The large, double wooden doors creaked open, their hinges untended to. A lone man solemnly walked into the dark room. There a man was sitting down, reading through some papers on his irregular tree-stump desk. The man glanced up at the visitor and immediately recognized him. He stood up from his tree-stump chair. "Ahh, my friend. Glad you could make it, after all the trouble you ran into," Said Argin.
"Yes, Argin! So you watched my fight along with the others did you?" Galon mocked.
"Of course. Who'd thought you would dare take on three of the toughest Dafs?"
"You know me, always taking on impossible odds." "I suggest you dispatch with your foolish behavior! I told you to hurry! You're lucky it's not too late." "What is it our mighty leader?" "Don't mock me, wizard. I am tired of your games! This is serious! You have a son, right?" "Yes, but he is being trained in wizardry over at the castle of Matkay near the fire fields."
"I know where that is! I am growing impatient! My plan's very supports are wasting away as we speak. You have heard of the recent event, how Sharnaad escaped The Void. It's impossible! He says that he released himself, but that's not possible. Not even the great one would be able to do that! Somehow, someone must have released him. I have been following him with my seeing spell, but nothing has showed up so far."
"A true mystery! But that shouldn't be our main priority! It should be what he has planned! A public announcement of his escape? How absurd! He's up to something."
"Yes! Exactly! That's why I've called you to my humble home. I need your help to find that information out. You know the seeing spell, right?"
"I didn't study for years at the best of the wizardry universities for nothing. I know the incantation. But what if we do find out what he's up to? What then?"
"Glad you asked! We will have my army set out to capture him and thwart his plan."
"I don't completely trust you Argin, but when it comes to the safety of the families of the Jedan's, you can count on me!"
"Yes, I knew you would have some faith in me. Let's get to work."
"Why did you ask about my son?"
"You are quite curious Galon. I shall tell you now, but not a word must be said until I reveal my plan to the rest of our men. Your son is five years of age, correct?"
"Yes, but I don't quite understand what he has to do with this plan."
"Well, I'm actually worried. The people of this land are getting restless. There hasn't been a war in years and the warriors of old are still bloodthirsty. They are killing random people for the fun of it. Madness is starting to set over this forest."
"There was a mystery murder last week. That's all. Stop with the exaggerations! I shall not be fooled by my allies! What does all this have to do with my son?"
"Your son, he has shown great potential. His power to tap the Ultimate is strong and he has enough power already to use many advanced spells. We must make sure he can control it. Already there have been some minor accidents in the advanced classes. He has mastered all his lessons. We are thinking of accepting him here as one of our members. A position has just opened that would suit him. He could study here with all of us!"
"He is just a child of 8 how could he serve in the highest wizards council?"
"Remember the case of Golas? He was 12 when he joined the council."
"He was a rebirth of a god! My son is not. He will stay at the academy for as long as it challenges him. Then he can come here."
"As you wish. Now, let us get to the other business that I brought you here for."
"I am ready. But first, answer this to me. Why have the townspeople started gathering at the town square?"
"They have started praying to the gods. They have another greedy wish that they want granted."
"Do you know what it is?"
"No I don't, Galon. I do not take interest in the people's greedy wishes. I think it has something to do with the sky."
"What more could they want? They have the stars in the sky and the beauty of nature! Oh well. I cannot delay the inevitable. I am prepared. Let's start," The two of them carefully whispered the memorized incantation in perfect harmony. The words seemed to float about them, enclosing on their souls. Then it all came to a stop. They both remembered what to do next and thought of the man they wanted to observe. At first all they saw was the room they were in, but then their vision went black. Then appeared the image of a tall, slender man. He had a small nose, large, piercing eyes, a head with only enough brown hair to cover the scalp, and small ears hiding behind a tuft of hair. He wore black armor with a red dragon outlined in blue. He had a black sword surrounded by the pride of numerous victories. He had armored legs and steel, black boots up past his ankles. All in all, he was covered in black from neck to gauntlet, to boot.
The man seemed to be thinking. He was scribbling something down when he stopped. He sensed something and looked around. Argin and Galon looked to see what he was looking at, but only saw a wall. They realized too late what he was really looking at and frantically tried to break the seeing spell. A surge of pain flowed through them as if they had been struck by lightning and they let out bloodcurdling cries of agony that echoed throughout the forest.

"Masters, you're awake!" Cried their servant, Jayden. "I've been so worried about you, you've been out for hours,"
"No! We've been fooled again! Why must he be so witty?" Argin complained. "Masters! Why do you put yourselves in danger like so?" Jayden fretted. "Oh Jayden. There is something big going on and it's up to us to find out!" Galon explained. "But do you have to risk your lives over it?" Jayden took it farther. "You know why we have to, Jayden," Argin said. "Please be more careful," Jayden said. "You know we can. But, I fear our lives will be ended soon. Sharnaad is probably on to us and sending assassins as we speak. Jayden, leave now. I want you to protect my son at all costs!" "Yes master. I will take your fastest horse and will get no sleep until I reach the Belnog academy at the castle of Fol Ferten." "I will be there in one week, Jayden. Argin and I have a little research to do. You must not tell anyone of what has happened here. Also, offer my son a position on the council." "But sir! He is too young!" "Go now. I have to leave." "Farewell, Jayden. I'll miss you," Argin said. Argin and Galon walked out the door. Jayden just stood there, searching through his mind on what to do. He thought of his father, how noble he had been. He had died saving Argin from an attack. He decided it would be best for him to follow the command. He wished there was another way, and left. He silently descended the stairs, realizing that would probably be the last time he would see the stairs. He hopped over the one that creaked when you stepped it and hopped over another one that seemed it was about to break. Oh how he would miss that life. He wondered what his new master would be like. Proan, at the age of five. "Why Jayden, what brings you to the stables? It's been a month since I last saw you," The stable boy welcomed him. "I am forbidden to tell you the reason. I just need your fastest horse and will be away for a really long time," Jayden answered quickly, his voice starting to shake. "Here, take Feral. He's already ready for travel and will get you there in half the time of any of these other horses." "Thanks Arthur. I will miss you. Goodbye." "Goodbye old friend. I'll miss the times when you snuck away with me just to talk."

"It's too bad we had to send Jayden away to my son," Galon said once they were away from the large manor. "I'll miss the old gizzard, but it was for the best. Change always has that effect," Argin said. "I cannot welcome it, and yet I have to." "Bear through it. We might end up having a bright future. So just cheer up already."

"You're right. I should just be happy with the way things are changing, since I can't stop it all." "That's the spirit! Now, we must stop Sharnaad! That's a change to be welcomed." "But how, Argin? We don't know his plan and he is too powerful for us to beat him." "Then we take the only available option." "What's that? I don't see any other option besides death in battle with him." "We blend in with the crowd. Find out what's going on with the whole resurrection from the void business." "Well, it could work." "It will! Let's go." Then they set off. They went through a mini maze of alleys and back ways. Galon accidentally stepped on a cat, but no attention was drawn. It was empty. There were no voices, no chattering, not even footsteps. It was as if it were a dream. Finally they reached the main square. It was packed full. There was an announcer. He was calling out, "Come, come! Gather around. The great Sharnaad is at the base of the south end of the Living Mountain. He will awaken the mountain and with it, ask the gods for a favor in return. He will make the dull, boring, everyday night sky into something beautiful for all of you to enjoy," "And another half-witted scheme to take over the kingdoms and become the worst tyrant the world will eve see," Galon whispered sarcastically. "Well, you can't expect much from people who can't think for themselves. Do you think you have enough energy left to summon up a plane teleporter, Galon?" Argin asked. "Yes. But what do you plan to do?" "Why do you keep asking me that? I plan to plant a truth area right where he's standing." "Oh what a laugh that will be, watching him reveal his plans on the spot!" "So, what are you waiting for?" "Wait up for me! I can't summon a plane transporter immediately! Don't be so grabby," Some people nearby turned to look at Galon ad Argin squabble. They were expecting a fight, just what their bloodthirsty eyes wanted to see. Not some boring man blabber on about a new age. "Fight, fight, fight, fight!" they chanted. "No fight here! Go back to whatever you were doing," Argin tried his luck. The people were about to turn back when they saw what the other one was doing. Slowly, a small circle appeared. It started at the bottom; more appearing until it reached it's full size. It was about 10 feet in diameter and it showed a picture of a crowd standing in front of a large man in a sparkling azure cloak. He was about seven and a half feet tall and wore light armor consisting of gauntlets with spikes, a breastplate of shining silver, and metal plates on his arms and legs. He had a large nose and average size mouth. His ears were small and his blue eyes seeming to dazzle the thousands of innocents standing before him. Galon and Argin stepped through while the small group gathered around watching in amazement. They all wondered how it was possible that it actually happened. Then the circle collapsed in a small and quick flash of light. If it weren't for them seeing it for themselves, it looked like nothing had happened there at all. "I thank you all for coming. This is a once in a lifetime experience for all of you. For my act dedicated to you, the people, I will show you a secret long kept by my family's legacy. The secret of how to awaken Mount Misery!" Sharnaad announced to the people. The crowd roared in delight. They would finally have their protector back. The towns and villages would be safe, watched over by Mount Misery. It would be a glorious day for them! "Now! Use it now!" Whispered Galon. Argin muttered a few words of incantations, and then pulled out a small jar. He took the sand out and blew it. It slowly drifted to the wooden platform that Sharnaad was standing on. Then it disappeared. The spell had been completed. "My plan is this. I will awaken Mount Misery for your protection. Then I will ask the gods to make something bright in the night sky to please you all more. Then I will gain your trust more and more until I assassinate the king to the north. Then I will be able to rule over you all, claiming that my time in the void cured me of my evil deeds. Know one will stop me, let alone tell the difference." The crowd gasped. Sharnaad stopped and looked at all the angry stares from the crowd. He was wondering what was going on when he looked back on what he had just said. He realized he had just revealed his whole perfect plan in front of the crowd. The plan would fail and he would have his head at the guillotine for this. Then he sensed some magic in the air around him. He realized it must be a truth area. He had been tricked! But who? He nervously glanced around the crowd. There, in the back. It was the two he had caught spying on him earlier. "It's you again!" Sharnaad screamed in rage. Galon and Argin realized that they'd been caught when the crowd all turned to where Sharnaad was pointing. "Yes, Sharnaad, it is we of the council. Your are here by sentenced to a beheading in three days. Escape is futile. We have you surrounded," At that moment Argin sent out a telepathic plea for help from the council. He received an answer of, " be there in a few minutes," Argin silently cursed. "Ha! I have an army with me! How do you hope to survive? And where is your council?" The two of them were silent. Sharnaad laughed at them, "What is this, a kids game? I suppose you'll throw a stick at me now?" Then, behind them, an army appeared. The crowd gasped at the treachery. "Oh yes! I guess I should explain myself more thoroughly. Yes, it is true. I did escape from the void all by myself. I wanted to please you all, but I also wanted to rule you all. I wanted you all to be happy when I took away your king and ruled you! But, you have caught me. So be it. I realize that your armies will be upon me in a matter of minutes. I will make a bargain with you. You shall all be spared and I shall fulfill the good part of my plan for you. In return, you let me and my army return to our villages unscathed," Sharnaad spoke confidently. Galon and Argon stood there shocked. This was not at all how they had pictured this rescue attempt. This was almost a dream. How could their most feared of enemies be making a bargain for freedom with them? They both knew the decision had to be made now. They thought about all the people gathered there, and how their lives all meant something to at least some one. The world had no need for more sorrow and heart breaking right now. "We accept. There is no need for violence. Maybe someday you will join us in our never ending quest for peace," Galon said. "You know that is highly unlikely!" "Then we shall find ourselves matched up against each other some day. It is inevitable." "Yes it is. Enough chitchat! Let's begin the show!" Sharnaad beheaded two goats, as the rituals went. Then he held up the heads by their severed spines and bellowed out some words in an ancient language. Even though it was nighttime, the air suddenly became light. Everything was bright as in daytime and a voice boomed back in the same language. "What is it you want now greedy mortals? The stars are some of the most beautiful creations we have made, and yet you do not appreciate them as we do. You lust for something of more beauty. Give us reason why we should grant your request," The voice bellowed. "You are our creators. The purpose in which you created us was for your satisfaction, to watch over us and fulfill some of our wishes as you please. We ask you humbly oh might creator that you lend us a small bit of your power to make the sky even more beautiful than it is right now. Give us something that will make the night sky dazzle like it never has before. Give it something that will make it seem better than just a dotted sky." "You are right. We will grant your request. What is it that you want us to put up there?" "Make it something of extreme beauty, something that will awe and amaze us each and every night. Make it something that isn't always the same thing every night, so we may enjoy and embrace its awesome beauty as it changes from time to time." "As you wish, lord of darkness. Your request shall be granted. The new beautiful light in the sky shall be shown in two months." "I gratefully thank you my creator," Sharnaad said in a suspicious tone. The crowd murmured in a hushed silence. Everything returned to its normal darkness. The torches were the only light once again. The people just stood there in awe at the recent event they had just witnessed. "All right my men and monsters! You heard the bargain. We shall return to our lands now. You realize this may be a victory for you now, but a defeat for you later! Goodbye!" Sharnaad and his army left in a haste known only by those who had been publicly humiliated. "Well don't just stand there. Get to your homes and get a good night sleep! We can't just stand around here all day," Argin urged the crowd. Everyone trudged home, some already starting to dream. Argin and Galon watched over the crowd to make sure everything went all right. After about a quarter of the people had been loaded onto carts and sent off, more came from the council's reinforcements. Galon and Argin hopped onto one of the horse drawn carts heading to town and fell asleep on the way.

Galon was the first to wake, he yawned and stretched. He took a look outside at the beautiful daylight. He must have slept in for it to be that late into the day. Argin groaned as he sat up. They both dressed in their riding clothes and set off to find the manager.
"What can I do ya for?" the owner asked. He was a tall man with a booming voice.
"Which Inn is this?" Galon asked.
"This is the Daylight Inn. You were some of the people carried in here sound asleep. I'm sure you have the money to pay for your stay."
"Of course we do. Do you know how far the king's castle is from here?"
"It's not that far from here, you just take the road east from here, can't miss it."
"I humbly thank you for your services. Argon, we must leave immediately!" Galon said handing the owner a few gold pieces.
"We must not stop there! We have to return to the council! They must have other assignments for us," Argin argued.
