please."
"Yes, my lord," the servant glanced at them, then opened the door. He bowed low when he saw the Head mage.
The Head mage dismissed the servant with a wave of his hand, not looking up. Once the servant was gone, he lifted his head and stared at the young people standing before him. It was hard for him to believe he was meeting them, yet he knew they would come someday.
"Please follow me into my study. It is much more comfortable there," he said, still watching them.
Alix shifted nervously, but Luke smiled at the Head mage. "Thank you, sir."
Mark had noticed that everyone they had met, so far, had acted in awe of them, and it was somewhat unsettling.
Once they were in the large study, Jackie smiled at the Head mage. "I couldn't help but notice that everyone around here seems know who we are," she voiced her brother's thoughts. "We just got here, not to mention, we are not from this world," she smiled at Alix. "At least, not all of us."
The Head mage addressed her observation very seriously, looking at all of them. "The Wizard Council has been waiting for someone to find the Blood Swords for over five hundred years," he ran a hand through his hair. "Forgive me, if we make you feel uncomfortable. I am certain none of it has been intentional."
Luke smiled at him. "What's so special about our swords, other than their magic?"
The old wizard closed his eyes, then focused on the swords. "They hold so much potential power. Come here and have a seat. I can explain it all to you now, or we can wait until later."
Luke looked at his friends, glancing at Alix. "I think we have time."
The Head mage smiled at them. "Alright, I will tell you some of it. Have a seat, please."
Once they were all seated, the Head mage began telling them the story of how the Blood Swords came into existence and what their purpose was. They had been created several years ago, as special presents to the twin Rotieven princes. However, one of the men became obsessed with his sword, and a hunger began to grow in him for the power of his brother's sword. He killed his brother, and from that, his sword had been tainted. It was taken away from him, and the sword now had evil tendencies. It was locked up, along with the still pure one. A few years later, the tainted sword was stolen, so the Wizard Council stepped in, helping to create swords that would be able to track the stolen one. However, when they created the swords, the taint was backlashed into one of the new swords. This sword would have a stronger pull toward the dark blade, making it dangerous, yet valuable. The swords were locked up in a chest, and placed in a remote area, where only the rightful wielders would be able to sense them.
When he had finished telling them the story. Mark looked down at his sword. "Do you know which one has the taint?"
The Head mage looked at him, then the sword. "Not for sure. We would like to test all of you abilities, to see what they are, and how strong. Right now, I would imagine you are all tired and hungry."
Jackie smiled. "I am definitely hungry."
Her brother grinned at her. "So am I."