The Burning of Larapool
Brian awoke the next morning his nightmares having become more vivid and frightening than ever. As he dressed and began to repair his cloak he wished he knew what, if anything, they meant. It seemed he would have to ask the spirits directly. As he finished his repair there was a knock at the door.
"Enter." He called.
The door swung open but did not reveal his two apprentices but rather one of the monks.
"My apologies for disturbing you but the Grand Abbot wishes to see you immediately."
"On my way." Brian said setting his cloak aside and rising to his feet.
Brian walked through the stone corridors of the monastery into it's main room where he found the Grand Abbot. Brian could see in the elder man's face that something weighed heavily on his mind.
"You wished to see me?"
"Brian a most unusual and disturbing event has occurred. Early this morning the town of Larapool was burned nearly to the ground. The person I talked to claims to have seen someone or something at the epicenter of the destruction. I want you to investigate."
"A monster couldn't have gotten in. Not without help anyway. Larapool is protected by spirit barriers just as every other city is."
"I am aware of that. That is why I am sending you."
"I will leave at once."
Brian returned to his room and seized his cloak and staff. He then opened his desk drawer and pulled a small wooden box. Inside were crystal wings of all types. He took several of blue wings and a several of white.
Brian ran from the room an into his apprentices. He stopped and spoke as they clambered to their feet.
"I have been called away on a matter or great urgency and will be gone for some time. Continue your studies and I will see how much you have improved."
"We'll go with you." Jessica said.
"No Jessica! It's too dangerous!"
"Why can't we?"
"You're still apprentices."
"All right." Jessica sighed.
The group went their separate ways. As Brian walked down the path leading away from the monastery he stopped, turned and flicked his staff. From behind a bush on the side of the path a small whirlwind kicked up lifting Alex and Jessica into the air.
Brian moved the cyclone into the middle of the path before it disappeared dropping the two children to the ground.
"Did I not make myself clear when I said it was too dangerous?" Brian said.
"We're spirit tamers the same as you! Besides you might need our help!" Jessica pleaded.
"You are still apprentices..." Brian began.
"So were you when you defeated Mammon!" Jessica retorted
"I was extraordinarily lucky when I defeated Mammon. He could've just as easily killed me and whatever power destroyed Larapool may dwarf Mammon's"
"All the more reason to take us whatever power we can muster may mean the difference between life and death."
Brian sighed seeing no way to escape from this argument save giving in to them. "This is against my better judgment but you can come. On one condition if I tell you to leave you do so immediately and without question. Do I make myself clear?"
"Yes Master Brian." The two said together.
"Good. Now take these."
Brian produced two pairs of white wings from his pack and two pairs of blue ones and handed them one each to them. The two continued down the path and into Melrode. The people greeted the trio as they passed and continued about their business.
Soon they came to town gate. With a sharp tap of Brian's staff the great door swung open and allowed them passage to the world beyond.
When the trio had stepped outside the gate closed behind them and Brian reached into his pack and pulled out a pair of blue wings.
"The blue wings will take us to Larapool." He stated.
"Why are we going to Larapool anyway?" Alex asked.
"Early this morning something razed Larapool to the ground and we're going there to find out what it was."
Raising their wings to the sky the three were whisked away on the winds.
When they arrived at Larapool the sight that awaited them was far more horrible anything they had imagined. Not a soul stirred in the burning ruins. The entire town had been laid to waste.
"This is awful. What could have done this?" Alex asked surveying the destruction.
"I don't know and I don't know if anyone survived this for us to find out." Brian said
Brian began to walk down a debris strewn path with is apprentices in tow. The smell of what he could only guess was burned flesh assaulted them. The crackle of still burning flames could be heard near and far. The smoke that hung in the air made it difficult to see or breathe.
In the distance Brian spotted a figure standing amid the ruins. A strong wind blew some of the smoke away revealing a man clad in a corruption of the spirit tamer garb.
The figure's robes were black as ash in his hand was a white staff that may have even been made of bone topped with the skull of some creature Brian didn't recognize.
"So this is what they send me." The figure said. "Two children and the boy who would be a tamer."
Brian lunged forward slightly and the figure continued. "A bit of fire in this one but lets see how skilled you really are."
The figure turned and with a sweep of his staff sent a jet of flame racing towards them. Brian, Alex, and Jessica leapt aside and Brian turned and countered with a spell of his own. A column of water burst from the charred ground but had no effect on the flames and only obscured his sight with steam. The flames impacted on the remains of a building setting aflame.
"Spirits of fire. Consume my enemy!" Jessica cried as a burst of flame leapt from her staff.
The flames found their mark but barely phased the dark tamer who instead turned and with his voice full of malice cried. "Be silent girl!"
And with a wave of his staff Jessica found herself unable to speak. In fit of frustration Jessica began to charge at him. She swung with her staff but the blow was easily parried.
"Be still!" The dark tamer cried.
Another swing of his staff and Jessica no longer move. "I will deal with you later."
"Jessica!" Alex called. "Spirits of earth with your power crush my foe!"
A large boulder appeared before Alex and began tumbling away towards the black clad tamer. Brian took advantage of the distraction to cast a spell of his own.
"Spirits of fire and earth combine your power and consume all before you."
A trio of magma balls appeared and slammed into the dark tamer. He stumbled backwards slightly with the force of the combined attacks.
"Alex take care of your sister." Brian ordered.
Alex complied and rushed to Jessica's side but he was unable to break the spells that held her so he simply carried her to a reasonably safe place away from the battle.
"Enough of this pretense." The dark tamer said lifting his staff again. "Shim nekra fet tien!"
With those words a force unlike any Brian had ever seen before was brought to bear. He fell to the ground from the sheer power of it and an orb of darkness began to form above them.
"Mammon must have been a weak fool to have fallen to a child like you."
Alex had just climbed atop a pile of debris when he saw his imperiled master.
"Master!" He cried taking his staff in both hands.
"Alex! Get Away!"
"Spirits hear my plea! Defend Master Brian!"
Alex's staff swung down and the winds began to howl. The skies roared and thundered. The earth itself ripped open forming a great chasm. Massive flames leapt up and were fanned by the winds then burned towards the pair.
Brian turned to shield himself as the flames simply washed over him. He heard his opponent cry in pain as the flames struck him.
Brian opened his eyes and saw that the dark orb was gone and his foe a short distance away. Parts of his ashen cloak had burned away revealing the charred flesh beneath. Brian could see that one of dark tamer's eyes had been completely destroyed as he leveled his sight at Alex who had collapsed to his hands and knees.
"Your apprentice has earned you a reprieve this day but I'll be back to finish what I started."
With that he disappeared leaving only a few charred remnants of cloth and the memory of the power he wielded.
"What in Celtland happened?" Jessica said having been released from her bonds. "Master Brian was that you?"
"No." Brian stated as he climbed to his feet. "I can't command that much power at once. Until a moment ago I wouldn't have believed anyone could."
Brian and Jessica looked toward Alex who was leaning heavily on his staff. Then Brian said. "Let's just go back to the monastery. We can figure everything out after we've had a chance to rest."
Brian then pulled the white wings from his pack and lifted them up. Alex and Jessica did the same and they were carried back to Melrode and the safety of the monastery.