"We are going there to see my son and that is final! You may depart and head directly for the council, but I for one am going to make the journey."
"I must warn you that your son has changed quite a bit. You may not even recognize him."
"I am fine with that, but I would like to personally deliver his option of a seating in the galleon council. It's not that far off the path."
The two of them never made it.

"Run! We're under attack! Oh my lord! Look at that mass of dragons!" yelled a peasant elf as a giant red cloud of young dragons rapidly descended upon the unsuspecting village. Everybody fled in all directions, trampling over those who had fallen like a stampede of elephants would have done. It was every man for himself, but this Elven village was doomed. The dragons created a ring, encircling the entire village allowing no escape. The end drew near for the village. Everybody was gathered at the center, scared out of their wits, dragons and their riders advancing. All the dragons inhaled and the villagers panicked. Then, the dragons released a large amount of fire upon the frightened villagers. In one big burst of fire everything was incinerated, or so the mysterious riders thought. The mysterious dragon riders flew off into the sky, deeply satisfied at their revenge. Right before their strike, two mysterious holes appeared below two average men and swallowed them up. They disappeared underground. The impact from landing on hard, thoroughly packed ground knocked them out, but saved their lives.
*** *** ***
After the attack, the dwarves came to investigate the sudden bright light. But they had problems of their own too. The Dwarven mines had been taken by hostile goblins. It seemed that evil was rising once more, but who's responsible for that? Very few were suspicious, so life continued on in the Inner Mountain Zone in the land of Incarnia.
Drakor, a short half Dwarf half Elf with a short beard, metal hat, thick armor, and a war hammer and crossbow, woke up first. He had leather shoes; a light brown face smothered with dirt, and was about 68 years old. He was the stronger of the two. He also happened to be a cleric in training. Well, he was, but his master isn't there to teach him any more. He knew simple healing spells but He wasn't too bright, though, and often forgot the spells. His vision had blurred and he was regaining consciousness as Snail woke up.
Snail's a pure Elf twice, almost twice as tall as Drakor, with thin chain mail armor, a green hat with green clothes, a short sword, dagger, and crossbow. He's a really intelligent thief with shoes just like Drakor's, except padded at the bottom. He had a soft, oval face with light skin and a molar and was about 84. Keep in mind that elves live for many hundreds of years. He woke up with an aching bruise on his head and vision blurred also.
As the two survivors woke, so did the Elven guard sleeping in the chair across the otherwise empty cave. Snail and Drakor looked over at the guard.
"Welcome to the Maze of Monana. Test your sense of direction, physical strength, wit, and greediness in this maze full of treasures and traps as you try to find your way out. Good luck," The guard said before fading away.
The two looked at each other, though it was hard not to touch the strange, glowing, blue bars that held them, and exchanged glances. Drakor was about to swing his mighty war hammer through the bars when Snail stopped him.
"Don't swing! We don't know what these bars are yet. I'll shoot an arrow through to see what happens," Snail warned taking out his bow and an arrow.
"You never seize to amaze me Snail. You're too smart for your own good," Drakor joked. Snail shot the arrow and it went right through. It kept on going until it stuck to the wall at the far end by where the guard was. Then it burst into flames.
"Follow me and do what I do," Snail instructed Drakor.
Snail passed through the blue bars unharmed and warily stepped across the cave until his foot went through the ground. He quickly retrieved his foot back from the invisible crevice.
"Looks like we'll have to jump across. But how far across do we need to leap?" Snail muttered aloud.
"I've seen this situation once before. Watch," Drakor stepped forward.
Drakor took out his crossbows and shot three arrows through the floor. Two of them disappeared completely, but one's tail stuck up. Drakor measured the distance quickly, before the arrow burned to nothing, and jumped across. He landed on solid ground like a feather would have. Snail followed suit.
"Good show. I'll have to learn some more from you," Snail congratulated.
They walked on through the passageway, mysteriously lit by ever glowing torches. They kept on walking until they came face to face with two noble guard-looking Orcs with fierce looking war axes. The two Orcs grinned at each other and then went into a fighting stance. Snail and Drakor looked at each other and nodded. Then, before the Orcs knew what was going on, Snail and Drakor had grabbed hands, run past an Orc knocking him down to the floor, and quickly took out their hand-to-hand combat weapons. The second Orc charged in rage at them, weapon at hand. Snail blocked the attack and Drakor dealt a rather heavy blow to the Orc's head, knocking him to the ground. The other Orc stood up, but was too confused to realize what was going on. Snail hit him over the head with the dull side of his short sword, knocking out the Orc. Snail looted both Orcs, hoping for something good.
"They certainly don't have much. Better go on. Let's hope for the better. Do you think they're dead, Drakor?" Snail asked very worried.
"No, I doubt that, we aren't that good are we? But there is that chance that there is a mortal wound. Let's depart this scene and worry about our survival," Drakor informed.
"You always seem so serious, why?"
"Well, I only act that way. It helps me keep me spirit calm and in control. To tell you the truth, I had a thrill with that first battle. They weren't tough at all!"
"We can't stay here forever! Let's get a move on."
They looked forward to find a split path in front of them.
"This one's a tough puzzle. We should stick together to avoid danger," Snail suggested walking towards the left path.
"I've got a better idea. We split up and explore each path. We meet back here in a half hour to share our findings,"
"You're joking! Anything could happen in that half our! One of us could get lost or we could meet up with a giant monster!"
"Why do you always have to use your plans? Mine are just as good! I'm a good warrior with a fast brain! Let's just stick to my plan."
"Fine! I'll go my way and you'll go yours! I don't need your help to get out of this death trap!"
"Good luck, my friend! May we make amends at the other end!" Drakor called after Snail before departing on the right path.
Drakor walked a while, adjusting to the magical flames appearing before him and disappearing behind him, until he came to a cross section. He turned left and started on that path and kept on walking until he spotted something out of the corner of his eye. It was a small silver glint. He walked over to investigate. The glint seemed to be coming from a small, hand-dug slot in the wall. He reached it. It was a treasure chest fixed onto the solid dirt wall. To be wary of such an amazing find, he stood back and opened it with an outstretched hand. He almost couldn't reach because it was so high on the wall. He opened the treasure chest as quickly as he could and stepped back. As he had guessed, a poison dart shot out and stuck to the ground followed by 100 gp tumbling out on top of it.
"I'm rich! I must survive this maze now!" Drakor thought stuffing his find into his large backpack.
Drakor walked on until he reached what seemed to be a circular path. One path curved to the left and the other to the right. Drakor quickly made up his mind and went right. He kept going around the circle until he found an exit. He took it and kept on going. It curved around as he walked until he saw the most welcoming thing a person could find, daylight. He quickly ran to the exit and yelled for joy. He had made it through the Maze of Monana.
"I should wait for Snail here. I'll go back in if he doesn't come out soon," Drakor planned in his mind.
Drakor found no sign of danger around him so decided to rest under the nearby tree.
*** *** *** Snail had walked a while on a curved path only to be encountered by two hungry dire rats. The rats hissed a warning towards Snail as he came to a halt three feet away from them. Snail drew his short sword as one rat leaped at him. Snail caught the menace on his sword and threw it back. It hit the ground and didn't get up. The other one took the opportunity of Snail using his short sword and leapt at him. Snail caught the move in time and dodged it. Snail swung his sword at the rat, but it dodged and the sword made a dull thud against the ground. The rat jumped up at the unaware Snail and bit his nose before falling to the ground and scurrying back. It leaped again as Snail was feeling his injured nose, but Snail noticed and dodged just in time. Then Snail leapt toward the rat and sliced it in half. It let out a last dying squeal, and then there was the eerie silence of death was left. Snail cautiously moved on taking a right at the intersection. "I wonder how Drakor has fared. I hope it's better than this!" Snail mumbled to himself. Snail moved on a while later, until he saw something unusual. He looked closer at the unusual forgings in the wall. He realized what the holes were. "This is not good!" Snail said to himself recognizing the dire rat holes. Snail heard the pitter-patter of many tiny feet. He heard squeaking noises next. Snail panicked more every second as the noise became louder. He then saw coming towards him a small herd of dire rats. He ran faster than anyone he knew could. He dashed back to the entrance and took Drakor's path. He rested for a few seconds to catch his breath and then moved on, taking a right at the first intersection. He kept on going in a circular path until he reached a ledge. He hopped down only to find two unmoving bodies of Orcs. "Just my luck! I'm back where I started! I better pay close attention to any footprints on the ground," Snail pointlessly announced out loud. He reached the intersection and turned left. He eventually found Drakor's footprints. They lead away from a strange opened treasure chest on the wall. He kept on walking until he reached the wonderful end. "Drakor! I've made it! We shall celebrate at the nearest Tavern with what money we have left for our incredible luck!" Snail excitedly shouted out to the sleeping Drakor. "Wha?" Drakor awoke. "Drakor, How much money do we have left? We have to celebrate!" Snail asked with as much enthusiasm as humanly possible. "Well, we have five gp each not including the 100 I found in the maze," Drakor reported sleepily. "What 100?" "Here's your half of it." "Where'd you find this and how much trouble did you have getting here?" "Well, I found this stuck on a wall in the path. It was very well hidden, but the latch was silver, so it reflected a bit of light. For the other question, I didn't have any trouble getting here at all. I didn't see anything but this treasure chest along the way," "Well lucky you. I killed two dire rats and one bit me on the nose. Then I was chased away. I took your path, but took a wrong turn and ended up back at the beginning. Finally I made it back here!" "Let's go try to find some civili." Drakor was cut off when someone fell out of a tree nearby screaming, "Aaaaaggggghhhhhhh. Ouch. Uh oh." "Who are you?" Snail demanded. The short and rather plump man with expensive clothing on said, "I am Nerami, mayor of the dwarves. Our village's mines have been taken by goblins. We need your help to rid the mines of the goblins and rescue all the hostages possible. Please help us." "Sure, we'll do it. I, as a fellow dwarf, bravely volunteer," Drakor announced extremely honored. "What are you saying? No way am I going in another cave. One's enough! Besides, we aren't even full Elven warriors." Snail made up his mind. "We'll stick together this time. Besides, in order to become full-fledged Elven warriors we needed to complete a dangerous and daring task. By completing the mazes of Monana, didn't we do that?" Drakor reassured Snail. "Yes, and you will have a third member join you, one of our brave dwarves. There will also be a great reward involved." "Hmm. Sounds like a fair deal. I'm in." "Excellent. You start now." "What? Now? You're, joking right? I mean, after all we've been through, that could just be suicide!" "Snail! We have to stop the goblins as fast as we can. Who knows what they could loot in there," "Fine. Let's go. Where are these mines anyway?" "Go south a bit, about twenty steps, then head east until you find the mines. Your companion will be there." They walked to the mines, finding the large amount of caves easily. "Welcome, you must be the two sent here to join me on a suicidal mission. There will be goblins guarding the entrance and goblins going through here and looting it. We must hurry before the goblin army comes," their companion introduced himself and gave them mission briefings before setting off into one of the many caves. "I'm greatly reassured, Drakor," Snail said to Drakor. They were met by two goblins guarding the entrance that met them by drawing their battle-axes and saying "You are trespassing on goblin territory. Leave now or we'll kill you. Stupid guard regulations," "Great. Just what I need to brighten my day," Snail sarcastically complained out loud. All three of them drew their weapons. Snail and Drakor took out their bow and crossbow. The goblins both rolled their eyes, reassuring themselves that these three jokers had no power. "You are outnumbered. Give up now and let us through." "Never. Die!" Then the battle commenced. This just happened to be Snail and Drakor's first battle to the death. They had no idea what to expect. "Let's all strike at once," the dwarf suggested. Everyone else nodded their heads in agreement before attacking and yelling, "Go!" Snail and Drakor quickly aimed their arrows and fired. The dwarf dove right in, swinging his war hammer as hard as he could at one goblin. One goblin swung at the dwarf and the other jumped at Drakor. The moment went by slower than any moment for Snail and Drakor. This being their first battle, they had no way of knowing that such a slow moment meant death. The moment went by in a blur of arrows, cries of pain, and blood. The results were in. The dwarf had noticed the goblin attacking him and thought quickly. He jumped aside, but the goblin adjusted his aim and hit him straight on in the side. The dwarf flew into the wall and fell down into a small, red heap leaving a bloody mark on the wall. The poor dwarf gave a last shutter, tried to take a breath, failed, and then died. He had saw the darkness closing in, and was prepared to meet whatever was coming for him. Snail's arrow flew fair, straight into the goblin's heart, leaving blood everywhere. Drakor's arrow hit the goblin too, but made it into the throat. The goblin made a choking sound, before falling down. With that moment gone, the battle was over. Everything seemed to be completely still. Snail and Drakor stood open mouthed and wide eyed at the horrible scene. It was their first-in-a-life-time sight of a real blood bath. "Aaaaaggggghhhhhhh!" A scream rang out from behind the door into the mines. "Let's hurry on. We'll have to get used to this," Snail tried to say bravely, but failed, and instead stuttering. "Y-you're r-right. Let's l-leave," Drakor agreed. "Aaaaaggggghhhhhhh. Help! Nooo mmmmmm mmmm," A muffled voice screamed. "Locked. I'll try to pick it," Snail announced. "No time. We have to get in there now!" Drakor took out his war hammer and, with a mighty swing, broke the door down with one hit. "What the. Intruders! Kill them!" "Take cover behind the overturned table!" Drakor yelled to Snail. They jumped behind the table. There were four goblins, two with whips and two with war axes. There were also two dwarves tied to chairs. They were silent, watching to see what would happen. There were also a couple of dwarven weapons, obviously the two dwarves' weapons that seemed to have been placed there recently. "Snail, take out your short sword. I need you to block any incoming attacks while I shoot them." "Seems logical. Go ahead. You're clear for fire." Snail popped up and saw the two goblins with war axes advancing. The other two were whipping and talking to the dwarves. "Tell me where you keep all your precious findings and I'll spare you and your village. Tell me!" "Never you fool. That secret spot is for us to know and you to never find out. I'll die with the secret!" The dwarf refused spitting in the goblins face. Just then a goblin swung his war axe towards Snail. Snail blocked it with the greatest of ease. He seemed to be a natural at that. His sword went into the perfect position, having done so in training thousands of times. Drakor popped up right behind Snail and shot the goblin. The aim was true and pierced him. The goblin fell down and curled up into a little ball in pain. The other goblin took a swing at them, but again Snail had the reflexes to block the swing. Again Drakor loaded his crossbow and fired. The other two goblins, seeing their dead companions, quickly unraveled their whips towards Snail and Drakor. Snail's short sword was caught by the whip and soon enough, Snail and the goblin were grunting and tugging for both of the weapons. Drakor caught the blow on his arm. As it wrapped around his arm, Drakor gave a mighty tug and pulled the goblin down. The goblin let go of the whip and took it as two more dwarves came in through a door to his left. Snail had almost won when he was distracted with the door opening. Then he lost it all. The goblin took the short sword and prepared to throw it when he cried in pain and dropped to the ground. One of the two captured dwarves had dug a war axe deep into his skull. Snail quickly retrieved his weapon and charged back into the battle. He ran through the two goblins slashing as fast as he could, but only causing minor wounds. The goblins seemed to take no notice and went for the unprepared Drakor. Drakor took the whip and whipped it towards Snail. Then they ran around the goblins and pulled the whip tight, tying up the goblins. Drakor hit them over the head with his war hammer and knocked them both out. "I want you two to drag these guys out to the village and do whatever you want to them," "Yes, we can do that. But you two will need to split up and go through the caves to get rid of the other goblins. Good luck!" "Split up? We agreed not to!" "It's the only way." "Arrrggghhhhh! Why do I even put up with this? Fine. I'm strong. I'll make it. See you later. Bye. Have a nice day. You owe me!" With that little outburst over Snail dashed off. Snail quickly dashed through the door at the left, which the two goblins had come through, in such a rage that Drakor dared not follow. "Hmmm. I think I've been putting too much pressure on him. I'll just go to the door on the left," "Drakor, run!" Snail shouted dashing back through the door he had just left through, and through the door Drakor was just about to go into.

