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Two Weeks Ago.

The dawn chorus died in the hedgerows as the great black dragon rose above the castle, his wings unfurled. His master, a hooded figure dressed in black, clung tightly to his back as he breached the first layer of cloud cover. Levelling out, he turned his head to the north, and flew out towards the endless expanse of ocean beyond the mountain peaks.

Once they had left the settlements far behind them, Mordred shook back his sleeve and removed one of the hop loops from around his wrist. He threw it out in front of them, and the little disc spun through the air with a high-pitched whistle. Suddenly, it changed direction, spinning like a penny on its outer edge, and the air in front of them began to shimmer: a portal crackling into life. Angmar flapped his wings once, propelling them towards the void. At the last moment he snapped them in, flat against his sides, allowing him to fit comfortably through the growing gap.

As the sun rose to flood the sky red, dragon and fairy disappeared into apparent nothingness.

Shyllipa Major
A few moments later.

Angmar squinted against the glare of the dusty pink sky as he emerged from the portal into the light of the twin-suns. He kept his altitude, a little high to be noticed too easily by mortal eyes, and adjusted his course to the west. Angmar passed over the little settlement out into open countryside, the blue ferns which grew below in place of grasses blurring into one great mass of colour. It did not take them long to find what they were looking for. The tall towers and sequential arches of the white palace laughed in the faces of the one-story cabins huddled together a respectful distance away at the foot of a nearby hill.

Angmar circled lower until his claws brushed against the tops of the feather grasses, and as soon as his feet touched the soil, Mordred slipped from his back. Straightening up he hitched his bag higher onto his shoulder and reached for his magic. He turned his back on Angmar, vanished, and lifted himself into the air.

When he arrived at the palace there were guards on the doors. One, a tree nymph, perched on a stool eating an apple whilst the other, a water nymph, snoozed soundly against the doorframe. Mordred slipped past them and pushed open the small door at their backs. If they were disturbed by the creaking of the hinges they gave no sign of it.

As soon as he crossed the threshold he heard voices coming from the end of the corridor. Mordred passed them unnoticed, picking his way deeper into the labyrinth. Eventually he encountered Etya, the tree nymph he had met on his previous visit, pushing a trolley bearing a plate of food covered by an elaborately engraved cloche. Mordred followed her.

They reached the bottom of a set of steps and the woman removed the tray from the trolley. Mordred followed her up the stairs and edged into the room as she opened the door at the top.

“As you requested, ma’at-inety.” the woman said, putting the plate down on the table in the centre of the room. On the sofa in the corner a man with short white hair and a hooked nose looked up from his book with a smile.

“Thank you, Etya.” Gwythr said, marking his place, and setting the book down on the seat beside him. “Perhaps you could pour two glasses of wine before you leave.”

When Etya had gone, Mordred lowered his veil of invisibility and looked into the eyes of Shaman’s banished tyrant. A smile played in the corner of his mouth for a moment, and then he lowered his eyes and inclined his head in the smallest of bows.

Seba'iqer,” he greeted him respectfully. Gwythr said nothing. Instead he nudged one of the glasses of wine across the table top and gestured for Mordred to take it. He obeyed and collected the glass, his long fingers curling around the stem.

“You could have just knocked on the front door, boy,” Gwythr said, “no one here reports to Mallos.”

“What can I say,” Mordred shrugged, “old habits die hard.”

“Mmm,” Gwythr paused, smiling to himself. He took a sip of wine and sunk down into the chair behind the table.

“I had expected to see you sooner,” he said, picking a piece of food from the plate in front of him. He studied it with more attention than he had given Mordred since his arrival.

“I have had other pressing matters to attend to,” Mordred replied, “it occurs to me however, that now might be the perfect time for me to…adjust my circumstances. Everything is now in place except…” He looked up and found Gwythr smiling at him.

“Except Mallos,” the deity responded knowingly. “Tell me, boy, what exactly do you need?”

Written by Merlin and Aspelta

    • part one -
    • part two -
    • part three -
    • part four -
    • part five -
    • part six -
    • part seven -
    • part eight -
    • part nine -

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