Drakor didn't stop for second thoughts. He heard heavy footsteps coming towards them and quickly shut the door behind them. They ran as fast as they could, dashing around a bend. They ran for what seemed forever before rounding another bend to find a sleeping hobgoblin. Snail came to a sudden halt and Drakor slammed right into Snail knocking them both over. "Huh? What? What's going on? Who are you?" the goblin asked, surprised at the noise. "Umm. Uh oh. We are uh. reinforcements, yeah uh reinforcements here to help you umm. mine," Drakor lied. "Liars. We aren't mining here. Die!" The hobgoblin yelled taking out a sharp sword. "Yeah right, mine gold. Nice one cleric," Snail complied putting his hands behind his back in an innocent look. The hobgoblin leaped at Snail, but Snail pulled from behind his back a bow and arrow and shot the hobgoblin in a matter of seconds. The hobgoblin fell back and smashed his chair into little splinters before he had even a chance to react. "I think we'll be safe if we keep on going. They'll have to split up at this four way split and at the three-way split we turned left on." "Good idea. Now let's go before they see us." They ran some more until they couldn't run any more. Then they walked some more, feeling like hunted rats trapped in a hunter's maze. They rounded a long turn to find a door. "Pad locked. I'll take care of this," Snail analyzed. He took out his thieves' tools kit and picked the lock. It only took one try. They silently opened the door. Inside they saw a most dreadful sight. "D-Drakor, d-d-do y-you see what I s-see?" "Y-yes. Let's t-turn around and s-silent-l-ly w-walk away," Drakor suggested slowly turning around. "Rrrrrrooooooaaaaaaaaaarrrrrrrrrrrr," The thing yawned. The beast was classified as a Devil's Hound, as it was believed to be a descendant from the original Devil's Hound. This fearsome creature has unbelievable speed, faster than any other land creature, and an uncontrollable rage. They look like they have skin, but the skin on the outside is just like a sheet and covers up the Devil's Hound's bone body and internal flame. This fearsome creature has a strong bite attack and can also let out a six foot long cone of fire at will. These creatures are mainly found in the Forest of Savior, but have scattered over this small land of Scandagnia over time. Very few remain today, as they have somehow started disappearing. All the people are thankful that they are on the endangered species list. The beast's half-open, blood-shot eyes didn't manage to catch the two menu items slipping out the door and the door closing. It quickly fell asleep without a care. "That was close. What are those things doing in here? I read that they only lived in the Forest of Savior," Snail whispered while silently walking away. "There must be an evil leader rising to power, but who? The Necromancer is dead," Drakor whispered back following close behind Snail. "Yeah, an evil leader. Like the last one a thousand years ago. He reigned for what, twenty minutes?" "Hey, Snail, did you notice that adjacent door at the other end and the door at to the left of our entrance?" "No. I'm not going back there though! No sane man could." "I have an idea that will work. Follow me and do what I do. If there's a sound I'll take care of it," Drakor reassured Snail taking out his bow and an arrow. "What do you want me to do?" "Hold this while I make it glow." Drakor did so with a simple spell, though it took up a lot of his remaining magical strength. "Follow me." They snuck along the wall to the far side where the adjacent door was. Snail opened it a little more to make sure he could silently slip through, but the door creaked. The creature snorted a loud, frightening snort. Drakor, scared out of his wits, foolishly rushed past Snail and slammed the door open. The sound woke the Hound and Drakor let out a large scream and ran. Snail took his bow and shot the glowing arrow up in the air and over the Hound. The hound watched the glowing arrow, mesmerized, while Snail ran away shutting the door behind him. He finally caught up with the frightened Drakor. "Drakor, You nearly got us killed!" "I'm sorry. I'm just scared of the big creatures. I need to work harder to sharpen my skills. I haven't honed them enough. Please forgive me." "Forgiven. Now, there's a three-way path here. Let's go left first." They walked along the long, barren corridor. They reached the end to find one of the few dwarves left in the caves. They went back to the split and took a right, opened the door and found two more. They were hidden behind sacks, so Snail and Drakor had to call them out. They went back the other way, only to find that they had ended up at the beginning. They went back the way they came, skipping a place the dwarves had warned them against, where a warning sign had been ripped apart by goblins. "If we can't go down that other passage, then where do we go?" Snail asked suspiciously. "Through that door," The silent dwarf spoke up. "But there's a Devil's Hound in there! I'm not going back in there!" "We have to go through there to get the dwarves who were working in there out. It's the only way." "No! It's too risky. We'll all be killed. I won't do it. Right Drakor?" "Yup. I'm not going back in there." "It's a trick you guys. It's a trick using magic to ward off anyone who comes by. There's probably been a major discovery by the other dwarves over there. There has to be! And shut up you annoying little Dwarf!" "No that's." "Drakor. I'm sure he's right. Besides, we have to save the other dwarves," Snail winked at Drakor when the other dwarves couldn't see him," "Fine. I'm convinced. Let's go," They went on. When they reached the door Snail stopped them. "Alright. I'll go in first. I want you, the one who helped us so much, to accompany me. Drakor, take up the rear with the other two dwarves," "Go ahead. You can go first Snail," the dwarf snickered opening the door. Snail walked in with everyone else. The dwarf who Snail suspected shut the door and let out an evil laugh. "What now Snail?" The Devil's Hound woke up. "Watch this." Snail ran for the door guarded by the evil dwarf. Snail quickly grabbed the dwarf and threw him across the room. As Snail had guessed, the Hound followed the dwarf and then chased after him. "Quickly, through that door. We'll make it!" They ran through the one door that they hadn't gone through before. The Hound saw them as they ran through the door but continued to chase the screaming dwarf. Then Snail shut the door and ran. The last he heard was banging on the wall, a loud, horrible scream, and then silence. He ran some more before hearing the door break down. "Run faster everyone. The Devil is Hound *pant* is coming," They ran, Snail slowing down to help the dwarves, including Drakor. They ran and ran some more, around a wide turn and some more ground until they came to a partially hidden passageway. Snail and Drakor went into the passageway and ran, but the two dwarves didn't see it and kept on running. Snail and Drakor called to them, but they were too far away to hear. They finally gave up and ran through the alternate passage. Just in time too, because the Devil's Hound had been coming and was running faster than any other animal could. They kept on going until their passage veered to the left and right to a ledge. "This seems to lead straight to the main passageway." "Quiet. The hound's returning." The Hound returned, but with no blood on its lips and what seemed like a glum look on its face. It trotted away as Snail and Drakor stayed back and motionless. "The dwarves must've found a way out! We're saved!" "Drakor, look directly in front of you. See that chest there? It's hard to see because it blends in." "Yeah, I see it. But how do we make it across?" "I'll use your whip to create a rope. I'll climb it and get the chest down," Snail did so. He used the whip as a rope, but when he tried to get the chest down, he slipped and it all fell down making a lot of clattering noises.
"I sure hope the Devil's Hound didn't hear that."
"Let's carry this chest out," Snail said putting the spilled silver back in. They put the coins back in, lifted the chest, and started inching along. They went only a few feet when they heard a familiar growl. Drakor dropped the chest. "What are you doing? We need to carry this out and get it to the nearest bank to transfer it from silver to gold pieces." "I thought I heard the Devil's Hound." "No you didn't. It's long gone. Now let's hurry up." "Rooooooaaaaaarrrr," it came, closer this time. "There it is again." "You're right! Run!" They put down the chest just as the Hound arrived. It let out a cone of fire melting all the precious treasure Snail had tried to take. They ran as fast as they could, but it was no use to outrun a Devil's Hound. "As some last words I would like to say *pant* sorry, but I took about twenty *pant* pieces from the treasure while you weren't *pant* looking." "What? Why would *pant* you do that?" "I'm a thief. I also wanted to get some *pant* more arrows for *pant* myself." "Traitor. You can die first you dirty *pant* liar." Drakor pushed Snail into the wall. Snail hit the wall and fell back, right onto the Devil's Hound. The Hound became annoyed and started bucking as he ran. Snail held on with an iron grip and an iron will. He refused to let go; knowing that to do so would bring certain doom. Then, he pulled out the dagger inside his pants and stabbed away at the belly of the beast. He quickly stopped when he saw an Internal flame inside the belly. He rejoiced for a second that it hadn't burned his favorite dagger and then stomped the flame out with his hide shoes. The Hound stopped in its tracks and fell down, panting a gasping at the sudden drain of life force. Then it closed its eyes and fell into the eternal sleep of death. "Wow, I just did a feat impossible to normal men." "Nice job. You saved our lives. Let's return and find out what happened to the two dwarves. I also forgive you for the theft. By god I'll make you famous for this deed!" "Oh no! The treasure! We don't have all the treasure! No!" "I've got some in my back pack. I took it to make the load lighter. It's about thirty pieces. Not much money, but it's better than nothing." "You're right. Ten silver pieces are only worth one gold piece, so that treasure wasn't worth too much, but you still backstabbed me too, traitor!" "Let's go. I'm hungry from all that running." "Me too." Snail and Drakor followed the trail and ended up at an exit. They silently rejoiced and walked out to receive their reward. They found the worst thing that could possibly happen. Innocent children being slain and beautiful flowers being trampled and burned. The villagers were being beating with clubs. The village was under attack by goblins. Snail and Drakor quickly hid in a nearby bush without anything prickly in it. The rest of the bushes nearby seemed thorny enough to make it impossible to hide in. Two hobgoblins appeared on the scene and started talking about something private. "General Argnot, how is the beating coming along?" The bigger hobgoblin with four medals asked the smaller one with two. "Everything is going according to plan. There's no possible way to screw this up now," he replied professionally before adding, "sir." "Fool! Always address me by sir!" The commander yelled striking the general on the head with his green fist. Drakor winced at the tremendous blow. He was surprised to see that the general was still standing. "Yes, sir." "That's much better. I think we've done enough 'convincing' for now. Round up the boys and get them in line. I'll kill off a few in front of the town so they can tremble at our feat and plead for mercy or death." "Yes, sir." "Wait! My new dagger! My special dagger is gone." Drakor looked at Snail, to see if he had moved to take the dagger, but he was still crouched down there. "I'll have as many men as possible search for it. We still have to keep the dwarves in line though. I'll get right on it, sir." "Nice job general. You're growing to be just like me when I was general. Wait twenty minutes for my return. If I don't return, leave the town and send ten troops back to find me," he yelled after the general before muttering to himself and walking away, "Where could it have gone?" "Yes, sir" He yelled back before disappearing behind a clump of trees. "What do we do? He'll surely beat us! But I also don't want to wait here until he leaves," Drakor whispered. "Drakor, calm down. Watch this." Snail whispered back. "Snail, where are you going? Snail!" "Quiet! You'll ruin it." Snail went off. Drakor peeked outside and saw Snail sneak absolutely silently, with no noise, away. He took out his crossbow and quietly aimed. Then Snail did the weirdest thing. He stepped out of the bush and waved the dagger in front of the commander. "Give that back or I'll strangle you with my bare hands!" "Wait just a minute. Let my partner and I discuss this privately." "What? Fine. Discuss your own doom, but do it quickly. And for only a minute. Then I'll get that dagger back," the commander said walking backwards until he was out of whispering range by a lot. "Turn around. You might be able to lip read our conversation." "Ha! You're right. I'm the best lip reader ever known to all living things. Carry on," "Snail, what do we do? We can't beat him." "What a sucker. He actually fell for it." "What do you mean?" "Watch." Snail took out the dagger he stole and threw it at Mr. Commander. It stuck to his back and he became frozen solid. He fell down and shattered into many pieces. "Wow. So much for your everyday five gold piece dagger. That's one nice method Snail." "Let's sell that Drakor. It's worth a fortune. We'll be rich, plus I'll be rewarded greatly for this kill and the medals will prove it." "Plus it has the Commander's signature. Looks like his name is Mr. Commander. Weird." "Yeah. Pretty freaky, but you heard what he said. We have fifteen minutes to sneak out safely, well make that twelve so we can run through the gate and not get caught." "Yeah, let's hurry." "Yup, they were right. A commander's pay is no good. He only has four gold pieces. This thing's worth much more than that." "We better hurry. We don't know where the gate is yet." "True, but the commander's compass says that the gate should be somewhere southeast from here." "Snail, that's amazing! How do you do it?" "I'm a thief remember? I do it for a living." They set off. Slowly and carefully sneaking southeast they reached the wall and looked to see that the gate was a little more southwards. They sneaked silently to the gate and looked around for anybody there. The place was empty. "Yes, we made it! Our second successful mission. Plus, we have more reward than usual! I'll be known as the greatest thief in this world!" "Snail. We better hurry. Remember, you don't have a mini sundial for time." "Yeah, but we still made it. Let's move out." They started walking out when ten goblin soldiers came. "Halt. No one will be permitted to leave until we find our commander. If you have any information about his whereabouts then report it now," "We." "Have no information of his whereabouts," Drakor quickly filled in. "We shall see about that. Move out." The soldiers came back with the commander's frozen head. "Sir, we found this. He's been murdered and stolen from." "You are now the goblin's prisoners. Resistance is futile. Move along." They walked through the gate and towards the goblin camp at the south end of the Inner Mountain Zone. When the ten goblins were loading the body parts of their commander into the cart, Snail and Drakor snuck off. They started casually walking away, but were caught immediately. "Stop in the name of lord Oggle Bobble, Lord of the Goblins." A goblin from the group of four said. "But we are just mere passerbyers. Let us be." Snail tricked. "What is that in your pocket?" The lead goblin inquired. "Nothing. Just some fabric I was supposed to deliver to a friend." "Let me see that." In one swift movement, before Snail could object, the goblin took the Commander's medals from Snail's pant pocket. "These are the commander's medals. You murdered him. Thief. You shall dearly pay for this. You shall now be taken blindfolded to the secret goblin camp. Removal of the blindfold means instant death. There is no possible way to escape. You will be guarded every second until we reach our destination." Snail and Drakor groaned at their unfortunate luck. Not only had they successfully completed two honorable quests and collected a nice sum of money, but also they had befriended the dwarves in he process. Now the dwarves have been enslaved by the goblins and they have been captured and sentenced to death. Snail and Drakor eventually fell asleep in the cart. It was a rough ride, though, and they had a rough time falling asleep.
*** *** *** "Where am I?" Snail shouted out through all the noise. "You're on the battle field. Hurry up and give us some orders, sir!" a human with sword drawn asked of him. Snail then ran. He didn't know why he ran, but he ran. Finally, when he had stopped running, he looked back at the awful scene. It was horrifying to see all those dead bodies randomly scattered across the now red terrain. Then, blue balls of light started falling from the sky. Next, through all the din of magic and battle, Snail heard one rough voice in his head. "Free me. Free me from my eternal prison," The voice rang out as loud as a whistle. With that, an enormous figure with a main, four battle strengthened legs, and two deadly scythes attached to its maw appeared. It was huge, about five stories tall and looked extremely powerful.
*** *** *** Snail woke with a start, but only saw blackness. He quickly remembered not to take off his blindfold. He sat up with a cramped neck from sleeping on looted items from countless people. "Hey, you. Don't move a muscle." The same lead goblin that had captured them said. "Which one of us?" Snail asked confused. "Both of you. Now shut up and lie back down." "Yes, sir," Snail tried a deceptive strategy again. "Hey, that sounds kind of nice." "Yes it does," Snail complimented. "Why thank. Hey! I told you to shut up." Their trip continued on for a while until they made a stop for the night. They didn't dare wake their leader in the middle of the night. They heard laughter coming from the camp. The goblins seemed to be enjoying themselves. "Hey, Snail. You awake?" "Yeah. What is it?" "Now's our chance to escape." "No. They already expected us to try to escape. The blindfolds are to make sure we don't know when the coast is clear." "Oh. Sorry. What do we do now? We either fight and die or hang." "True, but I have a feeling that something is going to happen real soon and that our paths of life will be grossly changed for all eternity." "Where'd you come up with that?" "Don't know. But I think what I just unexpectedly said for no apparent reason is true." "Well, I'm guessing we should just follow it. I mean all the heroes of passed followed ghostly voices appearing out of nowhere, and look at what became of them. Let's wait." They waited and waited and waited. The goblins were still laughing around the fire when absolutely nothing out of the blue happened. Then they were still waiting when they started roasting dire-rat-on-a-stick over their fires. "Was something supposed to happen?" "Yes Drakor. It is yet to come. We must wait some more." "But that's not what I asked." "Be patient my friend." "Do you remember the story of our forefathers? How when the war was called to a halt because of the Lowering of the evils? How our forefathers hid in the Forest Savior for protection? They hid in that clearing for many days. They were told by their elders to keep waiting and waiting, and soon they would be rescued. But nothing ever came to rescue them. Then, one nice, clear, beautiful night Devil's Hounds attacked them. A few people were killed, but most made it out. The Devil's Hounds have since remained in that cursed place and have only been found there since that fateful day. I say we make a run for it. Let's go now!" "No. That would mean certain death. We must wait." "Fine. I don't know why I'm putting up with this." They waited a while longer. The goblins were still having a good time, for some reason. It was late into the night and nothing had happened, but a commotion started. "Hey you! Stop right there! I said stop! Aaaaaggggghhhhhhh," one goblin cried. "Get him!" another one ordered. "No! He's a wizard! Run! Every man for himself!" a third warned. There were a couple big explosions, and then everything was silent. "Ah ha! I see you got my telepathic message. Good job." Snail and Drakor immediately took off their blindfolds and blinked at the incredibly blissful light that reached their eyes once more. They saw a beautiful sunrise from the east that made Mount Misery, where the battle had first taken place, seem alive. The sun never stayed up long, for Mount Misery and a huge circular chunk of land had sunk many miles underground, leaving only a small hole the exact size of the area to let sunlight in. The days were four hours shorter, but no one had seemed to care. They more likely cared about finding a way to rejoin their fellow kin above. Before them stood a wizard in flowing, blue robes made of what seemed like silk dotted with unusual glowing stars. His hat matched the mesmerizing robe. He had weird, brownish shoes that curled at the end. On his shoulder sat a weasel with black, piercing eyes and soft light brown fur. The wizard had short white and a white beard about six inches long. "Who are you and what do you want with us?" Snail snapped. "Oh, excuse me. I forgot to properly introduce myself. My name is Prodecule Raynor Onetor Anestor Necril the second of the Essahodigenmahariana line. But you can call me by my nickname, Proan. This weasel is my pet, Bullmark." "P-p-p-please sp-sp-sp-spare m-m-me." Snail groaned out. Thieves always hated wizards, and their unnatural power to find them and kill them, except when the magic was used for their cause. "Thank you for the much needed rescue, Prodan." "Proan! If you are going to help me with my quests you should at least call me by my real name." Proan boomed. Drakor cowered back a little before returning to his normal, upright stance. Snail was slowly backing away. "Alright then. What do you want with us? We're not even Elven warriors yet." "You shall accompany me as I try to figure out how to bring this civilization back to the surface." "What about the dragon riders that destroyed our village?" "What 'dragon' riders?" "There were people mounted on young dragons, controlling them like they were pets." "Very peculiar, we'll have to look into that. But first thing's first. I need to see if you are worthy enough to travel with me. Snail, you will face me in combat." "Fine. But no weapons." Snail laid out the single rule while throwing down his weapons. "Fair deal. I agree." Proan said laying his staff on the ground like it was a baby," Suddenly, Proan rushed up and swiped at Snail. Snail dodged and tripped him. "Nice job, but you won't be so lucky next time," Proan shot sarcastically. But Proan misjudged his opponent and was attacked heavily by Snail as he ran up. Snail punched him in the eye, kneed him in the stomach, and then elbowed him on the back of his head. Proan fell down without a sound. "Who does that guy think he is?" Drakor asked Snail. "I don't know, but I'm guessing he's gone mad. He's too old to be fighting professionals." Snail replied in his fashion. "Hey, what are those markings on his staff?" "They look like a timeline. See, there are mountains and a forest. Boring! Let's go."
"No! We can't just leave him here. Look at him, he's out cold. He could be killed by anything out here."
"You're right. We need to put something sweet on him so that more animals will come to kill him."
"No! We need to watch over him until he regains consciousness." "He's a weakling. He doesn't deserve to live." "No. You caught him by surprise. It was luck. Have some mercy Snail. Please?"

"He's an old fool. He doesn't deserve to live the pitiful life he's living." "He might be able to help us find the destroyers of our village and wreak our awful vengeance." "Well, yes, he could. But he looks like a complete weakling." "Thank you. Now we wait." "Not again! I'd rather go drown myself in Suicide Lake with my tortured ancestors."

"Snail! Don't take the names of our ancestors in vain. Not all drowned themselves, only a few did out of great sorrow." "Excuse me. I am greatly burdened. I beg your forgiveness." "Forgiven. Now wait!" They waited and waited. Then, they waited some more. Finally, around sunrise, Proan woke up. "Ouch. I did it again. I got distracted." "Finally." "You're still here?" "Yes. Snail and I have been waiting patiently for your recovery. We would like to consider your offer, right Snail?" "Yes. Whatever you say." Snail sounded off like a zombie. He quickly lied back down and fell asleep. "Good, good. This isn't going exactly as I had planned, but good enough. What do you want in exchange for your services?" Proan bargained. "We would like your help with our revenge on the strange dragon riders." "And we would also like the findings split evenly between us." Snail talked in his nature, suddenly springing up from his sleep. "Snail!" Drakor elbowed him. "Those are perfectly acceptable terms. I like the way you think. There is only one exception, any artifact that has to do with bringing the civilization back up must be used to do so." Proan said. "Agreed!" Snail exclaimed. "Snail, you amaze me." Drakor complimented. "Yes. He amazes me too! He's growing to be the perfect thief. We could definitely use him," Proan said. "What do you mean by we?" Drakor asked suspiciously. "The rest of my gang, of course. The ones fighting for the end of the war and the beginning of a new era," Proan announced proudly. "Wow. What first?" Drakor asked. "We go back to my secret hideaway in the Forest of Savior," Proan answered. "That's at least a day's walk away. Plus, we need to rest and recharge our strength, we didn't get any sleep," Drakor complained. "No need. I will use some of my magic to get us there," Proan smoothly replied. "What k-kind of m-magic?" Snail stuttered out. "No need to be afraid of him Snail. He's on our side now. Sorry for his rude behavior. He's just afraid of wizardry and magic," Drakor apologized. "Apology accepted. I will only use a simple fly spell that will take us to our destination in three hours. Unfortunately it's the only spell I have left prepared. I don't have anything else t cast a different spell. While with me you should train, Drakor, and Snail should get used to magic. It's all around us; everywhere we go, seen and unseen, heard and unheard. But for now, relax will you?" Proan reassured. With that he chanted a few words that they couldn't understand and suddenly they weren't touching the ground anymore. They lifted higher and higher until they were above the trees that dotted the terrain. Then they sped forward, wind rushing past their face, flying at speeds up to 85 mile per hour. Drakor was amazed at the view and the speed. Snail on the other hand was scared out of his wits, praying that he would survive it. In the distance, had any of the three watched, a small glint came from something slowly moving through a bush. Towards the southern forests of shadows.
*** *** *** They reached the forest clearing, only to find that a bloody battle had taken place between a mixed crowd, probably Proan's companion, and an army of goblins. There was no movement as they dropped to the ground. Around two-dozen of the men seemed alive, though all two-dozen were tired beyond belief. "Dear, oh dear. Not again. This is awful. I told them to hide, not fight. What were they doing anyway?" Proan thought out loud. "Are these the 'we' you were talking about?" Snail shot sarcastically. "Yes. Don't worry, though. We won't be encountering anything like that on our quest. Besides, I have a lot of my followers doing spy work all over, so contacts will be easy to find," Proan shot back. "Is that what you told them?" Snail uneasily asked. "Snail, not all wizards are evil. Don't worry. My plans do not include fighting an enemy hoard. If you stay out of trouble then everything will be fine. If we are separated, then we meet here, if possible," Proan laid out the guidelines. "Proan, we won! We have defeated the goblins. Their almighty power isn't as strong now," A girl came out of the forest. "Lizzy! Glad to see that one of us made it through. How are you?" Proan greeted her. Elizabeth of the Menshi, known as Lizzy, is a short, blond-haired woman. She has her long, glistening hair in a ponytail all the time and is about as tall as Snail. She also took up a profession as a professional thief, but joined Proan to help the cause. She has extremely quick reflexes and thinking and mainly uses her bow and arrow. She does have a dagger and short sword, but doesn't use them much. She has a clean, pale face, almost like the gods of myth and smooth, silky hands. But even so, she is covered in studded leather armor and has a bad temper. Her fierce, blue eyes tell it all. "We're working with her?" Snail asked in shock. "Snail! Be polite. What's come over you?" Drakor asked. Lizzy dropped her bow and drew out her short sword, her eyes ablaze, ready for battle. "You think you're better than me?" Snail grumbled at her, making sure that she was paying attention. "She is better than you," Proan interrupted. "I didn't want to end up in this mess in the first place. I'm not happy until this is over with and I can wreak my awful vengeance over those fools who destroyed my town!" "Sounds like a plan to me! I'm in," Lizzy chimed in peacefully. "Why would you want to join in?" Snail shot back, still angry at her. "I agree with you. I had family in there when they struck. I want my payback too, you know. We need to show them our power and that we're nothing to be messed with," as she said this her face turned from a sweet smile to a detailed complexion of anger and mourning. "Well, I'll agree to that. Let's start now. What do we do first? Attack a ferocious monster? Join the people in the North and fight?" Drakor quickly intercepted Snails next rude remark. "No. We'll go shopping for supplies in the market," Proan said lightly, like it was nothing personal. "What? No! That's the worst plan ever! Let's go kick their butts now!" Drakor complained. "Drakor! We have some business to tend to at the market. This is perfect for us! Besides, we still don't know where they are!" Snail reminded him. "What do you. oh yeah, that? Ok. Let's go," Drakor changed his mind. "Wait. I need to get you guys a home. Choose the location and it will be done by the time we're back. You'll have to share a room; I just started learning this spell, so it may not be perfect." Proan informed. Proan pointed over to the mostly burned down cabins. It seemed that only one remained. "Where will both of you sleep?" Proan asked. "I'll be sleeping in the cabin. He has his own weird place underground to sleep in," Lizzy said. "I choose right next to that other cabin," Drakor pointed to the right of the cabin in his view. "Why right next to me?" Lizzy asked curiously. "Because of safety precautions. We need to be together in case of an attack," Drakor said. "I bet there's another reason Drakor doesn't want to announce," Snail joked. Drakor blushed a bit, but then quickly turned firm again. "No need to be shy big boy. You'll never get me as a girlfriend!" Lizzy taunted. "Fine! We can leave that be and focus on what's important," Drakor looked over at Proan and saw the most amazing thing. Magical tools that had appeared out of nowhere and were building a log cabin exactly like the one next to it. "Let's be off now. I think we've overstayed already. We have a tight schedule to keep. Let's hope nothing unfortunate will happen any time soon," Proan said. With that they set off on a long hike towards the market, looking back every few seconds
*** *** *** They arrived at the wide and well-guarded gate of the market place. This was an extremely large area completely dedicated to the town's people buying and selling wares of all sorts. During the day most people were there because of the large demand for supplies of all sorts. Some people had to travel all the way across the land to reach the market, but did so for the special advantage of selling that so makes the market popular. The most unusual of things happened at the market place. There were also the few thieves that still existed, due to the increasing rate of royal guards circling the market place. They met at a secret place near a corner of the market where no one went, let alone knew about, out of fear, and held secret meetings and kept the spirit of thievery alive, while they still could. "Fortunately for us the food stands are near here. Let's go," Proan tried to sound enthusiastic. A cheerful mood was required to keep ones wits about in the market. People are easily tricked on an empty stomach. They walked a while, accidentally making a complete circle around a few stores, before they reached the large foods section. Here every type of food was sold at cheap, affordable prices.
"Want to buy a magic bean? It transforms your pets into much more powerful beings. I'll sell this one to you cheap," An old lady stepped out in front of them, bean in hand.
"No thanks. I don't want to invest in any scams today," Snail shot at her.
"Wait. I sense some truth in her offer. I'll buy one. How much?" "Twenty gold coins, but for you, fifteen," "My, quite expensive, but I trust you.," "Be warned though, when used you must be patient," "Alright. Deal. Here you go," They made the exchange and the old lady smiled and said thank you before disappearing again. "Bullmark, here you go. Enjoy," Proan said giving his weasel the bean. The weasel came out and ate the bean whole. It chewed awhile and then swallowed. Then, it did a front flip off Proan's shoulder before he caught it from falling to the ground. "Oh dear. I must be patient, I must be patient. Nooooo! It cannot be! It can't be dead, my dear, sweet companion. Why must it be you? I shall find a way to take your place!" Proan mumled rather loudly before announcing, "I am dreadfully sorry. I must leave now. Thank you for the company. I'll meet you all back at the entrance." "Bye Proan. Take care. And could you do a little house keeping for me? My cabin's a mess," Lizzy asked. "And don't forget to listen to us next time!" Snail added on, receiving an elbow from Lizzy. Proan didn't even answer that. He just walked slowly, mournfully away. "Snail, we need to go take care of our business, remember?" Drakor urged. "Yeah. Sorry Lizzy. We have some 'private' business to take care of in here. We'll meet you at the gate entrance too." "I want to come with too. Why am I always left out of the important stuff?" "Sorry Lizard." "Don't ever call me Lizard again!" She yelled at Snail kicking him painfully in the shins. "Fine, Lizzy. We need to go take care of a major discovery we made. Please leave!" "Alright already. I'll leave. Be back at the gate soon, though. Otherwise I ditch you!" "Bye," Snail shooed her off. With that done, they set off on their different ways. Snail and Drakor wove the way carefully through the rather crowded market. When the dragon riders had struck, all the Elves had already done their shopping at the market and none were left there. It was to ensure great accuracy with their major target. Their motive for such a massive assault is still unknown, but that's not the only thing that had happened. The Dwarves' mines had been taken by Goblins. "Where would we find an unusual store where they would buy an extremely rare, one of a kind, magical dagger?" "That's obvious. The psychos at the back of the market where almost no one goes." "What was I thinking? Of course! Right there in front of us." There was a raggedy, old shack that read "Rare Items Bought, here at Antelid's Shop." Snail and Drakor walked over there. When they entered there was a thin and stringy man behind the counter with a wide, welcoming smile on his face. "How may I help you?" The manager said. "I would like to sell this, the Goblin Leader's magical dagger." Snail replied. "Wow! This is probably the best offer I've had in five years when someone claimed they stole the king's sword. Turned out it was false, though. The Leader's dagger will turn anything it touches to ice. Freeze that bucket over there to prove it." Snail threw the dagger and it hit the bucket, freezing it instantly. "Wow, it even has the goblin Leader's insignia. This must be the real one. Thank you so much for coming. Name your price, but be fair. I don't want to rip you off or be ripped off. What shall I fetch you?" "Drakor, Listen to this one. I would like two never failing, magically empowered crossbows and 1500 gold pieces." "Wow. That's a little lower than the normal price for a rare item like that. I'll make it 2000 gold pieces. How about that?" "We take it. Thank you so much! This is the happiest day of our lives! We're finally rich!" "It's mine too! I finally have one of the rarest items possible to find! My collection is just about complete." "So, how long is it until we get all the things you promised? A few days? A week?" "Right now. I have them here with me." He took two large, heavy-looking bags and two glowing crossbows from under the counter. "How can we be sure these crossbows are good?" "Well, first of all the crossbows come with a full refund guaranteed to make sure they work right. Second of all shoot a complimentary arrow or two at that bucket you froze." Snail did so and found that it works perfectly. The bucket shattered completely with the first shot. "It also comes with one packet per crossbow, with five arrows in each packet. Additional packets are sold elsewhere." "Good deal! I agree. You have a nice motto, might I add. An extreme pleasure doing business Mr. Antelid." "Call me Pete, if we ever meet again. Farewell on your journey, it looks like you're preparing for a tough one." "Yes, you could say that." Then they departed the shop. "Snail, you got lucky, be careful next time! You could have been killed, let alone ripped off!" "Come on Drakor, out of all the years you've known me, have I ever been that stupid and reckless?" "Yes! PAY MORE ATTENTION!" "Fine. Let's try that shop. As Snail had said, they both saw a nice looking shop with the words "Armory supplies, perfect for any type of battle!" They walked over, pushing through the now thick crowd that was heading over to the entrance to buy some food for lunch. When they reached the shop it was completely empty. They walked in and found a huge, burly, tall man with huge arms. "How may I help you today?" he called to them as they entered. "Hello. We would like to buy some clips for our crossbows. How many do you have in stock and how much are they?" "I have ten in stock of the no-miss clips and two in stock of the normal clips. I don't know why people buy the bad kind when the good kind helps them better. The no-miss are five gold pieces each and the normal are 1 gold piece each. By no-miss we mean it will never get caught in the crossbow and not fire and it will always hit what you shoot at, wind or no wind." "We'll buy all ten. Here's your gold." Snail said. Snail handed him what seemed like a handful of gold. "Wow. What do you guys plan on doing with all this, and don't you want armor?" The shopkeeper asked. "We're preparing for a major quest. I don't want armor, and he already has some," Snail informed. "Nicely said Snail. We hope your shop gets more business." Drakor said. "Not at the rate we make and sell things. We can never make enough profit to expand the shop or hire help." "Well here's 50 gold pieces to help you out. Thank you for the arrows." "Snail, are you yourself? I thought your motto was 'it's always better to receive and never give. You make more of a living that way'." "Wow. Thank you for your generosity. Though hast made my day." "I just feel like being generous. After all, we are rich and don't need every last gold piece of this." Snail left the large tip on the counter and left. They walked a little ways through the empty shops when someone appeared behind them. He looked just like Snail, with the same armor, hair color, eye color etc. except that he was taller and had a slyer, snickering face. "So, I finally found the little rascal that has forgotten to attend the thief council again. You're in big trouble this time." "Fargel, my village was burned down, and you know it. You're lucky I'm even here for you to meet." "Why would anyone want to meet you out of free will?" "I know quite a few people, actually. Considering the fact that I killed the goblin Leader, just about everybody." "No, the master thief did it, and you know it." "Ha! What proof does he have?" "He brought back the magical dagger." "Ha! What a thief. Trying to take credit for something I did." "What proof do you have? If you can prove it, you'll not only be spared, but also promoted greatly. If not, then you better start running." "I'm not going anywhere. I have the Leader's medals and I'm at the top of the goblins' find and kill list. Plus, there will be wanted posters for my partner and I here all over town soon. Find one and see for yourself." "Wait, didn't you leave those medals behind?" "No! I'm a thief, why would I? Now be quiet!"

"Lies! All lies! The master thief cannot be bested. Only he could pull off something as difficult as that!" "Fine. Believe what you want, but I just sold his magical dagger. I'm rich and famous! Looks like he's finally been bested." "Well, either way your coming with us to see him. Good luck!" "Drakor, run!" Drakor ran, right through the line of thieves that were assembling. They didn't even bother to go after him. "It's me you want, take me." Snail pleaded. With that little contest over, they set off once again. Snail was in trouble. Drakor ran all the way through the now returning crowd of people from the foods section. It was like swimming through a lot of waves, it was a lot of work. But, Drakor finally made it back to the entrance to meet Lizzy. "Where's Snail?" Lizzy asked right off the bat. "Where's Proan?" Drakor asked. "Here I am." Proan replied from behind. "Darn it all. Snail's been taken to the thieves guild to either be put to a horrible death, or dethrone the master thief." "What? Dethrone the master thief? Impossible! I better go try to save him," "Wait!" "What?" "The truth is Snail was the one who killed the goblin leader. We were captured and that's when Proan found us and Snail knocked him out. Snail has with him the proof to prove that he murdered the goblin Leader. He has the medals Mr. Leader wore before his death. He's also wanted for the murder he committed." "Oh dear. This could get out of hand. I must find him immediately. Wait for us here." Lizzy ran off without another word. "Do you hear footsteps, Drakor?" "Yes, I do. We can't let the goblins in yet. They'll surely find Snail and I'm also here," "I can't think of any spells that could stop them except to create a fire wall that would burn everything down." "I have an idea. It includes my new toy," Drakor whispered it to Proan. "Excellent. I totally agree with that. We have to go now though," They ran out, Proan first, and Drakor started firing into the line of goblins coming towards the gate. The goblins were startled at the surprise attack and flinched. Then they rushed forward in massive anger. Drakor and Proan rushed behind a tree and Proan used a simple levitation spell to lift them to the thickest part of the tree. There they stayed silent, barely daring to breath. The goblins passed right under them searching for the mysterious attacker's whereabouts. It was an excellent distraction to buy Snail and Lizzy some time to get out of there. "Finally, they've left. What now Proan?" "I have some claims to check out."
*** *** *** "Ah ha. So there's my little helper. Where have you been? You've been missing for quite some time. I was worried," The master thief spoke. "Yeah right, pig," Snail though to himself before replying, "I have escaped from a certain doom from the mysterious dragon riders at the Elven village by using the perilous and deadly mazes of Monana." "Well, I'm sure you must have done some thievery on your way here? What do you have to report?" "I stole his magical dagger before killing him while that old fool was looking for it." "Impossible. Everyone knows I did it. I brought back the magical dagger. You shall be beheaded for such a lie," The master thief snickered. "I already sold it like a true thief would to get rid of the evidence. But I haven't sold the medals yet. Just as proof I killed him." "Let's see your so called proof." Snail brought out the medals and everybody in the room gasped. "Lies! This is a false lead! I did it! You shall die for such a lie." "No. I think you shall die for the lie. Bet you didn't think the person who had actually killed him would show up. Any goblin that saw me is now dead. You weren't even there, and I have one other witness who saw me do it all. You're through." "Take him away!" "Wait. You're not so tough. Let's have someone else examine these medals and decide whether they're false or not." "Why would I waste my time on something as unimportant as that?" "Because you're afraid of being proved wrong. Alright, who volunteers to do the job?" "I do not approve of this." "Section 5 paragraph 3 in the rule book says that anything that can prove whether a lie is true or false must be examined." "Fine. Go ahead. I can't stop you." A wise man, but still a thief, stepped forward and examined it. He pondered it over for a few minutes while everyone else stared in silence. "This evidence is, wait. Hmmm. Ah ha! This evidence is." "False. Now let's continue everything." "Excuse me. This evidence is real. Snail is, in fact the one who committed the murder." "Fine. I admit defeat. I suppose that I'll have to upgrade your status greatly." "And downgrade yours for being caught. That means I'm the new master thief." "No. I'm afraid not. I'm still master thief, but your next in line." "I suspect a thieving plot, but I'll just accept that fact." "However, you could become a master thief too, to govern over all thieves with me if you retrieve a blue crystal with a green, glowing core lying through many traps. You begin through that door." "And if I refuse to do suicide by even trying to do so?" "You're career is destroyed and you get a two minute head start before we hunt you down and kill you." "Well, I guess I have to choose to retrieve you the crystal." Snail walked over to the door. "Aaaaaggggghhhhhhh," came a voice.
*** *** *** Lizzy wandered around until she finally found the back alley that led to the thieves' hideout. She knocked four times and kicked the door. "You only have ta knock once, ya know. It's propa thief etiquette. What's the password?" "Have they changed it since the last time I was here, about two months ago?" "Yeah, but if ya know the old one then I'll let ya in anyway," "Liversprout and dragongrinds," The mysterious man closed the peephole he was looking through and quickly opened the door. No one was in the reception room. "The guys are all havin' a meetin'. Go ta meetin' room six," "Thanks," She started walking and then faltered. She remembered that the Thieves Guild Entertainment Maze was in there. That spelled trouble for Snail. She happened to be one of the few people that knew where the entrance to it was. Everyone else there just watched from an open room with refreshments and bars. From the bottom it looked like a bunch of people staring at you from gutters. No one had ever succeeded before and Snail wasn't likely to be the first to do so. She wound her way through the halls and to a hidden room that secretly was the entrance to a place where many had fallen going for a priceless treasure, the power sapphire. It had so much power inside itself that it could, if you were lucky enough to get a powerful hit, slay a dragon with one blow. Its power is stored inside the sapphire and creates its green, glowing inside. After it's use, it disappears and reappears in some other dangerous, hard to get at location. Once gone, it is extremely hard to find the sapphire, though it eventually turns up somewhere. Sometimes it's used as a dragon's scale or it's inside a chimera's stomach. The door opened right before she reached it and out walked the infamous master thief. He had achieved his rank by stealing a great portion of the dwarves' treasure stash. "Ah. I see that the fairy tale chaser, Lizard, has returned after all. Are you still with us?" "Yes, I'm still a thief, but where's Snail?" "Good. Well, I just sent him into the Maze." "What? He wouldn't fall for a thing like that!" "Well, you're right. He proved me wrong and nearly got to take my place, so I simply had to dispose of him," he said gently before adding in a firmer tone, "No one's taking my place until my rotting corpse is buried in the hall of 'Fame for Shame'." "Ha! You don't deserve to be buried there. Only true and heroic thieves are buried there. Snail was the one who killed the Goblin Leader and you know it." "It looks like I shall have to dispose of you too." Then she quickly dashed down the hall, stunning the group of thieves for a second. She dodged left as a boot dagger flew past her. She flew down the hall to room six, where they would least suspect her. She shoved her way through just in time to see Snail start in the maze. Snail looked a bit nervous, but quickly took up some courage. He took out one of his thief tools, a bendable pick for any lock, and slid it slowly across the wall. Nothing happened. He slid it further and still nothing. Then he inched it a little further and spears shot out of the wall. They crisscrossed to ensure the kill, hung there a few seconds for torture, then retracted as quickly as they had come. The crowd roared in approval. They cheered for him with all different types of chants, all melting into one big roar. Snail jumped up, over the spears that quickly shot out, and landed on some more. He ran across the field of spears and then jumped to the end as they retracted. The crowd applauded with approval, having seen that trick before. As soon as Snail landed he jumped back as a firewall appeared. It was a close encounter. More cheers came from the action thirsty crowd. Suddenly, the line of stone he was standing on rumbled. He had felt that type of rumble and knew it mean no good. He hopped back just as the long stone sank down. A trap door at the beginning opened up and a giant boulder plopped down making a giant rumble. Then it ever so slightly turned as Snail dashed straight through the appearing firewall, catching his moccasin- like shoe on fire. He ran some more jumping and dodging left and right to escape the firetraps. He made it to the end when he heard snaps. The boulder was snapping all the spears in two, without a single scratch. "Pressure! Pressure!" the crowd cheered on, enjoying the entertainment. Snail ran some more, dodging the arrows that were shot, and then dodging some more as they bounced around. He then tried not to step on the quickly opening patches of spikes that would kill him with their poison tips instantly. The boulder rolled through the firewall untouched and gaining more speed. The door at the end started closing. Snail couldn't quite figure out what the last trap was, but he knew there was one. He looked up to find a lot of sharp icicles that could kill him even if he was two feet away. Snail sprinted through, getting a couple scrapes from flying renegade shards. He slid under the almost-closed door in time to see the boulder finish the firetraps and roll over the spikes. The door slammed shut with a loud boom. The crowd cheered at the performance. Snail walked along now, the corridor he was in was split in two, with many stones covering the floor of the right one. Everything looked fine so he figured there must be a trap where if you step on top of a certain stone it sets off. He looked down the left hall to find boiling hot lava, many traps around it, and a greasy rope dangling in the middle. He chose the path on the right. He walked along, careful not to step on the small stones scattered closely across the floor that stood out from the others. He walked along for a few steps before he heard a growl. He looked back to see that all the stones he had stepped on had sunk. The one he stood on sunk too. He tested the stones that stood out and they didn't sink like the rest. Then, a Devil's Hound appeared in front of him. The crowd booed in disapproval at the mistake, all except one voice Snail made out. Lizzy was cheering him on. "I'll just have to show this crowd of idiots how to deal with the dangerous stuff," Snail thought to himself, preparing to attack. Snail quickly rushed at the Hound. It breathed a cone of fire at him and Snail jumped at the wall, the fire barely missing him. He jumped straight onto the Hound and waited until it stopped bucking so much. Then he partially stood up and stuck his foot through the Hound's skin, extinguishing its internal flame. The crowd gasped in amazement at the amazing feat unperformed before by any man or monster. Then they cheered like never before. Lizzy stared in amazement at Snail. She had no idea that he could do such amazing things. She even started to consider him as her new partner in the thieving business, if he survived. Snail walked to the end of the corridor, almost completely calm, ready for the next challenge. He walked through a door and took a few steps before the door shut behind him. The sapphire was there, in the very middle of the circular room. He heard gears clinking and looked to see a whole ceiling of spikes descending on him, leaving only room for the sapphire to fit. He knew there was some way to stop it, but how? Snail looked around and caught it. There was a button hidden in the wall high up. He only had a few seconds before the spikes blocked his shot. The crowd cheered him on to think of something, but it wasn't helping. Then Snail got an idea. He reached down and picked up the sapphire. It was the key to the puzzle. He threw it as hard as he could with the best aim he could summon up. The gem flew slowly through the almost still air. The shouts and screams melted away to silence. It was as if time had almost stopped. To see his destiny decided right then and there, as the sapphire sped towards its target. It sounded almost like a thunderclap as it something solid. It didn't shatter or break into a million pieces; it just pushed that magical button that decided his final destiny for all eternity.
*** *** *** "Where are they?" Proan asked impatiently. "Well, judging by Snail's lack of manners he's probably in some life threatening situation with Lizzy trying to get him out of it. There's no use of waiting for him here. He probably won't even come out the gate until we're asleep," Drakor droned. "True. We must then go about on our own business and meet them back at camp." "Let's go, I'm getting tired." "I mustn't go. There's been a rumor that something has crashed into the very center of the ever-burning Fire Fields. I must investigate this rumor." "What about me?" "You can't come along. I don't have enough mana to cast the fly spell on you too and make it back," "Then where do I go?" "Back to camp. Or you can try to follow me to the Fire Fields. If so meet me at the Castle of All Good. We can pick up horses there to take us on any unexpected long journey," "Don't get me one that spits in my face. And don't get me one with a bad temper or a drinking problem either. That could be disastrous!" "Ha! That's a good joke. I won't get you those, though. Don't worry," Proan chuckled. Proan muttered a few magic words and immediately shot up in the air and flew off. Drakor gathered up the leftovers from his small dinner, climbed down the tree, and set off after Proan. He walked a while, with many thoughts, undisturbed by any change in the environment. No animal crept out to attack him, no animal even showed his face around him. It was as if all the animals had the instinct that something big was going to occur in due time. Drakor didn't notice, though. He was to busy thinking about his past. How his mother had always loved to bake him pies when he was young. He would go next door to play fight with Snail in different training events, hoping to one day become an Elven warrior. He hadn't even dreamed of what would happen when he was 25. The dragon riders came. He remembered them clearly. They were riding young red dragons on something that looked similar to the modern saddle. They wore heavy armor with bows and arrows with them, though they seemed unneeded. They all wore the symbol of a crescent moon with a dragon made of stars. "I'll hunt them down and kill every last one of them. I'll let them writhe in pain like the low-life worms they are," He silently swore to himself. He walked along until he came to a rather thick clump of forest, where an ogre encampment was set up to murder all the unicorns on their territory and keep the Castle of All Good In check. No one knew who gave the orders, and most didn't want to know. Something evil was indeed brewing within the depths of the undead forest. But no one dared pass through, in fear of their precious lives, for the undead forest held many fearful undead creatures and the awful gargantuan skeleton, almost as tall as the forest itself. "Hey, watch it," A voice inside Drakor's head went off like an alarm as he ran into something soft around a clump of trees. Drakor looked at the object and then stood open mouthed in awe. It was the very last of the unicorns, the one that had survived the slaughter period. It was the only one left to heal and help the side of goodness. "Y-you are the l-last unicorn!" Drakor stuttered out like the words were new to him. "Please think of what you're going to say so that I can telepathically read it," The unicorn sent in his mind while watching his rather awkward performance. "Yes. You must be the last of the unicorns," He thought calming down. "Yes I am. You look powerful enough. I have a job for you if you have a bow of some sort with plenty of arrows, some good armor, and a quick wit." "I'm pretty sure I have all three. I have the best armor I could afford, the best crossbow on the market, rapid fire of course, and a pretty quick wit. Though not as good as my partner's." "Good enough. You'll help me defeat the six ogres' that are after me. You will come to my secret hideout and prepare yourself for the first encounter." "What? That's suicide! I'll never survive!" "Sure you will. Wait until you hear my foolproof plan!" They walked a while, winding along through the trees. They reached the edge of a plain. It was made of all grass, without the little splotches of brown dirt to ruin the perfect atmosphere. The way the sun was setting and the first of the three moons were rising was beautiful. Drakor took in a breath full of the fresh, crisp breeze of the night before he was lightly kicked in the back. He whirled around to see the unicorn stomp three times and a trap door open. "Come on. We have no time to wait. You need rest and food for tonight's massacre." "What do you mean by tonight? It's getting close to midnight." "We need to do it by night." "What do you have planned?" "I lure them out and you shoot them as I gallop away with you on my back." "Seems reasonable." "It is. Now, get some food out of the hoof-dug pantry." Drakor wandered over and got a juicy slab of meat. Then he heard crying. He walked over to a line of six cradles. "You're not the last unicorn?" He thought. "No, I'm not. I managed to reproduce six unicorns. They are safe for now, but when the ogres find this hidden home. I'd rather not think about it." "Yes, I know what you mean." "If you help me in this quest and succeed I'll give you my youngest one, the one I'm not very attached too, for safe keeping. When the war restarts, these babies might not survive. Maybe yours can," "Maybe. Yum, this is good! How do you preserve meat this well?" "It's a magic potion that I made. It uses 10 grass blades that grow at the foot of Mount Misery, ½ a gallon of water from the Lake of Mourning, and about a handful, for you, of tree sap. It works every time," "Wow. That's valuable information." "You aren't planning to sell it are you?" "No. I think it might be able to help me on my quest somehow." "You're a very honest man, Drakor. I believe I read it off your mind?" "Yes. What may be your name?" "Athron. My name is Athron, of the Comgate Line." "I've heard many good things about that line, said to be the best of the unicorn tribes." "Yes, but my tribe is outside of the mountain. My hunting party just happened to be trapped in here." "Interesting. So you know the story first hand?" "Yes. We must leave now, it is time." Drakor and Athron walked out of the hidden home, as the door magically opened, and walked toward the ogre encampment. It was a beautiful sight, almost like a perfectly harmonious picture, except the cause ruined it all. Maybe some day all forms of living creatures could live together. They reached the encampment; it was a large wooden cabin with a dying fire outside. The cabin was very tall and made of logs strapped together with unusual vines. It was dark out and a dire rat, bloated from a previous meal, scurried past. Athron walked up to the door and pounded on it with his hooves. It was so loud and strong, Drakor was surprised when the door didn't fall down and he heard footsteps and loud voices. "Take out your arrows and shoot them as they come out." Drakor steadied his repeating crossbow and, as soon as the door swung opened and a voice grunted, he shot. He shot all five of his arrows, and the ogre bellowed in pain. It finally fell to the ground as Drakor reloaded his repeating crossbow. Athron took a few steps back, to give them a wide berth, and then leaned his horn forward for a charge, when the time was right. Drakor unloaded another clip and the arrows flew as fast as bullets, though they hadn't been invented yet. Two ogres down, four to go. The other ogres finally understood what was going on and quickly grabbed their clubs. They charged out together, but the door acted as a worthy choke point, and another was down. The doorway was littered with ogre bodies and was hard to pass through, but the others made it out. Athron charged one of them, stabbing his horn in one end and out the other of the nearest ogre. But this action threw off Drakor's aim and an arrow hit another ogre's club. He unloaded a fourth clip, leaving one ogre left unharmed. It took a swing, knocking Drakor right of the unicorn, before stumbling over poor Athron and crushing him. The ogre quickly got up, but Drakor was laying still. His armor was weighing him down and Athron wasn't in the condition to help him. "For the damages you caused you shall dearly pay with your own blood," the ogre roared picking up Drakor. But that move was a mistake. Drakor lifted up his repeating crossbow and fired away. "Fool a fool! I'm already out of clips!" "No time for that, loot their cabin and let's go." Drakor took time to search all the bodies. He didn't find any gold. He then searched the cabin. It was dark in there, but he lit a long, thick stick with the dying fire and searched the cabin through. He found a platinum piece (worth ten gp) carelessly lying on top of a desk. There were bunks and many bags of rotten smelling meat everywhere, provisions. "Athron, I just had a thought." "I know. I have telepathy. The answer is; if the war doesn't restart soon then our kingdom shall perish. Provisions are running low and we'll eventually run out of food. Unfortunately, the stupid humans were the only ones to find out how to lower the mountains, and they greedily kept it a secret, because it most likely contained vast amounts of treasure in it." "True. Humans have known to be greedy and selfish, that's why we have an Elven king, though he trusts no one but his favorite servant anymore." Drakor silently walked back side-by-side with Athron, as he wasn't strong enough after the battle to carry Drakor back. They reached Athron's home and heard the little ones crying. Drakor quickly fed them. "Here you go. This little one can walk, just like the rest, but hasn't developed healing powers or a horn yet. He's defenseless, unlike the others. It's up to you to save our kind. Good luck on your journey." "Oh no! I completely forgot about the horses! Proan will be furious at the failure." "No. He said you could meet him there to get horses, you didn't have to. Besides, he might not have been there yet in the first place." "True. I must leave. Fare well." "Goodbye my friend." And Drakor departed on his journey. He left the home and walked north to the castle. A hungry dire rat attacked him, but he whirled and twirled around like you would see an actor do in a play, and defeated the rat with the greatest of ease. It was dark, though, and few critters were seen, only night ones like the dreaded Gelatinous Cube and meager Skeletons. He made the trip safely after the one encounter. The guards permitted his arrival, but denied him access to the boxed up king. "What is it you wish from our great and humble king?" a humble servant asked him. "I need horses." The servant that talked to him and a rich looking man then talked, then the rich one walked through the door. "He must be the king's trusted servant. This kingdom is definitely heading for a downfall. That one fool is probably making the decisions for the king." Drakor muttered under his breath. The rich-looking servant returned and the two whispered again. The servant approached Drakor again. "Your request is acceptable and will be granted if it is reasonable. How many do you need?" "I have four people in my traveling party, so five. And they cannot be in poor condition. The fate of this very kingdom depends on it." "Oh. I didn't realize the seriousness of your request. What reason is it that you have come here for?" "I have come to get horses for my quest to lower the Unclimbable Mountains and save this world." "The king must hear this!" The servant rushed back. He whispered with the king's servant, and he, in turn, went back through the doors. It took a few minutes, but then the king's servant returned and spoke with Drakor directly.

"The king is interested in your quest and would like to know more. He needs some more information and is willing to supply you with any other necessary provisions." "I will only speak to him directly. I don't trust you to tell accurate information to him. This is also private, no one but us must hear the conversation." "That is not possible. He will only speak to me and will not come out." The rich servant said. "Then I shall take the horses and leave." "No, wait! I, um I mean the king needs to know your valuable information!" "I gave you your two options, choose one." "Hmm. You may leave. You don't deserve to take on the quest you are about to embark on. May the gods strike you down like the slithering peasant you are." Drakor grabbed the shirt of the servant and lifted him above the ground. "You are a traitor to this kingdom and don't deserve to live out your pathetic life! You think you can control this kingdom? Well, not with me around." Drakor whipped out his war hammer. "No! Don't kill me! I'll commit suicide instead. Won't that be better? Heh." "Tell me everything!" "W-what are you t-talking a-about?" "You're a spy for the wrong side, you know. I eat up and spit out people like you for breakfast. You must be feeding the king poison. Tell me everything or I kill you." "I will if you promise to have mercy and leave me be after." "You have my word, if you're honest." "Thank you kind sir. I work for the Association of Assassination of Secured Society. I work with this small, unformed clan to take over this pathetic dump of a world and transform it into a vast land of wonderful bliss. We shall rule over all this perfection and make sure it stays this way for years to come." "Liar. Tell me the truth or you die." "Umm, you must be a wise man to see through such a well thought lie. I actually work for Sharnaad, the necromancer. He is planning to rule this world. I was bribed to drug the king and take over the kingdom for a certain win." "What do you think Sharnaad would've done with you after you were no longer needed?" "Reward me handsomely for my work with riches and land." "Wrong. He was just going to dispose of you like he will everyone else like you. You're fighting for the wrong cause." "No! I refuse to believe this utter nonsense. Release me like you promised." "No you little thief! You're going to. never mind. I shall keep to my word and stay good." Drakor dropped the pathetic little being. "Ha ha! You'll never catch me as I escape and tell Sharnaad about your plans. You're doomed to die a very horrible death, and I'll be there to watch. Goodbye oh doomed one!" He yelled running away. "You sure got that right. Ha! I shall not die anytime soon," Drakor yelled after him before muttering, "Time to try out my new spell." Drakor closed his eyes in concentration and pointed his right hand down the long, golden corridor at the servant, with outstretched arm, formed a fireball. When he had finished his creation, the fireball looked like mystical stone of old. It looked like it had a hard, see-through, red covering with dancing and swirling fire inside. The fireball shot, leaving a glowing orange trail hanging in the air for a few seconds. It hit the servant and exploded in a brilliant burst of flame, setting the servants rich clothing on fire. He ran around screaming in pain, running back towards Drakor to ask one of his so-called "servants" to fetch him water. It was a comical scene as he ran around like a chicken being chased by a fox. Finally he ran into Drakor and collapsed. Drakor turned around and took the water the servant had fetched. He slowly walked to the burning carcass of the servant and doused the remaining flames. They quickly flickered out. "You lied the first time," Drakor muttered and walked outside. He took notice of the magical ever-burning torches. He had no clue that they had become popular. The horses were waiting for him outside, impatiently pawing the ground. "Do you having room for boarding? I am expecting a friend, and he doesn't seem to be here." "No one has come here for days. It seems like the silence before a storm. Who knows what's coming. We have many boarding rooms in the west wing. You'll find it easily." Drakor thanked him heartily and set off for his boarding. He navigated the many winding corridors made of pure gold to the west wing. It was past midnight when he finally laid down on a soft, feather bed with a soft feather pillow and flew off to the dream world. He knew he was safe, for now.
*** *** *** Proan took a fresh breath of the crisp, night air flying past him, enjoying the view of the scattered trees and the side of Mount Misery. It looked like scattered marbles against the wall. The sun had just about set and the three moons had risen. He finally reached the ever-burning Fire Fields. The flames crackled, threatening to burn him as soon as he was close enough. He swooped low over them, but noticed a crater, with no fire burning. The Fire Fields were so strong that the scorched the earth ten feet away from them and couldn't be put out by any form of water or anything else. They could not be smothered, but the crater seemed to solve that problem. He swooped in lower and landed in the crater to investigate. "My lord, what has happened here?" "Who's there?" a strange voice shout out with all the hope any man could summon. "Keep talking so that I may locate you." "Over here, I'm not worth saving, though. I'm doomed to die by midnight." "Keep talking, I may be able to save you." "No you can't. I can't survive. The gods of evil will strike me down for this. Thank goodness you found me. The gods of good can only keep me alive for so long. Aaaaaggggghhhhhhh!" "Found you." There was a man, about as tall as Proan, with brown eyes and a green tunic with matching pants under some thick sheet of medal. He looked to be about 40, very nice, and in real pain. Proan cast the levitation spell on the mysterious metal and moved it aside. The man was crushed. Proan helped him to lean against a curved piece of metal to support his crushed back. "Who are you? Where did you come from? How did you get here? What's this?" They both asked at the same time. "I'll start," Proan suggested. "I am Proan. You need not know more. I came from the outside of this cursed barrier of fire with a spell. The spell I used was the fly one and. uh oh! I'm out of mana and won't be recharged until midnight. No! This cannot be! This is the Fire Fields, ever-burning fire that mysteriously turned up here and destroyed our old market." "My name, it has been erased from my mind. I cannot tell you that. I came from the outside world. I was a ranger, until I went exploring out of my forests. There are certain areas that haven't been mapped, being too dangerous to explore. I came here through some mysterious craft the wise council of elders called a "Rocket Ship". It doesn't look like a ship to me. This "Rocket Ship" flew over these mountains, but the magic that hung over the mountains turned the machine off. I pleaded with the Gods of Good for survival and they gave me until midnight. I must know the progress you've made! Have you collected the four stones? Are you almost there?" "What do you mean?" "I knew it! Those stupid humans! They just can't remember a single important thing! I wonder what the future would look like if only humans and animals existed." "It would be terrible. The human king we have is very weak, and isn't governing our part of the kingdom well. This planet, as we know it, would eventually be withered down to a toxicated barren wasteland." "True. Well, what you have to do is collect the four soul stones, the souls of the four elements when they were in human form. You wonder why there's no wind, no clouds except for the ones circling Mt. Misery, no rain, no erosion and mountains forming, and no fires starting up? That's because the elements' souls are trapped in stones holding the mountain up. You must collect all four stones, one at each end of the compass. Then, if Mount Misery were a compass, the bodies of the four elements would be at each entrance at each end of the compass. But beware, there are horrible monsters guarding each stone and body, one for each stone and body, four different types of monsters in all. Good luck, you're our last hope!" "Thank you. Do you have a last request young nameless man?" "Yes. Please tell me the story of the moons. I'll help you fill in the missing story." "Yes, that's good. One dark night ago, the people were watching fire works in the night sky; it was the first time they had bothered to look up there. When the show was finished the people saw the sky as it is, all black. There was nothing. They asked the gods to decorate the night sky. The gods created stars, to twinkle in the night and disappear like magic during the day. They looked beautiful, forming noticeable patterns. But the people still didn't think it was quite right. Then they thought there should be three large symbols in the sky, one symbolizing each type of god. The Chaotic Evil, Lawful Evil, and Evil (I'll call them just evil) made a dark moon, almost exactly blending in with the sky. When you looked in it, you felt the goodness in you temporarily melt away and you felt power. But that only happened when you looked directly at it. The Gods of Good, Lawful Good, and Chaotic Good (I'll call them good) made their moon brighter than any of the stars. When one looked into the glowing wonder, his evil melted away and he became kind hearted. But again, that only lasted while the person looked at that moon. The Gods of all Neutrality couldn't reach a decision of what to make theirs. The Gods of Good and Evil secretly urged the Gods of Neutrality to make it what they wanted, but the gods of neutrality ignored them. When the Gods of Good and Evil found out what each other were doing, they became enraged at each other and started a war over what the third moon should look like. I don't know any story past that. My parents died from grief with the secret. Hey, wait? Did the light on the third, middle moon just move?" "Most likely. I'll take over from here. The Gods of Neutrality had made a decision, but had discovered that the other gods were fighting over who gets to design their moon. They became enraged and decided to pull a fast one on both sides. They gathered up the four elements and had them create an impenetrable ring of mountains that not even a Roc could fly over. Thus the Unclimbable Mountains were created. Furthermore they trapped the souls of the four elements inside soul stones and separated their bodies, that were hidden at the compass end of each entrance in Mt. Misery, from the soul stones, that where hidden in caves at each end of the compass. Mt. Misery was asleep and couldn't reveal the locations to you. They then revealed a moon that would show how the battle was going. The third moon is mostly dark, meaning the enemies are in great numbers and are prevailing against the good. It's the only way we can tell what's going on. You must lower the mountains. If we fight together in unison we may win!" "Yes. I will go as soon as midnight strikes. I have a friend waiting for me at the castle." "Are you sure he is still there? He could've left by now." "No. He's still there. He's the type of loyal companion that won't give up." "Oh no! It's almost midnight. It is time for me to depart." "I wish I didn't have to witness this." "I wish too my friend. Goodbye." "Loyal Ranger of the cause. You have done your job and now you must face destiny." The Ranger was horrified and started crawling back, although his legs were broken. A giant beam of light shot out of the sky and focused on him. He tried to crawl away, but was pulled back to the beam. He was lifted up, toes barely touching the ground. The fire of the Fire Fields danced around, as if enjoying the spectacular show. Proan stood wide-eyed at the scene. Then, a lightning bolt of great magnitude shot down the beam of light. It hit the poor man and, for a second, it seemed like he was two people, and then it was dark again. The light beam disappeared and the Ranger's body soundlessly fell to the ground. He lay there, unmoving, pale, with his delicate eyes closed. It was over.
*** *** *** "Congratulations Snail. You are now promoted to my assistant. You are the only one to complete the maze. Now hand over the crystal!" "Never! A good thief doesn't share his treasure!" "Not in this case. You either hand it over, or mysteriously disappear. Snail bolted out of the room. Thieves of all status started combing the market for Snail, but he had really hid in room seven with Lizzy. "What now, Snail?" "We wait a couple minutes and then make a dash for it. They waited there, silent as cats, hardly daring to breathe. When they had waited long enough, they silently dashed out the door and to the only exit. The guard was obviously looking out there. Snail dashed out and overtook the guard, knocking him out. "Not too smart are they, Snail?" "Nope. I'd imagine they would at least be smarter than a doorpost. They dashed off, carefully weaving through the crowd, not gaining any suspicion, and finally reached the exit. "Halt, identification please." "Why?" "We are on the look out for two escapees." "My name is Mr. Tarrafier and this is my wife." "Proceed," "There they are! Get them!" The thieves had spotted Snail while he was tricking the guards. Snail dashed past the bewildered guards with Lizzy and ran on. "We have to split up Snail! We'll have a better chance of defeating them." Lizzy ran toward the Forest Savior while Snail ran north. Unfortunately the plan didn't work. All the thieves were yelling after Snail. Snail ran into a small patch of trees nearby and started climbing one when he saw a face pop out of the leaves in the tree. He quickly leaped down, only to have his path blocked by two more thieves coming out of trees. He took out his short sword and charged at them. They blocked his way while Snail attacked their blades and dashed under them. He ran some more, dodging a couple of renegade arrows. He ran some more, heading northeast towards his now incinerated home. He ran for what seemed like hours, before he became unbearably exhausted. He collapsed behind a ring of bushes, safe for the time being. "Where'd the filthy wyrm go?" "That must be some humanoid. That dolt Snail couldn't pack a punch in an extra dimensional area!" Snickers and laughs were heard. Snail became enraged at the comments, but held back. He knew the Master Thief would have their heads on a silver platter (considering he didn't do enough thieving to make it gold) and their bodies fed to the starving peddlers. Then he'll have the last laugh. When the time was right and the thieves had given up the search, Snail silently walked away. He was at the gates when he saw a cloaked figure waiting outside. He casually strolled toward the gates of the Castle of Good. Snail thought they should have given the castle a better name. The Castle of Good was the name it had during the war of old times. It definitely needed a new name. "I have been expecting you, Snail," The mysterious figure spoke out in a raspy tone. "But no one had notice of my unexpected arrival." "You know what I want, your cooperation." "Never," Snail spat. "Join us on the dark side and feel the power of magic, wealth, and supremacy." "There's always a second option. So if I refuse, then what?"

"If you don't then we will hunt you down and eliminate you from the face of this planet after you writhe in pain from a hideous torture session." "I'll make you an offer. Shut up and act like this never happened or feel a quick, sharp pain in your stomach before you black out and die." "Answer me now or I will telepathically send a refusal to the dark council." Snail took out his boot dagger and threw it in what seemed like half of a second. The dagger passed through the cloaked figure, bounced off the castle wall, and stuck into the moist dirt of the night. "Answer accepted, and may you rot in the Devils domain for all eternity." The figure disappeared. Snail cursed many times before retrieving his dagger. He had just made the most powerful force inside the mountains his enemy. He knew there was something wrong. Evil was planning on an attack, figuring out that we had forgotten how to lower the mountains. He must see the king. "Hello there traveler, what is your business here?" The guard called out. "I must see the king immediately!" "Oh, just like that other man, looked like a tall dwarf with pointy ears, a beard and lots of armor." "Yes, I know him. Where is he?" "Sleeping in the west wing. What happened over there with the cloaked man? He wouldn't respond to me." "That's what I have to talk to the king about." "Good luck. He sees no one but his favorite servant." "What? This means trouble." "Good luck." Snail dashed into the castle, asking directions from anybody he saw. He got lost many times, but finally reached the main hall leading to the king's sleeping quarters. He found a singed carcass, but couldn't tell who, or what it was. "That, kind sir, is the remains of the kings favorite servant. He was set on fire by some traveler's fireball. That traitor deserved it," A servant said watching Snail eying the corpse before he was elbowed in the side. Snail walked towards the door, but was blocked by some guards. "I must see the king, with urgent news about the enemy." "The king is in a fowl mood. He will see no one." Snail quickly drew his short sword and put it up to one guard's neck while he kicked down the other one. "Now, I will get in there with or without your help. I'm sure you kind fellows will make the wise decision of life over death." The two guards silently cowered back. They knew they couldn't stop him and he was also on their side. Snail threw the doors open and walked in. The king was in his nightgown, sobbing in his bed. "What do you want?" The king asked in a trembling, cowardly voice. "To talk with you." "Guards! Take this man away! I want no one to visit me!" "Your guards won't come. I am on your side, you old fool. Can't you see that I have important information for you! You are the only one who can save this kingdom from certain destruction!" "No! Leave me alone! My mommy will do it for me! I want to rest! Leave me be!" He whined like a child would to his mother. "No! Why didn't I see it before? The king has been weakened and destroyed by the enemy. This is awful! We've lost our only ruler. The enemy will surely win if we do not find out how to lower the mountains!" "Mommy! Come here and get this man away! The guards won't do it." Snail, extremely annoyed, grabbed the man by his sleeve and dragged him out into the main hall. "This is what you call royalty? I call this filth. Absolute rubbish, lower than a double-crossing thief! You must replace him with a wise, undaunted ruler immediately." The entire company of guards and servants were in shock as Snail angrily stomped away. He made his way to the west wing. "No! Get me out of here! This is inhumane!" Drakor sleep-talked. "Wake up Drakor! We are in danger as we speak." "Snail! What are you doing here? I had the strangest dream." "We must depart immediately. It is the work of the gods that I found you here! We must work quickly." "Yes. I finally perfected my fireball spell. I demonstrated it on the traitor servant of the king. The king should return everything to normal now." "No. That's quite off the mark. The king has a spell over him and it's too late to counter it. Evil will strike soon and the king cannot do anything about it. We are this kingdom's only hope." "So we go in hiding? We can't possibly defeat all the evil in the south." "No, we must find Proan! We have to find out how to lower the mountains!" "He might be here by now. I have horses outside. I wonder where he is?" "Great. Let's get the horses and wait for an hour. If he doesn't show up by midnight then we'll have to leave without him. Where we go I have absolutely no idea, but we'll need to search for him." They walked out of the palace, side by side, and found five horses. "Shoot! I forgot about Lizzy. She's back at the Forest Savior." "That'll be our first stop." "Great! At least we know where to go first. That's a step closer towards our goal." They waited impatiently. They got hungry, so they persuaded the royal cooks to cook them a 'take out' meal. They ate as much as they could, fed the horses, and stuffed the rest in their rugged backpacks. They waited a while longer, hardly daring to close their eyes, watching the three moons for midnight. "It's midnight now. The middle moon's outline is glowing. Let's depart." "Wait! Let's get some rest Snail, I'm exhausted!" "You're probably right. I mean it has been a long night and Lizzy is probably out searching for us. She'll eventually return and we'll find her there," "Good thinking. Hey, you think we could get the royal jesters to put a show on for us?" "Drakor! I'm surprised! Don't you know any spells to make a dazzling show?" "I only know a couple. I'll show you my favorite one. A friend taught it to me, before he died in the incident," Drakor lifted his hands, aiming them at a 135-degree angle. His hands started glowing and then out of nowhere two gallons of water appeared in midair over the well nearby. The light of the midnight moon turned the mini waterfall into something of human wonder. It looked beautiful. It sparkled like the most precious of diamonds and yet trickled down like water in a stream. "For my last trick I require awful smelling scraps from the royal garbage dump." They walked over to an enclosed area and opened the door. The smell was horrible and inhumane. A Stirge that must've gotten trapped in there flew out. Drakor lifted his hand and froze it. It dropped to the ground and shattered into many pieces. "Lo my companions. Hast though forgotten our quest?" "What was that Proan? Please speak the common language," "Sure Snail. Have you forgotten our quest?" "We've been waiting for you here for a while." "I'm sorry. I ran out of mana, but it recharged at midnight and I was able to complete my journey. What were you about to do anyway?" "Drakor and I were going to play a trick on the guards." "Save your magic for the monsters, we have a job to do." "What's that?" "Go kill the monster guardian at the back of the castle." "What? Another danger?" Snail complained. "Not with the spells I have," "I have spells too," Drakor chimed in. "What about me?" Snail whined some more. "Shoot it with your repeating crossbow." "Fine! Give me the bad stuff!" "You're a thief! You steal good stuff!" "Oh yeah. Let's go." They trekked behind the castle to the caves there. There were three. Proan retrieved his compass and it pointed to the cave towards their left. They went in. There before them stood a massive beast, it had three heads, all looked alike with a mouth, a nose, and two eyes, but had no ears. One was black, one was red, and one was white. Snail had already revealed his weapon, loaded and ready. Drakor was forming a fireball, and Proan had a green swirling, flat discuss of green light around the tip of his pointer finger. They cautiously walked in. As soon as they did an air wall appeared around them, creating whirlwinds around them that threatened to send them flying. Snail shot an arrow, which was deflected by an air wall around the chimera. The beast didn't even notice it. Drakor let his fireball loose. It trailed along, it's aim fair and true, striking the left wing of the chimera, proving to be a critical hit. Proan launched four magic missiles, all of them glowing green balls, and they all hit the chimera on its middle head. The middle head roared in pain, temporarily stunned, but the other two used breath weapons. One shot out a cone of cold, stopping a whirlwind in its tracks but going no further. The cone of fire also hit a whirlwind, except it turned it into a temporary pillar of fire, threatening to destroy anything in its path. Drakor summoned enough mana for one more fireball, except he used it against the white head. The head looked like it was melting, but was actually in extreme pain. Proan launched another magic missile attack, doing major damage. Snail took out his short sword and ran in, slashing around at the beast's underside and tail. The beast stepped backwards and slashed and bit at Snail. Snail was able to dodge them, but one of the claws caught snail on the shirt. Snail continued to slash about, cutting the chimera up badly. Drakor used the last of his low mana to use a ray of frost on the red head. The head didn't freeze, but it was pretty badly damaged. Proan, having a lot of mana, cast a decent storm of frost. The monster was extremely hurt by the icicle shards magically raining onto its. The monster fell down. Snail managed to slide out before the impact, but was hurt by a flailing claw. He looked almost normal, though. Proan walked to the back and retrieved a see-through crystal with a glowing white inside. It was the Air element's soul. The whiteness swirled around, almost like a gentle whirlpool. "Finally, that was tough." "Yeah, you said it Snail." "I'll heal your wounds Snail." "Oh shoot. I just remembered my unicorn, Proan. It's still at the castle stables." "You have the last of the unicorns." "No. I have a baby from the last of the unicorns." "What an amazing discovery." "Drakor, you and I can go back to the castle and retrieve the unicorn while Proan goes and retrieves Lizzy. Where do we meet?" "Meet at the Dwarven mines, our next target." They set off on a day's journey on horseback to finish their goals.
*** *** *** All four of them came back, unharmed, and met at the Dwarven mines. They easily found the one, out of many, caves they were looking for. It had a sign saying 'Warning, Chuul lair'. It was about dawn by then, their magic hadn't recharged yet. "At least we know what we're up against," Drakor tried to avoid pessimism. They walked in. The Chuul was a giant being with two legs, two claws, two antennae, and four eyes. It was completely yellow, from head, along the long spine like body, and to the tail. There were stepping-stones to a giant stone, with about a 1000-foot radius, surrounded by a strip of water from one end to the other. The stone and the Chuul were both on the giant stone. The four heroes walked forward. When they reached the stone, it started sinking below water. Some invisible force held the water back, but Snail's hand went right into the water, making a hazardous battle arena. Snail knew this was going to be the worst of their battles, if he didn't stop it. He took out his power sapphire and let it go. I giant, green, extremely thick beam of light engulfed the Chuul's body. It was the most unusual sight. The light disappeared and the Chuul with it. There was nothing there but the glowing, blue stone. Proan carefully over and picked up the stone, shaken by the immense power of the stone. Snail's sapphire turned back to a dull rock. He threw it into the water. "Snail, what was that?" Drakor asked. "It was what he one at the Thieves Guild Entertainment Maze. It's also why we're being hunted by all the other thieves." Lizzy answered for Snail. "It'll be best if we just leave that be and move on." Drakor suggested. They left, heading west towards the west caves, underwater.
*** *** *** "We're finally here. It's almost dawn, so lets hurry this up." Proan urged. Proan used his water breathing spell to let them reach the underwater cave. They went in to find the most horrible creature of them all, the Bodak. If you even gaze into its eyes it disables you and turns you into a Bodak in exactly one day. Snail took out his repeating crossbow and Lizzy took out her crossbow. They fired at the Bodak, but didn't look directly at it. As they advanced, turned around because the Bodak had turned also, Drakor launched his fireball and Proan his ice storm. The Bodak was pushed back into the flames, receiving massive damage. Drakor was making a second fireball, using up most of his mana, and he shot it at the Bodak, but then received paining memories of the day his village was incinerated. He covered his ears to try to block out the pleading voices, begging for survival, but only receiving pain. He remembered the hands coming out of the ground and grabbing him, pulling him down. Proan launched magic missiles, for he could not aim an ice storm without looking, and Snail and Lizzy kept firing. Snail used up two whole clips over the monster before it finally fell. Even then he kept firing just to make sure. The battle was over and Proan received the glowing, red stone with grace. They left in haste before their water breathing wore off.
*** *** *** "How do we pass through the undead forest?" Drakor asked in a shaky tone. "We walk right through." Proan suggested. "What about the skeletons?" Drakor questioned. "We fight them." Fearless Snail replied. "I don't like it." Lizzy announced. "Me neither." Drakor agreed. They walked through the thick covered forests attacking the many skeletons there, but making it through alive. It was an hour-long trip, so they enjoyed the fresh sunlight at the other side. They snuck to the back and into the right cave. The necromancer, Sharnaad, was there, mountains were rising and falling everywhere, or were destroyed by the rampaging Bulette. Proan flew over them to the back of the cave and took the crystal, but the Necromancer had defeated the Bulette as Proan flew back. "Fool! You dare steal my treasure? Die in my wrath!" The necromancer yelled. He started an earthquake, caving the entire cave in. Proan teleported out with a simple teleportation spell. The entrance was blocked by falling boulders and there was nothing that Snail, Drakor, or Lizzy could do. They turned around to see a joyous sight, Proan was stepping out of an interdimensional gate. They rejoiced as he showed them his four stones. He teleported all of them to the north of the Mountain of Misery. They entered the north entrance. Snail found the power Sapphire on top of a small pile of stones. Proan used a levitate spell to bring them up. Snail used the sapphire and blasted the chimera out of the sky. It fell about 2000 feet down to the ground. They barely heard a plop. They reached the top where an outcropping revealed the human form of the element of air. He touched the stone to the body and brought it to life. It thanked him greatly and disappeared. They walked to the east entrance. There Proan went in alone saying he had a 'one man plan'. He teleported past the Chuul, used water breathing, and then revived the water elements soul. The element gratefully transported Proan to the outside. He found waiting for them at the third entrance the entire army of evil led by the Necromancer. There were Orcs, Hobgoblins, Goblins, Ogres, and Even Dire-Rats. They were all prepared for battle. They wanted payment for their service in blood. "So, you decided to try to foil my plans? Not this time," The Necromancer sarcastically laughed. "Eat your own words, old man," Lizzy shouted firing an arrow at him. "I see you found that my air shield just wore off. I'm not a pathetic mortal like you. I am one with the gods and shall rule with the gods," Sharnaad laughed dodging the arrow. "Fool! The gods may not strike you down, but some one will. Just you wait!" Proan shouted. "I will give you all five seconds to scatter. Then I will hunt you down and capture you." All four of them ran. Drakor was slowed down by his armor and knew he wouldn't make it, so he formed a fireball while running. "Five," Snail and Lizzy were very far ahead, but Lizzy was faster. "Four," Proan tripped, but immediately got up and ran. "Three," Drakor had his fireball formed. "Two," Lizzy had gotten her foot caught on a root, but Snail was in the Forest Savior by then. "One," Drakor let out his fireball and Lizzy was still stuck. "Fool!" Sharnaad yelled launching a ray of frost to freeze the fireball. Sharnaad cast the spell. Blue balls fell out of the sky everywhere like a meteor shower. Each ball hit the ground like a giant raindrop, splitting into littler ones. The balls were meant for capturing people, it was a special spell Sharnaad had invented. Snail dodged left and right, keeping his distance. Lizzy, who had finally released her foot, was captured. Proan was a bit too slow and missed a dodge. Drakor was captured immediately. Sharnaad had cast a hold person spell on him. "No! Snail got away! Let's go back to the castle," Sharnaad angrily ordered. The blue balls holding the captured three disappeared. The rest faded away. Back at the castle, Drakor, Proan, and Lizzy reappeared in three separate cells. There were lead bars with an electrical current running through them. "Don't touch the bars, for your own sake Lizzy. Snail shall not escape for long. He is to be captured and killed. Drakor shall remain here as 'Snail' bait," Sharnaad planned aloud. "What about Lizzy and I?" Proan inquired. "No need for haste. Your executioners have arrived." "No! You mustn't go through with this, Sharnaad," Drakor uselessly complained. "Oh, but I must. I can't have Proan trying any spells while my anti-spell area has worn off," "Noooooooooooo!" Drakor's cry sounded throughout the castle. The last thing that could be heard was the slice of two axes and one more desperate plea for mercy from Drakor. Then all was silent, with Drakor drowning in loneliness hoping for a miracle.
*** *** *** Snail ran hard and hid in his cabin. He knew he would have to survive and save the others. How was the only question. Then he heard a battle cry. The war was on. The Necromancer had declared war on all good civilization. His army rampaged passed Mt. Misery. It was like a tug of war, he just happened to be an elephant versus a mouse. The castle of good was destroyed and the rest of the villages spared. Snail listened in horror at the cries of pain, agony, and mercy from both sides. He plugged his ears but could still here the awful ruckus. Then, He saw the tips of the Unclimbable Mountains lower. They kept lowering, spreading out like a blooming flower, until only their tips emitted from above the blood red ground. The villagers of the great land of Delamor were unprepared for the mass attack, and couldn't fight it back. They were permitted to live, but under the rule of Sharnaad. Thus, the Legacy of Sharnaad began. Mt. Misery was awoken when the mountains were lowered and he used his mighty rocky hands to wipe out massive enemies. The Tarrasque was also released, soon with blood dripping scythes for a mouth and four legs. Mt. Misery was again put to sleep and, before the Necromancer finished off the Tarrasque, the Tarrasque ran off and hid somewhere unknown to all. The Dark Age had fallen upon the once perfect civilization. It was now like a flea-ridden dog on the streets, with no one to take care of it. Snail waited impatiently for many years for a chance at revenge, but none came. He didn't give up, but stayed hidden among the trees of the Forest Savior. He trained for when the time came, if it ever came. Drakor was barely kept alive in his cell. He had gone mad from loneliness and was always guarded. He weakened from years of isolation and couldn't fight back. During that lonely period, one brave girl was born, daring enough to stop Sharnaad, if possible.